Wicked City (1987)

2013 Monster Movie Marathon- Movie #3

Words: Desmond “Neo” Childs

“They say they give great pleasure, but cannot give birth to children…”

The human world and demon world have this truce, see? The pact of peace keeps the humans and demons from warring against each other. So naturally there are those who oppose the re-signing of this “Pact of Peace”. Said persons feel that this certain pact would lead to unholy unions (i.e Human and Demon giving birth to offspring of mixed blood)

I would like to start by saying there is a solid, workable story buried away inside Wicked City. It concerns two unlikely partners and their dangerous mission of protecting a public figure. This person is key in getting the peace pact re-signed and if he’s lost, the two worlds would suffer for it. There’s some fast, film romance thrown in, and violence sprays all the way along the movie’s 82 minute run-time. The animation is far from shabby, and the UK dub work is passable. Those are all the “positive” things about this film for me.

Let me tell you where this movie fails. It’s a mature film, with many scenes of sex, rape, and gore scattered throughout. Even with the script trying to write off character deaths as people “being put to sleep”, the animation told a more gruesome tale. It’s not the adult content that bothered me, per SE; it’s the way Yoshiaki Kawajiri and co decide to shift focus away from the story, and refocus it on the adult content. The way I can describe my gripe is that I hated the way this movie neglected the hamburger and only paid attention to the fries and soda. I dunno guys, this was one of those movies (anime or live-action) that are so irk-worthy, that it brings me out of my usually contemplative style of reviewing. It’s pretty much a hentai. There I said it. One of the first scenes is of someone going down on someone else. Yep. Like I said, this movie sets the tone early in terms of what it’s all about. Perhaps the jokes on me, after all the name of the movie is Wicked City.

Now Wicked City is on amazon.com for prices varying from $20-$40 dollars. It’s not a movie I’d actively recommend to anyone, but I wouldn’t necessarily dissuade an older audience from partaking. At any rate, Wicked City knows what it is, and doesn’t really shy away from the grit and grim. No matter how hard the UK dub tries.

MONSTER MOVIE MARATHON PREVIEW: “Perfect Blue”

The second movie in my Monster Movie Marathon is more of a thriller than a horror film. Regardless, it does a good job of freaking me out, all the same. Directed by the late, great Satoshi KonPerfect Blue is equal parts suspense, intrigue, and paranoia. Have you ever had that feeling? The one that makes you suspect that someone is watching you?

Perfect Blue

FULLTIME Killer (2001)

“What’s the matter? Don’t want to be a Killer’s Woman?”

Words: Desmond Childs

fulltime killer

Andy Lau (Right) and Takashi Sorimachi star in this thriller from directors Johnnie To (The Mission) and Wai Ka Fai.

There was a time when finding a job was much easier. You’d pickup a couple of newspapers and read the ads. No? Still having trouble finding work? How about if you match every third word on one newspaper ad with every fifth word on another newspaper advertising page altogether? Does that sound a bit excessive? You know, when it comes to being a full-time killer, you’ll always take work when you can get it. 

“It’s about that time?”

Full-time Killer (yes, I hyphenated the title) is about two assassins. One is the best “in the world!” while the other appears to be some hot-shot, upstart. The entire movie quickly plugs away through it’s hour and forty minute running time. And the worse part is that the cast and crew seemed to feel like it was necessary that characters speak multiple languages in this movie. It doesn’t add anything to the plot. But it does make the movie much more confusing at times. The story itself isn’t anything to write home about, it’s literally just about these two assassins. We get to see them both carry out their missions using contrasting styles. O’s (played by Takashi Sorimachi) more cold, and calculating when executing his mission; while Tok (Andy Lau) is a loose cannon. Tok parades around town wearing High Point-style president masks when carrying out his missions. He also seems to enjoy killing his targets in public and then frolicking around until the police show up. Then he disappears. O doesn’t seem to enjoy his job (thankfully) and often goes out of his way to keep civilians out-of-the-line of fire.

So what could ramp up the stakes in an already fast-paced, bullet-riddled thriller like FULLTIME KILLER? Throw in a woman. That’s right, this is what usually happens. The two killers end up scoping each other out, trying to get the drop on one another. And, inexplicably, end up dating the same boring, video store clerk. She’s not much of a character. Simply there to give reaction takes, fire a few rounds, and make love to one or both of the assassins. Yeah, I can’t stress how boring she is and really unneeded. She’s simply in this movie to be the commonality that ties O and Tok together. Once she’s sort of spent time with them both, the movie turns into this unexciting, poorly paced “story-within-a-story” where a traumatized cop begins to write a story about O and Tok. The police officer guy desperately wants to finish his book so he spends many days (months?) researching. Finally the end of the movie is the special girl who dated both O and Tok telling the cop about who emerged victorious out of their rivalry. And that’s it. I didn’t spoil anything for you guys. Seriously.

Is this a film I’d recommend to a fan of action-thrillers? No, it’s not. Why? Because of the screenplay. The action in it is pretty well done, and there are some cool set pieces that add a nice touch. But having some of the script written in a language that many of the actors and actresses were not comfortable speaking was a bad move. It takes you out of the movie. Or at least it took me out of it. Not to mention silly, stupid mistakes having to do with the execution of scenes. For example, the cops are chasing one of the assassins through a library and lose sight of him. So they proceed to scamper down the middle of the library aisle and flash their weapons at nearly everybody inside. They don’t say anything. They just start waving their guns around like a couple of idiots. There are a few more things. The notion that a romantic relationship can be sparked over a souvenir is one. The other is how the police are either portrayed as really good at their job or complete morons. But you’ll see what I’m talking about, if you watch this movie. Like I said, the action scenes were well paced and entertaining. The acting, even with this screenplay, wasn’t the worst. Andy Lau was a little off-putting, but I guess his character is supposed to be.

For some reason critics and filmmakers alike were looking to this movie as a good example that Hong-Kong cinema was “BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER BABY!”. I’m here to say that THAT is not the case. At least if you’re going to base such a statement on a sorta cool picture like FULLTIME Killer.

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More Than Blue (2009)

“My wish is for you to grow up and marry a great guy.”

blue1

words: Desmond Childs

What are the things in life you most treasure, but for whatever reason, are unobtainable? Now what are some of the things that are keeping you from being able to pursue those treasures? It’s probably safe to say most of us all have goals, hopes, and dreams. We often have a picture in our head of how best to pursue them too. One thing we all probably take for granted when considering our best-laid plans? Time. No one truly knows the day or hour of their own demise. It can be predicted, however, down to the most accurate possibility. Take diseases for example: Doctors can predict when a patient with cancer will pass away. It’s up to the patient, to decide on what to do with their life until then. And what about those dreams?

What about the people you like?

“I like you”

The great thing about this movie is the relationship between the two main characters. The two kids embraced one another in a weird, brother/sister type of relationship, and grow up together off of the money K is left. They even gave each other names, to which I still do not fully understand the reasons or humor behind “K” and “Cream”. I find it even more intriguing that K’s mom (who abandoned him) was able to budget out money for her son to last him 10 to 15 years. While each of them seem to have been traumatized as kids, the movie implies that both K and Cream (Sang-woo Kwon and Bo-young Lee, respectively) have carved out respectable lives for themselves. The pair work as radio producers at a local station, and K seems to be regarded as one of the best producers. We also see a lot of scenes that continue to build on the dynamic between K and Cream. Remember these two characters are the best part of the movie, and director Tae-Yeon Won seems to understand that. So early in the film we really get to spend time with these two characters. Cream is the eccentric, awkward, sweetheart who really does seem content with her life and K. Then there’s K, whose quiet, awkward, and sincere to everyone he meets. He’s a respectable young man, who has the face of someone who knows more than their willing to tell you.

I do not wish to spoil the rest of the movie, but I’m sure the trailer kind of implies what happens to Cream and K. One of them is terminally ill, and spends the rest of the movie trying to hookup the other with someone. The movie becomes depressing as it edges toward the end. I really felt awful having to watch the two characters I had come to love suffer through what they do. However, there is a twist at the end, and it’s so unnecessary. It’s the kind of twist that doesn’t necessarily ruin the movie, but it is simply there so either to further drive home a point, redeem a character, or give hope. In this case, the twist is really just there to reiterate how horrible the situation is for K and Cream. Not only was the twist not needed, but it adds like another 15 to 20 minutes to a film that had already struck close to home. To use a metaphor: “Killing my rabies-infested pet was hard enough, but I have to kill him while he’s barking angrily at me?”

I recommend this movie! It’s not perfect, but it really excelled at its character building. It also manged to do so in a way that didn’t’ involve verbal exposition. We got to see flashbacks, and subtle references. The movie also forces us to form our own opinions about the characters and the decisions they make. There are a few supporting characters that take advantage of the misfortune that has befallen K and Cream. Should we think they’re heartless? That they lack compassion? Or do we thank them for doing our heroes a favor? And I even wondered about K and Cream. Was it okay for one to be selfish and carry a huge burden alone? Should the other one have spoken up and offered their full support even without being asked too? If you truly love someone, wouldn’t you want to see them do well, knowing you won’t be a part of their future?