Saturday, August 12, 2006

notes on Pen-Ek Ratanaruang and other Asian films

a bit late with all my viewing entries, so it will be very brief (started to be so long ago now that it's even hard to remember...).

Thailand :
Fun Bar Karaoke (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, 1997), Pen-Ek Ratanaruang' s debut feature film, and even though it had a potential to be a rather good movie with some original ideas (the opening sequence is very well done) and different characters, it could have been a bit more careful, especially with that constant appeareace of the mic on screen!
6ixtynin9 (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, 1999), visually and technically better achieved, this black comedy/thriller reminded me somehow of Shallow Grave or the Korean film, The Quiet Family. In a way, I thought Fun Bar Karaoke was a bit more interesting.
Monrak Transistor (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, 2001) follows the fate of a young, rural man, very stylish with several musical scenes and a reference to Tears of the Black Tiger, beautiful cinematography and very good performances from the all the cast, especially the leading actor.
However Last Life in the Universe remains his best work and display all his talent as a director.

HK :
Beyond Hypothermia (Patrick Leung, 1996), a Milkway Image production (Johnnie To) with Lau Ching Wan and Wu Chien-Lien. A kind of female version of John Woo's movies dealin with a Cambodian hitwoman who's new job is to assassinate a Korean mafia top boss.
It didn't bring anything new, the girl was nice and had a certain kind of presence, Lau Ching Wan wasn't too bad, but he has been much better in other films and the mean character who played the Korean hitman was just a waste.

Deadful Melody (Ng Min Kun, 1993) mainly worth watching for Brigitte Lin and Carina Lau (also starring Yuen Biao). Flying fights all over the place. In the same kind of vein as The Magic Crane (also involving a lyre).

China :
Blush (Li Shaohong, 1994), in the current of the 5th generation of directors (historical epic like), with a story intermingled with the Chinese history, here in a more female point of view. A bit too melodrama though, but well acted and nice set.

South Korea :
The Showdown (Kim Jin-sung, 2005), a modern martial arts film without effects, a bit more realistic, but too conventional and predictible.
A Bloody Tie (Choi Ho, 2006) starring Ryu Seung Beom, Hwang Jung Min. A good film noir. Somehow funny, surely well done and quite entertaining. Certainly be a hit.

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