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International DVD Talk Intl. DVDs, Region Free Players, RCE, Hong Kong DVDs & More

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Old 08-31-13, 08:32 PM   #1
flixtime
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An International box of chocolates...you never know what you're gonna get...

New World (2013 - South Korea) - Good - but in the post INFERNAL AFFAIRS and ELECTION era - overly familiar gangster/undercover cop tale. The first half is dry, talky, and uneventful...yet it also is consistently involving with a goes-down-easy pacing. To expand on "involving", it certainly was, but I can't say that I truly got "lost" in the movie, meaning I didn't really get pulled in to the "experience"...aka it felt like I was watching actors play their roles in a crime movie aka watching the movie didn't become "real" or especially gripping for me. The second half runs with more vim and vigor. The story is enjoyable but offers not much that you won't anticipate...again a fairly standard tale. That being said, it certainly does go about things in an impressive silky-smooth fashion...the 135-minute runtime really does glide along nicely. NEW WORLD isn't a top-tier Korean crime film, but it is solid fare.
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Old 09-01-13, 08:28 PM   #2
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Journey to the West: Conquering Demons (2013 - China) - Stephen Chow directing for the first time since 2008. I found the trailer for this movie to be entirely off-putting...and that is the primary reason why it took so long for me to get around to watching it. It's a successful fusion of comedy and somewhat dark fantasy. With a total runtime of 110-minutes, I found the first 50-minutes to be supremely entertaining...an excellent entertainment experience. After that things drop back more to "good"...the story progression slows and some of the comedic aspects are either a little overlong or not entirely successful. Despite the title, the movie is more about setting-up the players for the journey to the West. The CGI and such isn't anywhere near the level of Hollywood fare, but I still found it effective, functional, and charming in its own way. Again, I'm not one to be too concerned about technical stuff if the story and characters are working for me. All said, JOURNEY TO THE WEST was quite the pleasant surprise considering how little I cared for the trailer. Despite tailing off in the second half, I still think the movie rates out well in terms of replay value.

Note: the Taiwanese Blu-ray/DVD features both Mandarin and Cantonese audio, so it might be the preferred option over the Hong Kong releases which offer only Cantonese audio.
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Old 09-02-13, 08:45 PM   #3
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Indonesian director Joko Anwar's latest MODUS ANOMALI aka RITUAL was released on U.S. DVD this past Tuesday. Despite being an Indonesian production, the film is an English-language entry. My reason for mentioning it is because the DVD is nicely priced at under $10 from Deep Discount and DVD Planet. There might be some sort of pricing error involved because most e-tailers have a list price of $25, while Deep Discount and DVDPlanet are listing it at $15.



Bloody Fight in Iron-Rock Valley (2011 - South Korea) - Regrettably, the title is far and away the best thing going for this low-budget, amateur-indie. This entry just didn't offer much worthy of mention or interest. It's another revenge tale...but it lacked in effective storytelling...sometimes simple is best and in this case a more chronological/linear telling might have helped in making things more engaging. The movie fell short too when it came to creating the various characters. There is a modern Western/Western-homage thing going on with this movie...but it didn't work...just too obvious and...it was more distracting than anything else.

Note too that the English subs on the Korean DVD were a little rough in a few places.
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Old 09-04-13, 08:49 PM   #4
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Beijing Blues (2012 - China) - Days-in-the-life, slice-of-life, neo-realist styled movie focusing on a veteran police officer as he handles pickpocket, counterfeit currency, and other low-grade type criminal activities in...umm, Beijing. The director - Gao Qunshu - should be familiar as he directed both THE MESSAGE and WIND BLAST...both far more mainstream entries in comparison to this latest effort. The film has received some critical appreciation and I can understand that perspective. At the same time, I don't quite share that viewpoint entirely...the movie is just too formless and - at 119-minutes - just too long. It sort of plays a little like that show COPS...handheld camera and such...but that show was a somewhat caffeinated thirty minute experience...BEIJING BLUES...is just too random, low-key, earthy, and lacking in terms of pure entertainment value. There are some nice bits here and there...a nice bit of dialogue from our lead cop about the "negative energy" of his job but that he keeps plugging away for the reward of seeing the "positive energy" when he returns someones wallet or such thing...and there is a bit of amusing comedy and such. Notably, the film impresses in working as a portrait of Beijing. And there are a handful of moody and pleasing songs injected at various points. And while I respect all that...again the issue is "entertaining" and as such it just doesn't do enough to rate as recommended. Even for crime genre junkies...even though it features a police officer as the main character and it follows his daily and thankless nuisances in dealing with mostly petty criminals...it still might not offer much in the way of satisfaction...it is too arthouse/independent perhaps...maybe in that sense it is like the Romanian cop movie from a few years ago POLICE, ADJECTIVE.

The Mainland DVD again has burnt-in English subtitles (below the Chinese subs), but at least this time (aka as opposed to LETHAL HOSTAGE) the font size and style is pleasing enough.
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Old 09-09-13, 03:54 PM   #5
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Director Yoji Yamada's latest - TOKYO FAMILY - is releasing on Hong Kong Blu-ray and DVD on September 13th...English-subtitled of course. The movie is an homage to Ozu's TOKYO STORY.



The Loved Ones (2009- Australia) - A minor work it may be, yet it fully deserves to be tagged as a modern horror classic. I savored every second of the experience. I salute writer/director Sean Byrne. Highly recommended!
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Old 09-10-13, 01:44 PM   #6
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A Werewolf Boy (2012 - South Korea) - Basically an offshoot of E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, but packaged as a young-love romantic comedy/melodrama. It utilizes a TITANIC/SAVING PRIVATE RYAN type framing device. Things took maybe fifteen minutes to warm up, but then it hummed along quite nicely...an amusing story with likeable characters. A mother and her two daughters move to a rural home where they come across a wild boy. The eldest of the two daughters decides she will train the boy - as you would train a dog - in order for her to find some peaceful co-existence with him in the house. So that is basically the first half of the movie...a pleasant family and a few friends, and comedy type scenes of the boy being trained and such. So, yeah, if you were expecting a werewolf movie you are out of luck. Now you do get the boy transforming into a werewolf - sort of Hulk meets Wolverine - at the mid-point of the movie, and some brief action to go along with it. But if you were anticipating some top-shelf werewolf transformation type work then you best move along...it isn't here. Yeah, he does transform - and it does happen again late in the film - but you can't really see much at all because it happens at night, and - I suspect it was done intentionally - you can't really make out much at all in terms of getting a good luck at the werewolf. This movie was a fairly modest production by Korean standards, and it doesn't seem like much effort was put into the werewolf stuff so that is why you don't get to see much. That is likely for the best...I have a feeling the werewolf design/makeup in broad daylight might not have come across as much more scary than Barf from SPACEBALLS. The first half family comedy type material gives way to more romance and melodrama in the second half. The daugther of course develops feelings for werewolf boy thanks primarily to his "man's best friend" appeal. Trouble arises from a weaselly family "friend" who has his own romantic designs on the girl, along with some government/military types who eventually show up to check out werewolf boy. I thought the final quarter or so (of the 128-minute runtime) didn't quite soar the emotions as it should have...it needed some work at the script level. Despite the slow-to-warm start and the tail off at the conclusion, A WEREWOLF BOY was still a rather pleasing experience...again maybe like a lesser version of E.T.. Actually I'd be curious to see Korea do with A WEREWOLF BOY what India did with their E.T. type movie KOI...MIL GAYA...in the sense that the follow-up KRRISH switched the character over to the superhero genre, so here too - since there is some interesting backstory to the werewolf boy - South Korea can make the character over as a Korean superhero character.
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Old 09-14-13, 08:37 PM   #7
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Grupo 7 (2012 - Spain) - Nominated for 16 Goya Awards (Spain's equivalent of the Oscars), this is a cop drama focusing on an elite drug unit of four men who are tasked with cleaning up the city of Seville prior to the World Expo of 1992. The movie actually begins in the year 1987 and works its way forward to 1992. GRUPO 7 aka UNIT 7 is standard genre fare. The movie is a character-based effort that focuses primarily on two of the four cops (including some time devoted to their home/romantic lives). Outside of being a rather generic tale, the main issue I had was with the too-short 91-minute (excluding end credits) runtime. I often mention my issue with movies being too long, but this is a case where another 30-minutes would have allowed for some needed breathing room. Covering so much ground in 91-minutes...well the movie plays more like a collection of scenes from the plot outline...you get the bullet points or perhaps a Cliff Notes telling, but you don't get a true feel for the characters...one of the cops is a fresh rookie in the beginning and then a half hour later he is a more hardened veteran...but you don't sense that you got to witness the evolution of the character...the movie lacks a sense of scope. All in all, the movie comes across as "too slight"...you don't get pulled in to the world or the characters...it just doesn't stick to your ribs or resonate once the end credits roll. Early on the thought hit me that this would have been better off as a TV-miniseries...sort of a cross between Italy's series ROMANZO CRIMINALE (character-driven story...period setting...spanning a few years) and THE SHIELD (get the job done by any means necessary group of four cops as the protagonists). GRUPO 7 is an average viewing for genre fans...it doesn't really offer anything you haven't seen many times before...watchable enough for sure but inconsequential and not especially memorable in any way.
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Old 09-16-13, 09:21 AM   #8
BuddhaWake
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Re: An International box of chocolates...you never know what you're gonna get...

Shame about Grupo 7. I haven't kept up with any spanish or latin releases. Did you watch this via R1? I'll look it up after I post. Don't want to be like one of those lazy people when google can easily answer that. My question i guess would be, how did you make a decision on this? I would imagine with all those Goya Noms it would be something to look forward to. Funny they would pick the World Expo rather than the Olympics of the same time. Maybe it needed to be in Sevilla.
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Old 09-16-13, 11:59 AM   #9
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Hey BuddhaWake, with regard to keeping up with Spanish/Latin releases, I sure do miss the old days of the DVDGO thread.

Yup, I watched the recently-released R1 DVD...it is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Spain too.

Nothing out of the ordinary in terms of me making a decision on the movie...the Goya nominations really had nothing to do with it...basically I scan the U.S. new release lists every week to see what looks interesting...and I like crime films...so this was an easy selection.

Since you have an interest in Spanish/Portuguese language cinema go ahead and give it a viewing whenever you can pick it up at a good price. From the opening rooftop chase through the end, I can't say that the film offers anything not seen before (aka a feeling of "I've seen this scene before" and such), and again it needed a fuller runtime...but it's an okay enough see-it-and-forget-it viewing. If I recall correctly, I think the story had some basis on true events...so that is probably why it is the Expo in Seville.
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Old 09-17-13, 06:30 AM   #10
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American Brawler aka Barrio Brawler (2013 - Los Estados Unidos) - low-budget, amateur, indie, DTV, mixed martial arts movie from The Asylum.

Warning! Warning! Warning! Avoid! Avoid! Avoid! It is terrible!

The runtime is approximately ninety minutes, and perhaps eight-minutes of that has martial arts action. The MMA action is fine...standard fare. The co-star Dennis Ruel is acceptable as an actor. But the rest of this movie is awful! The writing and directing from Jose Montesinos is...well, he shouldn't be allowed to write or direct ever again. If I hear the word "bro" even once today I think I will be traumatized for life. This is the type of movie where the two half-brothers have an endless and inane conversation and keep calling each other "bro" time after time as if they have short-term memory issues and need to remind themselves as to whom they are speaking to. I don't know how I made it through this horrible dialogue between the two in a bar...it took up maybe five minutes straight at around the 15-20 minute mark...plus they had this really weird body-language going on...all hunched over and bobbing their heads up and down as they talked. Now, okay you have terrible actors, and terrible writing...fine...what does this director do with a scene with four girls in bikinis at a pool. In the scene, one of the bad guys is standing in the foreground talking on a cell phone...again the actor and discussion sucks...so a good director would have the sense to put the girls up front right? Not here, the girls are way in the background so they really don't offer any kind of eye-candy appeal at all. So why have four girls in bikinis at all. Seriously, there are about a trillion ways to have done that scene, and this director picked the worst way...forget about directorial skills...anyone else in the world would have had the sense not to waste the "resources"...if you have four girls, you put them up front right....without that you have some dude standing and talking on a cellphone...again bad actor, lame discussion, and because of the director an absolute failure in terms of visual interest. Seriously, why can't the guy be sitting in a chair poolside and talking...with one girl on each side of him, and the two others in the foreground. Anyway, this movie was incompetent on so many levels...calling it "amateurish" is too kind. The lead actor Marco Antonio Alvarez was a terrible actor too and has about as much on-screen charisma as a sheet of notebook paper. Again, for anyone who might be tempted by the "MMA Masterpiece" tag on the coverart...you'd be far better served by watching a couple of rounds of any MMA fight you might come across on TV...it would offer the same satisfaction, and you'd save 80 wasted minutes of your life. The movie was garbage!

Of late, my posts have been rather harmonious...I mean I've actually been rather calm even with regard to Telugu movies...I was actually beginning to think I had reached some sort of stage of "enlightenment" or something...I guess not.
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Old 09-17-13, 10:34 AM   #11
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Re: An International box of chocolates...you never know what you're gonna get...

" The Asylum. " all you needed to know to stay away.
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Old 09-17-13, 12:33 PM   #12
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Yeah, true...when I scan the new release lists and see the name Asylum as the releasing label...well, any further exploration on that particular movie stops right there...except this time. I had never actually watched an Asylum movie before...and if anything I thought I'd give it a go with this one...somewhat...support the little guy because it was kind of an "ethnic" movie, plus it seemed a safe genre - like prison movies - you'd think making a not incompetent go at it would be easy enough. And I've been doing the DTV thing and other low-budget foreign martial arts stuff such as China's THE KING OF THE STREETS...so this one was a fit in that sense too. At least...well, with regard to the suckiness of The Asylum, at least I now have an informed opinion I suppose. But, yeah, I shouldn't have tasted from the dung heap to confirm it was bad...the smell and sight should have been deterrent enough.
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Old 09-17-13, 09:32 PM   #13
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Black & White - Episode 1: The Dawn of Assault (2012 - Taiwan) - Standalone prequel film to a 2009 Taiwanese TV-series (available on English-friendly DVD from Taiwan...but I haven't watched it). This is a buddy action movie pairing a righteous cop and a lightly comic gangster...and a whole lot of other parties...as they all try to get their hands on a mysterious case originally held by the gangster character. The movie is average, innocuous, mental-vacation, popcorn-munching fare. The runtime is long at 158-minutes...while you do feel the length, I'll give them credit for serving up such an overstuffed movie...scenes come at you quickly with little downtime in between. I will also tip my hat to this movie for its constant barrage of action...it is plentiful and steady from beginning to end. I've commented about seeing movies where the large budget doesn't come across on-screen...that's not an issue here...all the money spent certainly comes across on-screen throughout the movie. Apples-to-oranges it may be, but if I were presented with the option of rewatching this or rewatching the last Bond movie (which I didn't care for at all), I'd easily pick BLACK & WHITE. According to filmbiz.asia, a sequel has just gone into production. While this movie is available via a Hong Kong release, you might be better off with the Taiwan release because it features the longer cut of the film.
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Old 09-19-13, 09:02 PM   #14
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Confession of Murder (2012 - South Korea) - Quickly-paced and highly entertaining cop vs. serial killer suspense/thriller/mystery. While this type of movie flows steadily out of South Korea, this particular entry has a fresh feel to it (not really because of the story but more for the execution). The tone of this isn't deadly serious or powerful or impactful or anything like that...there's more of a fun factor to it...some quality action scenes and even a feel of dark comedy during one stretch early on...the mix is very successful. Overall this movie was a very pleasing two-hour experience. Enthusiastically recommended as popcorn munching fare!
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Old 09-20-13, 08:43 PM   #15
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Million Dollar Crocodile (2012 - China) - Comedy/oversized crocodile "monster" movie...I was prepared for the worst...annoying Chinese comedy meets monster movie schlockfest. However, this movie was rather okay...for what it was. While not truly amusing, the comedic tone was quite tolerable...not unpleasant...and the characters were likeable. While the giant croc does get a decent amount of screentime, I can't sit here and truly tell you that the movie delivers enough thrills or fun in terms of giant croc action...the action is quite minimal and not really exciting or suspenseful or anything like that (don't expect anything approaching the action in Korea's CHAW from a few years back). Despite all that, again, I found this a pleasant enough way to spend ninety minutes. I thought the performances were strong...it is a challenge to deliver on these type of characters without crossing the line into annoying...the spirited performances went a long way towards making this movie a decent enough watch. Also too, the production/technical values and such were of good quality.

The coverart for the U.S. DVD - CROCZILLA - totally misrepresents the movie...the setting is far more rural and certainly far smaller in scale. The Mainland China DVD has burnt-in English subtitles (below the Chinese subs)...the font size is acceptable enough and the font style is sharp and easy to read...there were a handful of questionable spots in the translation.

It looks like the movie will be getting a sequel.
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Old 09-21-13, 09:43 PM   #16
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Montage (2013 - South Korea) - A solid entry in the mystery-suspense genre...this movie is highly similar in story to CONFESSION OF MURDER (mentioned a couple of posts up)...heck they even share identical 120-minute runtimes. In terms of presentation and style, MONTAGE is a more vanilla offering. I'd say the journey of watching MONTAGE is measurably drier as compared to CONFESSION OF MURDER...yet both movies reach similar and impressive destinations. MONTAGE does have an interesting structure...while that leads to a get-your-bearings-straight moment at around three-quarters in...the final quarter certainly closes things out nicely. MONTAGE is recommended to fans of South Korean mystery-suspense-thrillers...pair it with CONFESSION OF MURDER for a double-feature night.
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Old 09-22-13, 06:22 AM   #17
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Wow...this movie just moved to the top of my must-see list...

Sweden's Call Girl (2012)

Here's the trailer at youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJHJEK1XGAU

Here's the review from Variety:
http://variety.com/2012/film/reviews...rl-1117948405/


It looks like it was released via English-friendly Swedish DVD. An easier option is likely via the U.K. DVD which is up for pre-order and is releasing on October 28th.
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Old 09-23-13, 01:14 PM   #18
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Re: An International box of chocolates...you never know what you're gonna get...

Quote:
Originally Posted by flixtime View Post
Wow...this movie just moved to the top of my must-see list...

Sweden's Call Girl (2012)

Here's the trailer at youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJHJEK1XGAU

Here's the review from Variety:
http://variety.com/2012/film/reviews...rl-1117948405/


It looks like it was released via English-friendly Swedish DVD. An easier option is likely via the U.K. DVD which is up for pre-order and is releasing on October 28th.
you got me at political thriller. The issue from the Variety review which would make me hesitate about a UK is possible cuts based "Euro sales are already brisk, but “Girl” will require some cuts Stateside to conform to laws regulating nudity by minors." which more than likely means cuts in the UK as well. more so than the US I would imagine.
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Old 09-23-13, 04:14 PM   #19
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Hey BuddhaWake, yeah that stuff about trimming it for U.S. release caught my eye too. I think the U.K. release should be fine. The Brits seem to be more finicky about violence and such, and the mentioned issue here is with regard to nudity. The Amazon UK listing...which I realize is in no way official in any way...does show the full 140-minute runtime and an 18 rating. More importantly, the British Board of Film Classification (bbfc.co.uk) has two separate listings for the movie and both seem to indicate it as being uncut (see links below).

http://www.bbfc.co.uk/releases/call-girl-film
http://www.bbfc.co.uk/releases/call-girl-2013

I'm not really familiar with BBFC rules and such...and I seem to recall some such instances...for example, if you provide them with a cut version of the film in the first place, and they don't make any additional cuts, that there can be confusion because they say they passed it "uncut" meaning no cuts from the cut version they were provided. That being said, the wording in one of the links above aka "All known versions of this work passed uncut" somewhat gives me hope that it is indeed uncut. Again, I don't really know the ins and outs of the British rating system and whether all that BBFC stuff also applies to home video. But if forced to place a bet, I'd bet on it being uncut.
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Old 09-23-13, 04:39 PM   #20
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P.S.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BuddhaWake View Post
you got me at political thriller.
You're a good man...my standards are far more lowbrow...they got me at call girl...from Sweden....haha.

Speaking of which did you ever watch that Portuguese CALL GIRL movie from 2007? That was one I meant to pick up...but never got around to it. I think the English-friendly DVDs were from Portugal and Canada.
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Old 09-23-13, 09:10 PM   #21
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Reality (2012 - Italy) - I'm a grown man aka I have no interest in reality television, but from what little I've experienced the audition stuff on those music reality shows is more entertaining than this movie. This is the latest from Director Matteo Garrone...I wasn't as high as most with regard to his previous entry GAMORRA. This one about a middle-aged average Joe type who becomes obsessed with landing a spot on Italy's version of the TV-show Big Brother...well this one had me fidgety with boredom a half-hour into things. It is technically-skilled for certain, charming in terms of production values, and quirkily cast. It is also dull, lacking in content, and far too long at 117-minutes. About two-thirds of the way in, it got mildly amusing as the protagonist - through paranoia and earnest desperation - basically turned his own life into a reality show. The film develops some heart when it flirts with the notion of maybe finding peace within by living a decent life and finding yourself a "reality" star in that you are loved and appreciated by your own family, friends, and community...making the world a better place, well at least your own little corner of the world. But that isn't where this movie ends up going. Instead I thought it went sort of flat over the final quarter. Things get unhinged to an extent that the movie might even be categorized as sort of psychological horror/dark fairytale...maybe Polanski-type horror meets Fellini-style. Ultimately, REALITY didn't really offer much in terms of being unique, having something edgy or interesting to say, or making a lasting impression...it had too much empty space and featured a main character that I couldn't attach myself to...and the runtime really needed to be slashed down to 100-minutes or so.
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Old 09-24-13, 03:52 PM   #22
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The Shadow Line (2011 - U.K.) - Seven episode miniseries starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Christopher Eccleston. An organized crime boss is found murdered...independent of each other, a cop (Ejiofor) and one of the boss's underlings (Eccleston) try to find out who did it. Only watched the first hour-long episode so far. Across the board...I found it quite impressive!
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Old 09-25-13, 09:24 PM   #23
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Downed another couple of episodes of THE SHADOW LINE...smooth sailing.


Fists of Legend (2013 - South Korea) - Fight film from Director KANG Woo-suk...the director of some of my favorite Korean films - SILMIDO and the PUBLIC ENEMY series. This clocks in at longer than the norm at 153-minutes. A reality-styled mixed martial arts show invites middle-aged men - who were renowned in their youth for their schoolyard fighting abilities - to fight for cash on television. The first third or so features all sorts of the usual Korean punching and kicking. There are some other elements in the mix, but I did sort of wonder where they were planning to go with it all. It was okay and watchable enough for sure...but I was starting to feel the runtime...and again wondering where it was headed. Things come in to focus (and thus improve significantly) during the middle third where the movie fills in the backstory of the characters and reveals its identity...think maybe CRYING FIST/WARRIOR meets CHINGU/ONCE UPON A TIME IN HIGH SCHOOL (without any romantic angle). The movie sorts of alternates between the present day while also flashing back to the high school days shared by four of the characters. The final half-hour naturally finds the "big match" as its centerpiece. While the movie closes on a strong note, I think the strongest emotional content probably comes a little earlier...during the third quarter of the movie. In other words, in the final match don't expect the strong emotional pull of something like GACHI BOY (or even WARRIOR)...though again FISTS OF LEGEND does bring the curtain down nicely. All the fight stuff is just sort of there...functional enough in terms of serving the story...just don't expect much in terms of suspense/thrills and such. All said, the movie turned out to be more enjoyable than I had anticipated, and in hindsight I'm quite at peace with the somewhat foggy opening third. I was maybe thinking it'd just be an endless series of fights with not much in terms of character and story, and while the story/characters aren't anything new under the sun, they turned out to be far more involving than I had expected. Thumbs up.
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Old 09-26-13, 07:24 AM   #24
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Re: An International box of chocolates...you never know what you're gonna get...

Quote:
Originally Posted by flixtime View Post
The Shadow Line (2011 - U.K.) - Seven episode miniseries starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Christopher Eccleston. An organized crime boss is found murdered...independent of each other, a cop (Ejiofor) and one of the boss's underlings (Eccleston) try to find out who did it. Only watched the first hour-long episode so far. Across the board...I found it quite impressive!
I bought this earlier in the year based on some reviews and the fact that the set was competitively-priced.

I hadn't quite decided whether this was a potential Yuletide gift or something that I'd keep for my own viewing pleasure so it remains in its original wrapping on a shelf.

I think it'll end up being the latter!
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Old 09-26-13, 09:15 PM   #25
flixtime
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Went through episodes 4 and 5 of THE SHADOW LINE...I'm really liking this show. Actor Stephen Rea joins in on things starting with the second episode and he has been magnificent. I'm thoroughly enjoying all the characters in this show...really nice work by the cast. The storytelling and dialogue is strong too. Again, the crime genre in television is turning out more impressive fare than what you see in the movies...some of the scenes from these last two episodes outshine virtually everything I'm seeing in crime movies. So, benedict, you can enjoy (I certainly hope it turns out that way for you) the one you already own...and since it is still nicely priced you can still pick up another for holiday gift-giving.


Hammer of the Gods (2013 - U.K.) - Following on my viewing of A VIKING SAGA: THE DARKEST DAY (covered not too long back in the Asian thread)...I'm back at it with this somewhat flip-side-of-the-same-coin entry. Again, this features an outdoors setting (aka low-budget but nice looking), has a limited number of characters, and while the previous film was a chase movie with the Vikings as the bad guys this entry is more a quest movie with the Vikings as the good guys. HAMMER OF THE GODS felt less authentic than the previous movie...performances, dialogue, modern soundtrack, fog-machine, and such made it feel more like intended-for-the-masses (aka more accessible) television fare. The trailer for this movie does a nice job of selliing it as far more grand than it is. And then things sort of switch tracks for the final quarter...it unexpectedly (at least to me) turns into a Viking version of APOCALYPSE NOW...the guy they are "questing" for even looks like Marlon Brando (younger version). This final quarter was the strongest part of the movie. Still that wasn't enough to save things...the style and tone of the quest portion of the movie just doesn't mesh with what comes at the end...so the experience as a whole just feels too uneven and lacking in identity. A Viking version of APOCALYPSE NOW could have been rather cool...so I think the writing should have signalled that intention from the get-go and incorporated the mood/atmosphere of the quest in APOCALYPSE NOW. I see that maybe the final section of this movie was supposed to perhaps offer a sense of surprise...and I suppose it does...but I would have preferred a movie that offered a greater sense of anticipation and suspense by building things up more evenly from the very start. A VIKING SAGA rated as thumbs up in my book...while this one - HAMMER OF THE GODS - comes across as less weighty and doesn't offer enough to secure that same rating.
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