Here are nine mini movies reviews on the things I’ve seen in recent memory: Kingdom of Heaven, May, A Serbian Film, The Mission, Exiled, Panic Button, Pitch Black, The Man from Nowhere and True Legend.
Kingdom of Heaven (2005, USA, 194 min) – I held off watching this extended version (with the overture, intermission and entr’acte included) for so long but finally got around to seeing it. And wow. It felt perfect. I couldn’t remember the theatrical version. Because of this movie, I sometimes wish 4 hour epics were still being made with intermissions in the middle.
May (2002, USA, 93 min) – This was my Halloween treat of a movie. This is the kind of movie I would love to make for the indie horror realm. ***spoiler-ish*** Reminded me of Audition in the way it sort of hid the horror until the final act.
A Serbian Film (2010, Serbia, 104 min) – I only saw this movie because at least two of my friends had seen it before. They said it was fucked up. Yes, it was fucked up. However, it wasn’t loaded as much graphic gore but they were heavy weighted with controversy for sure. It’s more of a spin on snuff films rather than “torture porn” but still retains a high level of graphic images. If these kind of people do exist and make these kinds of films depicted in this movie… then it’s safe to say this world filled with some really evil people.
The Mission (1999, HK, 81 min) – Here is a cool Johnnie To film that I really enjoyed. It gave that cool vibe of what it means to be part of a crew but one with a strict code of honor. Very Melville-esque. Minimal dialogue and great moments before gunplay.
Exiled (2006, HK, 110 min) – Johnnie To continues the theme of The Mission but brings it to a whole new level. It’s a standalone movie but characters are transplanted over neatly into a modern western with Macau as the backdrop. He choice this place compared to Hong Kong because of the European feel of the backdrops. I like this movie a tiny bit more because of the lighting and the overall atmosphere. There was one action sequence that just made my jaw dropped. But the cool thing was, it dropped before any shooting had begun. I don’t wanna spoil it but it was a part that had lots of curtains flapping all over the place as people tried shooting each other. Intense. Sergio Leone was cited as a huge influence but I also want to add Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch into the mix also.
Panic Button (2011, UK, 91 min) – I’m going to be honest with this one. This movie had a great idea and some would say a great premise on paper. But within the first five minutes, I automatically hated this movie. Why do you show a death within the first few minutes without any real meaning? Then wait almost half way or more to reveal the connections of this death to the main story. To do this is torture. Mental torture. I held this thought in the forefront of my mind and couldn’t really focus on the “now” of the film. The acting was fine but the characters sort of sucked. You didn’t really care for any of the characters. Even the “main” character I didn’t like. It was stupid how they couldn’t work together and were so embarrass by their past evil deeds… why can’t you just focus on the current situation and ask, “How the hell does this person on the computer know so much about us?” Finally, the pilot entering after the climax to have a few lines before going back into the cockpit. WTF? And the ending… gosh. I’m sorry but there are too many people hyping this movie up. — Final words: Great ideas. Poor execution.
Pitch Black (2000, USA, 109 min) – This movie was good times. Wasn’t perfect of course, you could literally guess who was going to make it through the end (except for one death). The color grading was interesting, since the planet where the story took place had three suns. It’s your classic Monster Movie but in a little different light. Vin Diesel was great here. The monsters themselves looked a little funny and not so much scary.
The Man from Nowhere (2010, South Korea, 119 min) – This movie was awesome. It’s not as violent of the level of I Saw the Devil or great as Oldboy but it was stylish thriller that was way better than a lot of action films here. It’s basically a Korean Jason Bourne movie but with graphic violence shown. It also has the definition of “the knife fight.” Some also made allusions to Leon the Professional (not really for me) and Man on Fire (probably yeah… though I have to see this one first before I could decide :P).
True Legend (2010, China, 115 min) – I wish this movie was the movie I saw in the trailer: a kung-fu fantasy epic with a large ensemble cast. Instead, what I got was a movie that started out like a traditional wire-fu movie with fantasy overtones then slowed down to a revenge story. Then… it got boring. The action set pieces were good times, I admit that. But the story here was obviously pushed aside for action. Even after the climax, the story went down hill from there. Had some historical thingy added for value. Sort of corny for my tastes. Basically, this movie was a huge letdown. There was no ki energy moves at all.