Animal World (2018): Adventure / Thriller

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Haunted by his personal demons, a man finds himself struggling with an unbearable debt and enters a world of obscure gambling where every move might be his last one.

Epically mental! An amalgamation of “Scott Pilgrim vs The World” (2010) and “Sucker Punch” (2011), masterfully put together with pure Chinese artistry and temperament. Remake of the Japanese film “Kaiji Ultimate Gambler” (2009) – an adaptation of the “Kaiji” manga series – “Animal World” mesmerises straight from the opening sequence and earns its stripes in the evolution of Chinese cinema.

Through brilliant editing and directing, and visual effects that bring the hero’s cognitive manifestations to life, director Yan Han unfolds a world within a world. A cosmos where love, brotherhood, perseverance, loyalty, and betrayal lead to one’s self-discovery and ultimately… their destiny. A journey revealing that math’s complexity pales in comparison with human nature’s intricacy. A life’s lesson that man came from an animal… and still remains one.

 

For Shiying. Thank you!!!

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A Prayer Before Dawn (2017): Action / Biography / Crime

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A dynamite!!! A film that doesn’t beautify violence and criminality. A true story that doesn’t heroize bad choices yet creates a hero through them. Through real mud, blood, piss, and shit, “A Prayer Before Dawn” tells the real story of British boxer Billy Moore who rose from it like Phoenix. Incarcerated in one of Thailand’s most infamous prisons, Billy Moore found the courage to reflect on his life, learn from mistakes in the worst possible manner, and literally punch his way out of there.

Shot with real Thai ex-inmates, (deliberately) occasionally subtitled, “A Prayer Before Dawn” breaks all Hollywood taboos. There are no easy ways out – actually, there is no way out – shockingly violent, hellish scenes that pass on the fear and agony that Moore had to endure, and masterfully crafted realistic, ostensibly non-choreographed fights. Moore, trained by the natives, showed them how it’s done, in a close-to-dying status.

Practicing muay thai myself for almost twenty years I have the deepest respect for Billy Moore who teaches, other than the martial art itself, life lessons on perseverance, human values, weaknesses and strengths, physical and emotional torture, regret, acknowledgment, paying back society, and more. I take my hat off to you Billy.

Last but not least, I applaud Joe Cole for his astounding performance. Look forward to seeing him in more brilliant films like this one.