2011.8.19 NOW PLAYING

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2011.8.19 NOW PLAYING

The Ultimate Weapon (15)


Action / War / 122 min. / Korean

Set during the second Manchu invasion of 1636, “The Ultimate Weapon” combines dazzling special effects, a tense plot line and the thrill of the chase to tell the story of master archer Nam-yi (Park Hae-il) and his quest to rescue his sister Ja-in (Moon Chae-won) from the Qing Dynasty.

After their father is killed for being a traitor to his country, the two young siblings are raised by a family friend who lets Nam-yi hunt with a bow and arrow just as his father did. Although they face a number of hardships, the two grow up well and Ja-in eventually falls in love and becomes engaged. But on her wedding day, tragedy strikes as she is dragged away by Qing warriors, setting Nam-yi on a mission to save the only family he has left. Armed with only a bow and arrows, Nam-yi hunts the Qing army, taking them out one by one.

Backed by a strong cast and creative team, the film has drawn 2 million to the theater since its release on Aug. 10. Director Kim Han-Min is well known for his work on the 2009 thriller “Handphone” and Park Hae-il rose to fame with his role as a serial killer in the 2003 hit “Memories of Murder.”

Fantastic Journey of the Modern Gayagumer Jung Mina (All)


Documentary / 83 / Korean

This film follows the journey of Jung Mina, a gayageum (25-stringed zither) player who tours Korea to share her music and connect with new people in the summer of 2009.

After her first album, “Lovedream,” sold more than 10,000 copies after its release in 2006, Jung, the first gayageum singer-songwriter to gain widespread recognition, was looking for inspiration for her second album. Frustrated by the dominance of K-pop and lack of attention paid to traditional Korean music, she decides to embark on a tour of the country to see what she can discover. Jung traveled 2,075 kilometers (1,289 miles) and gave 23 performances in 15 days in parks, plazas and other public places both indoors and out. Through the tour, her goal of offering her music as a gift to the people she meets along the way eventually provides her with the emotional connection she was looking for.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (all)


Action, Adventure / 97 / English

In 1987, a video game was released by Japanese company Capcom that changed the lives of many young boys (and probably a few girls) in video arcades all over the world.

Four years later, Capcom released the sequel, “Street Fighter II,” and a legend of gaming was born. Shoryuken and Tatsumaki Senpu Kyaku were words that would stay with certain young men for the rest of their lives. So imagine the delight on the faces of those young boys, now turning into young men, when in 1994 the “muscles from Brussels,” Jean-Claude Van Damme, signed on to play the role of Colonel William F. Guile in a big screen version of Street Fighter. Skip forward 15 years and the franchise continues with “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.”

Chun-Li, played by Macanese actress Ming-Na in “Street Fighter” but inexplicably replaced by Canadian Kristin Kreuk for this installment (although her mother is of Chinese descent and she has a purple belt in Karate according to font of movie knowledge IMDB), is a concert pianist who infiltrates an underground fighting ring in order to get revenge on M. Bison, a crime lord who killed Chun-Li’s father in front of her innocent eyes when she was knee high to a grasshopper. Speaking of grasshoppers, Chun-Li goes through mystical training in which her teacher does not call her grasshopper. He does, however, help her develop the skills that will help her defeat Bison, including focussing her thoughts and her pent up anger and aggression, probably, into balls of pure energy with which she can dispatch bad guys.

Lots of high kicks, flying fists and explosions do nothing to save this movie. The movie piggy-backs on the back of an equally bad prequel but at least that had Van Damme and Kylie Minogue.

Three Idiots (12)


Comedy, Drama / 170 / Hindi, Korean

Based on Chetan Bhagat’s best-selling novel “5 Point Someone,” this comedy-drama captures two idiots’ journey to find their other idiot friend. Spontaneous flashbacks depicting the three characters, Farhan (R. Madhavan), Raju (Sharman Joshi) and Rancho (Aamir Khan) are filled with energetic songs and choreography typical of the best Bollywood imports.

The three friends, who attended the same engineering university in India, watch as their relationships evolves, withstanding complex relationships and the test of time.

Director Rajkumar Hirani (“Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.” and “Lage Raho Munna Bhai”) is an award-winning Bollywood director. The film was released in India in December 2009, and makes its Korean debut this month.

Exit through the Gift Shop (18)

Documentary, Comedy / 87 / English

In “Exit through the Gift Shop,” eccentric director and graffiti artist Banksy, who is known for his dark humor and controversial satire, brings his very own street art under the microscope.

In the film, Thierry Guetta has an all-consuming obsession with his video camera and films every waking moment of his life. The film’s chopping editing style mirrors what would be seen through his camera.

On a visit to France, Guetta’s cousin introduces him to street art, such as works life graffiti that are produced in public places, and he turns his camera elsewhere. Back in the United States, Guetta starts to film street artists, but a chance encounter with Bansky makes Guetta a star in his own right. With Banksy’s encouragement, Guetta - who adopts name Mr. Brainwash - tries his hand at street art.

Though street art is meant to be free from the constraints of more traditional works, Guetta hits some very conventional financial and logistical roadblocks. And, instead of focusing on his art, Guetta gets caught up in money and publicity - creating an unmanageably large exhibit and giving countless interviews even as the show teeters on collapse. Banksy steps in and the exhibit succeeds, but viewers are left with a classic Banksy warning: that monetizing art, no matter how tempting, can lead to disaster.

The Smurfs (all)

Animation / 103 / English

New York City just got a fresh dose of blue: the Smurfs are in the Big Apple. Director Raja Gosnell (“Home Alone 3”) brings the Peyo comic strip and 1980s animated TV show to the big screen

The 3-D film follows the style of Gosnell’s previous animation-based projects by mixing CGI characters with human actors.

The Smurfs embark on an epic journey through New York City, and later through the Middle Ages, in hopes of stopping arch nemesis Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and his cat Azrael.
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