ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – A – The Age of Shadows (2016) Movie Review

Director: Jee-woon Kim

Writer: Jee-woon Kim, Ji-min Lee, Jong-dae Park (Screenplay)

Starring: Kang-ho Song, Byung-hun Lee, Yoo Gong, Ji-min Han, Hee-soon Park, Tae-goo Eom

Plot: Korean resistance fighters smuggle explosives to destroy facilities controlled by Japanese forces in this period action thriller.

Tagline – Friend or foe? Infiltration and deception. Suspicion and betrayal. The enemy lies within.

Runtime: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Keeps You Guessing

Story: The Age of Shadows starts as we see Korean detective Lee Hung-Chool (Song) trying to track down the leaders of the resistance in the country, he does find a way to get close to the leader through Kim Woo-Jin (Gong) who filled in information, while Lee offers information to get them out of the problems coming their way.

Lee is then joined by Japanese detective Hashimoto (Eom) who has a very different approach to looking to solve the problem, leading to the two clashing on approaches, throwing away the intel Lee had achieved, leaving him needing to rebuild the relationship, which has seen the Resistance move to Shanghai, we are left to wonder who can trust who, who is working for who and what the true motivation behind the actions of the resistance are.

Thoughts on The Age of Shadows

Characters – Captain Lee Jung-Chool is a well-respected Korean detective, he has been hunting the resistance that have been fighting against the Japanese trying to control the land, he has made connections which does see him getting torn between helping both sides, not knowing which will be the best for his homeland, clashing with the Japanese detective assigned to work with him, but trapped knowing either way will see him get killed. Jung Chae-San is the leader of the resistance, he lives in the shadows, only appearing when the time calls for it, knowing Lee could be corrupt, but willing to risk the connection to aid his people. Kim Woo-Jin is the man that makes the connection with Lee, he sees that he does want what is best for Korea, but does have his hands tied in how he can help

PerformancesKang-ho Song in the leading role is excellent to watch, we believe him in every difficult decision he finds himself needing to make, Byung-hun Lee brings the calm to the film, which works wonderfully and Yoo Gong as the man between the two shows us the more reckless side of someone in the underground.

StoryThe story here follows a detective that gets caught up in the middle of fighting the resistance of Korea or aiding the Japanese looking to take over, needing to get close to the leaders and learning the true meaning of being a patriot. This is a story that does keep us guessing as to what Lee’s action will be, the story balances how both sides are trying to do the right thing in their eyes and how they look to make the difference that will bring the country to a better place. We get to learn about the history of the resistance trying to get freedom from Japan, even if certain things will have been dramatized for the film. This is one of those stories that you can enjoy with the unknowing of the reality of what is going to happen.

ActionThe action in the film comes from the shootouts between the two sides, we get some tense moments before bullets fly through the scenes.

SettingsThe film does use the settings to take us to different locations from Korea, to Shanghai and showing us how the operation isn’t completely in the shadows, sometimes they are hidden in plain sight.

Scene of the Movie – The Police Bureau do.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Could have done with a little bit more information about the true events.

Final Thoughts This is an action thriller that does keep us guessing along the way, leaving us wondering who is on which side as both believe they are right.

Overall: Intense Thriller.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – Z – House on Willow Street (2016) Movie Review

We are under Z because of star of the movie Zino Ventura.

Director: Alastair Orr

Writer: Jonathan Jordaan, Alastair Orr (Screenplay) Catherine Blackman (Story)

Starring: Sharni Vinson, Carlyn Burchell, Steven John Ward, Gustav Gerdener, Zinoe Venture, Gina Shmukler

Plot: After a young woman is kidnapped, her captors soon come to realize that in fact they may be the ones in danger and this young woman has a dark secret inside her.

Tagline – Evil has an address.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Fresh Action Horror

Story: House on Willow Street starts when a group of criminals, Hazel (Vinson), Ade (Ward), Mark (Ventura) and James (Gerdener) look to target a house for a diamond robbery, they kidnap the daughter Katherine (Burchell) who promises bad things will happen to the criminals if they don’t let her go.

As the night continues, the criminals each get haunted by something from their past, where they slowly learn the truth about the house and just what will happen if they don’t fix the problem they have created.

Thoughts on House on Willow Street

Characters – Hazel is one of the criminals, she has chosen to make this latest job personal leading her team into a house which she knows more than she lets on about, she is damaged, like all the criminals in this film, taking charge when she learns more about the truth about the person they kidnap. Katherine is the young woman who gets kidnapped, she promises to make them pay, showing the truth about what has happened to her in the most twisted way possible. Ade is looking for this job to be his chance to escape certain life in prison, he becomes the most desperate to get out with the diamonds, even though he will stay loyal till the end. Mark is the leader of the gang, he lets others do the work, only to show his true nature when things become too tough.

PerformancesSharni Vinson in the leading role does well as the broken criminal who wants to clean up her own life, while the rest of the cast fill the generic roles with ease never being tested to be more than this.

StoryThe story here follows a group of criminals that kidnap the daughter of a family in hope of getting diamonds, only for the person they kidnap to have a much darker secret about them which will put them all in a fight to survive. While on paper this looks like it will be a run of the mill crime story, the twist it takes going into the new direction shows us a horror story about fighting demons. It is different it does work for the film, though it does seem like it goes too far into making a point that the possessed person if evil with no cure, rather than an innocent person in need of rescuing.

Action/HorrorThe action in the film comes from seeing how the team operate to get the kidnapping happening in the first place and then how they must deal with the horror, with the horror being around possession, which for once seems to focus on the idea of not having a fix, where the evil has already won the body who is now looking for more souls.

SettingsThe film uses an abandoned warehouse as the main setting, this does work because criminals would take a hostage there and it only adds to the horror of being along in this location.

Special EffectsThe effects in this film are used well, they do know how to make everything effective when it comes to seeing the possessed dealing with their hunt.

Scene of the Movie – The final battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Mark and Ade seems to have a character swap which isn’t implied in their early nature.

Final Thoughts This is a nice spin on the kidnapping genre, it enjoys adding the possession horror to this, keeping it fresh with the battles and motivation behind the characters.

Overall: Nice Spin.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – P – Precious Cargo (2016) Movie Review

Director: Max Adams

Writer: Max Adams, Paul V Seetachitt (Screenplay)

Starring: Bruce Willis, Mark- Paul Gosselaar, Claire Forlani, Jenna B Kelly, Nick Loeb, Daniel Bernhardt

Plot: A crime boss tries to make off with loot that belongs to another thief.

Tagline – Never steal from a thief

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Precious Cargo starts as we meet conman Jack (Gosselaar) who is always looking to make more money from the criminals to get by without needing to working too hard. When Jack’s ex, Karen (Forlani) returns to his life with a surprise and a new job.

The surprise is being pregnant, with the new job being one Karen has stolen off crime boss Eddie Pilosa (Willis) and now he wants the reward for the job he prepared.

Thoughts on Precious Cargo

Characters & Performances – Jack is a conman thief that has been dealing with arms dealers knowing how to plan a job with ease. He will end up getting a surprise visit from a former partner in need of help, drawing him into the biggest heist of his career. He will put together a team for the job, people he trusts. Mark-Paul Gosselaar does try to bring us the charming thief but does seem to struggle to give us the most convincing one we have seen. Eddie Pilosa is the crime lord that is hunting down Karen for the double cross, he wants the money and will do anything to make sure he gets it. Bruce Willis gives us a basic performance where he barely needs to do anything but talk on the phone. Karen is the ex-girlfriend that comes back into Jack’s life, looking for him to help him with her latest job, she always seems to be in control of the situations, but we never know what she is meant to be doing, who she is playing or is she being honest this time. Claire Forlani does a solid enough job in this role, which is the strongest of the main cast. The supporting cast will get a couple of laughs along the way, but don’t make much of an impact.

StoryThe story here follows a conman thief that gets drawn into a job by a former partner only to find himself getting involved in the middle of the battle between two thieves. This will get involved in the idea that someone will be drawn into needing to escape a life they are in by doing one more job and never knowing who to trust outside of this own team. It is a basic heist movie that doesn’t get too involved in planning, being more interested in doing the battle between the characters deciding who to trust.

ThemesPrecious Cargo gives us the basic action sequences, with a fun boat chase, but is dragged down with the basic ideas of comedy that do seem to miss more often than not. With location is used to show the beauty of the bright sunlight world of the beach resort.


Precious Cargo is a basic heist film, with basic action and a bored Bruce Willis.

Abattoir (2016) Movie Review

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Writer: Christopher Monfette (Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica Lowndes, Joe Anderson, Dayton Callie, Lin Shaye, John McConnell, Bryan Batt, Michael Pare

Plot: An investigative reporter teams up with a police officer to solve the mystery of why a seemingly good man murdered her sister’s family.

Tagline – He’s been expecting you

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Such an Ambitious Idea

Story: Abattoir starts when real estate reporter Julia Talben (Lowndes) sees her sister and her family butchered in their home by a seemingly random man, joined by her on again off again detective boyfriend Declan Grady (Anderson), she learns that the house has be sold, with the murder room ripped from inside.

When Julia dives into the case more, she learns that her sister’s house isn’t the first one to be flipped quickly after a murder, she tracks the cases back to learn about Jebediah Crone (Callie) who was a cult leader in New English, with Allie (Shaye) filling in the gaps about what the cause was for.

Thoughts on Abattoir

Characters – Julia is a real estate reporter that wants to get into the crime side of reporting, she has been using the paper to search for her long-lost mother and is stuck in a relationship with a detective that isn’t going well. When her sister’s family is murdered, she learns of bigger problem going around and sets off to learn about the truth, which will fill in the answers she has been looking for. Declan Grady is the detective boyfriend of Julia, he seems to act like he is from a neo-noir story and will help her through the investigation even if he does leave her to do some on her own. Jebediah Crone is the man that holds the answers, with his motivations having a much bigger sinister motivation. Allie is the connection between the truth and what Julia discovers, she does fill in a lot of the blanks for her, while being a friendly host.

PerformancesJessica Lowndes in the leading role does everything right in the film, however with the pure amount required, it is hard to get the most out of her performance. Joe Anderson does seem to think he is a neo-noir style cop, which is a strange choice for the film. Dayton Callie gives us disturbing calm dialogue to everything that is happening, while Lin Shaye makes the most of her limited screen time.

StoryThe story here follows a reporter that does in search for answers after her sister’s family are randomly murdered in their house, which will see her learn more about her past. This does seem like a routine investigation horror movie, it checks off all the boxes within the opening thirty minutes of the story, but everything because such a bigger idea within the last hour, which sees the ambition behind the story shining through on new levels. We won’t get into massive details to what happens, but this story will keep you guessing through the story and leave you more interested in the backgrounds than just what the characters are going through.

Horror/MysteryThe horror comes from the truth behind the murders, this will bring up plenty of violent crimes from the past and show how they are important to the plan, which does unfold the mystery being unravelled.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us how the normal life can be turned upside and where the clues leave them, is such an ambitious idea, it looks brilliant.

Special EffectsThe effects are saved more for the later part of the film, this does include the ghost like figures that being used for the shock value.

Scene of the Movie – What is in the woods.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Grady’s feeling like he is in the wrong film.

Final Thoughts This is a horror film that does seem routine to start with before it dives into something ambitious that will leave you wanting more by the end.

Overall: Bigger than Expected.

ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – A – American Honey (2016) Movie Review

Director: Andrea Arnold

Writer: Andrea Arnold (Screenplay)

Starring: Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough, McCaul Lombardi, Arielle Holmes, Crystal Ice, Veronica Ezell

Plot: A teenage girl with nothing to lose joins a traveling magazine sales crew, and gets caught up in a whirlwind of hard partying, law bending and young love as she criss-crosses the Midwest with a band of misfits.

Tagline – Wild and astonishing! An indelible epic of the open road!

Runtime: 2 Hours 43 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Realistic Look at American Struggles

Story: American Honey starts as teenager Star (Lane) is wandering around the streets with her younger siblings, she sees the mysterious Jake (LaBeouf) around and learns that he is involved in a travelling magazine, offering Star a way to get out off the empty life. Star takes the chance joining the travelling team with Krystal (Keough) running the operations, Star needs to learn on the job with the other teenagers and young adults from around America.

As Star learns about the people she is working with, she learns about the reality of life, by partying too hard and learning just what love can be.

Thoughts on American Honey

Characters – Star is a teenage girl that hasn’t got much of a future, she comes from an abusive family, where she tries to raise her younger siblings, she sees her chance to experience the world and must learn quickly or face a future that doesn’t see her achieving anything with her life, we see the whole story through her eyes. Jake is the one that brings Star into the world, he makes it seem like it will be easy and that the people involved can have fun along the way, he does seem to take advantage of Star along the way too, playing into the naïve nature of the her. Krystal is the woman that is running the whole magazine selling process, she will demand they people make sales no matter what happens and if they don’t meet the requirements, she will just leave them on the side of the road.

PerformancesSasha Lane is wonderful in the leading role of the film, she shows all the naivety needed to make us understand her character and how the journey is making her break out of her shell. Shia LaBeouf is great to see as the man that can manipulate the girls he picks up. Riley Keough is great as the stricter leader of the group making us believe just how strict she is.

StoryThe story here follows a teenage girl that runs away to join a travelling magazine group of fellow teenagers and young adults, here she must learn about life quickly, to see how difficult like can be for many people from around the country. This story shows just how difficult life can be for the younger generation when they are faced without a future that could offer them any stability, we focus on just one girl that is stuck facing this future and wondering if this life is what she is looking for or not, as she sees just how people can use people to get what they want from each walk of life. This should be an eye opening to the world and one story that is an important look at a future people will be facing.

RomanceThe romance Star gets involved in, is shown on how she sees them, she often thinks more is happening that there is, which gives her a lesson in love.

SettingsThe film keeps us on the road, Star gets to see the better off homes and the ones that reflect the world she has come from.

Scene of the Movie – Star visits a home like her own.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is longer than it needs to be.

Final Thoughts This is a wonderful look at how difficult life in America has become, it shows us through the eyes of a teenage girl that is facing a life she couldn’t get much out of.

Overall: Important and Eye Opening.