Monday, October 3, 2011

Good, Bad, or Weird?

How does this sound for a premise, an old west style treasure hunt in 1930s Manchuria? Sounds pretty interesting to me, and director Jae-woon Kim pulls it off impeccably with 2008s The Good, the Bad, the Weird. The film kicks off with a train robbery involving too many parties and one, much sought, treasure map. The Weird, the bumbling Tae-goo, played by Kang-ho Song, somehow ends up with said map, which makes him the most wanted man in Manchuria. While being chased by both the Good, Do-wan, played by Woo-sun Jung and the Bad, Chang-yi, played by Byung-hun Lee, he manages to avoid capture, for a while. The film goes on to include many others in the quest for the treasure, including a gang of thieves and the Japanese government. Gun fights abound in true western style and the chase for the map and the fabled treasure winds it's way through many a double-cross to end in a standoff that would make Leone proud. While I admit, my experience with Korean cinema is rather inadequate, limited to this film and Old Boy. I must say, that experience has been quite fulfilling. With stunning visuals and a superbly crafted chase scene, I can proudly recommend this to any lover of westerns. Watch it, It's Korean and awesome.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Who needs a Martyr?

I recently watched the French film Martyrs(2008) and I must admit, I'm not sure if it was originally one movie or two. It starts simply enough, with a young tortured girl, Lucie, escaping her captors and spending 15 years in an orphanage. She goes on to seek revenge against said captors and once she does, her faithful orphanage friend, Anna, comes to her aid, but discovers Lucie is tormented by more than memories of torture. This was the point in the film where the story took a divergent path by rearranging the main characters and weaving a tale of brutal torture. The second half of the film reveals a torturous secret organization, more victims, and torture galore, but honestly feels like a seperate film from the first half. Both halves of the story make for beautifully gratuitous violence and are wholly entertaining, they just feel a little disconnected. The performances of Mylene Jampanoi and Morjana Aloaui as Lucie and Anna, respectively, are honest, vicious, and completely engrossing. Plotholes aside, this was a solid outing for director Pascal Laugier, whose other works I haven't seen, but may now. I found this to be a film with plenty of substance, in need of a little more tone, but well worth my time. Even the juxtaposition from revenge flick to torture porn is pretty interesting, in retrospect. If you're a fan of either genre, I can whole-heartedly recommend it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dr. Fucking Who

I was lucky enough, on Christmas no doubt, to catch the BBC America broadcast of Dr. Who: A Christmas Carol. This was, absolutely, the best present I received. This was my first taste of the new Dr., Matt Smith, since his replacement of the beloved David Tennant, and I must say he was better than I expected. It ran the usual Scrooge type gamut, with the Dr. playing each of the different Christmas ghosts and Michael Gambon, formerly Dumbledore, took on the role of the Scrooge character. It takes place on a strange planet where fish fly through the air and Scrooge controls the weather. It was the usual Dr. preventing impending doom scenario, albeit with a Dickensian twist, and it was wonderful. A great white attacking in a boy's bedroom, a banging hot blonde, and people frozen to pay off their debt. In the end, Scrooge learns his lesson and has one final day with his lady. Sadly, there were no Daleks or Cybermen, but a worthwhile story none the less. Watch it, it'll make you want to fire up your Tardis.

Better late than never

I've been slacking on my ranting, so I'll correct that now. I received an early Christmas present in DVD form. "What was this overwhelming masterpiece?", you say. Well it was the fantastic 1986 film, Rad. I had been looking for this film for years and my friend found it online, and I'm so glad she did. It's a cheaply made BMX film about the biggest race ever, on, get ready for it, Helltrack. Why this race is being held in Podunk, no one knows but they mistakenly let local hero Cru Jones enter and he kicks the shit out of the pros. Along the way he has to contend with industry folks trying to shut him down and a love interest, Lori Loughlin, with awesome feathered hair. Now, I figured that, having not seen this film in more than twenty years, it would suck royal balls, but I'm glad to say it, while cheesy, was every bit as enthralling as it was when I was a kid. Watch it, it'll make you want to dust off your Mongoose.