Category Archives: Film Festivals

JIFF Review: Foxfire (2012) – Canada / France

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 19th May 2013

Directed by: Laurent Cantet
Starring: Michelle Nolden (Well to do lady), Ali Liebert (Muriel Orvis), Kent Nolan (Viscount), Joris Jarsky (Construction worker 1), Briony Glassco (Mrs. Kellogg), David Patrick Green (Jerry), John Stead (Policeman), Madeleine Bisson (Rita O’Hagan), Raven Adamson (Legs), Katie Coseni (Maddy), Ian Matthews (Mr. Buttinger), Matthew Deslippe (Det. Morris), Victoria DiGiovanni (Prison Singer), Joey Iachetta (Mr. Wall), Jean-Michel Le Gal (Male Co-Worker), Allie White (Passerby), Christian Lloyd (Prosecuting Officer), Claire Mazerolle (Goldie), Claudio Masciulli (Factory worker), Rachael Nyhuus (Violet Kahn), Lindsay Rolland-Mills (VV), Faith Curnew (Robot Trick-or-treater), Jesse Marcellus Connors (Vinnie Roper), Alexandra Parker (Party Girl 1), Alexandria Ferguson (Marsha)

Reviewed as part of the 14th Jeonju International Film Festival

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Opening Film of the 14th Jeonju International Film Festival in South Korea.

The film that opened the 14th edition of the Jeonju Film Festival comes in the form of an exhausting and at times impacting journey through the lives of a bunch of neglected school girls in “FOXFIRE”. “FOXFIRE” has all the ingredients of being a standout film of the festival, but it suffers from an almost dead-ended middle part, before an impacting finale that almost redeem everything that happened before. Director Laurent Cantet does extremely well in keeping the group of girls as interesting as possible and one of the prime reasons why the film works is essentially the undeniably chemistry and interactions between the co-stars. This could have been an accomplished work, but it can also be an exhausting journey that may not be as rewarding as it should be. A flawed effort by all means, but still worthy in terms of the genre, topic and controversial nature of the material.

Raven Adamson carries the film with a certain flair and dignity that is almost crucial to the film. Her character is never clearly drawn out, but there is an element of presence about her that makes her perfect for the leading role. Her tom boyish good looks is charming enough as she is able to tackle the tough side of being the leader of the pack. Another actress that stand out of the proceeding is Madeleine Bisson, whose vulnerably is perfectly juxtaposed with the reality of the situation. As for the rest of the girls, they all performed well as an ensemble and the tension and focus between the girls is always a welcome to watch.

All in all, “FOXFIRE” tries too hard to be a true adaptation of the well-written novel, which at times make it difficult for the audience to truly assess the situation. The dragging middle part is almost detrimental to the film, but director Laurent Cantet redeems the preceding with an excellent last hour. It is never easy casting an ensemble of young untried female characters and in this aspect “FOXFIRE” easily succeeds. There are moments in the film that will likely impact the audience more than most and at the end of the day, “FOXFIRE” succeeds in parts and failed in others. Not exactly the masterpiece that I was expecting from the winner of 2008’s Cannes Palme d’Or. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 7/10

Wong Kar Wai JCCA and HKIFF Master Class Registration Details

Edited by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Date: 28th February 2013

Content as provided by HKIFF

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28 February 2013 (Hong Kong) ― Organised by The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS) and funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Jockey Club Cine Academy (JCCA) Master Class is known for offering the local audience a prestigious opportunity to interact with world-class filmmakers, having brought JIA Zhangke and Keanu REEVES to town for its 2011 and 2012 editions respectively. Today the HKIFFS announced that Wong Kar Wai, one of the most celebrated filmmakers of our time, will conduct this year’s Master Class on 21 March during the 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF).

Wong has been widely acclaimed: icon of the Hong Kong Second New Wave; the visionary auteur who helped catapult Maggie CHEUNG and Tony LEUNG Chiu-wai to international stardom; the first Asian to win Best Director at Cannes Film Festival (for his 1997 work Happy Together); one of the top three in Sight & Sound’s list of Top Ten Directors of Modern Times; and the meticulous perfectionist behind this year’s Berlinale opener The Grandmaster. Indeed WKW has become an instantly recognisable and internationally revered name.

“We are very honoured that Wong has accepted our invitation,” said Roger Garcia, Executive Director of the HKIFFS. “With his unique and mesmerising stories and aesthetics, he has created a universe entirely of his own. His admirers hail from all over the world and he has helped advance the cause of Hong Kong cinema internationally. I am sure cineastes in Hong Kong would be thrilled to hear the master himself share his experience and insights at the Master Class.”

The Master Class will be held at 7:30pm on 21 March 2013 at Theatre 1, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, with simultaneous interpretation between Cantonese, Mandarin and English. Free and open to the public, registration starts 3pm, 28 February 2013 at The JCCA is also receiving applications for another popular programme, Festival Tours, targeted at moviegoers aged 16-25 and featuring post-screening discussion sessions with film critics and scholars who act as tour guides during the HKIFF. Registration is free and on a first-come, first-served basis.

So if you are in Hong Kong on 21st March, don’t miss out!

[HKAFF] Cold War 寒戰 (2012) – Hong Kong

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 12th November 2012
Reviewed as part of Hong Kong Asian Film Festival [HKAFF] and releasing in cinemas across Hong Kong from 8th October 2012 and Australia by Dream Movies on 18th October 2012

Hong Kong Box Office Taking: HK$42,801,776

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Probably the most heavily promoted local production in Hong Kong this year, comes the highly anticipated yet immensely overhyped “Cold War”. The film is by no means a total failure, but is a perfect example of a how a great script failing miserably in the hands of first time directors (also screenwriters), Sunny Luk and Longman Leung. Everything in the film happened too quickly and the result is a lagging second half that drags to the end. Definitely a blockbuster movie event, but far from meeting its own grand expectations. This is apparently the film to revitalize the Hong Kong industry since 2002’s “Infernal Affairs”, but unfortunately it is not to be.

I am great supporter for giving golden opportunities to rookie filmmakers a chance to direct and mange a Hong Kong movie backed by a major studio. However, in the case of “Cold War”, despite doing well in writing a good enough script, first time directing duo (Sunny Luk and Longman Leung) are just not up to the par. They may have shown glimpses of potential throughout the film, but those moments are far too indifferent, uneven and at times questionable. The pair should be congratulated by a great tense opening 40 odd minutes, where the film frantic pacing soar and soar to a crescendo so early on. Unfortunately the film never reaches the same heights or tone set by that moment. In fact, the moment the ICAC clan came into the show, the film began to fall rather flat to the point of dragging on, before a ridiculous twist that nailed the film to its own coffin.

I am not saying that “Cold War” is an outright bad film as the leading duo of Aaron Kwok and Tony Leung Kar Fai provide a strong backbone to the story and a number of key players of the police force are suitably casted, but the ICAC clan seems far too amateurish, naive and terribly acted that almost singled handedly destroyed anything good about the film.

Aaron Kwok puts on a good show and at times is almost Andy Lau-like. There is one notable scene where Kwok confronts the ICAC with a trademark Lau’s thumb up. Perhaps, it should be put that the Police Commissioner role was born for Lau, but somehow Kwok manages to impress with suitably intensity and carries an otherwise lackluster film. However, Kwok plays far too safe and in turn is unable to excel in the role. Alongside Tony Leung Kar Fai, the two experienced head of Police lifts the film beyond its own material and provide the audience with some truly cinematic moments, especially in their confrontation. Leung is able to extract the more expressive character work, as he is a father caught in the middle of a battle with his son kidnappers, maintaining the rules and boundaries of the police force, dealing with ICAC issues and the ongoing struggling for power within the senior police ranks. Leung provides the audience with an interesting character to follow and despite Kwok’s best efforts, he undoubtedly overshadowed Kwok. Chin-Ka Lok does well in a short lived role, while Andy Lau appears in the film like a commercial break. Gordon Lam once again shines in crucial confrontation moments within the film, with his silent downplaying.

Aarif Lee who showed much promise in “Echoes of the Rainbow”, but is out of his depth in the role as an ICAC principal. Perhaps, the role required someone with more experience like some in the tune of Anthony Wong, but it was not to be. While former ICAC commissioner (Alex Tsui Ka-kit) appears nothing like a commissioner, despite being in the position in real-life. His acting is almost woeful and his presence is a detriment to the film. Eddie Peng (“Tai Chi Hero”) yet again show why he is better suited in a nice guy role than anything villainous, as his poor voice Cantonese dubbing affects his overall performance, making him extremely cartoony like.

All in all, “Cold War” is not a bad film, but it is a film that can be great. It possesses enough script for two movies, but it suffers from a poor sense of pacing, inexperienced directions. In the end, the film relies on explosions and action display to sustain the audience’s attention. It is a shame, as the opening build up provides an excellent backdrop, only for the film to fall further and further away from the attention that it worked hard to sustain. There are probably a lot more political undertones within the film, but the ICAC portion of the film suffers a lack of insight and integrity that goes to the profession. The film seems to flavor the police force and their importance, but at the end of the day, “Cold War” is an extremely forgettable experience. To say disappointment is probably an understatement, but “Cold War” is undoubtedly the most overhyped film of the year. (Neo 2012)

I rated it 6/10

International Chinese Film Festival 2012 – Sydney – (Reviews / Media Coverage)

@ International Chinese Film Festival 2012 – Sydney – (Reviews / Media Coverage)

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Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 23rd September 2012

Guns and Roses (2012) – China

Director Ning Hao (“Crazy Stone”) is well known in China for his unique blend of black comedy. Similar to Hong Kong’s Pang Ho Cheung, Hao likes to play around with his audience and usually with smart and intriguing results. His latest Mainland’s box office hit “Guns and Roses” is likely his most assessable commercial work, filled with entertaining performance all-round, interesting commentary on the Japanese invasion and Chinese people in general. “Guns and Roses” is probably as entertaining as Hollywood’s “Inglourious Basterds”, even if it is a slightly weaker version.

“Gun and Roses” is probably as good as it gets into terms of Mainland’s comedies appealing to Hong Kong people and wider audience. The reason is that Ning Hao is a talented and smart director and is willing to use black humor to maximum effect. While this film is far less heavy and slower paced than his previous “Crazy Stone” and “Crazy Racer”, but the dialogue, acting, humor, direction, editing and production values are just about good enough for the audience to have a good enough time.

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Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 22nd September 2012

33 Postcards (2011) – Australia / China

Director Pauline Chan’s “33 Postcards” is well-meaning and even contains a surprisingly effective debut from newcomer Zhu Lin, but as a film, it suffers from a weak supporting cast, an almost unrecognisable Guy Pierce and poor production values and cinematography. Certainly not a bad film, but it never attempts to rises above its own expectations.

The Australia and China co-production “33 Postcards” is clearly an independent movie trying to tell an unsellable story. It is admirable that director Pauline Chan go to such distant to tell a story about an orphan young girl in China growing up and eventually meeting her sponsor father in Australia, only to realise he is in prison. The film suffers from a number of technical issues, most notably poor production values and much needed touch up in terms of cinematography. While, we are not looking at world class cinematography, the film wasted the beautiful scenery of endless green farmland in China and failing to make use of the beaches, blue sky and Sydney Harbour to the full effect. Perhaps, the fault be fully blamed on Chan, as the story itself is not exactly captivating and full credits must be given for Chan’s effort to make it as convincing as it can be. However, the film plays far too safe and strays away from commenting on any real issues or concern. In what could’ve been an impacting and emotionally touching finale, “33 Postcards” ends up being viewer’s friendly and the padded up ending did not help the proceeding.

Newcomer Zhu Lin puts in a wonderful and captivating acting display. It is Lin that truly carries the film, despite not being outright pretty, she is able to show a level of innocence and dogged pursuit of her sponsor father in an extremely believable manner. In many ways, Lin remains the character that the audience can relate and outshines her experienced counterpart in the form of Guy Pierce (“Prometheus”). In this performance, Guy Pierce (most likely the reason that the film got green-lighted in the first place) at first instance reminds me of the far better “Memento”, however as the film goes on, one is bound to be disappointed. Pierce seems lost, uninterested, mystery and at times out of character. Perhaps the role requires him to be distance from the audience, but it is this distance that ruins any sort of chemistry between the lead actors. This is especially disappointing as the relationship between Pierce and Lin is meant to central to the story. This in turns remove any sort of emotional impact and involvement that the audience should be experiencing. Elaine Jin (“The Viral Factor”) also appears as the motherly figure, while she is competent, fails to add anything to the film. Other Australian actors like Lincoln Lewis (“Home and Away”) and Claudia Karvan provides rather weak support.

All in all, “33 Postcards” is ultimately a personal story about how a gentle act of kindness can result in some kind of redemption of one’s life. It is an honest and well-intended film that never goes the distance. There many complex and difficult issues that film could’ve dealt with, but for whatever reasons, “33 Postcard” fails to look into it. The film also fails to explore Guy Pierce’s character, which in all circumstances is a total mess of a mind. I am not saying that “33 Postcards” can be a masterpiece, but it most certainly can be a lot better. Ultimately, it is Zhu Lin’s performance that saves the film and probably the best thing to come out of the movie. “33 Postcards” is well meaning, but flawed…

I rated it 6.5/10

3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA 2012) – Sydney (Media Coverage / Reviews)

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This page will be continuous updated throughout the film festival that runs from 22nd to 28th August 2012 in Sydney. For people in Brisbane and Melbourne, KOFFIA comes to you in September.

Next up: Review of Scandal Makers.

Sunny 써니 (2011) – South Korea

@KOFFIA 2012
Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 11th September 2012

Back on the success of 2008’s surprise hit comedy “Scandal Makers”, director/writer Kang Hyeong-cheol takes one extra step and go the distance with the audience’s sentimental experiences, heart-felt memories and extremely humane emotions in the crowd winning film, “Sunny”.

“Sunny” is the closing film of KOFFIA 2012 and won the Audience Award for Best Rated Film in the Sydney Leg of the festival.

If there is one sentence to describe the up and coming talented Korean director/writer Kang Hyeong-cheol (“Scandal Makers”) it will be that he knows what his audience wants and he can deliver it sensationally. In just his second feature film, Kang’s films have a combined admission of over 18 million tickets in Korea alone. In his latest film “Sunny”, drawing comparison with Taiwanese box office youth dramatic hit “You are the Apple of My Eye”, Kang deals with similar issues of a group of friends from high school and the reunion that happens many years down the track. The only real difference lies in “Sunny” showing the film from a female perspective. If you have to compare, Kang’s previous work “Scandal Makers”, this film beats it hands down, by being more romantic, more important, more relevant and far more touching.

Ensemble style acting is never easy as often there will be certain individuals that just don’t quite cut it in the chemistry department, however, “Sunny” makes no mistake and deserves wonderful and entertaining acting from all round. The underlying chemistry between the group of high school girls as well as the older group of grown-ups should not be underestimated. Min Hyo-rin as the model girl of the group is especially beautiful, while tomboyish Kang Sora stands out of the pack with the most on-screen presence. Still, the film cannot be done without a particular focus on its main lead character in Im Na-mi, who is perfectly casted in both older and youthful form, Yoo Ho-jeong (older version) and Shim Eun-kyung (teenager). The young Shim Eun-kyung has the sort of unintentional comic awkwardness that made her character extremely likable to follow, while the older Yoo Ho-jeong possesses the sort of motherly style that makes her character extremely realistic.

All in all, “Sunny” is easily Kang Hyeong-cheol’s most accomplished film to date as it engages the audience from start to finish. Kang has the rare quality of knowing exactly what the audience wants to see and his ability to engage the audience is second to none. Although one would somewhat expect the emotional finale, all the things that happens in the movie adds up to the layers of depth that exists in the moment leading up to the fitting final scene. “Sunny” may yet be a commercially successful film, but it takes a director of vision to make the film thoroughly and consistently engaging. There is really a lot to like about “Sunny”, along with its somewhat inspirational theme of the need to have a dream, the true value of friendship and the sense of belonging in life. Director Kang Hyeong-cheol has shot up in my personal list of directors to follow and with “Sunny”, the expectations of his next film has just skyrocketed… (Neo 2012)

I rated it 9/10

The Frontline 고지전 (2011) – South Korea

@KOFFIA 2012
Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 3rd September 2012

Jang Hun’s “The Frontline” is the Korean answer to Hollywood’s “Saving Private Ryan”. From start to finish, the film has all the elements and ingredients of an epic war melodrama and the film manages to deliver on all fronts and is easily alongside “Sunny”, the film of the festival (KOFFIA 2012).

There have been a lot of war epic movies made during the past decade, but none have delivered on the level that the latest from the excellent director Jang Hun (“Secret Reunion”) is able to achieve with “The Frontline”. It is a film that captivates the bloody and pointless years of the Korean War, where both the north and south soldiers simply do not know why they are fighting and what exactly they are fighting for. Fighting without a reason or cause is one of the hardest things to accept, let alone die for. Such is the premise of the film and director Jang Hun makes no mistakes and in turn created a film that the audience can feel, touch and emote with the circumstances of the characters and their devastating situations. “The Frontline” is a powerful film and the manner it is able to make an impact on the audience is quite amazing to watch. To call, “The Frontline” a great war epic with human emotions is by no means an understatement, but it is truly the film of the festival (KOFFIA 2012) and more importantly a masterpiece.

The film is extremely well shot and the soundtrack is top-notched. In particular the atrocious happenings at Pohang are especially affecting. The manner in which the director allows the brutal encounters to be shown as well as vividly depicting those more graphical scenes of bodies being blown off is agonizing to endure. The scene when the young private (played by David Lee) is shot by the sniper nicknamed “2 Seconds” (played by the beautiful Kim Ok-bin) is both painful and shocking, as the director focuses on the facial expressions of his comrades.

Both leading stars Shin Ha-kyun (“Joint Security Area”) and the incredibly charismatic Go Soo (“Haunters”) gave the performance of their lifetime in their respective role as First Lieutenant. Go Soo in particular impresses in the way he is able to depict someone who witness the harsh realities of war and there is depth in his eyes despite his cheerful outlook. Shin Ha-kyun, on the other hand juxtapose by presenting a stoic and serious character that play by the rules, but is ultimately blended by war itself. His silent interactions with the North’s sniper Kim Ok-bin shows a different side of Shin and remains central to the film. Once again, Ryoo Seung-ryong (“All About My Wife”) who plays the North Korea’s commander steals the spotlight and despite his minimal screen time, Ryoo is able show both the cold aspect of war and human heart that lies beneath. With Kim Ok-bin being the lone representative of her gender, Kim shows how war can dramatically change people and mute people of their feelings. Similarly, Lee Je-hoon tries insanely hard to forget pain and suffering through constant needle insertion of morphine. While Ko Chang-seok, a veteran of Jang Hun’s films provides a much needed comic presence.

All in all, “The Frontline” has all the hallmarks of perfect war epic. It is a powerful film that does not shy away from harsh, brutal realities of war and in particular a war is that not worth fighting. The Korean War like many other civil wars provides a lesson for all of us. Director Jang Hun is spot on in his strong focus on character development, the attention to details in the battle sequences as well as making the most of a brilliant soundtrack. By the end of the film, the audience is totally invested into the proceedings and resonates with the fate of each of the characters. “The Frontline” is exactly the kind of film that people venture into cinemas for. On a personal note, “The Frontline” is simply a masterpiece of a film. (Neo 2012)

I rated it 10/10

All About My Wife 내 아내의 모든 것 (2012) – South Korea

@KOFFIA 2012
Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 30 August 2012

The latest Korean romantic comedy, “All About My Wife” goes beyond Hollywood to remake Argentinean film “A Boyfriend for My Wife”) is surprisingly fresh, funny and filled with fine performances all-round. A feel good heart-warmer…

I am pretty cynical when it comes to romantic comedies and in particular the formulaic ones arising like waves from South Korea. However, there is a lot to like about director Min Kyu-dong’s (“Memento Mori”) latest attempt at the crowded genre. “All About My Wife” is as much a light hearted comedy, as well as a look into how different people deal with relationship issues after being married for 7 years. Hiring someone to flirt and woo your wife, so that you can divorce her is nothing new, but director Min Kyu-dong make use of hilariously written dialogue, funny facial expressions and plenty of laugh out loud moments to make this truly a funny experience.

Im Soo-jung (“I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK”) starred as the fast talking wife who always complain about everything that her husband is doing. Soo-jung is the central to the film and shines in particular in scenes that require her more dramatic range. Her fast talking and likable personality makes her a winner with the audience in the film. Her chemistry and dialogue exchanges with her husband (played by Lee Seon-gyun), is filled with obvious comical domestic moments. Lee Seon-gyun (“Love, So Divine”) is like a rock for the film and the way he overacts and reacts to the camera adds to the fun and humour. His portrayal of a husband is tired of a long term relationship is both believable and relatable. Of the trio, Ryoo Seung-ryong (“The Frontline” and “War of the Arrows”) who plays the role of Casanova Seong-ki, simply outshines everyone. As usual his performance is both versatile and stands out of the pack. In an against the usual type performance, Seung-ryong is able to play a happy go lucky play boy who just can’t stop attracting women. The manner in which he attempts to seduce Soo-jung through the use of Wong Kar Wai’s “Days of Being Wild” is both funny and fitting. In many ways, Seung-ryong is a highlight of the film and his presence is always a welcome to endure.

All in all, “All About My Wife” is not a perfect film, nor is it one of the most original romantic comedies around, but there is something about it that makes you want to keep watching, rooting for the outcomes, laughing with the characters and somewhat touching towards the end. In many ways, it is the kind of film that put a light hearted smile on your face and makes you feel good about what you have just witnessed. In all honesty, South Korean cinema makes so many romantic comedies that it has almost become indistinguishable, but director Min Kyu-dong has created a crowd pleasing, fun, light hearted romantic comedy that also have something to say about modern urban romance. (Neo 2012)

I rate it 7.5/10

The Taste of Money 돈의 맛 (2012) – South Korea

@KOFFIA 2012
Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 27 August 2012

Veteran Yoon Yeo-jeong steals the show in Im Sang-soo’s daring film “The Taste of Money” about an intriguing social commentary and erotically charged drama on the rich, greed and money.

Its been a while, I have been able to just sit back and relax so much in a cinema and be at the edge of my seat at the same time. I know I am sounding rather ironic, but controversial film-maker Im Sang-soo does it again with “The Taste of Money”. A film about rich people and how they screw up just about anyone, including people who just want to be happy. It is a dark, yet ironic film that explores the social class that exists so prominently in Asia. In fact, “The Taste of Money” is so stylishly filmed, produced and shot that it is no surprise that it is a winner at the film market for distributors during the Cannes Film Festivals. What impressed me the most is that despite nearly two hours of running time and a relatively thin plot line, the film manages to hold up rather strongly and at times it is so engaging that the audience just want the film to keep going on and on, long after the credits rolled. In many ways, the film also contains numerous laughing spots, namely the shocking, yet “laugh out loud” scene which involves Yoon Yeo-jeong (an over 60 years old wife) and the young driver/house keeper (played by Kim Kang-woo).

As mentioned before, Yoon Yeo-jeong (“The Housemaid”) simply steals the show and the manner she is able to express all these eccentric moods and expressions is nothing short of wonderful to watch. Although she constantly overacts, but it never becomes a nusiance. In fact, Yoon is like a rock for the family and the film itself. Baek Yoon-sik (“Art of Fighting”) who plays the husband and president of the company, is most probably one of the most effortless actors around, his lay back and carefree approach, perfectly defines his character and is most probably the most human of the pack. Kim Kang-woo (“A Better Tomorrow”) as private secretary is given the most important role in the film, but is far too stoic to have any impact on the audience and the film. Kim’s character symbolise those trying hard to make a living within a dark and rich society. Although his comical expressions on his face when he is having sex with the 60 years old Yoon is almost priceless to watch. While he shares some underlying chemistry with co-star Kim Hyo-jin (who plays Yoon’s daughter), he lacks the depth that is required to make his character a convincing one. Kim Hyo-jin (“Everybody Has Secrets”), on the other hand delivers a much better overall performance, but lacks a recognisable face.

All in all, “The Taste of Money” is one of those films that you don’t exactly know whats going to happen next and there is a certain energy to the film that the director wants you to watch it from start to finish. The good thing about this film is that it never bores and there are plenty of laugh out loud moments. “The Taste of Money” is like a smart black comedy and not unlike Hong Kong’s Pang Ho Cheung style of filmmaking. However, the film missed an oportunity to dig deeper into its own darker issues, but despite this, “The Taste of Money” has all the hallmarks of a good film and in the world of carbon copies, Im Sang-soo gets extra marks for trying to go the route not taken, by being more daring and original. Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but for whatever reasons, I kind of liked it. A good film…(Neo 2012)

I rated it 8/10

“The Taste of Money” will also be showing at KOFFIA in Melbourne and Brisbane during September 2012.

War of the Arrows 최종병기 활 (2011) – South Korea [Opening Film]

@KOFFIA 2012
Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 23 August 2012

“War of the Arrows” starts off slowly and even to the point of boredom, but when it picks up pace, it just never stops going till the finish line, the effect is pretty amazing. I am going to be totally honest here, the opening 30 minutes was painful to endure and at times, pinching my face to stay in attention. However, I have never seen a film redeems itself so much that it almost became the perfect action movie. Ignoring the first part, the film is engaging, tense, exciting and originally shot.

Hae-il Park (“The Host”) scores high marks in the acting category and is utterly convincing as the older brother that gives everything in order to save his younger sister. His chemistry with Moon Chae-won (who play the younger sister) is so radiating on screen that at times, it feels as though they are romantically linked than sibling. Moon always flares well and does particularly well in the scene when she confronts the evil Prince (played by Park Ki-woong). Seung-yong Ryoo is menacing and interesting as villain and Mu-Yeol Kim’s performance is probably one of the weak points in the film.

All in all “War of the Arrows” is a wonderful film to kick of the 2012 KOFFIA in Sydney and is a perfect example of why films should be watched from start to finish, no matter how boring the first act seems to be. Perhaps, I simply didn’t tick in the opening sequence, but by the end of the ride, I was fully loaded, grasped and engaged. It is really the kind of film that “Robin Hood” should have been and with the benchmark setted so high at the start of the festival, “War of the Arrows” remains the film to beat in the coming days. After a slow start, the film simply races to the finish, before you even have time for a breathe. For action fans, this film cannot be missed… (Neo 2012)

I rated it 9/10

“War of the Arrows” will also be showing at KOFFIA in Melbourne and Brisbane during September 2012.

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