The Rising Hawk

Vampire Owl: Hawks are not part of any vampire army as far as I know.

Vampire Bat: I am still not letting go of the possibility of having a Vampire Hawk.

Vampire Owl: Hawks do not make good vampires. It was proven a long time ago.

Vampire Bat: It is a myth. There is no real history behind the same.

Vampire Owl: It is written in the Great Vampire Scrolls. So, it has to be true.

Vampire Bat: Everything written on it need not be true, as it also says that owls are dumb.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that they had excluded that chapter from the scrolls.

Vampire Bat: The scrolls have been edited many time since its inception into the Vampire Hall of Fame, which makes it flawed.

Vampire Owl: Well, I don’t really like the hawks anyway.

Vampire Bat: You don’t really need to invite them home, do you?

[Gets a blueberry cake and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: The Mongol army is leaving a trail of destruction on its path, as it is led by Burunda Khan (Tserenbold Tsegmid) – the terror spreads towards the west, devastating everything on its path as it reaches the Carptathian mountains. Zakhar Berkut (Robert Patrick) and Rada (Alison Doody) had led their group of villagers to the highlands, but the terror doesn’t seem to end. The Mongols, with their vast army, is looking for new lands to conquer and pillage, with nobody able to stand against them, as the largest empire of the time would stop at nothing with only destruction to be found on their path. They had trained their sons Maksym (Alex MacNicoll) and Ivan (Rocky Myers) in combat seeing this moment before them, but they do know that they won’t be able to fight this battle alone, as stopping Mongols is a near-impossible task, with so many tribes, villages and kingdoms trying and failing miserably in the last few years.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Tuhar Vovk (Tommy Flanagan) is the person who can make the different there, and his daughter Myroslava (Poppy Drayton) is in love with Maksym after he saves her from a bear during a hunting expedition, but it is not something the rich and influential Tuhar wouldn’t approve, as he considers Zakhar Berkut and his sons as mere commoners with no real achievement to boast about. At the same time, there are brutal raids from the Mongol cavalry, which the villagers consider as demons on horseback. As everything they know being threatened, they would need to unite and make a last stand here. But fighting the forces of Burunda Khan would need near perfect military tactics because there is no possibility of matching the Mongols in number and regular fighting methods. What would be their plan now, as death stares at them right on the face, as a Mongol arrow could come in at any moment?

The defence of The Rising Hawk :: The visuals of the places are surely good, especially with the nature having a fine say here. You cannot blame the idea there, because the underdogs fighting a large group of expert military force consisting of specialized archers, agile cavalry and ruthless swordsmen who wouldn’t stop until they get to leave a trail of terror, is indeed something to think about. The big tales of valour have always impressed us, and it is the same which this movie also tries to achieve. Tales of such courage without that much of an exaggeration was always needed. Ever since we had read the tales like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, we have always been interested in stories around Carpathian mountains – we have desired to visit Eastern Europe for long, and at least watching this movie gives us some happiness, and the hope that we can get to be there at some point. What you see around here is more beautiful than the rest, indeed.

The claws of flaw :: The Rising Hawk doesn’t live up to its premise, which is so huge – there were so many possibilities with the underdogs fighting the vast army of Mongols who are clearly unstoppable by all means. The beginning stages of the movie are quite slow too, and we await the action, and some change from the predictability, but the leading hero, his brother, the lady love, the parental affection – all these go through the predictable patterns. Many of the moments here do remind us of many other previous films. The problem with the low budget can also be seen here, by just looking around. It should have also had some classic fighting scene or a grand scene to remember, and that is not provided here. A movie focusing on war against a near invincible enemy cannot afford to be ordinary with its fights, unless it is a love story with just background in store. The romance in this movie also struggles to reach the height. It has to be noted that the Mongols are also not exactly as we had known them.

Performers of the soul :: Most of the performances are satisfactory, even though it is not without the flaws. The two elder actors do the best job around here, as Robert Patrick and Tommy Flanagan clearly has the advantage as they are more or less like another form of Professor X and Magneto – old friends who now stand divided, even though the chance of coming together again is always there. Then we have Poppy Drayton, the British actress who also has her moments in this movie – she is a lovely presence, and excels in emotional sequences, along with managing the action scenes well enough, especially with the bow and arrow in hand. Alex MacNicoll does a pretty good job too. The others just seem to blend into the whole thing, not doing that much, including the Mongol king himself, who could have been a scarier figure, a terror that could have had no replacement. Alison Doody who plays the mother is also just enough for the purpose.

How it finishes :: The Rising Hawk is certainly not trying to rise above the usual historic films that we have been watching for a long time. Supposed to be based on the historical fiction book Zakhar Berkut by popular Ukrainian writer and poet Ivan Franko, a work which hasn’t reached this part of the world. If we look further at it, there are many historical films which have dealt with the same idea of the underdogs fighting against hordes, and winning an impossible battle or two. The tales about the Kingdom of Travancore standing tall against the much larger country and military power, the invading Kingdom of Mysore lead by Tipu Sultan is well known in the South Indian states. Such tales of the smaller defending force winning against the bigger, invading force are always inspirational. We have had similar situations in all parts of the world, and when you look into history, when you are fighting an invading Mongol force, you just cannot stop being the underdog.

Release date: 10th October 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: John Wynn, Akhtem Seitablayev
Starring: Robert Patrick, Alison Doody, Tommy Flanagan, Poppy Drayton, Alex MacNicoll, Alina Kovalenko, Rocky Myers, Oliver Trevena, Oleh Voloshchenko, Andriy Isayenko, Erzhan Nurymbet, Tserenbold Tsegmid

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Adios

Vampire Owl: So, there is a goodbye related to this title.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the movie is about the death of a child and the following vengeance.

Vampire Owl: Well, there is nothing that catches the audience better than a revenge tale.

Vampire Bat: I agree to that. They are repeated so many times, and still they are so popular.

Vampire Owl: What is surprising is that some good movies become random tales of revenge as it progresses to the end.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Anjaam Pathiraa showed such a tendency, but Forensic was beyond it, with a psycho killer with no motive other than the murder itself.

Vampire Owl: I have always felt that such tales should be a sub-genre with further divisions following it.

Vampire Bat: I feel that that this setting in Sevilla in Spain is perfect too.

Vampire Owl: Well, I did love that setting in Italy too.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the setting of Piranhas. That would be a suitable setting too.

[Gets a blueberry cake and three glasses of pineapple shake].

What is the movie about? :: In a neighbourhood of Sevilla in Spain, there is an area where police, law and order ends up having no power at all. In a newly re-established underworld of drugs and organized crime, Juan Santos (Mario Casas) is a con man gets out of the prison to celebrate the First Communion of Estrella Santos (Paulina Fenoy), their only daughter, with his wife Triana (Natalia de Molina). His uncle Andres Santos (Vicente Romero) and nephew Chico Santos (Mauricio Morales) do come to him on he day of function with a gift, and calls him back to the world of crime, but he is not ready to do that, thinking about his wife and daughter. But on the same day, there is an accident after the party, and after being hit by another car, they are injured, but their daughter dies. The police officers Manuel Santacana (Carlos Bardem) and Eli (Ruth Diaz) who arrives nearby at a murder scene to investigate the killing of four Romanians who were drug traffickers, realizes that the murder is connected to this accident.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Discovering that the car that caused the accident which killed Estrella is the same as that of the killers of those Romanians, Juan meets his mother Maria Santos (Mona Marinez), former Santos’ family mob boss who expelled from the locality by two rival families Fortuna and Taboa. She also seeks vengeance for her grand-daughter, as Andre and Chico also offers their help. A drug addict named Maravilla (Pilar Gomez), tells the cops that it was done by Fortuna family, and even though a strong police force is deployed, the boss Gordo Fortuna (Moreno Borja) escapes from the area. Juan tries running after him, but it is of no use. But there is more than what meets the eye, and the Santos family will not have many chances to regain their lost glory – finding those who were responsible for the death of Estrella Santos, the youngest member of the family, would be a nice start. But, as things go further complicated, there is no hope for them without making friends out of enemies, and vice versa – can Juan be successful in finding the person who caused the death of his only daughter?

The defence of Adios :: There is the early feeling of what is to come, from the beginning itself – the feeling never goes away. The feeling of sadness that runs through this movie is strong, and we feel that not just from the parents of the child meeting accident, but also from the lady police officer who is in charge of the case. The visuals of the city are beautiful, and there are some moments of intensity related to some action and there is suspense with twists to come in the later stages. With the movie not being the usual revenge thriller where the protagonist goes on fighting random people and beating them, this one stays close to a certain amount of realism here. The background music also adds to the charm really well, and there is something about all the music which is played in this movie. With the visuals combining with the same, we have the feeling of being taken to this world, many kilometres away from us, that historical city from where Ferdinand Magellan departed for the first circumnavigation of the Earth – one of the cities of Western Europe which I would visit before most of the others if given a chance.

The claws of flaw :: Adios could have done better with its side of crime, and one wouldn’t doubt that. There is a lot more to explored for sure, as such families of crime are involved. Ruth’s character could have also had an interesting background story, as the need was ascertained during the time when she was talking about kids to the protagonist’s wife, and something was left to be said, as one could observe from that shower scene. The use of another title for the English version was also not needed, as people are well aware of this particular title. It could have simply gone for more action sequences, as the vengeance element was always going to feel the need for more strength. Guns could have been there at all times to bring the power up further. Some parts of the film could have also used some polishing, especially related to the police and the prison, as well as the other gangs which could have unleashed themselves on the streets, which never really get to have the big action out there.

Performers of the soul :: She might not be playing the protagonist in this movie, but Ruth Diaz is the one actress who scores above everyone else, as far as performances are concerned. There is a certain amount of sadness, and melancholic determination in her, which we find early enough – she feels like a beautifully crafted, complicated character with a long past of suffering whenever we look at her. Her expressions nicely support the same, and it seems that her looks also support the same. Natalia de Molina’s suffering is rather easily visible to the outward eye, and it is the kind that we know about, and she goes through that with the character really well. She plays the wife and mother in a believable manner too. Mario Casas plays the main character well, and we know that he is fit for this from the first moments than anything else. He displays the anger mixed with sadness quite well. Mona Martinez who plays the mother figure for the mob family is as solid as one can get. Vicente Romero and Mauricio Morales who play the other family members also support well here.

How it finishes :: Adios finishes well, and in the end, we are glad to have watched another version of a tale of vengeance. This would add to the entertaining during the time of Corona virus lock-down with ease. There is a certain amount of realism in the way this movie progresses, and as it doesn’t unleash a father-figure in unrealistic ways like we had seen in the Malayalam movie, The Great Father and many others from films in different languages, this one surely is a welcome flick. I would hope for more of similar movies which keep the momentum going without losing the realistic side. I would also love to keep such lovely music going on in the background. Let us hope that sooner or later, with the COVID-19 coming down at a later stage, we can have things to be better for the people related to the cinema industry who are suffering at this stage, and also the people who are running the theatres or working there. Let us hope for the best in the month of July.

Release date: 22nd November 2019
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: Paco Cabezas
Starring: Mario Casas, Natalia de Molina, Ruth Diaz, Mona Martínez, Carlos Bardem, Vicente Romero, Paulina Fenoy, Mauricio Morales, Sebastian Haro, Pilar Gomez, Mariola Fuentes, Consuelo Trujillo, Pablo Gomez-Pando, Carlos Cabra, Juan Carlos Villanueva, Moreno Borja

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Breakdown Forest

Vampire Owl: I see that we have another German movie here after Kidnapping Stella.

Vampire Bat: Well, good German movies have been hard to find from here.

Vampire Owl: You have found so many of such movies so far. You can find more.

Vampire Bat: Finding and watching such movies has been a programme of the COVID-19 lock-down, and it has been tiring.

Vampire Owl: We are not supposed to be tired as far as movies are concerned.

Vampire Bat: Well, you just can’t decide when to get tired.

Vampire Owl: Vampires don’t get tired that easily, especially the chosen ones like us.

Vampire Bat: It is fate. People used to believe that vampires don’t get infected with the Corona Virus, but that has been proven wrong.

Vampire Owl: That was just some random bat virus which was not named.

Vampire Bat: Well, you never know that!

[Gets a vanilla cake and three glasses of mango shake].

What is the movie about? :: A police officer Leon Kamarowski (Bartholomaaus Kowalski) wakes up to find himself alone and vulnerable in a dense forest, and despite making different attempts, is unable to find out where he is, and how he landed there. He meets another person very soon, and he is also suffering from the same situation. Soon, they are captured by a group of people, and they are also trying to figure out what has been happening around there, as there are many other people who have been forced to be there like them, with no clue how they got there. It seems that there is a plan to create an almost invincible superman from the genes of these people who have gathered in the forest, and someone is watching them. There is a pure racist ideology behind all of these, as they consider a number of people there to be subhumans with no hope or rights. There is also the presence of some unknown military out there, seemingly trying to make an example out of them.

So, what happens with the events here? :: At the same time, people also pay to be in the forest to hunt down these people for entertainment. Samira Ribbeck (Micaela Schafer) who is part of the powerful Ribbeck family responsible for putting people into this situation, is also waiting for her chance. Sajoscha Petrosevitsch (Patrick Roy Beckert), an assassin also wakes up at another part of the forest, and comes up against different people who have no idea why they are there or where they are. Claude-Germar Wischnewski (Curd Berger) who leads a group of survivors tries to make sure that all of them survives, and finds a way out of the forest. But with so many strong and influential people around, the question remains if there is a chance for them to defeat the forces and find the path that leads outside. The people in control are sure that death is the only way out, and it has been proven before many times. So, is there a real chance for any of these people out there?

The defence of Breakdown Forest :: The idea of Breakdown Forest is established very strongly in the early stages, and it only gets even further strong in the later stages. We have an idea behind all of these, and there is danger prevailing at all times. It makes us wonder about how far a racist ideology based on the Nazi thoughts from the Second World War can go, even though more than seventy five years have passed since the suicide of Hitler and the surrender of the Nazi German Empire. The action also takes over pretty quickly, especially with the shooting and all. The setting helps the case really well too. Some of the one-liners are there to stay, and so is are some of those violent, bloody moments. It also gives us the feeling of a video game at times, as people with guns are left in a forest to be hunted by others. This is why Breakdown Forest can surely have a sequel – something which focuses on its ideology even more and finishes this forest practice of the movie without giving a chance for returning.

The claws of flaw :: Breakdown Forest is not a movie which keeps a high level at all stages. It has an interesting idea behind it, even though not a new one as we look back at many movies including the historical as well as the superhero stuff. The movie could have developed same in a better way. There is so much to talk about regarding the film’s path forward, but it never really focuses on the same, and instead chooses to go on without that innovation which was there to be taken. The characters are also not focused well enough. There are moments when we feel that this is when the movie gets to a higher level, but that doesn’t happen, and it stays where it has always been. This experience in the forest could have surely been terrifying, and we wanted some ideological horror and bloody sequences with heavy action sequences, but the flick chooses to stay usual.

Performers of the soul :: The movie doesn’t focus on its characters enough, especially when we were expecting the same. Most of the characters seemingly played by some actors and actresses who would be able to make a bigger impact on other day, goes away too easily and too quickly. The fire that seemed to be ready for them is just not there. Bartholomaaus Kowalski and Claude-Oliver Rudolph are pretty good in leading the way here, and you see that they are capable of doing the same in so many occasions. Micaela Schafer was the one who was supposed to bring the grand twist, but she doesn’t really get any of the action as she is killed soon enough – the character was supposed to be the difference maker, but is done soon, and that is the biggest disappointment in this film. Maybe, the film needs a sequel to explain some of its actions which works against it. The support from the cast is pretty much okay, and there is just some trouble here and there.

How it finishes :: Breakdown Forest is a movie with an idea which stays behind the gunshots and all the action. With such an interesting setting, we are always expecting a lot. One might end up feeling that it doesn’t deliver up to that expectations, still the film manages to be entertaining enough with everything that comes together. During the time of Corona Virus, watching good movies from other languages has been a fashion, and you can also add this film to that list, as it entertains as much as most of the other movies. I would suggest some of the movies in other languages too, as you reading about this particular flick. There are some interesting Romanian, Serbian, Russian, French, Korean, Dutch, Spanish and Chinese movies on this site too, and you might want to take a look at those COVID-19 special films. As you read about those movies, let us hope that this pandemic will also come to an end, and things will go back to us watching all the cinema at the theatres!

Release date: 20th June 2019
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Patrick Roy Beckert
Starring: Bartholomaaus Kowalski, Claude-Oliver Rudolph, Curd Berger, Patrick Roy Beckert, Micaela Schafer, Ralf Richter, Mathieu Carriere, Martin Semmelrogge, Elena Carriere, Philipp Berka, Heiko Bender, Alessandro Alex Ali, Uwe Choroba, Jannik Duren, Askim Ali Erdogan, Uwe Fellensiek, Sandra Schmidt, Jasmina Rode-Kircher

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ashfall

Vampire Owl: Do you know what actually happens when ash falls in a graveyard near the vampire castle?

Vampire Bat: I do not see vampires being related with the ashes.

Vampire Owl: Well, we do rise from the ashes quite often.

Vampire Bat: So, we are soon going to have a Vampire Phoenix?

Vampire Owl: I wouldn’t dare to stop a phoenix from becoming a vampire.

Vampire Bat: Do you understand that the ashfall in this movie title refers to a volcano?

Vampire Owl: The last time I heard about a volcano, it was in Bali, Indonesia.

Vampire Bat: This one has Mount Paektu, a real active volcano in Korea.

Vampire Owl: Well, we have been watching Korean movies, and now lets know the volcanoes around there too.

Vampire Bat: Yes, these days, we do tend to get more familiar with the locations in other parts of the world, and not just the United States with the Hollywood movies.

[Gets a strawberry cake and three glasses of vanilla shake].

What is the movie about? :: Mount Paektu, an active volcano in the China–North Korea border, erupts all of a sudden, leading to many earthquakes in the Korean peninsula. It affects both nations in the peninsula severely, leaving not much of the North Korean capital behind in between all the destruction. It had one of the most violent eruptions in the last five thousand years in around 946, and with this one, the volcano seems to bring even more. The highest peak of the Changbai and Baekdudaegan mountain ranges, is supposed to have a certain mythical quality of spiritual significance, but this time it is about survival, as eruption is too close. To prevent the upcoming disaster, Jeon Yoo-kyung (Jeon Hye-jin) plans an operation based on a theory by Professor Kang Bong-rae (Ma Dong-seok), who had studied the volcano with special focus on its possible eruptions. But it is a theory which only has around three and half percent chance of success.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But they decide to go with the mission because there seems to be no other way of saving the Korean peninsula and all those people who are caught in there with nowhere to go, as other nations evacuate only their citizens. At the same time, Jo In-chang (Ha Jung-woo) who was almsot discharged from the army, is assigned to be the leader of a special forces team supposed to complete the mission, even though their elite military support is lost on the way. Lee Joon-pyeong (Lee Byung-hun) who has been part of the Korean People’s Army in North Korea as a spy is asked to help them, even though he is now in the North Korean prison, and needs to be rescued from there. Meanwhile, Jo In-Chang’s pregnant wife Choi Ji-young (Bae Suzy) is left alone in Seoul, and hopes to go with the United States evacuation as part of a deal made by her husband with the South Korean government. But with a nuclear warhead needed to be stolen from North Korea for the mission to succeeed, things are not that easy.

The defence of Ashfall :: There is more than one thing about Ashfall, as we are not just watching a disaster movie with one volcano all prepared to burst and kill most of the people with an earthquake to go with it. There is also a certain amount of international politics being referred to, with North Korea, South Korea, China and the United States of America involved here. Along with the action, we also have a funny side with this movie, as humour which comes in here and there is mostly working. The emotional side is also very strong, and after having some of it in the beginning, it is a touching end to this flick. The characters are all interesting too, as we get to see more of them in an emotional way. The CGI effects are really good especially with volcanic eruption and earthquakes to be displayed here, and we get to see some fine visual effects on the screen. This one is the kind of holiday entertainer which all age of people can watch – a clean one indeed, as it is a suitable flick for everyone, entertaining very well.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have brought more of the volcano into the picture, and it should have been shown as threatening on more occasions, generating fear. We could have had the feeling of terror, and death could have been hanging around there further. There are other moments which could have been cut instead, to shorten the movie further. Sometimes, the comic side comes in when it is not the right to make an entrance, but we forgive that because it ends up being funny enough. Even with some interesting characters making fine impact, we still have some others who are just there for the sake of it, even though we do feel that they are important when it begins. The characters could have surely been smarter, as they are trained so well, and even though they are not the ones who fight in the front-lines, could have better idea about what all have been happening around. You shouldn’t look for a full disaster movie, and if you do, there will be disappointment, as this one is a mixture of different things, and the disaster is mostly in the background.

Performers of the soul :: The cast does a fine job, especially with the dramatic side present here. The performances are good enough to make you care for most of the characters out there, and even without that possible volcanic eruption, the possibility is there. Ha Jung-woo and Lee Byung-hun do make a good combination here, and their scenes together are very good, whether it is related to the action with all the shooting around, or with the comedy, they work really well. The next person who makes the impact is Ma Dong-seok who plays the scientist who comes up with the almost impossible idea, and it is nice work done there. Bae Suzy has some nice emotional moments, but part of it is a little bit overdone, maybe to bring some more humour in there. Jeon Hye-jin also has some solid work being done here, with all the responsibility related to the character too. There are also many others who play characters which come and go, but they are pretty good too.

How it finishes :: Korean movies almost always have something special as they have been proving for long, and this one is no exception. It is nice to see that Russian, Korean and Chinese movies are taking the usual thing shown in Hollywood to another level, in one way or the other. The visual effects is just one the things related to that, as the movie also thinks in a rather divergent way. We know that movies like The Wandering Earth, The Divine Fury and The Blackout have already taken the divergent path with space having another dimension, exorcism having another mode and alien invasion having another style respectively. This movie becomes another reason why Korean movies always needed a release here – such films which families can watch and enjoy a lot will get its own audience here. At some point of time, Korean movies need to be in the multiplexes, and even those movies which don’t win the Oscars.

Release date: 19th December 2019
Running time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Lee Hae-jun, Kim Byung-seo
Starring: Lee Byung-hun, Ha Jung-woo, Ma Dong-seok, Bae Suzy, Jeon Hye-jin

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Torpedo U-235

Vampire Owl: Do you remember when was the last time we saw a torpedo in a movie?

Vampire Bat: Yes, it was in The Wolf’s Call, a French movie.

Vampire Owl: This one wouldn’t have that one being launched, I guess.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this one seems to show the need to deliver the torpedo.

Vampire Owl: I have heard that this movie is set during the Second World War.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it seems to have fictionalized history well enough.

Vampire Owl: For some reasons, the name of Hitler is coming back at different places.

Vampire Bat: Yes, after all, the Second World War is the event most learned in classes.

Vampire Owl: Well, he is the best known figure of that particular war, isn’t he?

Vampire Bat: Yes, everyone I have seen in the vampire world knows that man.

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

What is the movie about? :: The Second World War is at its higher points with Hitler’s power unmatched by anyone else, and during these times, commander Stan (Koen De Bouw) and his weird group of resistance fighters are given the mission to deliver a stolen Nazi submarine filled with atomic uranium, which can be used for weaponization. This amount of uranium, if captured by the Nazis again, could lead to terrible consequences. Therefore, the team would do anything to get it to the United States, while Nazi Germany would do anything to make sure that it doesn’t. The team has to get this boat from Congo, and they are given some time to study about the submarine, the German u-boat, short form for undersea boat. But they have to start the journey too early, because they are discovered by German Destroyer ships from a distance, with information about their mission being leaked. Due to the same, Stan is also forced to take his daughter Nadine (Ella-June Henrard) with them, whom he was planning to leave at a safe place in Congo.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Stan himself has a past with the Nazi death squads, as he had tried to save a few Jews who were running away from Hitler’s Jewish Holocaust, and he had lost his wife and son in the process, left only with Nadine – the girl is in love with Filip (Joren Seldeslachts), another member of the crew, a relationship which Stan doesn’t approve of. The team also has help from a German captain who knows the u-boats in and out, as well as an African man who was left inside the submarine while loading the supplies from outside. These two are to become two important people who would be instrumental in ensuring the team’s survival. During the first and Second World Wars, the u-boats were efficient weapons against enemy naval warships, best used in enforcing blockades. They were not that into direct battles, and attacked merchant convoys bringing supplies from parts of the British Empire, and from the United States to Europe, but in this case, it has to prepare for battles too – can they survive?

The defence of Torpedo: U-235 :: The movie has some nice visuals, not just outside, but also inside the u-boat submarine which has some nice detail, even though not as much as we had seen in The Wolf’s Call. But it is always nice to see one of those older type of submarines both inside and outside. The movie seems to be made in a low budget considering its content, and has done pretty well to rise above those limitations. There are some fine action sequences, most of them involving guns, but there are not too many – we do have torpedo launches too, as we see two submarines going against each other, a submarine against a destroyer, and a submarine against a fighter plane. The feeling of the Second World War and the Nazi terror is maintained throughout the movie – there is a Nazi threat over the head at all times. It is the kind of thing that can keep almost any movie alive. This is the kind of movie which could have another mission with another movie in this franchise with fictionalized World War bravery.

The claws of flaw :: The movie has a little too many dialogues, and often it gets far above the action which happens. The romantic and emotional side of the movie including the girl is rather dull. The romance becomes a rather unnecessary addition which doesn’t seem to have much of the romantic elements, and the emotional side gets rather too weak because of this love story that works in between. The funny side is also not used to its best advantage, and the final moments seem a little bit forced – for some reason, they wanted to save the girl’s life; maybe the shortage of female characters went to far ahead, and for the same, they want to do the impossible defying logic. The film surely could have had a better climax and ending, because so much was established in between, with the scope seemingly reaching a new level. Maybe they felt that there was enough already and didn’t want to try too hard – well, that is true as we look and understand that it has enough to be an action thriller mostly set inside a Nazi submarine with atomic submarine inside it.

Performers of the soul :: Ella-June Henrard plays a character who seems to be there just because they needed a female character in a movie full of men – she doesn’t get to do much until the movie gets towards the end, and most of the time, serves as just a distraction. When such a decision was made, it needed to have better quality with opportunities as well as the performances, and without the first one mentioned, we can’t really have the second one. Maybe they wanted to give her something, and provided her the perfect shot even though she was not really supposed to be part of the team. A Belgian actor Koen De Bouw plays the main character, a Nazi hater with a rough past, and he does very well, while a German actor Thure Riefenstein plays the German u-boat Captain who displays some hope for humanity during a time of terrible crisis and hostility against humanity. Joren Seldeslachts who plays the love interest of the girl is caught in that romantic side, but otherwise it works well for him too. The next one to make an impression is the man from Congo who is left in the submarine as it dives, and he is one force who will be noticed for sure.

How it finishes :: Torpedo: U-235 serves the purpose in having another fictionalized account of war, and it is always better to have this one instead of movies like Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds because this one at least has some control over its history and doesn’t decide to kill Hitler in ridiculous ways. There are similarities which can be found here related to the latter. Our movie here has some fine content, and it has a thrilling adventure which could have been better – it doesn’t use its submarine to that much of an effect like The Wolf’s Call did. But you are not short of entertainment, and there is also a certain amount of humour in store along with the seriousness related to the atomic uranium, and the danger of traveling under water with such scary stuff, along with being chased by powerful German submarines, fighter planes and destroyer ships. When you make a World War II movie well enough as this one, there is entertainment, and we are glad to have the same to go through such edge of the seat moments.

Release date: 23rd October 2019
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Sven Huybrechts
Starring: Koen De Bouw, Thure Riefenstein, Ella-June Henrard, Joren Seldeslachts, Sven De Ridder, Stefan Perceval, Bert Haelvoet, Rudy Mukendi, Gilles De Schryver, Robrecht Vanden Thoren, Vic de Wachter, Martin Semmelrogge, Stefan Weinert

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Balkan Line

Vampire Owl: So, we are travelling further through unexplored territories.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that we should have travelled through these movies much earlier.

Vampire Owl: A Russian and Serbian collaboration is the kind of movie that we needed.

Vampire Bat: We have had a good dose of movies with collaboration already.

Vampire Owl: But, we are never short of having more and more of those.

Vampire Bat: These are all a result of the Corona Virus lock-down though.

Vampire Owl: We always have the chance to watch more movies during times of crisis.

Vampire Bat: It is nice to have some stories set somewhere around the Balkans.

Vampire Owl: There is some history about that place that we need to read about too.

Vampire Bat: Yes, our history texts in this part of the world don’t have enough information about it, and it is quite disappointing.

[Gets an blueberry cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: The events in the movie happen during the Kosovo War which was fought between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Albanian rebel group known as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), with further air support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Albanian Army which was there to provide support on ground. The NATO military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had reached a another level during the Kosovo War with their bombing of the country without the approval of United Nations, and in opposition to Russia and China, in the name of humanitarian intervention for Albanians who were forced to move out of their homes. As the disastrous bombing which caused many civilian deaths and mass destruction is almost over, Slatina airfield in Kosovo is taken over by terrorists led by a ruthless Albanian warlord, Smuk (Aleksandar Sreckovic). There is an operation planned by the Russian intelligence to capture the airfield from the terrorists, and a team is formed for the same.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As the Yugoslavian army had retreated following the merciless NATO bombing, the terrorists from Albania had taken over most of Kosovo. The Serbian minority in different parts of Kosovo remains unprotected from these terrorists targeting them, as these criminals plundered, murdered and raped through the area, and the duty of recapturing this particular airfleld came to the Russian intelligence officer Aslan-Bek Evkhoev (Gosha Kutsenko) and a former paratrooper-turned-mercenary Andrey Shatalov (Anton Pampushnyy) with their teams. At the same time time, Jasna Blagojevic (Milena Radulovic) whom Andrey had met and saved earlier from the terrorists who were targeting Christians, especially Russians and Serbians, was also taken as a hostage, and after they take over the airfield, they would have to defend it after being outnumbered heavily. Can they do it at a time of hostility when neither side will dare to stand back, whether it is about showing bravery in war or ruthlessness in genocide?

The defence of The Balkan Line :: It has to be noted that The Balkan Line is a movie with many moments which rise above those scenes from war films which are overrated. The final one hour is a real treat to watch, and the final forty five minutes make a blast like no other. With those action sequences, the movie scores higher than ever, and the last stand in the airport is a glorious one, with almost every soldier catching our attention. There is an act of bravery or brutal strength that will stay. The actors are all perfectly chosen for their roles, and they have given almost everyone something to cheer about. As this seems to have fictionalized moments too, there is no need to think too much about how accurate this is because two sides will always have different tales to tell and can make movies out of them, but what is shown on the screen is excellent work. There is no doubt about the quality of action that we see on the screen, and the thrills are too good with high intensity.

Positives and negatives :: The Balkan Line is a little too long for a movie of the genre, and it does drag in the beginning stages, but it does pick up the pace quite well. This much of a grand finish might not have been expected in the middle stages of the movie. There might be questions about historical accuracy, but as it seems, a lot of this movie is fictionalized, especially the main incident in the end having not much of a historical background. After all, there is always more than one side to history, but we can always come up with tales of heroes, especially those who were not real – but there could be some truth to things in parts. This movie is more or less about the fictionalized fight in the last moments, and that glory can easily take away the rest of its problems. With that, I would say that I am glad to have found this movie, with one of the best entertainment in the final one hour. We are completely into that battle in and around that airfield which is a glorious one indeed.

Performers of the soul :: The movie seems to have a team of Serbian and Russian actors working here, and they manage to do the job fine for a war flick. Among them, Anton Pampushnyy plays the most notable role, as he has those moments which are the most memorable for us, including that incident involving him saving the passengers of a bus after a priest is murdered by the terrorists. He remains solid as his character, and Gosha Kutsenko who is the leader of the gang maintain the same solid structure here. Ravshana Kurkova who plays the sniper of the team makes herself perfectly suitable for the action, and never stays behind, matching up with everyone around. Milena Radulovic who plays the doctor with some special interest in the man who saved her life, is another one to look out for – from witnessing the death of her pregnant patient and moving through hostage situations, there is the feeling of melancholy on her face, which reflects the situation of the world around her quite well. The rest of the case supports well.

How it finishes :: It is always good to watch movies like The Balkan Line because we no longer has NATO or the United States saving the day here, like almost of all alien movies and war movies are concerned. This way, we also get a different perspective of things, even if these are somewhat based on a few incidents during a war which happened some time ago with a fictionalized side. Then there is also the need to watch movies in other languages, and Serbian is also one of them, after watching The Whistlers, a Romanian movie. There seems to be some fine Eastern European movies which one would need to watch, and The Balkan Line is one of them. After all, we also have Novak Djokovic, one of the best on the tennis court, an entertainer who has not many parallels – this movie is also one fine entertainer, and it has moments which will establish itself as one of those interesting war movies, even though not as much as American Sniper and others which have followed the wars with full realism.

Release date: 21st March 2019
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Andrey Volgin
Starring: Anton Pampushnyy, Ravshana Kurkova, Milena Radulovic, Gosha Kutsenko, Miloa Bikovic, Gojko Mitic, Sergey Marin, Nodari Janelidze, Kirill Polukhin, Dmitriy Frid, Svetlana Chuykina, Aleksandar Sreckovic, Miodrag Radonjic, Nikola Randelovic, Roman Kurtsyn

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@ 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.