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Archive for March, 2011

Korean cinema blogathon 2011: ‘My Wife Is A Gangster 2’

Posted by Josh Samford On March - 12 - 2011




Day six! Who knew we could still keep going at this point? Today I offer up a review for the sequel My Wife Is A Gangster 2, the sequel to the impressive and fun My Wife Is A Gangster. Although it has issues, it may very well be worth a look. Read on and discover why!

The Plot: Our film mildly begins where My Wife Is A Gangster originally did, with Eun-jin continuing her role within the gang. Our film begins with her leading her scissor-gang in an epic battle along the top of a roof, where she inevitably gets knocked off and seemingly falls to her doom. When she thankfully lands on a trampoline and then a chicken coop – it seems her life has been saved. When she falls off the chicken truck, she is then picked up by a restaurant owner who takes her in and begins to look after her. Unfortunately she is unable to remember anything about her life, and so time passes and she takes on her new life as a food delivery woman. After a few years with this new “family” at the restaurant, she starts to find her muscles have not forgotten their physicality and before long she is using her fighting ability for a good use by taking on bank robbers and other crooks. When her exploits grab her some attention in the local media, this also brings upon the watchful eye of her enemies who immediately recognize her. Will Eun-jin remember her identity before it is too late?


CONTINUE READING HERE!

My Wife Is A Gangster 2

Posted by Josh Samford On March - 12 - 2011



My Wife Is A Gangster 2 (2006)
Director: Jeong Heung-sun
Writers: Choi Hae-cheol and Jeong Heung-sun
Starring: Shin Eun-Kyung, Park Jun Gyu and Jang Se-jin



The Plot: Our film mildly begins where My Wife Is A Gangster originally did, with Eun-jin continuing her role within the gang. Our film begins with her leading her scissor-gang in an epic battle along the top of a roof, where she inevitably gets knocked off and seemingly falls to her doom. When she thankfully lands on a trampoline and then a chicken coop – it seems her life has been saved. When she falls off the chicken truck, she is then picked up by a restaurant owner who takes her in and begins to look after her. Unfortunately she is unable to remember anything about her life, and so time passes and she takes on her new life as a food delivery woman. After a few years with this new “family” at the restaurant, she starts to find her muscles have not forgotten their physicality and before long she is using her fighting ability for a good use by taking on bank robbers and other crooks. When her exploits grab her some attention in the local media, this also brings upon the watchful eye of her enemies who immediately recognize her. Will Eun-jin remember her identity before it is too late?

The Review
When I first discovered the cinema of South Korea, it truly was like finding a breath of fresh air inside of the Asian cinema bubble. Within this market place I discovered a new mix of Hollywood-inspired films which featured big budget polish, but still retained those strikingly original ideas that had made Hong Kong and Japanese cinema such an adventure for me. One of the first genres that I had discovered was the South Korean rendition of the romantic comedy. Similar to their North American counterpart, in the fact that they also seem to have a direct connection to female visitors, the South Korean version can also feature aspects of any number of genres mixed in. Often I have found many of these films seem to target both male and female audiences, by including often-time crass humor as well as intense or violent action sequences. Such was the case with the original My Wife Is A Gangster, which featured both additions to the genre stereotypes. While this sequel ultimately does end up continuing the entertainment levels, it drops many of the fun genre devices that made it such a refreshing experience. What we are ultimately left with is a rather flawed, but still enjoyable, piece of action-comedy fluff.

As is the case with all sequels, fans of the original will want to know first and foremost how it continues on with the previous movie. In the case of My Wife Is A Gangster 2, in terms of continuity it is a mixed bag of sorts. Although many of the supporting cast from the original film do in fact show up, one of the most important cast members from the previous film is woefully absent. I am of course talking about the husband from the original film, who much of the first movie was based around. For those who missed the original, the entire premised focused on Eun-jin (Shin Eun-Kyung) trying to find a model husband in order to pacify her dying sister. She ultimately finds a dim-witted man, who the story then focuses on, and we watch as she tries to become more feminine in order to fit the role of a demure wife. Although this may be a spoiler of sorts, their relationship did not in fact end by the conclusion of the first movie. So his absence in this movie seems even more peculiar. Regardless, his role is ultimately filled in the form of “Boss” who is a character that basically plays the same role as was required by the husband in the first film. Still, fans of the first movie can take solace in the fact that although the original husband is missing, the movie does come across as faithful to the original in terms of style and character arches.

The film ultimately seems as if it were tailor made for Shin Eun-Kyung. Although the movie is generally less engaging than the first, I will say that the twists and turns that her character makes in this movie are far more interesting than I would have expected. As incredibly lame as the amnesia device is, within any film that uses it in a similar fashion, I am actually quite thankful for it in this case. Shin Eun-Kyung has the ability here to continue the series, but also play an entirely different character this time around. In losing her memory, the character of Eun-jin ultimately becomes a rather normal and complicit woman who deals with her problems without gritting her teeth or slapping the heads of all men around her. Her character also grows her hair out and becomes decidedly more attractive this time out. The masculine haircut is gone for the most part, and instead her character looks as if she just got back from the stylist, even when she does have her hair shortened. It is an interesting turn of events, even though it isn’t interesting enough to eliminate the bad taste we receive from the “amnesia” angle being pulled on us. In all honesty, you really don’t expect such a cliche plot device from a popular series such as this. You expect that sort of thing to be reserved exclusively for really bad sitcoms and television shows.

Classified as an action-comedy, these two aspects of the series are certainly a driving factor behind their popularity and are worthy of discussion. The action was always a great selling point for when it came to drawing in both sexes for the original movie. While it did contribute that “fish out of water” aesthetic, with Eun-jin having to beautify herself and act more girlie, the men in the audience could always rely on the brutal fight sequences that were spectacularly handled. Thankfully, even under the eye of a new director (Cho Jin-gyu directed the first film, Jeong Heung-sun directed this one), the action remains and is still pulled off in spectacular fashion. I will say that it seemed as if the original packed in more action amidst all of the comedy and melodrama, but the quality certainly seems substantial even if the quantity is. On the flip side of the coin, the comedy certainly seems like a step-down in my opinion. While the original movie worked well with its Pretty Woman concept, this sequel unfortunately relies on a much more bland form of situational comedy. While it is interesting to see Shin Eun-Kyung actually contribute to the slapstick comedy, unfortunately this removes our “straight man” and as such the movie seems to degenerate into unstructured silliness at times. There are some laughs to be had, but a lot of the jokes go way over the top and occasionally become groan inducing.


The Conclusion
My Wife Is A Gangster 2 isn’t a terribly bad sequel. Where I would have likely given the original film a solid four out of five stars, I think this one gets dropped down by a point. I give the movie an overall three out of five, because despite my reservations I still managed to have a good time with the movie. It is a bit on the clumsy side, but it could have been far worse. If you’re a fan of the original, I would say it is worth searching out.




Ron Howard action pack coming from Shout! Factory

Posted by Josh Samford On March - 12 - 2011
There has been more good news released from the good people at Shout! Factory. On May 24th, they will be releasing another entry in the Roger Corman cult classic line. This time it’ll be a double feature of early Ron Howard films, featuring two of the more popular “gear head” cult films out there. On this collection you will find Eat My Dust! as well as the immortal Grand Theft Auto, both of which are well beloved the world over. The set won’t be bare bones either, as both films will feature brand new special features!

The special features for Eat My Dust! include interviews with Ron Haward himself as well as Roger Corman and poster artist John Solie. The set also includes a making-of featurette along with the original trailer and TV spots.

Grand Theft Auto will come stracked with features, including multiple interviews with Roger Corman and Ron Howard. There are even interview with Rand and Clint Howard as well! There will be two audio commentaries, one featuring Ron Howard And Roger Corman, the other featuring Rance Howard, second unit director Allan Arkush, editor Joe Dante And key grip Ben Haller.

That is a very impressive array of features! Keep an eye open for the DVD next month! Continue reading after the break for the full press release!

Continue reading “Ron Howard action pack coming from Shout! Factory” »

Korean cinema blogathon 2011: ‘No Mercy For The Rude’

Posted by Josh Samford On March - 11 - 2011




Day five and things just keep on trucking along with the Korean cinema blogathon! Today we offer up a review for the lesser known but very awesome Korean action-comedy-drama, No Mercy For The Rude! Check it out!

The Plot: Killa (Shin Ha-kyun) is a young man living with a short tongue that ultimately prevents him from being able to speak aloud, so instead he lives within his own mind. Looking for an answer to his short-tongued problem, he finds a doctor who offers him a chance to travel overseas for an operation, but this will cost a great deal of money. More money than a chef could ever hope to see at one time. So, leaving behind his days as a seafood chef, he begins a new life as a hitman for hire. Using a knife as his primary weapon, despite most in his profession now turning to guns, Killa establishes himself as a killer with a moral compass. No women, no kids and the only ones to die by his hands will be “rude” or “bad” men. As Killa gets closer and closer to his goal of attaining his operation, he is introduced to a young woman who forces herself onto him and the two begin a strange new relationship. Shortly afterward Killa also runs into an orphaned child who also enters into his life and three soon become a family unit of sorts. When a botched hit threatens to undo everything for Killa, he will have to discover a way to make things right and save those he cares about.


CONTINUE READING HERE!

No Mercy For The Rude

Posted by Josh Samford On March - 11 - 2011



No Mercy For the Rude (2006)
Director: Park Cheol-hie
Writers: Park Cheol-hie
Starring: Shin Ha-kyun, Yun Ji-hye and Kim Min-jun



The Plot: Killa (Shin Ha-kyun) is a young man living with a short tongue that ultimately prevents him from being able to speak aloud, so instead he lives within his own mind. Looking for an answer to his short-tongued problem, he finds a doctor who offers him a chance to travel overseas for an operation, but this will cost a great deal of money. More money than a chef could ever hope to see at one time. So, leaving behind his days as a seafood chef, he begins a new life as a hitman for hire. Using a knife as his primary weapon, despite most in his profession now turning to guns, Killa establishes himself as a killer with a moral compass. No women, no kids and the only ones to die by his hands will be “rude” or “bad” men. As Killa gets closer and closer to his goal of attaining his operation, he is introduced to a young woman who forces herself onto him and the two begin a strange new relationship. Shortly afterward Killa also runs into an orphaned child who also enters into his life and three soon become a family unit of sorts. When a botched hit threatens to undo everything for Killa, he will have to discover a way to make things right and save those he cares about.

The Review
No Mercy For the Rude is a title that has been explicitly recommended to me by my good friend Heavenztrash (from the blog In Nervous Convulsion) for well over a year at this point. His review for the film also secured its place in my “to watch pile” for the longest. In fact, I actually owe Heavenztrash a great deal of thanks for providing the images necessary to complete this review on time. Despite his glowing and well written review, it finally took the Korean cinema blogathon for me to actually give the movie its proper due. Although it hasn’t picked up the popularity that some titles have had within the film geek community, No Mercy For the Rude proves to be an exceptionally well made and entertaining entry into the professional killer subgenre. The film delves into some oddball territories now and then and turns out all the better for it, as the bizarre mix of comedy and action results in a film that delivers upon its fun premise.

Although there is a heart to No Mercy For the Rude, with real characters providing some semblance of depth, the meat and gristle of the project will no doubt remain its inventive use of gimmickry. Similar to many post-Tarantino crime films of the late nineties and early aughts, there is a primary focus on style and the “idea” factor. The idea factor simply boils down to the question: “how many gimmicks can we throw in one movie?” While I may sound sarcastic, I am not inherently against the concept. I hold no prejudice when it comes to spicing a movie up with some “out there” elements that alleviate the pains of regular genre-based movie making. For instance, our lead character portrayed by Shin Ha-Kyun (from Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance fame) isn’t solely a lonely hitman; he is also a former chef, aspiring bullfighter and an unfortunate mute who was born with a short tongue. Aside from these eccentricities, he also has a full “code” with which he lives by. His sole use of knives, instead of guns, also brings to mind Danny Trejo’s character in Desperado which was another title that made use of the “idea” factor. Along with our leading man, he also shares time with a league of other friends/killers who share very similar gimmicks. We have a former martial arts teacher who has turned to killing in order to make his living, and a former ballerina who regularly uses his superhuman agility in order to make for a better assassin.

The entertainment factory is certainly the leading reason to track down No Mercy For the Rude, but the film does offer some food amidst all of the delicious treats. The contradictory morality of our leading man is one instance that really jumps out for the audience, as we hear through his voiceover narration over and over again that he tries to justify his role in life despite the fact that we can clearly see his distaste for murder. His use of blades, while also being exceptionally “cool”, also allows for him to get close to those he kills so that he must confront their death face first. We see his character drinking heavily after going through with a job. We see him in moments of isolation and introspection immediately after killing a target, and we know that he doesn’t like this. His use of the knife, which results in him getting closer to something he doesn’t enjoy, reminds me of “mortification of the flesh” which is an act that many religions have been known to practice. The basic concept is that by torturing ones own flesh, usually with a whip across the back, you can scourge your soul of impurities. While our leading man surely feels that his work is justified by killing “rude” men, he also tortures himself by getting up close and personal with these murders as a way of purging himself of this heinous act. Sure, you can say it all just comes back to his being a seafood chef before his murdering days, but I’ll just assume that the subtext is there.

Despite the film being highly entertaining and comedic, the technical merits are actually quite impressive. The film is a visual feast, with a wide array of large framed shots that dominate the majority of the movie. The screen is constantly textured with incredible set design and strange camera angles that show off the talent of these filmmakers. In particular, I found myself impressed with our leading man’s apartment which is often shown via the corners of the various rooms. The filmmakers work well in displaying all dimensions of a room and usually fit the intersection between walls and ceiling within the frame, which gives a visual flourish that isn’t seen often. The cast, who fill up the frame, are also well handled throughout the movie. Leading man Shin Ha-Kyun is exceptional in the lead, displaying a wide variety of emotions despite having no real spoken dialogue throughout the film. He instead delivers his dialogue through voice over narration for the most part, and the combination might seem a bit cliche at first but the sardonic humor of his actions and the accompanying voiceover helps offer a good deal of the comedic moments. Jun Ji-hye, who stars as the femme fatale to our leading man’s lone-wolf character, offers the perfect mix of sass and beauty. The sarcastic wit of her character adds an extra dimension to the film and really helps to develop that undercurrent of dark humor that is painted on throughout the movie.


The Conclusion
A brilliant mix of genre types and ideas, No Mercy For the Rude may not be a perfect film but it is perfectly entertaining. I give the movie a very solid four out of five and for those of you who haven’t tracked it down, I highly recommend it. Equal parts No Blood, No Tears and A Bittersweet Life, this is a title that doesn’t deserve to be overlooked.




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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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