Jason Statham is back as another incarnation of his quick-witted, fast-shooting, hard-punching hero, this time as ex-cop and former cage fighter Luke Wright. Luke is pushed to the edge by the death of his wife at the hands of mobsters, and it is a testament to Statham’s acting skills that he manages this admittedly small part of his role with considerable conviction. From contemplating suicide, Luke finds himself paired up with a small Chinese girl who has the key to a powerful cipher in her head, and everyone, from corrupt cops to Chinese triads to Russian mafia are after her. Luke sees redemption and the possibility of revenge staring him in the face, and it is no surprise that the bad guys get taken down in hordes. There is top-class action and a good script from writer/director Boaz Yakin. Action flicks don’t come much leaner and meaner than this one.
If Safe is one for the boys, The Vow provides a perfectly serviceable date movie for this week, with Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum achieving a good chemistry that upgrades what would otherwise be a prosaic romance. The story starts with McAdams in a coma after a severe traffic accident. On waking, she suffers from almost total amnesia and Tatum as her husband has to work hard to win her heart all over again. Director Michael Sucsy has no compunction about taking the most direct route for the heartstrings and giving them a hefty tug. The good acting and moments that hit exactly the right note are likely to have even the least susceptible audience member shedding a tear. Unfortunately, the film shifts back and forth between pre-accident love and post-accident rediscovery, and this to-ing and fro-ing drains the story of narrative force.
King of Devil’s Island
Norwegian prison drama directed by Marius Holst and starring Stellan Skarsgard that does not seek to shock its audiences with scenes of jailhouse violence and abuse. The story is set in the boys’ home of Bastoy, located on an isolated island, where Bestyreren (played by Skarsgard), a despotic superintendent, works to make good Christian boys out of what he sees as society’s rubbish. The film is based on an actual incident in 1915 when a prison riot was put down by the Norwegian Army. Much of the violence, sexual and otherwise, is offscreen, and the actual meat of the movie is an exploration of individuals trying to survive in oppressive institutional circumstances.
We Are Family (內人。外人)
A collection of four films about immigrants to Taiwan: The Happy Life of Debbie (黛比的幸福生活), The Golden Child (金孫), My Little Honey Moon (野蓮香) and The Moonlight in Jilin (吉林的月光). All four films are by young Taiwanese directors, drawing on extensive field research and using both professional and non-professional actors. The movies deal with many social issues associated with the circumstances of foreign brides from China, Vietnam and Indonesia, and the problems Taiwanese face grappling with people of vastly different outlooks who have become part of their world. The four films will be screened at SPOT — Taipei Film House (台北光點), 18 Zhongshan N Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市中山北路二段18號) from today until May 25. Some screenings will also have question-and-answer sessions. Details of screening times can be found at www.atmovies.com.tw/movie/film_A12012051101_next.html.