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Article, Asian Cinema, Blu Ray, CAT 3, DVD, Horror, Movie Review, TV, VHS

Capsule Reviews

Ong Bak 2 (AKA Ong Bak The Begining) [2008]

Taken me a while to get around to this one, and after hearing some mixed reviews I was a bit wary, but whilst it does have some top notch bone crushing, limb shattering action which is the norm from Mr Jaa and Mr Rittikrai…It also has the uneven pacing and almost zero dialogue from Jaa, just like the original Ong Bak. Jaa will never be as big as his idols until he works on on delivering more charismatic performances. When he’s kicking someones head in, he has screen presence by the bucket load, of course he does, what he does is beyond impressive…But when he’s not he just stands around not saying much. And the uneven pacing and abrupt cliffhanger ending has a lot to do with the films troubled production history, so I can forgive these problems. But to sum up, an entertaining (if a bit patchy) movie with a superb final 15 minutes that is just non stop violence and carnage…and fighting on top of an elephant. Can’t go wrong with that. Looking forward to checking out Ong Bak 3.

The Ring Virus [1999]

I’ve been curious about this for a while, being a big fan of the original Ringu series.

Apparently this Korean remake is more faithful to the original novel than Hideo Nakata’s original adaption…If that’s the case then Nakata did the right thing by changing things around because this was kind of dull overall.

Remember the video tape in Ringu? Remember how unsettling, disturbing and down right surreal it was? Well this film, trying to do its own thing, gives us a load of random blurry shite as the cursed video, I couldn’t even tell what anything was, it could have been a 7th generation pirate copy of Predator 2 for all I knew. The one thing I did like, was the teasing text that follows which says something along the lines of “You will die one week from now, to stop the curse you must…” and then some bugger has taped over the rest.

Even the now classic ending is handled in a really anti climactic, un-scary manner…It almost feels like you’re watching one of those superb Turkish knock offs from the 70’s, where you recognize what you’re supposed to be watching but it just feels really odd and wrong. But then again, this film does have it’s fans, so who knows, you might dig it.

But, I will say that I did enjoy the performances for the most part, especially Jin-yeong Jeong as Dr Choi, who is very different character to his Japanese counterpart. No longer do we have Ryuchi, the mild mannered and psychic teacher/father, now we have Dr Choi the pretty creepy, oddball coroner who at times is kind of a dick.

Naked Killer 2 (AKA Raped By An Angel) [1993]

I’ve been delving into the lowly depths that are the Hong Kong Category 3 flicks lately. In my teens when I started branching outside of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee movies, and soaking up all sort of other wonders that Hong Kong cinema had to offer, I never really bothered with Cat 3 movies, but recently I’ve picked some up cheap.

I remember when “Naked Killer 2” was first released on video over here in the UK and finding it pretty sly that MIA (or whoever was in charge of the decision) decided to market the film as a sequel to Naked Killer after I found out that the only thing it has in common with the aforementioned movie is that Chingmy Yau and Simon Yam both star in it and Wong Jing is involved in some capacity again. But of course, this isn’t a rare occurrence, unofficial re-titling  has been happening for years. Some distributors just can’t resist a good ‘cash-in’.

In reality, this is the first in what became a series of seedy CAT III thrillers, Raped By An Angel. Catchy title i’m sure you’ll agree…but unfortunately this is not about a rapist angel (that would have been pretty entertaining in it’s own fucked up way). It’s actually about a lawyer (played by Mark Cheng) who we are first introduced to having rough sex with his missus whilst wearing a hockey mask. A little while later he pretty much has a burly friend of his rape his girlfriend whilst he films it. Nice chap.

After his girlfriend kicks off, dumps him and kicks him out (obviously), he sets his sights on Chingmy Yau and Jaqueline Ng’s characters after spotting them on an action packed TV ad for milk (!?). He’s determined to rape one of them (because he’s a horrible bastard obviously). Ng’s character eventually suffers at the hands of this horrible bastard for a lengthy period of time, but not before Cheng lays out numerous alibi’s and pieces of false information so he’ll get off Scott free. What a dick.

Now, whilst this does sound like an unpleasant watch, and it is in parts, I thought it was a pretty solid, reasonably entertaining and very trashy/sleazy thriller. Although the UK DVD is still cut by 11 minutes. As a reviewer on IMDB points out, taking out every single piece of violence against the protagonists but leaving in everything the rapist does to get away with it, makes it come across like some sort of “rape guide”.

The always great Simon Yam is lots of fun as a horny, foul mouthed triad desperate to sweep Chingmy Yau’s character off her feet and into the nearest bed, and who can blame him? I think anyone who was/is a fan of 90’s Hong Kong cinema had a thing for Ms Yau.

One last thing, it was rather odd yet amusing to see Dennis ‘Xian’ Chan from Kickboxer teaching a class in front of a giant screen with the word ‘RAPE’ projected onto it.

But yeah, whilst it can be entertaining in parts it does tread that really bizarre line that only Hong Kong cinema seems to be able to get away with (most of the time), and that’s having comedy and stylized action crossed with a horrible events like rape, murder, chainsaw dismemberment and aids. Yes, aids…in a revenge movie. Can you guess how it ends? Yes, that.

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