Monthly Archives: January 2023

Film Review: Ip Man 2

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ip Man 2

Having fled the village of Fo Shan, Ip Man (Donnie Yen) and his family end up in British Hong Kong, where the master plans to open a school to train students. He gets a good deal on a rooftop studio and sets up shop. But no one is coming, and he is finding it hard to make ends meet. To complicate matters, his wife Wing-sing (Lynn Xiong) is pregnant with their second child. Just when things seem bleak indeed, Ip Man begins to acquire students, although they aren’t always able to pay the school fees. But at least it’s a start.

Trouble soon arrives in the form of the other martial arts masters in Hong Kong, led by Master Hung (Sammo Kam-Bo Hung). They summon Ip Man and lay down their rules. First, he needs to prove himself to them through battle. He has to stand on a table and fight all comers until the incense burns down or until he loses. He accepts the challenge and proves himself.

At this time, the Chinese are very much under the thumb of their imperial masters, the British. Some of

them are less than respectful… or honorable. A British boxer known as the Twister (Darren Shahlavi) comes to town to participate in an exhibition of Western-style boxing. But the cocky fighter wants to show the Chinese how superior he is to them, and interrupts the display of the various schools to challenge them. It’s on! But can the Chinese win, with the odds stacked against them, and the crooked police supporting the British masters?

The second film in the series sees Ip Man and his family relocated to Hong Kong and in much more desperate conditions than the first film. Still, he is determined to provide for his family, at the same time maintaining his principles. There is a casualty from the first film, Ip Man’s friend Quan, who was shot in the head by the Japanese and is not the same man. I liked this one as much as the first, great fight scenes, and I love Ip Man’s wife, who doesn’t want to disturb his focus on this very important match just to let him know she has gone into labor. Look at the end for a small cameo by a little guy who will become the real Ip Man’s most famous student! Looking forward to the next film. I’ll give this one 4.5 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #98 – The Menu

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Menu

Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) invites Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) to dine at a very exclusive restaurant on a small island. This restaurant is so exclusive that reservations are hard to git, and only so many people can dine that at a time. Margot considers herself lucky… until she learns that she wasn’t even Tyler’s first choice for dinner companion and her name isn’t even on the guest list. Well, she’s there now, might as well make the best of it, even if the other diners seem rather hoity-toity to her.

Granted, Tyler and the other diners seem to know a lot more about fine dining than Margot does, and about the chef who is preparing this sumptuous repast for their delight, Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes). The Chef’s staff is extremely devoted and very well-trained, including Elsa (Hong Chau), who acts as hostess to the guests.  However, as the meal progresses and the night advances, all is not as it appears to be. And there seems to be some uncertainty as to whether anyone will make it out of there alive…

I’ve been wanting to see this movie after I watched the first trailer, and I was not disappointed. At first I thought it was a dark comedy, but don’t be fooled – this is indeed horror. I thought it was well-written, with a good cast, including John Leguizamo, whom I love. Definitely some familiar faces here. This film pokes fun at the so-called gourmands who think fine dining has to include foams and fancy swoops across the plate, etc. I’ll probably see something I missed the next time I watch. I left the film being rather satisfied indeed. I will give it 4.5 Stars.

Film Review: Curse of the Golden Flower

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Curse of the Golden Flower

All is not well in the Imperial Palace. The Emperor’s second wife (Gong Li) is ill with what the Emperor (Chow Yun-Fat) has diagnosed as anemia. For the past ten years, she has been taking prescribed medicine every two hours. But recently, another ingredient has been introduced to her medicine, one that may do her irreparable harm if continued.

Crown Prince Wan (Ye Liu) was born of the Emperor’s late first wife. The new Empress has born two sons of her own, Jai (Jay Chou) and Yu (Junjie Qin). However, Wan has been having an affair with the Empress. He is also interested in Chan (Man Li), the daughter of the Imperial Doctor. The Emperor intends to remove Wan as Crown Prince in favor of Jai, little suspecting that his second son wishes to avenge the wrong being done to his mother. But these secrets are just the tip of the iceberg for these imperial family.


This opulent film is set during the Tang Dynasty, a very ostentatious time in Chinese history. A time in which male domination was complete, as can be seen in the way the women in the story are treated, even the Empress. So much deceit, so many lies. This story is a veritable historic soap opera, based on a played called “Thunderstorm”. The sets are incredibly beautiful, with a fantastic eye for detail, including but not limited to the sets and costumes. The action is exciting and well choreographed. Altogether a gripping film. I especdially enjoyed seeing Ye Liu as Crown Prince Wan, as I loved him The Chef, the Actor, and the Scoundrel.  I give this film 4.5 Stars.

Wednesday Briefs: January 25, 2023

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #59 (12.4) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Call me unobservant, at least where women were concerned, but until that moment, I hadn’t noticed two things about Ethan’s sister. The first was that she was dressed rather nicely for first thing in the morning, at least when compared to how I remembered the way she dressed when she stayed with Ethan and me. The second was that she was wearing more make-up than I’d ever seen her use before. Not that I’m saying she was in full clown mode or anything like that. To be honest, it was minimal but tasteful… and I found myself wondering what Ethan might look like with make-up.

Note to self: Explore that possibility at a later date.

“I’ll get that!”

Click here to read the entire Brief:

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Film Review: Ip Man

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ip Man

Fo Shan is a Chinese city renowed for its kung fu masters and their schools. The strongest kung fu master is Ip Man (Donnie Yen), who leads a quiet life with his wife and son and is much respected by the city. Possessing a strong sense of honor, he isn’t one to stand aside when some punks from up north come to town intent on starting their own school and beating up the other kung fu masters. Ip Man quickly teaches the bullies a lesson.


But the peace of Fo Shan is destroyed when the Japanese occupy the city, and much of the city’s population is decimated. Those who are left struggle to survive, including Ip Man, whose beautiful home has been confiscated. Having a family to feed, Ip Man goes to work shoveling coal. One day the Japanese arrive with a proposal, their interpreter being Ip Man’s friend Li (Ka-Tung Lam). Those who are willing to fight the Japanese in bouts of kung fu will receive a bag of rice if they win. These fights are for the Japanese general, Miua (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi), whose second-in-command, Colonel Sato (Tenma Shibuya) is a sadistic, bloodthirsty man with no regard for human life. When one of Ip Man’s friends, Lin (Xing Yu) suddenly disappears, Ip Man realizes he has been killed by the Japanese. He requests to fight ten men. But when he wins, he doesn’t take the rice, as that was never the reason for him to fight.


General Miura wishes Ip Man to fight again, but he is nowhere to be found. And Li says he doesn’t 

know where he is, no matter how much they hurt him. But things come to a head, when Ip Man realizes he has to take a stand. He begins by teaching the factory workers at his friend Quan’s (Simon Yam) cotton mill how to defend themselves. And then he agrees to fight General Miura, although Li warns him that if he should win, Sato will kill him.

This film was recommended to me by a co-worker and I loved it! Everything about the film is good, from acting to story to direction to cinematography. I love the fight scenes! Ip Man is loosely based on an actual kung fu master, one of whose disciples was actor Bruce Lee. There are three more films in this series and I intend to watch and review them all. Ip Man is a great character. I love the scenes with his family, showing that he isn’t necessarily perfect and has room to improve, which of course he does. I highly recommend this film and give it 4.5 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #97 – A Ghost Story, Don’t Panic, The Room (2019)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

A Ghost Story

C (Casey Affleck) and M (Rooney Mara) are a young married couple very much in love. Their only source of conflict is the house they live in. M wants to move, and is researching new residences, but C is opposed to the idea. However, a tragedy makes that a moot point. Afterward, C returns to the house as a white-sheeted ghost, and tries to reconnect with his bereft wife.



This is one ghost story that actually is about the ghost and not about the living. C is more haunted than 

anyone, most of whom can’t see him. It’s about loss and it’s about time, as C sticks with the house, for better or for worse, and follows it through not just multiple owners but other changes as well. It’s sad and intense, and not what one would call scary, unless you’re afraid of the future and what it might hold. Most of it is silent. The soundtrack is lovely. I don’t think I would watch it again.  Both Affleck and Mara give good performances. I’ll give this film 3 Stars.

Don’t Panic

This 1987 Mexican film about a 17 year old boy who is gifted a Ouija board for his birthday is so bad, I gave it up just a little ways in. Bad acting, bad script, bad sound quality… I would just avoid this one altogether




The Room (2019)

Matt (Kevin Janssesns) and Kate (Olga Kurylenko) buy  a house that needs a little fixing up, having been on the market for a while. In the course of renovations, Matt discovers a secret room and does some exploring of his own. To his amazement, he figures out that if you wish for something while in that room, it appears. He fills the room with all kinds of things, including an original Van Gogh!


Kate is astounded at everything in this room and doesn’t buy Matt’s explanation of how it got there. But he tells her to try it, to wish for something. So she wishes for a thousand dollars… and it appears! Amazed, she asks for more and more. The couple go crazy, treating themselves to everything they can think of. But there is one thing Kate wants that they have never been able to have. One day, while Matt is out, Kate wishes for a baby. And the trouble begins…


This is an interesting variation on the usual genie granting wishes story, with of course the moral being 


be careful what you wish for cause you might surely get it. As everyone knows, magic comes with a price, including this magic. The film is very well shot and the actors do a great job. It keeps your attention and keeps you wondering what is going on. While we never learn why the room works the way it does, we definitely see the consequences.


This movie had me guessing what was going to happen as Matt begins to discover more and more of the truth, but can’t seem to do anything to control what Kate has unleased. Definitely worth the watch. I give this one 4 Stars.

Book Review: Chainsaw Man, Vol 2 by Tatsuki Fukimoto

Chainsaw Man, Vol 2     

Author: Tatsuki Fujimoto

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 1, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Denji agrees to help Power retrieve her cat Meowy from the Bat Devil, for which she has promised him he could touch her breasts. Little did he suspect that she has led him into a trap, and he has been promised to the devil as a snack! But Denji is determined to get his reward, and he’ll do what it takes to defeat this devil! Denji isn’t the only one who was lied to, as Power and Meowy find themselves in dire straits themselves! Denji saves them only to run up against the Bat Devil’s dismayed girlfriend. She tells him to run and leave the other two behind, but he has a goal, one that doesn’t include sacrificing Power.

Afterward, Denji doesn’t hold a grudge, despite Power’s apparent betrayal. But attaining his reward isn’t as fulfilling as he anticipated it would be. What’s up with that? In Aki’s home, recuperating, Denji receives a dressing down from Aki, who reminds him he has to do as he is told. When Makima sends Power to live there too, Aki asks Makima why he gets all the dangerous ones.

Makima asks Denji why he is so down and he confesses that the dream he sought for so long wasn’t what he expected. Then she makes him an unexpected offer – if he can kill the Gun Devil, he can ask anything of her he wants… anything. She will grant him one wish. With motivation like that, how can Denji fail?

Apparently the Gun Devil appeared at the same time as a major terrorist attack in the US… and the death toll was staggering, about 1.2 million people. But the Devil hasn’t been seen since. How are they to find it? Apparently through the pieces of flesh it’s left behind, which if they accumulate enough of them will try to regenerate and through that they will find it. Of course, Denji is totally onboard for this, considering his feelings for Makima. She’s different from Power, as he’s come to realize that not all females are the same.

Aki’s group of devil hunters, including Denji and Power, head off to a local hotel, which has requested a devil be exterminated.

I am enjoying this series so far, and have decided to wait to watch more of the anime until I get further along in the manga. Denji is such a sweet innocent/terrifying devil. He learns a valuable lesson in this volume, namely that not everything you think you want will turn out the way you think it will. I like watching his interactions with the others – Makima, Power, and even Aki, who can’t stand him. Well, he says he doesn’t, I don’t totally believe him. The devil at the hotel was creepy and funny both! Looking forward to seeing more of the hunt for the Gun Devil.

Wednesday Briefs: January 17, 2023

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon:Chapter One Hundred Twenty-one by Cia Nordwell

“Don’t kill me, don’t kill me! I-I can help you. Mereval, I know where she is. She commed us the orders, so I put a tracker on her signal, just in case.”  

Garjah’s smile was a thing of sadistic beauty. “I didn’t train you, but at least you aren’t that stupid. Where’s the tracker?”  


“Essell?” Garjah wanted me to get it? Oh, orderer of the beast and all that. Stars! It was that, or he’d been able to smell that the man really had soiled himself because I was not happy I had to dig around in his pants


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Saturday is Horror Day #96 – Cannibal Holocaust

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Cannibal Holocaust

A documentary crew disappears in the Amazon rainforest. Professor Monroe (Robert Kerman) heads up a rescue mission to find them. Following their trail, they discover the footage that was taken by the missing film crew. And watching that film leads to an understanding of what happened to the four filmmakers.

This film is told in documentary style, but of course it isn’t true. However, what it is is pretty disturbing and very violent. And from what I read, although no actors were harmed during the making of this film, and all the blood is fake, but apparently some animals did actually die. Keep in mind this was made in 1980, so I’ll guess the standard disclaimers of no animals being harmed was not a thing.

Watching the found footage, there is little doubt as to why these people met the fate they did. What is

less clear is why they did what they did. There is a lot of savagery here – and not all on the part of the cannibals. Of course there is cannibalism, but also rape, torture, murder… This is a difficult film to watch, and it’s not what I would call entertaining. It’s truly horror for the sake of horror. Know this going into it – there are no happy endings here. Makes me wonder what The Green Inferno is like, which is mentioned in this film more than once. Not the film, but I guess a place.

At any rate, if you have a strong stomach and want to see why this film was originally banned give it a try. I’ll give it 3 Stars but won’t ever watch it again. Once was enough.

Book Review: Overlord, Vol 3 by Kugana Maruyama

Overlord, Vol 3     

Author: Kugane Maruyama

Publisher: Yen On

American release date:  January 31, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Fantasy Adventure /288 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ainz quickly realizes there is a lot he needs to learn about this world he finds himself in. Not everything is exactly the same as in Yggdrasil. It’s important that he learn about the differences,  to know what or who else is out there, what their strength is and what their intentions are. Also, are any of his fellow guild members possibly out there? He sends out Sebas and Solution and Shalltear on a mission – “capture humans who can use magic or martial arts, but aim for people whose disappearance won’t be an issue, like criminals.”

Capturing a very gullible fish, Shalltear learns the whereabouts of a bandits’ hideout and sends the others back to Nazarick, and moves forward, accompanied by two of her vampire brides. When she arrives at the hideout, everything seems to be straight forward…until it isn’t. And something that should not be possible happens…

Back in Nazarick, Ainz sees to his dismay that on the list of NPCs, Shalltear’s name has gone from white to black. This could mean rebellion, or it could mean mind control. But how can that even be? Why would Shalltear, always so devoted to him, rebel? But conversely, who could possibly control her mind? He has to find out.

Accompanied by Albedo, Ainz returns to E-Rantel at the request of an adventurer’s guild. Seems they have a bit of a vampire problem. Ainz promises to handle the problem himself, since he already knows what is afood, but one of the members, who is clearly jealous of AInz, wants to accompany him. Ainz warns him to come at his own peril. Meanwhile Albedo has found Shalltear, who has indeed been mind-controlled and is now dangerous to Ainz and Nazarick.

This volume is primarily centered on Shalltear’s involuntary rebellion, and the inevitable battle between Ainz and Shalltear – Player vs NPC. Ainz will have to use every skill he knows to win against such a strong being as Shalltear. He has no choice. The battle itself is amazing, watching all the various skills displayed on both sides. Who will win? That would be a spoiler.

Great volume, looking forward to more.