PCG’s Quirky Queue: The Queue Quirks Back
It’s been too long since I dropped some mind contro-uuhhh, bloggery, on you, so I’m taking some time out from polishing my new novel THE CRIMSON CALLING to churn out a few capsule reviews of my recent fevered film viewings. As always, I’ve sought out some of the most bizarre and unheralded gems from the action and horror genres, barely escaping with my senses intact, in some cases.
RITES OF SPRING: I was pleasantly surprised by this pastiche of slasher, supernatural and doomed/abducted victims (clunky I know, but more accurate than the term “torture porn”) sub-genres. Some nice surprises and powerful suspense.
OLDBOY: The original Korean version of the Spike Lee flick currently tanking in cinemas is complete–no familiar A or B list white folk needed. It tells its story nearly flawlessly–and is devastating.
GRAVE ENCOUNTERS: I’m not a fan of the found footage sub-genre, but this particular entry works better than most, and nearly as well as a traditional narrative flick. Even the acting, and (can’t believe I’m writing this) camerawork is spot on most of the time.
ZU WARRIORS: Tsui Hark‘s directorial remake of the 1987 fantasy film he produced, which is said to have caused a resurgence of western interest in Hong Kong cinema, is beautiful to behold, but severely lacking in storytelling, and a bit light on kung fu for my tastes.
HU YING (Fistful of Talons): Malaysian kung fu whiz Billy Chong in a better than average 70s effort featuring RETURN OF THE DRAGON’s Ing-Sik Whang In Sik in another brutal villain role. The stunt fighters absorb some amazing bumps in slow motion, long before it was possible to CGI out their crash pads.
13 ASSASSINS: Master auteur Takashi Miike delivers an outstanding contemporary samurai epic that is both emotionally powerful and shockingly brutal.
EXTINCTION: The cleverly misleading plot synopsis leads to a disappointing viewing experience involving parkour zombies in the usual post-apocalyptic setting. Might’ve been better with around twenty minutes cut from its two hourish running time.
ANNA IN KUNG FU LAND: Fun and colorful videogame-like adventure with decent enough fighting and acting. Some of the Asian-centric comedy may not land well with westerners.
SADAKO: This update of the Japanese hit THE RING might have worked in its original theatrical 3D format, but falls flat, if you’ll forgive the pun, without the gimmick.
THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN: Yet another in a long line of recent bio pics about the former wing chun instructor of one Mister Bruce Lee. Set during Sifu Man’s late youth, it may not have the presence of a Donnie Yen to propel it, but still offers plenty of decent action and drama.
FROM WITHIN: Another “pleasant” surprise from out of nowhere, with a rash of horrifying suicides plaguing a town falling rapidly under the spell of a young fundamentalist minister. Day-for-night shots will make you cringe, but otherwise, a great hidden gem.
S&MAN: The title is supposed to be pronounced “Sandman” but–whatever. I will say it caught me off guard and left me a little befuddled, but I recommend it.
DOOMSDAY BOOK: More Korean goodness, this time in the form of an anthology of sci fi and horror stories that tend to be more thoughtful than the usual bite size scares. Beautifully photographed as well.
SCOURGE: I don’t even remember watching this–yet there it is, on my viewing activity list, and with a paltry two star score. Maybe that’s all one needs to know? I’ll have to look into this mystery further…
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