Category Archives: Articles by Nate

Nate’s Penance: Men With Guns

By Nathanael Griffis

Nate made poor choices last year and subjected the Buried Cinema crew to bad movies, so his punishment is in kind, and he must watch bad movies of the crew’s choosing from a Walmart $5 dollar action pack.

When I started doing my prescribed penance, I figured I could write it off with quicky ironic articles like my previous one. Yes Nate, I said to myself, but not in the mirror after showering, because that would be insane, all you need to do is make a joke out of this. Then you’ll frustrate those who are punishing you; thereby turning the punishment into a prize, and in a weird way everybody wins. But, it turns out we must all pay for our sins. My sins were watching bad movies and so I was forced to watch bad movies. Still I’m surprised it only took till the 2nd one for me to throw away an semblance of pretense. Here’s Brian for why I had to watch Men With Guns

Brian: “I don’t know. We did this stupid bet. You had to watch a movie. This one seemed awful.”

I’d like to start by talking about fruit cake, because I don’t want to talk about the movie. You see Men with Guns is so loathsome I would rather talk about fruit cake. Here’s the problem with fruit cake. On paper it sounds yummy. Do you like cake? Check. Do you like Rum? Check. Do you like Butter? Check. Do you like jellied fruit?  Maybe we could add nuts too. Sure why not, nuts would be fine. Alright, now let’s put that in a bread loaf pan. Well that seem’s strange why not a typical round cake pan, but I’ve been with you since rum and butter, so continue. Well we have all this great stuff, so I’m just going to jam it all together and see what comes out.

Yum?

And here in lies the problem with fruitcake. It’s got to much stuff stuffed into it. You kinda of stare at it and wonder how and why someone made that, and also how is it not getting moldy (oh the alcohol…or wait is mold another ingredient). Then somewhere along the way some senile baker started throwing vegetables into it to make it healthy or something, and thereby sealing the coffin on the the most despised of bakery treats. Now before all you fruit cake defenders come rushing to it’s defense don’t waste your time, the fruit cake battle was lost long ago. People don’t like it; stop whining and go cower in your corner like the proper defeated. Besides I must now relent and discuss the movie.

Men with Guns is fruit cake. It has every film making idea and technique shoved into it, and the director seems to just have yanked it from the oven, left it on a counter till it gathered a nice inch of dust,  and then tried to pass it off as a serviceable product. Oh but man it’s artsy and gritty, and it’s daring, it’s trying to do something other movies don’t. Agreed. And it fails, because perhaps those things shouldn’t be tried. We should not try to stuff every small berry in jellied format into an already soggy pastry. Just like you shouldn’t have a car chase scene with a slow acoustic romance song. Ray LaMontague is for staring at women through steaming panes of glass not gangsters chasing down Johnnie Boy in The Outsiders.

Okay I’ve complained about pastries and inconsistent music, but haven’t given you any reason to avoid or despise this movie. Trust me it stunk. I have no clever quips, and I was trying, really trying to make fun of it. But I found myself so frustrated…here for your benefit I will now attempt to explain the plot:

We open on an illuminated waning moon, so my mind immediately goes werewolf, and then the credits roll by in Jokerman font, because that just screams take my experimental film seriously.

MenWithGuns1

We then open on two men, somewhat-less-respected-now character actor Donal Logue, playing Goldman and ‘crazy eyes’ Gregory Sporleder, playing Richard. Who are having a heart felt conversation about bullying. An important and present issue, but it’s written like a Tarantino conversation, which misses the point of Tarantino dialogue, which is to deepen character by intertwining  the heavy topics of life  with the routine. Thereby showing that philosophy and the mundane, coexist creating this bazaar we call speech. Two hit men don’t talk about the morality of their profession. They discuss the silly nature of foreign languages, because real people will avoid heavy topics for anything else if they have the opportunity. Now the director apparently got mixed up with Tarantino and Oliver Stone, easy to do in some respects, because next they light the whole conversation in negative lighting, like some dream sequences in Stone’s Natural Born Killers. But instead of thinking about what scenes to light negatively it’s just random, because what this movie needs is the sense that just behind that screen door The Predator is watching Donal Logue cry about having his bike stolen.

The movie of course continues, and we find that these two men are going to collect payment in a poorly lit strip club. Like literally poorly lit, not seedy or hard to see. No this strip club apparently takes place after hours at an accounting firm. The men try to get their money, but the guys who owes their never-to-be-seen-or-mentioned-again-boss tricks them, like a mean bully would, by taking advantage of their stupidity, which is mean, and sends them to a farm in the middle of night to ‘collect’ the money. We are then subjected to two minutes of Donal Logue mispronouncing the name Richard, because that’s friendly banter, and Richard’s  crazy eyes are supposed to react appropriately, but well they just kind of are stuck somewhere between the light-at-the-end-of-tunnel and baby-tastes-a-lemon-for-the- first-time.

Gregory loves, hates, fears, pities, envies, and appreciates you all at once.

Yep if you watch this movie you get to stare at that for 3 hours. It’s only an hour and a half, but those eyes stay with you. I’m sorry to have to expose you all to that, but it’s cathartic for myself. Right so, after they reach the farm Richard goes to investigate their chances of getting the money, and with his crazy eyes in tow we figure he’s got a shot in hell maybe right. Well we get to wait for a literal two minutes and watch Donal Logue swat mosquitos and pee. It was at this moment I realized this movie was trying to be realistic, and place us in the moment. It wanted us to experience what would really happy to two strung out junkies who face off with the mob. The mob returns with Richard and we get our first taste of action in a movie called Men With Guns. Except it’s at night and this is a realistic movie, so it is literally not lit. We see and hear grunting objects swearing at each other, and they roll around the mud, are beat presumably, but I literally can’t be sure, because there is no lighting. No that’s not clever or interesting, or daring, or edgy, or gritty, or transcending the genre. It’s stupid!

I get why people hate art movies and love Michael Bay, because at least in slow motion explosions I know exactly what happens, and there’s some small comfort there. The rest of the movie was a blur for me, and I don’t feel like writing with the necessary ire that this movie deserves, so instead here’s a basic outline of what happens next.

  • Grown men, after being beaten in worst lit scene of all time, are forced to kiss.
  • The moon is again awarded screen time, making me long for any other movie involving a moon.
  • Two music montages of men crying with different music styles. 
  • Enter Callum Keith Rennie crazy eyes runner up.
  • Tilt your camera that’s what director do.
  • Continually echoing of the dialogue and scenes reminds me that I’d rather be on drugs.
  • The actors try hard in the same vein that middle school soccer plays try hard.
  • Buy guns from a 9 year child. Man the world is sure messed up huh.
  • Shoot at fireworks, because a fence and beer cans has been done to death.
  • Get revenge on mobsters by forcing them to have sex with each other at gun point.
  • While showing forced rape scene intercut it with stylish dance scene to 80′s keytair, just so no tone is left balanced.
  • Bullets fall literally from the ceiling and start slow motion killings.
  • Ohhh change the music in slow motion killing to country folk, because we haven’t used that yet.
  • Kill dog in the hallway, because we want these characters to be despicable.
  • While watching realize that sometimes ugly characters aren’t redeemable, they’re just ugly.
  • With their stolen cocaine, jump through a series of five music montages, moving from the account firm strip club, the most graffitied bathroom ever,  outside on a typcial afternoon,  & drug crazed apartment.
  • Oh hey two coked out prostitutes for obligatory sex scene.
  • No Donal Logue keep your clothes on!
  • I said No!
  • Introduce gangster who infers at least 5 times using differing euphemisms that he will kill you.

You know what go watch this movie. See guys, see I can pick good movies can I stop watching these bad ones now.

  • With revenge set up, waste the next fifteen minutes with more montages including classic Rock, because how’d we miss that one, and Fransican Monk chanting, because well we’re running out of music genres.
  • Dissolves can cover up the need to write dialogue. Just write the problem. Then dissolve to them disagreeing.
  • Richard needs a love interest, and she should work at a lamp store. Oh and the gangster should just show up, because we almost forgot they existed.
  • The gangsters run an evil A.C. Moore, oh hahaha silly gangsters making flower arrangements and swearing.
  • In a chase scene flashback and forward, that’s innovative confusion.
  • Oh and slow motion falling down, but don’t let Richard get caught when he falls down.
  • Richard runs all the way to the sea and I’m now left asking what city is this.
  • Meanwhile Goldman, Donal Logue, tries to sell his coke to a buyer…oh busted undercover cop…who’s also a junkie, and come on!
  • Cop sends Goldman to take down gangsters, because the coke and his testimony won’t get the cop a warrant.
  • Goldman and crazy eyes junior, remember him, no me neither, but he returns, go to the evil A.C. Moore after breaking into a house and threatening a random teenager.
  • Oh no wait this teenage turned you over to the gangsters, oh okay. And he also turned Goldman over to the cop, and is now helping them rescue Richard, so wait…
  • At Shadow A.C. Moore teenage books it, because he’s smart and has avoided being in this movie so far.
  • Donal Logue forgets to shot the gangsters after busting through the door, but he sure gets that wall.
  • Crazy eyes Jr. shoots everyone and then himself.
  • Hey a Zombie. Wait seriously a zombie? Blithering sounds, brains leaking out, gray skin, and slow lumbering movement. Yeah a Zombie has just entered the scene.
  • Grab Richard…and oops forgot someone, and now Richard is shot. Let’s go up two flights of stairs and then ride the elevator down.
  • Maybe to avoid the zombie.
  • Elevator has more gangsters, yuck.
  • But no zombies, what happened to that zombie.
  • Don’t shoot me…blah, blah…no one has to die…get on elevator repeat dialogue…ride it down two flights that you walked up…get off elevator…repeat dialogue…gangster shoots anyways.
  • Evil Cop shows up to save the day, except Richard dies, and Donal Logue now takes the stairs.
  • Outside Donal Logue rambles around a playground and falls into a kiddie pool and lays there all messianic like.
  • Wait no, he’s not dead he’s a zombie?
  • No he’s just being put into the ambulance, forget about the zombie thing.
  • Play Gospel musical over the credits, so all music genres are covered.
  • Oh and the movie needs a theme, so let’s cut the Gospel music with long strings of Donal Logue mispronouncing Richard, because now we know the theme of this movie is these guys are screw ups.

I HATE THIS MOVIE, AND I’M DONE.

 

Nate’s Penance: Air Boss II Preemptive Strike

By Nathanael Griffis

On buried cinema we have a simple pick and pair movie system. In order to deter one from picking atrociously bad movies we grade the movies, and at the end of the year the loser incurs the wrath of his fellow pod casters in some embarrassing plight. I have that unfortunate privilege and so must pay my penance. The chosen punishment is simple. I had to purchase one of those ubiquitous Walmart $5 dollar action packs  (which meant I also had to suffer the cashier’s nosey comment of ‘I’ve never seen anyone buy one of these.’), and then in a classic revenge move the podcasters each choose one for me to watch, and they explain what egregious act I did to deserve such chastisement. So, I hand it over to Steve to explain to you his poison.

Steve's Villanelle

And so, I watched Air Boss II Preemptive Strike. It was a professed action movies, starring a supposed actor, directed by a person with a name and camera. It follows the exploits of one Frank White, who’s apparently troubled by some sordid past where he had a Top-Gun-esque training exercise whoopsie. Our hero Mr. White gets tasked with a mission to fly to space and…well launch a TV satellite, because that’s what NASA does. Oh and while he’s doing that behind him in a secret space shuttle  laboratory a bunch of scientist are creating an airborne version of the Ebola virus, because NASA is evil now.  Yep that’s right the only nice branch of the government was jealous that the NSA, CIA, FBI, DOJ, IRS, and any other frightening acronym were getting all the attention, so why not try to break into the biological weapons business.  Then after this is established the baddies sell the virus,  put it on a plane, and threaten stock footage of New York with it. Don’t worry though Frank White and his terrifying flat top won’t stand for this.

Flat Top/High Fade mighty names for mighty hair

Flat Top/High Fade mighty names for mighty hair

Anyways going into this film…hmm I need another word…I thought I would give it the benefit of the doubt. Who am I, after such a horrible year of choosing movies, to judge a films caliber. Instead I should assume that since this is the second movie in a four movie series, why they must have gotten something right? It only makes sense, so I decided instead to note what the filmakers do in this movie, and draw the logical conclusion that this is what you need to make a good movie.

So without further ado here is what it takes to make a good movie according to Air Boss II Preemptive Strike

  1. High Top Fades!
  2. Sleeves are clearly the shackles of the bourgeois. Cut them off and free yourselves from tyranny.
  3. Strippers should always quote Nietzsche.
  4. Nietzsche quotes should fly over the lead actors head.
  5. Lead actors should spend 6 visible seconds starring blankly at Nietzsche quoting stripper. This creates a sense of realism. You can really watch him think.
  6. Then disregard Nietzsche quote, and hope your audiences doesn’t check your sources.
  7. Promise zero gravity sex scene constantly.
  8. Parade around host of possible zero gravity sex partners to create a will-they-won’t-they vibe.
  9. Never name possible zero gravity sex partners.
  10. Never show zero gravity sex scene. This will create mystery and in no way be the most disappointing aspect of the film.
  11. Stock footage can be repeated if the audience is distracted by massive high top fades, and promises of zero gravity sex scenes.
  12. Don’t worry about reading a book, watching Apollo 13, or even visiting the Air and Space Museum, you’re a director just make up what the inside of a space shuttle look like. No one really knows.
  13. It takes exactly two people to fly a space shuttle, and one should be a blond woman with no lines, so you think of zero gravity sex.
  14. Slow Mo= Zero Gravity
  15. Wobbly Camera=Zero Gravity
  16. David Bowie Impressions=Zero Gravity
  17. French Miming=Zero Gravity
  18. Place your best music over a button pushing montage.
  19. Buy your uniforms directly from the NASA Visitor center.

    The lower right hand corner is interesting.

    The lower right hand corner is interesting.

  20. Have your protagonist dish out rude sexist jokes constantly, but threaten to shove someone out an airlock when  they call him a jock, because you don’t mess with the high top fade!
  21. All space shuttles should have a secret biochemical warfare lab that you can walk … I mean David Bowie shuffle around in.
  22. Your space mission doesn’t need to take more than 10 minutes. It’s a shuttle, so you know there’s probably a few more trips they have to make. Head home quick now.
  23. Mention laser disk  collection unironically.
  24. NASA security must be the German S.S. Also NASA should have  non military security.
  25. All doctors must cut their sleeves from their scrubs, don’t want them feeling left out.

    Sleeves are for wussies, not fake doctors.

    Sleeves are for wussies, not fake doctors.

  26. Jeeps are not faster than tanks.
  27. Feel free to use the same explosion 3 times in a row directly after the other. No need to change angles the repetition will really sink the point in.
  28. Cardboard dummies with sharpie drawn on faces look real when burning.
  29. Swiss bank accounts can be hacked with by a simple click of  the back slash button and F12.
  30. Use grappling hooks to climb single story structures.
  31. Standard Navy Seal gear means a bullet proof corset and bank robbery ski mask.
  32. Ladies and gentlemen...your Navy Seals.

    Ladies and gentlemen…your Navy Seals.

  33. When you find deadly chemicals, don’t try to remove them yourself. Leave them to professionals. (Huh…that sounds like reasonable smart writing.)
  34. Then after stating that, get in chemical suits and release deadly pathogens on bad guys negating your one smart decision.
  35. While committing atrocities decried by the Geneva Convention, downplay your war crimes by blasting rock music and shooting AK47′s (standard U.S. Navy issue).
  36. As a bad guy always carry belaying equipment, so you can make a speedy getaway three flights up, because if there’s one thing that stops Navy Seals in their tracks it’s stairs.
  37. Show numerous scenes of your lead actor cowering near the only real explosions your movie has. This will create pathos and make him seem more human since the high top fade has made us feel he is somewhat mythic in nature.
  38. If you flip a stretch of frames horizontally and run them again you can double a scenes run-time, neat!
  39. Salt water, i.e. the ocean, which they carefully and clearly explain is mostly salty, will kill, sorry neutralize, or maybe splash, the Ebola virus. Hopefully, splash means destroy, but that’s just part of the mystery like the whole no space sex.
  40. Always do a barrel roll when chasing a bad guy. (Wait that might have been STAR FOX).
  41. A barrel roll can stop a missile from locking on to you, not block lasers like STAR FOX claims, so there’s the difference.
  42. A barrel roll may not actually stop the missile, but is should slow it down, so it takes 3 minutes to hit you.
  43. A barrel roll is the only stock footage you need.

So inconclusion, one barrel roll to rule them all, no zero G sex, David Bowie+Mime+Wobbly Slow Mo = Space, salt water kills all diseases, and flat tops reign supreme. That is Air Boss II Preemptive Strike. 

Buried Cinema — Ip Man 2

By Nathanael Griffis

Ip Man is the name of the somewhat legendary (I say somewhat because he’s a real historical figure and most of his exploits are true, hence they don’t carry any of the falsity or exaggeration of legend) trainer of Bruce Lee. He’s been the subject of numerous movies as of late, which is starting to bother me, but that’s another rant for another day.

Ip Man 2 PosterWe discussed the first Ip Man on the podcast. It was our first podcast after changing our name from The Incidental Dog Movie Podcast to Buried Cinema. I had a weird watching experience in that I had to watch it dubbed instead of subtitled, which does hurt the natural performances. Also, there were no subtitles or dubbing for the significant parts of the film that are in Japanese, so not knowing Japanese, I was somewhat confused. Still, it had good enough action and interesting enough characters that I was drawn to the sequel.

I believe I was apologetic of Ip Man because my viewing experience was so bizzare, but upon watching Ip Man 2, I saw a lot of the same flaws, and wonder if I shouldn’t have been more honest about the way I felt. I had a suspicion that the movie was good, but not great. That at its heart it was propagandist. No, that’s not the word because this film is merely patriotic towards China, not that different from, say, Act of Valor. It is a crowd-pleaser, a blockbuster, a safe film, an entertaining film. The bad guys are stereotypes, the good guys have motivations that change at the whim of the script.

Despite this there are a few saving graces. Donnie Yen as Ip Man shows off his acting chops. He carries an air of modesty with great power, which is a respected aspect of martial arts. He fights because it’s what he knows. He isn’t consumed by greed or power. Revenge is only undertaken as an act of justice and national pride. He is the consummate teacher, father, and husband, a person you want to model yourself after. His wife, played by Lynn Hung, is a little more absent in this film, which is too bad, because she was a welcome presence in the first film, which made it unique like Shinobu Nakayama in Fist of Legend.

The first film is an interesting look at a marital arts master whose way of life is destroyed by war. It becomes a stirring biopic about a father caring for his family and giving up his dream. It is more a character study. With strong female characters that are so often lacking in kung fu films, it was a pleasant surprise. There was a focus on hand-to-hand combat and minimal wire work, again like Fist of Legend. Still, something bothered me.

The supporting characters are weak. They tend to have over-exasperated faces that almost encourage an exaggerated dubbing. Kung fu naturally solves every political, social, and economic problem ever, unlike say Fearless or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon where the martial arts epic sweep is kept, but the thematic focus is changed. There are not-so-stirring speeches made, and unfortunately in Ip Man 2 there is a lot more wire work and Sammo Hung. He’s not a bad martial artist, but he doesn’t impress.

 

Yeah, my money is on the guy who didn't eat six donuts for breakfast.

Yeah, my money is on the guy who didn’t eat six donuts for breakfast.

 

The sad thing is that Ip Man 2 is merely a sequel. It takes what producers think made the film beloved and repeat more of that. There are constant fight scenes; the first Ip Man had maybe four total, which gave each one more significance. There also just isn’t a sense of scope. It can’t decide if it wants to tell the story of Ip Man’s struggle to start a school in post-war Hong Kong, or the abuses of the foreign influence, which gets washed away at the end anyway when we learn a devious police chief was working alone.

It’s not a horrible movie. It’s a good martial arts flick, and I have to say I’m coming around to Donnie Yen. He won’t replace Jet Li, but he’s a nice transition to the next person at this moment.

—–

About the author:

Nate was once a silent film star whose song-and-dance skills helped him make an effective transition to talkies. Now he won’t shut up, and frequently breaks into song on our podcast. Nate is self-described as a personally professional person. He loves meditative films and is crossing his fingers for Nature Scene Screen Saver: The Movie. (One could argue that Terrence Malick already made this film, and called it The Tree of Life.) Nate’s favorite films include A History of Violence, A Beautiful Mind, Wall-E, The Graduate, and 127 Hours.

Buried Cinema — Ned Kelly

By Nathanael Griffis

Ned Kelly in home made armor. Home made armor: for the man who doesn't want to rob a museum.

Ned Kelly in home made armor. Home made armor: for the man who doesn’t want to rob a museum.

I remember back when I didn’t care that much about movies and I simply liked them, back in the time when I let other people tell me how to feel about them, back before I realized there was a whole world of weird and wonderful films to explore, back in my junior year of high school. I saw a quick news bit on the ten most anticipated upcoming films. I watched through a few and one caught my eye: Ned Kelly. It starred Orlando Bloom, hot off Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean, and Heath Ledger, whom I’d been impressed with from The Four Feathers but everyone else knew from A Knight’s Tale  and 10 Things I Hate About You. It looked like a cool take on the Western in Australia, and the trailer had the stars staring deeply into smoky space, with plenty of gunshots cut around it, so yeah, I was in.

And then we never got it. It seemed to disappear, and my precious high-school psyche was burnt. Like a child promised a gift who is thrust a hastily purchased coffee mug after their parent comes home from a trip, I was confused. What were these films that I was supposed to be anticipating? Why wasn’t I getting the fourth most anticipated movie of the year? Suddenly my faith in television movie lists began to crumble. I became an unfortunate husk of an American with no media guidance, betrayed by the glowing rectangle that I called Teacher. I was forced to start forming my own opinions. I would have to either take an interest in movies myself and do research on what was coming out on my own, or, succumb to nature and get a life and never care about movies again.

Thankfully for you, or not if perhaps you’re annoyed because you were just hoping for a thumbs up or thumbs down review, I did not succumb to the temptation to make something of myself. Instead I am diligently wasting away my life. I just do it independently now, so it feels more… I don’t know, fancy. Either way my life of movie-watching continued uninterrupted until I was accosted by the Ned Kelly poster on Netflix. There stood my daunting disappointment, the girl on the bus you never talked to, who blew back her hair in the just-so-subtle inviting way that both intimidates and disarms you at the same moment. It took me some time to get around to watching it, because the reality is that I do have a job, friends, a house, a family, other hobbies, and a parrot; but reality is ultimately lame, and I prefer the fiction of the struggling blogger typing away praying for that one reader to comment, kindly of course, with some mention of the words “beautiful” and “prose” in the comments. Upon watching Ned Kelly, I realized why it never made its way over to my movie theaters. It sucked. It sucked so bad it couldn’t make it to Binghamton.

"Blueberries or Strawberries? I just wondered what you wanted on your pancakes in the morning."

“Blueberries or strawberries? I just wondered what you wanted on your pancakes in the morning.”

This is a thoroughly disappointing movie, much like the conversation with the pretty girl on the bus who probably is vegan to a fault — not that it’s wrong to be vegan, but it is wrong to guilt trip me into gnawing on a kale and tree bark sandwich. The movie has an impressive cast: Ledger, Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Joel Edgerton, and Naomi Watts. It squanders the talent though, with a confusing script, bewildering accents (there isn’t a hint of Australian anywhere to be found), fumbling humor, and bad acting 101 delivered to us courtesy of Orlando Bloom, who spends most of the movie as if he were on a bar stool shooting pickup lines at the audience.

There is a scene where Ned Kelly, played by Heath Ledger, if I wasn’t clear on that point, mistakenly collects a horse, which he will later be accused of stealing, and then a women magically appears on it, for little to no reason. Oh, except that it’s really important, because later in the movie she’s going to be his ten-second love interest that should make us care about him. The women in this film are unfortunately very poorly drawn. The mother is a helpless matriarch who is at a loss without her sons, but can’t seem to keep them out of trouble. Naomi Watts is wasted as a beautiful wife of a rancher who has an affair with Ned. Every other women just falls over backwards for the illustrious gang.

The history of the story is interesting, but I won’t go into it, because the film butchers the history by flopping it about in voice-overs. It tries to gloss over the stale humor with intriguing images, and the idea that Ned Kelly feels bad about the people he kills. Maybe he did, and certainly the system was against Irish immigrants at the time, but a movie should make sense. Geoffrey Rush barely has lines and fumbles about in a silly hat until at the end he asks Ned if he can have his sash, which Rush delivers as if it should be profound, but it comes off as an odd hobo adding another strain of fabric to his sash cupboard.

Mutton Chops sealing the deal once again.

Mutton Chops sealing the deal once again.

The whole thing is wrapped up in a tired bow of false realism with Ledger saying in voice-over, “Such is life.” I suppose it’s hinting at life being unfair for minorities, and that we should stand up for ourselves, but even if we do the powerful majority will stomp us down, shoot our camels and monkeys (did I mention the circus?), and then hang us. Overall I learned that Orlando Bloom is certainly not a good actor. His character needs a certain humorous charm that speaks of a mysterious danger. Instead Bloom comes off as psychotic. And, despite all the interesting history and cast, everyone needs a good script and a good director if you want a good movie.

—–

About the author:

Nate was once a silent film star whose song-and-dance skills helped him make an effective transition to talkies. Now he won’t shut up and frequently breaks into song on our podcast. Nate is self-described as a personally professional person. He loves meditative films and is crossing his fingers for Nature Scene Screen Saver: The Movie. (One could argue that Terrence Malick already made this film, and called it The Tree of Life.) Nate’s favorite films include A History of Violence, A Beautiful Mind, Wall-E, The Graduate, and 127 Hours.

Buried Cinema — King of Beggars

By Nathanael Griffis

Way too serious vibe for a comedy poster.

In Shakespeare, the fool always commands attention, because not only is he funny, but he is also the most honest. A fool has a way of cutting past all the fluff and red tape. Stephen Chow’s kung fu comedies have always impressed me in their ability to do just this. They are outright absurd and at times indiscernible plot-wise, but beneath all the genial goofery (I made that word up, isn’t it fun?) there’s a sneaky subversion. His buried 1992 film King of Beggars  is no exception.

King of Beggars is about the illiterate lazy hero So-Hat Yi, played by Stephen Chow of course, who desires to become a martial arts master in order to win the hand of a beautiful woman. While talented at martial arts, charming, and rich, one unfortunately has to be able to read and write to pass the martial arts test. Through a series of hilarious mishaps, weird fight scenes, and snappy dialogue, he is caught cheating on a test and made a beggar for life by decree of the emperor. Naturally this is not the end. You see, the emperor is in danger of being assassinated by a baby-eating super-powered bad guy Chui, played Norman Chu. (Norman, by the way, is not a cool name for an American, let alone a Chinese man).

Now if you know Stephen Chow movies, then you can probably guess what happens. The film progresses through increasingly difficult tasks for the hero, he is embarrassed and has his dignity stripped of him, and finally he masters some mystical kung fu art and defeats the bad guy. Yes, all that happens. It’s the subtext, though, which is often missed in his films, that has always surprised me. So-Hat Yi, for example, is a real historical figure, and Chow’s portrayal of him is charming and subversive of government control on the individual.

So-Hat Yi refuses to learn to read and write. He refuses to compete in various challenges. These aspects of him are played off for laughs, especially when he has to lift an enormous weight, but takes one look at it and just walks away saying it’s too heavy. The opening scene spoofs kung fu’s frequent connection to calligraphy as Stephen Chow turns a classic piece of calligraphy into a Pollock painting. Okay, maybe some context is needed, but trust me, the inability to connect calligraphy with martial arts is traditionally seen as sign of spiritual disconnection, and therefore a sign that you are evil. In contrast, the antagonist Chui uses his education to abuse the system and threaten the empire.

Stephen Chow’s characters are always the lowest of the low, from the homeless wannabe murderer of Kung Fu Hustle, to a hopeless trash collector moonlighting as a bar singer in Shaolin Soccer, to a construction worker who must root around in dumps to provide for his family in CJ7. What is even more disturbing is that Chow does not always give his characters dignity. His character in Shaolin Soccer is a sexist thief who embarrasses his family so much that they are subjected to horrifying acts of shame. In Kung Fu Hustle, his character is urinated upon, because he’s a weakling. High characters are dragged down to the bottom, and then risen up by mysticism and love.

An example of Sleep Kung Fu. Yep, he’s that lazy.

The lazy So is no different. After being caught cheating he must beg for food, and can’t because he can’t even write a sign. He then loses a battle against Chui and has every appendage broken leaving him essentially neutered. What is so fascinating about So is that he refuses every step of the way to accept traditional Chinese values. He doesn’t respect the emperor and in the end refuses the emperor’s favor, which threatens to portray an individual as more important than a governing or communal body. His character contributes nothing to society. Instead he prays on society, feeding off others hard work.

That last idea might seem, to a capitalist society, exactly what communism is, but that is not the case. Communism expects fair treatment of everyone, because everyone is providing for the community fairly. The government controls and dictates everything, because everyone in the community should be willing to do as asked. So-Hat Yi is the pariah that so many capitalists espouse as the problem with communism, and Stephen Chow makes this man his protagonist.

There is of course safety in parody, because you can write everything off as humor. Stephen Chow can always throw out the defense that he was simply making a joke pointing out how it’s wrong to be lazy. Still in the end, I enjoy So-Hat and I want him to succeed. I don’t want him to learn to read or write. I like the fact that he defies the emperor. He becomes a person you’re tempted to emulate, and I’m left wondering, more and more often, if these ideas are what Stephen Chow has been trying to sneak quietly into our psyches over his career.

This man will come to your house and breathe on you if you don’t watch his movie.

Oh yeah, the movie is really fun. It has some amazing lines. It’s always impressive when a joke that has to be read lands, but that’s just good writing. Stephen Chow has never failed to amuse me and make me laugh, and while this film has its weird moments (I mentioned the bad guy eats babies right? That was literal) it’s thoroughly satisfying as a kung fu comedy. I highly recommend it to fans of Stephen Chow and of kung fu films.

—–

About the author:

Nate was once a silent film star whose song-and-dance skills helped him make an effective transition to talkies. Now he won’t shut up and frequently breaks into song on our podcast. Nate is self-described as a personally professional person. He loves meditative films and is crossing his fingers for Nature Scene Screen Saver: The Movie. (One could argue that Terrence Malick already made this film, and called it The Tree of Life.) Nate’s favorite films include A History of Violence, A Beautiful Mind, Wall-E, The Graduate, and 127 Hours.

Secret Sunshine poster

Korean Cinema — Secret Sunshine

By Nathanael Griffis

I’d seen a lot about Secret Sunshine, and the plot seemed simple enough. A mother and her son move back to her deceased husband’s home town of Seoul. Everything is going fine until her son is kidnapped. From the synopsis it seemed like a typical Korean crime thriller that was right up my alley. Instead this film completely surprised me, and became an in-depth and honest analysis of man’s relationship to God. This film tackled some of the hardest spiritual and philosophical questions directly without pulling any punches or feeling preachy.

The previous synopsis does not adequately describe the experience this film is. Do-yeon Jeon plays the grieving mother Shin-ae trying to raise her child in a new town. Kang-ho Song joins as the single desperate man Jong Chan who is willing to do anything to make Shin-ae love him. The film tackles difficult questions with respect and never shies away from the reality of the situation.

I’m speaking in broad terms because I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but I’ll do what I can to relate to you the experience at least. This films addresses the fact that a relationship with God is a choice and a solution to grief. It doesn’t show conversion though as an immediate or easy decision. Shin-ae struggles with the decision mocking Christianity as useless, yet somehow is drawn to it. She initially finds peace, genuine peace, after accepting Christ, but that is not enough. A life with God does not simply end all suffering and hardship. Shin-ae begins to wrestle with God over questions like, why does God allow bad things to happen, why is he forgiving of all sins, and why does he still draw us in despite our rejection of him?

What I appreciate most is that it doesn’t water anything down. The characters are definitely flawed: Jong Chan never truly converts, and spends his entire time pretending just so he can get close to Shin-ae, yet he at times makes the better moral decision. Director Chang-dong Lee here challenges the idea that morality is only capable in Christianity, an idea that often, and to my great annoyance, is a the focus of most Christian filmmaking. A person is very capable of making a moral decision without  being a Christian. God doesn’t make us moral; he desires for us to choose to be that way. A person doesn’t have to know him to make that choice.

Shin-ae at one point begins to wrestle with God, actively seeking to destroy him and those who love him. She tempts a church leader toward adultery, attempts to attack people in a prayer meeting, and disrupts a revival conference by playing secular music over an altar call. It might seem boring, but the way it is handled is fascinating. It all has a strong sense of unabashed honesty. The world and Christians are not perfect; we make bad decisions. Frequently ones that have lasting damage.

It’s foolish, pretentious, and dishonest to present an image of Christians as perfect citizens. Christians struggle with the same decisions as anyone, and they don’t always find peace. Yes, sometimes they do, and the movie shows this. It doesn’t disparage God. I believe it shows Christianity, a relationship with Christ, and acceptance of forgiveness as the solution to grief. The church community she attacks and damages is understanding and forgiving. It just presents these issues without the usual rose-colored glasses of Christian filmmaking.

On the technical side, the acting is stupendous. The film never ceases to surprise, and the range of emotion that is asked of Do-yeon Jeon is staggering, but she delivers. Kang-ho Song never fails to impress, and I look forward to him hopefully gaining more exposure to American audiences with Snowpiercer later this year. The direction by Chang-dong Lee shows a rare balance of respect for material blending with excellent filmmaking.

This is not a film I would recommend to anyone. If metaphysical questions about our relationship with God don’t interest you then you’ll probably find this film boring. If you want to see a film that upholds Christians as model citizens and moral action as the ultimate goal of Christianity then this film will probably offend you. If you, like myself, had been striving to find that one film that wasn’t afraid to tackle issues honestly and not disparage God or Christians, but show them in the light of honest humanity, then this film will not disappoint.

(Enjoying the Rant Pad? There’s more! Visit our podcast home page at BuriedCinema.com. Then you can also Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, Friend us on Flickchart, and Subscribe to us on YouTube!)

Option C — Red Lights

By Nathanael Griffis

In life, as on our podcast Buried Cinema, there always seems to be two options: Option A or Option  B. Sometimes that is just not enough, so consider these films your Option C.
This Option C pairing is with our June 14 podcast “Now You Sydow Me.” In it we reviewed Now You See Me and The Magician. I have found a third option that I didn’t discuss on the podcast, but I think fits into the discussion. Red Lights is a psychological thriller from Rodrigo Cortés, the director of Buried. It’s about a young physicist (played by Cillian Murphy) who joins with a veteran psychologist (Sigourney Weaver) who made her career debunking psychics, magicians, and paranormal occurrences. They find themselves challenged when a psychic (Robert DeNiro) comes out of retirement after thirty years.

It has a classic premise of most magician films. The point in question is: is any of this real or just a trick? Naturally it has twists and turns, like a killer fight scene in a bathroom, which I didn’t see coming. Turns out Cillian Murphy can fight pretty well. Not well enough though, because — SPOILER ALERT — he loses the fight. The premise moves along nicely building tension and characters. The protagonists and antagonists never meet until the third act, which I enjoyed because it made their meeting more meaningful.

What surprised me the most though was the response to this film. After I’d finished it, I thought to myself that it was pretty good, and I liked the ending. Then I went to the internet and found that everyone disagreed with me. Not just that they didn’t like it, but that they all thought the exact opposite. The ending apparently had several people confused, and they kept using phrases like “derailed,” “lost control,” or “fell apart.”

This is were I have to take a stand. Sometimes as critics we get into an “Emperor’s New Clothes” mentality, where we simply take on others’ opinions because we’re afraid to disagree. Maybe it’s more subconscious than conscious, who knows. We’ve seen this on Buried Cinema before: movies like Safe and The Green Hornet are good movies worth checking out, but critics hold them back. I’m not too worried about my reputation though, because sometimes critics get it wrong (also I don’t think I’m influential enough to have a reputation). A famous example with Dark City comes to mind. Critics disparaged that movie when it was released. Now it’s considered a sci-fi classic whose concept has been repeated several times.

I don’t want to give away the ending, because I want you to watch the film for yourself. It definitely relies on the ending to be completely successful, but what to me was so impressive is that the ending is the only possibility that makes any sense. Still, you don’t see it coming, which is the sign of good storytelling. Cortés does a fantastic job of writing around the surprise. Most of the film is a giant red herring, but even knowing that, you’d be hard pressed not to be taken in.

What I think happened is that the film doesn’t directly explain it. There isn’t a scene of Morgan Freeman talking over flashbacks showing how it all worked. Instead the director expects that you have been paying attention through the whole film and can put together what happened. Frustrating, I know, but it’s so much more satisfying when you do the work.

Red Lights is bolstered by good performances from the whole cast. It’s script is taut, meaning it doesn’t waste a scene. It doesn’t take the easy way out, and it leaves you thinking at the end. Definitely a great Option C if you like magician films.

(Enjoying the Rant Pad? There’s more! Visit our podcast home page at BuriedCinema.com. Then you can also Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, Friend us on Flickchart, and Subscribe to us on YouTube!)

Buried Cinema: The Innkeepers

By Nathanael Griffis

This filim has a lot of great posters I highly suggest checking out the artwork, actually.

My favorite genre of horror is without a doubt the spooky haunted house story. I don’t like slashers or gore fests. I like Zombie movies, but don’t find them scary. Exorcist films have gone down hill since, well The Exorcist. So, when I want a good horror flick. I look for ghost stories like The Orphanage, The Shinning, The Others, or The Devils Backbone. I’d therefore been eyeing The Innkeepers  for sometime.

See here’s the thing. I like horror movies, but am admittedly a big baby. After watching Paranormal Activity I ran into an opossum on the way home and had a staring contest with it, because it looked devilish. I am a coward and get scared easily, so I am leery about watching them. The Innkeepers  though is evil, because it’s deceptive and makes you think everything will be okay. Then you poop your pants. For the record, I didn’t literally poop my pants. It’s the summer time, so I was wearing shorts.

The Innkeepers is directed by Ti West, who’s been stacking up some horror cred in recent years with several solid flicks and involvement in V/H/S. It stars Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, and Kelly McGillis. No real big names, but has something odd that most other horror films don’t, a sense of humor. Sara Paxton is known mostly for tween television shows like Darcy’s Wild Life (Yeah I don’t know what that is either, but it’s on IMDB and it sounds like something from ABC family, and no I can’t back that up. You do the research. I honestly don’t care enough to click the link and find out.) Pat Healy is a relative unknown, who I hope to see more, and Kelly McGillis of course, as I’m sure she hates being reminded of, was in Top Gun. She’s the girl who took our breathe away. Remember wind blowing, piano music, and thin strangely over populous amounts of white curtains.

Like I said The Innkeepers is genuinely funny. It’s not a horror spoof or a B-movie. It has some genuine moments of humor. The plot follows around the only two employees at a failing inn’s last weekend. Claire, Sara Paxton, is a young girl who dropped out of college and Luke, Pat Healy, is a budding paranormal researcher. They don’t care about their customers, or taking care of the dying hotel, and are more interested in just getting through the weekend. The first two thirds of the film builds character and has a few tired scare moments that fall flat. I don’t think they’re supposed to hit though. If they were, then the director should just pretend they weren’t. There’s an odd sense of comedy to the whole situation.

(Spolier Alert)

You know it's spooky when they brake out the flashlight.

It’s not until the turn when Claire starts to take the stories of a hung bride seriously, and Luke admits that he made the whole thing up that it takes a turn for the horrorific. Also they enter the basement, which is always scary. I mean never under any circumstances go into a basement after midnight. The film suddenly becomes something more, but the characters don’t make unreasonable decisions. They call the police when they should. One runs away instead of staying in a horrible scary hotel with dead people walking around. Like we all wish every character would do, but no they have to slowly continue down the hall where the spooky little children on tricycles just wandered.

The film pokes you and gets you interested in the characters through humor. It gives them flaws makes them feel down to earth. They’re easier to relate to then a bunch of sorority girls who have a seemingly bottomless budget, and yet decide to go the lake (there are places called beaches ladies). Then when the scary stuff starts to happen you care, and the director makes you continue caring because they don’t make dumb decisions. It builds for a nice combination, because investment in characters means I don’t want them to get hurt, so I become (and listen carefully) horrified when they’re threatened.

If you like ghost horror movies, and good scares plus a little brains with your horror (no not a Zombie reference) then the The Innkeepers is worth checking out. If you require machetes and chainsaws for entertainment, then try it out and come to realize what good horror actually is.

This is what you have to look forward to. You're welcome.

 

Expectations: Bunraku

By Nathanael Griffis

 

I’m a sucker for Kung-fu action films. It doesn’t matter how many times someone pummels a sneering bad guy in the face I’m there. Add cowboys to the mix and it should be good, except that last time cowboys and ninja’s got together we were given The Warriors Way, so I feel like a guy who keeps going back to the same destructive girlfriend saying ‘It’ll be different this time’. It’ll be different actors perhaps, but will that equate to enough action to satisfy my face-pummel thirst.

 

Hypothesis (expectations)

Poster & Trailer: This is strange, normally there’s at least two or three alternative designs for posters, but this nope just the one choice. I’m digging pretty deep here to and there’s nothing really besides the plain design. The recipe goes like so: show your stars in a perfect billing phalanx, emblazen the title in Caps beneath,  insert action pose from star and Asian star, smother in blue. The boring poster proves worrisome, because the trailer boasts some engaging color palletes and strange paper art designs. After watching it I gather Ron Perlman is the bad guy. Josh Hartnett is a cowboy, Woody Harrelson is a bar tender. Demi Moore is pretty and there are two people I don’t know in it, but the movie is insisting I must. Gackt and Kevin McKidd are supposedly names of actors, but I’m still not convinced. The screenshots bring a little hope. The set’s look cool and like they’re constantly changing, so hopefully it’ll be pretty.

The Critics: 6.1 on IMDB and 16% on Rotten Tomatoes, so I’m confused. That discrepancy is only furthering my concern. People on IMDB can be weird, but there we very few reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes and they can sometimes be pretentious. In other news, while searching I discovered that Bunraku is actually a form of Japanese puppet theater. I then got lost in a Wikipedia article on Japanese puppet theater and lost track of what the critics said, so that should tell you something. It tells you I have a general disdain for critics opinions.  Yet serving as a critic myself, I’m at a loss recognizing the meta-critique I’m doing and expostulating on how boring critiques are I’ve tumbled into some philosophical condrum. What could possibly save me from all this thinking.

 

A drink perhaps

Sum Up: Face’s getting smashed that’s what. I need to see heads get chopped off, knees shattered, men thrown through walls, all manner of liquer bottles explode, chairs snapped like twigs and bad guys flying across the screen while screaming long extended vowel sounds. Yes that’s what I need to pull me out of my slump. Bunraku has a lot riding on it. If it fails, I’ll be left to ponder my ever disintegrating mental constitution. If it succeeds and entertains, I can continue on in my self-imposed wonderland, where people read what I write and care enough to make it worth writing.

Results (review)

There’s something ominous about all this I think.

The film opens with a Baz Lurhman freneticism that’s annoying in Baz Lurhman movies. To boot I think they went out and got the world’s worst movie-trailer-guy-impersonator to do the narration. The scratchy voice would sound more comfortable pouring out short little drawls like “In a world with no guns…”. Instead, the cigarette burned voice spews out the entire plot, which is extremely unfortunate, because the title sequence is stunning. The best thing about this film is the art direction, the sets, lighting, and transitions are worth studying. The way the story stays true to traditional Bunraku theater is impressive.

It frequently looks made of paper and focuses on hard lined geometric shapes that make it look like the sets where literally folded into place and the transitions between scenes would have us believe such. Guy Moshe’s (the director) use of lighting is stunning as well. He has an amazing sense of color and uses shadow to an exceptional effect. A fight between Harnett’s Drifter and Gackt’s Yoshe is almost completely stationary except moving shadows that give the appearance of a greater motion. The fight scenes are more akin to dances than brutal body count raising action. This was a pleasant surprise, but it didn’t feed my desire for sheer entertainment.

Here in lies the conundrum, from a film I expected little to no substance of story I got a touch more. There are some lines and plot moments that are well placed and give the story an edge. At other times the use of vulgarity intermixed with poetic dialogue is deliberately distracting. It’s as if the director will not allow his film to be taken seriously, which troubles me. I can’t decide if I like that or not. The characters are archetypes, yet small flaws and weakness give them just a touch of depth.  So I was pleased with the story to be honest, but that’s not what I turned to Bunraku for.

I wanted to see faces smashed and pummeled. I got that to some extent, but like I mentioned earlier the fights are more like dances than fights. They don’t get your blood pumping as much as they widen your eyes in an attempt to dazzle you. The opening fight is a let down, but sets the tone and by the end I was engaged, which is a credit to the film. Still I didn’t enjoy the first half of the film, because the action wasn’t entertaining enough. There are at least 15 fights in this movie and maybe 5 are worthwhile, but all 15 are beautifully staged with bizarre touches, Kevin McKidd as an Irish samurai being one of the strangest. It’s simply just a hard thing to buy a man with a thick Irish accent, a burgundy fedora, a dappled kerchief, goldenrod slicked back hair, a grey and lavender three piece suit, and plum set of glasses as a threatening master of bushido.

The rest of the cast is fine. Demi Moore supports nicely giving those around her motivation and stronger characters as a supporting actor should do. Hartnett is a convincing gruff drift. Gackt a good samurai. I’d buy a drink from Woody Harrelson anytime. And, give Ron Perlmen and axe, dreadlocks, and a beard and he’s a force to be reckoned with sure. It’s all these strengths and weakness that bother me though. I find myself on the seat of some horrible film lovers struggle. There really is this Yin and Yang of film, with entertainment & art both working against and betwixt each other.

Harnett waiting patiently for his fellow cast members to unfold.

With the end of each fight scene, and the sudden arrival of a transition that lifts us up from a city square to rising paper buildings that collapse as quickly as they were built to reveal the next scene, I would be both intrigued and disappointed. I had wanted some snarky comment to finish it off. I’d wanted to see more blood. More bad guys being pummeled, instead my critics palette had been fed with colors that washed over the story. The action becomes symbolic for the struggle within one’s self and good vs. evil in life, much like the simple stories of Bunraku theater itself. The sets are wonderfully built and amazingly utilized. The film refused in some ways to stay within a discernible genre, which is both praiseworthy and immensely frustrating at the same time.

Overall it’s worthwhile checking out and I mean that literally I don’t think you can simply watch this film. It is a feast visually for the eyes, but not action wise. It simply sports some of the best uses of light and color I’ve seen in a long time.

Analysis

Our expectations, may not have as much influence as I’ve thought. My expectations met or unmet didn’t change my feelings. Before the film I was in some silly overstated turmoil trying to work out the dichotomy of entertainment and critique. After I had watched the film that lens remained and I was stuck within those boundaries. My expectations don’t actually affect the film. They limit how I can interpret the film. How I can asses or enjoy something, and if something can be assessed for enjoyment. Going into a film without any expectations may give you a more honest sense of the film, perhaps. But the broader sense created by no expectations may also lead to an inability to describe it. If I hadn’t been struggling between entertainment and critique, I would simple have mentioned what was good and what was bad. I would have presented you with little more than a summary of what happened, returning to the dreaded book report of 4th grade.  Expectations provide a guiding lens that is necessary to engaging with film and that films demand of us. They may ruin a film entirely for us or, in some rare cases, provide a chance for us to dig deep into some unheard story and drag something revelatory out.

They may also provide a chance for some person with extra hours on a Saturday to type up extra words in an attempt to sound smart. Either way, I’ll be changing around that format for my upcoming expectations articles. I think it’s time we brought in a control. Up until now I’ve been testing the variables of my own expectations. It’s time I compared them to a viewer who has no expectations.

 

Korean Cinema: The Chaser

By Nathanael Griffis

Korean's just so much cooler than English it's not even funny.

This film had been staring at me from my Netflix queue for some time now. I love Korean films, but I began to become consumed with fear. Eventually I was bound to find a flaw in Korean films. It’s the fourth week of the relationship when you realize the dreamy-eyed girl never shuts up about her stupid scarf collection. I mean who cares about the difference between voile and silk. I’ve become distracted (and I hope Ashlynn never reads this). The point is, for a while I’ve pulled back from watching Korean movies. Instead I’ve been forcing my friends to watch ones I know are good, but eventually you have to push through and either move on with your relationship or let it drift into that land of pleasant memory. Allusions are tricky when they’re personal.

The Chaser was a welcome return and although flawed and not a classic in my opinion, it’s good to know you love the one your with. Based on a shockingly true story of a disgraced detective turned pimp who hunted down a serial killer after his own prostitutes disappeared, The Chaser is a good gritty thriller. It was fascinating to watch where the film would go. It has some issues toward the end as it becomes, we might say Hollywood-ized, but it’s not Hollywood. Basically, movie clichés are inserted to “make the film more exciting.” The protagonist has to cause a car crash to escape. The evil serial killer needs to buy sunglasses and drag a couple of bodies around. Then naturally there needs to be a brutal final fight scene.

What’s fantastic about this film is the stunning way they build and play with tension. It has Korean films’ strange balance of humor with shocking images. But — SPOILER ALERT —  it only takes about twenty minutes into the film for Joong-ho the pimp (played by Yun-seok Kim) to catch the killer Young-min (played by Jung-woo Ha). It made me sit back and wonder. The killer is caught and confesses. Then it gets interesting, because he retracts and accuses the police of brutality. All of a sudden it becomes a mad race to find evidence they never had, because they assumed a confession of a serial killer would be enough. Yun-Seok Kim and Jung-woo Ha as pimp/chaser and killer/chasee are good. They don’t bring much subtly to their role, but they play their roles to a ‘T’.

Yes, for all those wondering there are chase scenes in the movie.

It’s well paced, exciting, and balances the violence with tension well at the beginning. As it rounds up, and the Killer is released because of police bunglings, things begin to fall apart. There’s a strange scene where Joong-ho the pimp evades the majority of Seoul police force, who are all concentrated in a small construction site. He does get caught only to cause the now cliché cause a car crash and survive even though everyone else is beat up moment. It also seems hard to believe that the disgraced detective would be so willing to put the lives of police in danger. This is something that we only allow in movies. It’s based on a true story, but the end becomes increasingly unrealistic.

Things like a shop owner who’s watching the news never catching on that the man who just entered her store is the serial killer who’s been on the screen all day. It allows for the vicious blood spewing scene where Jung-woo shows off his acting ability, and frightens us with a gleeful yet controlled performance. Then naturally we have a slow motion discovery of a grisly crime scene where the camera leisurely strolls over every blood splatter and chunk of flesh ala CSI. Our violent prone protagonist now all of sudden is able to put the pieces together, and discovers the house that the entire Seoul major crimes unit couldn’t. Which leads us to the epic stare down and Bourne-esque fight, it’s great to watch to be sure until you start thinking wait the first half was a lot smarter. It’s a compliant for sure, but I was still fooled. I was entertained during and it wasn’t till after the fact that I stopped and paused that it dawned on me that I had been fooled. How dare they entertain me! So naturally I did what any American with Wifi does. I sat down and a typed out a blog article. Yeah that’ll show them.

Got a little something on your face there...nevermind I'll leave you be.