And now I begin the journey of slobbering and raving all over The Matrix series. You know those experiences in movies when, after it’s all over, you want to believe what you saw is real? I had that. And the insane desire to practice martial arts moves. I can say with pure conviction that this movie was the exact point where I defined
That’s a stunner right there.
myself as a person. My love for action/martial arts films started here. My love for metal also started here. With how I’m saying this was such a definitive movie in my life, how can it not be considered amazing and a game changer?
For those who don’t know what The Matrix as a movie/concept is, I’m not gonna reveal too much, but I’m going to talk about this movie at great length. So sit back, relax, and be ready to jump into that rabbit hole.
The Matrix is the story of Neo (Keanu Reeves), a computer hacker by night and a computer programmer by day. The duality between his life is cleverly dictated by colors and clothing as well as surroundings. On a constant search for Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Neo must steer two lives as Mr. Anderson and Neo in order to bring some semblance to his life. But he discovers something he may not have expected. In a chance encounter with Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), Neo realizes the truth about the turn of the century world we live in even as we speak.
In a world so heavily controlled by technology and computers, it isn’t any wonder that a film with complete computer
Black is back.
dependence would be created. It adds an element of mystery to it when the creators of the film, the Wachowski Brothers, are really not well known at all. Wanting to keep their own privacy, it seems as if these brothers know something about the world they’re not supposed to tell…
He is the one. (How many times have you seen this homaged in movies?
I truly love all the influences that the Wachowski Brothers drew on in order to make this movie. Anime style world and immersion, sci-fi concepts and futuristic ideas of control and advancement, Kung Fu fight scenes, even turn of the century CG effects and camera techniques. This movie, in 1999, was the true game changer when it came to creating a whole new era of cinematography and special effects through computer graphics. This movie was well thought out in all aspects and stands as one of the last true bastions of original thought in cinema. Stand aside Inception, you took your “original” ideas from The Matrix. (The whole time I was sitting in the theater at Inception, I thought hmmm, this seems familiar… A dream within a dream? More like, are we within the Matrix?)
She wrecks pretty hard in this one.
Some people criticize the first film for creating this amazing start to a story with original story and unconventional means of explanation. Then the second half of the film deals with guns and fighting, turning into a traditional action film. That is EXACTLY what I wanted from this film. I am a sucker for great fight scenes and lots of blood and carnage. This movie made me think at the same time that it delivered in a visually stunning way. When you can cross genres like this film did, you know you created something unique.
Add to wonderful things about this film: acting. You got a great cast that each person has done a handful of works, but not that well known. You got Laurence Fishburne, a man who will always been seen as
The greatest fight scene of all time.
Morpheus. His ability to act as sensei and grandmaster of knowledge and leadership shines in this film. Joe Pantoliano as Cypher. He did some work before this, but I felt this was a springboard for a lot of actors to get bigger and better work heading into the 2000’s. His “cheesy action lines” felt well delivered, as did every line in this film. This is one of those movies in which every line feels original, as if Neo is awaking to a world where everything is new and fresh. That’s excellent. Carrie-Anne Moss is the sexy, badass, femme-fatale chick who rocks the short haircut and kicks in bullet time. I had no idea who she was, but this movie made me aware a woman can be just as cold and calculated in a film like this. Cue every other female hero in a movie after this one.
A world gone wrong.
And then we come to Keanu Reeves as Neo. People complain he didn’t do well. People make fun of Keanu Reeves in general as always playing that dumbass Ted from the Bill & Ted movies. I would say he lost the surfer accent in this movie and really took the reins. His character dictates the film and discovers himself throughout the series, regardless if anyone thinks Keanu is a good actor. Here’s the thing though. Could you imagine anyone else in the role of Neo? Will Smith turned it down because he felt he wasn’t mature enough of an actor to do the role. And Nic Cage was offered the role. As amazing of a movie as that would’ve been, it wouldn’t have been as good. I think the Wachowski Brothers made the best choice possible. Of anyone.
So you got the great acting, the amazing cinematography and effects, and an amazing storyline. What more could you need? ENTER THE AMAZING SOUNDTRACK. Don Davis absolutely
Mind bending with Aang. (Am I right?)
created the best score possible to set the tone for this movie. An amazing brass section to create revelation moments throughout the film, making the jumps and feats seem that much more badass. Quick trills and a pounding bassline when needed just to make you wish you were onscreen, in the Matrix, doing what Neo is doing. When a soundtrack, not even the songs used, can pump you up that much, that is an award winning musical score.
And then there’s the songs from the film. Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Deftones, Rage Against the Machine… Talk about all the 1990’s greats that have exploded into the 2000’s. This movie made “Calm like a Bomb” at the end feel like the only song anyone could ever
I’m calm like a bomb.
end a film with. So kick ass. When I heard those ending credits roll, I knew what kind of music would define my life for the rest of it. Superb.
So combine all these outrageously amazing aspects into one film and create a series out of it? You have me hooked for life. I would consider this in the top three movie trilogies of all time, probably #1 of all time. Nothing gets better than this if you love movies. No question. 10 out of 10. Check it out to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes (I also love Alice in Wonderland. Go figure.)
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In a turn of events of Park Chan-wook’s series, it’s the lady’s turn to be the one seeking vengeance. In this straightforward, lunge at the throat revenge story, Park Chan-wook ends his series. This one is a bit more delicate and see-through than the other movies, but it leaves the series with a bit of a twist and bang.
Lee Geum-ja (Lee Young Ae) is a recently released child murderer who smothered a kidnap victim with a pillow to stifle his cries. After confessing, she went to jail for 13 years, performing good deeds and being seen as a saint in jail. She helped out her
Stone. Cold. Fox.
fellow cellmate and seems to have done a complete 180 on being released from jail. She’s cold. She’s calculated. And she’s going after the real killer who framed her. Classic revenge story? You got it.
I was a bit surprised this one was a bit more straightforward with who was seeking revenge against who. Lee Geum-ja is going after Mr. Baek (Choi Min-sik), that classical actor and wonderful dramatic presence.
I loved this tatoo.
He has less of a role in this movie, but Lee Young Ae makes up for that with a femme fatale performance that would make any man shiver his timbers. What I really liked in this movie is the way that Park Chan-wook wanted the revenge scene (as Lee Geum-ja wanted it) was to be poetic and beautiful at the same time it would be cathartic and an aggressional release.
The cinematography and locations are once again stunning. Snow scenes, an abandoned school and the ironical revenge point, and a few strangely surreal daydreams and flashbacks that occur that I quite liked. I liked the initial setup on Lee Geum-ja in jail. She’s meeting all
Really stunning color scheme right there.
these hardened women criminals and they always label them by name and years served. Then somehow there’s someone who Lee Geum-ja saves them and uses that later on in the film. I enjoyed the whole “Ocean’s 11 feel” for the small part of the film.
The end scene is why you watch this film. You feel for the whole situation and you know that it’s very real human response that is dished out there (no spoilers!). It’s harsh and brutal and it comes from a place most of us dream about but are never given the chance to. You’ll just have to see for yourself…
This is that weird thing I was talking about…
What more is there to say about this? Lee Young Ae is a cold beauty and really sells the part. The movie has this whole quirky, otherwordly feel to it where street justice is dealt out in a modern day world. I just think those South Koreans really know how to make a spectacular set of films. And a cameo by Song Kang-ho and Yu Ji-tae! Get some of this Lady Vengeance. 8.3 out of 10.
Leave a comment | tags: abandoned school, aggresion release, beautiful, cathartic, cellmates, child murderer, Choi Min-sik, classic actor, classic revenge story, cold and calculated, cold beauty, Death be a Lady, delicate, dramatic presence, ends with a bang, femme fatale, flashbacks, good deeds, great ending, hardned female criminals, harsh and brutal, human response, jail 13 years, kidnap victim, Lady Vengeance, Lee Geum-ja, Lee Young Ae, modern day world, Mr Baek, Ocean's 11, otherwordly feel, Park Chan-wook, poetic, quirky, real killer, revenge story, saint in jail, seeking vengeance, series, snow scenes, Song Kang-ho, South Korea, spectacular, straightforward film, street justice, stunning cinematography, surreal daydreams, Sympathy for Lady Vengance, Yu Ji-tae | posted in Movies
Based on the Japanese manga (where all good stories come from) written by Nobuaki Minegishi, what incredible things can I say about Oldboy? Considered the best in the Revenge trilogy, Oldboy comes from a very visceral place combining elements of all
kinds of storytelling into one film. It’s got revenge and tragedy, theatrical protestations and all the heart and music of an opera. People have said (CNN has said) that it is one of the 10 best Asian films ever made. Let’s back that up and rephrase. There’s no need to include Asian in that statement. Ten best films ever made? Sounds good to me.
I’ve seen Oldboy twice now and I’ve been thoroughly entertained both times. The story is fresh and there’s just enough plot and action that keeps you captivated to the edge of your seat. Visually striking, poetic in the way it is formulated and the scenes are shot… Think about the snazziest guy you know that does things in such an elegant way and give him a beat-up haircut and a hammer. That’s this movie in a nutshell.
If you laugh, then the world laughs with you…
Revenge, as I’ve talked about in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is played with in this movie as well. Just when you think you have the good and bad guy figured out, it turns itself on its head. Sympathy is the keyword in all these films. You are meant to feel sympathetic towards all characters in this film. Nobody is spared a reason for doing what they do, and that makes it all the easier to see this as a truly brutally honest humanistic film.
Basic plot, shall we? Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) was kidnapped after a drunken night out around his daughter’s birthday. He vanishes from society for 15 years and we get to see a montaged version of that process. Through Oh Dae-su’s diaries, we see the tortured mind that has no idea of his crimes or who he wronged. He writes down every name he can remember in case he has to seek
I forgot to mention Ji-tae Yu, but he did some great work in this movie too.
revenge or beg forgiveness, it’s all up in the air at this point. But, with no reason or rhyme, Oh Dae-su is released after 15 long years of seeing no one and having no company other than a T.V. This leads him on a calculated and cold chase for the man who put him away for seemingly no reason.
Choi Min-sik is a theatrical master in this film. I’m pretty sure Park Chan-wook liked him so much that he brought him back for Lady Vengeance for that reason (different character, just as good). He has a great sense of theatrical, dramatic moments, and he takes his time in delivering lines. That’s what I found interesting about this movie (and Lady Vengeance). Choi Min-sik gathers his thoughts (as a person not on camera would) and says things as if he is choosing his words carefully (no script style). It’s a very unique and non-traditional way of acting, and I enjoy it every time I see him (i.e. watch I Saw The Devil).
The cinematography in this film is a bit more fluid, but you see the same basic ideas come across in this one that you saw in Sympathy for Mr. Revenge. Long shots, wide angles, an extreme focus on the bigger picture. This movie has a fight scene from a side angle that is about 5 minutes long and took 17 takes in 3 days to make. Uncut and visceral, it’s realistic fight scenes like this that make martial arts films being made today possible. (You can see a similar scene in Tony Jaa’s The Protector.)
The plot is fantastic and the cast is great as usual. It’s movies like this that only come around once in a lifetime that everything comes together perfectly to make a film that transcends genre, style, and overall movie like quality. You feel you are watching something more real and ethereal than you expected to see with something created by man. I can’t say anything bad about this movie and I feel, for all audiences (above 13, I’d say) this movie is worth watching again and
A strange sense of Korean comedy…
again. Moviemakers out there, if you don’t already have this for your collection, get it. This should change the movie industry (hopefully) for the next 20 years. And I really hope Spike Lee doesn’t remake it…
Anyways, 10 out of 10. Obviously.
Leave a comment | tags: 10 out of 10, 13 and above, 15 years, 17 takes, 3 days, 5 minutes, all audiences, all kinds of storytelling, based on Japanese manga, beg forgiveness, bigger picture, birthday, brilliant plot, brutally honest film, captivating, change the movie industry, chase, Choi Min-sik, chooses words carefully, CNN, cold and calculated, comes together perfectly, crimes, daughter, delivers lines extremely well, diaries, dramatic timing, edge of your seat, elegant, entertaining every time, ethereal, fluid feel, fresh storytelling, genre, good inspiration for movie makers, good vs bad, great cinematography, hammer, heart and soul, humanistic, I Saw the Devil, imprisonment, kidnapping, Korea, Korean, Lady Vengeance, long shots, martial arts films, montage, motives and reasons, movie quality, no reason, Nobuaki Minegishi, non traditional, Oh Dae-su, Oldboy, once in a lifetime film, one of the best 10 Asian films ever made, one of the ten best films ever made, one take fight scene, opera, Park Chan-wook, poetic, realistic fight scene, remake, revenge, Revenge trilogy, side angle, snazzy, solid cast, Spike Lee, style, sympathy, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, The Protector, theatrical, theatrical master actor, Tony Jaa, tortured mind, tragedy, transcendent, TV, uncut, unique, visceral, visually striking, wide angles, worth watching many times | posted in Movies