Can flowers be cursed? You bet just watch Curse of the Golden Flower Starring Chow Yun Fat (2006).

China, Later Tang Dynasty, 10th Century.

On the eve of the Chong Yang Festival, golden flowers fill the Imperial Palace. The Emperor (Chow Yun Fat) returns unexpectedly with his second son, Prince Jai (Jay Chou). His pretext is to celebrate the holiday with his family, but given the chilled relations between the Emperor and the ailing Empress (Gong Li), this seems disingenuous.

For many years, the Empress and Crown Prince Wan (Liu Ye), her stepson, have had an illicit liaison. Feeling trapped, Prince Wan dreams of escaping the palace with his secret love Chan (Li Man), the Imperial Doctor’s daughter. Meanwhile, Prince Jai, the faithful son, grows worried over the Empress’s health and her obsession with golden chrysanthemums. What we come to find out is that she has 10,000 eunuchs working day and night making these ornaments.  The flowers are markers for rebelling soldiers to distinguish them from the normal imperial army i.e. the queen is planning a bloody coup.  Not to be outdone, the Emperor harbors equally nefarious plans; the Imperial Doctor (Ni Dahong) is the only one privy to his machinations. When the Emperor senses a looming threat, he relocates the doctor’s family from the Palace to a remote area. While they are en route, mysterious assassins attack them. Chan and her mother, Jiang Shi (Chen Jin) are forced back to the palace.

Amid the glamour and grandeur of the chrysanthemum festival, ugly, incestuous secrets are revealed. As the Imperial Family continues its elaborate charade in a palatial setting, thousands of golden armored warriors charge the palace.  They don’t long as the emperor has already figured out the queen’s plans and has his own imperial army waiting for the rebels.  The queen and her stepson’s army is routed by the emperor’s forces.  Indeed the emperor has constructed a huge moving wall that literally crushes the rebelling soldiers.  This turns literally into a blood bath as all of the rebelling soldiers are slaughtered the only one taken alive is the prince who is dealt with by the emperor himself.

In one of the last scenes, thousands of eunuchs move to the courtyard where the rebels were slaughtered and within minutes clean up the blood and replace it with rows and rows of potted chrysanthemums making it look as if nothing had happened.

This is one hell of a film.  Chow Yun Fat does an outstanding job as the brutal emperor playing his role to a perfect T.  The costumes and set are also out of this world.  Watching the film you get a peek into the opulence of the Forbidden City and you can almost feel the silk robes through the screen.

The film had a 45 million dollar budget all of which was well spent.  However this movie is not for the faint of heart.  There is some pretty graphic violence and topics like incest arise during the course of the film.  It is also not a short movie but worth watching if you have a couple of hours.  You will never look at chrysanthemums the same way again after viewing Curse of the Golden Flower.

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Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Movie Reviews


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Nobunaga No Chef (2013-2014). Who Ever Thought You Could Mix French Cooking With the Japanese Warring States Period?

Nobunaga No Chef is based on the manga by Nishimura Mitsuru and Kajikawa Takuro (a manga is a form of Japanese comic book), this drama is about time travel.  A French chef by the name of Ken, somehow manages to go back in time to the brutal Sengoku period (otherwise known as the Warring States period which lasted from 1467-1603).  During the time travel Ken loses his memory in the process.  He is thought to be a spy by all of the warlords, and in his haste to escape capture, he dives into the river.  He is saved by Natsu, a swordsmith.  He doesn’t remember his own past, or the fact that he came from the future, but he remembers cooking well. He is soon recruited by Oda Nobunaga to be his Head Chef (Oda Nobunaga was one of Japans great warlords that was known for his ruthlessness, cunning and guile who also united much of Japan before he was killed in a coup by one of his retainers).

What makes the show really interesting is that Ken is given a task or command by his boss (Oda) to relay some sort of message to a third party by using his polished French-Japanese fusion cooking skills in the dishes he prepares as well as providing a positive nutritional breakdown of the food Ken has created.  These messages can by complicated and take a great deal of knowledge to transition into food.  Before cooking Ken always lets out his battle cry “Come On Warring States Cuisine!”

The show is another Asian example of the producers airing a limited number of episodes (9) instead of the typical larger number of episodes that America is known to milk a series for all its worth so that by the end of its run the show has degraded to nonsense that you want to put out of its misery.  We’ve posted on this before here at JPFmovies concluding that we here in the west could learn from this Asian practice. Moreover I don’t think Holly Wood has the creativity left to come up with a show like Nobunaga No Chef.  If you get a chance to watch it go for it—it inspired me to cook dinner.

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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in Movie Reviews


I am not much of Sylvester Stallone fan but I am of Rambo: First Blood (1982).

John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is a former member of an extremely elite commando unit from the Vietnam War who received the Medal of Honor (the highest military honor awarded) for his service.  Several years after he was discharged, he learns that the last of his comrades has died from cancer.  Upset, Rambo wanders into the small town of Hope, Washington.  He is bullied by an overzealous Sheriff Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy), who considers him no better than dirt.  When Rambo asks for something to eat, the Sheriff arrests him on some bull-shit charges of vagrancy, resisting arrest, and possessing a concealed knife.

Led by sadistic chief deputy Art Galt (Jack Starrett), Teasle’s officers humiliate and abuse Rambo, causing him to flash back to the torture he endured as a POW in Vietnam. When they try to dry-shave him with a straight razor, Rambo snaps, attacks them, and flees into the woods.  A furious and foolish Teasle organizes a search party—complete with automatic weapons, dogs, and a helicopter—to recapture him.  During the search, Galt spots Rambo and tries to kill him by shooting him Rambo from a helicopter—Galt’s actions were in direct defiance of orders, attempting to snipe Rambo from the helicopter. Rambo throws a rock in self-defense, causing Galt to fall to his death.

Utilizing his killing skills, Rambo disables the deputies non-lethally one by one (though he could have easily killed them all a “tactical mistake” as his former commander tells the Sherriff), until only Teasle is left. Holding a knife to his throat, and tells him to “let things go.”

Teasle decides to pursue him anyways, the Washington State Patrol and the Washington Army National Guard are called in to assist the manhunt. At the same time, Rambo’s mentor Colonel Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna) arrives with reports of Rambo’s abilities.  Ignoring Trautman’s advice Teasle refuses.

The authorities corner Rambo at the entrance of an abandoned mine; against orders, they use a M72 LAW rocket, collapsing the entrance and leaving no evidence.

Having survived the assault, Rambo escapes the mine and hijacks a supply truck, which he uses to return to town. To distract his pursuers, he starts a fire at a gas station, shoots down power lines, and destroys several storefronts with a stolen M60 machine gun.

Teasle positions himself on the roof of his station to search for Rambo, unaware that he is directly below. The two engage in a brief firefight, which ends with Teasle falling through a skylight badly injured. Rambo prepares to kill him, but Trautman arrives and warns Rambo that he will be shot if Teasle dies. Unwilling to defy Trautman, the only man who understands what he endured, Rambo goes into a rant about the treatment he received before surrendering. He is put into state custody and driven away as Teasle is sent to the hospital.

What intrigues me about this movie is that its story line is actually pretty interesting—and was really one of the first movies that dealt with disaffected soldiers who come back from conflicts abroad.  Much like we are seeing people today returning from the Middle East who are having problems readjusting to society.  This is not your typical action movie, it shows what can happen when authorities push people too far and in my opinion often get what they deserve.  Watching Rambo slice these armature police like butter but they never get the message that sometimes you just need to let things go.

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Posted by on September 22, 2015 in Movie Reviews


Getting back to our Asian roots our next couple of reviews are going to cover the 36 episode series Gyebaek (2011).

That is right folks we are going to ride the “Korean Wave” wave again and review the 36 episode series Gyebaek–the show chronicles the life and times of the storied warrior General Gyebaek who is remembered in history for leading Baekje’s last stand against the Silla in the Battle of Hwangsanbeol.  The Koreans really thought a lot of this guy saying where he walk pools of water appeared . . . well we will get to all of that.

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Posted by on September 15, 2015 in Movie Reviews


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On the heated recommendation of our good friend T.J. we look at the 2009 film Law Abiding Citizen. I am NOT a Jamie Foxx fan but I was ok with this movie.

Source: On the heated recommendation of our good friend T.J. we look at the 2009 film Law Abiding Citizen. I am NOT a Jamie Foxx fan but I was ok with this movie.

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Posted by on September 15, 2015 in Movie Reviews


On the heated recommendation of our good friend T.J. we look at the 2009 film Law Abiding Citizen. I am NOT a Jamie Foxx fan but I was ok with this movie.

T.J. has been hounding me for months to review one of his favorite movies Law Abiding Citizen.  The film clearly resonates with him and his general distaste for the government particularly the “justice” system.  After watching the film I now know why—it rips the system a new one if you get my meaning.  Moreover, as I state in the title, I am not a Jamie Foxx fan, but this film was pretty darn good because the “bad guy” a.k.a. the Law Abiding Citizen beats the corrupt system until the last five minutes of the movie.  I do wish the movie would have let him win the whole game but we all know Hollywood just could not let that happen.

In a violent home invasion, engineer Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is forced to witness the rape and murder of his wife and young daughter. Prosecutor Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) is unable to use DNA evidence to securely convict both accused.  Because he is more concerned about his high and yet unbeaten 96% conviction rate,  Foxx makes a deal with Darby (the actual murderer), letting him plead guilty to a lesser charge, in return for testifying against Ames.  Ames is falsely found guilty of masterminding the break-in and both murders and is sentenced to death.  Shelton is outright pissed off because of the brutal nature of the crime to his family he wanted Foxx to take both killers to trial.

Fast forward ten years and the criminal’s time on death row is up, but our hero, the law abiding citizen, has managed to replace the typical drugs used in executions with another drug (Potassium bromide), causing Ames to die an extremely painful death.  Not to worry though our law abiding citizen has not forgotten his partner in crime because he brutally tortures and extremely brutally dismembers him in revenge for killing his wife and daughter while videotaping the whole thing.

In a great court scene Shelton represents himself and successfully argues that he should be granted bail, citing weak evidence and lack of criminal record but when this is granted, he outrageously berates the judge for accepting the “bullshit” legal precedents he himself cited and for being too eager to let madmen and murderers back on the street. The judge jails Shelton for contempt of court.

Not knowing who they are dealing with, one of Foxx’s acquaintances arranges a meeting with a CIA contact learning that Shelton had in fact worked with the agency previously as a “brain”; a highly trained agent whose job was creating devices to assassinate people in imaginative ways. Further, they are warned that Shelton has no contacts but is capable of killing anyone he wishes, no matter who they are or where he is. The contact warns them that Shelton does nothing without a reason, and if he’s in solitary confinement at the prison, he’s there because he wants to be there, and not that they put him there. During a meeting with Rice and Cantrell, the judge that presided over Darby/Ames’ case, is killed when she answers her cell phone. Shelton demands Rice to drop all charges against him or more people will die – he has until 6:00 am to do so. When Rice again fails to meet the demands, a number of Rice’s assistants are killed by car bombs, one of them is Sarah Lowell (Leslie Bibb). Rice immediately moves his family to a safe house. As Rice and Cantrell leave the funeral of Lowell, Cantrell is killed by a weaponized bomb disposal robot operated by an unseen person.

Fast forward a little and it turns out that our law abiding citizen has tunneled into prison.  So he comes and goes as he pleases.  Foxx finds a bomb in the tunnel meant for the mayor and other big wigs and tricks our law abiding citizen into detonating it in his cell.

I will say that the law abiding citizen didn’t seem to care as he really had nothing left to live for.  So maybe he won after all.  If you are fed up with the government, the criminal justice system or any real form of state imposed authority watch Law Abiding Citizen at the very least it will let our some serious frustration.

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Posted by on September 14, 2015 in Movie Reviews


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