Perhaps the best of the love triangle Kdrama series
Beautiful Days was my first watched and my most liked Korean drama series. It may not be appreciated by a Western audience - the implausibility, the reliance on extreme coincidence, and the heavy fringe hairstyles may also be a bit amusing, too. At first, I was also thinking that way, but the longer I watched the seductive charm of Lee Byung Hun's main character, Lee Min Chul, as I happened on the TV channel each night of the series' run, I was hooked.
Lee Min Chul meets many women's fantasies about how their dream man should be: wealthy, successful in business, impeccably dressed around the clock, handsome and strong. You can watch him and be completely overwhelmed. Many of the scenes rely on subtle poses. Lee Byung Hun has great talent for posing, so this production was ideal for his model looks. His co-actress, Choi Ji Woo, also played her role superbly.
It's nearly impossible to explain any of the story without spoiling it. Suffice to say that there is romance, illness, ambition, rivalry, and a complex web of connections between the characters. The actual ending differed from the producer's intended ending as a result of audience pleas while the first screening of the show got underway. Consequently, you can notice a somewhat strange and abrupt ending.
The soundtrack to this series was also good quality, too. Ryu Shi Won, an actual Korean pop singer, who played the other lead male character, recorded several soundtracks. There is also that lovely guitar number, too.
I can recommend this drama to anyone who has a soft heart for romantic dramas. Probably not for any male viewers - they'll just giggle at the melodrama.
Perhaps scoffed at by Western movies, the idea of reincarnation and second life is in fact a common theme in Korean productions. No surprise when it rears itself again, then...
Knowing in advance what was going to happen after I read a plot summary elsewhere, I was so disappointed in how the plot consequently unfolded. There was so much potential for suspense and drama - who was the younger brother? what was his motive? how had he gone about assuming a hidden identity? - but it didn't materialize until the very end. Why couldn't the director have turned this into a great movie and used more subtle nuances combined with more staggered chunks of revelations to the mystery that was unfolding? Arrggghhh! This movie will probably only please Lee Byung Hun fans. Western audiences will probably loathe it as it doesn't fit their cultural expectations of how a movie should unravel.
Another Kdrama series - but tries to break out of the mold and appeal to a wider audience
Lee Byung Hun, my Korean movie idol, manages to sustain a great performance based on real-life gambler Kim In Ha. I think it's only thanks to the skills of Lee Byung Hun, that this series managed to be so good. Although there were also some genuinely mean performances by a couple of other villain characters, as well as a couple of slightly farcical and not so good characters.
Usually, the romance thread is the main point of the Korean drama series. They introduced the fictional romance between Lee Byung Hun's character and that of Song Hye Gyo against the gangster backdrop. The 2 became real life lovers during the production of the drama - now broken up. You can see on screen that the two really like each other, but as for Song Hye Gyo's character of 'Angela' on screen, she didn't seem to have a lot of substance and I wasn't convinced why Kim In Ha should go nuts for her. You also have to believe in the nature of extraordinary coincidence - a common feature of Korean drama series - to be convinced that the couple should be reunited on SO MANY occasions in various parts of the world.
For me, the stronghold of the series was the rivalry and backstabbing between the gang members. I especially cheered at the fate of the vampire-esquire Dae Soo character. Such a theme attracted a lot of male members to the audience - not something typical of most Korean drama series. I also think the series can appeal to many on an international level. They have on-location scenes in Las Vegas including some foreign actors. The gambling skills picked up by the actors was also impressive.
I will watch any movie that stars Lee Byung Hun because he is the most handsome Korean actor, and he does actually have genuine acting ability. However, this was a movie in which he wasn't really allowed to reveal his range of acting skills, and is largely a disposable movie which will probably be long forgotten in years to come.
This movie essentially fits in to the current Korean fad for 'romantic comedies' with added inspiration from the U.S. series Sex and The City. (In fact, I couldn't really see why this movie wasn't just made as a TV production rather than wasting good money as a movie format.) The lead actor played by Lee Byung Hun plays around with 3 sisters of very differing personalities. We get to see him pair up again with the actress Choi Ji Woo, who plays one of the sisters. Previously, Lee Byung Hun had starred in the highly successful TV drama series Beautiful Days with Choi Ji Woo. In that drama series, Choi Ji Woo played a very quiet, ailing, angelic figure. It was therefore quite surprising to see her play a comic role in Everybody Has A Secret so well. As a result, I thought Choi Ji Woo's character was the strongest in the whole movie, and not only that, but even perhaps the ONLY personality in the movie. Everyone else was a rather two-dimensional cut out figure. I felt I couldn't really care about the fate of any of them overall. In fact, by the end, no character has achieved anything worthy of note. I couldn't even possibly remember any of the character's names, too. That says a lot for the impact of the film.
I think this is only a movie for die-hard Lee Byung Hun fans or for someone who desperately needs to get through a rainy afternoon. It's purely an excuse to ogle at him for an hour or two. It's not a movie about acting standards. Anyone who knows Lee Byung Hun's reputation amongst Koreans as a 'player' will start to wonder how much they see on screen might ironically be some reflection of Lee Byung Hun's real life. That was the only thought that remained with me after the movie finished.
I lived in South Korea for 3 years, and Lee Byung Hun who play Sun Woo is my favorite Korean actor - admittedly, I think he's very handsome, but I also think he has some genuine acting talent too - and that's why I had high hopes for Dalkomhan Insaeng. I was also hoping for improvements on Byung Hun's previous two movies of one year earlier, which didn't really do anything to raise his acting stakes.
I think Byung Hun played the gangster part quite nicely. He has the right poses and skills to be convincing. Do you know he has a 2nd dan black belt in Taekwondo, and a racing driver's license? Both skills were utilized in the movie. He also already had experience in a gangster role to much better effect in the successful Korean TV drama series, All In. Dalkomhan certainly didn't suffer by casting him in the lead role.
Whilst the attempt at creativity and an aspiration for the cutting edge was in evidence, it didn't quite pull off as a truly memorable movie, however. Many reviewers here are saying how great the backgrounds and subtle effects were. Quite frankly, you can find such similar effects in quite a few other movies. I was just not convinced that there was a real point for this movie other than to make an action movie. I think there needed to be more twists and more original purpose to the thrust of the story. I also wasn't convinced at how Sun Woo could resurrect himself from near death several times and take on so many gangsters single-handedly. Also, the fixation with the girl developed too suddenly. Her stature in the movie just didn't entrance me.
If you want to see an even better Korean movie about revenge, may I suggest my favorite Korean movie to date: Sympathy for Mr Vengeance.
I am a BIG fan of Ong Bak. Tony Ja and his production team were the most talented and refreshing bunch to appear on the martial arts movie scene in recent years. I only just got my hands on the Tom Yum Goong (TYG) video with much excitement, only to be disappointed with what I saw. Ong Bak had cutting edge underground shots and acidic soundtrack. The fight choreography was superb. In TYG, the whole of the first half lacks any of Tony Ja's real skills. One really disappointing scene,for example, was when he ascended the stairs of a restaurant/brothel building, merely throwing his fists out...1 man down, 2 men down, 3 men down... with a real anti-climax in effect. The final scene, taking on all those bodyguards in a single room went down with similar predictability and relative uninventiveness. As an actor, if anything, Tony sadly regressed. No real dialog; didn't do anything to change his appearance; just a one-dimensional look. He didn't do anything to expand upon the promise of Ong Bak. TYG just looked like the regular days of Jackie Chan, but at least Jackie Chan demonstrated better scripting line and dialog. Tony Ja, please don't rest on your laurels with the success of Ong Bak. Come back and really show that you could be an all time movie martial art legend!
I don't have time to go into in-depth considered praise for this film, but it's a film I have watched several times, and feel it deserves a pat-on-the-back. Although some of the underlying issues that the main characters have gone through are in many respects very serious and macabre, I don't think it was the director's intent to make this a depressing movie which dwells on those issues alone. Goddess is an art movie. It's designed to be visually different and controversial for its handling of subject matter. Blindness, incest, murder, dysfunctionality. An unexpected combination of events against the spectacular backdrop of the Australian outback. Ironically, the central character is blind, and cannot see all this visual beauty directly. But, she somehow finds a strength and sensitivity amongst the far from beautiful physical abuse she grown up with. Somehow with this is intertwined an ex-fashion model from Japan, and a cult car. It's an artistic celluloid canvas. I don't think an average director could put all these elements together and come off with a really watchable and intriguing movie. I love the central character's feisty, yet carefree independence. Free-spirited female viewers will love this. I think most male viewers will miss the subtlety of the movie's intent, and will therefore not enjoy it so much. Makes a really refreshing change from your regular Hollywood flick.
I've just completed watching all of Cheung's films now, phew....
Yes, it's true that there are many echoes of this film already out there, but I guess it's hard to be unique when producing a ghost story these days!
I thought the film had a reasonably plausable plotline. But most of all, I thought the main actors gave a thoroughly good performance. It's not always easy to discuss the topic of mental disorder in Asian societies, and you also felt that the two main protagonists were quite isolated from everyday events around them. Everything that goes on revolves around them and they have a powerful story to tell.
Cheung is looking more mature than in most of his other roles. He is not a happy-go-lucky comic playboy any more. In fact there is no humour in this film at all, and the tone just gets darker and darker as it progresses. It's a little sad to see how the fate of Cheung's character came to perhaps resemble the final moments in Cheung's real life. I would have loved to see Cheung continue playing in film roles for ever and ever.
Sometimes this film feels like it has the stamp of professionalism all over it, sometimes you don't really know what you're in for, since none of the actors were familiar to me.
I had no idea where the plot was going from the start - hey, a film about asbestos decontamination didn't initially seem to contain much inticement to stay glued to the film. But then you see the real life abandoned penitentiary (did I spell this right?) centre which I've seen featured on a few haunted house documentaries, then you get the idea of things.
Session 9 has clearly taken elements of real life patients in the centre and threads it around the fates of the film's present day characters. I thought it was generally quite well done, although if you're hardened to ghost stories, it's not immensely chilling. And the ending I felt was a bit too hastily wrapped up (literally?) for the viewer to feel the full force of events. Session 9 is an entertaining watch, but not a classic.
This film takes a particular type of person to see it all through. Personally, I'm not very into musicals; never watched The Rocky Horror Show, to which this film is compared to. When the music is also not my style, I found this film really rather tedious and a complete headache - just like many of the US diners who unexpectedly stumbled on Hedwig's roadshow and decided to get out quickly.
I think the storyline has some strong points, and would be willing to follow it if it cut out the music stage scenes. I was interested in the theme of confused genders against an East German background. I also thought the Jonny Gnosis as a nemesis theme was psychologically strong. But overall, too much annoying music to support the interesting threads. Cannot watch this again.
Hero certainly deserves all the acclaim it gets for its photography and on location shooting. No wonder it was so expensive to make, and thus also perhaps explains why such an 'epic' seemed quite short.
I loved all the costumes, especially those of the women. Wow, these were really strong female leads, and I praise a director who allow women such expression of strength. They were not just simply beautiful to look at. They had real substance. I loved particularly the red costumes, the absorbtion into nature, and the sophisticated recreation of Chinese cultural artefacts.
Of course the film owes a lot to Crouching Tiger. I think Hero manages to surpass C.T. in its use of landscape surrounds. But I don't think Hero contains quite the moving plot that transpires in C.T. I was quite disappointed at where the Hero 'plots' lead. They actually seem to lead to very little. The 'storyteller' as it were is afterall denounced as a liar. So it seems that the story itself is not the grounds for the film, but the excuse for creating a very poetic and visually stimulating work.
I love Jackie Chan. I even met him once in 2003, and I'm currently living in Hong Kong studying some martial arts partly due to his inspiration.
In a TV interview with Chan, he explained how he didn't like dialogue parts because he was too nervous and unnatural to use English. Yet as his age starts to hamper his acrobatic stunt flair (and he really has been at it for a LONG time), he seems to feel he now needs to be cast in these 'Johnny English' roles, where he becomes a Chinese clown in all things cool USA, accompanied by the latest hot female star. This time it's Jennifer Love-Hewitt, who I still don't think has any particular talents. Just nicely groomed hair.
The use of a 'magic suit' is really just an Inspector Gadget derivation, and doesn't really provide any originality to the plot. The other plot which runs alongside it is the threat of a water contamination scam (I'm sure the FBI were on red alert already). Actually several of Chan's films start to concern themselves with the 'environmental baddies' - an echo of Christopher Reeves intention in his last days as Superman.
All I hope to see is Chan doing his infamous acrobatics, but unfortunately these are getting fewer and fewer. I hope he doesn't continue to make these simple disposable films of similar genres just for the sake of it. (But yep, the Medallion film came out not long after and was lamentably even another step down from Tuxedo).
Chan's 'decent film period' with international appeal
I'm a big Chan fan and have watched most of his films.
This one seems to be a forerunner (except the Aussie-based ones) to his attempt to internationalize himself by appearing with Western co-actors and filming on international locations. I would say that A.S. is the better of this group of films. It has a resonable plot with more purpose than most of his other films. It also has a decent filming location in Turkey, and his co-stars also have some degree of character. We also still manage to savour some good quality stunt antics before they are about to all but disappear in Chan's most recent films of Tuxedo etc.
It was great to see this film on location in Hong Kong
I really enjoyed seeing the tables turned in Part 2, and seeing Chris Tucker being taken out of his element and onto the streets of real Hong Kong -no studio creation! It was however, when they returned to the USA, as if for some reason they couldn't sustain the filming in Hong Kong, that it became just another regular action/comedy movie, and I lost interest.
I'm all for the integration of Asian and Western movie productions, and I thought this one was doing really well in terms of its appeal to a wide audience. So, why oh why, did the producers give up the Hong Kong film set? I really enjoyed to see all the Hong Kong sights featured in a big name movie (I've been living here for 3 years now). And it also managed to be successful at having a Chinese female figure in the 'baddie' seat, without the need for a typical big American lady.
If you've enjoyed Rush Hour I, this is a satisfying sequel. It's perhaps going to already be a bit too predictable as to what sort of things are going to happen in the currently being produced Rush Hour III, but I'm hoping for at least an interesting shooting location - not just your regular big US city.
If it weren't for Williams, this would be negative
All the credits of this film go to Robin Williams. If it wasn't for the way he held up and made us believe in the character of Sy Parish, then this film has very little else.
He really gives his acting skills everything to turn the vulnerable old photoshop man into a scary stalker. Unfortunately the plot didn't offer more opportunity for him to be a classic stalker as in some other movies. In fact the plot had a couple of BIG flaws:
Why, when the family's husband was working in digital media, did the family not possess a DIGITAL camera of all things? HA!
Second, if you are a fit (as in muscular) looking young man, in bed with another youthful person, how on earth can you tremble at the sight of a frail-looking Williams wielding a small army knife at the foot of your bed. I myself would have been quite ready to take on Williams had I been in such a position. The weakness of character totally defied belief!
There were also things about the convincibility of some of the other details. What a stupid argument dialogue the wife and husband have about her spending too much money. It was like scripting out of high-school drama class.
Also, the police caught Williams too disappointingly quickly for my liking. Really, not enough of split second timing thrills. But bless Williams for that dramatic pose he made when in the headlights of the police cars. A curious role for an aged Williams and better than I've seen before from him.
I really enjoyed Nang Nak. But then again, I'm quite keen on World cinema, rather than regular Hollywood nonsense, so I can appreciate it won't appeal to everyone. The boyish looking female lead of Nak will also not have enough 'sex appeal' for some to warm to her.
I'm not sure how authentic the setting of it truly is, (I've never been to Thailand), but I found the primitive look of the costumes and housing to be really refreshing. I thought the director also caught some of the storm scenes really dramatically, and the sequencing of Nak's labour was truly terrifying. The quality is on a par with anything out of Hollywood. This is a film not to be shown to expectant mothers! I was also drawn to not having the slightest idea about the film's outcome. Although at first I did find the perpetually sobbing Nak a bit much, the ensuing events did more than compensate for this. Really interesting film.
a grand picture, but not the deepest plot around (CONTAINS SPOILERS?)
I'm a new fan of Kubrick, and like the way he thrusts regular (or sometimes not so regular characters) through bizarre circumstances.
Suprisingly for me, Lyndon is a pretty regular storyline, whose interpretation seems faithful to Thackeray's literature. It also seems to run parallel to works like Amadeus, Barber of Siberia, and A Clockwork Orange. Set against social class division, subject to fate and intervention, (and some lust), with lavish costume and backgrounds, a defining path of the rise and fall of a male (yes, always a dominant male) adulthood is chronicled. And once more, the film is delivered to us often via a narrator, so we feel the main character to be more of a subject who provides an example of a 'type' rather than a personalised human being who we can get very close to.
After 3 hours of film, the plot can be extracted as follows: -A 'young' Redmond Barry falls for a woman already taken by a Captain Quinn.
-After believing he has killed Quinn in a duel, Barry must leave home and find his own path. He ends up enrolling in the army. -A few scuffles in the army later, he manages to get out and back to his plan of 'becoming a gentleman'. -For a want of money, he then marries Lady Lyndon, who already has a son, but then bares another with Barry. -In an attempt to gain the title of 'Lord Lyndon', Barry squanders away Lady Lyndon's fortune, leading to the hate relationship between Barry and his step son to widen, and thus being the key for Barry's demise.
This is slightly simplified, but does include all the main plot points, so can suggest that really there is not a great deal to the plot when compared to other great epical movies. Also, the ending is rather abrupt considering the time it takes to arrive there. Nevertheless, it is impressive how Kubrick does manage to sustain a great filming quality for the entire 3 hours of the film. The costumes in particular are superb, and you really do feel emerged in the 18th century. I was glad Kubrick also managed to suppress his exposure of boobs and nudity that he likes to insert in his other works.
I just bought the VCD version as soon as I saw the 'Kubrick Collection' on sale in Hong Kong alongside one of my most favorite films: Clockwork Orange. F.Y.O. the VCD colouring is a bit dark and the sound is quite low - a shame if you otherwise have a large screen and surround sound etc. And a large screen is called for if you are to really feel the effects of being positioned inside the vast snowbound hotel complex the characters get locked up in, and the earlier aerial shots of the Canadian Rockies.
I used to (about 10 yrs ago) read Stephen King a lot and always found non-stop suspense in his novels. I only vaguely remember The Shining plot however, so cannot judge the interpretation of the novel as King wrote it. This film version is by far better than all the other film adaptations of King's novels, (and there have been some really dire ones), but I'm still left unsure about its high aclaim from other reviewers on this Site. I agree that Nicholson does a great job of 'insanity', but would have liked to have seen even more of it. I can accept the seeming speed of his mental decline if you assume that he was already harbouring something before the family go to the hotel. It's only in the final 30 mins, however, that we see the 'chase' of Nicholson on his family. The suspense wasn't held long enough. I thought the child actor did a fine job, but also agree with others that Nicholson's wife is the soppiest character with some really painful lines. I was actually hoping to see her head roll at the end just to avoid having someone like that being responsible for bringing up a kid alone, and somehow, her and the kid's relatively easy escape was a slight anticlimax. B.t.w., if the wife's character was really so strong to escape, why didn't she put that kitchen knife straight in the eyeballs, as her husband takes eons to axe down the door, and has all the time in the world to peer through and say 'here's Jonny'? Also, there wasn't enough 'gore', which the build up was suggesting to come. About the only 'gorey' scene was the fruit juice spilling from the elevators.
Overall though, it still isn't bad for a 'horror epic' if you remember that it's already some 25 years old, and it still has much more class than those brainless films such as 'Scream' etc.
I'm not one for the regular predictable Hollywood all-guns-blazing blockbusters, so Clockwork Orange caught me immediately.
I've never read the original book by Burgess, but it surely seems not to have been the easiest novel to be transposed onto celluloid. Yet Kubrick has made a wonderful creation of it. It has all the designer stamps of 1970's fashion over it, so it makes for curious retro-viewing. The characters, their costumes, their language, and their visits to the 'milk bar' are all originally crafted. At first you might think that this film is going to be a couple of hours of pure excuse for erotic violence, but then a genuine profound plot starts to ensue, and then you're taken on a path with no predictability whatsoever.
I think it's a classic, but I also appreciate that the tone of it may hold wider appeal to a British audience, where it is all filmed. It has a certain darkness to it which could only stem from the grey housing estates of Northern England. I hired this video in Japan boasting to my landlord that this was a superb movie, but after 15 minutes he just reached for the off switch, claiming it was too incomprehensible (plotwise not languagewise) to follow! You need an artistic love of the surreal.
A sometimes very sharp-humored comedy (contains spoilers?)
Yet another film (very close to Cheung's 'Double Happiness' film) in which a dysfunctional family goes through their paces (generally on the romantic relationship side) until they reach a 'harmonious' ending.
This one, however, has much sharper humour in my opinion. Cheung plays a stereotypical gay character who is at war with his hard-nosed sister. His role is not the strongest in the film, though. Better merits go to the other characters. I found the film-theme imitation driven romance of one of Cheung's brothers to be on a par with the humor of those 80's spoof films such as 'Airplane' etc. I had some fair amount of laughs at this spiel and can recommend it to pass away a cloudy day.
As soon as I found out this was a ghost from the past love story, my interest in the film completely evaporated. What a terrible storyline after an otherwise interesting beginning in old China amongst the opium dens and compelling characters. Ooohhh, so disappointing. The reaction of the modern day couple finding out they were lodging with a ghost really wasn't at all emotive, and quickly extinguished the feeling of romance. Not recommended.
Misleading title = film has no solid plot basis. (contains spoilers)
Cheung plays the likeable priest character, who becomes involved in someone else's love problems and simultaneously involved in someone else's crime. He's kind of the good samaritan figure who can do no wrong. But overall, he doesn't really do much at the same time, to the extent that this movie is not very solid and doesn't seem to go anywhere interesting. Even the humour fades out pretty quickly.
I wouldn't recommend it unless you are simply a diehard Cheung fan.
an easy going, happy ending not-to-be-taken-seriously movie (contains spoilers)
I felt this movie was a great time-filler for a wet weekend indoors. It's really light-hearted and has a decent 'feel good' finish. It's kind of a Cantonese version of 'Mrs Doubtfire' to some extent.
Cheung (again) takes the role of the 'lover' with many lines about homosexuality, although I don't see this to be the main issue of the film. I also reckon the female lead character is a stronger character and she does well to play the tomboy fan to a pop idol who is dating Cheung and then disguised seducer to Cheung's character. She really holds up the whole film.
Merry Christmas is not a stocking filler (contains spoilers...)
This is a very similar film to 'A Wonderful Life' also featuring Leslie Cheung, but in Merry Christmas, Cheung's appearance is quite minimal, and the main credits go to Karl Maka as 'Baldy Mak'.
It's a very light-hearted, typically Cantonese romp about a dysfunctional family headed by Baldy Mak. Many things are greatly exaggerated in his 'ordinary' life, but it comes down to how can he get his new love to stay with him after she announces she wants to emigrate to the USA. Cheung's role is a small side part; he's a jack-the-lad figure who tries to seduce Baldy's daughter within the film. Meanwhile Baldy's elder son also has a love problem being mapped out. Just like in 'A Wonderful Life', everything materialises as a happy ending on the eve of New Year's Day (this time the Western New Year).
It's not really anything special; it won't move you at all - just a flashback to an average piece of Cantonese cinema.
The Intellectual Trio - nothing clever about it really...
I'm in the process of watching all the Cheung films at the moment, but this one is not one to spend your time with unless you are his diehard fan, or just want to see some amusing 80's Hong Kong fashion.
The storyline involves some not particularly attractive women who go around pickpocketing, then come unstuck when they choose a professional (look at the 80's style fashion, man!!!) assassin and then become his next targets. Simultaneously the women try to pickpocket Cheung, a not very tough and convincing policeman, and a supposed Taiwanese sidekick, who tries to be funny, but is NOT in the slightest. The women then end up falling for Cheung's charms, and can also utilize his policeman status to fend off the assassin stalker. In the end it's supposed one of the women gets her throat cut by the assassin, but even that's unclear, cus at the next scene, the sister goes around to the appartment and on a call to the assassin asks where her sister is. About the scariest scene if at all that, was when the assassin appears in the shower of the Taiwanese side kick.