Wednesday, September 29, 2010

UNRIDDLE 最火搭档 Singapore Drama. YOU Don’t MESS with this RIDDLING.

“UNRIDDLE” 最火搭档 Singapore Drama Series REVIEW

To be devoutly honest …..

ONCE an avid supporter of the Singapore MediaCorp dramas, WHY is my interest starting to wane?

Too much hype, more form than actual substance?

Yeah, and the scripts are getting unbelievably stereotyped.

Made-in-SINGAPORE dramas are definitely skewed towards the Singapore audience because, other than in MALAYSIA where the two countries are recently actively participating in joint-ventures, it’s unlikely that legion of people outside these shores would sit up and take notice because they have better choices.

Of course, there are the lovely, rare exceptions of THE LITTLE NONYA and TOGETHER …..

Bless JEANETTE AW. She was in BOTH of them.

So much being said, well ….

Here goes for the “dramatic” UNRIDDLE:

UNRIDDLE is really one avant garde verb, so I am beseeching myself not to be riddled.

Call me bamboozled, but some questions are never meant to be answered.

The bullets are flying helter-skelter in the UNRIDDLE drama series.

Storming onto the goggle box in the living room are two unlikely heroines misses CHEN LI PING and RUI EN ……

first pitching – and then pitting their efforts against each other in their first-time collaboration.

Miss RUI EN is genteel and oh-so-slender in appearance.

She slips into this tough-as-nail role that you can liken to ANGELINA JOLIE’s in SALT.

She even wields a gun. (gasp!)

Come to think of it, there could be some semblance … in ANGELINA’s and RUI EN’s “stiff upper lip”?

RUI EN is the consummate actress to watch out for this year.

Top brass in the SINGAPORE TV Station liken her to TVB actress 鄧萃雯 SHEREN TANG

Coincidentally, I’ll be on a work project with SHEREN next year, and it will be an interesting point to note.

RUI EN is in a diversity of roles – as a besotted starry-eyed live wire in HAPPY FAMILY, a widow-in-distress in WITH YOU and now she is leading a crime team in UNRIDDLE.

Her long flowing hair adds a certain amount of alluring maturity and chic to her personality.

CHEN LI PING is trying not to pose chub.

How can she? CHEN LI PING is CHEN LI PING.

We love her cute figure …. lock, stock and barrel.

Yet these two dames play “dont-mess-with-me” iron cookies in in this AUGUST 2010 offering from MediaCorp SINGAPORE.

The mood is intended to be dead-set hot and scorching.

But no, this is where the disappointment sneaks in.

Some parts can be so tiresomely draggy and yawny …..

Pose not too many questions in this prime-time CSI-formulaic plotline series because one riddle piles atop another before you can complete the whole jig saw puzzle.

Sit, relax, enjoy and be justly entertained.

But to be honest, I am NOT pleasantly surprised.

Expect extensive shoot-outs amid the mad scampering of cops and robbers as the bullets are “let fly” in super-clean Singapore, but it ain’t any DANTE LAM type drama as they only have a definite budget per episode, mind you.

So rule out precarious stunts, vivid explosions and enticing props.

The CG effects “where bullets fly” are like ineffective fireworks and the car speeding scenes are laughable.

“UNRIDDLE” is a SINGAPORE police drama with women cops on the beat, leading the way.

Now, where are the HUNKS in the anti-crime force?

An unlikely situation in SINGAPORE, but mind you, this is drama time taking a swipe at the regular TVB’s Hong Kong cop series, thus answering our first riddle.

Second riddle:

Why is my favorite Singapore actress CHEN LI PING cast as a comic relief albeit rough-and-tumble stool pigeon in this police-flavored series?

It’s just like roping in veteran artiste LOUISE LI TSE KEI from TVB to play a similar role.

This is how real or reel it can be in the casting exercise.

Fresh from a frightfully dreadful 180 series called YOUR HAND IN MINE (everyone I encounter and the gossip mill can attest to this) into this one is not taking our MISS CHEN anywhere.

An excellent actress typecast in ambiguous roles. Kinda sad because she was la manifique in REUNION DINNER and THE GOLDEN PATH (sigh).

I have no answer for this second riddle.

ZOE TAY, where are you?

We could make use of some of your “glam” here.

Next …..

This made-in-Singapore drama series is definitely crafted for a Singaporean audience.

At best, it may reach a captive audience in Malaysia.

Repeat, there’s more hype than substance here.

With all the fanfare, I was expecting a quality production along the line of LITTLE NONYA or TOGETHER … but ….

UNRIDDLE promises a lot, but delivers little.

For sure the actors and actresses gave their best, you can’t fault them …..

TAY PING HUI, CHEN LIPING and RUI EN rendered commendable performances.

But much can be said about a insipid script this time, dumb lines and an absurd plot with silly twists.

You don’t reject a 60 million dollar inheritance, do you?

It’s pure common sense that you don’t put your own sister out there to lure a serial killer, and the protector then rushes off to another crime scene, right?

Have you watched hapless gals committing suicide in frenzied zombie-style, standing on ledge of high buildings with glazed looks and falling beautifully backward?

Poetry in motion ….

Wow, some more …..

Dispense disbelief when these silly incidents exist to mar your intelligence.

Only dinner time aunties, uncles and kids may buy that.

Trying very hard to be in the line of the American series CSI, this Singapore series is nowhere near this.

There’s much to be said about inconsistencies in the directing department.

Beef up, fellas!

Sure, it’s true that one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

Also true, everyone is entitled to his own opinions.

Clearly said, this Reviewer tries to be as objective as possible.

After suspending so much disbeliefs here, the suspension string just breaks apart here.

The last episode which is the 20th, spawns “red herrings” suggesting that there could be a sequel in the planning.

I am sure there will be a standing ovation from die-hard fans.

For me?

No – Sir, thank you so very much …..

Sunday, September 26, 2010


EAT PRAY LOVE Press Preview

EAT PRAY LOVE is essentially a woman’s story.

In this case it’s LIZ GILBERT’s.

You either eat with her, pray for her or you fall in love with her.

This Reviewer opts out of all three, because she doesn’t seem like a genuinely nice gal.

Our anti-heroine is suffering from marital angst,

and will trample all over you if you are not careful.

She’s plain selfish to a fault.


She has arrived at a crossroads of a mid-life crisis.

A woman like this can be unpredictably insecure.

LIZ GILBERT (JULIA ROBERTS) has everything that any normal woman would have ever wanted.

But normalcy is out of her vocabulary.

Outwardly,she has a seemingly adoring husband, a lovely house and a comfortable career as a writer, not in any order of merit.

Yet in her deepest darkest depth, she’s still very much, a bottled-up woman …..

Taking life for granted, her perplexity hits rock bottom, and she suddenly begins to question her existence.

She settles for a simple solution, a decision that has caused pain to those who have stood by her for years.

She presses for a snap divorce from an unwilling husband and begins to enjoy singlehood again.

For a post-marital fling, she gets sexually entangled with a younger man and unceremoniously also dumps him.

Now being a “free” woman, Liz throws caution to the four winds, and flees for dear life ….

by taking a journey of self-discovery around the world.

You can say it’s a journey through grief at the death of a marriage.

In her travels, she uncovers the true pleasure of EATING in Italy,

the power of PRAYER in India,

and predictably, the inner peace and balance of true LOVE in Bali.

Though many movies have explored Eastern culture and juxtaposed it against the American experience, there still is something insightful in this offering.

And for the price of a cinema ticket, the movie whisks us – to EAT, then PRAY and finally encounter LOVE again, in this complex movie about the recycling of life.

Isn’t it blissful?

Whenever anyone gets the seven-year itch, he/she should abandon everything, divorce the spouse and travel to the unknown for solace.

I wish!

It’s been such a long time since we feast our eyes on JULIA ROBERTS.

She’s still looking ravishingly devine.

She slips into the character of LIZ GILBERT like a glove …. like pure magic.

Angst, desperation, rage ….. she socks it to you in the face, intensely.

It’s a perfect role for her, telling you that old wine mellows with age and grace.

The ensemble of supporting characters around JULIA ROBERTS turns in pleasing performances, embodying their roles with authenticity and a compelling gravity.

You can actually say EAT PRAY LOVE is a triumph of director RYAN MURPHY who co-wrote the screenplay with JENNIFER SALT. At best, it’s visual poetry in motion.

Aside JULIA ROBERTS, this movie brings you on a journey to Italy, India, and Indonesia for a feast of rich words, foods, and scenery.

What more could you have wished for?

Thursday, September 23, 2010



Yeah, it’s 3-D again.

Before the year is over, “3-D” is ostensibly going to be a holy word, a well-worn noun.

Cinema addicts may begin to rephrase, “Another one? Now, what’s the big deal?”

In terms of advertising dollars and cents, 3-D is certainly a big deal.

Animation companies worldwide are bracing for the big “kill”.

Everybody’s tapping into the 3-D animation phenomenon, taking huge challenges to outdo one another.

With the current deluge of 3-D offerings, it therefore pays to be discerning.

For sure, there’ll be a sprinkling of some fine ones.

But there’s bound to be a lot of “trash” out there waiting.

LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS is a wholesome family entertainment that’s going to “fly” you through the 3-D realm, where warrior OWLS take center stage.

It’s an adventure – a fun, fun, done, done ride in the like of Disney’s for the entire family.

Strap on those special glasses and you can feast your eyes on all kinds of owls magically flying around you, right into you, transporting you on a deadly adventure into the battlefields. Does it reek a little like the Lord of the Rings?

This is a computer-animated feature based on the book series GUARDIANS of GA’HOOLE written by KATHRYN LASKY.

Film maker ZACK SNYDER makes his ANIMATION DEBUT by directing this fantasy tale. He intends to carve his project into a beautiful, computer-generated, 3-D world for kids.

The story:

Enter SOREN, a young barn owl – sweet, sentimental and gullible.

Because he is young, he’ s dreamer and is totally mesmerized by his father’s epic tales of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, about a mythic band of winged warriors who had fought a great battle to save owlkind from the evil Pure Ones.

While Soren may have dreamt of joining his heroes as soon as he attains maturity, his older brother, Kludd, scoffs at the very thought.

Kludd’s meddlesome sibling jealousy rakes in terrible consequences—causing both owlets to fall from their treetop home, right into the talons of the Pure Ones.

Now Soren must make a perilous escape with the help of other brave young owls.

Together they soar across the sea and through the mist to find the Great Tree, home of the legendary Guardians—Soren’s only hope of defeating the wicked Pure Ones ….. and saving the owl kingdoms.

The WOW factors:

LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS will astound you with its fantastic animation.

You have a director who is painstakingly meticulous with his research and homework.

And he clearly shows how 3D should be manipulated in a movie, how each frame should be composed and edited, and then rendering these into 3D.

Surely, LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS is a PHANTASMAGORICAL treat for the eyes and mind.

When you interweave poetic cinematography with stunning CG 3-D animation, you get a film that will meander its way into your heart and hold you spellbound, like a clear, pristine stream.

This is when a dazzling cinematic fantasy with cutting-edge visuals “springs alive” right before you in glorious 3-D style!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

LEGEND OF THE FIST: The Return of CHEN ZHEN 精武風雲-陳真 Movie Review. DONNIE YEN plays the iconic HERO in this REMAKE.



Take a hit, give it sequels and prequels, and you have a “franchise” movie.

Or maybe you can address this as a re-make.

Hollywood does it so well, so can Asian Tinseltown.

It’s like “anything you can do, I can do better”.

Let me recollect …..


Then …..

JET LI stepped into his shoes in a similar role in FIST OF LEGEND way back in 1994.

Now, ASIA’S current most prolific martial arts star DONNIE YEN reprises the action hero in LEGEND OF THE FIST: THE RETURN OF CHEN ZHEN in 2010.

In reality, DONNIE YEN had also played CHEN ZHEN in a 1995 20- episode Television series FIST OF FURY.

So amongst the three, who ranks as the most outstanding actor who vividly portrayed CHEN ZHEN, this fictional iconic hero?

This will be the million dollar question that readers will be asking as I pen the online review.

Let’s start with the Story that is riddled with questions that mostly, do not rhyme,

CHEN ZHEN, is he alive or dead?

Well, he should be dead according to this bizarre anecdote:

CHEN ZHEN was gunned down after he uncovered the culprits who was responsible for his teacher Huo YuanJia’s brutal death in Japanese-occupied Shanghai.

But then ….. his body was never found.

Then one fateful day, seven years later, a MYSTERY MAN arrives from abroad and befriends a local mafia boss (ANTHONY WONG) who owns a nightclub called CASABLANCA.

CASABLANCA for all purpose and intent, appears to be a busy mingling venue – inwardly nestling a hub of activities for Japanese officers, spies and Chinese mobsters.

This STRANGER has the meticulous appearance of a well-groomed businessman and he hooks up with the sultry club singer KIKI (SHU QI). KIKI in the end, turns out to be a Japanese spy.

What lies behind the facade of this STRANGER who intends to infiltrate and destroy the local mob which is forming a close alliance with the Japanese?

Disguising himself as a caped fighter by night, our vengeful hero intends to take out everyone involved as well as get his hands on an assassination list prepared by the Japanese

Hence we have the RETURN of CHEN ZHEN, martial arts manifesto.

The film opens with a tracking shot of World War I France, many Chinese laborers were sent to Europe to help the Allied forces fight against the enemies.

CHEN ZHEN was one of those enlisted. When his fellow friend QI TIAN YUAN perishes in the war, he assumes QI’s identity and returns to Hong Kong.

It’s a good headstart for a martial arts epic to lend a touch of patriotic realism, but that’s only in the beginning.

Executive Producer GORDAN CHAN assures that this film is not intended to be a remake.

It’s a reinvention of the fictitious character, he insists.

THE RETURN OF CHEN ZHEN directed by ANDREW LAU, has a high-octane mix of martial arts, espionage and gangster flick.

DONNIE YEN doubles as the film’s action choreographer, and for that, he does an admirable job.

THE RETURN OF CHEN ZHEN is one true-blue kung fu fighting flick that will thrill and spill from beginning to end.

For avid fans of DONNIE YEN this feature can do no wrong.

It’s another masterpiece atop his list of credits.

DONNIE YEN is here to stay, for a long, long while.

The 3-in-1 adrenaline rushing, heart pumping and non-stop martial arts action is definitely worth your price of a cinema ticket.