Happy new year! A brand new year of movies is upon us, and though the month before Chinese New Year is generally pretty dry at the cinemas, there are a number of gems to be had nonetheless.
There’s Korean crime thriller The Outlaws, Chinese wuxia epic The Thousand Faces Of Dunjia, actioners starring Liam Neeson (The Commuter), Chris Hemsworth (12 Strong) and Gerard Butler (Den Of Thieves), and a couple of critically-acclaimed dramas based on real-life events (The Battle Of The Sexes and Darkest Hour).
Oh, and if you’re a fan of the Maze Runner franchise, the final film in the trilogy (Maze Runner: The Death Cure) is out this month too.
The Outlaws (Jan 4)
Cast: Ma Dong-seok, Yoon Kye-sang, Jo Jae-yun, and Im Hyung-joon
Director: Kang Yoon-sung
A turf war between a local gang and the Heuksapa gang from China erupts in the Chinatown area of Seoul. Tasked with solving the problem, a fearless police officer sets up an operation to nab all the 32 members of the gangs within 24 hours.
Why you should watch it: It’s based on a true case called the “Heuksapa Incident” in 2007, and the trailer promises a punchy, fast-paced gangster thriller, with Ma Dong-seok stealing the show as the police officer.
The Thousand Faces Of Dunjia (Jan 4)
Cast: Aarif Lee, Wu Bai, Ni Ni, Dongyu Zhou and Da Peng
Director: Yuen Woo Ping
A group of warriors with supernatural abilities band together to battle an ancient monster that threatens to destroy the world.
Why you should watch it: It’s produced and written by Tsui Hark, and directed by Yuen Woo Ping. If you’re a wuxia (martial arts fantasy) movie fan, there really is no better reason to watch this remake of 1982 classic film The Miracle Fighters, which, incidently, was also directed by Yuen.
The Commuter (Jan 11)
Cast: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Sam Neill and Elizabeth McGovern
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
An insurance salesman who rides the train every day to go home is forced by a mysterious stranger to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger on his train before the last stop. In the process, he is caught up in a criminal conspiracy that threatens the lives of his family and everyone on the train.
Why you should watch it: Thankfully, this isn’t a movie about our KTM Komuter train service, or we’d have to put up with endless delays while waiting to watch the movie. It has Liam Neeson doing another Taken-esque action movie, which, frankly speaking, we’ll never get tired of watching.
Den Of Thieves (Jan 18)
Cast: Gerard Butler, 50 Cent, Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr and Evan Jones
Director: Christian Gudegast
A corrupt Los Angeles cop is hellbent on bringing down a notoriously successful bank robbery crew who is planning an “impossible” heist to rob the impenetrable Federal Reserve Bank in Los Angeles.
Why you should watch it: The trailer paints this as a good old fashioned cops vs robbers heist movie, but also hints at a much more complex and gritty plot, with lots of action, gunfights, car chases, and Gerard Butler chewing the scenery as a corrupt cop hellbent on bringing down a gang of robbers. Count us in.
12 Strong (Jan 18)
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Navid Negahban and Trevante Rhodes
Director: Nicolai Fuglsig
Based on Doug Stanton’s non-fiction novel Horse Soldiers, this film follows an elite team of soldiers that is sent to Afghanistan after the Sept 11 tragedy to help wage an unconventional battle against Taliban forces.
Why you should watch it: We’ve seen war movies with soldiers on horseback before, but never one set in the modern era. The true story of a group of soldiers who went into battle against the Taliban on horseback is intriguing enough for us to go watch this. And hey, it’s got Thor.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Jan 25)
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Patricia Clarkson and Dexter Darden.
Director: Wes Ball
WICKED has taken Thomas’ life, memories and friends. But against the odds, Thomas beat the Maze, and survived the Scorch. Now, he must find a cure to a deadly disease known as the Flare.
Why you should watch it: If you know what WICKED, the Maze, the Scorch, and The Flare means, then you should definitely watch this, just to see how the Maze Runner trilogy ends. If you haven’t a clue what they mean, then, well, this is the closest thing we’ve got to a blockbuster this month, so it’s probably still worth a watch.
Battle Of The Sexes (Jan 25)
Cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue and Austin Stowell
Director: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Billie Jean King is one of the greatest female tennis players of all time. Bobby Riggs was a former world tennis champion. In 1973, the two squared off in what was one of the most watched televised sports events of all time.
Why you should watch it: The movie has gotten rave reviews from critics, with praise for Emma Stone and Steve Carell’s performances. It’s also an intriguing look back at one of the most defining sporting moments in history, and what transpired off-court, in the players’ lives.
Darkest Hour (Jan 31)
Cast: Gary Oldman, Ben Mendelsohn, John Hurt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Lily James.
Director: Joe Wright
It is Britain’s darkest hour. In the early days of World War II, France is about to fall to the Nazis. The fate of Western Europe now rests upon the shoulders of newly-appointed Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who has to decide whether to negotiate with Hitler to save his country, or make a stand and fight for their lives.
Why you should watch it: We all know how the story turns out. Heck, we’ve even heard Churchill’s iconic, “We will fight on the beaches” speech before. But this doesn’t change the fact that this is a powerful movie made about a powerful man in a very important period in the history of mankind. If anything, watch it for the acting; Gary Oldman is already being tipped for Oscar’s Best Actor for his role as Churchill.
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