Sector 7 Saved by Bad Ass Ha Ji-Won

By Shaungui Dotti

Believe it or not—there is a place known as Sector 7. No, there’s no drilling platform but it is submerged in water just between the Japan and Korea. If you are thinking, I started this review with trivia, that means it isn’t that spectacular—you’d be right. Mostly. It’s a visually gripping, thrilling, action-packed movie. But—well, it’s been done. And done. Many times.

Ha Ji-Won faces off with the monster in Sector 7

Ha Ji-Won almost saves Sector 7 with her action coolness, sexy appeal, and typical great acting. She can almost save an ordinary monster film. Here, Ha Ji-Won faces off with the bad guy.

Sector 7 runs for about 90 minutes which is short for a Korean Film. It is directed by Kim Ji-Hun and produced and written by Yoon Je-kyoon.
This is the first movie to be played in an IMAX theatre in Korea which explains why it received an immediate warm welcome. It’s other special feature is star Ha Ji-Won, won of the most popular stars in Korea, and particularly good in action roles.

Below, the official trailer of Sector 7:

It’s Been Done

Unfortunately, there’s nothing new here. Sector 7 is not horrible, or even clumsy in its genre, it just isn’t special in any way.
Yes, it manages to combine all the expected two-dimensional characters, plot arcs and suspense moments of a good monster movie. And, I’ll give you that the creature is huge and particularly grotesque. The only twist on it, although it was sort of done in The Deep, is that it all starts so cute and cuddly. Then, there are the obligatory tight spaces where a character is only permitted to run and run on one direction.

Sector 7’s movie poster promises what it delivers: sci-fi thriller. What it doesn’t hint at is that this is a competent thrill-ride with nothing new to offer.

One Highlight: Ha Ji-Won
The redeeming factor here, is a bad ass hot chick—all sweaty and mean and ready to take on monsters. Think Sigourney Weaver in Aliens and you’d have both the character and part of the plot, here. But Ha Ji-Won can make any drama special just be her appearance, good script or bad. She’s just plain hot.
Perhaps most famous for Secret Garden, she has appeared in disaster films, dramas and romances, but I like her best in action roles. She plays a great, but appealing bad-ass. It’s fun to watch her go.
Steam Punk Look
The setting of the movie gives a steam punk kind of feeling because of the pipes and large drilling machines. This movie—like any other monster running amok kind of movies—traps the characters in an area and kills them off one by one (in Alien it was a spaceship, you know the drill). In the beginning, the characters believe there’s a killer on the oil rig, because, there’s no such thing as monsters, right?
Things change in Sector 7 when they finally see the creature – large at scale, pointy tongue, and crazy fast. Like T-Rex on steroids. Well, that’s a Korean monster movie for you.

Sector 7 combines a steam punk look, all dark and greasy pipes, with a hot lead actress who faces off against a monster—reminiscent of Aliens.

Theme of Greed
The motivation theme explored is greed—always a sure winner. Here, our intrepid characters are searching for oil—to be Korea’s first oil rig. Instead of oil, they see cucumber things that contains fluids that burn like oil—oh, cool, we’ve solved the energy problem.
So, of course, the scientists move in, and the monster get’s all pissed.
Leave Your Intellect At Home and Just Enjoy the Action
If you can ignore the copy-cat plot and monster, the action and actress may be enough to at least justify ninety minutes wasted for some. There is a lot of screaming and yelling so you might want to turn the volume down a little bit.
So, of course our bad-ass Sigourney Weaver stand-in—who’s nickname is Hard Ass in the film, by the way—must save the day. She is fun for the viewer and kept me engaged where the story didn’t. She brawls with the creature, stares it down like Schwazenegger in Terminator, and so on. Okay, no spoilers, now.
Go if You Have Nothing Better to Do
Overall, this movie has been done before. There’s nothing special—nothing new—for me at least. I must note that the monster is created in full CGI but the visuals aren’t the very best. Sometimes they’re good, and the explosions work, but occasionally the green back drops are noticeable if you’re sharp.
On the plus side, Hard Ass is bad ass and worth the time, and the Monster is definitely hideous, I’ll give them that. Gaps in the story, flat characters and poor dialogue hamper an exciting film, but if you have 90 minutes to waste, the visuals are interesting, as is the lead actress.

F&B Film Review: Owl and the Sparrow (Vietnam)

Independent Movie Review Owl and the Sparrow from Indie Films and Books

Owl and the Sparrow

Owl and the Sparrow is a film about three lives that are intertwined by odd circumstances. The film perfectly captures a wonderful and unique family situation.

Ten year old Thuy follows her instincts in an unkind city. She starts out by working in her uncle’s factory after the death of her parents. Thuy’s struggles as an orphan, to build a family and support network, defines this movie.

As a setup to her quest for family, Thuy is an orphan who’s business-minded uncle is not concerned with her childhood dreams or her happiness. He is simply concerned about progress and money.

Thuy sets out to build her own network of friends and bonds. Of course, the theme of relationships, the unfairness of society to orphans and a number of other themes are fair game, especially on the rough streets of Saigon, where an orphaned child often becomes a victim.

The film is evocative and illustrates with impeccable story-telling. For example, in one scene Thuy is working for a woman trying to sell flowers on the streets to make enough money for a bite to eat. The poignancy of this subtle illustration of helplessness and innocence is all the more striking because of Thuy’s strength. She doesn’t complain, or ask for handouts.

Owl and the Sparrow paints with delicate brushstrokes, with characters as the paint. Two striking characters entwine with Thuy’s life. The first is Hai, a zookeeper who recently had his fiancé leave him. The second a flight attendant by the name of Lan—a beautiful woman who is having an affair with a married man.

We see a little of both of their lives. Strikingly, the film gives us this perspective from a child’s view. Thuy’s lesson: we forget at times to allow good things to happen.

Although Thuy started out her journey to find herself, she ends up affecting those around her in profound ways. This movie does a wonderful job of exploring the true meaning of family—going being blood and DNA.

Sadly, Thuy’s life as illustrated is totally credible an not uncommon in many cities of the world. Owl and the Sparrow reminds us to view life through the eyes of an innocent child. You are forced to open you heart and mind and discover true meaning of devotion.

Winner of the Heartland Crystal Heart Award and Los Angeles Film Festival.

Cat Ly as Lan
The Lu Le    as Hai
Han Thi Pham as Thuy
Trong Hai as The Captain
Pham Thi Han as Thuy
Nguyen Hau as Uncle Minh
Teresa Michelle Lee     as Bartender
Hoang Long as Soup boy
Bui Thi Noan as Orphan director
Danvy Pham as Dancer
Thi Han Phan as Thuy
Nguyen Kim Phuong as Phuong
Le Nguyen Vu as The magician

Timothy Linh Bui
Nam Doan Nhat
Van Quan Nguyen
Jimmy Pham
Ham Tran

Original Music by
Pete Nguyen

Cinematography by
Stephane Gauger

Film Editing by
Ricardo Javier
Ham Tran

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jenni Trang Le, first assistant director

Sound Department
Gabe Verger, supervising sound editor

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