Bodies at Rest

Vampire Owl: Can the bodies be ever at rest as long as the undead are there?

Vampire Bat: We have never been at rest, as far as I know.

Vampire Owl: The castle is witness and proof to that particular statement.

Vampire Bat: I guess that they didn’t have a vampire or zombie to turn them.

Vampire Owl: Even a sorcerer or a witch could do that. Necromancers were actually available for consultation.

Vampire Bat: Even Dr. Frankenstein was available for the bodies.

Vampire Owl: Well, I wouldn’t recommend Mr. Frankenstein to do that again.

Vampire Bat: He is known for that one event involving the creation of life.

Vampire Owl: Yes, he is notorious for the same, and it is not a good sign.

Vampire Bat: Still, he is the one I look forward to, for creating dumb creatures with no teeth, those which walk like zombies.

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

What is the movie about? :: A much respected pathologist Chen Jia Hao (Nick Cheung) and his assistant Lynn Qiao (Yang Zi) continue to work late at a public morgue on the evening of Christmas, as people begins to celebrate. Even though it is the time to rejoice, there is not much of a crowd outside due to the thunderstorms occuring outside, and people being advised to stay at home at least for the night, or until a notice comes from the authorities. It is then that three armed criminals come into the morgue, demanding that the doctor and his assistant give them a bullet from the dead body of a girl was shot dead earlier. They beat up the elder security guard known to everyone as Uncle Jin (Shu-liang Ma), and the doctor seems to have been left with no option, with phone cables being cut, mobile phones taken, and nobody left inside the building, as it is Christmas evening with a terrible weather making everyone leave early.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The three men who goes under the names, Santa (Richie Jen), Elf (Carlos Chan) and Rudolph (Jiayi Feng) manages to get a bullet from the doctor, but it turns out that it was not one from their gun. The doctor had managed to trick them into believing that he had taken the bullet out of the girl’s dead body, but he hadn’t. After the criminals leave, he takes the body from her back, and manages to break out of the room where they were locked in, only to be chased by the returning criminals again, as he tries to sneak out of there with his assistant and the injured security guard. But the criminals are quick, and they want to get that bullet to remove any proof, because this case has many implications. Can there be hope for the trio to escape and give the bullet to the police, before the criminals catch up to them? Are there other secrets which are to be revealed as time passes? Will this really be a Christmas night with joy, or is there unlimited terror awaiting them all?

The defence of Bodies at Rest :: The movie does have an interesting premise, with three people being caught in a morgue with three masked killers ready to shoot at them, unless the decide the give away the evidence of a murder – it is the kind of thing that keeps us interesting from the beginning itself. As the movie begins, there is a fine shot of the Chinese city that displays the beauty of modernity at night with the lights, and also showing the severity of nature with thunderstorms coming in strong and seemingly without an end – it is more or less an early reflection of what is to follow, as the thriller unfolds. The action scenes in the movie are all believable, as they fight normally, and both the doctor and his assistant while trying to resist, get themselves on the receiving end of the punches and kicks. There are some twists to be revealed in between, and you are in full support of the two protagonists to make it out, while the three classical Aristotelian unities of place, time and action are maintained, with everything happening in the morgue at a night, focusing on one bullet and dead body, having only minor exception.

The claws of flaw :: Bodies at Rest could have done more, and there is absolutely no doubt about it here – there are enough dead bodies in the morgue to assure that, and there is enough going on inside and outside which could have further contributed to increasing the level of this movie. A morgue is always a place of eerie and fear, and with some dead bodies, the same could have been achieved – even the corpse of the girl doesn’t serve as a reason for adding some terror in here. It would have had many places to hide, and even the morgue could have had secrets to be unveiled. The two protagonists, especially the girl could have found more spaces to escape through, as she is quite small. A better connection between the doctor and the main antagonist could have also been nice. The villains often end up being funny, and that is not too good considering the fact that they are wearing the masks, holding the guns, and are ready to murder anyone to take the bullet out of the dead girl’s body.

Peformers of the soul :: Nick Cheung plays the main character here, the one who qualifies as the protagonist from the first scene itself. He is very good, as we see the doctor handling things so well, and he goes through the character nicely. The man who is ready to take a hit to save the forensic evidence has you supporting him throughout the movie. There is also a flashback about him which is discussed here, and it becomes linked to the criminals who have something more to hide than the case of one bullet inside a young girl. Yang Zi is a lovely addition to this movie, and one has to say that she provides some surprises that we love. It has to be said that she fights incredibly well, as she runs away from the criminals, and she brings kind of an escape attack every time here. The three criminals are played very well, and Richie Jen stands out among them as the leader and the focused one. Carlos Chan and Jiayi Feng supports well enough to keep the team going. Shu-liang Ma who plays the security guard gets less to do, but does it okay.

How it finishes :: Bodies at Rest tries to compete with other thrillers which seem to make something out of an idea which feels great from the beginning itself, and the action is well restricted to a single place during one night with all the focus there. It does succeed in doing that up to an extent, but one is not supposed to expect something like The Autopsy of Jane Doe, for this is not that kind of near-perfect thriller. We do have an urge to watch these kinds of movies, with people locked in a morgue full of dead bodies and criminals hunting them, all being something that catches our attention and interest easily. Even though the reviews haven’t been that kind to this one, this Chinese movie is something that will keep you interested throughout the movie, and even before the attack on the morgue – it has that kind of a perfect setting to begin things. Bodies at Rest is only the fourth full-length Chinese movie I watched, and it was surely worth the one and half hours of run-time.

Release date: 16th August 2019
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Renny Harlin
Starring: Nick Cheung, Richie Jen, Yang Zi, Carlos Chan, Jiayi Feng, Shu-liang Ma

<— 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

<— Click here to go to the previous review

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Tattooist

Vampire Owl: The title here is something that caught my attention early.

Vampire Bat: It rarely happens related to short-films, right?

Vampire Owl: I stopped differentiating between short-films and long films some time ago.

Vampire Bat: This is actually a micro short-film, much shorter.

Vampire Owl: That saves a lot of time then.

Vampire Bat: So, you are going for the shortest of them now.

Vampire Owl: Why not? It is best to show the most, within the shortest period of time.

Vampire Bat: Everyone is too busy these days.

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why they won’t be. The challenges are too many. Shorter movies are thus helpful in saving time.

Vampire Bat: It is a competitive world. Let us take that option of saving time then.

[Gets some vegetable puffs and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: The Tattooist (Wang Yanhu) is a very popular man in the town who gets many customers, as his skill as well as the resulting work is something which has been widely appreciated. Most of his clients are young men and women who are enamoured by what he does. His reputation in his field is so high that it is near impossible for anyone else to work and gain such popularity. But there is something sinister behind his much acclaimed work. There are people drugged, imprisoned and tortured in a secret lair under his tattoo studio. Can at least one of these people survive and escape to tell the tale of brutality to others? Or will the tattooist continue to have more victims, and enjoy his run as the best of them all in the field – the grand villain? Is there hope in between the chaos, or will it be all about evil and extreme violence?

Similar Dark Legends from the Past :: The first thing that came to my mind while watching this was regarding Sweeney Todd. This tale which we literature graduates have studied as part of Victorian age literature had a barber who makes his customer victims fall down through a trap door by pulling a lever on the side of the chair on which they sit. The people who land in the basement usually dies which broken necks or skulls, and the rest are finished off. He also has a partner in crime, Mrs. Lovett, who assists him in getting rid of the bodies by making meat pies from the corpses and selling them to the u customers at her pie shop. The two shops are also connected through an underground passage. We had also heard about the same as a movie, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter as the main characters. Such dark legends of villainy never ceases being amazing.

More about The Tattooist :: We are quickly taken through this vision of the director, which keeps us asking for more. We begin by seeing the tattooist at work, and it seems like some elegant work being done there – all of a sudden, the mood changes, and we are taken to the bloody, gory side. We also see how the music changes, and the sound effects are used to a fine effect. We see what the tattooist actually manages to do, and there is that transformation from a paradise-like atmosphere to inferno. There are people imprisoned inside cages and cells, people being dragged away, corpses, and a lot of blood and gore. Then we are back to what is happening in the world of beautiful tattoos – it has us expecting the terror which is to come for the customer who is having her tattoo done by the same person. This is exactly how our imaginations are made to run far, and how we are made to wish for a longer version.

The Beauty of The Tattooist :: The charm of the movie lies not in just one element, as this creates a perfect collection of things, something that would make a near perfect horror movie if the same tempo is maintained. There are movies like American Mary which talks about body modification and the horror that comes related to that. It had one of the queens of horror, Katharine Isabelle playing a medical student desperate for money ending up taking clients from the body modification community to solve her financial troubles. Well, tattoos can have the same effect as long as the right elements are added, and we can see that Michael Wong has succeeded in doing exactly the same. Well, as of now, tattoos have come to this part of the world very rarely in movies, like in some funny sequences like the fainting moments in the Malayalam movie Aanandam.

How it finishes :: Watching The Tattooist as a full-length movie will be a horror movie lover’s dream, as this one could serve as a fine trailer about what can come. Michael Wong’s directorial debut short film The Story of 90 Coins was a lovely flick which dealt with an entirely different topic, and extreme opposite if we look at it. It had picked up more than sixty accolades from different international film festivals including the Best Direction and Best Cinematography. The Tattooist hasn’t been far behind in creating some grand waves all around. As he has easily gone through two different genres, creating two interesting movies with ease, we can be sure that there is more to expect from him. Until then, enjoy watching this micro short-film, and the same can be found at the bottom of the review. Along with the same, enjoy the summer vacation going on at this part of the world!

[Returning after the movie and snacks].

Vampire Owl: You can see that my opinion about having a micro short-film remains the same.

Vampire Bat: I see that you have enjoyed watching this short-film, and at the same time, keeping your valuable time to make a good use of the same.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and still we have watched what we needed.

Vampire Bat: It is an idea which stays and expands further in our minds, after we finish watching the movie.

Vampire Owl: Yes, we can even contribute with our own version to add to the already existing idea through imagination.

Vampire Bat: It makes me wonder what the tale of each victim would be.

Vampire Owl: This is certainly worth a longer version too.

Vampire Bat: I would keep my hope high about that.

Vampire Owl: I am recommending this for the whole vampire community.

Vampire Bat: I would be doing the same thing too.

[Takes a long walk into the darkness].

Watch the film here:

Release date: 9th June 2018
Running time: 2 minutes
Directed by: Michael Wong
Starring: Yanhu Wang, Li Lu, Myra Mala, Mayela Magrou, Dan Litza, Simon Shiyamba, Chase Lichtenberg

<— Click here to go to the previous review

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Story of 90 Coins

Vampire Owl: I have to say that this title has immediately caught my attention.

Vampire Bat: It is not natural for such a thing to happen for you considering the fact that this is a short-film.

Vampire Owl: I have loved more short-films these days than any other. So, there is a certain vision coming to me.

Vampire Bat: So, you will be watching more short-films?

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why not, as you have been writing about so many. I have to keep up.

Vampire Bat: So, you are coming up against the realization that short-films are more worth the time, right?

Vampire Owl: Yes, I have gotten fine results with the last few which I watched.

Vampire Bat: Also, it is for everyone, and not limited by the boundaries, as it is available online.

Vampire Owl: And available in so many language, with English subtitles.

Vampire Bat: The only thing which stops us from watching a short-film is we ourselves.

[Gets some kuzhalappam and three cups of elaichi tea].

What is the movie about? :: The movie begins with Wang Yuyang (Dongjun Han) telling Chen Wen (Zhuang Zhiqi) to be with him forever. When she doesn’t agree to the same, and shows her doubts about the future of the relationship, he asks her to give him ninety days to prove her love towards her. Every night, when they left each other, he would give her a coin, and if she rejects his proposal after those ninety days, they would take the cash to the stall where they had first met, have some drinks and bid adieu to each other, hoping not to meet again – that would be the end. Otherwise, they are going to use it for the wedding purposes, according to him. Even though she does fall in love with him, her first priority is to have a house in the city. She also has her career in front of her, and marriage doesn’t come at the top of the list at the moment.

So, what happens next? :: Then there is a chance for her to go to Paris, which is quite the perfect place to continue her fashion designing work. The city which has been commonly referred to as the fashion capital of the world just seemed to have endless opportunities for her. Andre (Jose Acosta), her French co-worker is also asking her regularly to join him on the trip to France, and see how far she can go with her skills in the field. They have their own complications in the relation in between, and it remains to be seen, if they can stand the factors of real life when going through their tale of love. It comes to that point when the relationship was going to be no more – but the promise of ninety days remain. Will they be able to go through those days which are reflected in each coin? Is it love or is it the job that gets the upper hand in the end?

The defence of The Story of 90 Coins :: The movie is just so beautiful to watch – there are those wonderful shots, and there are also beautiful people working in it. Along with the same, the performances are also too good that we feel the reflection of the emotions of the two protagonists. The emotional effect that this movie brings is more than what some of those highly appreciated romantic flicks lasting two and half hours has brought us. We can take the example of two Malayalam movies which are considered top love stories – Ennu Ninte Moideen and Annayum Rasoolum. While the former was entertaining, it dragged itself to almost three hours, with moments which didn’t need to be there. The former also had a run-time close to three hours and had more drag than material. These two, the most overrated love stories don’t stand a chance against a nine minute short-film, and there lies the beauty of The Story of 90 Coins.

Soul exploration 1: Love and promises made :: We see so many movies with promises of love being made. Lets take the example of another overrated movie, Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi – it only has the glorification of our youth who can’t make a good promise and stick to it, and as people don’t usually stick to promises they liked it. The Story of 90 Coins is for the kind of people who stick to those promises made in love, like the characters in the movie Anarkali. Unlike what a lot of youth from a spoilt generation thinks, love is not love when it finds deviation – falling in love is a commitment, and whether it is before or after marriage, it takes real courage, faithfulness and trust to stand with the person you love. With love, comes a promise, and it is about this promise that The Story of 90 Coins talks about. Good men and women keep it, and won’t let it become a random memory which comes into mind later.

Soul exploration 2: Love and love only :: There will be other things like work and people will keep looking for job satisfaction – unfortunately, in a terrible modern world, it is something that people will use to judge you and society will even judge your partner on the same. There will always be those offers to make you feel successful, but it is not inside that cabin or the cubicle that you find what matters the most – it is in in front of your beloved, in her words, and in her arms. As we look at a world affected terribly by modernity, we feel so much less of love – they turns into robots, and they divide us into factions. But there will be a day when we realize that love matters – it will be not that creepy new generation love made in the name of modern love which has no commitment and just infatuation and lust. Love will be love only when it is worth to be called by arranging those four letters in the right way in heart, and never stepping back from those feelings of oneness.

How it finishes :: There are lots of dialogues in this movie which are certain to stay with you. The process of making you feel the love begins from the first few seconds itself, and there are those amazing words in the end, which are sure to give your emotional side and belief in true love a big push. It is shameful that we have more of “theppu” short-films here rather than true love stories – we are the industry which had so many of real love tales which became big hits in the past, and we struggle to make more of the same kind even as short-films. It is during those times that this Chinese short-film from Michael Wong becomes a very significant lesson. This is a movie which has won more than fifty accolades from different international film festivals, and it is the director’s short-film debut. After watching this The Story of 90 Coins, I hope that he will make a lot more of similar interesting flicks.

Release date: 28th July 2016
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Michael Wong
Starring: Jose Acosta, Dongjun Han, Zhuang Zhiqi

Watch The Story of 90 Coins here:

Other short-films of interest: Mangalyam Thanthunanena, Red Jacket, Grace Villa, Culprit, AUFDRUCK, The Shaman.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Mermaid

Vampire Owl: Do you know how much I love the mermaids?

Vampire Bat: I am pretty sure that you don’t love them as much as you love Lady Death.

Vampire Owl: Lady Death is more like a final destination. So do not try to bring her into this conversation, and neither should you talk about Doctor Frankenstein.

Vampire Bat: Frankenstein? Okay, so tell me more about your love for those mermaids who don’t love you back.

Vampire Owl: Mr. Vampire Bat, they don’t love me because they don’t know me.

Vampire Bat: Actually, the truth is that they don’t even realize that you exist, and there is no such requirement for them either.

Vampire Owl: No, I am the most popular vampire apprentice in this realm.

Vampire Bat: Dude, the word ‘vampire’ don’t go well with owls. Your kind works well with demons, spirits and the similar creatures from the other dimension.

Vampire Owl: What nonsense! I am as vampire as Kung Fu Panda is Kung Fu.

Vampire Bat: I see the food being a common factor linking you two.

[Gets three cups of Kumily tea with a piece of marble cake].

What is the movie about? :: A young and energetic business tycoon Liu Xuan (Deng Chao) is one of those newer faces in the elite class, looking forward to making it big. It is because of the same reason that he buys the area known as the Green Gulf, planning for a sea reclamation project. He uses the sonar technology to get rid of the oceanic creatures there, especially the dolphins which are supposed to live there in large number. With the technology which proves brutal, they are very much successful in driving the dolphins away, as there was not much of a sighting of them for a long time. Along with his long line of supporters, and the newly found special business partner Ruolan (Zhang Yuqi), he decides to take it to the next level – Ruolan, not only being attracted to him for his success and quick money-making, but also sexually, decides to keep him with her throughout for the deals, despite him not having that huge a family background.

So, what happens next? :: But unknown to Liu, Ruolan or any other, the Green Gulf is the home of merpeople, the aquatic creatures with the head and upper body of a humans and the tail of fish, or other sea creatures. It turns out that after Liu had bought the area, overall pollution had increased, and the sonar devices placed in the sea has been producing a devastating effect on their kind. A lot of them had died, and some of them unwell, with not much of a future left, awaiting the end of their lives. With their people being lost to sickness and even worse fate, the merpeople decide not to co-exist in peace and suffer for the damage that humans have been doing to them as well as the environment. They decide to react, and by the same, they feel that things should begin with the one man who has caused all the trouble, Liu Xuan, the millionaire – they all want him dead, and that too, as soon as possible, before he cause any further damage to their world.

And what is to follow in this adventure in water and land? :: The half-human, half-fish creatures of the ocean join under Octopus (Show Luo) who is half-man half-octopus, who calls for a hitman, or rather a femme fatale to murder the evil human target. They train a beautiful young mermaid named Shan (Lin Yun) to walk on her fins, and adapt to human life, hiding among humans, and find an opportunity to meet Liu. When she gets to find him and have a meeting, she is supposed to seduce him, and send him to his doom. The plan seems to be quite a smart one for everyone, as they send Shan to the land, and after setting up her place on an abandoned house which has the sea underneath it, she goes on to find Liu with Ruolan and other girls – she leaves her phone number for him and asks him to call her, and they all wait for the man to call the mermaid. So, will Liu fall for the trap and call the mermaid, inviting his own doom, or will he just continue with his work? Will Shan be good enough for the job, and can the Green Gulf and the merpeople be saved?

The defence of The Mermaid :: When we look at The Mermaid, we see that it works at two levels, one at the simplest level of comedy, and another level, at the more serious concern, on the need for conservation of nature from all which contributes in polluting it. There are a number of funny moments which you will get to watch and can’t control laughter, which includes, but is not limited to the mermaid’s attempt at assassination, the octopus trying to sneak in for no use and the millionaire remembering his father when getting to eat a chicken. There is cuteness present, which makes sure that no matter how dumb some comic scenes happen to go, you will find that the simple characters and simple incidents make sure that the fun is something that will keep on going. It is certainly divergent from the usual mermaid tale that you will see anywhere, and it is also different in talking about protecting the environment. You call this a package which takes them all in.

The claws of flaw :: I am sure that a lot of people will find some of the comedy scenes to be rather childish, and for a movie with ninety three percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, you tend to expect more than that. There is also that certainty of confusion with the genre, which can be seen, as we look at how things proceed, with focus being shifted from one genre to the other, and its inability to take a few things seriously is rather confusing – after all, there are some elements which have to be dealt with leaving the comedy behind if they are present, but The Mermaid never tries to put down what it has in its lap, but stands straight up to take something else. It can be said so more concerning the final scenes, and it makes us wonder why it couldn’t maintain the strength that it had earlier. Maybe it could have maintained the comic side, without going rather violent and yet without seriousness. The modern take of the folktale mermaid story could have surely been better. The romantic side is rather strange too.

How it finishes :: As the four people playing the most noticable characters, Deng Chao, Lin Yun, Show Luo and Zhang Yuqi make their moments count so well, The Mermaid becomes a movie that you need to give a try for the elements it possesses, and the divergence that it brings here with its not-so-little mermaid. The combination should feel strange, but if you take each of them separately, you will know that there is some interesting effort at almost everything here. Without that much of a violence in the end, and with more comedy as it had in the beginning supported by better visual effects, The Mermaid could have done more justice to its world. But as of now, with a short run-time, and some moments to remember, this one could be that comedy movie with the environmental message which has the strength to be remembered for a longer period of time than a documentary or a serious movie taking on the same issue. No wonder it is the highest-grossing Chinese movie of all time, even after releasing with The Monkey King 2 – the movie has to be enjoyed for the funny side without thinking too much about the story, but do remember the environmental message.

Release date: 8th February 2016
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Stephen Chow
Starring: Deng Chao, Lin Yun, Show Luo, Zhang Yuqi, Kris Wu, Ivan Kotik, Lu Zhengyu, Fan Shuzhen, Li Shangzheng, Bo Xiaolong, Pierre Bourdaud, Kong Lianshun, Chiu Chi Ling, Bai Ke, Tsui Hark, Tin Kai-man, Wen Zhang, Lam Chi-chung, Yang Neng, Zhang Mei’e

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Monkey King II

Vampire Owl: I have this name wandering in my mind somewhere.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that you have known many kings and monkeys during your life-time.

Vampire Owl: Yes, the most recent acquaintance being the Lich Queen with her undead minions.

Vampire Bat: What? You met the Lich Queen? It is forbidden for a vampire to meet an undead queen sorceress.

Vampire Owl: She is not that undead, you know, and she is a good host.

Vampire Bat: Whatever. That doesn’t explain how you met the Monkey King though.

Vampire Owl: Well, I was reading this classic, and the pages came alive.

Vampire Bat: And they attacked you?

Vampire Owl: No, then I realized that I was tearing the pages apart. Then I took some glue and fixed it back to its place.

Vampire Bat: The imperial librarian won’t be that happy this time. You should get a few zombie minions to cover it up.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A young Buddhist monk, Tang Sanzang (Feng Shaofeng) is on the journey to the West, to the Thunder Monastery in India to collect some of the valuable scriptures of Buddha. But the soldiers who were meant to assist and protect him during his journey leaves him when a white tiger attacks them. Trying to protect the horse, he ends up being under attack from the tiger, only to get into a cave and save himself. As he is followed by the tiger, he sees Sun Wukong a.k.a. The Monkey King (Aaron Kwok) who was imprisoned under the Five Fingers Mountain as part of his five hundred years of atonement for the trouble which he had caused in heaven. The awakened and released monkey soon deals with the tiger, but that only begins in new life, as the Goddess Guan Yin (Kelly Chen) has instructed him to protect the monk throughout his journey.

So, what happens next? :: Wukong is not someone who likes taking orders from anyone, but he is bound to stay close to the instructions made by the goddess, as he is wearing a magical headband which can’t be removed, and will cause him pain if he acts like a bad monkey. He finds his life connected to the monk’s, and decides to finish this job as soon as possible, and get back to his usual, mischievous life. On the way, Wukong defeats two other immortals looking like monsters – Zhu Bajie (Xiaoshenyang) and Sha Wujing (Him Law) who joins them in the journey as atonement for their sins, as the monk gets protected from three sides. Both of the new travelers consider Wukong as their big brother, and approves of his superiority in skills. They have some interesting moments during their travel, and reaches Yun Hai Xi Kingdom, which is ruled by a king (Fei Xiang) and his people living in fear.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: The kingdom is terrorized by the White Bone Demon (Gong Li), a powerful demoness who is known to take away children from everywhere, and she is supposed to devour them to keep herself in this world. As the demoness learns about the arrival of the young monk, she decides to eat him, and thus get more powerful, without no reincarnation, being an eternally unstoppable demon who could challenge even heaven and hell. She, along with her three demoness minions (Lu Weu, Xi’er Qi and Miya Muqi) get the four to their house in the middle of the forest, where they offer all of them a place to rest. She tells them the story of her past as a young woman, which had Sanzang in tears. The two monsters fall into the seductive trap of the demonesses posing as beautiful girls, and Wukong seems to have some problem with his eyes – so, will the demoness and her minions be successful in using the young monk to expand their evil? Or will the Monkey King be able to save him?

The defence of The Monkey King 2 :: This movie is visually excellent with its creatures, surroundings and magic having our attention, and has those action sequences which will immediately ask for your attention. There are also the messages about forgiveness, and the reflection of the fact that humans are so capable of being more evil than the demons every time. There is also some humour present here, and the comic relief is very much useful in this movie. It actually combines nicely with the adventure as well as the spiritual side, making this package whole. Everything is so simple in this movie, and this simplicity in fantasy is something that we can cherish, and the same makes sure that this movie is for everyone – kids are certainly going to love this one as much as any animated movie. Even though there are not that many reviews of this movie in English, the ratings received, including those in Rotten Tomatoes make nice example of how well this has worked.

The claws of flaw :: Maybe, a more serious version of the classic might have been expected by many, and also this one happens to be a sequel rather than the original story, which could have also kept some people from watching this particular flick. There is also more needed of action from everyone other than Monkey King whose action scenes never cease being delightful – the fans from everywhere will always look for more from him, as I had wondered more about this particular character than anyone else. Also, despite having a very strong female villain there with minions, her manipulation or the fighting skills get quite less attention than we would have expected to witness. Looking silly at times is not something that one would expect from this movie, as there is enough depth all the time, as long as you have a classic in your hands, and got hope of everyone who has read or has read about the work expecting a lot. Also, despite the movie being a visual treat, there are moments when the CGI looks too much and strange.

How it finishes :: Those who have read the novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, are sure to love this movie adaptation of the tale – there are so many version of the same, and many translations. This tale is actually something that needs to be read by everyone, and this movie will help in attaining that for sure. As more people get to read Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature, adding the other three, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dream of the Red Chamber and Water Margin to their list of books to read, we can safely say that this visual extravaganza of an action movie is successful in doing the right thing for literature. Even if you haven’t watched this movie’s predecessor, or never known about the novel, it is still okay to watch this movie – this one is a rather stand-alone work, and things really can’t get any simpler than this as far as fantasy movies are concerned. Then, the messages are also straight-forward with nothing there to bring a message out of a message. Also note that the actor who played the antagonist in the previous movie plays the protagonist here.

PS: For more on the movie of the week here, read on – Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

Release date: 6th February 2016
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Cheang Pou-soi
Starring: Aaron Kwok, Gong Li, Feng Shaofeng, Xiaoshenyang, Him Law, Fei Xiang, Kelly Chen, Lu Weu, Xi’er Qi, Miya Muqi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.