The Rising Hawk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Adios

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Breakdown Forest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Bat: Well, you never know that!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kidnapping Stella

Vampire Owl: So, these people have made a movie about just one kidnapping?

Vampire Bat: You are saying that one won’t be enough?

Vampire Owl: No, I am saying that it can be like a vampire movie made out of one blood-sucking event, which won’t be enough.

Vampire Bat: It is a remake of the 2009 British thriller movie, The Disappearance of Alice Creed.

Vampire Owl: Okay, the one starring Gemma Arterton, the lady vampire from Byzantium.

Vampire Bat: The whole vampire team is indebted to her for the work in that movie.

Vampire Owl: It is my second favourite vampire movie after Interview with the Vampire.

Vampire Bat: If you add Let Me In, it could go to the third spot.

Vampire Owl: Do you realize that you haven’t reviewed a full-length German movie yet?

Vampire Bat: Yes, but there has been a short-film which left enough for us to think about.

[Gets an vancho cake and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: There is some big preparation going on with the two former convicts named Vic (Clemens Schick) and Tom (Max von der Groeben) getting something ready inside a building, just before they get prepared to commit some crime. Stella (Jella Haase), the only child of a wealthy businessman is their target, as they hope to become rich with the money of her father. This act and the resulting ransom is supposed to make sure that they won’t have to go to work for a long time. For this, they come up with some very careful planning, and leave no chance for them to escape, as they undress her and keeps her in a red tracksuit, blindfold her, tie her to a bed, and keeps her in a soundproof room, with no chance for her to even move more than al ittle. To conceal their identities, the two also wear masks while talking to her. There is a certain amount of risk involved with her knowing their identities, because she is pregnant with Tom’s child, as they were in love some time ago.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Stella tries hard to escape from her bondage, but there is no positive result for those attempts, as far as she is concerned. Tom does have a soft corner for her as he comes to know that she is pregnant only at a later moment when they threaten to cut off one of her fingers in front of the camera, while making a video which is to be shown to her father so that he would finally agree to give the ransom money to them. But the problem here is that during one of those vulnerable moments, she finds out that one of the kidnappers is Tom, and almost manages to overpower him to get hold of the gun. But Tom handles that situation as well as a few others which follow. Soon, Vic starts to have some doubts about Tom and Stella, as he is no longer the person whom he met in the prison – he is not sure if Tom can be trusted either. Now, it is to be seen how the two manage to keep the situation going. Can they get the money, or will the girl end up being dead? What will be the priority for Tom now, as he knows that she is pregnant with his child?

The defence of Kidnapping Stella :: You will notice that Kidnapping Stella, just like The Disappearance of Alice Creed and its earlier remake Reckless, doesn’t waste its time in getting into action. There are a few minutes when nobody talks about anything, and then we are quickly into the action when the girl is kidnapped and tied up without any chance to escape even from the bed where she is tied up. We do not have any subplot to take the focus away from the main thing, and even though there is a possibility of some flashback, we never really go towards it. You do have some twists, even though not used to the full effectiveness. A kidnapping scenario is also shown without any pretensions, and without showing it as someone who is locked in a random room giving them an easy journey throughout the abduction. The kidnapping programme is quite a solid one, and even though becoming only the third version of the same tale, you have to appreciate them doing this situation well enough here along with maintaining the thrills.

The claws of flaw :: If you have watched The Disappearance of Alice Creed or its Dutch remake, there is nothing much that you can find here to keep you interested, because you have seen all these in more critically appreciated movies, and the performers who have gained better applause not just in one film, but also many others. This movie also doesn’t seem to have gathered that much of an attention or appreciation as those movies which released much earlier. This one is also quite slow at parts, and for a movie which doesn’t have that much of a run-time, it is definitely a strange thing, no matter how you look at it. The movie could have used some more intense moments to make things feel better. As most of the movie is set within a small area, there was scope to bring more. When you have a film with kidnap as the main thing or rather the only thing, you would expect that something else would be there to be taken. There is always the chance for improvement as far as remakes are concerned, but we doubt if that chance was even thought about here.

Performers of the soul :: One cannot deny the fact that this movie misses someone like Gemma Arterton who has been one class actress in different roles, the best of them that we remember being Byzantium, the highly underrated and under-watched vampire movie coming from the director of the highly appreciated Interview with the Vampire. We can only guess that it would have been a fantastic performance. Jella Haase is pretty much okay as the kidnapped girl, but she doesn’t seem to raise that bar that much. The two kidnappers are actually very good though, and Clemens Schick as Vic, the tougher one comes up with a work that will make us attached to the situation here. Max von der Groeben as Tom, the guy who is caught between two sides also have our attention – he wants to do more than one thing, as there is the need to save his former lover and their unborn baby along with getting all that money from her father. There is no other character here, and these three makes the performers list fully.

How it finishes :: The movie originates from The Disappearance of Alice Creed, a 2009 British movie, which also had another remake in the form a Dutch movie named Reckless. From the reviews which we have read about this version here might be the film with the lowest rating, while the other two movies seem to be quite ahead. But for most of us who haven’t watched those two movies because we never really had much of an experience with Dutch movies and as the British movie was released a long time ago, Kidnapping Stella is going to be an interesting experience. There are enough thrills around there, and it surely feels more than the usual hostage movie. Matching The Disappearance of Alice Creed was always going to be a tough task, as it had Gemma Arterton who has been in all kinds of movies with all the glory, a performer who is difficult to match. You are free to watch all the three versions in different European languages and decide the best for yourself if you feel the need to disagree. Otherwise, you can just enjoy this newer version.

Release date: 12th July 2019
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Thomas Sieben
Starring: Clemens Schick, Jella Haase, Max von der Groeben

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ashfall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Torpedo U-235

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Balkan Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Whistlers

Vampire Owl: Do you remember how long we waited to watch a Romanian movie?

Vampire Bat: I am not sure. Maybe, we waited for an eternity.

Vampire Owl: Vampires deserve to watch Romanian movies, don’t they?

Vampire Bat: This movie was selected as the Romanian entry for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Oscars.

Vampire Owl: So, we might be beginning our Romanian movie watching with one of the best.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I don’t see why we shouldn’t go for the best.

Vampire Owl: Should we call Uncle Dracula and the minions to watch this one too?

Vampire Bat: After we watch the movie and declare it safe, they can watch it too.

Vampire Owl: Okay, then. We are going for our first Romanian film.

Vampire Bat: Do watch it carefully, and come up with an opinion.

[Gets an chocolate cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) is a Romanian police officer who acts as a whistle blower for mafia, and it is made clear that he is not someone who stays on one side at all times, as the switch does happen very often. Even though he is under police surveillance for suspected corruption, Gilda (Catrinel Marlon) who has been part of organized crime, manages to bring up a plan to free a controversial businessman arrested in Bucharest and asks for his help in the job. She poses as a high level prostitute with Cristi as her most valued customer to make the cameras set in his house believe that she is up to nothing related to such crimes and gangs, and is just there to provide him her service which she proves to the eyes behind the camera. Cristi is forced by her to go to La Gomera Island, one of Spain’s Canary Islands to learn an ancestral whistling language which he can use to connect to mobsters without being detected by the police or anybody else who possessed some threat to them.

So, what happens with the events here? :: This ancestral whistling language has been the kind of thing used to communicate across the deep ravines and narrow valleys of the island. It enables messages to be exchanged over long distance, and he hopes to study it soon enough, because he needs to get the man out of prison, as he is someone who needs to be outside to give information about millions of cash. As this a case with so much of money involved, there is the certainty of twists occurring. Everyone is after a missing thirty million in cash, and as both the criminals and the police tries to find where the man hid the money. But Cristi has some other plans along with finding the money for any of these sides. For the same, he would come up with a more twisted idea. But it is to be seen whether he would be successful in the same, because he is playing with fire on more than one side. Can he get out of there, maybe with Gilda on his side without being hurt, or will he be hit by the terror that is going to be unleashed when the thirty million is lost?

The defence of The Whistlers :: It can be seen that The Whistlers is that kind of a movie which slowly gets the thrills to us, and from the beginning itself, the same starts getting on to us. You know that all the characters here are up to something, and we are able to feel the same quite early. It also brings a certain amount of humour in there and we also have the surprises thrown in here and there. The settings used here are all beautiful, and when looking at the scenes in Romanian towns as well as the Spanish island far away from its coasts, we are all glad to see such things of beauty. The performances of Vlad Ivanov and Catrinel Marlon are nothing less than deadly either. If you haven’t watched any Romanian movies yet, this might be the film to begin watching these from that particular industry, as it seems to be a lot ahead to catch our attention with almost everything shown on the screen. With the same, there is also simplicity in its complexity.

Positives and negatives :: The Whistlers is the kind of movie which moves too slow for some kind of audience who might be looking for better pace considering the fact that this is a crime thriller. The beginning with the main characters playing certain roles for the cameras seemed to suggest that this was going to be quicker in pace, but it was not so. But it is good to see that unlike the other crime thrillers, this is the kind of movie which cares about its humans too, and they are not really the kind of people who are there to keep shooting and get shot. You can see that power and weakness, loneliness and companionship, pretension and sincerity, trust and the lack of it – all are shown as part of life, while we see everyman elements in these characters around here. The world of crime is not about keeping on shooting people and creating chaos, as there is something more about it, as this movie tries to prove. The Whistlers is more than what meets the eye, as you compare it to the other movies of the genre.

Performers of the soul :: Vlad Ivanov as Cristi comes up with a solid performance, as he plays a character whose intentions are never really that clear, and it is one unpredictable character which he plays to perfection. This particular character is never really the person we think that he is, and he shows signs of the person who brings the twists quite early. Catrinel Marlon as Gilda is nothing less than fantastic, as she plays a femme fatale character with certain class, but it is also a character with more than one side, which she proves quite early into the movie. In the beginning, we even have the doubt if she is the main character, as she is in action just ten minutes into the movie, dictating terms and flourishing on the screen. She is a different kind of Anna, as you look at her closely, and she never hesitates to bring all that she can, at any moment. The same can be seen again in more and more moments, as we see her getting her righteous place in there on different occasions. Rodica Lazar comes up with a fine believable role as the police officer who is in charge.

How it finishes :: The Whistlers is a special movie, not just because it is a crime thriller which keeps itself solid, but also due to how well it handles the content smoothly. This is surely a movie that you would want to watch, and then continue to watch more of Romanian movies – I had said the same about another movie, a Vietnamese one which could introduce you to that film industry really well. Both The Whistlers and Furie as unknown movies in this part of the world, and as people rush to look for more and more Korean movies, these two movies in two different languages from different parts of the world deserves your attention. I have always loved Romania as a place which had the historical region of Transylvania, as my best interest is in Gothic works – it is a place which I would love to visit one day to see those castles which are often related with Count Dracula, but until then, maybe I can watch some more of wonderful Romanian movies. This one is just beginning, as rest will surely come.

Release date: 13th September 2019
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Corneliu Porumboiu
Starring: Catrinel Marlon, Vlad Ivanov, Agusti Villaronga, Cristobal Pinto, Sergiu Costache, Antonio Buil

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.