Fantasia Film Festival 2014: That Demon Within (2014)

Finally at the LAST post for the Fantasia Film Festival 2014.  Fantasia has been over for more than a week and due to my own personal scheduling (and life in general), I haven’t gotten around to writing as quick as I’d like to.  The last movie I saw was last Tuesday with Hong Kong action psychological thriller, That Demon Within. It stars two of my favorite actors in the industry, one of them have really been picking up some amazing projects and I’m still trying to catch up with all of his recent works. Hong Kong flicks were scarce in this year’s festival and I stop to wonder if its appeal is really not there anymore. Either way, I hold a special love for the Hong Kong movie industry and I’ll talk a bit more about it when I dive into the review.

Lets start with a little synopsis first!

That Demon WithinDirector: Dante Lam

Cast: Nick Cheung, Daniel Wu, Ka Wah Lam, Kai Chi Liu, Andy On, Stephen Au

Dave Wong (Daniel Wu) is a generous and dutiful cop and despite all that, he has been transferred to many departments due to his unstable personality to bond.  His desire to follow the rules makes him into someone that others have a hard time working with, however, unknowingly, he ends up donating blood to the leader of the robbery gang leader, Hon Kong (Nick Cheung) and saving his life while the police, specifically Inspector Mok’s (Ka Wah Lam) team having been trying to track him down.  This causes Dave to become obsessed with trying to investigate the whereabouts of  Hon Kong and his crew called Demon King Gang, and in the process stirs up a few demons hidden within of his own from the past.

 

First of all, I’d like to say that I’m extremely happy that Hong Kong entertainment has started branching into this.  There is no doubt that Hong Kong action has had a lot of praise.  After all, we can the success just by the appeal that Jet Li and Jackie Chan has.  Both very different but nonetheless, very good at what they do, action and martial arts.  However, Jet Li and Jackie Chan may be great stunt and action stars but they are not very great actors however the industry has built on some very good actors and expanded the world of action and thrillers into the psychological area.  That is my favorite type and thats what makes me even more excited and its for exactly that reason that I chose to see this one.

That Demon Within

 

If you think I’m bad at directors in Hollywood, which I am, I’m even worse with the new ones thats surfaced in the last 10 years or so.  After doing some research on Dante Lam, I happen to own a few of his directing efforts.  On top of that, his last hit Unbeatable (which is sitting on my shelf waiting to be watched) hit the festival circuit and did very well from what I’ve heard.  He’s worked with a lot of Hong Kong stars that I love and honestly, I’m growing to like his style: the dark atmosphere he gives and the action is set up pretty good as well.  The whole world of stirring up demons, psychological issues, struggling with the inner demons is done very well here so I give him applause.

That Demon Within

 

 

Although Dante Lam has brought on Nick Cheung, the villain in this movie, for many of his projects before as his lead, in That Demon Within he is given a lesser role with less screen time but there is no doubt that his character is extremely important to play opposite that of Daniel Wu who plays the main lead.  Nick Cheung’s role as Hon Kong is chilling and crazy.  It impacts the audience maybe at times even more than the character development that Daniel Wu’s role Dave has to go through as he literally melts down from struggling to embrace his past and deal with his present.

That Demon Within

With that said, this is an ambitious concept and one that I truly love.  This is supposedly  inspired by a real case that occurred, however Dante Lam’s decision to add in the Demon King and the elements of fire make this movie intriguing to see.  There are certain meanings behind fire and Hell and it proves even deeper in the world of Buddhism and the many levels of Hell.  Even more than that, if you’ve dabbled in the Hong Kong movie world, you will know that this movie has a few veterans playing the Demon King gang and Inspector Mok and even a previous Shaw Brother actor in a small role as the father of Dave. There are some notable names in here.

That Demon Within

The Demon Within is a lot of things: a psychological character analysis, action thriller and some even would say its in the film noir/horror area as well.  Thats a lot of places to hit and it may be this reason that it hinders how I could possibly judge this movie. Mostly because when I step into a movie with each of these specific genre, my expectations prove to be different.  This one took me a little by surprise.  Plus, there are parts which stretches out a little too much, some useless and rather confusing parts were added. Although some people were laughing at the ending as they exited the theatre, for once, I actually believe it was the best way to do it.

that demon within

Overall, I appreciated The Demon Within.  I enjoyed what I saw and I liked what it was trying to do.  The setting, the atmosphere, the background music and even the casting of the main guys, Nick Cheung and Daniel Wu and even a few of the other roles was spot on.  My main issue was the length.  At about halfway, I started wondering if the story was going to ever start. Maybe the building up of the character development took longer than expected or maybe it felt like for a little bit there was a lot more details than I needed, but Dante Lam does take the time to wrap it up nicely and he does some very adrenaline pulsing and fantastic action scenes.  This is no doubt a dark movie and it will have you thinking of what direction its heading into.  I felt like it took a little while to find its footing but once it did, it picks up the movie and turns it into a whole lot more than you’d normally expect.

If you do like Dante Lam or Hong Kong action thrillers, I’d definitely recommend this one to you. Its really a refreshing take on adding more elements to the traditional action thriller making it more dark and deep in what its trying to say.  Sure, its by no means the best action thriller I’ve seen but its heart is in the right place and for that, I believe its worth a chance.

What do you look for in action thrillers? Do you like Hong Kong action movies and if so, have you seen a lot of them? Can a film be multiple genres and succeed or is that trying to be too much?

 

Fantasia Film Festival & My Line-up!

Fantasia Film Festival starts this week in Montreal. It runs from July 17th to August 6th.

Last year, I lost track of when it started and ended up catching 2 movies.  Sad and pathetic, yeah, I know.  In my defense, I was super sick and was on antibiotics.

This year, I amended my old ways and tracked the event and waited for the schedule to go up and then chose my movies and was ready to pounce at those tickets the first moment they went online.

My plan is to see 10 movies and as this goes up, I’m still hoping that one of them will open up because I don’t quite understand what “restricted availability” is but I have a few backups, I that I can choose from. I’ll tell you which one in a little bit.

No rambling on today.  We’re going straight to business.  This is my line up in order of when I’ll see them.

1) JULY 18: OPEN WINDOWS/SPAIN/USA/2014

Open Windows is one I’m not completely sure about.  Sasha Grey isn’t all that convincing to me but then I’m guessing she’ll strip so there’s a appeal to people who like that but my reason is that Elijah Wood has been on a crazy streak of horror movies and they’ve all been received well.  I haven’t seen Maniac or Grand Piano yet but the trailers for those looked good as does this one.  I’ll try to squeeze in Maniac before I go, just to get an idea of Elijah Wood in horror movies, but no guarantees 😉

2) JULY 19: I ORIGINS/USA/2014

I Origins is probably one of the most anticipated movies in 2014 for me.  Brit Marling has been doing amazing movies with Another Earth and The East. She is unstoppable and this one is loaded with cast that I love.  This one was squeezed on a not very good day with another one that I’ll talk about in the end that I had to miss because of my friend’s wedding.  This one cuts into hers just a little but I’ll only be 20 minutes late max.  It should be okay, right? I just couldn’t give it up…what else can I say?

3) JULY 20: CYBERNATURAL/USA/2014

http://www.fantasiafestival.com/2014/en/films-schedule/250/cybernatural

Somehow Youtube didn’t have a trailer for this one but they have a trailer if you follow the link the festival’s page 🙂

Cybernatural is one of the last decisions that I made when compiling this list.  I gave my boyfriend a few choices since he’s going to see some of the weekend movies with me (especially horror).  This one was the final choice.  It looks like it has a pretty intriguing setup and seems to touch on various social issues in the process.

4) JULY 26: JACK ET LA MECANIQUE DU COEUR/FRANCE/2013

In English, the title is called Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart.

Last year, I saw a few animated movies from France and the style just charmed me so much that when I saw this one and the trailer, I knew I had to see it.  I like the whole dark Gothic style and the original idea of having a boy with a cuckoo clock as his heart.  I’m really excited for this one.

5) JULY 27: HAL/JAPAN/2013

Back to back days of animation.  How can I go to Fantasia and not see something from Japan? I almost wanted to choose a Korean one but it didn’t really work for me other than the cute characters and this one seems to have a more intriguing storyline whether its love or maybe something more. Plus, its only 60 minutes and the animation looks really nice.

6) JULY 28: INTO THE STORM/USA/2014

I already had Into the Storm in my anticipated movies for 2014 but seeing as this showed up in Fantasia Film Festival, I’m guessing it might not make it to the theatre near me.  Plus, I get advance viewing from everyone else in Montreal whose not seeing this on July 28th? Who needs perks anyways? I just want to see Richard Armitage in a leading role and I love disaster movies.  This one could hit the over the top area but sometimes, it works well 🙂 I’m staying optimistic for this one!

7) AUGUST 1: DYS-/QUEBEC/2014

I’m usually not running towards Quebec productions and no, that should say Canada because as much as Quebec wants to believe its unique and not part of Canada, it is.  Just so no one bans me from the movie for saying that, I’m going to shut up about that part.  This movie is weirdly in English (take that, Quebec :P) and its shot in my friend’s condo building.  I recognized the hallways.  Plus, it has a creepy vibe to it.  Its the only horror that I will be going to see by myself, unless some friend decides to join me.

8) AUGUST 2: THE DROWNSMAN/CANADA/2014

Last year, I wanted to check out Antisocial, which looked mad gory but it had some messed up time where I was always at work.  I know a few of you of reviewed it.   The Drownsman is done by the same team, I believe I read that somewhere.  Confession time: I can’t make it through the trailer? My boyfriend watched it for me and gave it a thumbs up for scary and potentially awesome and he laughed because he doesn’t know how I’ll get through the movie if I can’t get through the trailer.  I don’t know either but I’ll figure it out when I’m sitting in the theatre…

9) AUGUST 2: TIME LAPSE/USA/2013

Thats right! August 2nd is a double feature for us.  We have back to back movies with a little time slot in the middle to eat dinner (hopefully). I wasn’t so sure about Time Lapse until I saw the trailer and then I was sold.  Time Lapse looks intense and pretty intense.  The question with these sci-fi time travel-esque movies is whether it makes sense.  I’m confident that it will but I’m also curious to see how this pans out 🙂

Thats what I’ve bought so far!

The movie I believe slipped out of my grasp is also the one I expected to also: the special screening of Guardians of the Galaxy.  I don’t really mind too much.  I’ll still end up seeing it opening weekend, I’m pretty sure.  One of my friends seem pretty hyped up about it.

BUT, that means to complete my 10 movie run, I need to choose one more.

I have to miss Suburban Gothic (and the chance to see Matthew Gray Gubler) because of my friend’s wedding but here’s the trailer:

This just looks so good.  But I had to make a choice and I have prior commitments.  Lets see other options…

There is one that made me laugh called 3D Naked Ambition, a Hong Kong movie at 11:55pm.  Red light flashing on it possibly being in the porn department since its like at midnight.  As I was trying to find the trailer, I actually found the full movie on Youtube so nope, especially since I won’t have public transport to go home either.

Honeymoon also looks pretty good, but I’m not too fond of watching too many horrors on my own.

As interesting as this is, its also a pass.

Now, I could go on because there’s a few action movies that looked decent as well but I came to the final conclusion that it doesn’t feel right to give up the chance to watch a Hong Kong movie on the big screen.  They have one, From Vegas to Macau which I actually bought when I went to Hong Kong earlier and I will review it during this festival time (if I find time for it).

The final choice goes to That Demon Within.  Its somewhat of a horror action flick, if that even exists.

Nick Cheung has been churning out hit after hit and he’s just been out of control.  Daniel Wu is also one of my favorite actors.  The more I watch this trailer, the more I’m convinced this is going to be epic.  On top of that, its a crime thriller and I just can’t resist them.

Thats it for Fantasia Film Festival for now! I’ll be back with reviews in a little bit 🙂 I’ll try to get them out as soon as possible but with the movies mostly at night, I might have a few days delay depending on my schedule.  Things will stay as normal as possible here.  For sure, the focus will be geared towards movie reviews but I still remember that I have the Hong Kong trip that I have a few posts to put up also at the very least.

What movies peak your interest? Have you been to the Fantasia Film Festival? If you are going, what are you seeing?