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Movies I Own

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This isn't a full, complete list since some of the other titles aren't put into the site. But these are most of the movies that I currently own. Expect updates.

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Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies) 1988,  Unrated)
Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies)
In 1988, around the time of Miyazaki's classic "My Neighbor, Totoro'' Isao Takahata made an equally successful anime film that easily captured the same quality and charisma but through a different light. Many themes of family, potential loss, sickness, and caring from Totoro are present in Grave of the Fireflies. This movie focuses more more on such things in a time of hardship and war. Not from an everyday view of life with fantasy blended in. One can safely consider this movie the yang to Totoro's yin.

The movie takes place in the backdrop of Japan's involvement in WWII. Two siblings: Seita and his younger sister Setsuko are sent off by their mother to sanctuary during the bombing raids. After the loss of their mother and departure of their dad in the Japanese Imperial Navy they are taken in by their harsh aunt. After leaving to live on their own both endure the hardships of society and nature but have the familial love to back each other up.

The movie is entirely a flashback told by Seita's ghost. We see him die in the first few minutes of the film and from there it's all a motioned slideshow of everything leading up to the current circumstances. Despite being told entirely in flashback the narrative consists of very few lines of first-person monologue. The majority of the movie is told like a series of pictures set into motion.

Most of classic Japanese cinema has been categorized as Art House. As with any movie by directors like Kobayashi, Kurosawa, Ozu, Ichikawa, Oshima, and the like anime mostly encompasses the artistic approach of how to present and tell a story. Like Miyazaki, Takahata uses a more liberal approach in storytelling. His focus is more on the feelings and attitudes of the characters in response to their changing circumstances. Unlike Miyazaki, Takahata doesn't use fantasy to convey feelings but instead uses realism to convey his thoughts.

Despite being friends with Miyazaki and having collaborated with him on the classic "Laputa: Castle in the Sky'' Takahata admits not being a fan of fantasy. I believe that any method of conveying feeling through art can work if the director is effective in engulfing the viewer. Grave of the Fireflies is very great at this dynamic.

Like with art, many scenes in this movie are very effective at instilling emotional reactions within the viewer. Many people, especially friends of mine, were moved to tears by this movie. I admit that I wasn't one of them but there were many impacting scenes that affected me so much in different ways to where I found disliking this movie impossible. Two examples are the part where Seita and Setsuko spend time with one another under the night sky and Setsuko gets excited when she sees swarms of fireflies hovering around. Another is the scene where Seita gets abused by a violent farmer for stealing some of his crop for his sickly sister. These examples are artistic segments that gave me a sense of charm and a sense of anger. Hence making the characters involving.

While considered a war movie by many Grave of the Fireflies has no combat footage. Most of it is reduced to bombing raids. There have been many war movies that have succeeded on an emotional level than an action one. Examples are: ''The Deer Hunter", ''Das Boot", ''Mrs. Miniver", ''Since You Went Away", ''The Human Condition", "Fires of the Plain", ''Schindler's List", and so on. Grave of the Fireflies has wonderfully secured its place within the status of these movies.

Another great aspect is the soundtrack. Every track is wonderfully played and and synched with each scene. Neither one fails in contributing to displaying each respective emotion. The animation and character designs are also wonderful and fare just as well as everything else in this movie.

Grave of the Fireflies is one of those movies that proves the artistic potential of anime and why I'm a fan/admirer of the genre. One almost always has to look at it through an artistic perspective and not a view of technical sophistication. That being said, I do not believe all anime is good. I have seen really bad anime in my years of viewing it. Anime does have its fair share of fans and critics. As Roger Ebert said in his interview,"If the story is working, the characters are involving, and the artistic imagination is there then those stylistic details become less important. Art doesn't focus on technical excellence, but how it makes you feel."
Ningen no j˘ken (Human Condition II - The Road to Eternity) 1961,  Unrated)
Ningen no joken I (The Human Condition I) (No Greater Love) 1959,  Unrated)
Ningen no j˘ken (Human Condition III - A Soldier's Prayer) 1970,  Unrated)
Ghost in the Shell 1996,  R)
Ghost in the Shell 2 - Innocence 2004,  PG-13)
Blade Runner 1982,  R)
District 9 2009,  R)
District 9
After many attempts from many movies trying new dynamics in filmmaking, there's always something on down the line that will draw influence from those films to create what many will call a classic. None of the movies are bad and are likable in their own way. One could tell by just viewing them that they still had a way to go before they become influential. District 9 obviously draws influence from multiple genres and styles in order to create something that is not only engaging and fun, but is thrilling and unique.

After an arrival of an alien spacecraft in Johannesburg, Africa the government develops a militarized camp named District 9 that houses the alien refugees. Facing much discrimination the aliens become sequestrated from the humans and District 9 turns into a slum. The aliens make shady, underground deals with the Nigerians in exchange for food, but they have agendas of their own. Wikus van de Merwe accompanies the MNU (Multi-National United) to the District in search for illegal weapons and potentially dangerous materials. While filming documentary footage, Wikus comes into contact with a chemical. As the day progresses, Wikus begins to notice strange things happen to him. Beginning to mutate little by little Wikus escapes from the MNU laboratory and seeks refuge back at the residence within the district where he came into contact with the fluid. While there, he strikes a deal with the maker to help them in their process in building his spacecraft in hopes of a cure for his mutation.

The story to District 9 is told through many different filmmaking narratives, but mostly is told through archive documentary footage. The way it's presented and executed is reminiscent to The Blair Witch Project, but also has elements from war movies like Black Hawk Down. The narrative alternates from documentary footage, interviews, security camera footage, news segments, and movie footage. Each dynamic is alternated greatly and each does its part at providing the adequate level of immersion.

Even though the style is reminiscent to Blair Witch and Cannibal Holocaust, District 9 is not a horror movie. Everything those movies tried to do in their respective genres District 9 does within the sci-fi genre. While those films felt experimental in their practices, District 9 takes their presented ideas and gives them more of a feature film look and feel.

District 9 has perhaps the most flexible plot structuring I've ever seen in any sci-fi movie. It uses every camera and film dynamic to execute its narrative. Every part provides intrigue and nothing feels long nor drawn out.

A lot of the movie's action scenes are similar to Black Hawk Down. The scenes are shot in a cinematic format. The choreography is done very similarly, but still retains its documentary influence. Another thing that is similar is the music and how it is played in correlation to every event.

Unlike Blair Witch and Black Hawk Down, this movie has big budget special effects. Many movies with such concepts have been more linear in terms of narrative and more like technical showcases. District 9 is one of those few to turn such an approach not in the sense of making everything blend in every shot, but makes it look real in an immersive sense. Movies like Terminator 2 and Avatar are successful examples of the latter types.

District 9 may have familiar symbolism and concepts from movies like Avatar, but the overall non-linear execution is what makes this movie as great as it is. It tackles many of the plot concepts that audiences are used to seeing in sci-fi movies through many angles and winds up succeeding on many levels. Despite its lack of creativity in the realm of symbolic, socio-political satire District 9 is a new narrative take on the sci-fi genre that should be checked out.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 2009,  PG-13)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
I watched this movie and all I have to say is, why on God's Earth do people hate this movie so much? I will admit that I never grew up on the toys, nor the TV show, but this film-along with the first one-made me regret not doing so. Granted, I did think they were cool, but I was getting out of toys around the time and I never heard about the show. I will definitely check it out sometime.

Here's my thoughts on this movie. There will be zero BS. The first film was a great movie, but it was certainly not perfect. It did move a little too quick. This film, I think, is a step forward for the trilogy. I think that it is much better than the first as far as action is concerned. I don't know what people were expecting from this movie, but I was expecting action, fighting, special effects, and awesome music and that's exactly what I got. Along with a favorite YouTuber of mine (Whose name is Deckard Klein, now is Blindzeopowerkick. Check out his YouTube page.) I don't know what people where expecting from this film. Perhaps a deep story and complex character narrative. That was not my expectation at all. I looking for 100% action and that's what I got. The fights scenes are superb and the final fight between Optimus and Megatron is epic. The voice acting is still very well done and the designs of the robots are pretty cool too. The music is also very well done as well. Shia LaBeouf is still a lot of fun as Sam Whitwicky. Just like in the first and third films. As for the volume, it was perfectly fine to me. It was not too loud, as everybody says it was. The noise was the same as in the first movie.

That being said, there are some flaws to this film. One of which is that, while the action is great there are times where it is obscured. Example being the beginning action scene. A lot of people have complained about the autobot twins Mudflap and Skids. I did think they were annoying, but they really didn't bother me at all. People have complained that they are offensive, racist stereotypes *faceplam* give me a break. Michael Bay was sympathetic in removing them from the third installment, but they were not a movie-killing issue. Roger Ebert said in his review that the robots look so ugly, kids would be horrified and the part were they go to Egypt is never explained. The robots are supposed to be ugly. They were in the TV show and the designs of the robots in the films are meant to reflect the essence and atmosphere of the show. Kids were not horrified at the designs, they loved them and were absorbed into the films. I heard them talking in the audience and applauding Optimus during and after fight scenes. The characters going to Egypt was explained. *SPOILER* Egypt is were the Fallen had hid their power source and concealed it where the Giza pyramid is since the dawn of time (Prehistoric times to be more specific, as was explained in the prologue.) People have also complained about the length. The length of this movie was much longer than its predecessors, but it had so much action and so much fighting, it did not faze me one bit. It is deeper than the first, but what have you to expect from a sequel.

Some people were using Gene Siskel's review of Batman & Robin as their reason for disliking this movie. What separates this film and Batman was that, due to the direction Batman was taking by modern filmmakers and animators like Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan, the animated TV show in the 90s, and Mask of the Phantasm people were expecting a deep character development and story driven movie. Batman & Robin was over-plotted and had many plot-holes. Transformers is not the kind of film that I watch for story. I watch it for action. The TV show was the exact same way. It relied more on the action rather than the characters to move its plot and win over the kids' attention. Like Power Rangers and all the other shows in its time, it was a toy commercial. That's why kids were obsessed with their toys of Optimus Prime, the Autobots, and the Decepticons.

Michael Bay to me is a hit and miss director. Giving films such as The Rock and Transformers, he really gets it right. Transformers 1, 2, & 3 gave me what I wanted to see and did it very well. So much so to where I will buy the TV show, see it, and regret not growing up on it as a kid. Bay has delivered stinkers like Pearl Harbor, which isn't the worst movie, but could've been much better considering the potential it had. Bay does always try and for that I commend him. I certainly commend him for Transformers. I am sad to see that the films have ended with the 3rd installment, though. The Transformers films gave me what I wanted to see and are certainly my kind of movies. In the words of Deckard Klein "If you people still want to put up that much of a fuss, Rocky and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial are playing next door."
Transformers 2007,  PG-13)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991,  R)
The Terminator 1984,  R)
Akira 2001,  R)
In 1988, anime master Katsuhiro Otomo shook critical and audience records with his breakthrough motion picture, Akira. At the time of its release, anime was new to audiences and nobody ever thought of an adult oriented animated feature. Not only did Akira become a cult hit with audiences, but it also set the stage for anime as we know it.

Based on a 6-part manga series created by Otomo, the plot takes place in the year 2019. Neo Tokyo becomes the new city that emerges from the ashes at the end of WWIII. Neo Tokyo society becomes dominated by martial law. Crime and student demonstrations run rampant and motorcycle gangs constantly fight amongst the streets. During a brawl between a gang led by Shinchiro Kaneda and their rival gang known as "The Clowns'' Kaneda's childhoos friend Tetsuo Shima gets injured during a run-in with an abducted telepathic child. Tetsuo gets abducted by the military and becomes an experimental specimen after he displays atypical psychic phenomena. Meanwhile, Kaneda becomes entangled with a resistance group led by Kei and Ryu who plan to infiltrate the lab and abduct the specimen to forward their agenda. Tetsuo escapes in an attempt to find out about his condition and the so-called Akira, but upon his discovery of his newfound powers he goes on a chaotic rampage across Neo Tokyo in order to find the answers.

The plot is an intelligent, dark, yet dense and complex narrative. It tackles lots of themes like creationism, politics, religion, science, and prophecy. There are a lot of subplots in this movie and every one of them are tackled through the perspective of exposing humanities' overconfidence in dealing with that which is beyond its capabilities. Everything in this movie is very well executed and Otomo's direction is top notch. The action scenes are engaging and every scene is wonderfully played.

The animation is also excellent. The attention to detail is wonderfully done. The style stands out and is a legitimate stark contrast to the animation style used in the Studio Ghibli films. Every image moves very smoothly and the backgrounds are wonderfully rendered. Even the action scenes and images of background destruction in correlation to the events depicted are wonderfully rendered.

The music and voice acting are also great. The music, done by Shoji Yamashiro, consists of both vocal and orchestral tracks. Each does well in setting the mood of every image and event. The dub in both English and Japanese is well done. Aside from the original Japanese track, there exist two different versions of Akira's English dub: the 1988 Streamline dub and the 2001 Pioneer dub.

I haven't seen the entire Streamline dub and I don't know if it's available on dvd. I'll be talking more about the Pioneer dub, since it's the version I currently own. Kaneda is voiced by Johnny Yong Bosch (Trigun, Bleach, Code Geass, Gankutsuou). Kei is voiced by Wendee Lee (The Melancholy of Huruhi Shuzumiya, Outlaw Star, Ninja Scroll). Tetsuo is voiced by Joshua Seth (Digimon, Wolf's Rain, Cyborg 009, Last Exile). I have mixed feelings about the Pioneer dub in general. All of the voice actors perform their roles nicely and every voice matches each of the characters.

On the other hand, some the alternate translations feel kind of strange. Some even feel a little underdeveloped. An example being when the doctor talks about Tetsuo's psychic pattern readings and its connections with discovering the fundamental truths about the birth of the universe. Another being about the psychic kids and their departure with Akira after his awakening and when Kaneda tries to rescue Tetsuo. These parts do leave some dense, yet not incomprehensible subplots. From what I've seen of the Streamline dub, the voice overs for the characters sound more mature for their ages (them being teenagers), but the dialogue in these parts is more understandable. Thus, making the plot more comprehensible.

Akira is a landmark feature that is well deserved of its status of influential motion pictures. Akira is one of those movies that not only proves why people, like me, love anime, but also shows that animation can be just as satisfying for adults. The translations can be a little iffy and the story may be too dense and bloody for some people. But everything from the engaging action, great animation, complex storyline, and top notch acting are enough to earn my praise.

*Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.
Final Fantasy VII - Advent Children 2006,  PG-13)
Ninja Scroll 1995,  Unrated)
Spirited Away 2001,  PG)
Spirited Away
When I was eleven, I remember coincidentally seeing the trailers for this movie. I remember being immediately absorbed into the imagery and thinking "Wow! I want to see this movie now." It wasn't until three years later that my wish came true. Lo and behold, this movie did not disappoint. Imagine if the creative minds of Lewis Carroll, Walt Disney, and Hayao Miyazaki collaborated under one development team. It'd be safe to say that with the creative imagination of Alice in Wonderland, interweaved with poignant elements of the human condition, and slice-of-life concepts one would wind up with what could perhaps be one of the greatest animated movies ever conceived by man. Spirited Away is one of those movies that rightfully take the cake.

Centering on an apathetic, whiny, and snobbish young girl named Chihiro, she and her parents begin to move to a new home within the city. Reluctant to adjust to her new life, she gets lost with her parents while taking a short cut to their new home. Upon stopping at a mysteriously abandoned park, Chihiro witnesses her parents go through an unusual change and discovers that every spiritual being in this world are looking for her. Her only guide to salvation is a mysterious boy named Haku. He shows her the ropes of how to survive in this world in order to avoid going through the same change under the malicious magic of a witch named Yubaba.

Following his advice, Chihiro begs for work at the bathhouse run by Yubaba and gets her name changed to Sen after becoming accepted. As she works under the intensive labor to try to return her parents back to the outside world, Chihiro meets new friends and starts to go through the most dramatic changes as an individual. In contrast to Disney's Alice in Wonderland, Spirited Away creates an equally imaginative world with a lot of poignant magic and heart.

The best feature about this movie is the marvelous change and maturity of Chihiro. Instead of being thrown into a world that is solely enshrouded in mystery and random happenstance each being contributes to the developmental improvement of Chihiro. Seeing a character improve in an animated movie both concretely and abstractly is perhaps one of the best ways of engulfing the viewer visually and emotionally. It's almost as if Miyazaki borrowed the creative concepts of Alice in Wonderland and had them creatively embodying aspects of the human condition. This does make this the more abstractly developed movie.

Like any anime movie from the great Studio Ghibli, the animation and voice acting in Spirited Away are phenomenal. The production value of this movie is really helped by an equally phenomenal script that pulls it through fire and water to absorb the viewer. That is a classic Kurosawa rule that I hold in high regard. The way this movie handles its production in that area is absolutely flawless.

What makes this movie great is how it doesn't focus on the already perfected nature of its main characters, but in demonstrating the heartwarming changes and showing how they overcome their naturally flawed personalities. Nobody is born perfect and everybody has hurdles they have to overcome. This emphasis does make Miyazaki's films some of the most mature family films I've seen to date. Parallel to Jesus' teaching of curing your blindness in order to cure the blindness within someone else, Confucius once said, "Concentrate on fighting the demons within yourself rather than fighting the demons within others." That along with endeavor is perhaps the gist of what one can learn from this movie. Such a deep and analytical analysis of such a humanistic trait is what sets this movie apart from the stereotypical view of family-oriented entertainment.

In contrast to Japan, most animated entertainment in the West is rather patronized and not wisely looked at as one of the most honest, artistic methods of communication. Like Walt Disney and Ralph Bakshi, Japan has the right idea of how the medium should be exercised. The Midas of modern Disney movies himself, John Lasseter, admits what a treat this movie Spirited Away is. Given the fact that he has derived influence from Miyazaki says a lot about Miyazaki's honor of being the Japanese Walt Disney. He, along with many other directors in Japan, is one of the most revolutionary figures of the animation department. Spirited Away is one of the many examples of masterful films that he is capable of making.
Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime) 1999,  PG-13)
Kaze no tani no Naushika (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind) (Warriors of the Wind) 1984,  PG)
Vexille 2008,  PG-13)
Heavy Metal 1981,  R)
Heavy Metal
Animation is good. Animation with unique, imaginative settings and scenarios is great. Free thinking, flexible, and creative animated movies whose images feel made for the soundtrack that accompanies them are a rare find in the medium, but are greatly entertaining. "Heavy Metal" is a more episodically structured animated movie that has so much to offer in terms of style.

Being based on the imaginatively creative magazine franchise of the same name, "Heavy Metal" is a collection of sci-fi, fantasy, erotic anthologies that chronicles the travels of a menacing being called the Loc Nar. After vaporizing a girl's father and believing that she is the key to his destruction, the Loc Nar begins to terrorize her with his prowess. What begins is a series of interlocking stories taking their own narrative styles in many different times, galaxies, and dimensions.

Those who read my reviews know how much I capitalize on a movie's story. The plot of Heavy Metal is episodic in terms of structure and is interwoven with an underlying, bare-bone story. One could think of it as if an anime OVA were crafted into an incomplete motion picture. The story to "Heavy Metal" isn't very good, but that is not where this movie shines.

The main selling points of this movie are the soundtrack and immense imagination. I must confess that the soundtrack to this movie is flat out amazing. As the title would suggest, it consists of many classic rock/metal songs from many well-known artists, like Stevie Nicks, Journey, Blue Oyster Cult, Devo, Black Sabbath, etc. Not only is each and every track played in perfect unison with every image, but also every image almost accurately captures what is more likely to go through the imagination of the recipient.

One could almost compare the style of this movie to the classic "Fantasia". Both are episodically told and tend to focus on their use of music. The only major difference is that "Fantasia" is more abstract in its use of visuals and story. "Heavy Metal" is more the opposite in using more concrete visuals to synchronize with the tracks. This does make the movie feel more like an extended animated music video.

The content of this movie is the nostalgic epitome of the inceptive metal culture back in the 70s and 80s. The heavy metal music genre has been connotatively associated with drugs, sex, paganism, vice, and horror. "Heavy Metal" embodies many of these undertones. Like the magazines, there is a lot of eroticism in this movie. The magazines have been cemented by the mainstream culture as being pornographic. "Heavy Metal" is anything but.

Such material solely tends to encompass itself in its eroticism without giving much, if any thought to its writing and settings. "Heavy Metal" encompasses much more than its erotic tones and provides an immense amount of creative imagination. Pornography is a rather talentless, recycled, and completely pointless medium. "Heavy Metal" wonderfully incorporates many different genres and tones. Hence, making it a talented franchise. Don't get me wrong; I'm not against sex in entertainment. I've enjoyed the surrealistic deliveries of Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" and "A Clockwork Orange" to the satirical animated Bakshi movies: "Fritz the Cat" and "Heavy Traffic".

When looking at this film from an episodic perspective, I must say that I like most of it. There were a few segments that I did find rather passable. Examples being the B-52 segment and "So Beautiful and So Dangerous" didn't maintain the same quality level throughout its play through. I did love the film-noir style of "Harry Canyon" to the Conan-like story of "Den". "Captain Stern" was somewhat interesting, but my favorite story is "Taarna". It is in this segment where the movie's potential truly shines in both the narrative and imagination. Oddly enough, I must say that in every moment of this movie there is a ton of creativity.

The animation and voice acting are also well done. The animation does have somewhat of a Bakshi vibe to it and is richly detailed in correlation to the tone of each segment. Many big name comedy stars like John Candy, Eugene Levy, and Harold Ramis do a great job in the more comedic segments of this movie. Underrated Canadian voice actress, Susan Roman (Lita/Sailor Jupiter in the Sailor Moon dub and Angel in "Rock and Rule") also does a great job as the dame and the trans-com message droid in "Harry Canyon".

"Heavy Metal" may not be a perfect movie, but it is a great example of the potential that Western animation has but hardly utilizes. This is one of those few movies that succeed in the style-over-substance realm. Despite its lack of a more concrete narrative and that it doesn't maintain the same amount of quality throughout, "Heavy Metal" has so much diversity in its style. This is one of those movies that I recommend any fan of Japanese anime and Ralph Bakshi to check out. This movie will not disappoint.
Casshern 2004,  Unrated)
Wonderful Days (Sky Blue) 2004,  Unrated)
Wonderful Days (Sky Blue)
The year is 2142. Mankind has been nearly destroyed due to wars, famine, pollution, disease, and tyranny. The remnants of civilization dwell in the futuristic metropolis known as Ecoban. A select few live in the upper sanctum, whereas all of the others live on lower levels and are coerced into varying degrees of labor. The rain never stops and an underground rebellion against the leaders of the city is brewing. A public security official, Jay is caught in-between the chaos which leads her to a childhood friend named Shua. Shua is behind the rebellion and becomes split between fighting his childhood friends to fighting for the liberation of the enslaved lower classes.

Having been a fan/admirer of anime for 15 years and counting, I remember seeing this movie reviewed in a magazine of Entertainment Weekly. I remember thinking to myself,''Wow! An anime film from South Korea. It looks great and I wonder how it will hold up in comparison to Japan's animated features." I went through hell to look for a copy, but never got one until 5 years later. Sky Blue aka Wonderful Days is a Korean anime that is gorgeous to watch and to look at, but the storytelling somewhat falls flat. The story is like a mix between Akira, Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children, Blade Runner, and Mad Max. The intrigue is there, but the characters were flat and forgettable. Jay was likable in her own way, but everyone else was hollow. The story does become engaging in certain areas, such as the action scenes and flashbacks to Jay and Shua's childhood explaining why they were separated, but at the end of the day they don't leave much of an impact and one doesn't care anything about these characters.

Having been in development for 7 years, Sky Blue has been hailed as Korea's response to Japan's Akira. Like Akira, many of the animation techniques and designs are remarkable. The shadow textures are perfectly done. They appear and disappear in perfect time of the environmental stimuli and the movement of the characters as well as their correlation to the atmosphere/lighting effects in different places. Every building, room, and environment is given different designs and is wonderfully captured on the images presented. Most of the background is CG rendered and the characters are hand drawn. Both of these styles are utilized to perfection when done to give both a convincing sense of interactivity. The animation and character designs feel like a cross between Avatar: The Last Airbender, Ghost in the Shell, and Akira. The animation is the primary reason why I'm giving this movie the credit I am.

The music isn't that bad, but it mostly is just there. Most of it feels more like it occurs when it wants to. There are some really good tracks that play during the action scenes, like the scene where the underground HQ is being raided in an attempt to capture Shua, but the majority of it winds up droning itself out.

As I said about the animation, it's a great thing on this film's part, but it's also a downfall in a way. I say that because, even though it's fantastic it also feels like it's the only thing that keeps this movie up. So much so, it overshadows the characters and the story. Since Japanese anime is slipping a little in terms of fan captivation, it seems like Korea is being put under the responsibility of picking up the tab. I think that they are still working with different anime styles that are enough to distinguish itself from Japan and America's style and give it the different kind of recognition. Like with J-Horror and K-Horror. Having delivered such strong anime films like Yobi: The Five Tailed Fox and Oseam, it does seem like they are slowly picking up the pace.

Overall, Sky Blue is a wonderful looking film that is fun to watch for the visuals. I wished that the story was better written and the characters were better developed. The plot does contain some good moments, but feels flat. It does sound like I'm bashing this film by starting with the negatives. I'm really not, I think it's a good film that's worthy to be a good introduction to the world of Korean anime. I will say to anyone who becomes interested by reading this review that if you're looking for a different style of anime outside of Japan, give this film a go. However, if you're looking for a story-driven narrative done in the same charisma, cultural significance, and genre-busting style as Japanese anime you may want to look elsewhere. This film is quite obscure, due to it having a limited U.S. release. A version released by Tartan Asia Extreme was released (the version I have) but there is no Korean on the copy. The Tartan company folded in 2008 and copies of this film have gone out of print.
Oseam 1990,  Unrated)
My Beautiful Girl Mari 2002,  PG-13)
Ark 2003,  Unrated)
Salvador 1986,  R)
Appurushţdo (Appleseed) 2004,  R)
Final Fantasy - The Spirits Within 2001,  PG-13)
Titan A.E. 2000,  PG)
Bleach: Memories of Nobody 2006,  PG-13)
Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion (Bleach: The Movie 2) (Gekij˘ ban Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion - M˘ hitotsu no hy˘rinmaru) 2007,  PG)
Appleseed Saga: Ex Machina 2007,  PG-13)
Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan 1982,  PG)
The Fifth Element 1997,  PG-13)
Starchaser - Legend of Orin 1985,  PG)
Total Recall 1990,  R)
Ponyo 2009,  G)
Starship Troopers 1997,  R)
Aliens 1986,  R)
Troy 2004,  R)
300 2007,  R)
Braveheart 1995,  R)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 2002,  PG-13)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 2003,  PG-13)
The Last Samurai 2003,  R)
Jet Li's Fearless (Huo Yuan Jia) (Legend of a Fighter) 2006,  PG-13)
Hero 2004,  PG-13)
Curse of the Golden Flower 2006,  R)
Highlander 1986,  R)
The Passion of the Christ 2004,  R)
Spartacus 1960,  PG-13)
Mongol 2008,  R)
The movie Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan is a Russian semi-historical drama directed by Sergei Bodrov. The plot centers around the early life of Genghis Khan as a boy, then named Temudgin whose father gets killed by a rival clan and Temudgin getting sold into slavery at the age of nine. While escaping his captors and put into exile, Temudgin meets and develops a blood brother relation with a wondering sheep herder named Jamukha, who keeps him safe from his pursuers while Temudgin tries to fulfill his promise to Borte- a girl of the Merkit Tribe that he chose to be his future wife.

The story is mostly a reminisance of Genghis Khan's early life of his childhood, to him being imprisoned in the Tangut Kingdom, to his time of becoming one of the most ambitious conquerors of the Far Eastern World. It follows the same plot structure of Mel Gibson's classic Braveheart in how it tells the story of the main character's life from his childhood, early adulthood, and rise to power. Genghis Khan is played expertly by Japanese actor, Tadanobu Asano (Ichi the Killer, Bright Future, Vital, Thor, Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman, Tokyo Zombie). The performance he gives is very strong and does a great job at making the character three-dimensional. The performances are all very strong and are perfectly in conjuction with the plot and help give the characters a sense of charisma. Unlike Braveheart, the plot to Mongol isn't focused just on politics and violence. It also is driven by the character relationships, their forming rivalries, and cultural orientation. Its plot is never over-stuffed and is very well structured.

The only complaint I have is that the editing is questionable and for history buffs, such as myself, this movie is a semi-historic film. While the portrayal of Genghis Khan as a young boy to young man and his relationships/ future rivalries are accurate with the existing records, there are some inaccuracies in this film. According to records, Temudgin had three brothers: Hasar, Hachium, and Temuge; one sister, Temulen; and two half-brothers: Behter and Belgutei. Neither of them are in this film. Borte was a member of the Onggirat Tribe, not the Merkit Tribe. I don't know whether one of his dad's tribesmen was involved in a plot to kill Temudgin's dad, usurp the role of Khan, and sell Temudgin into slavery. I don't know if the leader of the Merkit Tribe had a personal quarrel with Temudgin's father over a love affair.

Temudgin was captured by the Tayichi'ud and enslaved by them as a kid, but they are not mentioned in this film. They were former allies of his father's and Temudgin's escape from there captivity did help his reputation. He wasn't enslaved automatically after his father's assassination. He, his siblings, and mother Hodun (who is also not in this film) were abandoned by his father's tribesmen out of a refusal to be led by a young boy and were forced to survive in a life of primitivism. Temudgin killed his half-brother, Behter over hunting spoils, which helped him cement his position given to him by his dad. Temudgin and Borte had four sons: Jochi, Chagatai, Ogedei, and Tolui. Only Jochi and Chagatai are present in the film. Although, Jochi is portrayed as Temudgin's foster son and is Chiledu's biological son. That issue is debatable considering that Borte was kidnapped by the Merkit Tribe and sold as a wife to the leader. *These are not major spoilers.

All that being said, the music and cinematography in this film are very well done. The historical atmosphere divided, warring, and supremacy struggling tribes is conveyed very nicely in this movie. As was stated, the strongest positive in this film is the acting and casting choices. In conclusion, Mongol is a great film that is a very successfully ambitious attempt at dramatizing the early life of Genghis Khan. There is questionable editing and historical inaccuracies, but the positives seriously outweighs the negatives. According to Sergei, this is the first movie in a planned trilogy. As I stated, there were historical gaps concerning Genghis Khan's family life, but these gaps might be addressed in the upcoming sequel, The Great Khan.
Lawrence of Arabia 1962,  PG)
Dances With Wolves 1990,  PG-13)
Ong-Bak (Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior) 2005,  R)
Training Day 2001,  R)
Seven Samurai (Shichinin no Samurai) 1954,  Unrated)
Seven Samurai (Shichinin no Samurai)
In 1954, maverick director Akira Kurosawa took his homeland of Japan, and the world by storm by making many classic movies. Many films he's made range from Ran, High and Low, Kagemusha, The Throne of Blood, The Bad Sleep Well, Rashomon, and Yojimbo. The Seven Samurai is a film that is not only flawless in execution, but is also one that is one of the most important films ever created.

Set in the backdrop of Japan's feudal class warfare a village of farmers is constantly being raided and plundered by bandits. Left defenseless and poor a select few of villagers decide to go to the metropolitan areas of Japan to search for a group of willing samurai to help them defend their village during harvest season. The warriors they select are expertly skilled in many specific areas of warfare. One is an expert marksman with a bow, another is great with reflexes, one is perceptive, one is great with interactions, one is skilled with strength, one is a young rookie samurai who desires to learn his ways and finds love with Manzo's beautiful daughter Shino, and another is a hot-tempered drunk, yet gruffly humorous and understanding of the circumstances. Each samurai help to train the villagers in the art of war and help to defend their village against the ensuing attack.

The plot to The Seven Samurai is about as flawless as this movie. The cast of actors is perfect in every role and each is acted wonderfully. Toshiro Mifune's character, Kikuchiyo is more like a voice of reason and is of society's lower class. His character is revealed to have been a farmer in his early life and he gives one of the more memorable speeches about class warfare and corruption in Japan's society. This was one of the many occasions Toshiro Mifune had worked with Kurosawa and one that helped to launch his successful acting career.

Another noteworthy subject is the cinematography. For a movie shot in black and white and made in the time where Technicolor was too expensive the movie pushes the boundaries of its technical limitations. Every shot is wonderfully rendered and the backgrounds look massive. While operating within its limitations The Seven Samurai pushes the boundaries into many different areas that many filmmakers have probably never thought it would go.

The Seven Samurai is regarded in Japan as one of the most important movies of their homeland. The movie helped to launch a new era of moviemaking and also helped launch many other classic forms of media in later generations. The Seven Samurai was later remade as a classic western The Magnificent Seven and an excellent, yet loose anime series adaptation Samurai 7.

I must confess how fascinating it is how much different cultures can learn about one another and discover each other's similarities. There are many differences in perception in terms of philosophical motives concerning code of conduct, but each other's means of achieving goals remains the same. The Seven Samurai is a very culturally oriented movie. While a work of fiction, it perfectly captures the emotional outlook of feudal Japan and peoples' attitudes of class warfare.

Many directors worldwide have hailed Kurosawa and his work. Some notable ones who have done so include Sergio Leone, Frederico Fellini, John Milius, and George Lucas who also would derive influence from Kurosawa's classic The Hidden Fortress in order to make his classic Star Wars franchise. Sergio Leone would also derive influence from Yojimbo to create A Fistful of Dollars, the film that not only is the first in The Dollars Trilogy, but also the film to popularize the Spaghetti Western genre. Kurosawa's legacy was one that inspired a whole new era in the world of filmmaking.

The Seven Samurai is a wonderfully crafted movie that deserves its place in international cinema. Everything from the music, acting, cinematography, action choreography, and the story is perfect. This movie belongs in the rare category of films that are nothing but the embodiment of absolute perfection. For a movie that is three hours and thirty minutes long there are no scenes that feel wasted, or pointless. The Seven Samurai may not be my No.1 favorite movie of all time, but rest assured that it's in the top 5. Despite that The Seven Samurai is one of those films that I will cherish watching until my dying day.
13 Assassins 2011,  R)
Zat˘ichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi) 2003,  R)
Audition (ďdishon) 1999,  R)
Kill Bill: Volume 1 2003,  R)
Kill Bill: Volume 2 2004,  R)
Sin City 2005,  R)
Watchmen 2009,  R)
V for Vendetta 2006,  R)
The Dark Knight 2008,  PG-13)
Batman Begins 2005,  PG-13)
Batman 1989,  PG-13)
Batman Returns 1992,  PG-13)
Batman Forever 1995,  PG-13)
Batman & Robin 1997,  PG-13)
Batman & Robin
Before I say anything, I'll have my readers know that I don't hate or dislike Schumacher as a director. Schumacher's style is well known for being campy and filled with comedic one-liner jokes. He does have some accomplishments under his belt, like The Client and Phone Booth. Neither one are masterpieces, but they do succeed at what they were trying to be.

After Batman Forever, which is considered to be the first of the two films in the black sheep category of the Batman movies, I looked forward to seeing this movie as a kid at the age of 9. Even as a kid, this film failed to capture me in the manner that Batman Forever did. The plot was overstuffed and forgettable, the villains were too generic, Bane had a terrible characterization, and the plotholes surrounding these factors were gigantic.

The plot picks up where Batman Forever left off. Freeze tries to cause trouble around Gotham, while trying to find a cure for his wife who has a critical stage of McGregor Syndrome. Alfred gets sick with the same disease and Bruce tries to help find a cure for him before he approaches death's door. Things aren't so simple with Bruce and Dick Greyson. As Poison Ivy uses her powers to seduce Robin, the partnership between Batman and Robin becomes very rocky.

The story is a very cliched, action stuffed, bore-fest. The characters have little to no development and are totally overshadowed by the action scenes. The only villain that actually is decent is Poison Ivy. Even though the character isn't up there with the other villains of the previous films, Uma's performance is pretty good. I personally love action scenes, especially those in the Batman films, but due to the directions the franchise was pushed by Tim Burton and now Christopher Nolan, I'm expecting more from the characters. This film's action scenes are very long and don't do anything to benefit the story.

Aside from Uma Thurman and Michael Gough, everyone else is just bad. Mr. Freeze does nothing but spout terrible puns about ice, George is very bland, Chris is very annoying, and Alicia is either very underdeveloped or plain boring. The one that is the most atrocious out of all is Bane. Bane's character has very little to no development. He does nothing but act stupid and his dialogue consists of mostly grunts, one-word sentences, and he feels overall pointless.

Suffice to say that I did like Batman Forever. Even though that film has the same style as this one, it still was a likable film. Perhaps that was due to Tim Burton's involvement as the producer. Even though the villains stray here and there from their source material, they were developed well enough and were acted pretty well. I guess due to Burton's absence in the film, it lacks the approach to its villains that were presented. The only person I felt attached to in this film was Alfred. Everyone else just droned out.

All that being said, I give this a 2/5 because the music is decent, the film is nice looking, and Uma Thurman does a good job as Poison Ivy. Overall, this film is very boring and forgettable. This may not be the worst film I've ever seen, but if I had a list of bad films I've seen this would be one of them. I've seen much worse than this, but those will be different reviews for different times. Until then, consider this my first intro into the dark depths of cinema.
Batman Gotham Knight 2008,  PG-13)
Batman Gotham Knight
Batman: Gotham-Knight is an anime movie tie-in that consists of six interlocking stories that show Batman's origins. Each story has its own narrative and its own style of anime character design. Being like films, such as The Animatrix, each segment addresses certain background stories and certain character traits that were either hinted at through the Nolan films, or shown but never explained. This review will tackle each story and which ones are least to most favorite.

The first story deals with a group of teenage kids who hang around in Gotham's ghetto. They begin to tell each other stories and rumors about Batman and his current reputation he's gained amongst the people of Gotham City. None of them have seen the Batman, so they rely on what they've been told. Until things take a toll for the worst. The style of animation done in this segment is reminiscent of the film Tekkonkinkreet. There isn't much attention to detail, but the frame rate quality is better. It does a good job at reflecting the naive minds of the young generation that is presented. There isn't much action and relies more on narrative. Overall 6.5/10

The second story involves two Gotham law enforcement officers: Crispus Allen and Anna Ramirez. After taking a demolitions expert that Batman captured in the first segment to Arkham Asylum, the two begin to argue over Batman's credibility. Believed by Allen to be a vigilante and Ramirez to be a savior to Gotham, their quarrel eventually puts them in the middle of a crossfire between the Russians and Sol Maroni. At the end, Ramirez gets held at gunpoint by one of the mobsters, but is later rescued by Batman. This segment features animation done by I.G. Productions. The same company that did Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Bebop, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Having been written by Greg Rucka (Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow), this story has a lot of tension, action, and atmosphere to earn my respect. Everything is evenly paced and the gun fight scenes are very fun to watch. Overall 9.5/10

The third story deals more about Bruce's personal life. When he isn't busy as Batman and works at testing equipment developed by Lucius Fox at WayneCom. Bruce is given a sensor by Lucius Fox that deflects fire directed at him. Bruce secretly takes a PDA from Ronald Marshall while at his golf tournament. Secretly infiltrating Sal Maroni's ship as the caped crusader, he uses the PDA and the sensor to fight the Russians and Maroni's men amidst the ensuing battle. One of the Russians is hit by ricochet bullet from Batman's sensor and Batman decides to get the victim to a hospital. The animation was done by Bee Train. The company known for .hack//sign and Tsubasa Chronicles. Most of this story deals with Bruce as an individual and less as Batman. This fact makes the segment considerably more tamer than all of the rest. I liked it better than the first segment, but not as much as the second. Overall 8/10

The fourth story is about a priest that is kidnapped by Killer Croc during a riot in the Narrows and is held hostage in the Gotham Sewers by Scarecrow. Batman, Commissioner Gordon, Ramirez, and Allen work together to have Batman infiltrate the sewers and get the priest out of harm's way. This episode was animated by Madhouse. Who worked on anime like Shigurui: Death Frenzy and Texhnolyze. Most of the animation in this segment is very dark and grungy. Everything in this segment is more situation and catastrophe oriented, than fist and gun reliant. It has a lot of atmosphere to make it worthwhile. Overall 7.5/10

The fifth segment picks up right after the last. As Batman attempts to leave the sewers, he gets shot and wounded by a man who became infected by Scarecrow's hallucinogenic gas. As Batman mends to his wound and loses blood in the process, he begins to reminisce his time in India as a young man under the training of a rejected Indian woman named Cassandra who taught him how to control his pain. This segment was animated by Studio 4C. Who worked on anime like Halo: Legends and Memories. This segment is the most memorable in the sense that the viewer begins to learn more about Bruce/Batman and how he matures. There's a lot of great pacing and atmosphere. Overall 8.5/10

The final segment picks up after the last where Bruce starts his own gun collection with the firearms he recovered in the sewers. Though he vows never to
use one due to his parents' deaths, Bruce is nonetheless attracted to the charisma of the object and understands its importance to mankind of the modern generation. He then comes into contact with an expert assassin named Deadshot, whom is hired by the Russians to assassinate Commissioner Gordon. Everything becomes a race for Batman to foil the plot. The animation was done by Madhouse. The character designs are reminiscent of the classic Ninja Scroll (Done by the same company.) and the action scene of Batman and Deadshot in the train tunnel is very well done. Not as good as the second segment, but still great. Overall 9/10

Batman: Gotham-Knight is very worthy addition to the Nolan films and contains some great moments. I do wish that there was a little more action, since this is anime and what does one have to expect? It's not as good as the classic Mask of the Phantasm, but hey it's always good to see what anime can do with certain characters when done right isn't it?
Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm 1993,  PG)
Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm
In the genre of animation, there are many benefits and responsibilities that filmmakers have to take into account. Examples are the backgrounds, settings, character designs, images, character feeling, voiceover, and emotion. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of those animated pictures from the West that not only shows the potential that American animation has in comparison to anime, but it takes all of these dynamics, interweaves them into the Batman universe, and utilizes them to perfection. Not only is this one of the best animated movies I've ever seen, it's also one of the greatest adaptations of one of the greatest superheroes of all time.

Having the same style of animation, design, and storytelling as the classic animated series that spawned around the same time frame, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm has some of the most mature and intricate plotting I've seen put on an animated picture. The plot involves the life of Bruce Wayne aka Batman, his life, how he comes to be, his motivations, and relationships with different characters. As he continues with his life of crime-fighting, Batman comes into contact with a mysterious assassin who calls himself, the Phantasm. Trying to swindle a mob that he suspects is tied to politician, Arthur Reeves-the character that keeps the accusations that Batman is the one behind the killings and Andrea's former lover-his intrigue into the situation has him reminisce about his hay-day as the crusader and his past relationship with Andrea Beaumont.

The movie's plot is so intricate to where every image and every subplot counts. The transitions between times and thier relevance to the character development are so perfectly tied together and paced to where the viewer really gets involved with the story and the characters. Another great thing in this movie is the voice acting. Kevin Conroy reprises his role from the tv series as Batman and Mark Hamill-also from the show-reprises his role as the Joker. The voice acting is overall superb and does a great job at matching the characters and benefiting their development. I'll even go as far to say that this movie's Joker is by far my favorite adaptation of the classic adversary. The live-action counterparts done by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger were great, but to me felt a little more mechanical. In the sense that they only gave them more of a sadistic and monotonous character emotion. This Joker has a little more of a humane feeling to where he's not always smiling, nor is forced to do so by designs and mechanisms. He embodies a more realistic persona and has more emotional feelings. This fact alone has him leave more of an impact on the viewer in my opinion.

Another great thing in this film is the music. Most of the music consists of orchestra that is derived from the show. It's perfectly timed and played in correlation to every event and image that is presented to the viewer. The single,"I Never Even Told You'' played by Tia Carrere (one of the stars in the movie True Lies) is the most perfectly done vocalized singles I've ever heard in a Batman movie that remains true to its trending character development storytelling. My only complaint is that I feel as if this single isn't played, nor uploaded enough online. One pretty much has to hunt to find it.

As I mentioned about the benefits of animation, Roger Ebert stated in his review very perfectly about the things that animation can do that live-action has tried, but failed to capture on a multitude of occasions. Examples being: the background imagery being more vibrant and shown on a larger scale, exaggerations of the effects, designs, costumes, and camera shots used on a much more flexible level make everything look convincing. They also do more to add to the atmosphere and character emotions that are presented. These characters have so much life and emotion that helps to be captured more on animation than in live-action.

My overall verdict is that Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of the best American animated films that goes to prove the potential that Western animation has, but fails for the most part at utilizing nowadays. Like with anime, it goes to prove that animation is not limited to a juvenile audience and can be just as satisfying for adults. I do wish that it were a little longer, since its run time is only 76 mins. Despite that fact, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of those films that adults and kids (I watched it when I was 5 and loved it) could watch and relate to in their own way. Some of the content and structuring may be a little iffy for some parents, but if taken for what it is Mask of the Phantasm is a wonderful film that perfectly utilizes its genre to create an experience that any kid who has grown up with Batman should be recommended to watch.
3-Iron 2004,  R)
Korean Cinema, or K-movies as they are called today, have gained much attention by many moviegoers and filmmakers. Asian films are known for their distinctive styles, dynamics in character development, great cinematography, and are most effective in engulfing the audience with their use of silent moments. Director Kim Ki-Duk is one of those directors that are most inspired in combining these styles to make very inspired motion pictures. 3-Iron is one of his films that reflect his true style through a difference in storytelling.

A benevolent vagabond, Tae-suk wonders the streets of Seoul. He burglarizes the homes of vacationing families, but never resorts to anything immoral in the process. He dwells within these homes and fixes broken appliances, cleans laundry, and tidies up the place. His act later leads him to the home of a rich, yet abusive husband, Lee Min-kyu. While doing what he does, Tae-suk comes into contact with the estranged wife, Sun-hwa. Saving her from the confines of her ill-tempered husband, they drift off into hiding and they both begin to discover feelings of affection. As their feelings for one another start to develop their actions start to lead them in trouble, but the optimistically clever Tae-suk evades his hindrances from Sun-hwa.

Out of a lot of movies I've seen where relationships are developed through criminal acts, 3-Iron is a new and different take on that style of character development. Like most of Kim's better-known blockbusters, the two main characters never or hardly ever speak and are expressed through movement. Kim's style encompasses art and feeling. Any director who relies less on dialogue and more on visuals to convey a particular atmosphere are very talented.

Kim Ki-Duk has admitted that his overall style is meant to show the viewer humanities' true nature of malevolence. Most of the story to 3-Iron feels very folklore inspired. Almost like the more active, yet silent characters are the voices of reason in a world where words tend to create mystery and confusion. Only those who are silent can be trusted.

3-Iron is more like one of the alter egos of Kim Ki-Duk's more famous movies. He's mostly been well known for his more isolated settings and wide shots of scenery. Other movies he's made in more populated settings include Bad Guy, Samaritan Girl, and Time. Each goes for their own theme and engulfs the audience in different ways using different dynamics.

3-Iron uses music and folklore like narrative to give the audience a sense of conflict as to what kind of world we live in. From the way I described the plot, it sounds as if 3-Iron is a love story. It's much more than that. It is more about trying to deal with circumstances and trying to overcome one's fears in the process. Another thing it deals with is trying to be the figure of responsibility in a world where everything feels chaotic and sardonic.

3-Iron is a great film that may not be as great as Kim Ki-Duk's early works, but is one that should be shared and treasured for K-movie fans. Films of this nature are as wonderfully engulfing as looking at a series of connected paintings. Love him or hate him, Kim Ki-Duk is a director of classic cinema that is less about script and more about art to tell an effective story.
Summer Wars (Sama Wozu) 2010,  PG)
Summer Wars (Sama Wozu)
Living in the modern computer/corporate age is rather complex and paradoxical. The high amount of Internet and technological connectivity has given its users a higher level of social understanding, but the high usage has interwoven the physical life of people with the artificial. Given the fact that interconnectivity has provided more through understanding of all social classes along with information and misinformation one can think of the wi-fi era as more of a Trojan horse.

We are always in taken by what it can do and how it looks, but we can also overlook the loopholes certain users can utilize for either pure or malicious intent and how much we can reveal about ourselves that can end up hurting us. Be it our image, personal lives, finances, families, etc. Such misuse of cyber networking does explain the advent of cyber crimes.

In the world of Summer Wars exists a matrix-esque social network known as Oz. Users socially commune via selected and created beings known as Avatars- virtual exaggerative beings created by the users to artificially and creatively represent their physical counterparts. One could think of the Avatar as an animated user name.

Among the billions of users is Kenji, a down to his luck, high school, social outcast who is remarkably gifted in Math, but an amateur in romance. While patrolling and regulating the world of Oz his high school crush, Natsuki invites him over to her family reunion as her boyfriend so she can please her grandmother on her 90th birthday. For she fears that she is close to Death's door because of her feeble condition.

Upon having fun at the event Kenji receives an anonymous algorithm via smart phone text message. Once he accidentally solves it he mistakenly gets labeled as a cyber-terrorist, realizing he gave rise to a rogue A.I. known as "Love Machine". The burden of confronting and stopping this virtual menace suddenly falls into the hands of Kenji, Natsuki, and her family.

The idea of Summer Wars blending an exaggerated, yet believable outlook of futuristic social networking in correlation to the actual lives of the real world is very stellar. Considering how popular the trend is one can't help but think that sometime we'll wind up manifesting as our own A.Is. Summer Wars has a rather satirical look on this matter.

One of the greatest aspects of Mamoru Hosoda is how none of the subplots ever overstuff any of his movies and only add to the charm of the characters. The ability for Hosoda to tell two stories in one movie is absolutely flawless. Of course anybody familiar with the world of Japanese anime would fully understand it talent of genre busting. This is one of the main reasons why I love the style.

Most of the time it has worked out, sometimes it hasn't, but Hosoda has emerged and proven his talent in this popular realm that most anime is known for. Nothing in this world is impossible though. Anything can be done well if done right. It is rather difficult to blend content into one story. For it can pave way for making a particular thing overstuffed or create plot holes.

Anime has usually managed to meet to meet the exact standard of this technique and has almost never failed at creating its legitimate fanbase. This wonderful and liberal use of its merit probably does explain why animated movies, according to Ebert, sell more amongst the adult audiences in Japan in contrast to the West. Such a common mindset is perhaps the most difficult to break since it appears to be hewn into the societal consciousness. Though classic directors, like John Lasseter, Don Bluth, Ralph Bakshi, and Shane Acker have tried to market their movies to the mass audience in the West.

The incorporation of such characters and their tragic-comic relationships really do much to help the world come to life and do give a rather exaggerated, yet relatable premise that more mature audiences can relate to despite the cultural differences. Like the previous Hosoda movie I've reviewed some time ago "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" the artwork and animation are drop dead gorgeous. The main thing about Hosoda's anime movies is not only how everything looks and moves, but also how realistic and non-linear it is.

Hosoda never restricts his viewers into concentrating solely on the characters, but he wonderfully blends every set piece within every image to help bring the two worlds to life. There's no telling how much went into every cel and image, but given the high risk factor that of anime in Japan, Hosoda probably has the belief that money isn't everything. I don't quite recall if "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" had any use of CG, but "Summer Wars" does make use of it in both the real and virtual worlds it creates. Despite this, nothing feels taken for granted in any image just like his previous films. The animation in "Summer Wars" is a blast to watch and especially when it gets to the fight scenes between Natsuki's younger cousin's Avatar vs Love Machine is where it gets very impressive.

On a personal note, having seen this movie the first time I thought it was very well put together from a technological standpoint, but I never knew what to make of it. Having seen it a second time I think it's safe to say that "Summer Wars" is a movie that requires viewing multiple times: once, for the animation; second, for the story; and third, for the characters. Anyone who knows the typical anime clichÚs will stumble upon familiar territory, though given how visually interesting this movie is and smartly crafted the story is, I suppose one wouldn't mind giving this movie a marathon watch.
Shinobi (Shinobi: Heart Under Blade) 2006,  R)
Sora-te baka ichidai (Karate For Life) 1977,  Unrated)
Karate Bearfighter 1977,  Unrated)
The Legend of Drunken Master (Jui kuen II) (Drunken Fist II) 1994,  R)
Jing wu ying xiong (Fist of Legend) 2008,  R)
The Protector (Tom yum goong) (Warrior King) 2005,  R)
The Transporter 2002,  PG-13)
I Saw the Devil 2011,  Unrated)
I Saw the Devil
The movie I Saw the Devil is a Korean vengeance thriller film directed by Kim Ji-woon (A Bittersweet Life, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Quiet Family). The plot is about a notorious psychopath named Kyung-chul who kidnaps and kills the pregnant fiancee of special agent, Soo-hyun. Upon discovering his fiancee's death, Soo-hyun diligently tracks down the killer. Once he finds Kyung-chul, he decides to force him into a brutal game of cat and mouse in order to make his suffering worse than that of his fiancee. The only question is: Haw far will he be willing to go to meet his means.

I Saw the Devil is a wonderfully crafted, gorgeously choreographed, relentlessly violent, and superbly acted movie. In my eyes, it's arguably one of the best Korean thrillers since Chan-wook Park's Vengeance Trilogy. The movie stars Choi Min-shik (Olboy, Lady Vengeance, Failan) as Kyung-chul. His performance is one of the most believable, menacing, wicked, and expertly acted since Tadonobu Asano in Ichi the Killer and Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Choi Min-shik is one of my favorite actors to come out of South Korea. Having stared as the villain in Lady Vengeance and the anti-hero Oh Dae-su in the classic Oldboy, he has gained much deserved recognition. His performance as Kyung-chul goes to enforce that.

Soo-hyun is played by Lee Byung-hun (The Good, the Bad, the Weird, A Bittersweet Life, Cut segment of Three...Extremes). His performance is also very strong, but it's also one of the more different approaches to characterization in Korean cinema. Unlike Lee Geum-ja from Lady Vengeance who seeks revenge for self-redemption, Soo-hyun's role as the ''protagonist" becomes blurred through the course of the film and tries to show how possibly far a good person can fall. This results in the line of good vs. evil being blurred.

As was stated, this movie is excessively violent. So much so, Kim Ji-woon was forced to cut certain scenes in order to secure a theatrical release in South Korea. This film has been credited as Korea's response to Seven. Which, isn't a bad connection considering that Seven was a great film and was as brutal. I prefer to think of this film as a response to Miike's Ichi the Killer. This is due to the similarities of the line between good and evil being blurred, a ''protagonist" who resorts to violence to deal with his personal struggles, and it being a study on the malevolent nature of the human spirit. Unlike Ichi the Killer, which was darkly cartoonish, I Saw the Devil is more realistic with its content and how it pursues its subject matter. I also think that for what Ichi the Killer tried to do with its story and characters, I Saw the Devil pushes the execution a step further in the right direction.

The plot to this film is very fast paced and intense. It always keeps the viewer guessing what will happen next and how everything will turn out. Much like The Fugitive, except with that film the killer isn't seen until later in the film. The music is also very well done and does a phenomenal job at setting the dark atmosphere of the film.

The only problem with this film is that some viewers may be affected by the gore and cruelty in this film. Some reviewers have gone as far to say that some of it nearly hits the taboo limit. It does in a way, but in this movie's case it helps to benefit the plot and the study of its characters. This film isn't for everyone and it's understandable why some people would be turned away from it. It has such superb direction and cinematography for me to recommend it.

In conclusion, I Saw the Devil is a truly remarkable accomplishment in Korean cinema. While not for everyone, it makes me proud to be a fan of the genre and gets me looking forward to what its directors will do next. Korean cinema has started off strong and I Saw the Devil goes to prove that it's only getting stronger.

*Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance 2005,  R)
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
After being released from prison after 13 years of service, Lee Geum-Ja goes on a hunt to find to find her nemesis while searching for her lost daughter. In prison, she became known as,''Kind-Hearted Geum-Ja" for her deeds of benevolence towards her fellow inmates, youth, and good looks. While out of prison, she takes up work at Naruse bakery and gets her attire from her former inmates that she helped while incarcerated. Being the third and final film in the Vengeance Trilogy the plotting in Lady Vengeance is the most intricate, poignant, and complex of the three.

The story is mostly told through flashbacks, Geum-Ja's relationships, spirituality, and poignant imagery one would expect from someone like Ingmar Bergman. This movie is rather difficult to sum up in words alone. One either loves or hates this poignant style of filmmaking, but I found it very superb. Geum-Ja has a subplot about teaching the art of repentance to everybody she develops relationships with while seeking revenge to try to atone for her past crimes. It has been openly debated as to whether Geum-Ja has an attrition. She is portrayed has having dual personalities: one dressed in white garments and another in black attire.

Like Park, I don't consider this movie to be pro or anti-Christian. I look at it as a character study about redemption and a look at mans' duality. This is one of those movies that requires more than one viewing due to its complex structuring. As good as this movie's story is, what I described isn't the entirety. As I stated, the plot structuring is complex and is difficult to put into words. One would have to see it to know it.

The performances in this film are another noteworthy thing. Every actor comes out as strong. Most of the actors from the previous films have parts in this movie. Actors Shin Ha-kyun and Song Kang-ho (Ryu and Dong-jin Park from Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) make cameos as two thugs hired by Baek (Choi Min-shik) to kill Geum-Ja. Yoo Ji-tae (Woo-jin from Oldboy) plays the adult counterpart of Won-mo-the boy who was murdered at the age of five and whose ghost haunts Geum-Ja. Hye-jeong Kang (Mi-do from Oldboy) also makes a cameo as a TV announcer. Most of the characters the returning actors play in this film are minor and are not the same. Park admitted that this was done as a way to ''bring the whole trilogy together." This is one dynamic of this film that I love.

Even though the characters they play aren't the same, all of the actors still perform strong and give a strong incentive for the viewer(s) to watch this classic trilogy in its entirety. Choi Min-shik plays Mr. Baek- the man responsible for murderous kidnappings and Geum-Ja's victim. The relationship Geum-Ja has with Mr. Baek ranges from student, lover, accomplice, then nemesis. Geum-Ja is played by Lee Young-ae. Lee Young-ae is new in this trilogy and has not been in the previous films.

The cinematography to this film is excellent. As I said in my review of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, I think that Lady Vengeance stands out the strongest in the area of cinematography. Both the fantasy and reality images are perfectly captured and do the film so much justice in adding to its style. The music is also great. Every track begins and ends perfectly in correlation to the images and is the most colorful of the three. Having been done by Choi Seung-hyun-the composer responsible for Oldboy's theme music-it would stand to reason.

Overall, Lady Vengeance is a very welcome conclusion to a classic trilogy. While not my favorite of the three, it stands out strong in its own way and does what it was meant to do very well. My favorite film is Oldboy, but if I were to describe how each one stood out; I'd say the first film was better in terms of acting, the second in narrative, and this one in filming. That being said, I advise everyone reading this review to check out all three and watch them. This is a trilogy that any fan of Asian thrillers cannot afford to miss. Park is a wonderful director and I look forward to his upcoming film, Stoker.

*Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.
A Bittersweet Life (Dalkomhan insaeng) 2005,  Unrated)
Oldboy 2005,  R)
An alcoholic, drunk husband Oh Dae-Su gets detained by the police after a public struggle and later gets freed by his high school friend, Joo-Hwan. After establishing contact with his wife and daughter via pay-phone he disappears only to find himself imprisoned in a room looking like an apartment complex. After 15 years, he is unexpectedly freed only to discover that he has 5 days to figure out why he was imprisoned and to confront the mastermind behind his imprisonment.

Based on the Japanese manga series by Garon Tsuchiya, Oldboy is a fresh, superbly crafted, evenly paced, excellently acted masterpiece by former film critic turned director, Chan-Wook Park. Combining the squeamish violence of Takashi Miike and the plot development of Alfred Hitchcock, Oldboy stands out as one of the best Korean films I've ever seen. Having seen this film when I was 17, I didn't see very many Korean movies around the time. I mostly watched Japanese and Chinese movies. After seeing this film for the first time, I became totally changed. I began to see this as the future of filmmaking as well as the movie that got me into K-thrillers. To this day, I remain a strong admirer of Korean cinema all thanks to this opus.

The story to this film is flat-out terrific. Every scene is very evenly structured one on top the other. Everything always gets the viewer wondering what will happen next. The fact that this is a Korean adaptation of Japanese source material goes to prove what the neighboring Asian countries can learn from one another in order to make great films. The Japanese source material is considerably much tamer than this movie. As I hinted in the beginning, this movie is relentlessly violent. It's packed with scenes of tooth torture, mutilation, and fight scenes involving one man, Oh Dae-Su vs. an entire mob armed with knives and bats. Which brings me to one of my favorite scenes in the film: the corridor fight. That scene in and of itself is so well choreographed and polished, it's one of the best fight scenes I've ever seen take place in what is a clostrophobic environment.

That being said, this is one of the films that uses what would be considered controversial content to perfection. There have been very few films that do such things as good. Every scene of violence in this movie has a statement behind it. It is used to perfectly reflect the characters' state of mind and even helps shine their development. There's so much plot to this film and it's so well done I can't say enough good about it.

Choi Min-sik (I Saw the Devil, Failan, Lady Vengeance) plays the anti-hero Oh Dae-Su. The performance he brings is perhaps one of the most memorable and life-like performances I've ever seen. There are many others that match the criteria and his is one of them. The sushi waitress who takes him in and accompanies him on his quest for revenge, Mi-Do is played by Gang Hye-Jeong. Mi-Do is more of an insecure, compassionate, and naive character who gets herself involved in many troubles. Lee Woo-jin is played by Ji-Tae Yu. The performances are all terrific and do a lot to benefit the character development. The music to this film is another de facto. The music is perfectly done, perfectly timed, and perfectly orchestrated with every scene.

Overall, Oldboy is a film that is not only influential in terms of modern moviemaking trends, but it's a film in its genre that is nothing short of pure, solid perfection. Chan-Wook Park has become one of my favorite directors of all time and remains so to this day. It is commonly said that Kim Ki-Young's, The Housemaid (original) is one of the best Korean films of all time. I've had difficulty finding a copy of the film, but after seeing Oldboy, the impact it's left on me, and the fact that Kim Ki-Young is one of the influences for Park I'll be willing to believe anything. Check this film out along with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance. I guarantee anyone reading this will not be disappointed.
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (Boksuneun naui geot) 2002,  R)
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (Boksuneun naui geot)
In lower class Seoul, a deaf mute factory worker named Ryu sacrifices his dreams of being an artist only to save money to donate his kidneys to his sister who is dying of kidney failure. Broke and fired from his job, he turns to an illegal organ smuggling group in hopes of having his ends met only to discover he's been ripped off. While he plots revenge against his wrongdoers, Ryu's Communist girlfriend, Cha Yeong-mi prompts him to kidnap his former boss's daughter, Yoosun in response to him being fired and hold her for 26 million won. After Ryu's sister discovers the the plot she commits suicide. Ryu buries her near a lake and things start to take a toll for the worst. Yoosun drowns and when her father- a wealthy industrialist President Dong-jin Park of Ilson Electronics and Ryu's former boss- discovers his daughter's death both men go on a rampage through underground Seoul to get revenge for their losses.

This movie was directed by Chan-wook Park. He made this movie prior to Oldboy and this film is considered the first in the classic Vengeance Trilogy. While looked at as the black sheep of the three films and the precursor to Oldboy, I think that Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is a film that should be looked at in a different manner than the other two films. I think that it should be looked at as the precursor not just to Oldboy, but a first look at Park's masterful style of directing in this genre as well as the present K-thrillers that we look at as the future of cinema.

While not as masterful as Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance does pack some good thrills and intriguing plot that one would expect from a director like Park. The story may not be as engrossing as Oldboy, but it works well enough. Another noteworthy thing about this movie is the cinematography. It's absolutely wonderful. Every aerial shot is wonderfully done and a lot of the set pieces are very massive. Granted, Asian films usually place a lot of emphasis on sets and capturing massive landscapes in a single image. Oldboy and Lady Vengeance had great cinematography as well, but if I had to compare the three I'd say that that I like this film's better than Oldboy but maybe not as much as Lady Vengeance.

As far as music is concerned, there isn't that much of it. Out of the trilogy, this movie does a more effective job at maintaining realism. This movie's structure is like No Country for Old Men where the action just progresses and there is very little to no music playing in the background. Like with No Country for Old Men, this fact makes the film more realistic in comparison to the later two films in the trilogy. Granted, it's not bad but it only plays in specific times. Like near the end and during the closing credits.

The acting is also very top notch. Park is played by Song Kang-ho (Thirst, JSA, Memories of Murder, The Good, the Bad, the Weird). Ryu is played by Shin Ha-kyun (Save the Green Planet, The Front Line). Cha is played by Bae Doo-na (The Host, Linda Linda Linda). All of the actors do very well with their characters. Shin Ha-kyun does a great job at portraying Ryu. Since Ryu is a deaf mute most of his dialogue and inner monologue is told through Korean Sign Language, subtitles, and silent movie dynamics of having the screen black out prompting the viewers to read what's presented. We hardly see such a dynamic done in today's world. The only modern film I've seen to do it was the Chinese movie Three Times. That was done during the second story of the movie. Which was in color but was silent with only music playing in the background. This dynamic was done to capture the nostalgia of the time period that was presented in the story.

Some of my readers may be wondering: ''If this is the first movie in the trilogy and Oldboy is the second, then why did I review Oldboy prior to this one?" Oldboy is my most favorite out of the three. It was a review that I wanted to tackle for a long time. Another thing is that doing the review in the Halloween month of October didn't occur to me at the time. Since it has, I'll be reviewing Horror movies as well as J and K-thrillers. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance may not be the best, but it's certainly worth a look for anybody who is a fan of Park and his style of filmmaking. Since this is the second movie of the Vengeance Trilogy that I've reviewed, stay tuned for my review of Lady Vengeance.

*Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.
Bakjwi (Thirst) 2009,  R)
The Man From Nowhere 2010,  R)
Samaria (Samaritan Girl) 2004,  R)
Address Unknown 2001,  R)
Yobi, the Five Tailed Fox (Yeu woo bi) 2006,  Unrated)
Yobi, the Five Tailed Fox (Yeu woo bi)
After 14 years of being an avid fan and viewer of anime-mostly Japanese-I've always wondered to myself what the other neighboring Asian countries had to offer in terms of anime. I finally got a chance to see and own five Korean anime films: Hammerboy, Sky Blue, My Beautiful Girl, Mari, Ark, and this one. Neither one of the previous ones were groundbreaking, but they were getting strong. The only problem with the previous ones was that they were slow and the characters could've used a lot more development. Yobi, The Five Tailed Fox makes up for what the previous ones lacked.

That being said, neither one was terrible. They were great starting points for Korean anime. Especially since it's only just making its debut in the West. The strongest thing going for them is the animation and artwork. Most notably Sky Blue. Yobi is no exception. At times it feels like a Japanese anime and at times it doesn't. The movement is much more fluid than most Japanese anime films, but it falls short of all the Ghibli films and the works of Katsuhiro Otomo. The lip syncing is also better than most Japanese anime. Rather than having the lips move up and down and occasionally moving inwards, on mostly close-up shots this film sets the records straight. The lips of the characters move and correspond to the exact sound and syllable of the Korean language. The shadow textures and use of CG is also very well done. Unlike Sky Blue, this film isn't nearly as liberal with CG rendered environments and backgrounds. The only scene I can recall that uses CG is the part where Yobi saves the bus from crashing after it gets a flat tire. Like Japan, Korea's animation does seem to be on a tighter budget and it does go to show in most of their films.

The story is much stronger in this film and the characters seem more developed and three dimensional. This film is directed by Seong-kang Lee, the same director of My Beautiful Girl, Mari. Mari is the most widely distributed and popular Korean anime film in North America. The film wasn't bad, but it's not one for the impatient, since it is very slow at developing its story and characters. Both are children's films and I am not a fan of children's entertainment. This film is much better in terms of pacing and character development. Kids would probably come to appreciate this film more for that fact and its humor. This film has the same amount of humor as My Neighbor, Totoro, which was the first anime film that got me into the medium and became obsessed with as a kid.

Like My Beautiful Girl, Mari, this film focuses on the relationship between a human and a seemingly mythological being. In this case, Guem-Ie and Yobi. Unlike with Mari the relationship is actually more captivating and is very well paced. The one fault of this film is that, while it accomplishes what the other films were trying to do it still seems a little uneven in terms of plot. The first half of the film feels more like a humorous rescue the friend who's caught by one of the kids in the orphanage mission, then it goes to the romantic relationship of Yobi and Guem-Ie, and then it goes to a more environmental approach where she's trying to escape a hunter and his ruthless attack dogs with the help of Guem-Ie. These are not major spoilers, by the way. Korean anime does seem like it's trying to copy the Japanese formula by combining multiple genres and diversifying its content, but it doesn't do it especially well. But hey, it's in its heyday so what have you to expect?

In conclusion, this film is a very strong film. It's perhaps the strongest Korean anime film since Ark and Sky Blue. It's a wonderful film for people of all ages. I'm not bashing the Korean anime genre, nor am I playing favorites with Korean and Japanese anime. Admittedly, Korean anime has a lot going for it and Yobi, The Five Tailed Fox goes to prove it. If Seong-kang Lee continues to make films of this quality, then not only will he popularize Korean anime in the West, but he would rank up with Miyazaki, Takahata, or Kon as one of the masters of anime. This film is very obscure, but if you are able to find it, keep it, share it, and help to promote the Korean anime genre.
Hammerboy 2003,  Unrated)
Robot Taekwon V 1976,  Unrated)
A Dirty Carnival (Biyeolhan geori) 2007,  Unrated)
A Clockwork Orange 1971,  R)
Natural Born Killers 1994,  R)
Pulp Fiction 1994,  R)
Reservoir Dogs 1992,  R)
The Usual Suspects 1995,  R)
GoodFellas 1990,  R)
Casino 1995,  R)
Gangs of New York 2002,  R)
Seven (Se7en) 1995,  R)
Seven (Se7en)
There are many films that try to pull off the dynamics of an exploitation film in an attempt to make it into the blockbuster status. Some manage to succeed at what they're trying to do, while others just fall flat. Se7en is a film that not only does this dynamic right, but it manages to succeed on almost every level where most films of this style have failed.

Directed by David Fincher, the director of the classic Fight Club, the plot involves a veteran detective, William Somerset who is on the brink of retirement. His retirement is postponed when a homicide case presents itself and a young detective, David Mills becomes his partner as well as his replacement for when his retirement comes. They soon realize more killings done in the same fashion as the one they worked and discover the killer's modus operandi is selecting victims that fall into each of the seven deadly sins. The plot may seem like a generic, run-of-the-mill detective story, but it becomes very engaging as the film progresses and also takes many twists that are well timed to catch the viewer off guard. The pacing is very solid and every image is very realistically choreographed to give the viewer a sense of realism into the dark depths of human nature.

Another great thing in this film is the performances. Morgan Freeman delivers a strong performance as Somerset and even pulls the viewer into seeing realistically what years of work as a law enforcer in a decaying urban society does to someone. R. Lee Ermey aka The Gunny does a good job as the police captain, but whether it's as good as his performance as Gunnery Sargent Ardman from Full Metal Jacket is debatable amongst fans. Brad Pitt's acting is good, but sometimes it fells a little over-the-top at times. Mostly that is done to capture his character's thrill-seeking, cocky attitude. However, the best performance in this film is certainly Kevin Spacey as John Doe. Kevin Spacey is one of the few American actors that has managed to play a convincing and realistic sociopath since Ted Levine in Silence of the Lambs. Examples of foreigners playing great killers are: Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Lector, Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh, Heath Ledger as the Joker, Choi Min-Shik as Kyung-Chul, Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface, and Tadanobu Asano as Kakihara.

The music is also very well done. It consists of both instrumental and lyrical rock/metal that occurs at specific times in the film. Every bit of it does its part very well at contributing to the overall atmosphere and getting the viewer ready at what he/she is in for. The instrumental music plays during the course of the film, whereas the lyrical singles from bands such as Nine Inch Nails plays during the opening and closing credits. The lyrical music does a great job at both presenting the film and leaving the viewer with the impact of the film.

In conclusion, Se7en is a great film that goes beyond being an exploitation film and sets many standards of the modern day crime-noir. Delivering great performances-most notably Kevin Spacey, great music, and expert directing by David Fincher, Se7en is one of those films that is important to view for anyone who is into Criminal Justice. Other great films of this type that I'd recommend are Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, Audition, Saw, The Chaser, Memories of Murder, Vengeance is Mine, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and Zodiac.
The Silence of the Lambs 1991,  R)
Black Hawk Down 2001,  R)
Casualties of War 1989,  R)
Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War 2004,  R)
Letters from Iwo Jima 2006,  R)
The Front Line 2012,  Unrated)
Silmido 2003,  Unrated)
Schindler's List 1993,  R)
Apocalypse Now 1979,  R)
Predator 1987,  R)
Fight Club 1999,  R)
Halloween 1978,  R)
Years after the release of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, John Carpenter made his first horror film Halloween in 1978. The film not only was a surprise hit with critics and audiences, but also is credited as being the first film to give rise to the slasher genre. It took the psychological elements presented in Psycho and the antagonist characterizations of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to create the famous Michael Meyers.

The plot begins on Halloween of 1963. We see a young Michael Myers brutally murder his older sister, Judith and is sent to a mental institution. He escapes fifteen years later and starts to terrorize a small town of Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween in hopes of reliving his past. When a high school student, Laurie approaches the doorway of the local vacant house of Myer's that the young Tommy Doyle says is haunted she unknowingly provokes Michael Myers into following her. Later that night, Laurie is put in charge of babysitting Tommy and Lindsay. She begins to discover that strange things happening to her friends Lynda and Annie. Being trapped in the house, Laurie tries to survive Michael's tirade while protecting the kids from danger.

The plot is very straightforward, but what makes this movie so flawless executed is not just the way it's shot, but also the way it's structured. It takes the precursor elements that were presented in the aforementioned films and uses them to the degree that it distinguishes itself from the typical horror movies everyone was used to at the time. This movie relies less on mystery and more on thrills. Having had films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Psycho, audiences were used to seeing lots of mystery elements in horror movies like this one. Halloween goes the opposite route and obtains thrills through structure and events. The way it obtains them is very effective.

The best thing about this film is the structuring. I absolutely love how everything in the background is not static and collides in perfect timing with every changing moment. The characters are not only well acted by their actors, but they are also wonderfully positioned in each scene and greatly move the dynamics along. Everything feels lifelike and every bit of timing is expertly handled. Every shot is greatly framed and the camerawork is expertly handled in capturing suspense through each scene while operating within it genre's boundaries.

John Carpenter did the music as well and the music is very flawless. The tracks do sound generic, but they are wonderfully played. Each track never drones itself out. Every one of the tracks is perfectly played and ended with each event. None one them fail setting suspense and getting thrills out of the audience.

Halloween is flawless in its overall execution. For a film with such a straightforward plot every technical aspect works unbelievably in setting suspense. Halloween is a film that doesn't rely on a few aspects to obtain audience reactions. Everything works together for the movie's benefit and never drones out. It sure helped to boost the career of director John Carpenter and through such a flawless movie he has very well earned his title of horror master. Every slasher movie can trace its popular and perfected cinematic origin to this movie. If fans want to see the slasher genre of film's origin and how it came to be flawlessly executed at the time of its rise, Halloween is the movie to experience it.

*Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.
The Thing 1982,  R)
Assault on Precinct 13 1976,  R)
Night of the Living Dead 1968,  R)
Jackie Brown 1997,  R)
Evil Dead 2 1987,  R)
Evil Dead 2
As some of my readers may remember, in my review of The Evil Dead I drew a lot of parallels between Tobe Hooper with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Sam Raimi with The Evil Dead. As I stated, both directors made their debut starting off with making B-movies that not only where controversial, but where highly successful with audiences for their notoriety. Due to their remarkable similarities, I guess it could be safely said that Raimi may have drawn influence from Hooper in starting his debut in big budget filmmaking.

Evil Dead 2 picks up right where the first movie left off. We get a brief and condensed synopsis of the events prior to the original movie. Ash and his girlfriend Linda make a stop in a cabin that is deep in the woods. When they discover unusual artifacts that where made by the previous resident things start to take a turn for the worst. Ash's girlfriend gets killed by the demonic forces that plague the area and Ash is left alive for reasons unbeknownst to him. After his assault by the force, he takes refuge in the cabin only to be tormented little by little by the remaining forces that persist during the daylight.

Meanwhile, the daughter of the previous resident Annie and her accomplice Ed arrive with missing pages to the demonic book known as the Necronomicon. Being guided by rednecks Bobby Joe and her husband Jake they make it to the cabin where she believes her father is currently dwelling. As they encounter Ash, Annie learns of her father's ambitions by playing the recording that was discovered by Ash. As night sets in fully, all four of the victims begin to face heavy demonic oppression and are pit against one another in the process.

Like Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Evil Dead 2 is an entirely new take on the franchise that totally differs from what viewers of the previous installment expect. Not only does this movie have a higher budget, but it is much more humorous in comparison to the original film. Granted, there was more subtle humor in the previous film's continuity, but this movie's humor is both dark and goofy.

Bruce Campbell's performance as Ash feels like a fourth-wall joke. Every set piece and effect that is around him is so laughably bad that he embodies a humorously sarcastic persona. This fact makes for some really fun moments and good laughs. Unlike Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, nothing in this movie feels recycled. Every plot point feels new and fresh. The only moment that did feel similar to the first was when Bobby Joe gets consumed by a demonically possessed tree. This scene is reminiscent to the scene where Cheryl gets raped by a similar being in the last movie. Sam Raimi currently regrets putting that scene in the previous film so I think it's safe to assume that this was meant to be shown as what he would've had happen to that same character where he to direct The Evil Dead again.

This does lead me to another point that none of the previous characters are brought up, nor hinted at in this movie. When we are given the synopsis of the last movie we are only shown Ash and Linda. Another thing is that even though the artifacts they find in the cabin from the previous film are left intact, the only difference is that the shotgun they find is changed from a single-shot to a double-barrel. Then again, this film is more of a satire of itself like Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 so continuity goes out the window. Although it starts off where the first film left off, whether to call this movie a true sequel is rather debatable.

We are given more elaborate plot twists throughout the duration of the film. We learn more about the professor that was the previous resident of the cabin and what he plans to do now that his ambitions have backfired. Ash also takes on more of a ''hero" persona and the movie turns into an origin story of this future comic book character. Despite its differences from the previous film, the story still works and offers lots of great, fun, and thrilling moments.

Evil Dead 2 may be a semi-sequel to the first film, but it stands out enough as a film of its own. The first movie did great with what it had to work with as a low-budget horror movie. This film does great in terms of humor and thrills. SHots are better filmed and the effects are more advanced than the previous film, but still look silly. Then again, what does one expect since the performance of Bruce Campbell is like a fourth-wall joke? For those of my readers wondering, I don't hate nor dislike Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. For what that film tried to do with its content and direction for its franchise, I think Evil Dead 2 is better in terms of execution. I will try to make a review of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 before Halloween, but until that time look out for my review of Army of Darkness.

*Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.
Army of Darkness 1993,  R)
Army of Darkness
After the unexpected, yet successful turn of the Evil Dead franchise with Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness pushes this direction much further. This third sequel in the successful franchise no longer embodies a generic horror atmosphere like the previous two films, but plays more like an action, comic book inspired, black comedy. The result is an entertaining, yet somewhat flawed experience.

Picking up where the previous movie left off, Ash gets teleported to medieval England along with his automobile only to be enslaved and sentenced for execution being believed to be a sorcerer. After proving himself and spouting awesome catchphrases like, ''This is my boom stick!" Ash tries to find a way to get back to his time. He is taken to a cemetery where the Necronomicon lies in hopes of finding the passages that can fulfill his demand. He winds up accidentally resurrecting the Army of Darkness and returns back to the castle to defend it against the ensuing attack.

There exist two different versions of this movie. One is an alternate story narrative where the movie continues the events of the previous film in a better continuity. The other more popular version is told through Ash's narrative. The film goes to him working as an employee at S-Mart and is telling his co-worker his story of having time traveled and why he is. The alternate version even features a different ending where we see Ash travel in time, but winds up awaking in the future. In response he shouts ''NO! I slept too long!" One thing they both have in common is that they are both black comedy films.

The movie parodies many classics like Gulliver's Travels, Ben-Hur, Night of the Living Dead, The Time Machine, and so on. The humor in this movie is similar to that of Evil Dead 2, but there is much less gore. This movie relies more on comedic set pieces, crazy catchphrases, and the fourth-wall persona of Bruce Campbell. The humor works pretty well and the catchphrases like, ''This is my boom stick!" and ''YEAHHH BABY!!" are fun to listen to. The fact that director Sam Raimi was inspired by comedic icons like The Three Stooges and Buster Keaton goes to prove why the humor works and why the this movie is the most stylized.

The special effects have improved since the last two installments, but are still laughable. Most of this is done to benefit the style of the movie being centered on humor. All of the pieces do well at benefiting the movie's self-deprecating humor. This would be a bad thing under normal circumstances, but due to it being for comedic effect it's actually succeeds.

One thing that makes it flawed is that like the previous movie, there are errors in continuity. Evil Dead is one of those cult horror franchises that not only takes many unexpected twists and turns with its content, but is also one that has some of the worst continuity with its sequels. Those that have seen the previous movie remember that Ash was hailed, but at the beginning of this movie he's enslaved and has to prove himself. They saw that he kills a demon and begin to worship him. This fact may deter some viewers who are more associated with its traditional horror style from this sudden change in execution. Then again, Evil Dead is not known for its continuity but for its mindless execution and being one of the few successful films to be enjoyably bad.

Army of Darkness may be the weakest of the three, but it's by no means a bad movie. Having spawned an Army of Darkness comic series that's still continued to this day, video games, and benefited the career of Bruce Campbell, Army of Darkness stands out as being the most action oriented and lighter hearted of the three. Army of Darkness may not be for everyone, but if one is able to understand its reason he/she might find something enjoyable underneath.

*Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.
The Evil Dead 1981,  R)
The Evil Dead
Being the start of a franchise, The Evil Dead is a thrilling, low budget, gleefully gory blockbuster that launched the career of actor Bruce Campbell. Like Tobe Hooper, Sam Raimi made his directorial debut with a film that not only is low budget, but was controversial and sparked a franchise. Like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Evil Dead starts of as a low budget horror movie, but then takes on different tones with its sequels. Having spawned comic books, video games, and a popular character Evil Dead is a film that deserves the notoriety it has.

On the outskirts of Tennessee, five college students: Ash, Cheryl, Scotty, Linda, and Shelly take a Spring Break vacation and make a stop at a cabin in the mountains. While there, many strange things start to happen. Ash and Scotty discover odd relics in the basement, which tell the history of the previous resident. The relics are: a blade made from human bone that was used in occult sacrifices, a demonic book called the Naturan Demonto, which was crafted with human flesh and whose contents are inked in blood, and an audio recording made by the previous owner. Upon playing the recording, the group accidentally awaken a demonic force that starts to terrorize them.

The plot is very simple and straightforward, but it's the structure and pacing that counts in this movie. Unlike The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead is not told in the format of a documentary. Its style is reminiscent to George A. Romero's opus Night of the Living Dead. The movie embodies a generic horror movie, but the execution is great. Every dynamic is evenly structured and is executed very well. The whole movie is about thrills and survival.

Even though the style is similar to the original George Romero zombie movies, whether to call Evil Dead a zombie movie is rather debatable. To me, it felt more like a supernatural thriller that takes on the form of a zombie movie. This fact does make it rather unique.

Like its sequels, Evil Dead has humor, but the humor is very dark and subtle. It's one of the few B-horror movies I've seen use special effects. The special effects are mostly just models and moving objects are clay-mated. Like with Ichi the Killer, this film doesn't hide its special effects to prevent its viewers from seeing how bad they are. It just shows them in broad daylight. This makes for some very dark, but subtle humor. The special effects are laughably bad, but the acting and structuring are so good it didn't bother me.

Every character embodies his/her persona. Ash is the heroic, tough guy whose love interest is Linda, Scotty is the chief prankster who has a love interest in Shelly, and Cheryl is a paranoid artist who suspects firsthand the unusual events. Every actor plays his/her part very nicely and they do a great job at providing a sense of charisma with their characters. Each character contributes to the style greatly with their personas and provide many levels of atmosphere for each scenario.

The camerawork is very well done. Every shot effectively sets proper atmosphere for every image and does great at providing multiple levels of thrills for the viewers. Being the film it is, Evil Dead has lots of notorious scenes. Aside from the gore, one of the most controversial scenes in this movie is where Cheryl gets raped by demonically possessed trees.

Reviewing this movie and the impact it has, I find it kinda ironic that most of the big budget horror movies of the current generation turned out to be duds while the ones with a low budget turned out to be more effective. Granted, there have been successful big budget horror moves, like Godzilla, War of the Worlds, The Shining, Misery, etc. I think one of the reasons why modern horror movies saw a decline was because many filmmakers became infatuated with the visual quality of their movie. Movies like this one go to prove that one doesn't need the most expensive equipment money can buy in order to make an effective movie of its genre. It all boils down to the individuals in charge and Evil Dead is a great recommendation.

*Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.
RoboCop 1987,  R)
THX 1138 1971,  PG)
Brazil 1985,  R)
Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys) 1995,  R)
The Fisher King 1991,  R)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas 1998,  R)
The Green Mile 1999,  R)
The Shawshank Redemption 1994,  R)
Taxi Driver 1976,  R)
Amores Perros 2001,  R)
Koroshiya 1 (Ichi the Killer) 2001,  R)
Koroshiya 1 (Ichi the Killer)
Being based on the manga by Hideo Yamamoto and having the following it does, Ichi the Killer has set the standards for many modern classics. Examples being Saw, The Vengeance Trilogy, Kill Bill, The Chaser, I Saw the Devil, and presumably The Dark Knight. Miike is a very diverse director. Having directed horror movies, action movies, gangster films, comedies, dramas, children's films, and the like he really is good at almost anything he sets his mind to.

The story takes place in underground Shinjuku where Yakuza gangs dominate. A renegade detective named Jijii (Shinya Tsukamoto) is determined to turn them against one another and destroy the criminal underground. He does so by manipulating a psychologically tortured, yet talented martial artist named Ichi (Nao Omori) into murdering Anjo- the leader of the Anjo clan. 3,000,000 yen gets stolen at the site and the sadistically homicidal Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano) goes on a rampage across Shinjuku in hopes of finding Anjo's killer.

While on the search and believing that Anjo might still be alive Kakihara gets deceived by Jijii's false testimonies about the neighboring gangs. Kakihara begins attacking many of the Yakuza gangs until he learns of Ichi. After being expelled from the Syndicate and pointing to himself leader of the Anjo gang Kakihara sets out to find Ichi while fighting back against the gangs that try to carry out their revenge on him.

The plot is like a cross between The Dark Knight, The Chaser, and Oldboy. It presents itself in a mystery fashion, but its intrigue centers around how everything will play out and the thrills center around Jijii's plan to destroy the Yakuza. The whole plot is one big chase and the line between good and evil is blurred. There are also parts where we get some backstory to both Kakihara and Ichi, but the main focus is what their natures are making them do and the prices they pay as a consequence.

The movie combines elements of neo-noir, action, crime, horror, drama, and black comedy. The comedic elements center around its CGI effects. The effects in this movie are about as comedically rendered as Evil Dead one and two. The more infamous scene of this dynamic is Ichi's first killing where he slices Sailor's abuser in half using the blades built inside the boots of his ''superhero" costume. This scene was paid homage to in Kill Bill where Uma Thurman slices one of the Crazy 88s in the same fashion. The infamous tongue scene is also referenced in Park's classic Oldboy.

The performance of Tadanobu Asano as Kakihara is to him the way the Joker is to Heath Ledger and Kyung-jul is to Choi Min-shik. Tadanobu Asano has become a worldwide star and his performance as Kakihara is no exception to this fact. Due to their similar ambitions, behaviors, and designs, it's probably same to assume that Kakihara served as a precursor to Christopher Nolan's Joker in The Dark Knight.

The music is also well done. Each track is very diverse and sets different tones for the film. Some set an intense, energetic tone, while some set a dark and moody one. Neither one feels out of place and each benefits the movie nicely.

One major complaint that I have is that while the movie is intricately plotted there were times where I felt like the movie wasn't sure of what it wanted to be. Sometimes it plays like an action movie, some an exploitation film, other times a black comedy, and others a character study. While some of the dynamics play out fine in some areas, Ichi the Killer seemed so caught up in its own content it sometimes seemed like it didn't want to balance itself out.

Ichi the Killer has a lot of potential. I must acknowledge that if this movie weren't the hit it is, we probably wouldn't have the classics of today that I mentioned in this review. Miike can and has directed many great films. Most of what Ichi the Killer presents feels experimental. It does seem like Miike lays out blueprints for other directors through his movies so that they can analyze them, take influence, and make their classic pictures. Ichi the Killer and its influence is a prime example of this.

*Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.
Saw II 2005,  R)
Saw 2004,  R)
Abandoned in a desolate room riddled with clues, two men: one a doctor named Lawrence Gordon and the other a fiery, young photographer Adam wake up only to find themselves chained by their ankles. Trapped with no way out except for the clues they find, they later discover that they are forced into deadly games that have them make choices that have them make sacrifices and put their trust into shambles. The mastermind behind these games goes under the alias Mr. Jigsaw. It is later revealed that his ulterior motive is to kidnap self-destructive people and force them into deadly games, which are manifestations of their self destructive actions, in order to teach them the value of life. The more the two men play these games, the more they discover is at stake and more becomes revealed about Mr. Jigsaw.

Most of the story is told through flashbacks and interrogations. This movie also is noteworthy for its use of high impact violence. The movie's structuring is superb. Everything from the images, dialogue, flashbacks, and violence is very evenly structured and always gets the viewer intrigued as to what will happen and who Mr. Jigsaw is. This is a film where nothing is droned out and nothing is pointless filler. Every scene is greatly structured one on top the other.

Another noteworthy thing is the remarkable twist ending. This movie reminds me of the classic Se7en in how the plot is played out. The story is remarkable and given how it's put together like the mentioned film, it may just be the Se7en of the modern generation.

Cary Elwes plays Lawrence Gordon. Gordon is a married doctor who spends more time with his work only to find out that his wife and daughter are being held hostage and will be killed if he refuses to cooperate. Danny Glover plays Detective Tapp-one of the investigators who diligently pursues Mr. Jigsaw along with his partner Detective Sing (Ken Leung). His character plays an important role in revealing Mr. Jigsaw's MO and his motives. The performances are all top-notch. Every actor gets into his/her role very well. As with what was discussed earlier, every character provides multiple levels of intrigue. Every level always brings tension and that's an important factor in films of this genre.

The music is also well done. Some of it consists of instrumental rock tunes and some is mostly generic tracks played during standard horror scenes when someone is assaulted, kidnapped, or suspects something. Every track is well played and perfectly sets the tone of every scene in which they are played.

As was stated, this movie is excessively violent and is not for people who have a low penchant for such content. That being said, I look at Saw as a unique Mystery/Horror film that accomplishes what certain films have tried, but failed to execute. There's much more to Saw than meets the eye. Many secrets about these characters are hidden from the viewer and the plot takes many twists and turns that are wonderfully paced.

Saw is a very innovative and intriguing film that successfully draws its viewers in and keeps them guessing what will happen next. It is very bloody and some of the music can feel a little too generic, but everything works so well it's enough to earn my recommendation. Sensitive people may want to look elsewhere, but fans of Horror/Mystery film should check this one out. Especially for the great twist ending.

*Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.
Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade 1998,  R)
Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade
Set in an alternate history of Japan after WWII, Japan emerges from the ashes after having been occupied by the Axis Powers. While recovering and desperately struggling to reach economic prosperity many working class citizens go into poverty and Japanese society borders on the brink of chaos. An elite military unit known as the Kerberos in response to the demonstrations and the uprising guerilla factions take refuge underground. Thus forming a group known as "The Sect". Amidst the chaos, a man named Kazuki Fuse encounters a young girl named Nanami Agawa. She blows herself up in front of Fuse during a sewer raid by Fuse's unit in an attempt to destroy The Sect. After failing to take the necessary action Fuse's officials have him go in for re-training. Fuse becomes haunted by images of Nanami and later decides to visit her grave. While there he mets her sister, Kei Amamiya and befriends her.

Jin-Roh is perhaps one of the most intriguing, cinematic, poignant, and creatively plotted anime films I've ever seen. Having been written by Mamoru Oshii (Avalon, Patlabor, The Sky Crawlers) and directed by Hiroyuki Okiura (Ghost in the Shell) the overall narrative is superb. The story becomes unraveled as the relationship between Fuse and Kei grows. The story is very political and told in a very complex structure. It's creatively told through a metaphorical allusion to Rotkappchen (German version of Little Red Riding Hood). There also is no good vs. evil in Jin-Roh. Every theme that is presented in the plot is told mostly through a political perspective.

The animation to Jin-Roh is very top-notch. The character models have so much feeling and life to where everyone looks like animated renditions of actual people. Every image moves realistically and everything in the images feels lifelike. I'll even go as far as to say that it's the best animation I've ever seen in an anime movie since Akira and any film from Studio Ghibli.

The voice acting is also very well done. Every voice perfectly matches each character and the actors do a great job at bringing their characters to life. The music, done by Hajime Mizoguchi (Vision of Escaflowne), is sensational. The music consists mostly of orchestral tracks that are wonderfully synced with every event. Each track is perfectly played throughout the course of the film and excellently contributes to the dark atmosphere of the film's plot.

Given these facts, Jin-Roh is one of those anime movies that shouldn't be looked at like any other typical anime movie. It should be looked at as a live-action foreign film that embodies an anime exterior. That's what it looks, plays, and feels like. Making this movie in live-action was the original idea of Oshii. Jin-Roh was preceded by two live-action films that were directed by Mamoru Oshii. The Red Spectacles and Stray Dog: The Kerberos Panzer Cops to put them in chronological order. I haven't seen Stray Dog, but I have seen and written a review of The Red Spectacles.

I have immense respect for writer/director Mamoru Oshii. His styles that are present in many of his films have not only been acclaimed by people like James Cameron, but also set the standards for the Wachowski Brothers' classic Matrix trilogy. Love him or hate him, Oshii is one of those directors that has well earned his place in the realms of foreign director stardom. Everything about Jin-Roh not only feels lifelike, but also very cinematic. The story may be too dark and depressing for some people, but that's the way I like films such as these. This movie goes to prove why anime should be looked at as a legitimate art form.

*Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.
Chugyeogja (The Chaser) 2008,  R)
Chugyeogja (The Chaser)
Many movies in the thriller genre have been given many new structures and plots. Prime examples are with Alfred Hitchcock and his many famous films like Psycho, Vertigo, and Rope, others from different directors are The Fugitive, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Ichi the Killer, I Saw the Devil, and Park's classic Vengeance Trilogy. Each gave innovation and superb execution in their respective genre.

Some rely on the mysterious whodunit plot. Some on action oriented execution. Some on utilizing plot and imagery to benefit character development and logical study. Others on more of an adventure execution that's more straightforward, but mainly has the viewers wondering how everything will turn out in the end. The Chaser fits in the later category.

In downtown Seoul, an ex-detective turned streetwise pimp Joong-ho makes his living on the other side of morality by renting his prostitutes to various clients. He begins to notice that his business is slowly going under when he realizes that some of his women have gone to a certain address and have turned up missing. Upon discovering that one of his employees, Mi-jin- a struggling single mother with a seven year old daughter- has been called to the same address at Mangwon District, he has her give him information on the client and his whereabouts. While inside the residence, Mi-jin later falls victim to the client Young-min's murderous nature and discovers that he's been killing prostitutes. Joong-ho captures Young-min only to be apprehended by the local police. Young-min confesses to the killings. Knowing the system, Joong-ho is given 12 hours to search for incriminating evidence before Young-min is set free.

Being inspired by the true event of the killings of the notorious Yoo Young-chul, the plot seems straightforward. As the story progresses we begin to learn more about Young-min with every piece of evidence and confession that is being obtained. It begins as if it's a mystery, but is later given a new twist. Instead of learning about the killer and later him being revealed, he's revealed and we begin to learn about him then. Despite this change in the style, the plot is very engaging and thrilling. The reason beside everything that happens becomes explained as the story progresses. Every dynamic is handled well and nothing drones out.

While not the most innovative in its genre, The Chaser is a great example that many filmmakers can draw influence in how to make an effective thriller. The Vengeance Trilogy is looked at by most viewers as the ultimate movie trilogy that represents the K-thriller genre as we know it. The Chaser takes a more different approach in how these presented plot dynamics where presented in Park's films and tells them through more of an action/adventure perspective. One can think of it as like The Fugitive except without the whodunit plot point. Despite this change in dynamic its execution is greatly handled.

Joong-ho is played by Yun-seok Kim (Tazza: The High Rollers). Jung-woo Ha (Time) plays Young-min. Mi-jin is played by Yeong-hie Seo (Shadows in the Palace, Bedeviled). Every actor does great. Each character brings a sense of atmosphere and thrills to the story. Every character provides multiple levels of intrigue and every one of them play their parts in progressing the story.

Being the directorial debut of Hong-jin Na, everything in The Chaser is handled expertly. The pacing, plot structure, and music are wonderfully handled and never drone out. The cinematography is great. The backgrounds look very massive and lifelike. Every image is wonderfully shot and every technical aspect does great at contributing to the movie.

The Chaser is a very well crafted and expertly made thriller that any fan of K-movies cannot afford to miss. Hong-jin Na would later go on to make another directorial hit piece, The Yellow Sea. After seeing and enjoying this movie, I'd love to see the latter film.

*Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.
Ong Bak 2 2009,  R)
Ong Bak 3 2011,  R)
The Room 1998,  R)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show 1975,  R)
Coriolanus 2011,  R)
When it comes down to making a movie adaptation of a Shakespeare play most movies have pushed his more famous ones into many different directions in setting and style. From the imaginative world of ''Titus", to the modernized rendition of ''Romeo and Juliet", and the long, artistic, massive design of Kenneth Branagh's ''Hamlet" it stands to reason that the bard's plays have been creatively re-imagined contrary to their original settings. One would probably never have expected to see another one of these renditions of a more lesser known play let alone one that is based on an actual Roman General.

Based on the 1608 play ''Coriolanus" marks the directorial debut of actor Ralph Fiennes. In a war torn, modernized version of Rome successful war General Caius Martius Coriolanus is at odds with the Volscians and the leader Tullus Aufidius. After being elected based on his prowess Coriolanus constantly comes at odds with his incompetence and his mother Volumnia's ambitions. When the citizens banish him from Rome Coriolanus decides to strike a pact with his nemesis and the Volscian army to exact revenge on those that wronged him.

''Coriolanus" is an adaptation of the lesser known play in a present setting. The adaptation is very interesting and shows the many areas any Shakespeare play can be taken if one knows how to perform it in different chronological realms. Most would consider such a transition as being very out of place. It's perfectly clear that nobody in this time talks in the Shakespearian dialect and even Shakespeare himself didn't use the English language in the style in which he wrote it. Since I love Shakespeare and the movie is a solid adaptation of the source material any setting of the play is good in my book.

I personally love the cast of actors in this movie. I've always known how great of an actor Ralph Fiennes can be. Having been in such great movies like ''The Quiz Show", ''Red Dragon", ''Schindler's List", ''The English Patient", and so on his performance as Coriolanus is no exception. Gerard Butler as Tullus Aufidius fares just as well. Every actor and actress greatly resemble the characters' modern counterparts.

Another great aspect is the cinematography. Every shot is framed on a massive scale and every piece of scenery looks great. There were some times in this movie where it was hard to tell what was going on in certain scenes. A prime example is when a struggle breaks out at the doors of the Consul between Coriolanus and the two Senators: Brutus and Sicinius as he pushes them into the crowd of rioting citizens.

The script work is also very well done. While this movie isn't a complete and full adaptation of the play it does work faithfully with what it has to work with. Having been done by John Logan (Gladiator and The Last Samurai) one can safely assume an epic from this movie. Since this isn't a complete adaptation of the play there were some scenes that did feel overlong and drawn out. Thankfully this movie does not lack great atmosphere.

Most of the play in this movie is treated more like a war movie. The play had a lot of metaphorical dialogue about the structure of a governmental society in comparison to the human body. These aspects are removed from this movie. Given the fact that ''Coriolanus" is perhaps one of Shakespeare's more politically inclined plays I guess this movie does have a critical stigma attached to it about the overwhelming incompetence and governmental dependance of today's society. Another difference is Menenius' role. While he plays the protagonist as presented in the play his fate and character are much darker.

''Coriolanus" is a very interesting Shakespeare adaptation. Given the differences in adaptive writing, one can look at this movie as a more concrete version of adapting Shakespeare having a more concrete story and being more action oriented. While it does have its flaws in terms of the pacing of some scenes the writing, cinematography, and cast of actors are what make this movie worthwhile. While the movie can be considered viewer friendly, I would recommend first reading the play so one can get more involved in the story.
The Raid: Redemption 2012,  R)
The Raid: Redemption
In my review of ''Merantau" I said and thought to myself, "Maybe The Raid: Redemption is better. Perhaps I may be missing something since Iko Uwais is being hailed as the next Tony Jaa." While Merantau wasn't bad it didn't do anything new or special and felt more like a movie put on autopilot. I finally got a chance to check out ''The Raid: Redemption" and boy was I in for a treat. This movie not only turned out great, but it's going as far as to become one of the best action/martial arts movies I've ever seen since ''Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior".

Centering around a rookie in the special forces brach of law enforcement and a future father, Rama is assigned to a group that is given the task to capture a ruthless drug lord in an apartment complex. It is said that the complex is impenetrable and is littered with death traps. While attempting a more discrete infiltration the team get spotted by one of the scouts and are put to the challenge of getting through all the traps placed on each floor on their way to the uppermost level to capture Tama.

I've seen many great action/martial arts movies in the many years I've been a fan of the genre. ''The Raid: Redemption" a is fresh take on the style combining the thrill and suspense from movies like ''Saw 2" and the brutal, intense fights from movies like ''Oldboy" or ''Game of Death". Much of the action is done in a more claustrophobic fashion similar to the corridor fight in ''Oldboy", but the action style is done in the same vein as ''Game of Death" and ''Saw 2". There are a few plot twists and trendy, developing character relations, but story and characters are not what this movie encompass.

Despite paper thin story and characters the action is where this film truly shines. Even though the thrill factor is similar to ''Saw 2" in how traps are set up and how the characters' trust of one another gets rocky this movie is nothing but balls-to-the-wall action. Gunfights occur in fixated areas of navigation, slow-motion occurs at every early scene of impending danger, one man faces off against many opponents armed with machetes, heads get smashed to oblivion, etc.

The gunfights that occur are not done in a John Woo sense, but are more paced at certain areas of the setting. The lower levels of the building involve gunfights, the midlevels involve edged weapon specialists, and the upper part involves the trained fighters. The fight scenes in this movie are top notch. Every scene is wonderfully choreographed and intense. The best part is the final fight between Mad Dog takes on Rama and his brother, Andi at the same time. This movie is perhaps one of the bloodiest martial arts epics I've seen alongside ''Zatoichi" and Sonny Chiba's ''The Street Fighter".

I'm certain that like ''Merantau", this move is a promotional tool for Silat. This movie isn't really caught up in commercialism. The movie and the commercialism are kept wonderfully separate. Neither interfere with the immersion.

After seeing and witnessing this movie's glory I think I can finally see why Iko Uwais is being looked at as the next Tony Jaa. Unlike Tony Jaa, Uwais doesn't seem to use acrobatic stunts and relies more on brute force. One could say that he is going more the Sonny Chiba route with martial arts epics.

''The Raid: Redemption" is one of the best movies I've seen of this year. The story may not be what viewers of today are used to, but the action scenes and the unique survivalist take on the genre were so awesome I didn't even care about this flaw. I normally don't say curse words in any of my reviews, but in this case I'll make an exception. This movie is the very embodiment and epitome of badass-ness. With great fight scenes, awesome choreography, great music, and furious, balls-to-the-wall action ''The Raid: Redemption" is a perfect example of why people like me watch movies. That is: To be entertained.
Orguss 02 1993,  Unrated)
Ch˘jikű y˘sai Macross: Ai oboeteimasuka (Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?) 1984,  Unrated)
Paprika 2006,  R)
Millennium Actress (Sennen joyű) 2001,  PG)
Millennium Actress (Sennen joyű)
After having delivered such classics like Perfect Blue, Satoshi Kon began to prove himself to be a very competent filmmaker. Having made this movie he began to rank up with such mavericks like Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, Katsuhiro Otomo, or Makoto Shinkai as one of the masters of Japanese anime. After having seen Millennium Actress I can safely say that Kon has perhaps made his masterpiece.

The plot is hard to summarize, but I'll try my best. Centering around a legendary, yet faded actress named Chiyoko Fujiwara, a lifelong fan turned documentary filmmaker Mr. Tachibana visits her at her residence on the outskirts of Tokyo in hopes of making a documentary chronicling her legacy at the faded Ginei Studios. Upon arrival he gives her the mysterious key that she has long lost after her descent into exile. As the interview commences, Chiyoko, Tachibana, and his bumbling cameraman, Kyoji, are taken on a journey through her life as it flashes before them.

The story to this movie is clever and brilliant. Like a lot of Kon's movies, Millennium Actress tells itself like a movie within a movie. Much of Chiyoko's character development and history is told through manifested flashbacks and random transitions of her past movies. Her story begins as a teenager who constantly lives under the thumb of her domineering mother until she accidentally runs into a mysterious, wounded young stowaway artist who is on his way with his friends to Manchuria during WWII. When he loses his key that he tells Chiyoko is "to the most important thing there is", she begins her career as an internationally traveling actress in hopes of returning that which he lost.

Much of the movies that are presented are indirect references to the many masterful Japanese classics from the golden age of Japanese cinema. The witch, Wraith who deceptively curses Chiyoko resembles the witch from Kurosawa's classic "The Throne of Blood". Each transition goes back to the mysterious key that Chiyoko is so determined to return to the equally mysterious young man. It's this sense of mystery and discovery that makes the story of Millennium Actress both enduring and meditative. One could almost think of this as a Japanese anime rendition of Frederico Fellini's classic "8 1/2".

The animation and music are also top-notch. Having been done by Mad House everything moves smoothly and every detail is wonderfully captured. Since "Ninja Scroll" it does seem like Mad House has always been improving its technical aspects while operating with the given boundaries of anime. As time goes on, these boundaries are starting to expand more and more.

I really love how Kon uses these fourth wall plot devices to fully develop his characters and absolutely appropriate music to engulf the viewer. I suppose that since his best works like "Paprika", "Paranoia Agent", and "Perfect Blue" use these same layouts within their given stories they perhaps reflect Kon's passion for making movies. I can't say that I blame him for having such an enthusiasm since he has made hit piece after hit piece.

Millennium Actress is like a meditative celebration of the golden age of Japanese cinema in the guise of a fantasized love story. Movies can be looked at as a form of honesty from their makers in exposing the innermost feelings. It's a crying shame that Kon's career was short-lived. In honor of such a visionary anime director and one of my personal favorites, I say that Millennium Actress is a movie that along with Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" one cannot afford to miss.
Perfect Blue 1999,  R)
My Neighbor Totoro 1988,  G)
My Neighbor Totoro
There are very few childhood films that I fully remember buying and watching. Such films can be safely looked at as ones that will be most cherished by the ones that view them. My Neighbor, Totoro is a prime example of those childhood films that I saw as a child and loved. Not only do I still love this movie to this day, but I also credit it as being my first exposure to the world of Japanese anime. Totoro was one of those movies-along with Toy Story- that completely changed the way I looked at animated movies prior to the advent of CG animation.

Two sisters: Satsuki and Mei move with their dad out to the countryside of Japan. Upon arrival at their new home they begin to discover some strange occurrences happening. They later learn from Kanta's grandmother that the beings they've encountered are forest spirits that can only be selectively shown to kids. With their mother sick and in the hospital the girls try to adjust to life as they are currently knowing it, but later become plunged into a world with magical, benevolent, and wonderful creatures that help them out through their troubles.

As most of my readers may remember from my review of ''Grave of the Fireflies" I metaphorically referred to both of these movies as a yin-yang. That wasn't solely based on the year that they were released, but how similar they are in plot structure and how they differ in delivery using these same dynamics.

Both movies focus on sibling related characters who deal with circumstances of loss and worry, but have the familial love for one another to help them get through. "Grave of the Fireflies'' deals with the loss of hope in times of hardship only to regain it in the end. Totoro has a much more optimistic approach in dealing with the circumstances of potential loss, but always being able to never lose hope. Being done by the master Hayao Miyazaki one would have to expect fantasy elements.

The story to My Neighbor, Totoro is fantastic. This movie has many wonderful scenes and ones that allow for moments of silence. Despite being family friendly and centering around children this movie is one of those family films that can be enjoyed by anybody regardless of age. Like ''Grave of the Fireflies", Totoro also uses the dynamic of allowing the viewer to meditate on the story aspects by using what Ebert referred to as ''pillow moments". My Neighbor, Totoro is full of such scenes and each do wonderfully at benefiting the movie's artistic expression.

This movie is not absent of developing great, fun, and lovable characters. Both Satsuki and Mei are just as captivating and emotionally felt as Setsuka and Seita. Both characters never fail to offer artistic emotion and the many relationships that they form with every character always help to contribute to that sense of feeling. The greatest highlight of this movie is the developing friendship between Totoro and the two girls. Being the head of the forest creatures, his character is the plot device of being the girls' source of hope. Each character stands out and never feels miniature in due comparison to one another.

Having been released in 1988 by Fox and redistributed by Disney years later the technical aspects are mostly intact. The art and animation are still top notch. Not only are the characters still wonderfully detailed, but every image is greatly designed. The landscapes look wonderfully massive and lifelike. LIke a lot of great anime movies, Totoro is by no means devoid of artistic imagination. Every image always gives the viewer a great sense of charisma and feeling. The music also fares just as well.

Since I'm talking about two different versions of this one film, I'll have to say that Disney has done pretty well at maintaining the quality of its original Streamline dub (the version I originally owned). All of the voice actors are greatly cast and do a good job with their roles. There are some differences in Japanese/English translations in the Disney version compared to the Fox version.

Like ''Grave of the Fireflies", My Neighbor, Totoro is a great and expressive circumstantially based movie that never fails to captivate the viewer by realistically using the two main characters to relate to the viewer's inner-child. Hayao Miyazaki has perfectly established himself not just as one of the masters of anime, but as Japan's Walt Disney. I've seen many animated movies as a kid. For one to still be remembered and hold up as good now compared to back then says a lot about the film's quality.
Omohide poro poro (Only Yesterday) 1991,  Unrated)
Gedo senki (Tales from Earthsea) 2010,  PG-13)
Umi ga kikoeru (I Can Hear the Sea) (The Ocean Waves) 1993,  PG)
Fong juk (Exiled) 2006,  R)
Tian xia wu zei (A World Without Thieves) 2004,  Unrated)
Saat po long (S.P.L.) (Kill Zone) 2005,  Unrated)
Police Story (Ging chaat goo si) (Police Force) 1985,  PG-13)
Chat gim (The Seven Swords) 2005,  R)
Samurai Champloo 2005,  Unrated)
Outlaw Star 2001,  Unrated)
Outlaw Star
Like many anime fans, I hold an immense amount of respect for the widely regarded classic "Cowboy Bebop". When talking about "Outlaw Star'' it has become almost impossible for modern anime fans to draw parallels between these two shows due to the many directions anime has been taken over the years and the cultures it has tried to effectively tackle outside its own. The irony of this whole subject is that "Outlaw Star'' was shown to American audiences before "Cowboy Bebop''. Both shows were actually created in the same year of 1998, making them as old as one another. Having aired on Toonami in an edited format "Outlaw Star" is one of those shows that I remember watching and loving as a kid, but respecting more after having watched it after "Cowboy Bebop".

Taking place in a futuristic, intercommunicated, Star Trek style world business partners/bounty hunters Gene Starwind and Jim Hawking of Starwind and Hawking Enterprises get offered a job by a mysterious female outlaw named "Hot Ice" Hilda. Being pursued by the Kei pirates, Tao priests, and the mysterious group of assassins known as the Anten Seven; having awoken an android named Melfina Hilda leads them to a stolen spaceship called the XGP. Hilda gives Gene the task of searching for the legendary Galactic Leyline of which she says the ship and Melfina were created for. After Hilda's sacrificial death Gene renames the XGP the "Outlaw Star" and embarks on his quest. Along the way, he befriends clienteles and extra crew members: Aisha Clan-Clan-a fiery tempered, yet klutzy half-feline, half-human hybrid of the alien race called the Ctarl-Ctarl and Susuka-a silent, yet deadly female assassin who is always self reserved.

Having watched this show back when I was a kid and watching it today I can say that this show has aged quite well. Whether to call it better, or worse than "Cowboy Bebop" is a rather unfair criticism in my mind. Many of the story elements and characterizations are similar to "Cowboy Bebop". Like the aforementioned show, "Outlaw Star" creates a world of many different cultures and doesn't concentrate solely on action. There is a balance between the main story and the characters' slice-of-life elements. Apart from the main story, most of the episodes feature a different subplot. These subplots do stray from the main story, but are not done in a manner of annoyance, but done to allow the viewer to relate to the characters and fully grasp their walk of life.

The series has a blend of humor, action, adventure, drama, romance, science fiction, and fantasy. A lot of these dynamics come together very well and the world that "Outlaw Star" creates allows for such character interactions to work. Most of the humor centers on Gene's reckless womanizing habits and the responsible Jim constantly nagging him about his behaviors, Fred Lou's homosexual behaviors, Aisha's childish demeanors, and the character interactions with different alien species. The slice of life aspect of the show is done very similarly to "Cowboy Bebop". Like Jet and Spike, Jim and Gene are always on the lookout for bounties and business opportunities that will allow them to pay off their debts. Many of which encompass their ship repairs, food supply, and even their predicaments.

In contrast to "Cowboy Bebop", "Outlaw Star" lacks the pop cultural, jazz inducing, film-noir execution of its successor. "Outlaw Star" does have action and gunplay, but the show's primary focus is more on the adventures and explorations rather than the action element. Each adventure is very thrilling and every world that the show creates is very imaginative. The show does incorporate the "Star Trek" style of species interaction through more of a political, vagrant, and sociological perspective.

The animation is purely hand drawn and has a darker color scheme than "Cowboy Bebop's" more elaborate style. The animation to this show is good, but there where a few times where I felt that the continuity of the character design was a little off. Some examples are the character height and Gene's muscular appearance. The music is also more eclectic and is very well done. I really love the art pictures shown during the ending credits of each episode and the soothing music that accompanies them. The orchestrated music during the show isn't too bad, but the intro theme is what got me hyped for each and every episode. The voice acting for both the English and Japanese versions are also solid, but shy of "Cowboy Bebop's" quality. Like I said, I remember watching this show on Toonami and a little on Adult Swim. The English dub does have a few odd translations in a few parts, but does bring with it a great sense of nostalgia.

Like Spike and Vicious, Gene shares an adversarial relationship with the famed McDougal Brothers: Ron and Harry. Ron and Harry have contrasting personalities with one another and Vicious. Ron is older and more laid back, whereas, Harry is more psychotic, vengeful, yet cowardly. While Gene was never partnered with the MacDougal Brothers as Spike was with Vicious, he remembers their ship-the "El Dorado"-being responsible for the death of his father and of Hilda.

"Outlaw Star" is full of humorous and charming moments. One complaint that I have about this show is the ending. While not bad, it did feel rather rushed and left more to be desired. From what I was able to gather there was a sequel planned that was going to be entitled "Outlaw Star: Sword of the Wind" that was supposed to be set three years after this show, but production never began and the project was put on hold. This is one of those anime shows that I so thoroughly enjoyed to the point to where I wanted to know what the next adventure held for Gene and his crew.

Like I said, I think that to call "Outlaw Star" better, or worse than "Cowboy Bebop" is a rather unfair criticism. I prefer to think of both these shows as twin brothers. More like "Cowboy Bebop" being the more action-oriented, character driven show, while "Outlaw Star" is the more adventure encompassing, socially understanding, and artistically imaginative counterpart. This is mostly just my opinion of how I see the two shows. Despite the minor faults in the animation and the ending, "Outlaw Star" is an anime that I highly recommend checking out for any fan of the space western anime genre.
Ao no roku g˘ (Blue Submarine No. 6) 1999,  Unrated)
Rock And Rule 1983,  PG)
Blue Gender 2003,  Unrated)
Blue Gender: The Warrior 2004,  Unrated)
Death Note (Desu n˘to) 2007,  Unrated)
Death Note: The Last Name (Desu n˘to 2) 2008,  Unrated)
Afro Samurai: Resurrection 2009,  Unrated)
Evangerion shin gekij˘ban: Jo (Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone) (Neon Gensis: Evangelion 1.01 You Are (Not) Alone) 2007,  PG-13)
Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance 2011,  PG-13)
FLCL (Fooly Cooly) 2000,  Unrated)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974,  R)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
In Texas, a group of five sleuths: siblings Sally and Franklin Hardesty, along with friends Pam, Jerry, and Kirk travel to visit their grandfather's grave in response to reports of grave plundering in the cemetery where he was buried. While on the road, they pick up a strange hitchhiker who causes trouble for them. The group's van begins to run low on fuel and are told by the station owner that they are expecting a new supply of fuel. The group decide to do some sightseeing while they wait. Upon doing so, they stumble across a house and some of the members go there in hopes of finding help. Instead of help, things only get worse.

After Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 classic Psycho took audiences by storm and set the standards for the exploitation sub-genre of slasher movies, The Texas Chiansaw Massacre took audiences by storm by being more exploitive with plot devices and high-impact violence. While neither one are credited as the films to start the slasher genre they both are some of the most highly influential cult films that pushed a new dynamic would-be genre into the light. The honor of starting the slasher genre goes to John Carpenter's Halloween, which was made four years after this one.

Aside from its then high-impact violence, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre became a huge hit due to it being marketed as if it were a true story. The style of this film not only feels like a low budget indie version of Psycho, but the overall narrative does embody that of a documentary. Although, this ''massacre" never actually happened. Like Psycho, most of this film's plot and characterization of the iconic Leatherface was inspired by serial killer, Edward Gein. The house is decorated in heads and skeletal remains, corpses are severed, mutilated, and stored, victims get impaled on meathooks, Leatherface cross dresses like a wife, and there is a subtle subplot on cannibalism. Almost all of these images were taken from Ed Gein's real life accounts. Though, Gein never lived in Texas. He terrorized Plainfield, Wisconsin. The idea for the plot and Leatherface's characterization stemmed from Tobe Hooper waiting in line in a hardware shop only to find a chainsaw on sale.

The narrative is very effective on this film's part. For a movie being on a low budget, the camerawork is very well done and adds to the overall style of plot development through psychological horror. Neither one of the actors were celebrities, but they all do greatly in their roles. Suffice to say that they later became famous after being in this classic. The greatest of all the actors is Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface. His character has no lines and is the most active in the killings. His performance was so iconic to the point that Leatherface would go on to have his own franchise of merchandise. Ranging from halloween masks, comic books, crossover comic strips with other iconic characters like Jason Voorhees, etc. Though the role was handed to different actors that stood over 6' tall as the movie sequels went on, Hansen is the actor that started the character and is the one I think of most when I think of Leatherface.

Unexpectedly, this movie became one of the most controversial films ever made and still remains so to this day. It was banned in many countries overseas, especially Hansen's birthplace Iceland. Many censored versions were released later on, but I never bothered to check them out.

For a film that has a runtime of 1 hour and 24 minutes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has a very rich history. Having spawned franchises and pushed the horror genre in a new direction, this film is a masterpiece in the B-movie horror genre. Roger Corman aka King of the Bs would be impressed. B-movies are usually taken for granted, but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of those films in the genre that truly shines.

*Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.
Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III 1990,  R)
Janghwa, Hongryeon (A Tale of Two Sisters) 2003,  R)
The Good, the Bad, and the Weird 2010,  R)
Tangled 2010,  PG)
It almost feels like a long time since we've seen animated Disney films be told in their more traditional state. Disney always has made many classics that people remember and cherish. Most were centered around princesses finding love, but there were some films, like ''Alice in Wonderland", that were a departure from their more common plot structure. Many traditionalists would probably never expect to see a CG animated homage to the classic structures. Tangled is a surprisingly great movie that goes so far as to display technical excellence while staying faithful to its nostalgic roots.

The movie centers around a young girl named Rapunzel who has magically inclined that derives its powers and features from a magical rose that was used to heal her sick mother. Kidnapped as a child and bound to a tower, she wishes to see the stars as a present on her 18th birthday, but is prohibited from doing so by her mother. When a young and charming thief, Flynn Rider stumbles upon the tower and decides to take refuge there while on the lam from the castle guards he gets captured by Rapunzel. He notices that his satchel is hidden by her and she coerces him to fulfill her desire in exchange for his freedom.

Being a more alternate version of the classic story Rapunzel, the movie does a great job at adding many unique Disney twists and artistic feeling of older Disney animated movies. As the story progresses, every character is given much depth and the relationship between the two main characters starts to develop. The way the story is told reminds me of such Disney classics like ''The Little Mermaid", ''Beauty and the Beast", and ''Snow White". Being used to the older Disney movies, I can say that this movie's story is fun and exciting. Not one moment of this movie felt boring, or slow. This movie is very evenly paced and the humor this film provides adds to the fun. Despite borrowing from earlier Disney classics, nothing in this movie feels recycled and everything feels fresh.

This brings me to the animation topic. As I said earlier, this film displays technical excellence. Tangled is a very good looking film with richly detailed settings and character designs that look as if someone took the style of the older hand drawn Disney classics and put them with the CG trend. As I hinted at, this movie is packed with cartoonish humor. The animation style and humor delivery does fall victim to a lot of the modern animation trends of moving at a fast pace and being very energetic with liberal use of bright color schemes.

I have been quite critical of a lot of modern animated shows and movies for that fact. A lot of animated entertainment of today doesn't feel focused and is devoid of feeling. Tangled has very energetic and fast moving animation. What separates this movie from many of the others is that this movie is full of resting points. Every scene is wonderfully interwoven together and each pacing moment greatly adjusts to the changes in tone. The voice acting is also wonderfully done.

This movie also includes a lot of musical numbers. The songs in this movie are wonderfully timed and never interfere with the story. Many movies of today that incorporate such things always feel like they're shy of straying away from what they are trying to be. Tangled has some of the best balance between story and music I've ever seen in a modern animated musical film. The only negative thing I can say about this movie is that while the songs are fun none of them struck me as memorable.

Tangled is perhaps one of the most fun and engaging CG movies Disney has done outside of Pixar. Certain films like this one and ''The Princess and the Frog" have tried to bring the traditions of Disney back to the public. I haven't been all too impressed with the many directions that Disney of today has taken nowadays. Straying away from the goal of providing magically wholesome entertainment and turning into a company that is all about marketing has absorbed much of the heart and magic that people like me were used to seeing. Tangled is a great homage to the old-school Disney formula and a great example of what Disney needs to go back to if they want to succeed.
Merantau 2009,  R)
Merantau is a 2009 Indonesian movie directed by Welsh-born director, Gareth H. Evans. The plot involves a Pencak Silat expert, Yuda (Iko Uwais, The Raid: Redemption) who leaves his rural village in hopes of starting his own martial arts school in the big city of Jakarta. Things take a toll for the worst as he runs into a vagrant boy, Adi who tries to free his older sister, Astri from the clutches of a human trafficker, Ratger. Upon discovering the dark secrets of the strip-club, Yuda begins to use his Silat skills to destroy the ring and help to free Astri.

The story is pretty straight-forward, but it's basically very generic. The only thing that this film encompasses is set-ups for action scenes. Not being anything new, it mostly affects the pacing of this film and does follow Ong-Bak a little closely. There really isn't much for me to say about the film's story, but what there is. The action scenes, however, are where this film shines.

The fight scenes are well choreographed and the cinematography is very well done. It is also nice to see Silat done in a movie and how it works. I don't know much about the art, but from what I've seen it's pretty Japanese influenced. The stances, footwork, kicking, punching, joint-locking, wrestling, body positioning, maneuvering, and counter-striking are very similar to Karate, Japanese Judo, and Ninjitsu. The music to this film isn't that bad, but it mostly drones itself out in the long run.

This film is mostly a promotional tool for Silat. Which, isn't a bad thing it's just the reality of this movie. It's pretty hard to write a full, in-depth review of a film that's more about commercialism than story and acting. Suffice to say, that Ong-Bak was commercialism for Muay Thai, but it did help balance out its action and make room for an immersive plot. This film seems to have too much action, or too much promotion and it doesn't really balance itself out very well. It does seem that the majority of films coming out of Southeast Asia are mostly marketing tools for their national sports.

Overall, Merantau isn't a bad movie, but there really isn't much to say about it since it is a marketing tool for Silat and doesn't do anything special in terms of plot. For martial arts enthusiasts, like myself, it's worth checking out primarily for the action and to see Silat performed. The director of this film also directed The Raid: Redemption, which I have not seen, but plan to sometime in the future. It also was the film that gave Iko the title of becoming the next Tony Jaa. I look forward to seeing it sometime and if it lives up to the hype, I'll be willing to believe anything.
Cidade de Deus (City of God) 2003,  R)
Munich 2005,  R)
Stalag 17 1953,  Unrated)
The Great Escape 1963,  Unrated)
Once Upon a Time in the West 1968,  PG-13)
Once Upon a Time in the West
After his successful Dollars Trilogy, master director Sergio Leone made a film that not only was met with acclaim, but also helped to solidify his reputation as a filmmaker of non-American Westerns. One of the most amazing things about the Spaghetti Westerns is how the Spanish landscape closely resembles that of the Old West. This movie was mostly shot in Utah, but the final scene was shot in Spain. Due to the films being made by Italian filmmakers it would go to prove that these more realistic westerns use filmmaking techniques that were greatly exploited by Italian filmmakers around the time in order to create more effective westerns.

Set in the fictional town of Flagstone, AZ a notorious sociopath named Frank (played by Henry Fonda) is on the loose. When three of his stationed gang members are killed by a vengeful gunslinger simply known as Harmonica (Charles Bronson) at a train station he goes on a rampage and kills the McBain family in cold blood right before the widowed father, Brett McBain and his older son go to the train station to welcome his new wife Jill (played by the lovely Claudia Cardinale). Upon arrival at a bar near the Sweetwater Ranch, she meets Harmonica and discovers the family's demise. When she is presented with a piece of cloth that was left behind at the scene Mrs. McBain decides to stay at the ranch in hopes of protecting its main water supply and ensuring the railroad's construction. She learns that the cloth belongs to Cheyenne (played by Jason Robards). When Cheyenne learns about a plot to take over the 320-acre land of Sweetwater by a shady railroad tycoon, he decides to help Harmonica on his personal quest in ensuring that everything goes according to plan and to clear his name of the crime.

Sergio Leone is one of Italy's greatest directors. After having seen the Dollars Trilogy I've always associated Leone's western protagonist as being Clint Eastwood. Leone manages to successfully depart from what seemed like a typical western formula for him and went with Charles Bronson. The cast of actors in this film is great and Charles Bronson is no exception to Eastwood. Bronson's character is perhaps the darkest protagonist I've seen yet in a spaghetti western. Like Eastwood's Man with no Name, Bronson's character also has no name and is given the name Harmonica because of his character's trademark. I think that not revealing the protagonist's name, especially in westerns, helps to add more of a dark charisma and makes the character more intriguing. The fact that Cheyenne names him Harmonica reminds me of when Eli Wallach's character in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly named Eastwood Blondie.

Unlike Eastwood's character we get backstory to Harmonica and why he is on the quest he is. Eastwood's character felt more like a wandering vagabond with no name who just gets involved in many events and just works his way out. The story to Once Upon a Time in the West doesn't just center on Harmonica, but it mostly tells everything in an omniscient perspective. The focus is mostly on the town and what every character is trying to accomplish. This is a film that is greatly balanced out in terms of narrative and content. Every scene contributes to something and nothing feels unpolished. One thing I will say is that the ending did drag on a little. Leone was guilty of this same thing when he made Once Upon a Time in America, but editing his films from their original counterparts would detract from their engagement quality.

Ennio Morriconie did the music. Ennio is no stranger to making fantastic music tracks to whatever film he works on. He did the music to many Spaghetti Westerns like For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, My Name is Nobody, A Fistful of Dynamite, etc. The music to this movie isn't as eclectic or abundant as the previous Leone westerns, but the soundtrack to this movie is wonderful and does its job nicely.

This movie is one of the greatest Spaghetti Westerns ever made. It has been credited as the film that re-established the Western's significance as cinema art. Everything from the music, cast, directing, cinematography, and complex story is more than enough to earn my recommendation. This film may drag on near the ending, but that alone is not enough to change my view of this movie. Watch it with an open mind and experience the genius that is Sergio Leone.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 1966,  R)
Dark City 1998,  R)
The Crow 1994,  R)
Karate Bullfighter 1975,  Unrated)
Samurai 7 2005,  Unrated)
Equilibrium 2002,  R)
The Emperor and the Assassin (Jing Ke ci Qin Wang) 1998,  R)
Battle of the Warriors 2006,  Unrated)
Berserk 2002,  Unrated)
Five Deadly Venoms 1978,  R)
Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms 1978,  R)
Heroes of the East 1979,  R)
Foo gwai lit che (Millionaire's Express) (Shanghai Express) (Wealthy Train) 1986,  PG-13)
The City of Violence (Jjakpae) 2006,  Unrated)
Arahan jangpung daejakjeon (Urban Martial Arts Action) 2005,  Unrated)
Dragon Squad (Maang lung) 2005,  Unrated)
The Killer (Dip huet seung hung) 1989,  R)
Lat sau san taam (Hard-Boiled) 1992,  R)
Gau ngao gau (Dog Bite Dog) 2006,  Unrated)
Police Story 2 (Ging chaat goo si juk jaap) (Police Force II) 1988,  PG-13)
Crime Story (Zhong an zu) (New Police Story) (Police Dragon) 1993,  R)
Mou gaan dou (Infernal Affairs) 2002,  R)
Infernal Affairs II 2003,  PG-13)
Infernal Affairs III (Mou gaan dou III: Jung gik mou gaan) 2003,  PG-13)
Triad Election (Hak se wui yi wo wai kwai) 2007,  Unrated)
Moon to (ProtÚgÚ) 2007,  R)
Dao huo xian (City Without Mercy) (Flash Point) (Fuse) (The Signal) 2007,  R)
Hak kuen (Fatal Contact) 2008,  Unrated)
Nan er ben se (Invisible Target) 2008,  R)
Above the Law (Zhi fa xian feng) 1986,  Unrated)
Last Hurrah for Chivalry 1979,  Unrated)
Failan 2001,  Unrated)
The Rebel 2006,  R)
Voyna i Mir (War and Peace) 1967,  PG)
1900 (Novecento) 1976,  R)
True Legend 2011,  R)
San suk si gin (The Shinjuku Incident) 2009,  R)
Scream 1996,  R)
One year has passed since the death of Sydney Prescott's mother. Nearing the anniversary of her mother's bizarre killing, a serial murderer named Ghostface is on the loose. Students, officials, and friends of Sydney are turning up dead. While celebrating their time off school, some aware, teenage horror movie buffs begin to learn more about Ghostface's modus operandi. He forces his victims into deadly questionnaires concerning their favorite horror movies over the phone and strikes until they are at their wit's end. During a party, some of the aware teenagers decide to use their knowledge of horror movie plot devices to try to turn the tables on Ghostface and see who he is.

At first glance, Scream looks like one of those cheap, uninventive, predictable, knockoffs of certain blockbusters of the slasher genre. In reality, Scream is the exact opposite. The plot is very well paced and structured. Every character that surrounds Sydney establishes him/herself as a viable candidate for being Ghostface and being associative in some cases. Most of the characters present themselves as horror movie stereotypes.

Tatum (Rose McGowan) is presented as a feminine, naive, partying younger sister of a young, rookie police officer Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and close friend of Sydney. Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) is a cocky, ambitious news reporter who's always accompanied by a slow, bumbling cameraman, Kenny (W. Earl Brown). Billy Loomis and Stu Macher (Skeet Ulrich and Matthew Lillard) are two high-school jocks and boyfriends of the two leading ladies. Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) is a social outcast and horror movie buff who has special feelings for Sydney (Neve Campbell).

One thing every character has in common is that every actor has a fourth wall attitude. All of the characters perform as if they are self-aware that they are in a horror movie. Scream is filled with pop cultural references, horror movie trivia, and Tarantino-esque dialogue it's easy to think of this movie as a parody of slasher films. I can assure anyone reading this that Scream is anything but.

Every dynamic one would expect to see in a slasher film is done as a subtle fourth wall joke, but the ''joke" is used very well at playing with the audience. Every one of the actors very effectively perform their roles and station themselves so well to where one has no choice but to think that he/she has got to be the killer. The ''joke" is also used to help with this movie's structure and pacing. Every character has a hip, apathetic, teenage persona. This dynamic makes this movie very hip and trendy, but is used effectively in benefiting to the thrills.

Overall, Scream is a trendy, but effective new take on the slasher genre. Its use of trendy dynamics, dialogue, performances, and plot structures may not be as effective as films like The Shining or Misery, but for a movie of its genre they work. Wes Craven has been credited along with John Carpenter as one of the masters of horror. Having made such famous movies as A Nightmare on Elm Street and characters like Freddy Krueger, Scream can be considered another accomplishment he can add on his directorial resume. While not perfect and may be trendy for some viewers, Scream is a very worthy addition to the classics of the slasher genre. Having made two iconic, fictional, horror movie antagonists from two different cult movies can be looked at as an achievement in my book.

*Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.
Watership Down 1978,  PG)
The Plague Dogs 1983,  PG-13)
Bodyguards and Assassins (Shi yue wei cheng) 2009,  R)
The Secret of Kells 2010,  G)
PTU (PTU - Police Tactical Unit) 2003,  R)
Kerd ma lui (Born to Fight) 2004,  Unrated)
Dynamite Warrior 2007,  Unrated)
Sukai Kurora (The Sky Crawlers) 2008,  PG-13)
36th Chamber of Shaolin (Shao Lin san shi liu fang) 1979,  R)
Bo bui gai wak (Rob-B-Hood) (Robin-B-Hood) 2006,  Unrated)
Come Drink With Me 1965,  Unrated)
Lu ding ji (Royal Tramp) 1992,  R)
Lu ding ji II zhi shen long jiao (Royal Tramp II) 1992,  R)
Ye yan (Legend of the Black Scorpion) (The Banquet) 2006,  Unrated)
Twin Warriors (Tai ji zhang san feng) (The Tai-Chi Master) 1984,  R)
Supercop 1992,  R)
Gei ba ba de xin (My Father is a Hero) (Jet Li's The Enforcer) 1995,  R)
Resident Evil: Degeneration 2008,  R)
Steamboy 2005,  PG-13)
Azumi 2003,  Unrated)
Azumi 2: Death or Love 2005,  Unrated)
House of Flying Daggers 2004,  PG-13)
Fong Sai Yuk (The Legend) 1993,  R)
Return of the One Armed Swordsman (Du bei dao wang) 1969,  Unrated)
Shao Lin da peng da shi (Master Killer II)(Return to the 36th Chamber) 1980,  R)
Nan bei Shao Lin (Shaolin Temple 3: Martial Arts of Shaolin) (North and South Shaolin) (Arahan) 1985,  Unrated)
Executioners from Shaolin 1977,  Unrated)
Five Shaolin Masters 1974,  Unrated)
Feng hou (Mad Monkey Kung Fu) 1980,  Unrated)
The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro) (The Sea Within) 2004,  PG-13)
Affliction 1997,  R)
Save The Green Planet 2004,  Unrated)
Musa (The Warriors) (Musa the Warrior) 2001,  R)
Battle Warrior 1996,  Unrated)
Plook mun kuen ma kah 4 (Spirited Killer) (Spirited Warrior) 1996,  Unrated)
Hard Gun 1996,  Unrated)
Lethal Weapon 1987,  R)
Lethal Weapon 2 1989,  R)
Lethal Weapon 3 1992,  R)
Lethal Weapon 4 1998,  R)
Die Hard 1988,  R)
Die Hard 2 1990,  R)
Die Hard 3: With a Vengeance 1995,  R)
Live Free or Die Hard 2007,  PG-13)
Tian tang kou (Blood Brothers) 2007,  R)
Death Trance 2005,  R)
Kataude mashin gÔru (The Machine Girl) 2008,  Unrated)
Tai ji ba jiao (Shaolin Deadly Kicks) (The Flash Legs) 1982,  Unrated)
Guy With Secret Kung Fu 1978,  Unrated)
Ninja Wars 1982,  Unrated)
Cyclo 1996,  Unrated)
A young cyclo transporter in poverty stricken Ho Chi Minh City lives with his relatives. He tries to gather as much money as he can amidst the social turmoil of Vietnamese society to make a living. During one of his transportation runs, the cyclo is assaulted by a local gang and gets his cab stolen. In desperate need of income, the cyclo is then forced into a life of crime which continues to seduce him with easy money. Unbeknownst to him, the leader of the gang, Poet, attempts to seduce the cyclo's sister into prostitution while having her brother do his bidding. While in the life of crime, the cyclo's lust for money plunges him deeper into a chaotic descent into the underbelly of Ho Chi Minh City's underworld.

The plot to Cyclo is like a combination of Taxi Driver and Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief. The subject matters presented in both of those films are tackled more in-depth in this film and work superbly on this film's part. The story works as both a character study of a man who is driven into madness due to combination of personal and sociological struggles and a familial drama about trying to survive amidst a broke society. These factors in this movie are very evenly balanced out and never ceases to intrigue the viewer. Sometimes they are conveyed through poignant imagery similar to that of Kim Ki-Duk.

Aside from the plot, the main highlights of this film, for me, are the acting and the cinematography. Tony Leung's performance as Poet was very conniving and strong. All of the actors do a first-rate job at providing a sense of what a decaying society does to those who attempt to be hard-working citizens and far one can fall when they succumb to its turmoil. The cinematography to this movie is outstanding and does a lot to contribute to the atmosphere presented in the story. The music is also very well done and the use of Radiohead's single ''Creep'' during the nightclub scene is very evenly timed and composed as with all of the other scores used in this movie.

Overall, Cyclo is a very superbly directed, acted, composed, and choreographed film that extends from being a work of art to an important film for anyone who loves international cinema. It may be overlong and overbearing for some viewers, but it was very well filmed and tackled to earn my strong recommendation. This film was banned in its home country of Vietnam. Maybe for its graphic depiction of poverty in Vietnamese society, but that's just a guess on my part. Despite some of the negatives, Cyclo is a wonderful film that provides a great experience that is worth sharing. Being the first film I've seen from director Tran Anh Hung, I look forward to seeing The Scent of Green Papaya and hope to see it soon.
Knight & Day 2010,  PG-13)
Cyber City Oedo 808: Data 1 1990,  Unrated)
Ninja Resurrection 1999,  Unrated)
Puen yai jon salad (Legend of the Tsunami Warrior) (Queens of Langkasuka) 2008,  R)
Sunset Boulevard 1950,  Unrated)
Sunset Boulevard
Hollywood embodies many different personas. Many think of it as a growing corporation where riches are in abundance and make up the backbone of mainstream American culture. Many also associate it with being full of sin and vice. Much stress is involved, much risk-taking, and more escapist mentality. In reality, Hollywood is no different compared to the many places one visits in the world despite its stereotypical representation. Having worked as a movie extra for 5 years and counting, it can be safely said on my part that stress is a key factor, but many of the people I've worked with on the different projects of which I was involved are fantastic in grasping the concept of teamwork. Sunset Boulevard is a flawless film that exposes the more darker side of Hollywood and stardom.

Centering around the dead screenwriter, Joe Gillis the story begins as one big flashback to the times of Mr. Gillis and how he comes to meet his demise. Gillis starts off as a struggling screenwriter who is seeking refuge from the many groups of people that are trying to collect his taxes. He stumbles across a mansion on Sunset Boulevard which he discovers is owned by the famous Norma Desmond. Norma is a former celebrity from the silent movie era who is working on a screenplay that she hopes will return her to her former glory. Gillis decides to collaborate with her on her work and the two begin to form a relationship from there. As he continues deep into the relationship with Desmond, he starts to discover her dark secrets and his life becomes more public to his workers and the many people around him.

Sunset Boulevard has been hailed as one of the best films ever made. Others being Citizen Kane, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Godfather films, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Shawshank Redemption, Gone with the Wind, etc. Sunset Boulevard is a film that not only is what it is, but is one of those films that has earned its success very well. The movie combines many genres of filmmaking. It starts of as a crime-noir, progresses into being a dark comedy, and later goes on to become a character study to the mind of a crazed, fallen celebrity. The structuring is very well done and none of these factors become uneven anywhere during the film's progression. Each part does its role in contributing to the intrigue and they do it unbelievably well.

The main thing that should be worth noting in this review, is the performances. Every single actor sheds light on their characters flawlessly. William Holden does a wonderful job as Joe Gillis. The one performance that must be noted is Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond. Her performance was the one which gained the most notoriety during this film's release and remains on the same level to this day. Many of her lines, such as,"I am big. Only the pictures have gotten small'' and ''I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Demille" have obtained much recognition by audiences and politicians in America. Every one of her lines is well acted and flawlessly executed.

Another noteworthy thing is the many cameos that appear in the film. Cecil B. Demille (famous for the classic The Ten Commandments) plays himself as the director that Norma constantly pursues to try to get her picture off the ground. Filmmaker Erich von Stroheim plays Norma's butler and there is also a cameo of the Great Stone Face himself, Buster Keaton (famous for the silent classics, The General and Steamboat Bill Jr.)

Overall, Sunset Boulevard is a film that has earned its recognition and has earned it very well. Every bit of content in this film counts and is very evenly balanced thanks to remarkable writing and directing. Along with great story, marvelous execution, strong performances, and memorable lines, Sunset Boulevard is a film that every cinema buff should be required to check out.
Gone With the Wind 1939,  G)
Ashes of Time Redux 2008,  R)
JCVD (Van Dammage) 2008,  R)
Y˘sei Hime Rŕn (Elf Princess Ren) 1995,  Unrated)
Assemble: Insert (Assenburu insaato) 1989,  PG-13)
HALO Legends 2010,  PG-13)
Dante's Inferno 2010,  R)
Enter the Dragon 1973,  R)
Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger 1976,  R)
America bangmungaeg (Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave)(The Stranger) 1976,  R)
Gettysburg 1993,  PG)
Gods and Generals 2003,  PG-13)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1996,  G)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937,  G)
Mary Poppins 1964,  G)
Beauty and the Beast 2012,  G)
Cinderella 1950,  G)
The Princess and the Frog 2009,  G)
Dead Space: Downfall 2008,  Unrated)
Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981,  PG)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 1984,  PG)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1989,  PG-13)
Mission: Impossible 1996,  PG-13)
Mission: Impossible 2 2000,  PG-13)
Mission: Impossible III 2006,  PG-13)
Casino Royale 2006,  PG-13)
Quantum of Solace 2008,  PG-13)
Dr. No 1962,  PG)
Megazone 23 - Part 1 1985,  Unrated)
Megazone 23 - Part 2 1986,  Unrated)
Megazone 23 - Part 3: Some Secrets Never Die 1985,  Unrated)
Goldfinger 1964,  PG)
Thunderball 1965,  PG)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street 2007,  R)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975,  R)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948,  Unrated)
Jin yan zi (Golden Swallow) (Mistress of the Thunderbolt) (The Girl with the Thunderbolt Kick) 1968,  Unrated)
Liu xing hu die jian (Killer Clans) (Shooting Star, Butterfly, Sword) 1976,  Unrated)
Flower Drum Song 1961,  Unrated)
The King and I 1956,  G)
The Wizard of Oz 1939,  PG)
Gigi 1958,  G)
A History of Violence 2005,  R)
Dark Water 2002,  PG-13)
Clash 2011,  R)
Inception 2010,  PG-13)
Re-Animator 1985,  R)
Enemy of the State 1998,  R)
Blade of the Phantom Master: Shin Angyo Onshi 2004,  Unrated)
A Snake of June (Rokugatsu no hebi) 2002,  R)
Tekon Kinkurţto 2007,  R)
Trigun: Badlands Rumble 2011,  Unrated)
Trigun: Badlands Rumble
Trigun: Badlands Rumble is an anime movie tie-in/midquel to the 1998 classic anime series, Trigun. The plot takes place in between the quests of Vash the Stampede, a.k.a. The Humaniod Typhoon and the vagrant preist, Nicolas D. Wolfwood. Based on the manga series by Yashuhiro Nightow (Gungrave) and directed by Satoshi Nishimura (tv series Trigun).

Set on the fictional planet Gunsmoke-the setting of the tv show-a ruthless, sadistic outlaw named Gasback and his gang of outlaws attempt to pull a bank heist. Everything goes successful until Gasback faces betrayal by his own comrades and becomes hindered from dying by Vash's typically bumbling antics concerning donuts and pascifism. Twenty years later, Gasback recruits a new team with Nicolas D. Wolfwood as his temporary bodyguard and decides to storm Macca City to get revenge on the mayor and his accomplices-the original team that betrayed him. He then faces opposition from Vash, the agents of the Bernardelli Insurance Society: Meryl Strife and Milly Thompson, and a vengeful bounty hunter named Amelia.

Being a side story to the show, it does manage to please fans, such as myself, and does a nice job at maintaining the essence and spirit of the show. The characters are still very loveable, occassionally hilarious, and are in no way deprived of any of the human drama that they are known for. Unlike the show, the animation is of higher quality and has more liberal use of CG rendered objects and backgrounds, whereas, the show had no use of CG. The CG is pretty good for anime standards. Although, it's not as liberal with its use as the classic Blue Submarine No. 6.

The dubbing and voice acting was handled by Funimation Productions. Voice actor Johnny Yong Bosch (Wolf's Rain, Code Geass, Akira, Heat Guy J, and Adam Park in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) reprises his role as Vash the Stampede. Nicolas D. Wolfwood is voiced by Brad Hawkins. Luci Christian and Trina Nishimura voice Meryl and Milly. Gasback and Amelia are voiced by John Swasey and Colleen Clinkenbeard. The English dubbing to this movie is very solid. Although, for some reason the original voice actors for Nicolas, Meryl, and Milly didn't return for their roles. But like the show, the dubbing is still very well done.

If there are any problems that I have with Trigun: Badlands Rumble, it would be that most of the music is dull and forgetable. Being a tie-in to the show, I do wish that the story displayed more significance. While it's not bad and I'm admittedly proud to see the franchise continue I still felt that there was little accomplished. It didn't leave as heavy of an impact on me as Cowboy Bebop's movie tie-in did. Which affects the rewatch value for me in a way.

In conclusion, Trigun: Badlands Rumble is a very solid movie tie-in to an excellent show that's sure to please any fan wanting more of Vash's tragi-comic heroism and furious, anime-style, gun-toting action. I personally have mixed feelings about the ending of the show and it's nice to see the Trigun franchise make its comeback to its loyal fans. We may hopefully see some more tie-ins, or sequels to the show. But until that possibility, any anime fan will have other future anime classics to come and the new Berserk movie suquel to look forward to.
A Bridge Too Far 1977,  PG)
Vampire Knight, Vol. 1 2010,  Unrated)
Vampire Knight, Vol. 2 2010,  Unrated)
Jail Breakers 2002,  Unrated)
Fantasia 1940,  G)
Fantasia 2000 2000,  G)
The Amazing Mr. X (The Spiritualist) 1948,  Unrated)
The Ape 1940,  Unrated)
Seddok, l'Erede di Satana (Atom Age Vampire) 1960,  Unrated)
Attack of the Giant Leeches (Attack of the Blood Leeches) (Demons of the Swamp) 1960,  Unrated)
The Bat 1959,  PG)
The Beast of Yucca Flats 1961,  Unrated)
Heat 1995,  R)
Black Dragons 1942,  Unrated)
Bloodlust 1961,  Unrated)
Bluebeard 1944,  G)
The Brain That Wouldn't Die 1962,  PG)
Carnival of Souls 1962,  R)
The Corpse Vanishes 1942,  Unrated)
Creature from the Haunted Sea 1961,  Unrated)
Dead Men Walk 1943,  Unrated)
Dementia 13 (The Haunted and the Hunted) 1963,  Unrated)
Doomed to Die (The Mystery of Wentworth Castle) 1940,  Unrated)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1920,  Unrated)
The Fatal Hour 1940,  Unrated)
The Giant Gila Monster 1959,  Unrated)
House On Haunted Hill 1959,  PG)
The Gorilla 1939,  Unrated)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923,  PG)
Indestructible Man 1956,  Unrated)
Invisible Ghost (Murder by the Stars)(The Phantom Killer) 1941,  PG-13)
The Killer Shrews 1959,  Unrated)
Gojira 1956,  Unrated)
Godzilla, King of the Monsters! 1956,  Unrated)
King of the Zombies 1941,  Unrated)
The Last Man on Earth 1964,  Unrated)
Last Woman on Earth 1960,  Unrated)
The Little Shop of Horrors 1960,  R)
The Mad Monster 1942,  Unrated)
Maniac (Sex Maniac) 1934,  R)
Metropolis 1927,  PG-13)
Daikyojű Gappa (Monster from a Prehistoric Planet) (Gappa the Triphibian Monster) 1974,  PG)
The Monster Maker 1944,  Unrated)
The Monster Walks 1932,  Unrated)
Nightmare Castle (Gli Amanti d'oltretomba)(Lovers Beyond the Tomb)(The Faceless Monster) 1965,  Unrated)
Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) (Nosferatu the Vampire) 1922,  Unrated)
One Body Too Many 1944,  Unrated)
The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues 1955,  Unrated)
Phantom Of The Opera 1925,  Unrated)
Revolt of the Zombies 1936,  Unrated)
The Screaming Skull 1958,  Unrated)
A Shriek in the Night 1933,  Unrated)
Swamp Women (Cruel Swamp) (Swamp Diamonds) 1955,  Unrated)
The Terror (The Haunting) (The Castle of Terror) 1963,  R)
Tormented 1960,  Unrated)
The Vampire Bat (Blood Sucker) (Forced to Sin) 1933,  PG)
White Zombie 1932,  G)
The World Gone Mad (The Public Be Hanged) (Public Be Damned) 1933,  Unrated)
Tinker Bell 2008,  G)
Cars 2006,  G)
It's funny how anyone would see or envision something that creates a world parallel to the one we know centering around that which we wouldn't expect to have personality. Technology is a rather complex thing to all that get exposed to it. "Cars" is a formulaic movie that Pixar is no stranger to, but is a more exaggerated film compared to that which they've made over the years.

Lightning McQueen starts off as an egotistical, obnoxious, and ambitiously arrogant racecar whose desire is to win his first national race to enter into the championship. On his way to California to settle his stalemate Lightning McQueen gets separated from his escort, Mack only to find himself sentenced to community service after a series of accidental happenstances with the locals of a small town called Radiator Springs. While there he begins to make friends with the locals and starts to unravel a plethora of surprising revelations.

As the title would suggest, it is rather odd that everybody in this world are cars. Then again, Pixar has always made animated features that centered on a particular thing: "A Bug's Life", "Ratatoullie", "Wall-E", and the masterful "Toy Story" trilogy. Aside from those movies, Cars is a world all on its own. How this movie creates its world parallel to the one we know is rather clever. I love how each vehicle is given its animated personality in lieu of the characters. Each of the plot devices of making community service road repair and the mainstream sport being racing are pretty well thought out and do provide a believable alternate world from a satirical standpoint. Any manmade device has its personifications and given how Pixar's first CG movie "Toy Story" used this kind of writing centering around toys living to satisfy the lives of their owner, the cars in this movie have their own desires and only live in synch to their given walk in life.

The voice acting fares just as well and every character sublimely epitomizes each actor were they to be motor vehicles. One of the more interesting concepts is the interaction of the vehicles and the tractors. Having the tractors being reduced to farm animals can possibly be looked at as satirical to the differences in the function and operation between the two. The soundtrack is also on that same level of quality as the voice acting.