Tuesday, April 21, 2009

House of Wax (2005)

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I have to say, the first reason I watched this crazy movie which had such a yucky image of a face covered in wax was due to the fact that Chad Michael Murray and Jared Padalecki had a role in this.
It must be the first movie I have seen the duo since Gilmore Girls; in which they played love rivals. In real life however, these two hunks are actually best friends which should not be a surprise for them to collaborate in a movie.

This movie seems to boast of a star-studded cast; a bunch of young stars which includes the name of Elisha Cuthbert and even Paris Hilton.
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That was also one of the reason which made me decide or thought to watch this movie.
When I sat in the seat inside the cinema, all of a sudden, it became like "What was I thinking?"
I expected it to be a gruesome and horrifying movie filled with gross and disgusting scenes; and boy was I right.

The whole movie started with a scene of a kitchen with a mother boiling wax on the stove and a quiet boy sitting in his chair eating. Then a father comes in and brings an indignant boy to which both parents lament on his behavior compared to his obedient brother in the chair.

Then the scene switches to a bunch of traveling friends on their way to a football match; then somehow their path derailed after one of them decides to take a shorter route.
This is all so typical in all these teen-flick-thrillers; the bunch of people traveling and the wrong route taken to end them in somewhere else which will lead them to their graves.
I think all the movie makers should try some different ideas sometime instead of stirring our boredom as we anticipate whatever that is going to happen so accurately.
What is the fun of watching a movie when we can predict what is going to happen next, right?

Back to the predictable storyline, they realized it was the wrong route and since it was getting dark, they came across a sign which says House of Wax and they soon found a site nearby and decided to set up their camp.
At night, they found a truck with its headlights on shining at their camp and no matter what they do, the truck won't budge; even when they threw something and broke one of the headlights.

The next morning, they had some technical problems (fan belt or something) and a couple who were actually on cold war decided to go out together to search for a mechanic or a place who could help them with their issue and they came across a weird looking guy who offered to give them a ride, while he tells them the story of the House of Wax.
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When the weird guy brought the guy into the place, the girlfriend who waits outside got down from the truck and noticed the missing headlight and immediately suspected something amiss.
She tried to warn her boyfriend by honking and when boyfriend sensed something wrong and attempts to go out to his girlfriend, he was knocked out. Girlfriend has to attempt an escape but was caught and tied up with her lips sealed with glue.
At the same time, boyfriend was actually embalmed with wax by another weird guy and girlfriend was getting freaked out.

The others, worried, goes on a search for them and when they found them, they realized that the guy earlier was already turned into a wax figure like all the others. Although he was still breathing and alive, when the others tried to save him by tearing the wax, they realized that the wax had melted with the skin and tearing at the wax was actually directed at the skin; and their action ended up killing their friend. Poor Jared Padalecki, I couldn't take it at this scene as I couldn't bear watching how they tore his face apart.

It dawned upon them that the whole town didn't have any living residents except these 2 weird guys and that all of them were wax figures.
The two insane brothers had been murdering all of the people over town to make 'realistic' wax figures. One of them even stumbled upon a newspaper clip which mentioned the father of the two brothers who was actually a doctor and he tried to separate his newborn Siamese twins at birth and in the process, he actually caused one of his sons to be disfigured.
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They set fire to the house; killing the two brothers in the process and the two twin siblings managed to escape while all their friends have died in one tragic way or another in which I do not think is necessary to be mentioned anymore. I leave that to your imagination or you can choose to watch the movie.

As they drive away in a police car which came to their rescue, the sheriff informs them that there is actually three brothers, and we see a man waving at the police car when the curtains are drawn close.

Interesting movie?
I find the twist rather predictable from the start to the end, but that's not to say it is such a bad movie.
They did a good job at the realistic portrayal of the wax figures and how they embalm a human being with wax. It was creepy, and I hate it that Jared Padalecki is the first one to die in the movie.
Both the guys were actually having that crew shaven cut and only one escaped alive towards the end, take a wild guess.

Overall, another teen flick but at least it's no longer about a mad murderer out to kill for no reason or about some devious beast/monster trying to get at them.
A refreshing idea of wax and some dysfunctional family which led to their demented minds in the brothers.
I would say it's interesting, and for the guys, at least you have Elisha Cuthbert or Paris Hilton to look at in the movie; one of them died as well anyway.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Greatness of a Hero (盛世仁傑)

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This is an epic drama about the legendary chancellor, Dik Yan Kit during the reign of Emperor Mo Chak Tin’s period.

Kent Cheng played Dik Yan Kit, the trusted chancellor and advisor of Emperor Mo. He holds an important position in the royal courts and due to his wits, he has won the heart of the powerful Emperor and at the same time, stirred up the jealousy of many other ambitious courts men and ministers. Two of his biggest rivals were the nephews of Emperor; Prince of Ngai (Wayne Lai) and Prince of Leung(Eric Li).
They often find fault with him in the court and plotted various ways to get him into serious trouble. However, Dik Yan Kit was too witty for them and his position in the Emperor’s eyes was deemed important all the way.
The hatred of the princes deepened when Dik Yan Kit contributed to the death of Prince of Ngai’s eldest son. Actually, the death of his son was not intentionally caused by Kit as he was only revealing the truth.
Mo Yin Ming, Prince of Ngai’s eldest son was having a secret affair with Consort Chun who was one of Mo Yin’s concubine (Emperor Mo’s only son and the former emperor of Tang). When Consort Chun was found pregnant, Ming murdered her and even plotted with the royal doctor to provide a false estimation of her pregnancy period.
Consort Chun’s death was being investigated by Kit and his daughter and they found the whole death to be suspicious and it was traced to the real culprit. Prince of Ngai and Ming begged for the Emperor’s forgiveness and during her moments of hesitation, Kit persuaded the Emperor to make the right decision. Thus the Emperor decided on a death sentence for Ming which angered and saddened Prince Ngai’s family.
They then plotted for revenge along with his brother, Prince Leung.
The whole drama was interesting and featured most of the conflicts between Kit and mainly, the Prince of Ngai.

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The side focus of the drama was on Kit’s family and also the romantic development between Sheung Koon Yuen Yee who was the Emperor’s secretary (Leila Tong) and Prince Ngai’s youngest son, Mo Yin Tak (Stephen Wong).
The twists and turns in the drama were enjoyable and the pace was good; however, I did feel they rushed a little towards the end and it was such a typical type of ending episode.
The drama did lose the glitter at the end; and it was truly sad that Sonija Kwok died in vain when the whole family was spared from the punishment.

My favorite character
I do not really have a favorite character in this drama

Character Analysis

Kent Cheng as Dik Yan Kit
What can I say for a comeback performance by a veteran?
One note though; I heard that the actual Dik Yan Kit was actually a thin guy, so although Kent is a good actor, it may be good to follow the depiction from the real character himself.
However, Kent was just on the average; I think he barely had much expression on him besides being solemn.

Sonija Kwok as Mrs Dik/ Cho Yuet
She was a very pitiful character and she had a bitter past. She was married but after her rape by some intruders, she was disowned by her husband and also her own family. She was blamed for the disgrace she has brought unto her own family following the rape. She was then taken as the 2nd wife of Dik Yan Kit as matched by his dying first wife.
She was a dutiful wife and stepmother in the family but when her ex-husband came back, she was misunderstood by her conservative mother-in-law. It was a bitter ending, it seems that she is always the sacrificial sheep everywhere.

Bernice Liu Bik Yee as Dik Ching Luen
I always find Bernice playing the rather brash type of character, so again, this was no difference. I find her annoying though and there is nothing much significant of her role here, just always trying to get herself into trouble and poking her nose into others’ businesses. I didn’t find her love for Sung Ting Yuk that convincing either.

Matthew Ko as Dik Kwong Yuen
Again, this character was also not significant; he was just a supporting character to play Kit’s 2nd son.

Lawrence Ng as Dik Kwong Yuen Fai
The youngest boy and I find his acting not bad. He played the part when he could not see his mother who was in quarantine very well. I felt emotional to see how hard he fought back the tears when he stole a glance at his mother who came out to take her bowl of medicine.

Lee Heung Kam as Dik Yan Kit’s Mother/On Lau Mui
Another veteran but I found her expressions rather exaggerated; lost the shine of the veteran actress I used to like.

Rebecca Chan Sau Chu as Emperor Mo Chak Tin
I love this actress and although her name was the main role in the drama; but a pity that she just played a sort-of supporting role as the figurehead in the drama.
Nevertheless, Rebecca is just Rebecca, good as always.

Wayne Lai as Prince Ngai/ Mo Sing Chi
This was a villain brilliantly played by this actor who is always sported in comedies. In this drama, expect the evil face from him and how he plotted against Dik Yan Kit to win the favor of the Emperor. His anger and grief was realistically portrayed when he lost his son, but I hated him for saying that he’d rather lose his younger son instead.
It was also a twist when he tried to drive his wife crazy to pursue the Royal Secretary who was his son’s romantic interest. He is one of the best villains here.

Leila Tong as Sheung Koon Yuen Yee (Emperor’s Secretary)
She has a very sweet face to play the intelligent helper to the Emperor; in fact, I should say it was rather unconvincing since her outlook was rather feminine and innocent.
I still like this actress though; and it was interesting to see how she expressed herself to show that no matter how great a person is, they are still susceptible to being hurt and sad.

Sunny Chan Kam Hung as Sung Ting Yuk
He played a cheeky guy in the beginning; which I find rather unconvincing as it is so not Sunny. When he fell in love with Yee, it was really adorable as he somehow reminded me of a little puppy trying to make her happy.
I still think that he was just sympathetic towards Ching Luen but perhaps it was real love at the end. It was a pity that he died before his fulfillment of love towards Ching Luen in marriage.

Kent Cheng and Sonija Kwok
Initially I was so shocked when Sonija appeared as his wife and I was like, “What on earth is TVB thinking?”
However, when the drama progresses, it was revealed that she was his 2nd wife and how pitiful she was when she was disowned by her own family. Kent treated his wife very well, and had full trust in her. He never once doubted her even when her ex-husband was back to extort her. He still helped her through.
I guess that was what made Sonija so loyal to him; it was hard not to be impressed by a man like that.

Sunny Chan and Bernice Liu
I just felt that there was a lack in chemistry here somewhere. They don’t seem to match each other and definitely not convincing as a couple.
They started off as 2 people who hated each other due to all the misunderstandings (typical formula in HK) and Bernice first developed feelings for him, while he was still longing after Sheung Koon Yuen Yee. When he knew all hope is lost and that Bernice had fallen for him, he was confused on what to do next. However, he was slowly touched by her actions and turned to accept her into his life.
Unfortunately, their happiness was short-lived and Sunny had to die before their wedding.
I felt Bernice tried hard to convey her shattered emotions when Sunny died, but to a certain extent, it was not too realistic to me.

Leila Tong and Stephen Wong
I really liked the matching of this couple; they looked good with each other but there was never any real romantic scene between the two of them.
It was so subtle and serious, and they were both often blushing that I find it really adorable! Another pair of unfortunate couple who never got together in the end as well.

Full cast list
Kent Cheng - Dik Yan Kit
Sonija Kwok - Cho Yuet / Dik Yan Kit’s 2nd Wife
Lee Heung Kam - On Lau Mui/Dik Yan Kit’s mother
Bernice Liu Bik Yee - Dik Ching Luen
Matthew Ko - Dik Kwong Yuen
Lawrence Ng - Dik Yuen Fai
Sunny Chan Kam Hung - Sung Ting Yuk
Mimi Chu - Cheung So Ngor/ Mrs Sung (mother of Ting Yuk)
Rebecca Chan Sau Chu - Emperor Mo Chak Tin
Wayne Lai Yiu Cheung - Mo Sing Chi / Prince of Ngai
Raymond Cho - Lee Yin
Claire Yiu - Consort Wai
Queenie Chu - Consort Chu
Leila Tong - Sheung Koon Yuen Yee
Stephen Wong - Mo Yin Tak
Stephen Huynh - Mo Yin Ming
Rosanne Lui - Ngan Sui Wan/ Mrs Mo (wife of Mo Sing Chi)
Eric Li - Mo Sam Si
Tracy Ip - Consort Chun
Lau Kong - Sung Cheung Kwai
Law Lok Lam - Cho Kin Hang
Fung So Bor - Siu Tip
Fred Cheng - Cho Hon

I find a few characters here who didn’t manage to convince me of their role; perhaps it was their appearance or they didn’t put their full heart into the drama to play their role?
Frankly, I even find the lack of chemistry between the couples in the drama; seems like a mismatch to a certain extent.
It was not too bad of a drama as a whole and I recommend to watch if you are into period dramas and all those plots in the court as this drama had plenty; between the ladies or among the men, it was a summary of what goes on in the royal court.

(Pictures taken from web and only for illustration purposes)