A BEAUTIFUL MOMENT

For those who don’t know, he sui (festive) films are celebratory movies which pop up during the lunar new year period. They have become a precursor staple to augur the holidays, much like the clanging songs, red packets and mountains of tangerines, but have noticeably waned over the years in popularity. In a way, these…

WINCHESTER (FILM REVIEW)

This show is proof that no actor is infallible, no matter how great their acting chops might be. Winchester is the story of why the eccentric Sarah Winchester built one of the America’s most famous houses. Helen Mirren plays the grieving widow and purported mentally-unsound heiress to the Winchester firearm empire. Eager to unseat her…

I, TONYA (FILM REVIEW)

It’s true. Our society is hardly forgiving towards those who makes mistakes. And quick to condemn at that. Tonya Harding was an Olympic figure skater, who in a 1991 competition, did a triple axel on the ice. Not was she the first American to ever do so, even after a quarter of a century, only…

YOUTH (FILM REVIEW)

By placing Youth in the timeline of the Cultural Revolution, it’s inevitable some pundits will expect a form of commentary or advocacy from the film, especially when it’s from a Mainland Chinese director. From the cushy seat of a critic, one should think nothing of asking a native director to turn entertainment into mouthpiece against…

ALONG WITH THE GODS: THE TWO WORLDS

This movie will make you want to be a better person. And entertain you while it’s at it. Most religious tenets include one of judgment in the afterlife. Along with the Gods brings a noble firefighter Kim Ja-hong (Cha Tae-hyun) into Korean purgatory, having died on duty while saving a girl. For having led an…

SATAN’S SLAVES (FILM REVIEW)

The 70s and 80s is having a great run in entertainment these days. From Stranger Things and Dark, to Ouija and It, the period serves itself well in the horror genre, most notably because there’s no mobile phones to the rescue. Satan’s Slave is a remake of Sisworo Gautama Putra’s 1980 film of the same…

LEGEND OF THE DEMON CAT (FILM REVIEW)

When you have the venerable Chen Kaige at the helm, you can expect lush visuals that are hard to ignore. Colours, textures, movement, all come together in an airy dance that is pure foreplay to the eyes. CGI fever has overtaken many modern films in China, no doubt due to the rising younger audience who…

PITCH PERFECT 3 (FILM REVIEW)

Last call Pitches. This reviewer says: we can hope. In the latest installment, the girls may have left their textbooks, but the scriptwriters seemed to have returned to theirs. Pitch Perfect 3 sees the harmonising group Bella take on the biggest stage ever – real life. Things after college is note-acibly not as glamorous, and…

THE THOUSAND FACES OF DUNJIA (FILM REVIEW)

There are a few stalwarts in the Hong Kong movie industry, and two of them are in this film. Tsui Hark’s hand in creating commercial cinema during the “Golden Age” is legendary. Both entertaining and original, his classics such as A Better Tomorrow, A Chinese Ghost Story and Green Snake have all been milestones of…

A TAXI DRIVER (FILM REVIEW)

Other than in South Korea, and for people in that region during May 1980, not many may have known about the Gwangju Uprising, where hundreds, and some witnesses suggest thousands, of civilians were massacred during demonstrations against a military coup. This state secret back then would have gone undocumented, if not for Jürgen Hinzpeter, a…

THE PROMISE (FILM REVIEW)

The 47-storey scalloped architectural project that is Sathorn Tower is like the Titanic. It was to be the tallest and most luxurious of buildings in Bangkok, commanding priceless views from its prime position. But Thailand’s financial crash in 1997, nicknamed the Tom Yum Goong Crisis, sunk the development and everything was brought to an abrupt…

CHINA’S VAN GOGHS (FILM REVIEW)

Made in China. The very line elicits derogatory reactions – cheap, fake, inferior. In the village of Dafen in the city of Shenzhen, one can say this rings true. In 1989, a Hong Kong businessman began turning hamlet into horde, with his peasants-turned-oil painters replicating masterpieces of the Western world for sale. He started with…

GEOSTORM (FILM REVIEW)

The worrying trend of climate change has provided fodder for big movies these last few years. From documentaries to epic disaster movies, the topic is a compelling one as we throw out many “what if” scenarios. Geostorm is the latest entry that places us in the future of a possible scenario, where we use tech…

MIDNIGHT RUNNERS (FILM REVIEW)

South Korea has been dishing out finely polished film productions in recent years, going big-scale from sets to budgets. It’s good to see someone in Asia carrying the torch in this region, as other giants like Hong Kong, China and India struggle to catch the wind in their filmmaking sails. Midnight Runners is South Korea’s…

KODOMO TSUKAI AKA INNOCENT CURSE (FILM REVIEW)

Children, can be creepy. With their beguiling ways and cherubic faces, they intensify horror when gurgle becomes growl and smile becomes sneer. This formula has kept classics going – think Children of the Corn or The Omen – and in Japan, director Takashi Shimiau has been terrifying audience with Toshio, the mewling boy from Juon….

THE TAG-ALONG 2 (FILM REVIEW)

It won awards for the two leads and topping The Conjuring, was also the highest grossing horror film in a decade for Taiwan. So it’s not surprising that the 2015 The Tag-Along spawns a sequel from director Cheng Wei Hao. The Tag Along 2 is more of the familiar, following the predecessor’s key devices but…

ZOMBIE FIGHTERS (FILM REVIEW)

There’s a slew of disposable films coming out these days. They tend to be offsprings from a successful title or copycat formula, and usually ends up a poorer cousin of the original. Zombie Fighters is director Poj Arnon’s latest installment and to reference the earlier metaphor, this would be a one-ply – it’s physically there…

MON MON MON MONSTERS (FILM REVIEW)

Right off the bat, acclaimed director Giddens Ko makes his statement – this is not like his 2011 hit You Are The Apple of My Eye. Mon Mon Mon Monsters may be set in a high-school, but bears nothing of the previous work’s whimsy or sentimentality. Instead, it asks the classic question – what makes…

WONDER BOY (FILM REVIEW)

Behind every song, there is an untold story – the liner of Wonder Boy promises. The inspired biopic film of our homegrown singer-composer Dick Lee sounded like a good idea during inception, but sadly ends up off-key. Benjamin Kheng is the 16-year-old Dick Lee, an outcasted musically-inclined boy who has a thing for composing his…

Wish Upon (Film Review)

It seems like horror films these days come more with cred tags than an actual tagline. You know, the sort that goes “by the makers/producers/director of Insidious/Conjuring/Annabelle”? Wish Upon is the latest entry, opting to put the combination of Director and Annabelle together to achieve that repute. The cursed wish box film certainly holds some…

Spiderman: Homecoming (Film Review)

Coming after the box office titan that is Wonder Woman, one can only imagine the pressure faced by the execs at Marvel and Sony. Especially after a string of reboots that were tepid at best. They have nothing to worry about with Spiderman: Homecoming. It is amazing. Just when superhero franchise fatigue is setting in,…

Wu Kong (Film Review)

Also known as Wu Kong Zhuan, this newest adaptation of the Monkey King’s adventure stems from the writings of an internet sensation by the name of Jin Hezai. The budding internet novelist burst into fame in 2000 with a version that layered modern-day ideas into the classic, in a more consumable tone. Think Young Adult…

The Wall (Film Review)

There’s two sides to every story. And The Wall tries to paint that by pitting an American Ranger against an Iraqi sniper in a tense 90-minute standoff in the desert, with titled wall between them. It’s 2007 and the Iraqi war has ended. Sergeants Shane Matthews (John Cena) and Allan Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are a…

The Mummy (Film Review)

Do you remember that game we played when we were young? The one where someone would start writing a paragraph of a story and pass it on to the next person to continue, but only letting them see the last line from that paragraph? After the last person finishes, the final tale that unfolds will…

Colossal (Film Review)

Gloria (Anne Hathaway) has fallen and can’t get up. The spunky online writer with a blunt haircut lost her job in New York and can’t muster enough self-worth to pursue another one. She proceeds to lose boyfriend and home, forcing her to escape to her parents’ unrented vacant house in her small hometown. This girl…

House Of The Disappeared (Film Review)

This might be the first time I’ve seen more ladies than men at a horror screening. I think the strapping Ok Taec Yeon had something to do with this. In House of the Disappeared, Mi-hee (Kim Yunjin) returns to house arrest after a 25-year jail-term sentence for murdering her husband and, presumably, her missing son….

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Film Review)

King Arthur is a name that launches a thousand myths. Excalibur. Camelot. Merlin. The knights of the round table. Avalon. The symbols that have been spun around a very real British leader in the 5th-6th century became one of England’s most beloved legend. In steps 21st-century director Guy Ritchie. The gutsy talent’s search for a…

Alien: Covenant (Film Review)

I never considered myself a purist. But Ridley Scott might make one of me yet. Director Scott’s Prometheus began a journey into an origin story, effectively transforming the word universe from noun to concept. Although panned by some fans wanting their high-thrill monsters and less rhetoric, the first prequel was not only a box-office success,…

Siam Square (Film Review)

What is busiest during the day, usually morphs into the creepiest at night. And so with Siam Square, Phairat Khumwan conjures an urban legend of a missing girl who haunts the grounds at night, forever searching for her way out. I’m sure there’s a big life lesson here, ending with a big, “moral of the…

29 + 1 (Film Review)

Age milestones, like the annual New Year event, have a profound effect on human beings. Somewhere along the way, they have warped from celebrations to stressful introspective checkpoints. “What have I done with my life so far?” one asks of themselves. No one is feeling this more keenly than Christy Lam (Chrissie Chau), a high-flying…