Niels has written 577 reviews for films during 2021.

  • Tai-Chi Master

    Tai-Chi Master

    An action-packed collaboration between Jet Li and Woo-Ping Yuen, released in '93, the magical year for Hong Kong martial arts cinema. Twin Warriors doesn't disappoint, though it isn't until the moment that Yuen starts developing the Tai Chi martial arts that it really rises above itself. Crazy action scenes, daft comedy, wild cinematography and inventive fight choreographies make this film a real treat for martial arts fans.

  • The Last Message

    The Last Message

    The Last Message poster

    Early Michael Hui comedy. Hui is probably the most famous Hong Kong director I've yet to truly discover, somehow his particular style of comedy doesn't really do it for me. The Last Message is a much-lauded film in Hong Kong, personally I prefer John Woo's comedy films from that same era.

    Tim and Lee both work in a mental hospital. When Cheng Ming is brought in, they discover he carries a stash of old Ming Dynasty…

  • Spiral: From the Book of Saw

    Spiral: From the Book of Saw

    The Saw spin-off I didn't need. Not that my expectations were extremely high, the series has been going downhill for ages, but with Bousman back on the project there was at least some hope. Sadly, they took the worst aspect of the series (the police investigation) and turned that into the main focus.

    Zeke Banks is a lone cop, despised by his colleagues after he ratted out one of them. When a Jigsaw copycat starts murdering cops in his precinct,…

  • Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters

    Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters

    Seshita is quickly making a name for himself. Making an entrance like this into the Gojira franchise is pretty daring, but it's a bet that paid off. The film has a certain gravitas that is new to the series, but it works well enough, and it makes the second part of the film all the more impressive. If you hate Seshita's trademark cell-shaded look than Monster Planet isn't for you, if you dislike open endings it's probably a little early…

  • The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window

    The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window

    A mystery with strong supernatural elements. It will come as no surprise that this film is based on a manga series, with a live action series in the works. It's perfect case-based material that works well in serialized form, slightly less fitted for a feature film, but the padding never felt too superfluous.

    Kosuke works in a book store, what makes him special is that he can see ghosts. He has learned to deal with this special ability, until one…

  • Wet Dice

    Wet Dice

    Wakamatsu's films changed a lot during the 70s. His 60s work is overtly experimental and very political, his 70s films are simpler, more typical pinku films mixed with simple genre elements. Wet Dice is a good example. Not a terrible film, but the mix of crime and pinku doesn't make all that much sense.

    Kayo is a gifted bar owner who works in the port district. She is very popular with her clients, who don't miss a chance to try…

  • Woe

    Woe

    A somewhat frustrating film. Goodhue is quite gifted when it comes to building up tension and the delivery of the scares is superb. It's just that there's so little of it, and the drama that is used as filler is of a much lower quality. So while the potential is here, Goodhue needs to learn to play to his strengths.

    A year after their dad died, Jessie's brother isn't doing too well. He doesn't leave the house, he acts weird,…

  • A Girl Missing

    A Girl Missing

    Fukada's latest is a somewhat expected drama. He's been bombarded as a Koreeda alternative this past decade, but it seems Fukada settled a little too much in this role. A Girl Missing isn't a bad film and touches upon some interesting topics, but overall it's too plain and pedestrian to make a real impact.

    Ichiko is a nurse who is living a comfortable life. She takes care of an older woman and fits in very well with the family. But…

  • American Made

    American Made

    American Made is a pretty basic but enjoyable crime comedy. The kind you feel Liman would make as filler between the bigger projects. Not sure if that's the case, as there's clearly a hefty budget behind this project, it's just that pretty much everything in the film feels like it was directly lifted from another film.

    American Made tells the story of Barry Seal, a simple airline pilot who runs a little smuggling business on the side. He gets recruited…

  • Black Lizard

    Black Lizard

    A film from the start of Kinji Fukasaku's career. Like most of his contemporaries, he made an insane amount of movies during the 60s, so it's not exactly a freshman effort. Black Lizard is based on a Rampo story, the oddness of Rampo's original work certainly shines through. The film is quirky, fun and plenty weird.

    Black Lizard is a famous thief who want to steal the "Star of Egypt" diamond. She concocts a plan where she'll kidnap the daughter…

  • Luca

    Luca

    Children of the Sea by way of Pixar. It's nice to see them finally switching things up a little. Director Enrico Casarosa goes for a more subdued, calmer atmosphere, citing directors like Miyazaki as a direct influence. The characters and themes are still very much Pixar, but at least it's progress.

    Luca is a young sea creature who lives his life away from humans. He dreams of exploring the world, but his parents are very protective of him and fear…

  • The Tree of Wooden Clogs

    The Tree of Wooden Clogs

    A very typical Palme d'Or winner. Poor farmers going about their business for more than three hours on end. There's no real drama here, no pressing issues, no fancy cinematography, just a slice of life. Italian neo-realism at its best/worst, for me personally it was very much the latter.

    Several families of farmers are living on the land of a rich landowner. They pay him a part of their produce, even so he likes to mingle in the lives of…