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Archive for December 24th, 2013

Merry Christmas!

May I wish everybody that visits this site a very happy Christmas!

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Female HK police inspector Rachel Yeung is looking forward to seeing her cousin David who has served in the military overseas. They haven’t seen each other for a while and she hopes they can spend some time together. A fellow officer in the military Alan arrives in HK with David and he’s involved in some shady dealings with some people in the intelligence community about selling secrets to foreign buyers. When Alan is murdered by some thugs by accident, David is framed for the crime. He tries to clear his name but this only makes things worse as people from the CIA to the local crime organisation are either trying to kill or kidnap him! The only person that can testify to David’s innocence is May, a teenage girl. Rachel is convinced of her cousin’s innocence but her job is not helped by her superiors wanting to bring David in for questioning. Rachel has always been one to do her job by the book but this time she might have to break the rules if she’s to save her cousin’s life which means going all the way to South Korea to sort the mess out.

Coming off the back of ITLOD 4 which was one of the very best in the franchise, there was a lot of expectation that this movie might be just as good but sadly it isn’t. This movie is the point at which the franchise gradually went down. It does have it’s moments but it just doesn’t stand out from any other generic action movie that was coming out of HK at the time. The uninteresting espionage plot doesn’t help things either. The movie does start off on a bang as Rachel Yeung is chasing after a suspect in a car park and she does a flying kick through a windshield of a moving car before the pair continue scrapping through an alleyway and onto a couple of other moving vehicles. Sadly though, apart from a couple of other good fights this movie is lacking in any real excitement.

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The fight choreography whilst competent enough isn’t as good as previous entries because Corey Yuen and Yuen Wo Ping wasn’t involved. Still, I will watch anything with Cynthia Khan and she performs well as Rachel Yeung – dodging bullets and kicking ass. She takes part in a couple of good stunts, one of which has her dangling off the side of a skyscraper! Another sees her chasing after a speedboat at a container terminal which ends with the bad guys’ boat being smashed to pieces by a falling cargo container. The highlight of the movie has to be the girl-on-girl fight between Cynthia and the Australian blonde Kim Maree-Penn (a stuntwoman) in a room full of breakable glass which turns into a swordfight.  She also has a good fight with Billy Chow.  Thankfully even though the plot is a bit dull, there’s enough action sequences to keep this movie from being boring – one of the stunts to watch out for is a man falling from height and destroying a car roof. The word ouch springs to mind when you see it!!  Taiwanese actor David Wu is rather lacklustre as the soldier on the run and I noticed a lack of chemistry between himself and Cynthia Khan.  Alvina Kong is wasted as May as she doesn’t have a lot to do in the movie. The same goes for Kim Maree-Penn and Billy Chow.

Tinkering with a formula can play havoc in a successful franchise and that certainly did happen in this movie. The humour that was present in the previous movies has disappeared completely and they go for a deadly serious story instead with more emphasis on the drama. It just doesn’t work out as well as the filmmakers thought it would be.

Overall, this is a movie that will appeal more to Cynthia Khan fans more than anyone else. There’s nothing that really stands out and the plot doesn’t really grab you at all. By all means take a look if you’ve seen the previous 4 movies but I’m sure like myself you’ll end up feeling a little disappointed by the end.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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A former army officer Tsudo is seeking revenge on his former greedy comrades who tried to kill him during the war. He targets them one by one by murdering with a bayonet, the same method they tried to kill him. The first of his victims is stabbed to death at an amusement park ‘Cave Of Horrors’ attraction with the killer leaving a dog-tag behind as his calling card. Tsudo has been working as an assistant to a scientist who has created a brilliant machine called the Cryotron. This is a machine that allows a person to teleport themselves anywhere and Tsudo has been using the machine without his boss’ permission to help him in his revenge. He can appear and disappear at will. A reporter, his friend who’s a police detective and many officers start investigating the mysterious murders. Clues lead them to a military themed cabaret club run by a man who is trying to hide something that took place many years previously which involved stolen gold bars. Will the police be able to capture Tsudo?

This is an interesting movie by Toho Studios which can be lumped in the same category as The H-Man and The Human Vapor which was released around the same time. It is played out like a police murder mystery/thriller which was directed by Jun Fukuda in only his 2nd feature and his first special effects movie. He would later go on to direct several Godzilla movies. It’s an exciting and suspenseful movie with an intriguing premise about a man who uses secret technology to gain revenge. You could argue that there’s a bit of a film noir feel to the movie as well. I just wished the movie would have focused more on Tsudo rather than the police investigation. Whilst the method of how Tsudo appears isn’t as cool as the criminal in The Human Vapor (a misty cloud), there is something very creepy about Tsudo’s form when he teleports. His body is enveloped by electricity and he appears almost like a holographic image.  The viewer is shown via a flashback sequence why Tsudo has taken to carrying out his mission of vengeance in which he was nearly killed inside a cave and left for dead.

Secret of the Telegian screenshot

The special effects are done brilliantly by Eiji Tsuburaya (a veteran of creating special effects for Toho kaiju movies) and it still looks decent even 50 years on. Add to that a really effective and eerie score by Sei Ikeno and you have the ingredients of a good movie. It is well paced and the story never lags. Fukuda builds up plenty of tension and delivers a couple of good shocks. You can sense the frustration by the police as they have no idea at first how the killer manages to escape from the crime scenes. Tadao Nakamura is menacing as Tsudo, a bitter person who is itching on gaining revenge on his former war colleagues.

Despite the claim by many kaiju movie fans that this is one of Toho Studios’ weakest efforts (even though it isn’t technically a kaiju movie), I enjoyed it. Those that have watched Toho’s other 2 titles that I’ve mentioned above might want to check this one out too so that you can compare between the three which is the best.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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