Movie Sunday: What Did I Watch? May 11, 2014

Troubleshooter, Mulan, 

The Assasins,  Chunhyang


Written and directed by Kwon Hyeok-JaeRyoo Seung-Wan (The Berlin File, The Unjust), and  Kim Jung-Min
Cast includes: Sol Kyung Gu as Kang Tae Sik, Lee Jung Jin as Jang Pil Ho, Oh Dal Su as Sang Chul and Joo Jin Mo as Won Ju Bong
Running Time: 99 min
A mysterious man then calls Kang Tae-Sik and offers to clear his name if he kidnaps a high-profile lawyer embroiled in a political scandal. Even more mystifying, the caller is constantly aware of Kang Tae-Sik’s every move. Kang Tae-Sik must now use all of his muscles and the bevy of technological gadgetry at his disposal to clear himself and find the mastermind behind this intricate conspiracy.

This was a pretty damn good movie! But I’ve rarely have watched a Sol Kyung Gu movie and NOT been satisfied. This movie had action from the first minute as you were thrown head first into this cat and mouse game that poor, unsuspecting Tae Sik (Sol Kyung Gu) was playing with the voice on the cell phone. Then to find out that the entire thing was a set up to protect some dumb politician, Congressman (played by Song Jae Ho) by his daughter, played Moon Jung-Hee to prevent one man from testifying! The lengths that these people were willing to take: killing innocent people, kidnapping, and most of all framing the whole thing on Tae-Sik was amazing alone. The choreography of the fight and car chase scenes were pretty impressive. The movie moves along pretty quickly to make it a very tightly shot theatrical piece. And let’s give a shout out to the police department featured! Smart, intelligent and thorough investigators! It was a nice depiction to see for once!
MDL Rating: 8.5

Written by Jingle Ma and directed by Ting Zhang
Cast includes: Zhao Vicki as Hua Mulan, Chen Kun as Wen Tai, Chan Jaycee as Fei Xiao Hu and Lee Nicky as Hu Kui
Running Time: 115 min

Based on the Chinese folktale of Lady General Mulan Hua Mulan (Wei Zhao) disguises herself as a man to take the place of her sick father in a war against nomadic invaders.

Again, a really solid movie and cast. Now when I think of the Disney version, that adaptation is kind of shameful. The one thing about watching Chinese movies is my concern for the animals used in stunts. One thing for sure is the stunts are vivid and seriously realistic! Too realistic for my taste. But one thing I love about Chinese period movies is the military strategy shown. It is impressive. But how is it that these men following Hua Mulan didn’t realize that their leader was a woman? This is when you must suspend disbelief! Because looking at Zhao Vicki, there is no way you could make that mistake. Overall, I absolutely enjoyed the movie; from beginning to end!!!!!!!
MDL Rating: 8

The Assassins aka Tong Que Tai
Written by Hailin Wang and directed by Lin Shan Zhao
Cast includes: Tamaki Hiroshi as Mu Shun, Liu Crystal as Ling Ju, Chow Yun Fat as Cao Cao, Yi Annie as Empress Fu Shou, and Su Alec as Emperor Xian
Running Time: 107 min


During the Three Kingdoms period, Cao Cao stands as the last pillar of power preventing the collapse of the Han throne. Emperor Xian, who sits on that throne, cares more about music and poems than his own power. But behind the Emperor’s disinterest, rumors that Cao Cao wants the throne for himself have driven Emperor Xian to plot Cao Cao’s assassination, a plan that’s been years in the making. An ancient prophecy states that when the four elemental stars align, a new dynasty will arise, and in 221 A.D., they do. With the weakened government and impending omen, Cao Cao has enemies everywhere, and they all want him dead. Someone has been abducting the children of Cao Cao’s dead enemies and training them to be assassins. In 221, they are grown, and sent to infiltrate Bronze Sparrow Tower. When the four stars align over Bronze Sparrow Tower, the struggle for Cao Cao’s life begins.

Interesting movie; at times. The story was one I’ve seen before. Surprisingly I didn’t get lost as I sometimes do when I watch these movies deep with some historical facts. I’m a big fan of Chow Yun Fat but I admit that his movies of late tend to be uninteresting however, this movie was really about the assassins as they were bred for one purpose, to kill Cao. It was amazing to see them come to the realization that Cao wasn’t as bad as it was made to be considering the people that surrounded him. You have a King who wasn’t ruling, officials that were more concerned with themselves than the people. This was definitely a movie that points out the different levels of what is true evil. Do I recommend? Not really unless you are a big fan of the genre.
MDL Rating: 7

Written by Kwon-taek Im and directed by Sang-hyun Cho and Hye-yun Kang
Cast includes: Cho Seung Woo as Lee Mongryong, Lee Hyo Jeong as Seong ChunHyang
Running Time: 134 min

Based on the Korean folktale “Chung Hyang”. Chunhyang is set on the eve of the 18th century in Korea’s Joseon Dynasty. Mongryong (Cho Seung-Woo) is the studious 16-year-old son of a Governor who, as the film opens, is about to go away for several years to take exams to become a state official. Before he buckles down, Mongryong does a bit of sightseeing with his servant, Pangja. One day, he lays eyes on a beautiful girl named Chunhyang (Lee Hyo-Jeong) and falls in love with her, despite the differences in their social status (she’s the daughter of a gisaeng). Mongryong promises to marry Chunhyang, as soon as he returns from his exams. She agrees to wait, but, in the meantime, a new Governor (Lee Jeong-Heon) has taken control of the province. He hears of Chunhyang he tries to make the young woman his mistress. She refuses and is badly beaten and given the death sentence.

I am trying to rack my brain on whether or not I have EVER seen Cho Seung-Woo act badly. Considering this is a 2000 movie and he was probably like 20 years at the time of the filming, this was the 2-3 movie in this time period that I seen him act in which I was floored with his ability! It is amazing that it took the Horse Doctor drama for me to realize that such a gem of an actor was out there. As this was based on the folk lore song, you really have to pay attention to the singing also as it fills in the story that is not necessarily shown on the screen. Sure, there is nudity in this so if you are puritanical about that, you might want to skip; however, I felt as a love story, this was well done; the nudity wasn’t for the sake of nudity. Truly a great movie and I recognized several actors in minor roles that I’ve seen over the years watching dramas and movies. Definitely worth my time.
MDL Rating: 8.5

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