by Wiam Najjar, May 29, 2015

Dragon Blade

Country: China     Year: 2015     Genre: Action, Historical

Spare two hours of your precious time and try watching this film because it’s worth it. No wonder,  Jackie never fails to amaze.

It’s a historical film based on the one and only war that happened between the Chinese and the Romans during the Han dynasty. The war broke out to determine who would have control over the Silk Road which was the crucial point on the way to controlling the world commercially. Chan Jackie plays a captain in exile who gives refuge to the escapees from the Roman ruler. Оne of them is Lucius played by John Cusack. Both people gather many nations and rebuild the city called Wild Geese Gate. As they finish, the Romans arrive. Jackie finds himself responsible for saving the city, the Silk Road and the people who believed in him.

The film is a profound portrayal of friendship and brotherhood. When there is a common goal and a common soul, nationalities and languages matter no more. When a heart touches another, differences disappear. Is justice a mere dream? Will a day when all races become equal ever come? In ‘a world that treats the dead better than the living’, is it worth it to dream of change?! How deep can we trust others? If they’re faced with terrible situations, can we blame people if they abandon us? What’s fate? Destiny? And how decisive is our role in determining our own destiny?

The film is beautifully made and directed. The music suits the era, the story and the spirit of the characters. There are some hilarious moments, Jackie can’t help it. The fighting scenes are wonderful as expected, especially the fist fights. The killing scenes are a bit malicious. The training is spectacular.

Patriotism, homesickness, obsession with power, betrayal, unification dreams and turning pain into motivation are all themes tackled wonderfully in the film. Cusack and Shi Won’s appearances add greatly to the quality of the film, no matter how brief their appearances are. This is a perfect choice for history lovers.

I Am a Dad

Country: South Korea     Year: 2011     Genre: Action, Drama

This is the kind of film you must watch but never re-watch. It’s a thrilling, intriguing and painful journey of looking for an answer to the controversial question: what is a dad?!

Na Sang Man (Son Byung Ho) is a caring and family-oriented magician. He lives with his wife and daughter in peace. He gets entangled in a crime. The detective in charge is the corrupt, vulgar and arrogant Han Jong Sik (Kim Seung Woo; I know!). Detective Han receives bribes and helps human traffickers. He’s talented and strong nonetheless. Detective Han would persecute the witness if he doesn’t find the criminal and that’s what happens with Na Sang Min. When Na Sang Man gets out of prison, he finds that his world had shattered. He seeks revenge against Han but fate is not as merciful. Na’s wife is the only heart match for Han’s sick daughter (Kim Sae Ron). With this twisted fate, what would happen between the two broken men?!

Though the film revolves around the definition of a dad, it also tackles contentious and universal issues like medical fees and organ transplants and trafficking.

The film is well-written and well-acted. Superb acting of conflicted characters. Fitting music and surprising twists. Painful and abrupt ending. And again, we’re left with no resolution.



Country: South Korea     Year: 2014     Genre: Drama, Mature, Melodrama, Psychological, Romance, School

This film is not for everyone. Not because it’s ‘mature’ – the explicit scenes, if we can actually call them so, are minimal and so fitted in the film you can’t understand it well without them -  but because of the themes tackled: lust, obsession, mistrust, betrayal, seduction and the burden of marriage. If you’re not up to in-your-face kind of film, just skip this.

Joon Gi (Jang Hyuk) is a P.E. teacher. He’s married to a woman he doesn’t really love and is burdened by family responsibilities, his rich in-laws, the expected baby, a job he doesn’t like and having to abandon his dreams. Among his students there’s a beautiful and lovely student called Yeong Eun (Jo Bo Ah) who has a huge crush on him. As Joon Gi lets his guard down, things go out of control.

The film is not simply a cheating story of a husband with a young student to forget reality. It’s about a whole world drawn from one unintentional look. Yeong Eun is not simply obsessive, she’s sick – I couldn’t determine if it was schizophrenia or anxiety, experts would. Because of one moment of awry passion, many lives can be ruined. And again, we’re asked the eternal question: what is love.

If not for the story – which is really well-written - or the making – which is really superb, you may watch the film for some brilliant acting of the conflicted Jang Hyuk and the psycho girl in love Bo Ah. Despite the actual age difference and the acting experience, their chemistry and performance are cracking. Man, that was epic.