Tuesday, August 30, 2011

“SACRIFICE” (趙氏孤兒) MOVIE REVIEW. From this polished GEM spins an INTRIGUING TALE.


“SACRIFICE” the CHINA movie combines both the POWER and the POMP.

First the POWER:

We’ve here an epic period feature directed by CHEN KAIGE who’s best known for his monumental 1993 film “Farewell My Concubine” which starred the ever sultry Gong Li and the late Leslie Cheung.

That film bagged two OSCAR nominations for best cinematography and best foreign-language film and propelled CHEN to international recognition as one of CHINA’s most foremost directors.

We can safely say that CHEN KAIGE is positioned as an integral figure in China’s Fifth Generation of filmmakers.

Next, the POMP:

Whether CHEN was resting on his laurels or he was too cocksure of his own brand, his commercial and artistic integrity suffered after that. In Hollywood, you are only as good as your last picture and CHEN was observed as sliding from his pedestal.

Now, the new MOVIE:

After a couple of lack-lustre films which earned him a resounding critical back-lash, CHEN finally scores big-time with his latest film “SACRIFICE”, a polished gem that spins an intriguing tale set in the warring Kingdom of Jin in 583 B.C.

The story charts the transition from babe to adulthood of a heir apparent whose parents have been brutally murdered by an arch rival.

It weaves a sad tale of a loyal doctor who sacrifices his own son to preserve the last bloodline of a noble clan.

There’s a popular CHINESE adage that says, “If seeking vengeance is your heroic intent, then whatever long wait is never the question.”

Revenge should always be sweet, passionate and patient.

For generations, the infamous Zhao family is a deadly force to be reckon with. They are feared because they wield extreme power that extends way above the king. Thus they have many jealous enemies lurking in the dark who will plot to get rid of them.

In a well-planned coup, their mortal enemy TU’AN GU (Wang Xue Qi) succeeds to wipe out the entire Zhao clan.

All, except one.

A solitary Zhao baby survives the massacre, is hidden and taken home by CHENG YING (Ge You), the doctor who delivered him, to live with his WIFE (Hai Qing) and their own ill-fated newborn child.

Tu’an Gu desperately orders the seizure of every infant in the city, vowing to kill them all unless the Zhao baby is surrendered.

When the tyrant’s soldiers arrive at Cheng Ying’s home, they force him from the arms of the doctor’s wife. The frantic doctor hides his wife and their baby at the house of a friend of the Zhaos, but when they are discovered, Tu’an Gu assumes the Cheng’s baby is the Zhao heir and slaughters the wrong baby boy along with Cheng’s wife.

Thus CHENG YING’s own flesh-and-blood becomes the sacrificial lamb in order that the Zhao baby can live.

Set on revenge, and raising the Zhao child as his own, Cheng Ying bides his time, enrolling himself and the Zhao orphan (Cheng Bo) into the service of the Tu’an Gu household.

In an ironic twist of fate, Tu’ an Gu grows very fond of Cheng Bo and makes Cheng Bo his godson, unaware that Cheng Ying has been plotting to use the boy as an instrument of vengeance when he grows up.

As the day of reckoning draws closer when Cheng Bo becomes a strapping young man, Tu’an Gu inadvertently stumbles upon Cheng Bo’s true identity.

Finally, the CREDITS:

“SACRIFICE” boasts a glittering all-star cast and you can’t wish for more.

There are the creme-de-la-creme of CHINA veterans such as GE YU, WANG XUE QI, HUANG XIAO MING, FAN BING BING and VINCENT ZHAO.

The feature film is laced with action that is swift and furious with bloody massacres and swordplay.

You will breeze through the extravagant, breathtaking sets and costume designs.

The brilliant cinematography will astound you, but it is the emotive, highly charged drama that will surely keep you on edge.

“SACRIFICE” is definitely on my list of must-watch films of 2011.

I would strongly recommend you to go catch it.

Friday, August 26, 2011



“FINAL DESTINATION 5″ delves deep into the uncanny subject of imminent death and dying, and whatever that lurks in between the dark, sinister vacuum to fulfill this curse.

It pays definitive homage to what you’d call the human’s sixth sense, bad vibes, queasy feelings and premonitions.

It cajoles you to act fast, whenever you have a premonitory feeling that something’s not right is gonna happen, you should pay heed to your inner calling.

In doing so, you may well save your own life with this obeyance.

The theme of “death comes loverly” has never been more profoundly explored as in this 5th version of the successful franchise.

Plenty of gory deaths are splattered across the giant screen in the stupendous splendor of the 3D for the second time in the franchise, designed for your visual pleasure.

If you subscribe to the category of the uninhibited fan with a thirsty macho-sadistic streak, this film dangles as a death therapy, a game of death to “bump off”  or to shoot down your enemies within the dark recesses of your mind, which you will never be able to have this guilty pleasure in real life.

Everyone loves a good scare.

And, as they watch the hapless victims on reel being butchered one by one, they derive a pleasurable surge of adrenaline. Strange, but very true.

“FINAL DESTINATION 5″ director is Steven Quale.

Nicholas D’Agosto stars as Sam, a hot-blooded dude whose sixth sense leads him to “see” a fiery vision of a gigantic suspension bridge collapsing during a corporate outing. He manages to secure seven of his colleagues – including ex-girlfriend Molly (Emma Bell), best friend Peter (Miles Fisher) and annoying boss Dennis (David Koechner) – to flee from their bus. Well, the bridge does actually collapse, killing most everyone.

A mysterious stranger (Tony Todd) suddenly appears with a grim warning that Death cannot be cheated.

Quite right, as in the days that follow, the surviving eight soon start to succumb to a series of inexplicable freak accidents, in the same manner which they died in Sam’s dream.

The film’s special effects are excellent, in particular, during the heart-stomping minutes of one scene where we witness in dire shock, the entire giant bridge being completely torn apart, taking everything (people, vehicles and falling debris), plunging mercilessly into the fathomless, raging sea below.

These are poignant moments rendered dramatically authentic in 3D.

Final Destination 5 is a hugely enjoyable, impressively directed thriller.

The advertising headline from the publicity poster shouts “DEATH HAS NEVER BEEN CLOSER.”

Yeah, right.

Step into the nightmare.

It gonna be a gruesome scary ride.

Monday, August 22, 2011





This review is a belated piece.

My last online article on her was a long way back , some 2 years ago.

That’s right. Time has flown.

So treasure fleeting moments, dear friend.

Happy times may juggle right before you now and vaporize into oblivion next. So hold on to these and savor them dearly.

JEANETTE’s name cropped up again, a couple of months ago and suddenly, it’s yesterday once more.

Dropping by Kuala Lumpur on a work project, my producer friend proposed a peek at the latest Malaysian drama, DESTINY IN HER HANDS”. (断掌的女人).

By the time this article is published online, the 30 part-series would have reached a justifiable conclusion.

“JEANETTE AW is awesome in that series” the female producer enthused.“It’s not the best of series, but it’s truly JEANETTE’s vehicle, she carries the story, and it’s her outstanding role to date.”

But of course dear, she is currently one of Singapore’s hottest actresses, improving with each role.

Throw in adjectives like “dainty” and “petite” to her persona.

I like her endearing smile as it oozes a charming effect.

She’s floored us and is sweet, sweet as can be.

Now isn’t this a line from the 60s song “GINNY (JEANETTE) COME LATELY”? Go check the lyrics.

For a record, JEANETTE AW starred in two of my favorite SINGAPORE dramas, “THE LITTLE NONYA” and “TOGETHER”. Her talents and presence were however, wasted in one awful drama called “BREAKOUT” where the reel casting marred the credibility of the entire series. The only player that stood out in “BREAKOUT” was veteran PAN LING LING. Period.

As far as that series go, diehard supporters literally lost their interest in actor DAI YANG TIAN after watching his insipid performance through no fault of his own. How is this actor faring now, anyway?




“DADDY is BAD.  HE’s going to BRUTALIZE us.”





A lot can be said about the Malaysian series “DESTINY IN HER HANDS”.

JEANETTE plays an unfortunate damsel-in-redress and so-in-distress who’s born with a pair of broken lines on her palms.

To add to her woes, she is condemned by her own mother who unhesitatingly marries her off to a philandering cad when she becomes a pretty young lady to “rid of whatever bad luck” she may bring to her complex family.

Drama, drama …..

All this while, her gambling father and uncaring siblings (except the second brother) stand and watch with glee.

This will shock the ballers out of you, if you truly believe that BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER.

Her loveless marriage bags her two children, an autistic son and a wayward daughter.

She struggles for a living to raise them, against all odds.

Yet, despite the social stigmatization, she is determined to chart her own fate and prove everyone wrong (sob).

It is just another predictable run-of-the-mill story line that has lots of plot holes. Think of the 60s Hong Kong Cantonese mama drama movies and you’ll get the drift.

The very sultry, yet sometimes infamous MARILYN MONROE once said:

“Beneath the make-up and behind the smile, I am just a girl who wishes for the world.  I am selfish, impatient and a little insecure.  I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to  handle.  But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

Believe this or not, most – if not all actresses, wear a facade behind that endearing smile.

Sometimes it may be hard to separate the artiste from the myth or the actress from the role.

JEANETTE AW has come a long way since her first foray into acting many years ago.  She’s a subject of fascination because she manages to maintain her aura of privacy, and becomes the star on the ascent that’s unlikely to dim. At least not for the time being.

 Because she is alluring and basking in that allure, she can be whoever she wants to be.  She may be sweet and endearing, but she has her fair share of bad press like any other celebrity.

She looks vulnerable and in that vulnerability she exercises her latent strength.

I contacted three of her leading men from the soap DESTINY IN HER HANDS (断掌的女人) for their comments on JEANETTE AW.

Let’s hear what they have to say about working with the Singapore veteran actress.

Top Malaysian Actor and Model STEVE YAP played the PHILANDERING HUSBAND who sexually and physically abused the JEANETTE AW character.

“JEANETTE was very PROFESSIONAL, the less-talk-more-work type” he offers. “All of us liked her on set. We had an affable working relationship, but we did not share a lot of common interests, aside the script.  IT WAS GREAT WORKING WITH HER and I certainly HOPE there will be ANOTHER CHANCE of a COLLABORATION.”

MONDAY KANG, up-and-coming MALAYSIAN ACTOR cum ENTREPRENEUR is taking a HIATUS to focus on his newly established PUB, his latest business venture.

“JEANETTE AW is a wonderful actress. Just by studying her moves I could pick up a lot and learn from her,” enthuses MONDAY.

EARNEST CHONG is the BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR winner of the GOLDEN AWARDS 2010 organized by NTV7.

He is in the role of JEANETTE’s autistic son.

EARNEST makes this lovely tribute:

“JEANETTE AW kept very much to herself in the beginning.  This could be her way of getting “into character” of the demanding role she commanded as the lead actress. “But once we got to know her better, she let her guard down and was basically a very warm person inside.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

TREASURE HUNT (2011) 無價之寶 HONG KONG MOVIE REVIEW.It's Much Ado about Everything.



Just try indulging in a poker game with Hong Kong film director WONG JING and you will soon realize he’s one smartie who knows how to field his cards right.

This renowned kingpin of screwball comedies understands what the masses want. And he surely delivers the goods.

This time around, he is offering yet another mindless farce to appease his regular slapstick fan’s palate.

You’d call this summer earnings to add to his coffers.

Now, kindly stay braced for a madly scripted TREASURE HUNT, an absurd buffoonery that stars CECILIA CHEUNG in a pallid comeback role.

Money works wonders, no doubt.

CECILIA proudly packages her young son LUCAS TSE (son of NICHOLAS TSE) who’s obviously, apart from having a whale of time swarming us with his kiddish antics, is beginning to see lucrative returns at a tender age.

This child star, who’s au naturel in front of the camera, is groomed to be a future star in the making, thanks to his luminous parents. You just watch him glow with absolute radiance.


CECILIA CHEUNG takes on the role of a successful television commercial director who’s very much happily married with an active 3- year old son.

As the story opens, she has been offered lucrative terms to direct a TVC on a remote island with an obnoxious gas bag played by RONALD CHENG as a great Kung Fu master. RONALD provides the main gags in the movie.

CECILIA arrives on the island with her actors and crew and finds that they clash with unexpected, albeit unwelcome company – that of a notorious bunch of villians who harbor a deadly agenda – to recover an old sunken ship laden with mystical treasures and woe betide anyone who gets in their way.

Thereafter the heroes, anti-heroes and baddies battle it out in a dangerous cat-and-mouse race to outdo one another, and stay out of harm’s way.

Filled with spoofs, one-liners,  insipid jokes and non-stop escapades that run amok, the plot is the least of director WONG JING’s concerns.

The action is wild and wacky and the gags will never cease to cause the intellectual mind to squirm.

Will CECILIA and company be able to survive this dangerous encounter?

Go watch the movie for:

Cheeky kids. Apart from LUCAS TSE, there’s also this  capricious little boy, a sweet girl and a greedy little fatty.  They liven up the film with their age-of-innocence acting and soulful characteristics. They practically steal the thunder from the adult players.

In the acting department, expect nothing new from the actors as the script is far from fetching.

There are raw touches of an old ENID BLYTON (British writer of children’s stories) tale called ISLAND OF ADVENTURE.

This is one of director WONG JING’s more watchable  movies, and it has a fair share of emotive moments, milked by the young stars.

Other than that, this is a film that entertains on a boring Summer evening and as soon as you leave the cinema, you’d probably forget what the feature is all about.

Blame it on the plot that has much to do about nothing.

Or maybe, something.

You tell me, folks.