ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – R – Red Cliff (2008)

Director: John Woo

Writer: John Woo, Khan Chan, Cheng Kuo, Heyu Sheng (Screenplay) Guanzhong Luo (Novel)

Starring: Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fengyi Zhang, Chen Chang, Wei Zhao, Jun Hu

 

Plot: The first chapter of a two-part story centered on a battle fought in China’s Three Kingdoms period (220-280 A.D.).

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Spectacular Battles but Hard to Follow

 

Story: Red Cliff starts in the year 220 A.D. with Sun Quan (Chang) sending his army lead by General Cao Cao (Zhang) to defeat the southlands to create a peace within China. The other sides of the battle come from Zhuge Liang (Kaneshiro) who joins a union with Zhou Yu (Leung) to stop this battle from taking over the country.

As the battle rages on we come to the final showdown as the Red Cliff, one of the most famous battles in Chinese history and if you don’t know history you will be left wondering who won.

 

Thoughts on Red Cliff

 

Characters – Zhou Yu is a great warrior that eliminates any enemy that comes close to threatening him. Zhuge Liang is the calm tactical leader that brings two sides together in battle to stop the general. Cao Cao is the general trying to win the battle against the Southlands, he is aggressive in his tactics which would eventually be his weakness.

PerformanceThe performance from the whole cast are good throughout the film, we get to see the combat skills from some of the cast and their abilities to look like the calmest person in the room in other.

StoryThe story is focused on one of the greatest battles in Chinese history, it bought change to the nation and most importantly showed how organised and deadly the three sides of the battle were. If I am honest I did find this hard to follow as I haven’t done much in research into Chinese history but other than that if you just look to watch the battle sequences this is a visual over storytelling experience.

Action/History/WarThe action is the highlight of this film because the sequences are amazing to watch, we do get to look into history which is fine with the war side of the film showing us just how far the three sides would go for victory.

SettingsThe settings are mostly military based as we see both sides prepare for the battle around the iconic location of Red Cliff.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show in the increased number in battles which looks great through the film.

Scene of the Movie – The arrows on the river.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It was hard to follow at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good action packed historical film but it does drift into the land of hard to follow at other times.

 

Overall: Breath taking battles but difficult storyline.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – O – Operation Chromite (2016)

Director: John H Lee

Writer: Man-Hee Lee (Screenplay) John H Lee, Sean Dulake (English Dialogue)

Starring: Jung-jae Lee, Liam Neeson, Beom-su Lee, Matthre Darcy, Sean Dulake, Jun-ho Jeong, Se-Yeon Jin, Justin Rupple

 

Plot: A squad of soldiers fight in the Korean War’s crucial Battle of Incheon.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Little History Lesson

 

Story: Operation Chromite starts as UN Commander a Chief Douglas MacArthur (Neeson) putting South Korean soldiers led by Jang Hak-soo (Jung-jae Lee) undercover to work with the North Korean General Lim Gye-jin (Beom-su Lee) to learn the best way to attack Incheon one of the most difficult location to provide an invasion on, against the wishes of the other military beliefs.

We follow how the mission to get the plans out unfolds as MacArthur does everything to keep power in the UN to make this operation one of his most memorable and iconic success of his career.

 

Thoughts on Operation Chromite

 

Characters – Jang Hak-soo is the South Korean spy that after the war agrees to help the Americans destroy the North Korean reign of terror. He leads his men well with honour and won’t leave them behind. Lim Gye-jin is the man trying to protect Incheon from the invasion, he will kill any traitors that get to close as he is ready for the battle that is heading his way. Douglas MacArthur is the man holding the mission Chromite, one of the most iconic Generals in American history and now he looks to defeat the Koreans in a way no one would expect.

PerformanceThe performances from the whole cast are good through the film, be it from the Korean side of the battle or the American.

StoryThe story shows us how Operation Chromite was completed, while you do feel moments of this are fictionalised the main story does seem to feel true. We get to see how the men risk their own lives to make this happen in one of the most ambitious military moves of all time. This does have the emotion when it comes to see the sacrifices made but does also fall into the problem of if it was based on the real events how do we know what these people were doing at that time.

Action/History/WarThe action is very entertaining, being big in most places with close gun fire or war scale battles, the history lesson learnt does feel like building on the facts which is of one of the biggest war operations of all time

SettingsThe settings all come off looking genuine through the film as we see the different battle fronts that the men come up against.

Scene of the Movie – Take the hostage.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It doesn’t feel completely accurate.

Final ThoughtsThis is a watchable war movie that tackles the serious side of the events even if things do come off slightly fictionalised.

 

Overall: Good war film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – G – The Grandmaster (2013)

Director: Kar-Wai Wong

Writer: Kar-Wai Wong, Jingzhi Zou, Haofeng Xu (Screenplay) Kar-Wai Wong (Story

Starring: Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang, Jin Zhang

 

Plot: The story of martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee.


Tagline –  In Martial Arts there is no right or wrong, only the last man standing.

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Just Watch IP Man

 

Story: The Grandmaster starts as we learn how the 40-year-old IP Man (Leung) life of luxury is turned upside due to the war in China, he loses everything including daughters to the effects, he moves onto Hong Kong to try to rebuild his life will being the excellent martial artists, we do follow a large amount of time in his life to get to where we do in the film.

 

Thoughts on The Grandmaster

 

Characters – IP man is the legend, arguable the greatest martial artist of all time, he trained Bruce Lee as his most famous student. This follows his life from riches, to rags and the rise of his dojo of training. We also follow Gong Er who wants to break boundaries in protecting her family’s honour and Ma San the man who uses his martial arts for evil in the world.

PerformancesThe performances here are fine, the fights between the different stars all click well making moments feel like edge of your seat, but after watching the IP Man I found those performances easier to connect too.

StoryThe story follows the life and times of IP Man, a legend in the martial arts field, we follow decades of his life which is fine, but it has been told before in three films, which gave them more time to develop the story. it feels like we gloss over too many moments that are much bigger in this life. The story just isn’t as interesting when it gets trimmed down this much.

Action/Biopic/Romance/WarThe action sequences are great fight sequences which is good to see, and they do feel brutal in effect. The biopic side of the story does seem to gloss over too much for us now we have a longer focus in the IP man films.

SettingsThe settings are fine throughout the film, they do seem darker than they need to be and quite often include rain for some reason.


Scene of the Movie –
Any of the fight scenes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The fact is that I have seen IP man films and this is the same story trimmed down.

Final ThoughtsThis is a basic biopic on the IP man, you could watch the three and soon to be four films with Donnie Yen to get more in depth stories that this film covers in trimmed down time, the action won’t let you down though.

 

Overall: Solid enough, but not great.

Rating

 

 

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008)

Director: Mark Herman

Writer: Mark Herman (Screenplay) John Boyne (Novel)

Starring: Asa Butterfield, David Thewlis, Rupert Friend, Jack Scanlon, Vera Farmiga

 

Plot: Set during WWII, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a German concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences.


Tagline – A story of innocence in a world of ignorance

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Heart Shattering Movie

 

Story: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas starts as Bruno (Butterfield) and his family Mother (Farmiga), Father (Thewlis) and sister Gretel (Beattie) move from Berlin to the countryside during World War II. The new home takes Bruno’s family near a concentration camp, this leaves Bruno wondering why everyone there is where Pyjamas and leaving him forbidden from going out of the house.

When Bruno befriends one of the boys Shmuel (Scanlon) who is in the camp, Bruno must start to learn why the people are being kept like this as he learns that Jews are considered the enemy of his country, but he doesn’t understand this. The truth will only shatter Bruno’s view on the world.

 

Thoughts on The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

 

Characters – Bruno is the 8-year-old boy living in Germany during World War II, he doesn’t understand the world yet, he must learn that his new friends are Jews and considered the enemies to the non-Jews. He tries to become friends while not becoming blinkered like his own sister to what is expected within Germany at the time, showing us the innocence that was affected by war. Father is the rest why the family must move, he is in charge of the concentration camp but hiding the truth from his family. Mother tries to put a smile on but when she learns the truth she is in shock with what her husband is doing but can’t talk out because it would leave her with the same fate. Shmuel is the Jewish boy that Bruno befriends, he is in the concentration camp which makes their friendship forbidden but through him we see how Bruno doesn’t see how the world truly is.

PerformancesAsa Butterfield is fantastic in the leading role, he shows all the innocence to play this character. David Thewlis is always good in the almost villainous role, while he is the bad figure in history, he is a good father. Vera Farmiga is great as the mother that sees the light in what is going on and how wrong it is. Jack Scanlon is great as the Jewish boy that is behind the fence that befriends Bruno, he shows the despair in what the Jews would be going through.

StoryThe story is already dealing with one of the most disturbing events in modern history as we see how the Germans handled the Jews. Seeing this from the perspective of an innocent Germany boy who doesn’t know what is wrong or right about the war shows us how horrific the events were. This is a story of how he must learn what is really going without ever being shown the truth he doesn’t know what is going on while we see both sides of his family react to what is happening differently. This is by far one of the most disturbing and shocking stories you will ever see that shows the heart break of what happened and how the children never knew the horrors of war.

WarThis doesn’t show the conflict of war, it shows the separation that the Germans had with the Jews through the eyes of young boy who didn’t know what was going on.

SettingsThe settings are Berlin and a countryside location never mentioned, it shows the divide created by the Germans in the war for no reason other than God figure people believed in.


Scene of the Movie –
The adventure in Bruno’s mind.

That Moment That Annoyed Me English accents.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most heart breaking movies you will see, it shows that the victims of war came from all sides and the reality of it was even worse.

 

Overall: Brings your tissues along.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – D – Downfall (2004)

Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel

Writer: Bernd Eichinger (Screenplay) Joachim Fest, Traudi Junge, Melissa Muller (Book)

Starring: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Corinna Harfouch, Ulrich Matthes, Ulrich Matthes, Juliane Kohler, Heino Ferch

 

Plot: Traudl Junge, the final secretary for Adolf Hitler, tells of the Nazi dictator’s final days in his Berlin bunker at the end of WWII.


Tagline – April 1945, a nation awaits its…

Runtime: 2 Hours 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful & Revealing

 

Story: Downfall starts as we see Traudi Junge (Lara) hired by Adolf Hitler (Ganz) to be his next secretary, she would stay in this role for 2 and half years, as we pick up the story as the Nazi’s soldiers are facing the battle to keep Berlin, one of their last strong holds in Europe.

In the final days we see how Hitler is losing the loyalty of the ones he trusted most and is finding himself facing certain defeat, but he isn’t going down without fighting.

 

Thoughts on Downfall

 

Characters – The characters in this movie are based on real people, any discussion is only about how they are depicted in this movie, my opinions are not being discussed here. Adolf Hitler is the leader of the Nazi’s they have been at war with Europe for years, not the battle looks like it will be ending, he has lost faith in the people he trusted to lead for him and no he is cleaning up the people that betrayed him, preparing for defeat, but never giving up full hope in recovering. This version of Hitler is like any dictator that is about to lose, he has given everything for his own belief and demands loyalty through even the worst times. Traudi Junge is the final secretary for Hitler, she is one of the only non-military people to know what Hitler was thinking, how he was acting in those final days. We do meet plenty of the people closest to Hitler, family and military in the final days the ones that stood with him and the ones that betrayed him.

PerformancesBruno Ganz is fantastic in this leading role, he gives us multiply memorable moments even though he is playing such a hated man in history. Alexandra Maria Lara is great in her role while the cast in the whole does nothing wrong all giving us great performances through the film.

StoryThe story here shows the final days of Hilter’s reign of terror over Europe, now this isn’t going to be something that everyone will want to see, because we know how diabolical the actions of the Nazis were. Withdrawing myself from any personal connection to this story, we are left with a very interesting take on how a fallen dictator will be taking everything before the battle is finally over, how the people closest to him would act, be it fear of him, fear of the consequences or even the reality they could now be free from his power. The chaos is clear to see, the betrayal he feels is shocking to see for someone that is meant to be so feared by his own side and the relief for the innocent is clear to see. This story isn’t going to be easy to watch, but the story is essential for any war historian.

Biopic/HistorySeeing the final days of Hitler before facing his impending defeat is interesting to see unfold the biopic and historical side of the film shows this in an accuracy unheard of before.

SettingsThe film does take us to what feels like a realistic setting for the whole film, the middle of battle at times and in the last strong hold Hitler held.


Scene of the Movie –
Protecting the family.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is very long over 2 and half hours.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most essential historical viewings of any movie, it shows the defeated dictator facing his reality while the high ranking generals etc doing whatever it takes to serve or betray him to survive.

 

Overall: Must watch historical drama

Rating