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

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Tiyaan

What is the movie about? :: Pattabhiraman Giri (Indrajith Sukumaran) is living a happy and normal life with his wife Amba (Ananya) and his only daughter, Arya (Nakshatra Indrajith). They belong to a small group, including Malayalis who reside in a small village, somewhere in North India. He comes from a long line of Brahmins who have a huge legacy. But the respect and the admiration that he has in the village due to his good nature, closeness to God and kindness lands himself in trouble as Mahashay Bhagavan (Murali Gopy), a famous godman with millions of followers wishes to build an ashram there. While a number of people are forced to run away from the village in one way or the other, a few others like Jayanthan Nair (Suraj Venjaramoodu) decides to become the poweful godman’s latest disciple, and find a place to stay within his ashram after selling his assets to the spiritual organisation and being assured of some monthly earnings.

So, what happens next? :: Mahashay, whose original name is Remakant, was a disciple of the great spiritual guru, Vasundhara Devi (Padmapriya Janakiraman) who was found dead in her ashram, after which the man has been everything about the organisation. He is so powerful that almost every V.I.P. in the belt worships him – the Chief Minister himself visits him so often, and has declared his victory even before the election began as he has the blessings of this godman. With all these people in his pocket, the police is also helpless, focusing more on dealing with smaller cases, or those which will make the politicians happy, making the common man suffer in the absence of law and order. He has branches of his ashram in different parts of India, and has spread abroad a lot during the recent times. He has everything planned all the time, and keeps getting what he wants.

And, what is to follow next in this tale? :: Pattabhiraman is determined to keep his ancestral home at any cost, and he finds it his duty and privilege to do the same. Mahashay provides him with time until Shivaratri to come up with the right decision, which is to leave his place and go back to Kerala after accepting the compensation and the blessings from him; otherwise, there is only the curse that will await him. Almost everyone who is left in the village has accepted this new godman as their new saviour and guru, as they feel that it is the only option as well as the right choice for the future. It is during these troubled times that he comes across Aslan Mohammed (Prithviraj Sukumaran) who offers him help. One day, while looking for Aslan and not finding him, Pattabhiraman is told the tale of Aslan by another man, Jameel Askari (Shine Tom Chacko). Aslan might not be the man whom Pattabhiraman thought he was, but can he be of help?

The defence of Tiyaan :: The thought-provoking moments of Tiyaan are intense, with that intensity like never before. The dialogues are stronger than ever, and we feel all the correct emotions in each of them, whether it is anger, hate, fear or grief. There are signs of what is to come from the beginning itself, and we feel how this is going to be something different, and it is. The whole thing remains a thought-provoking saga, and we are left with hope in a world which doesn’t have much of the same with almost everyone being hypocrites. There might be complexity within, but the final message is rather too simple, with all religions leading to one God, and love being the path. There are only some people who use the name of God in vain, and use it to hate and kill others; but our culture has always been in favour of diversity, and in our world, we have always been one. It is only the corporate side and the rest who are seeking mileage political or social, spreading the hate, as it is shown in the movie – it is all for the rich and influential as the rest suffers. The visuals are really good too.

The claws of flaw :: Tiyaan is too long a movie, and this much of a length doesn’t work in favour of such a flick. It is predictable at parts, and the flashback story is not that interesting. There are those parts of the movie which could have had more focus on them than the rest, but the movie just leave some of them behind. The philosophical side just hesitates to go any deeper, and the mass takes over when things could have been rather natural and realistic. One can only wonder what more this flick could have achieved with the material that it possessed, and considering the way it began and set everything ready by the interval. The final scene about the link between the two protagonists from the past might actually be the lowest point of the movie, and it was never needed to exist. Even though this is a Malayalam movie, there is less presence of the language, and the common audience will have trouble with the same.

Performers of the soul :: The movie focuses on Indrajith in the first half and on Prithviraj in the second. While the former returning after Lakshyam has quality time on screen in those beginning stages, the latter returning after Ezra finishes off in style, and also brings something for the mass in the second half. The fact that even after the performances, considering our common nature, some fans will also have to write imposition to remember the message for daily life. There is one dialogue from Indrajith about what is spoken by God and what is added by humans for their convenience – that one stays for so long. Then there is Prithviraj talking about selfish people and the rest of the world, so much charm there. Murali Gopy’s godman act is something that will be remembered for his way of bringing that character to its full strength right from the beginning. We also see Indrajith’s daughter Nakshatra doing so well, and Ananya is there in a short role done fine. Suraj Venjaramoodu does nice when he is there, and the same can be said about Shine Tom Chacko.

How it finishes :: On one side, we get those movies made in a hurry as if they have just got the dates of superstars and there is no time – on the other side, there are movies like Tiyaan which seems to be well-thought, and made to suit the times. They could have done without those overdone action sequences and the larger than life flashback which serve as nothing less than road blocks on a long journey. It is the messages that balance the equation, and when they rise above the rest, brings the thoughts that our world needs, and our people have been waiting for. As the message that all religions are one, leading to one final destination, spreads, there is no longer the need for change of faith, for it is replaced by change of mind – there is no more conversion, but transformation of the soul. There are the good and evil in each religion, and then there is God who plays no part in the terrible acts of people who claim to be like the Almighty One, or as following his path. There was Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, and now there is this movie – divergent ways are surely back!

Release date: 7th July 2017
Running time: 168 minutes
Directed by: Jiyen Krishnakumar
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Indrajith Sukumaran, Shine Tom Chacko, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Murali Gopy, Ananya, Padmapriya Janakiraman, Ravi Singh, John Kokken, Mridula Sathe, Rahul Madhav, Ranjeet, Amit Tiwari, Nakshatra Indrajith, Manasa Radhakrishnan, Paris Laxmi, Bhavika, Anand Attukal, Adesh S Nair

@ 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.