Svaha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

47 Ronin

47roninn

Swords and martial arts :: Just a few days after I watched The Forbidden Kingdom on television, this movie finally released in India, overtaking a few other movies which are still pending to be released here. Based on the legend about the revenge of the Forty-seven Ronin based on Japan, the movie brings back the swords and martial arts into the Hollywood which has been taken over by men with the superpowers in the last two years. The movie also marks Keanu Reeves coming to the big screen in this part of the world after a long time. Well, this is the right time for release indeed, as the Christmas releases have been losing power, and with only The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Wolf of Wall Street to give some challenge, 47 Ronin does have the opportunity to do its best here, with one of the most famous actors (thanks to The Matrix) for the people here, as the critical opinions are forgotten.

What is it about? :: Kai (Keanu Reeves) is an outcast among the samurai, as he lives a life throughout which he is ignored as he is a half-breed, half-British and half-Japanese. He is in love with Mika (Kou Shibasaki), which both of them haven’t taken far, as she is the daughter of a Samurai Lord and he is the forsaken one. But as Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) with the aid of a witch Mizuki (Rinko Kikuchi) murders the Lord and takes over the kingdom, the Samurai are banished from their lands and Kai is sold into slavery due to his low birth. But they vow to return and avenge their master under the leadership of Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada). 47 in number, including Kai who wishes to save Mika from being forced into marrying the new Lord, the team goes through dangerous quests in order to achieve their objective. The movie deals with their pain, hardships and questions about their possible success in their primary objective.

The defence of 47 Ronin :: Whatever the critics say, 47 Ronin is a colourful movie, and it is difficult not to get lost in the beauty of its colours as well as its use of light, darkness and shadows. There is a beautiful environment created by the movie which seeks our attention. The sword-fights are well-executed without the addition of exaggeration which has threatened to plague this one right from the beginning. There are also some interesting dialogues, some philosophical and some just being stylish. There are also a few funny moments, quite short in length. The CGI which involves some creatures as well as the shape-shifting skills of the witch turned out to be good too, and in the 3D, they looked interesting throughout, but considering the visual experiences we had last year, one can’t be too addicted to this one. The costumes are superb, and the fact that the movie doesn’t delay in getting into action sequences also helps.

Claws of flaw :: The movie takes the slower path at times, staying away from action and keeping the actors doing nothing. The story moves on through a predictable path, and there are not many things happening out there that you haven’t been expecting for a long time. Also, there are strange things happening throughout the movie – no I am not talking about the mass honour suicides, but creatures appearing just for being there and add to the overall head count of the movie, and the “outcast thing” given too much prominence. The romantic side is also less interesting, and one tends to wonder if there was any need for that, as avenging the master would have been more than enough – but they need some romance, to satisfy that kind of people who most probably won’t watch this movie. They have also made Keanu Reeves’ character not bringing that kind of fun which he is expected to take into a movie.

Performers of the soul :: Keanu Reeves is the star, despite his character being one of the least interesting Samurai ever. But as a character who can bring something into an action movie, this one works perfectly. The star from The Matrix and Constantine is quite brilliant in his portrayal of a character which might not have been even needed in this movie. Did they take that half-breed idea right out of those creatures in Constantine? Our hero is kind of there at the wrong place, but the way in which he manages it has to be appreciated. It is good to see that Rinko Kikuchi takes over so well, and that was to be expected after watching her in Pacific Rim. Kou Shibasaki is beautiful, and Hiroyuki Sanada comes up with a performance that is one step above the movie. Tadanobu Asano’s villain is less explored, even as it is an okay screen presence, which kind of fades in comparison with the witch who runs the evil side.

Soul exploration :: The movie’s story of ronin, the samurai with no master, is more of a story of emotions and honour rather than the typical swords and martial arts flick which is usually expected. The two-handed Samurai stuff reminds one of The Wolverine, and the word “half-breeds” of Constantine. There is a lot of emotional undercurrents going on, but just some of them which affects us. As we are not into the Japanese history or legends, it is almost impossible to have a perfect look into it, and it is not easy to do justice to the same. It seems to treat the same with its CGI creatures, which include a six eyed cattle-like creature, a disfigured monk-like person with superpowers, a huge Samurai figure clothed in what looks like metal and the witch’s own white wolf, weird spider and the serpent-like dragon which breathes fire. There is not much to attach the soul to, right there. One can just embrace this movie for how much it catches your attention in the movie hall.

How it finishes :: 47 Ronin is no 300, and it is not even The Forbidden Kingdom. But that doesn’t take a lot out of its pocket. We watched the movie during an almost full show at a place where English movies are not supposed to attract the viewers especially if any Malayalam movie is running, and so I would say that it is doing okay here, despite all the negativity which has been associated with it in North America and other places and also that low box-office collection which has been associated with this. After all, who can say no to a Keanu Reeves movie with sword-fights shot in 3D? There are more of The Matrix fans around here than one can imagine, and that face of Neo is not something that can easily fade away. So 47 Ronin should continue to do fine for a week, and nothing more, as none of the English movies in the theatre right now are expected to carry over to the next release date.

Release date: 3rd January 2014 (India); 25th December 2013 (US)
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Carl Erik Rinsch
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Kou Shibasaki, Rinko Kikuchi, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Jin Akanishi, Min Tanaka, Neil Fingleton, Masayoshi Haneda, Hiroshi Sogabe, Takato Yonemoto, Hiroshi Yamada, Shu Nakajima, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

47ronin! copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.