investigation

Looking Glass (2018)

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A man finds himself conflicted as he searches for answers in this indie thriller from the director of 80’s hits like Tex and River’s Edge.

Since the death of their child, Ray and Maggie have looked to start over. The couple take over a small motel in a desert area. Ray is still overcoming the death of his only child while Maggie is overcoming a drug addiction. The couple tend to either bicker or find themselves quite loving towards each other. They are introduced to some of the locals, including police officer Howard, and a man who comes to the motel to “relieve some stress”.

However, one fateful night will change Ray’s life forever. When a woman is murdered in one of the motel rooms, Ray finds himself questioned by Howard. As Ray searches for answers, he begins to experience a variety of issues and occurrences that threaten not only his marriage to Maggie, but perhaps his life. Ray finds himself immersed in a web of deceit, lies, and betrayal in which only he can escape by facing the demons within both himself and within the hotel.

This is a very interesting film from director Tim Hunter that brings Nicolas Cage doing a 180 from his recent performance in Mom and Dad. Where that film gives him the chance to go insane on a whole new level, the script, written by Jerry Rapp and Matthew Wilder, enables Cage to go a more emotional and dramatic route in the central role of Ray. His chemistry with co-star Robin Tunney goes both ways in terms of both loving and hating each other and it works well. It is clear these two have some serious issues and one of the questions to be answered in the film is will they stay together or will they drift apart.

The film’s central plot involves a murder mystery and what happens when Ray searches for answers. This invokes Cage to pull off a more emotional performance as he finds himself confronted on all levels. It even gets to a point where Ray is unconsciously framed for the murder that happens within the motel. However, it is clear that it’s not true because Ray is seen with his wife when the murder happens. The film brings shades of the likes of 8MM, another film he starred in, when he finds himself seeing something he never imagined in a pivotal scene, which in turns leads to a few confrontations.

There is some pretty good support in the characters of Howard, played by Marc Blucas, and Tommy, an addict in his own right, played by Ernie Lively. Where Blucas plays a police officer who seems to question Cage on all levels but is somewhat likable, Tommy is a man with an issue and in some ways, it becomes an influence on Ray in his investigation. Another pivotal role comes in the form of Jessica, who rents the room where the murder occurs, and may or may not have a connection to the case at hand. There are some nice twists and turns that keep the viewer engaged in the investigation.

Looking Glass definitely helps brings Nicolas Cage’s more emotional side as he searches for answers and finds himself facing one obstacle after another in hopes to find out who is responsible for the murder in his motel.

WFG RATING: B

Momentum Pictures presents a Highland Film Group/Silver State Production Services/Kirk Shaw Production film in association with Prettybird. Director: Tim Hunter. Producers: Braxton Pope and David M. Wulf. Writers: Jerry Rapp and Matthew Wilder. Cinematography: Patrick Cady. Editing: Kristi Shimek.

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Robin Tunney, Marc Blucas, Ernie Lively, Jacque Gray, Bill Bolender, Barry Jay Minoff, Kassia Conway, Kimmy Hittelman.

Momentum Pictures will be releasing this film in select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on February 16.

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2047: Virtual Revolution (2017)

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A bounty hunter finds himself torn between his job and the fate of the world in this sci-fi film that blends elements from Blade Runner and The Matrix.

It is the year 2047. Ninety percent of the world has been known as the Connected. The Connected are the citizens who find their daily live in a virtual reality. Nash is a local bounty hunter who also is one of the Connected. His virtual world comes in the form of medieval times. On top of that, Nash is still reeling for the death of his girlfriend Helena. When Nash learns that there have been deaths in the virtual world, he has been assigned to find out who is responsible.

The ones responsible are a band known as the Necromancers. It is unclear why the Necromancers are killing in the virtual world but Synternis Corporation wants answers. As Nash begins his investigation, he finds himself beaten on some occasions but after successfully getting rid of some of the Necromancers. However, when a chance encounter with the leader of the Necromancers reveals something he never imagined, Nash finds himself conflicted between what truth is real and what truth is fiction. His decision may change the fate of the world as we know it.

From the mind of Guy Roger-Duvert comes this film that is highly influenced by sci-fi classics with a dash of French-flavored sci-fi epics that in its 92 minute running time starts out rather confusing but soon finds its meshing in the second half of the film. The film starts out like Blade Runner with the character of Nash, played by Mike Dopud, narrating the tale about a revolution but begins with how 90% of the world is now living through virtual reality and it has caused the non-connected to live virtually like thugs.

Jane Badler, star of the hit 80’s mini-series V, stars as Dina, Nash’s handler and leader of the Synternis Company, who just wants one thing and that’s to ensure Nash does his job. It may seem at first that Nash’s only ally in the investigation is hacker Morel, played by French actor Maximillien Poullein while Kaya Blocksage plays the leader of the Necromancers, whose confrontation with Nash leads to our hero having to make a choice.

The virtual reality sequences are nicely handled and provide a lot of action.  Nash’s world of virtual reality is that of medieval hero Swal, played by martial artist and stuntman Emilien De Falco but in one pivotal scene, he does take the avatar of a female futuristic warrior named Kate, played by Petra Silander. The lines between the real world and virtual reality do bring a sense of confusion at times but the second half helps smooth things over and brings quite an interesting ending.

2047: Virtual Revolution is not a bad indie sci-fi, but is clearly a middle of the road film. If you can get past the confusion of the real world and virtual reality, then stick around for the second half to get a full understanding of the film.

WFG RATING: C+

Wild Eye Releasing presents a Lidderdalei production. Director: Guy-Roger Duvert. Producer: Guy-Roger Duvert. Writer: Guy-Roger Duvert. Cinematography: Cyril Bron. Editing: Sylvain Franchet.

Cast: Mike Dopud, Jane Badler, Jochen Hägele, Maximillien Poullein, Kaya Blacksage, Petra Silander, Emilien De Falco, Nicolas Van Beveren.

Master (2016)

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The world of financial corruption comes to a head in this Korean action thriller from Cho Ui-Seok.

The One Network is a financial company that plans to go global under the leadership of its chairman, Jin Pyun-Gil. However, Chairman Jin is accused of money laundering, yet there is no proof of his misappropriation of funds. A local investigation unit led by Capt. Kim Kae-Myung is responsible for tracking Jin down with the hopes to stop him. However, in an effort to achieve this, they force systems manager Park Jang-Gun to assist with the investigation in exchange for probation.

Park has only to only get two things for the cops in order to arrest Jin. The information from the data center and a ledger containing names that Jin has been in cahoots with. While Park does want probation, he fears something worse will happen if Jin learns of the double-cross and plots something unthinkable that can put everything at risk. Will Capt. Kim, who has had issues with the state prosecutor in the past, be able to get his reputation increased and get enough to get Jin? Or will there be something in store for all parties involved that they will never imagine?

Cho Ui-Seok crafts a very intricate action thriller revolving around the world of financial corruption with a stellar trio to lead the way. The film is truly a three-act film, and revolves around three characters and the efforts they try to achieve their goals whether it is justice, criminal, or just getting out of the situation. While it can lead to consequences, it is apparent, especially with the third act that things will come full speed ahead.

Kang Dong-Won is the good in brash investigator Kim, who leads the charge in tracking down any evidence and will do it by any means necessary to stop corruption in the finance world. Kang is tough, revealed to be reckless at times which explains why he is not exactly on the good graces of the local prosecutor, but he is committed to do his job. Lee Byung-Hun is the bad in Chairman Jin, who is truly a criminal mastermind who yes, has been involved in money laundering, but has all the necessary pull for him not to be busted in any way. He comes from the Gordon Gecko School of Finance but goes as far as bending the rules in that world to get ahead. He is more than a mastermind, he is truly the equivalent of a powerful crime lord but disguises it quite well.

While we have the good and the bad, there is a wild card in the mix and it is well played in the form of Kim Woo-Bin’s Park, a systems analyst forced into a situation he never wanted a part of and knows of the repercussions. However, while uneasy, he does have a sense of loyalty to justice in an effort to walk away with something as simple as probation where what he did could put him in jail for many many years. Park even provides a majority of the film’s comic relief when he is at verbal war with a fellow techie and in one funny scene, does a dance when he gets a promotion while being a mole for the police. In the third act, the true revelation of Park as a wild card is truly seen and proves to be a valuable asset for one of the two sides.

Master is an intricate action thriller revolving around the good, the bad, and a wild card in the world of finance and money laundering. The performances of the lead trio in Kang, Lee, and Kim truly drive this film and make this an exciting film to watch in its near two-and-a-half hour running time.

WFG RATING: A

CJ Entertainment presents a Movie House production in association with Zip Cinema. Director: Cho Ui-Seok. Producer: Cho Ui-Seok. Writers: Cho Ui-Seok and Kim Hyun-Duk. Cinematography: Yoo Eok and Kim Jung-Woo. Editing: Shin Min-Kyung.

Cast: Lee Byung-Hun, Kang Dong-Won, Kim Woo-Bin, Uhm Ji-Won, Oh Dal-Su, Jin Kyung, Yoo Yeon-Soo, Jo Hyun-Chul, Joo Seok-Tae.

 

South Korean Action Film “Master” Comes to the U.S. in January

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A deadly cat-and-mouse game in the world of finance is the set up for the upcoming South Korean action thriller Master, coming to the U.S. on January 6 from CJ Entertainment. The film stars three of the country’s top talents today.

A major crimes investigation team led by the charismatic and aggressive detective Kim Jae-Myung (Kang Dong-Won) works to take down One Network Inc. a company involved in a multibillion-dollar heist. The corporation is led by Chairman Jin (Lee Byung-Hun), a notorious swindler . Park Jang-Goon (Kim Woo-Bin) is Jin’s right-hand man and an expert computer programmer whose intentions are not as predictable as we may think. The clock is ticking for Detective Kim to finally stop the corrupt corporation once and for all.

The film was directed by Cho Ui-Seok. Check out the still image slideshow below and check out Master when it is released on January 6, 2017 from CJ Entertainment.

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As the Light Goes Out (2014)

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There are some great films revolving around the world of firefighting, such as Ron Howard’s Backdraft and Johnnie To’s Lifeline. You can add Derek Kwok’s latest film to that list, thanks to great performances from the cast.

One year ago, an investigation was held involving three firefighters. Sam disobeyed orders and went to save a life at an explosion in a food warehouse. While his friend Chill joined him, Yip wasn’t so sure. Chill ultimately took the rap and was demoted. Meanwhile, Yip has risen through the ranks and has become the Administrative Officer at the Lung Kun Tzu Fire Station. On Christmas Eve, Sam is about to get his transfer to a new station when chaos ensues.

It all starts with a warehouse fire on Menford Street. While Sam and the crew, now including the soon-to-be retired Major Pui and Mainland newcomer Ocean, eventually put out the fire much to the chagrin of Yip, Sam fears something worse is about to happen. The sewage tank at the warehouse is located near a gas pipe at a local power plant. When the sewage tank sets afire, the gas pipe bursts, causing a massive explosion at the power plant. Now, the team must overcome all odds, including each other, to ensure the safety of everyone trapped in the blazing power plant.

From one of the directors of the martial arts film Gallants comes this exciting thrill-a-minute firefighting film that is more than a straightforward film about an inferno. The screenplay by helmer Derek Kwok, Jill Leung, and Yung Tsz-Kwong revolves around the team members having to work together despite having to deal with serious drama involving each other.

The film’s central drama, involving the characters played by Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue, and Andy On, sets up the more dramatic portion of the film. All three face consequences that ultimately change their ways throughout the course of the film. Sam goes from being reckless to proving himself as a leader when needed. Chill takes the rap for his friend’s actions and his life on a personal level spirals a bit down but goes from doing what he feels not only as a firefighter but as a father. As for Yip, he goes from concerned and by-the-book to a more cocky and arrogant leader when he is given power.

Simon Yam gives out a wonderful performance as the veteran Major Pui. He finds himself at first at odds as well. When Ocean, a Mainland-born veteran joins the team, Pui feels threatened. However, when it comes time for them to come together, they set aside their differences and find themselves on the job and helping each other out. Patrick Tam plays Mr. Man, the manager of the power plant whose arrogance leads him to make the worst decision possible and that decision sets the catalyst for the film’s disaster event.

The fire effects are nicely done in the film. A combination of real effects and visual effects (by Tse’s Post Production Office) showcase the blazing inferno and most of the movie is spent during the rescue efforts and action outside as backup is attempting to be called as Hong Kong is in virtual darkness. Jack Wong deserves major kudos for his work as the film’s stunt coordinator, showcasing how much the actors will go to make what can be described as one heck of a film.

As the Light Goes Out is a wonderfully made firefighter film that is more than just a blazing inferno. It is about trust, loyalty, and respect complete with solid performances from the cast. If you like Backdraft, then you will definitely like this film.

WFG RATING: A

Emperor Motion Pictures and Media Asia Films present a Zhujiang Film Group production. Director: Derek Kwok. Producers: Catherine Hun, Julia Chu, Albert Lee, David Chan, and Zhao Jun. Writers: Derek Kwok, Jill Leung, and Yung Tsz-Kwong. Cinematography: Jason Kwan. Editing: Wong Hoi.

Cast: Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue, Hu Jun, Andy On, Simon Yam, William Chan, Deep Ng, Patrick Tam, Bai Bing, Kenny Kwan, Liu Kai-Chi.