Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Greetings again, all you book and film lovers. Looking at my book review essay, I think it might be better if I talk about the tooks once I've finished them instead of writing about them monthly. What do you think? I think I may do the same for the movies I watch too. But then again, that would make the essays really short. I guess I'll stick to my usual format. Never mind, just me babbling. Recently, I did go on a little movie-watching spree. From Hollywood Blockbusters to really, really, cheesy B-movies. Some of them were so bad, even giving a B to it is doing the film a favor. I also watched an entire series of a science-fiction program and watched with a little difficulty, a mini series that was entirely in French (being a French production and all). I coudn't understand the French even though I spent three years studying the language - but that was back in high school and I never did find a use for it as I never got around to visiting France or any French speaking countries, until I went to Tunisia a few years ago, so that still leaves a blank of about twenty years or so. I also continue to watch Korean Cinema, and will pass along the films to my mother who has become addicted to Korean films and dramas and practically all things Korean! My friend Rob would be proud, being part Korean. Oh, and although we were going to go see "Earth" on the big screen, Mikako came down with a bit of a cold so we still haven't been to the theater this year. Now, without further ado, check out what I've subjected myself to the past couple of months:


BON JOVI WOWOW SPECIAL - Of course Mikako had a friend tape the live broadcast of the Monday night show (January 14), I shall not provide a set list as I have already written about the show. After the broadcast, they aired a bunch of Bon Jovi promotional videos too, "Livin' On a Prayer", "You Give Love a Bad Name", "(You Want) to Make a Memory" and "Have a Nice Day". I hadn't seen the last two so that was kind of cool.

BLACK SABBATH: THE LAST SUPPER - The long-awaited Sabbath reunion of all four original members - Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward filmed in 1999. After nearly twenty years, we once again are able to listen to the classics that haven't aged since the songs were written - "War Pigs", "N.I.B.", "Electric Funeral", "Fairies Wear Boots", "Into the Void", "Snowblind", "After Forever", "Dirty Women", "Black Sabbath", "Ironman", "Children of the Grave", and "Paranoid". Of course I wouldn't really site "Dirty Women" as a classic, that tune being from the less than popular "Technical Ecstasy" album. Of course what I did find annoying was that during the live performance, they would fade the song into the background and intersperse the tunes with interviews of the band members. It would have been much more enjoyable if they did the interviews at the beginning or end of the songs. Very irritating!

KEITAI SHOJO: KOI NO KAGAI JUGYO or ケータイ少女:恋の課外授業 - Which translates to something like Cell-phone Ladies: Extracurricular Class for Love. I know, sounds silly doesn't it? My friend Don and my Dad would probably love this program because of all the girls dressed in high school uniforms (even if they are beyond high school age) - sorry Don (hahahahahaha) but it's not porn or soft-core (so, sorry Pat K.) This was included on a sample disc that featured a few other previews and a movie which I'll talk about later. Anyway, this little show is based on a cell-phone game - I kid you not. The deal is, the girls in order to succeed in their various love lives, must complete a task that's set before them. The show is divided into two parts. First, there's the cheesy dramatization. Episode one has lovelorn girl yearning for the captain of the soccer team, who doesn't know she exists. But with the help of the cell phone angel, she slowly gets him to notice her. But in order to win his love, she must complete a difficult task. The second part of the drama is the task itself. The first girl's assignment is rock climbing. She has about a week to train for this task - then the staff takes her to some mountain in Nagano prefecture where she must challenge herself to climb a virtually 90 degree cliff-face. Pretty amusing idea for a show but not one that I'm likely to watch regularly. It would probably be broadcast in the wee hours of the morning.

4. STARGATE ATLANTIS: SEASON ONE - I think I may have left the States a little too early as the Science-Fiction channel wasn't yet available. So imagine my surprise when I was fortunate enough to be able to check out this program on a DVD box set. The Stargate series seems to be a blend of "Star Trek" and "The Time Tunnel". It's like "Star Trek" as the program explores strange new worlds and civilizations (of course they don't as far as to plagirize the phrase "to boldly go where no man has gone before", thank goodness. And the Stargates themselves reminded me of the "Time Tunnel" as the Stargate pretty much looks like the gateway they used in that old program. Still, I love the fact that this program uses a lot of Star Trekisms, a definite tribute to the grand daddy of all the science-fiction series.

Episode 1: Rising (Part 1) - Stargate crew finds the lost city of Atlantis. The legend is true, however Atlantis was buried beneath the sea in another galaxy!

Episode 2: Rising (Part 2) - Atlantis rises from the ocean. Apparently built by "the Ancients" who's technology was superior to ours.

Episode 3: Hide and Seek - Alien intruder finds it's way into the city.

Episode 4: Thirty-eight Minutes - Space ship gets stuck in one of the Stargates and has only 38 minutes before things go from bad to worse.

Episode 5: Suspicion - Although the Athosians were saved by the Stargate crew againt the evil Wraiths, they suspect that they have a traitor amongst their new friends.

Episode 6: Childhood's End - Similar to Star Trek's "Miri" episode with an element of "Logan's Run". The crew land on planet run by children who ritually commit suicide on their 25th birthday.

Episode 7: Poisoning the Well - The team discovers a world that's working on a drug that might help themselves from being killed by the Wraiths.

Episode 8: Underground - Peace loving farming population, the Genii, are secretly attempting to build an atomic weapon, and try to steal a large supply of weapons from the Stargate team.

Episode 9: Home - Stargate episode of Star Trek's "Shore Leave".

Episode 10: The Storm - The shields that protect the city of Atlantis are not in working order and a large storm is coming, while the Genii try to take over the city.

Episode 11: The Eye - The second part of the previous episode. Sheppard (main dude) tries to stay one step ahead of the Genii.

Episod 12: The Defiant One - Stargate team investigates a downed Wraith ship and find themselves battling against a lone Wraith survivor.

Episode 13: Hot Zone - Residents of Atlantis are infected with a deadly virus.

Episode 14: Sanctuary - Team finds a primitive world untouched by the Wraiths.

Episode 15: Before I Sleep: Old woman is found in suspended animation, and our shocked to find that it's the leader of the Stargage Expedition, Dr. Weir, and that she went 10,000 years into the past of Atlantis.

Episode 16: The Brotherhood - Team finds a planet that may have a ZPM (Stargate's Dilithium Crystal) but is also the home of a mysterious Brotherhood that also have a certain knowledge of those annoying Geniis.

Episode 17: Letters from Pegasus - The Wraith have found Atlantis and three of their hive ships are heading their way there. Atlantis has almost no defense and is letting their residents say their final goodbyes to their loved ones back on Earth before abandoning Atlantis.

Episode 18: The Gift - Teyla, leader of the Athosians, discovers that she was a descendant of part of an Athosian that was experimented on by the Wraiths.

Episode 19: Siege (Part 1) - The Wraiths are closing in on Atlantis and once again, the annoying Genii also try to take over at the same time.

Episode 20: Siege (Part 2) - The season finale. Sheppard saves Atlantis from the Genii but the Stargate team is surrounded by Wraiths.

And because that was the cliffhanging last episode of the first season, I don't know how they were going to get out of the jam. I haven't checked if my local DVD rental shop carries Season 2 or not.

5. LE MAITRE DU ZODIAQUE - A French mini-series centered around a serial killer. My high school French is pretty rusty but I'm pretty sure this translates to "Master of the Zodia". The story starts with this French FBI agent who has been working in the States for the last two years. She is heads back to France to speak for her brother in court who is going to trial for murder. Her brother is the notorious Zodiaque (Zodiac) - not to be confused with the Zodiac Killer in the States. But her mother calls a day before warning her not to go back to France or things will start all over. She goes to France anyway and learns that her mother died on the day of her return. In her mother's possession is a picture of a child - that happens to be missing for the past few days. And so starts a creepy ten episode thriller. Unfortunately, the program didn't an option for English subtitles so I had to watch the entire program entirely in French with Japanese subtitles. I must say, that helps improve my Japanese reading abilities. But I think I still prefer to watch films in the English language.

6. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR HUSBAND AND WIFE - A one hour Korean comedy-drama about a couple who are about to be married have one argument after another inside a cab much to the annoyance of the cab driver. Thank God this was short. Still, I think my mother will enjoy it.

7. HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR: GUARDIANS OF THE ABYSS (1980) - I actually had the entire thirteen episode set of the British production of this very low budget horror series and after watching this first episode, decided I didn't need to see the rest of them. I think the old "Friday the 13th" drama series was much better.


1. THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND (2006) - Forest Whitaker's best role yet as that of the notorious former dictator of Uganda, Idi Amin Dada. Although this is a ficticious story, it's based on true events. An idealistic young Scotsman leaves his native land to help the people of Africa. He ends up in Uganda and bandages the hand of a military man who happens to be Idi Amin. When Amin finds that the young man is from Scotland, he treats him like an old friend. The young Scotsman is later requested to be Idi Amin's personal doctor. He becomes his friend and advisor as well, up until the events at Entebbe. Excellent film.

2. THE DETONATOR (2006) - Oh my, this was pretty bad. It seems Wesley Snipes wants to be the black Steven Seagal. First of all, this was a straight to video title. Snipes plays a former CIA agent (imagine that), but currently works for Homeland Security - which doesn't explain why he's chasing international terrorists in Romania. But then somewhere along the line, he must protect a Romanian national (a woman of course), who was the widow of an accountant of the Romanian mafia (are you still with me?). But it seems someone's leaking information to the band of baddies. Can it be the person that Snipe's trusts the most? Of course it is, that's how these movies work. The only other reason I could think of why Snipes would make these bad action wanna be films, is that he gets paid almost 7 millions dollars for it. LAME! Snipes should let Seagal continue to make these kind of flicks.

3. ONCE IN A SUMMER (2006) GEUHAE YEOREUM (Original Korean title) - A beautiful little Korean romance movie starring one of Japan's favorite crop of Korean actors, Lee Byung-hun. Lee plays a rich college student with a strict father who is not happy with the current affairs of his country. He joins some other students as a volunteer to help the community of a small remote village. There he falls in love and romances the village librarian. But this being a Korean movie, you might be able to guess how the movie will end. Be sure to have a box of tissues nearby.

4. FINAL CONTRACT: DEATH ON DELIVERY (2006) Released as "AXLE" in Japan. Oh my, this was even worse than "Detonator". I feel I was totally mislead by the advertising. It says this was an all new car action thriller much like Luc Besson's "Taxi" and a competitor to the Jason Statham "Transporter" series. I have just one thing to say - NOT!! The car chase was minimal. The main character was lame. The Berlin police were idiots. And the elusive hitman, who happens to be a woman, was astonishingly annoying. Avoid like the plague (even though I sent this to my brother after watching it - Sorry Bro!)

5. MERCENARY FOR JUSTICE (2006) - It's a Steven Seagal movie. Do I really need to say anything else?

6. DREAM WARRIOR (2004) - Released as "End of Earth" in Japan. Lame X-Men rip-off. However the most annoying thing about it was the adverstising. The DVD package shows what appears to be a knight in armor with a huge sword standing on a street that represents New York City as a crumbled Statue of Liberty is shown in the background. One, the movie doesn't take place in New York City or any big city for that matter. Second, the character on the package doesn't even make an appearance. And the effects are beyond lame. Lance Henrikson plays the Magneto character. And the only other actor I recognized was Richard Norton - only because he played in a lot of Cynthia Rothrock movies. Bad, Bad, Bad!!!

7. UNTIL DEATH (2007) - Fans of Jean-Claude Van Damme may be in for a surprise. Van Damme doesn't rely much on action in this film, instead, he actually acting. I know you're all shocked but you should give this film a chance. Van Damme is a dirty cop who's about to take down a big drug king (who happens to be his ex-partner). In the melee, Van Damme gets shot in the head and is in a coma for the next six months. He awakens and is a changed man and tries to right all the wrongs he has committed.

8. THE HARD CORPS (2006) - Another Van Damme film. This one finds Van Damme as a soldier who suffers from post tramautic syndrome but with the help of one his soldier buds, they find themselves working as bodyguards for a popular rap star who's life is threatened by a rival rapper who blames popular rapper for sending him to prison - and now it's time for a little payback. Vivaca A. Fox plays the sister and manager of the major rap star. Like I said in previous reviews, rappers shoudn't be making movies, most of them are really, really, bad. This fortunately wasn't one of them. This was fairly decent, but only for Van Damme fans.

9. MR. SOCRATES (2005) - Korean crime action drama where a mafia boss trains a young thug to pass the police exam so they can later use him for their own purposes and to protect their big boss. Chosen thug had originally wanted to become a police officer just so he could go on beating up other people but once he actually does become a cop, realizes this is his chance to turn his life around.

10. DIE WOLKE (2006) - Also known as "The Cloud". German film about a small town that's affected by an accident at a nuclear power plant a la Chernobyl. Very decent panic film depicting the mass hysteria and after effects of radiation poisoning. Worth checking out in your foreign language film section.

11. HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (2007) - Yes, we finally got around to watching it. With all the publicity the Harry Potter movies have, I don't think I even need to comment on it. My sister will be happy to know that I finally watched this though.

12. BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN (2006) - HILARIOUS!! From the guy that brought us Ali G, this time he plays a television personality from Kazakhstan who goes to America to learn about the land of penty. He also has a selfish motive as well, to meet and marry Pamela Anderson that he falls in love with once he sees "Baywatch". You must go and rent this now and laugh your head off!!

13. KILIMANJARO (2000) - Boring Korean crime action flick. But still, of course I will send it to my mother. She might enjoy it. It was confusing and hard to follow.

14. ALL THE INVISIBLE CHILDREN (2005) - Here's a film to tear at your heartstrings - on purpose of course. It's a collection of shorts from different directors showing the plight of forgotten children throughtout our world. Directors include such luminaries as Spike Lee, Ridley Scott, and John Woo. Subjects covered - child of parents with AIDS, slum kids picking garbage to make a few bucks, child soldiers, and all sorts of other subjects that people don't really want to admit is happening.

15. MY WEDDING CAMPAIGN (2005) - NAUI GYEOLHON WONJEONGGI (Original Korean title) - This is a cute little romantic comedy and is also a joint Korean / Uzbekistan production. A group of Korean farmers travel to Uzbekistan to find their brides. One farmer finds himself falling in love with the employee of the bridal finding service. My mother and her friends will love this movie.

16. TSOTSI (2005) - Releasedd as "Thug" internationally. The 2006 Oscar winner for "Best Foreign Language Film". Very bleak South African production. "Tsotsi" is an Afrikaaner word for "thug" and is also the the protagonist's name and he is just that, a thug who lives in the slums of Johannesburg. He seems to have no conscience as he kills a man for money, harasses a homeless man, beats up a fellow gang member who said to him that he has no sense of decency. He then steals a rich woman's car, shoots her in the stomach, and makes his getaway, only to find that there is a baby in the back seat. As he takes the baby back to the slums, he starts to feel a little empathy for people and in the end decides he needs to return the baby to it's mother, as he finds out the mother survived being shot. Very intense!! The DVD also shows two alternate endings. In the chosen ending, Tsotsi returns the baby as he is surrounded by police officers. In the first alternative ending, the baby cries, Tsotsi reaches into his coat pocket, and is shot by the police officers. We hear the crash of a baby bottle as Tsotsi falls to his death. The second alternate ending is, the baby cries, Tsotsi reaches into his coat, is shot in the shoulder, baby bottle breaks, and in that moment, Tsotsi turns, jumps a fence and runs away back to the slums. I think the first alternate ending would have made this film even better but it was pretty bleak to begin with. Some people might compare this to "City of God" but I think it shows even more the worse side of human nature.

17. SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007) - Ugh, what was with that terrible dance sequence, did the writer want Peter Parker to be the "Nutty Professor"? I guess it's hard for me to separate the movie versions from the actual comic which makes these adaptations pretty hard to stomach. Especially this latest sequel which was only made to make more money and market more products. They didn't even use the name Venom with the black Spider-man suit. Aside from that it was fairly entertaining.

18. STAN LEE'S LIGHTSPEED (2006) - The Flash in blue tights. Lame television production that really is a cross between the Flash and Darkman. Why Stan Lee let his name be added to the title is the biggest mystery. Apparently an original film (if you can call it that) for the science-fiction channel.

19. END GAME (2006) - Cuba Gooding, Jr. stars as a secret service agent who feels he didn't do a good enough job of protecting the president. But apparently there was also a conspiracy involved and as Cuba and a reporter try to uncover it, they find themselves trying to stay one step ahead of the conspirators. The ending lacks punch and is not at all satisfying. No wonder this was never released at theaters. Probably a good thing too.

20. HALF PAST DEAD 2 (2007) - Lame sequel to a lame film without Steven Seagal this time around. In fact the only person from the original film was Kurupt who had a fairly small part to begin with. Total waste of time. Also starring some wrestler dude Bill Goldberg who actually gets top billing.

21. WRESTLEMANIAC (2006) Released as "Death Mask" in Japan and known as "El Mascarado Massacre" in the States - Really, really bad B-movie you would expect to see at the drive-in or late night matinee. A group of goobers go to a ghost town in Mexico, a mysterious place called "La Sangra de Dios", to film an independent porn film but are then terrorized by El Mascarado - a legendary Mexican wrestler who rips the face off his victims. I laughed at the terrible splatter scenes. A film full of cheese!!

22. THE WICKER MAN (2006) - Re-make of the original 1973 film of the same name, only this time starring Nicolas Cage. Cage plays an officer who decides to help his former fiancee find her missing daughter. But when he goes to the community where his fiancee lives, none of the members of said community tell him such a person doesn't exist. Things get a little stranger as the community prepares for some neo-pagan ritual where Cage's characters becomes an involuntary part of the ritual. Ending not very satisfying, and will only lead people to make fun of those who believe in ancient Celtic rituals. Not recommended.

23. SUPERBAD (2007) - This movie on the other hand is one testosterone-filled hilarity of a flick. Three nerds (or losers if you want to call them that) are graduating from high school and are amazingly invited to a graduation party, provided that they bring the booze. There is Seth, who only thinks about getting laid. Evan, who really likes this girl Becca, but doesn't have the nerve to ask her for a date. And Fogell, the biggest nerd who gets a fake I.D. with the name of McLovin. Totally hilarious!! This got more laughs from me than did "Napoleon Dynamite" or any of the "Revenge of the Nerds" films.

24. FREEDOMLAND (2006) - Excellent film penned by Richard Price and starring Samuel L. Jackson and Julianne Moore. Black detective Lorenzo investigates a white woman's claim on being carjacked by a black man while her four year old son was sleeping in the back seat. Probably mildly based on the events of a South Carolina woman who made a similar claim only to find that the claim was a hoax and it was the woman who killed her child. In the movie, the white cops of course believe the white woman and come down hard on a small black community which it turn sparks a protest by the residents of the black community. Intense! Julianne Moore's acting is also too real and makes this one creepy movie.

25. DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME (2006) - I finally got around to watching the conclusion of the "Death Note" movie. The "Death Note" is a notebook that if you write a person's name in it, that person will die of a heart attack in a matter of seconds. This movie picks up where the first one ends. Raito Yagami joins a task force to find "Kira" to take suspicion off from himself and to get rid of the genius mind of "L". Fun movie. Check it out if it comes to your neighborhood. "L: Change the World" just started this weekend, another spin-off from the "Death Note" series.

26. WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (2006) - Remake of the 1979 film of the same title. Not very scary. Standard horror cliches - loud noise turning out to be a cat, car not starting when there was no problem with it to begin with, um, slow-pace, slow-moving, no motive for killer. Just bad really. Star Camilla Belle was cute - that's about the only thing this movie has going for itself.

That's about it for now. I did watch "9 Days" on television last night too but I think I wrote about that in a previous film essay so I decided to skip on writing about it again. I have another DVD already waiting to be watched. Something called "Day of Wrath". It doesn't appear to be a movie that Mikako would like so I think I'll watch it as she's napping. I think she may have caught a cold from our night out in the snow a couple of days ago. I still have a lot of Korean movies to watch too before sending them to my mother and her friends. I shall leave you on that note.

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