films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


A Night of Soul Turning

Hui Hun Zhi Ye
2023 / 78m - China
Horror, Mystery
A Night of Soul Turning poster

A surprisingly capable horror film. I'd expected something a bit cheaper and less involved, thinking this was simple Chinese streamer filler (the output of the directors certainly pointed that way), but this semi-anthology is extremely atmospheric, lovingly shot, and well-acted. An easy recommendation for horror fans.

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On his way home, Du An experiences some car trouble. To escape the pouring rain, he follows an old man inside an abandoned apartment complex. The old man tells Du An three stories that are all related to Du An's past. Du An has no memories of the events until he finally realizes what is going on.

The cinematography is top-notch, the structure of the plot is interesting (with the subplots so rigidly separated that they feel like stand-alone shorts) and the pacing is extremely slick, keeping the film under 80 minutes. This film is a golden standard for Chinese streamer flicks and comes extremely close to being a personal favorite.

Fantasy Magician 2

Qi Men Dun Jia 2
2023 / 92m - China
Fantasy, Action
Fantasy Magician 2 poster

A film that raises the question: what's the meaning of a sequel in the age of Chinese streamers? The same directorial duo tackles a new story set in the same world as the first film, which sounds like the usual sequel fare. But there are so (so) many similar films out there these days, that you need to have a good look at the title and credits to even notice the similarities.

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The son of Zhou has had a harsh life. When he finally has a son, his boy is born blind. Remembering the special power of his father, he digs up his grave, hoping that this power can act as a cure for his son. By doing so, he unleashes an evil he has no control over, endangering his own offspring's life.

The special effects are pretty decent (they still stand out, but the designs are pretty cool and the craft is getting better), the action is nice, the pacing is scorching and the film is short and snappy (though a little longer than most of its peers). It's good genre fluff, but still far removed from a personal favorite.

Fantasy Magician

Qi Men Dun Jia
2020 / 84m - China
Action, Fantasy
Fantasy Magician poster

Expectations were quite low going into this one, but it was surprisingly well-made. There have been a lot of these Chinese fantasy/martial arts TV productions lately and while most are somewhat enjoyable, they rarely leave much of an impression. The short running time and slick poster design tricked me into thinking this was another one of those, but I was clearly mistaken.

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This film is not to be confused with Woo-Ping Yuen's 2017 blockbuster version, which deals with pretty much the same story. While it's clear that the 2020 remake didn't have have quite the same means to its disposal, Hesheng and Qiuliang Xiang did their very best to make this just as enjoyable.

The CG is actually quite solid, the nifty creature designs and spell effects are also of great help. Actors are decent and the sets look pretty impressive. Nice action cinematography, perfect pacing and a fun story do the rest. It's not quite up there with the best Chinese martial arts/fantasy hybrids, but it was great fun nonetheless.