Tag Archives: Crime

Special Features Presents: My top 10 Solo Boardgames (part 1)

You all still know Arthifis right? He and I did a fun collab post earlier this week about the art of commenting, and if you missed that one you can find it right here. So why mention him again? Well for starters he is a great guy and if you are not yet following his blog, you should do so immediately. His posts are diverse, often offer some great advice on the art of blogging, and are always a joy to read. And I did already mention he was a great guy right? Anyways a few weeks ago he asked me if I could maybe do a top 10 list for my favorite solo boardgames. Well, how can I say no to a request like that? So Arthifis, this post is for you! I decided to break this one down into two parts, so you all don’t have to scroll for ages or get incredibly bored by it all. I love playing boardgames but I don’t always have people I can play them with. So that’s why I love the fact that there are some really cool games out there that can be played on your own, and be just as much fun as if you are playing with a group.

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Now, this list is made up of games that I own myself, but in no way is it near complete. There is a huge range of boardgames out there that I haven’t played yet, and offer some great solo options as well. But, that said, I still hope you will enjoy going through this and find something you might like. If you want to see some of the games I feature in this post in action, you might want to check out the channel the Vitruvian Gamer over on Youtube. It’s hosted by Kurt, truly one of the nicest guys you are ever likely to meet, and he always has amazing playthrough videos amongs other things that are well worth the watch. I have provided a link here if you are interested and want to subscribe to his channel. I’m sure he will appreciate it. So, with all that out of the way, let’s go and start the countdown shall we?

10: Fuse

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Not every game needs to be complex or take hours to play. Fuse is a fun dice game, where you literally race against the clock to prevent bombs going of on a spaceship. There is a timer that counts down from the 10 minute mark, and within that time you have to defuse bombs with your dice. Some of these are easy, and some are extremely hard. In the meantime the ship’s A.I. System talks to you (provided by a free App) and becomes ever more crazy when the clock nears the zero mark. It’s just a fun, quick little game that can be learned in minutes. If you want a more indepth look at this, you might want to check out my review for it here.

9. Legacy of Dragonholt

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Well, most of you have probably heard of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. The problem with roleplaying games however is that hardly any of them can be played solo. This one though, is totally different. It’s a game that is kind of a choose your own adventure where you are taken on a epic quest throughout a fantasy realm. I haven’t yet had a chance to really dive into this one, but you can expect a review for it somewhere along the way. I love the way it looks, and the game is huge and will take you many days to complete. Also it has a very detailed character creation system, but still offers little to no rules, that are mostly learned by just delving into the game itself.

8. Death Angel: The Space Hulk cardgame

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This cardgame based on the popular boardgame of the same name, takes you on journey into the bowels of a derelict spacecraft. You take control of a squad of Terminator Space Marines, that have a mission to carry out. However the ship is infested by the vicious Genestealer aliens, and succes is by no means certain. This game is nailbiting and very tough. Every round you have to make splitsecond decisions where you give orders to your troops. These orders can mean life or dead for your squad. As more Marines are killed off, the game becomes ever more challenging. This is a truly great game, but sadly it’s one that is now out of print. Still the good news is that there are still a few websites that have the game on offer. If you like movies such as Alien, this is one game you might want to check out.

7. Samurai Spirit

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This game is so much fun. It places you in the middle of a village that is getting attacked by a series of bandits, and you have to defend it. And by you I mean a bunch of samurai that have mystic powers, and can even transform into animal spirits. It brings back memories of classic Samurai films from Japanese cinema. This is also a game that is very easy to learn and has a lot of replayability in it as well. There are a huge number of different options available to you, and that is what makes this game so much fun to play. It’s another game that I wrote a post on, so if you want some more information for this just click on the link provided right here.

6. Hostage Negotiator

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This game is specifically designed to be played solo. And not only that it is one that really has one of the most unique settings ever. If you have seen the film the Negotiator it can almost be said that this is the game version of that film. A really unsteady individual has taken captive a number of people, and it is up to you to talk the guy or girl down. The game pretty much takes you through a conversation with the terrorist, while you try to negotiate with him or her to release the hostages. You can buy cards that offer you more options in such negotiations, and depending on the stress level of the captor, you will have a number of them open to you. This is another nailbiter, where you race against time to save a set number of people. If too many hostages die, it’s game over. There are quite a few expansions available for this game as well, that will pit you against different kinds of kidnappers.

Well…that’s it for part one. Stay tuned for part two next week, where I will be covering some of my alltime favorite games. Thanks for reading and I hope you will all have a great weekend!

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Peppermint, American Movie (2018)

There is something extremely appealing to a strong female lead role in a film. Especially when that woman is also an action heroine. And before you all fall over me, I don’t mean that in a sexist way at all. I have always believed that women can pretty much do anything a man can do, and sometimes they do it even better. For the people that have been following my blog for a while now, you know that I have a particular love for revenge movies. It was only a short while ago that I reviewed the Korean revenge movie The Villainess which coincidentally also featured a lady that could seriously kick some  booty. So why are women in such roles so appealing? I don’t exactly have an answer to that question. But I do know it is great to see a woman pretty much beat the living daylights out of men that are so evil that they don’t even deserve to be alive in this world. This month we see Jennifer Garner finally make a very welcome return to the action genre. Looking back to quite a few years ago, some people might remember her playing the feisty agent Sydney Bristow in the hitseries Alias. In Peppermint though she seems to pay homage to that character, only this time she plays the completely psychotic and lethal version of it.

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Sometimes people seek a tougher challenge then decorating Christmas trees.

Riley North is a woman who struggles to make ends meet. She and her husband Chris have a lovely daughter and live a good life, but they do seem to have trouble keeping their heads above water financially. Chris almost went off to do something stupid and illegal but changed his mind at the last second. One night on their daughter’s birthday they head off as a family to the local carnival. They have the time of their lives, but that changes in the blink of an eye when a drive by shooting by local drug cartel members results in something absolutely horrible. Riley survives the incident and has the chance to appear in court, as she alone has managed to step up and identify the suspects. But a sleezeball lawyer and corrupt judge manage to turn the tables, and as a result the perpetrators get set free. But then something snaps in Riley. The once quiet and loving mother is determined to bring a justice of her own to the cartel and woe to anyone who will stand in her way. They say hell hath no fury to a woman scorned, and Riley North has become the living embodiment of that saying….

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Open wide!! Oh wait…it seems that you can’t!

Well, if this sounds like a story you might have seen and heard of a countless number of times in movies, you would be right. Yes this is a straight up good old fashioned revenge movie, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. What we have here is one of those films, that will probably leave your mind by the end of the week, but is still solidly entertaining and worth making a trip to the movie theatre for. One of the reasons for this  is most certainly Jennifer Garner. She is amazing as the grieving mother with a heart, and brings a cold determination to her character as she continues with her mission of vengeance. And what a mission it is. She is a one man erm woman army as she shoots, stabs and kicks all sorts of low life trash to the afterlife. It almost felt at times that I was  looking at an old 80’s Stallone or Schwarzenegger movie, but without the over the top and unrealistic action. (Althought I love those movies in case you were wondering). Garner is totally believable in this role, and it was nice to finally see her step out of her pretty mundane roles of late, and go into full on action mode again.

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Lasergaming still seems to be popular in some circles. 

Storywise this just isn’t an original tale, although there was a twist during the later half of the film that I did not see coming. And it’s always nice to see something like that happening. But in a movie like this it’s the action that counts, and in that way this film doesn’t let up for a second. We have a total adrenaline rush here, that sees you moving from one fight scene, to the next gunbattle and all of these are pretty brutal too. The director doesn’t have a problem with depicting violence, but it never get too gory. As mentioned though, the action certainly wasn’t unrealistic, and it was also refreshing to see that Riley isn’t an invulnerable superwoman but actually get’s wounded, and quite a lot too. The action sequences were choreagraphed very decently, and certainly won’t leave anyone who craves for action in their films feel slighted. The rest of the roles in this film weren’t very memorable to be honest, but this is pretty much a film that is carried by the role of Garner, and I was fine with that.

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Testing, testing..one, two, three….

I had fun with this film. It’s a movie that doesn’t reinvent the revenge genre, but I have to be honest that I’m not always looking for movies that feel the need to do that. Sometimes it’s nice to see just a solid entry into a familiar genre, and on that front this movie absolutely delivers. So do I recommend the film? Well, if you love oldschool action movies, with gunbattles, and energetic fight sequences with a solid female lead, I would say go for it. If that isn’t you usual cup of tea, this movie won’t convince you otherwise, and it’s best to avoid it then. What this movie does prove though is that it’s never a good idea to mess with a mother’s love for her child. Or women in general. Some can certainly turn into angels of vengeance, a lesson that one does best to not forget. And in case you might have forgotten it, I hope you won’t ever run into Riley North. Because I am pretty sure she won’t mind in helping you remember it…..

I give Peppermint a 7 out of 10 score.

 

Mission Impossible Fallout, American Movie (2018)

So let’s talk about Hollywood movie stars. Because, really why not? Big movie stars can have it rough. Imagine if you will: you take a walk to your supermarket to do some grocery shopping and everyone, and I do mean everyone, knows who you are. Would that not be like the most awkward thing ever? And what if it becomes even more creepier, as in papparazi’s stalking you everywhere you go. Don’t for a second think that being a movie star is all that glamorous. You have no private life so to speak of. And when negative things happen, it becomes even worse. Take Tom Cruise for instance. His association with the Scientology church, as well as some other stuff, have left a lot of people disliking the guy. But at what point does an actor’s social life, have an impact on his acting abilities? I for one don’t really care about it. Unless an actor or actress turns into an axe murderer or does something really horrific, I would not stop seeing the movies he or she stars in. And so it is for me with Tom Cruise. I may not always agree with the things he does in his daily life, but I just love his films. And after seeing the latest Mission Impossible movie, my respect for him has only grown.

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The seating arrangements in helicopters these days are just totally off.

Ethan Hunt is back! It is now two years after the events of the last film, and you would think that after the capture of the evil Solomon Lane things have settled down in the world. But…think again. As usually happens with vile and evil organisations like Lane’s “The Syndicate”, the remnants of it have turned into something even more sinister. The Apostles as the new group calls itself, have their sights set on something truly terrifying, three Plutonium cores. With these they plan to unleash three nuclear devices, and bring terror and destruction to the rest of the word. It’s up to Ethan Hunt and the rest of his team to put a stop to this before it’s too late. They are being assisted in their mission by a special CIA operative, a man named August Walker. But soon the stakes become even higher for Hunt when someone very close to him is threatened. And in order to put a stop to the plans of The Apostles and save the people he loves, Ethan might just have to depend on someone he would never think he would meet again….Solomon Lane.

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Erm, pretty sure that normal people wear a helmet when riding on a motorcycle.

I don’t know of many franchises where the sixth movie turns out to be the best one. In fact, I have been wracking my mind for a while now and it comes up empty. (Yes…you can say it, maybe it was already empty in the first place). Seriously though, Mission Impossible Fallout pulls it off, and then some. The main reason for this though, is a man named Tom Cruise. Now as mentioned above, a lot of people seem to hate his guts these days, and that’s fine. I for one am not one of them. He is now 58 years old, but in this film he runs around like he’s 20 and even more impressive, does all of his own stunts. Let us just take a moment to leave that to settle in. I mean 58! I don’t know about you but I find that very, very impressive. And we are not talking about stunts that are simple things either. For example, in this movie he pilots a stunt helicopter through some very dangerous and incredibly insane twists and turns. And he does that without any aid: Tom is the pilot, and there is no trickery involved in any way.

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Clark Kent decided he had enough of his glasses and totally went for a mustache look.

This film is an action roller coaster that doesn’t let up. It pulls out of the station with full speed, and it doesn’t stop for anything. Every action scene feels like it belongs there, and wasn’t just put in simply because it might look cool. But of course in case you had not yet figured that out, they do look cool! With so much action, you hardly get any breathers at all. And that does have an impact on the story itself which to be honest, isn’t all that great. It’s a fairly standard, nothing we haven’t seen before tale of a group of people trying to stop a bunch of terrorists from wreaking havoc. But despite that fact, it still works well, and I also felt that out of all the Mission Impossible films to date, this one had a bit of a dark edge to it. There were several moments, especially because of the music that accompanied certain scenes, that I felt myself in a kind of unsettling frame of mind. There are at least some attempts at humor in the film, but these scenes are quite sparse, especially when you compare them to the other five films.

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She is such an amazingly strong woman. The gun is just for show…she doesn’t need it at all!

From an acting point of view we have a great cast assembled here. Henry “Superman” Cavill plays the role of August Walker, donning the infamous mustage. In case you missed it, he was not allowed to shave of this thing when he was filming Justice League. And that meant that they had to remove it digitally, with very mixed results and some often hilarious internet gifs were created because of this. But it has to be said, Henry plays a great part in this film, and it certainly shows of he can do more than just play a Man of Steel. Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg both return to reprise their roles, and they do so with great flourish. They really are very comfortable playing these parts, and it totally shows. Rebecca Furguson also reappears as Hunt’s love interest Ilsa, and she already impressed me in the previous installment. She does so again here. I just love her character, a true powerhouse of a woman who can more than hold her own against all the males gathered together in this movie.

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I often wonder why Cruise never joined the Olympics, he sure does like to run!

Mission Impossible Fallout might just very well be the best action movie you will see all year. It’s one that I highly recommend if you like the franchise in the first place, but also when you are a fan of well executed actions movies. The film runs over two hours, but during that time you won’t feel bored for even a single second. Tom Cruise has just simply done it again. Yes he might at times be a bit weird in real life, as an actor he just pretty much always entertains. So just don’t be too impossible about this, and just go and watch this film. It’s one that will have you leaving the theatre with a big grin on your face, a sure tell sign that a movie does something right!

I give Mission Impossible Fallout a 9 out of 10 score

Lawless Lawyer, Korean drama series (2018)

There is very thin line between justice and revenge. What many people might consider justice, might just barely scratch the surface for some of the victims of a crime. Or even worse: what if the crime isn’t punished at all, and the perpetrator that committed it walks free? I think history has plenty of examples for that. One only has to look at the O.J. Simpson trial to see what I mean. Good thing though that eventually the law cought up with that guy. However it’s when things like that happen, that you start to wonder if the law sometimes is enough. What would you do if you were the victim of a crime and find out that justice isn’t being served? I’m not talking about something petty, like a purse being stolen (although that can be annoying as well of course). No I am talking about the big crimes: murder, rape, etc. I consider myself a pretty peace loving guy, but if someone close to me got hurt, and I find out who has caused it…Well let’s just say that Bill Bixby in the classic tv-series of the Hulk said it correctly: You would not like me when I’m angry! After seeing Lawless Lawyer though, I think you will find out that you can hand out revenge in an even better way: by the law itself!

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Some people just don’t know how to eat their food properly. 

Meet Bong Sang-pil. He is confident, charming and a very convincing lawyer who has a succes rate that others can only dream of. His methods however are quite unorthodox to say the least. Having returned to his hometown of Gisung after several years, he has started up his own lawfirm Lawless Lawyers. He is not alone as he has surrounded himself with a number of colourful characters that are going to help him pursue justice. But Bong Sang-pil has something else on the agenda as well. When he was a young child his mother was murdered before his eyes by the ruthless criminal Ahn Oh-joo. Bong Sang-pil barely managed to escape, and has since then grown up under the care of his uncle who runs a gang. Now, the young lawyer wants only one thing: revenge! He eventually meets up with the female lawyer Ha Jae-yi who has recenly been dismissed from court because she punched a judge in the face. Together this unlikely pair is going to bring the law to Gisung. But there are ties from the past between the two of them, that will soon rise to the surface. It becomes clear that Ahn Oh-joo might not be the only criminal in town, as there is someone with an even higher authority that will become the real target of Bong Sang-pil’s revenge…if he can survive long enough to bring that person to justice that is…..

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Awwwwwwww ❤️❤️❤️

Sometimes you just have to watch one minute of something and you get the feeling that it’s going to be a series that will be more than worth the watch. Lawless Lawyer is just that kind of show. From the very first scene this Korean Drama series just brings a freshness with it and it hardly ever loses your attention during it’s 16 episode run. This is not just another legal drama. One of the things that I always love about K-dramas is the fact that they can turn the atmosphere of the show around in a heartbeat. When this series first starts you might think this is a comedy. But you would be wrong, dead wrong. While there is some seriously funny stuff in here as well (not the least of which is the sometimes totally crazy music that accompanies it), Lawless Lawyer is above all a terrific revenge thriller with some wonderful plot twists and an absolutely amazing cast. There are so many different things in here one would almost think it’s too much. Humor, Action, Romance, Sadness, Thrills…all of these elements are combined to give you an absolutely exhilarating experience.

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Are you serious about this? Isn’t this a little bit too much credit? 

But the one thing that really kicks this drama into overdrive is the cast. Bong Sang-pil played by Lee Joon-gi is one of those characters that you will fall instantly in love with. From the very first moment he appears he wins you over with his charm. He can play any kind of emotion and just lights up the screen with his amazing performance. And that also more than covers his physical abilities which you will see in the many fight sequences this drama contains. Another thing that works exceptionally well is his on screen chemistry with his female counterpart Ha Jae-yi, played by actress Seo Ye-ji. Here we have a woman who is not only incredibly beautiful but also displays a cold and determined confidence in her abilities. She is certainly not one to be taken lightly, and is one of the strongest female roles that I have seen in quite a while. When Bong Sang-pil and Ha Jae-yi are together it is just a delight to see them play off each other, and their romance that develops later on is all the better for it.

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One of the things you will wonder about int his show is how many suits this guy owns. 

However…the best performance and the one that makes this drama a must watch is on the parts of one of the villains, namely Ahn Oh-joo. The actor that brings this vile, but utterly delicious creature to life is Choi Min-soo. I recently sent a tweet out on Twitter claiming that if there was ever going to be an Oscar category for best villain in a Korean drama, he would win it without even having to blink. Ahn Oh-joo is just one of those thugs that you can’t help but smile at every time he enters a scene. I’m not kidding when I say that my jaw eventually began to hurt from being permanently stuck in grin mode. Ahn Oh-joo is despicable, loathsome and truly one of the lowest lifeforms you will ever encounter. And despite all that you will love him. Words alone can not really get my point across, so for a change I have included a scene with him below to let you see what I mean. I hope you will enjoy it. It’s a great confrontation between him and Bong Sang-pil, and it ends in a cliffhanger so that’s the perfect excuse to start watching this.

Now I have purposefully not said anything about who the true villain is in this review, as that would be spoiling stuff. Which is also a bit of a shame as that role is an equally impressive part and now I can’t really talk about it. Suffice it to say that developing hatred for that person is the first emotion that will rise to the surface when you see it (erm for the role that is, I’m sure that in real life the one who plays the part is a charmer). So after all that positivity are there also any negatives to the series? Well, some of the humor is at times very slapstick and there are some small scenes that make you cringe a bit. Also a few of the later episodes do tend to drag the story out longer then it needs to. But these are very minor things as above all this is a solidly entertaining dramaseries, that you will binge through in no time. One can only hope that maybe one day Bong Sang-pil and Ha Jae-yi will return fighting the good fight. I for one would not mind it at all if there were to be a second season for this.

I give Lawless Lawyer a 9 out of 10 score.

Training Day, American Movie (2001)

I have talked a lot on this blog about some of my favorite movies. But I haven’t often talked about the one thing that’s one of the most important ingredients in a film. No I am not talking about special effects. I am talking about the actors and actresses that bring movie characters to life. While I love a good B-movie from time to time, and can find a lot of enjoyment in that, it is a good performance in a film that I love just so much more. In fact, a memorable role in a film can turn something mediocre into something absolutely extraordinary. It takes a special kind of actor or actress to pull that off. And on that note  I do have quite a number of Hollywood greats that are my favorites. One of them is Denzel Washington. I have been following this actor for years now and seen most of his movies. He is known for usually playing the role of a hero, or at the very least a character that has some good traits or redeeming qualities in it. It is all the more ironic that he won an Oscar for a role that has none of these elements in it. To describe the character of Alonzo Harris as a demon made flesh, is not very far of the mark….

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Some people can get very obsessive about their parking spaces.

Police officer Jake Hoyt is feeling very good. He has a beautiful wife, a lovely baby girl and he has just been assigned to a post where he finally hopes to make detective. In order to do this he has to survive an evaluation by the notorious and decorated narcotics officer Alonzo Harris. Jake is very eager and can’t wait to finally get started on what he expects to be his dreamjob. His first encounter with Harris doesn’t go too well though. Meeting up in a diner, Hoyt finds Alonzo reading a newspaper. As he takes a seat right across from him, trying to introduce himself, Harris tells Hoyt to be quiet as he is reading his paper and the rookie is interrupting his routine. In total disbelief Jake tries to again start up a conversation, which is about the worst thing he could have done. Irritated by these very annoying interruptions, Alonze asks Hoyt to tell him a story as he doesn’t seem to get the peace and quiet he asked for. Jake awkwardly tries to come up with a good tale, but obviously he fails to satisfy his new training officer. This is the start of a day in which Jake will soon find out that not everyone in the police department is there to protect and serve….

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Just because I got an Oscar doesn’t mean that you should get one too….

Training Day is a movie that I have seen so many times now, and it still manages to impress me with each viewing. The story of the film is not even a very original one. We have seen countless movies about police corruption as it’s a very popular subject. Clint Eastwood had to fight against crooked cops as Dirty Harry in Magnum Force. And a young Al Pacino was on his own in the classic movie Serpico where he was the only good cop in a whole department gone rogue. So it’s not the story here that brings me back to see this film, although admittedly it’s a tense tale, that doesn’t let up and has plenty of twists and turns to keep it exciting. No, what brings this movie to life is one man namely Denzel Washington. When the film first starts, although he has some unorthodox methods, you can still symphatise with Alonzo. Some of the things he says actually make sense, and you are captivated by the charm with which he tells his experiences as a narcotics officer.

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I’m going to enjoy watching my fellow actor not win the Oscar!

But that is only a false sense of calm. Soon you are beginning to get that creepy feeling that something is off and not quite right. Denzel plays Alonzo to perfection and turns his  role into an experience that few actors can pull off. Yes, you read that right his role is an experience. The character of Alonzo Harris is a being that is truly and utterly evil. All he cares about is his own well being, and damn anyone who gets in his way. And despite all of that, despite all the hate you feel for him and you truly want to see him die for all the things he has done, you don’t want that to happen. Because you want to see more of Denzel’s Oscar winning performance. In fact I would not have objected to the film being four hours longer if that would have meant seeing more of  the scenes like the one below (please note that this clip does contain a couple of F-bombs, so if you are offended by things like that, don’t watch it).

One would almost forget though that there is a perfect counter to the dirty cop, which is officer Jake Hoyt played by Ethan Hawke. Ethan got an Oscar nomination for his role but sadly did not bring home the price. A shame really, because his performance is totally different than his co-actor, but every bit as important. To not only hold out against a juggernaut like Denzel but to almost achieve the same level of acting greatness is something that I have utter respect for. I really love Hoyt. He is a rookie that is caught in an absolutely impossible situation where most people would lose their own integrity. He doesn’t and because of that you really feel and care what happens to him. And you want to see him win. Big time! Training Day is dark, gritty and dirty. It creates an atmosphere that is tense and could even be called claustrophobic at times. It’s not a happy fillm, in fact one could even call it depressive at times. But…in the end though, there is a silver lining and an important lesson as well. This movie is a perfect example of how actors can really make or break a movie. And in this case, if you haven’t caught on yet, they certainly make it. Watch this film if you haven’t already. And if you have…rewatch it. It’s one hell of a good investment of your time.

I give Training Day a 9 out of 10 score.

Tunnel, Korean drama series (2017)

People have always held a kind of  morbid fascination when it comes to serial killers. One has to wonder why on Earth that is. There is nothing romantic about it. In fact when you look at all the serial killers from the past and present all you see is a lot of sadness and pain. Especially for the families of the victims of these often loathsome individuals. What drives one to become one? Some of them are just born that way, and have an evil inside them from a very young age. But it also happens that something triggers it. Choosing the wrong friends, an abusive childhood, a traumatic experience, all of these might be the cause of turning someone into a murderous psychopath. But they also say that each and every one of us has a dark side. Which brings me back to my original question, why are we so obsessed with them. Is it because of that inner darkness that we all have inside and that we have to satisfy it in some way? You think I am overreacting? Well, look at the sheer amount of movies and books about serial killers. Got you there didn’t I? Getting creeped out already by this post? Am I getting under your skin? Insert evil grin. No worries…this introduction only served to set the tone for the thrilling Korean drama series Tunnel. Which of course features a serial killer, and time travel. Say what?!?

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Why are you looking at me with such a dumb face?

It is the year 1986 when we meet up with Park Gwang Ho a police detective who is always very determined, enthusiastic and takes his job very seriously. One a day a horrific series of killings shakes up his police district. Women are found dead, having been strangled with their own stockings, and strange dots are left behind on their ankles. Purely by chance the detective stumbles on the culprit and gives chase on foot. Eventually the killer and Park Gwang Ho end up in a tunnel where a fight between them begins. Unfortunately the killer gets the upper hand and strikes our hero on the head leaving him unconscious. When he wakes up and exits the tunnel, he gets the shock of his life. Apparently Park Gwang Ho has been transported thirty years into the future leaving him stranded in the year 2016. Determined to find his way back home and to his wife he left behind, he assumes the identity of a police detective who carries the same name as himself. Together with a new (and in the beginning very reluctant) partner named Kim Sun Jae, and a beautiful but mysterious criminal profiler and psychology professor Shin Jae Yi, he tries to fit into this new and unfamiliar world. But when it seems the murders that he tried to stop 30 years ago are starting up again, things become very grim indeed. The serial killer is still at large and will stop at nothing to continue with his killing spree……

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Who are you calling a cold fish?!?!

Time travel and a serial killer blended into one single series? That is pretty much a match made in heaven. While this 16 episode series wasn’t perfect, it was very enjoyable and I bingewatched the hell out of it finishing it in about 3 days. One of the best things in this Korean drama is once again it’s characters. The three leads had a very good chemistry between them, which helped make this series a cut above the rest. Actor Choi Jin-huyk brings to life the hero time travelling cop and he just had a vibrant energy to his role that worked very well. He seems to be able to handle a wide range of emotions, from heartbreak to comedy, and he is able to switch between them in the blink of an eye. His future partner played by actor Yoon Hyun-min is more serious, but the chemistry between both actors is terrific. I really enjoyed some of their comedic banter that hardly ever failed to bring a smile to my face and a lot of their scenes together were certainly the highlight of this series. And then there was actress Lee Yoo-young who played the role of Shin Jae Yi. She was a bit of a cold fish at the start of this series, and I did not really know what to make of her. But when the series progressed her character began to grow, and at the end I really ended up liking her very much. She was very heroic and a verbal exchange between her and the killer in one of the show’s final episodes gave me goosebumps. She played that scene so incredibly well and lifelike.

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This guy had such a fun role (yeah I know he looks like he doesn’t have much humor)

Speaking of the role of the killer, and I am not going to mention the actor’s name in fear of spoilers, I can only say one thing: WOW! What a loathsome, terrifying and incredibly evil monster did this actor give birth too. It is an incredible performance and out of the many serial killer roles that I have seen in my life, he certainly is in the top three. That’s for sure. Over the course of the 16 episodes that this series has, we get a story that has some nice shocks and tension, some comedy (mainly because of a few side characters that I haven’t named here, but really help to relieve some of the darker aspects of the show), and heartbreak as well. That said, there were also some moments during the middle of the drama where I felt it began to feel a bit slow. But luckily those moment did not carry on and the final episodes really made you forget those moments very quickly. Another element that I was a bit dissappointed by was the use of the timetravel aspect of this series. I had expected it to be used more, with maybe some clever jumps in between the timelines, but sadly that did not really happen.

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See? I rest my case 🙂

Still, this Korean drama was a wonderful show. Even though it had some dark events happening in it, it never became too depressing. Most serial killing movies/series always seem to go to for the shocks or the horror, and while there were certainly scenes like that in it, there was also enough room for other more lighthearted things which was very refreshing. Tunnel is well worth checking out and also a series that for me at least seems like a good one to watch if you have never entered the world of the Korean dramas before. With memorable characters, a great, gripping and often tense story, this drama will leave a lasting impression in your mind. Well, that wasn’t too bad was it? I know the beginning of this review might have creeped you out, but hey it had to be done. Even I have a dark side…..

I give Tunnel a 8 out of 10 score.

 

The Villainess, Korean Movie (2017)

There is a particular type of film in the action genre that I am very fond of: the revenge movie. I always love it when someone loses everything and then turns into a complete psycho, hellbent on getting revenge on his or her tormentors. Usually that makes for a very entertaining, albeit often bloody, movie experience. As with any film genre there is always a risk that there are too many movies that are being made and as such it becomes either predictable or very boring. The South Korean movie industry certainly is no stranger to this particular type of film. In the past, movies such as Old Boy, I Saw the Devil and A Company Man have all been received very well (while at the same time causing quite a stir because of the often extreme violence depicted in those movies). No matter how you look at it, I have always thought that the Koreans are masters of the genre, and I always look forward to a new entry into the ranks. Last year The Villainess was released, that supposedly infused the revenge movie with a new and fresh take on it. Having just seen the film, I have mixed feelings about it, but more on that later.

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Some people take the “till death do us part thing” way to literally.

The Villainess can best be described as South Korea’s take on La Femme Nikita. It focusses on a woman named Sook-hee who is a highly trained assassin. As a young girl she lost her father to an unknown assailant and witnessed him being killed while hiding under her bed. The face of the killer is unknown to her, but she does hear him whistle an eerie tune. Years later Sook-hee is captured by South Korea’s intelligence agency and given a new identity and name: Yeon-soo. While she is being trained by them, she gives birth to her daughter Eun-hye. Yeon-soo is offered the deal to work for the intelligence agency, and after 10 years she will gain her freedom for herself and her daughter. Having very little choice she accepts. But the shadow of her father’s death always looms over her. Eventually the past creeps up on her as it usually tends to do in these matters. With people gunning for her at every turn, the life expectancy of the skilled assassin becomes ever shorter. But Yeon-soo will not go down without a fight…

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When the airconditioning of your car doesn’t work this is a great alternative.

The opening sequence of this film puts you smack down right in the middle of the action. Without even knowing exactly what is going on, we see a fight sequence from a first person view as Sook-hee hacks, shoots and punches her way through a group of men in a warehouse. It is chaotic, bloody, brutal, but honestly a truly terrific way of setting the tone for this film. Where this film excels at is it’s uniquely choreographed fight sequences. The camera angles in some of the scenes are really one of a kind, and at times it feels almost as if you are the one that is delivering all of the violence. And there is a word that also describes this film very well: violence. This movie is not for the faint of heart. It doesn’t shy away from showing arteries being ruptured, limbs being cut off, and blood spraying in every direction. The Villainess is a brutal movie but as usual this does suit the theme of the film. If it’s action you want, this film brings it and then some. Be especially on the look out for a highspeed motorcycle chase that I found to be one of the best scenes of the film.

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What do you mean you forgot the bread to feed the ducks? Go home and get it!

The hero of the film (if you can call her that of course) is being played by actress Kim Ok-vin and she does it well. Or to phrase it better: she knows how to kick some ass. A film like this stands or falls with a good lead, and she certainly doesn’t disappoint. In the fight sequences she shines the most as she is able to hold her own against the men that are trying to take her life. And she manages to do so with guns, knives and her bare hands. It all feels natural and realistic and you could almost believe she is an assassin in real life. Her character hasn’t got much depth to it, but admittedly the bond with her young daughter is what gives this otherwise very bleak movie at least a little bit of sunshine. This movie pretty much centers around her, and that’s why the supporting cast, such as it is, doesn’t really get a chance to show what they are made of. That is certainly one of the weak points of the film.

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If looks could kill, I would be dead right now.

Another one is the story itself. At times it’s very confusing to follow what exactly is going on. The film uses a lot of flashback scenes, which is not a bad thing in itself, but at times it seems to insert them almost randomly. Not only that but sometimes you get one right after another and in a totally different time frame. That took me out of the film quite a few times and left me looking at the screen in bewilderment. While the action in movies like this is usually the most important, I do have to say that in revengethrillers especially it’s nice to have at least some kind of motive for the main character. In that this film partially succeeded but it could have been handled better. With all of it’s flaws I still recommend seeing this movie if you like these type of films. The action sequences alone make it a very worthwhile watch, as in this it really does try to do something totally different than what we are used to seeing. Don’t expect to much from it, and you will have a great time. Especially if you like to see a strong woman beat the crap out of a bunch of men.

I give the Villainess a 7 out of 10 score.

 

Stranger, Korean Drama series (2017)

Okay, I’m going to start this review with a small confession. No worries, it really isn’t anything as shocking along the lines of ” I am really a serial killer”. But, here it comes nonetheless: I can be a really emotional guy. When there is injustice I can become really annoyed, and sometimes even very angry. But on the other side of the spectrum I can also cry at things that happen in a movie, or even at certain very personal blog posts. But really don’t hold that against me, okay? Emotions, or lack thereof, can tell a lot about a person. It pretty much defines what makes a person tick, at least that is what I think in my humble opinion. I have always wondered what would happen if I would possess no kind of emotion whatsoever. Let’s just take a few seconds and try to grasp what that means. You would not know when to laugh at a joke. When someone close to you dies, you would shed no tears. Even though there are certain moments in your life you maybe would have loved to lose a few emotions, I for one would never want to lose any of them. Because it would completely change my personality. And that, in a roundabout way brings me to this Korean drama.

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Get used to it: that expression on the face of the guy is pretty much the only one he knows. 

Prosecutor Hwang Shi-Mok underwent a brain surgery as a child. This surgery has now caused him to lack any kind of emotion. He is a cold, calculated and very rational guy, that is very good at his job. His lack of empathy and social skills however, make it extremely hard for him to sometimes interact with other people. One day while investigating a new case, he finds the person he is looking into dead in his house. When the police arrives at the scene Shi-Mok doesn’t communicate with any of them, but instead focusses on finding the killer. This suspicious behaviour at first makes him a suspect. Police inspector Han Yeo-Jin is the one who is assigned the task of solving the case, and soon finds out that Hwang is innocent of the crime. Eventually the two of them team up to find the real killer. But when they find the alleged murderer, it soon becomes very clear that there is more to the case then both of them realise. A cesspool of corruption has been opened, one that is so deep that it goes to the highest levels of the justice department. Dark and dirty secrets are about to be revealed, and some people will stop at nothing to keep them buried….

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Run Forrest, run…..

Having just finished this Korean drama I have to say it has left me behind with mixed feelings. I certainly would not call this series bad, but there are certain things that I also didn’t like and that at the end kept me from really enjoying this to the fullest. As far as the story goes I have to say that it is incredibly complex containing many layers, and one could argue that it contains too many layers. Part murder mystery, part legal drama, with elements of corporate espionage, corruption and even soap opera thrown into the mix, Stranger has at times trouble in deciding what it wants to be. There were some truly intense and incredibly powerful moments in the show that really put a smile on my face. Some twists and turns where certainly unexpected, and added to the fun of watching this series. But then there were also episodes that were, for lack of a better word, rather dull, and just seemed to drag on and on. The story as mentioned is incredibly complex and because of it’s complexity there were moments where I lost track of things.

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Look at my fist: I have got your emotions right here! 

This last fact was only made even worse because of the huge number of characters that this drama contains. I usually don’t like shows or novels that contain such a huge cast of names that it becomes hard to remember who a certain person was. But despite that fact it’s the acting in this series that really is one of it’s strongest points. Hwang Shi-Mok, played by Cho Seung-Woo is a character that is hard to grow attached to. Because of his lack of emotions he walks around the series with pretty much the same expression on his face at every scene. At first this becomes very tedious, but then I started to realise what a brilliant job the actor is really doing. It is incredibly hard to just not respond emotionally to people that are laughing or crying. I came to really enjoy Shi-Mok’s awkwardness, especially around police detective Han Yeo-Jin. She was played by actress Bae Doo-Na and became my favorite character of the series. The complete opposite of Shi-Mok, she is a feisty and tenacious woman, who tries her best to solve the case but at the same time shows empathy when she needs to. And she is also in for a joke or two, often at the expense of her partner.

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Please don’t look at me that way: I won’t laugh anyway. 

Another thing that is worth mentioning is the music that supports this drama. It certainly ranks as the best background music I have heard in any Korean drama series to date, and helps bring the atmosphere of this series to life. In the end I can say that I do recommend the show. Even though there are certainly moments in it’s 16 episode run that really are pretty boring, there also enough things in it that balance the score in the end. The difficult and complex script, does eventually pay off, and the acting in the series alone is certainly worth watching it for. While there are definitely better dramas out there, it’s a good series if you are just willing to invest some time and patience in it. If you have become interested in the show after reading this, you can watch the series on Netflix. This concludes the first post for my theme month of Korean dramas. Thanks as always for reading and see you at the next post!

I give Stranger a 7 out of 10 score.

 

January’s Theme: Korean Dramas

Hello everyone. This is going to be a short post to announce the first theme of this year. As I mentioned in my plans for the upcoming year, each month will have a certain theme that will get a little bit more coverage than all the other things. That’s not to say, I won’t be writing reviews for movies, anime etc, but the theme of the month will just get a few more posts than the others. And as you can see in the big bold letters above this text, January’s theme is going to be Korean Dramas.

What exactly is a Korean drama?

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Well don’t keep us in suspense tell us already!

As not everyone might be familiar with these let me explain just a little bit about them. Korean drama shows are pretty much the same as a regular tv series, except for the fact that they usually run for a single season (with a few exceptions). That means they are selfcontained stories that unfold in one season and then end. The great thing about that is the fact that you don’t run a risk that a show might get cancelled in the middle of a cliffhanger. Korean dramas have quite a large number of topics, such as crime, romance, period pieces, and these days they even have a few series that have sci-fi elements in them. If this has gotten your interest you might want to check out the website Viki that will let you watch these legally for free (with of course a few commercials thrown into the mix). Another great source for news and recommendations is the truly awesome blog Kdramakisses run by the amazingly kind Kay.

What will I be reviewing?

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What do you mean you are not going to tell us?

No, that’s exactly right, I am not going to tell you yet which shows I will be watching. Yes I know, I am evil like that. But I have to keep up a little bit of suspense right? I plan on watching three shows however, so keep your eyes out for the reviews that will start to make an appearance later on in this month. Thank you for reading, and see you all at the next post!

 

Deadman Wonderland, Anime tv series (2011)

I’m beginning to have a small luxury problem. And I’m sure I’m definitely not the only one that has this particular problem. Ever since I started my blog, now more than a year ago, my love for anime has resurfaced. Shock of all shocks, it might even surprise you that before that, I had not been watching anime for a period of more than five or six years. I know right? How on Earth did I even survive that? Now though I have so much anime to watch, that I don’t even know where to start anymore. Besides my own rather formidable dvd collection, I now also have Crunchyroll and more recently Netflix, that have such a great variety of anime series on offer. So what to do about this problem? I’m just going with the flow I guess. I now try to watch a series from my own dvd collection, and then one from either Netflix or Crunchyroll. Just to keep some kind of balance. Erm, yes I guess I can be weird like that at times. Anyway, it was Netflix that was next in line, and after browsing through their considerably large animelist, my eyes were drawn to Deadman Wonderland.

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This brings a whole new meaning to the term papercut. 

In Deadman Wonderland the life of the seemingly ordinary highschool student Ganta Igarashi is about to take a turn for the worse. When his class is preparing to take a school field trip to the privately owned prison Deadman Wonderland, that at the same time serves as an amusement park, a mysterious being suddenly appears. The being that is known as The Red Man, slaughters the entire class, with the exception of Ganta. Being the only survivor, Igarashi soon gets charged with mass murder. Things get even worse when overwhelming evidence is presented that can’t be explained and soon young Ganta is sentenced to death and sent to the Deadman Wonderland prison. Once there he meets a mysterious white haired girl called Shinto, that saves him from a bunch of bullies that were about to kill him. All of a sudden a large explosion rocks the prison and brings down a large object right on top of Ganta and Shinto. Just when it is about to crush them, a mysterious power awakens in Ganta that allows him to take control of his own blood. In this way he manages to keep the object from falling on their heads. With the awakening of this power it is beginning to become apparent that Deadman Wonderland holds many secrets, and not all of them very friendly…..

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Hey, I told you Shinto could get a little crazy at times

Well, let me start this review by saying that this series is not, I repeat not, for the faint of heart. To call this series rather gory is quite the understatement. The blood flows freely in this anime, and I am not talking about a few small drops either. No we have buckets full of blood that are spilled, including several mutilations, and a rather nasty removal of an eyeball, that makes this a really brutal show. But before you all turn the other way, let me tell you that this show also kicks ass (pardon my French). I have never seen an animeseries that featured such a unique power. Ganta, and a rather large cast of other colourful characters, can use their own blood to form  weapons like swords, whips or even projectiles. And this makes for a couple of incredibly cool fightscenes between the inmates, that while at times rather bloody, really are highly entertaining to watch. It’s almost as if you are back in Rome during the days of gladiator fighting.

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Don’t worry these are all special effects, he is fine. 

As mentioned the cast is rather large, and more and more are added with each episode. This eventually results in quite a few them being rather bland, and not ones that you can form an attachment to. But one character I guarantee you will in love with is Shinto. This free spirited girl that has a special, and really protective bond with Ganta is a truly fun character. Sometimes a little crazy, at other times seemingly innocent, but more than capable of taking care of herself she is the absolute highlight of this anime. Ganta, the hero of the series is your typical innocent young boy character, that you have seen in quite a number of other shows. That is not to say that you don’t feel sympathy for him though. Not only is he wrongfully accused, he also gets confronted with a mysterious power and is placed in the most awful place one can imagine. It is enough to drive most men or women insane, but Ganta keeps fighting the good fight, and you have to admire that.

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In case you were wondering, no she is not naked, she is wearing a suit. 

For those of you that are observant, you might have already taken a glance at the final score I have given this anime. Made you look didn’t I? So why the low score for a show that I haven’t been really negative for yet? Well, it’s unfortunately one of those anime series that wraps things up in a really bad way. Or maybe it’s even better to say it doesn’t wrap up anything. After 12 episodes you are left with so many unanswered questions, and no real resolution that you end up feeling rather frustrated. I absolutely hate it when something like this happens. I can honestly say that I had a lot of fun watching this, up until the final few episodes. And this is really such a shame. The storyline for this was very good, the animation more than decent, there were cool fightscenes and some very interesting  characters. And then it all went to hell in a handbasket. Whether or not you want to give this a try depends on the fact if you don’t mind shows that end with with no real resolution. I do have to admit that the fightsequences alone are worth seeing at least once, so there is that. All in all, despite a pretty big list of positives I can’t really bring myself to fully recommend this one. So watch at your own discretion.

I give Deadman Wonderland a 6 out of 10 score.