Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Incite Mill - 7 Day Death Game | インシテミル 7日間のデス・ゲーム [ Movie Review ] **1/2

The premise for The Incite Mill sound like a blend of Battle Royale and Liar Game The Final Stage. Like Liar Game The Final Stage, this group of people stands to win a huge amount of easy money by following very simple instructions while being confined in a enclosed place. Similar to Battle Royale, they soon discovered that they have been duped into a treacherous survival game and they are each given a unique weapon to participate in this game. While having similar concepts, The Incite Mill was nowhere as controversial nor suspenseful. It's so ridden with loopholes and poor characterization that it's hard to stay engage with the plot and character.

It started with ten people from various walks of life taking part in a short term job in a remote complex that pays extremely well. The job requires them to be monitored 24 hours for 7 days in a psychological experiment. They are each given a room and few simple instructions. The first instruction would be to return to their room by 10pm and the second instruction would be by the 7th day or when there are only two surviving members left alive, the experiment will come to an end.

If a murder is committed, a member of the group could deduce who the killer is and with the support from the rest of the group, the killer will be put away. In a sick twist to incite the players into murderous behavior, the detective, the deceased and the "convicted" murderer will all get a bonus sum of money. They also realize that in their individual rooms, a different weapon is planted to aid them in this psychological experiment. The next day, they discovered a dead body at the corridor and their cushy job has turned into a horrifying job.

What went wrong for The Incite Mill?

Head Squeeze!
First of all, it didn't make it a convincing argument that this experiment would incite someone to actually murder another person. Money baits and dubious characters were thrown into the mix but the movie lack the screen time and effort to effectively draw out the fractured personality of a person that would behave in such way. Contrasting this movie with the movie Cube (which handle proximity paranoia well), the latter had the captives thrown into enclosed maze without giving them the reason why or how they will be able to get out. In this movie, the participants were aware that they were monitored and it will only be 7 days before they are re-release back to normal life. Would anyone resort to killing his or her fellow participant? It's just seemed so unlikely and the film did very little to validate the murderer's motivation.

The second problem with the show would be how the rules were forgotten as the movie progressed. For every murder, someone in the group was supposed to figure out who was the murderer with the rest voting on that deduction. But after the first murder, this deduction and judgment process was conveniently forgotten until the plot awkwardly requires it again. 
There are the twists that were added into the climatic finale which felt pointless and bland. Such as the live streaming of the murders which was last seen in Untraceable. The issue of taking pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others seemed clumsily inserted and does nothing to incite emotion from viewers.

As a whodunit thriller, The Incite Mill would work if the viewer would not question the flawed plot devices and simply accept the movie for what it is. In the midst of movies with similar themes that were released recently (Kaiji the Ultimate Gambler and Liar Game the Final Stage), this movie pale in comparison in deploying witty games that intrigue and challenge the viewers. It also failed to create the doomed atmosphere in movies like Battle Royale and Cube that will draw out the primitive instinct to survive. It's a pity because this movie had potential and was a page turner until climatic revelation which turned out to be rather disappointing.

Movie: ** 1/2

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Drag Me To Hell [ Dvd Review ] ***

The plot device for Drag Me to Hell has always sound illogical and silly to me. Why should a loan officer be cursed with such deadly curse for rejecting a loan extension. It's not exactly her fault even though she did it for the sake of a potential promotion. The old lady already had two loan extension and it makes one wonder if she is so powerful to make such an awful curse, why didn't she used some of her power for her own financial management?

It just didn't sound right or logical even in a supernatural way.

Further more, this is more or less haunting of one person, it's kinda obvious that harm couldn't happen to her for the main bulk of the movie. It make the whole haunting experience for 3 days seemed a little pointless. Why is the demon toying with her and not drag her soul to hell sooner?

Nevertheless, Drag Me to Hell wasn't that bad afterall. In fact, it was quite an entertaining horror with a certain 80s feel to it. It didn't take itself too seriously and surprisingly, the over the top haunting were far more humorous than scary.

Although the start up for the plot still feels rather silly to me, I liked the remedy of the curse. It reminded me of Robert Louis Stevenson's the Bottle Imp in which they tried to give away the bottle that will doomed the owner to eternal hell. The dilemma that comes in choosing who to pass the curse on and the knowledge that you send that certain person to horrible fate was intriguing to watch.

Last but not least, the unflinching ballsy twisty ending was rather enjoyable. Although it was pretty obvious what's going to happen (specially if you have seen movies like the Ring), it's going to be one of the more memorable endings in recent Hollywood horror movies.

Movie: ***

Dvd Extras [ Code 1 ]

Unrated & Theatrical Version - After watching the Unrated version and skimping through the Theatrical Version, there isn't any radically different scenes or alternate take of the movie. The Unrated version simply show more details and spent more time in the gory factors.

For a more detailed take on the differences between the two edition, check out Movie-Censorship's page for Drag Me to Hell

Production Video Diaries - Basically segments of the "making of". Covering the behind the scenes for sequences like The Bloody Nose and the Nightmare. There are some segments that cover the actors / characters profile but the more interesting bits of the Production Video Diaries would be how the special effects were done for the supernatural scenes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

AV [ Dvd Review ] *** 1/2

The gist of Edmond Pang's AV would be four Hong Kong university students attempting to have sex with a Japanese porn star through the guise of making an actual movie.

But yet ironically AV is about many other things and not so much on the original pitch. In fact there is so little depth on the sexual content that it's understandable why it gotten a IIb rating (Not suitable for Young Persons) instead of a Category 3 rating (Person aged 18 and above only). But the again AV excel in those many things that one could easily forget all about the gimmicky pitch and enjoyed what this AV have to provide.

It all started when one of their friends Lok faked a film production to make out with a girl. He was sacked from his university but that tactic inspired a bunch of friends to push the envelope further. The four of them decided to get funding and hire one of the popular Japanese AV actress  over and have sex with her while pretending to be making a movie. Numerous humorous cock up started to pile up in their way as they chase after the ultimate dream of most men ~ sex with a Japanese porn star!

The most entertaining aspect of AV was ironically not about the sex bits. It was the fooling among friends and the crude sex jokes that they shared or used at each other. It's the weird and funny obstacles that get thrown in their ways and how they overcome it. In the midst of chasing their dream, AV touches on doing something meaningful and audacious in their youth so that there won't be any regrets later on in life.

Then there are the tender moments in AV that makes one wonder if it's possible to fall in love with a porn star actress. It's a interesting take as while most people around the world view the porn career as a demeaning job, a significant  portion of the Japanese population don't see it that way. In fact, it seemed to be gaining popularity with the young female Japanese as some of the Japanese porn star do branch out to mainstream media career.

One of the nice moment here was the allusion on how ultimately porn star are there to sell a fantasy to the end user. It came rather unexpected but sometimes beneath the cutesy lovable facade lies something totally different.

Well that's what you get from a Edmond Pang movie. Interesting novel concepts with boisterous humour and tender moments of love in the most unexpected fashion.

Film: 3 1/2 out of 5 Stars

DVD Extra

When it comes to Edmond Pang movie on a dvd, you will bound to find at least some sort of extra feature in the Dvd. It varies from company that release his movie but you will get at least a commentary and making off segment. It's pretty rare as generally Hong Kong movies don't get so much extra effort put in for their dvds. What make it even better would be that it contain English subtitles for most of the extra segments and that's something that even the English friendly Korean Dvds don't normally do.

Disc 1

Director's statement - The Director's Statement comes in both Mandarin and English text. It covers the genesis for this AV movie and what was the inspiration for his movie. Who would expect that director Chen Kaige would have "something" to do with this movie.

Making of "AV" - Presented as "AV news" that follow Amamiya Manami to Hong Kong for her participation in this movie. It even tried to authenticated this "AV news" with a "Japanese" host speaking in Japanese and was dubbed over by a Cantonese narrator. There are plenty amusing moments in this segment. Specially on how they poke fun at the director for being just a little horny and the rest of the cast complaining about the first guy who got to make out with the female star.

Secret message from Amamiya Manami -

The not so secret video recording contains Amamiya Manami's monologue at the start and end of the movie. She also left two other video message for the director and cast. It's hard to believe someone so Kawaii (cute) and lively was a porn star.

Theatrical trailers and TV spots - One trailer and one tv spot for this movie. The second segment contains certain video scenes that is not in the movie.

Data Bank - Contain information on the Cast and crew profiles (in Mandarin) and the Synopsis (in both Mandarin and English)

Photo gallery - Automated sideshow of the cast during the film shoot. Comes with a soothing soundtrack to reminisce the video from a different angle.

Disc 2

Video commentary by Director and Cast - Why do a commentary when you could do a Video commentary. This video commentary works as the camaraderie between the director and the main cast made it fun to watch their lively bantering about the movie and stuff beyond it.

It turned out that the story of Kar Lok using film making as an excuse to make out with a girl was based upon a true life incident. They even point out that the actual Kar Lok played a part in the movie and his tale is well known in the Hong Kong film industry.

They even touch on censorship rules in Hong Kong and how the tight film schedule for AV made it impossible for Amamiya Manami to bid farewell to the rest of the crew before rushing for her flight back to Japan. There's plenty of interesting film making information and other amusing stuff that happened during the making of this movie. Not to be missed if you enjoyed the movie or if you are a fan of Hong Kong movies.

Deleted scenes - contain 9 mins + of certain additional, alternate and extended scenes that didn't make it to the final cut. The absence of English subtitles in this segment make it impossible to understand certain scenes that's converse in Japanese (unless you understand Japanese). The most amusing bit would be Amamiya Manami consoling the guys for their inability to perform the sex scenes and various snide remarks from the crew.

NG footage - A handful of NG footages that ended with an extra long making out scene with Amamiya Manami.

Beyond the Movie

Now for some updated AV News ... FilmsBlitz style

Amamiya Manami has retired (or Graduated as they like to say in Japan) from the Japanese Adult Video (JAV) industry back in 2008. As far as my research could find out, she was actually a newcomer in the JAV industry (with only 1 or 2 titles under her belt) prior to the making of this AV in 2005. Later on in her career, she signed up with one of the major and popular JAV company, S1 and stayed there till her final video. Some fans expressed joy that she didn't end her career with companies that are much more hardcore and degrading (yes ... even in the porn industry standard, there's a degree of debauchery) as many Japanese porn stars did with their twilight career.

For Folks in Singapore

With the new M18 & NC 16 rating dvds out for rental, you could borrow this Dvd and many other goodies at the library@esplanade.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Perfect Wedding | 抱抱俏佳人 [ Movie Review ] *** 1/2

For the uninitiated, Perfect Wedding might sound like a romantic comedy on the trials and tribulation for a couple preparing their perfect wedding. It felt like a dodgy film project that funded by bridal shops with lots of not so subtle product placements.

Then there's the apparent mismatch with Miriam Yeung and Raymond Lam as a couple. To make matters worse, Miriam Yeung had already been romancing a younger co star earlier this year (Love in a Puff) and it makes one wonder how many more movies will Miriam Yeung be pair up with a younger male co-star.

But surprise surprise, Perfect Wedding turned out to an unexpected delight.

Instead of a build up to the perfect wedding, Perfect Wedding was actually all about a 30 + successful wedding planner Yan (Miriam Yeung) and her unsuccessful love life. After hooking up with a young attorney Fung (Raymond Lam), their passionate one night stand unwittingly became a working relationship when Fung's boss owed Yan 30 wedding officiants duties and had left Hong Kong. As Yan and Fung worked together to help various couples' with their idealized wedding, their own romance started to blossom.

But their journey to marital bliss were besieged by various issues and people around them. Yan was still troubled by the fact that her previous boyfriend left her at the altar. She was plagued with worries on their May–December romance and lacks the confidence to come clean with their relationship in front of her friends and co workers. Fung frustrated by Yan's inability to be upfront with their relationship, had unexpectedly found admiration from a very hot co worker (played by the very hot Chrissie Chau).

It's a fairly predictable plotline and not exactly well executed but what really shine for Perfect Wedding was the actors performance, the witty dialogues and the comedic timing.

Miriam Yeung and Raymond Lam were charming and engaging in their respective roles. It's easy to feel happy and sad for them as they go through their ups and downs. Their age disparity was acknowledged and worked well into the story to sell the concept of them being lovers. It's easy to feel their disappointment and confusion as they tackle various obstacles that set them apart.

Beside that, they are backed by comedic veterans like Teresa Mo and Eric Kot with hotties like Bernice Liu, Chrissie Chau and Kate Tsui. The supporting cast provides the additional witty humour and eye candy that made Perfect Wedding even more enjoyable.

Though the humorous bantering between characters would have been better appreciated in Cantonese soundtracks, the Mandarin dialogue was piercing enough to bring out the good o' sidesplitting Hong Kong sarcasm. It's fast and unadulterated Hong Kong humour that bring back the times before Hong Kong movie started to cater to the China market.

Last but not least, the comedic timing to capture the cast performance and the witty dialogue. This is the hardest part and it varies from individual perception. If a sequence is cut too late or placed at a wrong angle, the comedic feel might come off differently. Perfect Wedding managed to do everything just right to capture the good vibe of the show and hits the sweet spot for laughter time after time.

Perfect Wedding is one of those gems that comes along and unexpectedly sweep you off your feet. The blend of humor and heartfelt realism in relationship made this movie unforgettable and memorable. Can't wait to get my hands on the Cantonese version of this movie.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Buried [ Movie Review ] *** 1/2

Here is the million dollar question... Is it worth the ticket price to watch one actor stuck in a confine place for the entire length of one movie? Deprive of various elements that make up the usual movie, can Buried be entertaining while working in such confinement?

The short answer is yes.

The premise is simple. A man waking up in an enclosed place. Discovering that he had been placed there for million dollar ransom that's beyond his or his family capability to raise the money, he made calls to various authorities for help. The problem here lies in the difficulties in getting any real help when he is unaware of the location that he is buried.

Right from the start, the film put the viewers into the shoes of Paul Conroy(Ryan Reynolds). Opening the shot in pure darkness. Confused and unsure of what's happening, the viewers slowly adapt to the situation as Paul Conroy starts to figure out his surrounding and the impending task. It was a slow start but as things start to unravel, there's plenty to keep the viewers on the edge of the seat.

Such as the number 1 concern. Should Paul Conroy do exactly as his captive tells him to or should he seek help elsewhere. Then there are the last contact with love ones if things do go horribly wrong. There's hardly any dull moments as the filmmakers threw quite a few elements to keep the pace of the film movie. Impressively, they did it all within the confine of a coffin. Buried function well as a pure escapism for those who like to imagine the worst case scenario without actually having to personally go through such hellish experience.

Would everyone enjoy this movie? I wouldn't think so. While walking out of the theater, I overheard a young lady telling her partner that it was a stupid show. It's the same type of respond that I had heard for Open Water. Perhaps it was the way that it had ended that does not appeal to everyone's requirement for a movie watching experience but hey, Buried is definitely not your usual movie. It's a slow boil but the movie will get increasing suspenseful and doesn't let up till the very last frame. Highly Recommended.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Welcome to FilmsBlitz...

Welcome to my blog for movie reviews ...

Why FilmsBlitz ?

Because FilmBlitz had been taken. :) It was supposed to be called Moviemote but it sound pretty dead. FilmsBlitz sound more lively and aggressive. It just came to me, together with the tagline Assault Your Senses. It just gel and for the moment now, this will be it.

I will review on the latest movie, taking a look back at old classic or even spotlighting the newsworthy trailers. This blog will be the place for me to update on what I thought was good or bad. It could be quotes from movie that speaks to me. Of course it's written in my perspective and whether it's manic or moronic, these will be my thoughts on movies.