Posts Tagged ‘Brothers’


When Magic Goes Black, It Never Goes Back: The Shaw Brothers’ Seeding of a Ghost

December 3, 2008

d. Chuan Yang 

After surviving the visual onslaught of Boxer’s Omen, I expected the notorious Seeding of a Ghost to fulfill the same promises of black magic insanity. On some levels it does live up to my expectations, but on most levels it mainly fails.

Classy Love Scenes Like This Make It Worthwhile

Classy Love Scenes Like This Make It Worthwhile

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The Brothers Grimm Are Delightful Company

November 5, 2008

d. Terry Gilliam 

Terry Gilliam once again proves to be a director of such a strong singular vision that you can immediately tell when you’re watching one of his films. This time he is ably assisted by Matt Damon and Heath Ledger as the title characters.

The film tells the story of the Brothers Grimm and how they traverse French-occupied Germany (ho ho!) bamboozling superstitious peasants by pretending to exorcise supernatural witches and beastie that haunt their villages.

It isn’t until they are captured by the French (Jonathan Pryce) and forced to investigate the disappearance of several children do they come across the real deal — an ages old queen (the voluptuous Monica Belucci, playing evil deliciously) who, in a bid for immortality, got the extended lifespan but not the beauty; she therefore has a werewolf kidnap the children for their blood.

The Brothers Grimm, initially in over their heads, rise to the occasion with the help of an exiled huntress (a gorgeous Lena Headey) who discovers a familial bond with the Queen’s lycanthropic servant.

The movie plays to the strengths of Terry Gilliam’s cynical dark humour and displays the typical attention to minutiae in the sets and costumes that he is known for. He gets great performances from both Damon and Ledger, acknowledging in his commentary that they played parts against type. Ledger is especially fun to watch as he plays the more shy and introverted Jake to Damon’s bullying and slick Will.

The supporting cast also gets some great actors. Jonathan Pryce is always fun to watch, and Peter Stormare as an Italian torturer gets some good bits as well.

He also does a great job conflating several folktale characters to create new but recognizable archetypes — Belucci’s queen collapses elements of The Princess and the Pea, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, et al.; we also see a young girl with a Red Riding Cape (har har!), two of the village children are Hansel and Greta, etc. He makes a fun way of acknowledging the source material, while twisting it for his own needs, all the while chortling with mischief.

Perhaps my only complaint is that Lena Headey is way too gorgeous to be believable as a woodsperson, but whatever.

So while this is good Terry Gilliam, it’s not great Terry Gilliam (Brazil, 12 Monkeys), but I’ll take it. *** stars.


“What? We Were Twins In Our Past Lives?” — The Boxer’s Omen

October 24, 2008

d. Chih-Hung Kwei

This film is absolutely bug-nuts. It’s wall-to-wall craziness like the bastard offspring of Jodorowsky and early Sam Raimi.

But I Look Nothing Like You!

But I Look Nothing Like You!

The first thing to catch me off guard when watching this film is that it is a Shaw Brothers film. The same Shaw Brothers that made Saturday afternoons so much fun to stay home and who gave us many excellent kung-fu flicks Shaw Brothers. It seems that in the 80s they turned their attention to the fantasy/horror genre and would occasionally spice things up with, oh, full frontal female nudity.

Much like a Jodorowsky film, Boxer’s Omen is such a grab-bag narrative that you trying to make sense of it all is an exercise in futility. It also treats Buddhism and religious themes rather seriously if in a fantastical manner. Finally, like Jodorowsky, this film is packed with intense visuals many of which are truly memorable.

What I could gather is that the Hung, brother of a boxer whose neck is broken during a match attempts to gain revenge on the Thai mobsters responsible; enter the monk. Yep, his revenge quest takes a major sidetrack when a ghostly monk appears urging Hung to seek him out. Hung ends up traveling to a Buddhist temple where he discovers that he was the twin brother of a mummified monk in a previous life (!). And that’s just a taste of the craziness to come. The mummified monk tasks Hung with defeating the evil sorceror that has prevented him (the monk) from achieving immortality. Hung, of course, doesn’t believe him until he pukes up an eel into his sink.

So for the next half an hour, we are treated to Hung’s training montage as he becomes a monk in order to duel a wacked out sorceror in glam pajamas who commands fake bats that emerge from the skulls of crocodiles. Oh, yeah! And the best part is when the glam magician decapitates himself so his head can attack Hung with its veins! Yeahbuhwha!! The filmmakers must have seen The Thing, it’s eerily reminiscent.

Black Magicians Always Up On Latest Styles

Black Magicians Always Up On Latest Styles

After a psychedelic battle ensues, Hung returns to Hong Kong only to immediately break his Buddhist vows by getting it on with his hot girlfriend, and picking up the boxer/mobster storyline which climaxes in a harrowing fight that is almost ruined by the resurrection of the glam sorceror.

And this is no ordinary resurrection. Three other fashion-victim sorcerors (whose symbols echo the Deadly Venoms (Spider, Centipede and Lizard) — wink wink ) enact the grossest ritual ever committed to film.

First they gut a crocodile (pretty sure it’s fake) and then sew a corpse into its empty gut. Then one guy chomps into chicken entrails covered with squirming maggots and then chases it down with gobs of Durian, that crap-smelling fruit. He then regurgitates it for the next guy to chow down on and add a ripe banana rind to. Who then regurgitates that for the next guy until all three leave a putrid looking mess onto a platter. They then cut the corpse out of the crocodile and wash the worms off to reveal a fully nekkid lady that they then proceed to force feed their masticated dinner. Yowza!

Needless to say, Hung, in a weakened state from breaking his vows, now has to travel to Nepal to retrieve the Golden Ashes in order to save himself and help his mummified twin brother become immortal. It is during this attempt that he has a final confrontation with the lady sorceror and her detachable claw hands.

So yeah, this film has to be seen to be believed, it is beyond out there; and I get the feeling that this film may have been typical for its genre. (The more contemporary Art of the Devil 2 deals with similar supernatural/horror themes so it most certainly is also a cultural thing.) The gore looks cheap and fake, but the ideas are extremely effective and imaginative, and being a supernatural film of the 80s, you can expect a lot of neon colored laser lights.

**1/2 stars for the sheer audacious nature of this film. It’s not great at all, but it is mesmerizing.

So while I still wait for the arrival of Patrick, I will most likely have Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride up next for review.