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Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction’

Byung-Gu is an ordinary young man living in Korea. He believes that all of the earth’s social ills are the evil doings of aliens. That’s why he knows that unless he can meet the prince from Andromeda before the total lunar eclipse, Planet Earth will be in grave danger. In order to meet the prince, he must find an extraterrestrial living on earth. So Byung-Gu kidnaps the most logical suspect, Kang Man-shik, the president and CEO of Yoojae Chemical Company. Thus starts the battle between Byung-Gu who’s trying to uncover a secret alien plot to destroy the earth and CEO Kang Man-Shik, who thinks Byung-Gu’s nuts and is trying desperately to escape. Only four hours until the total lunar eclipse. When the eclipse is over, the time will run out for Planet Earth. Can Byung-Gu singlehandedly save the planet?

This is a very interesting Korean movie which combines many genres into a potent mix all of it’s own. It’s one of those movies that only comes along every once in a while which is so unusual and unique that it just impresses you. The blend of comedy, psychological thriller, horror, police drama and satire works brilliantly. It never fails to surprise you and the movie easily switches from comedy in one scene to a nasty torture moment in a dank basement with a lot of blood in the next. The first 15 mins will give you an idea whether this movie is something you like or not. It might seem a little strange but once you get into the plot and the characters you’ll immerse yourself into this fantastic movie. Don’t let the DVD cover lull you into thinking this is some kind of wacky comedy because it is far from being that. The thrill in watching this movie lies in where it’s going to take you. It’s best to come in with an open mind, sit back and just enjoy the wild ride that unfolds. There are many surprises, some twists and original ideas thrown in. It isn’t a movie for everyone though and it’s certainly not to be seen by families. Some people will be turned off by the graphic violence and situations that take place but if you’re used to watching anything by Takashi Miike or Park Chan-wook then you should be fine with this movie. Director Jang Jun-Hwan paces this movie perfectly and the ‘is he or isn’t he an alien’ question is finally resolved at the conclusion. You’ll never be able to hear the song ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ in the same way again after watching this movie.

The acting is incredible with an amazing performance by Ha-kyun Shin as Byung-Gu. Here we have an individual who is convinced that aliens have infiltrated this planet and have changed their genetics to resemble a human being that it consumes him. The aliens can apparently communicate back to their home planet telepathically by their hair strands! He sees it as his quest to thwart and overpower these aliens as he believes they were responsible for making his mother ill who is lying comatose in a hospital. He has kidnapped many individuals before because he believed they were aliens (13 before targeting Kang Man-shik) and taken them back to his mountain top lair where he straps them into a chair and begins torturing them for information on their true origins. Byung-Gu thinks the aliens will be able to withstand the punishment he gives them. It will be easy for the viewer to tag Byung-Gu as being mentally unstable. Given his violent behaviour towards Kang Man-Shik, you will still gradually begin to like and sympathise with Byung-Gu.

Funny, tense, horrifying and inevitably tragic,  Save The Green Planet is a thought provoking, challenging, disturbing but ultimately a very special and outstanding movie that shouldn’t be missed out by Asian movie fans. Highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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aka The Emperor’s Sword

Orichalcum is a mystical metal material that gives great powers to the life form that possesses it. Many aeons ago, the Orichalcum split into three and landed on Earth. The metal then took the form of three relics: Skanda’s Vajra, the Jew’s Cross, and the Sword of Alexander. Anyone able to re-unite these three Orichalcum relics would then obtain the powers of a God. Now two rival alien factions are in a heated race to reunite the Orichalcum. They land in Edo-era Tokyo where the relics are thought to exist. A tall devil-may-care warrior by the name of Genkuro now possesses the legendary Sword of Alexander. He’s unaware of the sword’s importance as it was a gift from his dying grandfather. Genkuro then encounters Princess Mai and her bodyguard Sasuke who are escaping from the Tokunaga army. It just so happens that Princess Mai has been possessed by one of the rival aliens named Ran. Genkuro, Princess Mai, and Sasuke join forces to find the other two Orichalcum relics before the evil alien Dakusha does so. The fate of the universe is at stake.

This is a fast paced sci-fiction fantasy comedy set in the past involving aliens, zombies, ninjas and a man with a huge sword. You don’t usually see aliens and zombies turning up in samurai period movies at all. Surprisingly the mix of genres that director Yukihiko Tsutsumi brings to this movie works well for most of the time which is all done very tongue in cheek. It’s hard not to like this movie when you’ve got ample doses of camp comedy (one unfortunate joke right at the end shows a mountain in the shape of a penis!!) and good action sequences with quite a hefty dollop of gore thrown in. The storyline is simple and straight forward. It just follows the adventures of 3 people on a quest to find 3 mystical items whilst dealing with alien liquid beings who jump from host to host who are also after the same items. There are no great twists being offered in the movie. I thought at first this movie had the mark of Takashi Miike over it given the liberal amount of blood involved but he doesn’t have a hand at all in this production. It’s hard at times to know just for who this movie was targeted for – certainly not for kids with all the red stuff, decapitations and bodies cut in half so probably it was for teenage and adult tokusatsu fans. The storyline is suitably OTT (when you’ve got a dead bear coming to life and attacking a person you know it’s over the top!) and the hero of the movie is a first I believe in Japanese cinema in that he’s a son of an African man and a Japanese woman. The movie starts to fall into children’s super sentai territory when the main villain wth his green face appears to challenge Genkuro. Think of a far uglier version of Jim Carrey’s The Mask character! You’ve also got 2 demon like characters appearing too – one tends to vomit a load of bugs to attack. I’ve mentioned many times before that I cannot stand CG blood and there’s far too much of it again in this movie. The story tends to flag a bit during the 2nd half and becomes rather predictable. The movie builds up to the inevitable fight to the death between Genkuro and Dakusha.

I like Abe Hiroshi as an actor, he’s been one of my favourite Japanese actors for many years and he is quite effective in this movie as the hero Genkuro. Hiroshi isn’t usually associated with action hero roles but he does a credible job in playing a tall strong character who can wield a huge blade of a sword. He plays the character with a fine line of taking the plot seriously and just for laughs. He’s very good at doing comedy especially with deadpan characters such as the one he portrayed in the Trick TV series and movies. Princess Mai is played by Kyoko Hasegawa who’s possessed by an alien force which enters her through a cut on her hand. Hasegawa does her best to play 2 characters – the sweet Princess on the run and the tough alien inside her. It’s distracting at times to see the digital distortion on Mai’s face as she alternates between the 2 characters. The supporting characters perform admirably in their roles – the best being the beautiful Meisa Kuroki as a male samurai warrior although after taking one look at her and you’d know straight away that she’s far too glamorous to be a male. She doesn’t have much of an impact in the storyline as she tends to be in the background watching proceedings for most of the time.

Overall, this movie is a lot of fun and I enjoyed it. It’s got all the ingredients that will make it a cult movie in the future. If you like action and crazy comedy be sure to check it out.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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1990. A number of children suddenly disappear. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense selects an elite group of scientists for a top-secret mission. Then, 30 years later … The year is 2020 on a reunified Korean Peninsula. A string of murders is committed against retired scientists. The Special Investigations (SI) unit staffed by a crack team from the former North and South Koreas and outfitted with the latest technology is brought in to investigate. The killer, however, far from being deterred, taunts them with a signature pendant at every murder scene. In an act of devilish boldness he even kidnaps the son of the investigation team’s leader, Seok. Then, in a stakeout, Seok manages to shoot dead one of the murderer’s underlings. Cloaked in the man’s clothes, however, is Seok’s son, now dead by the hand of his father … Meanwhile, in the megapolis Intercity, the chief of police is kidnapped right in front of his heavy security detail and the culprit leaves another pendant at the scene. The chief’s daughter, Hui-su, a talented criminal psychologist quickly joins the investigation to find her father. Soon, Seok discovers that he and Hui-su share an uncanny bond…

This movie had a lot of potential to be a very good movie but in the end it was all a big mess. The filmmakers have tried to make a Hollywood type blockbuster but it fails miserably. It looks great visually (probably the only good thing I can say about this movie) and the cityscapes with its dark wet neon streets will remind many of Blade Runner but the script is quite confusing and it goes on for way too long. At 2 hours long it just drags. There doesn’t seem to be any coherent structure in the story. I nearly fell asleep by the time the credits came up begging for the movie to finish, that’s how bored I was with it. Even the numerous gunfights in the movie lacked any excitement. There’s too much techno-babble about genetics and cloning going on and the pacing of the movie is all over the show. The plot doesn’t have a lot to offer and there’s no character development. As such you don’t really care for the characters at all because they’re all dull. The acting is poor with many of the actors sleepwalking in their roles with no emotion showing on their faces. They don’t show any passion or enthusiasm in their performances. The majority of the cast look like they didn’t want to be in the movie. This was director Jeong Yun-Su’s debut behind the camera and it becomes obvious quite quickly that he has no idea how to put together a decent sci-fi actioner. I have no idea if the other 3 movies he’s directed since this one are any better?

Overall, some nice special effects and stylish production values isn’t enough to keep me interested if the story isn’t that good. Mediocre. Give it a wide berth.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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aka Roboforce

The Hero Gang led by the evil Lam and his lover Maria is a villianous organization that sends it’s giant robot named Van out to rob a bank in HK. With the police helpless against the marauding robot and Lam threatening more chaos if the authorities doesn’t hand over a load of cash to them, a trio of bumbling heroes go into action. They are eccentric inventor Curly, a newspaper reporter and Whiskey, an ex member of the Hero Gang determined to right his past wrongs. The Hero Gang in the meantime have created another decidedly different robot. This one is patterned after female gang member, Maria. This robot is sent after our goofy trio, but in the process it’s nearly destroyed. Curly reprograms Maria to go after it’s creators when they send in the heavy artillery including Van to look for her. Who will come out on top in the robot showdown?

Despite the title which may suggest a romantic story, this is in fact a sci-fi action comedy with some shades of Robocop and a nod to the classic movie Metropolis. It tanked big time when it was initially released in HK but has in fact gained a cult following over the years. Stories about its troubled production is well known amongst HK movie fans with producer Tsui Hark getting rid of director David Chung at some point during filming and taking over the directing duties himself and even reshooting large chunks. The movie starts with a bang as the massive hulk of a robot Van goes on a destructive rampage around Hong Kong and this is only the beginning of the fun you’ll have in watching this. It’s quite an imaginative romp with not only a giant robot appearing but also a flying motorcycle armed with a set of machine guns. The movie is not meant to be taken seriously one bit and Tsui Hark doesn’t let the comedy overshadow the great action sequences which includes a hilarious scene in which one of our heroes tries to escape through trees on swinging vines ala Tarzan only to be pursued in the same manner by the villains with machine guns. The clash between Maria and Van is also very entertaining. It does turn a little bit dark at times with it’s violent content but the majority of the movie is lightweight and harmless. The special effects looks a bit dated though but with only a small budget for the movie the filmmakers did the best they could. The rubber styrofoam walls and rubble on display does look bad! The robots (Van and Maria) are fantastic creations with their jet pack boots, hidden missiles and extending fists. I found it to be such a creative movie with the array of gadgets on display. The wacky and slapstick comedy was fine, I did find it to be a bit repetitive at times especially when two of our heroes regularly get electrocuted for touching the robot Maria. This movie though belongs to the beautiful Sally Yeh who plays the dual role of the evil Hero Gang member Maria and her Metropolis styled robot counterpart. She’s really good at playing the robot role using just a few expressions on her face and even gets to sing a few lines as well. The trio of heroes played by Tsui Hark, John Sham and Tony Leung Chui-Wai are also excellent in keeping the storyline chugging along and there’s great chemistry between them.

I Love Maria is a unique piece of HK cinema which is well worth checking out just for it’s mix of wackiness and action. I had a lot of fun watching it.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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Intergalactic bounty hunter Iria, her computer partner Bob and their co-worker Fujikiro are back on Earth to retrieve a stolen alien artifact called the Carmarite. But other aliens are also after the artifact. When Iria finds the artifact she is sent to an abandoned industrial but finds herself ambushed by a horde of aliens. As she is about to be attacked, a new Zeiram model appears and destroys the aliens. It seems to be protecting Iria. However Iria doesn’t trust it one bit and hits it in quite a sensitive spot. Zeiram malfunctions and goes back to it’s original mission – to destroy Iria. Meanwhile Fujikiro has betrayed Iria and Bob and wants the Carmarite for himself. Iria finds herself trapped in a Zone that Zeiram has created in which there is no escape. Complicating matters is the fact that the two bumbling electricians from the first movie – Kamiya and Teppei also find themselves in the Zone and must search for Iria and hope that Bob can find a way out for them which isn’t easy when you’ve got a tall rampaging alien robot chasing after them.

Coming three years after the success of the original, Zeiram 2 was released. It’s a low-budget, charming science fiction/monster-in-a-rubber suit movie. Blessed with a slightly bigger budget, the sequel is even more fun. The plot though is more or less a rehash of the first movie so you’ll more or less know what’s going to happen if you watched the original. Zeiram is such a great monster. It’s like the Terminator as it’s unstoppable. Even when you think it’s been beaten by Iria it manages to resurrect itself and continue it’s relentless mission to destroy. The new Zeiram has been extensively redesigned and he’s equipped with lots of new weapons. I don’t know why I call it a he because it’s more of a she with the obvious feminine noh mask face with lipstick which is so creepy. Its attached to a long, snakelike neck that serves as a feeding mechanism. This part of Zeiram devours chunks of whatever organic creature it encounters and manufactures a monster out of its genetic material. An unfortunate akita dog is one such victim in this movie. The movie has a hectic action plot that is full of comic crises and heroic stunts. Everyone, including Zeiram, get to ham it up with Power Ranger type stunts, fights and explosions. The special effects considering the budget of the movie are well done. Even though some viewers might think this is some kind of kids movie it isn’t as there’s a small amount of gore though the scenes are brief. I think this movie was targeted towards the teen and adult market more than kids.

Yukio Mariyama reprises her role as Iria. She is just fantastic as the heroine possessing a strong presence onscreen who can handle herself in any situation and is cool under pressure. It does help that she’s gorgeous to look at. The 2 bumbling electricians Kamiya and Teppei provide the comedic aspect of the movie to counter the seriousness of Iria.

As long as you don’t take it too seriously, Zeiram 2 is a fun movie for all. It might be cheap and cheerful and have rubber monsters but if you don’t really care about that then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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In the near future, teams from several international countries are competing to create the perfect humanoid android which is being overseen by a wealthy Middle Eastern Sheik and his playboy son as they will invest in the successful venture. When one of the androids goes amok, a robot codenamed Eve R27 built by a female Japanese scientist Dr Sara manages to subdue it. This is only the beginning of a nightmare for the HK police as the Sheik’s son is kidnapped by a mad Japanese scientist Ryuichi Sakamoto. In the ensuing getaway, a female police officer Selina is fatally wounded and in a message sent to the cops, Sakamoto is holding the Prince to ransom until the Sheik bankrolls his quest to build a robot army. He kills himself and transfers his entire memories into the body of a male robot who starts to go on a murdering frenzy by killing some prostitutes during some heavy sex. The policewoman killed on duty has her thoughts transferred to an android body though her colleagues don’t know that, not even her boyfriend at first. The cops turn to Dr Sara and her sexy assistant Anna in trying to capture Sakamoto. They do this by opening a brothel in the hope that it will lure him in. Anna who has no previous memory wants to experience sex so she volunteers as a prostitute. However, the entire male population of the area upon hearing how fantastic she is in screwing line up to have a go!!! As Sakamoto starts torturing the Sheik’s son by using a power drill into his leg, the situation becomes desperate. The cops manage to trap and stop Sakamoto but instead of dismantling him, Dr Sara wants to conduct some tests on his head and the cops wants to know where he is keeping the Sheik son

This has to be one of the most ridiculous but hugely entertaining Cat III movies I’ve ever seen with obvious influences from Robocop and The Terminator. There’s enough sex, violence, robot-rape and low brow comedy relief courtesy of the lecherous and perverted cops to keep the avid sleazehound more than happy. This movie is extremely difficult to categorize, mainly due to some parts of it being different. In some parts, action is fast and flowing, with guns blazing and nasty horror such as decapitation (death by wicker briefcase!) being the order of the day. At other times, there are longish sex scenes, and at other times, there are more science fiction elements. However, it all combines well into one complete movie. And having three very nice women as eye candy helps a lot too. The most famous of the three is of course Amy Yip who was a huge sex symbol during the late 80’s and early 90’s in Hong Kong thanks to her ahem! prized assets! She was affectionally known as the ‘Yip Tease’ due to the fact she never went totally naked onscreen – there was something be it an arm or a leg to protect her modesty. There’s a rather unbelievable side-plot about a police informer that unfortunately gets killed by Sakamoto but hang on now as Dr Sara can see the final image he saw through his eyes by cutting them out and putting them through a computer. Well it is the near future after all!!! The plot is all over the place and really doesn’t make a whole lotta sense when you sit and think about it – but who cares!! We have super-hot cyborg women, a rape and violence obsessed nemesis, and enough cheezy/sleazy situations to keep this movie fun all the way through.

I loved Robotrix and it is definitely recommended for all Cat III fans. You’re guaranteed to have a good time watching it.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Zeiram – an alien biological weapon and criminal (who has a small face on the top of his cranium) escapes from his intergalactic prison after massacring an entire unit of prison guards and heads to the planet Earth. A female bounty hunter Iria along with her A.I companion Bob race ahead of Zeiram to Earth and plan on setting a trap called The Zone (a virtual reality area) in which to recapture Zeiram before transporting him back to prison. But Iria didn’t count on a pair of bumbling handymen called Kamiya and Teppei getting involved in her mission. They stumble inside The Zone and must avoid Zeiram from killing them. Iria though manages to capture Zeiram but due to the 2 idiots interfering, the alien manages to break free. Normal weapons seem to unaffect the creature. Even when Iria manages to take down the huge indestructible beast, Zeiram resurrects himself in other forms (think of John Carpenter’s The Thing). With the Zone beginning to break up around Iria and Kamiya & Teppei finding themselves at the mercy of Zeiram, is there any way of stopping the alien once and for all?

It was hard to say whether this was a straight forward sci-fi movie or a comedy at first! Probably a mix of the two genres I’d say though you’d never have thought that after the opening 10 mins. I really enjoyed it even with the stupid comedy which I think spoiled the mood of the movie – thankfully the 2 idiot characters didn’t get too damn annoying. Zeiram is a typical low budget sci-fi movie but a lot of fun to watch. It’s full of interesting gadgets, lots of weapons, explosions, monsters, stop-motion effects and talking computers. Yuko Moriyama is brilliant in her debut role as the bounty hunter Iria playing her as a determined and strong character. Without her no-nonsense portrayal, this movie would be a rather camp affair. The villain Zeiram is your usual Japanese rubber monster but looks an imposing humanoid creature thanks to his wide circular hat and cloak. I really liked the small white masked face on Zeiram’s head (the brain that controls the body) which can extend itself on a tentacle to attack which is no doubt based on H.R Giger’s Alien xenomorph. Some shades of The Terminator and The Thing also find themselves put in this movie. There’s plenty of excitement and the action is decent enough with some martial arts being used to fight Zeiram by Iria.

This is an entertaining little movie if you don’t take it too seriously. It’s not perfect by any means but it’s a good way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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