Archive for the ‘TITLE K’ Category



Not sure what to think of the Koreans remaking my favorite John Woo movie THE KILLER yet, but there’s pros and cons at time of writing. Pros: John Woo supervises  and produces, and John H. Lee (71: INTO THE FIRE) directs. Cons: 3D (never a good sign for quality filmmaking), nobody Josh Campbell is writing (adapting?) the screenplay, the film is – seriously – an English-language (!) version (despite featuring a Korean star and Korean-American director – what sense does that make?).

Hope for the best and expect the worst I’d say. Any which way, I’d bet anything that the remake will not live up to the original. More soon.




JAPAN 2010  Directed by: Tetsuya Nakashima Written by: Tetsuya Nakashima  Novel by: Kanae Minato  Produced by: Yuji Ishida, Genki Kawamura, Yoshihiro Kubota, Yutaka Suzuki  Cinematography by: Masakazu Ato, Atsushi Ozawa  Editing by: Yoshiyuki Koike  Music by: Toyohiko Kanahashi  Cast: Takako Matsu, Masaki Okada, Yoshino Kimura, Mana Ashida, Kaoru Fujiwara, Kai Inowaki, Sora Iwata, Daichi Iwata, Daichi Izumi, Karin Kato, Takuya Kusakawa, Ayaka Miyoshi, Hiroki Nakajima, Yukito Nishii, Hotaru Nomoto, Rena Nonen, Naoya Shimizu, Tsutomu Takahashi, Makiya Yamaguchi, Kasumi Yamaya, Ayuri Yoshinaga

Life’s not always butterflies and rainbows. Sometimes it’s so-so, then you die. When a teacher’s daughter drowns in the pool of a school it is ruled as an accident. But at the end of the term, and at the end of her engagement at that school, Yuko Moriguchi, the teacher (played by Takako Matsu) reveals to her class that it wasn’t an accident, but cold-blooded murder indeed, committed by underage students who are in the room now. Without naming the culprits she meticulously goes into every detail of the bloody deed and her findings, knowing that the murderers cannot be punished as they are protected by the very law that should actually put them behind bars. Finally, at the end of her revelations, it turns out that she has decided to take the law into her own hands and avenge her daughter’s death in an unorthodox, yet very efficient way. But what’s a shock for the culprits as much as for the classmates is just the beginning of a vicious game with unpredictable outcome.

Yuko Moriguchi’s confession (in one of the most memorable openings of any movie I believe) is just the first of many to follow. KOKUHAKU is structured episodically with each confession concentrating on one of the main characters. The movie finishes on a high, with a climatic ending that will definitely blow you away. KOKUHAKU is an enormously satisfying and intense viewing experience, from the first frame until the credits start rolling, not least thanks to the very sophisticated script (based on the equally sophisticated novel by Kanae Minato), a superior plot engine as well as meticulous direction, cinematography and editing.

Despite many trademark features of revenge flicks or Japanese end-of-the-world movies KOKUHAKU is more of a theological discussion on the values in life, and the worth of life itself. It also debates the state of the nation and the future of Japanese society, which could as well be a universal discourse applicable to any other place out there. Choosing the form of a psychological drama KOKUHAKU is also, or first and foremost, a nail-biting thriller, even if most of it is dialogue, not action.

The dark and sinister world of KOKUHAKU is the perfect place for broken characters and leaves little room for normality as we know (knew) it. It is not easy to identify with any of the figures, mostly we tend to agree with what Yuko is doing, but the way the script portrays the villainous characters is rich, brilliant, borderline genius. The fascination even for the most despicable person is one of the outstanding achievements of KOKUHAKU, and the way the film finds a lyrical tonality to describe evil reminds of Bret Easton Ellis. You can feel the presence of the literary source throughout.

Good and bad seem like twins in KOKUHAKU, but eventually you will realize that they actually don’t exist. The longer you search for the thin red line that divides the two, the more the movie points towards a possible conclusion, the more you come to understand that good and bad are concepts based on human belief, and they exist only as far as society replicates these values through its members day in, day out. But what happens in KOKUHAKU is that there is no one left to believe in anything, and society evaporates right in front of our eyes, because good and bad are all the same to all of them and so they cease to exist.

The same happens to the concept of revenge: it requires a specific angle to work, and that angle is very hard to find in a world without values, norms or any form of social fabric, a world, where suicide is a commodity, if not a blessing, for many. Eventually, Yuko gets her revenge, makes the murderers’ existence take a turn for the vaguely complicated and brings them down to their knees, almost – or really – lose their minds. Or so it seems. “I’m just messing with you”, those are the last words she says to one of them, and they are also the last words of the movie that’s been messing with us all along, but not without a point.

KOKUHAKU does not promote eye-for-an-eye mentality, and neither does it leave judgment to the lord or into whose jurisdiction this responsibility falls in your case. It’s essentially humanism against nihilism, with humanism winning at the end against this overwhelming urge to succumb to the same sick logic that teenager tries to seed.

Does all that change the world we live in? I am not certain. Does it make us understand why and how society can fall apart? Yes. Does it make sure that we won’t let some deranged adolescents piss all over us? Absolutely. KOKUHAKU is a battle cry: it’s the last line of defense against ignorance, stupidity and people or attitudes that are just totally fubar. I hope I did not forget to mention that KOKUHAKU is also a truly exceptional movie, in every aspect. I’m not messing with you.














THAILAND 2010  Directed by: Panna Rittikrai, Morakot Kaewthanee  Produced by: Prachya Pinkaew, Panna Rittikrai Cast: Kietisak Udomnak, Pimchanok Leuwisetpaibul, Sorapong Chatree, Supaksorn Chaimongkol, Kazu Patrick Tang, Sorapang Chatree

ROUND 1: I am aware that nobody cares about the plot of BKO: BANGKOK KNOCKOUT (those who would are most certainly not interested in the movie in the first place), so I will not spend too much time complaining about it.

A group of stuntmen is participating in a casting tournament for a Hollywood movie. They win, but are captured and instead of going to the States they have to compete against unknown enemies in a rundown real estate compound, while some rich people are betting on them, making – or losing – a fortune.

Of course the plot is stolen (only the plot holes are genuine), but to be fair the story also provides one of the more solid frameworks we’ve seen in movies like this. Just don’t ask questions, don’t expect logic.

ROUND 2: the film mostly features stuntmen from the teams who did some of the Thai action flicks we all know, so it makes sense that the story is drafted around a stunt team. It is clearly one of the smarter moves not to try to turn them into something they are not – as a result, BANGKOK KNOCKOUT feels relatively authentic and honest, and would have come close to the stunt film format I have proposed many times if, well if, they just had eliminated any kind of story for good. Never mind.

ROUND 3: You should think that six years after BORN TO FIGHT it’s about time to change the recipe, but innovation is absent around BANGKOK KNOCKOUT. I cannot see the motivation to do something new or anything that seriously outguns all the earlier Jaa / Rittikrai / Pinkaew movies (despite the director’s claims). By and large BANGKOK KNOCKOUT is more of the same, a pretty solid action fest following the well-known success formula. BKO is fun, fast and features some outstanding stunts and notable set pieces, but it must also be mentioned that the movie bears no surprises.

ROUND 4: Talking about the action I am a bit disappointed. It’s not that it lacks the wow factor, but I didn’t really feel excited about the choreography, nor did I feel the impact, no matter how tough the fights really were (or seemed). Maybe that also had to do with the fact that certain tricks are being used too frequently or have become too obvious, like wires, speeding up of images or armor worn under the clothes. I am not sure what was the intention behind the scene when one of the enemies takes off his shirt and reveals the exact same steel armor that makes many of these raw stunts possible (if you ever wondered how come they can kick and jump into each others stomachs like that, now you know), but it is also no secret that Mr. Rittikrai once again uses “dust” and water excessively to make the blows look better (Hong Kong did that already decades ago, by the way). So maybe there was no intention whatsoever.

ROUND 5: Saying BANGKOK KNOCKOUT is a good movie is like believing in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or Barack Obama bringing about change. Technically speaking, the film is a disaster. Many things are executed so badly, you almost feel like watching a Making Of. Abandoned housing projects are being prepped as restaurants, the lighting is so bad that you can see when it comes from a spotlight, weapons are obviously fake (like the big axe that looks like a 20 g toy), editing and directing are not even close to editing and directing, and let’s better not discuss the dialogue or acting (but hey, thanks for the bearable farang villain). The mentality is a bit like “that’s good enough for the audience”: BANGKOK KNOCKOUT misses attention to detail, perfection, even professionalism, but if that insults you, or is just another “who cares” on the very long who-cares-list, is something everyone has to judge for her- or himself.

ROUND 6: with BANGKOK KNOCKOUT, the target audience gets exactly what they want, a no-holds-barred fight movie featuring an array of breakneck, sometimes awesome stunts. If you are into this kind of entertainment you cannot not like this one – BANGKOK KNOCKOUT is must-see action for any die-hard fan. As nobody has promised us a great movie, or any surprises, it’s not surprising however that BANGKOK KNOCKOUT is not a great movie, and not surprising.

Despite BANGKOK KNOCKOUT kicking ass like crazy, it is also a copy-and-paste job, a hardboiled mashup of what’s been done before. It features enough borderline insane action to entertain from beginning to end, but in the future someone will have to rethink action made in Thailand as it all starts to feel like a TV show in its 50th season.