ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – J – A Bittersweet Life (2005) Movie Review

This is under J because of director Jee-woon Kim.

Director: Jee-woon Kim

Writer: Jee-woon Kim (Screenplay) Dong-Cheol Kim (Character)

Starring: Byung-hun Lee, Min-a Shin, Yeong-cheol Kim, Jung-min Whang, Roe-ha Kim

Plot: Things go wrong for a high ranking mobster when he doesn’t proceed by his boss’s orders.

Tagline – When doing right goes very, very wrong.

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Brutal

Story: A Bittersweet Life starts when one of Mr Kang’s (Kim) best enforcers Sun-woo (Lee) is assigned to watch over a young woman Hee-soo (Shin) to make sure she is dating other men, to which Sun-woo discovers, given them a warning never see each other again, going against his boss’s orders.

When Mr Kang learns the truth that Sun-woo has disobeyed him, he treats him like anyone else who has crossed him, leaving him for dead, forcing Sun-woo to look for his own revenge.

Thoughts on A Bittersweet Life

Characters – Sun-woo is one of the most loyal enforcers for Mr Kang, he will always get the job done, demands quiet respect for his work too, he is given a strange assignment to watch over a young woman and deal with any problems, which he doesn’t, leading to him coming face to face with his boss, who wants him to suffer for breaking the promise. Hee-soo is a beautiful young woman that Mr Kang wants for his own, she is trying to live her own life, she doesn’t want Mr Kang in it and when Sun-woo shows her mercy she looks to leave the life behind. Mr Kang is the ruthless mod boss that is using the enforcers to control the city, he has the best men in place, but his vices are women which will see him wanting to keep them for himself, turning on anyone that crosses him or fails to follow orders.

PerformancesByung-hun Lee is brilliant in the leading role, he shows the outsider figure he has created, while showing the deadly side when pushed to the limits. Min-a Sin is great as the woman trapped in this world, while Yeong-cheol Kim is great as the ruthless mob boss that won’t accept anything but the best from his men.

StoryThe story here follows an enforcer that is forced into a job that he doesn’t follow through on, which sees him boss turn on him, wanting to torture and kill him, only for him to escape and extract his own form of revenge. This is a brutal revenge story that shows that if you cross the one person you trust the most, you will pay the consequences, even if you were to throw everyone at the person you want to stop. While we could imagine just how this story will unfold, it is the relentless nature of the revenge side of it that keeps us glued to what will happened next.

ActionThe action for the second half of the film, does feel relentless, with the pure number of fights, shoot outs and battles Sun-woo goes through to get his own revenge for what has happened to him.

SettingsThe film does use the settings to show how the highest members of the mob will be in the penthouse areas, looking down on the people of the world, while the small duties happen in the shadows.

Scene of the Movie – The escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not having enough time with Hee-soo’s life.

Final Thoughts This is a hard hitting brutal action film that never holds back in the bloodshed of the battles. Byung-hun Lee is excellent in the leading role, carrying everything in the fights and emotional stakes of the film too.

Overall: Hard-Hitting.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – U – Unleashed (2005) Movie Review

Director: Louis Leterrier

Writer: Luc Besson (Screenplay)

Starring: Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, Bob Hoskins, Kerry Condon, Vincent Regan, Dylan Brown, Tamer Hassan

Plot: A man enslaved by the mob since childhood and raised into behaving like a human attack dog escapes his captors and attempts to start a new life.

Tagline – Serve No Master

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Unleashed starts as we see how ruthless mob boss Bart (Hoskins) uses Danny (Li) like a dog to take out the enemies he has been facing, a position where he leaves nobody unharmed, rarely even alive.

When Bart crew is ambushed, Danny manages to escape, finding help with Sam (Freeman) a blind man that fixes pianos who takes him in, offering Danny a look at life for the first with his stepdaughter Victoria (Condon), until Bart finds him and forces him back into the world of fighting and killing.

Thoughts on Unleashed

Characters & Performances – Danny has been trained to become a relentless killing machine, locked away and never given a chance at an original thought, obeying the orders of his master when his collar is removed. He gets involved in an ambush, where he can escape and start to be taught new things from strangers, wanting to live his life for the first time. This character is caught in the middle of the world he hasn’t ever left and a world he could never imagine. Jet Li is brilliant in this role, we know he can handle the action with ease, it comes to the serious side, where he brings the film a breath of fresh air. Sam is the blind piano tuner that doesn’t see the pain Danny has lived through, but is willing to help Danny, seeing the good spirit in him. Morgan Freeman gives us a nice calm character that is only interested in doing good. Bart is the ruthless mob boss that has kept Danny as his personal attack dog for decades, with Danny next to him, he has him by his side, which strikes fear into the enemies he has, he is a greedy and will use anyone that comes into his life or kill anyone that crosses him. Bob Hoskins is wonderful in this full psychotic mob role. Victoria is the stepdaughter of Sam’s, she becomes the positive ray of sunshine in Danny’s life, showing him the little things he could enjoy in life. Kerry Condon is great in this film, in fact the whole cast is great to watch through this film.

StoryThe story here follows a man that has been locked up trained into an attack dog for a mob boss that gets free after an ambush, where he gets to experience life for the first time, learning there is more to just fighting and killing. This is a nice story to watch, showing us that people can become trapped into a world they never imagined, where they will have no hope but to do bad things, never knowing things could be better. This reflects on how the kindness of strangers could give someone the light they need to enjoy life, showing them more to life. The two sides of the light versus the dark are drawn out wonderfully to give the story of Danny a bigger impact.

ThemesUnleashed is an action drama where we get to see the pure fighting skills of Jet Li when he is either taking out people for his master or fighting back against his master, with different fighting environments. This environment changes when we see the calmer music-based world that Danny gets welcomed to, which will give him memories of the calmer happier younger days of his life.


Unleashed is a great action drama highlighting the skills of the four talents showing the importance of finding the good in life.

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – K – Memories of a Geisha (2005) Movie Review

Director: Rob Marshall

Writer: Robin Swicord (Screenplay) Arthur Golden (Book)

Starring: Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Mako, Li Gong, Tsai Chin

Plot: Nitta Sayuri reveals how she transcended her fishing-village roots and became one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha.

Runtime: 2 Hours 25 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Memoirs of a Geisha starts when Chiyo and her sister get taken from their small fishing town and separated, Chiyo is raised in an Okiya working as a maid looking to escape, living under the Geisha of the Okiya, where Hatsumomo (Gong) the most popular in the town, takes an instant dislike to her.

With Chiyo continuing to try and escape, she loses her chance to become a Geisha, becoming just a maid, until she comes of age, Mameha (Yeoh) takes Sayuri (Zhang) under her wig to make her a geisha, in an attempt to gain control of the area, to help her get one over Hatsumomo. This will slowly show how Sayuri will become one of the most popular geishas in history, with her heart being drawn to the chairman (Watanabe).

Thoughts on Memoirs of a Geisha

Characters & Performances – Sayuri is taken from her small fishing family when she is young and thrown into the big city, with plans of either going to be raised as a geisha or fall into a life as a maid, she does get drawn out to be seen as something special with her beautiful eyes, which will help her tell the story of how she became the biggest most celebrated geisha in the land. Ziyi Zhang brings the beauty and innocent look to this role that will make her standout in any crowd. Chairman is the one person that shows true kindness to a younger Sayuri, he captured her heart, with his nature always being honest and good, he never wants to take advantage of the situations he could find himself in. Ken Watanabe was great in this role, being a character we didn’t see around in many scenes, filled with different mentality of men. Mameha does teach Sayuri about the world she is looking to enter, knowing she could help her in the long run, becoming a mother she never had. Michelle Yeoh brings the elegance to the world we are entering.

StoryThe story here follows a young girl that is taken from her family and thrown into the world of geishas, where she must look to adapt to survive, while learning on a daily basis of how this world works to become one of the most celebrated geisha in Japan. This story does bring us into the world which has changed through history, showing how the women would have the power over the men, showing us how one woman learnt to adapt to this world, where even if she has the power, she couldn’t have the love. This could show how history has changed with how women are treated, where the Japanese culture pushed for a different approach to make them more important.

ThemesMemoirs of a Geisha has beautiful settings, showing the geisha world, within the big city, using the costumes to make the character look even more glamourous.

Final Thoughts Memoirs of a Geisha is a visually beautiful story of one women reaching her power.

Franchise Weekend – The Devil’s Rejects (2005) Movie Review

Director: Rob Zombie

Writer: Rob Zombie (Screenplay)

Starring: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, William Forsythe, Ken Foree, Matthew McGrory, Leslie Easterbrook

Plot: The murderous, backwoods Firefly family take to the road to escape a vengeful police force which is not afraid of being as ruthless as their target.

Tagline – Hell doesn’t want them. Hell doesn’t need them. Hell doesn’t love them. This world rejects them.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Big Improvement

Story: The Devil’s Rejects starts as the Firefly family have been dubbed ‘The Devil’s Rejects’ by the media see their house surrounded by a vengeful police force led by Sheriff Wydell (Forsythe), with a massive shootout on the ranch. Mother Firely (Easterbrook) is captured, while Otis (Moseley) and Baby (Zombie) escape turning to Captain Spaulding (Haig) for shelter.

Otis and Baby find shelter in a motel, taking a family hostage, while they wait for the showdown with the Sheriff, giving them a chance to continue their murderous way.

Thoughts on The Devil’s Rejects

Characters – Captain Spaulding still runs his house of horrors away from the house, despite being part of the house, he must go on the run to meet the other members of the Fireflies, which sees him showing a much nastier side than we have seen before. Otis is the most twisted member of the family, he will punish anybody, he doesn’t care about anybody and will show his sadistic side too often. Baby is the youngest member of the family, she has grown up in this environment, acting like it is just second nature to her, she enjoys the punishment even turning it into a game at times. Sheriff Wydell is determined to capture and kill the whole Firefly family after they killed his brother, he will break a few rules along the way to make sure it gets done.

PerformancesSid Haig, Bill Moseley and Sheri Moon Zombie have helped develop their characters to have a much darker side to them, which shows us more about how sadistic they are meant to be through the film. William Forsythe brings us a strong police figure that clearly shows the vengeful side he is going through in the film.

StoryThe story here follows the events of the first film, the Firefly family have been discovered and are now on the run from a vengeful sheriff that wants the whole family dead for what they did to his family member. Where this story improves on the original comes from seeing just how the fireflies are able to react to a threat, we get a glimpse of their sadistic side, but instead of it just them being twisted, we get to see them dealing with a relentless cop that isn’t going to let them get away with their crimes. The story is constructed better too because we don’t just have random clips like we had in the first film, which shows how the film can be put together to give us a better story.

Action/HorrorThis is much more action back with shoot outs going on between the two sides, while the horror is still there when the fireflies get to step into their sadistic ways.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show how the Fireflies can go on the run from the law, we see the back country motels which they would hide out in and the connections of other shady business they would know.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film show the gore being done by the family, it shows the wounds looking brutal and real through the film.

Scene of the Movie – The escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It still doesn’t give us any likeable figures in the fight.

Final Thoughts This is an improvement on the first film, it does give us a more rounded figures in the Firefly family and shows us just how capable they are when pushed against the wall.

Overall: Sick Improvement.

Will Smith Weekend – Hitch (2005) Movie Review

Director: Andy Tennant

Writer: Kevin Bisch (Screenplay)

Starring: Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James, Amber Valletta, Julie Ann Emery, Adam Arkin, Robinne Lee

Plot: While helping his latest client woo the woman of his dreams, a professional “date doctor” finds that his game doesn’t quite work on the gossip columnist with whom he’s smitten.

Tagline – The cure for the common man.

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Will Smith at His Best

Story: Hitch starts as we meet Alex ‘Hitch’ Hitchens (Smith) who has a private business of helping men get the women they want, he coaches from into making the right moves to get through the first three dates, his job is word of mouth though outside of the business, he is a womanizer that was a late bloomer.

Hitch’s latest client is Albert (James) a clumsy accountant who wants to date heiress Allegra (Valletta) who barely knows he exists, he sees this as his biggest challenge. Hitch does find himself meeting a gossip columnist Sara (Mendes) who hasn’t been look for a relationship because of her career and suddenly Hitch can’t talk the smooth way he has always done before.

Thoughts on Hitch

Characters – Alex ‘Hitch’ Hitchens is a date doctor, he helps men around Chicago become themselves around the women they want to date, he only helps the ones that want to find love, anything else, he walks away from anyone looking for a quick night of sex. He has an amazing success rate, where he just brings out the confidence in people helps, until he meets Sara, a woman that he can’t show the confidence around. Sara is a gossip columnist that has always put her career before love, she meets Hitch and falls for his charms, while trying to crack a new story that just so happens to include one of Hitch’s clients. She has always wanted to find the date doctor never knowing nothing about the process. Albert is the latest client that has set his sights high and has only pure love, he is clumsy, nervous and doesn’t have a clue how to talk to women, something Hitch teaches him. Allegra Cole is the heiress that has recently broken up with her latest boyfriend, she is the person Albert wants to fall in love with and with her life always being guarding, she doesn’t always get to meet people outside the players, which is why she sees the good in Albert.

PerformancesWill Smith is at his confident best here, this plays into everything we know Will Smith as, nobody else could have pulled this role off. Eva Mendes is great in her role too, showing the confident career driven woman who is finally getting broken down with love. Kevin James might have a couple a silly moments, though it works in the small amounts this film gives him to do, while Amber Valletta plays the role of heiress with ease.

StoryThe story here follows a date doctor who has help many men fall in love, who finds love himself and can’t be the confident man he has made his clients. This story does show how one man has made a career out of helping men find confidence, not offering a one night stand business, offering a love business, he gives all the tips to put them in the right direction, only he can’t follow his own instructions and learns about how love really works. We do get the message about how some people can’t always be themselves without a little bit of confidence put in their own mind and how there will always be the bad eggs in the love circle. We get the strongest message about love, with laughs along the way, showing how love can make you do the strangest things in life.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy works very well, we get a mix of situational and slapstick, which isn’t too heavy handed, while the romance is front and centre, showing us just how love can change anybody.

SettingsThe film is set in Chicago, which shows how many people are around who might never notice each other, while love could be staring them straight in the face.

Scene of the Movie – Speed Dating.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Vance, though he is meant to.

Final Thoughts This is a delightful romantic comedy that does show how difficult love can be, how magical it can be and just what people will do just for a chance.

Overall: Delightful.