The Whistlers

Vampire Owl: Do you remember how long we waited to watch a Romanian movie?

Vampire Bat: I am not sure. Maybe, we waited for an eternity.

Vampire Owl: Vampires deserve to watch Romanian movies, don’t they?

Vampire Bat: This movie was selected as the Romanian entry for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Oscars.

Vampire Owl: So, we might be beginning our Romanian movie watching with one of the best.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I don’t see why we shouldn’t go for the best.

Vampire Owl: Should we call Uncle Dracula and the minions to watch this one too?

Vampire Bat: After we watch the movie and declare it safe, they can watch it too.

Vampire Owl: Okay, then. We are going for our first Romanian film.

Vampire Bat: Do watch it carefully, and come up with an opinion.

[Gets an chocolate cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) is a Romanian police officer who acts as a whistle blower for mafia, and it is made clear that he is not someone who stays on one side at all times, as the switch does happen very often. Even though he is under police surveillance for suspected corruption, Gilda (Catrinel Marlon) who has been part of organized crime, manages to bring up a plan to free a controversial businessman arrested in Bucharest and asks for his help in the job. She poses as a high level prostitute with Cristi as her most valued customer to make the cameras set in his house believe that she is up to nothing related to such crimes and gangs, and is just there to provide him her service which she proves to the eyes behind the camera. Cristi is forced by her to go to La Gomera Island, one of Spain’s Canary Islands to learn an ancestral whistling language which he can use to connect to mobsters without being detected by the police or anybody else who possessed some threat to them.

So, what happens with the events here? :: This ancestral whistling language has been the kind of thing used to communicate across the deep ravines and narrow valleys of the island. It enables messages to be exchanged over long distance, and he hopes to study it soon enough, because he needs to get the man out of prison, as he is someone who needs to be outside to give information about millions of cash. As this a case with so much of money involved, there is the certainty of twists occurring. Everyone is after a missing thirty million in cash, and as both the criminals and the police tries to find where the man hid the money. But Cristi has some other plans along with finding the money for any of these sides. For the same, he would come up with a more twisted idea. But it is to be seen whether he would be successful in the same, because he is playing with fire on more than one side. Can he get out of there, maybe with Gilda on his side without being hurt, or will he be hit by the terror that is going to be unleashed when the thirty million is lost?

The defence of The Whistlers :: It can be seen that The Whistlers is that kind of a movie which slowly gets the thrills to us, and from the beginning itself, the same starts getting on to us. You know that all the characters here are up to something, and we are able to feel the same quite early. It also brings a certain amount of humour in there and we also have the surprises thrown in here and there. The settings used here are all beautiful, and when looking at the scenes in Romanian towns as well as the Spanish island far away from its coasts, we are all glad to see such things of beauty. The performances of Vlad Ivanov and Catrinel Marlon are nothing less than deadly either. If you haven’t watched any Romanian movies yet, this might be the film to begin watching these from that particular industry, as it seems to be a lot ahead to catch our attention with almost everything shown on the screen. With the same, there is also simplicity in its complexity.

Positives and negatives :: The Whistlers is the kind of movie which moves too slow for some kind of audience who might be looking for better pace considering the fact that this is a crime thriller. The beginning with the main characters playing certain roles for the cameras seemed to suggest that this was going to be quicker in pace, but it was not so. But it is good to see that unlike the other crime thrillers, this is the kind of movie which cares about its humans too, and they are not really the kind of people who are there to keep shooting and get shot. You can see that power and weakness, loneliness and companionship, pretension and sincerity, trust and the lack of it – all are shown as part of life, while we see everyman elements in these characters around here. The world of crime is not about keeping on shooting people and creating chaos, as there is something more about it, as this movie tries to prove. The Whistlers is more than what meets the eye, as you compare it to the other movies of the genre.

Performers of the soul :: Vlad Ivanov as Cristi comes up with a solid performance, as he plays a character whose intentions are never really that clear, and it is one unpredictable character which he plays to perfection. This particular character is never really the person we think that he is, and he shows signs of the person who brings the twists quite early. Catrinel Marlon as Gilda is nothing less than fantastic, as she plays a femme fatale character with certain class, but it is also a character with more than one side, which she proves quite early into the movie. In the beginning, we even have the doubt if she is the main character, as she is in action just ten minutes into the movie, dictating terms and flourishing on the screen. She is a different kind of Anna, as you look at her closely, and she never hesitates to bring all that she can, at any moment. The same can be seen again in more and more moments, as we see her getting her righteous place in there on different occasions. Rodica Lazar comes up with a fine believable role as the police officer who is in charge.

How it finishes :: The Whistlers is a special movie, not just because it is a crime thriller which keeps itself solid, but also due to how well it handles the content smoothly. This is surely a movie that you would want to watch, and then continue to watch more of Romanian movies – I had said the same about another movie, a Vietnamese one which could introduce you to that film industry really well. Both The Whistlers and Furie as unknown movies in this part of the world, and as people rush to look for more and more Korean movies, these two movies in two different languages from different parts of the world deserves your attention. I have always loved Romania as a place which had the historical region of Transylvania, as my best interest is in Gothic works – it is a place which I would love to visit one day to see those castles which are often related with Count Dracula, but until then, maybe I can watch some more of wonderful Romanian movies. This one is just beginning, as rest will surely come.

Release date: 13th September 2019
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Corneliu Porumboiu
Starring: Catrinel Marlon, Vlad Ivanov, Agusti Villaronga, Cristobal Pinto, Sergiu Costache, Antonio Buil

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Anna

Vampire Owl: There is nothing more interesting than a spy thriller.

Vampire Bat: Do you remember The Man from UNCLE?

Vampire Owl: Yes, that was one of my favourite movies of that time.

Vampire Bat: This one is a very serious movie in comparison though.

Vampire Owl: I have heard that this is partially Russian, French and American.

Vampire Bat: Well, there is more to this movie than what meets the eye.

Vampire Owl: Can Anna be a John Wick or Hitman with the gunfights?

Vampire Bat: Well, we are going to know that with clarity, soon.

Vampire Owl: Still, my favourite Anna names have been Anna Kournikova and Ana Ivanovic without the extra N.

Vampire Bat: This Anna should make an impact too, even for the vampires.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: During the time period between 1985 and 1990, the tension is high between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, as CIA and KGB try to prove the quality of their work in the final few years of the Cold War. At the same time, Anna (Sasha Luss), is a young Russian girl whp has been the victim of domestic abuse, being abused both physically and sexually by her husband, Piotr (Alexander Petrov). The man is a criminal and a drug addict, forcing his wife to become part of his illegal actions while wasting no time in making her feel as his property – she would do anything to get out of her situation. One day, after a failed attempt to take money from an ATM using an American tourist’s card and shooting at police, he attempts to leave the city with her, only to be stopped by Alexander Tchenkov (Luke Evans) who murders Piotr and offers Anna a job at the agency for five years, as he was impressed by her earlier profile and background before she became enslaved at her present situation with her husband.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Her father was earlier in the military force, and she had also tried to enlist into the navy. With the problems created by her husband looming over her, she agrees to Alexander’s offer and serve the country in a different way in comparison to her father, and joins the training. Later, we see that she becomes an undercover agent, after selling dolls in a marked in Russia, and later being taken to France, becoming one of the top models in Paris. As a part of her cover, she also pretends to be in a relationship with the lesbian model who worked with her, Maude (Lera Abova). She does manage to assassinate her target Oleg (Andrew Howard) who had revealed to her something which KGB wanted to hear, the revelation ending up as the reason for his death. Leonard Miller (Cillian Murphy), a CIA agent does get some clue of her involvement in the murder, but he lets him go at that time. But there is something else happening in the background – what could that be?

The defence of Anna :: There is no doubt about the ability of this movie to thrill, as it has a large number of twists in store – you rarely see what is coming, as at one moment you see something and think about it, but the very next moment, you are up for a surprise. The action sequences are really good, reminding you of movies like John Wick and Hitman among the others, and you love how well the leading lady has handled everything around here. The tale does have something to keep us interested at almost every point, meaning that there is no dull moment at all. There are also some beautiful visuals set for us here, and we watch the wonderful action take place in different nations in the middle of all that magnificence. There is one final action sequence which is so long, and the protagonist going on shooting people – it is impressive, and so are many other sequences which catch our attention, while staying with us, especially the fans of genre.

The claws of flaw :: Anna has a little more flashbacks than one should want it to have. They also come up at a time when you are not expecting them, and are not needed, making it not that easy to follow the movie in the way it should be followed. The problem it creates affects the timeline more than anything else, and we are confused about what happened before which incident – we just cannot keep track of everything which has happened in the timeline, because there are so many of separate incidents, and when you squeeze something from another point of time into the world when something interesting is going on, there is a certain loss of control. The movie should have done very well with everything going in a straight line, with one or two flashback sequences. It could have also used a little bit of humour which was there to be taken on a number of occasions, but the movie avoids it to go back to its usual pace.

Performers of the soul :: Sasha Luss as Anna Poliatova does a fantastic job as the femme fatale, assassin and the spy who works as a model when she is undercover. As she is really a Russian fashion model in life, it seems to work well for her, and as the assassin, she is perfect too, without feelings as she shows almost no regret after the murders. The one person who seems to match her in such action is Olga Kurylenko, the Ukraine-born model who moved from Russia to France just like the main character here. Luke Evans who had slain the dragon in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, brought the villainy in Fast and Furious 6, embraced vampirism in Dracula Untold and went on an unstoppable killing spree in No One Lives, gets to be strong one here too, as he plays the KGB agent who recruits the protagonist. Cillian Murphy on the other side plays the CIA agent with ease. Helen Mirren’s role is the usual, and plays with no difficulty in regular style.

How it finishes :: Anna is one of the best thrilling action adventures which you might have seen in a long time, and it reminds one of movies like The Man from UNCLE. Luc Besson, the director has already given us some wonderful films in the recent past including the fantastic interstellar adventure Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and the strong action thriller Lucy, along with those older classic movies like Leon: The Professional, La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element. This one is just another wonderful addition to the list, as you go through the twists and thrills without taking your eyes off what is going on. The Brian De Palma movie starring Antonio Banderas and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Femme Fatale is one another movie which comes to the mind with this flick, but nothing matches Anna in its twists along with the action, as there is one coming after the other, and in the end, you know that nothing was happening the way you felt earlier, or later.

Release date: 10th July 2019
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Luc Besson
Starring: Sasha Luss, Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, Helen Mirren, Lera Abova, Anna Krippa, Nastya Sten, Alexander Petrov, Nikita Pavlenko, Aleksey Maslodudov, Eric Godon, Jean-Baptiste Puech, Andrew Howard, Ivan Franek

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Guests

Vampire Owl: I think that these people are more ghosts than guests.

Vampire Bat: The guests can be ghosts too. Sometimes, the ghosts are guests.

Vampire Owl: So, we the vampires are not guests?

Vampire Bat: We can only become guests with multiple level acceptance.

Vampire Owl: You are talking about having the need to be invited into a home.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we were rarely invited, and even Uncle Dracula was avoided.

Vampire Owl: Now, that is indeed atrocious, and it is also a case of racism.

Vampire Bat: Humans are born as racists, just like they have that inherent evil.

Vampire Owl: I hope that they learn from us, for here, all vampires are equal.

Vampire Bat: Yes, even zombies and werewolves feel so.

[Gets an vegetable samosa and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: Katya (Angelina Bit) is a young girl who works as waitress at a restaurant which is not too busy a place. There she meets a special group of youngsters who have a different hobby, which is to organize parties in other people’s empty houses. They leave the place the same it used to be, after the party is over. They keep asking Katya for such a place, and she finds for them, an old summer cottage on the coastal area, where nobody really lived. The abandoned house, in which a spiritualist salon was running a long time ago, seemed to be an excellent place, with the Gothic looks making it even better – the location is also within what seems to be an area with a lot of trees, and one would require a vehicle to reach there. They reach there and has everything set, and it is then that they meet Andrey (Yuriy Chursin) who claims to be the owner of the house and asks them to get out. But they attack him and throws him into the cellar, continuing the party.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Later, it is revealed that Katya used to work in the same house as a cleaner a few months ago, and was in love with the man who had lost his wife and child in an accident. She did make some advances to him, but he had rejected her which sent her to a time period of depression. Another realization that comes upon them is that there is something terribly wrong with the house. They do find a book on demons out there and even tries to summon one without success. There is something moving around the house, and two of their friends go outside are missing. Even the man whom they had locked in the cellar is missing. Now, they begins to wonder what is going on in there. With something terrifying and sinister walking in the shadows of the night, is it possible for them to escape from the terror which seems to await them? Will they die at that night itself, or will they live to fight another day? Are they going to see the demons described and drawn in the book, face to face?

The defence of Guests :: The one thing that stands out as far as Guests is concerned, it is the setting, not just the mansion, but also the area around it. One would really want to have a movie at this part of the world set in such a world of terror. We have that haunted feeling here right from the beginning stages itself – it has to be noted that the movie itself is dark right from the beginning, and the dark clouds are more or less the foreshadowing of something which is supposed to happen very soon. The demons, even though in the shape of a woman and a child, are well-designed. The feeling of melancholy which is prevalent in this movie is also something worth noticing. The scary moments are more or less related to the atmosphere itself, and we can feel the danger lurking in each corner of that old, abandoned home with a past related to the summoning of demons, as well as the practicing of occult in such a way that it is so serious and facing an inescapable situation.

The claws of flaw :: Guests doesn’t make the best use of what is there to be taken, even as a wonderful atmosphere is established so early. The idea of partying in houses without people in there is rather strange, and not really that much acceptable, however we look at it. There is also that lack of punch in the ending, which could have been something better. Except for the main characters, the rest of not really likable, and even when they get killed, we don’t feel for them at all. The movie should have taken things more seriously, and added more of the terrifying moments, because they have two demons in the form of mother and child along with an unsettling atmosphere – we know what such an environment can do with movies like Crimson Peak, and the usual kind of movies like The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun and Insidious have also used the quick scares nicely to get them into the chilling atmosphere, but this one seems to feel that it has enough, and doesn’t try for more.

Performers of the soul :: Angelina Bit who plays the main character becomes another classic option for becoming a scream queen in many horror movies in different languages. There is a certain amount of dark melancholy surrounding her, and we understand that she is possessed by that sadness which itself could become a monster – she plays that well enough even though we have seen the same thing done better before. We see how she becomes a perfect part of this situation in the haunted house of demons. Yuriy Chursin as Andrey is the other person who comes up with a pretty good performance. He plays another man filled with almost the same type of sadness. The rest of the cast is the kind of thing that we see in most of the horror movies, as there is nothing special about them, while they play along within the movie. The rest of the characters are not human, but demons, along with the house itself which seems to have something to say.

How it finishes :: Russian horror movies seem to choose the settings wisely, and do score well enough from the same. Guests, even though doesn’t possess the needed strength with its tale, and goes through a struggle to raise the level of its horror, does have enough out there to keep things going. The same is supported by the ambiance, which is the one thing that raises this to a higher level. During the time of Corona Virus, we are never short of horror movies, even though the idea of terror did change in the last few months – it was no longer about the ghosts, but related to the pandemic. But horror will live on, as there will always be abandoned houses supposed to be haunted, and the traditional ghosts and demons cannot vanish that easily. Fear will keep coming in different forms to produce more of horror – until then, you can be happy enough with little horror movies like Guests.

Release date: 7th March 2019
Running time: 88 minutes
Directed by: Evgeniy Abyzov
Starring: Angelina Bit, Morgan Berry, Yuriy Chursin, Mikhail Bachelor, Greg Chun, Elisha Gaikal, Ben Diskin, Mariya Lisovaya, Anar Khalilov, Mikhail Mescheryakov, Jessica Rau, Jonathan Meza, Marina Panferova, Jamie Rapaport

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Battle of Jangsari

Vampire Owl: I hope that it would be like the battle we had with the zombies.

Vampire Bat: We had a battle with the zombies last year?

Vampire Owl: Yes, the one which was fought near the meeting point of two rivers.

Vampire Bat: Wan’t that a battle with the werewolves?

Vampire Owl: Yes, they looked like wolves, but technically, they were zombies.

Vampire Bat: I do not understand the idea which you are talking about.

Vampire Owl: See, these werewolves were bitten by zombies. Therefore, the are former werewolves who are now zombies.

Vampire Bat: So, you are taking out the werewolf qualities out of them, and saying that the zombie characteristics will takeover.

Vampire Owl: Yes, if you are bitten by an undead, you are no longer alive. The werewolves will acquire the qualities of the undead which bit them.

Vampire Bat: Okay, I guess the only problem will be if a werewolf is bitten by a zombie and a vampire. One has to wonder which characteristics will be taken by the wolf.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie’s background about? :: As the Second World War ended, the Allies lead by the Soviet Union and the United States of America liberated Korea from Japanese control, days after the dropping of atom bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With two major powers set to on a Cold War for many years after the defeat of Germany and Italy as well as the weakening of Great Britain and France due to war, Korea was divided into two zones of occupation, as the Soviets were in control of the northern half while the Americans administered the southern half. As different governments having exactly opposite ideologies were established on both sides, there was continuous tension, and each group proclaimed ownership of the whole of Korean peninsula, but didn’t launch a full-scale attack until then. But on the 25th of June, 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea, it had marked the beginning of the Korean War, fought completely in the Korean peninsula.

So, what happens with the events here? :: North Korea, had the support of the major Communist nations of China and the Soviet Union while South Korea, had the support of the United States of America and its allies. The United Nations Security Council itself had approved the sending troops in support of South Korea against what was a full scale military invasion without provocation. A total of twenty one nations are supposed to have provided support to the United Nations defence of South Korea, but United States of America was the leader with ninety percent of the troops provided for the purpose. After the first two months of war, South Korean Army and the United States forces Korea were almost defeated. But in September 1950, an sea-based United Nations counter-offensive was to be launched at Incheon, to cut off many North Korean troops in South Korea. A group of seven hundred and seventy two student soldiers has the task of staging a diversionary mission at Jangsari Beach in South Korea.

And, what is to follow here, as this is war, and a case of final defence for the South Koreans :: This particular attempt at landing would trick the the North Korean forces into thinking that the opposition forces would be soon launching a decisive invasion there would distract the North Koreans from Incheon. But the waves are very high and there is a shortage of landing boats. The student soldiers have no idea what they are doing, and the only thing they has done since getting into the ship, is vomitting. This seems to be a strange and impossible mission on the beach for the students who are trained at nothing except a little boot camp time, while highly trained North Korean defence await on the shores. Can they succeed in this, or will they at least dare to try, as North Korea is very close to making its dreams of one Korean peninsula under them? How long can the South’s resistance at the Nakdong River in the southernmost region stand, and how good is the United Nations in stopping this?

The defence of The Battle of Jangsari :: As you might have expected, there is war written on it right from the beginning, as far as The Battle of Jangsari is concerned. With a thunderstorm seemingly around, we know that there will be no smooth sailing in the movie for the troops, and it is certainly a kind of foreshadowing. The movie is full of some nicely worked out scenes of war, with battle tanks, guns and landmines never ceasing to come up on the screen, as one battle follows the other. There are also those emotional sequences, as some of the soldiers even have a tale to tell, and we also come to know that this is a hopeless situation, from where an escape seems to be too distant. The area where the battles are fought is perfect to provide those nice visuals too. The performances are all good, especially considering the fact that we have a young cast here. Lee Ho-Jung plays the only female among the soldiers, and she does a fine job too.

The claws of flaw :: With a premise and an idea like this, the movie could have achieved a lot more for sure. As it gets near the end, things begin to get more and more predictable, even though there is no certainty about who all will be the ones to survive. The battles could have been more, and we needed to see more of the battles happening in other parts of Korea, at least as a quick reminder. Megan Fox’s character is underused, and there is not much being done to create a change there. The movie also suffers from the absence of female characters, both on the battlefield, and also outside. With Megan around, there could have been more, maybe even with the help of a flashback that goes far behind before the North Korean invasion started. For someone who is coming from outside countries like Korea, Russia, United States of America, Japan, United Kingdom and China, maybe people could use a little bit more of information on this war which hasn’t been known much at this part of the world.

How it finishes :: As far as The Battle of Jangsari as a war movie is concerned, there was lot more to be taken, but it doesn’t do that. It is still a fine film with a forgotten episode of war, which will always be something of interest. As we are not that familiar with this particular war in comparison to the World Wars and the Cold War, this could a fine new experience for us, as the Korean perspective only becomes more interesting. The war with some extraordinary deeds of courage, and an emotional touch which keeps getting stronger towards the end, makes The Battle of Jangsari a movie which needs to be watched. As we take a look at a movie on Korean War which might be the first film most us around here watch based on a war from that side, this might be a war movie you will recommend to many others. After all, there is some history around here, and most of the war movies teach you that, mostly from one side of the battling nations. They have surely kept this one simple and enjoyable.

Release date: 25th September 2019
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Kwak Kyung-taek, Kim Tae-hoon
Starring: Kim Myung-min, Megan Fox, Choi Min-ho, Kim Sung-cheol, Kim In-kwon, Kwak Si-yang, Jang Ji-Gun, Lee Ho-Jung, Lee Jae-wook, Dong Bang-Woo, George Eads, Jeong Jong-Jun, Kim Min-Kyu

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Paradise Beach

Vampire Owl: Why does this movie remind me of your trip to Thailand?

Vampire Bat: Because this film was shot in Thailand itself.

Vampire Owl: A French film shot in Thailand, and that is a fine choice.

Vampire Bat: Still, our visit to Thailand was not to the place shown in the movie.

Vampire Owl: So, the package was not to Phuket?

Vampire Bat: No, it was a Bangkok and Pattaya package.

Vampire Owl: Well, there is not much of a difference for people who don’t know.

Vampire Bat: But we do know that it is different in many ways.

Vampire Owl: Let us watch the movie and find the differences and similarities then.

Vampire Bat: Another French movie is the deal then.

[Gets an egg puffs and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Six friends manage to pull of a bank heist in Paris, but one of them Medhi (Sami Bouajila) gets caught by the police in the process, and he urges them to escape. The five of them manage to leave France before being caught, and goes to Phuket in Thailand and manages to start some business with the money they had stolen, and live a happy life, while Medhi lives his life in prison for fifteen years, not telling the police anything about the others who were part of the bank heist with him. Phuket, the country’s largest island hosting one of its oldest cities, along with another thirty two smaller islands off its coast, provided some of the best sources of income through tourism by bringing so many of visitors from different parts of the world. As all of them run some kind of resort, restaurant, nightclub or pub in the city, Medhi hopes that he could finally get his share, as he comes back from prison after fifteen years of silence – the first place he visits is Phuket, and it comes as no real surprise for anyone.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Being at Phuket, his plan is to get the money and return to France, but then he has to face the big problem that there is no share left, as they have all invested money in businesses, without getting much in return – some of them have completely failed in their work and there has also been the damage done by the tsunami which it South East Asia. As he keeps asking for money, his friends begin to get frustrated, except for his brotherly figure, Hicham (Tewfik Jallab) who is married to Aom (Sonia Couling) a Thai girl with whom he has two children. At the same time, his girlfriend Julia (Melanie Doutey) comes all the way there from France, and it complicates things. With gangwars and police involvement, things get further complicated, and one has to wonder if Medhi somehow manages to get his share – but will he leave without that? What can he do to make sure that he gets that? How long can the friends remain close to each other as the case of money comes in between?

The defence of Paradise Beach :: When you know that the location is going to Phuket in Thailand, there is the certainty of some fine visuals around here, as it is the third most visited place there after Bangkok and Pattaya, as long as people from this part of the world are concerned. A trip to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore has been the usual thing for almost everyone around here. With beautiful visuals, we get to the rest of the movie with a better feeling. There is also the feeling of a usual gangster movie, with problems arising over money, drugs and women in a night club. The movie does manage to keep close to the same level throughout its run, even though it is not that high a level, as we will be able to notice. There are some shooting sequences, and the other fights are also there, even though less in comparison. In the end, the movie does make sure that we are interested in visiting Thailand, especially Phuket on that particular side of the nation.

The claws of flaw :: Paradise Beach is pretty much a predictable movie as you think and look at it. There are many common things which are repeated here. It shows the same elements when showing Phuket, which reflects the idea that many people have here about Pattaya, as depicted in the foolishness of the movie, Amar Akbar Anthony. The final ending doesn’t impress that much even though we are glad that it happened to those people, and the twists which are put in there just before that, doesn’t prove to be that effective either. There is the feeling of absence here and there, which we can feel too. The idea of having dead people vanishing from group of photos is kind of dumb too, and one wonders why such a plan was being made. A better utilization of the beauty of Phuket is not there, and we don’t see the best use of the movie’s female characters either, which is disappointing, even though they have a few moments to be remembered.

Performers of the soul :: Sami Bouajila plays the main character here, as the one who goes to prison for his friends, the partners in crime. The movie does depend on him, and he doesn’t disappoint. Melanie Doutey plays Julia, his love interest. Melanie’s work is lovely, and has a certain amount of tranquility related to it, among all the possibility of violence waiting to happen. When you say Melanie, the name which comes to the mind first is that of Melanie Laurent though, another French actress, who was in Now You See Me and Enemy, catching our attention in both films. Sonia Couling as Aom is the next one to catch our attention, and she has more to do in this movie than we think she would have in the beginning. Flore Bonaventura as Tatiana also brings some good work here. Tewfik Jallab as Hicham is of importance, and has some good moments here. The others just manage to hold on there, and there is nothing special to be done as far as this movie is concerned.

How it finishes :: Paradise Beach hasn’t gathered many positive reviews with its existence, but it has to be noted that the movie is not as bad as some critics had shown it to be, for we see something in there to keep watching. We are given the feeling that it will bring something more than what we think. But if you are hoping for something special, or anything to raise its level above most of the other movies of the same kind, you are going to be disappointed. This is the kind of movie which is to be watched with lower expectations so that better results can be felt. So, watch the film, and make a visit to Phuket after all the COVID-19 pandemic problems are over. You will love the place, and the movie reflects the beauty well enough. At the same time, you would want to read reviews on movies in other languages like Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Vietnamese and Latin which all did make fine entry into Movies of the Soul during the period of Corona Virus crisis.

Release date: 20th February 2019
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Xavier Durringer
Starring: Sami Bouajila, Melanie Doutey, Tewfik Jallab, Hugo Becker, Kool Shen, Seth Gueko, Dosseh, Hache P, Hubert Kounde, Nessbeal, Bruno Lopes, Chalad Na Songkhla, Karnpitchar Ketmanee, Vithaya Pansringarm

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the first Portuguese movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Italian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Polish movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Vietnamese movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The First King

Vampire Owl: Now, this is something which was not expected at all.

Vampire Bat: What? Watching a historical movie going this far back?

Vampire Owl: No, watching a Latin movie during these times.

Vampire Bat: We hear too much about Latin and French as part of our English Language and Literature syllabus, don’t we?

Vampire Owl: Yes, but we don’t really read or listen to the language.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but we learn about them, and the great works using the language.

Vampire Owl: Just us, not the people who study science and other subjects.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Latin and the Roman Empire are very significant to us.

Vampire Owl: There is nothing without history and literature.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the world depends on the two subjects forever.

[Gets a chicken puffs and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: The movie traces the origins of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire to Old Latium, a region in the Italian peninsula with the Tiber River on the north, Apennine Mountains in the east, the Mediterranean Sea in the west and Monte Circeo in the south. Known as the territory of the Latins, an Italic tribe, the journey begins in in 753 BC. Two shepherd brothers Romulus (Alessio Lapice) and Remus (Alessandro Borghi) are caught in a flash flood which leads them to be stranded and captured as slaves in Alba Longa, an ancient Latin city, nineteen kilometres from what would later be the City of Rome. But during one of the fights for sport arranged between the prisoners in frony of the sacred fire and teh altar, the brothers lead an uprising which is a success resulting in the death of many soldiers, and manages to escape with the rest of the prisoners there. They also abduct the high priestess of the city, Satnei (Tania Garribba), who is supposed to carry with her the sacred fire.

So, what happens with the events here? :: There are not many paths through which they can travel without being hunted by the iron knights of Alba Longa. So, they choose the forest which is supposed to be dangerous, but they decides to go through that path, to escape the possible hunters. As Romulus was injured in the earlier fight with the soldiers, Remus is forced to carry him throughout the journey, and some of the newly freed prisoners despise the fact that he is slowing them down and is bringing the curse of the God upon them for violating the Sacred Fire, at a time when there is no chance to escape. In a following fight related to his brother’s safety, violence and chaos follows, as Remus ends up killing the Latin leader and ends up becoming the new leader of the tribe, as everyone pledges allegiance to him as their new lord. He is able to bring new courage and strength in them by showing his own acts of bravery, and declares himself the king of a future land.

And what more can be done with the high priestess and a group of soldiers? :: They continue their journey, and soon end up in a village where they kill all the warriors in a brutal fight, and Remus assumes control of the area, as the high priestess tells him that there is something in him which feels more than just a human being – the strength in him is too much. But during a sacrifice, she makes the ultimate revelation which shocks them all, especially Remus, as she predicts that one of the two brothers are destined to become a great king and build an empire greater than what could be imagined at that time, but for that to happen, he will have to kill the other brother. Now, this is not something which is not acceptable to Remus, as he has come all this way by protecting his brother, and getting him out of near-death situations. With a great empire to take on one side, and his brother’s life on the other, what would be choose? The life of a common man with his brother, or the life of the founder of a great empire who will be remembered by history forever?

The defence of The First King: Birth of an Empire :: You are never short of the need for movies which show something about Ancient Rome or Ancient Greece, two of the great civilizations which have created a future on which the later kingdoms, empires and republics could thrive on. The fights in the movie are all kept simple and realistic with a certain amount of blood and gore, but never too much to handle. The locations are basically forest-like, and as there are only tribes around here, we don’t have the grand looks of any building or fortifications. The weapons used are also very much ancient, and we understand what it was before the Roman Empire established order, and later transferred it into Byzantine or the Eastern Roman Empire, transferring the same further to other empires which followed the legacy after their fall in the fifth century in the case of the Western Roman Empire and the fifteenth in the case of the Eastern Roman Empire. We all need a reminder of a past which was rather too dark without the classical ages of Greece and Rome.

The claws of flaw :: The First King: Birth of an Empire seems to stick to the minimum, and not trying to move beyond that, bringing the special, and not attempting to come with the innovations which could have been a part of this origin story. There is not much being done out of the book here, and as Romulus and Remus are legendary figures, we could have had more here. After all, there is nothing stopping someone from making a great movie out of the idea of Ancient Rome. The twists that this movie have in comparison to the legends that we have read about is not that interesting considering the premise, and the scope. The movie is also too long, and a tale like this doesn’t have much to show, and therefore, it should have been shortened to, maybe about one and half hours, or one and three quarter hours to the maximum to avoid the drag – having something like this above two hours is rather unnecessary, because there was never the chance of taking things to a grand level during pre-Roman times of the Italian peninsula.

How it finishes :: If you have followed the history and tales about the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, The First King: Birth of an Empire would make an interesting series of events for you. There is no need to expect a Gladiator here, as the scope is not that huge with this one, as we looking at the humble beginnings of Ancient Rome, and not at the nations like Greece and Persia at their greatest moments. Well, you know how an origin story can go on, whether it is about superheroes, anti-heroes or random mutants. The beginning here had to be humble, and it indeed is so. If you are going to watch this movie about the founders of Rome, expect it to be without that later glory, and you are going to find it interesting. The First King: Birth of an Empire is a movie that surely needs a sequel, as people need to know about the early stages of Ancient Rome not through random documentaries, but in the form of well-acted and well-directed movies which would be there to stay for long.

Release date: 31st January 2019
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Matteo Rovere
Starring: Alessandro Borghi, Alessio Lapice, Fabrizio Rongione, Massimiliano Rossi, Tania Garribba, Lorenzo Gleijeses, Vincenzo Crea, Max Malatesta, Fiorenzo Mattu, Gabriel Montesi, Antonio Orlando, Vincenzo Pirrotta, Michael Schermi, Ludovico Succio, Martinus Tocchi, Marina Occhionero, Nina Fotaras, Emilio De Marchi, Luca Elmi

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the first Polish movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Vietnamese movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bacurau

Vampire Owl: Now, we have time for Portuguese movies too.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and this one is not really from Portugal. It is Brazilian.

Vampire Owl: Well, we have always loved most of the things which are Brazilian.

Vampire Bat: You are saying that mostly related to the football team.

Vampire Owl: It is something that one would say during the FIFA World Cup.

Vampire Bat: Well, in that case, Brazil is not the only team in the picture.

Vampire Owl: Actually, nothing matches the fan support of Argentina and Brazil even during these days when the European teams are gaining the fans.

Vampire Bat: Yes, even though Germany, France, Spain, Italy and England got quite a good number of fans, and increasing.

Vampire Owl: Let us now dedicate this movie watching adventure to the Brazilian football team then.

Vampire Bat: I am very much in support of such a thing, but it is to be noted that Movies of the Soul doesn’t get much of the views from Brazil or Portugal, even though the former is picking up these days of Corona Virus and lock-down.

[Gets a green apple cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: After the death of her grandmother Carmelita (Lia de Itamaraca), Teresa (Barbara Colen) comes home to her village in Brazil after a long time to find that something is not right, and it is not the same as she had left it then. Some of her old friends like Acacio (Thomas Aquino) are still there though, and there has not been much modern development out there. Bacurau, a small fictional settlement in Brazil’s remote backcountry doesn’t get much of an attention from anyone in the city, as nobody really comes that way. It doesn’t work even as a tourist destination with so many hills and forests around. Even those who are contesting for the mayor spot just comes there with some books and medicines, and after a few minutes, just leaves the place. It is so remote that if someone comes in an advanced car or bike, people would be feeling that there is something wrong, or something special is going to happen out there.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Even though there was a death recently, they have no time for mourning as the water supply has been cut off with water tankers coming that way having holes on it, animals from the forest are running through the streets, and their place has disappeared from all satellite maps completely. Soon, there is no network connection in their mobile phones either. Along with the same, some strangers are walking arouns with guns, and an Unidentified Flying Object has been located nearby. It had to do something with people who were not from around the settlement, and not even from further out in Sao Paulo, Brasilia or Rio de Janeiro. What could be happening around here? Can there be something sinister in play here? Will it be the work of something paranormal or that of influential people who have some evil plans?

The defence of Bacurau :: The visuals of a fictional, remote, Brazilian village makes an impact, and so does the people there, most of them being simple, likable people. The movie does get into the mood of a thriller in the later stages, and there is some nice shooting to go with it as the action begins. With danger getting closer, there are some stranger, but effective measures taken, and the whole situation changes. During the time of Corona Virus, this is more relevant, as people are quarantined into small towns and villages. There is the question about what one can do while facing an armed attack at the same time – with no defense against the human predators, what would the people who are locked in like animals do? The terror created colonialism and terrorism has a new face, as people are not considered to be humans, but things to be hunted and killed. When someone chooses your home as a shooting range with a racist ideology, there is nothing else to do, but to fight back, and the movie shows the underdogs coming up with the same, nicely.

The claws of flaw :: There is the chance of people having doubt about this movie in the beginning, wondering where the tale is heading, and only after establishing everything that we see a certain change beginning to happen. When a lady gets a lift with a truck driver and they are traveling in a road in the middle of nowhere, you feel that this is going to be a very slow, clueless, award movie in which nothing much happens, and you have to find meaning for everything after spending days thinking about it, but you have to get over that feeling to start enjoying this movie which is much more. It doesn’t follow the pattern of the usual action adventure thriller, and never does it try to explain everything which is happening around there, thus making it not a movie for everyone. Some sequences seem to be unwanted, and it surely drags in the beginning, taking time to get into its world. After avoiding some unnecessary sequences and shortening the run-time, this could have a better one to look out for.

Performers of the soul :: Berbara Colenmight seem like the main character in the beginning, but she is not – it is to be noted that she does come up with a simple and serene performance though. Then there is Sonia Braga, but she is not the leading lady either. Thomas Aquino also has a big role to play here, but he remains just one of the characters when we consider the film with its totality. Silvero Pereira as Lunga comes into the picture late, and has his own moments to steal some of the show. But one has to feel that this is a movie without one protagonist or an antagonist, as there are many characters spread throughout the movie – in the beginning, we think that one person is the star, and then we see the focus shifting from there, and other characters are thrown into the picture with chances of being the leader, but the same keeps changing all the time. There are moments when one feels that there is something here that people from other parts of the world might end up missing. Well, the approval rating of 90% based on 125 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes should mean something more.

How it finishes :: Bacurau is the first Portuguese movie that I have watched, and I have been wishing to watch one for a long time. The movie is Brazilian and not Portuguese in identity, and is thus closer to Latin America than Europe, providing a different experience. It is great to see a new world displayed in the movie, with all its simplicity, and the natural problems which come with the same. The action comes in the later stages, and the movie turns into a thrilling adventure without any warning. Bacurau might be a good choice to start watching as far as those different or rather strange movies are concerned. There are times when we think that Bacurau is not just a small town in the middle of nowhere that struggles to be displayed on the map, but a reflection of what can happen to people when facing the inherent cruelty from the rest of the human beings who consider themselves to be very much superior in race, technology, colour, strength or anything else.

Release date: 25th September 2019
Running time: 132 minutes
Directed by: Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles
Starring: Sonia Braga, Udo Kier, Barbara Colen, Thomas Aquino, Silvero Pereira, Karine Teles, Julia Marie Peterson

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the first Polish movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Vietnamese movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Piranhas

Vampire Owl: I has been wondering why there has been no Italian movie on the website so far, even with French, Spanish and German being there.

Vampire Bat: You have to note that I don’t have any Portuguese movie either if you are looking at the Western Europe.

Vampire Owl: Still, it is different about Italian. Bicycle Thieves from Vittorio De Sica is your favourite, and you have studied it in college.

Vampire Bat: I would say the same about Life is Beautiful from Roberto Benigni too.

Vampire Owl: But we still had to wait for so long to get an Italian movie here.

Vampire Bat: I do not intend to write about movies from each and every part of the world.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but you have to agree that this one was long due.

Vampire Bat: Well, I did have my plans of writing one earlier.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and I had guessed that long ago.

Vampire Bat: There are no awards for guessing this one though.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: The movie is set in Naples, the third-largest city of Italy after Rome and Milan, and one of the most densely populated cities in Europe. A group of teenage boys from one of the thickly populated neighbourhoods in Naples, hope to gain power, fame and easy money, and for the same, they enter into the city’s world of crime which is rather complicated. Nicola (Francesco Di Napoli), who lives with his single mother and younger brother, feels that there is no option left for him, but to choose crime as a real opportunity, as the group moves through the streets as gangsters would. Nicola falls in love with an aspiring model who works in her father’s restaurant, Letizia (Viviana Aprea) whom he helps in the street once and again meets her at the swimsuit of a beauty contest which she losses, and he helps her out in the following brawl. Soon, Letizia returns the same affections, and they start a relationship, with the support of his friends who are happy to see him with a girl.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As they try to take control of different areas, Nicola finds it difficult to be with Letizia because she is living in another part of the city which has the presence of a rival gang who wants his gang to keep away. Still he does manage to sneak into her room at times, beginning a part-time live in relationship. Nicola and his friends dive deeper into the world of crime with guns received from one of the notorious dons of the area, and they begin to show no regret after crimes. Nicola’s mother (Valentina Vannino) is not exactly happy about it, but doesn’t say much about it, as his idea itself seems to make her happy, as extortion by gangs at her shop seemed to bother him more than anything else. But with more and more of teenagers’ gangs being formed, and the youth committing further crimes, how long can he hold on a gang within a world of crime? Is survival an easy enough thing here?

The defence of Piranhas :: The movie is undoubtedly good looking, as far as the locations and visuals are concerned here. Naples is indeed a fine place to wander around, and we see different sides of the beautiful city, even though we have only been familiar with the other cities like Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan which we have seen on television, but never this charming city. At the same time, we wish the nation of Italy with its grand history and culture a speedy recovery from the Corona Virus which seems to be happening right now too. The tale also progresses in an order which makes the new generation attitude and their loss of innocence if there was something like that, feels very much close to reality. If you notice the first scene, there is something that reminds you of William Golding’s Lord of Flies, both the film and the movie, as we notice the return of inherent evil in people, and as it returns to the kids who claim to be fifteen year old youth, we understand that evil has been invoked in them too early, and we just can’t trust the children to be good and display innocence any more.

The claws of flaw :: Piranhas doesn’t move away from the usual gangster movie mode, and there are many occasions when you keep feeling that you have seen these before, and at different times, and it has nothing new that you would want to treasure. It also doesn’t manage to explore that much, and extend its strengths a gangster movie, with something seemingly pull it back, which is why even with a run-time of one hour and forty five minutes, it does feel to be longer. It doesn’t try to venture that deep as a movie about youngsters becoming criminals and wandering in the streets. We have had many Malayalam movies dealing with the same topic emotionally as well as in a funny way. Piranhas could have ended with a bigger scope, but it chooses not to do that, and it doesn’t deal with its female characters that well either, as it chooses to keep them down and without significance throughout the time when there was chance for them too.

Performers of the soul :: As the feeling of Lord of the Flies seems to be invoked here, there is much to do for the young cast, and they do not stay far behind with the same – it seems to come naturally to them here. As the leader of the junior gang, and the one to take the big decisions every time, Francesco Di Napoli’s character steals the attention more than anyone else, and he does manage to come up with a straight-forward performance here which rises above everyone else with ease. He does seem to be in control at all times, as he tries to do whatever an older crime boss would do, and in the final moments of the movie, we see that he is more or less a young gangster who has gone through his coming of age moments, and it is where his bildungsroman reaches to final point. Viviana Aprea is a lovely addition to the movie, and she is someone whom we can see with passionate and true love for the main character, but can’t follow the same well enough due to her lover’s gangster kind of life which threatens to separate them forever. The supporting cast does a pretty good job too.

How it finishes :: Piranhas does make an interesting gangster movie which follows the usual style of such movies, but doesn’t work on the same idea that much as one would have wanted it to. As the first Italian movie which I watched since Life is Beautiful a long time ago in the order of its release, and after Bicycle Thieves if we considered the order of release, this one made an interesting watch. There is a certain amount of reality in these movies, and that feeling keeps on going throughout the run. There is no melodrama, but we do feel with the characters, and everything remains so subtle. It is the same reason why I decided to choose an Italian movie to watch for this time of Corona Virus. I hope that all my reader are doing okay during this season of terrible crisis with one virus trying to kill us and our spirits in more than one way. But we will survive, and we shall go past these terrible times – we are all together in this! Stay safe and watch more movies!

Release date: 12th February 2019
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Claudio Giovannesi
Starring: Viviana Aprea, Francesco Di Napoli, Alfredo Turitto, Ar Tem, Carmine Pizzo, Ciro Pellechia, Valentina Vannino, Ciro Vecchione, Luca Nacarlo, Mattia Piano Del Balzo, Pasquale Marotta, Adam Jendoubi

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Diablo

Vampire Owl: Do you remember having played the game Diablo?

Vampire Bat: Yes, how can I forget that! But this movie is surely not based on that.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I can see that it is more based on car racing, and reminds us of Need For Speed and Fast and Furious.

Vampire Bat: There is no other RPG action game which had me immersed in it like Diablo.

Vampire Owl: I guess that it was Diablo 2 which our attention the most.

Vampire Bat: Until The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was released, I was still in Diablo 2.

Vampire Owl: And when Diablo 3 released a very long time later, we were very much out of the gaming world.

Vampire Bat: With Oblivion, one could be bitten by a vampire and become one, and it was optional to find a cure for that. Those were the best moments of my gaming life.

Vampire Owl: We still often like the sequels, the second games more than the first ones and third ones.

Vampire Bat: Yes, like Diablo 2, Warcraft 2, Disciples 2, Age of Wonders 2, Quake 2, Need For Speed 2 and Age of Empires 2.

[Gets a vancho cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Kuba (Tomasz Wlosok), a young man who has a seriously ill little sister to take care of, decides to take part in some illegal races to make some quick money, as it is not possible with his usual job by the day. He has to work at night with these races, and has to go through the darker corners, but he thinks that he can do it. But the racing world is not as easy for him go through, as there are many others who are looking forward to make quick money, and the experienced racers will always have a problem with someone new coming into the picture. The dealings are not always straight, and here, it is like you get everything or you will have nothing – it is the risk which he has to take. There is so much of money involved, and this race which is named after the devil himself will have more to be seen than what meets the eye. Still, nothing stops one from hoping against all kinds of hope in the world.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Kuba also comes across Ewa (Karolina Szymczak), another racer whom he beats in a race, and they are attracted to each other. Love for cars, bikes and racing are just a few of the things which keep going for them, but there is something about her family background which can cause deep trouble for that particular relationship. There are many other things happening along with the racing, as the background has more things written down with clarity. Behind racing, something illegal might be happening, and Kuba might not need to become a part of it cause further trouble. But as he desperately needs the money for his little sister’s heart operation, there are not many things that he wouldn’t do. As everything comes down to that final showdown, Kuba needs to make some tough decisions so that he can be successful, and get what he has always wanted to get. But can he do it? Can Kuba achieve what he intended to do or will he end up missing out here?

The defence of Diablo: The Race for Everything :: It is evident that this is one movie which wants to be like Fast and Furious, without focusing that much on action, keeping things rather simple, as we see it. There are not many other things happening in this movie, and as this is a short movie, and with some moments of racing added here and there, it won’t have many moments to slow things down, even though it does at times. The visuals are all nice, and we feel good to see Warsaw with all its beauty, and inspires us to make a visit to Poland – some of these nations which are not situated to the west of Europe are worth having some trips, and the Polish cities make it to the list along with Romania which brings the Dracula feeling, Estonia, Bulgaria, Belarus, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Hungary, Moldova, Latvia etc among the others. When we watch these movies from the area, we are more attached to the places which are less visited from the tourists from this part of the world. This movie even got a feel-good ending, and it is nice.

The claws of flaw :: Diablo: The Race for Everything doesn’t have any direct relationship with its title meaning the devil, and it is completely dependent on the races and a little bit of action with the guns and some punches which comes in between. More could have been done with the movie instead of focusing on the essentials, and keeping everything close to the usual, staying on the safe side. The romantic relationship here is also half-baked, not really getting to be something of interest, as Karolina Szymczak gets much less than she should have, as we see her beginning so well with her introduction into the movie. There is also certain amount of lack of speed displayed by this movie at times, which is not acceptable for this kind of movie, and there could have also been a better feeling of danger, with everything at stake – but the movie doesn’t try that much to make one feel for the characters despite having a severely ill kid as a motive for illegal car racing.

How it finishes :: Diablo: The Race for Everything does have enough to keep you engaged, despite not having much to raise it level, much to the dismay of the fans of the Fast and Furious franchise, and the admirers of racing fans. But when you need just what this movie brings, which is as much as a usual film with all these contents is supposed to bring, you can get yourself to enjoy it enough. This is also the first Polish movie which I had ever watched from a place which had reowned makers of cinema like Roman Polanski, Andrzej Munk, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Andrzej Wajda, Agnieszka Holland, Andrzej Zuławski and Jerzy Skolimowski. I hope to add a good number of Polish movies to the list, but this seems to be a good start to a procedure which is to last many years. Diablo: The Race for Everything can be considered as a poor man’s Fast and Furious, which stays somewhere around there, and manages to bring the entertainment.

[Gets some french fries along with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: So, the gaming life is going on well. Isn’t it?

Vampire Bat: Yes, even the dialogue about Diablo has inspired me to look at those older games which we tried when we were in school.

Vampire Owl: The game is the diablo that most of us PC gamers of late 1990s and early 2000s will never forget.

Vampire Bat: Also, El Diablo from Suicide Squad, the less appreciated movie.

Vampire Owl: Yes, how can I forget the DC metahuman with powers of flames?

Vampire Bat: Especially when DC has only started to bring their movies.

Vampire Owl: Justice League might never be the Avengers.

Vampire Bat: Well, Aquaman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman are already loved more than usual. So we can only wait and see.

Vampire Owl: The biggest disadvantage of the Corona Virus has been its attack on the movies, especially those like Black Widow which was supposed to be here in April.

Vampire Bat: Well, that virus will take the movie lovers’ curse.

[Vanishes into the shadows behind the teak tree].

Release date: 18th Jaunary 2019
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Daniel Markowicz, Michal Otlowski
Starring: Karolina Szymczak, Tomasz Wlosok, Cezary Pazura, Agnieszka Wlodarczyk, Katarzyna Figura, Rafal Mohr, Jacek Beler, Cezary Zak, Karolina Pilarczyk, Cezary Lukaszewicz, Wojciech Bocianowski, Marcin Rozalski

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Furie

Vampire Owl: This surely sounds like fury with the original spelling.

Vampire Bat: There is another movie with this title in English itself.

Vampire Owl: So, you are beginning to explore other language.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this one is Vietnamese, and other languages will follow.

Vampire Owl: Does this remind you of any of your previous journeys to East Asia.

Vampire Bat: No, the journeys were to Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. None of them are the same.

Vampire Owl: So, this doesn’t bring much of those memories back?

Vampire Bat: Well, those memories are not going to return. The trips have all ended with the Corona Virus.

Vampire Owl: Well, a Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos trip should happen at some point.

Vampire Bat: It might come a long time later, and that would mean many years later.

[Gets a marble cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Hai Phuong (Veronica Ngo) is a former gangster who used to belong to a powerful family in the city, but is now living in the city with her daughter Mai (Cat Vy), working as a debt collector, while she used her skills in vovinam, a Vietnamese martial arts from. With the kid’s father having died a long time ago, she is having a hard time, as both the mother and the child are harassed due to the kid being born out of wedlock, and also because the mother is a debt collector who is seen as a continuous trouble maker. Mai wishes to stop going to school and start a fish farm with her mother, so that they won’t be bullied again, not at the school and not at the market or the streets. But one day, after having a verbal fight with her daughter, Hai finds Mai being kidnapped by some men, and she follows them through road, but can only see them taking her away on a boat, and then into a transport to Ho Chi Minh City also known as Saigon.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Hai is returning to the the most populous city in Vietnam, and the capital of the former state South Vietnam after a long time, this time, not as a gangster, but as a mother looking for her daughter who was kidnapped. With no clue about where to search, she asks her former gang members to help, but they refuse help because things did undergo some change around there, and the power balance has shifted – not helping them would be the best for the safety. As he approaches the police, she finds them not good enough, but she does manage to steal the reports of some criminals who could be related to the case of missing children. Detective Luong (Phan Thanh Nhien) is in charge of the cases related to the missing children, but she just misses him. There seems to be a big international gang working behind this, and it could also have a link to her notorious past. Now, can she survive and manage to find her daughter in time?

The defence of Furie :: There is a high dose of action here, provided from the beginning to the end, without any break. All the action sequences are too good, and at the same time believable, taking the best out of the Vietnamese martial arts. We only have the realistic moves here though, with no bodies flying around like in some third-rate superstar movie that we know. We are amazed by the leading lady’s skills in performing action as well as depicting the feelings so well. There is the final action scene on a train, which has been taken in the best possible way. The emotions are also running high, and there is the raw beauty of rural Vietnam as well as the charming style of Ho Chi Minh City. We have those shots from a distance and from the heights, as we get caught in those visuals. We do manage to have a fine chase or two in between here. Furie is a thrilling ride, and we are with a mother in this one, like we were with a father in Taken and its sequels – she is also John Wick of another kind. This is a fine movie to begin your love with Vietnam.

Positives and negatives :: Furie is more or less a full martial arts movie which depends on the same to keep things interesting, taking out John Wick‘s shootout side completely. It is also a tale of redemption, but you need to like the action elements to fall in love with the movie. This is also an amazingly stylish movie, not just with the action, but also with the visuals. You can see the difference between the city and village life, enjoying the beauty of both. With a movie like this, action had to click, and it does, amazingly well, as you are kept on the edge of the seat. If you have watched the Malayalam movie Thira, you will know that it had to be thrilling, but that one never had the need for action sequences, but Furie needed it, and with a desperate mother in the main role, nails it. The chase scenes and the brutal fights will keep this one going strong. The fights are not only on the ground, but also on trains, boats and motor-bikes, as the environment also contributes to making this feel better. The flashbacks give a better idea of the story, but at times, they are redundant.

Performers of the soul :: It is Veronica Ngo who steals the show throughout this movie, with her martial arts moves. There is something that you don’t usually see with the fight scenes as long as she is around. She was there in one of the Star Wars movies, but not noticed much because it was a smaller role. The other main characters are also female, except for a police officer and some others who seem to come into picture for shorter intervals of time. Most of them are there only to get beaten up by her, as the lesser troopers of the evil side. Tran Thanh Hoa plays the antagonist, and she also has her smart moves with some nice action sequences to go with it. Phan Thanh Nhien has a few of them, and is there in a supporting role, after he comes to the picture rather late. Pham Anh Khoa has a smaller, but noticable role to play, and so does the one who plays the nurse at the hospital. The main characters in the village markets are all female too. Cat Vy who plays the daughter is also a fine child actor as proven here.

How it finishes :: Furie is a high quality movie from Vietnam, and it is the first, as well as the only Vietnamese movie which I have watched. This is the kind of movie which has you a lot interested in the movie from the beginning to the end, never wishing to take your eyes off, as you will end up missing the action. The movie was the Vietnamese entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards. Among the foreign movies that we watch from here, this movie should have a higher status, and something above the rest of the movies from East Asia. Vietnam surely scores with that, and there is the need to focus on some more of the movies from this nation which makes some very interesting movies along with being a tourism destination that everyone should be visiting. I also had a plan to visit the place, but that didn’t work out – with the Corona Virus problem going on and on, I will have to be satisfied with what can be seen in this wonderful movie.

Release date: 22nd February 2019
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed by: Le Van Kiet
Starring: Veronica Ngo, Cat Vy, Phan Thanh Nhien, Pham Anh Khoa, Tran Thanh Hoa

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wandering Earth

Vampire Owl: Do you think that Earth can wander?

Vampire Bat: I have never known about Earth being a wanderer. Can it go to tourist destinations and see places?

Vampire Owl: This movie has Earth wandering around with he help of human technology to escape the solar system to save all life.

Vampire Bat: So, you mean to say that extinction is delayed in this case too.

Vampire Owl: Yes, this time it is the Chinese that saves the day.

Vampire Bat: So, after The Monkey King 2 and The Mermaid, it is time for another full-length Chinese movie.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and we haven’t had something like Interstellar, Gravity or The Martian in a very long time.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we have missed space as well as the possible end of the world.

Vampire Owl: There are not many things that I have missed so much.

Vampire Bat: This one looks grand. So, it could assure fine quality science fiction during the possible end of the world.

[Gets a plum cake and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: The Sun which is getting older is about to turn into a red giant and would engulf Earth’s orbit very soon, and this realization forces the world nations to form a United Earth Government, an act of unity which never happened in the long history of humanity. The plan here is to take Earth out of the Solar System to the Alpha Centauri system which is many light-years away, so that mankind can be saved from extinction which seems to be very close. For the same reason, grand thrusters known as the Earth Engines, are built across the planet to keep Earth moving, after stopping its rotation. Many people die due to grand tsunamis that occured after the rotation stopped. As Earth moved away from the sun using the newly formed Earth Engines, the surface was frozen, forcing the remaining people to live in huge underground cities. These areas were built near the engines to make sure that there is enough power.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As this plan to keep Earth moving for many years, almost taking one hundred generations to finish the mission, a young man named Liu Qi (Qu Chuxiao) takes his younger sister Han Duoduo (Zhao Jinmai) on a journey at the surface. It happens to be an unauthorized trip to the surface, but as they travel in a heavy transport vehicle using fake IDs from criminal gangs and also using their grandfather Han Zi’ang’s (Ng Man-tat) heavy vehicle clearance pass. But their journey is halted by the security forces who takes them to prison, and they are soon joined by their grandfather who tries to bribe the authorities to get them out. Liu Peiqiang (Wu Jing), Liu Qi’s father is an astronaut who is at an international space station that is supposed to help navigate the Earth on its journey that would last thousands of years, and also has DNA of animals and seeds of plants stored to ensure better life in the next solar system.

And what is to follow later in this tale? :: Liu Peiqiang’s mission in space is finally going to end and is all set to return to Earth after the Chinese New Year, and meet his son who has been very unhappy about leaving him behind. Liu Qi’s only happiness in the world is his adopted teenage sister Han Duoduo who was saved during the tsunamis by his grandfather. But the plans of a possible family reunion is soon destroyed, as huge earthquakes occur on Earth, as the planet has a gravitational spike during its journey close to it, instead of gaining a gravitational assist, and the Earth Engines are disables as a result. This would get Earth much closer to Jupiter, setting it on a collision course with the giant gas giant, which is many times bigger, and would mean the end of human life on all cities. With all the destruction around, the family escapes from the prison along with a fellow prisoner named Tim (Mike Sui) who is half-Chinese and half-Australian, as they get caught in a mission to save Earth. But can they do it and move Earth away from the largest planet in the solar system?

The defence of The Wandering Earth :: The movie does manage to have some good performances from Qu Chuxiao in the lead, Wu Jing as the father figure, Li Guangjie as the captain, Zhao Jinmai as the sister figure, Ng Man-tat as the grandfather figure, and others who support pretty well. But the movie is never that much about people, even though the emotional side is awakened at times, especially related to the family relations – the big advantage of the movie remains with the action-filled adventure set in the future, nicely managed in a world which is very well designed. There is a fine world that we see here, giving our eyes some beauty which is there to stay even after we finish watching the movie. The post-apocalyptic world is among the best, and the designs of the underground cities, the grand engines with the view of Earth and Jupiter, the new frozen world on the surface, and the message of hope are all nicely delivered. The thrills are delivered well.

The claws of flaw :: Even though the emotional touch is surely there, the characters remain underdeveloped, and the sister character, even though becomes one that catches our attention, doesn’t have that depth – the father-son relationship also struggles to move on, and the final sacrifice is the one thing that saves it, as its background remains too strained to be likable. There is also a certain amount of predictability related to that, and even with a new idea of using the Earth to go to another solar system instead of a spaceship to take people to another planet, the idea is not that much explored to the full potential. Even with the final attempt being something of zero chance of survival, when people go for it instead of supporting the survival of the species, one has to wonder what kind of astronauts and scientists are these people. At least the Artificial Intelligence did loss hope in mankind by then. This one surely needs a sequel to let us know how it goes after that fine finish, and I hope that it arrives soon.

How it finishes :: The Wandering Earth is undoubtedly the best Chinese full-length movie which I have watched so far, but it has to be noted that I haven’t watched many of those movies. It is a visually stunning spectacle which takes you on an apocalyptic as well as post-apocalyptic journey through a world which needs to be saved, and this is where the science fiction wears it action-adventure boots, and gets you on a thrilling adventure. It might not make you feel that it is entirely new inside, but what you see on the outside with its idea, is innovative. It might feel familiar at times, but also impressive, when you witness this grandeur on the screen. It is China’s third highest-grossing movie of all-time, and it might be their first full-scale space adventure, with apocalypse written all over it. Loosely based on the 2000 novel with the same name by Liu Cixin, the movie has you immersed in that world from the future.

Release date: 5th January 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Frant Gwo
Starring: Qu Chuxiao, Li Guangjiem, Ng Man-tat, Zhao Jinmai, Wu Jing, Qu Jingjing, Zhang Yichi, Yang Haoyu, Li Hongchen, Yang Yi, Jiang Zhigang, Zhang Huan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Svaha

Vampire Owl: Another Korean movie. You are going international very often.

Vampire Bat: Well, there is the need for more movies for lock-down as far as vampires are concerned.

Vampire Owl: You still haven’t watched everything from Hollywood.

Vampire Bat: That can surely wait. There are many types of movies in different languages, from all parts of the world.

Vampire Owl: You have become a movie explorer beyond borders, haven’t you?

Vampire Bat: Exploration is a pure vampire trait, driven by blood. It is either a place or a movie, and it won’t matter what.

Vampire Owl: The quality of the wanderer and explorer has been inherited by all vampires in and around the castle.

Vampire Bat: About this movie, I feel that we are going to be reminded about another Korean movie, The Divine Fury, as this one also has demons.

Vampire Owl: But I do see a difference in pattern here.

Vampire Bat: Yes, they are not the same in soul, as the type is different.

[Gets a whiteforest cake and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: In the beginning, a few minutes show the existence of evil in the countryside, as something strange begins to happen there, making people worried. Back in the city, Pastor Park (Lee Jung-jae) is someone who spends his time trying to expose those religious groups which are involved in illegal activities, and he specializes in finding similar cults which have deviated from the main-stream religions, and are using the name of religious denominations to achive something sinister. He is paid for doing this by the heads of different religions, and the latest one is a cult group known as Deer Mount, supposed to be a Buddhist group, but does not worship or adore Lord Buddha, but others. This makes the Buddhist leaders interested, and they ask him to find proof, because it is certain that they might be having some kind of scripture, which will be the key to understanding where they stand, and how much they are different from Buddhism.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The result of the search is that they found out the existence of some edited versions, and also those parts which are never heard of before, giving a strange feeling with its content. There is something like a Book of Revelation, talking about beasts trampling the snakes and protecting the light. The Buddhist monk who is with them is not able to find the exact meaning, and what all these are about, and need to contact an expert. Meanwhile, Chief Hwang (Jung Jin-young) investigates the murder of a child and the main suspect might related to the same Deer Mount cult. As the suspect commits suicide, there seems to be no link to take this case forward. There is a much darker secret related to whatever has been happening around. It can now be traced and moved to a village where a family had two children, a girl and a thing, the latter being kept outside the house, locked in a shed. So where does all these lead?

The defence of Svaha: The Sixth Finger :: A Korean movie with a difference never stops being interesting, and this movie is no different. This one is also a complex tale regarding a series of murders of young school girls, and it is as interesting as the mysterious and spiritual side which it deals with from the other side, connecting to the killings which has been occuring through years, not being a new thing. The movie has its thrills regarding the same, and there is also a philosophical side to the movie, as the main character does have things to wonder about. The scary elements are there, but they do not run throughout the movie – they can be seen in moments though. The Divine Fury, another Korean movie was cent percent direct about the whole thing, but this one takes a divergent path to reach its destination, and therefore leaves some ambiguity, even while catching the interest of the viewers in style.

The claws of flaw :: The complexity of Svaha: The Sixth Finger will not be that appealing to everyone, as it throws in more characters into the mixture of things, making things even more complex. Everything just gets too tight at times, and some characters just seem to be there for the sake of it, not being defined well enough. The diverging story-line also has some problem in coming back together, and we are bombarded with one thing after the other, which makes us struggle to follow it at times. The characters provided for support are too many, and we do forget a good number of them, even though they don’t come up with a bad performance or anything. The movie should have also known to present its idea in a better way, even though it is entertaining and exciting as of now – after all, there seems to be a lot of things going in the background, and everything needed to be in the front, strong and clear in soul.

Peformers of the soul :: Lee Jung-jae as Pastor Park is the main character in the movie, and one person whom the audience is supporting from the beginning itself. He gets the special focus once he is introduced, and never does anyone rise above him. Park Jung-min as Na-han gets the significance later, but soon becomes a very important character that stays for long. Lee Jae-in’s character is also a notable one, and we see her at many points of the movie, which are all moments that will remain in our mind. Jung Jin-young as Chief Hwang gets a little less as far as the time spent on the screen is concerned, even after being introduced much earlier, seemingly with more importance. There is also some good support from Lee David as Joseph, the one who supports Pastor Park throughout, even though he is a bigger believer than the pastor is. There are so many other characters and all of them do manage to contribute by their own.

How it finishes :: Svaha: The Sixth Finger is that kind of a movie which has so many ideas, and brings them all from different directions on you, without pausing at any moment. It never losses focus in doing that, and only gets richer in ideas as it moves forward. As it gains in complexity, it doesn’t really use its strengths to the advantage, and it is where the movie losses control in some parts, but that is not a problem here, with the movie coming back stronger when needed. What runs under the movie is surely strong enough, and the variety in treatment of the subject also comes into the picture – it never ceases to be interesting, as we all need to unveil this mystery and understand the terror which has been going through here, underneath everything that is clearly seen. The result is that we have one more Korean movie which brings something different for us to watch, from many kilometres away from that nation.

Release date: 20th February 2019
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Jang Jae-hyun
Starring: Lee Jung-jae, Park Jung-min, Lee Jae-in, Jung Jin-young, Lee David, Jin Seon-kyu, Ji Seung-hyun, Min Tanaka, Cha Sun-bae, Hwang Jung-min, Jung Dong-hwan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Platform

Vampire Owl: Have you walked through the platforms?

Vampire Bat: Which one are you talking about?

Vampire Owl: The moving platforms which have been introduced inside the castle.

Vampire Bat: Now we vampires have moving platforms? Why?

Vampire Owl: Come on. This is supposed to a haunted castle with many vampires. Such attractions are supposed to be there.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that Uncle Dracula is planning to make Hotel Transylvania, a five star hotel with special attractions.

Vampire Owl: No, the castle a historical place. We can only add some attractions which supports its status as the monument.

Vampire Bat: They are going to destroy another historical monument. Do the vampire elders know about this?

Vampire Owl: They will know when the platforms are introduced. We are giving them a sweet little surprise.

Vampire Bat: They are so old that such a shocking surprise can make them former elders, and bury them in the vampire underworld.

[Gets a mango cake and three cups of mixed tea].

What is the movie about? :: Goreng (Ivan Massague) wakes up in a concrete room with another man on the bed opposite to his, and Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor) is a man who seems to have different opinions on world compared to him. The room is marked by the number 48, and there is a hole in the centre through which he is able to look at a large number of similar rooms going up and also going down towards infinity. Trimagasi explains that they are in a tower-style building that goes a long way to the higher and lower levels, at which food is delivered through a platform that travels from the top, stopping for a fixed period on each floor – each floor below gets only the left over of what the higher floors eat, and the amount of food decreases as each floor passes. If they try to keep some food with them for later use, the room gets heated or cooled towards the extreme ends until the food is thrown down. Each month, the imprisoned people are randomly reassigned to a new level and it seems to happen randomly.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The prisoners at the building were allowed to take one item which they really loved, or wanted to keep, into this building, and Goreng had taken a copy of Don Quixote, one of the best known and the most influential novels in Spanish, something which has been an inspiration and part of syllabus in many colleges all around the world teaching English Language and Literature course. One day, a young woman named Miharu (Alexandra Masangkay) rides down on the platform with food, and Trimagasi tells Goreng that she goes down the hole every month searching for her lost child. Goreng sees that she is being attacked by two men, but is relieved to see that she manages to kill both of them using a knife she had with her, and she continues to go down with the food, seemingly searching for the child that she needed to find.

And what is to follow here as time passed in the pit? :: While Goreng had volunteered to spend six months in what was known as the Vertical Self-Management Center to earn a special diploma, Trimagasi is someone who is serving a one year sentence for manslaughter, and he is surprised to see that someone would volunteer to be part of such a programme just for earning a diploma degree. Even though Trimagasi is not someone who seems to be so friendly, the two somehow manages to be pretty good friends, but only until they are transferred to the next cell, which is numbered 171, a place which is on the lower side, and would get none of the food, because 170 levels above and 340 people in there would need a lot more than what is moved on a platform. So, this is up to the two friends to figure out how to survive in this terrifying situation with no food. Will they find a way to survive until the next change to a better space, or will they end up killing and eating one another? Os is there a way to go to another room or escape from this experiment?

The defence of The Platform :: There are some relevant ideas being discussed in this movie, some directly, and most them indirectly. There is some violence, and it is shown as part of human need, and we also have survival of the fittest, with the certain support of luck, as the residents of this building shows life itself in another way, but the core remains the same. There is a display of how higher social order, or people of a better economic status will look at others, even those who were at their same status earlier. The idea at the base goes like this – if you only take what you need, there will be enough for everyone else; it thrives on the need rather than the want, because the desire for more than you need is the root of all evil. It is not just the case of food, but also of other basic needs like clothing and water among others. Along with food, the one thing that people have more than they need is surely clothes, and water is the one thing which is wasted the most. The movie nicely touches these elements with action and thrills to go with them, and the performances from everyone is good.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have been more accurate with how it presented its ideas, because some are being lost here. There are also some repetitions, even when considering the fact that this is a movie which is just over one and half hours in total run-time. It is also to be noted that more elements could have been included in this movie in that run-time itself, or by adding a few more minutes, because the movie remains a short one considering the idea which it is trying to convey to the audience of our times. The characters could have also been more interesting, and the ambiguity regarding what was happening above could have been removed, especially with one of the people in the office also becoming a prisoner. The movie is also pretty much violent, and often makes some people feel disgust and shock – this is not really a movie for everyone, as the film doesn’t choose to go through that safe path to bring in the audience, making this a much lesser known Spanish flick.

How it finishes :: As The Platform asks some questions relevant during the time of Corona Virus, with COVID-19 spreading throughout the globe, and it is the time to help others, we cannot deny its significance against a world of chaos as well as selfishness. With only a few main characters, the movie manages to bring its point during the season of crisis, even though it did release much earlier, but not many people had heard about it then. It is the kind of movie which will come to the light during different types of similar problems in the world, and it can be considered as a movie standing on its own, with similarities more with its other elements, and not with its core idea. The Platform is the movie that you need to watch during the season of quarantines, isolation and lock-downs, so that as a part of humanity, you can ponder over whatever is happening in a world which has been taught to be the fittest to survive in a cruel world full of inherent evil that William Golding talked about in his novel, the much studied Lord of the Flies. You can also watch another similar lock-down social experiment with The Belko Experiment.

Release date: 6th March 2019
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Starring: Ivan Massague, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan, Emilio Buale Coka, Alexandra Masangkay

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wolf’s Call

Vampire Owl: So, we are back to watching French movies again.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this time, a thriller with clarity.

Vampire Owl: Our journey into global movies have been quite good.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we are only watching selected movies which we consider to be special among others.

Vampire Owl: We do make some good choices then, I guess.

Vampire Bat: Yes, all of them have been specially picked, making sure that there is a high possibility that we will like the flicks.

Vampire Owl: Especially with a few cups of tea to go with it.

Vampire Bat: Considering the fact that there has been a lock-down in the name of a virus, we are doing quite well representing the vampire community.

Vampire Owl: Vampires have all been doing some interesting thing or the other during the times of lock-down.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I have heard that the castle has seen rather too many.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of mint tea].

What is the movie about? :: The French submarine Titan is sent through the Mediterranean Sea, to reach the coast of Tartus in Syria to bring back a French Special Forces unit fighting in the area during the time when Syrian Civil War is at its highest point, leaving no room for errors. As they are all prepared to take the troops in away from the Iranian and the Russian forces, Chanteraide a.k.a. Socks (Francois Civil), the sonar expert identifies it as a wounded sperm whale after multiple checks and moments of confusion. But it turns out to be another submarine which can’t be identified. It has detected Titan, and has provided the information about its presence and exact location to an Iranian warship nearby, which launches a helicopter hunting them right above water. But the submarine, with the help of its crew using an anti-tank gun against helicopter, somehow manages to survive the attack including torpedoes, and get the team to safety.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Later, when they are back to the ground, they get the information that Russia is invading Finland’s Aland Islands, which lead to the French President deciding to send a naval task force to the Baltic Sea, supporting the Scandinavian nation. At the same time, Chanteraide, while trying to identify the unknown submarine near the Syrian coast, finds out that it was a Russian made Timour III ballistic missile submarine, which was supposed to be dismantled earlier. During his similar searches for information regarding detailed underwater acoustics, he meets a young and charming bookshop owner, Diane (Paula Beer), whose original name is Priarie. After spending some time at the pub, they get emotionally and physically attached to each other, soon falling in love. But at the same time, a war and even a nuclear attack seems close with further problems arising between Russia and France, and Chanteraide needs to be back in action in Titan facing the nuclear armed submarine, Formidable. Can he do the right thing this time?

The defence of The Wolf’s Call :: This movie thrives on its smart moments here, and we have been presented with top quality thrills. With most of the shooting supposed to have happened in the real submarines, this is a fine achievement, and the whole thing indeed looks very realistic – the accomplishment powers this movie, as it needed to have most of its time within the underwater vessels. There are some highly thrill-packed moments in here, as the world stares at a possible nuclear war beginning with one wrong action from a European superpower, something that would have made that averted Soviet Union nuclear submarine torpedo launch happen many years later. It has to be noted that this movie begins in the middle of action, and there is no dull moment in here, and even those romantic sequences are to be loved. The Wolf’s Call does manage to show how a thriller in a submarine is to be created, with all the action and thrills.

The claws of flaw :: Some points in the movie have terms which we don’t understand that easily, and has to resort to Google – there are words related to military and the submarines which keeps coming back. But that is expected in movies like these, because otherwise, the realistic feeling will be gone. The romantic side could have also been better explored, taking a little bit more time. Paula Beer could have been used better in that case, considering the fact that is well-suited for such roles and moments of romance. The final moments could have also been a little better worked out, as we are battling to avoid a nuclear war, and something more could have been there in the picture. It could have also quickened up things a little bit more in the middle part, even though this one also has a higher pace that regular movies in their middle areas. The Wolf’s Call provides you that underwater world of wars, and you need to be prepared for that to get the best out of it.

Peformers of the soul :: Francois Civil manages to come with a good job in this thriller which shows nations on the brink of war. He seems to be someone who can handle the two sides quite well, being in the military as well as outside, with a happy love life. Paula Beer’s addition to this movie is more about being the love interest, and it is provided, in a cute, lovable way. Other than a few dialogues, adding the feel-good factor and an intimate scene, she adds less, but surely adds a light feeling to the movie, and the young and beautiful German actress is surely someone whom we expect to see more, maybe in Hollywood flicks too, very well suited to light-hearted romance or the fantasy movies based on the good old fairy-tales. We needed some female presence in this movie, and she makes sure that we have it. I would want her to be part of movies like Maleficent, Cinderella, Jack the Giant Slayer or Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters any day. Reda Kateb and Omar Sy plays the two commanders very well, and we have them as strong leaders.

How it finishes :: Originally titled Le Chant du loup in French, The Wolf’s Call has very good ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, and we have to agree to it, even though the number of reviews are rather less. The Wolf’s Call is a movie that needs to watched more, for how it manages the whole thing without any single boring moment – it is a serious quality that many more movies need to have during a time when it is Hollywood which struggles to make films like these, and Bollywood’s idea of an action thriller is still that old age masala, which appeals only for the brainless these days. Meanwhile, The Wolf’s Call does the job so well that it might end up inspiring more moves with underwater warfare or can even have remakes coming from different parts of the world after the Corona Virus crisis ends. This COVID-19 pandemic might be the only thing stopping it from happening for an year or two, depending on what is happening in our epidemic affected areas.

Release date: 20th February 2019
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Antonin Baudry
Starring: Francois Civil, Paula Beer, Omar Sy, Mathieu Kassovitz, Reda Kateb, Alexis Michalik, Jean-Yves Berteloot, Damien Bonnard

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Iron Mask

Vampire Owl: I know a man who was wearing the Iron Mask.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that these people are not talking about that creature Doctor Frankenstein brought to life.

Vampire Owl: No, I am talking about the mask in the Great Vampire Museum.

Vampire Bat: Okay, you are talking about the ceremonial mask of the vampire elders.

Vampire Owl: Yes, it is something like that, I believe.

Vampire Bat: Do you know that you can forget the mask because the original title of the flick is Viy 2: Journey to China?

Vampire Owl: I guess that has both Russia and China then.

Vampire Bat: It is loosely based on the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol’s horror novella Viy, and is a sequel to the movie which is released a long time ago.

Vampire Owl: But I see no horror around here, only fantasy adventure.

Vampire Bat: Yes, as mentioned earlier, it seems to be loosely based.

[Gets a strawberry cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: The movie begins with the talk about a great dragon which lived in the far south of the heavenly empire. His eyelashes which went down deep into the ground came back on the surface as beautiful plants – they healed thsoe people on Earth who were suffering. The leaves of this plant was known as tea, and the special powers of the drink made from these leaves spread far and wide. To take care of his eyelashes and preserve the greatness and healing properties of tea, a group known as white wizards were given the power, along with a magical seal. People from all over the world wanted this new drink known as tea, and they gave away great riches, including gold, silver and those which they considered precious in a personal manner. Some of these white wizards were too greedy, and with the help of a two-faced witch, they took over the cave of the dragon. The white wizards lost the battle to free the dragon, and all was lost.

So, what happens with the events here? :: English traveller Jonathan Green (Jason Flemyng) had an order from Peter the Great (Yuri Kolokolnikov) to map the Russian Far East, as nobody knew how huge the Russian Empire was, at that time. He already had a scientific voyage from England to the East earlier, passing through Transylvania and crossing the Carpathian Mountains. This new journey though, was supposed to be awarded, but he ends up finding himself in the prison, as the emperor he knew is not the one on the throne, and has come with some strange reforms too. He finally manages to get out of there with the help of Lord Dudley (Charles Dance) and is accompanied by a boy named Cheng Lan (Helen Yao) on his journey, who is actually the princess, the daughter of the master of white wizards. They embark on a journey to China on a carriage, and they battle random people, as Cheng shows great martial arts skills in defeating them, but chooses to stay at the top of the carriage so that Jonathan won’t know that she is a girl.

And what else is to follow in a world of magic, both good and evil? :: Meanwhile, Jonathan’s lover Miss Dudley (Anna Churina) goes to the prison, and leads to the events directing to the escape of Peter after some period of continuous fighting. But the great Master (Jackie Chan) can’t escape from James Hook (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who handles the prison tower, and gets him back into his cell, this time in solitary confinement. Peter does manage to get into a Russian ship leaving for China, as he pretends to be one of the workers in the port, and hides himself. Miss Dudley also manages to sneak in by hiding the fact that she is a lady, but when the sailors find out the truth, they corner her, and is almost molested, but Peter saves the ship from a storm, and they makes him the new captain, saving Dudley herself. As the two groups travel to China, one by land and the other on water, can these people save the enslaved people of their lands and free the dragon responsible for the creation of tea, along with making Russia better?

The defence of The Iron Mask :: This is one beautiful movie as far as the visuals are concerned. As a Russian and Chinese co-production, this was supposed to have beautiful visuals of both nations from the time period when they are based, and we are not disappointed with the same – the special effects add really well here too. We see the wide difference at both places, like we see in an Age of Empires game, for two civilizations’ variety in buildings and more are also seen, especially with so many nice shots from above. The action sequences are brilliantly done. The final fighting sequences are stylish, and visually stunning, with a dragon, people with special powers, and martial arts. The CGI is very well used for the same. It is the kind of fantasy that reminds one of movies like The Hobbit, and at times makes sure that you don’t miss Avengers anymore, as heroism with magic and superpowers never gets too far away. The story about tea is a lovely addition and so is the humour around here.

The claws of flaw :: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan, even though do make us feel better with this movie with their presence, gets into the action only the beginning stages. They could have been given more to do, considering the fact that they are the two people in this movie whom everyone knows, and a good reason why everyone will watch this one without hesitation – they were even in many posters, but Helen Yao is a good actress, and leads the path well in comparison to the others. There is also a certain level of predictability related to this movie, and the English dubbing doesn’t seem to be that good either – it does work better than Abigail, another Russian movie which released in the same year. One does feel that the previous movie and the book might score better in writing, because this one seems to focus on the visuals a lot more than everything else, with the exception of the action sequences which were always supposed to be there.

How it finishes :: The previous movie Viy a.k.a. Forbidden Empire was not that popular in this part of the world, and this is the first time I have known about its existence, even though I was writing many fantasy movie reviews during that time. But I understand that it did make an impact then. Viy 2: Journey to China also known as The Iron Mask is not written as a dark fantasy like the previous movie, but in the form of fantasy adventure, not really going dark as expected. This one seems to be well suited for all kinds of audience, and it is a journey of adventure in a colourful world, that one can remember for a long time for what they have witnessed on the screen. It might remember you of other fantasy adventure movies, but this one does have a special place due to its combination of so many things to create that extravaganza which is there to stay.

Release date: 21st September 2019
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Oleg Stepchenko
Starring: Jason Flemyng, Charles Dance, Rutger Hauer, Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Helen Yao, Martin Klebba, Christopher Fairbank, Igor Jijikine, Anna Churina, Yuri Kolokolnikov

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.