Archive for the ‘Koreans’ Category

I can’t stand repetition.  I certainly don’t like to repeat myself.  But I put a lot of work into my thoughts on THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS, and I know that some people who follow me on Demon’s Resume might like to have alerts on when I write elsewhere, so I wanted y’all to know about my piece for Daily Grindhouse.  I tried hard to make it worth your time!

Click here to read about >>> THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS <<< !!!

And all challenges may be directed to me on Twitter:  @jonnyabomb

And now here are pictures of Jamie Chung:

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Wanted to clue everyone in to a guest post I did for the terrific movie blog Rupert Pupkin Speaks, which has been inviting all kinds of well-travelled movie writers to contribute their lists of favorite quote-unquote “bad” movies.  (It’s all subjective, right?) 

I think you’ll enjoy this one.  I had a lot of fun putting it together.  I’m very proud to be featured on another site I enjoy, amongst some fun people.  You’ll have to click through to get to the meat of what I wrote, but I wanted to share some posters, still frames, and YouTube clips also, so scroll down for those.

>>>Read my list HERE!!!<<<

If you know me or have stopped by my site before, you know that this is hardly the end of my voyage into tremendous cinematic badness.  It’s only the beginning.

The journey continues! 

Find me on Twitter:  @jonnyabomb.

 

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Movies about giant killer pigs are not a common occurrence, but every continent seems to have one.  The best-known feature in the genre is probably 1984’s Razorback, an Australian movie from the director of Highlander.  I haven’t seen that one recently enough to confidently write about it, and I’m not sure I can do better than this, so let’s look at the dark horse candidates.  (Mixing metaphors now…)  Asia’s entry in the competition is Chawz and America’s is called Pig Hunt.  Let’s take a look at these two prize hogs and see who takes home the blue ribbon. 

Chaw, sometimes known as Chawz, is a horror-comedy from Korean director Shin Jung-Won.  Why is it called Chaw? I don’t know. Why is it also known as Chawz?  I don’t know.  It’s a Korean horror-comedy. We may not need to ask such questions, because there may not be an answer. The only word we have in America that makes any sense of the word Chaw has to do with chewing tobacco, and that product has no correlation with this movie, except for the fact that somebody was probably smoking something somewhere.

Apparently, in Korea there is a very real problem with wild boars. Their territory is being encroached by development, and so as a result of these belligerent animals being displaced, there have been several incidents of farm animals, pets, and even people being attacked. 
 
So one could conceivably read Chaw as a commentary on modern events. One could do that. But why must one justify their enjoyment of a giant killer pig movie by referencing its timeliness and environmental conscience? And why must one refer to oneself as “one”?  One sounds just a little bit pretentious.  One needs to loosen up  Anyway:  Chaw.
 
The story of Chaw is blatantly, blissfully derivative. A young policeman with a ripe pregnant wife is re-assigned to a mountain village that is famously “crimeless” — anybody else here seen Hot Fuzz? — and of course the body count starts rising. Much like the Mayor of Amityville, the cloddish town officials are hesitant to close down the mountain, until the death toll becomes too big to ignore. At that point, they call in a big game hunter (who looks like All-Star ex-Yankee Hideki Matsui), and a super-team of monster-trackers hits the trail.
 
Most of the movie’s action is cribbed from Jaws, almost shockingly brazenly so, although there are direct swipes from Aliens, Predator, the aforementioned Razorback, Sleepy Hollow (!), and Jurassic Park (the whole bit with the footsteps causing water to ripple). 
 
It’s most like Jaws, only doubled and enhanced – the young scientist character that we Americans remember Richard Dreyfuss for is recast here as a cute chick (an improvement). The pony-tailed Matsui hunter guy isn’t the only Quint-like character in Chaw — there’s also an old recluse with a personal vendetta against the beast —  but he’s the most memorable one because he has much weirder quirks than stewing shark jaws and scratching chalkboards. What I’m telling you is that he talks to his dogs. What I’m really telling you is that his dogs talk to him. His pair of hunting dogs, Mighty and Mickey, get killed by the giant boar, and then later appear in hallucinations and demand revenge.
 
I’m going to stop here and declare that if you’re not at all interested in a Korean remake of Jaws that swaps out the shark for a giant killer pig and has a talking ghost dog in it to boot, I don’t know what to tell you. You might be on the wrong website, and you’re most definitely reading the wrong writer. 
 
I loved this movie. It’s crazy, it’s silly, it’s way too long for what it is, it’s well-photographed, it’s sharply satirical, it’s occasionally really dumb, and it has the most bizarre and unnecessary post-script sequence in recent memory.
 
(SPOILER: After the monster pig is vanquished and the sequel is set up via a Leone-style close-up over a baby pig’s vengeance-crazed eyes, we find out what has happened to a character we previously assumed was dead. He’s trussed up and tortured in a Fatal Attraction kind of scenario by a peripheral eccentric character, which just makes one more random reference for this movie to add to its checklist.)
 
Before I got to see Chaw. I’d seen many comparisons to The Host, but Chaw is much sillier than The Host, and that’s a movie which has a pretty good sense of humor to begin with. Chaw has its own anarchic sense of humor, and a giddy enthusiasm about movies in general and giant killer pigs in particular. I wish that more movies would take themselves less seriously, the way this one does. It’s a whole lot of fun.
 
 
Rating:  “Squeeeeeeeeeeee!”
 
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Meanwhile, the Americans have served up Pig Hunt, a low-budget creature feature from the director of Skinwalkers, which was a decent movie by werewolf-genre standards.  That’s shorthand for saying that while I’d rather watch a werewolf movie than a Meryl Streep movie, most werewolf movies aren’t very good at all.  So if Skinwalkerswas an okay movie by those standards,  it won’t warrant a mention in Cahiers du Cinéma.  And Pig Hunt is actually a step backwards in the quality department. 
 
Pig Hunt stars no one I’d ever heard of, as a conspicuously diverse group of friends who leave San Francisco to go on a weekend hunting trip.  There’s the main hero, just short of a redneck, his badass Asian girlfriend, a gun-crazy black guy in camo gear who wields a .44 Magnum and no discernible acting ability, a supremely dopey Filipino guy in a wool cap, and a chubby dork with the kind of frantic expression on his face that tells an audience that before movie’s end, he’s either going to be raped or killed.
 
The press materials for Pig Hunt advertise it as a blend of Jaws, Deliverance, and Diner.  On that last point, seriously, what the fuck?, but at least you can see what they were going for on the first two reference points.  It’s just that Pig Hunt was not made on the level of craft of a Steven Spielberg or a John Boorman.  (No pun intended; he’s the director of Deliverance.) Which is weird, because the problems with Skinwalkers weren’t technical — despite whatever story concerns there were, it was an accomplished, stylish movie that looked like a movie.  There are a few pretty shots, but not many, and besides, taken together the movie doesn’t fit together smoothly.  Pig Hunt looks like a SyFy movie, at best.  It’s not just a budgetary question.  I mean, they clearly had some money.  The giant pig looks pretty good!  That is, when the movie finally gets to him.
 
The biggest problem with Pig Hunt is pretty simple to pin down: Not enough pig.  This movie concerns itself with a whole lot of things besides a giant pig, like weed farmers, angry hicks, and dog murders, and actually seems to forget about the giant pig until the very end of the movie.  There is an awful lot of character interaction between some pretty awful stock characters before you ever get to THE THING ON THE DAMN POSTER THAT MADE A WEIRDO LIKE ME WANT TO WATCH THIS MOVIE. 
 
 
Look, if you want to make a political allegory or a social satire or whatever else somebody (such as SF critic Mick LaSalle) thought was going on in this movie, maybe it muddies the point a little bit when you punctuate it with a gigantic pig puppet.  Because ultimately, and maybe I’m just not much of a political guy, but I’d rather just see the pig puppet. 
 
I’m no Communist, but if I’m being honest, after Chaw I have to concede that Pig Hunt is only the second-best giant-boar movie released in 2009.  The Asians did it better, basically.
 
Rating:  Not so “Squeeeeeeeeeeee!”
 
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Africa, South America, Europe, and Antarctica… you guys are up.  Time to enter the intercontinental hog run.  Let’s see what you guys can do with a giant pig and a movie camera.
 

#9.  Children Of Men (2006)

The year 2027. Women can no longer have babies. The youngest person in the world has just been shot down at the age of 18. The future is terrifyingly finite. That’s where Children of Men begins.

In a profound and extremely relatable (to me, anyway) performance, Clive Owen plays a man who ambles through life in a scotch-soaked haze, until his ex, now a political revolutionary — played harshly yet heartbreakingly by Julianne Moore — shows up alongside the first pregnant woman anyone has seen in years. It eventually falls to Clive to see this young lady through to safety.

If we use pure cinematic artistry as our criteria for great films, this movie is the total package. It’s amazing, it’s the kind of movie that makes me want to invent adjectives just so I can use them here. My eyes tend to gloss over most science fiction – outside of the robots and aliens, I can rarely relate to it on an emotional level.  Ironically, most science fiction leaves out the science, and keeps recognizable human beings out of the fiction.

Here is one of those fantastic exceptions to the rule. The production design of this movie (by Jim Clay and Geoffrey Kirkland) is intricate, wide-ranging, and entirely believable as a place we all could be in twenty-odd years. The cinematography (by Emmanuel Lubezki) is subtly beautiful, informative, and invisibly brilliant. Every directorial choice (by Alfonso Cuarón) leads you to feel the immediacy, the reality, of the story. And the performances are stunning.

Clive Owen’s character has lived a life of pain, disappointment, and eventual complete detachment; he doesn’t have to raise an eyebrow for you to see that in his face. You believe in his love for Julianne Moore and for Michael Caine, as his best friend, even without particularly extended screen time for either of them, even without anyone directly saying so. This is a story about people as much as it is about ideas.

Children of Men was the best movie of its year, in my opinion.  Clearly one of the bravest and most necessary to be released by a major studio of the past dozen years.

Why? This movie is about nothing less important than the value of human life. It makes you believe in it and care about it. At this moment in history, that makes it more than just a brilliantly-crafted movie; it’s actually valuable.

This movie makes a persuasive case for keeping hope alive, in a decade where hope was in short supply.  And I’d also suggest that the choice of Jarvis Cocker’s “Running The World” as end-credits theme is one of the best matches of song-to-movie that I could possibly name.  The song brings a perfect dose of black humor to warmly cap off a movie that was pretty sparse on the humor front.

The first time I saw Children Of Men theatrically, the movie ended and the credits started rolling and “Running The World” began to play. And then something sweet happened that I thought I was imagining at first: A little kid started dancing in front of the screen, happily doing windmills.

[Note to parents: This is absolutely not the movie to show your children. It is sophisticated, disturbing, upsetting, tragic, and ambiguously uplifting at best.]

But all the same, seeing that child dance around to that particular sardonic and beautiful tune was one of the most bizarrely hopeful images I have seen.

The movie is equally so.

 

(The Koreans did not seem to get the vibe of the movie.)

   

What would it look like if Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to remake Michael Mann’s Heat

Hopefully, we’ll never know. 

But try this on for size:  What if somebody remade Bad Boys 2, only they took out all the yelling and the weird racism and swapped in a likable multicultural cast? 

Now we’re getting a little closer.

Fast Five is the fifth action film in the car-happy series that started with 2001’s The Fast And The Furious, which introduced Vin Diesel as a car thief and outlaw, Paul Walker as the undercover agent assigned to bring him in, and Jordana Brewster as Diesel’s sister (suspension-of-disbelief casting there), who becomes Walker’s love interest. 

Fast Five is kind of an all-star game, collecting characters from the four previous films – the underrated Matt Schulze (also seen in Torque and Extract) from the first movie, the scene-stealing Tyrese Gibson and Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges from 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious (which had no Diesel and no Brewster but much Eva Mendes), the slyly charismatic Sung Kang from 2006’s The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (which took place in Japan and had none of the recurring characters besides a belated, uncredited cameo from Diesel), and the just-a-little-bit-insanely-attractive Gal Gadot from 2009’s Fast & Furious.

Everybody getting all this so far? 

Don’t sweat it if you aren’t.  Yeah, I’ve seen all these movies.  But you don’t have to.  Whatever else you think of their work in Fast Five, you’d have to concede that three-time series writer Chris Morgan and three-time series director Justin Lin do an excellent, economical job of re-introducing all of the above characters, and giving them just enough inter-character interactions to indicate that these are all people with shared personal histories.  Which is good, because there are a bunch of new characters in here also.  More on them in a minute.  Let’s ease in with some recap:

Fast Five picks up exactly where the previous movie, Fast & Furious, left off – Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto was being carted off to prison on a bus, and Jordana Brewster’s Mia Toretto and Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner were bearing down on the bus in hot sportscars, ready to spring him.  That, they do.  Then the movie, and the two lovebirds (Brian & Mia), abruptly skip off to Rio, in what I temporarily hoped was going to be a crossover with that movie about the animated birds.

Brian and Mia crash with Vince, Matt Schulze’s character, who has long been set up in Rio with a local wife and a new baby.  Vince sets them up with a job to steal some rare cars from a moving train.  Even with Dom’s practiced helping hand, that job becomes a bit of a mess when some DEA agents on board the train are killed.  (Considering the fact that an entire humvee gets driven into the train, it’s hard to imagine that only those three guys were killed in the fiasco, but you kinda have to go with some heavy suspension of disbelief here.  As far as we know, none of the spectacular car crashes end in any deaths unless the characters mention it.)

Basically, by stealing these cars, and one in particular, Dom, Brian, and Mia have run afoul of a crimelord named Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), a Latino Gordon Gekko type who we’re told essentially runs Rio.  The trio has an even bigger problem, though:  Even though it was Reyes’s thugs who killed the three DEA agents, Dom and Brian are being tagged with the crime.  That puts the FBI on their trail, singularly personified in the form of a man named Hobbs, who the rest of us know as Dwayne Johnson, the artist formerly known as “The Rock.” 

Dwayne Johnson plays this role as Tommy Lee Jones (in unreasonable Fugitive mode) multiplied by the Juggernaut from Marvel Comics.  He has no discernible character traits outside of “chase puny humans.”  His head shaved to match Vin Diesel’s, his goatee grown out to match Blackstone the Magician’s, Dwayne Johnson is admittedly one weird- and intimidating-looking human being, maybe never moreseo than in this movie.  He’s got a team of little army guys with him, including one who looks like a deflated Patrick Warburton and another who looks like an evil Fred Durst, but he looms over them all by two or three feet.  I do think that Fast Five is yet another action movie (see: The Expendables) that suffers a little from not having a villain to match its heroes – Joaquim de Almeida is adequately slimy but not too scary – but whenever Hobbs is onscreen, the threat feels as real as it’s ever gonna.  Vin Diesel can get pretty sleepy in these movies, but when Dwayne Johnson is around, he steps up to compete.

So with this level of police heat/ starpower on their tail, the Fast/Furious kids hatch a plan to pull the fabled “one last job” – ripping off Reyes’s private vault and walking away quietly with ten million dollars.  To do that, they assemble their dream team: drivers Roman (Tyrese) and Han (Sung Kang), techno-guy Tej (Ludacris), distraction Gisele (Gal Gadot), and two new characters, a constantly-bickering odd couple played by reggaeton music stars Don Omar and Tego Calderon.  Calderon is a dead ringer for baseball star Manny Ramirez, and Don Omar is a little less descript by comparison, but they both bring a fun bilingual banter to the movie that adds some much needed humor to the proceedings.  Even funnier is Tyrese, who gets all the best wisecracks, and even when they’re not so funny on the page, he brings an enthusiasm that is completely winning, no matter how reluctant I may be to praise anyone who signed up for more than one Transformers movie.  Tyrese is fun when he’s busting Walker’s and Ludacris’s balls, and speaks for the audience when some of the truly impressive speed stunts are going on.

Maybe my favorite character (as expected) is Sung Kang’s Han, who appeared in the previous two Fast/Furious movies even though he was killed in the third one.  In a wonderfully bizarre chronological re-shuffling, both Fast & Furious and Fast Five are technically prequels to Tokyo Drift, exclusively so that Han could be resurrected.  It was worth doing.  It shouldn’t have to be pointed out, but it’s rare that  American action movies give us Asian characters who are this straight-up cool.  It’s not that Han gets all that much to do, but Sung Kang does some nice underplaying when all the aforementioned comedic ball-busting and muscle-flexing bombastics are going on, and he gets to strike up a little flirtation with Gal Gadot (who’s like a hotter version of Natalie Portman), that brings just a subtle undercurrent of pathos to the movie, when you consider that as longtime viewers of this series we know his ultimate fate.

It sounds like I’m giving a ton away already, but I’m really not – this movie is ultra-loaded with characters and business that I’ve only really begun to cover.  At over two hours, it’s unnecessarily long for a summer diversion, but to the credit of Lin and Morgan and the ensemble cast, Fast Five is never boring.  People are freaking out over this movie already, and I had a fun time too, but I’d caution against overpraise.  I can’t imagine wanting to see Fast Five more than once, for instance.  Also, as a grown-ass man (emphasis on the “ass”), I don’t love the PG-13 rating.  Like all the movies in the series, it has a Maxim Magazine ogle-first approach to women and sexuality, but ultimately a puritanical depiction of sex.  Even the ladies who count drug money in warehouses (a la New Jack City) wear bras and cover up when the action starts.  And like the majority of American movies, Fast Five may be scared off by the female body but has no problem giving us a scene where an exploded bathroom is streaked everywhere with shit.  (Long story; running out of space.)  There’s absolutely nothing deep or serious going on here. 

But that’s okay.  Sometimes I want to read a great novel, and sometimes I want to watch a baseball game.  Fast Five has a sophomoric energy that is infectious – assuming, of course, that you’re the kind of person who was willing to sit for a movie like this in the first place.  My best hope for Fast Five is that it becomes a huge success and enables Justin Lin to make whatever movies he wants.  Then, hopefully, what he wants is to come up with a badass star vehicle for Sung Kang, either by moving him into the lead of this franchise, following his character into his own adventure, or coming up with an all-new story idea.  The best thing about the Fast/Furious series is that they bring us a pan-racial culture where all characters are equally capable and equally likable.  So why not use it as a springboard to bring us the next great non-white action character?

In the meantime, I can enjoy the simpler pleasures.  Fast cars, pretty women, big stupid guns, purple dialogue, explosions, stolen police cars, crashed police cars, the return of the Predator handshake, and quite possibly my favorite post-credits cameo ever (but only if you’re me) – Fast Five has all of these things and much more.  So while my brain might yearn for smarter, I must flex my biceps in approval.  And they’re mightier than you think, so watch it punk.

Chaw is a movie about a giant killer pig. Do you really need more?