Shock Wave (2017)

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Andy Lau becomes the target of a revenge plot as the fate of Hong Kong is in his hands in this Herman Yau-directed action thriller.

J.S. Cheung has risen through the ranks to become one of the most decorated officers of Hong Kong Police’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit. However, two years ago, he went undercover and worked for a criminal mastermind, Pang Tong, who like Cheung, is known for his skills with explosives. When Cheung helped stop a potential bank robbery, Pang escaped and has vowed revenge on Cheung, who has returned to the EOD unit and has begun a relationship with local teacher Carmen Li.

As part of his plot to seek revenge, Pang returns to Hong Kong and has taken the Cross Harbour Tunnel under siege by having everyone in the tunnel held hostage and threatening to blow it up if his demands are not met. Pang wants Cheung to return to ensure the safety of the hostages by first, forcing him and the police to release his brother Biao from prison. Biao has had a change of heart since Cheung busted him in the mission two years ago and has no interest in seeing his big brother. However, as complications arise, Cheung finds himself with the fate of Hong Kong in his hands.

Herman Yau is truly a force in Hong Kong cinema. His versatility has led him to tackle various genres. For one of his latest films, this action thriller, which he co-wrote with Erica Li, revolves around sealing the fate of the Cross Harbour Tunnel, an underwater connection between Kowloon and Causeway Bay and of course, the hero is someone with a connection to the one responsible for holding the tunnel hostage. Yes, the film does play like a Hong Kong-version of big blockbuster Hollywood action films, but there are some twists and turns set to keep the viewer engaged.

Andy Lau once again shows his prowess as a bankable lead in the role of J.S. Cheung, a member of the EOD who in the film’s opening, finds himself in an undercover investigation which involves infiltrating a criminal known for his expertise in explosives. The villain Pang Tong is well played by Jiang Wu, who seethes revenge for the bust two years ago. In a bold and smart move in the film, the love interest for Cheung is in no way glamorized, but rather an ordinary teacher played well by Song Jia. In their first meeting, Song’s Carmen is seen at a bar completely drunk and tells Cheung after meeting her at her school that she was only there that night because she wanted to see if she still “had it”, but it is clear that the relationship between Cheung and Carmen is not about having it, but is truly about love and caring for each other.

The action sequences are quite a delight to watch. From the vehicle chases to a finale that nearly rivals another Lau vehicle, Firestorm, for an insane shootout that ends with a shocker (no pun intended) of a finale that just boosts up the rating of the film. The opening chase alone is quite a watch as there are explosions involve including a final explosion (for the opening) that nearly sends a car in a tunnel, this becoming the catalyst of the core plot of the film.

Shock Wave is definitely a Hong Kong-equivalent of a blockbuster Hollywood film and who better than Andy Lau to lead the way in this tense thriller. Some notable twists and turns help make this one to definitely check out.


A Universe Entertainment and Infinitus Entertainment Ltd. Production in association with Bona Film Group. Director: Herman Yau. Producers: Andy Lam, Alvin Lam, Jessica Chan, Esther Koo, and Alice Chan. Writers: Herman Yau and Erica Li. Cinematography: Joe Chan and Mandy Ngai. Editing: Azrael Chung.

Cast: Andy Lau, Jiang Wu, Song Jia, Philip Keung, Ron Ng, Babyjohn Choi, Louis Cheung, Wang Ziyi, Felix Wong, Sek Sau, Liu Kai-Chi, Cheung Chun-Kit.


Ultimate Justice (2017)

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A team of elite soldiers reunites and gets more than what they bargain for in this action packed film from the producers of One Million K(l)icks.

It has been eight years since Commander Hans Sturm successfully completed his last mission before signing over his security company in order to live a normal life with wife Mikaela and daughter Annika. The most trusted soldier to work under the Commander is Gus, who in their last mission, defied orders to rescue his team despite losing two in the process. Hans informs Gus that he feels like he is being watched and after Gus leaves, Hans’ notions were correct. Hans is brutalized by a group of masked men and sent to the hospital but not before Mikaela is assaulted and killed and Annika is kidnapped.

Upon learning what has happened, Gus decides to reform his team of elite soldiers. Joe, Benny, Julia, Frank, Henry, and computer expert Flo make up the team who reunite to help track down Annika and avenge Mikaela. However, when Gus intends to bring Doc back into the fold, at first Doc is reluctant as he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, which led to him becoming a monk. Eventually, Doc rejoins the team and these soldiers are ready for their most dangerous mission yet.

Fans of action films are in for a major treat in this film from director Martin-Christopher Bode. The film features quite an ensemble cast that includes the likes of Mark Dacascos, Matthias Hues, and One Million K(l)icks’ lead Mike Möller. Making good use of its Germany locations, the film churns out a story that may be reminiscent of a 1980’s American martial arts film called Kill Squad, where members of an elite military team reunite to help their former commander. However, this film’s screenplay, by Marco Theiss, churns out many twists and turns that lead to many action scenes, and very exciting ones at that.

Dacascos takes the lead as Gus, who remains loyal to his former superior, played by Wolfgang Riehm. As the “leader” in the reunion mission, Gus at times seems to let his feelings get the best of him, resulting in possible dissention between members. Brandon Rhea also churns out a great performance as Doc, who goes from being a torturer to a tortured soul, thus his turn as a monk before rejoining the team. Mike Leeder, who also serves an executive producer on the film, brings out one of his toughest roles as team member Joe with his gruff manner while Mike Möller will truly astound fans with his impressive martial arts skills, which also brings shades of lucha libre with the use of some nicely used Hurricaranas into grappling. Möller was also responsible for the film’s fight scenes, in which he made everyone look impressive.

Matthias Hues, best known for his roles in 90’s American B-movie action films as well as his film debut as the villain in No Retreat, No Surrender II: Raging Thunder, gets to use his strength and kickboxing skills when needed as the giant Radowsky with Henry Muller bringing a brawler style of action as soldier turned police officer Henry. Yazmeen Baker as sniper Julia brings helps make Rhea’s Doc a pivotal character in the overall story with one of the film’s major twists. Martin Baden brings a sense of light-heartedness to the film in his role of the team’s technical expert Flo, who doesn’t get in on the action as expected but let’s his skills become useful to the mission.

If you love action films, then Ultimate Justice must be on your list. This is one ensemble cast you will enjoy seeing what they do best: kick butt and get names, and more butt kicking, and more getting names. A great story with intricate twists helps drive the film as well.


Vision Films and International Film Partners present a Silent Partners production. Director: Martin-Christopher Bode. Producer: Ruediger W. Kuemmerle. Writer: Marco Theiss, based on an original story from “don-e”. Cinematography: Alois Knapps. Editing: Daniel Weber and Andreas Urra.

Cast: Mark Dacascos, Brandon Rhea, Mike Leeder, Mike Möller, Wolfgang Riehm, Matthias Hues, Yazmeen Baker, Henry Muller, Martin Bader, Mathis Landwehr, Sandra Tauro, Fabienne Däumler, Verena Konietschke, Gerrit Grass, Susen Ermich.

The film will be released on DVD and VOD on October 3 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. A special Thank You goes out to producer Ruediger W. Kuemmerle for allowing WFG to view the film.

The Limehouse Golem (2017)


Two cases interconnect in this period mystery film based on a novel by Peter Ackroyd.

In late 19th-century London, performer Elizabeth Cree is on trial for the poisoning of her husband, aspiring playwright John Cree. At the same time, a series of murders have plagued the city from a killer dubbed “The Limehouse Golem”. Scotland Yard inspector John Kildare is assigned to the case and speaks to Elizabeth about the possibility that her late husband may be a suspect in the murders.

As Kildare begins his investigation and questions the likes of renowned music hall performer Dan Leno and Karl Marx, a series of flashbacks show Elizabeth go from a young woman in an abusive childhood to becoming a top performer for the music hall under Leno’s tutelage. As her marriage to John slowly unravels as he prepares for what could be his greatest masterpiece, the Limehouse Golem begins their killing spree. Are the cases related and if so, how?

Based on the novel “Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem” by Peter Ackroyd, the combination of screenwriter Jane Goldman, known for her work as writer of films like the Kick-Ass and Kingsman films; and director Juan Carlos Medina offers up a very intricate murder mystery that relies on the use of flashbacks to unravel the mystery in a way no one may ever expect. The film doesn’t drag so much and keeps the viewer interested in what is transpiring, which is a plus for this genre of film.

Bill Nighy, best known for his work as Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, performs brilliantly as the determined inspector Kildare, who goes to great lengths to find out who is the infamous Limehouse Golem while Olivia Cooke’s Elizabeth is determined to clear her name in the poisoning of her husband and finds Kildare a reliable ally to prove her innocence. Douglas Booth also performs wonderfully in the role of Dan Leno, a talented performer who only dons drag on the stage and becomes Elizabeth’s mentor in the world of entertainment with some fun musical numbers as a breakaway from the serious nature of the film.

Sam Reid is seen mainly in flashbacks as John Cree, a determined playwright who starts out successful but it is when his masterpiece is being written that his marriage is slowly unraveling. Perhaps it is due to jealousy that his wife has become successful as a performer. Maria Valverde plays the young maid who becomes John’s mistress who is determined to make sure Elizabeth somehow pays for what she has apparently done. The major shock value comes in the final twenty minutes of the film, which will astound viewers when the whole spiel is all revealed.

The Limehouse Golem is a pretty good murder mystery driven by the performances of Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke, and Douglas Booth that relies on a great adapted script from Jane Goldman that will just keep you guessing and guessing. If you are into mysteries, you may end up enjoying this.


RLJ Entertainment presents a Number 9 Films production in association with Hanway Films. Director: Juan Carlos Medina. Producers: Stephen Woolley, Elizabeth Karlsen, and Joanna Laurie. Writer: Jane Goldman; based on the novel “Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem” by Peter Ackroyd. Cinematography: Simon Dennis. Editing; Justin Krish.

Cast: Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke, Douglas Booth, Eddie Marsan, Sam Reid, Maria Valverde, Daniel Mays, Adam Brown, Morgan Watkins.

RLJ Entertainment will be releasing the film in select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on September 8.


Camera Obscura (2017)

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2017, Chiller Films/Hood River Entertainment/Paper Street Pictures

Aaron B. Koontz
Aaron B. Koontz
Amir Zbeda
Andrew van den Houten
Aaron B. Koontz
Cameron Burns
Chris Heinrich
Zach Passero

Christopher Denham (Jake Zeller)
Nadja Bobyleva (Claire)
Catherine Curtin (Detective Dawson)
Chase Williamson (Detective Ford)
Noah Segan (Walt)
Andrew Sensenig (Charlie Hibbert)
Gretchen Lodge (Shannon)
Jeremy King (Tad Buckley)
Dane Rhodes (Camera Store Manager)
Carol Sutton (Dr. Vogel)

A former war photographer’s attempt at returning to his love of shooting pictures takes a whole new twisted turn in the feature film directorial debut of short filmmaker Aaron B. Koontz.

Since his return from shooting photographs of war in the Middle East, Jake Zeller has been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He has the same nightmare of following a creepy black insect to a trail of blood to find a boy cradling his dead mother. His fiancée, Claire, hopes to help Jake come back to reality with a job as a photographer for her boss’ reality company. At an auction, Claire buys Jake a vintage camera that is believed to have existed from World War II.

When Jake receives the new camera, he decides to test it out by shooting photographs for his interview for Claire’s boss. When he brings the rolls to the local camera shop, he learns the next day that there was a small fire but none of his rolls were destroyed. However, the photos all come out in black and white. Things start to unravel when Jake learns that the photographs begin to depict imminent deaths, bringing back his PTSD. When he learns that Claire herself is the next victim depicted in the photos, how far will he go to save her?

Independent filmmaker Aaron B. Koontz has done mainly short films, but this marks his first feature film as writer, producer, and director. Along with co-writer Cameron Burns, Koontz comes up with quite an interesting tale of a man whose already fragile state is really tested after receiving a vintage camera from his fiancée. However, what makes this extremely interesting is the major plot twist that comes just over halfway through the film and it smoothly transitions from one subgenre to another subgenre. The end result is quite a fascinating look at how far one man will go to save his loved one.

Christopher Denham brings out a great performance as the very conflicted Jake, who is first introduced at a therapy session explaining the constant nightmare he has suffered as a result of the war. It is clear that Claire, played by Nadja Bobyleva, is Jake’s only safe asset into reality. Their relationship is truly wonderful and she knows his passion for photography, which is why she is the one who buys him the camera that changes everything. The chemistry between these two is quite great and helps drive the film further.

Catherine Curtin also helps the film as a hard-nosed detective who has suspicions revolving Jake as he tries to figure out how he can stop Claire from becoming a victim with Chase Williamson as her more level-headed partner. However, it is the intricate plot twist that comes to mind that brings a sense of shock to the film and brings the detective’s suspicions. The twists (yes, there are more than one) to the plot helps make this a more interesting film as we Jake attempts to save Claire by any means necessary.

Camera Obscura is quite a feature film debut from Aaron B. Koontz. It may swerve midway but it is done smoothly with its intricate plot twists and shock of both a midway point and ending.


Chiller Films will be releasing the film to select theaters on June 9. Check your local theaters for showtimes.


The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2017)

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2017, A24 Films/Unbroken Pictures/Paris Film/Traveling Picture Snow Company/Zed Filmworks

Oz Perkins
Bryan Bertino
Adrienne Biddle
Alphonse Ghossen
Rob Paris
Robert Menzies
Oz Perkins
Julie Kirkwood
Brian Ufberg

Emma Roberts (Joan)
Kiernan Shipka (Kat)
Lucy Boynton (Rose)
James Remar (Bill)
Lauren Holly (Linda)
Emma Holden (Lizzy)
Peter J. Gray (Rick)

Oz Perkins, the son of legendary horror icon Anthony Perkins, makes his directorial debut with this very interesting thriller with a twist that truly must be seen to believe.

At the Bramford School in upstate New York, Kat awaits for her parents’ arrival just before winter break as does Rose, who harbors the possibility of being pregnant. When neither Kat or Rose’s parents show up, the headmaster allows the two to temporarily stay at the school under the supervision of the two nuns who are staying throughout the break. That night, Rose leaves to break the possible news to her boyfriend.

Joan is a young woman who is waiting at a bus terminal. She is hoping to go to the small town of Portsmith. She finds herself picked up by Bill and Linda, a couple who are heading towards Bramford. Meanwhile at the school, Rose begins to notice strange occurrences when she notices Kat’s behavior slowly changing. When Joan and Bill go to dinner, Bill reveals a story that she reminds him of his daughter who has passed away. Joan decides to go to Bramford with Bill and Linda. What will happen when these two stories find themselves intersecting at the school?

Actor Oz Perkins truly made the right decision in following in his famous father’s footsteps and picked terror in his first film as director. Having written the script, this thriller is quite interesting in that it depicts two stories that have a connection to a local boarding school in upstate New York during the winter break in February (the original title of the film is February to reflect this). Once the connection is revealed, it does bring a shock value that can be described as unheard of and that is meant in a good way.

Kiernan Shipka’s performance as freshman Kat is an interesting character. She looks like either the last person you would ever suspect or even the perfect victim of something sinister as she seems like a wallflower type. What is interesting is that her opening scene gives a sense of what to expect as she goes from innocent child to slowly becoming something neither she, her peers, or even the viewer would expect. Lucy Boynton’s Rose is the type who feels she must act out tough but her secret of possibly being pregnant makes her somewhat vulnerable and proves she is not completely as she seems to present herself.

Emma Roberts’ Joan is also quite interesting as she seems like someone who is trying to find her way. Introduced at a local bus terminal, we seen Joan having flashbacks at perhaps a mental institution and it is unclear whether she escaped or just was able to leave. James Remar and Lauren Holly bring a very strange enigma to the film as the parents of a former student who it seems cause Remar’s Bill to have quite an obsession and he feels his questions were never fully answered while Holly’s Linda seems to be the conscience of the two, revealing some truths along with Remar that will ultimately lead into one of the most shocking moments perhaps for this genre of film.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a really good directorial debut from Oz Perkins, who really delves into both suspense and terror with the cast churning out great performances and an ending that is truly unexpected and quite the shock. Definitely worth checking out.


A24 and DirecTV will release The Blackcoat’s Daughter in theaters and On Demand on March 31, 2017.


Phantom of the Theatre (2016)

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A mysterious presence inside a movie theater leads to this meshing of genres from the creative mind of Manfred Wong with direction by Raymond Yip.

Thirteen years ago, the Kong Family Acrobatic Troupe performed for Gu Wei-Bang, the son of a local general on his birthday. However, that night was also a fateful night where the members of the troupe perished in a fire in the very same theater. It has been believed that since that fateful night, the theater has been haunted. When a thief enters the theater to evade the cops, he is met with a fate that left him burned alive from within.

A now grown up Wei-Bang has returned from France to bring his knowledge of filmmaking to the city. An attempt to get his script out there attracts the attention of producer Tang Shirao. Wei-Bang plans to make a ghost story set inside the now renovated theater. He finds his leading actress in the aspiring Meng Si-Fan, whom Tang has eyes for despite having a relationship with renowned film queen Pan Ruyu. As production begins, a series of mysterious deaths begin to occur, starting with the death of leading actor Liu Kang. When Wei-Bang decides to take the lead role himself, more deaths begin to occur. Is the legend true or is something more sinister in store for this film crew?

From the getgo, one can immediately see this as a Chinese horror version of Gaston Leroux’s famous Phantom of the Opera and while there are shades of that story, this film from director Raymond Yip and writer-producer Manfred Wong meshes horror, notably ghost story with a dash of slasher film, and romance. This is one of those films may seem a bit on the predictable side, but that is not the case. As a matter of fact, Wong’s collaboration on the script with Hana Li and Yang Mei-Yuan allows not only a juxtaposition of flashbacks and present-day (in this case 1950’s China from the looks of it) displays a series of twists to the story that will leave you guessing until the very end.

Ruby Lin, who also serves as an executive producer on the film, is exciting to watch as Meng Si-Fan, an aspiring actress who is given a chance to showcase her acting talent in a new ghost story. She also has two other roles as Kong Jin, a member of the doomed troupe and her sister Lan. Tony Yang is also great to watch as Gu Wei-Bang, who like Lin’s Meng, has dreams and aspirations, in his case, becoming a successful filmmaker much to the chagrin of his father, played by the always great Simon Yam. Yam is one of those actors who even in a bad movie makes his presence felt. First, this is not a bad movie at all, far from it. Yam makes his role as a domineering commander work.

Cecil Cheng’s visual effects are truly a highlight of the film, showcasing the apparent ghosts of the doomed acrobatic troupe whom now plague the theater. However, the titular phantom is actually a human and when their identity is revealed, Cheng did quite a nice job with the make-up effects of this phantom. The film’s deaths, all done in a way that brings reminiscence of Detective Dee and the Phantom Flame, are done nicely as well and are just one of many exciting twists shown in the third act of the film.

Phantom of the Theatre is one of those films that you may not want to take your eyes off because it may have a love story involved but also meshes ghost story with a taste of the slasher film, with twists that will just make you stay until the end.


Bona Film Group Co. Ltd. presents a Hangzhou Heirun Film Co. Ltd./Dongyang Hongjing Film & Television Culture Co. Ltd./Bona Entertainment Co. Ltd. production. Director: Raymond Yip.
Producer: Manfred Wong. Writers: Manfred Wong, Hana Li, and Yang Mei-Yuan. Cinematography: Michael Tsui. Editing: Zhao Zheng-Chao.

Cast: Ruby Lin, Tony Yang, Simon Yam, Jing Gang-Shan, Huang Huan, Jungle Lin, Natalie Meng, Wu Xudong, Bobo Hu.



REVIEW: Dragon’s Claws (1979)

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1979, Hong Hwa Film Co. Ltd.

Joseph Kuo
Joseph Kuo
Joseph Kuo
Ma Goon-Wa
Vincent Leung

Sammy Lau (Lung Hsia)
Hwang Jung-Lee (Ling Ko-Fung)
Pak Sha-Lik (Old Man)
Hon Kwok-Tsai (Tsai)
Yuen Qiu (Li Hua)
Lau Hok-Nin (Lung Chen-Tien)
Chu Tiet-Wo (Red Man)
Chan Liu (Green Man)

Sammy Lau of the famous Hung Gar family takes on the superkicker Hwang Jung-Lee in this kung fu action that has an interesting twist to the story.

The Lung family are skilled experts in the Dragon style of kung fu. The patriarch, Chen-Tien, is the head of a local school while his son Hsia is a student. Things about to come to a head when Ling Ko Fung has returned after being exiled from the clan. Ling Ko Fung was once the lover of Li Hua, Hsia’s mother and Chen-Tien’s wife. Ling plans to challenge Chen-Tien for the leadership of the clan but decides to wait until Chen-Tien is recovered from being sick. Soon, it is revealed that Hsia was the result of Chen-Tien raping then marrying Li Hua.

When the challenge finally ensues, Ling combines Dragon style with his kicking prowess to overcome and ultimately kill Chen-Tien. Hsia, planning to seek revenge, learns he is not able to stand up to Ling as he is thrashed and nearly killed by Ling. A local medicine man, who has been constantly bothering the Lungs, not only heals Hsia but trains him in a special technique of the Dragon style that has long been lost. Meanwhile, Ling has learned the tablet that earned him the leadership is a fake and he sets out to kill anyone to retrieve the tablet.

Joseph Kuo has been known to make some pretty good kung fu films, including the well-known 18 Bronzemen series. For this film, he adds quite a pretty intricate twist towards the end of the first act, when we learn that our hero’s father wasn’t exactly the noble master we think he is with the film’s opening. This twist brings a bit of shock value, but it seems he has somewhat repented for his transgression by marrying and raising his son. By the end of the second act, there is another twist that involves the hero’s kung fu teacher after the death of his father about who he could actually be as we know him as “Old Man”.

The hero of the film here is played by Sammy Lau, aka Lau Ga-Yung. His uncle is the legendary martial arts master Lau Kar-Leung and this Lau is quite great to watch as he makes the family proud with his fight scenes. In addition to his fight scenes, Lau does bring a bit of fine acting in the role of Hsia, who like his mother, has forgiven his father for his transgression.

The villain here is a fan favorite, the Korean superkicker Hwang Jung-Lee. As Ling Ko-Fung, Hwang gets the chance not only to use his trademark leg work, but even pull off some crisp hand techniques when combining with the kicking. Yuen Qiu even gets in on some action as the matriarch of the family, thanks to her experience in the Peking Opera school (for those not in the know, Yuen Qiu was Jackie Chan’s classmate). Hwang’s two henchmen, appropriately named Red Man and Green Man, are well played by Chu Tiet-Wo and Chan Liu.

Dragon’s Claws is actually a pretty good kung fu film that brings some intricate twists in the story, plus the film is driven by lead stars Sammy Lau and Hwang Jung-Lee, who are in fine form in the film’s action sequences.




REVIEW: The Advocate – A Missing Body (2015)



2015, CJ Entertainment

Huh Jong-Ho
Park Ji-Sung
Lim Sang-Jin
Kim Hyun-Jeong
Choi Kwong-Yeon
Lee Gong-Joo
Kim Ji-Yong
Shin Min-Kyung

Lee Sun-Kyun (Byun Ho-Sung)
Kim Go-Eun (Jin Sun-Mi)
Lim Won-Hee (Park)
Jang Hyun-Sung (Chairman Moon Ji-Hoon)
Kim Yoon-Hye (Han Min-Jung)
Hong Sung-Duk (Kim Man-Seok)

This legal crime dark comedy is driven by the performance of lead actor Lee Sun-Kyun, who brings both the funny and the serious in this film.

Byun Ho-Sung is a defense lawyer who has just won a case involving the drug Lomix, in which the plaintiff sued, saying the drug caused her to have cancer. Upon returning to his office, he learns that he has been given a new case. A woman by the name of Han Min-Jung has been murdered and the suspect who has been caught is Kim-Man Seok. The case was personally hired by Chairman Moon Ji-Hoon, the CEO of a major pharmaceutical company. There poses one little problem. There is no body.

Byun’s past comes up to him when an old colleague, Jin Sun-Mi, has been hired as lead prosecutor in this case. While the two have a major difference in their ways of gathering evidence for the case, when Kim outbursts in court that he did kill Han, Byun thinks something is up. When Jin attempts and unsuccessfully follows Kim’s tip on where the body is apparently found, they eventually realize they must team up and in the midst of things, uncover something more potentially dangerous.

Director Huh Jong-Ho, who made his debut with 2011’s Countdown, returns with this legal crime comedy that is actually quite funny at times. And it is all in part of lead actor Lee Sun-Kyun, who plays defense lawyer Byun as a cocky and unorthodox person. The literal title of the film is “Angry Lawyer” and it somewhat fits with Byun as he goes from cocky and arrogant to angry when it comes to the case of the mysterious murder of Han Min-Jung, played well in theoretical flashbacks by Kim Yoon-Hye.

Kim Go-Eun is quite fun to watch as lead prosecutor Jin when it comes to her interactions with Byun. As Byun tries to act smooth with her, she rebuffs him in such a way that he sometimes wonders why. It is like they tend to act like a bickering couple who are complete opposites. Lim Won-Hee also provides some laughs as Byun’s office manager Park, who is an ex-military officer and has to prove it at times to help Byun with the case.

Along with the performances from the cast, the screenplay takes a very critical turn midway through and shows the transition of Byun as he discovers something vital to the case as it involves the first case he finds himself involved with in the film. From there, the film takes some constant twists and turns that prove to be vital to the film and thus, by the film’s end, it may seem predictable but nonetheless a perfect ending.

The Advocate: A Missing Body is a wonderfully paced legal dark comedy driven by the performances of its lead actors along with a well-constructed storyline with many twists and turns that all round out exactly perfect in the end.


The film will be released in North American theaters on October 23 from CJ Entertainment. The film reviewed was from a screener.


REVIEW: Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014)



2014, Omnijoi Media Corporation/Boneyard Entertainment China Limited/China Film Co. Ltd.

Diao Yinan
Vivian Qu
Wan Juan
Diao Yinan
Dong Jinsong
Yang Hongyu

Liao Fan (Zhang Zili)
Gwei Lun-Mei (Wu Zhizhen)
Wang Xuebing (Liang Zhijun)
Wang Jingchun (He Mingrong)
Yu Ailei (Detective Wang)
Ni Jingyang (Su Lijuan)

From the director of the critically acclaimed Night Train and Uniform comes this neo-noir film that is driven by an award-winning performance by lead actor Liao Fan.

In 1999, officer Zhang Zili has been divorced and is given a case involving a hand found in a coal mine. As Zhang and his partner Wang search for clues, they find suspects in coal truck driver Liu Yifan and his younger brother. A confrontation at a local hair salon causes Liu’s brother to shoot two officers, forcing Zhang to shoot the killer. When Liu attempts to shoot, Zhang shoots but runs out of bullets. Before he dies, Liu shoots Zhang, who is okay but as a result of what had transpired, Zhang has lost his job.

Flash forward five years. Zhang, having lost all but his mind, is a drunken recluse who works as a factory security guard. He learns his partner Wang has been promoted to detective. When Zhang sees Wang, he learns of two murders that had occurred, one in 2001 and one just recently. The two deaths are connected by Wu Zhizheng, a laundry cleaner who happens to be the wife of the 1999 victim. In an effort to redeem himself, Zhang decides to somehow have Wu date him so that he may find out who the killer is. What Zhang didn’t expect was to fall in love with her, but he will soon find something completely unexpected involving the cases.

Writer-director Diao Yinan has crafted a really good neo-noir film about a series of murders in which the victims’ body parts are found in coal stacks. The film starts in 1999 with the first of three murder cases then flash forwards to 2004. The film is more about the series of murders, but the film involves one former officer’s shot at redemption and the great lengths he must go through in order to get that redemption.

Liao Fan is just great to watch as the redemption-seeking Zhang Zili. He may seem to have an overbearing libido at times, as seen when he gives his soon-to-be-ex wife a “goodbye present”. Zhang isn’t the reckless type in the opening of the film, but it’s clear when he loses it all, he spends his nights drinking and going to work hungover, as if he doesn’t care until he is given the chance to redeem himself. He won the Best Actor awards (and rightfully so) at the Berlin and Odessa Film Festival and at the Asian Film Awards for his performance.

As for Taiwanese actress Gwei Mei-Lun, she brilliantly pulls off a performance that isn’t so much femme fatale but more straight-laced as Wu Zhizheng, the wife of the film’s first victim whom we learn is connected as the last two victims were lovers after her late husband. The film’s sort of slow pace in the middle focuses on their budding relationship and it proves to be vital in the overall film.

The film’s overall story is well done as it takes some interesting turns. While the killer is revealed one hour into the film, the consistency of twists and turns just makes the film more exciting. The violence itself isn’t too brutal but more subtle, even when the killer’s revelation results in a brutal looking murder but not shown in a gory fashion. Perhaps this could be in part due to the possibility of Chinese censoring, who knows. However, the story is well thought out and the twists and turns make for quite a watchable neo-noir film.

Black Coal, Thin Ice is a well-made neo-noir thriller that not only has some intricate and well played out twists, but the performances of Liao Fan and Gwei Mei-Lun truly stand out. If you like neo-noir, then this is recommended.


Well Go USA will be releasing this film on DVD and Blu-Ray on September 29, 2015. Extras include the trailer for this film as well as trailers for Wild City, Z-Storm, and Killers.