Labor Day Movie Watching for 2015

Well, I decided to have my Labor Day 2015 movie watch early. We here in the U.S. will be celebrating this holiday on September 7, 2015 which was originally organized to celebrate various labor associations’ strengths and contributions to the United States economy. Now it is largely a day of rest.

As I have my Asadora, Mare to catch up with (6 weeks worth) and many episodes of Scholar Who Walks the Night, I left my movie watching for this weekend instead but will share with you what I felt were the best of the movies that I watch. The movies are of every genre (Romance, Action, Wuxia, Fantasy) but I focused more on Japanese and Chinese movies for a change. Let me know what you think of my picks. Enjoy!

Sorry I Love You (2014)
Vivian Dawson
as Walker
Xin Swan as En Cai
Country of Release: China
Release Date: Jan 3, 2014
Length: 1 hr. 45 min.

With only six months to live and nothing to live for in Vancouver, Walker decided to go back to China, where he was born and adopted from when he was very little, and go look for his biological parents and twin sister (Chu). Walker knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to find them, but everything changed when he ran into the girl (En Cai) who he’d saved from a few street thugs several months back.

My Thoughts
With trepidation and hesitation, I watched this movie not expecting much; however, just like “Love Through the Millennium” (Chinese version of Queen Inhyun’s Man), you will be pleasantly surprised at how well the story not only mirrors a lot of the drama but in some cases does a better job! The movie was a great introduction to Vivian Dawson. Not only is he a handsome man but I thought his acting wasn’t that bad considering this was his first leading role as well as Xin Swan (En Cai) in her very first role ever. Staying true to a lot of the events but making very few changes, I was surprised at how well the story ebbed and flowed in the little time there was to complete the story. One thing I felt that the movie did better was the ending. Those of you that have seen the ending, will not be shocked by it but one thing for sure; it was done so much better! While the drama ending felt ridiculous, the Chinese version was simply beautiful in its execution. Death is never pretty; En Cai made me believe in true love right until the end.

Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon (2013)
Chao Mark as Detective Dee Renjin
Feng William as Yuchi Zhenjin
Angela Baby as Yin Ruiji
Kim Bum as Yuan Zhen
Country of Release: China
Release Date: Sep 28, 2013
Length: 2 hr. 13 min.

The young Dee Renjie arrives in the Imperial Capital, intent to become an officer of the law. Empress Wu, who is at the start of her reign, has sent the fiery-haired Detective Yuchi to investigate a sea monster that stalks the city at night. By chance, both Dee and Yuchi fight off the creature when it attacks a ceremonial procession carrying the beautiful courtesan Yin to be sacrificed at a temple to appease the Gods.

My Thoughts
The second in the series (Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame being the first), I thought this one was a much better movie. I guess for most, the romance will seem strange as well as Kim Bum’s role which really was just cameos here and there; however, getting past that disappointment, I liked the movie. As you can expect with a Wuxia Fantasy movie, there are a lot of special effects. But add to that some great fight scenes courtesy of Yuchi (Feng William), you cannot come away from this movie and NOT be entertained. I loved every single fight scene! And I loved that Yuchi was essential for every single one! Fans of Feng William will be very happy and his scenes really boost the likability of the movie. All the scenes we hoped for in Prince of Lan Ling, were definitely present in this movie. Just don’t watch for the romance, you will be sadly disappointed.

Joker Game (2015)
Kamenashi Kazuya as Kato (genius spy)
Fukada Kyoko as Rin (American Ambassador’s lover)
Iseya Yusuke as Yuki (Lieutenant Colonel)
Country of Release: Japan
Release Date: Jan 31, 2015
Length: 1 hr. 48 min.

Set along a backdrop of a fictitious second world war at an international city in Asia. In Japan, Lieutenant Colonel Yuki recommends the creation of spy training school “D Kikan”. Meanwhile, Kato is facing capital punishment for his refusal to follow a superior’s order. Kato is then scouted by “D Kikan”. In order to seize American ambassador Graham’s confidential documents “Black Note.” Kato infiltrates into an international city. A battle to gain possession of the “Black Note” ensues between Kato, a mysterious woman named Rin, the British Spy Agency, the Soviet Spy Agency and the radical army in Japan.

My Thoughts
If you are wondering where all of the chemistry developed between Fukada and Kame in Second Love (2015), just watch this movie. Not only was it a damn good movie but the scenes between these two sizzled on the screen. Again, Kame’s acting continues to command the stage and this movie was proof that he can do action. His fight scenes are a great departure from what you may have seen from him before. I loved that a lot of the stunts he did himself. And to add to the allure is Kame in black suits/white suits/40s style clothing that most of us fans couldn’t stop drooling with every scene! Oh yes! Kame wears 40s wear well!

Yusuke as Yuki, I continue to enjoy this actor. As the Lieutenant Colonel in all military regalia, who in their right mind can forget that! I overlooked the crappy English actors over the fact that I really enjoyed the pace and the story. I also liked the fact that the ending leaves you with the hope for a Joker Game 2 in the future. I really wish this movie did well as I will patiently be waiting for that sequel! How about you?

Beck (2010)
Mizushima Hiro as Ryusuke Minami
Sato Takeru as Koyuki
Kiritani Kenta as Chiba
Kutsuna Shiori as Maho Minami
Nakamura Shido as Ran
Kawano Naoki as Togo
Country of Release: Japan
Release Date: Sep 4, 2010
Length: 2 hr. 25 min.

Maho Minami returns to Japan after studying in New York. Her half brother Ryusuke Minami is an ultra talented guitarist. Maho & Ryosuke then meet Koyuki, a fellow young teen whom Maho takes interest in. Soon enough, Ryosuke and Koyuki form a 5 piece rock band named “Beck,” while Maho and Koyuki become involved in a romantic relationship. The band starts to play live shows and grow an enthusiastic following. People start to notice Koyuki. Beck then receives an offer to play at a rock festival, but with the unusual stipulation that the band may have to dissolve.

My Thoughts
As you’d expect, the reason I wanted to see this movie was 2 words: Sato Takeru. However, the addition of Mizushima Hiro was a special added treat as this was the last role before he gave up acting until he returned with Black Butler. You really hate to see talent wasted so I hope to see him in more. But back to Beck. This is my first Japanese musical based movie. If Hiro wasn’t really playing the guitar, I give him A+ for emulating it. As you can expect with a film about rock bands, if you love the music, you can’t help be drawn into the music. Just a warning, Sato’s character, Koyuki’s voice is supposed to be so beautiful, that is the reason you don’t actually hear it. I was told that was true for the manga that this is based on. At first, I found it a little strange but not hearing Koyuki’s voice left it to your imagination of how it effected the crowds that would hear him. Discounting that, it was a great music movie to watch with a cast of characters you won’t forget. Okay, maybe I’ll forget the American music producer who must have been channeling Suge Knight (for those in the know).

Wolf Warrior (2015)
Wu Jing as Jacky Wu
Yu Nan as Long Xiaoyun
Country of Release: China
Release Date: Apr 6, 2015
Length: 1 hr. 30 min.

A Chinese special force soldier with extraordinary marksmanship but difficulty obeying orders of his superiors is confronted by a group of deadly foreign mercenaries who are hired to assassinate him by a vicious drug lord.

My Thoughts
Rambo meets Delta Force meets Red Dawn. Okay, why Red Dawn, you say? Well, the premise is these mercenaries came on Chinese soil to cause mayhem. For anyone who has seen Red Dawn, then you understand the reference. Needless to say, this movie was definitely a big budget as well as a blockbuster for the Chinese film industry. Instead of the usual American good guys meet Chinese bad guys, we got the total opposite. Let’s just say, for the genre, this met all of the criteria. 1. Action; 2. Death and destruction; 3. Fight sequences; 4. Good wins over evil. What else do you need? While IMDB called it the worse Chinese movie ever; I called it entertaining as HELL!

Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal (2015)
Chen Kun as Zhong Kui
Li Bing Bing as Snow Girl
Country of Release: China
Release Date: Feb 19, 2015
Length: 1 hr. 58 min.

Legendary Chinese anti-hero Zhong Kui, a young man endowed with mysterious powers who is forced into a battle among the realms of Heaven, Earth and Hell in the course of his attempt to save his countrymen and the woman he loves.

My Thoughts
A beautifully filmed fantasy movie that at times the CGI was spellbinding. The acting of the leads, neither I had ever seen before, made me curious about other roles that they have done in either films or drama. As you can expect, the monsters and the evil-doers were definitely evil. In addition, there were times that the lines between good and evil were blurred to a point of being unrecognizable. This was one movie that was about the romance. I highly suggest that you don’t watch this with your kids as the romance is a little bit on the adult side. Others might pan this but again, this was a movie that entertained me for the entire 2 hours that it was. The ending? Predictable.

Let me know what you think. I guarantee at least one of this movies will fit your bill for entertainment for the holidays!

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