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Perhaps a bit short but still a good film
I watched this on Netflix, and the premise was very interesting. A man leaves the love of his love in Taiwan for the chance of immigrating to America with his boss's daughter, and he decides to seek the love he left behind as an old man as well as get along with his estranged daughter.

Though the narrative was interesting, well, I felt that the film could've done more with the characters, esp. Yuan, who is played by veteran actress Joan Chen. I think she should've had more screen time given her acting prowess, and perhaps this could've been a limited series. Maybe I'm insisting on what the movie should've been instead of accepting what it was, but by the time it ended, I was sorta left hanging.

Still, this type of tale should be told more often. As the parents of Asian immigrants myself, it struck a chord with me.

The Night Comes for Us

I couldn't finish this gore-fest
I'm a fan of the star of "The Raid" so I was looking forward to this film. Unfortunately, I stopped watching a third of the way in because of the gratuitous gore and stuff. The action scenes are so over the top and preposterous, and I think that will normally turn off even a lot of martial arts fans.

Trust me, this plot has been done before and so has many of the action sequences but this is so unnecessarily gory. Skip it.

Paradise Beach

Disappointing but it was set in Thailand!
I love films set in Thailand, so when Netflix offered this flick, I jumped at the chance to watch it. And since it was also a French production, I was hoping for something better than B-movie trash produced in the U.S. I was pretty disappointed.

The plot is that Mehdi, a member of a gang that robbed a bank 15 years earlier in France who was the only one caught by cops, is released from prison and joins the rest of the gang on the Thai tourist island of Phuket. The Phuket-based members are all doing well in the businesses they set up with the 2.4 million euros they stole. The trouble starts when Mehdi, citing how he spent 15 years in prison while the rest of the gang was in paradise enjoying their loot, wants his share of the money, or 400,000 euros, so that he can go back to France. The members make various excuses on why they cannot pay him now but the member closest to Hicham, now married to a Thai woman whose brother is a police chief on Phuket, pledges to get Mehdi his money. Things go south for the gang from there as Mehdi erroneously thinks the methods he employed in France will work in Thailand.

The sets were great and reminded me of Thailand, and also got me wanting to go back. The problem is, the plot has a few unbelievable elements and twists that just don't make sense. As much as I enjoyed the film mainly because it was set in Thailand, well, I can't say it's a good movie. It didn't suck as the plot did have twists and turns that had me guessing but in the end, the ending fell flat. That said, I still enjoyed it and for those who love Thailand, this film is fun.

Always Be My Maybe

Could've been so much more
I was really rooting for this pic, which featured two Asian Americans in the lead roles. It pretty much disappointed on many fronts.

1) The settings are SF, LA and NY, cities with high Asian populations. Many Asians tend not to hang out with each other in the lesser cities unless through school or church.

2) The movie just assumes the female lead dates Asian men, when this is far from the case that I've seen. Discrimination against Asian men by Asian women in the U.S. (unless the Asian man is loaded) is a real problem.

3) We don't really get to know the characters all that much. I would've liked to see a bit more about how Marcus took his mother's untimely death and how Sasha dealt with being a latch-key kid (I was one, too).

4) I also have an issue with how these characters were just Asian versions of white characters in rom-coms.

5) I hardly think Keanu Reeves was needed in this film, esp. as himself (though I know his father was an ethnic Chinese from Hawaii).

6) The movie seems to ignore a lot of issues Asian Americans go through in the U.S. like racism, even when you've "made" it like Sasha, pressure to do well in school and life and clashes between Asian parents and their children in U.S. society.

I did enjoy parts of the film (except Park's rapping, UGH) but I hope they make better ones from now on.


A disaster of a movie
I don't mind that action thrillers can have bad acting and bad plots but this was really, REALLY bad. The action just occurs too fast and we don't get insight into what happened before to the protagonist (as in how the hell she became an assassin). The fights got boring after a while and gosh, to think that the ending hinted at a sequel -- PLEASE SPARE US! Please do not waste 90 minutes of your life watching this turkey.

Tu hijo

Good film though a bit slow
I randomly picked this on Netflix and the film did well building up suspense. The story is familiar: a man is driven to revenge and vigilantism after his beloved son is brutally beaten and the authorities are of little help. Yet I knew the plot here wouldn't be so simple. The surgeon father is played well but I felt too much time was devoted to just his expressions but that's just me. The climax occurs in the final 15 minutes after the father crosses a line and the ending is left a bit ambiguous, though it's pretty evident justice will eventually prevail. I think American audiences would not like how things turn out but this is a Spanish film that has a far-from-Hollywood ending.

Black Mirror: Be Right Back
Episode 1, Season 2

Very insightful and thought provoking
I saw this after reading about the plot online, and this episode didn't disappoint. The old saying "Be careful what you wish for, you might get it" is apt here.

Martha's grief is very real and it seems it never goes away even after the synthetic Ash appears and does her bidding. Yes, we miss the great things about our partners but also the not-so-great things. That was a good point. Still, for Martha to want the synthetic Ash to jump off a cliff was a bit much, even if he was a machine. At least she had some part of him that she could keep, esp. with their child on the way. I mean if my wife died and such, I wouldn't mind an android to remind me and my child of what she was like, even if I'd moved on.

Highly recommended.

Up in the Air

Surprisingly good and even better than expected
I hadn't seen any movie fully until this one, which I watched with my wife, and it didn't disappoint. I'm going through job security pains and the topic of this film really struck a chord with me.

Clooney played the main character brilliantly and realistically as the movie had anything BUT a Hollywood ending. He plays a professional who has to tell workers that they're getting fired or laid off and deal with their reactions. Reports say production invited real people who'd been fired or let go from their jobs, and around 100 responded, from which around 22 were put in the movie. Despite the glamour of always being in nice hotels and business class, the job shows itself to be isolating and anti-relationship, as Ryan seems to just go from fling to fling with no commitment whatsoever. I'm sure there are people like this in the world, and this film taught that yes, despite life meaning nothing, it's more bearable with a co-pilot.

I highly recommend this film and might even watch it again.

Showdown in Manila

Worse than inexplicably bad
I saw this movie via my satellite TV's movie package, and it was such a waste of 90 minutes of my life. The movie drew me with its cast of former action stars Don "The Dragon" Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock and Oliver Gruner plus Tia Carrere but gosh, the (lack of) acting, plot, flow and everything else made it one of the worst movies ever. Please do yourself a huge favor and avoid this turkey.

Safety Not Guaranteed

Predictable ending, overrated flick
I love the concept of time travel and such, but geez, this movie had such a predictable ending. It did do well with getting to know characters and such but the payoff was so meh and was viewable from a mile away. This movie could've been more had the characters been more likable, esp. the guy who puts out the ad. Overall, I think this movie has been highly overrated and I wouldn't watch it again. Troubled characters are nothing new in movies but well, this flick had the same old tired formula of people seeking an out and such via time travel. I won't go into what I think the movie should've done since I wasn't the screenwriter or director but this movie disappointed.

The Mistress

Yet another disaster with John Lloyd Cruz
I want to know why Cruz is so popular in the Philippines. Is he handsome? No. Is he a good actor? No. So why the hell is he all over the Phils? Please, tell me that.

The story is about a Filipina who is the mistress of a wealthy corporate executive, who is the father of a man who falls for the Filipina. Duh, so things get complicated when both men vie for the woman's affections, and things are worse because both men happen to be father and son.

It seems Philippine movies tend to gravitate toward this type of trash with this type of third-rate actor like Cruz. I hope for a change.

Can This Be Love

Utter garbage
I saw this film with my girlfriend on a Philippine movie channel, and while the premise is intriguing -- a Korean girl in the Phils falls in love with a Filipino -- the movie is a bunch of clichés and typical teen predicaments.

I felt the two main characters had no chemistry as a couple and Park's character seemed more like a wallflower than a leading lady. This is the crap that can happen when you give a teen star an acting job.

And the ending, oh gosh, what a crock. The director simplified it so much, I think, because it would've cost a lot of money to film any of it in Korea. So after she leaves the Phils, everything works out happily ever after and they get married? Such bullshit, esp. if you know how exclusive Koreans are.

Reisei to jônetsu no aida

I saw this movie right before I sold the DVD. Based on a bestselling Japanese novel, the movie has an interesting premise with a Japanese guy, who excels in art restoration in Florence, and his estranged love, a half-Japanese woman who works at a jewelry store in Milan. The movie goes back and forth with flashbacks as to how the couple met and developed their relationship.

The movie was too long at two hours and four minutes, as it could have been done in a shorter period of time, but hey, glacial pace is a trademark of Japanese cinema. The setting in Italy is great and so is seeing scenes of that wonderful country. I would say that is where the good points stop. Much is not explained about the couple's relationship and such, including Aoi's abortion and subsequent breakup. The side stories of Junsei's friends were not needed and looked hokey. And Michael Wong, who played Aoi's new beau, had the acting skills of a tree stump.

In conclusion, one reviewer said Asian perceptions of a love story greatly differ from those of the West, and that is true. Perhaps Asians audiences will like this movie more than Western audiences. I for one don't regret seeing it but would I recommend it? Not sure.

Fresh Meat

A mildly entertaining comedy
I saw this at Pifan 2013 in South Korea, and well, I wasn't expecting a horror comedy but got one. There were funny moments in the movie but well, the gore wasn't necessary.

I also wanted to see the actor T. Morrison but this was far from his finest hour. This film is basically a mix of gore, sex and a series of one-liners and while I didn't regret seeing this, I'm not sure I can recommend it.

I gave it seven out of ten points because there were entertaining moments, but I sure hope Morrison gets better roles to befit his acting talents.

Something in the Way

I haven't seen many Indonesian films but this one stuck with me. I also had the fortune of having the actor who played Ahmad answer a few questions after the screening.

Ahmad is a lonely cab driver who masturbates to porn and girlie pics in his cab and home. In his apartment building lives Kinar, a lovely prostitute and single mother with whom Ahmad falls in love. Ahmad is struggling to make money as a cabbie, so he starts to frequent areas with prostitutes. He and Kinar grow closer but he all of a sudden decides she should quit her job, leading to the climax.

Much of the movie is spent on showing Ahmad doing things like eating his noodles or masturbating to porn. Perhaps the director wanted to show how dull Ahmad's routine was and how Kinar's appearance was a refreshing break from his dull life. The film had no music to enhance the drama and seemed very realistic. Others mentioned that this film could be the Indonesian version of "Taxi Driver" by Martin Scorsese, and I can see how this film might have given this impression.

Very recommended.


Hard to figure out
The title "Miroku" is the Japanese word for Maitreya, or the future Buddha who is prophesied to come later. Being a Buddhist believer, I was intrigued by this film's premise, but nearly fell asleep during the movie.

It's hard to explain the plot. Lots of philosophy and science are discussed, a group of boys are played by female actors, and a drunk in Japan wises up and finds meaning. I'm familiar with Buddhist concepts and terms but this movie was really hard to understand and I had no idea what exactly it was trying to convey.

The scenes are often fantasy sequences and the like, and the director made the film with a bunch of film students in Japan. As much as I wanted to like the film, I couldn't.

Simon Killer

Not terrible, not good
I read the reviews about the film and they stimulated my interest in seeing this flick at Pifan 2013 in Bucheon, South Korea. The movie seemed to go in several directions, but yes, I found the film a bit hard to like, especially the ending.

Simon is a recent college grad who visits Paris after breaking up with a longtime girlfriend. He befriends Victoria, who works as a prostitute, and soon moves in with her despite planning to hit other places in Europe. He tries to scam her other customers and trouble starts brewing.

I found that Simon wasn't a likable guy at all. He had a couldn't-care- less attitude like the character Zach Galifianakis played in "The Hangover." I also found implausible Victoria immediately liking Simon and letting him into her troubled life, and he ends up making things more complicated for her. He seems to really show what a true a-hole he is toward the end.

I'm glad I watched it but would I recommend it? Not sure.

At the Horizon

Interesting intro to Laotian cinema
I saw this because I'd never seen a Laotian movie before and my friend is married to a Laotian woman. It started out as a revenge drama but had an unexpected ending that left me thinking about the film after I'd left the theater.

Sin (and I think his name was no accident) is a rich young man in Laos whose arrogance and ego know no bounds. He constantly cheats on his girlfriend and thinks he can buy his way out of any situation. Lud is a mute man who works as a scooter repairman and has a wife and daughter. Sin wrecks Lud's world and Lud seeks revenge. That's all I'll say about the plot.

Perhaps the director through the movie sought to blast the inequality in Laos, one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world. I have no doubt that people like Sin exist in Laos, and that money is often considered a solution to any problem there. Also, Laos is a Buddhist country and Lud's character displayed traits of compassion that the Buddha taught. The ending was unexpected but satisfying and enlightening nonetheless. The film's quality was quite high though you could see it was a low-budget work.

Incidentally, the actor who played Lud resembles Manny Pacquiao. No wonder he got a part.

Highly recommended.


Seemed entertaining
I saw this at Pifan 2013 in Bucheon, South Korea, and while I've seen several Danish movies that were so-so to lackluster, this one was entertaining.

Caspar is a young man who has a single mother and two siblings in Copenhagen. He burglarizes homes and sells the stuff he steals to an Arab thug, Jamal, who cheats him all the time. Caspar is later offered a job with a pimp named Bjorn and starts to earn good money. But Jamal is angry that Caspar is working for someone else and seeks revenge.

The movie was interesting and the characters seemed real, though I don't know much about Denmark. I'd say this was worth a watch, though the ending seemed a bit flat.


Good message but...
I'd say this movie tried to make a statement in weird ways. Yes, food companies hold a major responsibility in the obesity crisis in the U.S., but the way the movie said this was a bit strange, especially with the illusions the main character could only see.

The film started out strong by showing the power of advertising and marketing, but fell flat in the second half with corny scenes and the like. The presence of Hollywood actors like Max Von Sydow and Jeffery Tambor didn't help that much, considering that they had minor roles.

Would I recommend this film? No, there are better ways to spend 106 minutes of your time. Give this a pass.

La fille de nulle part

Too many unanswered questions
I saw this at Pifan 2013 in Bucheon, South Korea. What seemed to be a simple drama about an older man who takes in a troubled young woman got weird with the occult and stuff.

A man in Paris has lived alone for decades since the death of his wife. One day, he sees a woman being beaten up by a young man in the staircase of his flat, so he tends to her wounds and offers her a place to stay. He is in his 50s and she is 26 and has nobody. Surprisingly, she has a keen sense of intellect and helps him finish his book.

The ending was rather weird, as the movie ends without closure about both the girl's past and psyche and the man's death, which might or might not have been staged by him. Because of this, I'd say give this a pass.

Fra Thailand til Thy

Subjective documentary about Thai wives in Denmark
I saw this on YouTube and heard it was so popular in Denmark. I found it an interesting documentary but I wish it dealt with the problems that Thai women face in Denmark. What was also ignored was the racism in that country and how the women dealt with it.

I know little about Denmark and don't particularly care for that country given the intolerance there that I hear often about (and the insistence of Danes that it's not racism), but this was nonetheless an interesting documentary.

There is a sequel as well in which the lives of Thai women in Thailand who want farang husbands are explored.


Skip this disappointment of a movie
Well, what can I say? I was expecting a nice period film from Korea's yesteryear but instead, I got a movie that dragged on and on. There are too many questions unanswered about the hit man, his target, the girl the hit man takes care of, and the Communist Party that sets the plot in motion. One thing to bear in mind, however, is that when this film was made, South Korea was under the anti-left dictatorship of Park Chung-hee.

I understand that Lee is a famous Korean director, but this, I'm sure, is far from his best film. Save an hour and 20 minutes of your life and skip this.

Conversations with God

Dumb movie, just really dumb
I watched this on my satellite TV's VOD and thank goodness it cost just under a dollar. I was expecting more from supposedly an inspirational story and instead got a third-rate attempt at a movie.

I love stories in which down-and-out people work there way out of their situation, but this one was just weird. The movie was disjointed and confusing and oftentimes, it just left me with more questions, especially about what Walsch's history was like. I believe there are significant omissions from the film, including about his troubles with women and such.

I'm generally against Christianity and well, this film got me no closer to that awful religion. Save yourself 1.5 hours of your life and skip this turkey.

Händler der vier Jahreszeiten

Haunting film, though flawed
I read about this film before watching it, so I knew what would happen before I saw it. Nonetheless, this film had an effect on me.

First, the lead character Hans amazingly looked so much like soccer great Diego Maradona. I was trying to place his face and then Maradona's face came to mind. Anyway, the protagonist seemed really down on life because of little or no support from either his wife or family, with the exception of his sister, who seemed just a little caring.

Hans makes a modest living selling fruit on a cart and going from apartment complex to apartment complex to do so. Neither his wife nor mother approve of his job, and he was fired from his job as a cop after getting serviced by a prostitute who was under arrest. The story seems a real downer as just about everything that can go wrong does for this guy.

I will say the acting is rather rigid but perhaps that is characteristic of German society, esp. back then. I was surprised at the moments of emotion, like when the wife suggests getting someone to help them sell the fruit.

As for the ending, this is my take on this. Hans knows that he is a burden on his family, so after seeing that his war buddy is good with his wife and daughter as well as the busy, Hans drinks knowing full well that he will die. He figures he will get out of the picture to allow his wife and buddy to be together and such. So perhaps his act of suicide stemmed not just from his desire to live no longer, but also to leave his family in a better position, not to mention the woman he was cheating with. Others might disagree, but perhaps that is his one final act of good for the world before he leaves it.

Overall, I'd say this film will stay with me (and help me to stay off booze).

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