Tuesday, April 21, 2015

International Movies to Avoid: April 2015 edition

This is a round-up post for all the bad movies that Tintin and I have seen in the past few months.

Source: Wikipedia

Badshahi Angti 

India (Bengali) 2014
Detective thriller
Directed by Sandip Ray

The latest in the series translating Satyajit Ray's popular "Feluda" stories to the big screen is disappointing all around. Feluda is Satyajit Ray's Sherlock Holmes-type detective, solving mysterious crimes throughout India and the world. In this one, the young Feluda finds himself in Lucknow with his cousin and uncle. Rather than having their planned relaxing vacation, they stumble across a mystery in the form of the priceless "Ring of Aurangzeb" and a neighbor whose large menagerie contains various kinds of poisonous snakes, spiders, and other dangerous beasts. Who has taken the ring, and who is this eccentric neighbor?

While the story itself sounds fascinating, this movie version's excruciatingly slow pace and weak dialogue did not lend the necessary urgency to Satyajit Ray's famous detective. Much of the movie is taken up with the type of scenic shots that are usually not seen outside of tourism commercials. This distracted from the plot too much to make me actually interested in the film. Recommended only if you're a Feluda fan.

Source: Wikipedia

Chotoder Chobi

India (Bengali) 2015
118 min, special interest drama, social commentary, love story
Directed by Kaushik Ganguly

Based on the posters and previews I had such high hopes for this movie depicting the plight of people with dwarfism in Bengal. But the movie left me sorely disappointed.

The plot focuses on a dwarf man who was paralyzed during a circus performance and later commits suicide. Because of stigma relating to their disorder, dwarfs find it hard to find employment outside of the circus in Bengal, but, as this movie shows, they are often taken advantage of by circus owners. Khoka, the main character, is sent to deliver a paltry amount of 15,000 INR (approx. $240 USD) to the paralyzed man's family. He meets the daughter, and they eventually fall in love and (it is implied) get married. However, the movie itself only details the hardships of circus life and the stigma that the characters deal with, and the love story is tacked on almost as an afterthought.

Rather than making a depressing film that repeats how bad their lives are ad nauseum, I would have liked to see a respectful depiction of both their struggles and how their lives are just like anyone else's. This, however, does nothing of the sort. At times, its depiction of Khoka's life felt almost condescending (made even more so by Dulal Sarkar winning the award for best actor at the 45th International Film Festival of India for his less than stellar acting). While this movie is interesting as an investigation of the circus and how people with dwarfism live in present-day Bengal, I would not recommend it for anything other than that.

Source: IMDB


South Africa (English) 2015
120 min, science fiction
Directed by Neill Blomkamp

I was cautiously excited to watch this movie from the director of the fantastic "District 9." That was until about 10 minutes into the movie when it became obvious that this movie was essentially a different, much worse version of "District 9" about robots instead of aliens.

Chappie is the first sentient robot created by one of the programmers for the company that manufactures the robotic police force in South Africa. Due to a complicated series of confused plot events, this robot ends up in the hands of a gang of thugs, who take on the role of teaching it how to live. I don't know what happens after that, because we left at intermission, unable to take any more.

Kudos to the director for casting an Indian actor (Dev Patel) as the main character. However, the proliferation of non-South African actors really decreased the appeal of the movie. Overall, this movie was a complete mess, and I would recommend that you just watch "District 9" which is a far better movie along the same lines.

Source: Wikipedia

Dragon Blade

US/ China? (Chinese and English) 2015
Kung-fu, historical (?) action
Directed by Daniel Lee

I am very confused about the provenance of this movie. But that's ok, because the people who made it were very confused about history.

Supposedly this movie is set in 42 BC, when a region of the world was known as the "Silk Road" and needed to have a peacekeeping force led by Jackie Chan. Somehow this means that Romans, Arab nomads, Indians, and Han Chinese were geographically close enough to fight with each other.

Jackie Chan's character and the rest of his group are thrown into prison for no apparent reason. If the prisoners don't finish building the city within a certain time period they will all be executed (although this is apparently forgotten later). Luckily, a group of Romans appear and teaches them technology that the Chinese should already have. Then Jackie Chan becomes an honorary Roman and must fight to save these Romans from the evil scheming romans.


It seems like this movie was made up by a group of friends sitting around and saying, "hey, wouldn't it be cool if Romans and ancient Chinese fought each other?" It makes no more sense than that. However, this could have been a good idea if the movie were made as a parody- there are several moments of comedy that pointed to how it could have been if that aspect were foregrounded. As it is, it remains a terribly confused mess of a movie. But the action is decent, so if you like that sort of thing it may be worth seeing.

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