‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’: A Must-Watch Chinese Movie

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,”is a must watch movie, directed by Ang Lee and released in 2000. It is a cinematic masterpiece that beautifully fuses martial arts action with a deeply emotional narrative.

This movie won four Oscar Awards, for score, cinematography, art direction, and also Best Foreign Language Film.

What is this chinese movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” about? Why it’s a must watch Movie?

Where can I watch this “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” with subtitles ?

What its climax is so special?

In this post, we will cover all this.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Movie Poster & The team at Oscars
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Movie Poster & The team at Oscars

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon plot

During the Qing Dynasty period (1644-1912), in China, there was a young woman named Jen who was a kung fu master. She was so good at kung fu that she could beat any man in a fight.

But Jen was not happy. She was restless and searching for something more in her life. Jen felt trapped by her gender and her family’s expectations. She wanted to be free to live her own life.

We then meet Li Mu Bai, a famous swordsman who is retiring from the martial arts world. Li Mu Bai is entrusted with the Green Destiny, a powerful sword that is said to be cursed.

One day, Jen stole this sword from Li Mu Bai. She knew that Li Mu Bai would come after her, and he did. But instead of fighting him, Jen ran away.

Jen is hoping to use the sword to escape her arranged marriage and find her own freedom.

Will Jen be able to escape her arranged marriage?
What will happen to the Green Destiny?
Will Jen be able to find her own freedom?
Will Jen be able to come to terms with her past and her future?
What does it mean to be a woman in 19th-century China?
How does the movie depict the power of love and redemption?
What is the meaning of the title Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?

Find the answers by watching the film.

Where to Watch “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” With Subtitles?

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is readily available for streaming on platforms such as Sony Liv and Zee5.

Additionally, if you’re interested in owning a digital copy, the movie can be purchased on Apple TV, Google Play Movies, and YouTube.

For those preferring short-term access, or don’t have any subscription, try watching it here with subtitles, since, it’s free, make sure you have an ad-blocker with your browser.

6 Reasons Why “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is a Must Watch Chinese Movie!

1. Super Cool Fight Scenes

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” has some of the most exciting fight scenes you’ve ever seen! People don’t just battle on the ground, they even fly through the air! These aren’t just fights, they’re like beautiful dances that make your heart pound.

2. Symbols & Inner Layers

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is filled with symbols that represent deeper meanings.

For example, the ‘Green Destiny’ sword isn’t just a weapon, it symbolizes power, responsibility, and the weight of tradition.

The characters’ ability to fly represents freedom and the longing for transcendence.

The film delves into the exploration of one’s inner self. Each character, particularly Jen, undergoes a journey of self-discovery and identity formation.

This film invites you to ponder upon your own self, your desires, and your fears.

The movie shows us the importance of personal growth, forgiveness, and redemption. It also portrays the consequences of ego, arrogance, and unchecked ambition.

3. Feminism

The film is a strong advocate for female empowerment. It breaks the stereotype of submissive women and presents us with strong, independent female characters who challenge the norms and fight for their beliefs.

A woman should be able to do whatever she wants, as long as she is not hurting anyone.” – Jen Yu

It’s a bold statement about gender roles and equality.

It beautifully captures the struggles of unrequited love, the tragedy of forbidden love, and the sacrifice of true love through a strong female character.

4. Awesome Cinematography & Amazing Locations

Director, Ang Lee, and cinematographer, Peter Pau, created an enthralling visual experience that captivates the audience.

The film’s cinematography often leans on a rich and vibrant color palette, designed to represent the emotional state of the characters and the atmosphere of the scenes.

The intricate use of light and shadow, as well as different color tones, helps to enhance the mood and the narrative of the story.

The movie was filmed in various locations across China, which significantly contributed to its breathtaking cinematography. The film showcases the rich and diverse landscapes of China, from the dense bamboo forests of Anji County in Zhejiang Province to the majestic deserts of Xinjiang. The locations chosen encapsulate the rural and urban landscapes of China, painting a vivid picture of the country’s natural beauty and architectural grandeur.

One of the most iconic scenes is set in the ancient city of Pingyao, where the stone-paved streets and historic architecture transport you back to a time long gone. The Jade Fox fight scene in this setting is a blend of meticulous choreography and historical authenticity.

The serene and mysterious Wudang Mountains also play a crucial part in the film. Known as the spiritual home of Taoism and considered sacred, the mountains provide a perfect backdrop for Li Mu Bai’s spiritual journey and his quest for enlightenment.

In simple words, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is a visual feast.

Scenes from Crouching tiger, hidden dragon
Scenes from Crouching tiger, hidden dragon

5. Excellent Casting & Exemplar Performance

Chow Yun-fat, an internationally acclaimed actor. He portrays the role of Li Mu Bai, a master warrior seeking peace. His performance brilliantly blends strength, wisdom, and restraint. Notably, he carries an unspoken love for Shu Lien, which adds a layer of depth to his character.

Secondly, Michelle Yeoh captivates as Yu Shu Lien, a strong and independent woman who is also a skilled warrior. She skillfully displays the complexities of love, loyalty, and strength, both in her martial arts skills and in her relationships with others. Throughout the film, Yeoh’s performance remains utterly mesmerizing. Her recent Oscar win for her role in Everything Everywhere All at Once is a testament to her talent and her ability to connect with audiences on a deep level.

Next, we encounter Zhang Ziyi as Jen Yu. This character goes through a significant transformation, from a sheltered aristocratic girl to a rebellious woman yearning for freedom. Zhang’s impassioned acting brings this character journey to life, making her performance a standout in the film.

Lastly, the supporting cast, including Chang Chen’s portrayal of Lo, or “Dark Cloud,” and Cheng Pei-pei as Jade Fox, also delivers strong performances.

Spoilers Ahead

6. Layered Themes & Deep Emotional Connections

Firstly, one of the film’s key themes is the struggle for personal freedom against societal expectations.

It shows us the conflict between societal expectations and personal desires. It also explores the theme of redemption, showcasing that it’s never too late to correct one’s mistakes and find the right path.

Redemption is possible. It is never too late to find forgiveness and start over.” – Li Mu Bai

Secondly, the theme of unrequited love permeates the story. Both Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien share a deep, unspoken love for each other, but their duties and societal positions prevent them from expressing it. This creates a deep emotional connection with the audience, as many can relate to the pain of love left unexpressed.

When it comes to the affairs of the heart, even the greatest warriors can be consummate idiots.” – Sir Te

Lastly, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” uses the theme of mentorship and the master-student relationship. Li Mu Bai, as a seasoned warrior, tries to guide Jen, a representation of raw, untamed talent. The dynamic between them provides an insightful look into the traditional Eastern philosophy of learning and discipline.

A sword by itself rules nothing. It only comes alive in skilled hands.” – Sir Te

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Ending Explained

Climax Scenes from Crouching tiger, hidden dragon
Climax Scenes from Crouching tiger, hidden dragon

In the final scene, Jen jumps off a mountaintop following a conversation with Lo, her bandit lover, about a legend where a man made a wish and jumped off a cliff, and instead of falling, he flew. She tells Lo to make a wish and jumps off the mountain, leaving the outcome ambiguous.

This ending can be interpreted in various ways, reflecting the multifaceted “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” meaning. Some may perceive it as Jen’s wish to start anew, to be free from societal constraints, expressing the theme of freedom that runs throughout the film. Others may see it as a symbolic death, with Jen letting go of her old self to embrace a new identity.

Moreover, Jen’s leap can also represent her ultimate defiance of societal norms and her decision to forge her own path, reflecting the movie’s underlying feminist themes. The cliff could symbolize the insurmountable societal expectations, and Jen’s leap could be seen as a courageous act of breaking free from these restrictions.

Finally, the jump may also symbolize Jen’s leap of faith, the ultimate act of trust and surrender, showing her growth and acceptance of her life’s journey, highlighting the theme of self-discovery and personal transformation.

No matter how you understand the ending, the deep symbolism and meaning of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” still have a big impact on people, leaving them with a lot to think about long after the movie ends.

For more reviews and suggestions, click here.

Departures (2008): A Must Watch Japanese Movie

What is this japanese movie Departures about? Why it’s a must watch Japanese Movie?

Where can I watch this Departures (2008) with subtitles ?

What is the significance of the stone letter in departures or What are the symbolic elements in Departures?

In this post, we will cover all this.

What is the story of “Departures”

Daigo Kobayashi is a young man who has always dreamed of becoming a professional cellist. He works hard and eventually secures a spot in a prestigious orchestra. However, his dream shatters when financial difficulties lead to the disbanding of the orchestra.

Forced to move back to Daigo’s hometown in Yamagata, Daigo and his wife, Mika, struggle to make ends meet. Daigo stumbles upon an ad for a job he mistakes for a travel agency role. However, at the interview, he discovers the job is actually at a mortuary.

Initially hesitant, Daigo eventually accepts the position out of financial necessity.

This decision marks the turning point of the film and the beginning of Act 2.

What challenges await him, and how will he overcome them?

Will this job, so starkly different from his dreams, become a burden or an unexpected blessing?

Will Daigo find his true calling in life? Or will he regret his decision to work at the mortuary?

How does the film challenge traditional views of death and dying?

How does it demonstrate the ways we can support each other through difficult times?

Find the answers by watching the film.

Where to Watch Departures With Subtitles?

If you live in the USA, Tubi allows you to watch this movie freely. If you live outside the USA, consider using a VPN to access it, or alternatively, click here to watch it on m4uhd.

Events from Departures 2008
Events from Departures 2008

6 Reasons Why Japanese Movie ‘Departures’ is a Must Watch!

1. Balance of Humor and Drama

Despite the serious theme of death, the movie cleverly incorporates humour to prevent it from becoming too dark. It successfully blends whimsy and irony, providing a warm-hearted viewing experience.

All its events encourage viewers to think about their relationships, the significance of family, and societal values, making it an intellectually stimulating watch.

2. Wonderful Acting

The main actors in “Departures” do an excellent job. Masahiro Motoki, who plays Daigo, makes you believe in his character’s inner struggle as he adjusts to his new job.

Tsutomu Yamazaki, as Sasaki, portrays a man who’s seen a lot in life but still has a sense of humour. Their performances make the movie feel real and engaging.

3. Beautiful Music

Joe Hisaishi‘s music in the movie is like a character itself. It’s peaceful and hopeful, and when Daigo plays his cello, it adds another layer of emotion to the story.

4. Amazing Cinematography

The movie shows us beautiful scenes of Yamagata’s countryside. The stunning mountains and rivers make you feel like you’re right there in Japan.

5. Detailing in Rituals & Culture

Departures provide a unique insight into Japanese culture. The detailed depiction of traditional Japanese death rituals, such as the encoffining ceremony, offers a rich cultural experience for the audience.

6. Deep Symbolism

The film employs powerful symbols such as the cherry blossom, representing the transience of life. The strategic use of the colour white, classical music, and ritualised hand gestures further emphasise the sacredness and purity of death ceremonies.

The best one is (might be a spoiler so please skip the next information) the stone letter in this movie plays a significant symbolic role.

What is the significance of the stone letter in Departures

Stone Letters from Departures
Stone Letters from Departures

It is a medium through which Daigo communicates with his late father, and it symbolises the unspoken love, forgiveness, and reconciliation between them.

Daigo’s father had left him and his mother when Daigo was a child. For years, Daigo held resentment towards his father. When he finds the stone letter among his father’s possessions, it allows him to understand that his father always cared for him and thought about him, even if he was not present physically.

The stone letter is also a representation of Daigo’s father’s wish to communicate his love and apologies to his son. This stone, given to Daigo when he was a baby and returned to him upon his father’s death, symbolises the cyclical nature of life and death, and the continuity of love and memories.

The stone letter, thus, aids in Daigo’s personal transformation. It helps him come to terms with his father’s absence and fuels his empathy towards the bereaved families he serves as an encoffineer. This understanding of his father’s love, albeit posthumous, helps Daigo find closure and enables him to forgive his father, representing a reconciliation even after death.

6. Emotional Impact

“Departures” is a movie that stays with you after you watch it. It explores big ideas like the meaning of life and death, and it makes you think about your own relationships and the people you care about.

It’s a movie that can make you laugh, cry, and think, all at the same time.

Why Should You Skip This Movie?

This Japanese movie “Departures” is a deeply emotional and thought-provoking film that deals with mature themes such as death, grief, societal prejudice, and personal growth.

Therefore, it may not be suitable for all types of audiences.

Pacing: The film is paced deliberately, taking time to develop its characters and explore its themes. Those who prefer fast-paced action or thriller movies may find it slow.

Mature Themes: The film delves into mature themes such as death, societal prejudice, and personal transformation. It may not be suitable for younger viewers who might not be able to fully understand or process these themes.

Emotional Intensity: Those in search of lighter, more uplifting entertainment might find it overwhelmingly intense.

For more movie suggestions and reviews, click here.

Memories of Murder: Why a Must Watch Korean Thriller

In this post, we will see why ‘Memories of Murder‘ a must watch Korean thriller, where to watch “Memories of Murder” & then I will share 6 More Thrillers similar to “Memories of Murder” in the end.

“Memories of Murder”, originally titled “Salinui chueok”, is a spellbinding film that takes you on a journey into the heart of a real-life mystery.

Language: Korean
Director: Bong Joon Ho (Director of Parasite)
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama

Poster: Memories of Murder
Poster: Memories of Murder

What is the story of ‘Memories of Murder’

The story unfolds in 1986 in the provincial town of Hwaseong, South Korea. 

The tranquility of the town is shattered when the bodies of two raped and murdered women are discovered.

Local detectives, Park and Cho Yong Koo, had to figure out who did it.

As they grapple with the mounting pressure, the investigation reveals a chilling pattern – all the murders occur in the rain, and the same haunting melody seems to echo in the background each time.

They first thought a man named Baek, who had a mental disability, could be the one behind the bad things. But then, Detective So Tae from Seoul came to help. He thought differently, which made the investigation more complicated. Right and wrong seemed to mix up.

Could they find the bad guy, or was he hiding among them?

As the story went on, they started to suspect a factory worker named Pak Hyun-gyu. He fit the pattern of the crimes. But they had to try something new and unsure to prove it – DNA testing, something not common in Korean investigations back then. 

But, I won’t ruin the surprise for you.

Let’s just say things aren’t always what they seem, and sometimes the truth is harder to find than you’d think.

Why it’s a Must Watch Korean Thriller

A Frame from Memories of Murder
A Frame from Memories of Murder

“Memories of Murder” is a great example of storytelling.

It mixes real-life events and made-up stories to create a movie that you won’t forget even after it’s over.

This movie is not just about solving a crime. It also talks about society and the times when the crime happened. Movie shows the fear and confusion people felt when a psycho was hurting others and nobody could catch him. It also shows how the law was struggling to stop him.

The movie’s realistic portrayal of the investigative process, the nuanced performances, and the meticulous attention to detail make “Memories of Murder” a standout film in the crime thriller genre.

The narrative skillfully maintains a balance between fact and fiction, providing an immersive experience that both educates and entertains the viewer.

The cinematic techniques employed in the film, such as the use of weather and music to set the mood and pace, further enhance the storytelling.

Where to watch “Memories of Murder” ?

Unfortunately, this movie is not availaible in any streaming sites in India. If you couldn’t find any streaming site from your country.

Watch ‘Memories of Murder” here or Download it here.

If you have seen this movie, let me help you with some questions.

What is “memories of murder” based on? What case is memories of murder based on?

“Memories of Murder” is based on the real-life case of the Hwaseong serial murders, which occurred in South Korea between 1986 and 1991. The Hwaseong serial murders is the first recorded case of serial killings in South Korea, with ten women being brutally raped and murdered over a period of five years.

Is “Memories of murder” a true story? How much of “Memories of murder” is true?

The movie is a fictionalized version of these events, and while it follows the overarching narrative of the investigation, it includes fictional characters and dramatized events for cinematic purposes.

As such, it’s not a documentary-style retelling, and it takes creative liberties for storytelling. Therefore, it’s not entirely accurate to say that “Memories of Murder” is completely true, but it’s based on true events.

Who is the killer in “memories of murder” ? 

The identity of the killer remained a mystery for decades, even after the release of the movie. In the film, the killer’s identity is left ambiguous.

However, in reality, the case was reopened and solved in 2019.

The real killer: Lee Chun-jae
The real killer: Lee Chun-jae

Over 13 years after the movie came out, there was a big update. On September 18, 2019, police named a suspect in the Hwaseong serial murders. This man, Lee Choon-jae, was in his 50s. DNA evidence tied him to the crimes.

They found a match between his DNA and DNA from a victim’s underwear. Tests also linked him to four other unsolved murders. The film didn’t reveal the killer’s identity, but in reality, they found the answer after more than 30 years.

This fact adds a scary endnote to “Memories of Murder”.

Which are some movies like “Memories of murder” ?

If you’re looking for movies that are similar to “Memories of Murder,” you might be interested in films that combine elements of crime, mystery, and suspense with strong storytelling and character development.

Here are a few suggestions:

Zodiac (2007)

“Zodiac” (2007): Directed by David Fincher, this movie is based on the true story of the hunt for the Zodiac Killer in San Francisco during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Like “Memories of Murder,” it’s a procedural thriller that focuses on the investigators and journalists obsessed with the case.

The Chaser (2008)

“The Chaser” (2008): This is a South Korean action thriller about a former detective turned pimp who is on a desperate search to find some of his missing girls. As he unravels the truth, he finds himself up against a brutal serial killer.

Prisoners (2013)

“Prisoners” (2013): Directed by Denis Villeneuve, this film is about the search for two young girls who go missing in a small town, and the lengths one of the fathers (played by Hugh Jackman) is willing to go to find them.

Children (2011)

“Children” (2011, South Korea): This chilling movie is based on true events. In 1991, five children left their homes to catch frogs and never returned. The search for them unravels a story that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Memories of a Killer (2017)

“Memories of a Killer” (2017, South Korea): This film tells the story of a serial killer who stopped his murderous spree 17 years ago. Now, he lives with his adult daughter and is battling the early stages of Alzheimer’s. But when he stumbles upon a car with blood leaking from the trunk, his past comes rushing back.

Montage (2013)

“Montage” (2013, South Korea): This film jumps between the past and the present. 15 years ago, a girl was kidnapped and neither she nor her kidnapper were ever found. Now, someone is leaving flowers at the original crime scene and another person goes missing, reigniting the investigation.

These movies, like “Memories of Murder,” deliver suspenseful narratives that revolve around crime, justice, and the human capacity for both good and evil. They will surely keep you engaged and invested in their stories.

For more recommendations and reviews, click here.

The Mother: Niki Caro’s Action-Packed Motherhood

The Mother (2023) is an unapologetic celebration of larger-than-life action in the best Hollywood tradition, with a twist: the leading action hero is none other than Jennifer Lopez.

She plays a mom with special skills, just like Liam Neeson in his famous movies. Directed by Niki Caro, who also made the action-packed thriller Mulan(2020), this film is full of action and thrills.

It’s the female version of “Taken” or “Man on Fire” I would say.

The Mother: A One Woman Show from JLo

Jennifer Lopez, in her signature style, owns every frame she’s in. Her character’s name remains unspoken throughout the movie, but there’s no mistaking who she is.

From her high-fashion wilderness attire to her impeccable makeup that endures everything from childbirth to knife fights in the snow, her performance is so packed with star power that it’s impossible not to see her as the glamorous celebrity she is.

But this is not a drawback; on the contrary, it is part of the movie’s charm and a key reason to watch this action thriller directed by Niki Caro for Netflix.

The Journey: Lopez’s Transformation from Veteran to Protective Mother

The movie starts with the Mother, played by JLo, talking to some FBI agents. She warns them that two dangerous men, Adrian Lovell and Hector Álvarez, are after her.

But, the agents do not believe her. Soon, their safe place is attacked. During this attack, we find out that the Mother is expecting a baby.

She manages to escape and gives birth to a healthy baby girl. But, she decides to give her daughter, Zoe, away to ensure her safety. She trusts Agent Cruise to take care of Zoe and keep her safe. All is well for 12 years until Zoe is kidnapped.

The Mother and Agent Cruise rush to save her.

From Alaska to Cuba: The Captivating Landscapes

The film moves smoothly from the chilling landscapes of Alaska to the vibrant streets of Cuba, capturing a range of locales and moods that keep the audience hooked.

One of the highlights of The Mother is the exhilarating chase sequence through the old town of Havana, beautifully captured by DP Ben Seresin. The film’s action scenes rival the James Bond franchise, with a keen eye for detail and craftsmanship that attests to the high-quality production.

In Conclusion: A Must-See for Action and JLo Fans

Above all, The Mother is an enjoyable romp that takes itself just seriously enough. Lopez delivers a formidable one-woman show, adding layers of toughness and stoicism to her character. Yet it’s the personal journey she embarks on – from a military veteran to a criminal, to an FBI informant, and ultimately a protective mother – that gives the film its emotional core.

In conclusion, The Mother is a well-crafted action film that makes full use of Jennifer Lopez’s star power. It’s an enthralling watch, blending tension, action, and character involvement, ensuring that it’s more than just background noise.

If you’re a fan of Hollywood action or just love JLo, The Mother is a must-see.

Happy Mother’s Day 🙂

Read More Reviews here.

Suicide: A Look into an Israeli Crime Drama

Suicide (2014), is an intricate Israeli thriller full of suspense, starring Mali Levi, Dror Keren & Igal Naor. This was originally titled as ‘Hitabdut’.

Available at Netflix with English Subtitles.

Suicide Movie Poster

The thrill from “The Usual Suspects,” a hit Hollywood film of 1995, inspired Benny Fredman, the Israeli director, to make this daring film.

This is one of the first very first action thrillers in Israeli cinema history. Now, let’s get into the story.

The Mysterious Suicide: The Start of the Story

Set in Jerusalem, this thriller stars the stunning Mali Levi as Dafna. Her husband, the owner of a music store, is discovered dead. While it first appears that Oded, her husband, committed suicide, the keen and meticulous Police detective Romi Dor believes otherwise, suspecting a murder instead.

The detective suspects Dafne. Her husband owed lots of money to a scary gangster named Muki, who’s now threatening Dafna and her family.

Muki is a strange man who is obsessed with the story of William Tell and the apple. He has two scary helpers, one of whom has lost an eye. The story about how he lost it is really gross.

Oded’s Troubles: From Business to Gangsters

Oded, Dafna’s husband, had many problems. He had to deal with the tax police, dangerous men, and a business partner who was always worried. His mother-in-law didn’t respect him either. His wife, though brave and smart, didn’t know about his troubles. The movie has lots of bad people, and sometimes it feels like too much. You can still guess what’s going to happen.

Juggling Time: The Story’s Non-Linear Structure

The story manages to hold the viewer’s attention to the very end without diluting the suspense created by the highly intricate contexts.

The movie kicks off promisingly, but due to its non-linear narrative, it could potentially lead to some confusion.

Furthermore, the film includes unexpected time jumps that may complicate the audience’s understanding of Dafna’s emotions and intentions.

It could have been easier to understand if it was told in order or just from Dafna’s point of view. What I like most about this movie is the great camera shots at night.

The Final Verdict: Is It Worth the Ride?

This movie is a good choice if you want to watch a thriller. But, it can get too complicated sometimes. Don’t expect a commercial gripping thriller, this one is for the slow-burner fans.

Don’t think too much about the story. Just sit back and enjoy the movie. You may experience a different thriller from Israel.

‘Custody’: The Hits and Misses of a Venkat Prabhu Hunt

“Custody” is a 90s-set action thriller that weaves unexpected twists, humour, and charm while falling short in delivering a consistently engaging cinematic experience.

Plot: A Twisted Tale of Duty and Dilemmas

Our story unfolds in the late 90s, with our hero Shiva (Naga Chaitanya), a morally upright police constable. Chaitanya’s character name might be inspired by Ram Gopal Varma’s Shiva, starring Nagarjuna Akkineni as a young rebel.

His introduction isn’t a typical fight scene, he doesn’t flex muscles but halts a Chief Minister’s ( Priyamani) car to make way for an ambulance.

Next, we’re shown his love life, where he’s planning to elope with his quirky girlfriend, Revathi (Krithi Shetty). The plot thickens when Shiva, in a twist of fate, gets entangled with a dangerous criminal, Raju (Arvind Swami).

Now, Shiva’s mission is to escort Raju to court while dodging the corrupt police officer IG Nataraj (Sharat Kumar) and the entire state police force.

Sounds like quite the thrill ride, doesn’t it? But don’t get too excited;
It’s like expecting a giant fireworks show and only getting a sparkler.

End credits from Custody

Custody: A Hunt with Missed Opportunities

Venkat Prabhu always aims to mix comedy and thrills in his films. This is like trying to make a tricky cocktail, where the humour is a refreshing breeze on a hot day. However, in “Custody”, the comedy didn’t hit the mark as expected. Premji seems to have lost the special spark we used to see in other Venkat Prabhu films.

The movie takes some time getting to the main conflict, which can test the patience of the audience. It fumbles when it attempts to explore an emotional backstory, making it feel a tad cliched. The comedy track could also have been sharper, and the action sequences more impactful.

In simple words, it could have been more focussed to the core theme (like Maanadu) and it demands a more brutal editing.

Performances: The Best, The Better, and The Missed Opportunities

In all Venkat Prabhu films, the actors’ performances are the beating heart, and it’s no different in “Custody.” But there is a difference, in Maanadu, you can see a competition between STR & S J Suryah, but here you won’t.

Naga Chaitanya as Shiva wears the role of the morally upright constable. His attempt to portray a character is commendable. While he convincingly plays the underdog, there are moments where we feel a seasoned actor could have added more depth and intensity to the role. It’s not that he doesn’t bring his A-game, but the character of Shiva could have had more facets explored. There are places where the character’s emotional depth doesn’t quite resonate convincingly. Still, it is arguably one of his best performances yet.

Arvind Samy as Raju from Custody

Arvind Swami as Raju is truly the show-stealer in this film. He beautifully balances the serious nature of his character with unexpected elements of humour. This is where the movie triumphs – in its character portrayals. Aravind Swami’s portrayal of the hardened criminal is not just intense but also delightfully entertaining. He adds a dash of humour even in the most tense moments, which keeps the narrative engaging. His character is a testament to Swami’s versatility as an actor.

Krithi Shetty as Revathy does a good job within the limited scope of her role. Her performance is impressive, and she adds charm to the screen. While her character remains a “nice to have” one in the film to add tension, the screenplay does not offer her much to contribute significantly to the plot. However, she does manage to leave an impact despite being the love interest that does not directly influence the main plotline.

Sharath Kumar as IG Nataraj delivers a strong performance. He embraces the character of the corrupt police officer with ease and manages to exude both menace and class. His screen presence is strong and adds value to the film. But I really wish S J Suryah could have tried the role of I G Natraj.

In addition, the film boasts some starry cameo appearances (I don’t want to spoil the surprise) that are sure to thrill the audience. One such cameo is by Ramki, which, despite being cliched, adds a massy feel to the scene.

Aesthetics and Score: An Ode to the 90s

The technical aspects of the film are appreciable.

Rajeevan, the production designer, and Kathir, the cinematographer, did a great job making it feel like you’ve gone back in time.

Yuvan Shnkar Raja mixed in some of Ilaiyaraaja’s older hits that fit right in and sound even better than the new songs.

Lastly, Venkat Prabhu used some references to take you back to the 90’s . Like, the main guy’s name is ‘Shiva’, as I mentioned before, it’s from a popular 90’s movie. Premji’s sequences with Mani Ratnam’s Mouna Ragam music. 

Why Watch ‘Custody’: The Final Verdict

In a nutshell: So, should you watch “Custody”?

It’s an average thriller cop story with an intriguing plot, some thrilling twists, and memorable performances.

It may not be the best movie you’ll watch this weekend, but if you’re a fan of Arvind Swami, or classy villains, or if you’re in the mood for an okayish thriller with some twists and turns or gripping background score, then go for it.

But don’t expect too much, or you might be disappointed. Just sit back, grab your popcorn, and enjoy the Venkat prabhu’s Hunt.

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Dahaad: Sonakshi Sinha’s Mixed Bag of Thrills and Spills

“Dahaad,” Sonakshi sinha’s new Indian web series on Amazon Prime, showcases a serial killer’s tale set in a small town in Rajasthan.

Created by Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar, the series is inspired by Cyanide Mohan’s real-life story.

Mohan Kumar, a former primary school teacher in Dakhina Karnataka region, confessed to poisoning and killing at least 20 women between 2004 and 2009, stealing their jewellery afterward.

Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar combo’s last thriller, “Talaash” (2012), was my inspiration to watch “Dahaad” on its release day. Talaash(search) was a promising search but Dahaad(Roar) is not Roaring that much.

Dahaad Poster

Thrilling Plot with a dashing Villain

“Dahaad” follows the story of Anjali Bhaati, a sub-inspector in the small town of Mandawa, Rajasthan. She’s grappling with a disturbing pattern of women’s deaths that seem to be suicides but hint at something more sinister. These women all come from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds, facing domestic problems like dowry issues, compelling them to elope with lovers.

The common thread?

Their dead bodies are found in public washrooms.

Now, meet Anand Swarnakar, a charming literature professor, husband, and father, living a seemingly ordinary life. But beneath this façade, he’s the serial killer that Anjali is relentlessly pursuing. We, the audience, know this from the beginning, and our curiosity is piqued not by who the murderer is but by how Anjali will bring him to justice.

Who! Why! How! & Too Many Sub-Plots

Most thrillers tend to fall into the ‘whodunit’ category, while some focus on ‘how’ or ‘why.’

“Dahaad,” leaving viewers curious about ‘why’ or ‘how.’ Unfortunately, “Dahaad” seems to falter in this respect, failing to sufficiently intrigue or clarify these aspects.

Serial killer cyanide Mohan and his victims.

The script is very close to the original incidents in 2009, especially the sub-plots around the fringe Hindu outfits, Mohan Kumar’s targets, and Dakshina Kannada Hindutva experiments, and those layers were successful in convincing the audience about the intensity of rumours and propaganda communications.

The series incorporates themes of casteism and patriarchy, but these elements feel somewhat forced and disrupt the narrative flow. Anjali, played by Sonakshi Sinha, is from a lower caste, and her experiences often come into the picture.

However, the incorporation of these societal issues somewhat slows down the pace and diminishes the thrilling vibe of the series.

The series also delves into the personal lives of the cops, a typical trope in cop thrillers. For instance, Pargi, a demoted corrupt officer working with Anjali, grapples with his wife’s pregnancy, leading to some melodramatic moments reminiscent of Tamil and Telugu films. This subplot does not blend well with the main storyline, further diluting the series’ impact.

The Many Faces of Sonakshi Sinha

Sonakshi Sinha’s performance as sub-inspector Anjali Bhaati in “Dahaad” is commendable, but there are a few areas that could have been improved:

Sonakshi Sinha in Dahaad as SI Anjali

Emotional Range: While Sonakshi portrays the strength and determination of Anjali convincingly, there are moments where her emotional range seems limited. Key scenes that require a deep display of emotion, such as anger, fear, or grief, sometimes come off as underplayed.

Character Development: While this is more of a script issue than a performance flaw, Sonakshi’s character isn’t as fleshed out as it could be. We don’t get a thorough exploration of Anjali’s backstory or her motivations, which limits Sonakshi’s ability to bring depth to her character.

Dialogue Delivery: Although Sonakshi delivers most of her lines effectively, there are instances where her dialogue delivery could have been more impactful. Particularly during intense scenes, her delivery doesn’t always match the gravity of the situation.

Vijay Varma: A Masterclass in Acting

Vijay Varma’s performance in “Dahaad” is one of the highlights of the series. As Anand Swarnakar, a literature professor who is also a serial killer, he is captivating and terrifying in equal measure.

Vijay Varma in Dahaad as Anand

Character Portrayal: Vijay masterfully embodies the dual nature of his character – a respected teacher and family man on one hand, and a cold-blooded killer on the other. The ease with which he switches between these two personas is chilling and keeps the viewers engaged.

Emotional Range: Varma displays a wide emotional range in his portrayal of Anand. Whether he’s playing the caring teacher or the ruthless murderer, his performances are always believable and evoke strong reactions from the audience.

Physicality: Varma’s use of physicality to convey his character’s emotions is exceptional. His body language and facial expressions perfectly mirror the mental state of his character, adding an extra layer of realism to his performance.

Screen Presence: Varma has a commanding screen presence that draws the audience’s attention. Every scene he is in becomes more intense and gripping because of his performance.

Why You Should Watch “Dahaad”

Engaging Plot: “Dahaad” provides an engaging plot that revolves around a serial killer and a dedicated police officer’s pursuit. The blend of crime drama and social themes like “Love Jihad”, gender disparities, and the exploitation of women, makes it a thought-provoking watch.

Vijay Varma’s Performance: Vijay Varma delivers a stellar performance as the literature professor turned serial killer. His portrayal of the character is captivating and chilling, making it a highlight of the series.

Cinematography: The series’ cinematographer, Tanay Satam, skillfully captures the landscapes and settings of the small town in Rajasthan, encapsulating the raw essence and tension of the story. The utilisation of natural light and atmospheric hues further enhances the authentic feel of the series, contributing to its overall aesthetic appeal. 

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Afwaah: An Untold Indian Story from Sudhir Mishra

Afwaah Poster

Plot: Social Media, Power, and Prejudice

Before writing a review of “Afwaah,” directed by Sudhir Mishra, let me share a glimpse of the plot.

“Afwaah” unfolds in Sawalpur, a small town in Rajasthan, embroiled in political unrest and social chaos.

As the story begins, we meet Vicky Bana aka Vikram Singh (Sumeet Vyas), a politically ambitious man whose provocative speech ignites a chain reaction of violence and revenge.

When his fiancée Nivi (Bhumi Pednekar) discovers his bigotry, she chooses to escape, only to find herself caught in the crossfire of escalating rumors and hate crimes, fueled by the social media platform, Qwitter.

As Nivi and Rahab Ahmed (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), a stranger who steps in to help her, strive to evade the dangers, they become victims of ‘love jihad’ hatred.

The film takes a deep dive into the consequences of unchecked rumors and the disturbing ease with which social media can manipulate public opinion.

Unsettling Exploration of Politics

“Afwaah” is a deeply political film that exposes the dynamics of power, the manipulation of public opinion, and the devastating role that social media can play in fueling societal divisions.

At its heart, “Afwaah” focuses on politics and fake news. It shows how a rumor, when magnified by politics and social media, can disrupt lives. This can lead to deeper societal divisions.

The story delves into the misuse of social media. Power-hungry individuals exploit this platform to take advantage of existing prejudices. This can create an atmosphere of fear and hatred.

The film reveals an uncomfortable truth. A single, unverified piece of information can be used for political gain. It highlights a bleak reality of our times. Personal biases can be manipulated and used for political purposes.

“Afwaah” also draws attention to bystanders’ role. They can unknowingly contribute to this vicious cycle. This happens when they don’t question the information they share or consume.

The film is a strong and timely critique of politics and social media’s dark side. It urges us to question the information we consume and share.

Subtle yet Powerful Performances

Characters from Afwaah

The acting performances are nothing short of exemplary.

Sumeet Vyas delivers a powerful portrayal of Vicky, encapsulating the many facets of his character, from his raw ambition to his volatile emotions.

Bhumi Pednekar excels as Nivi, a strong, determined woman who’s unwilling to compromise her values. Pednekar’s performance is compelling and emotive, matching stride for stride with Siddiqui’s restrained yet impactful presence as Rahab.

Sharib Hashmi also stands out, leaving a lasting impression in the limited screen time he gets.

Why You Should Watch This Movie?

Director Sudhir Mishra’s Interview

“Afwaah” isn’t just a movie; it’s a social commentary on the state of our times. It pulls back the curtain on the dangerous manipulation of social media and reveals the damning consequences of rumors.

By presenting a story that is both compelling and relatable, “Afwaah” pushes us to question our own beliefs and biases.

It provokes us to examine our online behaviors and the information we choose to trust and propagate.

The film’s relevance in today’s digital age cannot be overstated. It’s an important reminder of the responsibility we all bear as participants in the digital world, where a single rumor can incite chaos, disrupt lives, and deepen societal divides.

Despite its gripping narrative and stellar performances, “Afwaah” isn’t without its flaws.

It’s not Flawless

Predictability: The film’s engaging and gripping storyline can’t hide the fact that viewers can easily predict some of its twists and turns early on, taking away the suspense this movie should ideally build.

Pacing: The first half of the film is quite fast-paced, which keeps viewers engaged. However, post-interval, the narrative seems to slow down, making some parts feel unnecessarily stretched out.

Language Usage: Moreover, while the dialogues in the Rajasthani dialect lend authenticity to the film’s setting, the excessive use of local slang might detract from the viewing experience for some.

Character Development: The film could have given some characters, especially the antagonist, a more nuanced portrayal to add depth to the narrative. As it stands, the antagonist’s motivations and actions often come off as one-dimensional.

Screenplay: There were moments where the screenplay could have been tighter, ensuring a more seamless progression of the storyline.

In conclusion, “Afwaah” is an important and timely film that explores the dark underbelly of social media and its potential to manipulate and divide.

Bolstered by compelling performances and a thought-provoking narrative, it’s a film that deserves to be seen, discussed, and pondered over. And perhaps, it might make us think twice before we click ‘share’ the next time.

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Jude Anthany’s 2018 – A Stirring Story of Survival With Some Clichés

“2018 – Everyone is a Hero”, directed by Jude Anthany Joseph, is a testament to the power of human resilience in the face of a calamity. This gripping drama, based on the Kerala floods of 2018, showcases a whole community coming together to overcome adversity, proving that heroes exist in every corner of society.

2018 Malayalam Movie Title Card

The Emotional Journey Through the Floods

Jude Anthany Joseph’s direction and Chaman Chakko’s editing strike the right balance between portraying the harsh realities of the situation and the uplifting moments of heroism and unity. The film is elevated by its technical excellence, especially in the flood scenes, which are both visually impressive and emotionally stirring.

The film’s script and story, crafted by Jude Anthany Joseph, are undoubtedly the backbone of 2018 – Everyone is a Hero. The narrative weaves together numerous characters, each with their own unique arc, capturing the essence of a community uniting in the face of catastrophe. The film’s strength lies in its ability to showcase the ordinary lives of people, their petty quarrels, and their extraordinary transformation when faced with adversity.

As the story unfolds, we witness an emotional rollercoaster that peaks during the intense rescue operations and heart-wrenching moments of loss.

2018 – Everyone is a Hero: A Gripping Story with Room for Improvement

However, I must point out a few areas where the script could use some improvement. The first 40 minutes of the film is laden with clichés and predictable sequences, reminiscent of old Tamil movies brimming with “Paasam” and “Pride.” Asif Ali’s love track and Tovino’s side track at the beginning feel like they’re filled with immature writing and clichés.

A more balanced and realistic portrayal of characters in the initial phase would have added greater depth to the story. At this stage, it’s all too easy to predict the upcoming events in the second-half. The film’s scripting and characters brings to mind Major Ravi scripts. I truly hope that, one day, Mollywood will get a survival thriller without much clichéd melodrama.

Secondly, the pacing of the film could have been more consistent. Although the first half sets up the characters in a very slow-steady pace and the film experiences a few dips in the second half. Some scenes feel stretched, while others are rushed, which affects the overall flow of the narrative. Tightening the script in these areas could have improved the film’s pacing and made for a more immersive experience. Lastly, the film could have delved deeper into the political and social aspects surrounding the disaster. Instead, it primarily focuses on human spirit and heroism, albeit with a few clichéd characters and events. Additionally, more thorough research could have enabled the scriptwriters to explore the underlying issues and challenges faced during the crisis more effectively, adding depth and relevance to the story, rather than resorting to clichéd melodrama.

An Exhibition of Remarkable Performances

One of the major highlights of 2018 – Everyone is a Hero lies in the powerhouse performances of its stellar cast. The movie boasts of an ensemble of talented actors, including Kunchacko Boban, Asif Ali, Tovino Thomas, Naren, Kalaiyarasan, Vineeth Srinivasan, Aparna Balamurali, and Lal. Each of them has left an indelible mark on the screen, bringing forth the raw emotion, resilience, and courage of their characters.


Kunchacko Boban, with his nuanced portrayal of an everyday hero, perfectly encapsulates the essence of an ordinary family man and a responsible government official during calamities. Asif Ali’s performance as a reluctant volunteer provides a sense of relatability, displaying the evolution of an individual in the face of adversity. Tovino Thomas delivers a gripping performance, capturing the pain, loss, and determination of a man fighting against all odds to save his people. I would say, you can see a more humanised version of Minnal Murali in 2018.

Naren, Kalaiyarasan, and Vineeth Srinivasan play pivotal roles in the narrative, showcasing the diversity of human emotions and responses to the disaster. Their acting prowess breathes life into the story, ensuring that every character contributes to the overall impact of the film.

However, it does fall short in its representation of female characters, who are often shown as helpless and in need of rescue, despite the fact that many women played crucial roles in the recovery efforts. Aparna Balamurali’s character treis to balance it but her character doesn’t have much depth to the narrative, making it just another helpless female character.

2018: A Watchable Tribute to the Unsung Heroes

In conclusion, 2018 – Everyone is a Hero is a compelling story that showcases the best of human resilience and unity, but it could have been elevated further with a few improvements in the script and pacing. Nevertheless, the film remains an engaging and moving experience that will surely resonate with audiences.

“2018 Everyone is a Hero” serves as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there are heroes among us, ready to lend a helping hand.

Similarly, this movie demonstrates that with great content and quality production, there’s no need for promotional gimmicks. The theatre was packed for the second show.

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Vyavastha: Anand Ranga’s Legal Drama Lacks a Depth

I was searching for a thriller webseries and chose Vyavastha a Zee5 webseries based on its intriguing one-liner:

“On their wedding night, Yamini (Hebah Patel) is arrested for her husband’s murder. Vamsi (Karthik Rathnam), a young lawyer who cares for her, takes her case and tries to save her from Chakraborty (Sampath Raj), a crooked and influential lawyer in the city.”

Sounds interesting, right?

However, although it looks great on paper, the on-screen result is a cliched webseries that follows Vamsi as he tries to prove Yamini’s innocence while battling a corrupt lawyer.

Vyavastha webseries suffers from poor execution and weak scripting, making it worth watching only once if you’re interested in courtroom dramas.

Vyavastha poster

Poor Direction and Below Average Screenplay

Director Anand Ranga establishes a promising premise with a strong foundation for an engaging legal battle. The first episode reminds me of the 2020 Netflix series “Raat Akeli Hei.”

However, from the second episode, I realized that the series is a mediocre attempt with a template screenplay filled with some predictable and insipid events.

A scene from Vyavastha

The intensity and emotional depth are lacking, but to some extend, Karthick Rathnam’s performance helps balance these shortcomings. The subplots and conflicts, which could have enriched the story, are underdeveloped and lose momentum as the series progresses.

Vyavastha starts with a bang, but then it’s just a humming from episode 2 to episode 7, and finally, in episode 8, you can see a rushed conclusion that may also leave you unsatisfied.

I believe that after the first episode, you can directly watch episode 8, and it won’t make much difference even if you skip the episodes in between.

Performances & Technical Aspects

Karthik Rathnam impresses as Vamsi, a lawyer committed to justice, while Sampath Raj’s ruthless and greedy lawyer Chakraborty boasts a strong presence. Hebah Patel provide a decent performance within her characters’ limitations, and it was a surprise to see Kamna Jethmalini after a gap, nothing more to say about her character.

Hebah Patel

Anil Bandari’s cinematography is adequate, but the law firm sequences could have used a more polished presentation. There isn’t much to say about the art department, as it’s even worse. The courtroom setup is unconvincing. Vyavastha is suffocating at multiple places because of thsi poor technical aspects.

Naresh Kumaran’s background score does its job but isn’t exceptional, and it doesn’t leave a lasting impact.

Reasons to Watch Vyavastha webseries:

  • Engaging premise and intriguing plot (But spoiled from E02-E07))
  • Strong performances from Karthik Rathnam and Sampath Raj
  • Some well-written dialogues

Reasons to Skip Vyavastha webseries:

  • Poor execution and weak screenplay
  • Underdeveloped subplots and conflicts
  • Engagement is limited to the first and last episodes.

Despite a solid plot and commendable performances, the series falls short due to poor execution and a weak screenplay.

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