Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rurouni Kenshin | るろうに剣心 [ Coming Soon - 29th Nov 2012 ]

 Rurouni Kenshin るろうに剣心
The Pitch

Rurouni Kenshin or perhaps better known as Samurai X originated as a manga by Nobuhiro Watsuki. The tale of the wandering protector with a dark past went on to get it's anime series treatment. Both the manga and anime were so popular that even someone like me who is not really into manga or anime had a rough idea about this series about.

But for some reasons, it was difficult for me to follow this series properly. It was either catching a few episodes of Samurai X anime on television or sampling some of Rurouni Kenshin manga at the library. So when the news of Rurouni Kenshin getting a live action treatment by the Japanese, I was pretty excited about watching this movie. Finally there's a chance for me to get started on the Rurouni Kenshin's series.

Given the popularity of this series, the cast and director of this live action film have a lot of expectation to live up to. Will they be able to capture the essence of Rurouni Kenshin without boring the fans with repetition of materials from the manga and anime? Will they be able to hook newbies like me to this series? Will it be good?

On 29th Nov 2012, Rurouni Kenshin will be shown exclusively at Film Garde cinemas in Singapore.  It's just a couple of months after It's general release in Japan. A good incentive to catch this on the big screen.

The Plot
Nearly 140 years ago, in the last days of the Shoguns, there was a man known as “Battosai the Killer,” feared as the most powerful assassin.

He was faster than a god, stronger than a demon, and had a leading spirit of the Meiji Restoration.

In a flash he downs any number of opponents. Once he pulled out his sword, nobody survived against him.

As the war ended and the new Meiji era came, Battosai vanished from the world.

The only thing that remained was his legend.

10 years later, a man appeared in a world still in disarray.

His name is Kenshin Himura, a wanderer who saves people with a back-blade sword that cannot kill.

This is Battosai the Killer, who has taken a pledge never to kill again.

In order to bring peace to the world so that his loved ones can live safely,

Now Kenshin’s battle begins!

(Plot from Filmgarde's page)

Trailer (from Encore Films)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bekas [ Coming Soon 28 Feb 2013]

The Plot

Iraq in the early 1990 was a devastating land to survive in. When we think of Iraq, the first thing that tends to pop into our minds is the war and Saddam Hussein. But there is another side too - it is perhaps the most notorious country in the world and it goes by the name Kurdistan. 

Welcome to BEKAS. This is a story about two homeless brothers (Zana, 7) and (Dana, 10) who live on the edge of survival. In the beginning of the story they catch a glimpse of Superman through a hole in the wall at the local cinema. Zana and Dana decide that they want to go to America and live with Superman. 

Once they get there he can solve all their problems, make their lives easy and punish everyone that has been mean to them. Zana, the younger brother, starts to make a list of all people he is going to tell Superman to punish. On top of the list is Saddam Hussein. Dana on the other hand makes a concrete plan for what they need to get there; money, passports, transportation and a way to get across the boarder. Unfortunately they have neither of those. But in spite of everything they decide to follow the dream.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo [ Coming Soon ]

Just a few updates for Evangelion 3.0 before the general release in Japan (4 Nov 2012)

 a pretty awesome movie poster for Evangelion 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo and ...


... a Pink Eva? and a chess game ... with a moody soundtrack ... hmmm

Another Trailer for Evangelion 3.0 (23 Oct 2012)

This time round, it's plays more like a "normal" trailer. Although it didn't reveal much but there's Kaworu Nagisa playing the piano and his interaction with Shinji Ikari. It would also seems that the 3rd Evangelion movie might not branch off too far from the original anime series as it was previously reported.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Horror Stories | 무서운 이야기 [ Movie Review ] ★★★

Horror Stories 무서운 이야기
"If you want to be alive, then tell me... Horror Stories 무서운 이야기"

The Pitch

It's hard to find good horror movies lately. After the disappointing introduction to Paranormal Activity franchise, the crave for a good eerie and sensible scary movie still lingers. The trailer for the Korean omnibus of short horror movie segments (that befittingly titled) Horror Stories seems to be a promising cure for the Paranormal Activity 4 hangover.

The setup for the main frame narrative reminded me of One Thousand and One Nights / Arabian Nights. A female protagonist has to resort to telling stories to stay alive. The fable setup might just work in a horror movie.

Plus I am also a fan of the recent Thailand horror movies that were structured in similar omnibus format. Movies like Four, 4bia and it's sequel Phobia 2 remained etched in the mind long after the credits rolled. They were testaments that some good horror stories are most effective when it's short and sweet. They are not constrained in feature length movie time frame and they branch out in different areas of creativity.

Personally, I can't wait to see what the Koreans have to offer with their omnibus of horror stories and Thanks to InCinemas, I will be watching this movie a day before it even sneaks in Singapore.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Paranormal Activity 4 [ Movie Review ] ★★

The Pitch

I have never watched the first three Paranormal Activity movies. The idea of watching long still shots of surveillance video for sudden burst of jump scares just didn't appeal to me. It's like a bad mutation of the shaky cam genre. Plus I am a fan of the Saw franchise and was kinda pissed that the Paranormal Activity franchise replaced it as the king of Halloween box office in recent years.

But I was lucky enough to be picked by UIP for the Paranormal Activity - WANT IT contest. I am not sure why I took part in this contest in the first place. It's been a long time since I caught any movies that is really scary and I guess I crave for a real good scare.

I am also wondering what's with the longevity of this franchise? Why is it still doing so well after three installments? Just last week, Paranormal Activity 4 topped the US box office with $29 million (although last year this weekend, Paranormal Activity 3 opened with $52.6 million) while outside of America, Box Office Mojo is reporting an average increase of 11% over it's predecessor. What the secret behind it's success? Is it really that scary that it's bringing enough audience back to make such an impressive debut on the box office?

Money aside, I am definitely looking forward to be spooked like the New Zealand test audience in this video.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sadako | 貞子3D

The Pitch

14 years ago, one Japanese horror movie came and revitalized the Asian horror genre. It also inspired numerous copycats that tried to latch on to it's success in one way or the other. That movie would be The Ring (リング Ringu) and Sadako became an iconic horror character that is equivalent to the likes of Freddy Kruger, Chucky and Jason in Asia.

After the American made two movies out of it, the demands for another movie out of the Ring franchise seemed to die down and Sadako was left undisturbed for about 7 years. Now with the advent of 3D movies, companies are digging up their previously popular franchise for the profitable 3D treatment and Sadako is one of the few safe bets that the movie company could bank on cashing in.

To be fair, apparently this movie is based on Ringu's author Koji Suzuki's new novel S (2012). If anyone should continue this successful horror franchise, he probably the best person to do so. It brought some hope that it might be a faithful continuation of the series or manages to recapture some of the magic that made the first Ring so unforgettable. But then again, Thomas Harris, the author of Silence of the Lambs also wrote the novel in which the disappoint Hannibal Rising was based on. It would be interesting to check if the lightning could strike twice at the same spot.

Then there's also the choice of director. Tsutomu Hanabusa's resume had been primarily made up of bright wacky comedies. I love his Handsome Suit (ハンサム★スーツ  2008) but crossing over genres has always been tricky. Let's hope he doesn't make a comedy out of this horror movie.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dredd [ Movie Review ]

The Pitch

It was as simple as keeping the helmet on.

Sylvester Stallone had trouble keeping them on during the 1995 Judge Dredd movie. It's "understandable" that the filmmakers would not want to hide the face of their most bankable star but then again, it defiles the tradition of the Judge Dredd comics as Judge Dredd rarely removes his helmet.

The result was a critical and commercial flop. Judge Dredd creator John Wagner made his sentiment clear that the 1995 movie was not a proper Judge Dredd movie. The negative reaction was so bad that no one dares to touch it again for many years.

Fast forward to 2012 and the tough lawman is getting a reboot. Early indications would appeared that they got it right this time.

When the new Judge Dredd movie was announced, lead actor Karl Urban (Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy of 2009 Star Trek) reportedly said that he wouldn't have taken on this role if Judge Dredd was to remove his the helmet during the movie. As a long time fan of the Judge Dredd, Karl Urban understood the need for Judge Dredd to keep his helmet on in order to honor the comics roots. That for me was a sign that this reboot was heading towards the right way.

Another plus point for this Dredd reboot would be that Alex Garland is writing and producing this movie. His screenplay for Sunshine and 28 Days Later are both impressive entries to their respective genre. His short story "Sunrise" was my faveourite story in Batman Black and White Vol 3 comic. I am always interested to see what screenplay will he be writing next and to find out that he will be writing this Dredd movie was just another sweet incentive to catch this movie as soon as it comes out.

Last but not least, endorsement from Judge Dredd creator John Wagner and one of my faveourite Judge Dredd artist Simon Bisley. If these people who made Judge Dredd worked in it's comics form are supporting the movie, it's a really good sign for the movie.

Dredd Prologue Comics

Before heading to the movie, perhaps you might be interested to check out the origin story for the movie villain Ma-Ma. The origin comics can be found here and IGN has a motion comics over here.

Trailer for Dredd

Bulk of the trailer felt awfully similar to The Raid Redemption (shown in Singapore earlier this year). It would seemed that it was an unfortunate coincidence as the writing process for Dredd took place before The Raid Redemption started production and it's unlikely that both parties copied each other's premise for a movie. Other than that, awesome "Slo-Mo" special effects with it's dazzling color saturation and slow motion effect :)

MTV Exclusive 'Dredd 3D' Featurette

Contains some new footage that's not featured on the trailer or various TV spots. Karl Urban, John Wagner and Alex Garland contributing some insights to this Dredd movie. Highlight of this featurette would be definitely be John Wagner summarizing Judge Dredd as your greatest hero and biggest nightmare wrapped up in one. Nuff Said!

The Plot

The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One--a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called "Judges" who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge--a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of "Slo-Mo" experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed.

Quick Review
An admirable adaption of Judge Dredd comic. Karl Urban did a fine job in reintroducing the beloved British comic character. the problem was that we just had the raid redemption earlier this year and there was too much repetitive gunfights that were no where as impressive as the raid. DREDD ultimately makes a good introduction arc but it would have been better if there more revelations Dredd and rookie Judge Anderson.

Rating *** 1/2

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ruby Sparks [Coming Soon]

The Pitch

It's not a new concept. When it comes to magically creating the dream girl, John Hughes did it with Weird Science back in 1985. A successful novelist with writer's block encountering his creation in real life and realizing that what he writes could have an effect on his creation? Marc Forster's Stranger than Fiction with Will Ferrell did a pretty good job back in 2006.

So what made Ruby Sparks stood out? I would say it's the Little Miss Sunshine factor.

The directorial film debut of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris was seriously good and unforgettable. The comedy drama road film Little Miss Sunshine was quirky, heartwarming, poignant and funny. The directors demonstrate that they could handle multiple characters well and make us love them all. It's hard to believe it's been six years since their debut and I been anticipating their follow up to their critically acclaimed road movie.

Little Miss Sunshine also brought my attention to Paul Dano. He continues to reaffirm his acting chops in There Will Be Blood. Lately he been doing forgettable supporting roles for the likes of Knight and Day and Cowboys and Aliens. I wonder if the trio of Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris and Paul Dano could bring back some of the Little Miss Sunshine magic.

Before I ends this pitch, it's interesting to note that Zoe Kazan who plays Ruby Sparks is currently dating Paul Dano. Let's see if any of the real sparks get rub off on the film reel.

The Plot

A sharp, modern take on the Pygmalion myth, RUBY SPARKS is the story of a novelist’s vision who inexplicably comes to life, only to prove far more complicated than even he could have imagined. With a light touch and a dash of magical realism, the first screenplay from actress and playwright Zoe Kazan attracted the attention of Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, the married team who directed the run-away hit LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. The film takes an unpredictable route into fantasy, identity and the ways we invent love – and how love can re-invent us.

(Taken from Cathay Webpage )

Friday, July 27, 2012

Branded [ Trailers ]

While flipping thru Flipboard on my Samsung Galaxy S3, I came across this article that talks about the New Trailer for Dystopian Sci-Fi Thriller Branded by Even before playing the trailer, I was intrigued by the following synopsis.

“After Misha skyrockets to the top of the advertising business, a tragic mishap on the set of one of his productions torpedoes his career and he retreats into self-imposed exile. Ten years later, Misha returns to a radically changed world and finds himself plagued by visions of bizarre and terrifying creatures with the ability to influence people’s thoughts, desires and actions. Creatures only he can see.

He soon realizes the creatures are part of a clandestine campaign unleashed by a rival advertising agency to make “fat the new fabulous” and create a new era of uncontrolled consumer appetite. In order to save mankind, Misha uses his own considerable marketing skills to launch an ingenious plan to try to eradicate the plague. But the corporate legions will not go down without a fight.”

I know this is a Sci-Fi movie that plays with fantasy elements but perhaps the subject matters that this movie is touching on couldn't be further from the truth. The advertising medium as the villain is pretty much a novel approach and the trailer somehow invokes the feel of Donnie Darko. I just hope that it doesn't take the easy "Hollywood" way out like the recent The Adjustment Bureau.

and here are the two trailers to wet your appetite

Trailer 2

Trailer 1

Monday, May 14, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation | Get The Gringo [ Movie Review ]

The Pitch

"How I Spent My Summer Vacation" sounded like it was either going to be a slasher horror, travel comedy or a coming of age movie. But taking a closer look at the movie info, it's Mel Gibson and the movie plot is nothing remotely close to the impression given by the movie title.

Yup Mel Gibson, one of the most recognized but unbankable Hollywood star right now. His DUI anti-semitism remarks and the ex girlfriend's domestic violence still lingers around his reputation. Jodie Foster tried to put his career back on tracks with The Beaver but poor box office collection in the USA seemed to put the final nail on his career coffin.

Well he's back and in a movie that seemed seemed to tailor fit Mel Gibson's brand of screen charisma. It also seemed that to minimize the risk of another box office bomb in the United States, Mel Gibson's independent production company, Icon Production will be releasing this movie through video on demand. The rest of the world who don't "hate" Mel Gibson that much will be getting a theatrical release.

The Plot 
The story of Driver, a career criminal who is picked up by the Mexican police as he desperately tries to cross the border in a car stuffed full of stolen cash. The police take the cash and dump him in the infamous El Pueblito prison - a hell on earth where the prison gangs run the show.

Driver has no ID or fingerprints but he still gets a visit from a corrupt American Embassy official who has heard about the money. If Driver doesn't find a way of paying him off while he's inside, then he's going to let the authorities know where Driver is. And it won't be long before the guys he stole the money from find him too. Driver knows it is sink or swim. He hooks up with a young boy who shows him how to survive in the prison, but the kid has a terrible secret. He shares a rare blood type with Javi - the criminal who ruthlessly controls the prison and everyone in it. The kid is Javi’s life insurance policy and he has doctors on standby to transplant his liver whenever the time comes. But Driver has other ideas and pretty soon he devises an audacious plan to escape with the kid, the kid’s mother and the money.

(Plot Outline taken from Cathay Cineplexes)

How I Spent My Summer Vacation or otherwise known as Get The Gringo in America

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Avengers [ Movie Review ] ★★★★1/2

The Pitch

The Avengers is not like any summer blockbuster movies that came before. It's a comic book superheroes team like no other. The seed for this movie was planted in the first Iron Man, way back in 2008. From then on, it was a cumulative of movies that introduced the likes of The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America that collective forms the basis for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

With this group of super-powered individuals, it gave Marvel the opportunity to bring one of their most beloved and long enduring superheroes team onto the big screen. Personally The Avengers is one of the most anticipated movie of the past few years.

The biggest worry would be how would these characters be handled. Will the main characters from four different movies blend well together or will they be jostling for screen time? Would the filmmakers be able to make a villain / threat so menacing that requires a team up of such super powered individuals?   

The burden / task / glory lies in Joss Whedon's hands. Mainly known as the creative force behind the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly television series, Joss Whedon had only directed one movie and that's Serenity, a movie spinoff from Firefly. The Avengers would mark as his second directorial effort and it makes me wonder if he could handle the scope of such magnitude. He is a comic book fan and wrote well received comics for Marvel Comics before but it was the Astonishing X-men comics, not the Avengers.

But still Joss Whedon has impressed many with his writing skills and it's unlikely that Marvel would just throw one of their biggest movie event in recent years to someone who might not be up to the job. There's only one way to find out if The Avengers will live up to the hype.

The Plot

Marvel Studios presents “Marvel’s The Avengers”—the Super Hero team up of a lifetime, featuring iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.

(Plot taken from The Avengers Singapore Facebook Page

The Perspective

Joss Whedon's The Avengers definitely managed to live up to the hype, met the expectation of (most) comics fans and set the bar real high for the next few superheroes comic book movies to come. It's been a long time since I had so much fun with a superheroes comic movie and the last one that made me craved for more was Iron Man. Here are some of the highlights of The Avengers movie.

First and foremost, the movie did a great job in characterizing the various superheroes in the limited time frame. There are four main heroes (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk) and three supporting ones (Nick Fury, Hawkeye and Black Widow). It's not easy to handle all of them and yet this movie managed to put enough focus on them for the audience to care about their respective motivation and struggle. 

It's a delight to see how these various characters interact with each other. Their conflicts in personalities and opinion brought out quite a few interesting insights to their character and how much they differs from each other. The only thing that topped their fight with each other was the antagonist of this movie, Loki.

Let's just put it that these heroes need a cause so epic and a villain so devious that they would brand themselves together to fight the common enemy. Loki's evil plans and methods in this movie were definitely the crescendo rising to the climatic finale.

Last but not least, I couldn't remember caring so much about characters like the Hulk, Thor or Captain America. Iron Man was a delight when the movie came out but the other three were simply unmemorable. In Joss Whedon's direction, he brought out the essence of why these characters had remained so popular after all these years and he did it while juggling with all these other characters. Marvel needs to rethink how to handle those three characters in their respective upcoming sequels.

The Avengers is simply the best movie of the year. Nuff Said. Now go watch it in a good cinema near you.

Rating: ****1/2

As usual for the movies in Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are some goodies left after the movie. The scene occurs during the mid Credits. It's Thanos getting report from the minion that the invasion had failed. There's a line in that scene that the minion said gave me goosebumps ... the Infinity Gauntlet type of goosebumps ... and that line is ""To challenge them is to court death!""

Reportedly, ComingSoon mention that there's a additional second scene at the End of Credits that's NOT included in the international prints. Yup that's right! Only the US theaters get it. But then again, there are those people who seen it and complained that the scene was too short and was a waste of time to stay back for. I was anticipating that scene and was disappointed that it wasn't included in the Singapore print. In case you want to know what is it about, it was a quiet scene of the Avengers having shawarma together in a diner.

The Avengers Official Trailer 2


Marvel's The Avengers Super Bowl 2012

The Avengers Official Trailer


New Set of Avengers Banner poster

Marvel Studio just released a set of characters poster for the upcoming The Avengers at Comic Con 2011. Awesome piece of work isn't it? Nuff Said!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love | 愛 [ Movie Review ] ★★★

The Pitch

No, this is not the movie installment for the popular long running Taiwanese television series that just ended it's run in Singapore. This is Doze Niu's Taiwanese rendition of "Love Actually" that's out to wrestle with Sammi Cheng's Romancing in Thin Air and Ah Niu's The Wedding Diary for the Asian Valentine Day box office profit love.

Love 愛 comes with a stellar cast of actor and actress from Taiwan (and China). Shu Qi and Zhao Wei probably needs no introduction in this part of the world.  Ethan Ruan, Mark Chao, Eddie Peng, Ivy Chen and Amber Kuo are the new upcoming good looking Taiwanese young stars who each had participated in at least one movie that was shown in Singapore cinema recently (Monga, Hear Me and Au revoir Taipei).

But personally, the main attraction for Love 愛 would be due to Doze Niu's participation in this movie as the director and actor.  His previous two full length features "What on Earth Have I Done Wrong?" and "Monga" (which he directed and acted) were pretty enjoyable and it made him one of my "Asian directors to watch out for" list.
It's not easy to make a "Love Actually" type of movie and quite a few had already failed badly (Valentine Day and Hot Summer Days). It's not easy to manage multiple plots and numerous big stars but I am having good vibes that Doze Niu might be able to deliver this.

(Special Thanks to Festive Films for a chance to preview Love 愛)

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Wedding Diary | 结婚那件事 [ Movie Review ] ★★★

The Pitch

This year, there's three Asian movies that is out to cash in on celebrate the Valentine Day season. From Hong Kong - China, there's Romancing in Thin Air. From Taiwan - China, there's Love. Last but not least, from Singapore Malaysia, there's The Wedding Diary. 

The Wedding Diary is a comedy about the difficulties in preparing and executing the most important day in a couple's life. It features artists across the straits such as Ah Niu 阿牛 (Anniu), Elanne Kwong 江若琳, Kara Hui 惠英红, Zhu Houren 朱厚任, Marcus Chin 陈建彬, Chris Tong童冰玉 , Shaun Chen 陈泓宇 and Maggie Theng 邓妙华.

Ah Niu's recent debut as a director and leading actor for  Ice Kacang Puppy Love was pretty impressive. The Wedding Diary marks the second time for Ah Niu in the leading role. Not bad for a guy who don't really fit the usual handsome suave stereotype for a male lead in a movie. It would be interesting to see how he fares in this movie.

This review is made possible with special thanks to Clover Films.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chronicle [ Movie Review ] ★★★★

The Pitch

In recent years, the "Found Footage / Shaky Cam" genre has branch out to many interesting premise. No longer constrained in the conventional horror genre, it has move on to mega monster invasion (Cloverfield), space exploration (Apollo 18) and even religious faith (The Last Exorcism). The latest offering of the "Found Footage / Shaky Cam" would be a Chronicle of a group of high school kids gaining superhuman power after exploring a mysterious crater.

Chronicle's premise sound like a dream come true for anyone who had ever fantasize about gaining superpower abilities to rack some havoc or gain some form of popularity. It's probably going to appeal to the comic books readers and fans of anime. As someone who reads comics during the school days and had daydreams of flying in the skies, Chronicle became a highly anticipated movie after watching the trailer at their youtube channel.

The climatic end of Chronicle trailer also send vibes of the Japanese animation Akira ( アキラ ) . One of the friends is going to get mad with power and it's probably up to his friends to stop him. I can't wait to see how they are going to pull this off with shaky cam.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Quick | 퀵 [ Movie Review ] ★★★1/2

The Pitch

Quick 퀵 caught my attention with it's box office performance in Korea. It didn't managed to top the box office during it's run in Korea cinemas. Each week, it was outflanked by other Korean movies like The Front Line and Sector 7. But at the year end tally of total admissions, Quick was ahead of The Front Line and Sector 7. That piped my curiosity. What the draw of this movie which look strikingly like Keanu Reeves' Speed?

The Plot

Legendary biker Han (Lee Min-Ki) used to roam the streets recklessly with their motorcycles. Now he works as a courier boy who delivers his customer's goods in record breaking time.

His past caught up with him when his colleague dispatch him to send Ah-Rom (Kang Hye-Won) a member of a successful pop idol group to a concert. It turned out that Ah-Rom used to be his girlfriend and he broke her heart by cheating on her. Just as Han was about to proceed with the delivery, a mysterious caller warns him that Ah-Rom is wearing a helmet with explosive. If Han doesn't makes the deliveries within the time limited that the mysterious caller set, the helmet will explode. If they try to remove the helmet or are separated more than 10 meters, the helmet will explode.

The deliveries that they have to make are obviously explosive in nature. Not only that, they have to deal with Ah-Rom insistence on making a detour for her pop idol group's performance, the persistent hounding by Ah-Rom admirer cum Han's ex arch rival cum traffic police officer Kim Myung-Sik (Kim In-Kwon) and a conspiracy theory involving Japanese Yakuza. The chain of events and characters provide the set up for a series of unexpected fun and thrills.

The Perspective - Quick Movie Review

Quick 퀵 - think of it as "Speed" infuse with nonsensical humor and what a ride it was. In fact, there's even a climatic ending on board on a speeding train that stood out as a form of "homage" to "Speed". It might not have been equally thrilling but Quick stood out on with it's side bursting gags that kept me laughing as the explosive thriller unfolds.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Billionaire | Top Secret | วัยรุ่นพัน

The Billionaire Singapore Poster
The Pitch

It's been a long time since a trailer got me so excited over a movie and The Billionaire | Top Secret วัยรุ่นพันล้าน trailer did just that. A tale of rags to riches based on the real life story of a very young Thai businessman who created the crispy Japanese Seaweeds Tao Kae Noi (which I assumed that it's from Japan till I came across this movie) seemed to have the winning formula.

It starts by questioning what are we doing at his age. It would seems that our protagonist was like any teenagers of his age, addicted to games and failing school. To make matter worse, he had to leave school and his family went bankrupt. How did he turn the situation around and became a rich man?

Another hook for this movie would be casting choice for the lead actor. Staring "Peach" Pachara Chirathivat from Suckseed (my recent faveourite Thai Movie),  The Billionaire | Top Secret วัยรุ่นพันล้าน would test his ability to carry the movie on his own. I believe this movie would also test his dramatic abilities way more than Suckseed had.

Can't wait till 5th Jan 23 Feb 9 Feb 2012

The Billionaire | Top Secret Thai Poster
The Plot

What are you doing at his age?

Age 16, TOP gained 400,000 Baht monthly from playing online games.

Age 17, He was willing to fail school and instead earned money from selling chestnuts for 2,000 baht.

Age 18, His family went bankrupt and remained 40 million Baht in debt.

Age 19, He released 'Tao Kae Noi' seaweed to more than 3,000 branches at 7-Eleven.

At this present, Top is a 26-year-old businessman, the owner of the bestselling seaweed in Thailand. He owns 85 percent of the market share which is equivalent to 800 million Baht a year, and has 2,000 employees in his company.

THE BILLIONAIRE will let you get to know "Top Ittipat" in details about how he turned himself from an online game addict whom always got disparaged by teachers, to a famous young billionaire. How did he raise himself up to this position? Surely, everyone desires to get rich, yet not everyone dares to succeed like him.

(Plot Write Up from Golden Village Picture youtube channel)

The Trailer

Cool Dvd Alert

Stefan Shih had just send me Wise Kwai's blogpost on Top Secret - The Billionaire Dvd Special Box Set. The Dvd Box Set look so gorgeous that I am tempted to get it even though there's no English Subtitles and I have not seen this movie yet (as of 5th Feb 2012). 

Take a look for yourself.
Top Secret - The Billionaire Dvd Special Package Photo from GTH Facebook
The box set cover is painted like the handmade old movie posters. It comes with a 2012 calender and the box itself could be open up as a "monopoly" style game (complete with paper money, token, plastic houses and "Top Secret Cards" that probably function as the Chance and Community Chest cards ).

 There's even a Video for the Box Set (hosted by "Peach" Pachara Chirathivat, the star of Top Secret / The Billionaire)

According to Wise Kwai, the special artwork on the dvd box set is done by Somboonsuk Niyomsiri (or better known as Piak Poster). It turned out that Piak Poster used to paint movie posters and he went on to direct popular teen-oriented movies in the past. Top Secret - The Billionaire marks his acting debut at the age of 80 (he plays the uncle who help the teenage entrepreneur sell roasted chestnuts in the movie trailer). Interesting background information from Wise Kwai. It just fuel my anticipation for this movie even more.

Beyond the Movie

The actual billionaire Top Ittipat was in town for a special preview of The Billionaire (Top Secret) | 小富翁 | วัยรุ่นพัน on Wednesday (8th Feb 2012) at Golden Village Plaza Singapura. He even autographed on some of The Billionaire movie posters. Incidentally Golden Village is having a "The Billionaire Members Draw" (valid from 9th Feb to 22nd Feb 2012) and every purchase of a pair of The Billionaire movie tickets gets a chance to win a Tao Kae Noi Plush Toy and Movie Poster (It was not indicate if those poster in this draw are signed or not )

Credit: (Photo from Golden Village Facebook Page)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Underworld: Awakening [ Movie Review ] ★★

The Pitch 

Underworld Awakening is the fourth installments to the Underworld franchise. Just like Vin Diesel with the Fast and Furious franchise, the lead actress of the first two Underworld movies, Kate Beckinsale returns to the franchise after skipping one installment.

It's been reported that Kate Beckinsale had no intention to return to the Underworld series but was convinced by the quality of the script. Since Kate Beckinsale felt that the script was good enough to wear those tight rubber suits and corsets for another round of supernatural whack fest, the Underworld fans must be rejoicing to have another chance to see her strut her stuff on the big screen.

Personally,  I never seen any movies of the Underworld franchise, I had always been curious with the longevity of this series that revolves around the world of vampire vs werewolves. This series had always felt like a hoakey blend of two groups of beloved supernatural creatures with stylist tight clothing and a huge range of noisy weaponry. It isn't something that I would go out of my way to watch but since folks at Incinemas were nice enough to pick me from their facebook contest, Underworld Awakening shall be my entry point to the Underworld series. Let's hope that it would be a good jumping point for a Underworld newbie.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

All's Well End's Well 2012 八星抱喜 [ Movie Review ]

The Pitch

When it comes to Chinese News Year period, the other activity beside celebrating new year at relatives and friends' house, it would probably be a trip to the cinemas for a He Sui Pian (贺岁片 Chinese New Year Movie).

In recent years, Raymond Wong and Eric Tsang had been consecutively churning out authentic He Sui Pian (贺岁片 Chinese New Year Movie) for the Chinese New Year period. This year, Raymond Wong is back with another installment of the All's Well Ends Well franchise and Eric Tsang has another installment of I love Hong Kong.  

All's Well End's Well 2012 八星抱喜 features the likes of Sandra Ng, Donnie Yen, Louis Koo, Kelly Chen, Chapman To, Lynn Hung, Yang Mi and Raymond Wong.

The interesting point would be to note that who has the better He Sui Pian and who takes in the biggest slice of the He Sui Pian Box office. Since it's impossible to gauge who is the winner in this box office until the end of the Chinese New Year period, let's just see who has the better Hei Sui Pian.

Romancing in Thin Air | 高海拔之戀 II

The Pitch

Romancing in Thin Air ( 高海拔之戀 II) marks the latest collaboration between Louis Koo and Sammi Cheng as a on screen couple since "Good Times, Bed Times" & "Love for All Seasons" in 2003. While Sammi Cheng's fans might be excited to see her back on the big screen, this isn't exactly what caught my attention for this movie.

Initially, it was the Chinese title for this movie that comes with a "II" It seems to indicate that this movie is a sequel but it would be a sequel to a movie that nobody had heard of. An intriguing move by the film makers to keep the movie buff interested and guessing.

The premise of romancing in the highlands that depicts how love could sometimes leave one breathless sound pretty poetic. I am interested to see how it would be explored in this movie.

Last but not least, I am a fan of Johnny To and Wai Ka-Fai's movies. Although they have some misses with their romance movies, Romancing in Thin Air somehow invokes the feel of Running on Karma. I would love to see them repeat their brand of movie magic with this movie.

Theme Song of Romancing in Thin Air (Mandarin Version)

The theme song Do Re Mi by Sammi Cheng sound lovely and haunting at the same time. One of the reasons why I am interested to catch this movie.

Character Posters featuring Louis Koo and Sammi Cheng

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Soul of Bread | 愛的麵包魂

The Pitch

The local movie distributors must be very impressed with the business that You are the Apple of my Eye did in Singapore box office. That Taiwanese movie was the highest grossing Asian films of 2011 in Singapore, raking in $2.93 million (and counting) with relatively unknown stars.

Like many other male viewers, I was pretty much enthralled by the beautiful lead actress Michelle Chen and it's very likely that these collective male fans would flock to buy a ticket to watch whatever she might be doing next. That's probably why Michelle Chen's latest movie The Soul of Bread 愛的麵包魂 is getting a theatrical release in Singapore on the 15th Mar 2012! Just a few weeks after the commercial release in Taiwan (3rd Feb 2012) and we don't usually get their movies from the Asian region that quickly.

From the trailer (embedded below), The Soul of Bread looks like it's going to be a love triangle set in the world of bakery. A charming foreigner and the local village guy competing for the affection of a beautiful baker's daughter.

It would be interesting to see how Michelle Chen's follow up movie to You are the Apple of my Eyes would fare. The only thing in the trailer that didn't work for would be Han Tien Chen's performance as the local bumpkin. But then again, it's just first impression from the trailer and it might be too hasty to judge.

The usage of bakery as subject matter is quite a smart move. In recent years bread, cakes, pastries, and other forms of desserts are becoming rather popular in the Asian region. There's already a couple of movies like Antique Bakery (Korean), Chonmage Purin (Japanese) and Patisserie Coin de rue (Japanese) that deals with the art of baking and relationships that derived from it. There's potential in this movie about baking and the showdown between bakers but it remains to be seen how it would be executed.


Trailer from The Soul of Bread 愛的麵包魂 Official Youtube Channel


 The Soul of Bread - Anthony Neely
 The Soul of Bread - Han Tien Chen

The Soul of Bread - Michelle Chen

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Viral Factor | 逆戰 [ Movie Review ] ★★★1/2

The Plot

A failed mission to protect a scientist who has stolen a copy of the smallpox virus left Jon Man (Jay Chou) severely injured and the scientist kidnapped by his traitorous colleague Sean (Andy On). The bullet is lodged in Jon's brain will paralyses him within two week and he decides to spend his final days with his mother (Elaine Jin).

What he didn't expect was that his mother revealed to him that he has a long lost brother Man Yang (Nicolas Tse) whom she left behind with his gambling addict dad Man Tin (Liu Kai Chi). To fulfill his mother last wishes, Jon decides to track Man Yang down in Malaysia.

En route to Kuala Lumpur (Capital of Malaysia), Jon befriends medical specialist Rachel (Lin Peng) and came across criminal organization attempting to kidnap her. During the process to foil this kidnap attempt, he discovers that Man Yang is a wanted felon working as a mercenary for Sean, who needs the help of a medical specialist to mutate the small pox virus and holds the world ransom.

After Man Yang failed to kidnap Rachel but escaped with the virus, the criminal organization attempts to control him by kidnapping his daughter. The righteous Jon has to decide whether to stop Man Yang from breaking more laws or assist his wayward brother in rescuing his niece and stopping Sean's diabolical plans?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dance Dance Dragon | 龙众舞 [ Movie Review ] ★★★

The Pitch

Last year He Sui Pian (贺岁片 Chinese New Year Movie)  winner in Singapore box office was the local movie "It's a Great Great World". It made $2.43 millions, beating the likes of Raymond Wong's "All's Well, Ends Well 2011 最強囍事 2011", Eric Tsang's "I love Hong Kong" and Jack Neo's Homecomings.

This year Kelvin Tong (director of It's a Great Great World) and an ensemble of Singapore / Malaysia actors are back with another He Sui Pian call "Dance Dance Dragon". Kelvin Tong will be taking on the duties of a producer while handling over the directing duties to his long time collaborator Kat Goh.

Dance Dance Dragon is set up to celebrate the upcoming year of Dragon with the anticipation of the baby boom period in 2012 (Most Chinese believes the Dragon Year is the most auspicious time to have a baby). It's going to incorporate Dragon dance and perhaps other forms of dancing into the movie (hence the title Dance Dance Dragon).

 Dance Dance Dragon features local celebrities like Adrian Pang, Kym Ng and Dennis Chew (who is starring in this movie with his popular Aunty Lucy persona). Malaysian veteran actress Lai Ming is back again in another Singapore movie and personally, she is a delightful actress to watch out for.

But the biggest question remains. Will "Dance Dance Dragon" be able to repeat "It's a Great Great World" financial success at the box office this year? Let's wait to find out.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Great Magician | 大魔術師 [ Movie Review ] ★★★

The Pitch

Without looking at the plot premises, The Great Magician 大魔術師 was already alluring with the people involved with this project. It has a stellar cast of Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Lau Ching Wan and Zhou Xun. Three actors had all impress me with their performance in respective movies (Happy Together, Hero, Mad Detective, My Name is Fame, The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate & The Message - just to name a few) in the past.

Beside the cast, The Great Magician is directed by Derek Yee. Like the cast, I enjoyed the director's previous works (C'est la vie, mon chéri, Full Throttle, Viva Erotica and Triple Tap) and I have yet to find a disappointing movie from him.

On a closer look, The Great Magician seemed to share a similar premise with Edward Norton's The Illusionist. A magician taking on a dictator for the affection on a woman. It's a pretty good movie and even if The Great Magician ends up as a rehash of The Illusionist, I am still looking forward to how this collaboration between Derek Yee, Tony Leung, Lau Ching Wan and Zhou Xun would turn out.