Five Great Things About Keanu Reeves.

Keanu is one of the most hated-on actors in Hollywood today. Is it because of his cardboard acting, or maybe his famous ‘Whoa’ (as borrowed for one of my very movie ratings)? I was asking myself this the other day, on why he was disliked so much. So then I went and looked on imdb and noted that a good chunk of his movies are rated HIGHER than 6, which is relatively good for imdb. In fact, one of his movies is even rated 8.6 and is currently #36 on imdb’s Top 250. So I got to thinking… if Keanu is ragged on so much, yet he’s in so many good movies, there has to be at least 5 good things to say about the guy. After all, with the exception of Uwe Boll, anybody can have at least 5 good things to their name. So here I’ve started a new brand of article: Five Great Things About… ‘Whoever’. So in no particular order, here are five great things about Keanu Reeves.

1. Neo. The Matrix is obviously the 8.6-rated movie I previously mentioned, and it’s going to be a classic. It brought new things to Hollywood cinema and, if anything, will go down in cinematic history for that (namely bullet time). And as Neo was the main character, and Neo was a badass (therefore making Keanu a badass), it is safe to say that this is one great thing about Keanu.

2. Speed. And no, I don’t mean the drug. You had to admit that Speed was a really fun movie. Sure, the third act (the subway) was slightly inferior to the whole second act (the bus). But the movie as a whole was still an adrenaline rush, and it was highly original (at least at the time). And you can’t even blame the second movie on Keanu, because even he was smart enough to get out of the sequel. So that’s another great thing about Keanu.

3. Hot Fuzz. Okay, so he wasn’t really involved with Hot Fuzz whatsoever. But his movie, Point Break, was. In fact, it was one of the two biggest inspirations for occurrences in the movie (the other being Bad Boys 2). So when your movie inspires greatness like Hot Fuzz, I think that’s another thing worthy of being great about you.

4. Constantine. Some people love it, some people hate it. But I’m on the side that thinks Constantine was one of the cooler superhero (or anti-hero, rather) movies out there. And hey, Keanu did a pretty cool job with it. So there, that’s four.

5. Theodore Logan. That’s right. Bill & Ted. It’s an iconic movie; I don’t care what you think. Honestly, I believe this movie is the source for all of Keanu’s hating, and it’s also the source of the famous ‘Whoa’ (at least the first one). Their Excellent Adventure taught history a lesson, and taught viewers the power of music. WILD STALLIONS!


DVDs Or Death!

I know I haven't posted anything since last week when I did this, but it's been a super-busy week. In this time span, I've written 2 papers, a case study, other bits of homework, and 5 chapters for my newest novel (2/3s of the way done!). Anyway, here's the newest DVD update. These will be coming out tomorrow... and there's really nothing all that spectacular (save for one).

The Golden Compass.

Brief Synopsis: Bad people want to separate animals from people. Controversial book-to-film. But not really.

Comments: This one is probably the big blockbuster DVD of the week. I've read all the books and I saw this one in theater. It had all this controversial hype around it, and it was probably as least controversial as they could have made it. There's only single disc versions, too. It wasn't God-awful (no pun intended), but the only reason I would buy this is if they released a version with the... you know... ending... that the movie decided to skip. And I don't mean to say it like that to avoid spoilers. The movie actually skipped the ending.

Viewing Option: Wait for TV (or special edition DVD).

27 Dresses.

Brief Synopsis: Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride: The Movie.

Comments: Didn't care about seeing this one in theater, don't really care too much now that it's out on DVD. 1 disc.

Viewing Option: Wait for TV.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Brief Synopsis: Paraplegic blinks a novel with one eye.

Comments: I totally wanted to see this when it was in theater, but it never came here. I still really wanna see it, and I heard it's awesome. I haven't decided if I wanna buy it or rent it yet, but it feels like one of those impulsive buy kinda movies.

Viewing Option: Buy or Rent.

First Knight.

Brief Synopsis: 90s Re-release of Sean Connery Camelot film.

Comments: Just thought this was worth a mention that it was being re-released. If you don't already own it... or haven't seen it enough to last you a lifetime... go for it.

Viewing Option: This movie already comes on TV.

Joseph Campbell - Mythos II.

Brief Synopsis: Founder of the monomyth. Inspiration for millions (including Star Wars). PBS documentary.

Comments: I only bring this one up because Joseph Campbell was such a genius in the world of literature (and then some). He founded the monomyth format (which is the basic 'Quest' format that has been used since the beginning of stories themselves... he just organized it). He inspired George Lucas into writing Star Wars (which follows the monomyth dead-on). He inspired Christopher Vogler to re-work the monomyth format and use it for screenplays, which is used for basically any film school now (and has inspired such works as The Lion King).

Viewing Option: N/A. I already know all I want about Joseph Campbell and the monomyth.


DVDs Or Death!

I wanted to start a new thing here at R2D2, where I briefly discuss the upcoming DVDs of the week (though typically before Tuesday if I can help it...). So yeah, here I go.


Brief Synopsis: Monster Movie. Shaky Cam. All About The Characters.

Comments: This is probably the big one of the week. There's no special edition, just a normal 1 disc box. However, as this movie totally rocked in theater (and I totally missed the creature dropping into the water at the end the first time around), I'm totally getting this.

Viewing Option: Buy.

The Orphanage.

Brief Synopsis: Spanish. Ghost Story. Psychological Thriller.

Comments: Saw it in theater, as well, and loved it. Again, there just seems to be a 1 disc box for this one. But I totally less-than-three this movie.

Viewing Option: Buy.

The Savages.

Brief Synopsis: Quirky Indie Movie About Family.

Comments: Haven't seen it, but I've heard good things. Again, normal 1 disc box. Might check it out.

Viewing Option: Rent.

One Missed Call.

Brief Synopsis: J-Horror Remake. Death Calls Cell Phones. People Die.

Comments: Didn't see it in theater, and from what I've heard, that's a good thing. 1 disc box.

Viewing Option: Wait for TV (if at all).

My Boy Jack.

Brief Synopsis: Rudyard Kipling's Son. War Drama.

Comments: It's Dan Radcliffe (Harry Potter) in a war drama. I like seeing the HP gang in other movies (Rupert Grint's Driving Lessons is amazing). 1 disc. Wouldn't mind checking this one out.

Viewing Option: Rent.

Charlie Wilson's War.

Brief Synopsis: Behind-The-Scenes Of War.

Comments: This looked... okay... from the trailers. It didn't really excite me though. 1 disc.

Viewing Option: Rent or TV... don't really care either way.



It’s the event we’ve all been waiting for… and it was freakin awesome! The whole movie is kinda like The Neverending Story meets The Karate Kid. When Jason (Michael Angarano), a Kung Fu-obsessed teenager, gets into trouble with a street gang, he ends up in the possession of an ancient staff that transports him back to ancient China. After meeting drunken traveler Lu Yan (Jackie Chan), Jason discovers that he’s quite possibly a prophesized traveler meant to bring this powerful staff back to its rightful owner, The Monkey King (Jet Li), so that the Monkey King can defeat the Jade Warlord (Collin Chou) and free the land of tyranny. Along the way, they also meet a young musician out for revenge, Sparrow (Yifei Liu), and a traveling monk (also Jet Li), on a journey to help reunite the staff with The Monkey King.

The beginning (after the Monkey King sequence) is really the only downfall to the movie. It’s cliché, questionably acted, and insanely fast-paced, as if they really didn’t care about the setup at all (which I’m sure they didn’t). The beginning stuff in ancient China is cool, but a bit slow. The movie really starts to pick up with the tea house fight scene. This part also introduces us to Sparrow, who… for some strange and unexplained reason… likes to speak in the third person. It’s a bit confusing at first, but you get used to it. Though she’s really hot, so that makes up for it, too.

The fights scenes are amazingly choreographed, and you really can’t tell Jet Li or Jackie Chan’s age in any of it. They move fast, and they move awesomely. And there’s very little Wire-Fu, as the trailers seem to indicate the contrary. It is there, don’t get me wrong, but it’s minimal. Most of it is straight-up Kung Fu action. And the action scenes are all pretty long, which is great… especially the Chan/Li fight, which goes on for about 5-10 minutes at least. The price of admission is worth it simply for that fight, but all the other ones are just as amazing.

The biggest problem people have been having (prior to seeing it) is with the ‘white kid’. Let me tell you, it’s actually not bad. His story arch works, and it isn’t overly cheesy or anything. And his fighting is actually pretty well done. He doesn’t become a super master or anything, so it isn’t all cliché like that. He still gets his ass kicked after learning to fight. The fighting lessons just help him to stand more of a chance than he would have had otherwise.

As for Chan and Li, you could tell they really had a lot of fun making this movie, especially Li with his Monkey King character. It’s over-the-top and goofy, but it works and is just as cool as everything else. The ending of the movie isn’t nearly as cliché or predictable as you would think, as it is only really half of a typical Hollywood ending. The visuals were great, and the music was stunningly amazing. I found that I really enjoyed the music of this movie.

For a kid’s movie, it was really well done, and I loved the action and everything else about the movie. I’d go as far as saying that it’s one of my favorites for the year (thus far). They could have worked on Jason's intro a bit more, but it's really overshadowed by the rest of the movie. And I’m totally gonna go see it again.

A Keanu 'Whoa'



I saw and reviewed this movie over the weekend, but didn't put it up due to the Week of Recent East Asian Cinema event going on. The only reason I saw it in theater was because I made a deal with a fellow LAMB, Shea, that I would see and review this, and he would see a certain movie that I keep going on about. Well, it's totally unfair, because he's gonna get to see a totally awesome movie, and I, well... you'll see...


This movie is like mixing Cabin Fever with The Descent… except with monster vines instead of Gollums. The movie is about four 20-somethings vacationing in Mexico: Jeff (Jonathan Tucker), Amy (Jenna Malone), Eric (Shawn Ashmore), and Stacy (Laura Ramsey). When a German guy named Mathias (Joe Anderson) mentions that he was gonna go find his brother who went off with some archaeologist woman to an old Mayan temple in the middle of nowhere and haven’t come back yet. So of course they all want to go. But when they get there, these ‘guardians’ of the ruins show up and won’t let them leave… and then the plants of the ruins are alive and start attacking them and such.

So yeah, it was a pretty cliché movie, from the story to the characters. There actually really is no plot except that they get stuck on this big hill/ruins and can’t leave and start dying one by one. I mean, even leading up to the point of the ruins is silly. “Let’s go off the beaten path to the ruins where nobody has returned from… and even though the path is covered up which obviously means ‘do not enter’, we should keep on going anyway. And then let’s give our only working phone to one of the men that is trying to kill us.” The writing can be written off by one line in the movie: “Somebody will come! Four Americans on Vacation [in Mexico] don’t just disappear!” Uh, yeah… what news have you been watching, buddy? Everything basically happens like you figure it would.

As for the characters, it’s cliché city here, as well. In fact, the only character I really cared any amount about was Jonathan Tucker’s Jeff, who was pretty decently acted and the obvious main character. The others… I forgot their names almost immediately and renamed them with the clichés they embodied: Eric became ‘complaining friend with stupid idea that will get them killed’ and Stacy became ‘hot girl who cries and panics all the time’. Seriously, when the ending came about, the immediate thought in my mind (and this never happens) was “run, final girl, run! There you go, falling down and looking back! Just run!” Even the very end was a cliché horror movie technique. We seriously didn’t know much of anything about any of the characters, except for Jeff, who is going to med school (luckily for them). So there’s a really funny line toward the end of the movie… “You don’t know anything about us!” I was like “Yeah, no shit!”

But there are some positives. All the stuff at the ruins with Mathias was cool (it was the suspenseful/gory parts), as well as the stuff soon after with Stacy. There’s also some eye candy in the beginning when the main chars are all doing the horror movie ritual of partying. The gore stuff toward the end, though, was probably the only reason I bumped up my scoring to where I did. It didn’t fix the movie by any means, but it at least made it more interesting and/or worthwhile instead of watching a bunch of random people crying and complaining on top of a hill for 90 minutes.

The plant/vine monster… thing… whatever it was… was alright. It actually didn’t attack very often. It attacked them like… twice. But the first time put it inside the body, so that’s really all it needed. Every other time, it just pulled away the dead or bloody stuff. And the echo flowers were a neat concept, though incredibly weird. They helped to lure them, as well as increase paranoia, so they worked at that. Otherwise, they were just odd.

So yeah, I would probably recommend waiting for it to be on Showtime or HBO or Starz… whatever channel you watch your movies on. At least wait for the rental if you must. It’s not God-awful, but it could have been so much better and a whole lot less cliché. It just needed some substance, with both the plot and the characters. But if you’re a blood/gore kinda person, the last 1/3 of the movie, at least, might satisfy to some degree.

Feed Me, Seymour!

(P.S. It's ironic that my rating for this movie is a plant monster, huh?)

Recent East Asian Cinema #7: Nobody Knows.

Welcome to the seventh (and final) of seven posts that will detail East Asian cinema, giving genre history leading up to a recent movie which will be reviewed! I hope you enjoy the series. For more information or previous entries, check the posts below this one.



History: Drama, next to comedy, goes so far back that it would be incredibly hard to detail the history of the genre in this space. So, instead, I will just give a brief history of the genre for Japanese culture. The 1950s really was the big time for the Japanese drama, because it was the debut decade for Akira Kurosawa, who made films like Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and Ran. Some of his films, such as Ran and Throne of Blood, were based on Shakespearian plays (King Lear and Macbeth, respectively). His films inspired many people, from Sergio Leone to George Lucas.

Three years after the 1985 release of Ran, a set of (completely unrelated) events would occur in Japan widely known as the “Affair of the Four Abandoned Children of Sugamo.” These events would later inspire a 2004 film entitled Nobody Knows, based on the same events, but toned down quite a bit. The movie was Japan’s entry for Best Foreign Film for the Academy Awards, and it won Best Actor Award at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival for fourteen-year-old Yûya Yagira, as well as two other awards (including Best Film) at two other film festivals. And it is the final film I will be discussing for this week of Recent East Asian Cinema.

Nobody Knows (2004).

Country of Origin: Japan.

Original Title: Dare mo shiranai.

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda.

Nobody Knows is about a single mother, Keiko (You), who leaves her four children—Akira (Yûya Yagira), 12 years old and the oldest of the group; Kyoko (Ayu Kitaura); Shigeru (Hiei Kimura); and Yuki (Momoko Shimizu)—alone in an apartment for over a year. She sneaks the younger three in via luggage, and the landlord only knows about Akira and Keiko. All of the children are also born from a different father each, and none of them are registered as ever being born, so none of them goes to school. Keiko has a job (and boyfriend) out of town, and she begins leaving for longer and longer periods of time before she eventually just stops coming home. So now the kids must fend for themselves as eventually they run out of money and therefore food, electricity, and water.

This movie is pretty hardcore, especially since it’s a true story. And what’s worse, I read up on the real story, and it really is a lot worse than it was portrayed in the movie (which is hard to believe). The movie is almost 2 and a half hours long, and feels it. You’re dragged along (especially in the first hour) with these poor children and how they slowly start running out of money and everything else. Akira has to start becoming friends with some store owners in order to get some free food, they have to get water and bathe at the water spout in the park, and just live by the sunlight.

It’s a really tough movie to watch, as you know everything is just going to get worse and worse until it ends in just a depressing manner. But in doing so, it’s a really powerful movie, showing everything these kids had to do to survive, as well as their changing moods and all the decisions they make. You know you were in for a rough time from the very beginning, when you see the mother and oldest son sneaking the other kids in via the luggage (like, they were hiding inside it).

The only negatives would be that the movie is really slow, and the ending (as well as the overall movie in general) is really depressing. And then it has an open ending with no real resolution (which is why I had to go research what really happened). I bet if I watched it again, I’d grow to appreciate the movie even more, and I already really appreciate what it did do in the first place. But I just remember staring at the timer on my DVD player wondering if the movie was ever going to end… though I didn’t want to turn it off, because I was engaged enough to want to know what happened to the kids. It was a bizarre feeling. I think this is one of those movies that everybody should see at least once, but it would be hard to give it a second viewing just because of the subject matter. So yeah… time to rate it.

I Am McLovin!


Recent East Asian Cinema #6: Shaolin Soccer.

Welcome to the sixth of seven posts that will detail East Asian cinema, giving genre history leading up to a recent movie which will be reviewed! I hope you enjoy the series. For more information or previous entries, check the posts below this one.


Hong Kong Action Cinema/Comedy.

History: In yesterday’s history lesson, I discussed the early history of Hong Kong Action Cinema. By the time I got to the 1990s, I mentioned that these movies went into a slump, and two types of movies brought them out of it. The first was the rebirth of the wuxia film, AKA the type of film that Jet Li would make. The other type that helped get Hong Kong out of a slump took the other route, with the types of movies Jackie Chan would make.

Jackie Chan really brought into the mainstream the kung fu comedy with his slapstick humor and realistic stunts. However, the man to help bring Hong Kong out of its slump was not Jackie Chan, but a man named Stephen Chow. Stephen Chow is a comedian, but a lot of his jokes dealt with Chinese culture, meaning that the Western World wouldn’t have understood a lot of his material. Thus, his earlier films went mostly unrecognized internationally. However, he then created a movie by the name of Shaolin Soccer, which was not only an international hit, but became the best selling movie in China at the time. That title would only be succeeded by Stephen Chow’s next movie, Kung Fu Hustle. So now we’re going to focus on the kung fu comedy with Shaolin Soccer.

Shaolin Soccer (2001).

Country of Origin: China/Hong Kong.

Original Title: Siu lam juk kau.

Director: Stephen Chow.

The movie is about a former Shaolin monk, Sing (Stephen Chow), now basically living off the street, who wants to bring Shaolin Kung Fu to the masses, as he believes it will make all lives easier. But when former soccer star Fung (Ng Man Tat) is fired by his evil brother, Hung (Patrick Tse Yin), he stumbles upon down-and-out Sing on the street and realizes that he has a Mighty Steel Leg that could work wonders in soccer. So Sing tries to get together his former monk brothers, all with special abilities of their own, to put together a Shaolin soccer team. The only thing in their way is Hung’s Team Evil, who they must beat in order to win the competition.

This movie is crazy, wacky, and random. There’s even a random dance number (which I’ve included in my Top 10 Random Dance Scenes) that’s bizarre, but hilarious. The movie is funny and over-the-top, and there really isn’t much to say about it. It’s basically a parody on both wuxia and sports comedy.

The special effects are pretty good, especially within the final soccer match. The story is fun, the actors/actresses have good comedic timing, and the movie is all around plain good fun. That’s the only real way to describe it. There’s really not much else to say about it, really, so I’ll leave it at this rather short review.

A Keanu 'Whoa'


Recent East Asian Cinema #5: Hero.

Welcome to the fifth of seven posts that will detail East Asian cinema, giving genre history leading up to a recent movie which will be reviewed! I hope you enjoy the series. For more information or previous entries, check the posts below this one.


Genre: Hong Kong Action Cinema/Wuxia.

History: Hong Kong Action Cinema was a brand of movie that took the Hollywood view of the action movie and mixed it with Chinese tradition and mysticism. The first brand of this type of movie was called wuxia, starting back in the 1920s, which typically emphasized the mysticism and fantasy aspects. They used wires and trampoline acrobatics, along with camera techniques, to show quick moves and flying styles. Most of these early movies were based on literature of the same style. Some of the first big stars of the wuxia subgenre were Cheng Pei-Pei and Jimmy Wang-Yu, as well as Connie Chan Po-chu, a woman famed for playing male roles.

However, in the 1930s, the wuxia subgenre drifted out of cinema due to political reasons and were replaced with more realistic hand-to-hand kung fu combat. After World War II, due to severe cultural changes, wuxia began to come back into style with grittier violence. In the 1970s, Bruce Lee made famous Hong Kong Action Cinema, only to be succeeded by Jackie Chan and Jet Li in the 1980s.

Though while Chan and Li might have brought some new appeal with the martial arts films, the mid-1990s put Hong Kong films into a slump. Two types of movies helped bring them out of the slump. One type will be talked about now, and the other tomorrow. The first type is the rebirth of the wuxia film with the international hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000. Soon after, even though he had seemingly left the martial arts epic for more American films, Jet Li returned to his roots with yet another wuxia film, Hero, in 2002. Hero helped, along with the aforementioned film, to bring wuxia back into popularity. It was a hit in China, so much so that Quentin Tarantino (who has often been inspired by the martial arts/wuxia films himself) took notice and decided to finance it enough to bring it to American audiences in 2004. And it is the very film we’re going to look at today.

Hero (2002).

Country of Origin: China/Hong Kong.

Original Title: Ying xiong.

Director: Yimou Zhang.

The first couple times I saw this movie, I thought it was really good, but didn’t fully comprehend what it was doing (as in, respect it). After my most recent viewing, however, I think I really get the film and like it that much more. Hero is about Nameless (Jet Li), a low-class man who defeated three of the most powerful assassins in the country—Sky (Donnie Yen), Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), and Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung)—who had been trying to murder the King of Qin (Daoming Chen). The movie chronicles (as imdb states) a series of Rashomon-like flashbacks to try and figure out how Nameless truly came about defeating these assassins. The movie also stars Zhang Ziyi as Moon, a servant to Broken Sword and Flying Snow.

First, I have to mention the obvious: this film was beautiful in numerous ways—its cinematography, its color-coding, its choreography. Every scene had a special color-coding (usually specific to the flashback sequence or location), and that was only helped by the amazing cinematography. The choreographed fights were amazing, as well. One big issue I’ve always had with fights scenes that are usually one-against-many is that the many always stand around and do nothing, giving the one person an easy time in the fight. There are two movies in recent memory that actually have everybody attacking at once: the first is the previously reviewed Oldboy (in the hallway fight) and this one. When Sky takes on all 7 guards toward the beginning, he’s really taking them all on at once, and it’s amazing to watch.

The story is simple, yet complex. There are 3 versions of the story told via flashbacks, and you don’t get the full truth until the very end. I think the plot twist would have been stronger had it not been revealed halfway into the movie (which I think had been my original issue with the movie), but it’s still a strong message and a cool plan that was set up.

There was one specific moment, though, that I’d like to bring attention to, because it was just weird/funny, and I’m not sure if it was meant to be. Halfway through the first flashback’s fight between Nameless and Sky, an old man who had been playing music starts to leave. They don’t even show the two stop fighting, but randomly, Jet Li is facing the man and asks him if he would please play some more music. Then the camera shows the blank faces of all three men one by one as the man gets out his instrument to continue playing. It was just a really bizarre scene, but it was followed by a cool fight sequence, so it didn’t really bother me.

There’s really not much else to say about the film. Jet Li’s voice over, I think, could have been better, to a degree, but besides that and anything previously mentioned, the film was fine (though it could have used some Zhang Ziyi nudity. There was a sex scene, after all). But the movie was beautiful to watch, the story was great, and a few things actually reminded me of 300 with Leonidas, so that was cool. So yeah, that’s about it for this one.

A Keanu 'Whoa'


Recent East Asian Cinema #4: Oldboy.

Welcome to the fourth of seven posts that will detail East Asian cinema, giving genre history leading up to a recent movie which will be reviewed! I hope you enjoy the series. For more information or previous entries, check the posts below this one.


Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Revenge Tale.

History: Because the genres of this movie are so vast, this section will, inevitably, be much shorter than the others (You know that makes sense!). Mysteries are basically those stories and/or movies in which something has occurred, and it is up to one or more characters (usually a detective of some sort) to figure it out. There is usually a plot twist at the end. The Thriller (sans Michael Jackson) is typically a fast-paced story focusing strongly on plot and action, moving forward at a quick yet suspenseful rate. The Revenge Tale is about as old as fiction itself, which usually involves either the protagonist or antagonist of the story doing something to exact vengeance on the other character.

These aren’t themes/genres that are specific to East Asia; however, when you mix the three together into one story that comes from the mind of an East Asian, you have the possibility of creating something amazing. And such was done in 2003 when South Korean director Chan-wook Park adapted to film a Manga by the name of Oldboy. It would become the second movie of his Revenge trilogy (the other two being Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), though, in my opinion, it would turn out to be the greatest of the three. It was in talks for a long time about being remade in America, but that's been put on hold for now. Let's hope it stays that way (seriously, there's no way this could be Americanized and still stay true). So let’s get to it.

Oldboy (2003).

Country of Origin: South Korea.

Original Title: Oldboy.

Director: Chan-wook Park.

Oldboy starts as a mysterious man with messy hair is holding another man over the edge of a building by his tie. He wants to tell this man his story, and, thus, we flash back 15 years. Oh Dae-su (Min-sik Choi), a normal Korean businessman, is kidnapped and kept imprisoned in a bedroom. He has nothing to keep him entertained in the room except for a television. Here he learns that his wife was murdered and that Oh Dae-su himself, who had gone missing, was to blame for it. He teaches himself to fight over the years of captivity, as well as keeps time by tattooing himself. Then, after 15 years, he's released with a new suit and a cell phone. After telling the poor man on the roof all of this, he moves on. He meets the young and beautiful sushi chef Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang), and they quickly fall in love. Oh Dae-su is then told by mysterious Woo-jin (Ji-tae Yu) that he has 5 days to find out why he had been captured in the first place or Mi-do will be killed.

This movie, quite frankly, is phenomenal. It’s one of my favorite foreign films. The story and concept is awesome, and it’s executed well. There really isn’t a time where anything drags. You wonder at first how these two characters could have fallen in love so quickly, but everything is perfectly explained and not left to be questioned (with one big exception, which I’ll get to in a minute) by the end of the movie.

There are some great shots in the movie, such as the huge 5 minute or so hallway brawl that is one continuous shot (it took about 17 takes and 3 days to get it right). They really went all out in the movie. There’s a scene where Oh Dae-su has to eat a live octopus. Do they CGI it? Nope. They actually made the actor eat a real live octopus. That’s hardcore.

The ending of the movie is great, as the plot twist is literally one of the most twisted I’ve ever seen. It’s intricate and detailed. Woo-jin is really not a guy I’d want to cross (The plot twist is actually on my list of best movie twists from way back). However, the one thing I do somewhat dislike about the movie (though it’s growing on me) is the ‘epilogue’ of the movie. It’s weird when movies have epilogues, especially when you can tell it has that epilogue feel to it (not important to the plot, but tacked on to give some more closure). The snow setting with the hypnotist is bizarre and almost doesn’t seem as if it fits with the rest of the movie, but I can see why it’s there and why it needed to be done. However, even though it’s there, everything is left incredibly ambiguous, so you still don’t know if it was real or not. Nevertheless, I love the part at the very end, when the movie is closing. It was a perfect way to end it, and it wouldn’t have been able to end it that way had they stopped right before the epilogue. So, in that sense, I’m happy it was there. Still, the scene isn’t even 5 minutes long in this 2 hour movie, so it doesn’t ruin anything for me.

So yeah, cool action, great shots, amazing story and concept (albeit twisted), and really fun and pumped music that really fit the scenes. Everything was great all around. I’d recommend this movie to just about anybody that doesn’t mind subtitles (as long as they aren’t close-minded and easily turned-off by certain things). I’m sure you’ve already guessed this rating.

Royale With Cheese

Recent East Asian Cinema #3: Audition.

Welcome to the third of seven posts that will detail East Asian cinema, giving genre history leading up to a recent movie which will be reviewed! I hope you enjoy the series. For more information or previous entries, check the posts below this one.


Genre: J-Horror.

History: Horror films go way back, but we’ll be discussing a certain brand of horror here: movies of gore. To begin with this subgenre, we must begin with the two movies that inspired them all. In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock created one of the most iconic horror films with one of the most iconic murder scenes (even though the shower scene doesn’t really show the knife penetrating and has an insanely small amount of blood). However, in 1968, George A. Romero created Night of the Living Dead (inspired by the novella I Am Legend), the movie to really make the gore-movie popular. And it was only outdone by its sequel, Dawn of the Dead, ten years later.

It was a mix of these types of movies that went on to inspire the first true slasher movie, Black Christmas (1974), as well as the famous Friday the 13th (1980) and Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) movies. Also in 1974, we were introduced to the movie that really began the torturous splatter-gore subgenre with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Throughout the 70s and 80s, we were introduced to numerous slasher flicks and gore-fest flicks until the genre wore itself silly (much like the monster movie did).

Then, in 1996, the gore-loving slasher flicks would get a revival in the form of Wes Craven’s self-aware, homage-paying Scream. The revival of the genre was short-lived, however, as it soon began to wear itself thin again with countless additions to the genre, such as I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Urban Legend (1998), and the more original and better-liked Final Destination (2000). Because the subgenre was riding its last threads, it seemed as if everything had to be knocked up a few notches. The gore would become the center of the movie, and Eli Roth’s Hostel in 2005 would be responsible for garnering the term torture porn and coining it into mainstream cinema.

Meanwhile, while all of this was occurring in American cinema, something else entirely was happening with Japanese Horror (J-Horror). J-Horror was taking two different approaches: the supernatural/psychological and the gore-fest. Famed director Hideo Nakata would create movies (which would later be remade in America) such as Ringu (1998) and Dark Water (2002). These were on the supernatural/psychological side of the spectrum. On the other side of the spectrum was famed and controversial director Takashi Miike, who made movies such as Ichi The Killer (2001), One Missed Call (2004), and Audition (1999). The latter of this list, which has its roots deeply set in everything previously mentioned (slasher/gore/psychological), is truly one of the scariest and most disturbing movies Japan has to offer… which is why it’s the movie I’m going to discuss now.

Audition (1999).

Country of Origin: Japan.

Original Title: Ōdishon.

Director: Takashi Miike.

Audition is about Shigeharu (Ryo Ishibashi), a man who lost his wife to an illness seven years prior. His son, Shigehiko (Tetsu Sawaki), as well as his movie producer friend, Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura), talk him into getting back into the field and trying to find another wife. Yoshikawa talks him into holding a fake audition, where the women will think they’re auditioning for a movie role, but are really auditioning for the role as Shigeharu’s wife-to-be. During these auditions, Shigeharu meets Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina), a young, shy woman who claims to have been a ballerina. Shigeharu thinks he’s finally found his perfect match, even against Yoshikawa’s warnings that Asami doesn’t seem right. Asami lives in an empty apartment with nothing but a telephone and a burlap sack (though Shigeharu doesn’t know this). They continue to date until Asami makes Shigeharu promise that he won’t love anybody else but her. However, things don’t start checking out right. Asami’s references are either fake or missing. Shigeharu has to figure out what’s going on with Asami before it’s too late (and we all know what happens next!).

The movie has an incredibly slow pacing, especially at the beginning. But it’s done like that on purpose. The movie wants you to get to like Asami as this cute, shy young woman before the ending hits like a bag of bricks. It’s the suspense that keeps you watching. What’s in that burlap sack? What happened to Asami’s music producer ex? Just when you think it’s dragging a bit too long, the movie throws you a curveball and makes you go ‘what the hell?’ (Specifically the scene where the burlap sack moves, and Asami’s just listening to the phone ring, staring down at her lap, and a small smile crosses her lips. It’s the creepiest scene in the whole movie. I even knew it was coming beforehand, and I still jumped and got creeped out).

But the movie all builds up to that insanely graphic 15-minute conclusion, which is really the only scene anybody remembers (or cares about). The only bad thing about that scene is that I remember being incredibly confused the first time I saw it. Halfway through, it cuts away to some other crazy things and makes you wonder if the whole thing was a dream… but then cuts back to it after what seems like ages. It was just an odd moment for me.

The movie is close to two hours long, but not much actually happens until the very end. I know the slow-rising pacing was done purposefully, but I think some of it could have been a bit better (primarily toward the beginning). The ending is hardcore, and it has even made famed directors John Landis and Rob Zombie admit they had trouble watching it (which they admitted on Bravo’s Top 100 Scariest Movie Moments, in which Audition came in at #11. It was where I first heard about the film, actually). Regardless of any negatives, the slower parts did allow for character development, which allowed you to actually care for some of these characters (making the ending even crazier). So I suppose I should rate it.

A Keanu 'Whoa'


Recent East Asian Cinema #2: Spirited Away.

Welcome to the second of seven posts that will detail East Asian cinema, giving genre history leading up to a recent movie which will be reviewed! I hope you enjoy the series. For more information or previous entries, check the posts below this one.


Genre: Anime.

History: Anime is short for animation, and is primarily used to describe Japanese animation that usually stems from Manga (Japanese comic books). The term itself, in Japan is used for all animation; however, it is used, as stated, to describe Japanese animation for English speakers. Anime isn’t your typical animated family-type film. It can be, but that’s not what it’s stuck to. The genres of Anime are just as broad (and then some) as any other type of movie.

Believe it or not, Anime as we know it began because of Walt Disney. Japanese animators were impressed with the style of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, so they decided to try and mimic the style. It was only meant, however, to be temporary for animators with little skill when production companies were in a pinch.

But when Manga became popular in the 1970s, they began to become adapted into an animated format in this Anime style. The “father of Anime,” and overall Japanese equivalent to Disney himself, is Osamu Tezuka, who was both a creator of Manga and Anime. He was responsible for such works as Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion (which, ironically, later came into controversy with Disney's own The Lion King).

But Anime was still primarily a Japanese thing. It wasn’t until the 1988 anime film Akira (based on the Manga of the same name) that Anime began to become popular in the Western World. After Akira, which brought a second wave of Anime fans all around, the style began to grow and expand even more, having any movie type from giant robot action/dramas to slapstick comedy to gay porn. There wasn’t a subject that anime wouldn’t tackle.

Currently, the most acclaimed director of Anime is Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli. He became well-known in the Western World with his film Princess Mononoke in 1997, which was, at that time, the highest grossing film of all time in Japan. He later created Spirited Away, the film we will be focusing on today, which was the first Anime film to ever win an Academy Award.

Spirited Away (2001).

Country of Origin: Japan.

Original Title: Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki (and Kirk Wise for English version).

Spirited Away is a weird (as most Anime can be considered… cultural thing), yet endearing movie. Chihiro is a rather whiny and stubborn young girl moving to a new town with her parents. When her dad tries to make a shortcut to their new house, they get lost and end up in front of an old, abandoned theme park (or so it seems). Even with Chihiro’s refusals to go in, they end up wandering around until they find some food, which they chow down on (except for Chihiro, who denies). Chihiro wanders off and discovers and old bathhouse. But when it starts to get dark, a mysterious young man, Haku, warns her to hurry and get across the river before it gets dark. She goes to her parents, but they have been literally transformed into pigs… and then the previously empty riverbed is now so full it’s like an ocean. Chihiro has thus been ‘spirited away’ into the spirit realm. Haku helps her to get a job at the bathhouse, run by the cranky old witch Yubaba, who takes her name away and re-dubs her Sen. There, Chihiro/Sen must work it out with spirit creatures/gods, as well as face the hatred from the other workers for being human, until she can figure out a way to get her parents back to normal and get home.

There’s a lot of bizarre things in this movie, but it all works for the world we’re given. My favorite scene in the movie has to be the ‘stink spirit’ (who is more than he seems), and Chihiro has to work harder than she ever has before to help make this situation right. It’s a great scene in the movie, and is really a turning point.

If there was anything that would be negative about this movie, it’s that there’s no real plot. The purpose is about Chihiro making it through long enough until she can find a way to return her parents to normal and get home. It’s a basic enough thing. But in between that time, so many other random things happen. They all do have some sort of purpose to the ending of the movie, but it’s really difficult to put this into a first/second/third act. It’s almost as if the movie has 4 acts: The human world, bathhouse part 1 (up through the stink spirit), bathhouse part 2 (the No-Face stuff), and the Zeniba stuff. It just makes the movie feel disjointed at points. But that’s probably just me.

The animation style is great, as it’s a mix of hand-drawn animation and computer graphics. And, amazingly enough, the American dubbing actually doesn’t suck. Chihiro is kinda shouty at times, but that’s how the character is anyway. Another thing I loved about the movie were its usually subtle commentaries. It touched a lot on gluttony and greed, via the food/pig stuff and No-Face respectively. And, ironically, Chihiro is renamed Sen (sin), and she’s the only character who doesn’t give in to any of the bad things in the movie.

Overall, the movie is a great film. It has amazing character development with Chihiro, which is really what the whole thing was about. The English dub actually, I think, added something to it that worked really well. Miyazaki has stated that, in the original Japanese version, Chihiro doesn’t remember a thing about the spirit world and there’s no real proof that she learned anything from the experience. However, in the English dubbing, they add in a line at the end that contrasts feelings Chihiro had about her new school, showing that she’s really grown as a person. And that really gives the movie meaning. However, regardless, it is still a great movie either way.

A Keanu 'Whoa'


Recent East Asian Cinema #1: The Host.

Welcome to the first of seven posts that will detail East Asian cinema, giving genre history leading up to a recent movie which will be reviewed! I hope you enjoy the series. For more information, check here.


Monster Movie.

History: Monster movies are those in which something non-human (and usually huge) terrorizes a town/city. The oldest monster movies began with such human-esque creatures as Dracula, Nosferatu, or Frankenstein. However, one of the first examples of the modern-day view of a monster movie was King Kong in 1933. The genre began to expand until The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms came out in 1953. This movie was about a dinosaur that was awakened from a frozen block of ice after an atomic bomb test. Sound familiar? It should. It inspired the Japanese film, Godzilla (Gojira) in 1954. It also inspired numerous other works, such as Rodan and Mothra, which would inevitably spin off into one of Godzilla’s numerous ‘versus’ movies. The Godzilla movies ended up having their own spin-off series, Gamera, in 1965. It would go to rival the Godzilla movies. The genre itself would wear itself out, mostly because of these endless Godzilla-type movies with cheesy dubbing and bad acting and similar plots every round.

In the 80s and 90s, the monster movie even tried a different approach to bring back the monster movie with comedy, such as with the Tremors movies. But then Peter Jackson tried to revive the genre from the beginning with his remake of King Kong in 2005. 2006, however, would be the year to jumpstart the monster movie back to its prime. It was the year that South Korea made the widely-praised movie The Host, which is the movie I am going to discuss in further detail now.

The Host (2006).

Country of Origin: South Korea

Original Title: Gwoemul

Director: Joon-Ho Bong

The Host is interesting in its portrayal of the monster movie, because it focuses more on the people than the monster. The Host is about a poor family that works at an old food stand, including slacker Gang-Du (Kang-ho Song), his daughter Hyun-seo (Ah-sung Ko), and his father Hie-bong (Hie-bong Byeon). The family later comes to include Gang-Du’s archery-loving sister Nam-Joo (Du-na Bae) and grumpy brother Nam-il (Hae-il Park). After a whole load of formaldehyde is poured down the drain to mix into the Han River, a mutated monster forms. Years later, it exits the water and starts killing/eating people. But when Hyun-seo is taken by the monster and supposedly killed and/or eaten, the family goes into a large depression (especially her father, Gang-Du). To make matters worse, it seems that anybody who had come into contact with the monster might have some crazy lethal virus, putting Gang-Du and his family into quarantine. While in quarantine, Gang-Du gets a phone call… from Hyun-seo. Apparently she’s still alive and in a sewer-like place somewhere. So now the family must escape quarantine and do whatever it takes to find Hyun-seo before it’s too late.

For me, the movie started off okay. There were some things that didn’t really blow my shirt up, to use the expression. For instance, some of the more dramatic or sad scenes came off as over-the-top and unintentionally funny (like the mourning of Hyun-seo near the beginning). I mean, at least I don’t think they would want a scene like that to be funny. But as the movie went on and they had to escape quarantine and travel the city, it started getting better. By the time the movie reached its climax, I was really into it.

But then it started to irk me again, and I don’t mean the overly depressing ending. I mean, the whole movie, the monster looks pretty awesome. The special effects were really good. But then when the fire stuff starts happening toward the end, both the fire and the monster suddenly look obviously fake and took me out of the moment… making me wonder if the production company just started running out of money or what. I mean, they can make a super-cool monster, but they can’t make fire? Or, worse yet, a monster and fire at the same time?

There were also a few characters that weren’t really expanded on and I guess were just there for one specific purpose. For instance, Nam-Joo only seemed to be there for the archery thing (she barely even had a speaking line), and the homeless kids’ subplot was probably only added to give the movie some semblance of a happy ending.

I got confused at first, as well, as to who was who in the family. It took me a while to realize that Gang-Du was Hyun-seo’s father, because he seemed to be like… 18 or 19 years old (I think it was the hair), and Hyun-seo was like… 12 or so.

All of the negatives aside, the story was really good and reminded me somewhat of Cloverfield (because I saw Cloverfield first, even though this one came out first). The acting was pretty good, for the most part, especially by Hyun-seo’s actress. I know I mentioned quite a few negative aspects, but I really did enjoy this movie quite a bit. There were some really tense moments, some really (intentionally) funny moments, a few really sad moments… it was all around the board. There was good character development, specifically with Gang-Du. I don’t know what else to say about it. It has its flaws, but it’s a really good monster movie.

A Keanu 'Whoa'


A Week Of Recent East Asian Cinema.

With the recent interest in remaking Asian films (The Ring/The Grudge/The Eye), noticing Asian films with awards (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), and (finally) bringing together two Asian action superstars into the same movie (The Forbidden Kingdom, coming out next week), I thought of dedicating an entire week’s worth of articles to East Asian Cinema. East Asian Cinema (Japan, China/Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea) has been rather influential throughout the years for American cinema (and vice/versa).

From animation to action to horror and monsters, the movies of the Far East have made it big all around the world, and with good reason. They have some of the coolest action, some of the weirdest stories, and some of the scariest movies ever made. For the next 7 days, for each day, I will chronicle one movie of a different genre of recent Asian cinema. Each posting will include a short history lesson on the genre before leading up to the movie review of the film in question.

These types of movies have been huge in the past, with classics of anything from Seven Samurai to Godzilla. But what these articles will focus on are more recent movies. I won’t be discussing any old classics, but rather newer, more modern movies. The reason being is because the American film industry has just recently begun to really focus a lot on their films… so what is it about recent Asian cinema that is so enthralling? Does it stem from things from the past? Or is it just a new approach being taken? Or is America finally just getting onto the bandwagon and seeing that they aren’t the only people who can make a good movie? These 7 articles will try and figure that out.

I hope you enjoy what’s to come. It all starts tomorrow (because I don’t feel like waiting until Sunday, and I want this to end before The Forbidden Kingdom comes out). Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Now that all of them have been posted, I'll just link to all of them here.

#1 - The Monster Movie: The Host (South Korea).
#2 - Anime: Spirited Away (Japan).
#3 - J-Horror: Audition (Japan).
#4 - Mystery/Thriller/Revenge Tale: Oldboy (South Korea).
#5 - Hong Kong Action Cinema/Wuxia: Hero (Hong Kong/China).
#6 - Hong Kong Action Cinema/Comedy: Shaolin Soccer (Hong Kong/China).
#7 - Drama: Nobody Knows (Japan).


R.I.P. Charlton Heston.

It is a sad day as Charlton Heston has passed away (rhyme not intended). From Planet of the Apes to Ben-Hur to Soylent Green and beyond, Mr. Heston was an iconic actor and was a known supporter of the NRA. He was 84 years old. Rest in peace, Charlton Heston!


Great Opening Scenes.

The opening scene to a movie can be vital in whether or not you enjoy a movie. The beginning sets the pace for the rest of the movie. It gets you thinking about whether or not this movie will be good or bad (though it’s not always faithful. Sometimes the openings can be awesome and the rest awful, or vice versa). However, there have been some pretty awesome opening scenes in cinema, and I want to discuss five of them. Keep in mind that this is not a ‘Top’ list, and I’m certainly not saying these are the best 5 opening scenes of all time… just that these are five really good ones. So let’s get started, shall we?

Léon (The Professional).

The Opening: The music slowly fades in and the camera scans across the ocean and over trees before panning up to a city. The camera shows us the streets until we reach two men in a restaurant talking business. The older of the two is talking to a man in sunglasses that the camera barely shows, drinking some milk. The man in sunglasses accepts a job offer.

We are then taken to a man walking down a hall surrounded by men. A picture of the man had just been handed to the man in sunglasses right before. The next thing we know, “somebody serious” has arrived at the hotel. The men get their guns to fight whoever this mystery man is that is coming up. They separate to look for this man and our quickly killed off one by one, stealth style. The boss man is panicked. And then he’s alone. Or is he? He decks himself out in weapons to protect himself… but it’s no use. As he backs himself into a corner of safety, trying to call the cops, he backs himself into the shadows concealing the man in the sunglasses. His hand slinks from the darkness, putting a knife around the boss man’s throat.

The man with the sunglasses gives him a phone number to dial. He’s threatened to get out of town, and he agrees. The man in the sunglasses disappears back into the shadows, first his body, then his hand with the knife, and he’s gone.

Short Thoughts: Léon’s opening scene is one of awesome suspense and just cool stealth killing. It lets the audience know just what kind of skills this man has, and it shows. Léon is not a man to be reckoned with.

X2: X-Men United.

The Opening: After the opening credits, we are shown that we are in the White House as a tour leader begins her tour. Then there’s a mystery man in a hat and sunglasses. One of the guards hears a noise and goes to inspect it. The disguised man is not where he should be. Then he grows a tail and leaps into the air, doing crazy acrobatics and teleporting around all the secret agents, kicking their butts. The secret service tries to protect the president, but all get beat up by a blue teleporting creature. Then there’s gunshots on the other side of a closed door… and silence. The door opens to emit blue smoke, and the creature is in the room, teleporting around in slow motion, knocking everybody out. He leaps onto the president and is about to kill him when he’s shot and teleports away. The camera pans to the knife in the desk next to the president, on which a note is tied: Mutant Freedom Now.

Short Thoughts: This is one of the coolest opening action sequences in a movie, especially a superhero movie. Nightcrawler is awesome, and that was one of the most perfect ways possible to begin the movie.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

The Opening: The WB logo and the movie title glide by as the Harry Potter theme plays. A shining light is seen in the cloudy distance, which turns into the sun on a smoldering and dry day. The camera pans down over a vast expanse of dry land and up through the dead grass toward a park. A family leaves the playground as Harry sits alone on a swing when his cousin Dudley and friends appear. They start arguing and Dudley taunts Harry with the nightmares Harry’s been having. Sad music plays and Harry looks sad. In a rage, Harry jumps up and points his wand at his cousin while his friends laugh. Then the sky gets dark and the wind blows faster. Dudley’s friends run off, and so do Dudley and Harry. Running down the country road as the rain begins to set in, they make their way to an underpass tunnel. Then the air turns cold and the lights begin to flicker on and off. And a large, cloaked Dementor shows up and attacks Harry. Harry tells his cousin to run, but he slips and is attacked himself. Pulling out his wand, Harry knocks the Dementor away at the last second and produces his stag Patronus, sending the Dementor away. He then throws the Patronus at the Dementor attacking his cousin, then runs over to check him… and a little old lady, Mrs. Figg, shows up and tells him not to put away his wand…

Short Thoughts: There’s a lot more to it in the book, but the movie cut it down a bit and got right to the point. The day starts off depressing and lonely, then out of nowhere these black-cloaked monsters attack, forcing Harry to use magic. It was a great opening of the book, and an even greater opening on film.


The Opening: The phone is ringing. Drew Barrymore is on screen as she answers the phone and has a back-and-forth with the mysterious caller. She thinks he has the wrong number and hangs up. The phone rings again. She answers, and it’s the same man. The man says he wants to talk, but she hangs up again. She turns on the stove and puts on some Jiffy-Pop. The phone rings again, and it’s the same man. They begin asking each other more questions. “What’s your favorite scary movie?” She walks through the house talking on the phone. The man on the phone asks if she has a boyfriend, then asks her name. She asks why, and he says he wants to know who he’s looking at. Drew Barrymore freaks out and hangs up, locking her doors.

The phone rings again. The man is getting upset with her, and she’s getting freaked out. Then he calls again and threatens to kill her. She hurries to lock all the doors, as the man on the phone keeps freaking her out, threatening her. The doorbell rings, then the phone rings again. He mocks her a few times, and she threatens that her boyfriend will beat him up. The man on the phone tells her to turn on the patio lights, and she does, seeing her boyfriend tied up. The man wants to play a game or else the boyfriend dies. She agrees. She gets the first answer right, but the second wrong. Her boyfriend is killed. The man asks her what door he’s at. She doesn’t answer, and the killer bursts through the window. Long story short, he catches up and kills her.

Short Thoughts: The reason I included this scene is because it’s so iconic, and no opening scene list would be complete without it. Drew Barrymore was on the main cast list, so she was credited with a starring role… and then she dies within the first ten minutes. It just went to show the audience that nobody was safe in the movie, no matter what their star status was. Brilliant move.

28 Weeks Later…

The Opening: Everything is quiet. A match is lit. A couple talks about what’s going to be cooked, and the man puts more logs on a fire. They look through their food stores, and he finds some good wine. They talk about their children and how they know they’re safe. The share a kiss. Then an elderly woman walks in and interrupts them. A man lays reading an old newspaper. A whole group sits down to a table to eat. A young woman saves a bowl for her boyfriend who had left a few days prior and had not come back. A man named Jacob gets into an argument with her, saying her boyfriend is already dead.

Then there’s a knocking at the door. It’s a boy. The music begins to swell. They run to the door and quickly undo all the locks. The boy is screaming. The man, Don, opens the door and a bright light erupts before the boy runs in and they close the door and re-lock it. Eating, the boy tells his short story. But the young woman now believes her boyfriend has hope and makes her way to the door to peer outside. And then Infected eyes stare right back at her and the creature busts through the door. The music starts to swell once more as the Infected begin rushing the house and bursting through the windows. The group is scattered, some rushing upstairs, some rushing to the garage. Jacob climbs a barn ladder while the old couple hold the door. Don’s wife searches for the young boy as Don searches for his wife. The old man dies, and as does the old woman. Jacob makes his escape out the upper window.

Don rushes into an upper bedroom as the Infected barge into the room. Don and his wife/the boy are on opposite sides of the room, and Don slams the door and leaves them there, climbing out a window to escape the house. He begins to run into the open field as more Infected barge into the house. His wife beats on the window and he looks back, seeing her pulled into darkness. Don runs the open field alone, being chased by the Infected. The music is almost at it’s climax as he now has at least a hundred Infected after him. He gets to a pier where Jacob is untying a boat. They leap in and start the boat, but Jacob is pulled into the water and turns into one of them. Don gets the boat started and is attacked by an Infected Jacob, and he finally kicks him off. The boats motor chops Jacob up, and Don finally sails into safety. The music comes to a peak then ends. “Oh shit,” Don repeats and continues on into the unknown.

Short Thoughts: This is one of my favorite movie openings ever. Seriously, it was brilliant. It starts off very slow and calm, then everything slowly turns to chaos. The build of the music is perfect (and I love that theme, taken from the first movie). The suspense is insanely high, and just when you think you can’t take any more… it ends and cuts to the title sequence, giving you a moment to breath.