Director-writer Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie remains the highest-grossing French film released in the United States — and for good reason. It’s the whimsical tale of a shy waitress in contemporary Paris who decides to return a collection of toys she found behind a baseboard in her apartment to their original owner, an act that helps her cope with her own isolation and despair after a difficult upbringing. Still, the film is warmhearted and quirky, with laughs to spare.
There are hundreds — if not thousands — of kung fu movies on Netflix, but few of them are as good as the film dramatizing the life of Yip Man, one of Bruce Lee’s teachers and the first to teach Wing Chun martial arts in China. Film title controversy racked the film even before its debut in Hong Kong, and though we wouldn’t say the film is historically accurate when it comes to detailing Ip’s life in the city of Foshan during the Sino-Japanese War, the spectacular stunts make up for any inaccuracies.
Spike Lee should have never remade the South Korean Oldboy, especially with Josh Brolin in the lead role. The 2003 original — based on a manga and anchored in bloody, operatic anguish — is still a standout. In the film, Choi Min-sik plays a businessman who’s drugged, imprisoned, and tortured for 15 years before seeking revenge on his captors. It’s a statement, violent and maddening, with unforgettable scenes and a thought-provoking climax. There’s a reason Quentin Tarantino praised the film at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
The Admiral: Roaring Currents
South Korean director Kim Han-min’s look on the 1597 Battle of Myeongnyang is a David-and-Goliath tale of the highest caliber. It focuses on Korean admiral Yi Sun-shin — played by Choi Min-sik of Oldboy acclaim — and his efforts to thwart an encroaching fleet of 330 Japanese ships with little more than 12 of his own and a literal boatload of courage. However, the characters in the film are only secondary to the Michael Bay-esque action sequences strewn throughout, all of which seamlessly combine model warships and computer-generated effects to great effect. The way Sun-shin utilizes the currents and whirlpools to his advantage is captivating, even if Han-min doesn’t delve into the logistics of it all.