Tag Archives: revenge

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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Oldboy: Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This

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

Hammer time.

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.

 

 


Killing Bono (Not Literally)

What would it have been like growing up living in the shadow of Bono and U2? Well Neil McCormick, author of Killing Bono: I was Bono’s Doppelganger knows exactly what that feels like. And his book turned out to be quite a good movie based on his experiences. With a huge interest in seeing Robert Sheehan in a role other than Misfits, I sat down to check out Killing Bono. In an odd turn of events, this is one of those films of one-upsmanship. I find McCormick’s character to be intriguing and tragic, especially with his circumstances and the adversity he faces. So let’s blast out to some U2… and Shook Up.

In the late 70’s, Paul Hewson, soon to be known as Bono (Martin McCann) and his friend David Evans (The Edge) would form a band that would sweep the world, in a similar fashion to The Beatles. Neil McCormick’s brother Ivan (Robert Sheehan) was recruited at first by Bono, but it was Neil’s (Ben Barnes) decision to keep him from the band. Holding this secret inside, Neil will do anything in his power to beat Bono and his fast rising star. With travels to England, a few

A little bit of Martin McCann as Bono.

relationships, and some fiddling around with record producers, It is up to Neil to prove to his brother and everyone that his mistakes were made for a reason.

And it’s a long journey from the bottom to the top (or as close as it gets). This movie has some twists and turns (on a downward spiral), and leaves you realizing that it doesn’t matter if Neil succeeds, it is up to him to do what he thinks is best for himself, and realize he cannot choose for others. He can only  be as good as he himself can be. Now there’s a bit of some moral wisdom to dish out at the end of a film.

A little taste of the McCormick brothers!

I had only seen Ben Barnes in a few things before he burst onto the scene in this film. Stardust and Prince Caspian in the Narnia series to name the few. But this is one of those out there roles for Barnes. He’s all over the place, he’s ecstatic, he’s cocky and ready to roll at any moment. This is a hard role to pull off if you don’t have the personality for it, but Barnes does a good job of it. I wouldn’t have minded to see Robert Sheehan in the pivotal role, but this was all good all the same.

But my what a young actor Robert Sheehan is turning into in the world of movies. First there’s his strange appearance in Nic Cage’s Season of the Witch, and then followed by this movie? Soon he’ll make a name for himself as a period piece actor in the American film world. And I hope his unforgiving comedy will be able to come across the “big pond” in order to become a mainstay in America. I see big things for this young star, and I wish him the best.

Pete the ridiculous record exec.

It is rather unfortunate that this is Pete Postlethwaite’s last performance before his death. This actor who I will always remember as the whimsical man who gave James the seeds that would send him on his journey in James and the Giant Peach. In this film, he’s a bit of a different character. Pete plays a garishly homosexual landlord with a penchant for large parties. Helping Neil and Ivan along the way in London, it is Pete who brings together Gloria (Krysten Ritter) and Neil as Karl, Gay Landlord Extraordinaire.

That’s some great hair there, Robert.

And you can’t forget Peter Serafinowicz as Hammond, the ridiculous record producer. First he was Pete, the dick roommate in Shaun of the Dead, but he has gone on to do some great T.V. work Look Around You and various other writing and starring in British television. He was the voice of Darth Maul for god sakes! What an accomplishment! This strangely wonderful man is just the kind of quirky actor this film needed.

Oh, and we have to talk about the soundtrack! This movie didn’t directly feature any U2 tracks, this features all original (or did Neil make it?) music for the film, or something or other. And I really enjoyed the music. Ben Barnes had a great musical performance and really captivated what it meant to be a popular band in the 1980’s. Couple this with a combo of darkish humor and drama, and you have a film about triumph and revenge. I’d give this film a watch for any U2 fans. 6.9 out of 10.

Let’s get some dark eyeliner on and hit up this club.


Assassin’s Creed II

Now I haven’t done a game review in a long time, but this game needs to be blogged about. I’m a huge fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise and I now have recently acquired all the games. It’s not just the gameplay, that’s pretty standard throughout the games. For me, it’s the plot. The intricacies of the game and the secrets uncovered are just earth shattering. This particular game takes place in Italy, more particularly, Venice. With accurate building schematics and a bevy of real life characters altered to fit the contexts of the game, there is nothing that stands in the way of this game being just as good as the first and just as good as all the others.

This games kicks off with a little bit of a continuation from the last. Desmond Miles is a test subject under the jurisdiction of Abstergo, known as the Animus project. There’s this bastard, Warren Vidic, who has kept you holed up for way too long. The entire first game takes place in this testing laboratory in which there is no outside contact and no concept of what exactly is going on. Desmond is forced, through

The city is yours. Lay waste to it.

futuristic technology, to relive the past lives of his ancestors, members of a special assassin’s guild. First it’s Altair, and now it’s Ezio Auditore da Firenze. I’m gonna give a nod to Roger Craig Smith for the voice acting on that one. Ezio is a strong protagonist who really thrives on the revenge of his family’s death and he will do absolutely anything to fulfill it.

How is this not breathtaking?

And, through the course of the game, you parkour, slice, and lay waste to the guards and streets of Italy as you travel from your home base of your Uncle Mario (“It’s a me, Mario!”) and all over Florence, San Gimignano, Forli, Venice, and Rome. Let me tell you, the sneaking and wreaking of havoc all over the Vatican is something to remember. It almost makes me want to travel there in order to find the secret hidden underneath. The famous buildings all over every city is quite exquisite and down to the last detail correct. There’s an element of National Treasure/Indiana Jones (more the latter) in all of the hidden seals you must find in order to unlock the armor of Altair, sealing your memories of the two assassins together.

Let’s talk about the gameplay here. Okay, the free run system, I would like to argue, is one of the most advanced and best of any game currently on the market. Flowing consistently through every game, Ezio can run through the streets and, at any moment, you can be scaling a building and jumping from rooftop to rooftop. For those of you who know the game, you feel like a combination of Spiderman without the tights, and Batman with all his gadgets, just a bit more lethal though. And that’s another thing. Weapons. There is a damn shizzload of them. Throwing knives, double hidden blades (even poisoned), and swords and maces out the whazoo. With lots of different armor combos and capes to conceal and run train, this game leaves no battle up to chance.

Talk about intricacy...

Speaking of battling in the game, there’s a whole new stock of finishing moves to discover. With every weapon comes a new way to kill. You can even pick up the weapons of fallen enemies in order to exact your revenge. I gotta say, try the pike, its magnificent. And another nice thing about the game is that it’s one difficulty. That leaves it accessible to those who can figure out how to play the game and doesn’t get much more difficult. The achievements are easy to unlock and master, leaving you with a heightened sense of achievement. I can really appreciate a game that doesn’t make an achievement secret or ridiculously hard to master. There is only one achievement that I find to be the bane of my existence. The feathers. How is that a fair task to put to Ezio? Those feathers are impossible to sight in a free run on the map and to collect 100 of them? Those with a lot of free time can try to figure that out…

But this all comes back to the plot and characters. The Medici family, Borgia and all the villains

Awwwww yeah da Vinci.

politically connected. The tragic story of the Firenzes and the use of Leonardo da Vinci in the game. It’s just a big eye opener. For sure, you have to discover the secret video files in all of the hidden areas of the cities. It’s connection to the origins of the world and the suggestion to the end of it really blew me away. It may seem a bit hard to follow or, on the flipside, contrived and a bit hard to believe, but, in the end, it really made me want to believe what I was witnessing. And I can’t wait to play the next two. These games just keep getting better. A definite 10 out of 10.

Get to work. It's time to run train.


Black Cat: A Bounty Hunter’s Delight

For starters, I really liked the way this anime started off. It’s been a while since I watched it (only a few weeks, don’t worry, it’s still hella fresh), but the first episode really stuck out to me. I love the way certain anime start off with no clues as to what’s going on and let’s you figure out at what poin that initial scene will come back into relevancy. This show did a great job with that. Bringing in a climatic scene to show off the fighting and style of the anime was a great diving off point. And then, as is shown, we are given a build up in the show.

So the basic plot, I guess, is that Train Heartnet (Jason Liebrecht) AKA, Black Cat is one of the all-stars among the Chronos numbers. This elite groups of fighters wields specific powerful weapons to each of their characters that help rid the world of evil and injustice. With this power came a bit of bigheadedness and there are those among the Chronos numbers who felt it may be time for a

Train and his "woman". It's unfortunate what happens.

bit of a power struggle/coup. Black Cat wasn’t particularly one of them, but his “friend” Creed Diskenth (Chris Patton) saw to it that it was. (Cue classic “I kill your woman so come at me brah” scene.) So, in fact, Train spends a lot of this 24 episode anime chasing down bounties and trying to get at Creed for his injustices, just not with the Chrono numbers.

And why, you may ask, does Train leave the Chronos numbers? Well, Creed did in fact kill his woman and he also shed some light on the overlord situation being created by Chronos. Being able to decide who he shoots with

The 4 great bounty hunters: Train, Sven, Eve, and Rinslet.

his trusty Hades pistol gave Train the intiative to leave Chronos and embark on this adventure of revenge and redemption. This creates problems for the do-gooders of Chronos and their soon to be enemy, the Apostles of the Star. But this is all much later, and it would be better not to divulge and deal witht eh story at its beginnings.

This story, once Train leaves Chronos, deals with the bounty hunters all over this (Japanese?) continent. Set in a slightly different world where a bit more of the magical is possible, issues of transformation and impossible science and powers are given free reign. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but its initially not portrayed as anything supernatural at the beginning (a bit misleading). But I grew to love it in a heartbeat. Come on, a dead-eye shot with a pistol who can save the world and the girl? I’m putty in your hands to mold to this plot.

Sven (Brandon Potter) and basically his daughter Eve.

My favorite character in this anime is Sven Vollfied, voiced by the very able Brandon Potter. Now, you won’t hear this guy’s voice come up this often, but its so gravelly and unique with its tone and inflections and the occaisional squeak in his voice that you’ll laugh and connect all at the same time. But anyways, Sven is a great protective Dad character that looks out for Train, Eve (Brina Palencia) and Rinslet Walker (Jamie Marchi). Throughout the show, Sven sacrifices himself against great odds constantly in order to ensure that the other characters know there’s someone there that cares and loves for them deeply.

With little vinettes into the lives of some of the bounties these four “hunters” chase and two epic battle culminations towards the end, you really get a sense of what these people are individually and collectively fighting for. You find your favorite and root for them, despite the odds of the foes. It makes for a great quick watch (depending on how much time you wanna spend watching little sections of different plots at a time) and has a comically interesting

A great beginning and a great ending.

animation style depsite the heavy issues that are dealth with at times. Not quite a shounen fighter, not quite a comedy, this show find a happy dramadey medium that works just fine. This middle of the road anime deserves at least a 7.2 out of 10.


Born to Fight: Dan Chupong, Tony Jaa’s Contemp.

So there’s this guy. Dan Chupong. And he’s pretty good at Muay-Thai boxing. He’s been in a few films and definitely poses a threat to Tony Jaa. Interesting? ou bet he is. Like his fellow Muay-Thai fighter, Dan Chupong changed his first name for a more international appeal and should be hitting it big any day now. Little known fact, he was in Ong Bak 2 and 3 as Tony Jaa’s main antagonist, the crow creature/master fighter (?). But not to be outdone by Tony, Dan Chupong has begun his own career in the action film business in Thailand. His first big hit? Born to Fight.

So, in this film, Deaw (Dan Chupong) is a policeman, investigating a illegal trading syndicate headed by General Jang Sei

This could be... painful.

Yang (Nappon Gomarachun). In the ensuing fight, Deaw’s partner, Lowfei (Santisuk Promsiri) is killed and Deaw swears revenge against the evil General, who is subsequently arrested and placed in a high security jail.

Years later, Deaw has decided to accompany his sister and her olympic team of Thailand to a small village to help relieve their poverty and poor livings. All seems well (and the creepy dad of one of the girls completely agrees) until SUDDENLY… A militant terrorist group swarms into the small village (of all the damn villages) and begins mercilessly destroying the villagers, men, women, and children alike. Once they’ve done slayed about half the villagers, they round up the rest, excluding Deaw, into the center of the village. Their reasoning? They want the general released in exchange for the villagers. Fair trade? Dan Chupong would beg to differ.

Ever think you'd see an ass-kicking this way?

And from this point on, a bunch of olympic athletes, along with Deaw, begin to work and twirk every. last. soldier. At this point it’s guns versus buns (of steel) and you know the soldiers stand no chance. If this movie speaks to any horrific disaster of the last 50 years, this movie says that ordinary people can destroy the shit out of any armed and dangerous terrorist group that makes the mistake of attempting to invade their shanty town. And with what you may ask? The natural landscape of rubbery tin roofs, hardened wicker balls of steel, and a plethora of soccer balls kicked yards away with deadly 3-D accuracy.

What is nice about this movie is that Dan Chupong isn’t the main stunt actor in this battle of sports. Although he lays low with the village idiot who is a master of California Knockout, he obtains some guns. Which, in fact, is this movie’s letdown. Tony Jaa doesn’t need guns. Dan Chupong does. Is that cheap? Well, Dan is his own man, and can decide if he wants to be unfair for himself. But I have to give him credit, he can really use a gun with supernatural deadly accuracy.

But yes, the stunts are good and real (as Panna Rittikrai shows at the end of every film, his stunt actors getting rather horridly injured) and the action is intense, although the special effects may lack that pizzaz. I gotta say that nuke is rather a bust. But, other than that, there is some actually decent acting from the

It just. gets. insane.

villagers that inspires true tears, or, at least, with me. That is definitely something lacking in Tony Jaa’s films, other than Jaa himself. He is a regular Greg Kinnear. With a jam packed action scene once all the plot has been laid out and all seems lost, then this movie is really worth the watch. And guess what? Another Dan Chupong review is on the way. 7.5 out of 10.