Eye in the Sky (2007)

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a crack squad from the Criminal Intelligence Bureau (CIB), the most secretive and elite branch of the Hong Kong police force, uses sophisticated surveillance equipment to observe, follow and track down the most dangerous of criminals. After a high stakes jewelry heist was successfully carried out by an ultra-professional criminal gang led by mastermind Shan (Tony Leung), what follows is a tense and intricately plotted game of cat-and-mouse between CIB chief Matt (Simon Yam) and members of Shan’s gang. But it is the rookie agent Bo (Kate Tsui) who is dramatically thrust into a situation where she must prove herself, including coming face-to-face with the dangerous and charismatic crime leader himself…

Okay so the biggest thing you need to know is that this film is mostly a series of tracking shots. We see a lot of people walking around, looking over their shoulders and doing double takes. This mixed with music is suppose to drum up some level of suspense and intrigue; and it although it does a little it’s certainly not enough.

The lead is a woman looking to make the surveillance unit, and the ‘story’ is mostly her kind of being the junior partner of the unit’s head. Their relationship is noble, quiet, and utterly dull. As efficient as they are at their job, the movie is ironically just as inept at being anything other than a low-powered, action-thriller. It really is the most one-note picture of this kind I’ve seen in years. And it’s a shame because the first half hour of the film sort of shaped the film to be something the last two-thirds couldn’t live up to.

This definitely isn’t a bad motion picture, but it isn’t great either. Watch it to see stars like Simon Yam, Tony Leung ka-fi, and even the lead actress, Kate Tsui. The supporting cast were all fine and effective as well; I just wish they all had a little more to do. Even the action here was sparse and uninspired. A disappointment to say the least, and also disappointing outing for a movie produced by Johnnie To.

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RECAPPED!: My Mister (Episode 9)

BOOOOYYYYYYYY!!!!!!

Okay so…before I say anything LEMME HIT YALL WITH THE-

SPOILERALERT

Alright fam, episode 9 of My Mister dropped and things SHIFTED. HEAVILY.

Alright so, here’s the rundown in terms of the revelations of characters in this episode:

*SPOILERS* *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS*

  1. Dong-Hoon is in the running for being the next director at his company, and it feels like everyone else around him is more excited than he is! But I don’t blame son at all! All the crazy, scandalous mess that’s leaked out of that cesspool of a job he has would discourage me from being all that excited too. Now the biggest reveal here, is that Dong-Hoon’s wife seemed to be hurt by the fact that he did not tell her about it. Does this mean she actually cares about him? Things between her and the CEO of the company really broke down, so does this mean she’s into the idea of working things out? With her trifling ass. (I’m sorry, but no.)
  2. Then this heifer had the nerve to try and buy off Ji-An, talm bout, “It’s unpleasant for someone who knows all my dirt to be around”. Like GIRL! You are the personification of trifling. THE BEST PART OF THE SHOW THOUGH? Ji-An lies to Ji-Ah and tells her that Dong-Boon already KNOWS ABOUT HER TRIFLING WAYS, BIH! (LOL)
  3. Alright so there was sort of a weird, fakout…when the sniveling director and company suck-up (Director Yoon) rolled plans forward toward investigating the relationship between Dong-Hoon and his reasoning for hiring someone like Ji-An. To our shock, the CEO scolded his punk ass and told him to leave them both alone. If Yoon used his brain he would’ve known that doing something that risky could easily be traced back to him and the CEO. And if the CEO falls, you FALL FALL.
  4. Ji-An’s disgusting, perpetually scowling loan-shark, Ki-Yong called Dong-Hoon and told him to “watch his back” around Ji-Ahn because she probably stole money from him to pay for her debt. Dong-Hoon was confused until he got the truth Ji-An’s fellow temp co-worker.
  5. Part of that truth is THAT temp worker was there to serve as Ji-An’s surrogate father when her mother racked up a ton of debt and skipped town! WHAAAATTT?
  6. Also, He finally tells Dong-Boon about how the Ki-Yong’s father beat and unfairly raised Ji-An and her grandmother’s debt until he died.
  7. Dong-Boon gets like…righteously angry because of this and tracks Ki-Yong down to pay off Ji-An’s debt. He confronts him about the violence and threats. They basically threaten each other…AND THEN THEY START FIGHTING, BRUH!!!!!
  8. We get a super emotional scene of Ji-An listening through her little Kellog’s cereal spy toy radio device, crying her cute, little eyes out. And the episode ends with the two men scraping! AND WE DON’T KNOW WHO GOT THE UPPER HAND!

What an action packed episode this was man! And the preview made me want to stick it out for another hour or so, but it’s late and I needed to get this episode recap up for now. I’ll have another up, early next week, before Wednesday for sure. As for the quality of the show after nine episodes? The writing is still great, I’m still invested in these characters, and I have what feels like a dozen or so questions I need answered. So I say let’s keep this going!

Lemme know what you all think about the show? thenexcrewteam@gmail.com

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Call of Heroes (2016)

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China has devolved into a patchwork of competing military governates following the dissolution of the Qing Dynasty. As Marshal Cho, the son of a military governor, wanders around the area of Shitoucheng indiscriminately killing and robbing from civilians, a school-teacher named Ms Pak flees with her students, and along with other refugees are admitted into Pucheng, which belongs to another governor. Since the soldiers of Pucheng are away on a campaign, authority falls to Colonel Yeung, leader of the militia. A few days later, Cho, who derives pleasure from random killings, enters Pucheng alone and murders Pak, her cousin, and one of her students. He is quickly arrested and sentenced to death, but his father’s soldiers arrive and demand his release. When Yeung refuses to give in, and threatens to kill Cho on the spot, the soldiers declare that Yeung must release Cho in the morning, or else the entire town will be killed.

-Wikipedia (Click here for full article)

As you can see, life in 1914 China kinda sucks. People in power prey on the poor and kinda just like murdering people. Where’s the Monkey King when you need’em? Aha! Lucky for the villagers (I guess), a wandering martial artist, teams with the sheriff of Pucheng and a handful of skilled warriors to protect the people. Question is will it be enough?

Call of Heroes is a superbly choreographed, brutally shot motion picture. Lots of real, gruesome, lighting-quick deaths occur on screen and the movie only really pauses to give the characters left alive time to grieve. Sad for them, but for me and my daughter (my date for the evening), it made for somewhat compelling viewing.

Sheriff Yang is a stoic, sturdy individual. A true hero in every sense of the word, and even to the detriment of the people of Pucheng. The moral quadry is as follows:

Let the son of a warlord go free, after he’s mercilessly killed three people?

Or justly execute him according to the law, and then be wiped out by his father’s army?

Understandably, Yang and the people of Pucheng really had differing opinions on what to do (LOL). While I can certainly understand the sheriff’s insistence on doing the ‘right’ thing even if it kills him. His blatant lack of regard for his people (let’s all die together, I think is uttered at least once or twice) is unsettling. However, what’s to say this nut isn’t going to try and murder you all anyway as soon as he is released? Huh? What? Exactly?

How you liking your spot between a rock and a hard place? Sheesh.

At any rate, once the die has been cast, and the fertilizer hits the fan; Sammo Hung’s magical touch for kung-fu heroics completely turns things up to 11. From the battle on the spiked bridge, to the former friends duking it out upon an enormous moutain of clay pottery. The kicks and punches fly fast and hard! Although the narrative is well-worn and lacking any real suspense–the acrobatics and bloodshed really take on the heavy lifting for the last half hour of this picture. This isn’t a must-see, but fans of Sammo Hung’s action style and good’ol kung fu will appreciate the setting and set pieces I think.

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Turns out…good help is readily available..just have to ask. Or be put in a dire situation.

 

Recapped!: Meet Me@1006 (Episodes 1-2)

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  • Title: 1006的房客 / 1006 De Ke Fang
  • English title: Meet Me @1006
  • Genre: Romance, mystery, suspense
  • Episodes: 24
  • Broadcast network: iQiyi, TTV
  • Broadcast period: 2018-Mar-14 to 2018-May-31
  • Air time: Wednesday and Thursday 22:00
  • Opening theme song: Winter is Coming (凜冬將至) by Peter Pan (潘裕文)
  • Ending theme song: Liao Shang (聊傷) by Bii

Synopsis

A lawyer loses everything and moves into a low-budget apartment. Forming a supernatural connection with a mysterious woman was not part of the rental agreement. (Credit to Dramafever)

Cast

Extended casts

Production Credits

 

Alright so we have a pretty straightforward premise here, but it gets weird, fairly quickly which is key. The leading man here (Zhen Yu played by Lego Li) is a disgraced, once-promising lawyer who is forced out of his upper-crust life into depression and conspiracy. Someone had a hand in corrupting a big case he was working on, and his rival in the courtroom managed to somehow implicate as much. This effectively gets Zhen Yu (along with his legal assistant) barred from the practice and seeking some sort of redemption and truth. This mission to uncover the truth is interrupted one night during one of Zhen Yu’s drunken, lonely tirades. Is he being haunted by a ghost? Or is something even more peculiar going on here?

Here’s the trailer and my spoiler-ish thoughts below the spoiler break:

 

SPOILERALERT

Alright so let’s continue this sort of format and get the early-on revelations about this show outta the way, shall we?

  1. Zhen Yu isn’t being haunted by a ghost, he is somehow living in the same flat a woman named Jia Le lived in several months earlier.
  2. To be clear, Zhen Yu is living in 2018 and Jia Le is living in 2017. They have the same landlord (who appears to know something about the time rift), and are strangely able to inhabit the same exact space; both separately and concurrently.
  3. At 10:06pm, their homes merged into one and basically become time traveling roomates of sorts. It’s weird, guys.

My wife and I had the same questions about this time rift phenomena thing, but more importantly we were trying to figure out about the (as of now) mysterious murder of ‘a judo master’ that’s been mentioned throughout the episodes early on here. All it good time, of course. But I’ll probably at least give this one another couple of episodes.

The show has a nice balance of humor and intrigue. We aren’t really at a point where the two leads see each other romantically nor does the show really hint at that possible pairing (minus some sort of living arrangement). Here’s hoping things get a little more juicier in future episodes.

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Isle of Dogs (2018)

Very innovative, a fresh breath of air in an otherwise Pixar/Dreamworks style of movie making.

 

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Cast

 

Man this movie was a unique experience! I know we tend to say that often for what seems like every 3rd or 4th motion picture we head out to a screening for, but this is different. Isle of Dogs was every Samurai flick, Japanese folk tale, American Spaghetti Western, and every Wes Andersonian motif you can imagine cramed into one film. That’s a good thing for all Wes Anderson fans out there, films like Rushmore and the Royal Tenenbaums are legendary. Anderson himself said this picture was strongly influenced by the films of Akira Kurosawa and any Japanese cinema fans would be able to spot the similarities pretty quickly. I know I did.

Isle of Dogs is essentially a continuation of an intense, brutal history between men, cats, and dogs. The Kobayashi clan’s ongoing beef with dogs is bizarre, and holds the entire weight of this film’s premise. The kicker here though, is that an intense dig-flu has swept across the dog population. To sum it all up, Dogs are good and Kobayashi (or specifically, Mayor Kobayashi) is bad, bitter, and determined to uphold a discriminatory tradition. Kobayashi signs a decree that all dogs shall be sent to ‘trash island’ away from the rest of civilization. The mayor’s eventual heir whose parents were killed before the time of the film, has a dog that is sent to a far off island away from the rest of a Japan (some twenty years into the future). The heir’s name is Atari and he’ll spend most of the movie in search of the dog his uncle sends away. Dog’s name is Spots, and becomes known as Dog Zero, the first one to have been sent away to the island. Long story short the movie is about the search and rescue of Spots by Atari and five other dogs (King, Duke, Rex, Boss, Chief).

Isle of Dogs was every Samurai flick, Japanese folk tale, American Spaghetti Western, and every Wes Andersonian motif you can imagine crammed into one film.

The meat of this film is the relationships between the dogs, their environment, and their struggle to stay sane in an insane atmosphere. The dog flu is so devastating that it seems to render them all in constant pain, sneezing, starving, and suffering. The dogs have become so accustomed to the life that by the time Atari appears in the film, things like baths and haircuts seem ‘special’, distant memories. Anyway, this isn’t a spoiler review–the dogs essentially go on a journey across the island in search of Spots and then eventually to avenge their own misfortune essentially.

Back on the island, Kobayashi’s rival–a scientist actually finds cures and treatments to deal with the dog flu virus, but Kobayashi ain’t trying to hear all that. As you can imagine the battle there take on a more political and ethical front and serves as a solid secondary thread to the plight of the dogs and Atari.

What stands out about this film isn’t the story or the characters though. It’s without question the style of narrative at play here. It hearkens back to things like Kabuki plays in Japan or classic, samurai cinematic tales. The way characters or groups were introduced into the story. The way it’s narrated. Even just the facial expressions and gestures made whenever words aren’t spoken. And in this film, only the dogs speak English. Everyone else (aside from translators at the tv station) speak Japanese. Many times without subtitles. And it works. The actions shown in every scene like this are explained well enough without the need for subtitles and the like. Not something easy to pull off, but perhaps made a little easier with the help of animation. However, it’s worth noting the stop-motion tech used in the film is nothing to sneeze at either as the detail and depth of movements downright captivates. The technical and practical aspects of the film are the strength and generally enhance the quality of product here tenfold. If this was an ordinary, hand-drawn motion picture this film would be like every other straight to demand early 2000s flick you can find on Netflix or Hulu. But it’s presentation is second to none! Leave it to a director like Wes Anderson to raise the bar once again when it comes to narrative style and pace. Very innovative, a fresh breath of air in an otherwise Pixar/Dreamworks style of movie making. This one comes HIGHLY recommended from me!

What were your thoughts about the movie? How’d you like the style of storytelling we got here? Send me your thoughts over to thenexcrewteam@gmail.com

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YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING: My Mister (Episodes 1-8) (Includes Massive Spoilers)

Life hates this guy

From Korean Drama Dot Org,

Title: 나의 아저씨 / My Mister
Also known as: My Ajusshi
Chinese Title: 我的大叔
Genre: Family, Romance, Comedy
Episodes: 16 (To Be Confirmed)
Broadcast network: tvN
Broadcast period: 2018-Mar-21 to 2018-May-10
Air time: Wednesday & Thursday 21:30

Synopsis

This drama tells the story of three middle-aged brothers, who are enduring the weight of their lives, and a strong, cold woman, who has been living a hard life of her own, as they come together in healing each other’s past scars.

*SPOILERS IN MY THOUGHTS ON THE SERIES SO FAR SO FAIR WARNING *

I’m sure you can say a lot of things about this Kim Won-Suk directed drama. The dull main characters. A plodding, mundane crawl of a pace. But darn it if this series doesn’t pull it off incredibly well. From the show’s lead man and woman (Lee Sun-Kyun and pop singer, IU aka Lee Ji-Eun), to the family and friends (most notably, the mother of the 3 brothers performed beautifully here by Ko Du-Shim. And while conventional wisdom would say slow and dull would equate to a lackluster television serial–once again, this cast of characters pulls it off with aplomb!

Now that the show is essentially in mid-season form (as I typed this, I saw that episode 9 had premiered the night before I posted this), there is QUITE a lot to unpack here. I’m still lamenting the fact that personal reasons kept me from following this series the way I intended too–with a follow up summary every couple of episodes. I mean this show has everything! Board room politics, office scandals, disappointed mothers, underachieving sons. The lead character (Building Safety Manager Dong-Hoon)  himself has been bribed, cheated on, and even his mostly passive-aggressive nature/character is called into question. As low key as all the pain My Mister bears for us all to indulge in is, it’s still awfully painful to watch some of the hardships taking place here. The temp who sort of works as an afterthought under Dong-Hoon is also a lot to unpack. She’s Ji-An. A a quiet, straight-faced swindler of a person who forever carries an ambiguous way about her. Her intentions start a little muddled and clouded by her personal needs paired with her constant pursuit of money and a meal. The ride she takes Dong-Hoon on in this series feels parallel to the drama series as a whole in that even after 8-episodes of angst-ridden scandals and setbacks; the show most clearly thrives when the camera is on Dong-Hoon, Ji-An, or both. When we follow the secondary storylines of Dong-Hoon’s wife’s (Yoon-Hee, portrayed by Lee Ji-Ah) and the CEO of Dong-Hoon’s company (Joon-Young played by Kim Young-Min)’s affair the story is at it’s most edgy. Dong-Hoon and Yoon-Hee aren’t happy. But for Yoon-Hee to sleep around with Dong-Hoon’s boss, who is actually his junior,and the primary reason of his demotion, is pretty callous. Ji-An’s story changes from one of a devious, ruthless swindler to that of a hybrid, anti-hero tale of a street-rat with a heart of bronze having to make a lot of crass decisions. The mental gymnastics that the couple of gangsters put her through very clearly seems to be whittling her down. Ji-An is a warrior and her brother her loyal, but certainly less-than-noble partner. Every scene feels like a struggle for Ji-An and when the viewer is finally hip to her situation, we feel as if every confrontation and exchange Ji-An experiences is a transaction of some sort. Thankfully, her character throughout the last few episodes begins to show signs of an emotion for Dong-Hoon although it still seems fairly ambiguous. Her “under-the-table” dealings with Dong-Hoon’s superior already seem to be hanging by a wet, flimsy thread. The subplots dealing with Dong-Hoon’s brothers finding their purpose and Ji-An’s gangster nemesis seemingly developing this extreme, love/hate relationship with her adds the perfect amount of comedic relief, thoughtful, drunk philosophical wailing, and violent, menacing spats.

The most shocking revelations about the first half of the series?

SPOILERALERT

  1. The gangster (Gwang-II Lee played by Chang Ki-Yong) who seems to revel in beating, extorting, and threatening Ji-An has a dark history with her. She killed his father. Yep. Ji-An, stabbed his father. Full disclosure: His father was beating Ji-An and her grandmother. Because like Gansta Gwang-II, he’s an insufferable, low-rent crook. Ji-An acted in self-defense but Gwang has been holding that “murder” over her head for what appears to be some years now.
  2. Dong-Hoon’s wife having affair with his CEO. The guy was Dong-Hoon’s junior in school, and not only did they not like each other–but the CEO and Dong-Hoon’s wife are constantly looking for ways to get him fired or to quit his position. ROUGH.
  3. Dong-Hoon’s older and younger brothers joining up and running a cleaning business. It was a shock to me because it made sense, but the family’s pride and honor seemed to nearly keep them from humbling themselves low enough to make this happen. Both brothers have a lot to prove, and in a future post I’ll discuss their specific struggles in more detail.

Overall, the show is riveting after eight episodes, and I plan on highlighting certain aspects of these handful of story lines as we continue the series along. For now, you can catch the show on wesbites such as Drama Fever (Click here to jump to the My Mister Drama Fever page).

So as far as ratings go…

Episodes 1-8  receive a strong, recommendation. For you scale lovers…4/5

We’ll see how the second half of the show compares, as the series is set for at least eight more episodes!

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