Valentine’s Double Feature: This Is Not What I Expected (2017) & Us and Them (2018)

Third before last double feature in this Valentine’s romance double feature theme. I’m starting to think about when to do another themed alphabet month because it was just so much fun. Not sure what to do or what theme would be interesting enough. Maybe an international film theme, which would open up more genres. Any suggestions.

Moving onto the T & U selections. Talk about international films: I ended up choosing a Zhou Dongyu double feature and a Chinese film double feature and coincidentally, because its such a rarity in my movie watching life: a double 5 star rated films as well. All around an awesome time which had one feature that gave me a ton of laughs and fun and the second that gave me all kinds of emotions and some tears. If nothing else, these two films show that China is an upcoming force to put on our radars, especially with Netflix acquiring some as Originals.

Let’s check these out!

This Is Not What I Expected (2017)

this is not what i expected

Director: Derek Hui

Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Dongyu Zhou, Yi-zhou Sun, Ming Xi, Kuo-Chu Chang, Tony Yo-ning Yang, Chiling Lin

An obsessive CEO of a company meets a ragged chef by chance. They are drawn closer together because of their love for delicacies, yet their personalities clash big time. – IMDB

Romantic comedies are a dime a dozen. Honestly, the Hong Kong (can’t say for China because I haven’t seen enough films to comment on it) landscape doesn’t really have any ground-breaking films in this regard. No one sits down to enjoy a great romantic comedy because its just generic. This Is Not What I Expected might not be anything ground-breaking in its formula because the course of events are quite predictable and generic, what it does do is for the first time (to my knowledge) dive into a screwball comedy style. Its quirky and hilarious. There are contrived events and things that get way out of proportion where its impossible to imagine any of it actually be accepted normally, but then there is a point in film that we find a line between reality and challenging its limits and something about the charm of This Is Not What I Expected hits it perfectly. Its been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a film and felt so fulfilled and happy about it all the way through. Not to mention, the movie also is right up my alley as it has a lot of artistic shots of food and cooking.

The main reason is its main leads. For one, Takeshi Kaneshiro is a fantastic actor and he has been in many films. However, it may be the first time he’s done a role that feels so serious but at the same time, so hilarious because of his expressions. It definitely isn’t a frequent type of role for him and this feels so refreshing to watch. At the same time, she is opposite the younger Dongyu Zhou who is a rather popular Chinese actress and truly excels in this type of role. She has this out of control nature and yet there is something so genuine about even the most absurd things that she does and yet it makes her quite adorable as well.

Us and Them (2018)

Us and Them

Director: Rene Liu

Cast: Boran Jing, Dongyu Zhou, Zhuangzhuang Tian

During the hectic chunyun (aka Chinese New Year) period, 2 strangers travelling home meet on the train. – IMDB

Us and Them is a Netflix Original and it tells a wonderful love story. Its quite reminiscent both in color palette and plot of a story like Blue Jay and One Day (the book, not sure how the movie is structured), except this story has much more context as we see a colorful past of Xiao Xiao (Dongyu Zhou) and Jian Qing (Boran Jing) from how they met to how they got together and the conflict that drove them apart. Ten years later, as they meet again and each in their different phase in life, how they have changed and how they face each other. Perhaps the story itself isn’t very unique but its honestly in the details as we see why their present is in black and white and their past in color. Especially with the background music as well as the artistic shots and structure of some of the scenes. Its hard to imagine that this is a directorial debut of Rene Liu who is an accomplished singer and actress but the first time taking the helm of the director.

However, true credit goes to how the characters are developed in each phase of their life. There is a deep knowledge of them as they change and grow over the years. It is a genuine relationship and progression that makes them so real. At the same time, the story isn’t just about their romance but also pulls in masterfully a second plot line related to family. The movie extends itself the entire way through the end credits as they pull in some real people who write messages to their past loves and then an ending scene which talks a lot about the message behind this movie being in telling those you love them (whether lover or family) before you lose the chance to and letting the regrets hang in the air. Just like the tagline of this movie which translates to: “After, we had everything except each other.” Its both a heartwarming film for a part of it and yet such a heartbreaking film that ends up being bittersweet as well. Just like Xiao Xiao and Jian Qing reflect on themselves and their relationship, the movie will end and made me reflect on a few things as well. Us and Them is a beautiful movie both in cinematography, soundtrack, character building and story. Its full of style and so very unique because its been pieced together so well.

This double feature is the absolute highlight of not only this marathon but probably the past while of films I’ve seen.
Have you seen This Is Not What I Expected or Us and Them? Thoughts?

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Valentine’s Double Feature: Secret (2007) & The Space Between Us (2017)

Its been a while since I’ve continued on the Valentine’s Netflix Alphabet marathon! Its getting dangerously close to the end of the month and I still have a good few movies to get through. At this point, it might spill into the beginning of March. Either way, I said that I’d finish it so I will. Due to the missing X selection later on, I have chosen to do two S selections! This is the last change to the alphabet marathon. Surprisingly though, these two are both teen romances and have some unique-ish idea/concept.

Let’s check it out!

Secret (2007)

Director (and writer): Jay Chou

Cast: Jay Chou, Lun-Mei Kwai, Anthony Wong, Kai-Syuan Tzeng, Ming-Ming Su, Devon Song

Ye Xiang Lun, a talented piano player is a new student at the prestigious Tamkang School. On his first day, he meets Lu Xiao Yu, a pretty girl playing a mysterious piece of music. – IMDB

Jay Chou’s directorial debut sees him both as the writer of the original story and also acting in the film. From Initial D, its already not high expectations in the Jay Chou acting but Jay Chou is a creative individual and a very musical person so its no surprise to see that he has injected a musical element to this story. The pity of this film goes to Netflix categorizing its subgenre that ruins the twist of the story making it much easier to guess. The ending is somewhat of a headscratcher and feels a bit flawed from what the whole logic behind the situation was, the story itself had its charm. The first is the setting that its done, bordered by water, the school grounds and the more classical building. The second is its characters, including Jay Chou who wrote in a character that truly matches himself. Its probably the perk of being the writer of the original story.

secret 2007

On the off-chance that you aren’t watching this through Netflix, I’m going to keep this spoiler free as much as possible. While this movie seems a lot like your average teen movie with the female character having some ailment, there is a much more light-hearted sort of appeal to this mostly with its added twist. Using music as a medium is a really nice touch here. With the subgenre that it tackles, there are some little logic issues and flaws but it also has this fantasy element that adds a little something extra.

As I mentioned before, Jay Chou writes a character very suitable for himself therefore he does a decent job. Its really his romantic interest, Lun-Mei Kwai that takes a lot of credit here. Her personality reflects Xiao Yu’s character a whole lot whether its her little movements or when she’s happy or sad. The chemistry between them spark up some nice little moments that make us truly root for this pairing. However, in a movie full of young actors and actresses, there is no doubt that Anthony  Wong stands out the most playing the father of Jay Chou’s character. He has this vibrancy and his character while seemingly not very significant in the beginning, ramps up quite the significance by the end.

The Space Between Us (2017)

the space between us

Director: Peter Chelsom

Cast: Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, BD Wong, Janet Montgomery

The first human born on Mars travels to Earth for the first time, experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl to discover how he came to be. – IMDB

I’m not exactly understanding all the hate that this movie seems to get via the different site that I’ve looked at. To be honest, this movie is right up my alley. For one, it has an incredible cast, at least I’m a big fan of everyone here. Then it has this whole sci-fi premise of space and Earth. The idea behind the story is pretty nice as well. There are some glaring similarities to a lot of other movies, the one that I thought of first was Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart (Review), an animated film that I love a whole lot. To see competent young actor and actress like Asa Butterfield and Britt Robertson take over this pairing just warmed my heart because they are both constantly on my radar.

With that said, the music here is fantastic. The story here is a bit thin on the character development side of things and focuses on some cheesy teen romance thing, which worked for me because somehow these two have a good bit of chemistry and some really nice scenes. Plus, the whole fish of water thing always makes me feel incredibly entertained especially how they wrote up Asa Butterfield’s character even if he falls into those tropes of having some weakness to him but the fact that its because he’s born on another planet really makes it unique in its own way.

On top of that, you get Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino in this film who truly add quite a bit to the film in their roles. Its quite the adventure to see the whole chase from one thing to the next. There is romance but also a great deal of adventure that is where the bonding of the characters happen. Britt Robertson does play a very similar role to a few roles she’s done where she is a teen that doesn’t fit into the life that she is from. The key question here that is asked is “What is your favorite thing about Earth?” I think its a valid movie that uses this story to ask a deeper question about appreciating the things that we have around us that we take for granted. There are many layers to the story. Sure, it has its faults and there’s a ton of cheese and its fairly predictable but there’s also a lot of fun and adventurous moments here that work. Plus, it doesn’t take the normal teen romance type of bittersweet ending so I’m all for that.

That’s it for this double S feature for Valentine’s romance!
Both movies that have flaws but that I found a lot of enjoyment from!
Have you seen Secret or The Space Between Us?

Valentine’s Double Feature: Permission (2017) & Remember Me (2010)

Continuing with the marathon, I was going to change it to romance marathon or something but February is going to be Valentine’s month so why not just keep it the same, right? As you will notice, I didn’t really have a Q selection so decided to do a second P selection with 2017’s Permission and paired it with R’s 2010 romance drama Remember Me, a movie that I’ve started once before but didn’t think I was in the mood for a romance drama so stopped after 10 minutes in or something.

Let’s check it out!

Permission (2017)

Permission

Director (and writer): Brian Crano

Cast: Rebecca Hall, Dan Stevens, Gina Gershon, François Arnaud, Morgan Spector, David Joseph Craig, Jason Sudeikis

A woman on the brink of a marriage proposal is told by a friend that she should date other men before spending the rest of her life with her boyfriend. – IMDB

Permission is a film that usually is the type of premise that is right up my alley. Its the idea of romance and different types of relationships and whatnot. To be honest, Permission does a lot of good. The best part of it being that it starts off making a relative amount of sense. The key of being okay with this film is is first accepting (or tolerating might be a better word) that its okay to experiment if you have only been in one relationship and using that method to feel like you can spent forever with the person you are currently in a relationship with.  That is the premise of this film so if that starting point doesn’t work for you, this film won’t get any better. My main issue is that the ending had points where it didn’t quite make sense to me but then I’m thinking about how with a premise like this that there is no other way for it to end and which type of ending would have worked better.

One of the main components that work here is that the actors and actresses themselves are really good. They are written each in their own distinct way and their actions and reactions being the center of who they are and how they feel about this whole thing. Dan Stevens plays Will who does a great job as expected. You can somehow feel the resistance towards the experiment but his love and his trust and makes him want to go through with it. On the other hand, Rebecca Hall as Anna, playing Will’s girlfriend is also very good. She does a lot of discovering here especially since she ends up having her own form of evolution and manages to sort out her thoughts at the end. She ends up meeting Dane, played by Francois Arnaud, a Quebec actor that I personally like a lot (especially his performance in French-Canadian film Origami. You can see the review HERE). The best parts of the film goes to the chemistry between Dane and Anna because it feels like there is something real going on between them even though its based on the lie that Anna never revealed that she is in fact in a relationship.

At the same time, you have their best friends, Reece and Hale who are going through their own issues as Hale wants to have a kid and Reece doesn’t and because of that, their own changes draws distance between them as well. There are some parallels here between these two relationships. There are some big messages about needs and wants in relationships as well as finding yourself before being with someone as the undertone of it all.

Remember Me (2010)

Remember Me

Director: Allen Coulter

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin, Chris Cooper, Ruby Jerins, Pierce Brosnan

A romantic drama centered on two new lovers: Tyler, whose parents have split in the wake of his brother’s suicide, and Ally, who lives each day to the fullest since witnessing her mother’s murder. – IMDB

I’m noticing just now that this movie’s tagline is “Live in the moments”, which is a pretty good way to talk starting about Remember Me. Remember Me starts in a fairly tragic and dramatic one, both paralleled with funerals: one for Tyler (Robert Pattinson) who loses his brother and one for Ally (Emilie de Ravin) who loses her mother both also being the first witness of their loved ones passing. These things make them view life in a different way perhaps making them treasure the moments a little more in fear of not living the next day with Ally’s character and one that tries to care for their family more with giving them more attention in Tyler’s case. Remember Me takes a lot of routes and in some ways, it takes away from what it was trying to do in the first place making our two main characters quite shallow and their relationship not exactly too deep either. Which is a little awkward to say that I’m watching a romance drama and in many ways, the romance is very unimpressive and not too memorable either. It goes to show that passionate kissing and sex scenes don’t make up for these moments even if they were very well shot and constructed.

The story should be commending to give notice to the drama around the two main characters because life is more than romance. Tyler is face with giving a lot of attention to her younger sister Caroline who believes that her father hates her and ignores her while having a feud and constant disagreement with his father (Pierce Brosnan) who only cares about his work and never prioritizes his family despite the tragedy that they’ve gone through. This family drama plot is one that is frequently used especially when his little sister also has a little side plot on how she doesn’t fit in and is bullied in school to some great heartbreaking extremities. On that note, some scenes and details here feel a bit disjointed because its packed so much that nothing leaves a great impression. To be fair, while the film has a lot of great ideas that doesn’t get used enough to make it more memorable, the roles here are not too bad although its funny that almost the entire cast: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin and Pierce Brosnan all are putting on their best American English show which I find isn’t too natural. I’m a little torn honestly on how I feel about the acting. Robert Pattinson felt more refined than say, his role in Twilight (I can only compare it since I’ve never seen him in another romance) but still missing something because it still felt like his expressions are very similar. Emilie de Ravin is an actress I love from Once Upon a Time so I think this is a new side of her that I quite enjoy.

The most memorable part of Remember Me is its plot twist finale that kind of punches its audience in the gut. I can only say this because some might view it as a fairly controversial sort of ending. It can be seen as distasteful or it can be seen as being very clever. However, there was no doubt about how it would end in my mind, but rather how they chose for the ending to happen because there was no way the movie wasn’t already hinting at this sort of ending with the tone and message it had set throughout.

That’s it for the next Valentine’s Romance double feature!
Excuse the little break, I needed a few days to just take a break and get things together.
Have you seen the P (replacing Q) selection and the R selection? Thoughts?

Valentine’s Double Feature: The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) & Prince Charming (1984)

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, whether you celebrate or not (which we don’t other than on the blog as an excuse to watch romance films). If you don’t celebrate, then tomorrow is a great day for some discounted chocolate. 😉

We passed the halfway point of the alphabet which was really all I expected myself to get to by February 14th. This time, we’re at the next two letters, O & P. The first is The Other Boleyn Girl which I have put aside too many times so I decided to just go for it and get it off the list. For the P selection, I floated around a few titles but decided to go with something a little more romantic and comedic with Hong Kong’s 1984 romance comedy Prince Charming.

Let’s check it out!

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Director: Justin Chadwick

Cast: Eric Bana, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Jim Sturgess, Mark Rylance, Kristin Scott Thomas, David Morrissey, Benedict Cumberbatch, Oliver Coleman, Ana Torrent

Two sisters contend for the affection of King Henry VIII. – IMDB

I’m a bit torn on how I feel about The Other Boleyn Girl. On one hand, the first part of the movie was pretty entertaining with the obvious chemistry between the characters and the setup of the stage for the parents, their stand and favoritism between children as well as their ambitions and greed for power and fortune despite the consequence of putting their own children into difficult and complicated places. With that said, the start was pretty fun with King Henry (Eric Bana) take a hunting stay at the Boleyns home and having one daughter being set up to seduce the king which somehow defines who Natalie Portman’s Anne’s personality is which as it grows ends up causing herself some pretty irreversible consequences. While I get Natalie Portman’s character, the beginning half with King Henry and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) definitely was the more interesting part even if their focus was really not on them because it involved a lot of music overlaying passionate sex scenes.

To be fair, when the second act started and King Henry got lured into Anne’s traps of playing hard to get. It started getting a bit ridiculous. I’m not a history major and I don’t particularly know a lot about the history of England and the kings but as a historical drama (I know for Chinese history, there are kings defined for their bad judgement because of the women they choose), I can’t say how accurate it is but King Henry is very much getting played and not quite as kingly until he decides to justify his difficult decisions by raping Anne, which seems to defeat the purpose of making these tough choices and throwing it all out the window, hence his descent down the slippery slope, I suppose. It was very soap opera because it was so entangled in romance and the King’s floating attention span of always having women satisfying him and producing an heir when he did already have one that he disregarded, and then the mixed romances and improper decisions and playing games.

The Other Boleyn Girl was good in the sense that I think Eric Bana does a great job and I particularly liked Scarlett Johansson and well, anytime with Kristin Scott Thomas is a good time because she also is a very powerful actress even in the supporting role as the mother of Anne and Mary who ends up losing the most out of Anne’s desperate need for attention (or whatever you call it). Its not a bad film but it is still a bit drawn out unnecessarily.

Prince Charming (1984)

prince charming

Director (& writer): Wong Jing

Cast: Kenny Bee, Cherie Chung, Pak-cheung Chan, Rosamund Kwan, Maggie Cheung

Chen Li is the son of an enormously wealthy Hong Kong businessman and is vacationing in Hawaii, experiencing typical girl problems. – IMDB

There are a lot of films called Prince Charming. To my knowledge, 1999 also had a Hong Kong film called Prince Charming (which I have seen before with Andy Lau and Nick Cheung). However, we are dialling back to 1984 when Maggie Cheung still did comedies and Kenny Bee and Pak Cheung Chan was a huge deal whether for singing or acting or hosting. Directed and written by Wong Jing, this movie is bound for some laughters. As with most of Wong Jing’s film, he also has a cameo appearance as a passerby listening in on a conversation about some sex meter calculation.

Prince Charming is a pretty charming film. I have my issues sometimes with the humor of Pak Cheung Chan because sometimes it leans on the heavily dumb humor but somehow, perhaps its because its Wong Jing and I like his humor and Kenny Bee has this dorky humor to him that makes it all come together. Its a lot of fluff to be fair because the story itself is fairly simple and in the mist of the mistaken identity, its hard to really focus on the background plot of finding out whether embezzlement is happening at the office because it focuses a lot on the romance and Kenny Bee finding his love with Cherie Chung’s character. However, there is this sweet chemistry between them that works most of the time, especially in the awkward moments. Add in some family bits and a few silly moments and this really does have quite a nice vibe to it.

A lot of staple actors and actresses of the 80s (and 90s) are in this film and it shows their youth especially when the films starts off in Hawaii for a little bit and then heads back to Hong Kong. Its a romantic comedy so it definitely gives off this fun and entertaining sort of film packed with the 80s humor of Hong Kong that defined its films and boy, I really did like that comedic style a lot.

Valentine’s Double Feature alphabet for O & P are done!
Have you seen these films? What did you think of them?

Valentine’s Double Feature: Midnight Sun (2018) & Nappily Ever After (2018)

Next up in the Valentine’s Double Feature is the M & N selection! We’re at the first choice which I’ve actually been interested in seeing for a while and the second which was a last minute change in plans, because I just like to keep things spontaneous. Our M selection is a nice shift into some teen romance which I tend to avoid because it gets very formulaic genre but I’m interested in seeing how Patrick Schwarzenegger fares as a young actor and Bella Thorne has truly grown a lot in her acting in the last few films I’ve watched so interested in seeing how she does in a role different from her usual ones. As for Nappily Ever After, it just seemed like a cool film to mix it up a little. Its supposed to be a romantic comedy but I honestly think its more about a more personal journey.

Let’s check it out!

Midnight Sun (2018)

Midnight Sun

Director: Scott Speer

Cast: Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Rob Riggle, Quinn Shephard, Suleka Mathew, Nicholas Coombe

A 17-year-old girl suffers from a condition that prevents her from being out in the sunlight. – IMDB

I’m going to admit right away that Midnight Sun is very similar to a lot of teen romance films out there where one of the two have some sort of disease or whatnot. But due to my lack of knowledge of other movies (and I hear this compared most to Everything Everything which I haven’t seen), the only one that I can say this gave me similar feels to A Walk to Remember. For lots of Nicholas Sparks movie haters, this might not sound like much however if you are like me and do have tolerance for it, I actually thought that Midnight Sun had that genuine feeling to it that A Walk to Remember gave me which is a praise in itself because I honestly love that film. Its a film with a love story where this young couple find courage and encouragement to reach for their own potential and their dreams despite things that happened that make them scared to go for it completely.

With that said, my biggest praise goes to Bella Thorne who has broken out of her typical bitchy high school girl role and taken on this much more docile role as a girl, Katie with a condition that prevents her from going out in the sunlight because it can cause her body to deteriorate. However, she strives to be seen as a normal girl especially in front of a boy that she’s only dreamt of meeting until the day that she does and he is attracted to her. Its a fairly typical course of events and you can call it contrived in its own ways and its not like the plot is going to win any awards for uniqueness, but movies likes these lie in the genuine chemistry and course of events that build up these two characters and Bella Thorne does a fantastic job in her role (even if her singing bits could be better). This is the first film that I’ve seen of Patrick Schwarzenegger and he has great chemistry with Bella Thorne and he is a pretty decent young actor as well. With time and more roles, we will see how his career goes and the potential he has.

Movies like Midnight Sun really appeals to a certain type of audience and for myself, it worked because it wasn’t all about the love story and it had something a little more, especially in the positive bits of a love story even in one doomed to end early as expected here. This one also remembered that Katie’s life didn’t only have love but also highlights her relationship with her friendship and her father, making the movie and Katie a much more real character with so much more to lose.

Nappily Ever After (2018)

Nappily Ever After

Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour

Cast: Sanaa Lathan, Ricky Whittle, Lyriq Bent, Lynn Whitfield, Ernie Hudson, Daria Johns, Camille Guaty, Brittany S. Hall

Violet Jones tired of waiting for her longtime boyfriend to propose, breaks up with him. But old feelings, and heaps of jealousy, no doubt, arise when he promptly begins dating another woman. – IMDB

You know, I have to say that the IMDB synopsis here is really not accurate to what Nappily Ever After is about. Its how it starts but I don’t know if jealousy is what causes things to go in motion, more than our main character figured things out at the end of the film about what matters to her and the things worth holding on and such. Is there a romantic angle to this? For sure! There’s a lot of that going on here especially because she realizes that she doesn’t want to wait for this man who she realizes won’t marry her and breaks up with him. However, she ends up getting drunk and doing something crazy like cutting away her staple of perfection and pride which is her hair which completely changes her course because she loses her physical beauty but owns up to her beauty regardless of her hair length. Its a pretty great story in that sense and inspirational and motivating and has all the positive vibes.

Is it really the standout for its romance? Not really. Its not to say that the scenes with Sanaa Lathan and Lyriq Bent weren’t full of chemistry because they were. They had some great moments which gave a nice contrast between this romance versus the previous one with the guy who wouldn’t marry her played by Ricky Whittle. I’ve always Ricky Whittle as he’s a pretty handsome man in general and has done some great roles, somehow this one isn’t one that I particularly thought was much since he was fairly shown little. Sanaa Lathan played her main lead role beautifully especially in interpreting the story plus I love how the film was split in chapters in the hair length/style that she had  in each stage which is pretty unique. Its supposedly based on a novel which I didn’t know before writing up this review so maybe that is how it was done in the book. Tell me if thats the case if you have read it. I’m interested in knowing.

Another aspect here was Daria Johns as Zoe who plays a daughter of Will (Lyriq Bent) who does such a charming job. Plus it brought in another angle to the story that gave it this very natural feeling and heartwarming moments especially as she found a way to see through Zoe how a childhood should be and what matters.

Thats it for this Valentine’s double feature!
Just saying that this double feature thing will continue through the rest of the alphabet but less frequent during the Ultimate 2000s Blogathon which starts soon!

Have you seen either of these films? Thoughts?

Valentine’s Double Feature: Krrish (2006) & Little Dragon Maiden (1983)

Nothing does better than a foreign film double feature, right? Haha. Its the reality over here however, with a Bollywood superhero/romance film Krrish and a Shaw Brothers film, Little Dragon Maiden, I’m hoping that these two Netflix alphabet selections will grab some of your attention. I had no choice because the choices were really limited for these two letters plus let’s be honest that a Bollywood viewing has been overdue.

Let’s check it out!

Krrish (2006)

Krrish

Director: Rakesh Roshan
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Rekha, Sharat Saxena, Manini M. Mishra, Naseeruddin Shah

Krishna is forced by circumstances to use his superpowers and become a masked superhero, Krrish, before getting drawn towards his lost legacy. – IMDB

Being the very clueless person that I am, I totally didn’t realize that Koi Mil Gaaya is actually the movie before Krrish which this movie refers to quite a bit but still stays self-contained so not watching the previous one didn’t affect my understanding of this at all. With that said, this one is a Bollywood superhero movie which starts off pretty heavy on the romance and Bollywood bits with the second act being more Krishna (Hrithik Roshan) discovering his way to be helpful but keep his identity hidden as a superhero/vigilante. The third act is being a lot more action-packed with more fight scenes.

Starring the very handsome Hrithik Roshan (who I first saw in Dhoom 2) and the beautiful pre-Hollywood Priyanka Chopra, its really quite fun to see them together although the romance bits are pretty much really cheesy (as you would expect in a Bollywood film). At the same time, the story is pretty innocent especially because Roshan’s character Krishna has lived most of his life away from people and big cities so when he goes to Singapore to follow the love of his life, he’s a bit like fish out of pond sort of deal which always brings in some laughter but then he is always incredibly smart because he has special abilities. While the romance parts took up most of the first act and a part of the second act, it still felt not as effective as the center of the film being about Krishna finding the way to become Krrish, a masked superhero who ends up saving the day when a fire breaks out at the circus and then leading him to discover his own background especially his father’s past against the evil man of a big corporation who dreams about building a machine to see the future and become God. This part all links to the first film mentioned above because that story is told there.

All in all, as great as Priyanka Chopra and Hrithik Roshan is in Krrish, the romance didn’t grab me a whole lot and the songs weren’t really my taste either. However, while the romance here didn’t quite work, the superhero aspect did. Sure, there was some unrealistic CG effects going on here but then this movie is in the 2000s so its easy to overlook it. I’d be interested to eventually catch up with the first film and the movie after this one, oddly titled Krrish 3 (which made me think that there was a Krrish 2 until I did further research).

Little Dragon Maiden (1983)

little dragon maiden

Director: Shan Hua
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Jing-Jing Yung, Kuan Tai Chen, Leanne Lau, Ni Tien

Little Dragon Maiden mixes the old with the new to create pure golden magic as kung-fu fighting veterans Chen Kuan-Tai and Lo Lieh join relative newcomer Leslie Cheung in a far-out swordplay love story that rocks. – IMDB

Guilty as charged that I haven’t really seen any Shaw Brothers films. If I have, it was when I was really young that I don’t even remember it. However, big fan of Leslie Cheung here and Little Dragon Maiden is a story that almost everyone who knows the Chinese culture has heard of and know at least the basic love story involved. Even though, I haven’t seen a whole lot of movie interpretations of it before, this might be the first one that I finished, its a familiar story.

Somehow pairing this with Krrish works because most of the story is about Yang Guo played by Leslie Cheung who starts off as an orphan and ends up being taken in by who he learns is his father’s killer who doesn’t want to teach him martial arts and when asked, gets sent to join a martial arts sect who bullies him because of his father and he ends up seeking refuge in the Ancient Tomb sect which is where the Little Dragon Maiden is. Because of a promise she made, she ends up taking him in despite the sect’s rules. The obvious happens where they do fall in love. I can get that this story would be touching but due to the length and how its executed, its more outstanding in its martial arts and personality development in Yang Guo rather than the love story which involved some misunderstandings and some bad stuff that happens to the Little Dragon Maiden.

With that said, the fight scenes here and the martial arts bits and such are really fun to watch. Similar to how I liked the creatures in Labyrinth, Little Dragon Maiden has the magical Condor who is a key element in the actual book that its based on which ends up making a late appearance but the design as silly as it looks because it just didn’t age well, there is this fantastic charm to it. You can see it in the poster above.

That’s it for this Valentine’s double feature for the K & L selection!
Have you seen these two foreign films? If so, thoughts?

Valentine’s Double Feature: Ibiza (2018) & Just Friends (2005)

Working out a lovely pacing this Valentine’s marathon as we land on the 5th double feature on this Netflix alphabet journey with I & J selection! Ibiza has been on my list a little bit but I have come to realize that late night comedies aren’t always my thing so I have put it off until now. Well, Just Friends is more of a random choice but it was on my list because of Ryan Reynolds so here we are!

Lets check it out!

Ibiza (2018)

ibiza

Director: Alex Richanbach

Cast: Gillian Jacobs, Phoebe Richardson, Vanessa Bayer, Richard Madden, Felix Gomez, Jordi Molla, Michaela Watkins

A young American woman and her two best friends seek out a hot DJ in Spain. – IMDB

Late night comedies are usually not my first choice in films. Plus, I haven’t seen the series Love yet so I also don’t have that connection for Gillian Jacobs. The start of Ibiza definitely doesn’t quite define how it gets. There are some fun messages here about going with your heart and throwing things to chance and finding your path. These three best friends are a little ridiculous sometimes and have their annoying moments but these are the usual path of late night comedies when it gets odd and it depends on how the viewer feels. Some bits were just not for me. But, there is this carefree feeling as we see the Gillian Jacobs character really let go. Especially in all her awkwardness along with Richard Madden’s character but they also have mad chemistry and passion which is so heart melting to watch.

Despite weird moments, running after the thing you want and having someone chase after you is the whole end game of Ibiza. Its somewhat a self-discovery for our main character that she finds on her Ibiza trip when she finds her value. Ibiza has a more multi-layer story where on the surface its finding this one time encounter that just took her breath away but the choices she makes after that changes the course of her character arc. It seems like my thinking is far-fetched but there’s something more here and it explains the abstract ending which just works for me.

Plus, Ibiza also gets points for having some great music especially seeing as its set with Richard Madden playing a DJ called Leo and EDM is my jam and I really liked the music aspect of it throughout, even outside of the club scenes.

Just Friends (2005)

Just friends

Director: Roger Kumble

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Faris, Chris Klein, Chris Marquette, Fred Ewanuick, Amy Matysio, Julie Hagerty

While visiting his hometown during Christmas, a man comes face-to-face with his old high school crush whom he was best friends with — a woman whose rejection of him turned him into a ferocious womanizer. – IMDB

No idea Just Friends is a Christmas movie, well, set during Christmas at least. Just Friends comes about halfway for me. On one hand, there are some funny moments and its to be expected. At the same time, it falls somewhere in the romantic comedy area where its predictable, really weird and at times also incredibly awkward. There are bits that run overly long and then there’s the romance thing which I guess worked but I’ve also seen it done better. To be honest, its not anything special but it has a few laughs as well.

These sort of movies are also the hardest to talk about because technically, nothing really is that bad but nothing is too good either. What hinges on Just Friends enjoyment is how much you enjoy the humor here. Anna Faris has always been an actress that I’ve rarely enjoyed watching because her humor is very odd and awkward and in this one, she plays a singer that is incredibly weird. At the same time, there’s this awkwardness between the main leads throughout most of the film, driving a lack of chemistry and potential desire so when the end game happens, it feels like a fairly rushed sort of ending but its a Hollywood romantic comedy which usually means a happy ending.

That’s it for this double feature!
I and J is now done and we’ll be moving onto the next pairing very soon!
Have you seen these films? What did you think of them?