Fantasia Festival 2017: Le Serpent aux Milles Coupures (2017)

Le Serpent aux Milles Coupures (aka Thousand Cuts, 2017)

Director: Eric Valette

Cast: Tomer Sisley, Terence Yin, Pascal Greggory, Stephane Debac, Erika Sainte

Le Serpent aux Mille Coupures, aka The Snake with a Thousand Cuts/ Thousand Cuts, is a French crime thriller that centre around a mysterious killing of three drug traffickers. that happens in the small town farm area. The hitman escapes injured and hides out in a mixed family that is already being bullied by their neighbors very much against their will. As the traffickers’ family sends over their own hitman to hunt down and revenge their death, we see four sides of the story from the cops, the neighbors, the hiding hitman and the hunting hitman. The violence and characters are what truly stands out in this adaptation of the French novel with the same name written by DOA.

Thousand Cuts is a reference on the ruthless killer Tod played by primarily Hong Kong actor, Terence Yin. However, the other characters prove to be equally important. Terence Yin pulls off a rather sadistic killer who speaks in Spanish and English (at times illegible, where we wished the there would be subtitles also). However, a lot of his dialogue helped us understand his origins while his cruel torture and killing methods and the obsession for his knife never quite gets further than being a disturbing aftermath. His character felt like its main purpose was to show the extreme cruel, dark side of being a heartless killer in a rather cliche background sort of way. However, his role helped to give a contrast to Tomer Sisley’s nameless injured hitman who is mostly referred to as The Motorcyclist. A killer who is hunted and perhaps is the most intriguing among the characters because he seems to be capable of emotion and manipulation and yet the question arises at a certain point whether he longs for something more or that he is using the emotions of being human to manipulate. This character is deep and will be the centre of provoking further discussion of this movie. The best parts of the film are actually with The Motorcyclist because he is multi-layered and always seems to have something more to discover and wonder.

As a crime thriller, Thousand Cuts offers a decent amount of thrills whether it is in the visual disturbing images by Tod or even the multi-layered Motorcyclist. However, its hard to imagine that this tale is so much more and yet so many issues are not fleshed out enough. It touches only slightly on the family that The Motorcyclist chooses and their issues dealing with racism from the neighboring farms, emphasizing a small town characteristic, but never deep enough or long enough to feel a purpose to it, except to show that The Motorcyclist’s choice of choosing this family makes him also a bully and a bad man, which has proven that perhaps he really isn’t that bad. The neighborhood in the farm area also is a focus that never seems to matter too much even when the finale seems them converging at the same location for the big finale. The fact is Thousand Cuts feels disjointed in many parts and the majority of the characters never seem to get the depth that they deserve. Visually, Terence Yin pulls off a great villain with his ruthless acts but his acts are only there for shock value and reassurance of  his character rather his reluctant driver becomes the comic relief pulling some dark humor in various spots.

Thousand Cuts has the potential to be something more. However, its slow pace and disjointed storyline lacks a certain depth that helps make it memorable. Terence Yin pulls off some great dialogue and captures his role very well. However, the outstanding performances goes to Tomer Sisley as The Motorcyclist who thrills us by the grey area his character resides in constantly. The final act is definitely the best part of the movie as everything comes together and has some engaging action. Thousand Cuts is put together with good moments but somehow it still falls short of its potential. However, if you can put the story aside, the performances here and the imagery is done very well and the set location is also a great choice and these credits go to the director Eric Valette, which makes this one worth checking out.

Cold War (2012)

Prior to this past week or two of movie watching, I’d have to say that Resident Evil: Retribution was almost the best one I saw in 2012 (guilty pleasure and fun).  I still have a lot to catch up and right now, I’m saying that 2012 movies kicked some serious ass.  It was the year of amazing animated films and then we had the record-breaking The Avengers, then yesterday I reviewed The Bullet Vanishes and says that its been a while I’ve seen something so awesome in the Hong Kong industry.  Hong Kong entertainment has successfully regained my hope in it.  Cold War was a masterpiece, okay? Wait, wait…I’m getting ahead of myself!

cold war posterDirector: Sunny Luk, Longmond Leung

Cast: Aaron Kwok, Tony Ka Fai Leung, Kar Lok Chin, Charlie Yeung, Ka Tung Lam, Andy On, Terence Yin, Andy Lau, Michael Wong, Eddie Peng

The Commissioner of Hong Kong Police (Michael Wong) is away for conference to talk about Hong Kong raising itself to be called the safest city in the world through their technology and security systems set up and protocols.  Shortly after their departure, one of their emergency unit vehicles have vanished off the grid and no tracking devices on the 5 officers and the car itself could be located, while at the same time, a building  explodes in the middle of the heart of Hong Kong. The police has to now find the balance between not ruining their safest city reputation but not threatening the citizens either.  Normal protocol is that the Deputy Commissioners usually take over the role as Acting Commissioner to lead the assignment.  Right away, Deputy Commissioner Lee (Tony Ka Fai Leung), responsible for the operations takes the reins and summons everyone to an emergency meeting to start reacting with project “Cold War”. However, Deputy Commissioner of management Lau (Aaron Kwok) forces him off due to his connection to one of the missing officers being his son Joe (Eddie Peng) and takes over the operations instead to prevent him from overreacting and treating the situation too subjectively, especially if this was now considered a kidnapping and possibly a terrorist attack.

Deputy Commissioner Lau and Lee fighting for the role of Acting Commissioner

Deputy Commissioner Lau and Lee fighting for the role of Acting Commissioner

The plot thickens as we hit the continuing plot that enters, but if I told you all that, then what would be the fun of you watching it, right?

This crime thriller is intense as hell! My brain is overloaded by  how to even start describing this.  Its smart and fast-paced.  There will be some twists in the story especially seeing it has a 2 level plot line, that happens where you won’t even guess and then some that you probably might see but still be wowed afterwards.  The story is pretty incredible and held up by literally *almost* everyone in the entertainment business.  Most of them are veteran actors and if they aren’t, they will possibly one day get there.  On the contrary, both directors are green and its their first directing effort but their days working in as art director and assistant director really helped them out.  My mind was totally absorbed and my eyes were glued to the screen. There was some action that had me on the edge of my seat and then some parts that had me wondering who was behind all this.  I mean thats the first thing we, as the audience, and the police want to figure out, right?

Aaron Kwok as Deputy Commissioner/Acting Commissioner Sean Lau

Aaron Kwok as Deputy Commissioner/Acting Commissioner Sean Lau

A lot of you may not know Aaron Kwok but he was red-hot at the same time as Andy Lau.  He was the youngest of the four singers to reign in the industry in the 90s.  I loved this guy for a time even more than I loved Andy Lau as a singer.  When Aaron Kwok first started in movies, he didn’t do that many.  He was in Future Cops (which I reviewed HERE) but it was more of a cameo.  In the past 8-10 years (I have a lot of catching up to do on Hong Kong movies), he’s been staring in a lot of action thrillers.  I have a few that I haven’t seen sitting on my shelf but I’m pulling them out and watching them pronto.  This guy was amazing.  Pllus, there’s this whole having brushes of grey hair showing that makes him even more attractive.  There’s this thing that he does with his eyes to emote that is hilarious but also intensifies the whole situation.  Its awesome! He was totally in the role and man, to see him become such an outstanding actor makes me so proud.

cold war andy lauI talked about Andy Lau before! Hey, whats he doing here? He has a cameo as the Security official and comes out in 2-3 scenes.  What more do I have to say about him.  He’s great.  Now, if we look at Tony Ka Fai Leung who plays Deputy Commissioner Lee, there is really nothing to say.  He’s a Hong Kong equivalent Academy Award Best Actor so his skills are top notch.  I’ve always seen him doing gangster roles or slimmy perverted husbands (like in the horror movie Dumpling).  Seeing him as a police officer was a shock but at the same time, he proved to me that he fit the role even with his strong and stubborn character.  As much as there was a clash with the internal police HQ with the management and operations, they both had amazing sparks every time they hit the screen together.

cold war police

“We Serve with Pride and Care”

On the image above, its to point out, this is the 3rd Chinese movie in a row that I’ve watched with Kar Lok Chin. This guy is not particularly on my radar but from 1995 to his two movies in 2012, I can see now that he’s changed his acting style and especially in this one, he has earned my respect.  This guy came out from doing stunts and in this one, he gets to show off some of it again and goes all Bruce Willis (making fun of himself getting old).  On top of that, on the left standing up, we have Ka Tung Lam.  I’m not sure if anyone knows him but this guy has grown also.  I haven’t seen him in movies in a while (maybe its because I stopped watching it) but he always does these jerk roles but he is quite convincing at them.  One other person I’d like to mention made me jump with absolute joy was the cameo of Commissioner played by Michael Wong.  I haven’t seen the guy in ages.  I used to love his movies, so I was super excited about it 🙂 I kept going through the movie hearing his voice and being like, “hmm, that voice is so familiar.  Who is it?” Then BAM, there is he! *sorry, excuse the minor fan girl moment*

cold war icac confrontation

Awesome crime thriller with so many intense moments.  Loved the whole cast, maybe a bit less the young dude up there, but he was still pretty good.  Its officially my favorite movie of 2012 🙂 I don’t really see how anything else could’ve been better! I’m not going to go on with it because I’ll keep have fangirl moments.  I’m pretty sure they will have a sequel so GO SEE IT (if its accessible to you)!

I’ll leave you and go to my corner and continue drooling over this movie 😉