Outside the Law
A sweeping historical melodrama by Days of Glory director Rachid Bouchareb that takes a long, hard look at the Algerian independence movement and its brutal conflict with French counter-terrorism forces. Constructed as a family saga, it opens with the eviction of an Algerian peasant family from its land. The story of this injustice is picked up in post-World War II Europe with three brothers responding differently to the decline of colonialism. Bouchareb takes the story through France’s battle in Indochina, through the oppression of Algerian immigrants and the growing sense of nationalism. Although interesting for shedding light on one aspect of French colonial history, the narrative is too sprawling, and Bouchareb seems unwilling to face up to the complex moral issues of means and ends as he tries to get the audience rooting for his heroes.
If you’re looking to take mum for a bit of fun at the cinema as a Mother’s Day treat, this is probably not the film to see. That said, Mother’s Day is a top class horror/thriller by director Darren Lynn Bousman, who has been responsible for some of the more reprehensible Saw sequels. The plot follows a murderous family’s clash with a group of young yuppies in a home the criminals believe they owned. A hostage situation turns deadly with the arrival of the family matriarch, played with huge energy by Rebecca de Mornay of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle fame. Top notch entertainment, but definitely not for the fainthearted.
The latest offering for the romantically inclined teen market has Alex Pettyfer as a rich and arrogant youth who is hexed with ugliness by a witch and who has to be saved by a shy but determined young girl played by Vanessa Hudgens, who sees beneath his exterior to the fundamentally good person beneath. This is basically a remake of Beauty and the Beast in a modern, urban setting, and has annoyed critics, but as with films like the Twilight saga, is nevertheless likely to press all the right buttons for its target audience of pubescent young women longing for a romantic challenge.
Japanese action drama whose main attraction is seeing rising female martial arts star Rina Takeda do some incredible high kicks and other elaborate karate movies wearing a school girl outfit. Takeda looks pretty good in some karate training drills in the early part of the film, but when various exotic weaponry emerges, the fight sequences get a bit silly. Karate Girl boasts real action unaided by CGI or other cinematic trickery, but the story itself has little to offer. A young girl from a powerful martial arts family sees all her loved ones killed, hides away but is discovered when she inadvertently reveals her skills. On the run, she decides the only plan is to take the fight to the bad guys.
Revenge of the Factory Woman (與愛別離)
Romantic melodrama directed by Gavin Lin (林孝謙). Don’t be fooled by the English title: This is not a revenge thriller or a piece of social realism about life on the OEM factory floor. In fact, this is television soap put on the big screen, about people who fall in love, fall out of love, impregnate other people, then make improbable demands for no other reason other than to ensure that there is a story to tell. In the case of Revenge of the Factory Woman, a wife demands that she exchange babies with her husband’s mistress as a prerequisite for divorce. Predictably, this only gives rise to more anguish and tears.