Friday, December 29, 2017

Film Review: Tunnel (2016)

Tunnel (Review)
South Korea/2016
Format Viewed for Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It has a few slow moments and it is undoubtedly derivative, but it is also suspenseful, sentimental, and entertaining."

On his way home, Lee Jung-soo (Ha Jung-woo) becomes trapped after the tunnel he's driving through collapses.

Tunnel is a survival/disaster movie. Although this film comes from South Korea, Tunnel plays out much like an American disaster movie—at a smaller scale, at least. The plot follows Lee Sung-soo, a car salesman who's driving home on his daughter's birthday. The plot doesn't take much time to get started. Within the first 15 minutes, the main characters are introduced, the tunnel collapses, and the rescue operation begins. Although the characters aren't very deep, you get enough to care about them. While Jung-soo attempts to survive under the debris, a rescue team, led by Dae-kyung (Oh Dal-su), attempts to save him and his wife, Se-hyun (Bae Doo-na) offers as much support as possible. It leads to a strong climax and a good ending.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Film Review: Better Watch Out (2016)

Better Watch Out (Review)
Australia/United States/2016
Format Viewed for Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It has earned a spot next to other holiday horror classics, although it's not quite as good as Black Christmas."

At a quiet suburban home, a babysitter must defend a twelve-year-old boy from intruders, but she soon finds everything is not what it seems.

Better Watch Out is the type of film you watch without watching the trailer beforehand. You should also avoid spoiler-filled reviews. Why? Well, it's filled with plenty of twists and turns—some are predictable, some actually interesting. The plot follows seventeen-year-old Ashley (Olivia DeJonge). Ashley has been hired to babysit Luke (Levi Miller) at a quiet house in a wealthy, safe neighborhood. Immediately, Ashley notices Luke's strange behavior as he tries to seduce her every chance he gets. Some creepy things happen, Luke's best friend Garrett (Ed Oxenbould) arrives, then they're attacked by intruders. It's not the average home invasion, though... That's all I'll say about the plot. If you want to spoil it for yourself, watch the trailer. It leads to a decent climax. I didn't love the ending, but it wasn't bad, either.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Film Review: Coin Locker Girl (2015)

Coin Locker Girl (Review)
South Korea/2015
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...one of my favorite Korean thrillers in recent memory."

After she’s found abandoned in a coin locker, a girl is raised by the boss of a loan shark and organ trafficking crime ring.

Coin Locker Girl begins with the discovery of an abandoned girl in a coin locker. The girl is found by a beggar who names her Il-young (Kim Go-eun). Ten years later, Il-young is taken by a corrupt detective and given to a woman known as “Mother” (Kim Hye-soo), who happens to be the powerful boss of a loan shark and organ trafficking crime ring. Mother raises Il-young, along with other abducted children, and continues to build her criminal empire. However, after she’s sent to collect a debt from Suk-hyun, son of a debtor, Il-young begins to question her actions and becomes attracted to Suk-hyun. One thing leads to another, and soon Il-young finds herself bumping heads with her former gang. It leads to a strong climax and a predictable but powerful ending.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Film Review—John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

John Wick: Chapter 2 (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed for Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Although it isn't perfect, it fixes some issues from the first film while continuing to deliver some incredible action set pieces."

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns to the criminal underworld to complete one last favor, but he soon finds himself with a large bounty on his head.

John Wick: Chapter 2 follows the titular character in another story of assassination and vengeance. The plot picks up where the first film left off. John Wick tracks his stolen car to a gang of Russian thugs lead by Abram Tarasov, brother of Viggo and uncle of Iosef. After dealing with them and finding peace, John returns home. Before he can settle down, Italian crime lord Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) shows up at John's door. Santino wants John to do 'the impossible' in order to complete their blood oath. Although John initially rejects, he's eventually forced to return to his old ways—again. He sets out to finish his final job, but then he finds himself with a bounty on his head. What follows is plenty of close-quarter-combat and shootouts. It leads to a great climax and a good ending.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Film Review: Montage (2013)

Montage (Review)
South Korea/2013
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...a brilliant mystery film with some shortcomings."

Fifteen years after a kidnapping case ends in tragedy, a child is kidnapped and held for ransom under similar circumstances.

Montage follows Detective Cheong-ho (Kim Sang-kung) and Ha-kyung (Uhm Jung-hwa). Ha-kyung's daughter was kidnapped and killed fifteen years ago. Ever since then, Cheong-ho has been hunting the kidnapper. However, after the statute of limitations runs out, he is forced to close the case empty-handed. It's not long until another child is kidnapped under suspicious circumstances, though. So, Cheong-ho races to catch the kidnapper while Ha-kyung does the same in her own investigation. There is a lot more to the story—some of it is predictable, some of it is surprising—but I won't spoil anything. Trust me, you want to experience this film without any spoilers. (Avoid the Wikipedia "Plot" section at all costs.) It leads to a great climax and ending.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Film Review: Wind River (2017)

Wind River (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed for Review: Vudu
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the best movies of 2017."

A hunter for the Fish and Wildlife Service helps an FBI agent track the suspect of a young Native American woman's murder.

Wind River follows Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a veteran tracker for the Fish and Wildlife Service. While hunting a mountain lion, Cory stumbles upon the frozen body of 18-year-old Natalie Hanson. Rookie FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) is brought to the scene to aid in the investigation. Specifically, she's brought to the Wind River Indian Reservation in order to determine if Natalie's death was a murder so she can call in a full FBI investigative unit. Unfortunately, things don't go as planned. So, Jane enlists the help of Cory to track and capture the suspect. While doing so, Cory attempts to redeem his tragic past and Jane's eyes are open to life on Wind River. There's a lot more to the plot, especially to the characters, but I won't spoil anything else. It leads to a fantastic climax and a great ending.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Film Review—The Priests: Exorcism (2015)

The Priests: Exorcism (Review)
South Korea/2015
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"Some of its subplots don't fully develop and its first act isn't perfect, but the film ultimately delivers an entertaining experience."

A priest and a young seminarian rush to aid a young girl who appears to be possessed by an evil spirit.

The Priests: Exorcism follows Father Kim (Kim Yoo-seok) and a deacon named Choi (Kang Dong-won). After a hit-and-run accident, caused by two foreign priests attempting to expel an evil spirit, Young-shin (Park So-dam), a young girl from Father Kim's parish suffers from symptoms of possession. While trying to aid her, Young-shin attempts suicide. She clings to life months—and Kim continues the fight for her life. However, without a dedicated assistant, Kim has trouble saving Young-shin. So, Choi is recruited to aid Kim. Choi is also instructed to watch Kim due to rumors of Kim molesting Young-shin. It leads to a strong climax and a good ending.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Film Review: Southpaw (2015)

Southpaw (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed for Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Instant: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"I won't pretend like the story is original, it doesn't actually break any ground, but that doesn't take away from its impact."

After a fatal incident sends him on a destructive path, a champion boxer fights to get his daughter back from child protective services as well as rebuild his career.

Southpaw follows Billy "The Great" Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal), an undefeated champion boxer with anger issues. He's the type to punch first and ask questions later. After another victory, Billy is taunted by up-and-coming boxer Miguel "Magic" Escobar. Billy's wife, Maureen, is able to stop Billy from escalating the feud while convincing him to retire. However, during a charity event, Billy and Maureen bump heads with Escobar and his crew once again. This time, the confrontation leads to tragedy. Depressed and angry, Billy begins to follow a self-destructive path that leads to his daughter's removal from his life by child protective services. In order to get his daughter back, Billy must fight his inner-demons while fighting his way back to the top. It leads to a great climax and an abrupt but solid ending.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Film Review: Terror Train (1980)

Terror Train (Review)
United States/Canada/1980
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"You've seen nearly everything in this movie in a different slasher. If you don't mind that, then this is a good experience."

Years after a prank-gone-wrong, a masked killer targets a group of college students during a New Year's Eve costume party aboard a moving train...

Terror Train begins with a New Year's Eve party involving a pre-med fraternity. Although reluctant, Alana Maxwell (Jamie Lee Curtis) is pulled into a prank against the shy and timid Kenny Hampson. The prank leads to explosive meltdown. Three years later, the group boards a train for a New Year's Eve costume party—and they're completely unaware of the uninvited guest who snuck aboard. One-by-one, they're picked off by a masked killer. Has Doc Manley, the ringleader of the prank, gone crazy and started killing everyone? Is the mysterious magician slaughtering the students? Or has Kenny returned for vengeance? It's more predictable than I make it sound, but it is still an effective mystery. It leads to a strong climax and an interesting ending.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Film Review: Bluebeard (2017)

Bluebeard (Review)
South Korea/2017
Format Viewed for Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"If you're a fan of slow-burn mysteries with disturbing twists, this is for you."

A doctor suspects a patient and his patient's son are responsible an unsolved murder.

Bluebeard follows Dr. Byun Seung-hoon (Cho Jin-woong), who relocates to a new town to work at a clinic that specializes in gynecology. Since he's divorced, Seung-hoon lives by himself in an apartment above a butcher shop. Sung-geun (Kim Dae-myung) runs the shop with his wife and father—and the family also serves as the landlords. When Sung-geun's father heads to Seung-hoon's clinic for a check-up, he appears to be confessing to a violent murder while he's sedated. Seung-hoon becomes convinced that the butcher and his father are responsible for the unsolved serial murders in the area, but he also struggles with his own sanity due to his horrific visions. It leads to a dark and twisted ending, although somewhat predictable.