jump to navigation

“Curse of the Golden Flower” Review – Curse of the Bouncing Boobs? December 29, 2006

Posted by drowmage in Curse of the Golden Flower, Movie Reviews.
3 comments

Review :

Let us make this easy. Do not, at any point, try to compare this movie to the likes of Yi Mou’s well-known movies in this country, such as “Hero” or “House of Flying Daggers”. With descriptions such as “promises to be Zhang Yi Mou’s most action-packed and biggest production to date”, I had expected dazzling fighting sequences and a compelling storyline that would perhaps rival that famous “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” from Oscar-winning director Ang Lee. Don’t hold your breathe though; “Curse of the Golden Flower” focuses more on being historically correct regarding the golden age in China during the later Tang Dynasty.

The movie is about the balance of power between the Emperor (Chow Yun Fatt), and his Empress (Gong Li), whom he took as his second wife when he was just a general in order to gain access to the throne. Their three sons are torn between family loyalty, that is, loyalty to the father figure and the Emperor; and loyalty to the stepmother and the Empress. Even more caught up in his emotions is the Crown Prince, who has been having an illicit affair with his stepmother while the Emperor was away. As the days progress, so does the plot to overthrow the Emperor and the final showdown begins at the hour of the Chong Yang Festival, when thousands of soldiers bearing the insignia of the golden chrysanthemum launches an attack on the palace.

I was extremely disappointed by Chow Yun Fatt’s performance as the Emperor of China. He didn’t seem to be very intimidating as the Emperor, even though the dialogue he was given, if delivered properly, would have sent chills down a person’s spine. The words were meant to reflect a cold-hearted Emperor who was so embedded in his cultural principles of family piety that he felt nothing for his Empress, so much so that he was willing to slowly poison her. The much-look-forward-to scene, where the Emperor is striking down his son with his golden belt, to show the cold heartedness of a great ruler who is a father figure, is cut out of the movie – leaving one feeling that they may have just chopped out the best scene ever. One for Censorship.

Gong Li has had amazing roles before, and as usual shines in her portrayal of the Empress. The Empress is caught in the political intricacies of the palace and a woman’s suppressed role in China during that era. At every hour of the day (a large hour, or shichen, according to the Chinese time measurement, is equivalent to our two-hour period, and was labelled according to the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac), she is brought a drink of strong liquid, prescribed by the Emperor which is meant to help her with her illness. However, she is fully aware that it is the drink itself which is the cause of the illness which grips her constantly. With this, her performance shines as she portrays the regal woman who, bound by tradition and the Emperor’s terrifying edict, cannot speak out against the plot to kill her and struggles with each cup of poison which she has to drink.

Jay Chou, as Prince Jai, seemed wooden at first in “Curse”, but as the movie progresses, so does his acting. There also exists a chemistry of sorts between his character and the Empress which transcends into the undying loyalty up until the end when he leads the coup d’etat against his father.

The movie is not without its plot twists and surprise moments, especially when the birth mother of the Emperor’s sons are revealed, and everything begins to unravel at the night of the Chong Yang Festival.

Instead of focusing so much on the surrounding architecture and interior design of the palace, Yi Mou should have also shown us the results of this opulence; the suffering folk and run-down villages who had to pay taxes for the royal family to live so grandly during China’s ‘golden age’. Perhaps then the message of the film might have been clearer; that the royal family, for all their external wealth, is no better in character than their farmers.

By the way, in the entire movie, you’ll notice that all the women have amazingly bouncy boobs, accentuated by the tight cloth wound around their chest to push them up and create an amazing cleavage. It’s hard to take note of the acting when Gong Li’s chest looks like it’s about to pop out.

The scene which had a huge impact symbolically, was when the palace square, littered with thousands of dead soldiers and filled with crushed chrysanthemum petals, were all swept away and replaced with new flowers by hundreds of loyal palace servants – as if nothing had ever happened. A powerful scene requiring no words, it reflects the sentiment of the current era; what we do know of history, is what the victor, and not the vanquished, puts in writing.

It’s a beautifully crafted movie, visually appealing, and for the historians, something to feast your eyes on as China’s history is brought to life. But as the minutes pass, you come to realize that there isn’t much substance to the story. As the movie tagline quotes an old Chinese saying, “Gold and jade on the outside, rot and decay on the inside,” the movie’s beautiful exterior seems to hide the dull tarnish of the supposed action-packed plot.

The Drowmage Rates this at : The Drowmage's Movie Ratings

Advertisements

The Den is Crawling December 28, 2006

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's rants.
1 comment so far

The Den has been crawling since yesterday, due to some undersea cables being ruptured due to an earthquake in southern Taiwan. According to news articles – the repair is happening. Slowly.

Blogging has been so-so, since the Drowmage returned back from a trip back to the Elvish Pearl Isle. Have not watched much movies lately but quietly catching up on some overdue articles… sans coffee. Need some good coffee brew. Coffee… good….

The Drowmage will be back next week after some good celebrations and sharing of the ale barrel at the local taverns – expect more movie reviews, celebrity interviews and event coverages soon in the year of two-oh-oh-se7en!

“Ultraviolet” doesn’t shine so well… December 20, 2006

Posted by drowmage in Movie Reviews.
add a comment

I’ve just finished watching “Ultraviolet”, and frack, it’s a stupid show. Sure, there’s impressive CGI, but for most parts it was so unfinished that it made “Cicakman” look like a shoo-in for the Oscars.

First off, the synopsis : “Ultraviolet” is set in a future where humans became infected with a highly contagious virus, called the human phague, which made them super-strong, super-fast, and super-regenerative (starting to sound like a broken record here), yet with a short life-span of 12 years from being infected. Because their teeth also grow to resemble fangs when they became infected, they were called ‘vampires’ and shunned by society.

Years later, most of them were wiped out by the virus or by the government’s “protection camps”, and we see Violet, played by Milla Jovovich, entering the government facility in order to intercept a case meant to be sent to a lab. When she is about to pass it to her colleague ‘vampires’, she opens it out of curiousity and finds out that it is a human boy (apparently in some dimensional stasis).

And she feels overwhelmed by the fact that they are about to kill a boy (since she lost her unborn child in the government labs), and goes ballistics, saving the boy, hoping that he held the cure to her survival.

The dialogue was so vague and ‘tarded. The plot was weak, and made little sense. Sure there was action, but there was nothing to make you believe that Violet’s actions were something that you needed to root for.

After a while, you begin to wonder just how many people can one woman face up against. In the first half and hour, the fight scenes are impressive. In the next half an hour, you get a feeling that it looks the same as the previous fights. And in the final part of the movie, you’d wish that they had planted a nuke in the building just so it would be over, darn it.

Milla Jovovich has acted in some impressive movies before, such as “Joan of Arc” and… well, er… “Joan of Arc”. Nothing else really comes to mind as she became the stereotypical female-video-game-action-hero in “Resident Evil” and “Resident Evil 2”, and wait! the soon to be released “Resident Evil 3”! In “Ultraviolet”, she delivers her lines without conviction, and makes you cringe with every cliche line that was delivered.

Come to think about it, she did pretty alright in “The Fifth Element” as Leeloo, but I refrain from saying anymore about the almost porno movie, “Return to the Blue Lagoon”, which was a sequel to the incest-like movie, “The Blue Lagoon” (starring the then 14-year-old Brooke Shields). Can you believe I saw these two movies on AXN Asia?

But I digress… back to the review.

The character Six, played by Cameron Bright, has the worst lines ever, saying things which would have definitely sounded more plausible if an older man were to say them. Pulling off his character with no conviction, you’d wish he had just kept quiet. I preferred it when he was portraying the character Leech, the mutant-neutralizer-boy in “X-Men 3”, who didn’t utter a single word and made Six look like a wooden shoe reading his lines.

The conclusion : “Ultraviolet” sunk lower than “Aeon Flux”. I begin to wish for the good old days where sci-fiction films revolved around movies like “Mad Max” and “Highlander”.

The Drowmage Rates this at : stars-1-5.gif

“Bye Bye Blackbird” Review – A Robinson Savary Film December 16, 2006

Posted by drowmage in Movie Reviews.
1 comment so far

I recall sending in my review to the company before going freelance, for this really awesome movie. It’s a European movie, part of the European Film Festival they were having here in KL. Sadly, due to the inadequacies of the human race, it didn’t get publish, which stings because I waste my time with an ass-i-nine movie, and it gets publish instead. There’s no justice left in this world.

Review: Bye Bye Blackbird is a dark yet beautifully spun poetic tale about romance and dreams, set in France , in a circus which is slowly losing its ground to the flashier and more exciting musicals and cabaret shows of the late 20th century.

Josef (James Thiérrée) is a former construction worker who now works as a sweeper at the circus, and falls for the aerialist, Alice (Izabella Miko) and is befriended by the horseback performer, Nina (Jodhi May). One day, he defies death and gravity by doing an aerial display on the trapeze. When he is spotted by the big top’s owner, Lord Dempsey (Derek Jacobi), he is paired with Alice in a dangerous aerial display as part of a new act for the circus.

However, things turn tragic as an accident happens and Alice is declared dead, with the circus turned topsy turvy with the loss of their only profitable act and Josef going mad with grief, destroying the “White Angels” act.

With his first-time feature film, director Robinson Savary has beautifully created a movie, showing a romantic view of the circus life from the top. Sometimes slow, yet poignant, he chooses not to concentrate much on expanding the character of the other circus members; but leaving you glimpses of these characters and making you wonder how they came into this business. The cinematography by Christophe Beaucarne gives a poetic and artistic feel to the movie, mesmerizing the audience in its display. The movie is in English as well, so there’s no struggle trying to catch the subtitles here.

James Thiérrée choreographed the thrilling aerial sequences himself, sharing a gift for physical business just like his legendary grandfather, who happens to the late great Charlie Chaplin. Thiérrée also proves that his acting skills are not lacking as well, with his heartbreaking portrayal of Josef who degenerates dramatically from a ‘white angel’ to a moth-eaten ‘blackbird’ in his feathered costume.

Derek Jacobi is memorable in his portrayal of Lord Dempsey, who is Alice’s father, a hard-bitten circus owner who tries to keep the circus alive and business running, reminding one of the stage motto “The show must go on.”

Alice is portrayed by Izabella Miko as the aerial angel, caught between running away from the circus to a better life, or spending her precious moments in the air, never having to touch the ground. Many will remember Miko as the barmaid Cammie in the cult hit “Coyote Ugly”. Not too bad, though the director should have expanded her character a bit more as Miko seemed to be a little stiff during her aerial performances, shadowed by Thiérrée completely.

Jodhi May is a delight to watch Nina, who is immensely attracted to Josef, yet giving way to hiding her feelings for him as she watches his love-infused performance with Alice – yet standing by his side, suffering with him as he degenerates after Alice’s death. However, they should have had more interactions between Josef and Nina, as these two created a likable chemistry.

On a serious note of things, the film also reveals to you how dangerous it was in the old days, before safety nets and harnesses became a fixture during these circus performances. Death during performances was something of the norm back then, with people even taking bets to see if the man on tightrope would fall off.

“Dreams can be as hard as stones, it breaks a lot of bones… and hearts.”

The Drowmage Rates this at : Stars 4.5

Yellow Fever Video December 8, 2006

Posted by drowmage in Wong Fu Productions.
add a comment

No, this is not related to the actual disease. It’s a video made by an three American Chinese guys who met in college and realized that they shared a passion for filmmaking. Later on, they set up Wong Fu Productions.

Out of their collection of shorts, the funniest one I’ve seen so far is” Yellow Fever”, about Chinese guys wondering why all their Chinese chicas seem to go for American guys, but not themselves.

Music accompaniment is a mix between the stuff you hear playing The Sims 2 or Theme Hospital.

Check it out here.

Something for all aspiring local filmmakers out there. If a bunch of college students can do this, why can’t our country’s established filmmakers do this? Is it because they just keep recycling the same boring rubbish over and over again?

Gridiron Gang – Hooyeah! December 7, 2006

Posted by drowmage in Events, Movie Reviews, Movies.
add a comment

I’ve got to admit, I only went to watch the movie for two reasons. Ok, three. One – The Rock. Two – Xzibit. Three – Gridiron.

The movie was just fracking awesome. It’s not completely based on all the events, but partially based on true life events, of 2 juvenile detention officers who get the worst of the kids in the juvenile detention camp together to form a football team, to play, on the gridiron.

For the ignorant, the football we’re talking about here is not the same sport played by a bunch of pansies who feel that overacting and rolling on the floor is the best way to get his opponent kicked out of the gameplay. Neither is this the game where you get hauled up for investigation just because you head-butted a motor-mouth pansy.

This, my friends, is the GRIDIRON. Good old American football. You may have heard of Americans talking about their precious NFL. The stuff of legend, where every head smash into the opponent makes you go “YEAHHHHHH!” And the Superbowl where the infamous ‘wardrobe malfunction‘ happened.
Truly barbaric, but why deny our bloodthirsty, nose-picking, butt-scratching and hairy ancestry?

Yes, a tear or two escaped the drowmage’s eyes during the brotherhood “you watch my back, I’ll watch yours” moments. The moments were good. Inspirational and all that. But it was every single head-smash and tackle which just inspired me to wish we had people playing this game in this country. It was every touchdown that brought a tear to my eye. And when Willy jumped over the fallen heroes, and scored his first touchdown – I almost jumped up out of my seat – but that wouldn’t have been smart. It was a cinema hall. Dang.

When we left the cinema hall, the first thing I did was turn to Mario, an Australian chap who was my housemate for a bit.

“Mate, did you do all the smashing stuff back in Adelaide?” the drowmage asked, referring to him playing gridiron for the Adelaide state team in Australia.

“Yeah mate,” he grinned. “We always went for the quarterbacks.”

Quarterbacks are always the smallest and fastest runners, but that made them free food for the fracking HUGE linebackers.

In case all these phrases don’t make sense, here’s a way to learn up a little on gridiron positions.

A definite must-see if you enjoy good smashin’ fun.

The Stumble Moment December 7, 2006

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's rants.
add a comment

So here I am, sitting down in front of the old faithful PC, and thinking of what to write. I’ve got article deadlines piling up, and still owe one review for “Night at the Museum”, which was originally lost when the harddrive decided it would be funny to corrupt the sector the file was sitting on. I’m still not laughing.

Jasdev, being the god of his own religion, gave me words of wisdom. “It would stay on readers if it was a bit shorter,” the Jasdev said to the puny drowmage about the Drowmage’s Den. “If they stumble on your page and then be interested to read if its short, hold that STUMBLE MOMENT.”

Ah… stumble moment…. stumble moment. The drowmage’s mind goes blank.

*stumble*

Blankly staring at the screen.

Ok now I’m bored.

I wonder if maybe the path of Jasdevism is not for the weak.

Meeting the cast of Sumo-lah December 1, 2006

Posted by drowmage in Events, Journalism, Sumolah.
3 comments

So I was planning to return back to Penang on Wednesday, when mom tells me she doesn’t really need me there. I log online, and Yap from the magazine I freelance with now corners me…

Yap: morning
Yap: was just about to call u
Yap: are u free tonight?
Me : er… why?
(Never say you’re free until you know if it’s worth saying so)
Yap: got event
Yap: at planet hollywood…
Yap: cast of sumo-lah will be there..
Me : *sigh*
Me : let me toss a coin….
Yap: aiks

So I flip the coin, and heads came up. Looks like a busy night for me again.

Reached Planet Hollywood after picking up Jon from the office – the downpour was awful and I drenched my Vincci shoes in puddles of water. In short – I ‘swam’ to Planet Hollywood from the carpark.

The cast was late due to the rain, met the nice ladies from the film distributor BVI (that’s Buena Vista International to y’all) . And… surprise surprise (not like I didn’t know he was part of the cast) , I met good ol’ Gavin Yap. The former “Red-Haired Tumbler of Malaya” is now all the rage on stage and doing a few TV shows. At least he still remembers me from Penang.

Pleasantries exchanged, numbers exchanged. Then I put my foot in my mouth.

” So.. er.. this movie is like your first step back into the movie industry after the previous one?” I randomly asked. Nevermind that I hadn’t been following the news on friends who turned to stars.

Gavin stares at me for a bit, giving me a weird look before telling me otherwise.

Note to self = next time do research on what friends have been doing, or else shut up.

So later Jon and I mingle a little with the BVI ladies, who were really nice to us. Images of scary dragon-like firebreathing distributors are slowly dissolving.

Eventually after much shuffling around, random photo shots and a few panicked questions from Jon “What am I supposed to be doing again?”, the cast of Sumolah , minus Inthira Charoenpura and Patrick Teoh assemble together and the director himself, Afdlin Shauki (this guy is just so awesome) goes up onstage to greet the crowd.

Now, for most events I’ve attended, they make you sit through the press conference, or the screening of the movie, or whatever else that happens before feeding you. This time, Afdlin announces that food is ready and invites us to dig in, before the activities start.

I could see it was going to be a fracking GREAT night…..

…. and end up eating half the food on my plate only.

Now, see, I need to explain something. I love food. I love to eat. Heck, I’m from Penang, island of great and awesome food you can’t get anywhere else in Malaysia (must be the clean water supply we have). But when I’m at an event covering it, I seem to lose my appetite, and not because I’m nervous, but because I’m so into the job that I can never sit still. Oh, look, there’s famous actor A. Oh, famous actor A is having his photos taken. Better join the fun or I’ll never get paid for the article. Oh darn it the food’s all cold and gross now. I think I’ll have a dessert. Oh look, famous actor B and C just walked in, have to chase for quotes and photos.

*sigh*

Plus points of the night : Met Vanidah Imran (The Red Kebaya) and husband Rashidi Ishak (Cinta), Sharifah Amani and mom Fatimah Abu Bakar, and the awesome Gurmit Singh.

Gurmit Singh, otherwise known as Mr Phua Chu Kang from Singapore’s hit TV series “Phua Chu Kang”. (The poor guy will be forever known as Phua Chu Kang unless he runs off into strong movie roles soon, hence probably the factor why he’s wrapping up the TV series with one last season.). Gurmit kept the audience entertained with his comments on why he joined the cast of Sumolah “I would have done it for free, but I signed the contract already” and how appreciative he was of the opportunity to visit his ancestors land (this guy is so rojak, with Indian-Japanese-Chinese ancestry, that’s he’s just so cool).

Mr Gurmit also remembered me for a rather unfavourable but funny reason. To explain this, I need to go back the night before this event, to the “Cicakman” gala premier at Cathay Cineleisure:

I was in the hall with the celebrities and the stars before the screening of the movie, and was randomly taking shots of famous local celebs. After taking a few photos of Anita Sarawak (talk show host, singer), I suddenly see Gurmit Singh and Afdlin Shauki, and go hey! photo opportunity!, take a shot. I took one lousy shot. Ok, nevermind, try again. I take a half-decent shot. Then I waved to them and asked them if I could take one more, and that’s when my camera battery ran out. *smack camera* *switch off/on camera*. Camera (no I’m not going to name her Sally or something weird like some people do) then decides it would be funny to humiliate me in front of the stars and sputters a whirring sound before entering the black hole of non-functionality.

Gurmit and Afdlin burst out laughing. I shrug and gave a grin, mentally trying not to sink into the ground.

Picture of Afdlin Shauki & Gurmit Singh before my camera died

Anyway, back to Sumolah – I waved at Gurmit when he arrived and asked if I could take a photo. He somehow recognizes me and asks if I have new batteries for the camera, and I laugh and say yes. Then tells the nice BVI ladies (Anna, Shu Mei & Michelle) how my camera died the night before. *sigh*Ah well, better to be remembered for something funny rather than something bad. I give props to Gurmit Singh for being a patient and really funny and nice guy in person. Makes me think most people who aren’t even celebrities are snobs (I said most, not ALL), and could pick up a thing or two from this guy. Well actually, all the celebs I’ve met so far have been really nice and awesome to me, so no complaints there.

3 times during the night, I keep trying to get a few minutes with Afdlin, and someone always grabs him away. But what was awesome was when it was nearly the end, and another TV station wanted to grab him, he saw me and said he would talk to me first, and even later said sorry and thanked me for waiting the whole night! Had a quick 15 minute interview with him, took a few shots, and chatted for a bit. He gave me a bottle of some sacred sand from the sumo wrestling ring, which was cool.

Highlight of the night :- made new contacts, talked to nice people, and ran into my favourite journalist from The Star newspaper, Mumtaj Begum. This is a woman who’s such a great writer.

Not so great moment of the night :- Stepping in puddles with high heels, getting lost on the way to Puchong and ending up in Ampang at 11.30 pm at night.

Check out the pics from the Night of Stars from Sumolah.

The drow’s work is never done… December 1, 2006

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's rants.
add a comment

Hello world! I thought it would be interesting to actually have a separate blog as a writer. Though new to the entertainment line, it’s been a swell journey lately, what with me meeting all sorts of local celebrities and even the ones from other Asian countries.

As the weeks go by, I hope to be able to update what I do, and chuck in a few random musings as well.

It is a new day, and a new dawn for this dark elf.