Monday, July 25, 2011



Do you read the comics?

At some point in our lives, during our formative years, most of us could have grown up on a diet of the MARVEL comics.

If so, one should be familiar with the scores of iconic American super heroes dwelling within the Marvel Super Space.

These figures would loom, larger than life in our fantasies, unbelievably stereo-typed, overly muscled in the form of Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men and their heroic deeds. The list surely goes on.

Salute, please.

And bravo, these unsunk heroes fight for us, to save the human race and the earth from extinction, over and over again.

Since the late 1990s, Marvel has become increasingly protective of its intellectual properties. The X-Men, Spider-Man, and Iron Man all got powerful big-screen treatment, resulting in an exemplary marriage between art and commerce.

Great films are made and they are heroic blockbusters with heart, soul, thrills, and emotivity.


The new one is here to sweep you off your feet and carry you way over the moon for as far as you dare venture, into the abyss of your aesthetic mind.

This Reviewer can surely go on and on pitching one Marvel super icon against the other.

But it goes to state the obvious that different directors have different strokes and therefore treatments are so different.

This review will focus on the present icon, with CHRIS EVANS leading us into his role of CAPTAIN AMERICA.

This film is superb wholesome entertainment.

It’s a smashing adventure targeting the entire family in mind, with colorful action galore that will astound in the glory of 3D.

This is an arresting movie with double doses on the ravages of war and a blossoming romance that’s nipped in the bud before you can say hey-presto.

Step right in.

Young Steve Rogers (CHRIS EVANS) is a puny Brooklyn kid who is a loser always being set upon by bullies. He dreams of joining the Army and defending America against the Nazis.

Turned down as 4-F, he refuses to give up, and eventually makes it to basic training, where he’s being trampled upon.

But the kid has determination and the balls to succeed. This attracts the attention of the hard-boiled Col. Phillips (TOMMY LEE JONES) and a scientist named Erskine (STANLEY TUCCI) who supervises a secret government program.

Steve is injected with a special serum that rips his muscles and improves his metabolism, making him an unexpected demi-God with latent powers.

You get to watch the art of superimposing actor CHRIS EVAN’s face onto the frame of a puny body double and sees the stunning transformation. This is the marvel of visual effects at its best.

You will be enthralled when CAPTAIN AMERICA is out doing a colorful song-and-dance broadway-type road show with a bevy of chorus girls and a mock-up Hitler to sell war bonds. Steve is slowly being transformed into a media-made hero, starring in comic books and serials designed to boost American morale.

The movie inhabits a world where the bad guys are bad, the good guys are good.

Compelling performances from an all star cast with competent directorial leadership by JOE JOHNSTON.

All in all, “CAPTAIN AMERICA” is a feel-good adventure movie that’s set to entertain.

And entertain it does, in no small measure.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

“THE HANGOVER Part 2″ Movie Review. It’s MONKEY MAYHEM, this time around in BANGKOK.

MASON LEE, film director ANG LEE’s cute, ever-beaming Teenage Son does MORE than a CAMEO here.


This is one movie that will surely have you laughing-out-loud.

Or should I say, brawl.

Every which way, you will be put in a rib-tickling escapade that will blow your mind into hysterics.

Check it out.

“THE HANGOVER Part 2″ directed by TODD PHILLIPS should otherwise be retitled “WHEN A PACK OF CLOWNS SETS OUT TO DESTROY BANGKOK”.

It’s apt.

BRADLEY COOPER, ED HELMS and ZACH GALIFIANAKIS are superb comedians adept at playing egg heads,

or, if you rather, air heads waking up after an unexplained hangover, then going through the same comedic situations in the same precarious mold and pace, this time raising fire and brimstone in sinful BANGKOK.

They play guys in consternation, “monkeying” around in the infamous land of contrasts, for reasons just to lend dark humor to an otherwise muddled script made for laughs.

No emotions, just a mindless slapstick to put that smirk on your face.

Add on a real life chain smoking monkey, chum.

Make him the real star of the show.

Train this animal to smoke and peddle cocaine as an errand.

This time round, the actors are given raunchier lines, the plotline is more violent and offensive to every conceivable interest group, and liberally laced with profanity and male nudity (censored).

Whatever the case, suspend your mode of disbelief to enjoy this one-hell-of-a-movie without ado.

The Thais are sadly downtrodden to look subservient and undignified, to put it mildly.

Depravity is intimidating, but not when the HOLLYWOOD dollar is big and money brings beautiful smiles.

Here’s a very short synopsis that will set you off, without giving away too much of the story.

The action preambles when Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) travel to exotic Thailand for Stu’s wedding. However, the best of plans can go awry.

What made the original first movie so funny was that it was chaotic and not formulaic as so many comedies are.

The success therefore spawns this sequel or follow-up.

PART 2 focuses on the same 3 guys, the same scrapes, but less chaotic taking place in Thailand.

It’s hard to retain originality and jokes are getting to be stale and running out of steam.

There are allusions regarding the city’s child sex trade, the pervasive drug culture and international organized crimes exploiting the city’s poor.

Enough said, no spoilers here.

Go and see the show for the real glee.

Anyone can get a hangover if you have one too many.

Just don’t get hang for it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

“WU XIA” 武侠 Movie Review. FILM NOIR where OLD SCHOOL challenges the NEW.


“WU XIA” is a magnificent piece of film noir by celebrated director PETER CHAN.

Make no bones about it.

The CASTING is a stirring potpourri of finesse, skilfully blending a splash of retro actors to challenge the new, to render us one of the more watchable martial arts films in recent years.

Trudge memory lane, folks.

Behold taut action entertainment laced with doses of ancient wisdom aplenty.

An overflow of didacticism can sometimes be tiresome though.

DONNIE YEN treads precariously between the old and new school. He has spent more than two decades as an actor and it is in recent years that his star is finally shining extremely bright.

JIMMY WANG YU (the supreme one-armed swordsman of the hazy 60s) astounds in a ferocious cameo come-back and is a force to be reckoned with.

In truth, he is a forgotten hero and it’s a welcome respite to see him dominates the giant screen again.

Apart from his aging, he is otherwise in true form, excelling in what he was known best, as a formidable martial arts artiste.

Then there is the lovely, evergreen KARA HUI who can give the younger actors a run for their money. This dame can surely fight.

In the background and no less insignificant are TAKESHI KANESHIRO and TANG WEI taking much of the screen time.

The list goes on.

The plot takes you through the throes of the late Qing dynasty.

DONNIE YEN is in the role of Liu Jin Xi, an amicable paper maker who’s content with an idyllic life of peace in a small town. This man hides a secret identity.

His family unit comprises of his loyal wife Liu Ayu (TANG WEI) and two adorable children.

It appears that their happiness is short-lived.

Along comes an adversary in the form of a nosy detective cum part time acupuncture expert called Xu Bai Jiu (TAKESHI KANESHIRO) who’s bent on uncovering Liu’s past life as Tang Long, a dangerous butcher.

“WU XIA” dramatizes a cat-and-mouse battle of wits between the two men – one shying away from a past that is best forgotten, and the other determined to dig dirt and drag him back to justice.

In part a martial arts action movie, it is by large, a heart-wrenching drama showcasing the emotional prowess and grit of the two male leads.

PETER CHAN is in his element when it comes to remarkable film making in its finest form.

He is not into mindless fight sequences and is adept at weaving the intellectual emotivity into the film’s dramatic highlights.

However, it is Yen’s action choreography that carries the pulse of this movie to demonstrate the awesome splendor of WU XIA.

Compelling performances from an all star cast ensures a cutting edge entertainment that can only arrive at our shores once in a long while.

The start may be a tad draggy with the pow wow action coming in after the first half.

Cinematography, jointly by LIU YIU-FAI and JAKE POLLOCK, is captivating and impressive.

The duo manages to give the take and mood of each scene a powerful dose of poetic rhythm.

“WU XIA” is, by and large, a long anticipated martial arts feature that is definitely worth waiting for.

Go get charmed

Sunday, July 17, 2011

“HANNA” Movie Review. BEWARE this sweet, angelic BABE. She KILLS.


If you are a ready fan of slick, stylish, fast-paced sleuthing adventures,

then this one rocks.

“HANNA” is a taut European-American action thriller, finely crafted and directed by JOE WRIGHT.

Splendid. It keeps you on edge.

Hanna Heller (Saoirse Ronan) is this tender looking 17-year-old girl who is brought up by her father, Erik Heller (Eric Bana) in the harsh hinterland of Finland.

You will be treated to a series of beautifully shot and composed sequences set in a remote and snowy vastness 60 miles below the Arctic Circle, courtesy of able cinematographer Alwin Kuchler.

Let not Hanna’s frail, innocent looks fool you.

She’s nobody’s lamb roast but actually a “Nikita” in persona.

Forget her angelic face as she is ever ready to spin a deathly trap.

Ever since she can barely walk, Hanna has been diligently trained by Erik to be a methodical assassin.

She is ignorant of the outside world, much less of the digital technology globe.

She smartly prepares an “assortment of logical answers” to use for verbal defense if ever she leaves her cocoon.

One fateful evening, Hanna informs Erik that she is ready to perform her mission, and he gives her a box containing an old transmitter that will alert the outside world to her presence.

After analyzing the situation, Hanna flips the switch, sending a signal of her location to Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett) , a corrupt CIA agent.

When Hanna deliberately reveals their location, the father/daughter duo split up and agree to meet in Germany.

Cold-blooded Wiegler immediately dispatches a team to Erik’s cabin where Hanna has been waiting for them.

She is captured and taken to a CIA safe house in Morocco.

Thereupon Hanna discovers that Erik, the father who raised her was a former CIA agent who betrayed the agency, is assuming anonymity and am on the run.

Wiegler is out to silence him, whilst Erik in turn, has trained Hanna to kill Wiegler.

As pieces of the jig saw puzzle are joined together to form an answer, what follows is a cat-and-mouse game of twisted betrayals and bloody mayhem with the plucky gal fighting for her survival.

Everything is fast and furious – an awesome assembly of editing, plot line, shoot-outs and action amid an unusual funky soundtrack featuring the Chemical Brothers.

With these two women as the heart of the film, there’s a lot we can expect.

It’s a sight to behold, watching the older predator the and younger assassin battling it out in due measure, with first rate acting by the accomplished actresses Saoirse Ronan and the steely Cate Blanchett.

These women take centerstage, from the time the relentless chase begins, leading to a heart-stomping climax.

The film director Joe Wright is best known for his emotive works “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement”.

Now he exemplifies that he can handle numbing action with aplomb.