Tag Archives: Drama

Game Of Thrones Season 6, American tv Series (2016)

One of the plus sides of having way too many hobbies is the fact that I am never bored. There is always something that I can do, whether it’s watching anime, going to the cinema to watch the latest movie, read a book, or play a boardgame. And that’s just the tip of the ice berg. But on the flipside of that is the fact that I am always behind on pretty much everything, especially when it comes down to watching televion series. People have often asked me how on Earth I can wait with something as good as Game of Thrones for instance. The answer is pretty much always the same. I have absolutely no idea. It brings me back to the opening sentence I guess: I just have way too many hobbies, and as such way too many things that I love to do. In this world of social media though, that really is becoming a bit of a problem. As much as you try to avoid things as spoilers, these days one only has to switch to something as simple as Youtube to find whole clips of pivotal moments of your favorite shows. Some even have bold capital letters proclaiming things like “ the death of so and so” or “ shocking scene of whatshername”. For some things I don’t mind spoilers, but when it comes down to Game of Thrones I have so far managed to avoid them.

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Yes, she still looks like a queen for real.

Yes people, I have only now completed season 6 of Game of Thrones. I know, I should be flogged for committing such an atrocious act of negligence. I’m afraid to even admit it but I still have to start with the next one too. Yep, I know Winter is coming and all that. Be that as it may, I am of course not going to deprive you of my thoughts on this season. Even though they are two years late. Be warned this section does contain a few spoilers for the previous season , but as probably most of you have seen that one anyway, I don’t think there will be any real surprises here. But just to be on the safe side: *Spoilers Start* Jon Snow is dead. Well, really how could he not be right? Season 6 picks up right after the horrible moment when everybody’s favorite hero got stabbed multiple times and was killed. That was one heck of a shock ending last season, something this show always excells at any way. Season 6 is Jon’s season though, and then some. Erm, wait what do I mean by that? He’s dead right?

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So….I guess sometimes size does matter?

Well he was but by an act of magic by the Red Witch Melisandre, Jon is brought back from the dead to fight another day. As with every season of Game of Thrones, there are many things happening to all of our beloved (and sometimes hated) characters. Daenarys has been captured and is heading towards an uncertain fate. Tyrion tries to keep things together in the city of Mereen, where chaos seems to be ruling the day. Cersei has her own problems with her son Tommen, the King, who seems to be slowly turning against her. And then of course there is the ever present danger of the army of the dead, the unseen threat that marches ever onwards. But it’s Jon who is going to have the biggest challenges ahead of him. Especially when he has to try and retake Winterfell, from the horrific and sadistic Ramsay. Winter is coming alright….and it brings with a storm of epic proportions *Spoilers end*

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Ah yes, Cersei. Probably the most gentle soul you are ever likely to meet. Erm, not.

Where previous seasons of Game of Thrones sometimes felt a bit slow, this season seemed like everything all of a sudden was put on some kind of speed trip. So many things happened this season that it’s hard to even know where to start. But that said, I think to date this might have been my favorite season. I have always thought of Game of Thrones being a show that comes the closest to a true cinematic experience. Everything from the sets, the lavish costumes, the special effects, all of those combined just leaves pretty much every other television series ever made biting in the dust. But let’s not forget one of the most important things that makes this show so highly enjoyable as well: the characters and the actors that portray them. Each season I am always astounded at pretty much all of the performances on this show, season 6 being no exception. You want highlights? Well, let’s say that episode 9 especially was maybe the most impressive episode of maybe the entire show. (Erm, keep in mind, I still have to watch season 7 lol).

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When you find out what Hodor really means, your mind will spin. Trust me on that.

But seriously though, that episode pretty much made my jaw drop to the proverbial floor. So many good and memorable scenes in that one single episode. Both in terms of action, but especially in terms of acting. As usual Game of Thrones isn’t shy to get rid of it’s cast members (seriously I would be scared to work as an actor on that show), and of course we get a few that kick the bucket in this season as well. The final episode of this season brings quite a few storylines to a close, as well as drawing battlelines and setting up things for season 7. So will I be waiting another two years to start on that one? Nope, not this time. In fact, I’m going to start on the next season this weekend. And even though I am not a Lannister I plan to keep my word on that. In closing, as if this wasn’t really clear yet: this season just rocked. I haven’t had a single episode where my mind drifted off, or I got bored in some way, which did happen occasionally in some of the previous seasons. If for some reason you have never watched this show, trust me check it out. It’s one of the best television shows ever made, and that is the total truth.

I give season 6 of Game of Thrones a 9 out of 10 score.

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Hold the Dark, American Movie (2018)

I love this time of year. The days are getting shorter again, which means the sun is beginning to set earlier and it becomes darker more quickly in the evening. Yes, I know many of you are probably disagreeing with me at this point, but I love it. It’s perfect for watching horror movies, or just cozying up in bed with a good book. One would almost think that I am a vampire or something, however as far as I know that is not the case. But at certain points in the world the sun is hardly seen at all during winter time. Now that might be taking things a little bit too far I guess. Alaska for instance has some places where the darkness settles in after barely three to five hours of sunlight. Now just imagine that if you will. I think a lot of people might simply go nuts as it takes some getting used to. That said though, those barren winter landscapes makes for some amazing imagery. It also serves as a perfect backdrop for some great movies as we have seen for instance in The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Last week a new movie came out over on Netflix which also utilises this cold and harsh environment. Is it a good film though? Well, let me talk you through it.

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Hi honey, sorry I’m stuck in traffic. I will be late again….

Hold the Dark takes places in the year 2004 in a very small village called Keelut deep in the Alaskan wilderness. Something truly dreadful has been happening there lately. Three small children have disappeared and are presumably dead, as their captors seemed to have been a pack of wolves. Medora Slone, the mother of the last child that has gone missing, calls in the help of a retired naturalist called Russell Core. This man who is an expert in wolves heeds the call of the grieving mother and soon arrives in the village. Meanwhile Medora’s husband, Vernon, is serving a tour in Iraq and is having his own share of troubles. He is as yet unaware of his son’s disappearence and his wife has so far not been able to share the horrible news with him. Russell has set off in search of the boy and to track down the wolves that are responsible for his capture. However not all is at seems. Darker and more sinister secrets are about to be revealed, and Russel finds himself in the middle of something that he simply did not expect to find…

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Trick or treat came early this year.

Did you ever watch a movie and when it ended you did not quite know how you felt about it? This was one of those films. Well, at least for me it was. I’m not saying this was a bad film, because really it wasn’t. But it’s also a movie that I felt could have been more, although I can’t quite put a finger on it what that more might just be. But let’s first get into the positives. One of the main selling points of this movie is once again the majestic and very cold landscape. It’s all shot beautifully, and adds to the sense of dread that this film is trying to achieve, and at which it also partially succeeds. You can’t help but feel very uneasy during most of the run time of this two hour movie. Hauntingly bleak visuals combined with a melancholic score certainly seem to capture the effect of what this movie was aiming for. The pacing of the film though was uneven. It was at times a rather slow film, and setting the tone for a creepy atmosphere can only get you so far.

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Awwwwwwwwwwww.

The performances in this film though were also definitely worth seeing. Jeffrey Wright who played the role of the aging Russel managed to create a very sympathetic character. It’s nice to see someone who really isn’t this macho superhero, but a more subdued and normal guy, who gets caught in something that is way above his head. I always like the underdog types, and Russel could definitely be classified as such. The role of Vernon was fulfilled by Alexander Skarsgård, and he made that role into a very chilling and sinister man. It’s definitely clear that the war in Iraq hasn’t left him without a few mental scars, as Vernon was an emotionless and very, very dangerous individual. It was a terrific part, and Skarsgård played it to perfection. Lastly James Badge Dale, who had a relatively minor role as a police officer also left a lasting impression. Even though he isn’t a very well known actor, he really rises above himself with an impressive performance.

Jeffrey Wright in the new film Hold the Dark. Photo credit: Netflix
I don’t know but shouldn’t those goggles be on your face?

Hold the Dark is a bit of a strange movie which is also pretty hard to classify. The story certainly has a number of shocking twists, and for lack of a better term WTF moments. But at the same time it also has trouble in finding out where exactly it wants to go. Is it a thriller? Is it an action film? Or even a drama? It’s pretty hard to say to be honest. Some of the scenes, especially in the beginning of the film just dragged on for too long. And I feel that if the film would have had a bit of a shorter runtime it might have been a better movie. That said though, there is still enough in this dark film (pun intended) for me to recommend it to you. The story is very interesting and has some pretty gruesome moments. Add to this some great actors, a tense and foreboding atmosphere and the beautiful landscape and it’s a movie that I feel is still worth your time. If you are not a fan of slow movies though, you might want to skip this.

I give Hold the Dark a 7 out of 10 score.

 

Cells At Work, Anime tv series (2018)

I seriously hate being sick. My vacation this year started off with a very annoying flu bug which resulted in me wasting a lot of precious time feeling miserable in bed and trying to get rid of it. Well, not just me, I guess the real job is being done by that little army that’s inside me that tries to fight off those pesky germs. I have to admit though that it has been doing a bit of a lousy job this year, as I have been sick quite a lot. But then again I have always been pretty susceptible to flu. If someone so much as sneezes near me, I might already catch it. The thing is though, that it seems the older we get, the more terrible we can feel from something as simple as a flu. Or maybe that is just me, I don’t know. You are probably wondering where I am going with all of this, if you haven’t already zoned out in the first place. (Which I won’t hold against you I promise). Well, the thing is, in case you don’t know this already, but anime has a knack for coming up with some pretty unique stories at times. Usually these translate into high concept science fiction or fantasy series, but this season’s Cells At Work takes a completely different approach.

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I bet you never knew that this is what your body looks from the inside huh?

I usually go into a lengthy segment where I begin describing the plot of whatever it is I am about to review at this point, but in this case I won’t be doing that. Or I think a better phrase is: I can’t do that. Simply because I can sum up the plot of this anime series in pretty much one sentence. Cells at work takes a look inside the human body, at the cells that erm work there, whilst they are trying to fight off all kinds of things that get’s thrown at them. Yep, there really is nothing more to it than that. The first time I heard of this I think I had the same reaction that you might have right now in case you are not familiar with this anime: this sounds soooo boring. Well, that’s where you are wrong. Cells at work is a unique animeseries, that is guaranteed to make you smile. Having just finished the final episode for it this morning I immediately went to work on writing my review for this. While it’s not a series without flaws, it’s certainly one that has so many good things going for it, that only a very cynical or heartless person can’t find enjoyment in this.

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Red Bloodcell delivering the goods!

Let’s start with the world building this series does first. As mentioned it takes a look inside the human body, but not in the way you would think. Veins, organs, and all the other stuff that makes you tick are represented as a living, breathing cityscape. And it all looks so incredibly clever. Many times I found myself wondering at the ingenuity of all the ideas that were put into this little gem. It became even more fun when certain diseases or injuries occured. Yeah I know how that sounds, but bare with me. There was an episode for instance where the body found itself suffering from a heatstroke. The landscape changed to a scorching desert, with the sweat glands looking like water reservoirs that were drained. Things like these and many more like them, are just some of the many events that made me smile every time when I watched an episode. The series doesn’t shy away from going into dark places either, showing not only small diseases and minor injuries, but at one point it even adressed cancer. I really had not expected the series to go there, but it did, and it was done in a very tasteful way as well. It truly showed the horrible effects of that terrible disease without getting too dark.

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Yep, White Bloodcell does like to get messy sometimes!

But world building aside, it’s the characters that are the real shining stars in this anime. The main focus lies on a white and red blood cell, two characters that couldn’t be more different from each other. Red Blood Cell is a young girl that at the beginning of the series is always getting lost in trying to deliver oxygen to different places. She is insecure,  but at the same time still courageous as well and just someone who you can’t help but fall in love with right from the start. It’s nice to see her grow during the course of the series, and especially in the final two episodes she really steps up to the blood, erm plate. White Blood Cell however, is the completely opposite. Represented as a young male, he is the courageous hero that fights off all the germs and other horrible things that attack the body. And he often gets very bloody while doing that. But, at the same time he really has a heart and a soft spot for Red Blood Cell, which he always ends up having to rescue. There are many other characters who we meet during the course of the series, but it would go too far to mention them all.

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You do know that I had to at least add one picture of a platelet right?

However, it would be a horrible omission on my part if I were not to at least adress the platelets. If there is ever going to be an awards ceremony for cutest characters in a anime series, they would win it no question about it. They were absolutely loveable (and did I mention they were cute?) and maybe the best thing the series had to offer. You really wanted pretty much every episode to have at least one moment that we could spent with them. Well, now that we had all the positives there is something that this show does that if this had been any other series, might have let you drop the show before it ended. And that’s become repetitive. Basically nearly every episode dealt with the cells fighting off a new threat to the body. It’s the strength of this anime, that it didn’t become boring, but it was one of the things that I wished could have been handled in a different way. However, it has to be said, I just can’t find myself writing negatively about this series. It really was an incredibly fun anime, with a unique premise executed in a wonderful way. The next time I’m sick or injured I hope the cells will do their work again. So I guess the message is: treat your body well, and live healthy. Your cells will thank you for it!

I give Cells At Work a 8 out of 10 score.

 

A Silent Voice, Japanese (animated) Movie (2016)

Those of you that have been following me for a while now, and know me a little, probably recall the fact that I mentioned at times that I have been bullied for quite a while at school when I was young. Obviously it’s a past that I don’t like to recall often, as it was a very dark time in my life. But I never really talked about the after effects, and what it meant for the present. A couple of days ago I heard on national television that this year the stats for children being bullied at school were at an alltime low. I scoffed at that. Stats? Really? I think every child that has to go through that every day is one too many. Statistics be damned. Because bullying can have long time effects. For me it has meant a low self esteem and second guessing myself. Always having doubts. Like when someone doesn’t answer a text I sent. (Maybe I said something wrong and the person doesn’t like me anymore? Which obviously usually isn’t the case). But even worse is probably the fact that I have trouble connecting with people at times in real life. Especially when it comes to maybe falling in love. (Because really can someone fall in love with me?) All these dark thoughts aside….I have made progress over the years. Which is a good thing.

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How anyone can even remotely consider bullying this sweet girl is beyond me…..

At one point I was just done with it all. The self pity, or the fact that people might not like me. I began to think more along the lines of when people don’t like me, it’s their loss. And that certainly helped. While I will never fully lose those feelings, I do think it get’s better over time. But this all goes to show what bullying can really do to someone, and that the bullies themselves probably don’t even realise this (or couldn’t care less). The movie A Silent Voice deals with bullying, but it does this in a different way then one might expect. Shōya Ishida is a young and popular boy in his class which also means that a lot of the other children listen to what he has to say. One day a new girl called Shōko Nishimiya is introduced to the class. Well, she has to introduce herself but does this in a very unusual way. She pulls out a notepad, begins to write in it and then shows it to the classroom. It says that in order to get to know her, people can use the notepad. You see, Shōko is deaf. The class at first doesn’t really know how to deal with it. After a few days though, Shōya begins to set the tone, and starts to terrorise the poor girl. Even going so far as pulling out her hearing aids. Yeah…he is a real tough guy.

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I nearly went berserk during this scene. 

But when the principal eventually gets word of this and begins to ask questions about who is responsible, the rest of the class pulls away from Shōya. In fact the tables are turned and his classmates begin to bully him. Shōko eventually leaves the school, getting a transfer, and life moves on. Years later though Shōya begins to feel remorse. His own life is not really going well, and he decides to try and find out what has become of the the girl whose life he made miserable. But is she really willing to forgive him? Or an even better question would be should she even forgive him? I’m not going to lie here, A Silent Voice is not a happy go lucky film. It deals with a lot of things that might trigger unwanted feelings in quite a number of people. Heavy themes such as bullying and suicide all feature prominently in this movie. But it’s also a film that gives hope. There is a line in this anime that says even monsters have a heart. While I’m not so sure if that’s true for every monster, I’m definitely convinced that it’s true in a lot of cases. While there might certainly be children that bully simply because they enjoy it, there is usually more going on.

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X in this case doesn’t mark the spot. 

What I loved about this film is the fact that it shows that people can really change. When you first meet Shōya you begin to develop intense feelings of hate towards him. Especially because of the fact that the object of his reign of terror is one of the most innocent and sweet girls one is likely to meet. But as the movie progresses this changes. You really begin to believe the fact that the boy, now a young man, has changed, and really attempts to make the best of his earlier mistakes. It also helps when you see what has become of Shōya‘s own life. He has trouble talking to people (Which is represented by people having large X’s on their faces. Something I thought was really unique and clever). And his life really isn’t all that great either. Yes one could argue he had it coming. But without giving too much away, you will also see that friendship can sometimes come from the most unlikeliest places. And that’s where the hope lies within this film. It really emphasises how important friendship truly is. Certain people in your life can give you confidence, and I’m glad to say I have those in mine.

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Now, is it me or does the hairstyle of the second guy on the left remind you of a certain someone in a certain anime?

A Silent Voice also has a great animation style. It might not appeal to everyone, and it’s certainly not the best I’ve seen, but I really liked the way the characters were designed, and the way all the backgrounds blended together with these. This movie clocks in at a little over two hours, and I think my only gripe with it is that it might have been slightly too long. There were a few points in the film, where my attention started to waver. But, these moments were never very long, and certainly didn’t spoil the film in any way. This is simply one of those films that I think is very powerful, and deals with a pretty heavy subject matter in a beautiful way. It contains some very likeable characters, an amazing storyline, and ultimately ends up giving hope to people that have been on the receiving end of these kinds of experiences. At times it might make you a little melancholy, but when the credits start to role you will have a film to look back upon that you will be glad to have seen.

I give A Silent Voice a 9 out of 10 score.

Violet Evergarden, Anime tv Series (2018)

Love is beautiful. It can give you wings, and make you feel like you can take on the entire world by yourself. It’s one of the most powerful emotions we have access too, and when that sting of cupid’s arrow has found you, you might just be the luckiest man or woman alive. But love can also be a cruel mistress. It can hurt….an awful lot. You might at times feel as if your heart is literally ripped out from your chest whenever the one you loved leaves you. Because either the love has died, or even worse when that person has left the world of the living behind, never to return. It is at times like that you probably wish you would have a switch that can turn off your emotions just like that. But if only life were that easy. There are days when I can feel very melancholy. Because love has not yet entered my life, and because there are days that I feel it never will. Even though those days are hard, I try to not give up hope. And sometimes, just sometimes there is something that can give you a new boost of hope. I have always said that one of the highest achievements any kind of medium can achieve, is fill you with emotions. Violet Evergarden is an anime series that does just that, and than some….

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No this is not a remake of Mary Poppins.

Violet Evergarden is a breathtaking anime series that tells the tale of the “ Auto Memory Doll” with the same name. Violet used to be a soldier and was left behind on the battlefield badly injured whilst protecting her commanding officer Major Gilbert Bougainvillea. This resulted in the loss of both her arms. She did surive the ordeal, and her arms got replaced by metal prosthesis. After the war, Violet has a hard time trying to adjust to life. One day an old friend of Major Gilbert visits her and decides to show her the business he owns, the CH postal office. In that place Auto Memory Dolls write letters for people who have a hard time finding the correct words to say, and putting them to paper. Violet gets hired to work there, but at first it’s very hard to find her place. Especially since she has been trying to make sense of the very last words Major Gilbert told her: “ I love you” . As Violet has no real way of understanding emotions, it becomes increasingly more difficult for her to cope with all the feelings that are inside her. But as time progresses, and she encounters more and more people with feelings that rival her own, Violet begins to live again. But dark clouds of war seem to loom on the horizon, and the safe world that she has created around her, might just burst into flames again…..

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I did say that this anime looks breathtaking did I not?

Where do I start reviewing an anime that has left me literally in tears for quite a number of times during it’s run. I’m not even joking here. I cried, because the emotions in this series were so very, very real. An anime like this doesn’t come around very often. I have seen and read numerous reviews for this one, and those have been very mixed indeed. Some people loved it, some people hated it. As for me? I thought this was a masterpiece. Right from the very first opening scene this anime captured my heart, and did not let go of it until the very last episode. I must first mention the absolutely astounding level of detail that went into this anime. The wordbuilding, the characters, the amazing music, everything just looks and sounds top notch. It is a world that is utterly believable and that just makes you invested in this even more. The high quality level of animation that is presented here at numerous times takes your breath away. Beautifully drawn landscapes, cities, sunsets, it all looks absolutely amazing.

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Sometimes you just want to hit someone on the head.

But it’s the story that makes this anime so very worthwhile. I have heard people mention them really disliking the character of Violet. Because of her at times static responses and the way she repeats things like saying she wants to understand love. But one must not forget that she is not really human. She is a doll. And because of that her responses initially are static. But the farther the series progresses, the more I fell in love with this character. Her struggle with trying to become human, and trying to grasp the feeling of love that was in her all along but which she just didn’t know, was simply fascinating to watch. In one of the later episodes she has to write letters for a dying mother, who has a a very young daughter. It was during that episode that I really broke down at the end. I had to pause because the emotions on display during those 24 minutes were almost too much. And it was in that episode that I think Violet grew into an even more humane character than she already was.

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You always need to keep smiling, even if that means pulling your face off.

Violet Evergarden starts off quite slow. It takes a while for it to really get going, which is why it requires a little bit of patience as well. But the payoff is incredible, and I for one had no problem with the initial slower episodes. Despite the fact that this is a series that is at it’s heart a romance story, there are also episodes that focus on the war. Both the impending one, and the one in the past. Actionwise, this sometimes results in some cool fight sequences, but beware as this certainly is not an action series. While the main story is of course about Violet herself, there were also quite a number of very interesting supporting characters. It would go to far to name all of them, but suffice it to say that at her place of work there certainly are a number of coworkers who you will grow very fond of too. After 13 episodes I felt sad to be leaving this world behind. I was delighted to see however that a new project is in the works, and one can only hope that it will arrive very soon.

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And some of the other dolls…erm..litterally, not trying to offend here.

So in case it wasn’t clear yet, I absolutely loved this anime. It was a beautiful and very fascinating journey to behold, although I certainly would recommend to keep a few boxes of tissues close by. It gives us a good and often important lesson about emotions, especially one of the most powerful ones: Love. Where Violet struggles to grasp the meaning of the word altogether we often struggle to keep a hold of it. For we often fear the pain of loss, or heartbreak. But I would say after having seen this, never fear that feeling. For our lives are fleeting and might be over before you know it. If love does cross your path grasp it with both hands, and try to keep a hold of this as best you can, never letting go. And even if you might not always be able to exactly say what you might feel, this anime has a solution for that as well. Put your words in a letter, as that can be just as powerful as saying the words out loud. And I am sure that Violet would be willing to give you a helping hand with that…

I give Violet Evergarden a 10 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.

Skyscraper, American Movie (2018)

With the summer season now in full swing, and temperatures reaching at times very uncomfortable heights (seriously living on the 12th floor of an apartment building does have it’s downsides), Hollywood bring us the usual popcorn summer movies. I love movies, a fact that many of you know very well. I can watch classics, b-movies, action movies, dramas and many others with equal enthusiasm. Lately though it seems that people in general (and mind you this is not meant as criticism) just have forgotten how to have fun at the movies. These days I read a lot of reviews saying that certain films are not original any more, full of cliches, not have a decent storyline and of these kind of remarks. And while of course there is definitely truth in some of those statements, I wonder if that is necessarily a bad thing all the time. Ask yourself the question why we watch movies in the first place? If you answered: “To be entertained”, you answered correctly. So why then if a movie does entertain, but doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, are critics so fast to slam it into the ground? A perfect example of this is the new Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) movie Skyscraper.

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Hmm…I guess it can sometimes be hard to find a decent toilet.

The Rock plays former FBI hostage team leader Will Sawyer who lost his leg after a horrible incident. He has managed to pick up the pieces of his life though, and now has a lovely wife and two adorable children and a new job as a security inspector for skyscrapers. One day one of his former FBI team mates introduces him to a wealthy Asian financer, who has just overseen the construction of the tallest building in the world. Called “ The Pearl” and build in Hong Kong it’s a remarkable feat of engineering, and Will gets offered the job to overlook it’s security. After Will leaves the building, later that day a group of terrorists, under the command of a man named Botha, enter it and start an enormous blaze on one of the middle floors. Sawyer’s family who at that time is also present in the Pearl become trapped with the fire creeping ever closer. Will has to find away to enter the burning skycraper and rescue his wife and kids before it’s too late. Things become even more difficult when the police think that he might also be a part of the villains. But Sawyer is determined, and not about to be slowed down…by anyone….

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I know some couples like it hot, but this is taking things a bit too far right?

So if this story sounds somewhat familiar to you, you would be right. Of course one can’t help but think of Die Hard or the brilliant Towering Inferno when watching this. But let’s first start with the good stuff here. This movie once again proves why The Rock is currently the highest paid actor in the business. His natural charisma, acting abilities and physical prowess just seem to win you over in pretty much every role he plays. This one is no exception to that rule. Wil Sawyer is just the kind of hero type that you can’t help but root for. He has a disability in the form of his prosthetic leg, but manages to overcome this and emerge as someone who rises above himself. It was also a pleasant surprise to see Neve “Scream” Campbell again on the bigscreen who played his wife Sarah. She was once one of the most promising young actresses of Hollywood, but sadly her career never took off. Which is a true shame as she really is a terrific actress and in this film that once again became apparent. The on screen chemistry between The Rock and her also worked quite well which is important in a film such as this.

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I guess The Rock did not want to do any rockclimbing because of his name

But of course you go to a movie like this to see action, and in that regard the movie serves you well. As expected you will get a couple of great scenes where Will must overcome dizzying heights in order to get his family to safety. And of course this being a Die Hard type of film there are also plenty of fight scenes, gun battles in short all of the good stuff. The film hardly ever has a point where you get to relax, and thunders along like a rollercoaster, never leaving you bored for a single second. After all the postives there are of course also a few negatives. One of these was the ending of the film. It felt a bit anticlimactic to be honest, especially after the build up that came before it. While it luckily did not ruin the film for me, it was slightly disappointing. The film’s main villain Botha, played by actor Roland Møller, was not particularly menacing and pretty much a stereo type kind of evil guy. And then of course it is inevitable to not mention that the movie lacks in orginality and is pretty much a by the book summer blockbuster.

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Yup…that’s a tall building all right.

But again I ask the question: “ Is this really such a bad thing? “. In the case of this film I can only answer with no. During the entire playtime of this movie I was entertained, except for the conclusion of the film which could have been better. It’s becoming common practice to automatically give a movie a bad grade just because it doesn’t do anything new. And that to me at least isn’t fair. I don’t always need a film that brings me an original script, or Oscar worthy performances. Sometimes I just like to go to the movies and watch a film where I can turn off my mind for 2 hours or so and just enjoy it for what it is: a nice, well made and solidly entertaining action romp. Skycraper is just that: nothing more, nothing less. Chances are that if you like these type of films, you are going to pretty much enjoy this one. This film is just simply solid as a rock, pun of course totally intended.

I give Skyscraper a 8 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.

 

Sword Art Online-Ordinal Scale, Japanese (animated) movie (2017)

The world of computergames is vast. Some say it is currently one of the biggest entertainment mediums, bigger even than Hollywood movies. Many of you already know this but I used to be a very fanatical gamer. One could argue that I was so fanatical that it wasn’t even healthy anymore. But that’s a thing of the past now, as I have stopped playing computergames altogether, well on consoles that is. I do play the occasional game on my Ipad, but that’s nowhere near the level of games that I was used to playing. Games these days are becoming ever more immersive, with virtual reality being one of the latest trends. Putting on special goggles, gamers can experience the gaming world in a way that is almost lifelike. I do say almost, as of course the technology isn’t anywhere close to the things you sometimes see in science fiction movies. Two years ago, around the time when my blog was up and running for a few months, I discovered the anime Sword Art Online, which focusses heavily on virtual reality gaming. It fast became one of my alltime favorite animeseries and now I have a huge collection of merchandise from that series (proving once again my point that I can truly become obsessed when I like something).

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Don’t look now, but I think you might have something stuck in your ear.

Last year a movie that was a follow-up to the series saw the light of day, and now I finally had the chance to see this one for myself as it was released on dvd two weeks ago. (Well here in Europe anyway). Was it worth the wait? Hell yeah it was! It is the year 2026, and the world is under the spell of the Augma device, a new system that allows players all over the world to simulate reality while still being conscious. As a few years prior players became trapped in a virtual reality game called Sword Art online, that used a full dive system, this new device is deemed much safer. We once again meet up with Kirito and Asuna, both survivors of the horrible SOA event, and not surprisingly both are also using the Augma to play the newest and most popular game Ordinal Scale. Although Kirito doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself as much. But then a new event is introduced to the game: old boss monsters from the Sword Art Online world begin appearing accompanied by the mysterious AI idol singer Yuna. What at first seems like a fun and welcome addition to the game, soon begins to take on a much more sinister shape. With Asuna’s life on the line, Kirito has to find out what is going on, before it’s too late. But it might already be too late, for Kirito seems to have met his match in the form of a player that is able to counter his every move….

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Gotta love Asuna’s new look in this film.

Sword Art Online is a series that is hated upon by a lot of animefans. I’m not going to start up that old discussion as I am here to talk about this movie. Suffice it to say though that I am a huge fan of this anime, in fact so much so that it has taken up a spot on my personal top 3 of favorite animeseries. When I first heard about the fact that there would finally be something coming out that would continue the storyline I was delighted. At the same time though I also felt anxious. What if it would suck? Well, having finally been able to see this film now, I am very glad to let you all know that my fears were unfounded. If you are a fan of the animeseries you will love this. Let’s talk about the storyline first. One of the things I really liked about it, is the way it treated the main characters of Asuna and especially Kirito. It was very refreshing to see the latter being out of his element and not the powerhouse player we are used to seeing in the series. Kirito really struggles within this new life and death game, and it takes him a long while to adapt. Asuna also at a certain point becomes very vulnerable, and it’s a side we are not always used to seeing from the starstruck couple. It’s their relationship and love for each other that continues to be heartwarming, and very touching though.

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GET READYYYYYYY: FIGHT!!!!

Another thing I liked about the film’s story is some of the questions it asked that really made you think.What if you were able to forget about things from your past that were not very happy thoughts or events?  Would you do that if you were able to? Or are they a part of your life no matter how unhappy these memories might be? I think that is an intriguing question and one that could almost be the topic for an entire post or at the very least a lively discussion. The movie runs for two hours, and it is in my opinion just a tad bit too long. Some of the story elements felt a bit forced, and a few of the side characters had way too little screentime, but were probably just added to the mix for the fans. Nevertheless there are also quite a few things in it for fans of the original series that will in all likelyhood give you a few goosebumps. On the action front the film doesn’t disappoint. Even though it’s not a full on fight fest, there are enough action scenes in the film that make it very satisfying. The fights also feel much more threatening and dangerous.

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I just love my special edition boxed set version of this movie 😀

 

While the animation might not be as beautiful as some of the higher level animefilms out there, I still found it to be very decent, with some spectacular setpieces. The new outfits for most of the characters also worked quite well and had a really nice look to it. Another thing that plays a big role in this film is the music. With the introduction of the new character of Yuna, an AI idol singer, there were quite a number of scenes that featured her singing. At times it almost felt as if I was watching a new installment of the  Macross saga. But I have to admit that this element did work quite well and wasn’t distracting in the least. The music featured in the film fits the tone of Sword Art Online and as such is very pleasing to the ear. Even though the film can be watched on it’s own without any prior knowledge of the world of Sword Art Online, you will find it more enjoyable if you first watch the original anime. If you hated SOA in the first place, this movie won’t make you love the series all of a sudden. For the fans though this is a more than decent follow up to the original anime and with the words Sword Art Online will return at the end of the credits, we can rest assured that we haven’t seen the last of Kirito and Asuna. And I would not have it any other way. Link start !

I give Sword Art Online-Ordinal Scale 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.