Tag Archives: crime

Arang: Creepy Korean Folklore

…Not Japanese Cinema, mind you.

Now here’s a movie that stood out to me. The South Koreans did it again in this creepily well done horror movie with a great plot and ending twist to boot. Arang is based on a Korean folk tale about a young woman who was conspired to be raped and stabbed to death by her evil nanny. After succeeding, the corpse of the girl would come back to haunt the area in which she was killed. This movie, more or less, is loosely based on that. In a very similar vein to the Thai film, Shutter, this movie is a revenge/horror/thriller/detective film all in one. Let’s get it goin’.

The film starts off in a bit of the surreal, with the main detective

A haunting and surreal feel for a great thriller.

character, So-young (Song Yun-ah) encountering a salt storehouse she’s never seen before. A young girl is outside crying in the rain. Obviously this has some significance to the story right? You would be right in assuming so.

Next we move to a series of murders that appear to be the work of a vengeful ghost out to kill those who wronged her. With the help of her rookie forensics partner, Hyun-gi (Lee Dong-wook), So-young must

The dynamic duo strikes again!

discover the reason for these supernatural killings. The ending may leave you in a state of shock, and I was very happy with the way everything turned out. It’s up there with the satisfying endings of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance trilogy (currently re-watching now).

The acting in this movie was fairly good. You can always see the American influence on South Korean films and the like (i.e. Gangnam Style being so successful here and whatnot. Particularly, I’m in love with Hyuna). The crime aspect of it and the justice behind it is very

This keeps coming up about the folklore, and I keep laughing at it.

American based, and I hate to attribute that to the Korean War. It’s a jagged pill to swallow, but Koreans just do American style dramatic films better. More than 20 films have affirmed this for me.

It was creepy, but not to the point of scaring me with any of the disturbing images or frightening scenes. This was an underrated film to find on Netflix, and, as per usual, I thank Netflix for providing me with an adequately good selection of foreign films. You can never go wrong with Tartan Extreme films either.

It has been a while since I’ve seen this one, but I do plan on re-watching/buying it. It was a worthwhile film to watch. So check it out at least once. And don’t ever be crushed to death by salt. 8.1 out of 10.

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The Bodyguard #1 & 2: Not Your Average Thai Film

I’m gonna combine the first Bodyguard and the second, as one flows into the other. I loved this movies so much that I even watched them back to back. Petchtai Wongkamlao is a hilariously funny guy and he did a great directorial job with the onscreen humor and action. The movies didn’t focus too heavily on himself and he did this quite humbly. A lot of the humor comes from plays on words and references you have to get from knowing his work with Panna Ritikrai and Tony Jaa. Either way, these movies will kick your ass with their in your face guns and side splitting foreign comedy.

The first films starts off with Wong Kom (Petchtai Wongkamlao) as a bodyguard/official operative. He has come to this international convention to guard a major player named Chot Petchpantakam (Surachai Juntimatom). With the ensuing attack and lots of wire fu

Wongkamlao, the unconventional action star.

(Kung Fu with wires. Think a la Crouching Tiger.), Wong attempts to save Chot, but he is shot in the crossfire. The rest of the film focuses around Wong’s committed attempt to regain his honor and Chot’s son, Chaichol (Piphat Apiraktanakorn) trying to keep his father’s business running. With assassination attempts, a crew of street rats, and a rags meet riches story, this movie has a lot of humor and heart.

Just some Thai humor for ya.

In the second Bodyguard, things are a bit different. Wong is an undercover agent attempting to take down a crime syndicate that is dealing in weapons of mass destruction. After infiltrating a night club as a “provocative dancer”, Wong screws up yet again. Some explosions and gunshots later, Wong must become a famous luk thung (basically, a Thai country singer) star and keep everything from his wife, Keaw (Janet Keaw). With more laughs and quite a bit more explosions, this film surpassed the budget for Ong Bak with 1 million Baht (Thai currency), becoming the biggest film to be made in Thailand. It would be eclipsed by Ong Bak 2 shortly after.

Tony Jaa makes an appearance as the shopkeep boy.

What made these American standard B-rated action films so great is that they didn’t take themselves seriously. Wongkamlao is spinning through the air with two guns cocked and completely infinite in bullets, whipping around the room, absolutely annihilating people in very strange ways. The actors aren’t to serious about their villainous ways and it really shows throughout. Biggest example is the Thai comedian that shows up in both films. In the first, he (and I wish I could decipher which character he was) always wears something inappropriate and never talks. In the second, he dies at the end without saying anything. What makes this so great is that (and I hope it was fake) at the end of the second film, this guy blows up at Wongkamlao for not including him more in the film. I think the Thai sense of humor is spot on and could do very well over here in America.

There are so many over the top explosions and gun fight scenes that you can’t take this movie too seriously. It’s all the

That’s a bit vulgar… and a midget.

kind of action that makes Tony Jaa’s films so popular, but even more so. And that’s another great thing. They advertised in Thailand and America that Tony Jaa was going to be a big player in both these films, and he shows up to do a 5 minute action scene. It always has something to do with one of his other films, and it’s great to see that he can laugh at himself. (Where’s my elephant?)

All the heart and guns in the world.

This movie really shows just what Thailand is like. It’s more than all the action scenes and comedy that comes from these movies. And Wongkamlao knows that. There’s poverty and crime, burgeoning cities and night life, even a rich cultural aspect you don’t always see in an action film. And that’s where the heart comes from in these movies. It’s a movie you set out to do with your friends and come to love making and showing off. I’ve done it myself a dozen times. It’s not serious, it’s just showing that you can make an entertaining movie, and it doesn’t have to be award winning. And that’s why I think American audiences should check out these movies. Embrace this new culture and realize we’re a lot more alike than we think. And for this, The Bodyguard series deserves a comedy induced and action packed 7.5 out of 10.


RoboCop: The Future is Born

I had never in my 21 years of life ever before seen a RoboCop film. Hearing of how cheesy they look today and how they would insult my CG effects sensibilities, I was hesitant to check out this film on Netflix. My roommate did only the slightest of convincing and we sat down to watch. I was pleasantly surprised. Being hailed as a good film in its time for the issues it brought up and the icon it created, RoboCop can be seen as an overall achievement for all its done. And, right in the vein of claymation/animatronics that I’ve come to love too. Thank you Hellraiser.

RoboCop is the story of a rundown Detroit (as if Detroit didn’t already have a bad rap…) in which crime runs rampant. In such a desperate time, Detroit’s police force has been bought out by the Omni Consumer Productions Corporation (OCP). Hoping to bring up the efficiency of justice, OCP has created some prototypes to help this along. In error, OCP’s senior VP Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) creates a robot that malfunctions and maliciously kills a fellow worker. With this disaster under wraps, it is up to another boardmember, Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) and his robotic-cop idea to shine. In this cutthroat world of business, anything goes. (And this is an issue later.)

The future of policing.

Meanwhile, a newcomer to the Detroit scene is hittin’ the streets. Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is a transferred cop out to prove just how good he is. And prove he does. He gets kidnapped by a gang led by a man named Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith). You may recognize him as Red from That 70’s Show. I’ll always remember him from RoboCop. Anyways, Murphy gets lit up. And I mean shotgunned to death. Arm destroyed, torso torn, shot dead. Animatronics at its most frightening. It was intense to say the least. You can guess where the rest of the movie goes at this point. Murphy is turned into RoboCop and helps clean up the streets. But there’s mischief afoot. And some inside guys need to be taken out.

Peter Weller, you freaky old bastard you.

All in all, the acting was sub par in this movie. I didn’t recognize many of the actors, although I had seen Miguel Ferrer in something or other. Peter Weller is more of a cult classic actor/T.V. production actor, and completely fell under my radar. You know who didn’t? Ray Wise. This best of the B-rated actors is quite high quality in my book. This Tim and Eric returner is the best hug teacher and Shrim disposer out there. Thanks and Great Job!

Other than that, not a lot stood out to me in this film. The plot chugged along, the ending could have ended a bit sooner, and I think this is one of those movies which could have a successful remake. And I don’t say that often. Some updated acting and an even darker element to this movie would really spice it up as a need to see action movie. Still set it in the 1980’s, this movie could benefit from a touch-up. But enough about that. The simple fact that this movie was so successful it created a merchandise franchise. I give props to a film that can create more than a movie from their idea. Good ideas about the crime of America and its economy went into this film, something to be commended on. Let’s see a remake soon… maybe. 5.5 out of 10.

You're in for a world of hurt, Red.


Ergo Proxy: Existential Confusion

Even after watching this anime and reading about it, I am still at a loss for words. This anime, in a word, is confusing. To a high degree. I mean, this is intelligent, philosophical musings about the world and the purpose of life. As seen by the praying AutoReivs. That is one of those images that has stuck with me throughout the anime. Those androids, staring up into the sky, arms brought together in prayer, a rare piece of imagery that will continue to perplex me as I muse upon the meaning of Ergo Proxy.

Let me give you a bare-bones explanation of what I took away from the plot of this anime. This anime is

What is a Proxy?

focused mainly around the upper class citizens of Romdeau, one of the last vestiges of life on Earth. This is because of some great ecological disaster that happened sometime in the past that has forced dome-like structures to keep out the pollution and destruction of the outside world. Humans and AutoReivs (androids who are created for specific purposes to help humans) like in harmony, helping one another in their struggle to survive. And, even in this devastated world, there are those humans who are considered not to be citizens of Romdeau. One of these immigrants is Vincent Law (Liam O’Brien). With no past and what seems to be no future, this lowly character has some connection to the murders and soon to be discovered Proxies of this world. It is up to Rie-l Mayer (Megan Hollingshead) to discover the connection, and it is up to Vincent Law to discover his purpose. A daunting task that leaves me in awe and confusion.

Dark and foreboding? I think so.

This being a crime/suspense/thriller anime, and my wonderful girlfriend recommending it/loaning me the DVDs, I knew I would like this anime. I just didn’t realize how confused it would leave me. But, in this instance, I was not confused in a frustrating way. This anime invites watchers to come back and re-analyze this anime more than once. I feel its the only way to really grasp what this anime is trying to put across. Every episode, although some may seem disconnected to the flowing plot, are important in their scope. (One of the episodes deals with a Walt Disney look-alike and cartoon characters.) But these episodes enhance the meaning of what these characters are trying to discover. And, if you watch very carefully (as I will again), I’m sure the meaning of the show is laid out right before your eyes.

One difficulty I had following this anime was the dark way in which it was produced. The artwork is all dark from the very beginning. It’s hard to see things onscreen (or T.V.) and I felt like I was missing things that were quite important in the first few episodes. Looking back on it now, maybe you are supposed to view the anime through this lens as if you are in the dark, just like the characters. For the anime does begin to brighten as it progresses. Maybe that was the intention. Either way, this anime was truly dark, visually and psychologically. The implications that lay just beyond the plot gave it the weight of the foreboding apocalypse of the world, a comment on our own and the theorized one presented in Ergo Proxy. The way in which these images are presented is a whole other story. The combined animated mediums bring together a visual experience unlike most anime I’ve seen. This gives it that sci-fi feeling that the show really goes for, and I quite enjoyed the ride.

There were a few, although not many, notable good voice acting performances in this dubbed anime. (I might watch it subbed for fun later.) Most notably was Liam O’Brien as Vincent Law. His voice really stood out to me in a way that’s hard to describe. It was as if O’Brien knew the anguish that Vincent Law was facing in not knowing who he is and what his purpose is. Travis Willingham does a great job as Iggy, Rei-l’s AutoReiv and friend. (Loose term.) As funny

Confusing and good. Thank you Dameon Clarke.

as he is for a n android with little/no emotions, he brings life to a character that comes to realization that his purpose is flawed. Some of the best episodes come when Iggy comes to terms with that. Bravo, Travis Willingham. Patrick Seitz is amazing as Raul Creed, my favorite character in the anime. This Security Bureau head is a character of duty and conflict that comes because of that duty. He is always being pressured by the Regent and feels he has no breathing room. But when he lets all that go, then Patrick Seitz’s voice really shines through (best episodes towards the end). Another two voices that I’d just like to commend in passing are Troy Baker (my boy) and Dameon Clarke as two of the Proxies in the show (I won’t be specific, might ruin it). These elegant voice actors really bring a menacing element to the table in the way they present their characters, and they really flesh out the plot and bring to light just what Vincent Law is. Really amazing work.

Besides all this, you really have to watch ┬áthe anime for yourself. If you’re a fan of dark, twisted, suspenseful anime, this is indeed for you. But make sure you’re willing to commit to a re-watch and thorough analysis. This may just existentially blow your mind. 8.8 out of 10.