‘PENINSULA’ – The Sequel to “Train to Busan”, South Korea’s Runaway Hit Film

After years of anticipation and riding on the wave of success for South Korean cinema, the highly anticipated film, “Peninsula” has released it’s latest trailer. The timing of the trailer, for better or for worse, is during a time of global struggle due to a deadly virus.

The film is supposedly set four years after the original film ends and focuses on a new set of survivors who are trapped in a nightmare world where most of the population has been transformed into out of control lethal zombies.

‘Train to Busan’

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TRAIN TO BUSAN POSTER

The smash hit South Korean film, “Train to Busan”, delved deep into the dark recesses of the human psyche and how humans react to near death experiences and how everyone can be perceived to be a ‘good’ person until they are faced with a life or death situation though some people do rise to the challenge and show themselves to be brave and empathetic.

“Train to Busan” also played on how people may not always give the correct first impression and how appearances can be deceiving.The ‘Train’ and the film itself capture the failings and upside of humanity in a few hours. It seems the ‘train’ itself and the people trapped on it are a metaphor for society; the train hurtling towards disaster though people will still try and help those less fortunate than themselves out.

‘Seoul Station’ – Cartoon Prequel

Seoul Station

To round off what is now a ‘trilogy’ is, ‘Seoul Station’ the cartoon film prequel to ‘Train to Busan’. The animated film shows the lead up to the breakdown of society and the chaos unleashed as the world is overwhelmed by zombies.

The three films paint a world as a grim and chaotic place where hope still prevails….

You Must Watch……The Outlaw King

For those who love history, you may want to watch “The Outlaw King”, which serves to be an unofficial follow up to ‘Braveheart’ which starred Mel Gibson. The aforementioned film, ‘The Outlaw King’ follows the story of Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) as the real life character initially wrestles with his morality and conscience, after again, pleading his loyalty to both King Edward 1 and England after the bloody demise of William Wallace.

Official Trailer

As the film progresses, Robert the Bruce, realises that the Scottish people are still feeling persecuted by the English and their rule. He decides to again rally the fractured Scottish clans into a fighting unit, though this of course, is not easy as internal rivalries still persist. The story sees Robert the Bruce initially suffering many setbacks and disappointments through betrayal and defeats in battle.

The story slowly turns as Robert the Bruce rallies a stronger fighting force especially as King Edward I forces begin to plunder and kill those who are deemed not loyal. The characters of both Edward 1 and Edward II are seen to be ruthless and cunning and eager to destroy the uprising at all costs. The film ends with the battle of Loudoun Hill which is an incredible set piece which is both gory and realistic. The film could continue on much longer though the story ends there and offers a glimpse into what could have been an epic mini series or a much longer extended story. The film decides to offer a short but concise view into the desperate early stages of the campaign when the clans were divided and needed one person to attempt to unite them.

‘The Outlaw King’ is entertaining with beautiful cinematography and though was not universally popular with critics and had much wider scope for the film to explore, it is still a must watch!

FIFA – RUSSIA 2018 WORLD CUP FILM – FREE FOR ALL

FIFA have a history of working in collaboration with documentary makers to produce their ‘Official’ films and have recently released their Russia 2018 film for ‘free’ online on YouTube for everyone to view. The 2018 tournament was a incredible action packed spectacle and with so many people missing out on ‘live’ sport, it is a great way to remember the drama on and off the pitch. The film is narrated by the famed actor and thespian, Damien Lewis.

Queen Of Katwe: A Story of Hope and Chess….

The “Queen Of Katwe” is the inspiring true story about finding hope in the most unlikely of places. The story is set in a shantytown in Uganda and focuses on the main character, 10-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga), who lives in harsh conditions with her mother, Harriet (Lupita Nyong’o) and younger members of her family. Life is a struggle and there seems to be little to no upward mobility to attain a better life. 

Phiona life changes when she stumbles upon the chess school run by the kind-hearted, Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), who hopes to give the children under his guidance the confidence and skills to improve their current status. For Robert, life is a game of chess and is a metaphor for life and, to him, major life decisions can be made quickly or with strategic grace and thinking. 

Under the guidance of Robert and her fellow chess players, Phiona realizes that she is a natural at the sport and she not only becomes the best player in her club but eventually her region and then the country.

This little gem of a Disney film is both realistic in its portrayal of everyday life yet throughout the film offers hope and the constant promise of a better future for its characters. The film does not shy away from the pressures of everyday life and the desperate situation some people are in and the normal teenage emotional rollercoaster young people go through.

Well worth watching!  

Cobra Kai – 80s’s Nostalgia Blasts Back onto the Screen with the ‘Karate Kid’ TV Update

Some films are best left to their own devices and left to the passage of history and sometimes, the story should continue even in the form of a online TV show. Against the odds, some of the shows are incredibly well done and deserve greater recognition.

This is the premise of “Cobra Kai”, which is the series, which takes the original ‘Karate Kid’ film’s two main rivals, Daniel LaRusso (played by Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and re-introduces them in the present day and adds in a whole new bunch of characters and throws a few surprise twists which, in turn, will make you re-examine the original film.

The series is set over three decades with the two having taken a totally different path in life with LaRusso now a financially successful car dealer while Lawrence is down and out on his luck in all areas of his life.

The story does not play out as one would expect and the script delves deeper into each of LaRusso and Lawrence’s characters as both struggle with their own demons. A series of coincidences mean that they are again drawn into each other’s lives. Each of them becomes a mentor to several youngsters and of course, this leads to an eventual show down.

The late Pat Morita

The notable absentees, who were in the first films, are the late Pat Morita, who gained an oscar nomination for his role as Mr. Miyagi and Elizabeth Shue yet the show retains the sense of innocence and wonder of the original film.

The stars reflect on the late Pat Morita

“Cobra Kai” would not work on most levels though it does and it has great spirit and soul and draws in the viewers into the newly updated world of the “Karate Kid”. It is perfect for those who grew up in the eighties and wish to take a journey back on memory lane.

You Must Watch Valkyrie – Film Review: Hollywood History 101?

In mid 1944, the nadir of German internal resistance to the Nazis was reached with the ill fated attempt to kill Hitler. With DDay a success, those involved in the resistance had no doubt that the war was by now lost and only an immediate armistice could avoid more unnecessary bloodshed and further damage to Germany and its people. They resolved to act on July 20th 1944.

All history buffs know what happened next.

The man to place the bomb to kill Hitler was Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (played Tom Cruise). He was a patriot born into an aristocratic family who himself was morally opposed to Hitler’s brutal ways. Stauffenberg initially did not wish to join the resistance reasoning that all German soldiers had pledged allegiance to Hitler. As the war continued, he became disillusioned and even lost his left eye when serving in North Africa.

Ultimately the plot failed, the war dragged on and retributions were swift. A majority of the plotters were executed. Upon his own execution, Stauffenberg shouted out “Es lebe unser heiliges Deutschland!” (“Long live our holy Germany!”) so ending one of history’s great ‘what ifs?’ If the bomb successfully killed Hitler, would the war have ended quicker and saved millions?

This fascinating story was made into a major Hollywood film starring Tom Cruise and Kenneth Branagh.

Harking back to epic war films such as ‘A bridge too far’ and ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’, history and good old story telling is always a winning combination and the film is highly anticipated. Though, the film has not been without problems:

* The German government initially banned the production from shooting at locations around Berlin. Cruise’s scientologist background was seen as unfavourable. They later relented.

* 11 extras were injured when shooting one scene.

* Footage was ruined so entire scenes had to be reshot.

* The release date has been delayed and there is the minor issue of one of Germany’s great heroes having an American accent.

Past Hollywood attempts at covering world war two (WW2) have often been controversial. Films such as U-571 were deemed historically inaccurate while Pearl Harbor took a pivotal moment in the 20th century and turned it into an average but bloated film with Ben Affleck saving the day. The successes of good WW2 films far outweigh the disappointments with films such as ‘Saving Private Ryan’, ‘The Thin Red Line’, ‘The Pianist’, Schindler’s list’, ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’ and the TV series ‘Band of Brothers’ all critical and commercial successes.

History themed films are not only pure entertainment; they can be educational and let viewers gain an insight into the past and a sense of empathy. The French film ‘Days of Glory’ told the little known story of African colonial soldiers who fought for France in WW2; after then French president Jacques Chirac saw this film, he fully restored pensions to the ex-soldiers which were stopped after the colonies became independent.

Spike Lee made the ‘Miracle at St Anna’ which tells the little known story of African American soldiers fighting in WW2 Europe. Spike Lee was no doubt influenced by the film ‘Glory’. A little known gem that tells of the first All Black Union fighting unit in the American Civil war and how they went from slaves to respected men in uniform. This film launched the careers of a certain Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman.

Hollywood for all its intents wants to entertain us. If watching a film with a slightly inaccurate script or Tom Cruise trying to kill Hitler can let an apathetic teenager learn about the horrors of concentration camps , the sacrifices made by the ‘greatest generation’ or noblemen who tried to change the course of history then surely Hollywood are doing something right.