A rather curious tale of rekindled love that carries profound morals, ‘Underwater Love’ envisages the Japanese folklore of ‘Kappa’ and their intertwining with local culture. To cut a long story short a woman meets a long-lost lover in the bizarre kappa form. Their subsequent affair that follows clashes with kappa law, as well as the very rule of nature and death. Underwater love also happens to be a ‘pink film’, a kind of film that attract a more niche audience
I found it hard to pin this film into one genre or another (Other than strange soft-core pornography I could not decide what else to class it as), some would call it a comedy whilst others would call it a musical. Perhaps it was unintentionally funny, the crude scenes and references to ambiguous sexuality surely had something to do with it.
For a first-timer of East Asian cinema this can be something of a tricky experience, leaving you confused or perhaps a little dumb-struck, it’s not always in a good way either. I for one was left speechless after coming along to the UK premier in London, but it served me well to overlook the somewhat sketchy narrative or costume department and appreciate the free-flowing cinematography that guided the picture through and through.
The master work of Christopher Doyle reflects his eccentricity, as well as his veteran attention to detail. So the strange musical genre twist may not pull you in, but any good film buff would be attracted to the visuals. Bright vivid colours reflect the upbeat (if not hyperactive) nature of the film, and with that comes a taster into exciting and alternative culture of East Asian Cinema.
An intriguing first experience, one I will not soon forget. Under water love was a trip into the wilder side of the East Asian film experience…
NOTE – Although the plot is summarized in this review I do not give away the real spoiler information. This film is about payback, so the tragic loss (which I touch on slightly) should be considered as an obvious (and essential) narrative device. In order for any good revenge film to work you must take everything from the protagonist before you set him loose on the world!
Hailing from Hong Kong and directed by Wong Ching-Po, ‘Revenge, a love story’ is an all out revenge flick, which delivers some gut wrenching visceral action and a strong moral punchline. Alone as a generic revenge film it would not necessarily offer much to an already swollen genre, especially when it stands next to the collection of ‘Western’ blockbusters. But as an export of a relatively unknown film culture, and as a masterpiece of cinematography it is a stand out picture that should be on your list of ‘ones to watch’ if you are serious about international cinema.
I came across this film thanks to the East Asian Film Society, who I am no longer a member of. However during my brief membership I was shown that the rest of the world has just as much to offer in the ways of quality films as Hollywood.
‘Revenge’ is centred around the psychotic (at first glance) vendetta obsessions of a relatively insignificant store clerk, Kit. There is nothing special about him, he is in many respects the stereotypical ‘loser’. Only he has (running the risk of sounding cheesy) a heart of gold.
His life finally has a meaning when he meets the dysfunctional schoolgirl Wing, played by the very beautiful Sola Aoi. They are in a sense the unlikeliest of couples, yet their scarred and fragile personalities draw them together as any quintessential romance plot should.
I’ll spare the spoiler information and just say ‘this and that’ leads to their separation, and by dividing this young couple (who are totally dependant on one another) you take away everything they have. One of them gets weaker, and one of them snaps.
And the fascinating thing about this film is the exploration into how much a person can change when you push them into that corner, when you destroy whatever they call home. Because the day you do that is the day that person turns into a monster, totally oblivious to the codes and conduct of humility. It’s easier than we think to go over the edge and lose control, and that’s what makes this an intense ride, that’s why it sells to the film junkies. The gritty truth of human nature shines through, and we are drawn to what we (as a society) collectively fear…
When you watch this film for the first time the plot establishing ‘tragic loss’ is not clear until some time into the film, yet even without this moral factor the film carries itself on the literal intensity that is right in front of us: The chase scenes and the violence, the brutality and the enigmas. If this was a mindless action piece (and trust me it isn’t!) it would still most likely have you sat on the edge of your seat, only to recoil back in shock at the regular interludes of well placed gore.
And the cinematography, the look and feel of the film… That really is the icing on the cake. Jimmy Wong elegantly sculpts the atmospherics and the emotion of the scenes to gritty perfection with his contributions as the director of photography. Every second of the film is appropriately shot in a responsive style; so the angles are well-considered and the framing sharply envisions every possible feeling or action of the actors and set. The film stock is generally a faded and washed out amalgamation of greys and sepia tones, to suit the downtrodden nature of the film. Fresh, bright colours are used sparingly, as if to imply that these characters live in bleak times, and the ‘good times’ are rare, but memorable.
Overall this film is, in my opinion a totally unnoticed gem. Most likely overlooked because of its foreign origin, and English subtitles. But I cannot stress enough how much of a mistake it would be if you missed the opportunity to see this film. It’s a well crafted work of a mature culture, with a lot to say about the way we tick. Every passing scene intensifies, leading up to a truly unexpected conclusion. It’s a recommendation for anyone who can stomach a bit of gore and violence, but it’s a must for those with a taste for the more intellectual cinema. Take my advice on this one, leave your prejudices at the door and treat yourself to the DVD.
Today something big happened, today I took a gamble. As of now I have resigned from my post as a writer for the CUEAFS journalism team; I wasn’t fired, nor was I pressured. I walked away freely, with new intentions and higher aims. Had I remained in the writers team I would have progressed well and built a solid resume for myself, I would even have the chance to go on a special placement program for a year. However whilst I remained a part of this society I would be bound to specific work, ‘hand-outs’ work as it were.
I have decided to focus on my studies and side projects fully, as opposed to being stretched thin with other commitments. I have plenty of other things I wish to do, but for now I am re-visiting my script writing and various other works that have been neglected for well over too long. I feel happy about this decision, however I also feel a touch of uncertainty; I’ve made a personal decision to step towards more independence, but I am flying without a safety net as a result (for now anyway).
It will be totally up to me to keep fully focussed, and finally take my projects to the next level. So ‘Whispers’, ‘Living Space’, my Blog/Vlog activity is going to increase. This is my personal goal and my personal promise, because I’ll only have myself to blame in the future. The much discussed part one from my ‘Vlocumentary’ will be uploaded in a day or two, and in the meantime I will be re-assessing how best to allocate my time, and what reasonable targets will be pursued.
These are my current hopes/ideal goals.
- Prioritize coursework over EVERYTHING.
- Script writing for Living Space.
- Finish back story for Whispers.
- Get production of Vlocumentaries moving.
- Research into future plans and cabinet items.
- Consider writing pieces for Herbert and/or Buzz magazine.
- Research Emerge magazine.
- Record EP for Regicist.
I guess this is the last post that will go into the CUEAFS category… I have severed another line as I reach for a new height of professionality and academia. I pray this is not a mistake I will live to regret.
Alas, the next edition of the CUEAFS newsletter has been released, follow the link below to read it.
I’m feeling pretty low today, I’m not sure why but I’ll put it down to the generic “Its just one of those days…” Its been a fairly productive day, with plenty of plans being realised, and a good start being made on the group assignment, yet I’m left feeling empty and un-accomplished. This is the worst I have felt at University so far, and to be quite frank with you it sucks. I’m not going to articulate it in a more elegant way, I’m not going to dazzle it with fancy words or a melodramatic writing style, I’ll say it as it is.
I have writers block with my side projects, with any other blog activity, and with the group work. I haven’t done a Vlog for the past week or so, and I just feel like I am behind schedule personally. I have spent the time committed to my society role, and it has got me no where. My writing contributions for this edition were cut up, and no longer resemble my work: This has left me confused, especially when my editor said to me there was nothing wrong with it. I am absolutely certain that I wrote my assigned article in the desired ‘writing style’ and still it is hacked up, the creative flare and elaborate description that I was hailed for in my previous works were stripped away, and made into a drone preview of events. It was clearly stated that a drone preview was not what they wanted, and yet that happens anyway.
I’m worried about my group’s work, our project seems to digress exponentially and I feel left behind with my original suggestions. With me trying to balance all my various works I feel pressured to make leaps I am not prepared or willing to make, and my other group calls for progress that no-one has even been organised enough to work together for.
All I want to do is commit to my studies and side projects without external interference, yet I feel like I’m trying to claw my way out of a rabbit hole, I just sink back in. Corny thing to say? Perhaps, but that’s exactly what it feels like at the moment.
I don’t know how long I will stay in this society anymore. I am seriously considering resignation by the end of the month (at the latest). That way I can pursue my own personal agenda, there are other writing opportunities for me out there which I am very much aware of, and I have to try different things. I need to find my feet as a writer by myself. I have so much to do, and I know that I have so little time.
I promised 8 Cabinet Items to go up, I apologize for not hitting my target; I must get through this week, and then I will re-assess my situation, and continue my personal work accordingly.
That’s it for now.
Alas! we have finally released the first edition of the East Asian Film Society newsletter. Jam packed with articles on society visits, profiles and releases! We all worked very hard on this, and I think I speak for everyone when I say well done! and good job!
My articles were on the Zipangu festival, Christopher Doyle and the visit to the UK screening of ‘Underwater Love’. The first personnel profile was on me too, so if you want to find a little bit about my participation in the society and their thoughts on me follow the link below for an embedded copy! Enjoy, there’s a lot of great stuff in there. Anyway, back to work…
As a part of the CUEAFS newsletter one of the writer’s tasks was to profile a member every week. For the first edition they chose me. They asked me a few questions and I answered back honestly (this would be part of my profile). Unfortunately it turned out to be a little bit too casual to make the newsletter, but it was interesting to do all the same. Here is a transcript of the interview between myself and the interviewer…
Where are you from?
Herefordshire, a small time county in the West Midlands that no-one has ever heard of.
What College did you go to? What did you do there and why?
Herefordshire Sixth Form College. Where I took film studies, Communication & Culture, and English Literature. I also took I.C.T at first year, and I think that’s why I left college as a bigger technophobe than before I started. I chose those courses because I thought they all tied together nicely, and would give me and edge if I decided to study a media related course at university. So far they have seemed a worthwhile investment!
Who or what is a big inspiration to you?
Favourite music artist?
Who is your hero?
If you had a quote to describe you, what would it be?
Tell me something about yourself, nobody knows
If you had an hour to live, what would you spend it doing?
What’s your greatest trait? Worst trait?
Which film have you seen the most times?
Finally, What would be the title of your autobiography?
well, I have just finished my first piece for the weekly CUEAFS newsletter, and I’ve gotta say, I am both nervous and buzzing!
I think I did well writing the piece (hopefully it won’t be edited too brutally!) and as much as I would love to post it up on here for the world to see I can’t. At least until the newsletter goes out anyway…
I have to say after my research on Christopher Doyle I am amazed by how incredible he really is! I mean, this guy has lived! He is the real life equivalent to Forest Gump (only he is a wild eccentric social drinker as opposed to being disabled). I wish I could go back in time to the ‘Underwater Love’ screening and shake his hand, what an honour that would have been! Maybe I will have the privilege to share the same room with him again some time. Until then I will just carry on with the rest of the work I still have to do!
An interesting first experience with the Coventry University East Asian Film Society! I wrote up a short overview of the day which has been uploaded onto their website. In-case anyone wanted to know how my Sunday was the link below will take you to my overview…
Puddle of Mudd and Soil the night before were immense by the way! A good weekend overall!