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Movies You Watched Recently And Felt Strongly About

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2012 – movie review

Roland Emmerich is the master of disaster. He has wiped out LA, parts of NYC and many other places in his previous movies, which boast bigger and badder scenes of destruction. Mayhem is his middle name and each year, he comes up with something else to wipe out or threaten the survival of the human race.

2012 is his latest offering, which combines his trademark ingredients of a collection of A-grade stars plus another bunch of B+ stars (cheaper to hire?) and what tickled me most – a local talent in the form of Chin Han, who actually makes it to the credits and the IMDB website for this show! Kudos to the journeyman who has rubbed shoulders with the megastars in Batman and now this.

The premise is not unfamiliar to us, Earth is about to be destroyed, of course having used up Godzilla, Aliens, and the weather, he reaches deeper into his rather shallow thinking box to combine apocalyptic events with a event twist, whilst throwing in stories of old, including the Great Flood and the Ark. I doubt if the fans would be too worried about the story arc, and would be more impressed by how he chooses to blow up various capitals around the whilst.

If all this movie was about was merely a few scenes of explosions and mayhem thrown together, I doubt if it would have found much success at the box office (actually it is still just that, some quiet scenes between the big blow-ups). In many of his movies, he adds what he considers a human element, and sometimes it adds the dimension of fragility (see Dennis Quaid in Day After Tomorrow) and it can also be the clowning hero (see Will Smith in Independence Day) and John Cusack belongs to the former genre, being able to be a hero in the anti-hero mould. We see parallels to Dennis Quaid’s role, as separated father, someone who does not see action as an instinct, and a bit of a down and out loser, albeit a clever one, whose one claim to fame prior to this was a book which sold less than 600 copies.

But the all-American will always rise to the challenge, especially when the waters are rising even faster. He has to save his family, even the step-dad replacing him and also save a few others along the way. We do see his limitations, and unlike the Rambo or Arnie models, he does not single-handed save the world, which is a better touch than the ridiculous idea of a virus infecting the alien mothership. We see a variety of personalities as the movie develops, the intellectual geologist, the sanguine and self-sacrificing president, the practical all cut to the chase politician, the tough Russian trying all ways to save his twins and of course, our own Tenzin, the worker who saves his family and a whole bunch of others along the way, albeit a tad reluctant. I reckon he got a good 20 minutes of air time and plenty of dialogue too, so this should do his pay and his movie cred a lot of good.

Don’t expect too much for the plot, and enjoy the ride. 3/5 for the plot.

As a 2 hour block of fun, we are treated to a surround fest and this should be a good movie to demo the bass and surround system, with plenty of loud scenes to keep the hobbyists happy. Action 4/5

Amanda Peet is fine eye candy, but her role is not as juicy nor is she Megan Fox, so I give 2.5/5 for the chick factor.

Should you get this movie? If you liked his previous work, then you will consider owning this, but it is fun enough for at least a rental.

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Knowing – movie review

Premonition is a popular theme, which excites and can be the recipe for a decent yarn. Nicolas Cage is no stranger to this, having done “Next”, in which he has the power of foresight. This movie is pretty much like a revised version of that, with a better plot and tighter editing, almost as though someone had taken the plot of Next and shaken out all the bad parts and replaced it with a slight better story arc and acting he made the mistake of retaining Nic. You could have replaced him with a better actor and still get as much out of the show.

So a little note buried in the 50s holds the secrets to major disasters for the next 50 years. You get some suspense here, and there seems to be a predilection for end of the world type shows in the recent box office, and what you get here, is a thriller about how our world unravels.

This movie is noteworthy more for the demo scenes, such as the plane crash, where the whole HT system gets a great workout. 3.5/5 for action, 2.5/5 for the plot.

Forget chick factor, it’s in short supply as with many other aspects of the show.

This movie is still worthy of a rental, with all the action going on, but I doubt if you will give it a second spin.

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Leatherheads – movie review

George Clooney is a man identified with the cool, especially after Ocean 11, and he has successfully ventured into directing, and this is his third outing. He has picked a show about the pro football when leather instead of plastic was used to make the headgear, and he has made a movie which is delicate, yet funny and has plenty of demo worthy scenes to offer.

It’s a sports movie, a romance and a comedy, and he pulls it off with good contribution when he is in front of the camera, with good efforts by the lead actress Renee and of course the newbie Carter, the “Bullet”, and plenty of good enthusiasm by the supporting cast. There is the old sporting against the odds theme, plus a three way romance, and the additional pot boiler of some hidden skeletons in the closet to add spice to the show.

The result is a movie which is nostalgic, yet refreshing and the quality of the Blu Ray transfer is highly impressive, especially in the video section where, the clarity and lack of any defects make this disc a good way to show off the new Hi Def TV or projector.

3.5/5 for the plot, 3/5 for action 2.5/5 for chick factor (Renee Zellwenger is no spring chick anymore)

Should you buy this, it is worth a rental at least and if you are a sports fan, and wish to own a demo worthy show, this will be a good keeper too.

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Law Abiding Citizen – movie review

Gerard Butler is a versatile man, capable of playing the lead in romantic comedies, action movies and also shows a darker more broody side to him in this thriller based on the vengeance a father wishes to seek on the perpetrators and also the law system which fails in his eyes to seek true justice.

Jamie Foxx comes along for the ride, as a up and coming DA and the 2 make this movie a little special with the chemistry of hatred and baiting helping to move the plot along, despite some rather obvious loopholes. There are enough action scenes and explosions to keep the action fan happy, yet some clever aspects of the plot to keep the intellectual yearning for a little more from the average thriller to string him along too.

3.5/5 for the plot and 3.5/5 for action.

There is no real chick factor at all in this show and this actually helps avoid deviating the story from the tight editing and the suspense we get. I reckon this movie is worth a rental least, and may deserve more than 1 viewing to appreciate the flavor in the plot, but once you know the conclusion, it will be hard to re-watch it.

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Leatherheads – movie review

George Clooney is a man identified with the cool, especially after Ocean 11, and he has successfully ventured into directing, and this is his third outing. He has picked a show about the pro football when leather instead of plastic was used to make the headgear, and he has made a movie which is delicate, yet funny and has plenty of demo worthy scenes to offer.

It’s a sports movie, a romance and a comedy, and he pulls it off with good contribution when he is in front of the camera, with good efforts by the lead actress Renee and of course the newbie Carter, the “Bullet”, and plenty of good enthusiasm by the supporting cast. There is the old sporting against the odds theme, plus a three way romance, and the additional pot boiler of some hidden skeletons in the closet to add spice to the show.

The result is a movie which is nostalgic, yet refreshing and the quality of the Blu Ray transfer is highly impressive, especially in the video section where, the clarity and lack of any defects make this disc a good way to show off the new Hi Def TV or projector.

3.5/5 for the plot, 3/5 for action 2.5/5 for chick factor (Renee Zellwenger is no spring chick anymore)

Should you buy this, it is worth a rental at least and if you are a sports fan, and wish to own a demo worthy show, this will be a good keeper too.

Hi petetherock.

You are writing great reviews here. The blu ray reviews have a sticky thread in the "blu ray" thread and yorac collates them quite regularly to a single index. You may want to post the blu reviews there to share. This thread gets a lot of "views". Keep the cinema views here.

Great work and a real help to other members.

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Gamer – movie review

First, I will get the good stuff out of the way. For action, surround effects, it is almost a perfect 10. Maybe a few micro-points off the best just because of all the noise, but if you want a bass worked And surrounds enveloping you, you have to try this movie. It comes in glorious DTS-MA 7.1, and it lets you know that all your speakers are working fine. Someone hired a sound engineer to rival the best. You have to give this movie a spin.

If only the did the same for the plot…

On the surface, the screen writer seems to have taken snippets from Ghost in a Shell, Matrix, Rollerball, Running Man, Gladiator, Death Race, Condemned, and even borrowed the same actor to do similar lines from Assault on Precinct 13 (John Leguizamo) to re-enact his role, and borrowed bits from Surrogates to put together a plot that is so kaleidoscopic, and fast moving, those who are pre-disposed to epileptic fits should be warned. Heck Gerad Butler even looks like Russel Crowe in Gladiator right down to his habit of grabbing sand from the ground…It is also filmed in a very MTV / video game way, and there is so must flesh and boobs on display, you will have a long mammary (sic memory) of the show… this is not something you wish to nominate for the Oscars…

Yet if I read the director or screen writer correctly, there is some message, and mind control and domination of the masses comes through as the central theme. Yet, as the movie does not dwell on the sentimental long enough, these are pushed aside in the interests of the action, which comes faster and more furious as the movie unfolds.

You will either get disgusted by the plot, or admire it in a Clockwork Orange kind of way. 2.5/5 for the plot.

As for the chick factor, the amount of flesh on display, will knock the socks off that in the entire Matrix series, and clearly the director is into the “shock and awe” kind of tactics. 3/5

So it boils down to this, will you like the action enough to keep it, or will the lack of a solid storyline force you to return the disc.

By the way, Lionsgate is the tour-de-force when it comes to their Blu Ray releases, and you can never accuse them of messing up the sound. But somehow some of the poorest plot action movies of recent times, have had such superb sound engineerings, that it almost begs someone to re-edit or re-write the story. Think of Condemned, Marine, 12 rounds amongst many such movies with a stinker of a plot and some of the best bass and surround effects ever. You can never accuse them of a dull moment.

A footnote: avoid the UK copy. It has DTS-MA 5.1.

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Hurt Locker – movie review

I raved about the movie Gamer just yesterday, praising its solid sound effects, and awesome surround, but hold the presses! We have a new winner in the critically acclaims “Hurt Locker”, which is now the reference for me, rivalling some of the best bass from the Die Hard 4, and the kind of surround from Star Trek and Up.

Ok, everyone knows the tight editing and realistic portrayal of the Gulf War and the tension in the Iraq insurgency, and the wonderful job that Kathryn Bigelow has done and I agree with all the positive comments. Take the best of Generation Kill, add more tension, the better parts of Courage Under Fire, plus the kind of careless abandonment that we saw in Captain Spears from Band of Brothers and mix in the kind of fearlessness we witness in “Fearless” the old show with Jeff Bridges, and you get this. 4/5 for the plot.

A special mention about the main man in the show, Jeremy Renner, who has been a journeyman, who has been in TV, and movies over the past decade or two, and has only been able to come into his own in the recent few years. I first noticed him in SWAT where he played Gamble the SWAT turned bad guy. His devil-may care attitude there has carried over to this production, and he uses this anti-hero stance with scant regard for his own safety to good effect and he richly deserves his Oscar nomination.

Now about that surround and bass, since this show has many explosions and demolitions, you get a real treat here, and with the ambient sounds of an Iraqi street emanating from all the speakers, if you have a 9.2 state of the art system, this will give your system the kind of demo workout you dreamed about. 5/5

No chick factor here, and that’s fine.

Should you own it – yes, this is a keeper. Highly recommened.

Edited by petetherock

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And the winner is : The Hurt Locker!

SPOILER ALERT:

There are some inaccuracies in the uniforms, and Jeremy Renner is way too gung-ho to be a real bomb disposal guy, I migt heven shoot the chap myself. But the editing and tight drama, the tension combined with genuinely good chemistry and good portrayls by the whole crew, with good support from a stellar cast, ranging from Guy Pierce to David Morse to even Ralph Fiennes, moves the plot along with good alacrity and the award comes richl deserved. Kudos to beating the Big Blue 3D giant.

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Universal Soldier – Regeneration

Universal Soldier was a minor hit for JVCD back when the muscles from Brussels was the hottest action hero around, with his kicks and ballet like movements. He has dwindled in popularity whilst Arnie has gone onto bigger things, but after the recent JCVD movie, Jean Claude shows he has serious acting chops and has kept in shape. This is the 5th iteration of the UniSol series, and despite the age of the main protagonists, the show is a real serious slugfest (literally) and proves JVCD can still throw a few punches and draw in the crowds.

Dolph Lungren is also in good shape and mixes it up with the younger crowd just as well, whilst Andrei Arlovski is a UFC fight champion and Mike Pyle is another pugilist, so there is plenty of action but what impresses is the solid bass, which rivals the best from Die Hard 4, and other recent productions. The surround matches the scenes, and the lack of dialogues suits the tension of the movie, and reminds me of the first Terminator movie, where the actors let their kicks do the talking.

When the explosions go off, there is a real thump in the chest, and there are plenty of scenes which are demo worthy. There is a 25-30min sequence near the end which is one long take of action, not bad for some old chaps.

The plot isn’t much to shout about, but there is enough to keep even the casual fan interested, and for the UniSol fan, this is a fine final installment (maybe?) to the series.

Plot: 3/5

Action 4.5/5

Forget the chick factor here.

Should you buy it, well again it depends on whether you are a UniSol fan, and even if you are not, this is worth more than a rental. Welcome back JVCD. Kind of like Grumpy old men kicking ass...

Edited by petetherock

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JARHEAD:

The Gulf War seems to be a constant hunting ground for material to make movies. This was a movie done in between the older ones like Courage Under Fire, Black Hawk Down and more recent ones like Hurt Locker, and it was meant to shift the focus away from the bravado, to the people in the war, focussing more on the psyche, the angst and the personal mental trauma.

It comes with a stellar cast and director, so you would probably bank on it to succeed and win a few Oscars with the emotion driven, close-up look at a bunch of young men thrown into boot camp, then thrust into battle only to emerge empty handed, in mind, body and without a kill to their sorry names.

Yet the show rings as empty as the war itself, the actors almost sleepwalking through their roles, seemingly just turning up to take their paychecks and enjoy a break from their other movie making commitments. Perhaps they were trying too hard to empty themselves and in the process, took all their emotions and also left it in their trailers before emerging onto the set.

There is a gloom to the whole movie but you get a feel of needing to ponder about it. 3/5 for the plot

There is also little action and much less surround effects, despite the many opportunities to make use of the war driven movie. The colors are also as drained as the empty shells of the actors, although this could be a deliberate ploy by the filmmakers.

Forget any chick factor too.

I would say this could be a rental for a really really boring Sunday night, but you will need to be pretty desperate to want to watch this.

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Clash of the Titans in 3D – movie review

3D movies are now coming out fast and furious and you know you are in for a nasty time when the most three-dimensional thing is the subtitles.

The plot has not changed much and follows much of the older movie, with 3D added post production presumably to cash in on this new craze. Well lets just say that the 3D effect is flatter than an airport runway, and instead, you get this faint halo effect or grainy enlargement of the character. The picture quality is also poor, were they trying to convince us this was an 80s production? The CGI was sporadic, with the scorpion scene nicely done, whilst Medusa looked worse than the Scorpion King animation which is almost 8 years old now.

Sam Worthington tries almost single-handedly to rescue this movie and the people who hired him got their money’s worth from him. He grimaces, growls and slashes his way through the movie pulling the others along and almost makes the movie watchable. There are a few laughs and some decent action scenes, but for a 2010 movie, the bass and sound was surprisingly flat (pun intended). The surrounds were also not used much, and you wonder if this was a direct to video production. In fact the first 30 minutes resembled a B grade movie and Sam W looked like he was hopping back and forth from Avatar, especially since he basically had the same hairdo and all he had to do was retain his Aussie accent here, and swop over to a Marine’s grunt in Avatar.

The director also seems to be lacking ideas, borrowing the big scorpions from Michael Bay’s Transformers I, the Kraken looked pretty similar to an Alien, and the lady tied to be sacrificed had her set borrowed right out of King Kong. With a 2 dimensional storyline, indifferent special effects and a decidedly poor implementation of 3D, this movie looks to be a rental at best, and if you plan on seeing this in the cinema, just go 2D, and you will feel less cheated.

Avatar was the epitome of 3D for the year, and efforts like this leave such a bad aftertaste that the skeptics will feel subsequent productions are merely cashing in on the phenomenon and don’t really use 3D to add much to the plot.

Action 3/5 Plot 2.5/5

Chick factor – well Gemma Atherton was a hottie and looks better here than in James Bond if you asked me, and I wished she has a meatier role, rather than imitating an “Etheral” from Riddick. And whoever played Medusa was a fine looked inspite of her dreadlocks. 3.5/5

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GREED

The recent brace of 3D movies has allowed the ugly head of GREED to rear its head, in a way which is more menacing than the hissing snakey head of Medusa.

Alice and Titans are clear examples of movies made in 2D, but due to greed from the studios has had post-production manipulation to squeeze some 3D out of a flat film and charge the paying public more.

Unlike Avatar or even Up, these films are not natively created in 3D and it shows with lacklustre depth and poor picture quality. If this is the future of subsequent 3D productions, the uptake of 3D flatscreen TVs, HDMI 1.4 players etc will be much lower and effectively show up the obvious, that 3D is a gimmick which is meant to enrich the coffers of the producers.

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Terminator II

This is one movie which defined all action movies in its decade and its legacy still lives on with 2 sequels after. It was the movie which define its main actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, sealing his reputation as The Action Star of the 90s. its CGI was Oscar winning and cutting edge and even today it still feels fresh. The marriage of good action enhanced rather than defined by mere CGI, plus an engaging storyline and the clever use of the villain turned hero, got us rooting for the underdog, and hoping it will beat the seemingly unstoppable T-1000.

Over the years, so many versions have been released that if you were a hard-core Home Theatre Hobbyist, you will have owned at least one version. Well, I have the THX Judgment Day version, the lossy DD Blu ray version, then the DTS-MA HD DVD and now the Ultimate Skynet edition on Blu Ray.

So how good is this latest version? If you have any of the older ones, should you part with more cash for the money suckers creating yet another edition? Actually from a practical stand point, the older Blu Ray was so bad, almost any new release would beat it, and HD DVD is a dying format. And it does offer better picture quality than the older SD DVD, so its quite a no brainer.

Now at 7 GBP after you deduct VAT, that’s a really sweet price. But note that it is a region B only disc.

It comes with a DTS-MA 6.1 soundtrack, that begs you to turn up the volume and enjoy the surrounds plus a decent bass track. Now this move will not rival the best of 2009, such as Die Hard 4, Star Trek etc, but it is still decent and with the gripping storyline, it will sit proudly on your shelf and make you want to pop the disc in for a spin every now and then. The picture quality does not fair as well as the sound, it is not bad, and in the daylight scenes, the colours are rich, and it is a definite upgrade over the older releases.

Furthermore, it is packed with extras and has 3 versions of the movie. Note that it takes a while to load up, being BD-live.

Plot 4.5/5

Action 4.5/5

Chick factor – well a muscular Linda Hamilton well only make James C drool but somehow she does not cut it as eye candy. 2.5/5

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Date Night

Some movies allow you to escape from the doldrums of daily life, have a good laugh and sit back for the duration of the show and forget about your troubles. Others can take you past that, and whilst you are laughing, you also appreciate a deeper meaning, where you can relate to the scenes portrayed and reflect on how your life parallels that. Whilst Date Night is no heavy duty blockbuster, it has enough gravity to hit home with a message and yet remain light and fluffy enough to take you away from your woes for just under 2 hours. With ticket prices half that in Oz, and a 2 day lay up in KL, it makes watching this with friends a decent distraction, which actually worked out well.

The plot is simple and tested, two people who have been married for years go on their usual date night where they get time off from the kids to be by themselves and they have recently become a little jaded, and inside long for a little excitement in their lives.

Little do they know the night will get explosive, shots will be fired at them and they will take down corrupt politicians, kingpins of crime and literally have a blast of an evening. Some of the events are a little far-fetched, but the team of Steve Carell and Tina Fey pull it off quite nicely with good comic timing and genuine chemistry between them.

The scenes are familiar, and whilst we laugh at the stunts, the ridiculous pole-dancing, we can also reflect on how often our own lives seems so close to the couple on screen. How often do we wish things would rise above the mundane before the whole marriage or relationship breaks down. The concept of time for each other to have space, and the need to spend our whole lives trying to please the other person can be quite tiring too. This can lead to an eventual breakdown of the relationship, and that strikes home, as I do know someone who just felt there was no more love in the relationship. It was a passive decision to give up on the family and simple feel no hate and no love.

The movie wraps it up well, showing how commitment to a relationship extends beyond merely corporeal attraction, and a real motivation to keep the marriage together, whilst giving us a few laughs in the process.

All in all, good for a few laughs, and gives you something to talk about at the end, and it leaves you with a feel good warm sensation too. Recommended.

Plot: 4/5

Action: not a lot and they don’t make full of Mark Walberg, but he does make his wooden acting work for him here, and squeezes out a few laughs from his pecs… not a lot for your home theatre to work out on 2.5/5

Chick Factor: Tina Fey really looks like Sarah Pallin, and despite her age, does look pretty good, even in the pole-dancing outfit. 2.5/5

I reckon this movie is worth a rental at least and I would be looking to get the DVD.

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My Girlfriend is an Agent

Korea has come up with some interesting shows which have been trailer-blazers that have lit up the movie world and have led to sequels, copycats both domestically and remakes by Hollywood.

One of their most successful was a show called "My Sassy Girl", a show which appealed to both men and women. It had some romance, albeit in an awkward way where the man was often subject to physical violence by a woman, who was a stranger and somehow love grew out of this. This show was the top grossing movie before the current one came about.

For those who know Korean culture, this is quite removed from reality, as men dominate Korean society and you will see women walking a few steps behind or men simply walking to the head of a queue and the women quietly accepting this. My colleague had her butt pinched on a subway train over there too. I guess watching a movie where women wear the pants appeals since it is something the Koreans, and the women in particular can only fantasize about.

So this show begins with a strong female protagonist, who is beautiful, smart, and kicks butt big time as a spy, and managed to look good whilst chasing after criminals wearing a wedding dress on a jet ski. The man in her life on the other hand is a real bumbling oaf and is portrayed as a weak, easily distressed chap who cannot handle the various white lies that she conjures up whilst trying to maintain her cover as a travel agent and erstwhile girlfriend. So he leaves her for Canada for studies, or so it seems….

So what ensues borrows bits from True Lies, My Sassy Girl, My Wife is a Gangster, and many other movies. Yet there is enough originality, and it is packed with action, humor and just the right amount of romance to make this work. Add a super gorgeous and yet demure girl who kicks butts for breakfast then looks lovingly at you. They also chose the right idiotic Korean hapless chap and with good chemistry between the actors, this show works. It comes as no surprise that this show was no 1 in Korea, with the keen pacing, twists and good humor to keep it going well. You do get a glimpse of how corporate world in Korea works and its hierarchy, amidst the fun and action, but since it is keep superficial it gets its point across without being too heavy.

Although it may prove only to be in the movies, I think many guys may quietly craved for a hot sexy lady who is capable, intelligent, crazy for you and yet subservient and supremely competent domestically. Yes everything in the movie minus the hot temper and volcanic eruptions. Yet, that may remain the preserve of movies, which is what makes shows like this popular within Korean and internationally. And for the Korean women, the chance to see one of their own go beyond the boundaries of merely toeing tradition and succumbing to society’s pressures of what makes a demure lady who is made up with layers of cosmetics even when going to the market is enticing. And for those not familiar with their culture, this movie makes for an interesting watch.

in Korean, beautiful actresses have a life span of only a few years, and some get forced into doing sordid things, and only a few actors last longer, so we may not see this pairing last longer than snow on a hot summer day, but whilst it lasts, it was a funny, yet memorable hit, and will be good for both sexes to watch together.

Plot: usual lady isn't what she seems to be, spy / travel agent girlfriend, but watch for the twists etc 4/5

Action: plenty to satisfy the action buffs and it should be a fine workout on video for your HT system 4/5

Chick factor : A1 with plenty of eye candy, although I am not sure if everyone wants their GF to be like her... 4/5

So yes, buy or at least rent this..

http://www.koreanmovie.com/upfile/photo_ph..._an_Agent01.jpg

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