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The Berlin File
The Berlin File
DVD ~ Gianna Jun
Price: $26.98
35 used & new from $4.07

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Non-Stop Thrills and Action as Ryu Seung-Wan Weaves his World of International Espionage, December 1, 2013
This review is from: The Berlin File (DVD)
When it comes to South Korean action thrillers, there are few who can match director (sometimes actor/stuntman) Ryoo Seung-Wan. The man knows how to make his action films with style, intense and even at times, funny....but he certainly knows when and how to make the proper tempo and mood for his action films. He has come a long way since "Arahan", "No Blood, No Tears", "The Unjust" and "City of Violence", and he appears to be on a roll with his latest 2013 Korean film "The Berlin File". A spy thriller that otherwise appears to be more of the same, Seung-Wan who also writes and directs, comes out with something familiar and yet different; as he manages to make the stakes much more personal. This may be the best spy thriller to hail from Korea since "Shiri".

A tense arms deal goes horribly wrong, and North Korean operative Pyo Jong-Seong (Ha Jung-Woo, The Yellow Sea) narrowly escapes when Israeli mossad agents barge into the scene. A little lost and surprised, Pyo comes across conflicting evidence as to how things had gone wrong and just who it was who set him up. Meanwhile, a South Korean operative, Jung Jin-Soo (Han Suk-kyu) goes after Pyo in the hopes of decoding his identity and to determine if he is some kind of double agent. What he finds is something much more complicated, as some things did not fit the North Korean's part of the deal. What makes things worst is that suspicion had arisen on Pyo's own wife, Jung-Hee (Gianna Jun, The Thieves) who also serves as a translator for the North Korean ambassador and Pyo has 48 hours to prove otherwise. The North Koreans have dispatched a ruthless fixer named Dong Myung-Soo (Ryoo Seung-Bun, Arahan) to get to the bottom of the leak within. Now, Pyo must do what he can to clear himself, save his loveless marriage and try to get to the bottom of a multi-billion dollar account wanted by the Pyongyang authorities.

The film carries some real world devices and moves its elements around in a game of cat and mouse. Those who are familiar with spy thrillers would know the possible scenarios when it comes to films such as this. Government officials with their own agenda, a nation's reputation at stake, defections and betrayal, a spy who gets burned and set up; but what the movie adds its more personal stake into the matter. I know, you may say that a spy and his wife can also be seen as familiar device, but what the writing does so well is the way it flows to create suspense and thrills that the viewer would be at the edge of his seat. It does an incredible job in setting things up. The screenplay keeps things close and yet distant, as there were two areas that move around the script to get to its finality. On one side, we have Jong-Seung, who is trying to uncover who has betrayed him and the other side, we have a South Korean who wishes to uncover the truth for his country and protect its interests. The writing does a good job in presenting the case from two different viewpoints. It was also nice to see a loyal North Korean character become the main protagonist.

The direction was amazing in dictating the film's pace. Ryoo Seung-Wan made all the right decisions to create tension, drama and suspense to drive the film's momentum. His editing was certainly top notch and he takes the set pieces to his advantage. The film was shot in 4 languages, and it gives the film a feeling of authenticity, and it drives a feeling of unpredictability. The film is also incredibly action-packed; shot with loads of style and careful editing that would make the big-shots of Hollywood jealous. The direction certainly knew how to make the action scenes look cool, his editing was steady in keeping up with the action sequences that this may be Ryoo's most polished film to date. It was easy to become enthralled in the action set pieces as one could easily feel the pain and impact from the hand to hand combat. Yet, Ryoo always took the time to inject the emotions behind each scene. From each gunfire, to every hand-to-hand combat, Ryoo carefully placed the scenes to complement the next, as each action set piece became much more cooler than the previous one. Unlike some of his earlier films that had more style than emotion, Ryoo was able to create emotional and even cerebral tension as Pyo goes about his way trying to figure out the main players. Since the stakes were carefully defined, what was presented were chase sequences, fight choreograph and gun battles that had a personality.

Of course none of these would be effective if the performers lacked the necessary `grit' to pull off the characters' dimensions. Ha Jung-Woo delivered the proper layers of complexity even in the smallest expression and delivery of the shortest, simplest line. I do have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised with the range displayed by Ryu Seung-Bun as he skillfully executes his role. The two managed to create the tension necessary for a protagonist and antagonist; and this made the final encounter much more effective in delivering the needed `punch' in the climax. Gianna Jun was also very deft in her performance as was Han Suk-kyu. The main supporting cast also delivered that the action could easily command the attention of its viewer for its entirety. The film did not feel like it was almost 120 minutes, as Ryoo Seung-Wan certainly had me at the palm of his hand with his execution of tense character conflict. Yeah, I know there was a scene outside Pyo's apartment that required a suspension of disbelief since no one seemed to hear what was going on, but Seung-Wan made me almost overlook that minor lack of detail.

Despite the fact that this may be the most polished action thriller I have seen this year, I do have to admit that the main core of the plot felt pretty standard. The writing was definitely not trying to reinvent but rather present things in a way that felt fresh and made for maximum showmanship. I do have to commend the turns it took to become a little erratic and unpredictable, but really the final resolution became a little too expected and it did leave room for a sequel. However, "The Berlin File" has smartly placed action sequences, top notched performances, awesomely staged fights and a breathtaking pace that is sure to awe its audience. The film is exhilarating as Ryoo Seung-wan brings a lot of machismo and quicksilver like flair to his film, that I am sure that we'll see him directing a Hollywood film very soon. Highly Recommended. [4 ˝ Out of 5 Stars]
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 3, 2014 9:12 PM PST


Bumble Bee Omega-3 Prime Fillet Albacore Tuna with Omega-3 Tuna Oil (Pack of 12)
Bumble Bee Omega-3 Prime Fillet Albacore Tuna with Omega-3 Tuna Oil (Pack of 12)
Price: $29.57

5.0 out of 5 stars By Itself, with Bread or as in an Omelet....pretty Darned good, November 14, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Tried it by itself and is fantastic. Pretty solid chunks and does not break apart unless you want it to.

I made an omelet with it with carmelized red onions and cheese....and it was awesome.


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Great For What it is, November 4, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Let's see , I am not big on microwaveable popcorn but I do have them on occasion. I do think that the ACTII Brand has an artificial taste and the Orville one while better, isn't that much better.

So....I wasn't expecting much with Jolly Time's version of the "nuked" popcorn, but I was surprised how much better it replicates movie theater popcorn. It is easy to pop and I didn't see much burned corn in the bag (It works on the same concept as the others). It is very crunchy and tasty when hot, and you know it maintains that crunchy texture even if you leave it in the bowl for awhile.

I guess this is a great pick if you want a simple microwaveable popcorn, but nothing is better than doing it the right way.


The Grandmaster [Blu-ray]
The Grandmaster [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Tony Leung
Price: $15.99
32 used & new from $7.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wong Kar-Wai's Tale Based on the Life of Bruce Lee's Teacher, November 2, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I suppose being Bruce Lee's former teacher and someone who had made the martial art Wing Chun known around the world, the curiosity around his life became so strong that director Wilson Yip and Herman Yau had their turn in bringing his life to the big screen. Wilson Yip's "Ip Man" was a film with a lot of fiction around it, which focused entirely on action sequences with Donnie Yen in the title role. Herman Yau's "The Legend is Born: Ip Man" was an unspectacular martial arts drama but a little more subtle and certainly not as bombastic as Wilson Yip's films. Please take note that Wong Kar-Wai's rendition of Master Ip's life was never meant as a martial arts action flick.

Well, finally the highly anticipated film about Ip Man directed by Wong Kar-Wai has finally arrived. A little different from his usual films, as the film goes for refreshing ideas and themes rather than decadent emotions, it is a film that has a lot of hype as with any other film directed by him. People should be aware that one needs to temper their expectations with Wong Kar-Wai's "The Grandmaster". It is a film about a true-to-life figure and is a period piece that brings the concept of how martial arts can apply to living. Wong Kar-Wai takes on a premise that he has not done before that his fans would have reason to celebrate. This review is based on the 130 minute film released in Asia, I have heard that another cut of the film was debuted internationally.

1930s China. Ip Man (Tony Leung) is a rich, young martial arts master who does not want to compete and yet he finds himself thrust into the limelight as his peers push him into a sparring match with Chinese Martial Arts chairman Gong Yutian (Wang Qingxiang). The match was more technical than a display of skills as Ip Man asserts his inner will to get the best of Yutian. As a result, Yutian's daughter, Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi) who is also a master in her own right of the 64 hands, issues a challenge to Master Ip as to restore her family's reputation. The two spar in a flow of rhythmic movements that almost looked like poetry. This is only the first few minutes of the film, as Wong Kar-Wai co-wrote the screenplay to include certain periods in Ip Man's life. If life has four seasons, then the first 20 years is spring, but then his life takes a turn to winter during the Sino-Japanese war.

Wong Kar-Wai intentionally made the film to feel rather convoluted and episodic. Perhaps in an effort to express his themes and metaphors, and to cover as much of Ip Man's life as best he could. Wong does not primarily takes his focus on Master Ip's life, but rather he brings into the fold the way each period was in his life and how certain people have influenced his life both directly and indirectly. The writing in the film was definitely trying to bring forth the concept as to how the teachings of martial arts could be applied to the living of one's life, as Tony Leung clearly elaborates in the first few minutes in the film; "It is all about the horizontal and the vertical". I take it that one is left standing while the other is laying down in martial arts. Such is something that could certainly be seen in life. One stands while the other lays down, perhaps one needs to learn how to lay down in order to stand, and also at a mirror image, one needs to learn to lay down in order to stand.

Wong Kar-Wai has some rather heavy themes going around here. There is much to take in the film, the dialogue is often filled with philosophical expressions and metaphors, but we all know that it is usually what a Wong Kar-Wai movie is all about. The characters in the film move about its themes, and while its structure felt a little loose, the resonance for each of them is pretty crystal clear. Ma San (Zhang Jin) and Gong Er make choices that often feel that they were based on emotions such as pride, anger, honor and love. The theme of vengeance that comes with the two, was something that keeps them from fully reaching the peak of kung fu. This brings into its narrative as to there are three levels that signify the highest achievement in martial arts: "being, knowing and doing." This lesson comes from Master Gong to Ma San, and strongly expressed through Gong Er's life that she had taken a vow that kept her from becoming a wife and having children in order to avenge her father. Ma San and Gong Er chooses from a very straight-forward emotional level that chooses their destiny for them.

Now, Master Ip also has potential for all these emotions, but he is more passive. His approach to life is a more peaceful one, as his love for Gong Er remained inside and that such a thing could not be in the past. Master Ip is married to Wing Sing (Song Hye-Kyo in a limited screen time) while Gong Er was engaged. Ip Man choose to rise above such desires and ambition, that he approaches life from a less than aggrandizing path. There is a subtle subversive message around its narrative, and yet it sees things from a humanist point of view. Life has its regrets, and yet, here, it is not something that drives its narrative but merely a consequence. Wong places the film's priorities on the world around the individual rather than what the individual does to the world.

As with Wong Kar-wai's usual style, the film is very lush and a little pretentious. This is not a negative comment, but rather something that I have just grown to be fond of when it came to Wong's films. Wong uses slow-motion with overblown art direction and redolent details to bring the power, the beauty and the flair of the martial arts. All angles were utilized to display the moves and even some close ups to bring forth its effects and intensity. It is a true visual feast but I could've done without the `fighting in the rain' since it had been done so much in other films. The cinematography and the atmosphere of the film fit just should be expected of Wong Kar-Wai; this is after all a style all his own and what made him the renowned filmmaker that he is today.

The screenplay in "The Grandmaster" is pretty strong, and yet it does not come with some issues. I mean, I know this is meant as a biopic, but one is left to wonder if this is Ip Man as seen through his eyes, or is it Master Ip as seen through Wong's viewpoint? I know the film's intentions was a less than fictional one, but really, it feels a little unfocused at times. The script takes some detours that I thought unnecessary, I was a little dumbfounded how a nationalist agent turned ass-kicking barber called "the Razor" could've made a good device to further Ip Man's transitions and yet he was only in three scenes. Chang Chen's the Razor was shamelessly used and felt like a `filler' since the film could've gotten along fine without him. I also thought that the narrative played a little too heavy on Zhang Ziyi's character rather than its supposed main protagonist.

"The Grandmaster" could've easily been called "The Grandmasters" as in the plural form. It feels little unfocused to be a biopic on Master Ip, and truth be told, its messages could've easily been delivered in a film by any other director about a martial artist's journey experiencing the same things in the world. Tony Leung does a great job as the lead, as he felt a little smug and yet, tempered. Stoic, yet filled with emotions. His performance was certainly better than Donnie Yen's. It was also great to see Zhang Ziyi to once again do her thing; she was elegant, beautiful and graceful as always. Despite some flaws, "The Grandmaster" is a good film that deals with piety, humility and humanist ideas, and rather than using love as a driving force, it is a mere upshot. It is about just what it means to stand upright, that how one chooses the right path is often the one left standing. This message is truly complete and grown-up that this film gets a High Recommendation from me. [4 ˝ Out of 5 Stars]


Dixie Quicktakes Disposable Food Storage Containers with Attached Lids, 25 Count
Dixie Quicktakes Disposable Food Storage Containers with Attached Lids, 25 Count
Price: $10.99
2 used & new from $10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Does What it is supposed to...Very well., October 6, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ever feel like you have too much Tupperware in the house? Don't feel like washing the plastic container after eating your leftovers for lunch in the office? Giving food away after a party and don't want to worry about lost tupperware?

Well this product seeks to answer all these questions. It is disposable, microwaveable, sturdy and tough enough to even be used twice. It comes in two sizes with lids (so they can never be lost) and is stackable. Easy to use and convenient; and this is what this product is all about.

I got 25 pieces in two sizes which I will use to store leftover food and maybe even keep some tools in. This product is good for my needs, but I doubt it'll be able to match my glass-based containers for food.


Barilla Meat Sauce Gemelli Italian Entree, 9 Ounce Microwavable Bowls (Pack of 6)
Barilla Meat Sauce Gemelli Italian Entree, 9 Ounce Microwavable Bowls (Pack of 6)
Price: $19.86
6 used & new from $19.86

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad when you Are on the Go, August 29, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Took this to work for my lunch break and while I thought it was good for a product of its kind, it wasn't all that impressive.

Not sure if this can be classified as a TV dinner, but 1 minute in the microwave and it is ready. The sauce is a little sour but not bad; the pasta well....pretty decent for what it is. I just have one minor complaint, there was hardly any meat.

Good if you are in a rush....


Keebler Simply Made Cookies, Chocolate Chip, 10 Ounce
Keebler Simply Made Cookies, Chocolate Chip, 10 Ounce
Offered by KnockoutBargains
Price: $8.96
5 used & new from $7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exactly As Expected...Good Munchie!, August 24, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When I was a kid, I used to like Chips Ahoy....so I figured I'd try this product out.

Keebler's cookies does sound healthier as it does not have corn syrup. According to the label it is made from natural ingredients such as wheat, milk, soy and butter, and I believe it from its texture. It may be a little "crumbly" and crunchy, but it just means that it used no artificial bonding agent.

You can definitely taste the choco chips and cookie dough. Not a cookie meant to be with 'fresh from the oven' goodness but this sure works as a munchie. I am going into this bad boy right now and my friends seem to like it.


Keebler El Duende Cookies, Coconut, 11 Ounce (Pack of 12)
Keebler El Duende Cookies, Coconut, 11 Ounce (Pack of 12)

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mmmmm.....Good....All Gone!, August 1, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Tastes like coconut shortbread. It may be a little dry towards the end, but that is how shortbreads are supposed to be. You can really taste the coconut blended in a butter cookie

All gone...within 6 minutes in the office. Highly addicting as a munchie.


Keebler Jumbo Dark Fudge Sticks, 6.6 Ounce
Keebler Jumbo Dark Fudge Sticks, 6.6 Ounce
Offered by just smile
Price: $12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good Cookie-like Snack, July 31, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am a sucker for chocolate and fudge...I mean it doesn't matter what the question is, chocolate is the answer.

I ordered this Jumbo dark fudge sticks by Keebler to try them out. I am not a food critic or anything, but it does taste like fudge. If I had to describe the way it tastes, I would say that it tastes almost like a cross between one of those limited edition Girl Scout Nestle crunch bars and Kit Kat. The texture is pretty smooth and it isn't too sweet. It has that cookie crunch that I liked.

Each bar comes individually packed for freshness and it comes in a box and I like that. Overall, pretty good and I recommend it for a quick snack if you are craving something sweet.


Ecolution Evolve Fry Pan, 9 .5-Inch, Red
Ecolution Evolve Fry Pan, 9 .5-Inch, Red
Price: $17.69
13 used & new from $16.14

4.0 out of 5 stars Great-Looking, Safer and Ergonomic Cooking Pan, June 27, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Pans may be one of the most useful cooking tools in the kitchen and so I went to order the Ecolution Evolve Fry pan. I have a lot of non-stick pans made by T-Fal and even that "green" thing shown on TV.

I made pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast to try this out. I will have to say that the non-stick material isn't that much different from your usual pans, if you look at it from a `non-stick material' point of view. I still had to use a cooking oil spray. I do appreciate the `safer' material it is made from and I guess this is why clean up proved to be a lot easier (but not by much). This one has an ergonomic handle that feels real comfortable and it does heat it quite quickly. The design is pretty stylish with the red color-hue. I have yet to try it in oven.

All in all, while not at all different from other pans, I liked it. I only wished that it came with a lid. Of course, its durability will have to be proven over time


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