Posted in Fantasia 2016, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews

Fantasia 2016 mini reviews

Mini reviews of Heart Attack, The Wailing, The Throne, The Inerasable, Karaoke Crazies, The Phantom Detective, Assassination Classroom: Graduation, Lazy Hazy Crazy, A Violent Prosecutor, The Bodyguard, What a Wonderful Family!, and The Piper after the jump.

Heart Attack
Director: Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit
Screenplay: Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit
Cast: Sunny C. Suwanmethanont, Violette Wautier, Davika Hoorne, Torpong Chantabubpha

This is a surprisingly good movie. There is some romance but its really more about a freelancer who jeopardizes his health to meet unreasonable deadlines. At times heartfelt and funny.

The Wailing
Director: Na Hong-jin
Screenplay: Na Hong-jin
Cast: Kwak Do-won, Hwang Jung-min, Jun Kunimura, Chun Woo-hee, Kim Hwan-hee

Pretty effective in regards to creating genuinely unsettling events and scares. The buildup and increase in tension is well done but the mystery and story in my opinion fall apart towards the end and the ending makes no sense. Perhaps a second viewing would help clarify certain things but I have my doubts.

The Throne
Director: Lee Joon-ik
Screenplay: Cho Chul-hyun, Song Lee, Oh Sung-hyeon
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Yoo Ah-in, Moon Geun-young, Jeon Hye-jin, Kim Hae-suk

Some of the main attractions are the lavish costumes and set design. There is also very strong acting but it is hard to understand the actions of the characters at times. Perhaps that’s because I don’t understand Korean royal politics of the Joseon era. This film seems to assume that the audience already has some knowledge of the historical era since it actually is based on a real, historical event.

The Inerasable
Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura
Screenplay: Kenichi Suzuki
Cast: Yuko Takeuchi, Ai Hashimoto, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Kentaro Sakaguchi, Kenichi Takito

I guess the slow burn type of horror is not a genre I appreciate. This was so boring that I kept falling asleep while watching it. There’s so much dull narration and barely anything scary or even unsettling happens. Annoying sounds are also repeated often. This is the first movie from this director (one of my favorites) that I have completely disliked.

Karaoke Crazies
Director: Kim Sang-chan
Screenplay: Park Ji-hong
Cast: Lee Moon-sik, Bae So-eun, Kim Na-mi, Bang Jun-ho

Okay and not nearly as offbeat as some reviews seem to claim. It tries to do both funny and serious moments but they clash and diminish each other more often than not. I did not really like the choice of female characters (pretty but easily manipulated or controlled by male characters) in this movie and frankly the male characters (ugly losers) aren’t very interesting either.

The Phantom Detective
Director: Jo Sung-hee
Screenplay: Jo Sung-hee
Cast: Lee Je-hoon, Go A-ra, Kim Sung-kyun

This is a pretty good film noir but it has an inconsistent aesthetic. Some scenes definitely evoke a film noir look but a lot of scenes also look generic or overly glossy in attempts to evoke Sin City. It definitely parodies the genre numerous times. The interaction between the kids and the detective is a highlight, both funny and emotional. The final plan is a tad ludicrous but otherwise it does the job.

Assassination Classroom: Graduation
Director: Eiichiro Hasumi
Screenplay: Tatsuya Kanazawa
Cast: Ryosuke Yamada, Masaki Suda, Maika Yamamoto, Kazunari Ninomiya, Mirei Kiritani

This is part 2 and the conclusion to the original movie. I wasn’t a big fan of the original and just thought it was okay. Some of my complaints about it are addressed in this concluding part. The romance is pretty contrived but overall most of the emotional moments work. The last fight is anti-climatic but the ending is bittersweet. If you saw the first part and liked it enough then you owe it to yourself to see this concluding part.

Lazy Hazy Crazy
Director: Jody Luk Yee-Sum
Screenplay: Jody Luk Yee-Sum, Momo Lu, Zhang Mengyi
Cast: Kwok Yik-sum, Fish Liew, Mak Tsz-yi, Tse Sit-chun, Gregory Wong

This is an interesting drama about a trio of 18 year old girls who exchange sex for money. This is apparently a popular topic in Hong Kong. There is explicit female nudity, some of which seems unwarranted. There is some criticism about the main conflict revolving around a boy instead of I guess something else. I thought the acting and portrayal of female friendship was good.

A Violent Prosecutor
Director: Lee Il-hyung
Screenplay: Lee Il-hyung
Cast: Hwang Jung-min, Kang Dong-won, Lee Seung-min, Park Seung-wong, Park Jong-hwan

A pretty good buddy action comedy but one that is fairly predictable. The strong point is the interaction between the mismatched prosecutor and conman, which is fun to watch. It seems a bit serious at first but it ends up being mostly a comedy. Their plan seems to go off a bit too easily but you’re just so happy to see the bad guy get his due that you don’t mind too much.

The Bodyguard
Director: Yue Song
Screenplay: Yue Song
Cast: Yue Song, Xing Yu, Collin Chou

There was potential but it ends up as a disappointing mess in the action department. The fight choreography is hard-hitting but it is mostly ruined by lots and lots of cuts. Surprisingly, the story is not terrible. Not great but it is less of a disappointment than the fighting. Yue Song seems like the real deal but should try to choreograph and film fights scenes with way less cutting and editing. He’d probably be better off having someone else do the editing and camera work.

Bakuman
Director: Hitoshi Ohne
Screenplay: Hitoshi Ohne
Cast: Takeru Sato, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Shota Sometani, Nana Komatsu, Takayuki Yamada

Okay but this is not a must-watch. You get to learn a bit about manga making but the story is kind of boring. It ends up being mostly montages that are well animated but don’t really do much story-wise. There’s also a pedestrian romance.

What a Wonderful Family!
Director: Yoji Yamada
Screenplay: Yoji Yamada, Emiko Hiramatsu
Cast: Isao Hashizume, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Yu Aoi

From a master filmmaker comes a pretty decent family comedy, particularly the concluding part but nothing that is a must-see. If you like these family dramas where everyone bickers then this is worth a watch. The acting talent in this movie is considerable and does not disappoint but I’d say the middle part of the story drags a bit too much.

The Piper
Director: Kim Gwang-tae
Screenplay: Kim Gwang-tae
Cast: Ryu Seung-ryong, Lee Sung-min, Lee Joon, Chun Woo-hee, Goo Seung-hyun

This movie is too nonsensical to take seriously as a drama or mystery and it’s not really scary. The main actor is good but I didn’t like the child, which probably has more to do with the story than the acting. There are unsettling events but they come off as being more silly than believable. The lack of explanation for at least one character’s motivation doesn’t help. It takes place entirely in a village with lots of rats, which ends up being as uninteresting as you’d expect.

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Author:

Longtime fan of East Asian films. Former "movie reporter" on the music radio show / podcast "Beats From The East" broadcasted on Concordia University's CJLO 1690AM radio station in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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