Category Archives: Reviews – Movies

Movie Review: Unbeatable (4/5 stars)

ImageFirst off, I have to comment on Nick Cheung’s amazing ripped torso. At the grand age of 45, it is no mean feat to pull something like that off and he mentioned that his nine months of training and unappetizing diet is definitely very difficult to follow. But hats off to Nick for his dedication to his craft which would put him together with the ranks of Christian Bale, Daniel Day Lewis, Robert De Niro etc.

Nick’s performance of a down and out ex-boxing champion Chin Fai who is in debt and previously incarcerated for cheating by throwing matches is pretty convincing and makes for a good backstory. I thoroughly enjoyed his amazing chemistry with his co-star Crystal Lee (acting as cute and fiesty Dani). The young girl is full of character and needs to step up to mother her mum Gwen (acted by Mei Ting) who suffers from a mental breakdown due to earlier family tragedy. Chin Fai escapes from his creditors  in Hongkong and winds up in Macau being a fellow tenant in the same apartment as Gwen and Dani. In the meantime, his friend sets him a job as a janitor and part-time “boxercise” cheerleading aerobic instructor for a class of aunties. Good fun and some laughs there definitely.

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Here, the other backstory is developed with the young protege fighter Lin Siqi acted by heart throb Eddie Peng who puts in an equally good performance as the 30 year old son of a former tycoon dad (played by Jack Kao) who lost everything including his will to get back on his feet. Lin Siqi was still a carefree traveller who has yet to discover his niche in life (school dropout), previously roaming the world with his family money till the newspapers splashed his dad’s bankruptcy. Siqi then goes to look for his dad who drowns his sorrow in liquor daily and takes up blue collar manual work at the construction sites to get by. One day, he sees the advertisement for the MMA (mixed martial arts) championship fight and wants to take part to inspire and motivate his father to get back on his feet. 

The chemistry between the leads Nick and Eddie is also great to watch as we see an unlikely mentor-mentee pairing. There is one scene where the two blokes accidentally touch lips during floor hold training, and that was hilarious too.

Besides the nicely developed storyline with good character development, what is a fight show without exciting, intense and expertly choreographed fight scenes. The camera work captures the kicks and punches precisely. I was literally at the edge of my seat holding my breath and clutching my fists every time I was rooting for the each of the guys to win. 

Game on. 

Unbeatable wins my vote.

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Movie Review: Ah Boys to Men

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The timing that I caught this movie could not be more apt.

I outpro (out-processd) from my 6th high key ICT (in-camp training) on a Thursday and caught this army movie on the very next day, with the past 3 weeks’ still extremely fresh in my mind. See my recent post.

First things first.

I go to see this movie knowing what I’ll expect from a typical Jack Neo show – local dialects with Singaporean slapstick humour. So I don’t expect any Oscar-winning cinematography, thought-provoking script, thespian acting or heart wrenching music scores. Any other extras will be a bonus.

Besides all the real depictions of army life then and now, I kinda liked his opening camera-panning sequence over many Singaporean landmarks and districts. It’s just something I don’t get to see much on the big screen, so familiarity sinks very nicely close to my heart.

The opening sequence of the attack and war scenes in familiar parts of Singapore did strike a chord in me, and the CGI sequences, though not James Cameron level, was passable. I was surprised that SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) gave Jack Neo lots of assistance in terms of military equipment, vehicles, camps and locations shoots.

The ubiquitous CB leaf scene puzzled me for the blurred out (self censorship I suppose?) portion where they showed why it was called The CB leaf. I thought that there was really nothing R-rated in showing the actual portion of the base stem where it opened into the leaf.

And one of my favourite sergeants was the one from the past, acted by Justin Mission.

Justin Mission playing old time sergeant

This character suits Justin to a “T”. Knowing him from his D&D emcee gigs, he is a real joker and one extremely animated character. Something like our Singapore version of Jim Carrey. And the foul-mouthed Hokkien spewing, wise-cracking and psycho sergeant is extremely fun to watch.

The main lead character is nothing to shout about. I prefer his buddy, Mr Lobang king, who is all street-smarts and also quite a comedian.

That said, I reckon Jack Neo is the smartest alec around, splitting this movie into 2 parts, with Part 2 slated for a February 2013 release during the CNY (Chinese New Year) period.

From $ to more $$$ dollars.

Not bang, bang, bang.

But Ka-ching, Ka-ching, Ka-ching.

Movie Review: 2012 (3/5 stars)

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Disaster maestro film director Roland Emmerich is back at his forte again (after a hiatus since Independence Day, and The Day After Tomorrow).

Expect the best movie effects in scenes like flooding, huge earth and mountain moving quakes, buildings collapsing, subway trains hurling over airplanes. I mean, the scenes are intense, and at some points, it grips you such that you’ll wonder what you will do if you’re ever in such a situation (even 10% of the scale is bad enough).

However, I think this film lacks the relationship touch that was much stronger in The Day After Tomorrow  – father (Dennis Quad) & son (Jake Gyllenhaal), and the characterisation in Independence Day (hot shot wise crack Will Smith).

Only snippets were inserted in various points of the movie (I liked the Russian billionare’s last minute valiant act).

The choice of vessels for saving humanity reminded me of the Biblical parallel, especially the part when the animals were also being loaded onboard.

That said, this movie is worth the watch, though I cannot imagine crunching on popcorns when seeing so many people perish in one disaster scene after the next.

Movie Review: Inglourious Basterds (4/5 stars)

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Quentin Tarantino is back.

With a vengence.

And in this film, he exacts it on all camps – the good guys, the bad guys (which is which is really from whose perspective). What the audience is assured of is one good ol’ spaghetti western-styled movie set in the backdrop of WWII nazi-occupied France.

The script is tight, the lines are masterfully written, top it off with Christoph Waltz’s (best actor worthy) portrayal of Col Hans Landa, unofficially nicknamed “Jew Hunter” of the SS, and you have many layers of richly-crafted scenes that left me in awe.

The first “interrogation” scene is still etched firmly in my mind as I recalled how Waltz so efferverscently lured his host, the French farmer into a false sense of security through his sophisticated , cultured and highly manipulative style (hawks and rats analogy), which finally broke down the farmer.

Pin-drop tension is found at many points of the movie, where the actors are faced with life or death decisions, and Quentin just knows how long to stretch these nail-biting moments.

Humour is also found in many characters, notably Brad Pitt’s Lt Aldo Raine (the Apache). It was hilarious watching Pitt’s portrayal of a hill-billy red neck (yeah, with a lynching scar to boot). Aldo’s confidence in his Italian linguistic prowess was too much to take when confronted with Landa’s quick reparte.

This movie is about impeccable dialogue, acting and good old-fashioned story-telling. Kudos.

Movie Review: The Shinjuku Incident (4/5 stars)

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This is a non-typical Jackie Chan movie, firstly because JC did not direct it, nor get involved in the stunt chereography, nor inject his slapstick humour into it.

In fact, this is a more gritty drama from Director Derek Yee who was responsible for Protege and One Night in Mongkok.

So there is hardly much of the usual JC action and moves. Yes there are fight scenes and the violence is especially graphic and gruesome (many severed hands, open wounds).

But the triad story is nicely told and has good character development (kudos to Daniel Wu for doing a very good portrayal of Ah Jie who undergoes a metamorphasis to become a colourful dopehead.)

So will Jackie Chan become Asia’s Robert De-Niro? We’ll see….

Movie Review: Quantum of Solace (3/5 stars)

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Anyone looking for a fast-paced action flick will give this latest James Bond full marks.

From the start till the end, I lost count of the number of running chase scenes, with lots of glass-breaking, jumping across roofs, cars/planes/boats chase scenes.

Daniel Crag’s portrayal of the new Bond is a rough and tumble, bleed and bone-crunching 007. Perhaps this is what the Director feels is the reflection of the modern Bond.

Personally, I still prefer previous Bond flicks with the Brit gentlemen’s class and nice one-liners. They had a classic feel to it. Higher social class character with a dash of humour, a certain sex appeal (Daniel Crag oozes more tough guy, six-pecs kind of testosterone appeal).

Too many chase scenes packed into this movie with less plot and character development.

It’s just less Bond.

Movie Review: Eagle Eye (4/5 stars)

First things first.

* Spoiler Alert!

We close one eye that this movie is based on an overused plot about technology/super computer/machines gone haywire….(just like Terminator, The Matrix, iRobot, Enemy of the State…hmmn last two starred Will Smith)

Then the rest of the ride is fantastic.

Just like a roller coaster which never lets up on the pace, and gives kick-ass excitement with car chase scenes, never ending running, explosions and the works.

This is one hell of an action-packed thriller!

Go watch it.