YOUR GUIDE TO THE WEEKEND MOVIES
NEW THIS WEEK
a) WHEAT (war drama in Mandarin with Fan Bingbing, Huang Jue, Du Jiayi, Wang Zhiwen and Wang Ji) Rated * * * (3 stars): Like Jackie Chan's Little Big Soldier, this 'dramedy' is about the exploits of two army deserters during the Warring States era. The technical aspects, photography and locations, are splendid. Fan Bingbing is a delight to behold but director He Ping sometimes drags the narrative to the point of annoying the viewers. (Reviewed below)
b) RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE (sci-fi fantasy adventure with Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Spencer Locke, Wentworth Miller, Shawn Roberts and Boris Kodjoe) Rated * * (2 stars): The publicity mills were working overtime to make sure that we all know that the movie is shot in 'stereoscopic 3D' using the same camera rigs that director James Cameron used on 'Avatar' to bring this fourth edition of the popular vid-game franchise to the big screen. The result is that the action and visuals are engaging but nothing in the plot makes any sense. A 'bang-bang, see ya again' movie. (Review pending)
STILL GOING STRONG
1. STOOL PIGEON (HK crime thriller with Nicholas Tse, Nick Cheung, Kwai Lun-Mei, Yi Lu and Liu Kai Chi) Rated * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): With a riveting plot and tensed action from start to end, this Dante Lam effort looks like his best work so far. It also helps to have Nick Cheung and Nicholas Tse in the leads, with Tse giving one of his best portrayals (of the title role). This is one of the few gems to have come out of Hong Kong this year. (Reviewed below)
2. GOING THE DISTANCE (romantic comedy with Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Ron Livingston, Jim Gaffigan, Kelli Garner and Christina Applegate) Rated * * * (3 stars out of 4): A chick-flick that is also aimed at guys, this one is full of ribald sex jokes. However most are verbal and left to your imagination. The plot on long-distance relationship is not new but effective, aided by satisfactory performances from the cast. (Reviewed below)
3. GROWN UPS (comedy with Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello and Maya Rudolph) Rated * * * (3 stars): Dare we hope that with this comedy, Sandler has become more matured or grown-up? Well, as script-writer, he has curbed his subversiveness and crude gags. Instead, he opts for 'friendly banter' with his Saturday Night Live buddies who make up the cast. Why, even Schneider is more bearable here. (Reviewed below)
4. PIRANHA 3D (disaster movie remake with Jerry O'Connell, Ving Rhames, Elisabeth Shue, Eli Roth and Richard Dreyfuss) Rating * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): This remake of the 1978 film may be in 3D but it offers the requisite summer tonic for youth in the 3Bs - bikinis, boobs and blood! This means that many scenes have been cut here - and that would send many heading for the DVD stalls.
5. CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE (comedy with Christina Applegate, Michael Clarke Duncan, Neil Patrick Harris, Sean Hayes, James Marsden, Bette Midler, Nick Nolte, Joe Pantoliano, Katt Williams and Chris O'Donnell) Rated * * (2 stars): It's a sequel to the 2001 original but in trying to reach for the sky, it merely falls flat on its paws. Its spoof on action and spy films make it look like the Epic Movie turkeys, and the comedy lines are cliched. (Reviewed below)
6. PHUA CHU KANG THE MOVIE (local comedy with Gurmit Singh, Irene Ang, Lim Kay Siu, Neo Swee Lin and Charlie Tan) Rating * * (2 stars): Over the past years, PCK the TV series, had been rolling downhill both in quality and viewership. That is why it is a surprise to me why anyone would want to make a movie of it. What is not surprising is that this feature, shot entirely in KL, is a messy, hastily-concocted and half-baked caper about some murder at an old folk's home.