Tag Archives: foreign films

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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Ip Man 2: The Grandmaster Returns

I was happy to sit down and watch the second Ip Man after having watched the first, enjoying the story with interspersed martial arts fight scenes throughout. With more of a focus on story over choreography, this one didn’t catch my attention as much as I would have liked. It wraps up like Cinderella Man and makes you feel all good inside, but I didn’t have any of those jaw dropping moments. Let’s just get to the plot, shall we?

In this one, Ip Man (Donnie Yen reprises his role) has moved to Hong Kong after beating back the Japanese years before. He has plans to start his own martial arts school, but no disciples seem to be interested. With money problems and a

Two masters goin’ at it.

suppressive British government, Ip Man must maneuver his way through life, following his principles and maintaining a happy family. But it’s not all easy going for the Ip Man.

I really was surprised how this film focused more on story rather than substance. It had all the elements of a triumph of the will story without all the fight scenes and technique. My impression of Wing Chun from this film is one of precise and calculated moves, more than the clever and wily style of other martial arts styles. There aren’t flashy kicks or the use of elbows or knees, it is all more in the quickest

Donnie Yen, as refined as ever.

way to take someone out. I do appreciate that though. Donnie Yen shows off how quick he can be in a flurry of punches I’ve never seen demonstrated in a Kung Fu movie before. I give him his due for that.

The acting is just as good in this film as in the last. But I’m talking more about the Chinese actors than the English speaking ones. Although I’m pretty sure that Brian Burrell is living my dream of being a white man from America living in an Asian country. My country of choice, though? Thailand. Gotta give it up for the Muay Thai and Thai food. (Volcano chicken all the way.) But anyways, the English speaking actors (with as few of them as there probably are in China) just took things over the top and need to work on delivery. This is a common problem though in foreign films, so I don’t blame them too much. They were better than some.

I do appreciate the message the Ip Man films send to a wider audience than just China. The oppression felt in China has

I gotta get me one of those…

been quite prevalent in the last 100 years by foreign countries and bigger world powers. It has been a triumph over the bully in the last century, and China knew how to depict that. I give props to Wilson Yip for doing a good job in that department. I feel for the Chinese in this film and the way that most people look down on Chinese martial arts. Hell, martial arts in general. But I’m pretty sure, other than stamina, that any martial arts expert could take out a boxer with the right moves. Like me and all the other martial arts enthusiasts out there, I appreciate martial arts in all its capacity. Asia will always dominate in my heart.

Dope.

In a different twist I wasn’t expecting in this film, I was touched more than inspired to do martial arts. The music was good and uplifting, the cinematography wasn’t bad, and the Wing Chun kept it brief and brutal. Not much to complain about, but I still do love the fight scenes from the first movie more. 7.4 out of 10.


Shutter (The Original)

This little gem of a horror movie is brought to us from Thailand. Remade, and now the original has to include in its title, “The Original.” Well as far as I’m concerned, Thailand has a pretty good idea of how to frighten me. This version comes to us from directing duo Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom. Other previous projects include Phobia 2, 4bia, and Alone. I haven’t seen anything else from these guys except for Shutter, but I plan on looking for them in the future.

Jane and Tun, (Yeah, Jane) are a young couple, recently fallen in love (I think) who one night, drunk, run over some girl. Without stopping to see if she’s alright, they drive away. Typical hit and run. But as life goes on, mysterious images begin to appear in Tun’s photographs, leading to a story that has haunted his past for years.

This movie has some disturbing images. If you’re like me, I get scared when pictures move. Ever since I was young and saw the book to movie version of Roald Dahl’s “The Witches,” I’ve been frightened of some witch cursing me into a picture to live out the rest of my years and die. So yeah, naturally in this movie, pictures move. A lot. There’s one point where I thought to myself, “Screw that. Nobody is ever going to take another picture of me.” You’ll know when you see it.

This movie seems to be low budget and the acting suffers because of it. For most of the actors in this film, besides Natthaaweeranuch Thongmee, ( Jane/ model?) the whole cast has pretty much performed a “one and done.” In foreign films, because of the language barrier, it’s quite hard to tell whether or not the acting’s good. But it’s pretty average in this film. That is, besides the lead actor, Tun (Ananda Everingham). This guy is quite good. You actually get the feeling this guy is breaking down psychologically in this film. A great performance among amateurs.

There’s not really a lot that I have a problem with in this movie. Not much to say. The idea of lost souls trying to come back through photos, the idea of losing one’s soul, being haunted, it’s all great stuff that freaks out and bewilders some people. There’s even a great scene in the film that comments on the idea of spooky photos and the explanation of whether or not what we see in photos are real. Can anybody really ever fake a photo when it’s taken through a lens that can’t be fooled?

All I have to say is, the movie drags on at the end, but it’s totally worth the last image you’re left with. AMAZING. 6.4 out of 10

Don't look behind you.