Infernal Affairs
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Infernal Affairs
Hello, you've reached Raito's movie review blog. Most of what you'll find here is reviews of Chinese movies, because that's pretty much all I watch. :'D

November 2012
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Raito [userpic]

This was a really interesting movie.  Not the least because the descriptions and whatnot of it were very misleading.  There was also a certain amount of societal commentary in it, possibly a lot, depending on how you look at it.  The descriptions tell you it's about three friends, one a photographer, one a plastic surgeon and one a financial something or other.  However, the story mostly centers around the photographer played by Jang Hyuk who has apparently just been dumped.  The opening scene has him slicing off his own fingers to stop himself from grabbing his cellphone.  That turns out to be all in his imagination and sets the tone for the film to mess with realism, at least while the camera's on Jang.  Meanwhile, the plastic surgeon friend is introduced as someone with a womanizing problem, which later comes out as a sex addiction and his regret is eventually meted out in the form of anonymous threats and an STD fear.  The third friend doesn't get much focus, but you get the impression that he's in some kind of trouble with his firm and it eventually comes out that he's been having an affair with the plastic surgeon's wife besides.

But back to Jang's character.  He's dealing with depression over his recent breakup and spends a lot of time smoking weed and seeing things that aren't there, though he later tells a doctor that he would see things even if he wasn't high.  Throughout the film he occasionally has fantasies about killing himself and further fantasies about the news reporting how inept he is at carrying them out.  To be honest, Jang really carries this film because his portrayal of a creative type dealing with manic depression is completely convincing and relateable, assuming that you fit or have fit that description.  He even seems to believe the fake doctor when she spins him a tale of being an agent from the future.  Second, in acting terms is probably the plastic surgeon who comes across as someone who is just really confused and seems to have this childlike mentality of simply responding to his urges, unable to deal with problems and he has the same amount of dismay when he realizes the trouble it's got him into.  The funny thing is how in the closing half an hour or so of the film he becomes a far more sympathetic character than the cold financial guy who is running away from everyone and everything and taking the plastic surgeon's wife with him.  The wife, by the way, is also Jang's sister and he has known about their affair all along but can't bear losing either of them as friends and has kept it a secret.

spoil-lars )

Mood blahMood blah
Tags: drama, jang hyuk, korean, suspense
Raito [userpic]

So here we have an amazing slice of life movie.  To me, these movies rarely work because let's be real, slice of life isn't very interesting and the only thing that makes it interesting is extremely colorful characters and that's where most of them fall short.  However, that is not the case here.  Here we have three friends, two guys and a girl who need to find a new place to live and end up renting a room from a retired Peking opera singer.  She's a lounge singer who, at the start of the film, ends up injuring an audience member and is eventually required to pay his medical bills, and she also has an alcoholic and dysfunctional family.  One of the guys has a dad who is remarrying and he is basically resentful about this, not to mention, blames his dad for his mom's death.  The other guy is extremely overweight and that seems to be the extent of his problems, lol.  Throw in the fact that he (the first guy) and she (played by Berlin Chen and Fan Bingbing respectively) have feelings for each other that they hide and the other fact that the opera lady is still grieving the loss of her son in an auto accident and hey, things are pretty interesting already.

I can't really give away much more without sort of ruining it, but the movie essentially follows these four characters through a point in time and it doesn't even have a real conclusive ending, further emphasizing the slice of life that it is.

This is one of these movies though that I felt so strongly that I have a hard time describing how good it was.  I will say though, that Fan Bingbing hit it out of the yard with her performance.  I have seen some decent stuff from her, but this movie really cemented in my mind how good of an actress she is.  The movie was both funny and affecting and easily kept my interest through the hour and forty run-time.  Highly recommended.

Mood impressedMood impressed
Tags: drama, fan bingbing, slice of life
Raito [userpic]

Odd, jilted-lover revenge flick starring Gillian Chung, Daniel Wu and some other chick I don't know. The plot seems simple. Daniel Wu is a jerk and posted nude pictures of former girlfriend Gillian Chung online, and then the latter enlists his current girlfriend to help her retrieve them from his computer.

The problem is, nothing much happens. There are random sex scenes that reveal nothing, a chase scene that isn't all that exciting, and lots of scenes of the girls making eyes at one another. The ending was a little too contrived for my liking, and not entirely believable. Also, I hate when people purposely destroy electronics. In the pro column, there's some really cool French Italian music throughout, and tbh my first thought afterwards was hmm, I might save this for the music.

Then I said, nah.

Mood blahMood blah
Music Hilcrhyme – LAMP LIGHT
Tags: daniel wu, drama, gillian chung
Raito [userpic]

The other TVB drama Stephen Chow had a big part in, this one is a modern dramedy. Like Final Combat though, it takes a long time to set up the ending sequence. Now, it started out really interesting, with this quirky family kind of all living together and running a mahjong parlor. Alex Man is the ex-Triad, and Stephen Chow is his cousin. Ng Man Tat is Stephen Chow's father, and Alex Man's mother's brother. Then there's Old Hen who is Stephen Chow's grandmother on his mother's side and aunt to Teresa Mo who makes an early appearance.

Stephen Chow's character is an obnoxious taxi driver who constantly insults people and is just sarcastic as a way of life. The people around him seem to only tolerate him, except for his grandmother who spoils him unmercifully and dotes on him ridiculously, probably mostly only to spite Tat. So it takes a few episodes to properly introduce everyone, and it's all funny and interesting.

But then it takes a bit of a downward spin in the middle, like a lot of dramas, I've noticed. The main problem is paying a lot of extra attention to minor characters. The whole thing with Yu Gau was tedious and annoying and stretched believability on many fronts. There was also the focus on Ming Tin's (Alex Man) cop friend and his brother, the penny-pinching banker, much of which didn't need to be there. The exposition involving Ming Tin's Triad family was probably nessa, but God, Anthony Wong was annoying, lol. Of course, the other problem with all these minor characters taking a spotlight was lack of Stephen Chow, as he was the main cause of hilarity in the series.

Fortunately, by the time it starts to wrap up, there really is a good amount of suspense in the final episodes. And the scenes with Shui (Chow) and Chi are hilarious. So all in all, it was a good show, but like Final Combat, would have suffered immensely without Stephen Chow, whose acting was both funny and affecting. I can really see why both of those shows helped make him popular.

Mood blahMood blah
Tags: comedies, drama, stephen chow
Raito [userpic]

Well now, this is an old one. An early vehicle of Jet Li's and co-starring a very pre-superstardom Stephen Chow as his dubiously-moraled sidekick. The story in a nutshell is Jet Li is part of a wushu team that comes to Frisco for a demonstration or smth, and presumably, they're from China, not Hong Kong, and that's why his friend, Tiger, runs away on the day they're supposed to go back. He also accidentally kills a cop. While chasing him, Jet Li misses his plane AND gets framed for the murder. Then, in an epic and really obviously set-up accident, he gets away and wanders the streets for a bit before running into Stephen Chow.

The rest of the movie is messy and somewhat hard to follow because of the mumbled, mangled and otherwise mispronounced English. Or, at least it would be if the plot was not completely generic and obvious where it was going. Jet Li's character tries to get by as a grocer helping Chow, but somehow Tiger keeps showing up (he's now working for a pan-Asian gang) and eventually the two's worlds collide and all hell breaks loose. Which, naturally, leads to lots of kung-fulishness.

Really, the only good points of this movie is Jet Li's martial artistry and Stephen Chow, whom I firmly believe could play anything now. If he's going to change his tune, he should go full circle and put out some more dramatic roles. He's good at being dark. Surprisingly good, in fact. Not that he didn't have some moments of comedy, several in fact, but ultimately his character was a pitiful bastard who pretty much made his own bed and had to lie in it. Though, a bit at the end suggested it might not have turned out so badly.

Ultimately, it was an ok movie if you're a fan of the stars, but otherwise, pretty damn generic.

Mood blahMood blah
Music FACT – 1-2
Tags: action, drama, jet li, stephen chow
Raito [userpic]

A somewhat suspenseful, but rather slow-moving crime drama starring Sorimachi Takashi and Tsutomu Yamazaki. The latter plays Nango-san, a prison guard who once had to execute a man he believed to be remorseful. In the movie's present, he is trying to find the real killer to free a man who may be falsely imprisoned and on death row. Sorimachi plays Junichi, a man just released from prison after killing a man accidentally.

The two go about trying to find this other killer, neither saying much, and honestly, the movie really does drag for about an hour. Then, random things start popping up. The guy with no watch. Similarly, Junichi doesn't wear a watch, and in this very same conversation, you notice the scar on his forearm. That comes into play later. And things get somewhat complicated from there, with a little more action as well.

It's not a complex mystery, more of a treatise on who deserves to die. Terada? Who really did kill three people, but was remorseful and became a Christian. Samura? Either senior or junior. The latter was a clearly a shitty piece of work. Junichi? He intended to kill the man he accidentally killed. The guy who really killed the people Kehara is on death row for? Nango-san? I felt like the movie was asking these questions, but didn't necessarily answer them. Certainly not in the heavy-handed method of Hollywood films trying to impart a message.

Tbh though, my point of view is that Samura and his pals deserved to die. But I have a pretty harsh attitude towards anyone committing a crime with malicious intent like that. The world could do with less people anyhow.

Sorimachi is, though, a fairly incredible actor.  Once again, this role was completely different than anything else I've seen him in, and he easily sold it.  It's really criminal he hasn't been in more movies.

Mood contemplativeMood contemplative
Tags: crime, drama, jmovie, sorimachi takashi
Raito [userpic]

Even though the ratio of good to bad movies from China/Hong Kong is quite a bit higher than average, every now and then you get a movie like this. Above a 7 on IMDB, check, two of my favorite acting peoples, check....but somehow this still sucked. For one thing, it took an interminable amount of time to get going. For another, it had so many things going on, that they simply didn't have time to explain them all. At the end, I sort of gathered that the chick in the full body cast or wtvr, was Daniel Wu's girlfriend, but was either the daughter of, or married to the main cop.

The story...ugh. God, it was so full of holes I don't even know where to start in explaining it. But essentially Daniel Wu is a least, that's what they'd like you to believe. He seems to actually be some random guy from a backwoods village whom they would like you to believe is uneducated, but somehow is really sneaky, good at beating people up, and knows a double-cross when he sees one. It just didn't make sense. I mean, why hire a guy like that to kill someone anyway?

And somehow the cops in this story get wind of a killer being sent for some gang boss, and they...actually care??? Oh yes. They turn Mongkok upside down looking for this unidentified guy. Then, while you're fighting boredom and trying to suspend your disbelief, you have to believe that Cecilia Cheung's character would actually come back to the brothel at the end of the night where the guy that was trying to beat her at the start was. I mean, sure to get her stuff. But then they STAYED. There wasn't even all that much violence until the end, when they felt the need to ~shock!~ you with some buckets of fake blood.

It was really just the most ludicrous (and boring!) thing ever and I think about 30 minutes from the end I really didn't know why I was even watching it anymore. Except that I wanted my download of the second half of 'Look For A Star' to get a good headstart.

Ish. Needless to say, NOT recommended.

Mood frustratedMood frustrated
Tags: action, cecilia cheung, daniel wu, drama
Raito [userpic]

Alright, the time has come to post about this movie. I actually watched it a couple days ago, but it was one of those amazing movies that you have to sit back and carefully digest before talking about it. The story is essentially this: two thieves, a man and a woman are driving through what looks like a remote area of China, and the female decides she's not doing it anymore. It then becomes apparent the two are also a couple, and judging by her random gagging, you also can't help but guess that she is pregnant. The man, however, is oblivious.

So after some arguing she makes him drop her off in the middle of nowhere, and a villager eventually picks her up and she prepares to board a train, some time later. Meanwhile, the little subplot is that the villager (nicknamed Dumbo) is going back to his town to get married and settle down. He has about 60k yuan that he's bringing with him, because he is too cheap to wire money. Also, he doesn't believe in thieves.

Naturally, the male thief in the form of Andy Lau, ends up at this train station too and they board together. At this point, the story cannot be described by itself, as it takes so many twists and turns.  Because there is another group of thieves on the train.

Everyone in the cast was phenomenal and even just thinking back to a lot of scenes, gives me chills. Because as exciting as the mystery and intrigue was, the themes whispering through the movie were great too. Sacrifice, redemption, love, greed, lust, trickery...ok, that last isn't really a theme, but there was trickery aplenty.

To be honest, when it comes to movies, music or even books that wow me, I find it hard to put my amazement into words. Mostly because I don't want to do whatever it is, a disservice by not describing it adequately. Suffice it to say, this was an awesome movie. I can't recommend it enough, and it stands as one of the few that made my eyes leak at the end.

Mood impressedMood impressed
Music 麦田守望者 – 大闹天宫
Tags: andy lau, drama, li bingbing, mystery
Raito [userpic] what I say to this movie. It was a little complicated, a little MORE complicated than your average Triad drama. Essentially you have two brothers, whose dad is killed at the start. A fortune teller predicts that they will kill each other, so the mob boss separates them. by sending one to the US. Later, said mob boss is killed, which means the other brother reappears.

It's a short film, again at that lovely running time of an hour and forty minutes, so you have to really be paying attention. Unlike some of these though, I had it pegged at the end. The elder brother was trying to do two things; one, make his brother not trust anyone, and two, get rid of their enemies and then take the blame himself. This more or less worked out. But in the meantime, you were left to wonder if the elder brother wasn't trying to kill the younger one, and then slowly you realized that the brain cancer defense (which Andy Lau's character laughed at so vigorously) was not a crock and in fact, was actually the case.

So Idk. This is one of those movies I don't know how I feel about, plotwise. And I'm further miffed at the red herring at the beginning of the film, which didn't quite pan out. It was like they were trying to make you think something that simply wasn't. Acting-wise though, I was pretty impressed with Eason Chan. He was perfect as the out-of-his-depth character, and his initiation, so to speak, was believable. I was surprised, having heard some bad things about his acting. Also good was the brother, Kiu Wai Miu, and of course, Andy Lau, in a rare supporting role. His asshole cop was quite amusing, what with laughing at the guy with brain cancer and ordering his flunkies to search a car extra slow since the guy was in a hurry. Though, it was so good that I wanted to see more, lol. 

So basically, Andy Lau, you are too good to be in a supporting role.  It was like in Protege, despite watching it for Daniel Wu, as the leading man, Andy Lau, quickly and deftly stole the show in every scene.

Mood thoughtfulMood thoughtful
Tags: andy lau, brothers, drama, eason chan, triads
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