Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Thieves

This has often been billed as Korea's version of 'Ocean's Eleven'.  While there is some slick editing and an all star cast of Korean celebrities, it fails to match Steven Soderbergh's film in a number of key areas, not the least of which is in directing.

The plot is fairly straightforward: some thieves from South Korea join forces with thieves from Hong Kong to steal a diamond necklace from a casino safe.  However, it quickly becomes confusing keeping track of who is doing what, especially with all the double crossings that take place.  The non-linear storytelling also takes its toll on the viewer.

The film had a natural stopping point about 45 minutes before the actual end, and had it chosen to stop then, it would have been a much stronger film.  Instead, it feels like the last third of the film is padding and it almost descends into unintentional farce at times.  It's also this part of the film that contains the more graphic scenes, making it one for those who are not faint of heart.

There's no doubt that the film has acting talent and the myriad display of actors and actresses each do their own parts well.  However, there are so many of them that it greatly limits the amount of screen time that each actor and actress has.  It is no wonder then that it is difficult to develop any emotional attachment to any of them.

To fully understand, let alone appreciate, the film, takes multiple viewings.  Even then, there are a number of things in the film that can only be fully appreciated by someone who is familiar with Korean society and culture.  Despite the many shortcomings the film has to a Western audience, it was embraced by its native audience, becoming the second highest grossing Korean film of all time, just behind 'The Host'.

It could have been so much more, but it tried to be too clever for its own good, and, therefore, 'The Thieves' robbed us of what could have been a much better film.  We give the film a score of six out of ten.  And this is only as high as it is due to the strong performance by the cast.

Thursday, 6 January 2011


With the Consumer Electronics Show under way, there have been a number of new technologies that have been demonstrated. Not surprisingly, with the recent success of Apples' iPad, a number of these has focused on the emerging tablet market. As the now out-of-favour netbooks were three years ago with everyone and their brother trying to get a piece of the pie, the tablet is the new wunderkind.

First off was Google, who demonstrated Android 3, aka Honeycomb. They've confirmed the specs for this and all those who have jumped onto the Android tablet wagon will not be getting this operating system on their current tablets. But for those who have the patience to wait for the second wave of Android tablets, it looks like you'll get an experience that is more pleasurable than the current square peg in round hole scenario.

Secondly, Microsoft has confirmed that while hell isn't frozen over, it is getting a bit frosty there. After decades of Windows being only compatible with Intel processors, they've announced that the next version of Windows will work on ARM processors, which currently power almost all smartphones and most tablets. So while this announcement surprised most people, it makes logical sense if Microsoft wants to remain relevant in a post-PC era, which is where we are quickly heading.

Finally, Asus, arguably the founder of the netbook market, has announced a whole slew of tablets, with some models built upon ARM running Android and one model built using Intel running Windows 7.

And what of the company that started the recent tablet craze, Apple? To no one's surprise, they are being Apple and will wait to announce the iPad 2 in their own time.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


After two years of relying on Facebook being my sole presence in the online world, I've decided that it was time to branch out again. While I do not know how often I'll blog, I am hoping that it'll be at least once a week again.

I've done very minor updates to my personal website. I doubt I'll do much more though with it. I might update the news page as lots has happened in the past two years. Anyway, I'm not sure if anyone is reading this blog anymore, but if you are, then welcome back and I hope you enjoy it. I will endeavour for my future posts to be a bit less dry than this one!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

A Brief Update

It's been a while since I've been able to blog. Suddenly my life has gotten much busier and I've found that I don't have anywhere near the same amount of time as I used to have in order to blog. Not sure how much longer I'll continue to blog, but I just wanted to let you know that I am still alive and haven't completely abandoned this. Thanks for continuing to sticking with me.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

10 Simple Rules

I'm not too bad when it comes to making friendships with women. So I thought I'd share 10 rules for men to follow when wanting to be friends with members of the fairer sex.

1. When speaking to women look only at their eyes, not elsewhere on their bodies, no matter how much talent they may have elsewhere. This makes it clear to them that you are interested in them, not their bodies.

2. Compliment their shoes. Women like shoes and they like that men notice them. Men don't understand shoes outside of a primal need to protect their feet, but this doesn't mean that you can't think of something nice to say about a woman's shoes.

3. Ask questions about them and listen. Women like to talk and given the opportunity, they will do so. Be patient and give her lots of time. And make sure you are listening attentively. This will require you to keep your arms at your side and to lean in toward the woman while she is speaking.

4. Remember what she says. You don't have to remember every little detail, but if you can remember some of it (and if you've paid attention to rule 3, you'll have plenty to choose from), women appreciate it. Slip in little things into future conversations. Even if a woman doesn't comment on it, she will definitely notice it.

5. Be vulnerable. Disclose something that is close and personal about you. It gives the woman the feeling that you trust her. It also gives her something to sympathise about for you. Women like to sympathise, as they are more in touch with their emotions than men are.

6. Don't be ambiguous. Women like to read things into statements. Don't give them the opportunity to do so. Be transparent and don't choose actions or words that can be taken the wrong way. Make your message clear. In this way, it avoids the woman wondering if you're playing games with her.

7. Appreciate women for who they are. Women like to be individuals. They also like to be affirmed in their own self worth. Let them know how much you appreciate them for who they are, and not what they can do for you or how they make you feel.

8. Talk emotions, not facts. Women like to talk about feelings. In this way, they can get inside and try to understand what makes you tick. As previously mentioned, women are more in tune with their emotions, and therefore like to explore and discuss them more often than men do. Facts bore women.

9. Don't expect women to forget things. Women have extremely good memories, often for what appears to be insignificant things. She will be able to remember ten years later what the colour of your socks were when you first met her. Don't be surprised by this. Instead, show that you appreciate her ability to remember the little details. After all, it is the little things in life that make it worth living.

10. Be patient. Sometimes women can act irrationally (and so can men). If you feel that a woman is acting irrational, do not ever tell the woman that you are thinking this. Instead, let the woman vent. Whatever it is that is bothering the woman will eventually pass. If you try to reason with a woman while she is in this state, it will only end in tears.

I'm certain there are more rules. And at some point I'll write some of my tips for women who want to be friends with men.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Brokedown Palace

'Brokedown Palace', made almost ten years ago, stars Claire Danes and Kate Beckensale as teenagers who go on holiday to Thailand during their summer between high school and college. While in Thailand, they meet a mysterious stranger who invites them to Hong Kong for the weekend. En route to Hong Kong, the two girls get arrested by the local police and are found to be in possession of about four kilos of heroin. They are found guilty of drug smuggling and are both sentenced to 33 years in jail, in a place sarcastically referred to by its inmates as 'Brokedown Palace'.

They then employ the services of an ex-pat American lawyer known as 'Yankee Hank' (played by the ever under-appreciated Bill Pullman), who does his best to try to free them from prison.

With a storyline that sounds like it should be gripping and a very capable cast of actors, why is this film often found in the bargain bins at the local supermarket instead of gearing up for a special edition 10th anniversary release on DVD?

First off, the directing (provided by Jonathan Kaplan) is weak. There are moments where, under a more capable director, there could have been real suspense that would have engaged the audience. Secondly, the storyline is weak, which is saying something considering the plot. There's no real sense of purpose and it meanders without really going anywhere. Finally, the characters are unengaging, which again is incredible to believe given the cast. This actually is more a reflection of the screenplay and directing than it is on the actors. We all know that Claire Danes is a very capable actress and given more freedom, she could have made something of her role here. Unfortunately, her acting is stifled due to the many shortcomings of the director.

Brokedown Palace did have good cinematography and initially is very beautiful to look at. It shows so much promise at the beginning which is why it's all the more of a disappointment when it fails to live up to its potential. In short, we at FilmQuest can't really recommend watching this film and give it a meagre 3 out of 10 QuestMarks.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Table for 4

As the only horror film to date that Jeon Ji Hyun has done, the Uninvited is a rather forgettable film. While Jeon Ji Hyun looks as beautiful as ever in it and her acting is top notch, the storyline is weak and the lead male, played by Park Shin Yang, is unengaging.

Park plays an interior designer by the name of Jung Won, who is coming home one night on the underground. Right before he gets off, he sees two girls sleeping on it. He tries to wake them up, but is unsuccessful at it. He then hears on the radio the next day about two girls that were killed the previous night on the underground. Lo and behold, he sees these two girls shortly thereafter at his dinner table, which was just given to him as a gift from his fiancee.

Jung Won is working on renovating a psychiatrist's office when he bumps into a girl named Yun (played by Jeon Ji Hyun). Through a series of events, she ends up at his apartment and is able to see the two dead girls. Yun has a history herself though, hence the reason why she's going to see a psychiatrist.

As far as stories go, this one isn't anything special. In fact, as far as horror films go, while the storyline is rather convoluted, it is extremely tame. The cinematography is unusually flat and unspectacular. In fact, the one redeeming quality of this entire film is the performance put in by Jeon Ji Hyun. We at FilmQuest give this film 4 QuestMarks out of 10, which is unusually low for a film with Jeon Ji Hyun in it.