Posts Tagged ‘action’

THE SANCTUARY

2010/02/20

http://www.filmframeproductions.com/en/p_sanctuary.html

Thailand 2009  Directed by: Thanapon Maliwan Script: Anuwat Kaewsopark, Thanapon Maliwan  Production: Thanapon Maliwan, Russell Wong, Chokchai Ptchpunna  Cinematography: Arnon Chunprasert  Editing: Sombat Thepkumdee  Music: Tuomas Kantelinen  Cast: Mike B., Russell Wong, Intira Jaroenpura, Patharawarin Timkul, Erik Markus Schuetz, Winston Sefu, Lak-Khet Waslikachart

THE SANCTUARY is a typical epigone of the Tony Jaa era and tells the well-known story of lost ancient artifacts and the hunt for them. In view of the thin plot I didn’t exactly get goose bumps, but ONG BAK or CHOCOLATE weren’t blessed with much intellectual depth either. This is fan fodder where other qualities are the priority.

Interestingly enough: THE SANCTUARY turns out to be quite an O.K. martial arts film that scores above average (literally). Much has been done right here that has been screwed up with many other B-movies of this kind. The INDIANA JONES story however contributes very little to the fact that THE SANCTUARY became a small surprise.

So what is it? First and foremost the better cast: Russell Wong delivers another good performance as charismatic gangster, Mike B. handles his dialogues well (albeit not as well as his fights), his love interest is likeable and avoids that common hooker-look, and the farang are cast clearly better than this is usually the case. Altogether they are simply the slightly better actors, slightly more credible, have somewhat more character.

Also some of the fights are executed pretty well; all in all the action looks unpretentious, much to the film’s benefit, but when all hell breaks loose, it really breaks loose. Martial arts fans may miss some extreme action or edgy highlights, but those who prefer a solid action movie with solid movie-like qualities should be happy with THE SANCTUARY. The cinematography helps making THE SANCTURY even more dynamic than it already is, while the sound-mix and some effects are pretty punchy and powerful; someone proved to pay attention to detail in all major departments.

Perhaps the words „compact“ or “tight” best describe the film: THE SANCTUARY uses space and time optimally for its standards, it wastes no resources, fits like a skinny jeans. Masterpieces look different, but throughout its 80+ minutes of slam-bang it doesn’t lower its guard a sec.

THE SANCTUARY appears to take its characters, the story and the dramaturgy seriously, despite all restrictions. THE SANCTUARY therefore is not simply another pretext for heaps of stunts, but a real film. That at least is a beginning.

J.




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20TH CENTURY BOYS – CHAPTER 1: THE BEGINNING OF THE END [20-SEIKI SHONEN: HONKAKU KAGAKU BOKEN EIGA | 20世紀少年]

2010/02/18

http://www.20thboys.com/index.html

Japan 2008   Directed by: Yukihiko Tsutsumi  Production: Morio Amagi, Ryuuji Ichiyama, Hideyuki Sakurai, Nobuyuki Iinuma  Manga: Naoki Urasawa  Script: Yasushi Fukuda, Takashi Nagasaki, Naoki Urasawa, Yusuke Watanabe  Cinematography: Satoru Karasawa  Music: Ryomei Shirai  Editing: Nobuyuki Ito  Cast: Toshiaki Karasawa, Etsushi Toyokawa, Takako Tokiwa, Teruyuki Kagawa, Kuranosuke Sasaki

A manga artist is thrown into jail for criticizing the regime. There he meets a mysterious prisoner who tells him a tale of true heroes and very dark powers: at the end of the previous century a group of young boys creates the somewhat ultimate villain, a dictator who terrorizes the world with biological weapons and downtown Tokyo with a giant combat robot.

The children compile these and other fictitious scenarios of destruction in a sketchbook and bury it somewhere close to their playground. Many years later however the prophecies come true, and a new mysterious sect and its leader named „Friend“ take control of large parts of Japan before turning into a political party that is aiming for world domination.

Surprisingly Friend’s party logo resembles the very same symbol the boys had invented years ago for their villain – a coincidence that brings the boys who are already thirtysomethings now back together decades later. They need to find out who’s behind the recent events – because it must be one of them, or at least someone they know. But that’s only the beginning and very soon they’ll find out how much involved into the events they really are.

20TH CENTURY BOYS, an adaptation of Naoki Urasawa’s epic manga, is revealing the early years of the main characters and follows their journey into the 20th century. For a large part 20TH CENTURY BOYS is an intelligent coming-of-age drama with interesting, multidimensional characters. At the same time the film documents how society changes over the decades and furthermore until the arrival of the new century. Even if the film doesn’t provide detailed evidence for the profound changes it nevertheless succeeds to capture the feeling of a society that develops from a warm and caring organism into a place of technocracy, isolation and depression. Everybody seeks redemption. Nobody is innocent. Friend, this highly symbolic icon and self-proclaimed world president faces little resistance in a society that has no more dreams, values or goals left to fight for. So it’s up to our (anti-) heroes to save Japan as they seem to be the only ones who can see right through Friend and his motifs and know better than anyone else what he might be up to in the near future.

With 20TH CENTURY BOYS Yukihiko Tsutsumi proves once more that he’s the right man for odd stuff, and this time he has chosen a story of truly encyclopedic proportions to show his sense for the unconventional. The characters are quirky, the storyline is an unpredictable rollercoaster ride and the attention to often strange details is outstanding. Even though Tsutsumi sticks very close to the original manga he has managed to separate the relevant from the not-so-relevant despite the enormous variety of events and characters. Furthermore is 20TH CENTURY BOYS yet another proof for the Japanese obsession with the fictional destruction of their own country in all possible forms of popular culture, and Tsutsumi is a specially talented and playful master of destruction who finds just the right balance between shock and laughter.

20TH CENTURY BOYS is indeed a fantastic film with many reference points to reality. The outstanding cast as well as Tsutsumi’s regular film team manage the complex plot, the numerous twists and of course the great finale with ease, putting the film in a class of its own. 20TH CENTURY BOYS is uncompromising entertainment while elegantly placing a serious message about totalitarian regimes and the recent history of Japan itself within a mainstream audience.

Those who think they might just want to try out this first part of the 20TH CENTURY BOYS trilogy beware: this one and the second part do not have an actual ending, nor do they have a partial answer to the question who Friend is and why he’s doing what he’s doing. Once you start you’ll have to watch the next two parts as well. No problem though: 20TH CENTURY BOYS leaves us craving for more. Much more.

J.



BANGKOK ADRENALINE [อะดรีนาลีน คนเดือดสาด]

2010/01/31

Thailand 2009   Directed by: Raimund Huber   Script: Raimund Huber, Conan Stevens   Production: Trit Charoenrach   Cinematography: Teerawat Rujintham, Jiradeht Samnansanor, Wardhana Vunchuplou   Cast: Daniel O’Neill, Conan Stevens, Raimund, Gwoin Jacob Miles

This is a fascinating piece of junk: the qualities (or the lack thereof) of BANGKOK ADRENALINE are so profoundly substandard that I wonder how come this horrible film ever got a release.

It is possible that this has to do with the Do-It-Yourself character of the film: not only is it shot and produced like a DIY experiment of amateur filmmakers, it may also be financed and released by the people involved in BANGKOK ADRENALINE themselves. In a country like Thailand this procedure is still pretty affordable.

Any which way, the film is basically a stunt show; some people think that the fights are executed pretty well. Maybe. But it is a sure fact that everything beyond the fighting is horrible. You just can’t sit through a single second of dialogue or acting, this is all plain laughable. And it’s worse when it comes to the technical aspects, camera, light, sound and so forth, all that is really painful to watch.

As a martial arts fan you might enjoy some of the action, but BANGKOK ADRENALINE would have profited from cutting out the rest and release this as a stunt video with 40 minutes running time. This was not destined to be screened in cinemas, nor was it destined to be a film, actually.  BANGKOK ADRENALINE only cares about the stunt choreography and pays zero attention to character development or the story line. So why should we care?

Hardly ever will you get a better opportunity to test the fast forward function of your DVD player. BANGKOK ADRENALINE is so bad that it’s almost entertaining for its flaws alone. But let’s not rely on that potential. Avoid BANGKOK ADRENALINE at all costs. Make sure you don’t cross paths. Ever.

J.