Wednesday, September 28, 2011



I’ve long learnt that, to thrive in this fickle entertainment industry, never ever say “NEVER”.

Because things can screech to an abrupt turnaround, and you’ll soon be biting your own tongue.

You’ve got to salute though, a sprinkle of “noble” Asian actors who are able to swear that they are giving up something for a worthy cause, and thence change their mind within a blink of an eye.

That’s right.

JET LI announced half a decade ago after his last wuxia box office success “FEARLESS” that he was quitting action flicks for good as his age was catching up. He was leaving the fights to the younger guys.

That was a grand departure, albeit a generous gesture.

Hence DONNIE YEN was re-born.

Well, that was then.

He has since changed his mind.

Is money the prime motivator to lure him back?

The real answer lies with him.

“THE SORCERER and the WHITE SNAKE” is derived from a done-to-death ancient Chinese folklore about a beautiful female demon (EVA  HUANG) who falls in love and consumates conjugal bliss with a naive mortal (RAYMOND LAM).

You might well be wondering what JET LI is doing in this absurd fairy tale that also harbors talking animals.

He plays the REVEREND FAHAI and is supposed to astound us with his awesome fight moves and stunts.

This is apparently not so.

JET LI plods through the entire movie by looking positively middle-aged,  grimacing and spouting irksome Chinese proverbs. He also performs the Buddhist ‘wai’ and does the occasional leap in mid-air whenever he “senses” an apparition is lurking nearby. In the end, he probably has his hands full, after capturing so many ferocious animated creatures and locking them away in a faraway cave.

Here’s the obvious reason.

The REEL HERO is the computer wizardry – the  generous display of the latest gimmicks in CGI and the preposterous action stunts that’ll leave you gaping if you are looking forward to enjoying a real movie and not some super duper computer game.

The Westerners may find all these antics charming, not so the Asians who have gone through countless versions of the White Snake and this one looks like it’s going to strike a death knell any time.

A visually lavish epic fantasy it may be, one that happily marries the latest advances in CGI and spectacular wired action techniques.

But the movie is screwed with a wimpish weak script dressed with corny lines and even cornier performances from all the players, thanks to CHING SIU-TUNG, the film director who’s totally dependent on the monstrous effects to enthrall, rather than paying equal emphasis to the acting.

Poor JET LI. It is definitely not a justifiable welcome-back vehicle for him.

He is deserving of more respect than this.

The film has almost  every frame crammed with not-so- stylized visual effects. Sadly, for a trademark JET LI action genre, it is yet to have a single compelling action sequence.

The fights are lack luster, so to speak.

Bordering little on either the traditional style sword play or hand-to-elbow kung fu moves, this one struts instead, the 1950s Cantonese movie action such as the waving of hands to channel the power of the defense forces to overcome the enemy.

There’s a stellar cast of EVA HUANG, RAYMOND LAM, CHARLENE CHOI, VIVIAN HSU and so on.

For fans of the stars and avid lovers of the CGI, this one’s for you.

Monday, September 26, 2011



This Reviewer is suspicious of sweet names.

Sugary stuff could lead to dubiousness and tend to be paradoxical towards the end.

“DREAM HOUSE” has a lovely adjective, the type that dreams are made of.

It connotes a heavenly abode where you’d want to go home to rest your weary head, after a hard day’s grind.

That’s the problem.

This house is anything but dreamy. It harbors female ghosts who have an unfinished task.

We are talking about the spirits of a murdered mother and  her two young daughters.

A nightmare awaits you in this dream house should you step in.

And this is where our story unfolds.

Dream House is a horror flick.

Successful publisher Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) quits a job in New York City to relocate his wife, Libby (Rachel Weisz), and their two girls to a quaint New England town.

But as they settle into their new life, they discover their perfect home was the murder scene of a mother and her children.

The entire city believes it was at the hands of the husband who survived.

When Will investigates, he’s unsure if he’s starting to see ghosts.

His only clues come from Ann Paterson (Naomi Watts), a mysterious neighbor who knew the victims.

And as Will and Ann piece together the haunting puzzle, they must find out who murdered the family before he returns to kill again.

Apparently the “former residents” are still there – as apparitions lurking somewhere in the house, waiting for it to be reoccupied.

There’s a ghostly presence all over. You witness satanic writing on the basement walls, and then a psychotic murderer who has just been released from a mental institution shows up, fueling further complications.

It seems that the house carries a bad omen, that anyone who resides therein will eventually perish.

“DREAM HOUSE” is directed by Jim Sheridan with a script that is intended to keep you on edge.

You will tally pieces of the jig saw puzzle in your mind, in your race against to uncover the bizarre truth.

A work of film noir, DREAM HOUSE has, unfortunately, nothing to offer in terms of newness.

The directorial treatment could have been better, as it has its fair share of plot holes and inconsistency of editing that tend to be irksome at times.

Despite the suspense, the first half of the feature tends to plod slowly.

The film perks up during the second half  where the action and shocks are delivered in succession, and the tempo quickens.

A-listers Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts and Rachel Weiz pitch in admirable performances.  They do not disappoint.

All in all, “DREAM HOUSE” justifies an appreciation.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

“ABDUCTION” Movie Review. HE brings the “TWILIGHT” into this TEEN THRILLER.



He’s the one with the droopy shoulders, slightly squinted eyes and a prominent snub nose.

He’s personable, not devilishly handsome, but with a set of perfectly sculptured abs.  You might call him a hunk.

The TWILIGHT SAGA film series became a rage in 2008 and it has since bestowed him to megastar status as a teen sex symbol.

Before all that, he was another run-of-the-mill American model albeit martial arts artiste.

You simply have to understand how the HOLLYWOOD politics is being played. And to comprehend how the big wigs from the media strategize in order to get an actor to where he is.

It’s all about powerful connections.

This time TAYLOR LAUTNER takes center stage in ABDUCTION, an action-packed teen thriller where he admirably delivers the goods to his legion of screaming fans.

Mind you, this feature directed by JOHN SINGLETON is crafted for TAYLOR’s faithful followers who will go oh-ga-ga at everything he does and this is unlikely a feature that will fascinate the discerning grown-up.

But it’s not aimed at just being another teenage mainstream vehicle.

Adult as you may be, just let your hair down and give this kid a chance. He needs your vote.

ABDUCTION is a suspenseful action pow-wow flick, from start to finish and is an enjoyable popcorn entertainment.

Go check the publicity stills, they are forever showing TAYLOR LAUTNER as Nathan, a teenager on the run with his high school class mate Karen (LILY COLLINS).

Both characters have been relentlessly stalked by the good and the bad, in the form of CIA agents and the East European baboons who are desperate to retrieve a tell-tale list of spies encrypted in a cell-phone that has landed in Nathan’s hands.

So will virtue triumph over evil?

Known for his hunky, ominous presence in the Twilight Saga, teen heartthrob TAYLOR LAUTNER departs from vampirism to become a high school kid who finds out his parents are not what they are in ABDUCTION.

This movie warns us that it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie because by stirring up the past, it can uncover a lot of unpleasantries.

As in the case of Nathan Harper (LAUTNER) who has the queasy feeling that he’s living someone else’s life.

When he stumbles upon an image of himself as a little child on a missing persons website, all of his darkest fears resurface: he realises his parents are not his own and his life is a lie, carefully fabricated to hide something more mysterious than he could have ever imagined.

Just as he begins to piece together his true identity, Nathan is targeted by a team of trained assassins, forcing him on the run with the only person he can trust, his neighbour, Karen (LILY COLLINS).

Every second counts as Nathan and Karen race to evade an army of killers and federal operatives.

As his opponents close in, he realises that the only way he’ll survive is to stop running and take matters into his own hands.


Enough said.

You be your best judge by giving this movie a chance.

To this Reviewer, it’s an entertaining action flick.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

“SERENITY”. It’s simply a HEARTFUL mesh of MIND over MATTER.

More oft than not, you’ll come across some smart alecs who are ever eager to impart their wisdom to this sorry world.

They will spout some copy cat sayings and get you thrillingly inspired.

Indeed, but for how long?

We all know that it’s easy to ad lib, yet not easy to follow.

For a fact, people who frequent temples or churches may not necessarily be saints.

On the contrary.

It’s not the act of going, rather the doctrine of believing, and doing.

Actions speak louder than words.

Every man wears a facade to conceal what’s deep within him, even though he may not want to admit it.

These days, a nice pat, a kind word, a beaming smile may conceal latent insecurities.

Are these for real?

There are no perfections in this techno world, otherwise there won’t be any wars.  People and politics are competing and crushing you down, creating a dismal living hell for some.

Sad, but true.

A Buddhist saying enlightens:

“When the mind is tranquil and serene,

We can appreciate the beauty in everything.”

What do you think?

Monday, September 19, 2011



This Movie is a grim albeit staunch reminder that nobody is born equal.

It tells you how lucky we are to have food on our platters and a roof over our heads.

And that we do not have to beg.


The setting is  in AFGHANISTAN, in a desolate region that’s both remote and poor.

Here, underprivileged children live in acute poverty, in a maze of abandoned sewer pipes that provide meagre shelter.

Here, MIRVAIS, one of the inhabitants of the pipes, is desperate to earn his keeps for his family, so he readily accepts a challenge in a humiliating contest for a job.

In order to qualify, the poor boy has to compete against other desperate children.

And any of the participants, who can carry on a rich lame boy who had lost his legs in war and takes him to school will become the winner–and the rich boy’s personal “horse”.

No, the story doesn’t just end here.

Instead, we are taken on a 100-minute journey to witness the demeaning  exploitations of humanity.

What right does a human have to treat another like a lowly animal?

How low can anyone go?

This is a scary, yet heart-wrenching tale of how a one-legged boy transforms an older boy into a beast of burden.

Sadistic pleasure?

We are shown, in graphic details, the crippled boy’s brutal treatment of his “human horse” and the latter’s total submission and his slow metamorphosis into the four-legged animal …..

Wouldn’t you be outraged?

Anybody in his proper frame of mind would be.

Didn’t we all hear that:

Humanity is the supreme of all religions of the world.

….. that the most important thing in life is much more than winning for ourselves.

The most important thing in this life is to help others to win.

A generous heart, a life of service and compassion to the mankind …..

are the things which renew humanity ….

and that’s the best religion , nothing else.

When you have money, you are in a position of control,

You bark orders

and you reign supreme,

You act like the lord of this world …

But when you don’t

You come abegging,

You are relegated as a powerless animal to this world.

In third world countries, there are many who are living lives of exploitation,

with humanity stripped beyond the bone of basic human rights.

Well, in a disturbing way, TWO-LEGGED HORSE the movie will surely weave its way into our hearts and make us realize that we are indeed, taking life for granted,

that we are lucky ….

if only we all want to acknowledge this.

This award winning IRANIAN film, brilliantly directed by SAMIRA MAKHMALBAF takes a stab at human brutality at its worse and the director’s treatment of the physical pain is at most times, unbearable to watch.

Yet one must remember the  power of the story that seeks to reflect our life and times.

Glory be.

Behold beautiful, realistic and stark honest performances by a humble cast who will threaten to move you to tears.

Don’t miss it!