ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – X – Paradox (2017) Movie Review

True clutching at straws style here, we are under X because the title finishes with the letter, X is a difficult letter, ok let me off.

Director: Wilson Yip

Writer: Nick Cheuk, Lai-Yin Leung (Screenplay)

Starring: Louis Koo, Yue Wu, Ka Tung Lam, Chris Collins, Tony Jaa, Jacky Cai, Ken Lo

Plot: A tough Hong Kong cop’s 16 y.o. daughter disappears in Pattaya. He goes to Thailand to find her and must deal with corrupt cops but an honest one helps him track down culprits involved in illegal organ trafficking.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Brutal Fights

Story: Paradox starts when Wing Chi (Chan) heads to Thailand to visit a friend, only for her to go missing, leading to her tough Hong Kong cop father Chung Chi (Koo) to go in search for her, he teams up with local cops Chui Kit (Wu) and Tak (Jaa) as they looks for clues about her location.

As Chung Chi gets deeper into the investigation, he learns of the corruption within the police department, with his daughter just being another victim of a much large scheme.

Thoughts on Paradox

Characters – Chung Chi is a Hong Kong detective who lost his wife in an accident, he has raised his daughter with strict rules, which has seen her need the freedom from him with a trip to Thailand. When she goes missing, he will show just how nonsense he is when it comes to looking for a lost loved one, not stopping or holding back in his search for answers. Chui Kit is the local Thai cop that is helping Chung Chi, he is like a younger version of the cop, who is about to start a family and is someone that is still learning his place in the forces bigger picture. Hon Shou is the businessman running the operation of taking victims, he keeps his business secret and makes sure the deals are done for the greater good. Tak is the local cop that will be rough to the criminals, but will never hurt an innocent, teaching Chui Kit about the risks they can face.

PerformancesLouis Koo and Yue Wu together show us the pure desperation the two characters are feeling, while showing the hell they will fight through to stop the criminals. Tony Jaa will always excel in the fighting sequences with Ka Tung Lam being a great villainous figure through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a Hong Kong detective that heads to Thailand in search for his missing daughter where he will uncover a web of cover ups about her disappearance. This is a story that does the travel to a new location to find missing relative well, it is an idea which will always make for a strong base for a story, where this one stands up is by having surprises along the way, willing to accept turns in the story you wouldn’t normally expect to see. The story might well struggle to establish is big enough villain though, while the motivation is big, they don’t seem like a presence when dealing with the cops.

Action/CrimeThe action in this film is big, we have massive fights which show of all the fighting skills of the people involved, with a range of different weapons as we dive into the criminal world.

SettingsThe film uses the Thailand settings to show us different locations the criminals would operate in.

Scene of the Movie – The final cut.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The villains don’t feel as present as you would think.

Final Thoughts This is an action film that doesn’t hold back on the action with big fight sequences that cover up the basic underlying story which doesn’t become more challenging than it needs to.

Overall: Bruising Action Film.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – U – Under the Tree (2017)

Director:  Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson

Writer:  Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson, Huldar Breiðfjörð (Screenplay)

Starring: Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson, Edda Björgvinsdóttir, Sigurður Sigurjónsson,
Þorsteinn Bachmann, Selma Björnsdóttir

Plot: When Baldwin and Inga’s next door neighbours complain that a tree in their backyard casts a shadow over their sundeck, what starts off as a typical spat between neighbours in the suburbs unexpectedly and violently spirals out of control.

Tagline – Two Families. One Tree. A Bloody Mess.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Quirky Dark Comedy

Story: Under the Tree starts when Atli gets kicked out by his wife for watching porn, which happens to star him and a woman they know, he is forced to move back into his parents Inga and Baldvin who have their own problems, being in a bitter battle with the neighbours Konrad and Eybjorg about an overhanging tree.

As the battle between the family’s starts getting more personal, the mystery about Inga’s missing son starts to come to the forefront, while Atli is doing everything he can to put his life back together, without getting any success along the way.

Thoughts on Under the Tree

Characters – Atli is caught by his wife watching an old sex tap of himself with another woman, he kicked out and spends the time trying to put his life back together, trying to make sure he gets time with his daughter, with his wife not willing to give him any time of day, he will cross the lines, though he is doing this in an act of desperation. Inga has taken the rivalry with the neighbours much more personally than her husband, she gets into a battle which will see her do things she shouldn’t even consider, while deep dpwn she is dealing with grief about the loss of her own son. Baldvin is the long suffering husband that is willing to talk out the problems with the neighbours, but is caught up needing to support his wife, even turning on her with her actions. Konrad and Eybjorg are the neighbours that have simply asked for one thing and end up being the victims of all of Inga’s hate despite doing what they can to remain calm.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are wonderful, you do understand each characters mindset, why they are acting up the way they are, leading to the decisions which will only end up making their lives more difficult.

StoryThe story follows the lives of one family, the son who is trying tos save his marriage and his parents that get caught up in the middle of a battle over the position of a tree in the garden, which gets personal quickly. This does give us a story that is dealing with marriage troubles, where people get to a stage where they will make silly decisions, which could cost them everything, which does reflect just how petty the actions of the parent characters are, when it comes to the actions when arguing about a tree. We do go to a couple of very dark places in how everything unfolds, which is what makes this such a brutally honest way of seeing how people can make more out of nothing important.

Comedy/MysteryThe comedy in this film is very dark throughout, it shows the extremes that a bitter rivalry between neighbours can get, when things get out of hand. The mystery involved in the film does focus mostly on a missing cat, which is why the battle becomes more personal.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings simple, we see the neighbours going at it, trying to stay ahead of each other, keeping most of the action between the houses, with only Atli story stepping away from here.

Scene of the Movie – The Tree changes everything.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Inga is a truly horrible person.

Final Thoughts This is one of the darkest comedies you will see, it has a simple idea which focuses on neighbourly rivalry and how things can get out of hand so easily.

Overall: Dark comedy delight.

Small disclaimer, I haven’t used the actors names because I don’t have the correct way to spell them available on my computer.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – R – Rough Stuff (2017) Movie Review

Director: Jonathan Adams

Writer: Jonathan Adams (Screenplay)

Starring: Gareth Rickards, Vincent Andriano, Sam Glissan, Katie Garfield, Jamie Kristian, Hayley Sullivan, Adam Horner

Plot: An activist group makes a deal with treasure-seeking Rovers and their modified four-wheel-drives for an expedition through treacherous Australian terrain. Tensions rise and ulterior motives are revealed with exciting off-road chases, daring rescues and amazing discoveries to follow.

Tagline – No Roads. No Worries.

Runtime: 2 Hours

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Adventure 101

Story: Rough Stuff starts as three treasure seekers Buzz (Rickards), Abe (Andriano) and Scraps (Glissan) agree to help an activist group containing, Skye (Garfield), Eric (Kristian), Tom (Horner) and Tori (Sullivan) to travel across the Australian outback in search for the treasure, while the activists are searching for a place for their campaign.

As the group are on their journey they find themselves being hunted down by a bounty hunter, which adds the intensity to the adventure and chase across the outback.

Thoughts on Rough Stuff

Characters – Buzz, Abe and Scraps are rovers that travel around the outback searching for treasure, they get themselves in trouble more often than not, which sees them agreeing to work with the activists that are travelling around the outback, they know how the survive the conditions and know how the avoid capture from the ruthless Ranger. Tori, Tom, Skye and Eric are activists that are looking to go out to the outback to film a video which will spread their message, while not all of them are as trustworthy as the rovers are being told about.

PerformancesThe performances in the film aren’t the most convincing, with most of the being filled into the generic, with the rovers being typical outback figures, while the activists just feel like they are made to be hippies.

StoryThe story follows treasure hunters and activists that reluctantly team up to take down a corrupt plan to destroy the popular outback that has been part of the history for years, while trying to find the treasure that is only part of myth. This isn’t the most entertaining story, it tries to keep changing the character’s mindsets through the film which just doesn’t connect with the characters through the film. It does have moments which could have been a lot more fun then they come off, because that does seem to be the plan here too.

AdventureThe adventure side of the film is mostly following the race around the outback, which puts our characters on an adventure which will help them make it through the events of the film.

SettingsThe film is set in the outback, which is a great beautiful backdrop to everything we are seeing the film.

Scene of the Movie – The chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too many characters decision changes.

Final Thoughts This is an adventure film that tries to do a lot more than it needs to, which only takes away from the fun it wants to be having.

Overall: Simple adventure film.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – P – Insyriated (2017) Movie Review

This is under P because of the director Philippe Van Leeuw

Director: Philippe Van Leeuw

Writer: Philippe Van Leeuw (Screenplay)

Starring: Hiam Abbass, Diamand Bou Abboud, Juliette Navis, Mohsen Abbas, Moustapha Al Kar, Alissar Kaghadou

Plot: A mother attempts to keep her family safe as war rages and a sniper lies in wait outside her home. This nerve-wracking study of life in Damascus won an Audience Award at Berlinale.

Runtime: 1 Hour 25 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense Drama

Story: Insyriated starts as we meet Oum Yazan (Abbass) who is living with her family in a warzone, the streets are kept empty because of a ruthless sniper, with her children, Delhani (Navis) Yara (Kaghadou), Aliya (Halabi), they are joined by a neighbour Halima (Abboud) and grandpa.

The group keep themselves quiet and safe during any of the attacks being felt on the streets, showing they will do whatever is necessary to make sure they stay in the home and safe from all the dangers of war.

Thoughts on Insyriated

Characters – Oum Yazan is the mother and daughter, home owner that doesn’t want to see her own family killed with the war outside their door, she wants to keep them all safe with strict rules that can make this happen, she sees the horrors outside the door and must turn away from helping anyone else. Halima has just had a baby, with her husband out for resources, find himself shot, only for Halima not to know this, she is planning on leaving once he returns, only here she is trapped for the horrendous ordeal of unwanted visitors. Delhani is one of the elder children, she witnesses the shot and does help around the house more than the rest of the children. We do have the rest of the family that work and need protecting from the outside world.

PerformancesWhen it comes to the performances Hiam Abbass and Diamand Bou Abboud are the stars of the show, going through the most intense scenes, dealing with the biggest traumas of war, while needing to remain strong for the rest of the family.

StoryThe story here shows a family living in the middle of a war-torn city that haven’t left because it is their home, we see how they must look to survive the terrors outside their door. The story shows how much fear can be held within one family, how they have little option but to stay together through the ordeals. We see how they get through bombing nights, needing to hide out from visitors all in an attempt to survive the world they have become trapped in. we are kept on the edge of our seats as we like family members know the fate of Halima’s husband, as she waits for his return and we are stuck waiting to see if they family can make it through the horrors of war.

War The war side of this film shows us just how dangerous living in the middle of a warzone would be, how risky it would be to stay and how people will do anything to stay safe.

SettingsThe film keeps us in one single apartment, it shows how close the family are, how they must look to be together through the horror filled night battles, showing how trapped they have become.

Scene of the Movie – Hardest scene it the visitors, the scene you will remember the most for the pure shock in it.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Nothing.

Final Thoughts This is a powerful look at how war does affect everyone trapped in the middle, no matter the age and how it is always going to be hard to walk away from their home.

Overall: Powerful.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – F – I Remember You (2017) Movie Review

This is under F because of the main character name Freyr.

Director: Oskar Thor Axelsson

Writer: Oskar Thor Axelsson, Otto Geir Borg (Screenplay) Yrsa Siguroardottir (Novel)

Starring: Johannes Haukur Johannesson, Agusta Eva Erlendsdottir, Elma Stefania Agustsdottir, Thor Kristjansson, Sara Dogg Asgeirsdottir

Plot: A story about a young man and woman who move into a small abandoned town in Iceland to renovate an old house. Little do they know the town has a dark history.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Tense Thriller

Story: I Remember You starts as a doctor Freyr (Johannesson) is called for a suicide in a church, he helps confirm what the police think and does his best to comfort the widow, while three friends Lif (Erlendsdottir), Katrin (Gudmundsdottir) and Gardar (Kristjansson) move into an abandoned house, where they look to renovate it to turn it into a bed-n-breakfast.

As the three friends spend more time at the house they find themselves being haunted in the darkness of night with Katrin seeing figures in the home, where they can’t escape from, while on mainland Iceland Freyr must confront his own decision to believe his lost son might still be alive, even though he believes he couldn’t have survived without his medication, which does lead to the two stories combining for the truth.

Thoughts on I Remember You

Characters – Freyr is a doctor whose son went missing in the past, he has moved on, however hard it is, not expecting to see him again, he consults with the police on cases to help understand cause of deaths until the latest one could finally unlock a mystery about what happened to his son, as a man of science he must question certain things, which he can’t explain away. Gardar, Lif and Katrin are involved in a strange love triangle, which sees them working together to try and put a house back together to turn into a bed and breakfast, they start getting haunted by something inside the remote house, something which could well test their own sanity and with nowhere to go, they much figure out what to do.

PerformancesWe do have a fantastic cast here where the actors bringing the characters to life with ease making us understand the pain or fear they have been going through.

StoryThe story follows two main stories, with one follow a doctor that starts learning more about his missing son, while following three friends that are trying to rebuild, when the two stories cross paths we will learn the truth. Now this is interesting because the three rebuilding does feel like a horror filled one, while Freyr’s story is much more mystery and does show how everything is unfolding, when the two mix together we get a surprising outcome that does keep up guessing. This is a smartly told story and does fill mystery horror together which is great to see and does all work very well.

Horror/MysteryThe horror comes more from one part of the story, it is all darkness and atmosphere, while the mystery is all about solving the crime of the missing boy for Freyr. It does keep us guessing through the film.

SettingsThe film uses the Icelandic landscape beautifully, with the isolation involved for the three friends adding to the horror, while showing how the country would come together for a missing person.

Scene of the Movie – Freyr makes it to the island.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – I don’t think you get enough hits to solve the mystery.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting, intense and thrilling mystery that will keep us guessing, while giving us a horror through the film too.

Overall: Great thriller.