ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – W – Woochi (2009) Movie Review

Director: Dong-hoon Choi

Writer: Dong-hoon Choi (Screenplay) Ho-min Ju, Park Myeong-Chan (Comic)

Starring: Dong-won Gang, Soo-jung Lim, Yook-seok Kim, Hae-jin Yoo, Young-chang Song, Sang-ho Kim

Plot: Jeon Woo-chi, an undisciplined womanizing Taoist from the Joseon era, ends up in present day Korea causing mayhem with his knack for magic.


Tagline – World beware. The wizard is coming.

Runtime: 2 Hours 16 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Fun Fantasy Adventure

Story: Woochi starts as we enter a world of goblins which become life sized animals like rats or rabbits and wizard of ancient times, where Woochi (Gang) a mischievous wizard that has great power to calmly take over the king if he needs to, he is wanted amongst the world with his trusted sidekick Chorangyi (Yoo) who could be transformed into any animal.

On Woochi’s latest quest he comes to save a widow Seo IN-kyeong (Lim) only to find himself in the middle of a battle between the goblins and the pipe that would give them control of the world, with Master Hwa-dam (Kim) the most powerful wizard in the land trying to take the pipe.

When Woochi is trapped within a painting for five centuries, he is summoned back after the goblins have returned for the pipe, now in the modern day Woochi must continue to master his skills to save the world from destruction from the Archgod.

Thoughts on Woochi

Characters – Woochi is a young wizard, he likes to cause trouble with his powers, he believes he is the most powerful wizard in the land, even though he isn’t and wants to use his powers to do the odd criminal action against bad people, he does get put in his place by his master, and trapped in a world that he isn’t prepared for needing to fight for the right thing once again. Seo In-kyeong was the widow in the ancient times, the woman Woochi falls for, in the modern era she is an assistant to an actress who finds herself caught in the middle of the battle, having no knowledge of what could come her way. Hwa-dam is a master wizard, the most powerful in the land, he does become consumed by the power the goblins could give him, wanting the pipe for himself, it is against him Woochi must prove his own power. Chorangyi is the sidekick to Woochi, he is a dog that has been turned into a human, with the ability to turn into other animals too, including the trust horse.

PerformancesDong-won Gang as Woochi is great to watch, he embraces the cocky side to his character which only is meant to make him look foolish, without being a fool and makes us see that the confidence he brings to the role helps his character overcome the odds. Soo-jung Lim gets to play two different characters both from different eras which does make her show off the change in how the woman was perceived between the eras. Yoon-seok Kim does well through the film as the evil master wizard, showing his ability to adapt to both worlds too, while Hae-hin Yoo will bring us the most laughs through the film as the dog figure.

StoryThe story follows a cocky young wizard that gets caught up in the middle of a battle between humans and goblins for control in the world, where he gets frozen in time to continue the battle five centuries later. This is a story that is based in fantasy and does established early on and is one we can take into what we are getting into. The idea of moving to different era does help add something to the story because of the fish out of water idea and with the lack of belief in the former traditions or mythical enemies that could come towards the modern day. We do have a character that needs to learn his place in the world and learn to use his power for good instead of just being cocky about what he could do.

Action/Comedy/FantasyThe action in this film is entertaining, it is big just like you would expect it to be, using the fighting techniques to increase everything, while using elements of the comedy to lighten the mood and the fantasy to show us the world we are in.

SettingsThe film does use to eras for the settings, first the ancient world before hitting the modern era which helps show how out of place the Woochi looks in it.

Special EffectsThe effects are wonderful to see, we get to see just how many are used for the fights which do include the elements being used, transformation through flat services too.


Scene of the Movie – The first goblin fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It does have a moment of confusion in the final battle.

Final Thoughts This is a fun adventure that embraces the fantasy world we are entering and with make you laugh along the way.

Overall: Entertaining from start to finish.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – N – Valhalla Rising (2009) Movie Review

This is under N because of the director Nicolas Winding Refn.

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn, Roy Jacobsen (Screenplay)

Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Alexander Morton, Stewart Porter, Maarten Stevenson, Matthew Zajac, Gordon Brown, Gary McCormack

Plot: Forced for some time to be a fighting slave, a pagan warrior escapes his captors with a boy and joins a group of Crusaders on their quest to the Holy Land.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: What Was This?

Story: Valhalla Rising starts as One Eye (Mikkelsen) is forced into fights to prove his owner has the strongest fighter, waiting for his chance to escape, he does joined by The Boy (Stevenson) the two go in search for something more, when they join Kare (Lewis) as a Crusader heading to the Holy Land.

As the journey continues, One Eye slowly sees the Crusaders start to lose their own minds, believing they are doing God’s will, with their blind following, while One Eye proves just how dangerous he is.

Thoughts on Valhalla Rising

Characters – One Eye is a slave in early mankind, he is forced into fights, where he always kills the enemies, after he escapes, he becomes a warrior that leads people in a direction they aren’t ready to go down. He doesn’t say a word. Kare, Gorm and Eirik are Christian Vikings from the Crusades looking for the Holy Land, they each believe there is something different in the message sent to them with One Eye, which sees them lose control between themselves.

PerformancesMads Mikkelsen is the highlight of the film here, he keeps his character looking mysterious, while also being deadly. The rest of the cast might handle the dialogue which fills in a lot of the story, they don’t do much else in the film.

StoryThe story follows a slave kept for fighting that breaks free going on his own adventure leading a group of Crusaders into the depths of a place they haven’t been to before. This is a story that doesn’t seem to get very deep, with most of the story being travelling and see how blind the Crusaders would be in their beliefs and see one man break free and becoming a leader, the ending will leave you scratching your head though.

Action/FantasyThe action in the film follows the fight sequences that One Eye goes through, though a lot of action is being held back from what could happen, with the fantasy side of the film showing us just how the world doesn’t seem as real as the characters believe it is.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the new discoveries that the character go on along their journey.

Special EffectsThe effects are used for the brutality of the fights, which show us just what is going on in the fights.


Scene of the Movie – One Eye’s first fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – There is a lot of walking.

Final Thoughts This isn’t the most engaging film you will see, it seems to have plenty of walking and symbolism around the early era of the Crusades.

Overall: Something or Nothing.

Michael Caine Weekend – Harry Brown (2009) Movie Review

Director: Daniel Barber

Writer: Gary Young (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Charlie Creed-Miles, David Bradley, Iain Glen, Sean Harris, Plan B, Jack O’Connell

Plot: An elderly ex-serviceman and widower looks to avenge his best friend’s murder by doling out his own form of justice.


Tagline – The law has limits. He doesn’t.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense and Gritty

Story: Harry Brown starts as we meet mild-mannered ex-marine and widower Harry Brown (Caine) who is living on a London estate where his only friend Leonard Attwell (Bradley) spend time in the pub where they play chess at get worried about the local youth that are always causing chaos, from small harassment to murder.

After Leonard is murdered by the gang, the police Alice Frampton (Mortimer) and Terry Hicock (Creed-Miles) visit and inform Harry of the news, which soon turns Harry into wanting his on form of defence, which sees him looking to take on the gangs, while Alice is charged with trying to find the mysterious vigilante.

Thoughts on Harry Brown

Characters – Harry Brown is trying to live a quiet life of retirement, hoping his wife gets better, having one friend on the London estate, after losing his wife and his best friend gets murdered, Harry uses his past as a marine to look for answers, taking out anybody he sees as part of the problem. D.I Alice Frampton has just been transferred to the area, she comes off more approachable than most members of the police force, she is trying to get things done without needing to turn to name calling. She seems to be the only person trying to solve the case. D.S Terry Hicock has been working the estate for years, he has become warned down with the crimes, making him distant in his behaviour towards the incidents. Leonard Attwell is the best friend of Harry’s the two spend most afternoons together in the pub, though Leonard has started to fear for his life more as he is being targeted by the youth in the neighbourhood.

PerformancesMichael Caine is fantastic in the leading role showing a grittier performance than we are used to seeing from him. Emily Mortimer does show us a much calmer officer than we are used to seeing in the police force. In the supporting roles everyone is strong with the younger cast getting their chance to shine.

StoryThe story here follows a retired marine that decides to come and take a stand against the local youth problem that murdered his friend. We have seen the vigilante taking a stand before and it is nice to see a version that still kept the story looking fresh, with a new spin on it, by having a veteran needing to fight back against young people causing troubles, this could reflect real life with the gangs keep giving problems to the local people. The way everything unfolds is given a nice slowly built up moment which shows how Harry’s rage can be seen growing slowly too.

Action/CrimeThe action is kept in a more tame realm, though this is good for the film because it is meant to be a tighter enclosed environment for the events of the film, while the crime shows us just how the youth have started to take over.

SettingsThe film keeps the film in and around the London estate, it shows the different people living on it and how their lives will be affected by what is happening there.


Scene of the Movie – The underground.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The police don’t seem that helpful.

Final Thoughts This is a great action vigilante movie that shows just how far somebody could go to clean up their streets when they see nothing happening, where Michael Caine truly shines.

Overall: Brilliant.

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – J – Julie & Julia (2009)

Director: Nora Ephron

Writer: Nora Ephron (Screenplay) Julie Powell, Julia Child, Alex Prud’homme (Book)

Starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Linda Emond, Helen Carey, Mary Lynn Rajskub

 

Plot: Julia Child’s story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell’s 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book.


Tagline – Passion. Ambition. Butter. Do You Have What It Takes?

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Inspirational and Sweet

 

Story: Julie & Julia starts as we follow Julia Child (Streep) and her husband Paul (Tucci) starting to find her place in the world in France, where she finds a new passion for cooking, meanwhile in 2002 Julie Powell (Adams) moves to Queens with her husband Eric (Messina) who is getting tired of her everyday life, decides to start a blog, challenging herself to cook all the recipes in Julia’s cook book within a year.

The two stories run next to each other with Julia studying cooking before getting a chance to teach and write the book that Julie is working from, while Julie starts to see a spike in interest for her blog, with people wanting to see just how far she gets into her challenge.

 

Thoughts on Julie & Julia

 

Characters – Julia Child is one of the most famous chefs from the 1950 and beyond, here we get to see how being a bored housewife that turned to cooking to keep her entertained, first studying it before writing the book that saw her take years to write with her co-workers. We only follow her time getting to the position of getting the book published. Julie Powell believed she had a bright future, now turning 30 she is stuck in a cubical job feeling out of place in life. Deciding to set herself a challenge, she wants to prepare every recipes in Julia Child’s book within a year. Julie does see the success of her blog skyrocket with people wanting to see how she experiences the dishes through the year. Paul Child and Eric Powell are the supportive husbands of both the women, they both let them get on with their projects, stepping in only when they are feeling down about moments in life.

PerformancesMeryl Streep and Amy Adams are both truly fantastic in their roles, they bring both real people to life by making both their characters filled with life in different generations. Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina both manage the supporting roles with ease, helping the two leads hold the spotlight, but stepping in when they need their characters to make impacts in the lives.

StoryThe story here follows the early days in the cooking world for Julia Child as she starts to use her hobby to bring a new joy to her life, we also follow a small time blogger looking for a challenge, using the book to make a name for herself in the world as a cook that enjoys the challenge. The story manages to balance the two ladies challenges to make an impact, with Julia Child needing to go against traditions of male chef to get her book released, while Julie wants to prove she can complete something in her life. The tone of the story is told in a way that keep everything feeling calm and enjoyable and seeing what both the women achieve is a delight to see.

Biopic/RomanceThe biopic side of the film shows two different sides of the lady’s lives, seeing how they both had to overcome their own problems to achieve the challenge. The romance shows us just how the two women turned to their husbands to keep them strong.

SettingsThe film uses two main locations, one was Paris with Julia seeing how a new vision for cooking, while Julie is stuck in a small apartment, which does show us just the book could be achieved by anybody whatever size their kitchen.


Scene of the Movie –
The final chapter of the blog.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not a thing.

Final ThoughtsThis is a delightful story about two women that used their passion for cooking to tell and bring new their stories to the people of the world.

 

Overall: Delightful

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Crank 2: High Voltage (2009)

Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Writer: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakam, Efren Ramirez, Julanne Chidi Hill, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Reno Wilson

Plot: Chelios faces a Chinese mobster who has stolen his nearly indestructible heart and replaced it with a battery-powered ticker that requires regular jolts of electricity to keep working.


Tagline – He was dead… but he got better.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Jumps the Shark

Story: Crank 2: High Voltage starts right where the last film finished and Chev Chelios (Statham) somehow has survived his fall and is rescued and given a new heart, an electric one, Chev goes in search for his own heart, but needs to keep his current one full charged or face the same fate as the first film.

Chev must track down the man who stole his heart, which will see him returning a few familiar faces including his girlfriend Eve (Smart) and brother to his old friend Venus (Ramirez).

Thoughts on Crank 2: high Voltage

Characters – Chev Chelios somehow survives his mile high fall from the first film, he is given a new artificial heart which he must keep charged or he will die, he goes in search of his own heart which will see him go against another gang in LA, Eve now knows about Chev’s career, she has become a stripper and will supporting him trying to get his heart back. Doc Miles will do everything he can to help Chev giving him advice on how to keep his heart going. Venus is the brother of Kaylo who goes on to help Chev to get revenge for his own brother’s death. We have more gangs that are working against Chev this time, some return others are new.

PerformancesJason Statham does what he can with the leading role, he handles the action with ease, only he just doesn’t reach the same levels as before, this does affect the rest of the cast who do struggle to make an impact in this film.

StoryThe story does follow the next chapter of Chev’s life, the one after he should have died, only for him to get a new chance which sees him needing to race against time to get his own heart back. This side is simple enough at does work for what the film is doing, Chev take on endless amounts of enemies, the problem here with the story is that we dive too much into the side characters of what is going on and end up getting too many completely random scenes which just seem offensive on too many levels. This story does end up becoming messy and just has one of the worst scripts out there.

Action/CrimeThe action does try to become bigger, only for it to be shot in a style which doesn’t make it easy to connect. The criminal world does feel bigger, but now everything does seem more personal rather gang controlled.

SettingsThe film remains set in LA which does continue to show the crazy gangs that are meant to operate in this city.

Special EffectsThe effects do feel like they are being more ambitious, only for some to be so farfetched they only seem to make things look confusing, including an insulting looking Godzilla like fight.


Scene of the Movie – Final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Godzilla like fight.

Final Thoughts This is a wildly over the top sequel which only ends up becoming too much to handle for the crazy nature of everything going on.

Overall: Too wild.

Rating