Fortune and Glory the Cliffhanger game, a boardgame for 1-8 players, by Flying Frog Productions (2011)

The torchlight flickered against the dark walls of the temple. It looked like no one had been inside for maybe hundreds of years. The ancient map showed two corridors branching off from the main room. Neither of them looked very promising. However at the end of one of them, the Armour of Atlantis would finally be found. Suddenly a portcullis slammed down, the way back sealed off. A maniacal laugh could be heard in the distance, quickly followed by a mocking voice with a thick German accent: “Good luck”. Now for those of you who think this is the opening scene of the new Indiana Jones movie, I am sorry to disappoint you. However I just made this up to help set the tone for the incredibly fun game Fortune and Glory, set in the Pulp Adventure era, and which comes about as close to you starring in a Indiana Jones movie.

Components

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This game is huge. I placed a small cover for a pen in front of the box, just to show you how big this game is. There are so many things included within, that it is impossible to describe them all. I will go over the most important things though. First up is the incredible gameboard, which shows you a world map, and all the places you can visit in your hunt for ancient artifacts. There are over 165 plastic pieces contained inside the box, which include miniatures, gold pieces, temples and a very cool looking Zeppelin. Then there are an enormous amount of cards that are used in a lot of different situations. There are cards that feature the dangers you have to overcome, gear and allies you can buy for your characters, and a lot of other stuff. The cards are made of very sturdy material, and can definitely take a beating. A pretty unique item is a soundtrack cd, which can help you get into the mood when playing the game. Rounding out the game are a whole bunch of counters, dice, and ofcourse a rulebook. The rulebook is a hefty 30 pages long, but written clearly. However it would have been nice to include an index, which could have helped you find certain rules more quickly while playing.

Game overview

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You can play this game in a number of different ways. There is a competitive mode, which means it is pretty much everyone for himself. Then there is the cooperative mode, which as the name implies, has everyone cooperating in trying to beat a certain evil organisation. And you can also play the game solo or in teams. Being mostly a solo player, my review will focus itself on the cooperative mode, which plays pretty much the same on your own, as it does when playing with multiple players.

So what is this game all about? In Fortune and Glory you take on the role of an adventurer who will travel around the world to recover ancient artifacts. While you are doing this, the game itself plays the role of a vile organisation, that wants the artifacts for their own nefarious reasons. Included in the basic game are the Mob and the Nazi factions. The game takes place in the late 1930s, and as such it creates truly a very rich atmosphere. When you finally arrive at the site where an artifact can be found, you have to take a number of tests to recover it. These are incredibly fun, and there are an enormous variety of situations you can encounter. For instance, you might have to solve an ancient puzzle, escape in a car chase, fight a bunch of enemies, the possibilities are endless. All tests are described on the so called danger cards, and resolved by throwing a number of dice.

When you fail a test, the danger card flips to a cliffhanger side, and things become even more dangerous. Just like in the movies, you might find yourself going over the edge of a waterfall, or having to escape from a plane that is going down. If you finally manage to overcome all the tests, you can recover the artifact, and sell it for Fortune, the main objective of the game. Depending on the number of players you have to reach a certain amount of Fortune, before the evil organisation you are fighting against, reaches it’s own goal. Things can become very tense indeed, with you racing across the world, trying to recover a final artifact in order to beat the game.

Difficulty

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Now I am not going to lie to you, this game has a lot of rules. As such it will definitely take you a while to get the hang of this game. I have so far played three sessions, and I still find myself looking through the gamebook trying to look up a particular rule. However, this game is such an incredible amount of fun, that I did not mind this one bit. What helps is just looking at a few great walkthrough videos on YouTube, especially the ones made by the Lonesome Gamer. Not only are they fun to watch, they really help you in learning the game. If you are a casual gamer, you might not like the game as this is definitely not a pick up and play type of game. Sessions can last for three to four hours, and time can be extended if you are playing with more players.

As for winning the game, that is also no easy task, but on my last game I did get close. One thing that can be annoying is the dicerolling. If you are really unlucky with the dice, especially when trying to pass certain tests, you have almost no chance of winning.

The Verdict

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I have had this game in my collection for quite a while now, and I finally got around to playing it. I absolutely love it. There are so many fun situations than can crop up during this game, that not one game is the same. One moment you try to sneak aboard a Nazi Zeppelin, and in another you try to escape from a crumbling temple. Everything can happen in this game, and if you are a lover of the Indiana Jones movies, than this game is really worth checking out. Yes there is a big element of luck involved, I can’t deny that fact, but the game is so much fun to play, that I really did not even care when I failed at another test. All in all I highly recommend this game. Put on your hat, crack your whip, and start the plane….just try to avoid any snakes while you are at it…..

I give Fortune and Glory a 9 out of 10 score.

 

 

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Daylight’s End, American Movie (2016)

Ever since seeing the first Mad Max movie, I have been an enthusiastic follower of all things post apocalyptic. No, I am not a guy that would like the world to end, I like life a little bit too much for that, thank you very much. But I do love movies, books, games and tv shows set in settings that show the end times, especially if they are done well. It is a very popular setting, as we currently have a lot of things that feature the end of days in one way or another. I saw the trailer of Daylight’s End about a week ago, and as it featured Lance Henriksen, one of my favorite, and if you ask me most underrated actors of Hollywood, it definitely had my interest. As luck would have it, it showed up in my local dvd shop yesterday, and as the pricetag was pretty low, I bought it immediately.

Daylight’s End tells the tale of the lone warrior Rourke, who drives around the wastelands of America in a beat up car. The world has come to an end, and what is left of humanity tries to survive a plague that has turned people into vampires. (and not zombies for a change). Rourke has turned bitter after the loss of his wife, and is out for revenge on the creature that killed her. One day he comes across a woman who is in the middle of an attack by a couple of human thugs. After saving her, she asks him if he can accompany her back to her compound where she and another group of survivors try to make a stand against the vampires. Upon returning, Rourke meets up with the leader of the group a man called Frank. When an Alpha vampire makes it appearance, things become very grim indeed. Rourke thinks the only way for the group to survive is to take out the Alpha on his own turf, but Frank has other ideas. With night closing in, both men will have to find a way to work together, or the end will be there, in more ways than one.

A couple of years ago I saw a briljant post apocalyptic vampire movie called Stakeland. (If you have not yet seen that one, track it down, it is very good). This movie, though not as good as the former, reminds me of it in a lot of ways. Daylight’s End is a pleasant surprise. There are a lot of well executed action sequences and some great performances by the actors. Lance Henriksen is always just a very solid actor, but Johny Strong who plays the lone wolf Rourke, also does a pretty good job. Strong also performed the score for this movie, and it set the tone perfectly. Sure, this movie doesn’t do anything that you haven’t seen before, but it is definitely not boring, and especially if you like movies such as these it might be worth your time to see this one.

I give Daylight’s End a 7 out of 10 score.

 

The Complex, Japanese movie (2013)

Every person that loves movies probably has a few movie scenes that they find pretty much unforgettable. They can be memorable because of a certain number of reasons. Either they shocked you in some way, made you feel goosebumps, or are just so incredibly horrifying that they have been edged into your mind forever. Whatever the reason may be, the impact they made on you will never be forgotten. A scene that I recall vividly was the moment that Sadako appears from out of the television screen in the original Ringu (Ring) movie. I was absolutely terrified, never having witnessed something that scary in a movie before. It is moments like those, that make me love movies so much. To date, even though I now know what is coming, I still find it a truly horrible scene, but wow it is so good. The director of the Ring, Hideo Nakata, has since made a lot of other horrormovies and one of those is The Complex.

The student Asuka together with her parents, has recently moved into a new appartment complex. As with every new residence it usually takes a while to get used to your new surroundings. But in this complex things take a bit longer than normal. Asuka constantly hears strange scratching noises coming from the apartment next door. One day she finds her neighbour dead in his home. But the noises continue after his dead, and it doesn’t end there. When confronted by the ghost of her dead neighbour, she learns that there have been more people that have died in the complex. Soon, terrible secrets come to light, that will drive Asuka to the edge of insanity…

To get started right away, this movie definitely is not The Ring. There truly are a few pretty scary scenes, that will sent shivers up your spine. But those moments are scarce, this being more of a supernatural mystery than a true horror movie. As I expected this to be a movie more in the style of the Ring, I was a bit disappointed by it.  But that being said, this movie is not bad. The story is pretty good, and has some nice twists in it, that I certainly did not see coming. It is one of those movies that when you finish it, it does keep you thinking about it in your mind. The acting was fairly decent, and as far as cinematography goes that was done allright as well. The movie moves along at a slow pace, but has just enough in it to keep your attention. In the end I found this movie okay, but not great.

As such I give this movie a 6 out of 10 score.

Knights of Sidonia Season 1, Anime tv series (2014)

Netflix has been producing a lot of high quality tv series and movies over the past few years. Carrying the name Netflix Originals, they have ventured forth on numerous territories such as Drama, Superheroes, Action and Science Fiction. Nearly all the tv series they have made to date, I have so far enjoyed watching very much. In 2014 Netflix made their first Japanese Anime series called Knights of Sidonia, based on the Manga of the same name. I have just completed watching the first season and am now ready to share my thoughts on this very cool Mecha Anime.

It is the year 3394, a thousand years after mankind has fled their homeplanet of Earth. The homeplanet of the human race has been destroyed by an alien race called the Gauna. Humanity has survived by fleeing aboard gigantic colony ships that have been sent forth into the galaxy. One of these ships is called the Sidonia, home to both the military and civilians. It contains a gigantic city in which people go about their daily lives. But just as in a normal city, certain parts have fallen into disrepair, especially the parts in the bowels of the ship. When a young man called Nagate Tanikaze moves to the surface of the city in search of food, he is soon captured and brought before the captain of the vessel. Nagate has been training himself in the art of piloting Gardes, gigantic robots that are pretty much the defenders of Sidonia. It is soon decided that Nagate might be a very valuable asset, and he is drafted as a pilot. And not a moment too soon, because after being absent for years, the Gauna resurface hellbent on the total destruction of the ship and it’s people. Nagate finds himself in the middle of a war, where the fate of humanity will be decided…

This series has borrowed from a lot of classic Animeseries, such as Macross, Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion. However, despite that, after the first 3 or so episodes, it  picks up speed and really manages to create a fantastic Anime experience. Anyone who loves watching Mecha Anime is definitely in for a treat here. The Gauna are pretty unique enemies, and the Gardes are fantastic robots to look at. One other thing that is worth mentioning is the sound in this show. The engines, the noise the weapons make, everything sounds incredibly cool, and you will experience that even better with headphones on.Yes, this series is a bit of a clone, and at times you do wonder have I not seen this before somewhere? However you will soon forgive it for that, as it just draws you into it’s storyline, and it’s incredibly cool Mecha battles. At the end of this season, some questions will be answered, but there are still a lot of things left open as well. Luckily the second season is already on Netflix, so you can continue right away. If you like Mecha Anime, you might want to give this a try.

I give Knights of Sidonia season 1, a 8 out of 10 score.

Fuse, a dicegame for 1-5 players, by Renegade Game Studios (2016)

Don’t you just hate it when that happens? One minute you are cruising along in the galaxy aboard your spaceship minding your own business, when suddenly alien invaders have breached your hull. And as if that wasn’t bad enough they have left bombs on every deck in order to blow you, your ship and the valuable A.I. of your ship to smithereens. Okay it is time to get your dice out and start defusing them. Wait, what?

Components

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The components of this dicegame are relatively few, but they get the job done. Inside the box you will find a total of 25 coloured dice, and a nice looking cloth bag in which to place these dice. Also included are a total of 54 different bomb cards, and 11 special fuse cards. The rulebook is the last thing included, and it is written well, with enough examples to teach you the game. The components are relatively simple, but this is one of those games that is not about the way it looks, but the way it plays. And gameplay is definitely a blast (pun intended).

Gameplay

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In Fuse your ship has been attacked and unknown assailants have placed a enormous amount of bombs aboard. You have 10 minutes to defuse them all, and this has to be taken very literally as this game plays in realtime. The game has a (free to download) app, in which a clock counts down together with a very annoying ship A.I. (Artificial Intelligence). In the beginning she is very encouraging, but as the clock is counting down, she becomes somewhat less friendly and tells you to hurry things along. Ofcourse you don’t have to use this app, you can also a regular timer, but I honestly say that I found it pretty funny listening to her.

So how does this game work? Each round, depending on the number of players, a number of dice are pulled from the dicebag. After you have rolled the dice that have been pulled from the bag, they are then used to defuse the bombs, which are depicted on the cards. Every bomb is different, and has it’s own set of problems to solve. For instance some cards require you to put dice on them in a particular order, or combination of numbers. On other cards you might have to build a stack of dice, starting at the bottom with a particular colour. If a die can’t be used, you have to reroll that one, and remove a corresponding die from a bomb you are in the middle of defusing. Depending on the level of difficulty you are playing at, there are a certain number of bombs you have to defuse before time runs out. This creates a very nervewracking game, especially when time is beginning to run out, and you are not even halfway through.

Difficulty

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You can learn this game pretty quickly. The rules are really not that difficult, and as I mentioned earlier, the rulebook is pretty well written. However mastering the game and beating it, is a whole different story. I have so far played this game only solo, and after a couple of rounds have not yet managed to beat it. The timer is effective, and even though you should not let yourself be affected by it, you sometimes can’t help it. Being a dicegame there is ofcourse always an element of luck included, but you also have to think quickly and plan in advance, in order to become a winner. And trust me when I say that by using the app, you will eventually begin to get very annoyed at the ship A.I.voice. She can truly be a real….well I guess you can fill in the blanks for yourself.

The Verdict

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I simply put, love this game. This is just one of those games that is easy to pick up, but  has that “Let’s try this one more time ” quality. Okay, this is not the most awesome looking game ever, but that really does not matter, as this game just has fun written all over it. I am primarily a solo boardgame player, and I find that this game really works well playing it alone. (Well not alone, you still have that kind and friendly ship A.I. to keep you company). I can imagine that when playing this with other people, things can become even more tense, passing the dicebag around, with the timer counting down to destruction. I highly recommend this game. If you like dicegames in general, this is almost a no-brainer. Well, with only 1 minute left to total ship destruction I am going to give this game my final score.

I give Fuse a 9 out of 10 score.

 

Goodbye mr.Black, Korean Drama Series (2016)

They say revenge is a dish that is best served cold. Don’t know if that is true, but I can honestly say that I love a good revenge story. Be it in a movie, a tv series or a novel, I think there is just something fascinating about someone exacting revenge on people who did him or her wrong in some way. And if there is one country who is a true master at crafting movies or tv series around revenge it is South Korea. I have seen plenty of Korean Drama series that deal with revenge in some way or another. This year we can add yet another show to that list: Goodbye mr. Black. Is it any good though?

Goodbye mr. Black is loosely (very loosely) based on the famous novel The count of Monte Christo. The hero of the story is a guy called Cha Ji Won who is a soldier that has been trained in a special unit, together with his adoptive brother Min Seon Jae. The latter is very jealous of Cha Ji Won, feeling that he has always stood in his shadow.  When his adoptive father gets killed in Thailand, Seon Jae knows who is responsible, but he keeps quiet about it. And with good reason it seems, as he has been offered a very lucrative position by the killers, as the head of a company. Cha Ji Won travelling to Thailand is later framed for another murder by Min Seon Jae. Fleeing for his life in a daring escape, it looks like Cha Ji Won gets killed in the attempt. However Cha Ji Won has devised a cunning revenge plot, and under the assumed name of mr.Black, reappears a couple of years later. Together with the help of a mysterious girl whom he calls Swan, mr.Black prepares the first steps of his plan. Swan has become very important to him, and his feelings for her grow daily. Unfortunately though, his escape attempt has not left him completely unscathed, and time might be running out for him. Will he be able to complete his revenge against Min Seon Jae, and the murderers of his father?

This series starts with a lot of action. The first two episodes seem almost out of place in comparison to the rest of this series. Goodbye mr. Black is not a bad show, but I do feel that they took too long to tell the story. If they would have cut a few episodes, I think we would have had a much better tv series. As it is now, the story just gets dragged out, and this sometimes was the cause of some pretty boring episodes. The humour in this show, was at times truly cringeworthy. Acting wise however we had a few very good actors, most noteworthy of these being Kim Kang Woo, who did a more than decent job portraying the evil Min Seon Jae. This definitely is not going down as one of my alltime favorite K-drama series, but it was a decent watch, and every storyline did get wrapped up very nicely in the end.

As such I give Goodbye mr. Black a 7 out of 10 score.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, American movie (2015)

Halloween is fast approaching so I am currently watching more than my regular fill of horrormovies. In horror there a few franchises that are well known amongst fans. Usually all these movies and their sequels have one thing in common: they start off really well, and usually go downhill fast with every sequel made. Ofcourse there are a few examples of sequels that are so bad, they become entertaining just because of that. Take for instance Friday the 13th. With a whopping twelve movies to date (including a remake and Freddy vs. Jason), it is a prime example of a horrorfranchise that produced sequels that were so bad, they were good. Last year another franchise released a sequel which is supposedly the final chapter. I am talking about Paranormal Activity 5: the Ghost Dimension.

The original Paranormal Activity was a classic. It was made with very minimal means, and told the story of a family being threatened by supernatural forces. It was made with handheld camera’s and showed in a very realistic way what happened to the family at night. And it pretty much started the whole “found footage” craze in horrormovies. With three sequels, and two spin-off movies, this last installment marks the end of the road. In the Ghost Dimension, two parents and their little girl take up residence in their new home. While cleaning up the house, the father finds a camera that is very unusual. Looking through it he is beginning to see things that are definitely not of this world. When his daughter is subsequently beginning to act very strangely, he soon realises that an evil demon has set his sights on his little girl. However getting rid of this demon is easier said than done…

The problem I have with this final installment is that it has lost sight of the original movie. Where the first one was made with little to no means, this one is full of special effects (and not very good ones either). That in itself would not be so bad, if the movie was any good. Unfortunately it is not. The creators of this film must have thought that throwing in a few jumpscares at 10 minute intervals would make for a scary film. Well it really doesn’t work like that. Except for maybe one or two scenes, this movie is pretty boring and not really scary at all. Having seen all the previous parts, I wanted to know how they would end it. Well I guess I have my answer now: pretty badly. As I said this is the final chapter, but let’s be honest we have all heard that before. I would not be surprised if in one or two years part six will be released : Back from the Ghost Dimension, or another name such as that. If you have watched this franchise from the beginning, as I have, then I guess you almost have to watch this one. Be prepared for a bitter disappointment though.

I give this movie a 4 out of 10 score.

Vikings Season 2, Irish/Canadian tv series (2014)

If history has taught us anything it is that nothing lasts forever. So many Empires and cultures have fallen throughout the ages, that it is hard to keep track of all of them. And that is why I love historical movies and television shows. It teaches us about the customs and rituals that are long since forgotten, but are brought to life again by the magic of modern day culture. Take Vikings for instance, a show that is steadily gaining more and more fans, and deservedly so. Besides being a truly entertaining tv series, it brings to life a culture that is now lost to the tides of time. Based on both historical facts and myth, it tells the story of the Viking Ragnar Lothbrok. The interesting thing is that Ragnar is one of those characters that you both love and hate.

In season two Ragnar, who is now the earl of his clan, will come to face a lot of new challenges. For one thing there are some serious problems with both his wife, the beautiful and deadly Lagertha, and his brother Rollo. The second thing he has to deal with, is that his sudden rise to power brings forth a lot of new, and envious enemies, who seek to undermine him. Ragnar truly has almost no one left around him whom he truly trusts. And with more and more lands on the horizon to conquer and plunder, he will need all the help he can get. But across the sea there are also forces that are raised against him. Will Ragnar be able to keep his title, and even more importantly his life…..

I absolutely love the atmosphere of this show. It is truly dark and mystical, and combined with the fantastic score this series has, it is a complete joy to watch. If there is one word with which I would describe season 2, it is treachery. Everyone seems to have his or her own agenda this season, and you never know what a character is about to do, until it happens. You can also see that they definitely had a bigger budget to spent, as there are some truly amazing set pieces this season. Just as in season 1 the acting is superb, and Travis Fimmel as Ragnar is nothing short of amazing. He plays the character very convincingly, and one would almost think that he truly is a Viking born again. I can’t wait to start with season 3 of this fantastic show.

I give season 2 of Vikings a 9 out of 10 score.

Descendants Of The Sun, Korean Drama Series (2016)

Okay, let’s talk some numbers people. What would you say about a tv series that had a 38.8% nationwide viewership rating? How about 2.3 billion views on an online video platform in China. Say what? This is surely a new version of Game of Thrones or the Walking Dead right? Well, no. We are talking about a Korean drama series that swept Asia by storm. It is the highest rated dramaseries that has ever been aired in Korea. Usually with a series that has created this much buzz the question becomes, is this series worthy of the hype? In the case of Descendants of the Sun, the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

So what is the series about? Descendants of the Sun tells the story of the soldier Yoo Si Yin. In the beginning of the series, he and his friend and fellow soldier Seo Dae Young catch a thief who becomes injured and is taken to the hospital. Soon after, Dae Young finds out his cellphone has been taken by the thief. Both he and Si Yin travel to the hospital where the thief was taken, and meet the feisty doctor Kang Mo Yeon. At first Yoo Si Yin and her do not see eye to eye on things, to put it mildly. But as is so often the case, that is the start of a whirlwind romance. With Mo Yeon being a doctor, and Si Yin a soldier, they both have a very conflicting lifestyle. And that is the cause of a lot of complications between them as Yoo Si Yin continually gets the call for some kind of dangerous mission. Deciding she can’t take it anymore, the doctor ends the relationship. Two years after that, as fate would have it, they both end up in the country of Urk. She still in her role as doctor, and he as the captain of a special forces unit. With danger lurking from every side, the flames of love begin to rekindle between the two of them. But whether or not their relationship will be able to withstand all the hostilities Urk has to offer, remains to be seen.

This series has so much good things going for it, it is hard to know where to start. First and foremost is the enormous chemistry between the two main characters. That is the heart of this show, and the two leads could not have been cast any better. This series has something for everyone. There is a lot of action, and some truly exciting episodes that will have you on the edge of your seat. But there is also a lot to laugh. There were some genuinely funny scenes that had me bursting out with laughter. And finally there is the heartache, as there are a few events that are truly sad. This show has the word addictive written all over it, and I can truly understand why this has been such a massive succes. Don’t think this is just some kind of cheesy romantic love story. Give this show a try if you haven’t already, it is well worth your time.

I give Descendants of the Sun a 9 out of 10 score.

Inside Men, Korean movie (2015)

Sometimes a movie can be very bad, but still be enjoyable to watch because of an actor that plays a fantastic role. At times the movie is even saved because of that particular actor or actress. It takes a very special talent to pull something like that off. One of the best actors from Korea, at least in my humble opinion, is Lee Byung-hun. His natural charisma and incredible acting skills turn even mediocre movies into gold. One of those movies for instance was Memories of the Sword (you can find my review for it right Here ). Even though that movie wasn’t spectacular, his role alone made it worth your time. But sometimes even an actor of his calibre is not enough to turn a movie into something that is at least above average.

In the movie Inside Men, Byung-hun plays the role of Ahn Sang-goo, a criminal who is caught embezzling campaign funds. Because of this, he receives a very brutal punishment: his hand gets chopped off. The two people responsible for this are the ambitious and ruthless politician Jang Pil-woo, and Lee Kang-hee who works at a very influential conservative newspaper. Ahn is ofcourse hellbent on revenge, and he soon finds an ally in the form of a prosecutor called Woo Jang-hoon. Their relationship starts on very rocky ground, but soon they join forces and devise a plan to bring down the two corrupt men. However both Pil-woo and Kang-hee have enough tricks up their sleeve to not go down easy. Who will win this war of revenge and politics?

Sounds like a great story right? Revenge, political intrigue, corruption, all the ingredients for a terrific movie one would say. Unfortunately this movie is a complete let down. The script and editing of this movie are a mess, and not even Lee Byung-hun was able to save this one. There is a certain scene in this movie where a few of the power hungry men play golf in a, well, pretty disturbing way. At this point I was ready to switch it off, but I decided to stick with it. It did not get any better from there, and the so-called twist at the end, one could see coming from miles away. At times the movie also seems to have trouble deciding what it wanted to be: action movie, drama, or political thriller. I had high hopes for this one, because of the story and being a fan of Lee Byung-hun. It goes to show that not even a great actor is able to save everything. A real shame, and a movie that is best avoided if you ask me.

I give Inside Men a 3 out of 10 score.