Archive for October 3rd, 2010

Secret agent Jackie goes with a commando group to Africa to kidnap scientists who are working to unleash a powerful and lethal new energy source. However there is a betrayal amongst the group and the helicopter carrying them suddenly starts to fall out of the sky. Jackie falls out of the helicopter and gets knocked out having fallen heavily through some trees and landing on the jungle floor below with an almighty thud. Awakening in an African village in a desert with a broken leg, Jackie cannot remember who he is. As he starts having flashbacks to his past and does a heroic deed for a Japanese couple taking part in a rally, his former employers send their goons out to kill him but Jackie has no idea why they’re after him.

Not one of Jackie’s best but contains enough of his trademark humour/action to be entertaining. The movie fails to recreate the energy of his older flicks. Higher production values and a couple of impressive fight scenes cannot entirely overcome that the story is to weak to keep the two hour movie together which indicates the major problem: it’s far too long. It’s only when the story moves to Rotterdam that this movie finally spring into life. When Jackie finally comes to his best, the fights, he is still great, but between these fights there’s too little new, including the umpteenth car chase through a market street. This movie is by no means bad, it’s just not in the same league as earlier works.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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A lone swordsman, living in the desert and acting as an agent to other swordsmen, recollects how his life turned out to be as it is. It started with that the woman he loved chose to marry his brother instead, causing him to leave his home town. One of the swordsmen is Huang who is himself in the middle of a complicated love story, where a woman wants to have him killed for having ran away from a promise to marry her younger sister. But the sister wants to hire a swordsman to have Huang protected, and everything is put to an edge when the woman and her sister is really the same person.

This movie is a good example of how to tell a simple story in a complex manner. The plot of “Ashes of Time” is fairly simple and comes down to two words: “love triangle”. Because of those “love triangles” crossing stories, jealousy, hate and love are the main dynamics displayed by the characters. Ou-yang Feng lives in the desert, where he acts as middleman to various swordsmen and becomes the tool of destiny through which vengeance is achieved. Unfortunately “Ashes of Time” fails in telling these simple stories of love and hate. The director seems to be driven by a desire to make each frame of the film look like a painting. The movie is also quite boring and the action scenes dull. The swordfights are all in slow motion or freeze frame, and this becomes tiresome; many of the scenes are cut awkwardly. I can’t fail the acting at all and the cinematography is gorgeous but it’s not enough to save this movie. To be honest I hardly understood any of this movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 out of 5

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Bandage (2010)

This is a story about the trials and tribulations of an indie rock band in the early 90’s called LANDS. The band is becoming popular but somehow the members don’t get on with each other at times. Into the fray comes a schoolgirl Asoko who manages to get a backstage pass and meet the group. She forms a friendship with the band’s leader and singer Natsu. In time she quickly becomes the co-manager of the band but apart from Natsu, the other members of the band view her as a hindrance and as much as they try to convince Natsu about this he continues to hang out with her. As LANDS finally hit the big time with a no.1 hit but fail with their follow-up single, tensions start to simmer between the members of the band once more which threaten to split the band up once and for all.

An interesting movie which is effective in portraying the life of an indie band in 1990′s Japan, when the rise and fall of these bands was commonplace due to TV talent shows. Jin Akanishi (formerly a member of Johnny’s band KAT-TUN but now a solo artist) brings his own personal experience of being in a group to his role as the talented but troubled singer Natsu. Kii Kitano who plays Asoko also does well in her role showing her vulnerability and girlish charm. The rest of the supporting characters are great especially the lovely Ayumi Ito who portrays the hard-nosed manager Yukari. The soundtrack for the movie is fantastic and has very catchy songs sung by Akanishi. The song which plays over the end credits Bandage went straight to no.1 in the Oricon charts during November 2009. Overall Bandage is an entertaining movie with a good storyline, excellent music and shows an insight into the Japanese music industry.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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