The Soul

Vampire Owl: Do you think that vampires can have an extra soul?

Vampire Bat: I don’t understand why one would require one as extra.

Vampire Owl: What if a soul is lost? We can use the other one.

Vampire Bat: The souls are not lost as long as we are living dead.

Vampire Owl: When did we start referring to the undead as living dead?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that we have always been the living dead.

Vampire Owl: Well, I wouldn’t argue as death is only the beginning.

Vampire Bat: There is no undead without the appropriate kind of death.

Vampire Owl: Maybe humans will also understand that death is the true solution.

Vampire Bat: They are less afraid to kill than to die, which is strange.

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

What is the movie about? :: Wang Shi-Cong (Samuel Ku), a very rich man and the founder of a medical firm developing cancer treatment based on ultra-modern technology is found murdered. His wife who has also remained a respectable figure, Li Yan (Sun Anke) is discovered to be holding the weapon used for the brutal murder, quite a strange knife-like blunt thing indeed. There are also some strange writings on the door and all over the walls. At the same time, Ah-Bao (Janine Chang), a detective is expecting a child very soon. Liang Wen-Chao (Chang Chen), her husband is having an advanced stage of cancer, and it doesn’t seem to get any better. His cancer seems to be spreading and resisting the existing modes of treatment, and the doctor gives them the advice to consider doing a RNA restoration technology. Liang, who has been working as a prosecutor, decides to join back, as a lot of money is required for his treatment – he had asked her to let him skip that costly treatment, but she has been very adamant in keeping him alive.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Ah-Bao is assigned the case of Wang’s murder, and Liang goes on to become the prosecutor once again, much to the surprise of his wife who was expecting him to take rest. Li Yang tells them that it was their son, Wang Tian-You (Erek Lin) who committed some strange rituals in the same room and murdered his father who had earlier disinherited him because of his strange and unacceptable behaviour. They remember that he only comes back home rarely, and has the same symbol which was seen in the room, tattooed on his body. He has a lot of magical symbols tattooed on his body, and talks about some particular gods and spirits which are not that well-known. He was heartbroken after his mother, the first wife of Wang died, and has been talking about vengeance since then. It seems that other than his wife, the dead man had left another inheritance as the next in line. The detective also understands that the dead man used to have different affairs with many women, which had ruined their world. The first wife also had enough information about hier husband’s life.

What lies beneath the secrets which are unveiled around here? :: There is also the talk about the first wife placing a curse on Wang before death, and about the second wife coming out of an orphanage, with no roots. But they do understand that this particular woman had changed a lot after coming to the mansion. In the beginning, she was very nice to everyone around, and very careful in her behaviour. It felt as if she wanted to be good to make an impression. But that seems to change soon, as they look through the CCTV cameras for some old footages. She wasn’t the person whom she used to be, as she even started talking to nothingness, which she understood as ghosts. They wonder if it was a case of possession or the result of some drugs which were introduced by the medical firm. A bigger surprise is that she who was a right-hander is now a left-hander. Is it science or some dark curse which is behind all of these? After all, isn’t science the modern necromancy? How many secrets can this particular world hold? There seems to be something really strange going on around here, and is anyone good enough to find the truth?

The defence of The Soul a.k.a. Ji Hun :: The movie never stops keeping us interested in the mystery of science or magic, whichever seems to surround a grand investigation. It does keep us guessing through its run, and is very much effective in doing the same. The twists are very much unpredictable, and with so many red herrings around, one only keeps wondering about how good are the characters who have figured it out inside the tale. At a specific point, you make a guess about the characters, and then you have to think differently about them. At one point, you feel that there is the talk about soul in its original form, but then all you see is science. You wonder about psychological problems and demonic possession at the same time. In the end, it is not anywhere close to what you were thinking in the early stages, and there is so much going on around there. Any more revealing would annihilate the beauty of the surprise and twists in here. The movie moves forward beautifully, as if it is poetry in motion, and the level of immersion of the audience that it provides is simply magnificent. The emotional side does help further in its movement forward – you do feel them running strong. The visuals and the music also remains extraordinary and contributes well to the dark beauty.

Positives and negatives :: The movie’s slowness also has a certain amount of beauty related to it, and we watch it move as if part of an elegy written in memory. Well, there is no doubt that it could have traveled somewhat a quicker path as it seems to be in need of being called a thriller rather than anything else – yet, it can be said that The Soul keeps us immersed around here, even without picking up the pace that much when it could have done the same. The details in each moment will still make sure that you are always attentive around here, and there are some top performers to support the same. Chang Chen gets into this character so well that we become attached to the same – there is a lot of immersion into the plight of the character taking place here, and that feels unbelievably realistic. In the beginning, one feels that Janine Chang is the one playing the protagonist, and even though she is not the one doing that, blends in perfectly, and excels in the emotional moments. Then there is Sun Anke who plays the woman in identity crisis with a lot of perfection – it is a role which requires a lot of dedication, and her different expressions are so much of the reflection of her calibre.

How it finishes :: The movie has one of the most complicated plots than any film has had in a long time, and it makes sure that we are always guessing. There has not been many movies which had our guesses going wrong by such a long way. By the end of the film, you are standing on a lot different ground than where you found yourself in the beginning. Well, the world of science and spiritual beliefs can both be strange enough, and this one makes use of both, while placing them in a corporate world where the only thing that reigns supreme is selfishness and a display of a fake “normal” image. I would consider this to be the best movie of the year and also the best film which I have found on Netflix among the last few years’ releases. Then, there is also those final questions which the movie leaves for all of us – what makes one a person? Is it the soul? In that case, where does the soul lie? In the memories of the brain or the emotions of the heart? Or is it something which has no real shape or size to be seen? Well, we will never know, that seems to be a surety. Until then, there are some fine Chinese movies to watch.

Release date: 29th January 2021 (China); 14th April 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Cheng Wei-hao
Starring: Chang Chen, Janine Chang, Sun Anke, Christopher Lee, Baijia Zhang, Erek Lin, Samuel Ku, Daniel Chang, Lu Hsueh-feng

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wandering Earth

Vampire Owl: Do you think that Earth can wander?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Iron Mask

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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.

Kung Fu Panda 3

Vampire Owl: You remember the secret which I had told you earlier, don’t you?

Vampire Bat: Everything you talk about sounds like a secret. Which one exactly are we talking about here?

Vampire Owl: That the Vampire Panda is actually Kung Fu Panda?

Vampire Bat: It was not a case of secret being revealed. It made no sense.

Vampire Owl: Dude, they are both the same. You can see them do Kung Fu in the same way.

Vampire Bat: But the Kung Fu Panda has more fat.

Vampire Owl: He has hidden them all using Kung Fu magic.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that he is a wizard who knows Kung Fu.

Vampire Owl: It is exactly what I am talking about. This movie should have even more clues about him.

Vampire Bat: I am having more clues about you.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with Kerala samosa].

What is the movie about? :: Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), as he passes through the spiritual realm, meets Kai (J.K. Simmons) who had defeated all the Kung fu masters in the realm, and had taken their chi, or life force, making him stronger than he had ever been in the land of the living. Oogway also gives in, providing him with his chi, but does warns him that the great dragon warrior will stop him one day. Meanwhile, Po (Jack Black) is once again not having the best of times as the dragon warrior. Taking over the role of Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) with kung fu training go all wrong, and he decides to question himself as the one whom the world claims that he is. Master Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Master Mantis (Seth Rogen), Master Crane (David Cross), Master Viper (Lucy Liu) and Master Monkey (Jackie Chan) are all there, but Po is still disappointed.

So, what happens next? :: He once again returns home to find solace in noodles as well as his adoptive father, Mr. Ping (James Hong). There he finds out that another panda, Li Shan (Bryan Cranston) has broken his record of eating dumplings. This unexpected visitor is recognized as Po’s biological father, and there is the father-son re-union much to the dismay of Ping who becomes afraid of losing his son, the one person whom he held close to heart more than anyone else. But this re-union is troubled as they are attacked by zombies who resemble the dead kung fu masters. These masters sent by Kai awakens the need for the dragon warrior to master chi, and to do the same, he will have to go to the secret panda village, as they have always been the experts in healing using the power of chi. But a long time has passed, and the enemy is nearby – can Po master the same in time to save everyone?

The defence of Kung Fu Panda 3 :: Just like the previous two movies, this one is also a movie that will appeal to everyone, from the little kids to people of any age as far as one can watch a movie on the screen. It is undoubtedly the movie that the fans of the franchise will love to watch, and it is the animated movie that one can go for, without thinking twice as the minimum guarantee is still there. The visuals are once again great, and the characters continue to have an impact on the viewers. This continues the legacy of kung fu on the animated screen, and as it was for the earlier movies, there is nothing much that can prevent another sequel from coming up. Kung Fu Panda 3 is indeed fun as expected, and delivers the messages to everyone – a feel-good animated movie that can provide lessons for life might be what the family audience wants to have, not just now, but for many years to come, in a complex situation with new generation of chaotic kids.

The claws of flaw :: The one problem with this flick is that this is the third movie of the franchise, and the protagonist has to go through the same thing again and again, with failures and disbelief followed by all the belief and success in the end. Our hero is the dragon warrior, and he still can’t believe it after so much has been done – we have to wonder how many more movies it will take him to really believe and keep the belief within him; maybe another person would have cost less to make believe. This one doesn’t live up-to the high standards the first two movies had, which might be why the flick had to go to the spirit world to bring the dead ones back. It is surprising that such a creative and successfully franchise doesn’t try to bring something different and something less predictable – maybe they just know that this is going to be a success with these characters and people who love them; maybe they are not done providing tablets of belief yet.

Soul exploration :: The tale of the dragon warrior has always been about making the viewers believing in themselves – it was best shown with the realisation that there is no secret ingredient as it is about the person himself to have faith and make things work. As Alice thinks about six impossible things before breakfast, Po has already had three, all of which he has accomplished – it took him only three movies to do the same; so the lesson remains there for all of us that the dragon warrior is just about being ourselves, and working hard to achieving our dreams which might be closer than we think that they are. Still, the best of the franchise will always be the first movie, which had gone on to become the highest grossing animated film of the year worldwide, and also the one animated movie that everyone mentioned more than any other in the last decade, along with Ice Age, Madagascar and Finding Nemo.

How it finishes :: There is something about Kung Fu Panda that will keep having the viewers watch more and more of it. I was not able to write about the first two movies as this blog didn’t exist when the two flick released, in 2008 and in 2011. This third movie took rather too long to release, and this five year gap might have affected its chances to do even better at the box-office. It should also be one of the reasons why this flick didn’t get that much of the collection as the earlier movies of the franchise. Unlike the 2010 movie, The Karate Kid which had kung fu instead of karate, this one sticks to teaching what is in the title, and even though so many award winning animated movies have come to the front, from Frozen, Inside Out and Big Hero 6 to even Zootopia and Moana in the last one year, Kung Fu Panda is the franchise that everyone will want to watch – lets not have that much of a gap between two movies of the series though.

Release date: 29th January 2016 (USA); 1st April 2016 (India)
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni
Starring: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, J. K. Simmons, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, James Hong, Kate Hudson, Randall Duk Kim

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.