Lucy: when a package of drugs erupts in her guts it begins to unlock the full capacity of Lucy’s brain, turning her into a superhuman. This is a beautiful film to take in; full of colourful, poppy, bright, neon visuals of everything from single cells to galaxies, the big bang to the future (in 85 mins!!) and huge sweeping shots of cities, cultures, and continents reminiscent of something like Koyaanisqatsi. To put it simply – Lucy is a full on Eye Boner, and the CGI shots in particular are world-class. The biggest argument against the film is that the ‘10% of the brain myth’ has been debunked… I don’t hear anyone letting the dodgy science of Jurassic World, or tech of the Avengers, or gravity in the Fast franchise ruin those films. This is Science FICTION; get off your high horse and eat a buffet of dicks. The idea makes for an interesting film, especially if you dig the ongoing next leap in intelligence debate. Scarlett – who is in almost every shot – is hypnotising as an increasingly cold and calculating being, but the real star is Besson who’s back on top form, taking a bunch of chaotic elements, making them look great, then slotting them together into an exciting and ambitious narrative. On paper Lucy’s individual components are everything I love about modern cinema; a great ‘world cinema’ director, Korean actors, bombastic action, high-concept / big ideas, colourful & stylish (Cinéma Du Look), and entertaining… what more could anybody want? It’s Limitless for Sci-Fi nerds; it’s infinitely more engrossing that the Tree of Shite; it’s arguably the best Sci Fi film since The Matrix. Although the film goes ‘all in’ with a single divisive plot point – and whether you buy in to it or not – there’s no denying that Lucy is (at the very least) enthralling and entertaining. Personally, I’d put this down as Besson’s masterpiece
I Saw the Devil: when his fiancé falls prey to a deadly serial killer a secret service agent will stop at absolutely nothing to get even with the perpetrator. Make no mistake, this is revenge, Korean Style, and some parts of this picture make Oldboy look like a kids film – masochistic, nasty, graphic moments of extremely inhumane behavior. These would normally put you off, but this is so well crafted, and masterfully/beautifully shot (by – arguably – Korea’s best director) that it absolutely captivates. There are so many outstanding & memorable scenes: the riverside one is heartbreaking, agriculture one shocking, and many more jaw-dropping moments. Acting across the board is great, but the two (arguably Korea’s best actors) leads are absolutely mesmerising: Lee Byung-hun and Choi Min-Sik doing it
gangnam world-class style. There’s a lot of ‘blood on your hands’ / ‘becoming a monster’ themes, which get a little tedious and feel over-emphasised. I Saw the Devil has everything: tension, drama, black-comedy, gore, shock, thriller, nasty, nice and everything in between – it’s all in there, and it’s all handled spectacularly by the director and his leading men. It may be too dark, graphic or gristly for some, but if you’ve got a strong stomach this is a fantastic film.
Oldboy: After being imprisoned for 15 years with no explanation, one man has to search through all his skeletons and figure out who he offended. I can sum this up in one word: exceptional. And everything about this film is exceptional. Choi Min-sik and Yoo Ji-tae give career-defining performances. The editing throughout is top rate and there’s some fantastically dark comedy. The finale is one of the biggest cluster-and-head-fucks I’ve ever seen and despite around 10 viewings it still turns my stomach. The score is astounding, particularly how it complements the climax. That single-take fight scene in the corridor is stunning and there’s even some unique, but Improper, use of CDs, claw hammers & a toothbrush! An utterly remarkable and 150% un-remakable story (so relieved to hear that the hollywood re-make has been axed). The taboo material will be too much for some but otherwise this is flawless. This is still my favourite, and one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.
Shiri: Korean action blockbuster that opens up promisingly with some apeshit assassin training followed by a slew of hits that leave police scratching their heads. Throw in a couple of grudges, potential moles, twists, numerous gunfights and you’d think this film was solid gold. Unfortunately, it’s not very original: secret weapon nicked by breakaway terrorists who threaten to use it against the public. Someone basically nabbed the best bits from films like Nikita, Heat, Hard Boiled and Die Hard. Unfortunately, they didn’t steal a good soundtrack, as this one is beyond rubbish. The 2D characters could have benefited from a better script. Despite on-screen animosity between North and South Korea the film’s clearly pro-unity. Overall, it’s a pretty standard effort that brings nothing new to the table. Brainless action flick – best stick to the one’s mentioned above.