Lovely Rivals, 'Yeoseonsaeng VS Yeojeja' (2004) [Korean with English sub]

Director: Jang Gyu Seong
Cast: Lee Ji Hun, Yeom Jeong A, Lee Se Yeong
Region code: 3
Subtitles: English, Korean
Running time: 114 min.
Rating: 15+

In this comic love story, a female elementary school teacher and one of her girl students become rival lovers after a handsome man starts teaching in the same rural school. An unsophisticated teacher, Yeo Miok (played by Yeom Jeonga), has a crush on Gwon Sangchun (singer-turned-actor Lee Jihun), a newly appointed, handsome fine art teacher some years younger than her. She has to compete with a formidable opponent - Go Minam (Lee Seyeong), her cute but strong-willed student. Though with a certain twist in the end, the film faithfully follows the conventional order of laughter, confrontation, tears, and reconciliation, like most of its love-comedy predecessors that usually seek happy-ending. The story does not perplex the audience, but is interesting and persuasive enough to cause profound emotion among them in the end. One of the notable aspects of this movie is the superb acting of Yeom Jeonga, who attained stardom after playing a femme-fatale in "The Big Swindle" (2004). Prior to the screening of the movie, it had become one of the most longed-for movies largely because it was believed to be a sequel to "Teacher Kim Bong Du" (2003), a story between a corrupt teacher and his troublemaking students in a rural school and made by the same director, Jang Gyuseong.

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The Art of Seduction (Korean with English subtitle)

In Korean with English & Chinese Subtitles
Director: Oh Ki-hwan
Starring: Son Ye-jin, Song II-guk
RunTime: -
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & Encore Films
Rating: PG
Official Website:
Opening Day: 13 April 2006


Min-Jun (SONG Il-Kook) and Ji-Won (SON Ye-Jin) are so-called the first-rate "players" who are dating gurus with 100% success rates in any dating pursuits. Following her usual systematic dating rules, Ji-Won fakes a schematic car accident to capture Min-Jun's attention and successfully approaches him.

However, her smooth-sailing dating life finally encounters turbulence. Why in the world is this guy not succumbing to her alluring charm? Ironically enough, Min-Jun is also overwhelmed by the understanding that he has met his match. However, like the veteran players that they are, these two shouldn't show any signs of weakness in their dating tactics. Who will emerge
victorious and become the last player standing?

Movie Review:

Swinging singles or commonly known as seducers and seductresses have been in existence for centuries. In 52 B.C., the likes of Cleopatra seduced both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Of course, there have been infamous seducers who have been often glorified and vilified, Casanova and Don Juan. Then, there were the fictional ones like Mrs. Robinson of The Graduate fame and the evergreen James Bond. And now, attempting to make their way into the books are Koreans, Han Ji-Won and Seo Min-Jun. Say who? Read on.

Ji-Won (Son Ye-Jin) and Min-Jun (Song Il-Kook) are two individuals who are able to attract and seduce any guy/girl respectively. And in true Don Juan fashion, both of them get easily bored with their prizes and are always prepared with a ditching scheme as they are when seducing. Naturally, the two meet each other, realizing soon enough they have met their match and in turn, a quirky and chaotic process ensues in determining the winner.

In truth, The Art of Seduction feels like a dedication to the charm of Son Ye-Jin. Sure, Son is convincing in her role as the puppy-eyed vixen with her cutesy antics. But there was this air about Son that lit up the screen every time she appeared, splashing the film with much needed youthful vigour and vivacious nature. This is a stark contrast to her turn in April Snow in which she was clearly overshadowed by Bae Yong Joon. The consolation on the other hand, is the comfort in knowing that Son is comfortable on screen with her ability to swing both ways. Urm…the ability to switch between a drama and a comedy I mean.

While the film starts off on the right foot, introducing the audience to both players in the game and the ways they seduce and then dump their prey. In just a short sequence, partners will naturally throw slight glances at each other, trying to press each other into feeling guilty. When Ji-Won and Min-Jun finally stumble upon each other at a clinic and wanting to claim the other as a captive, the film picks up. There is one particular scene which led to the two ending up on an island and having to stay overnight is over the top funny. But there are also scenes that are over the top boring, especially when certain seduction tactics were being repeated time and again. This causes the film to lose its steam as it progresses and the awfully acceptable runtime starts to drag.

The most disturbing aspect of The Art of Seduction would have to be its male lead. The apple does not fall far from the tree angle felt a little disturbing having a father whose libido is just as alive as his son’s. Also, while Song has the physique and voice, the chemistry between his character and Son’s is at an all time low. In their pursuit of seduction, their courtship lacked believability that even a tiny glimmer of a spark would fizzle. Try watching The Classic or A Moment to Remember and you will probably have a clearer picture of what it feels to describe the romance of having flowers in the sky.

Should various scenes be cut from the film, it would probably be much tighter and not affect what the film has set to achieve. Eventually, for a film that proclaims that it is about the art of seduction, it will leave one’s desire waning.

Movie Rating:

( A quirky and charming film but that alone describes Son Ye-Jin)

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Typhoon (Korean movie with English subtitle)

Directed by Kwak Kyung-taek
Produced by Yang Joong-kyung, Park Seong-keun
Written by Kwak Kyung-taek
Starring Jang Dong-gun, Lee Jung-jae, Lee Mi-yeon
Music by Kim Hyung-suk
Release date December 2005
Running time 125 mins
Language: Korean with English subtitle
"Typhoon", the latest effort from "Friend" director Kwak Gyeong Taek, was very much a flagship release for the domestic South Korean market, having the highest budget in the nation's history and having been shot on various locations, including Pusan, Thailand, and Russia with a partly international cast. Unfortunately, despite being a deeply personal and uniquely Korean film, based upon and shot through with the tension resulting from the conflict between the North and South, it flopped at the box office.

The plot follows Sin (Jang Dong Gun, who also played the lead role in "Friend"), a North Korean who as a child attempted to defect to the South with his family but was betrayed, resulting in the deaths of his parents. Plotting genocidal revenge, Sin takes up with a group of Thai pirates, and steals a U.S. ship carrying nuclear devices which have been secretly manufactured in Taiwan . He is pursued by Kang Se Jong (Lee Jeong Jae, also in the 2000 romantic hit "Il Mare"), a naval officer who attempts to bring Sin to justice, though who gradually comes to understand, and even sympathise with his foe.

Although from the above synopsis "Typhoon" may sound like a simplistic thriller, it is actually a complex and densely plotted affair, which gradually reveals its secrets after a bewildering first act. The film does tend to jump around a great deal, with a large supporting cast of minor characters and with the action taking place in a number of different countries, though once things settle down, this works well, giving the proceedings an almost epic feel. Although it does fall back upon what is a fairly unconvincing plot device, which seems to have been included mainly as a set up for the climatic scenes, the film is for the most part intelligent and gripping.

But it is not too hard to see why "Typhoon" failed to set the box office alight, in that it is a fairly dark and depressing film, and far from the Hollywood style blockbuster many may have expected. Although it is similar to previous Korean hits such as "Sil Mi Do" and "Taegukgi" in that it focuses on the conflict between North and South Korea as represented by the two protagonists, it treats violence and bloodshed as an inescapable, disastrous outcome, and thus acts more as a guilt-soaked tragedy or cautionary tale. The film has a bleak, nihilistic view of governments of all countries, particularly those of South Korea and the U.S. (who are, as usual, portrayed as hell-bent on simply blowing everything up to solve problems), with politicians being held responsible for the suffering of the Korean people.

Director Taek spends most of the film exploring the character of supposed villain Sin, with numerous flashbacks depicting his ordeals and the sad fate of his family. The problem comes with the fact that his is the only fully fleshed out role in the cast, and so the viewer naturally comes to sympathise with him, especially since the nominal hero Kang is a blank faced and indistinguishable robot who mainly just follows orders and spouts the odd line of patriotic dialogue. This does leave the viewer in a fairly uncomfortable position, since, despite his undeniable humanity, Sin is quite obviously a homicidal psychotic with a frankly daft nuclear scheme.

As such the film is devoid of the usual heroics, and Taek wisely eschews explosive action and shoot outs, opting instead for slow but intense espionage scenes and sudden bursts of violence. This does make it rather slow moving at times, and it does feel somewhat overstretched. Though never dull or boring, "Typhoon" is likely to disappoint those expecting a different type of film. In a way, the fact that its high budget has been highlighted is something of a misnomer, as most of the money was probably spent on shooting in different countries, rather than on pyrotechnics or special effects.

However, this actually works in the film's favour, as it is questionable whether the subject matter would have lent itself to brain dead bravado or exploitative entertainment. As it stands, "Typhoon" is a moving, genuine film which attempts to make a very personal case for the suffering caused by the North-South Korean divide, and more generally, by governments and politicians the world over.

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Windstruck - Korean with English subtitle

Country : South-Korea
Year: 2004
Genre: Romantic Comedy / Drama
Running Time: 2H03
Date reviewed: 02/02/05
Director: Jae-Young Kwak
Cast: Jeon Ji-hyun, Hyuk Jang, Su-ro Kim, Ki-woo Lee, Ye-jin Im, Chang-wan Kim

The starting has Yeo Kyung Jin leaping off a skyscraper. Why? She recalls the past.
A woman screamed that someone snatched her handbag. Despite explaining that he is chasing the thief, Kyung Jin doesn’t believe him and arrests him. It is so hilarious. First, she throws her slippers – one hit an innocent passer-by while another hit Go Myung Woo, causing him to stop. Next, she uses her towel to tie him together with a hair brush after spraying hair shampoo at his eyes.
She brings him back to the station proudly but her colleagues suspect her of making a mistake, just like other moments. The victim looks at Myung Woo suspiciously as she also remembers that he isn’t the one. The air is cleared when Myung Woo draws sketches of the robber. The others are impressed and they want him to do for them. And he does for all –except for Myung Woo because he is still angry with her!
He becomes a physics teacher in a secondary school. He joins the police force and is involved in voluntarily work to track down problem students. On his first shift, he is dismayed to pair with Kyung Jin. The two stroll the street and one group of delinquents are attracted to her. They whistle at her and throw cigarette butts on the ground. You will be amused when the timid Myung Woo decides to avoid them but the furious Kyung Jin demands them to pick them up.
When they refuse, she beats them up badly as she can never tolerate their behaviour. She is bent on punishing them so she handcuffs Myung Woo’s hand together with hers. After seeking her revenge, both return to the police station to find the spare key missing. One kid’s father is a ganglord whom the others will not dare to offend. Sure enough, the father comes with his men.
Myung Woo tries to make Kyung Jin apologise to the fellow but to no avail. Upon seeing her going to flare up, he pacifies her. But… the end, he gets provoked instead. You will be tongue-tied to see him to be the one seizing the gun to point at the fellow’s head. He demands the man to apologise to Kyung Jin and she is impressed by his guts. Myung Woo is relieved when they get the keys from her colleague.
The following scene have both patrolling the street again. Myung Woo is worried that she might run into trouble again. Sure indeed she sees a drug trafficker and wants to shadow him. Myung Woo has wanted to inform her other colleagues but she is so career minded that she doesn’t wish any to share her credit. The poor soul has to climb walls with her.
Finally, she finds the man with his gang, wanting to exchange a deal at a warehouse. She demands them to stop – even knowing that she is alone. The usual happens – one man starts a gunshot and the rest start killing each other. The mastermind flees and the drug trafficker is fuming mad. He is actually an undercover and demands to know which unit she comes from. Kyung Jin is silent this time because she is in the wrong. They return to the police station and there is no spare key …… again!
This is so hilarious when they have to visit the toilet together. They have to adjust to each other brushing the teeth and washing the face. Even when they are sleeping on separate beds, they are still linked by the handcuff. However, you will have another surprise in store again. Kyung Jin wakes up, yawns and loosens the handcuff! But she doesn’t notice it and slips her hand back again while Myung Woo is still asleep.
Both are in love and Myung Woo’s students tease him when she brings food for him. He is about to see her after work when she informs him that she is running after two robbers. Worrying about her safety and knowing that she is reckless, he rushes to the scene. He tries calling out to her but ends up confronting the robber instead. One of them is already captured while another tries to hide between the walls. He gets stuck there. Myung Woo doesn’t want to lose him and follow suit.
He ends up in the same situation. The robber is initially delighted to get another victim but is dismayed when he can’t reach Myung Woo. The police finally nap him and Myung Woo is miserable when others ask what he is doing there. He visits Kyung Jin’s home and learns that she had a twin sister who died after taking a test on her behalf during her high school days. From then on, she has not wanted to touch the black pieces on the piano again. Myung Woo pretends that her food tastes good although it is too hot for him. He makes a paper plane from papers in her magazine and also teaches her how to make paper windmills.
She reads a story to him. Be prepared to see how they are dressed as fairy-tale characters. I shall not disclose the story here as I think I have said too much. anyway, the tale is quite impressive in a fantasy mode involving computer effects.
Myung Woo gets a jeep and wants to tour in it. He asks Kyung Jin to join him. They come to the mountain top and he tells her that he will turn into the wind to surround her even though he may not be around anymore. They stay in a village house and he tries to kiss her, closing his eyes. He ends up kissing a piece of burning branch that she holds and his lips get swollen.
They still continue their journey even though there is thunder and lightning. can assure you that this act is so deliberate that you can’t take it. They are the only people on the road and Myung Woo’s car sinks in the sea. His head is injured and he loses consciousness. Kyung Jin tries to revive him by saving him and is desperate when his heart stops. She finally makes him alive again and bursts into tears. I thought the story would stop here …but no……, she comes in face to face with the mastermind. Myung Woo knows it and hurries there. Kyung Jin accidentally shoots him after the mastermind shoots him too. He dies during the operation and she tries to kill herself with her gun. Luckily her colleagues stop her. They transfer her to another unit and she works with another partner. If you think that the cop looks like Jang Hak, you’re wrong. He is a middle-aged man who is 10 years older than her and doesn’t shave himself.
They come to face with criminals and even the police cars can’t stop them. Kyung Jin’s partner is spellbound upon seeing her stopping the car midst in the street and shoot non-stop at the criminals. The oil tank in the criminals’ car breaks and the oil spills. Kyung Jin’s partner is too shocked so he drops his cigarette, causing a big fire and finally an explosion instead. She looks cool in here.
Kyung Jin hasn’t given up killing herself. She goes to the highest skyscraper and wants to jump off from there. You will laugh when you see hooligans harassing her at this moment. They demand her to give them her money since she is going to die. She can’t put up with their behaviour and runs after them. Laugh when they say that her panties are purple in colour but she corrects them!
Knowing that they run away from home, she gives them a treat and some money to return home. She returns to the same place and jumps off from there. She ends up on a float and sees a paper aeroplane leading her home. She recognizes it as Myung Woo and knows that soon the death anniversary of the 49th day is up soon. She waits eagerly to meet him then.
She finally sees the mastermind and gives chase. The fellow takes a baby as a hostage and Kyung Jin is shot while trying to save the baby. The man tries to flee in the lift but her partner comes out from there to shoot him. This is unexpected as her partner has injured his arm and is all along a timid man. What gives him the guts – I wonder too. He pleads with Kyung Woo to wake up – he has something to tell her. which we never know in the end as it isn’t stated but we know that he is married!
Her pulse nearly stops. Suddenly, she can see Myung Woo on a bus. She runs after him to get ignored. Why? He has lost along after the shooting incident and decides not to implicate her to take care of him so he fakes his own death. She is in despair. You are tricked!! She is still in a coma so this is only a dream.
She wakes up and is recovering. She returns home and sees wind blowing in to cause all the windmills to move. The paper plane is still there. Myung Woo appears, telling her to take care of herself. He is always around in the form of wind to protect her from harm but she has to face the fact that he is dead. He will come in the form of another person, hopefully, to take care of her.
She takes the MTR to work, wondering what he means. Her sixth sense tells her that someone is approaching when she is standing too close to the yellow line. The person is afraid that she might try to kill herself and comes to her. She looks at him and smiles. I have expected to see Jang Hak’s face……but I saw Tai Hyun’s face instead. This is the only arrangement that I applaud. The outcome is truly unexpected.

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Gorgeous - Jackie Chan (Hong Kong with English subtitle)

Made: 1999
Release Date: 11 Sept 2000
Company: Columbia Tristar
Length: 95 mins
Classification: PG
Language: Cantonese with English Subtitles, English Dubbed

Director: Vincent Kok
Cast: Jackie Chan, Qi Shu, Bradley Allen, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Hsien-Chi Jen, Elaine Jin, Ken Lo, Emil Chow

In the late nineties Jackie Chan started to enjoy world-wide recognition and box office success in the shape of Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon. Unlike Jet Li, he also continued to produce films for the Hong Kong market including 1999's Gorgeous (aka Glass Bottle). Even at the tender age of forty-five he was still eager to capitalise on his iconic sex symbol status in the East with this romantic action-comedy. To make sure that his fellow co-stars do not threaten his role as romantic lead, Tony Leung (Infernal Affairs, Hard Boiled) is cast as an ultra-camp diva! There are plenty of cameos for Jackie Chan regulars and after his work on Mr Nice Guy, and Who Am I?, Bradley Allen gets a well deserved lead as his main opponent.

The young and innocent Bu (Shu Qi), grows restless of her life in a quiet and sedentary fishing village yearning for her true love. Then one day she receives a message in a bottle beckoning her to Hong Kong and she leaps on the first plane to the bright lights of the city. Unfortunately for Bu, she discovers that the author of the message was actually Albert (Tony Leung) in a desperately romantic quest for another man. However all is not lost, as Bu manages to save Jackie Chan from a bunch of thugs onboard his speedboat. The thugs chasing Jackie are none other than the henchmen of his life-long rival (Emil Chow).

Unlike most of Jackie's early movies, his rivalry with Emil Chow is not based in martial arts or crime prevention, but rather big business. The only other notable occasion when Jackie entered the corporate world was in Dragons Forever when he played a soulless lawyer (and was a turn off for many fans, especially in Japan ). This time we see Jackie as a determined and single-minded businessman who has no time for friends, family or a serious relationship. However, as you may have guessed, he starts to fall for the charms of the innocent Bu (who is young enough to be his daughter!). Jackie has another problem to contend with, in the shape of Bradley Allen, who has been hired by Chow to make a mockery of his martial arts after the continued incompetence of his own henchmen.

The final fight is predictably in a factory (see Miracles, Dragons Forever, Police Story 2, Project A 2), but the combat style is not typical to the genre. There is a genuine respect between the two fighters rather than a ‘fight to the death'. The action is well executed, but unlike his last great fight against Ken Lo in Drunken Master 2, there is no real attempt to disguise the wire-work. Chan fans will remember Bradley Allen for his doubling work in Who Am I? as a result of Ron Smoorenburg's lack of timing. In Gorgeous this chemistry between Chan and Allen is evident once again. The camaraderie between the fighters is similar to that between Jackie and Benny ‘The Jet' in Wheels on Meals, and once again Jackie overcomes his opponent by ‘loosening up' (first done by Bruce in Way of the Dragon). However, the fight offers nothing new for Chan fans, it shows Jackie providing entertaining action whilst acknowledging that he is no spring chicken anymore.

The action throughout Gorgeous complements the story line rather than dominating it. In contrast to many of Jackie's more explosive action movies, you do not feel that the plot purely exists to support the action. The action shifts between his trademark slapstick action and more intense one-on-one encounters. Jackie starts proceedings with two fun encounters with the cannon-fodder henchmen, there is a chase around Jackie's speedboat that it strikingly similar to the opening fight in Dragons Forever, it is also toned down for a more mainstream feel. The next fight involves Jackie showing off with some baseball bats, the action is enjoyable but arguably sacrifices impact for a more choreographed tempo.

The early action nicely warms up the viewer for the final solo encounters with Bradley Allen. This was a departure for Jackie Chan after a flurry of films that had forgone the more traditional ‘end bad-guy' encounter since Drunken Master 2 (1994). In contrast, subsequent films had climaxed with group brawls, explosion and car chases (Rumble in the Bronx , Mr Nice Guy, Thunderbolt, Rush Hour, First Strike etc). The film goes one step further by harking back to classic kung fu movies such as Snake in the Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master as Jackie gets his butt kicked by his rival before returning for to avenge himself. However, unlike his classic movies, Jackie doesn't return with a new animal form or the drunken gods, but a source of inspiration in his new found love of life and Bu!

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Autumn in my Heart

Starring: Song Seung-heon, Song Hye-gyo, Won Bin..
Total: 16 Episodes
Language: Korean
with English Hardsub

Two girls whose destiny had been switched for 14 years. Their relationship was destined. Two girls were born on the same day of October, lived in same town, and were classmates in same school. Eun-suh was happy with her life while Sin-ae wasn't. One day Eun-suh got an accident and her parents found out that her blood type was different from theirs. So the whole truth came out and the parents found out Eun-suh and Sin-ae had been switched. Eun-suh's elder brother Jun-suh was the most confused one since he really loved his little sister Eun-suh.
Jun-seo is thrown into utter confusion after learning that his younger sister was mistakenly switched with another baby when she was just born. His heart-wrenching love toward the woman he always thought to be his blood sister one day evolves into agony over the love that may never be consummated.
Eun-seo's destiny was mistakenly changed right after her birth. After living for 14 years with the people she regarded her birth parents and blood brother, she finds herself in a completely different environment, all by herself, with a good-for-nothing brother and a step-mother, who swears all the time. But this sad character finds a way to survive thanks to her uniquely outgoing personality and strong will.

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Wet Dream (Korean with English sub)

Artist Name(s):Lee Bum Soo | Kim Sun A
Release Date:February 7, 2003
Subtitle:Korean, English
Duration:94 Minutes
Publisher:Bear Entertainment
Disc: 2
Synopsis: Korea's first sex comedy has been greeted with cheerful laughter in theaters all over Korea. Revolving around the amusing fantasies and not-so-innocent crushes of teenage boys, Wet Dreams is packed with fun dialogue and hilarious scenes.

When student teacher Yoo Ri (Kim Seon Ah - My Lovely Sam-Soon) arrives at an all-boys high school, she promptly becomes every student's fantasy girl and wet dream inspiration. They spend all their class time daydreaming about her and imagining various inappropriate scenarios. Dong Hyun (Noh Hyung Ok) is particularly determined to win the affections of the classroom goddess. Yoo Ri, however, only has eyes for school worker Byung Chul (Lee Beom Soo), but he doesn't seem to be interested.

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A Chinese Tall Story (Chinese with English subtitle)

Genre: Comedy/Fantasy
Director: Jeff Lau
Starring: Nicolas Tse, Charlene Choi, Chan Po-Lin, Fan Bing Bing
RunTime: 1 hr 43 mins
Rating: PG


A Chinese Tall Story tells a little-known tale about the Tang Monk, Tripitaka, before he embarks on his arduous journey to bring the sacred sutras from the west, and achieves deification after successfully negotiating Eight-One Tasks to prove his faith and resolve.
As we see them for the first time, the Tang Monk is leading his three disciples into the city of Shache. No one would know that it is here that the boyishly innocent Tripitaka will meet his greatest challenge.
After a fierce battle, his disciples are captured by the evil Tree Spirits. Tripitaka luckily escapes. Undaunted, he sets off on his own to find a way to save his disciples, only to fall into the hands of the Lizard King and his army of Amazonian imps. Tripitaka is placed in the custody of Meiyan, a young imp who is the personification of ugliness. Meiyan falls in love with him at first sight: not for his flesh – which brings immortality if devoured, but for his passion. So from then on, the love-struck imp stalks Tripitaka every hour of the day. Not only does she make fun of him, she also sets a love trap for him. Unwittingly, Tripitaka falls into the trap and violates the Heavenly Code.
In the ancient and mythical past, not only are spirits plentiful, so are forms of life from unknown sources. Princess is one of them. She is quite a rebel even by today’s standard: resisting a pre-set marriage, and turning herself into an inter-galactic runaway. Like so many before her, this unearthly beauty falls at once for the cool but handsome Tripitaka. Meiyan instinctively senses competition, picks a fight with Xiaoshan but loses. She warns Tripitaka off her, but the Tang Monk will have none of it. Harshly branding Meiyan a love-cheat, Tripitaka decides to side with Xiaoshan instead. Meiyan is deeply hurt. In the meantime, Xiaoshan tries to help the Tang Monk rescue his disciples, but is no match for the Tree Spirits. As her alien army is about to be routed, a brave warrior selflessly throws herself into the fray. It is a brand new Meiyan – an ugly duckling no more. The war is won in spectacular fashion.
After Meiyan risked her life to rescue Tripitaka and his disciples, she gives herself up to be judged by the Temple of Heaven. Tripitaka is torn between passion and righteousness, and is forced to raid the Heavenly Palace for the gallows-bound Meiyan. After an epic and bloody struggle, the two are pardoned and sent back to earth by a benevolent Buddha. There they commence their westward journey with the Tang Monk’s three disciples – Meiyan in the form of a white mare as token punishment – striving to accomplish the Eighty-One Tasks and save the world.


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Shinobi (DVD Rip with English sub)

Running time: 101 minutes
Language: Japanese with English subtitle
Directed by: Ten Shimoyama
Starring: Jo Odagiri, Nakama Yukie, Erika Sawajiri
Not the ninja movie you'd expect, SHINOBI is more like, “What If the X-MEN teamed up with BATMAN and took on the Justice League who were led by SPIDER-MAN, and the whole thing was directed by Michael Bay who had just gotten a total blood transfusion from Tim Burton and the script was written by Stan Lee?” It's a nuclear popcorn movie with a Romeo and Juliet core where ninjas don't leap and kill but shoot their fingers out, stretch, run faster than the Flash, steal your face, shoot lethal eye beams, and breathe poison clouds.

In the early Tokugawa era, ninjas are super-bad weapons of mass destruction and the two coolest ninja clans have been exiled to two remote mountain villages where they won't be able to fly around in public and freak everyone out. Gennosuke (screen idol, Jo Odagiri) lives in the Koga Clan's ninja village and their mortal enemies, the Iga Clan, live on the other side of the mountain. One day Gennosuke bumps into Iga gal, Oboro (Nakama Yukie) and they fall for each other. But their forbidden love comes to an abrupt halt when the Shogun, a paranoid recluse, becomes convinced that idle ninjas are the devil's playground and he vows to have a ninja-free kingdom ASAP. So he pits Iga against Koga and sits back to watch these troublesome killers wipe each other out. And wipe each other out they do. Each gifted with a different super-power, and trained from birth to hate each other for no good reason except it keeps them weak and divided, the ninjas are only too happy to shred each other into CGI blood mist, dancing on the Shogun's strings.

A major critical and commercial hit when it was released in Japan last year, SHINOBI is being prepped for a US release and one wonders if this heady brew of high melodrama, bizarre visuals and hyperactive action infused with a strong pop sensibility is a cocktail too strong for the Western stomach. As the manufactured war between ninja clans whips itself into a kill crazed frenzy, this flick darkens into real tragedy and its final scenes are like something from some lost EC comic book banned before it could corrupt innocent children. Truly, this is the ninjapocalypse.

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