Manhunt (Review)


aka 追捕
Script by Lip Wang-Fung, Gordon Chan Ka-Seung, and James Yuen Sai-Sang
Based on the book Kimiyo Funno no Kawa wo Watari by Juko Nishimura
Directed by John Woo

John Woo returns to the world of action cinema to show us that he still….uh…he still can make a movie? With some action scenes? That’s about it, because Manhunt is decisively not in the tradition of classic John Woo action and is more in the tradition of ridiculous scenes wrapped around an overly complicated plot. So basically it’s like a benchwarmer Hong Kong action flick. It isn’t terrible, but it’s like Gordon Ramsey making you waffles and they taste worse than McDonalds. Part of the problem might be that this is a big coproduction between China and NetFlix, packed with a great cast who get parts that are either wasted or follow trajectories that we already know their outcome. Tragically, some of theme don’t even get to ham it up before they buy the farm!

Lawyer Du Qiu (Zhang Han-Yu) , the best lawyer in all of Japan, is leaving his cushy job at a pharmaceutical mega-conglomerate for another position. But the pharmaceutical company is up to no good, and before Du Qiu can move to Bel Air, he’s framed for murder and is on the run! Don’t worry, there is also a super duper detective named Satoshi Yamura (Masaharu Fukuyama ), who is hot on Du Qiu’s trail despite figuring out that Du Qiu is innocent and there is a bigger story at play. Hey, he’s still got to do his job! Du Qui and Yamura’s disagreement on whether Du should be sitting in a cell while they sort out what is what causes the crux of a lot of action sequences, as Du Qui manages to escape large police pursuits again and again. Toss in a mysterious woman (Stephy Qi Wei as Mayumi) whose almost husband used to work for the villainous megacorp (and was later killed on their wedding day after losing a big case thanks do Du when he tried to stop what was going on) and Ha Jiwon and John Woo’s daughter Angeles Woo as two female assassins who randomly show up to shoot everyone (when Ha Jiwon and Du aren’t talking about old movies), and you got a film that can’t find its focus. This is before it suddenly goes all Marvel. But more on that is spoiling things…
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The Huntresses gets trailerized!

[adrotate banner=”1″]A lot of news happened while we were on break. One thing was The Huntresses (조선미녀 삼총사 – Joseonminyeo Samchongsa, which translates to The Joseon Beautiful Three Musketeers) picked up a trailer that popped up on AsianWiki, which was then reblogged on every site that gets it’s news from AsianWiki (or from sites that copy news from sites that get news from AsianWiki. But take it from Tars, it’s much better to get the water directly from the source!) As we’ve been covering this flick since filming began, it’s only fair that the trailer get a view here as well!

Set in the Joseon Period, three beautiful musketeers fight against a powerful group who tries to overturn the royal family and gain absolute power. The leader of the Beautiful Three Musketeers is Jin-Ok (Ha Ji-Won), a smart and righteous woman. Hong-Dan (Kang Ye-Won) is the only married woman among the three women. Ga-Bi (Son Ga-In from Brown Eyed Girls) is the youngest among the musketeers and excels at fighting.

The Huntresses


[adrotate banner=”1″]More news and links and fun for the whole family!

**Anchorman 2 will drop in theaters December 20, 2013. I hope someone is there to catch it! Adam McKay directs and Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, David Koechner, and Christina Applegate return.

**The Raid 2 (aka Berandal) is filming soon and has some new cast members: Julie Estelle as Hammer Girl, Alex Abbad, Marsha Timothy, Mathias Muchus, Tio Pakusadewu, and noted silat master Cecep Arif Rahman.

**Summit Entertainment has picked up Revoc, a pitch from Olaf de Fleur that is a “post-alien invasion thriller.” We’ll keep an eye open to see whatever the heck that is.

**The YA scifi novel Unwind has been optioned for a flick by Constantin Film. Written by Neal Shusterman, it is yet another dystopian future book that takes place after an American civil war about abortion, where kids 13-17 can be harvested for organs if their parents want. The synopsis is filled with all sorts of book specific terms and I would probably never read it, but The Hunger Games made a lot of money, so prepare for dozens of dystopian futures!

**Hugh Jackman is officially in X-Men: Days of Future Past

**Angeilina Jolie will direct Unbroken, a World War II POW flick about Louis Zamperini, who was an Olympic athlete before becoming a pilot and then a POW in Japan. It’s based on the book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.

**The Cue Dot Confessions explores The Life of Pi!

**She Blogged by Night has 10 Laps to Go!

**Can’t Stop the Movies meets Love in the Afternoon!

**Cultural Gutter lists the top 10 Romance Novels of 2012!

**Monster Island Resort Podcast #91: Halloween for Christmas with Justin Beahm! Could he have gotten a Secret Santa present from yours truly? Click the link and find out!

**Photo from the last day of shooting for The Huntresses:

**George Lucas and the first mockup of R2D2:
George Lucas first R2D2

Until next time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Huntresses – upcoming Korean Female Three Muskateers flick!

The Huntresses
[adrotate banner=”1″]An action comedy filming now in Korea is The Huntresses (조선미녀 삼총사 – Joseonminyeo Samchongsa, which translates to The Joseon Beautiful Three Musketeers) It is a period piece and as you can see from the costume concept art above will have a stylized look.

Set in the Joseon Period, three beautiful musketeers fight against a powerful group who tries to overturn the royal family and gain absolute power. The leader of the Beautiful Three Musketeers is Jin-Ok (Ha Ji-Won), a smart and righteous woman. Hong-Dan (Kang Ye-Won) is the only married woman among the three women. Ga-Bi (Son Ga-In from Brown Eyed Girls) is the youngest among the musketeers and excels at fighting.

Ha Ji-Won’s Jin-Ok builds all sorts of unique weapons and is a master of disguise. Ga-In’s fight before talk character uses those weapons, including a yo-yo that has appeared in some publicity art. Oddly enough, that’s caused some people to freak out. Didn’t they see that episode of The Simpsons with the yo-yos? Kang Ye-Won’s married character is a throwing knife expert who can’t do housework and is the funny one. They are mentored by a character played by Go Chang-Suk, who is described as more comic relief. Their main rival will be played by heartthrob Joo Sang-Wook as Sa Hyun, a warrior with superb martial art skills.

Park Je-Hyun is directing, and filming has just started, thus the lack of real images at this time beyond a social media photo below.

Samchongsa is also what Charlie’s Angels was called in Korea, so you can probably figure out the vibe they are going for from that.

via Nate

The Huntresses


Son Ga-In

Kang Ye-Won

Kang Ye-Won

Ha Ji Won

Ha Ji-Won

Duelist (Review)


aka 형사 aka Hyeongsa

Written by Lee Myung-se and Lee Hae-kyeong
Based on the comic by Bang Hak-ki
Directed by Lee Myung-se

Stylish visuals and Ha Ji-won can’t save Duelist from the horrors of mediocrity. They try so hard! But close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades. Duelist suffers a few too many flaws to for me to recommend it, though I can appreciate the type of film it was trying to be. It’s an anachronistic tale of ancient detectives working against an attempted coup plotted against the Korean king, complete with stylized visuals that will remind you of MTV editing. But it’s actually a film about two people connecting, people on opposite sides of a conflict. And the tragedy that results. This is a Korean film, after all!

As longtime readers (all 3 of you) know, I’m a sucker for crazy visualizations in film. Especially when they’re integrated so well into the film they become indispensable. Parts of Duelist achieve this goal. But other parts do not, the visuals become a distraction at best, and a problem at worst. There are lots of scenes that transition not by normal cuts, but instead by the camera sweeping into the new scene and the old scene becomes the new. That was neat. I wasn’t so keen on the montages that features a lot of scenes fading in and out, but parts never fully fading in, just imprinting on the scene. It seemed more like the film was trying to remind us of what the characters were feeling and thinking about, even though we should know just by virtue of paying attention.

Duelist takes its music queues from throughout the world and throughout time, so European circus tunes and classic Korean music are both used to set whatever mood is needed. Even the noises of crowds cheering are dubbed in despite a lack of such crowds, to make us know that an action is worth our admiration.

The action scenes work well when it’s limited to two combatants, but the larger battle sequences don’t feature the drama and intimacy of the film’s duels (and the intimacy isn’t helped by the larger sequences featuring lots of overhead shots of crowds instead of shots in the battles. Lee Myung-se does his preferred smaller fights with a mix of slow-motion and sped-up choreography, which both shows off the dueling as a loving slow dance, and as a wild and furious clash of emotions. The duels often aren’t about fighting, but have a larger emotional meaning.

Duelist comes from a time when Korean cinema was riding high, atop the world. But that horse was getting tired, and the world is ever-spinning. Bearing that in mind, I still judge Duelist against its contemporary films and the quality of the work that was being released at the time. Duelist does not measure up. Were it released today, it would be regarded as a mini-masterpiece. But in the middle of the shuffle of some of the greatest cinema to come out of the peninsula, Duelist barely registers.

Detective Namsoon (Ha Ji-won) – Rookie detective who is focused on her mission to the point of not thinking of her own safety. Skilled with weapons and headstrong. She also makes the sassy faces that Ha Ji-won is known for. Ha Ji-won’s other films on TarsTarkas.NET include Sex is Zero, Love So Divine, and Sector 7.
Gu Janggon (Kang Dong-won) – The person of interest for the investigation about the coup and the assistant to Minister Song. He acts like so many long haired aloof anime/manga heroes that female characters fall for (this IS based on a comic book!), so of course Detective Namsoon falls for him, and he falls back. But, duty, honor, all that garbage. See Kang Dong-won as non-anime in Too Beautiful To Lie
Detective Ahn (Ahn Sung-gi) – Namsoon’s brash and drunken mentor, is sort of looked down on despite the fact everyone acknowledges he’s a great detective.
Minister Song Pil-joon (Song Young-chang) – A totally not suspicious evil military minister.

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Sector 7 (Review)

Sector 7

aka 7 gwanggu aka 7광구

Written by Yun Je-gyun
Directed by Kim Ji-hun

Sector 7
Okay, team, we’re going to get to the bottom of the question “Does this film have phallic and vaginal symbolisms, or is it just stupid?”

Sector 7 is so by-the-numbers that if you squint really hard, you’ll learn how to count in Korean! Sector 7 decided that it wanted to take all the goodwill that The Host generated for Korean monster movies and throw it all away into the pit of despair, instead giving us a grab bag of scenes ganked from some of the most famous alien monster films of all time. Each scene is a roulette wheel spin random landing on what film they’re stealing from this time. Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Predator, Leviathan, Lethal Weapon 3, probably other films I just didn’t care enough to remember. Oddly enough, I don’t recall any scene ripped directly from Alien 4. It’s almost as if Alien 4 is so bad no one should copy it…

Sector 7
Wait, am I a penis or a vagina? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON??

But enough of what this films steals from, let’s go over what this film is. Sector 7 is Korea’s first 3D film, and was obviously filmed on a soundstage with the outside backgrounds CGIed in, giving it a weird visual nature. That combined with me watching a 2D transfer of the 3D film probably caused it to look less visually stunning than it is supposed to. But since there wasn’t really any iconic cinematography in the first place, it’s no big deal.

Sector 7
Shoot to kill any and all phallic references!

We get a prologue that is set in the long distant year of 1985, where a man investigating troubles with an underwater drill at the uncharted Sector 7 finds tiny floating jelly things, then horrible disaster strikes. But that horrible disaster factors nothing at all to the rest of the film, so ignore all that and let’s jump to 2011, where there is still an oil rig in Sector 7 and it is still uncharted despite the 16 years and the freaking oil rig that probably cost millions of dollars to build in the middle of nowhere. That logic continues into the rest of the film, but before that, let’s get to the cast…

Sector 7
You don’t look like my vagina to me!

Cha Hae-joon (Ha Ji-won) – A very driven oil hunter lady who searches Sector 7 desperately for oil because her father was the guy in the prologue and he died looking for oil. Sector 7 is desperate to let you know that Cha is driven and tough, between the scenes of her running around an averting oil rig disasters and the scenes of her running off to keep looking for oil after they’re ordered out, we learn that she’s driven to look for oil. She’s the Ripley of the film. Ha Ji-won can also be seen in Sex is Zero and Love So Divine.
Kim Dong-soo (Oh Ji-ho) – Cha’s boyfriend who is the handsome guy on the oil platform. He’s better than her in motorcycling, but not in surviving monster attacks. SPOILERS!
Lee Jeong-man (Ahn Seong-gi) – Lee Jeong-man is the Division Captain and also Cha’s uncle. He’s totally not involved in a conspiracy….
Hwang In-hyeok (Park Jeong-hak) – The oil rig captain who is a jerk, and will do jerkish things. Because he’s a jerk. So jerkish.
Park Hyeon-jeong (Cha Ye-ryeon) – The oil rig’s genetic researcher, because we need genetic researches on oil rigs. For some reason. Definitely not conspiracy reasons! Why do you keep thinking there is a conspiracy going on?
Jang Chi-soon (Park Yeong-soo) – a creepy guy who gets infected by one of the tiny underwater floating creatures when he tries to eat it. Also he does creepy stuff like perv on Park Heyon-jeong.
Monster (CGI) – The nameless monster is like a generic generic version of the Host monster, but with less distinguishing characteristics and a bunch of goofy tentacle things for extra grossness. And that’s not to mention the prehensile tongue. Is set on fire more often than Beavis’s bedroom.
Sector 7
I bet there are phallic references here!

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