phanthinga

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Reviews

578: Phat dan cua ke dien
(2022)

A nice appetizer before the main dish Thanh Soi
578: Phat Dan Cua Ke Dien is the latest highly anticipated action movie from Vietnam of 2022 (right after Thanh Soi of course) and although pretty generic in plot and characters, fan of mindless action movie gonna have a feast with this one cause 578 in my opinion was not a movie in the traditional definition but a interactive movie where the action of one character mean nothing if you picked the wrong part for that said character. The movie was loaded with action scenes and set pieces to the point that the plot and acting was thrown aside with no consider what so ever. Despite clocking at an hour and a haft, the movie was so fast paced that I seriously thought that the whole thing I just saw on the big screen was a frank from someone who just got his first gig as an editor and only care about showing off the action scenes to the viewers. It was nice while it lasted so I recommend this movie to anyone who short tempered and just want a quick fun time.

Hydra
(2019)

A bit dull
So Hydra is one of the movie that I'm been dying to see after the release of Re: Born (2016) Japan answer to the booming of the new gun-jiujitsu style of action movies that started with John Wick. Unlike the Western folks, the Japanese adapted to this new trend with a different approach when they complete drop the realistic aspect and amplified the wow factor with hypnotic body movement and flashy hand to hand combat techniques that look outer-worldly cool to the eyes of audience. Kensuke Sonomura who body of works already speak volume in the low-budget action movie scene of Japan teaming up with Masanori Mimoto another veteran of the scene to create Hydra a low budget action movie that clearly a passion project that mean much for these guys yet end up bitten off more than it can chew. Hydra despite the short runtime and easy to digest premise was a real snooze-fest that barely saved by the action when it not only short but also so few and far between. I'm still think that the movie is worth watching on the choreography alone but I'm you really want to see something different from the usual Hollywood stuff, check out Re: Born and hopefully Baby Assassin in the future.

Thiên Than Ho Menh
(2021)

Another weak supernatural thriller effort from Victor Vu
After the commercial hit that is Dream Eyes (2019) followed by a dreadful year of the rampant Covid-19 pandemic, Victor Vu finally returns to his roots with the third unofficial installment of his famous Scandal franchise title The Guardian (2021) with yet, another tale about superstitious in the Vietnamese show business to little success because this is no doubt the most run off the mill movie he ever makes. The writing of The Guardian down to its characters beat and development is just a weak rehash version of the first Scandal movie only with a bigger budget now and although the first Scandal movie was ridden with plot holes it still accomplished what it set out to be while The Guardian strength relies on how much you know this famous guest star singer or care about the V-pop genre, to begin with. The movie got some nice spooky moments that will scare off the general audience who looking for a cheap thrill so watch it with caution.

The Fable
(2019)

A passable introduction to a new franchise
If you are a normal moviegoer who has never heard about the source material, I can guarantee you that The Fable (2019) will be a solid time-killer but as a fan of the original manga which the movie is based on I gotta say, I expected a lot more than just an okay movie. On the surface level, I think the movie did a good job by staying as close as possible to the manga premise especially with the character design, the setting yet falls completely flat when it comes to how the comedy plays out in my opinion. There's a lot of funny gag in the manga that works brilliantly due to the subtle and grounded nature of the writing being butchered in the live-action version by needlessly putting over-the-top dialogues and exaggerated facial expressions to the character and the story. I also think the live-action adaptation will work better as a long-run tv series more than a theatrical release movie but I cannot praise the movie enough for 1UP the manga in the action with the last 30 minutes of the movie. In the end, I'm still glad this move exists cause Japan honestly needs more stable live-action movie franchise like this before they go on and adapt some of the weirder ones so I definitely recommend The Fable and looking forward to the sequel.

Castle Falls
(2021)

Adkins and Lundgren together....again
After the new bombshell of the DTV scene that is One Shot (2021), I know that many people will look at Scott Adkins with different eyes and high expectations when it comes to his movies and so am I cause he is not only the hardest working action actor nowadays who always brings his A-game no matter the budget, he also one of if not THE BEST to do it right now and in the case of Castle Falls (2021). The second and probably the last movie he put out in 2021 where he co-stars with the 80s action icon Dolph Lundgren, I'm still trying my best to keep my expectations in check and to be honest. Despite the obvious restrictions in terms of scope and production value which you can clearly see during the movie due to the pandemic, the movie still managed to deliver the goods in the action department with the crispy clean fight scenes choreographed by Tim Man and solid acting chop from Scott and especially Lundgren with his newfound emotional range. Castle Falls is a mid-tier actioner at best but if you're looking for a short DVT movie that hits all the right spots then you can't go wrong with this one.

Ave Marie
(2021)

An actual good WWII movie with a modest budget ? Are you kiddin me ???
Although many people will disagree with my statement, I really think Jesse V. Johnson without a doubt is the best director who works in the DTV scene right now with a string of heavy hitters alongside Scott Adkins and now in 2021, his winning streak continues with Hell Hath No Fury, a very ambiguous and self-contained period piece that somehow blew all my expectations away since the trailer. Almost everyone brings their A-games into the movie from the always awesome/scummy Major Maitland played by Louis Mandylor to some of the best acting chops that I've ever seen from Daniel Bernhardt as the menacing yet heartthrob Von Bruckner to Dominique Vandenberg powerhouse acting when he got to speaks his native language. Fans who used to see these guys kick-asses on-screen gotta have a hard time watching the movie due to the slow-burn nature of the movie but they will be rewarded with a bloody aftermath when all hells break loose. Although the script was not as tight as I hope for and some of the character's decisions make little to no sense the movie is still a much watch for action fans all around so I highly recommended it.

Xie ying wu
(1981)

One heck of a movie
I've been a long time since I watch a Shaw Bros flick and I'm glad that I'm finally returning to the crazy world of wuxia with a balls-to-the-wall flick like The Bloody Parrot. I love everything about this movie from the colorful characters, the sword plays, and the cheap 80s effects although the plot was a bit hard to sit through the movie still managed to end with a mind-bending finale. I highly recommend pairing this movie with Human Lantern for a double features night of madness. Happy early 2021 Halloween y'all.

Yasuke
(2021)

Good enough to kill time but ultimately a waste of potential
Yasuke is one of the most intriguing historical figures that I can think of and as a black African man who lives a fascinating life as a noble samurai warrior under the shogunate of Oda Nobunaga. His story can be easily turned into a fantastic historical anime series and in 2021, we finally got one under the hands of studio MAPPA and I cannot stretch enough how god-awful this piece of mess is. To keep the review short, I just gotta say this anime contains about 5% of the actual story about Yasuke and the rest was your usual anime extravaganza that makes little to no sense other than to let people know that it was in fact "AN ANIME SERIES". I don't want to talk about race politics when it comes to entertainment media cause I believe that anyone can make any kind of story about any people that they want if they got a good story to tell and sadly despite how much back talents behind the anime, they still don't believe Yasuke can stand on it own two feet as a historical piece of series without shoehorned in a bunch of old and tired anime tropes that plague the medium right now. One positive thing that I can say about this one is it look and feel like something Yoshiaki Kawajiri would make back in the late 80s and that is also the reason why I don't drop this series right after episode 1.

Dorohedoro
(2020)

A delightful surprise for sure
As a hardcore fan of the manga, when I heard Dorohedoro gonna be adapt into an anime series I always got this dreadful feeling that if somehow the anime turned out to be bad the general audience will look away from the source material despite being held by studio MAPPA. A studio that I'm quite enjoyed in the past with such hits like Dororo, Inuyashiki, Jujutsu Kaisen... cause Dorohedoro is the kind of anime that if you don't treat it with enough love and care it will backfire so hard you will wish you never touch it in the first place. It's 2021 now, one year after the anime has been being released, and after all the hype has been dire down. I finally got the nerve to check the anime out for myself and to my surprise, the whole thing turned out quite well, to be honest. The voice actors fit their characters to a T and the animation despite look pretty janky with the CGI still vastly superior to most CGI anime out there and the most important thing of all. They completely nail the heck out of the ghoulish tones and over-the-top nature of the manga without overdoing it. Of course, there are many things that I dislike about the anime such as the look of the characters and the somewhat rushed plot due to the 12 episodes format but if the studio keeps the quality of the anime insistent there is still room for improvement in the future.

Trang Ti Phieu Luu Ky
(2021)

A rare gem from the fantasy scene in Vietnam
Just watched Trang Ti before the latest wave of COVID-19 swept across my country and I gotta say, this movie really surprised me with how good it was consider the fantasy genre in Vietnam still a very tricky one to crack open. All the characters from the beloved comic book series Trang Ti by author Le Linh all come to life in a natural way with a few changes here and there but ultimately work out well in favor of the movie. Since the comic book as far as I can remember very episodic in term of plot and story structure at least in the beginning so I don't mind when the movie basically crammed 2 to 3 volumes worth of content into the first 15 minutes to set up for the original story and despite being generic it still delivers a good all-around performance from an up and coming young cast and the special effects on this one especially blew my mind away. To be honest part of my enjoyment come from the low expectations so please take my review with a grain of salt and see it for yourself (after the pandemic of course).

Seized
(2020)

What the hell happened to Scott Adkins and Issac Florentine ?
After the lackluster Close Range back in 2015, I kinda hope that Seized would be a good comeback from the dream team of DVT action movie Scott Adkins and Issac Florentine but I guess 2020 is the year that nothing good can come out of it because this is one again a low effort action schlock from these guys and I cannot be any more disappointed in it. It definitely not the worst movie Scott has made this year because that spot still belongs to Legacy of Lies but it also far from some of his good ones. I actually really enjoyed Mario Van Peebles performance in this movie when he is the only one bring so much energy to this movie and some of the fight scenes although not as polished as Ninja 2, Undisputed 2&3 or had any fight that stands out from the rest they're still quite fun to watch, yet I can really say the same about the shallow characters and the tragic short runtime.

Dinh Mu Suong
(2020)

Is it finally over ? Thank god
After the massive success of Hai Phuong a.k.a Furie at the box office and around the world I finally got my hope at the Vietnamese action movie scene back after many years of disappointment so when this movie The Foggy Mountain came out 1 year later I kinda hope it will continue the torch being pass down by Veronica Ngo to deliver us another banger action movie made in Vietnam again and my oh my it let me down once again. The movie despite the generic revenge for a loved one premise bore me to death with it annoying supporting characters, choppy editing fight scenes, and the worst of all a tone-deaf main character. The main actor can really pull out a fight especially when he facing Simon Kook the Muay Thai fighter from Ip Man 3 with Wing Chun which is the only thing you need to look forward to if you decide to watch this movie but other than that, every time there something dramatic about to happen his wooden acting always makes me want to punch his emotionless face for real. in the end, I guess because the mountain was so foggy it ends up lulled me to sleep instead of entertained me.

Goblin Slayer: Goblin's Crown
(2020)

Goblin Slayer is finally back with more Goblin Slaying....yay ???
I absolutely adore the Goblin Slayer manga and I also find the anime despite the poor animation and skip content to be watchable so when I heard they will adapt the Goblin Paladin arc into an anime movie I kinda expected it to be much better than this not gonna lie. For the first 20 minutes into the movie it just one big recap episode of the first season and when it finally got to the new content I find it rather dull and boring for the most parts. If you already a fan then you will definitely get a kick out of seeing the gang back together with their usual shenanigans but IMO compare to the source material it falls flat in every way possible. The song Static by Mili is the only good thing that comes out of this movie, to be honest

The Doorman
(2020)

A big disappointment for Ryuhei fan
Normally I'm a very forgiving person when it comes to movie like The Doorman and just Die Hard rip off movies in general but when you got a pretty stacked cast and Ryuhei fricking Kitamura as the director and the result is just another bargain bin action flick then what are you even doing here? I mean Ruby Rose as a lead action heroine is not a bad choice when she can pull out some believable action scenes but beside her everyone from Dan Southworth, Louis Mandylor, and Jean Reno they all acting like they don't even want to be in this movie, to be honest. There not a glimpse of Ryuhei's over the top filming style up until the final act and even it can't even save the whole goddamn movie from itself. I hope this movie is just a quick warm-up for Ryuhei Kitamura before he goes on and directs that Versus remake cause I'm definitely not buying this one.

The King of Fighters
(2010)

Into the trash can it goes
Say what you want to say about Mortal Kombat Annihilation because despite all the rough stuff it still can serve as a good-bad movie and can rewatch every time you need a laugh while this movie The Kings of Fighters was just outright bad on so many levels. From the costume, the set design to the looks of the characters it all screams " I don't know a damn thing about the video game" yet somehow it still costs 12 mil dollars to be make and Gordon Chan the man behind Fist of Legend (1994) was also the one directed this monstrosity of a movie. Even a fan-made movie with a limited resource on Youtube will still be better than this movie.

DOA: Dead or Alive
(2006)

A genuinely fun martial art movie
DOA: Dead or Alive is the movie that makes me realize I'm not a boy anymore and upon rewatching it since the early 2000s for the first time I gotta say the movie still holds up very well. Since I hardly know anything about the DOA franchise nor care to research before this review I can't really criticize the authenticity movie compared to the source material but what I do know is it was a lot of fun from start to finish. The plot is your typical martial art tournament trope with matrix-like fight scenes, wacky sound effects, and last but not least a bunch of colorful and beautiful babes duking it out. Some of the shots during the movie can be a bit questionable and way to sexualize to be view with your family but perfect when you want to watch something with the boys so I highly recommend it.

Legacy of Lies
(2020)

Hmmmmmmmmm
I know from the start that this movie Legacy of Lies(2020) will not be a full course of Scott just kicking ass and taking name but another chance for him to flexing his acting skills after the jaw-dropping performance in Avengemenet (2019) yet in the end, this movie still feel underwhelming as hell. It got a couple of exciting scenes that will entertain you for the first half but the latter half was a bunch of boring spy mumbo jumbo stuff that I just hardly care about.

Bando
(2020)

Oh boy here we go again
Peninsula (2020) the highly anticipated sequel to the surprise smash hit zombie flick Train to Busan (2016) from South Korea just drop this week in my country and as a fan of the genre and the movie I find my self in a very weird love-hate relationship with this movie. From the trailer, I can already tell that this movie gonna be more bombastic with explosion and action than the last one yet I never thought that it gonna be this underwhelming. If you looking for an entertaining zombie movie then this movie is no doubt the best option right now when it features many well-shot action scenes with the best car chase scene I've ever seen in quite a long time but on the other hand, the human drama aspect that makes many people fall in love with the franchise in the first place was pretty weak. The main cast still likable for you to root for them but because the movie doesn't spend enough time to develop them as much as they can all the dramatic moments that meant to draw the audience's tears fall extremely flat. I dare to say that if the movie keeps the premise of the opening sequence and a more grounded cast then maybe.....just maybe Peninsula can bring back the magic touch from the last one but rn lower your expectation is the best advice I can give

Flesh+Blood
(1985)

Medieval movie at it best
Before Paul Verhoeven goes on to directs some of the best movies the action genre can offer he makes Flesh+Blood a medieval movie starring the late great Rutger Hauer as the leading role that sadly turns out to be a massive flop at the time due to how grim, ugly and unapologetic it portrays the world in the late Middle Ages, a time and place where humanity only live for themselves. Because there is no knight in shining armor or any character that you can root for the movie left a bad taste in people mouth at the time but for me, the brutal and hopeless nature of the movie quite fascinating and oddly beautiful cause it definitely not the kind of story that can be told in the sensitive modern day. The movie may not have the cultural impact like many of Paul Verhoeven later movies but if Kentaro Miura the creator of Berserk one of the best manga ever created says he based the design of Berserk protagonist Guts on the character Martin as portrayed by actor Rutger Hauer then clearly the movie must be doing something right all along

Rurôni Kenshin: Meiji kenkaku roman tan
(2012)

Entertaining but shallow as hell
I heard many people say that the live-action movie of Rurouni Kenshin is one of the best anime adaptation movies the world has ever seen so I decided to check out the first one in the franchise and all I can say is there definitely things worthy to be praised here and things that not only unnecessary but also make the movie kinda soulless when compared to the source material. The fight choreography is top-notch as expected when it got one of the best guy of the game Kenji Tanigaki as the action/stunt director plus the high production value that I can see from the set-pieces to the costume really show how much love the people behind the camera pour into the making of this movie but sadly all of that can make up for the lack of character development in Rurouni Kenshin. I do think Takeru Satoh as Himura Kenshin is a great choice when he can pull off the character inner conflict beautifully but for characters like Yahiko and Sanosuke two of Kenshin's most loyal companion in the manga is so bland to the point that it baffles me. I'm totally okay with the fact that Jine Udo got a bigger role in the movie but the bunch of ronin the movie pick to replace The Oniwabanshu Corp is laughable at best.

The Mercenary
(2019)

The "I kick ass for The Lord" club just found it newest member and his name is Dominiquie Vandenberg
The Mercenary (2019) is the latest action movie directed by Jesse V. Johnson starring Dominique Vandenberg as the lead and although I only know Vanderberg as the crazy French mercenary guy from Triple Threat his performance in that movie already sold him as an actor for me and this movie is the perfect chance for me to see Vanderberg at his best and I was right. Old school 80s shoot out with many delicious bloody squibs plus Vanderberg awesome knife skill really elevated the movie beyond your usual poorly made B-movie. Louis Mandylor is excellent as the main bad guy LeClerc while Carmen Argenziano as Father Elias the one who shed the new light on Vanderberg character Maxx was a chore to sit through due to how over the top and cringy he is every time he preach about something.

Mat Biec
(2019)

Victor Vu last banger before 2020
In Vietnam, there is only one person that I can call a visionary director and that is Victor Vu but in the past two years from Loi Bao (2017) a superhero movie to The Immortal (2018) a supernatural action movie despite a great scope for cinematography and genre the script always bring both of them down which frustrated me al lot so with Dreamy Eyes his latest novel adaptation movie from author Nguyen Nhat Anh I keep my expectation at the lowest possible and surprise, surprise the movie blew me away from how good and emotion it is at the Melodrama genre that I'm not very fond of. It a very predictable movie filled with soap drama cliche from start to finish but I can help but fall in love with the characters, the scenery, the OST that by the time I realize it all over I already ugly sobbing in my seat. I hope everyone catches this movie before it leaves the theater and I wish 2020 will be the best year for the director with his Son Tinh and Thuy Tinh mythos movie

Kingudamu
(2019)

A Chinese historical movie made in Japanese ? You better believe it
The long await live-action movie based on the famous manga of the same name KIngdom is finally here and as a fan of the manga, all I can say is "Good fricking job director Shinsuke Sato because you just successfully bring life to another beloved property without heavily rely on the source material". As far as a live-action adaptation can go Kingdom is very faithful to the source material from the characters to the events with some minor changes that I really appreciate it but the biggest disappointment I have with the movie is how tame it is in term of violence and carnage compare to the manga and if they want to continue the story they better jacked up the bloody meter because after the first big arc the next one gonna be an all-out Dynasty Warrior battle scale

Sudden Death
(1995)

One of the best 90s Van Damme flick
Since one of my favorite action star of this generation, Michael Jai White want to make an unofficial sequel to a 90s Die Hard scenario movie called Sudden Death staring the great Jean Claude Van Damme so naturally as a fan of Van Damme and all the Die Hard clone movies no matter how bad or low budget they are I'm quite excited to finally watch this movie for the first time ever and although its not quite awesome like I anticipated it still quite a treat tbh. Because there nothing original in this movie except the hockey stadium setting so all of my attention is on how good Van Damme carry this movie and needless to say, he does that pretty well with many unique ways to kill the bad guys especially the hilarious and definitely in my top 10 favorite Van Damme action sequences where he battles a villain in a mascot costume.

Tenki no ko
(2019)

Another fantastic anime from Makoto Shinkai
Your Name (2016) directed by Makoto Shinkai an absolute masterpiece of animation and sound design emotionally destroyed me and probably any anime fan in general at that time so to finally able to watch his latest project Weathering with You (2019) yesterday despite the bad weather in my country I gotta say it quite a memorable cinema experience. Weathering With You while no doubt is a masterwork of animation from the beautiful background to the quirky character and the soundtrack definitely will be on my playlist in the future but when it comes to the star-crossed lover's story with supernatural element it overlaps so much with Your Name in term of storywise that I got a hard time to focus on Weathering With You without comparing it scene to scene with Your Name in my head and that a real shame because I really want to remember the anime as its own thing, not Your Name 2.0. Granted, because Your Name is my first exposure to the director Makoto Shinkai so please take my review with a grain of salt and see the anime for yourself

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