Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Untold Story (Danny Lee, 1993)

Netflix describes The Untold Story as "dark and powerful." I would call that an understatement. Instead of the deep psychological drama you might expect (although there is some of that), there's a lot of violence and some goofy humor. Anthony Wong (truly an awesome performance) plays Wong Chi Hang, a Hong Kong restauranteur who took over his Eight Immortals Resturant only after the previous owner and his entire family mysteriously disappeared. Employees of the restaurant keep disappearing, too, esepcially after they find out about Wong's propensity for cheating at mahjongg. Wong (the actor) does a good job of portraying this truly crazy man, who, while being a psychopath, is actually sort of likeable, in that intensely frightening way.

The local police, who are a bunch of yokels and held together only by their commanding Officer Lee (Danny Lee, who also directed), catch onto Wong's plan, and take him in for the murders. He will not admit anything, however, and we're treated to a solid twenty minutes of various tortures, which I won't describe here so as not to ruin their reveal. When Wong finally describes what actually happens that night, it's truly chilling, one of the more upsetting death scenes I've seen. I'll just say that Lee breaks the cardinal rule of never showing a child murdered onscreen.

While my description of the film may make it seems like a constant gorefest, it's really surprisingly not. There is definitely some violence, both murders and dismembering of corpses, but nothing that made me want to look away (but remember how desensitized I am!). And then there's the issue of Wong's barbecue pork buns, which makes me never want to eat Chinese food again. At least I don't eat meat. But the overall dark tones of the film are lightened up, although not very humorously, by the antics of the local cops, who are male chauvinist pigs and a woman in love with Officer Lee. While it's for the most party really unfunny, it's kind of nice to have the intensity of Wong broken up every once in a while.


RIYL: Takashi Miike

And in other news: first, happy holidays! I hope everyone has/is having a great one with people you love. A new year is almost upon us, so I'll be doing my year-end top 10 or 15 before December 30th, when I leave town for a few days. Also, I've been thinking of a few new year's resolutions for this little blog of mine, and I think I am (finally!) going to write about my all-time favorite films, along with stuff about any interesting film news I come upon and/or read about (like this RW Fassbinder bio I finished today, which I will probably post about soon). So, while my main focus will still be reviews, I'm interested in branching out, and think I've already been doing that a little in my more philosophical reviews. I'm always interested in feedback, either here or via email. Thanks for reading!

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