Junk Head (2017)
Directed by: Takahide Hori
Written by: Takahide Hori
Review: This is a dystopian stop-motion animated film from Japan. There is a short by the same name that was finished in 2013 and took the creator 4 years to make in his spare time. I haven’t watched the short but I believe this is a full length extended version of it. Humans have achieved longevity at the price of losing their ability to reproduce. Clones were created to solve this problem but they rebelled and now live in the depths of what appears to be an underground industrial facility while the humans live above. A human decides to travel to the lower levels for reasons that are revealed later in the movie. The human (whose name we don’t know) actually loses his memory upon arriving in the lower levels and is found by a resident who reassembles him with “junk” robotic parts. The characters speak in an imaginary language that is subtitled in the movie.
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God of War (2017)
Directed by: Gordon Chan
Written by: Xiong Zhaozheng, Maria Wong, Frankie Tam, Wu Mengzhang
Cast: Vincent Zhao, Sammo Hung, Wan Qian, Wu Yue, Yasuaki Kurata
Review: Considering the generic sounding title, I hadn’t done much research on this movie and didn’t have any expectations. I wouldn’t even have seen if it weren’t for the fact it was between two movies I had planned to see. The film is a historical war movie that takes place during the Ming dynasty. It centers on a general named Qi Jiguang (Vincent Zhao) who’s tasked to defeat Japanese pirates after his predecessor commander Yu (Sammo Hung) fails to do so for months.
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Directed by: Jimmy Henderson
Written by: Jimmy Henderson, Michael Hodgson
Cast: Jean-Paul Ly, Dara Our, Tharoth Sam, Céline Tran
Review: This is Cambodia’s first martial arts action movie. A man named Playboy is arrested and the police are tasked with transporting him to prison. Playboy’s boss has put a hit on him by promising to pay one of the most ruthless prisoners. The police after placing Playboy in his cell end up being trapped as the prisoners are let loose. They have to fight to survive while also recapturing Playboy.
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Made in Hong Kong / 香港製造 (1997) (4k restoration: 2017)
Directed by: Fruit Chan
Written by: Fruit Chan
Cast: Sam Lee, Wenders Li, Amy Tam, Neiky Yim, Carolina Lam
Review: This was a screening of the 4k restoration marking the film’s 20th anniversary. I had never heard of this Hong Kong film but am glad to have gotten the chance to watch it. It focuses on a young man named Moon (Same Lee). He’s a high school drop out who does debt collecting for a local triad boss. He has a friend named Sylvester (Wenders Li) who is retarded. Moon protects him from bullies. One day Sylvester witnesses a girl committing suicide by jumping from a building. She has two letters, one for her boyfriend and one for her family. He takes them and from then on it seems to Moon that their lives begin to spiral downwards.
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Have a Nice Day / 好极了 / hǎojíle (2017)
Directed by: Liu Jian
Written by: Liu Jian
Cast: Zhu Changlong, Yang Siming, Ma Xiaofeng, Zheng Yi, Cao Kai
Review: This is an animated film by an independent studio. Despite its size and art history, China isn’t known for animation at all although I’m sure they have local stuff that caters to their own region that never gets released outside of the mainland. This is a crime film for adults that’s drawn in a realistic style. The plot is pretty simple and it takes place in a small empty looking town. A guy steals a bag of money and his boss is not pleased. In a series of events, other people discover the money and each one tries to keep it for themselves but ends up losing it.
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Tokyo Ghoul / 東京喰種 / Tokyo Guru (2017)
Directed by: Kentaro Hagiwara
Written by: Ichiro Kusuno
Cast: Masataka Kubota, Fumika Shimizu, Nobuyuki Suzuki, Yu Aoi, Yo Oizumi
Review: This is an adaptation of the manga of the same name. I have not read the manga or seen the anime. In fact, I barely even researched the premise so when the film began I was in for a scary and gory surprise. The film centers on a young man, Ken Kaneki (Masataka Kubota), who gets transformed into a half ghoul after a particularly nasty encounter with one named Rize (Yu Aoi). Ghouls look like humans but they also have a scary looking form where they can form extra appendages. They also can only survive by eating human flesh. You would think this would cast ghouls as the obvious villains but in reality not all of them are bad. There are some humans in a special department (referred to as “doves” by Ghouls) who are tasked with hunting and killing the ghouls but they aren’t necessarily the good guys.
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Confidential Assignment / 공조 / Gongjo lit. Cooperation (2017)
Directed by: Kim Sung-hoon
Written by: Yoon Hyeon-ho
Cast: Hyun Bin, Yoo Hai-jin, Kim Joo-hyuck, Lim Yoo-na
Review: This is a buddy cop type action movie with mismatched partners, one a North Korean special forces officer, Im Chul-ryeong (Hyun Bin), and the other a South Korean street detective, Kang Jin-tae (Yoo Hae-jin). They’re forced to team up to catch a defector who killed some officers and stole money counterfeiting plates. The defector and his band of mercenaries have fled from North to South Korea. It sounds serious but it’s just a setup for the action and comedy.
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Vampire Cleanup Department / 救僵清道夫 / Gao geung jing dou fu (2017)
Directed by: Yan Pak-Wing, Chiu Sin-Hang
Written by: Yan Pak-Wing, Ho Wing-Hong, Ashley Cheung
Cast: Babyjohn Choi, Lin Min-Chen, Richard Ng, Chin Siu-Ho, Susan Shaw
Review: There was a time in Hong Kong when hopping vampire movies were popular. I’m not familiar with this genre so this is the first one I’ve seen. These vampires look like rotting corpses. They don’t walk but they hop with their arms straight out in front of them. The setup is simple, there is a secret department that’s tasked with eliminating vampires but the employees are getting old. In comes, a young, clumsy man named Tim (Babyjohn Choi) who would seem ill-suited for the job. But after getting his butt chomped on by a vampire, he discovers that he is immune to vampire bites. There seems to be something special about his blood as it seems to transform another vampire (Lin Min-Chen) from rotting corpse into her original human form of a beautiful woman. Although she looks human she still hops around like a vampire and craves blood cubes.
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