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Whale Rider

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Whale Rider (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, New Zealand 2002

Director: Niki Caro

My rating: 4
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Key actors/actresses:
Keisha Castle-Hughes .... Paikea
Rawiri Paratene .... Koro
Vicky Haughton .... Nanny Flowers
Cliff Curtis .... Porourangi
Grant Roa .... Uncle Rawiri

Other similar movies: Bungee jumping of their own 情约笨猪跳, more
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Country: New Zealand
Type(s): Drama

Posted by Dominic
On the east coast of New Zealand, the Whangara people believe that their ancestor named Paikea, once rid on the back of the whale to survival after his canoe was capsided. Since then they believe the first born son should succeed as the Chief of the tribe. In modern day, the current chief Koro whose eldest son left New Zealand after the death of his wife when she died after giving birth to twin babies (a boy and a girl), the baby boy also died at birth. Koro now left with only a granddaughter, refused to let her to inherit the position of the chief. The baby girl is delibrately named Paikea by her father, same as their ancestor, in protest to Koro. Soon, Koro and the young Paikea realise it is her destiney to become the chief, while Koro tries very hard to look for his successor out of the boys and she fights very hard to win the approval of her grandfather.

My review:
A very interesting movie that shows some tradition of the Maori. A complicated relationship between the grandfather and granddaughter, a love relationship with the struggle of the old tradition. Thoroughly enjoyed the movie, taking a nice break from the traditional commercial movies.

Everybody has secrets

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Everybody Has Secrets (2004) (buy from Amazon)

Type: Comedy Drama, South Korea 2004

Director: Hyeon-su Jang

My rating: 3
Key actors/actresses:
Byung-hun Lee .... Choi Su-hyeon
Sang Mi Chu .... Han Ji-yeong
Hyo-jin Kim .... Han Mi-yeong
Ji-Woo Choi .... Han Seon-yeong
Yongnyeo Seonwoo .... Mother

A story about how one man encounters and goes out with the youngest sister out of 3 sisters ends up secretly having affairs with all 3 sisters. Each sisters have very different personalities but all end up loving the same guy, the eldest sister is married with kid and the 2nd sister is a typical 'bookworm' type of girl with thick glasses and always studying and the youngest sister is an energetic person who sings at clubs for a living.

My review:
A funny comedy about adultary affairs. I have seen a Spanish comedy called The Age of beauty where the guy had affairs with each of the 4 sisters.

Art museum by the zoo

Type: Comedy Romantic, South Korea 1998

Director: Jeong-hyang Lee

My rating: 3
Key actors/actresses:
Eun-ha Shim .... Chun-Hi
Sung-jae Lee .... Chul-su
Sung-kee Ahn .... In-Gong

Two strangers under some unforeseen circumstances are forced to stay in the same house and they didn't get along at the beginning, but soon things began to turn for the better and love is in the air...

My review:
You guessed it, happy ending, boy and girl fell in love and lived happily thereafter...

Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo

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Zatoichi 20 - Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, Japan 1970

Director: Kihachi Okamoto

My rating: 4

Key actors/actresses:
Shintar� Katsu .... Zatoichi
Toshiro Mifune .... Yojimbo
Ayako Wakao .... Umeno
Osamu Takizawa .... Yasuke Eboshiya
Masakane Yonekura .... Boss Masagoro (as Sakatoshi Masakane)

Zatoichi, a blind but very skilled swordsman, is tired of killing and drifting from places to places. He returns to a place that he visited 3 years ago, he remembers it as a nice and quiet town. Not anymore, the town has been occupied by gangsters and the secret police also has their eyes on this town to search for gold. The gangsters want to send their Yojimbo to deal with Zatoichi.

My review:
Two of the most famous swordsmen in Japanese movies, Yojimbo and Zatoichi played also by the 2 most appropriate actors, all in one movie. One of the reasons that the Zatoichi series is so attractive is that a seemingly handicapped person is so powerful that he possesses the ability to right the wrongs and the baddies are always punished.


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Kandahar (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, Iran, France 2001

Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf

My rating: 3

Key actors/actresses:
Nelofer Pazira .... Nafas
Hassan Tantai .... Tabib Sahid
Sadou Teymouri .... Khak
Hoyatala Hakimi .... Hayat

Posted by Dominic
A native Afghanistan woman Nafas who now resides in Canada has returned to Afghanistan and must go back to Kandahar to see her sister who wrote and said she was going to end her life. Nafas only has 48 hours and she is deseparate to go on an unsafe journey.

My review:
Though the story is fictional, the many details of the life of the people in Afghanistan are not. Torn by years of war, people are living a pretty scary life. Trust no one and people constantly have to lie to survive. Sigh..

The Cube

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Cube (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama SciFi Suspense, Canada 1997

Director: Vincenzo Natali

My rating: 3

Key actors/actresses:
Nicole de Boer .... Joan Leaven (The Math Student)
Nicky Guadagni .... Helen Holloway (The Doctor)
David Hewlett .... David Worth (The Architect)
Andrew Miller .... Kazan (The Autistic Man)
Julian Richings .... Alderson (The First Victim)
Wayne Robson .... Rennes (The Fugitive)
Maurice Dean Wint .... Quentin (The Cop)

7 completely strangers with very different background found themselves woke up in a strange place - a cube with doors on each of the 6 surfaces and each door leads to another cube and there seems to be endless number of cubes and many cubes have deadly traps. Why are they here? How or will they ever get out of the cube?

My review:
Interesting concepts and story lines. Very different from mainstream movies, refreshing. Though this is not to everyone's liking. I quite like it.

Samaritan Girl

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Samaritan Girl (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, South Korea 2004

Director: Ki-duk Kim

My rating: 3
Key actors/actresses:
Ji-min Kwak .... Yeo-Jin
Min-jeong Seo .... Jae-yeong
Eol Lee .... Yeong-ki
Kwon Hyun-Min .... Salesman
Oh Young .... Musician

Posted by Dominic
2 girls Jae-yeong and Yeo-Jin who are best friends and they are making money by Jae-yeong acting as prostitute and Yeo-jin is managing the 'business', yeo-jin hated those men. 1 day, Jae-yeong jumped out of the window during a policy raid while she was at business, she was seriously injuried and was dying, her dying wish was to see one of men she slept with a musician again. Yeo-Jin tried to fulfill her best friend's dying wish, but that musician would not come unless Yeo-Jin slept with him. Jae-yeong died before he arrived. Since then, Yeo-Jin decided she would sleep with all the men that Jae-yeong slept with and returned the money to these men. Little did she know that her father who is a policeman had found out about her activities and he intended to punish these men...

My review:
A controvisial story on a sensitive topic of young girls going into prostitution. Yeo-Jin intended to change those men by sacrificing herself, it is an unusual thought, but in the process her father was deeply hurt.

Dogma #7 Interview

Type: Drama, South Korea 2000

Director: Hyuk Byun

My rating: 3

Key actors/actresses:
Jung-Jae Lee .... Eun-seok
Eun-ha Shim .... Yeong-heui

A film maker doing interviews of people telling their love stories, he falls in love with one of the interviewees. As his feelings for her continues to evolve, her lies are uncovered...

My review:
An interesting plot that needing one to pay more attention to appreciate.

Jam Films (7 short movies)

Type: Comedy Drama Romantic SciFi Suspense, Japan 2002

Director: See below

My rating: 5

Key actors/actresses:
Directors: Daizaburo Hanada ("Opening"), J么ji Iida ("Cold Sleep"), Shunji Iwai ("Arita"), Ryuhei Kitamura ("The Messenger - Requiem for the Dead"), Rokuro Mochizuki ("Pandora - Hong Kong Leg"), Tetsuo Shinohara ("Kendama"), Yukihiko Tsutsumi ("Hijiki"), Isao Yukisada ("Justice")

Natsuko Akiyama .... ("Hijiki")
Kuranosuke Sasaki .... ("Hijiki")
Megumi Takahashi .... ('Hijiki')
Megumi Uziie .... ('Hijiki' & 'Kendama')
Masayoshi Yamazaki .... ("Kendama")
Ryoko Shinohara .... ("Kendama")
Hirofumi Arai .... ('Justice')
Haruka Ayase .... ("Justice")
Hitomi Kurihara .... ('Justice')
Akifumi Miura .... ('Justice')
Christian Storms .... ('Justice')
Satoshi Tsumabuki .... ("Justice"
Ryoko Hirosue .... ("Arita")
Kazuki Kitamura .... ("The Messenger - Requiem for the Dead")
Tak Sakaguchi .... ('The Messenger - Requiem for the Dead')
Kanae Uotani .... The messenger ('The Messenger - Requiem for the Dead')
Akaji Maro .... ("Pandora - Hong Kong Leg")
Takami Yoshimoto .... ("Pandora - Hong Kong Leg")Takao Osawa .... ("Cold Sleep")
Samuel Pop .... ('Cold Sleep')
Albert Smith .... ('Cold Sleep')
Tomomi Tsunoda .... ("Cold Sleep")
Yasutaka Tsutsui .... ('Cold Sleep')

Posted by Dominic
7 stories by 7 different directors, comedy, suspense, sci-fi, romantic, you name it. Quite fun to watch 7 short pieces.

My review:
Quite fun to watch 7 short pieces. All nicely made, since each has only about 15 mins, they have to impress the audience pretty much from the beginning. I won't spoiled you with the details of the storyline.

The hidden blade

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The Hidden Blade (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, Japan 2004

Director: Yoji Yamada

My rating: 4

Key actors/actresses:
Masatoshi Nagase
Takako Matsu
Hidetaka Yoshioka
Yukiyoshi Ozawa

Posted by Dominic
At the end of the Edo era, a kind hearted samurai called Munezo was living in a rapidly changing time where Japan was full of corrupted warloads and the Western world was starting to influence Japan. Munezo was a highly skilled swordsman who had not killed a single person and he was forced to confront his friend, a fellow student under the same sword master, his friend had turned into a rebel. He became very tired of the injustice in the system...

My review:
Very well filmed with the finest actors. It brings out the emotion of the character very well, Munezo's kind, warm character and his love and affection towards the housemaid Kei, his reluctant to fight his old friend and in the end he decides to take justice in his own way. Not a typical samurai with blind obedient towards the warload master.

I like the fighting scene between Munezo and his friend, so reluctant yet inevitable, he was so unsure of his new trick that he recently learnt from his sword master just for this fight, his heart was full of contradiction. I also like the relationship development between Munezo and Kie, though predictable. Was Munezo a good samurai? Probably not.

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