Whale of a Tale Productions

A Post Production Company
INDY-JK--7494

Explosive City by Sam Leung Tak Sum (2004)

Good to know that someone is still making good action thrillers in Hong Kong. Not the best Hong Kong has ever offered, but still a decent and engaging police thriller. And besides I always like Alex Fong Chun Sun, Simon Tam Tat Wah and Sonny Chiba.

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Everybody Has Secrets by Jang Hyeon-soo (???) (2004)

Another bizarre Korean romantic comedy. Another where the bastard in the film gets away with it, he may not win, but he certainly gets away with it. I guess I enjoyed this film, but just as a single watch, I don’t really care to see it again (too bad I bought the Region 3 Special Edition DVD I guess).

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Sword in the Moon ???? by Kim Uy Suk (2003)

Just watched the Korean Region 3 DVD of this film, and must say that I enjoyed it. It is a dark and moody period action piece, that if it was from China would be called a Wuxia film. Not amazing, but still an enjoyable watch. The production design and cinematography are top notch (if a little bit overusing the frame stepping technique so often used by Wong Kar Wai).

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King Arthur by Antoine Fuqua (2004)

I was actually pleasantly surprised by this film. I didn’t bother seeing it in the theaters because it looked like crap, and I am a fan of both Clive Owen and Keira Knightley. Then I read some reviews on the DVD release, and it didn’t actually seem that bad. And after seeing CLOSER, I was up for seeing Clive Owen as a complete and total bad ass.

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New Police Story by Benny Chan Muk Sing (2004)

Good to see a good return of Jackie Chan to Hong Kong, and in a much darker vehicle than most of his recent films, especially his American ones. This one is decent, though not great. It goes give me visions of Gen X cops a bit, though with a darker and older Jackie Chan. A decent popcorn film, but not excellent, but still better than most of his American films.

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The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou by Wes Anderson (2004)

I have to say that I did not start out as a Wes Anderson fan. First I had heard so much about Bottle Rocket, and when I saw it I absolutely hated it. Then there was Rushmore. And I must be the only film geek that absolutely couldn’t stand that film, and I even love Bill Murray, but I just didn’t get it. Not at all. So I wasn’t expecting to like The Royal Tenenbaums at all, but I loved the trailer so I just had to see it, and I was blown away. I absolutely loved it. So I was very excited for this. Now being in New Zealand for the last 3 weeks I missed when it came out, but had only heard bad reviews, still I had high hopes. I went today at the arclight with my girlfriend, and absolutely loved it. It was hysterical and wonderful. What a wonderful world Anderson and his co-writer Noah Baumbach (i loved his self directed Kicking and Screaming, and own the laserdisc). This is a wonderous and silly world from someone who grew up being a huge fan of Cousteou documentaries.

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Closer by Mike Nichols (2004)

I had seen the trailer to this film, and thought it looked really interesting, though like something I could see on video later, because the sliminess of Jude Laws character, and the inclusion of Julia Roberts really turned me off, but when my mom was in town, and we were out with my girlfriend and her mom, it is what my girlfriend wanted to see. Now she didn’t like it, but I loved it. I think Clive Owen should get the Golden Globe and the Oscar for Best Supporting actor. This is his breakout American Performance for sure.

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Finding Neverland by Marc Foster (2004)

This year has been good for movies, and this film was no exception. I have to admit I cried at 2 times in the film. This is really a wonderful film, really about everything that Peter Pan is about, finding the wonder and joy in the world around you, and going to neverland. This time told from the point of view of the author of the play Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie. This film is wonderful and moving and I hope it does very well, and gets a much wider release.

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Spin Kick by Nam Sang Guk (2004)

This was an OK though not great film. Sure it’s predictable, but still not bad. Another bad boys in high school setting their lives in order tale, but not a bad one. Not saying it doesn’t have it’s problems, most especially being the real lack of a lead or central character. Kim Dong Wan as Yong Gaek is the closes thing, but his story isn’t really fleshed out enough. This was from the Korean Region 3 DVD.

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Pistol Opera by Seijin Suzuki (2001)

Wow. Another amazing film by Seijin Suzuki! And I had no idea this was a sequel to BRANDED TO KILL, though slightly belated (30+ years is a long wait!). Again about a Killer ranked number 3 and attempting to reach the top spot, but much more a visual and auditory feast than anything that makes narrative sense, and that doesn’t matter because this film is amazing!

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Zatoichi 22 Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman by Kimiyoshi Yasuda (1971)

Hmmm. Not sure what I feel about this Zatoichi film. It might be my least favorite of all the ones I have seen so far. A strange one indeed. This is film 21 out of the 26 Films that Shintaro Katsu did as Zatoichi (he also did 100 Hour long episodes of a TV series entitled Zatoichi Monogatari), and this one also has Jimmy Wang Yu as the One-Armed Swordsman. The thing is, that the film is such a strange mess. It has the crazy wuxia of the one armed swordsman, but the gritty realism (yea except that Zatoichi is blind) of the Zatoichi film. We have Jimmy Wang Yu jumping up huge cliffs and running on people’s heads, and the gritty sword fights of the Zatoichi fights with blood spraying (strangely little blood with the Jimmy Wang Yu fights). Also if it is the One – Armed Swordsman, what happened to his wife that kept from fighting? Did she die, and that is why he went to Japan to go to a temple? Who knows. Seems weird.

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The Incredibles by Brad Bird (2004)

Wow, this movie really was incredible! I absolutely loved this film. Since the split with Disney I can’t believe no one has picked up PIXAR, and it is just too bad they don’t have the rights to their disney films because that means any sequel to this film won’t have Pixar involved. Brad Bird did an awesome job going from 2D animation to 3D. Damn I loved this film.

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Dragon Swamp by Lo Wei (1969)

Wow, I had heard this film is amazing, and I was not let down in the slightest. This is Cheng Pei Pei at her finest! And to have her in 2 roles is even more of a treat! The action is phenomenal, and she is just amazing. This Region 3 Celestial DVD of this Shah Brother’s classic is amazing.

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The New One – Armed Swordsman by Chang Cheh (1971)

It seems after losing Jimmy Wang Yu in the titular role, Chang Cheh decided to re-invent the series, and he did so with style, with David Chiang now becoming the New One – Armed Swordsman. I highly recommend this film which I watched on Celestial pictures Region 3 DVD of this Shah Brothers classic.

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Return of the One – Armed Swordsman by Chang Cheh (1969)

This film is a direct sequel to Chang Cheh’s earlier masterpiece One – Armed Swordsman. It is a bloody and a great, though not perfect sequel to the original. Jimmy Wang Yu and Chiao Chiao return in this sequel set 2 years after the original, and any fans of the original should love this sequel, even though it has some problems. I recommend this Region 3 Celestial pictures DVD, though it does have some compression artifacts in the black of the images.

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Underworld Beauty by Suzuki Seijun (1958)

This is the US release by HVE, which is a decent transfer, though it looks like the prints of this 1958 Noir are showing some wear. There is certainly damage, and the film flutters in some places. Still that doesn’t detract from this excellent film noir about a bunch of diamonds.

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Around the World in 80 Days by Frank Coraci (2004)

I just watched this Jackie Chan film, after staying away from it in the theaters because it looked too unbleievably stupid, and not like much of a Jackie Chan film, but really it is a Jackie Chan film! Not only that but all the cameos are amazing, not just the know ones like Arnold Swarzenegger, John Cleese, Luke and Owen Wilson and Rob Schneider, but it is the Hong Kong stars like Karen Mok, Daniel Wu, Sammo Hung, Maggie Q.

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Vibrator by Hiroki Ryuichi (2003)

Wow. I have to say that again, wow. This was one of the best films I have seen in a long time. What a wonderful film. I loved everything about it from the music to the story to the acting. Just everything about this film. This film is amazing. This is the Region 2 Japanese DVD which has great English Subs. I have actually had this for months, having heard how good this film was, but held off watching off. I think the name Vibrator turned me off, but oh was I wrong. I hope this film won some awards because it is absolutely phenomenal!

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Casshern by Kiriya Kazuaki (2004)

I spent a decent amount of cash on the Japanese Special Edition DVD of Kiriya Kazuaki (Utada Hikaru’s husband) first feature, and I am glad to have seen it, but it I wasn’t super impressed. Now the film is visually sumptuous, and an amazing visual feast, but I wasn’t too much a fan of the story, or the heavy handed morality play that makes up the finally of the film.

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Ju-On The Grudge by Shimizu Takashi (2003)

last night for Halloween my girlfriend and I watched the Chinese Region 3 DVD of the Japanese Horror film, Ju-On the Grudge. I was expecting so much, something good and scary, but was sorely disappointed. Not only wasn’t it scary, but it was just serial deaths, and not scary ones at that. What a let down.

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2046 by Wong Kar Wai (2004)

I have to admit I couldn’t wait for this one. I just had to see it, so I bought the Mainland China special edition from ACE. And yes I know Tony Leung Chu Wai is dubbed into Mandarin (as is Wong Faye strangely enough, though Zhang Ziyi is speaking Mandarin), but I just had to see it. First off like the HERO Special Edition DVD, this disc is as ugly as can be. It does have English Subs, but they stay on until the next sub, and they have the even more (now it moves) annoying ACE logo in the upper left hand corner ever few minutes. Also the whole film is totally washed out. Even worse, at about 1 hr and 27 minutes in, the disc stopped playing in my Phillips all region Player, so after trying everything I could, I moved it to my APEX in my bedroom, which played it, but barely. It still halted a few times, and was skippy and jumpy throughout. Still it was worth it, now I can wait till the US release which will hopefully be a Criterion disc (well maybe, if I am working I am sure I will get the Hong Kong release as well). As for the film, I loved it. It was amazing, and this time a direct sequel to IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, but it also seemed to me to be a sequel to DAYS OF BEING WILD with Carina Lau’s character Lu Lu making a return, and seemingly hinting that Chow (Leung Chu Wai) is in fact the man in the last scene of DAYS OF BEING WILD. I guess that really makes this the end of a trilogy.

I picked up the Hong Kong release, and it is a very good transfer that does the film justice, and the subs are better than the Mainland release, though not perfect. A much better look into this amazing film.

Also picked up the Columbia disc, which is excellent, with deleted scenes, and an an enjoyable documentary on the making of the film with interviews with Wong Kar Wai and the rest of the cast, as well as some great behind the scenes footage, and a look at footage that was shot and not used.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Three of a Kind by Joe Ma (2004)

OK I am a sucker for Lau Ching Wan movies. I really wish he would start working with Johhnie To again, but I will pretty much pick up anything with him in it. Now this movie is completely stupid, but kind of a fun watch, and I enjoyed it if just for it’s silliness.

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He Was Cool ??? ???? by Lee Hwan Kyung (2004)

This is an impressive first outing for first time director Lee Hwan Kyung. I was hoping this wasn’t just another Korean teen comedy, and I was proved right this time. While this film is at times silly, and also melodramatic, it also has a good story, interesting characters, good fight scenes, and high drama. What more could you ask for. This Region 3 DVD is well worth picking up.

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Silmido ??? by Kang Woo Suk (2003)

I had wanted to see this film for some time, I even tried to go and see it in it’s limited US release, but while it was advertised as having English Subs, in fact that print where I went didn’t have any. Then I decided to hold off on the KOREAN SPECIAL EDITION, and wait for the cheaper Chinese Region 3 edition with English subs. Well I finally got it, and I have to say this was a very impressive film. Well worth watching.

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Throwdown by Johnnie To Kei Fung (2004)

An interesting film for sure, I can’t say I loved it, but certainly interesting. I am going to go on a quick Johnnie To rant here, and wonder why the hell he doesn’t use Lau Ching Wan anymore. They made all of their best films together, and now it seems To won’t use him at all. I mean I have nothing against Louis Koo Tin Lok, but he is certainly no Lau Ching Wan, in fact not much of an actor at all. More of a pretty boy. OK Rant over.

There are some great parts to this film, though overall it isn’t the best. Still it is worth seeing just to see the great parts.

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