Tag Archives: 2003

Natural City: The Sci-Fi Korean Drama

I really didn’t know what to expect when I started watching this movie. What I wasn’t expecting was the formulaic Korean drama. What do I mean by that? Simple.

A Korean drama is one in which a couple in love usually has one of the lovers die in a horrendously heart wrenching way. This leaves the other lover alone to mourn and deal with all their feelings. This is a sci-fi film about cyborgs, androids, and

The picturesque cityscape really stands out in this film.

humans and a plot to bring down the futuristic city from within. I had no idea the Koreans could incorporate such a soap opera-y plot into such a steampunk film. Good on ’em for that one.

So “R” (Yoo Ji-tae) is a policeman in a futuristic society in which people can’t tell humans apart from androids and cyborgs. There’s a distinct difference though. Androids were never human; cyborgs have been outfitted with a cybernetic chip that controls and

Blood and love. All in one.

helps them function. R is one of those rogue cops who never follows the rules and does his own kickass thing. After botching up a destruction mission at a local processing plant, R must reconcile with the consequences.

R has fallen in love with a table dancing cyborg. Ria (Seo Lin) has but a few days left to live, and this film follows R’s decisions into how to save her from decimation. He finds salvation in an orphaned prostitute named Cyon (Lee Jae-eun), and finds that her existence is also in the interest of the androids attempting to use human DNA for some nefarious purpose. With the strange Cypher (Jeong Doo-hong) on the loose, R and the police force must find their own means to an end.

The look and feel of the film is very 1980’s Bladerunner feel. Yoo Ji-tae functions as a suave and gritty Harrison Ford,

Damn it, gotta love those views.

patrolling the streets for his own personal gain. There’s not much to speak of with character development on the side of the androids or cyborgs, but the presence of these untraceable electronic beings is a frightening concept. They can knock a man’s leg clean off with one punch for God sakes! Never thought I’d see that kind of special effect in my life.

Tell me that’s not Bladerunner, right?

The guns are clunky, the special effects and digital graphics are dated (even for 2003), but I liked the storyline all the same. It was more of an artsy film than anything else, and it was all about the feels. The emotional range required for understanding this movie from start to finish is not for the weak willed. It has undertones of dystopian elements, and questions just exactly what it means to be human. The ending is long and tragic, and is obviously created to pull at the heartstrings of those who watch it. It got me there towards the end, and I’d love to know what other people thought of it who saw it. Good or not? Let me know!

I’ve always liked Yoo Ji-tae (I hope I’m not spelling that incorrectly…) since I saw him in Oldboy, and I find his acting

A bit of fighting for the action fans.

style to be brutal at the same time that he is a fragile human being, just like the rest of us. This pretty boy can pack a punch with his acting, and I’d advise watching out. He just might lay you out on your back.

All the feels.

There’s no true way to describe what/how to take anything away from this movie. It’s one of those seeing and believing situations where you just have to watch it and attempt to understand what the movie is throwing at you. I’m not entirely sure what I was shown in this movie and if I even got it. So just check it out for yourself, especially if you’re always ready for a melodramatic cry. It’s a good one for that. 7.2 out of 10.

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Johnny English: Reborn

I have been a huge fan of Rowan Atkinson ever since I was a young lad, watching the video versions of him as Mr. Bean. In 2003, when the first Johnny English movie came out, I had to see it. His slapstick antics mixed with that English accent you rarely hear in Mr. Bean makes him a wonderfully entertaining character. And, of course, what could be better than parodying the James Bond genre? Reprising his role last year, Atkinson blazed on screen with his good looks and salt and pepper hair. Although he may be getting older, he’s not slowing down one bit.

We are whisked away in the first scene of Johnny English 2: Reborn, to the mountains of Tibet. English is training among the monks in order to repent for an earlier mission that sends English into a state of Vietnam flashback nostalgia. With some great slapstick to kick off the movie, Johnny English discovers that his skills are needed yet again back in MI7. Once he arrives back in the U.K, English must become reacquainted with the newly refurbished MI7. Now owned by Toshiba, English’s penchant for the past and the old way of doing things comes clashing into the wave of the future. Let the insanity ensue.

Atkinson rigorously training with some monks.

Assigned a new partner, Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya), and some new gadgets invented by Patch Quartermain (Tim McInnerny) it is up to English to protect the Chinese ambassador from being assassinated during his discussions with the Prime Minister. What Johnny English discovers is a secret plot that has been brewing ever since his mishap in Mozambique. With intrigue and sleeper agents galore, who can English trust?

There are some great characters and actors introduced into this second movie that make up for losing John Malkovich and company in the last one. We’ve got Gillian Anderson, better known as Agent Scully from the X-Files, as the leader of MI7. This is the second time I’ve seen her in a film with a mostly British cast (i.e. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People) and she pulls off that air of superiority well. There’s also one of my favorite British actors, Dominic West. Having first ever saw him in 300 as the traitorous senator, West has made a career as wonderfully suave British men. Portraying Agent 1 in this film, he’s someone I could’ve seen as Bond, more than Daniel Craig.

This was pretty dope. Despite him being able bodied.

What else is there to point out in this film? There’s the evil killer cleaning lady. In a fight of the old farts, its a struggle for Atkinson to come out on top. There’s all of Johnny English’s old gags and jokes, done just to show that he knows what the people want, and he can still deliver. There’s new jokes, as expected, but at this point in Rowan Atkinson’s career, I think he’s just doing movies for the hell of it. He’s an established, wonderful actor who is just doing movies for fun now. Or, at least, that’s the vibe I’m getting from his acting in these films. And, by all means, make Mr Bean/Johnny English movies until the day you die, Mr. Atkinson. They are all wonderfully entertaining and funny.

Let the hilarious carnage ensue.

If you haven’t seen the first one, by all means, check it out. And watch this one immediately after. They’re sure to make you laugh, even if you aren’t into British comedy. They’re wholesome, spot on Bond spoofs (the first more than the second) and they establish a character you come to love and adore. What more could you want from a film? His name is English, Johnny English. And he deserves a 007 out of 10 for this film.


Chocolate: Not Your Typical Muay Thai Film

In my searchings through the Martial Arts section at F.Y.E, I came across a Thailand Martial Arts films I had not heard of before. It featured, on the cover, a young girl, poised with swords in hand, the most intense look on her face as if to say, “Yeah, I’ll rough you up a bit, Van Damme style.” This immediately piqued my interest.  So I got it, took it home, and watched it with my best bud, E.

Let me just say, this is a major statement in the Martial Arts entertainment/otherwise industry. Not only does a girl do Tony Jaa like moves in this film, but she beats up guys 3-4 times her size. With a ridiculously good idea at its base, this solid films sets you up for an action packed Muay Thai styled film that didn’t disappoint, and never left an opportunity for a great new location for an action sequence.

So Zen (Yanin Vismistananda) is the subsequent child of a West Side Story love

Look at those moves. Wow, Yanin.

affair. One parent Thai and one Japanese, this love child of two warring factions is born autistic. Not only is she born autistic, but her concentration allows her to catch things thrown at her from all angles and allows her to pick up Muay Thai fighting techniques from the dojo next door and from T.V. (some great moves from Tony Jaa’s films, obviously a planted element from same director, Panna Rittikrai)

Literally. Destruction.

When things start to heat up with old wounds opening, Zen must protect her mother Zin (Ammara Siripong). The cancer eating away at her is expensive to treat, and Zen and Moom (Taphon Phopwandee) must team up to add an element of suspense and comedy to this film about how tweens can do anything. Collecting old debts and pissing off No. 8 (Pongpat Wachirabunjong) and getting her father Mashashi (Hiroshi Abe) involved, who knows what lengths an autistic girl will do to protect her family of attrition.

There are some really great elements in this movie that shine through in all of

I'm just gonna keep showing you these.

Prancha Pinkaew/ Panna Rittikrai’s work. First of all, fight locations. This movie has fight scenes in a ice factory, warehouse, slaughterhouse, and tea house, all in one. Using the layout of the locations in combination with Yanin and the stunt actor’s skills makes for a deadly combo that is played out poetically on film. Jumping over boxes, avoiding ice hooks and blocks, what could be better than imagining this all happening in an actual real life situation? This girl knows her stuff, and it shows hard.

How is this not a 12 year old girl?

And that’s another thing that impressed me so much. Yanin Vismistanada, a 24 year old Thai girl, master of Taekwondo with a 3rd degree Dan blackbelt, looks like a 12 year old. Looks can be deceiving. He moves are fluent, her Tony Jaa imitation is flawless, she’s got the works. Discovered on the Born to Fight set in 2003 by Panna Rittikrai himself, this girl is destined to eventually equal/surpass Jaa himself (or at least Dan Chupong).

Simply the best.

With some fantastic English spoken by both Thai and Japanese men (still needed subtitles though) and quite a few transvestites, speaking to Thailand’s rich heritage, this movie has a combination unlike anything I’ve ever seen. An inspirational movie speaking to how children can do whatever they wanna do, this movie is a definite need in anyone’s growing Martial Arts collection. I give this movie, in comparison to all other Panna Rittikrai/Muay Thai movies I’ve seen, a definite 9.5 out of 10.


Baldr Force EXE Resolution (Not the Video Game)

In this quick little 4 episode OVA, I was blown away by the breadth of this show that took a mere 2 hours to explore. And this is coming from an OVA that was based on a video game! With a beginning, middle, and complete end, this show summarizes (or does it?) or gives a complete new angle to a game I’d really like to play now.

So, Baldr Force EXE Resolution. It’s the story of Toru Soma, an ex-hacker turned good guy cop. He does this for his own motivations in order to catch his protege’s killer, located inside the police force. What he encounters is more than he could have possibly imagined. With

Pretty dec, right?

a past unfolding and new friends becoming enemies, Toru is forced to redefine what he considers real.

Despite the brevity of this show, I still consider it worth watching. It may move much quicker than most anime, but it performs well as a mecha/psychological thriller. Some characters perform well as side characters and need not be fleshed out, but others shine in their key roles that unfurl the story of the internet servers and what’s been menacingly destroying them.

Relying too much on that Fbook, right?

What I find most interesting about this show is its commentary on the interdependency of actual life events with what happens online. The two become so intertwined that it does sort of beg the quesiton, what is reality? Hate to say it, but in an almost Inception-esque way, this OVA suggests that people these days may rely too heavily on technology to get through life. (Hence, I should shut down my internet use and no longer give you my baller ideas on all things entertainment.)  Pretty smart thinking from a Windows/Dreamcast game made way back in 2003.

But I digress. I rather enjoyed the 3-D animation of the Simulacrums that people used to maneuver around the internet, and it really spoke to a mecha audience instead of a fake reality spin in which we as humans walk around on the internet. I like the consequence that was created, like in the Matrix (if you die in here, you die for real shizz) and it was a perfect balance of plot and action sequences.

What madness is going on here?

All-in-all, just check this little mecha OVA out and see if it stacks up against the computer game. If it does, let me know, I’d love to check it out for myself. I’ll give this Matrix/Inception/thriller mecha a 7.9 out of 10.