» The Sting II: Perfect Exchange (1993, Hong Kong)

The Sting II - Tony Ka Fai Leung as Chung Chor-Hung and Andy Lau as Mandy Chin

This is not a sequel to the 1973 film The Sting starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and seems an equally unlikely sequel to the 1992 Hong Kong film The Sting (starring Andy Lau, who appears in both apparently unconnected films in very different roles). A comedy-drama, it has, if nothing else, an English title which is much less abstruse than the literal translation of its Cantonese title - reportedly 36 Esteemed Cons: To Steal the Sky and Change the Moon. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on April 18th, 2018 at 10:02 pm. Updated on April 18th, 2018 at 10:02 pm.

» Sarbjit (2016, India)

Sarbjit - Randeep Hooda as Sarbjit Singh Atwal

The 2008 Pakistani movie Ramchand Pakistani told the story of a Pakistani man who strayed across the Indian border chasing after his wilful son, and who was then captured, imprisoned and tortured by Indian authorities. Sarbjit tells the story of a wilfully drunken Indian man who strays across the Pakistani border and is captured, imprisoned and tortured by Pakistani authorities. For 22 years. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on April 11th, 2018 at 9:26 pm. Updated on April 11th, 2018 at 9:26 pm.

» Paddington 2 (2017, UK / Others)

Paddington 2

I thought that I was too old for Michael Bond’s Paddington books to have been around when I was young. I was wrong. I thought, too, that I might be too old (read ‘cantankerous’) to enjoy a movie featuring a proper, English, whispery-voiced, marmalade-loving, animated small bear. Wrong again.

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Posted on April 1st, 2018 at 8:49 pm. Updated on April 1st, 2018 at 8:49 pm.

» Seventeen Years (1999, China)

Seventeen Years - Liu Lin as Tao Lan

Seven minutes. Just seven minutes of action inside the prison, and yet it says more about the impact of incarceration than most movies set entirely within prison walls. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 20th, 2018 at 7:22 pm. Updated on March 20th, 2018 at 7:22 pm.

» The Merciless (2017, South Korea)

Si-wan Im as undercover cop in prison Jo Hyun-su

There are certain threads that seem to characterise South Korean prison movies; they are invariably well made and contain a blend of gangster drama and dark humour. Well, that’s not true of films like Harmony (2010), of course, but it’s true of the well made films that contain a blend of gangster drama and dark humour, like this one. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 12th, 2018 at 4:57 pm. Updated on March 12th, 2018 at 4:57 pm.

» Passion’s Web (2007, Canada)

Passion's Web -

I found this really, really hard to watch… partly because of my strange aversion to watching random (i.e. not all) films about hybristophilia: sexual arousal and pleasure derived from having a sexual partner who is known to havecommitted an outrage or crime, such as rape, murder, or armed robbery.’ To be frank, I don’t even know if this does involve hybristophilia (the hybristophile candidate here does rather enjoy the danger of the workplace, but doesn’t seem to be sexually attracted to more than one outrage committer), but I learned the term through watching this movie and I felt compelled to use it. Frequently. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 3rd, 2018 at 4:47 pm. Updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 4:54 pm.

» Death Row (2007, USA)

Death Row - Elias Castillo as The Killer

As far as low budget horror films go, this one by the Quiroz Brothers is not so bad. As far as low budget death row horror films go, it is not about a death row, per se, and the term ‘horror’ doesn’t exactly fit, either. But it is decidedly, indisputably, inescapably low budget. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 18th, 2018 at 12:37 pm. Updated on February 18th, 2018 at 12:41 pm.

» Savage Dog (2017, USA)

Savage Dog - Scott Adkins as Martin Tillman

“Set in Indochina in 1959, a former champion boxer… serving hard time in a brutal labor camp must fight against all odds to avenge a vicious act of violence and for his freedom,” says the blurb on my DVD. Codswallop. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 11th, 2018 at 9:59 am. Updated on February 11th, 2018 at 9:59 am.

» Женская тюряга / Women’s Slammer (1991, USSR)

Women's Slammer - Venera Nigmatulina as Madina Galieva

This is the alternative title of the video (on YouTube) which translates literally, it seems, as something closer to ‘Women’s Scum’. Or sometimes, intriguingly, as ‘Women’s Jelly’. The film’s original title, Life is a Woman, doesn’t appear to have ever had much traction. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 4th, 2018 at 3:40 pm. Updated on February 4th, 2018 at 3:40 pm.

» Carpinteros / Woodpeckers (2017, Dominican Republic)

Woodpeckers - Jean Jean as Julian Sosa

The Najayo Prison for men at San Cristóbal, about an hour out of Santo Domingo, is right next door to the Najayo Women’s Center of Correction and Rehabilitation. So close that the men in the old prison, if they can get to a high window on the upper storey, can pass messages to the women next door, and vice versa, by an elaborate, bespoke sign language. ‘Woodpecking’, they call it. “The thing is that when the woodpeckers drill their holes they grasp onto the tree - the same way that the guys climb to the windows and grab onto the rails so they can talk to us,” one of the women says. Or you can choose to make up your own explanation.

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Posted on January 28th, 2018 at 11:18 am. Updated on January 28th, 2018 at 11:18 am.