Split Second Murders (死神傻了) movie review

Split Second Murders (死神傻了) movie review

This was a cold spotter... I saw it on a paid TV channel and it was offered for free, and being piqued by the title, I proceed to give it a shot... if the dearth of good scripts and stories in Hong Kong movies is causing concern, this movie will go some way towards alleviating such worries.

The ensemble is a collection of the coolest people in showbiz and includes some of the hottest actors, singers but with such an ensemble, you worry if it's all looks and no acting chops... However director Herman Yau does a splendid job, helped by a rather unusual script. The story is told through the eyes and imagination of the protagonist, Ah Luk, a struggling comic strip artist, looking for his break. There is good chemistry between the actors, and the addition of some heavyweights help to lend some real acting skills, although the "Young, Hot and Beautiful" assembly also show that they can do better than just pout and pose. All in all you will not know that they are newcomers to the acting world.

Look for the dark humor, the twists and the way the show is able to wrap itself up neatly, proving food for thought, and yet able to make you laugh whilst stimulating your mind. Clever, funny, and most importantly, entertaining.

Plot: 4/5
There is minimal action, this being a "talkie".
Chick Factor: more than 4 solid lookers heat up the screen, and they range from the simply hot who can raise the room temperature by a few degrees each time they appear on screen, to the saccharine sweet sort. Fun for everyone 4/5
Should you buy, rent or avoid this?
Well I reckon it will withstand a few viewings, so its worth buying when the price is right.

Liang Wern Fook's First Instrumental Album "Please Tell Her"

http://www.passioncard.com.sg/promo.aspx
Release of Dr Liang Wern Fook's First Instrumental Album "Please Tell Her"

《请你告诉她》音乐专辑

Cultural Medallion Award (Music) 2010 winner, Dr Liang Wern Fook's highly anticipated new recording and first instrumental album, "Please Tell Her" will be on sale at CD-RAMA, Popular Bookstores from 6 Dec 2010. Produced by Jiu Jian, Artistic Director of Ko-nen Creative, the instrumental album includes 12 of Dr Liang's best classic ballads like "Please Tell Her", "Worries" and "If There're Seasons" and features prominent local musicians including Elaine W. Chan, Bang Wen Fu , Tan Kah Yong and Peng Chi Sheng. Dr Liang's new contemporary Chinese poems will also be showcased in the album.

Well I am a big fan of local productions, and of course he is my "si siong" in school, so that makes it two reasons to get this.

However it was rather disappointing...

Technically the recording is good, but its more Jimmy Chan than Liang Wern Fook...

It is a jazzed up version of some of his famous hits. And it reminds me of those music played in restaurants, and shows no real new breakthrough.

I listened to most of the album already, and there are many familar hits to hum too, but its nothing new.

Recommended for those nostalgic people and those who just prefer instrumentals.



I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

State of Play - Movie review

Movie Review
State of Play (DTS-MA 5.1) - Tier1
When you put an ensemble cast together, it can be successful or backfire badly, depending not only on a good script, but also the C word - chemistry. In such a suspense thriller about the inner workings of the US Congress and how corruption and power intermix, the way the protagonists interact and play off each each other, make for a wonderful state of play (pun intended and literal too). What better way to show off this ensemble than in a movie about politics, corruption and murder.


Russel Crowe uses his brooding nature to interplay with the fresh and beautiful Rachel McAdams, who uses her looks, energy and a real freshman outlook as an excellent counterfoil to Russell. Helen Mirren is also perfectly cast, and this is another C word - Casting of all the actors could not be better and each looks excellent in their roles. Ben Affleck proves he is no pretty boy only, yet is able to use his matinee idol good looks to portray a crooked Congressman very well.
The plot works and the twists come fast and furious. The ending is also unexpected and this film will withstand a couple of viewings at least to understand the nuances. 4/5
But Home Theatre fans may ponder on whether it is worth it to invest in the Blu Ray disc for what some might term a "talkie". Also there has been a trend of some awful actioners having superb sound effects and bass. Fear not, the sound engineers on this disc did not go on a vacation, and they worked hard to convey the suspense, the emotions and also the sounds of Washington DC on the disc. Bass is effectively employed to add tension, and there are also flyovers of helicopters and a smattering of gun-shots to keep the bass-heads content. In my opinion, this works very well, and is a more effective use of the subwoofer than merely using it for the big explosions and all the boom!
Action 3/5
Sound 3.5/5
Chick Factor: Having first come across Rachel McAdams in Red Eye, she exhibits spunk as well as charm, a real good next door girl with the hotness of a first line Hollywood actress. 4/5
So should you buy the disc, rent or avoid this?
I reckon it is worth a watch at least and the sound effects makes it a decent demo disc for those who are not convinced that atmospherics are just as fun as big explosions.

Once Upon A Time (2008) Korean movie review



Once Upon A Time (2008)

The Koreans make some cute and whacky stuff as well as some rather melodramatic shows, and this is definitely in the former camp, with the Korean kind of humor, a little of the the three Stooges, plus some bits borrowed from a few classic heist stories, flavored with a bit of the "Thieves Like Us" genre, with some Spy vs Spy bits and finally a decent dollop of romance thrown in too. 

This all could backfire, but the Koreans pulled it off to make a rather enjoyable hour plus worth of distraction, and if you are a big Korean movie fan, esp of the genre like the Good, the Bad and the Weird sort, this will suit you to a tee. Forgot those tear jerkers where everyone dies, and sit back and enjoy the twists and turns as thieves, singers and patriots all try to steal this jewel known as the "Light of the East". Set in the end days of WWII in Japan occupied Korea, it probably brought a lot of joy to Korean viewers, but for the non partisan audience, the humor, action and wit plus the bits of action thrown in will give you plenty to smile about.

Plot: 4/5
Action: 4/5
Chick factor: Korea manages to churn out these awesome beauties, and the femme fatale in this show (Lee Bo-young) does heat up the room whenever she appears: 4/5

So, a rental or keeper?
I reckon if the genre is right, this movie will give you more than one viewing, so buy it....

Cliffhanger Blu Ray Review

Cliffhanger Blu Ray Review


it was 1993, Sly was in top shape, and was rolling out hit after hit. This was perhaps his greatest movie before he slid into obscurity (well that is until Rambo, Rocky V and Expendables revived his career).

Before Tom Cruise showed off his moves pretending to rock climb in Mission Impossible II, Stallone showed the world his abilities, strength and the awesome sights of the Italian Alps in a movie which was successful for action fans, climbers and even Stallone skeptics. The plot isn't that complicated, a bunch of criminals led brilliantly by the wonderfully talented John Lithgow who outshines himself as a master villain, steals the money from a plane but the plane crashes and they need the Rocky Mountains Rescue climbers Rooker and Stallone to find it.

The plot is a new twist on the good guys versus bad, with some mind games, mixed in with good action and the backdrop of the Alps (standing in for the Rockies) certainly helped. Stallone played the roles that suit him best, little acting chops needed, but plenty of action and let the other actors use their thespian skills to cover up for his more wooden acting, then let the director Renny Harlin (fresh from Die Hard 2) show off all the action sequences.

Action: 4/5
Chick Factor: Janine Turner is the love interest, and does her bit to spice up the movie without looking ditzy 3/5

The film shows its age, the picture quality is a little faded, and many shots are less sharp or pristine. PQ 3/5
AQ: no such trouble for the sound though, the DTS-MA 5.1 track is awesome, and has good bass and LFE during explosions, of which there are plenty, and the deep bass resounds from all 5 speakers. Dialogue is reasonably clear, but the soundscape and the use of surrounds is on par with a movie from the 21st century and makes this quite the sonic treat.

Some trivia:

Most of the stunts were real and Stallone did many of the climbing scenes himself. it had the most expensive stunt as well (USD 1 mil) for the wire climb between two planes (no safety ropes so the insurance was sky high) and Stallone is actually afraid of heights.

Should you buy / rent / avoid it?
I reckon the sound effects alone make this a demo worthy buy, and the decent plot, with the excellent performances by lead actors (dare I say it, Stallone was good in this despite a dearth of facial expressions).

Description of scenes in the demo

 

  1. Hurt Locker
I choose this one for two reasons. First reason is obvious, the detonation of the bomb is not only a workout for volume, it also tests the tightness of the impact and the punch makes you feel like you are in the “Kill Zone” too. A good sub will start and stop the explosion scene swiftly and then there is an infra-sonic impact around the 25-15Hz zone, which only the better subs will show.

Then there is the ambience. Listen out for the breathing sounds, which place you in the bomb suit itself. The muffled voices outside, and then the use of bass to heighten the tension.

I would also suggest the Hurt Locker Sniper Duel

This scene is subtle at first, with sounds of the desert, good dialogue and ambient sounds, until the point of the first sniper sound. Then you will get the impact of the sniper rifle going off, and the click of the rounds, and the details of the rounds chambering etc. Subtle but effective and shows how your system handles such scene which are more quiet. Remember not everything is about noise, bass and volume.

5. Book of Eli

Now I chose a slightly different scene, which is the gunfight at the house. This scene has two major elements, the build up of the suspense to the point where Eli utters the old couple eat the people, which is why the hands shake, and the subsequent gunfight.

Note the sounds of the wind and the creaking floor boards, and then the use of bass to show the dawn of realisation.

The gunfight is a sound fest – this not only tests the explosions (the grenade), but more importantly, it tests the ability of your speakers and amp to make out all the sounds going on at the same time.

You will hear the sound of many types of weapons, their flight paths and the ricochet, then the impact of the bullets hitting the furniture and various parts of the house. Whilst this is happening, Denzel speakers and you will find out if your speakers can pick out the voices whilst all the action is going on. Those who are fond of turning everything up, you will find out if that just makes the explosions louder and the voices get drowned out or you can listen out for all the details.

7. Inception

The Paris street side scene is my favorite for showcasing the subwoofers.
The scene beings quietly, and if you go back far enough, and see the whole street bend upon itself, you will feel and hear the bass as the whole street begins to turn 90 degrees.

Then when Ellen Page’s mind starts to panic and the pavement starts to explode, look and listen. The explosions are multi-layered in both sight and sound. Each small fragment explodes into smaller bits, and does this in slow motion, followed by a faster movement.

The explosions detonate at a higher frequency but also have a low frequency after shock, and the explosions do so in a sequence, which is really high in SPL and will rattle your room fittings if they are not secure. Try it and see if there is a whole octave missing for those whose subs only go down to 40hz. And if you set your regular listening levels to 75db or so, the SPL meter will jump to close to 100 or more in this scene. But its not just about loudness, but the ability of your subs to react to each explosion separately, and make out impact after impact as the chain reaction occurs.

10. The Pacific

This show is a modern production and war movies tend to lend themselves to the best use of surrounds and subwoofers.

The assault at the airfield is a good mixture of action, with bullets flying about, coupled with good solid explosions and in the midst of this, the sound of men issuing commands and cries of pain.

(Band of Brothers – Assault on the 105mm gun)

This scene serves well as a comparison with The Pacific

The scene is underpinned by the constant barrage from the 105mm guns, which has impact and depth.

But the money is in the trench fights, when Dick Winters fights his way to each gun. In a well set up system, you can literally feel and hear the sound of bullets whizzing from the rear speakers towards the centre. There is both high frequency sound and low bass in the shots. This is accompanied by the sound of wood splinters from the bullets impacting on the trench embankments. Then hear the ring as the bullets hit the metal of the cannons, when he tries to get a hand grip on them.

The scene where he yells “fire in the hole” followed by a muffled low thud of the TNT going off when the ‘potato mashers’ detonate them, is low and tight.

14. Sherlock Holmes

This scene is great to demo the three key elements of HT again. When the detectives enter the slaughter house, its very quiet, and it is a test of the room treatment, that you can feel the quiet tension which then develops into the voice of Mark Armstrong encircling the duo. The locations seem random, but are well located, above and behind the listening position, then to the front and a few feet to the right and left of the front soundstage. At the same time, it is a test of the ability of your speakers to produce his baritone voice and whether it sounds right and similar from all the speakers or does it change from one location to the other.

Often in systems with a weedy centre speaker, the sonic tone is not convincing, and the tone changes as the voices goes to the rears. The sub should also assist in deepening the voice, especially if the surrounds are small ones.

This then leads to the delayed impact grenade explosions, in which you should hear the fragments of wood flying in the various directions, whilst being able to appreciate the depth of the bass when the staged explosions occur.


16. Masters and Commanders

This is a classic demo which shows off the best of both worlds. Everyone looks out for the cannonballs going off, and the impact of the cannons firing, followed by the trail of destruction, and the various sounds of splintering wood, as the ball wreaks havoc on the ship.

But also listen out for the sounds of men on the decks, and if the speakers are well placed, you will hear the footsteps Above and around you, walking in a circle and this is accompanied by other sounds of activity in the ship. You can turn up the volume all you like to get a bass kick, but the ambience noises rely on a low noise floor for the best effect and good speaker placement.

For a little bonus, also listen to the cello at work when the good doctor heads for the Galapagos. It’s a piece from Bach (Suite for solo cello No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007 Prelude) and if your sound system can handle good music, it should also do HT nicely.


24. A little chest thumping? Dragon Tiger Gate

If you have half a decent bass, you should feed your HT system with this disc, where bass is not a subtle kiss on your forehead, but a full Frenchie, and you get a real kick in the chest, nuts and everywhere else…

The final fight scene has bass coming from all 7 speakers, and the DTS-MA 7.1 track is powerful and immersive, and allows bass to leap out from everywhere. It even makes poorer subs sound better than they are….
 
 25. Die Hard 4 – the movie with bass, deep and chest thumping stuff

I frequently use the scene where the four Frenchmen attack Justin Long, lots of mid-bass and deep impact and slam. Then in the tunnel scene, there is a scene with very deep bass as the car overturns and flies over their heads.

26. Hero

This is another good movie, the duel between Donnie Yen and Jet Li has lots of music, ambient sounds of raindrops and some impact and slam too. Also look out for the Blue Scene in the book room, where Jet Li flies around, and cuts the strings on the books. There is a lot of surround transitions, and when the books fall, the bass is very solid.

27. Dragon Hunter (French Cartoon)

The start of this movie has a very deep bass as the dragon comes in, and in many parts of the movie, the surrounds are constantly at work, with lots of little ambient sounds, and when the vampire T Rex appears near the end, it puts the Jurassic Park T Rex to shame.


I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

My suggested list of titles for a solid HT demo:


My suggested list of titles:

1 – start with a nice DTS-MA logo in 7.1
2 – then THIS IS BASS – Inception Paris scene
3 – You want more bass – Pacific Bombardment / Bastogne from Band of Brothers
4 – real life bass – Fireworks from Vienna disc
5 – But life is more than bass – good ambience – “9” starting sequence
6 – Bass helps the ambience – Dragon Hunters
7 – Akira – 24/192 start
8 – Bass also helps the action – district B13
9 – Put the mood into the movie – PTU lift scene
11 – Music makes the world go round – Vienna scene in the factory
12 – Blu Man group
13 – MJ Blu Ray
14 – Grand Canyon
15 – Putting it altogether:
Band of Brothers – assault on the 105mm gun
16 – Book of Eli – Assault on the house
17 – Kill Bill 2 Coffin scene
18 – Godzilla – 48 min ambush
19 - Behind Enemy Lines – minefield scene
20 – Masters and Commanders – First sighting & the cello solo at Galapagos Island
21 - Dancing birds scene from "Life" - good music and visuals
22 – Casino Royale – Parkour scene
23 – SPL – fight scene with Donnie & Samo at the end
24 – Dragon Tiger Gate = final fight scene


Movie with good ambience:

Sunshine
30 days of night
PTU (HKG)
Breaking News (HKG)
Alien vs Predator
Masters and Commander
Daredevil
Resident Evil – Apocalypse and Extinction
 


I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Looks like a good year for Toyota and Borneo

A few months back, if someone asked me what the top ten sellers' list will look like, I might have said that it was going to be pretty ...