Netflix A-Z: Lady Vengeance (2005)

Next up on Netflix A-Z, we’re looking at a foreign film, thanks to a recommendation on this selection being a favorite out of the Vengeance trilogy by Chan Wook Park.  I personally love Chan Wook Park or at least the movies I’ve seen, like Stoker (which blew my mind). You can find that review HERE!  Its one of my earlier reviews so it might not be as polished.  Regardlesss, I’m giving this one a go even if its the final installment of the trilogy but from what I understand, it has nothing to do with each other storywise but just in theme, so we should be good to go! 😉

Let’s check it out!

Lady Vengeance (2005)

Lady Vengeance

Director: Chan-wook Park

Cast: Yeong-ae Lee, Min-sik Choi, Shi-hoo Kim, Yea-young Kwon

After being in prison for 13 years for murdering a 6 year old boy, Geun-ja Lee is released back into the modern world.  Except this time, she has an elaborate plan to revenge on the man who is the actual killer.  She asks for help from her friends on this endeavor.

 Chan-wook Park has a distinct style in his work.  Its dark and peculiar for the most part.  Stoker and Oldboy both highly resonated those tones and Lady Vengeance is no different.  The intricate focus on the meticulous planning for a revenge by Geun-ja Lee is pretty spectacular.  The colors and the story was good.  However, the first half of the movie took a while for me to warm up to.  Maybe its also the fact that watching a movie like this takes the right mood and I wasn’t particularly in one of those moods but still wanted to check this out. I guess what I should be saying is that the other characters here playing opposite the main character has a distinct difference.  A lot of them are very naive or innocent even if a lot of them were prison mates.  Is that a statement on how Geun-ja Lee isn’t really as “kind” as she claims to be? Or that vengeance changes a person?

lady vengeance

Calm, collected and rather emotionless, Geum-ja Lee is a really great character.  I think the best part of the movie resides in her character and the planning and reactions she makes.  It is mysterious and dark.  There’s something that lurks behind all this that we can never pinpoint. But then, its not hard to be tough after 13 years of jail or having gone through what she has. The thrill of Lady Vengeance is Geum-ja Lee and wondering what she’ll do next. How does all the pieces in the first half fit together to see the ending.  She isn’t all evil.  She seeks redemption and revenge all at the same time.

lady vengeance

Lady Vengeance is a puzzle where the movie pieces itself together step by step.  Its rather slow and bizarre that builds to a rather brutal way.  It works on a more psychological level than say, Oldboy (which I have seen but haven’t reviewed here). The introduction sequence with credits is done so beautiful and setting the stage with beautiful music also.  Its hard to talk about Lady Vengeance without ruining the experience you would get with a fresh view of going into this.  It is a pretty movie to watch from music to cinematography and a good revenge tale.

I’m watching this revenge trilogy completely out of order but that’s okay.  Lady Vengeance was totally worth the time.  Its a little slow in the beginning and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it but as the story pieces together, it turns out to be really fantastic and well-crafted. Its a little mind-boggling but the movie answers most of the questions. It well worth a watch.  I say this one might even be more memorable than Oldboy (since I don’t remember a whole lot except for the shocking ending).

Have you seen Lady Vengeance? How about Chan-wook Park’s revenge trilogy? What are your thoughts?

I’m slowly catching up with Netflix A-Z.  I just needed some TV time with the frequent theatre visits.
But we are back! The next selection is for letter M.  Any guesses? Hint: Foreign (again)

Stoker (2013)

Stoker was one of my most anticipated movies of 2013.  However, because it was part of those artsy independent film categories, my suburban theatre didn’t have it.  When it was released, I bought it at full price.  Who would know that I’d wait all the way till now to watch it.

stoker posterDirector: Park Chan Wook

Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman, Jacki Weaver, Dermot Mulroney

On her 18th birthday, India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) loses her father (Dermot Mulroney) in a car accident.  The day of the funeral, her mysterious and charming uncle, Charlie shows up out of the blue and decides to stay with them to help her and her mother (Nicole Kidman) out.  India tries to figure out why Uncle Charlie appears out of nowhere as she didn’t even know about his existence before her father’s death and slowly she becomes attracted to him.

Unlike a lot of you, I’m not too familiar with Park Chan Wook.  I’ve only ever seen one short film by him called Cut and it was part of the 3 Extremes movie that I reviewed for the Halloween marathon 2012. You can check it out HERE if you’d like.  I only did a brief review as well but Park Chan Wook does have a very cool, mysterious style in kind of a mentally disturbed way. I like it a lot and I promise that I’ll get to Oldboy and Thirst soon. Stoker was my full conversion because it was all sorts of awesome.  I loved how it was filmed.  The shots were nice and the atmosphere matched the mood perfectly.  It was somewhat strange and mysterious but at the same time, it was intriguing.

STK-7222.NEF

THE best part of Stoker, hands-down, has to be the cast.  Lets start with Nicole Kidman.  I’m a huge fan of her to start. I’ve been slowing down on watching her films lately but she was pretty good as the widow who is attracted to her dead husband’s brooding brother and also, a mother who really doesn’t know what she’s doing but seems to want to be closer to her daughter but at the same time, in this controlling way but still remains distant.  And then, I start wondering if there’s more.  Either way, its not super clear but it didn’t bother me too much. Let me say, her glares and reactions were quite good.

stoker india

Our main lead is the talented Mia Wasikowska.  She always seems to pick up these peculiar roles.  The first time I saw her was in Alice in Wonderland.  Despite that movie having certain flaws, she was not and I thought she made a good Alice.  Then after that, she played in the very awesome Jane Eyre as the renowned Charlotte Bronte character from the novel, you can check out the review HERE! Suffice to say, that I’m quite impressed with her and to me, when I first saw the poster of this, I was thinking that this was exactly what she would be awesome in.  She definitely did not disappoint me. It was a pretty captivating performance because her character was so quiet and it was all just her analysing her Uncle Charlie.  It had a lot to do with her body language and her glares, that sort of thing.  In general, this is a pretty quiet movie with  not all that much dialogue to begin with.

STK-7632.NEF

As much as Mia was great, Matthew Goode stole the show as Uncle Charlie.  This guy was an awesome mix of mysterious, creepy, weird, and very charming.  We never really see what Uncle Charlie wants until the end and its just totally crazy.  The dialogue, the connection with Mia’s character India and equally with Nicole Kidman’s character.  Every single time he was on screen I was totally drawn in.

stoker india charlier

Another thing I really loved about Stoker was the music.  Maybe its because I play the piano, the music itself had a lot of that.  I totally loved that weird piano scene with India.  I’ve mentioned it here but I can see how this movie might not be for everyone.  Its slow and not very wordy.  Its all about just how they react, India’s analysis of Charlie and her mother, and just seeing how India discovers a bit more about herself and her family.

Overall, Stoker shot up as one of the best movies I’ve seen in 2013.  It feels good to have expectations exceeded.  Its a great movie.  Deep, weird, mysterious, suspenseful, and in a way, somewhat disturbing but done so well.  Chan Wook Park is a very awesome director who captures some nice scenes and the cast is amazing.  Stoker is worth a watch just to see Matthew Goode in this awesome role 🙂 I highly recommend it!

Did you see Stoker? Did you like it? If you didn’t, what didn’t you like about it?

Part 3: INTENSE Horror Movies

First of all, let me apologize for this list being late.  I wanted it to be posted up by the end of the weekend but I hadn’t finished watching it.  Its completely my fault though.  I needed a day off halfway through to clear my mind a bit and catch back a lot of lost sleep.

As I promised, here is the list for intense horror movies.  Its definitely built up to this point.  For these ones, my boyfriend helped me as mentioned last time.  The reason is that I haven’t seen ANY new horror movies after The Haunting in Connecticut in 2009.  Some of you may think I’m crazy and even my boyfriend doesn’t understand why it just made me scared to that point that I wouldn’t watch another one.  Honestly, I don’t know either but, for you, this week I’m exploring horror movies.  Some I’ve seen, some I haven’t but my boyfriend,Eric and I will do this movie marathon together (for the most part).  He was the one that chose 80% of the movies.  I only contributed the other 20% because I wanted him to see those.

I’m picking up all my courage to do this and jumping back into the horror world.

So no more babble, lets get down to business! INTENSE horror movie marathon begins NOW!!

1) Candyman (1992)

Director: Bernard Rose

Cast: Virgina Madsen (The Haunting of Connecticut, Number 23), Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass, Taken), Tony Todd (Final Destination 1,2,3,5)

Plot: A university student Helen (Virginia Madsen) is doing a paper on urban legends.  She has heard about the Candyman legend in Cambrini Green and she goes off with her friend (and classmate) to seek out the truth behind it.  Candyman is a man who was tortured to death because of his love for a woman he was not supposed to be with.  She tries to summon him and things go really bad.

This is a slow-paced horror movie which packs in some startling moments.  It can be gory and bloody at times.  It is quite suspenseful at other times as we don’t know if Candyman actually exists.  Its about beliefs and doubts in the entities around us which is exactly what the Candyman thrives and lives on.  To me, its the perfect way to start off this marathon.  It wasn’t exactly intense horror but it did have its scary factors.  On top of that it was written by Clive Barker and well, thats my boyfriend’s favorite horror author.

2) Three Extremes (2004)

Director: Fruit Chan, Chan-Wook Park, Takashi Miike

Cast:

Dumplings: Miriam Yeung, Bai Ling, Tony Ka-Fai Leung

Cut: Byung-Hun Lee (Hero, The Good, The Bad and The Weird, G.I. Joe Retaliation), Won-Hie Lim, Hye-Jeong Kang

Box: Kyoko Hasegawa, Atsuro Watabe (The Flowers of War), Mai Suzuki, Yuu Suzuki

Plot: A compilation of 3 shorts starting with “Dumplings”, the Hong Kong horror short (which also has a full-length feature) about a fallen actress and wife of a rich man(Miriam Yeung) who goes to find a woman (Bai Ling) who is renowned for her dumplings that help rejuvenate.  The second short is from Korea-“Cut”.  A reknowned director (Byung-Hun Lee) comes home and gets knocked out.  When he wakes up he is tied up and there is a stranger (Won-hie Lim), who was an extra, in his movies at his house.  The third short is of Japan’s feature-“Box”.  This is about Kyoko, a girl who wakes up from the same dream of two young sisters who are contortionist and their relationship with their ringmaster.

This selection is pretty much three shorts and I couldn’t really give a big description because if you haven’t seen it, then it would be just spoiling the fun.  Part of the horror is in not completely knowing whats going on and just watching disturbing and twisted mentalities weave us these three different stories.  I can understand and be a bit more scared of the Hong Kong one as there is a belief in Hong Kong that makes that concept just a bit more disgusting and even more twisted than the plot itself shows.  Its as the title calls it. Its extremities in the psychologically disturbed and the mentally unstable and the twisted ideas magnified.

3) 28 Days Later (2002)

Director: Danny Boyle

Cast: Cilian Murphy (Batman Begins, Dark Knight Rises), Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston (The Others)

Plot: An infection has spread and the main symptom is rage.  28 days after it was spread, England has been evacuated but it was too late.  Jim (Cilian Murphy) wakes up to find that he is in an empty hospital and goes out in search for someone who can help him figure out what is going on.  As he walks around the city, he encounters the infected and are saved by two survivors, Selena and Mark.  The only way for them now is to stay alive.

This one could have possibly been the first horror movie I saw in theatres.  Watching it again now, I realized that I’m not as scared as I used to be, but I still think its a really good horror movie.  The story itself is pretty solid and well-shot.  Its all really well put together for a horror movie.  It packed in some eerie scenes and some crazy scenes.  It had some blood and death and zombies (aka the infected, in this case).  It had parts which made me feel endangered for the characters and parts where it was startling and I held my breath. I think it qualifies as a pretty good zombie movie.  Plus, in any horror list, you have to add at least one, right? I have another one lined up as you’ll see further in the marathon.

4) Event Horizon (1997)

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Cast: Laurence Fishburne (Matrix), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park 1 &3), Kathleen Quinlan (The Hills Have Eyes, Apollo 13)

Plot: In 2040, Event Horizon was launched to explore the boundaries of the solar system and then disappeared without a trace.  The movie starts in 2047, where a team is sent out to around Neptune because there was a transmission from Event Horizon, to investigate what has happened.  Dr. Weir (Sam Neill) is the consultant who built the “faster than light” travel that Event Horizon had done before it had vanished and is sent along with this team led by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne).  When they reach the ship, they detect life form but unable to pinpoint the location from bio scan and are forced to search the ship manually.  Suddenly, strange things start happening.

I think I’m starting to feel that I like Paul W.S. Anderson’s style.  His movies never seem to be very popular to the general public but for us, we love it.  It was gripping and mysterious.  The tone that it set was dark and creepy.  This is the second time I watched this one and I have to say, I had a few moments that really startled me.  I wonder if its because I started analyzing movies more that I am more aware of the bad dialogue or stupid decisions the plot has set the characters to do.  Still, I stay true that it had its horror moments and some disgusting parts to creep the audience out.  I still enjoyed it quite a bit.

5) Pulse (2006)

Director: Jim Sonzero

Cast: Kristen Bell, Ian Somerhalder

Plot: Two students hack into an unknown frequency and unleash something darkness into the world.  A group of college students attempt to know figure out what it is and how to stop it before it gets worse.  More and more deaths happen unexpectedly and suicide is increased in the city. Mattie (Kristen Bell), whose boyfriend was one of the hackers and had died, tries to move on but gets dragged into whatever has crossed over into the world.  She meets Dexter (Ian Somerhalder) who has coincidentally bought Mattie’s boyfriend’s computer system and he gets involved as well.  They try to stop whatever is wrong before it gets out of hand.

This is my first time watching this movie and I think its about one of the top 10 horrors that I’ve seen.  I know its not saying too much, but this whole marathon thing was a good idea, as it opened my eyes to even more horror genre. I had foreseen a pretty sleepless night already and we’re only halfway there.  So this one was a American remake of a Japanese movie.  It probably was a bad remake, and it was packed with obvious dialogue and retarded acting for the main girl at least, but it did creep me out.  It also the 2nd movie so far that I have seen for the first time.  It definitely makes a good impression.  Plus, Pulse has a 2nd and 3rd part so maybe I’ll give those a whirl when I finally move on from this one.

7) The Eye (2002)

Director: Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang

Cast: Angelica Lee (Re-cycle), Chutcha Rujinanon, Lawrence Chou

Plot: A blind girl (Angelica Lee) has the opportunity of undergoing a cornea transplant to regain her vision.  After she gets her transplant, she starts seeing a bit more than the normal.  She starts seeing ghosts.  She starts trying to find out who the cornea belonged to and why she has been seeing all these things that she shouldn’t be.

My boyfriend watched this one by himself.  It is the only one where he did because after pulse I needed a bit of time off from crazy ghost and spirit type of movies.  I still remember this one like yesterday.  It was really really spooky.  The images she had, the story behind it, was all very very good.  I was pleased by how they had made it.  Maybe its because of my Asian roots, I get easily creeped out by more spirits and ghost stories because its part of our beliefs.  This one really is the best horror I have seen.  One that I truly appreciate, so I was disappointed at the American remake which pretty much took the whole story then set it in the States and Mexico instead but didn’t really do as great of a job.

6) Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer

Plot: Someone infected has spread it to everyone in the city.  There are a few survivors who take refuge in a big shopping mall.  They are desperately making sure that they are not going to have anyone penetrate the building and need to make sure that whoever that wants to come in are not also infected as to not put themselves in danger.  At the same time, they need to find a solution of how to escape the city and hope to find somewhere that are free from the infected and live in peace.

As much as I really like 28 Days Later, I always seem to enjoy this one just a bit more.  Maybe its the factor that we never really know how it all started and its just action and suspense.  It startles us and at the same time brings us to wonder if there is salvation somewhere else.  The characters themselves are convincing as they all have their own stories and their emotional ties that help move the plot forward a bit more to make you feel a bit more connected with the characters.  I’ve never seen the original Dawn of the Dead but my boyfriend says that this one is better in his opinion because it was higher budget or whatnot.  I just have to say, this was a must in our selections and will probably remain that way.

8) Friday the 13th Part II (1981)

Director: Stever Miner

Cast: Betsy Palmer, Amy Steel, John Furey

Plot: Jason’s mom, Mrs. Voorhees has died and Camp Crystal Lake is closed. A counsellor training camp close by is hosting a group of teenagers there.  They are slowly hunted one by one by an unknown killer.  The sheriff has told them to be careful and to not wander into the Camp Crystal Lake area. Unfortunately, they didn’t listen and triggered the man into a killing frenzy.

Please note that I only had my boyfriend’s recap of the first one and he explained a bit of the events that happened and general plot so I had a better understanding, not that I really needed it. This was a fun slasher flick.  I’m usually not a big fan of these but I really enjoyed this one.  My boyfriend said this was his favorite.  We might probably (eventually) sit down and do the marathon of the complete collection(next Halloween?).  It had a few surprising moments that even though sometimes I guessed what would happen next, it still kept me on edge for most of the movie.  I was really involved in it and thats a really good sign when you see me yelling at the TV.  Definitely very entertaining and if you are into slash flicks, I’m sure its a good pick.

9) Halloween (2007)

Director: Rob Zombie

Cast: Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane

Plot: Michael Myers (Adult as Tyler Mane) kills his dad and sister at the age of 10 and gets admitted to a mental institution deemed as a psychopath. There he meets Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) who tries to get him to open up and confess.  He ends up staying there for 17 years, 15 of those he doesn’t ever speak.  One night he breaks loose in search of his younger sister, Laurie(Scout Taylor-Compton) who is in Haddonfield.  Anyone in his way has to be careful.

Back to back nights of slasher flicks was alright.  Originally, this was supposed to be the original but my boyfriend couldn’t find the DVD so we replaced it with the remake.  He did enjoy it and I did as well. I had different feelings from watching this than Friday the 13th.  It felt just a bit messy because they emphasized so much on his upbringing and how he was made into a psychopath due to the perfect balance of exterior and interior factors in his childhood.  I really liked that aspect and I did get very involved with the progress of the movie.  Same thing as Friday the 13th, I was worried about the turnouts and when he will just pop out and do more slashing.  First time watching this one also and I’m impressed.  When my boyfriend does find the original, I’ll probably give that one a shot.
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10) Hellraiser (1987)

Director: Clive Barker

Cast: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence

Plot: Frank is on a search for the extremes and finds the cube which is actually a relic that when solved, opens up the realm between pleasure and pain. It summons the souls of the evil who takes his life. Flash forward, Frank’s brother Larry(Andrew Robinson) decides to move in with his wife, Julia(Clare Higgins), into his family house. What he doesn’t know is that Julia had an affair with Frank and when there was bloodshed, Frank has risen from the dead and needs more blood to become whole again.

We started and concluded with a Clive Barker movie/story. This movie wasn’t actually scary but more disgusting. Even though I was lost throughout most of it, and kept asking my boyfriend what was going on. I would say the ending was probably the best part because it was compelling and had some intense moments. I wouldn’t say that it was my favorite in the marathon but it was original.

 

There you have it: The INTENSE HORROR MARATHON! All of you have to be proud of me. I really doubted being able to get myself through this list and I did watch them all, except for The Eye.  That doesn’t really count though.  I had already seen this two times before and I have vivid memories of it already.  Getting through this list means a lot (and I mean A LOT) of sleepless nights.  I’m living on about 3-4 hours of sleep on average per night.  As much as it seems hopeful that I’ll get back into horror, I’m pretty sure its going to now officially be an annual deal.  I’ve learned that even if I don’t get scared initially, as I walk into dark rooms and that sort of thing, my imagination just goes flying.  Now its like a 10 movies mashup reel, so it will take some time (and many comedies) to move on.

 We’ll jump to the list. A big thank you goes to my boyfriend because he helped me edit and actually sat through all those movies.  Looking at the entire list, we were both pleased with the choices.  We did learn that we don’t technically have the same taste as the general public according IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, but its alright.  I’m still quite proud of myself, what more can I say?

Now that you finally get the whole list.  What do you think? What type of horror movies are you into? We tried to cover a few genres with possession, zombies, slasher, disgust and absurd original concepts.  Which ones are you normally into? What gets you startled or intrigued the most? Do you have any favorites that you’d like to share?

**Just a side note, it’s the first time I’m posting with a tablet. If there are any problems, they will be fixed shortly. I’m trying to learn how to do this reasonably well in the next week before I head off to vacation.**