Saturday, November 27, 2010

Haute tension

The movie High Tension comes out of France and has helped catapult French horror into the leading makers of absolute bloodbath horror films. High Tension provides you with more than enough blood and murder. If you enjoy bloody movies like Dead Alive and Zombi 2 than you should enjoy the absolute brutal nature of High Tension.

Marie, played by Cécile De France, and Alexia, played by Maïwenn Le Besco, two students heading to the country to find some peace and quiet so they can study. Nothing special about this plot because almost every single horror movie involves a group of people traveling to the middle of nowhere to get away from it all and finding only murder, terror and death in the form of some maniac redneck, psycho or demonic entity. The movie starts with the standard false scare as Alex runs into the cornfield because she saw something. Everyone quivers in fake terror because they know this is just some silly practical joke. We meet Alex’s family, who seem to be a nice enough bunch, and as soon as everyone goes to bed we begin the insane bloodbath.

A crazy man in a crazy looking truck, this reminds me of Jeepers Creepers, shows up and brutally murders everyone except for Alex, who he chains up for later fun, and Marie, who he cannot find because she has cleverly hidden her luggage and hides from the killer. Amazingly the killer does not find her anywhere in the house or when Marie hides in his truck with her friend Alex, who is bound and gagged and terrified beyond belief.

We make our way to a gas station where Marie escapes from the truck and successfully hides from the killer in the gas station and then in the men’s restroom. The killer naturally murders the clerk; we saw that coming now didn’t we? Marie then takes the dead clerks Ford, with a hilarious Confederate flag license plate on the trunk, and chases after this insane killer and his truck. The movies pace never lets up as it becomes a relentless hunt with death as the only conclusion.
This leads us to the ending of the movie, because the movie has to end at some point. The movie has perhaps one of the dumbest endings I have ever seen. The only saving grace for the ending is movies like ‘White Noise.’ I won’t spoil the ending but it is rather preposterous and makes about as much sense shooting yourself in the foot with a shotgun to prove how tough you are. The ending pretty much makes half the scenes of the movie make no sense unless you discount them as hallucinations.

The ending is just a small part of the film and since most horror films end pretty badly it doesn’t ruin the movie that much. I watched the movie for the violence and bloodshed, just like everyone else and in that aspect High Tension delivered.

2.5/5 stars.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus

OSS 117: Lost in Rio is the next installment of the OSS 117 series and follows the zany hijinks of Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, played by Jean Dujardin. Hubert is OSS 117, France’s best secret agent and the man France looks to whenever there is a major problem. France has a problem, a problem with Nazis!

At the beginning of the film OSS 117 gets into a fight with a bunch of Chinese and this will come back to haunt him throughout the movie as a Chinese guy with a gun will accuse him of killing a brother at the beginning of the movie. The best part is they use the same gag you see in old American movies where the Chinese guy cannot speak French properly because of there Chinese accents.

When Hubert returns to France he is put on a mission of extreme importance. A Nazi is Brazil has a list of French collaborators and is preparing to release this information to the world. France must do everything in its power to stop this Nazi madman! That means sending OSS 117 to give him a briefcase full of money. This is the French we are talking about! Stop him? Ridiculous! Pay him? Seems more reasonable.

Hubert goes to Rio and meets up with an old CIA friend who is in predictable and hilarious fashion portrayed as a loud and obnoxious American. The Mossad also contact Hubert and inform him that they want to capture the Nazi, Von Zimmel, so they can try him for crimes in Israel. After some confusion Hubert realizes they are serious about having him work with a woman. The woman is Col. Dolorès Koulechov of the Mossad, played by Louise Monot.

At this point the movie goes into high gear adventure across Brazil in search of Nazis so the French can recover that list of collaborators and Israel can capture Von Zimmel. They go to a hippie commune, an airplane crash into the rainforest, a trek across a crocodile filled river, into a den of Nazis, a fall off a waterfall, a madcap walker and IV drip chase through a hospital and finally ending on top of Christ the Redeemer.

Throughout the entire movie Hubert continues to be chauvinistic, vain, slightly racist, colonial and naïve. He says some absolutely ridiculous things about Jewish people and women as well as being such a blatant French stereotype. There is also some slapstick comedy in the movie and some downright silly gunfights that are just tearing into Bond movies.

Overall this is a pretty funny movie for a spoof film a genre that has seen a surge recently in American cinema but this film is far superior to the recent spoof films. This movie is comparable to the Austin Powers movies. So, if you don’t mind Hubert’s lack of political correctness and French movies then give this move a spin.

3.5/5 stars.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Even though I'm no more than a monster - don't I, too, have the right to live? - Dae-su Oh

Oldboy is a revenge film that is not like your typical revenge film. This is no Clint Eastwood movie where the unnamed Cowboy leaves a trail of bodies of those that wrong him in his wake as he disappears into the desert. This is not a Robert Rodriguez revenge film where the hero leaves a wake of destruction, sex and corpses en route to getting the girl and driving off into the sunset. This is a revenge film that is brutal and twisted in ways that are almost unfathomable to the viewer.

The principal players are Dae-su, played by Min-sik Choi, Woo-jin Lee, played by Ji-tae Yu, and Mi-do, played by Hye-jeong Kang. Yes, it did take me a long time to type out those alphabet soup names.

The movie features a few flashbacks; one that starts mere seconds after the film begins in fact. We see Dae-su as he was in his past, a drunken man that is being held by the police and behaving like a child on his daughter’s birthday. Dae-su is clearly an irresponsible adult. He does have a friend who bails him out of the police station but shortly thereafter Dae-su disappears. Imprisoned by an unknown person for an undetermined amount of time. We find out that his wife was murdered and the police are looking for Dae-su as the prime suspect. Dae-su’s life is looking fairly grim and incredibly lonely and filled with despair. Dae-su tries to kill himself several times before settling down to write his story of how he has been a terrible person and to make a list of people he has wronged, people that might want to imprison him. He also begins to train his body by attacking his wall with ferocity.

Dae-su is eventually released. He has to be; otherwise there would be no movie. Finally the movie catches up with the very first scene. Dae-su begins his quest for revenge and his quest for the truth. Why was he imprisoned? Who imprisoned him? His quest leads him to Mi-do, a young girl who is as lonely and filled with just as much despair as him. Naturally they fall in love. He also eventually meets Woo-jin, his captor. At this point the bloody game begins but the game is also a twisted and sick game of mental warfare.

Other items of interest are the ants that pour out of Dae-su’s skin while he is imprisoned and the sole giant ant that plagues Mi-do while she is lonely and depressed. Mi-do thinks it has something to do with loneliness and I think for her it is quite true. For Dae-su the ants represent some loneliness but mostly it represents his feeling of insignificance. The ants pouring out of Dae-su’s skin is also an homage to a short, a short that anyone who is familiar with French silent films will no doubt be well aware.

The soundtrack is comprised of orchestra pieces, most notably Vivaldi. The soundtrack really lends itself to the mood of the scenes even though they feel out of place during the scenes of rage and violence. I think this lends to the sheer insanity and twisted nature of what is happening.

The Hallway Fight is perhaps the most brutal fight I have ever seen in a movie and the fight scene is so brutally simple and violent that it will go down in film lore as perhaps one of the greatest fight scenes ever to be put to film.

As the film progresses you begin to ask yourself what is more important to Dae-su, the truth or vengeance? You also begin to ask yourself who is the one really seeking vengeance? And interestingly at the end of the movie we finally understand that pain and anguish that the truth and vengeance bring to the seekers as Dae-su’s joyful smile slowly turns into a silent scream of anguish and horror.

This film is well worth the viewing and should be a good opening selection to anyone’s Korean film library.

4.5/5 stars.

First Post

This blog will be devoted to reviewing movies that I watch. Most of the movies will be classics, cult classics or foreign films. Anyone can find a ton of reviews for the latest Hollywood movies. My very first movie review should be up in a couple of hours. I will be reviewing Park Chan-Wook's Oldboy.