Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening May 13-19, 2010

Ip Man 2

The life story of martial-arts grand master Yip Man -- famed as the mentor of martial-arts-movie legend Bruce Lee -- continues, picking up where the 2008 first installment left off.

Set in the 1950s, Ip Man 2 depicts Man's move with his family from the mainland to Hong Kong where he sets about trying to reform the Triad-run martial-arts schools and unite them against foreign influences.

Donnie Yen reprises the role of the sole practitioner of a discipline called Wing Chun. His hands move at lightning speed and his fists strike with crushing blows. It's amazing stuff.

Joining the cast in part two is Sammo Hung -- the heavyset martial-arts star better known to Thai audiences as Hong Jinpao for his string of martial-arts movies in the 1980s like Spooky Encounters, The Magnificent Butcher and Knockabout. He portrays a master of a rival discipline, Hung Gar.

Expect to see more of the fireworks Sammo and Donnie set off when they first met onscreen in 2005's SPL: Sha Po Leng.

Wilson Yip, who's worked with Donnie on a string of recent movies including SPL, Flash Point, Dragon Tiger Gate and the first Ip Man, is back directing this one.

It's Thai-dubbed in most cinemas, but you can catch it with the Cantonese soundtrack with English and Thai subtitles at House. Rated 15+.

Robin Hood

It opened the prestigious Cannes Film Festival last night and now it's playing in Bangkok. I wish more of the movies from Cannes would come here this fast.

In director Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, Russell Crowe joins a long line of actors who've taken up the bow-and-arrow of the altruistic outlaw of ancient England. Others who've robbed from the rich and given to the poor include Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, Kevin Costner, Carey Elwes, John Cleese and Daffy Duck. But this Robin Hood is different: No tights. He's wearing leather breeches and chain mail.

The movie has been derided as Gladiator 2, even though this is a different place and different time.

Scott seeks to tell "the untold story behind the legend". An origin tale, it's set in late 12th century England, with Crowe as an archer in King Richard the Lionheart's crusading army in France. Made an outlaw for an infraction against the king -- speaking the truth when the king asked for it -- Robin takes to the forests with his band of merry men. Assuming the identity of a dead nobleman, he eventually finds his way back to England and heads to Nottingham to fulfill a promise to the nobleman and to hopefully shake loose suppressed memories of his own childhood. He takes up with Lady Marian (Cate Blanchett) in a struggle against the tyranny of King John (Oscar Isaac), but the new king also faces a plot against him by a turncoat friend (Mark Strong) who's sided with the French and is playing both ends against the middle.

With more epic battles than swashbuckling or feats of derring do, this is a different kind of Robin Hood.

Max von Sydow, Danny Huston, William Hurt and Mark Addy (The Full Monty) also star.

Critical reception is mostly flat. But Crowe doesn't care. Rated 15+.

Also opening

A Nightmare on Elm Street -- The long-running horror franchise, which has spawned eight films since the original in 1984, is rebooted with a new crop of sleep-deprived teens who fear nodding off because they are haunted in their dreams by a disfigured, blade-fingered psychopath named Freddy Kruger. Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, Semi-Pro) takes over the role of Freddy from Robert Englund. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated 18+.

The Bounty Hunter -- Gerard Butler tries on a horrible American accent in this action comedy in which he's teamed up with Jennifer Aniston. They are former husband-and-wife. He's a bounty hunter assigned to bring her in. She's a journalist covering a murder case that has ties to the mob. Soon the pair have murderers after them. Andy Tennant (Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama) directs. Critical reception is overwhelmingly negative. This movie was a lot funnier when they made it with Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin. It was called Midnight Run. Rated 15+.

Furry Vengeance -- Brendan Fraser stars in this comedy as a real-estate developer who's planning to build a shopping mall on a tract of Oregon wilderness. The animals, including a raccoon, a bear and skunks, fight back. Critical reception is overwhelmingly negative. The premise sounds remarkably similar to the better-received 2006 animated feature, Over the Hedge. Rated G.

Take note

The red-shirt anti-government protesters are still occupying Rajprasong, but the government is making moves to evict the protesters by shutting off their water and power and blocking access to the site.

Malls and cinemas around the Rajprasong and Siam Square areas -- CentralWorld, Metropolis and Paragon will likely remain closed. Apex in Siam Square might be open. Call first.

The Japanese teen comedy Oppai Volleyball, about a young teacher who promises to flash her breasts to the sex-obsessed nerd boys on her volleyball team, has moved from Siam Square's Apex circuit over to House on RCA.

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