Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening September 27-October 3, 2012

End of Watch

David Ayer, the screenwriter behind the gritty Los Angeles police thriller Training Day, is back with another tale of LA's men in dark blue, End of Watch.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as a pair of gung-ho young patrolman who make a traffic stop of a drug suspect and seize a cache of money and firearms, including a gold-plated AK-47. The arrest puts them on the trail of a ruthless cartel and marks them for death.

To get in shape for their roles, Gyllenhall and Peña underwent five months of training, which included 12-hour ride-alongs with Los Angeles law enforcement agencies.

The filming was done documentary style, similar to the TV show Cops, to give viewers that "you are there", first-person-shooter feeling.

Ayer's third feature as writer director following Harsh Times and Street Kings, Critical reception for End of Watch is generally positive. Rated 18+.

Also opening

Fighting Fish (ดุ ดวล ดิบ, Du Duan Dib) – A French expat and his Thai pal (JJ Jakkris Kanokpojnanon) get mixed up in an underground boxing club in this martial-arts drama from Saga Studios. The Frenchman is portrayed by Jawed El Berni, a stuntman who's made a name for himself as the double for Bollywood superstar Salman Khan. Fans of Thai action films might recognize Suchao Pongvilai as the mob boss from his turn as the villain in Ong-Bak. French-Vietnamese stunt performer Kazu Patrick Tang from Raging Phoenix and BKO: Bangkok Knockout also turns up. It's the directorial debut by former pin-up model and sexy video star "Ying" Julaluck Ismalone (formerly Kittiyarath). A decade ago she starred in the controversial erotic mermaid fantasy Phra-Apai-Mani but recently relaunched her acting career playing a villain in Bangkok Revenge, starring Jon Foo, one of the bad guys who fought Tony Jaa in the first Tom Yum Goong. Rated 15+.

Motorway – Hong Kong director Soi Cheang and his producer Johnnie To have the lock on stylishly slick, twisty Hong Kong crime thrillers. Their latest effort stars Shawn Yue as a hard-driving cop who belongs to the "invisible squad", an elite unit of highway patrolmen. Blasting around the city in his Audi A4, he's partnered with a cooler-headed veteran officer, played by the always-reliable Anthony Wong. The maverick young cop meets his match when he's tasked with bringing in a mobster's cunning getaway driver (Guo Xiaodong). Barbie Hsu, Li Haitao, Lam Ka-tung, Michelle Ye and Josie Ho also star. Critical reception is mixed, though Singapore's Nutshell Review likens it to "Hong Kong's answer to Drive". In Cantonese with English and Thai subtitles at House. Rated 15+.

Stolen – Nicolas Cage is doing Liam Neeson in this Taken-esque thriller, which comes out just before the release of Taken 2. Cage is a former master thief who has just finished an eight-year prison sentence after being double-crossed in a heist gone awry. Everyone seems to think he knows where the $10 million is from that last caper, and so his vengeful ex-partner (Josh Lucas) turns up and kidnaps Cage's estranged daughter. Malin Ackerman, Danny Huston and M.C. Gainey also star. Stolen reunites Cage with his old Con Air director Simon West, making a comeback this year with Expendables 2 having just been in cinemas. Stolen had a limited release a week or so ago in the U.S. and looks destined mainly for the home-video market. Critical reception, what little there is, is negative. Rated 15+.

The Assassins – Chow Yun-fat takes on the role of Chinese warlord Cao Cao in this historical drama set during the Three Kingdoms period. He's plotting to overthrow the emperor and has tasked a pair of young lovers (Hiroshi Tamaki and Liu Yifei), who have undergone five years of training as assassins, to kill Emperor Xian. It's Thai-dubbed with English subtitles at Major Cineplex. Rated 15+.

Also showing

Otelo Burning –  A boy in apartheid-era South Africa struggles to overcome the racist obstacles to achieve his dream of surfing in this much-acclaimed South African drama screening at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Bangkok at 8 tonight (September 27). The Embassy of South Africa and its newly-arrived ambassador will lay on a spread of South African wine and food. Admission is 150 for non-members and 200 baht for the food.

Barfi! – India has submitted this much-acclaimed romantic comedy to the Academy Awards as its best foreign language film entry. Ranbir Kapoor stars as Barfi, a mischievous deaf-mute young man in picturesque 1970s Darjeeling. He captures the heart of a young upper-class woman (Ileana D'Cruz) who is already engaged. Their unique friendship becomes complicated with the return of an old childhood acquaintance of Barfi's, a young autistic woman (Priyanka Chopra) and Barfi's being accused of bank robbery and kidnapping. Kapoor has won many plaudits for his incredible physical-comedy portrayal as has Chopra for her role as the autistic girl. It's at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit and Rama III. Rated 13+.

Take note

Cinema Diverse –  After a couple months' hiatus, the film series of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre and Films Forum starts back up on October 20 with Niño, a much-acclaimed Filipino family drama in which an opera singer tries various ways to revive her comatose politician brother, including singing arias to him and dressing her 9-year-old boy up as St. Niño, the Child Christ. Meanwhile, other family members return home, all wanting a share of the estate, and secrets come tumbling forth. It's the debut feature by veteran stage director Loy Arcenas and stars 84-year-old Fides Cuyugan Asensio, one of the Philippines most prominent opera singers. They will attend the screening, which is being supported by Cebu Pacific Air. The Philippines Embassy will serve Filipino food and beer before the screening of the film, which is also being supported by the Society of Filipinas in Thailand. The reception is at 5pm with the screening starting at 6.30pm in the BACC's fifth-floor auditorium. Admission is free.

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