Escape from Mogadishu

Vampire Owl: Humans and their wars. Then they have the grand escape.

Vampire Bat: You know humans. They create wars all the time.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that most of them should be loving these wars.

Vampire Bat: All rulers wish for wars to keep control.

Vampire Owl: And humans are really easy to manipulate.

Vampire Bat: Humans killing humans is quite strange. Vampires do not kill vampires.

Vampire Owl: Yes, their brotherhood is only as good as witches on a blood moon.

Vampire Bat: At least none of the witches turn dead on that dead.

Vampire Owl: Well, they do have the potion of resurrection.

Vampire Bat: They also have the anti-resurrection vial though.

[Gets a vegetable cutlet and three cups of Munnar tea].

What is the movie about? :: Han Sin-seong (Kim Yoon-seok) is South Korea’s ambassador to Somalia at a time when the African country is going through an internal crisis, with civil war showing its face in most parts of the nation. The life at the Somalian capital of Mogadishu doesn’t seem to be getting any better soon, just like the relations between North Korea and South Korea which is at its worst. It is also the time when both the North Koreans and South Koreans are hoping for their nations to be admitted in the United Nations, and trying to gain the support of Somalia. As the African continent has the most votes in the United Nations, having Somalia on their side was going to be very significant in becoming part of the organization. Kang Dae-jin (Jo In-sung), South Korea’s ANSP intelligence officer is tasked with gaining the upper hand in the process. The gifts don’t seem to be among the best, but they decide to go on with it anyway, as there is hope for a lot of appreciation and even a possible promotion at the same time.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: As they are on their way to meet the president, they are ambushed by rogue forces, who also take away the gifts which were supposed to be given to the leader. As they are also late, Rim Yong-su (Heo Joon-ho), the North Korean Ambassador to Somalia gets the next appointment instead. South Koreans are very muchdisappointed about the same, but cannot argue as they are late by fifteen minutes due to having to walk all the way from the place of attack. They do feel that the North Koreans are the ones responsible for this attack too. Tae Joon-ki (Koo Kyo-hwan), North Korea’s MSS intelligence officer was the one who arranged the attack so that the South Koreans wouldn’t get to meet the Somalian president in time. Now, the South Koreans have to come up with some other plan to nullify what the North Koreans have been doing in Mogadishu. It is up to the only one South Korean intelligence officer left out there to do something soon enough.

And what more is to follow here as the civil war has more power than before? :: As South Korean diplomat tries to contact other ministers in the Somalian government, it seems that everything that they want is just a lot of money in dollars, as well as a lot of favours for their relatives who are studying in different parts of the world. They try to spread information that North Koreans are selling weapons to the rebels, but it seems that the only thing that the government officials and ministers care about is the possibility of bribe. They also find the North Koreans talking to the government officials again, and two begins a word fight, which is stopped very soon by the rebels who are attacking Mogadishu. Even though the ruling government assures everyone that things are under control, soon it becomes clear that everything is going to be completely out of control. United Somali Congress addresses the nation proclaiming that they would bring down the corrupt government for the national interests of Somalia. People are on the rioting streets and with offices as well as banks closed, all the government officials are on the run – the Koreans will have to work together to make sure that they get out of there.

The defence of Escape from Mogadishu :: There are different levels of focus in this movie, as we are not having just an action film or thriller, as there are also elements of drama in here, as movie progresses nicely with a dangerous background always being present. The conflicts come in different varieties, as the action progresses strongly, making fine use of the available background. Being there at the time of a civil war has managed to add more elements of quality, and it easier to introduce one to the terrors of war when it is happening within a nation which is already troubled by poverty and other problems. There is also a certain amount of interest in the human level of action, as there could have been tendency to go on in the unrealistic manner. The scenery is pretty much interesting, and we are only happy to go through the beautiful visuals which become part of the movie very well. There is some interesting humour being added here too. Some messages are also present here and there, and we can sense the meaning going deep at times.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does have a certain amount of dragging at times, and gets a little bit too long with its contents. The initial moments are rather slow, and it does take some time to get into action, with a little bit of silliness having more of a say in the beginning stages. There are repetitive moments which could have been cut with ease. Maybe, instead we could have more of the life around there. There could have also been more focus on the people in the country too. The ending could have also had stronger and sharper moments to finish the whole thing. There are also a number of predictable moments around here, and often we feel that this was were things were heading much early. It is also one of those rare times when we get somewhat new South Korean movies on Amazon Prime, and the film does have comparatively less violence, making it more family friendly than one would expect from a war movie. Yet, the horrors of war could have been depicted further, as we are never short of such terrible wars, which keep on going in different parts of the world as we speak about this movie too.

How it finishes :: Even though we are not that aware of the actual events which happened related to this, the movie works well to keep us interested in the proceedings – the news channels around here rarely narrates the events of war in African countries. We are never short of the requirements to watch the films which portray the horrors and pains of war, as well as a few other things which lies underneath. War is indeed a thing of hopelessness, a crime to not just humans, but all life forms and the environment around. As the wars of new age are bigger crimes to everything on the planet, one might just end up hoping for human extinction to end all such acts of terror. In the absence of humans, the rest of the world would indeed thrive – there has been so many movies talking about saving humanity by taking people to another planet, but one keep wondering if that is indeed the right thing to do. As we ponder over the same, this film happens to be an engaging action thriller drama that keeps us add another name to that long Korean films of interest list.

Release date: 28th July 2021
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Ryoo Seung-wan
Starring: Kim Yoon-seok, Jo In-sung, Heo Joon-ho, Kim So-jin, Koo Kyo-hwan, Jung Man-sik, Kim Jae-hwa, Park Kyung-hye, Yoon Kyung-ho

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<<< Click here to go to the previous Korean film review.

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Take Off

What is the movie about? :: Sameera (Parvathy) is a divorced nurse who is trying to work hard in the local hospital and pay the debts of her family, as well as ensure that the studies of her younger sisters are also dealt with. She was formerly married to Faisal (Asif Ali), and has a child, but they were separated due to problems in both families related to her work as well as the differences in way of seeing things. Shaheed (Kunchacko Boban) who works as a male nurse in the same hospital, is in love with her, and is hoping to marry her if she agrees some day. Both of them are expected to go to Iraq for work soon, and in that way, earn a better salary. Sameera finally decides that it is better for her to marry Shaheed and move on, as he is also moving to Iraq, and her relatives would make her get married to someone else anyway; at least she finds Shaheed as a good person and he is in love with her.

So, what happens next? :: After marriage, Sameera gets pregnant, but they soon have to move to Iraq and join the new job. They have heard that the place is not that safe, but there are other nurses who work there and earn a good salary. It is the year 2014, and ISIS has launched itself into the major cities of the nation. It is at the same time that Sameera’s son Ibrahim a.k.a Ibru (Master Eric) comes to live with her. Their location, Tikrit, as well as Mosul where Shaheed had traveled to with the military, all are under attack despite the repeated assurances that the army of the country will keep them safe. Sameera is shocked when she realises that Mosul is captured by the extremists and has become impossible to reach on phone. She approaches the Indian ambassador to Iraq, Manoj Abraham (Fahad Faasil) who assures her that he will do his best to find her husband.

And what is to follow between the chaos and destruction? :: It doesn’t take the ISIS long to take full control of all significant landmarks in the city of Tikrit with the military falling and later becoming a non-existent force there. The militants also make it inside the hospital and keeps the nurses as hostage. Shaheed is still in Mosul, captured by the militants there. But Manoj is determined to rescue and bring all these people back to India in one way or the other. For the same, he works with Ranjan (Prakash Belawadi), his superior officer as well as Jayamohan (Prem Prakash) who is a rich Malayali businessman with many connections in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. With the External Affairs Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Kerala in contact with him, he will try a plan which is claimed to be risky by more than one person, but is considered to be the best option to bring the nurses home by Manoj himself.

The defence of Take Off :: The movie is based on the captivity of forty six Indian nurses by ISIS, and their evacuation by the Indian government, which was one of those celebrated events and a major achievement for the nation – it takes a lot of effort to recreate and add something extra for the creative and cinematic side, and still keep it simple and real. The director has succeeded in doing the same here. The movie has nicely handled the situations of war, and also related to the hostage crisis – with terrorism to be worked with here, things could have gone different ways, but all goes well in this movie; we see balance and maturity in everything here. The emotional side is also strong, and things are kept realistic as well as interesting at the same time, a quality which has been only fakely attributed to certain movies these days.

Positives and negatives :: The first half of the movie is more about the family drama, with the final few minutes getting the protagonists to reach Iraq, with the terrible disaster of a war waiting to happen. From there, it is a thrilling adventure, and the movie works as two here. This movie is visually geat, and also has some nice music as well as background score to go with the same. The movie, despite not trying to bring anything out of the box, got all of us interested, with how this tale is told, and how the characters feel simple and real as the common man who wishes to make money for their families while protecting the same. Even with its smaller budget compared to the Bollywood movies like Airlift which deals with the evacuation of Indians too, Take Off can easily give a fine competition – in simple words, it is surely better than the Bollywood movie dealing with this. There is a better re-imagination here for you to watch.

Performers of the soul :: There is no shortage of interesting performances here, and Parvathy manages to keep her character at the right place, even living through the war on most of the occasions. The different stages of life of her character are nicely portrayed, and this is sure to bring more and more applause as the movie runs in the theatres and will be watched by more followed the highly positive opinions – following Charlie and Ennu Ninte Moideen. Kunchacko Boban has a controlled performance here as he once again plays a character who will appeal really well for the family audience, after Kochauvva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho. Then there is Fahadh Faasil who arrives in the second half, and steals the show – there are so many moments for him as he goes strong after Maheshinte Prathikaaram once again, and the last few moments are undoubtedly his. The child actor Eric is also too good. Prakash Belawadi, Prem Prakash, Asif Ali and Alencier Ley Lopez also catch our attention with their smaller roles.

How it finishes :: We had the Akashay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur starrer Airlift directed by another Malayali, Raja Krishna Menon, which had dealt with a similar crisis and somewhat same kind of situation which released in 2016 and had received many positive opinions. While Airlift was based on the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, this one is based on the 2004 ISIS invasion of Iraq. Both are about evacuating the Indians left in the nation torn by war, and both has the patriotism as well as the final success that goes with the same – both have also received a lot of critical acclaim, and has been in the news even before the release. The comparisons maybe many, and it is certain that what we need are movies like Take Off and Airlift which deals with the situations related to common people who struggle anywhere in the world, and it is also significant how realistically their tales are told. This is the best movie of the year so far, as it joins C/O Saira Banu, Alamara and Honey Bee 2 which are running in the theatres stronger than the rest.

Release date: 24th March 2017
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Mahesh Narayan
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Parvathy, Fahadh Faasil, Prakash Belawadi, Asif Ali, Prem Prakash, Alencier Ley Lopez, Parvathi T, Anjali Aneesh Upasana, Master Eric, Joju George, Sidhartha Siva, Devi Ajith, Divya Prabha, Prashant Nair, Rukhsar Rehman

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.