Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Sword of Destiny (2016) Review

Sam Kench and Tara Hartnett review the Netflix made sequel “Crouching Tiger, hidden Dragon: The Sword of destiny” starring Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen and directed by Yuen Woo-Ping.

Twitter @brickwallfilms


The Lobster (2015) Review

Sam Kench and Tara Hartnett review the 2015 dystopian absurdist drama The Lobster directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, written by Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou, and starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman and John C. Reilly.

If you think The Lobster looks interesting you can click here to check it out on Amazon

Macabre Month of Horror: Movie Review #7 “The Orphanage”

the orphanage

orphanage posterWelcome to the 7th day of our Fourth Annual Macabre Month of Horror. Today’s review is on the movie “The Orphanage“.

The Orphanage tells the story of Laura, a woman who has moved back with her husband and adopted son into the orphanage in which she grew up. They plan on starting a home for disabled children, but there appear to be ghosts at work. “The Orphanage” is a prime ghost story.  It is creepy on many levels, hauntingly beautiful and one of the saddest horror movies you will ever see with a bittersweet ending that might just make you tear up.

Please keep in mind these are Horror Movies and the video reviews contain content from the films that may not be appropriate for younger viewers, or those with a weak constitution for that matter.

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Macabre Month of Horror: Movie Review #7 “The Orphanage

If you liked what Sam had to say about “The Orphanage” and want to watch it for yourself, CLICK HERE  to watch it on Amazon Instant Video.

Film making through cultures

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

By Sam Kench

Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonThere are many countries in the world that have their own film industry, but many American kids have only seen a few if any foreign films. There is nothing at all wrong with American movies, but only ever viewing American movies stops people from experiencing the full gamut of styles, tones, and even emotions that the medium of film has to offer.

the killerThe movies a country produces represents the country itself. Different countries focus on different genres of film, and the chosen genre of film can say a lot about how people from that country think. It can show what people find entertaining, what they are conditioned to accept, and it can demonstrate how one culture differs from another.

hard boiledThere are handful of countries that can be used to demonstrate just how different of a movie a culture can produce. China, England, France, South Korea, Taiwan, and India all have different niches and styles.

heroThere was a time when China dominated the world with their Hong Kong action cinema. Although China produces films from all genres, their niche is action movies. Martial arts films and shoot ‘em ups headed by the likes of people such as Bruce Lee, Chow Yun Fat, and Jackie Chan. Chinese action films became known as the best in the world and the country has been since associated with this genre. The films can aim for entertainment and intensity in films such as “Hard Boiled or The Killer, or they can aim for Poetic beauty in films such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or “Hero. The action films made in China would become refined to the point of art. Director John Woo choreographed such elaborate shootouts that his films became known as “Bullet Ballets” or “Bullet Operas” because of the complexity of the action. It grew to the point where a gunfight could say something poetic.

I Saw the DevilTaiwan is a country that eventually grew itself a name in action films. Actions films from Taiwan developed their own specific style. Taiwanese action films have a sense of humor that is very specific to the country and you can tell a film is from Taiwan based purely on directing style. The direction of Taiwanese films has not developed much beyond the old customs of 80’s cinema. Most film industries are still accepting of slow motion, but instant replays are a thing of the past in most countries. Taiwan however still embraces instant replays. Taiwanese action films aim to show you something cool and let you enjoy it, rather than being concerned with telling a deep story.

OldboyDifferent countries focus on different genres. While a country like China or Taiwan focuses on action films as its priority, France focuses on a different genre. France also produces its share of action films, but France has a particular penchant for romance and drama films. Countries can do films in all genres but they tend to zero in on one in particular. China does action, France does romance and drama, England does crime and mystery, Japan and Australia do horror, etc. etc.

Sympathy for Mr. VengeanceSometimes you can tell which country a film comes from based on how they tell the story. Take South Korea and England for example. South Korean films tend to tell incredibly emotional stories with heavy poetic elements. South Korean films such as I Saw the Devil, “Oldboy, and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance tell their stories visually. These films have very little dialogue and the stories are propelled by the striking images that they present to the audience. A great deal of effort and creativity is put into the composition of every shot.

Films coming from England tend to rely on dialogue to tell the story rather than the visuals. Both work perfectly fine for the stories they are trying to tell, but the point is that they are different. The culture of a country influences the media it produces. (More to come on films from England in Part II)

Movie Recommendation of the Week #9

The premise of Point Blank isn’t anything terribly original. A man’s wife gets kidnapped and now he’s trying to get her back. While the film isn’t wholly inventive, it is executed well.

Be aware that this is more of a soft recommendation than usual. Point blank isn’t great or even very memorable, but it is an entertaining french action thriller, that most people probably haven’t seen.

This is not something that you need to go out of your way to watch. It is currently on Netflix, or if you happen across it, then give it a watch. Point Blank is a harmless entertaining movie, and sometimes that’s all you want.

Movie Recommendation of the Week #7

I saw the Devil

I Saw the Devil

I saw the Devil

Here’s another fantastic Korean film for you. South Korea puts out some of the best movies in the world.

VENGEANCE-  I Saw the Devil tells one of the best Revenge stories since Kill Bill. The extent of the revenge is on such a complex scale and it actually evolves into an interesting double revenge story with both of the leads taking revenge on each other.

EXCELLENT ACTING – The lead does a great job but the show is practically stolen by Min-Sik Choi who is best known for his jaw dropping performance in Oldboy, one of the best movies ever made.

MASTERFULLY MADE – The writing and directing are both superb. The movie is shot very well and there are a large number of scenes that could be enjoyed purely for the wonderful visuals alone.

NO HOLDING BACK – Something that I admire about movies from South Korea is that they are not afraid to push the envelope. That being said I Saw the Devil is not gratuitous. everything that happens works to further the movie’s effectiveness. The movie is not afraid to cross lines for the sake of telling the story.

“I Saw the Devil” is currently on Netflix so you can check it out there or find it some other way. If you like a good intense revenge flick, this is a must watch.

Sam’s Movie Recommendation of the Week #4

The Host

host poster

Reasons to watch

  • It’s a giant monster movie that also manages to be a competent drama.

The effects are great. There is a mix of CG and practical effects and all looks very good.

  • Quentin Tarantino named this one of his favorite movies since he became a filmmaker. If that isn’t a big enough recommendation from you, I don’t know what would do it.

CLICK HERE to read my full review of The Host.

the host

Macabre Month of Horror 2013 movie review #7 ‘The Host’

The Host

The HostThe Host” was named one of Quentin Tarantino‘s top twenty films since 1992. If that alone doesn’t make you want to watch it, then I’m not sure there’s much I can say to convince you otherwise. But I’ll try.

There are a lot of films titled “The Host” but the only one worth watching is the Korean one.

“The Host” was made in South Korea in 2006 and there is currently a sequel in the works.

“The Host” is about a giant fish-like monster that rampages through South Korea. It might sound like your typical monster movie, but what you end up getting is a surprisingly deep and emotional movie that just happens to feature an awesome monster destroying sh*t.

The monster itself was created by those silly Americans, who poured pretty much all the formaldehyde in the world down the drain and mutated a fish into a terrifying monster. This is actually based on a real event in which an American on a US military base dumped a lot of formaldehyde into a sewer that connected to the Han river in Seoul South Korea.

the hostThe monster is CG, which does not usually turn out well, but it was done exceedingly well in “The Host”. The way the characters and environments interact with the monster is very impressive, and you can really believe that it’s actually there in the movie world. The destruction on screen is a blast to watch. If this was the extent of the movie’s depth it would be a fun popcorn movie, but that is just the surface, the movie actually has some really deep characters as well as a profound statement on politics and panic in the public. The monster leads to a containment befitting any class act apocalyptic movie, and the main characters become renegades trying to recover a member of their family that was taken by the monster.

I’m getting tired of referring to the monster as “The monster” I’m going to start referring to it by the same nickname used by the Director and creature designer for the monster. Steve Buscemi. fargoYes. The monster was nicknamed Steve Buscemi. Reportedly because the monster was inspired by the way Steve Buscemi acted in Fargo? Steve Buscemi is one of my favorite actors and Fargo is a fantastic movie, but I don’t really see the connection.

“The Host” did very well for itself at the box office. In fact it became the highest grossing South Korean film of all time. Supposedly over 20% of the Korean population went to see the movie. It went on to featured in other countries and I’m sure Tarantino’s recommendation gained it an entire new group of fans. Hopefully anyone reading my review will go out and watch this movie, because it really is worth it.

I don’t want to go into too much detail regarding the plot because I think it’ll be a better and more surprising experience if you go into it not knowing much. All you need to know is that it’s a clever drama with a strong social commentary wrapped up in an awesome monster movie.

the hostYou can get the host on Blu-Ray right by clicking right “HERE” and keep checking back all October long for a new horror review everyday with this year’s Macabre Month of Horror.

Macabre Month of Horror movie review #6 ‘The Orphanage’ (2007)

orphanage poster

the orphanageThe Orphanage is a Spanish film from 2007 that garnered a great deal of praise upon its release. The film was directed by J.A. Bayona who before this had only done short films and videos. “The Orphanage” was his first feature film, and it’s a very impressive debut. The direction is solid and is one of the strongest aspects of the film.

The Orphanage is a “Guillermo Del Toro presents” movie. Guillermo Del Toro was a friend of J.A. Bayona and served as producer on the film. There is a character named after him in the movie and he makes a small cameo.

Belen Rueda orphanageThe Orphanage tells the story of Laura, a woman who has moved back with her husband and adopted son into the orphanage in which she grew up. They plan on starting a home for disabled children, but there appear to be ghosts at work. “The Orphanage” is a prime ghost story.

The acting is pretty good all around. Child actors are usually terrible, but the main child actor here is not bad. He’s not great, he can be a little annoying but his performance is strong enough to keep you invested in the story.

The main character is played by Belen Rueda, who does a really good job. Her emotions are believable and the film does a good job of establishing the bond she has with her son, which makes the films later developments more effective. In a great deal of horror movies the audience will be left thinking “Why didn’t they just leave the haunted place?” The character is believable in her reasons for staying in the orphanage, which is something I give the movie a lot of credit for.

the orphanage“The Orphanage” isn’t very scary, but it has a never-ceasing creepy atmosphere. Things always feel slightly off and work to unnerve the audience as well as create tension. The cinematography and direction of The Orphanage are fantastic. The colors and shots seem to be meticulously chosen to have the greatest effect. The film is visually strong.

The Orphanage has some of the best used shaky cam I’ve seen in a long time. I’m sick of action movies swinging the camera around so much you can’t tell what’s happening, and I’m tired of horror movies shaking the camera wildly to try and make something appear scary. The shaky cam in The Orphanage is used to convey the emotion of the character. The camera is only shaky when the main character is in a state of panic.

The Orphanage is one of the few movies that falls under the category of horror films with happy endings. While the ending isn’t overly happy, it’s more bittersweet, it still isn’t as dark as you might expect. While this may not be a problem for some, I found it a little off-putting. I would have preferred a darker ending. In fact, just before the happy-ish ending, there is somewhat of a dark twist, that I think would’ve made a better finale.

the orphanage

Aside from the ending, the only real problem I have with the film is its score. The sound effects are fantastic, but the music is another story. Sometimes the music is just fine but during certain parts in the film it’s surprisingly unfitting. The music is sometimes too cheesy, or overblown for its own good, and I was taken out of the film by the score more than once.

The Orphanage“is a great film. It has top-notch production value and tells an original, meaningful story. Definitely worth watching this October.There are a couple of instances of unnecessary gore. Gore for gore’s sake. It feels like they just wanted to have some gore in the movie, so they threw it in without giving it a real purpose. A moment such as the main character pulling off one of their fingernails, has no real purpose in the overall plot of the film, and feels a little forced and unnecessary.

thin black lineYou can get The Orphanage on Blu-Ray by clicking right “here” and keep checking back all October long for a new horror review each day with this year’s Macabre Month of Horror. 

The Raid: Redemption ~ Jumping Off Point Review

the raid redemption movie review

the raid redemption movie reviewMembers of the Newfound Film Making Club review the movie The Raid: Redemption.

SUMMARY: A S.W.A.T. team becomes trapped in a tenement run by a ruthless mobster and his army of killers and thugs.

Director/Writer:  Gareth Evans

Stars:  Iko UwaisAnanda GeorgeRay Sahetapy

WARNING: This video contains profanity