Connect with us


Breakout Brothers | NYAFF 2021 Review



A still from Breakout Brothers [Mandarin Motion Pictures].

Films based on jailbreaks are nothing new – who can forget The Great Escape (1963) or indeed the television show Prison Break – but Breakout Brothers (2020), the second film from Hong Kong director Ho Pong Mak, is quite a refreshing change.

Focusing on three inmates in particular the film interweaves themes of loyalty, filial piety and altruism.

Chan Ho-Ching (Louis Cheung), the lead protagonist and small time crook, views his stint in prison as a ‘vacation’, arguing that he has it easier than people on the outside as he has three meals a day, a bed to sleep on and doesn’t have to pay rent.

However, after finding out that his mother is unwell and in urgent need of a kidney transplant from a direct relative, he drives the escape attempt and quickly recruits Mak (Adam Tin-Nam Pak), the newest inmate, who was set up by one of his colleagues and framed for accepting bribes. Mak has become a target for Big Roller (Patrick Tam) and Scar (Justin Cheung), the two most powerful inmates, and fears for his life if he remains incarcerated.

The duo are soon joined by Big Roller through necessity: Big Roller’s den is the vital to their escape route. As chance would have it, Chan knows that Big Roller’s long-thought dead daughter is actually alive, and Big Roller agrees to Chan’s plan if he can join them in order to reunite with his daughter before her wedding.

A still from Breakout Brothers [Mandarin Motion Pictures].

Breakout Brothers [Mandarin Motion Pictures]

Motivated by three just causes – saving a relative, righting a wrongful imprisonment and reuniting with an estranged child – you find yourself rooting for Chan, Mak and Big Roller.

This is testament to the leads’ performances, as well as a tight script from writer Edmond Wong. The characters are all suitably likeable or unlikeable, and Louis Cheung in particular impresses as the charismatic Chan.

What lets the film down is the lack of intensity. There are a handful of moments that leave you grimacing, particularly when Mak finds himself facing Scar, including a stomach-churning moment involving a homemade shiv and a fingernail, but overall it is very tame.

Warden Tang (Tak-Bun Wong) – dubbed by Chan as the most powerful man in the prison – doesn’t come across as particularly threating or menacing. Indeed his officers appear to let the inmates manage themselves, standing aside during disagreements and thanking them for their cooperation after imploring: “Bosses, please calm down.”

This could be skewed due to my perspective as a British viewer, but I would have appreciated it more if the Warden had a more vicious streak, in the manner of the malicious Piscatella from television show Orange is the New Black. The poptastic soundtrack and elements of comic book styling further add to the mildness of the film.

That said, Breakout Brothers is an enjoyable film and short at only 88 minutes. While it won’t leave you blown away if you’re a fan of prison-based dramas, it will certainly leave you smiling.

Breakout Brothers was reviewed as part of the New York Asian Film Festival 2021 where it had its North American premiere.


UK-based movie blogger with a passion for The Lord of the Rings, international films and Cary Grant’s filmography.

Continue Reading
Click to comment
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest



Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is a deadly serious comedy film about friendship and arcade games that’ll surely put a smile on your face and tug at your heartstrings. Set at Bip Bip Bar, it tells the story of a group of unlikely heroes aka friends who help Kim Cannon Arm attempts to be the first in the world to play Gyruss an arcade machine from the early 80s for 100 consecutive hours. The film showcases these heroic outsiders with dreams about becoming legendary world record holders. 

Watching Kim and his friends embark on this quest was certainly like preparing for a marathon as Kim’s friends make him get an annual physical checkup from the doctor, It was easy to get swept up and share their excitement. Director Mads Hedegaard introduces these bunch of endearing misfits who truly make up a kind and supportive community. We learn several details about each of Kim’s friends including careers, favourite games, bands, family life and plenty more. Each are unique and the Documentary made me feel like I’d known this group my whole life. 

The film is also able to capture the gaming atmosphere as it blasts through the 80s with synths and neon lights, which created a stylised, exhilarating journey into Kim’s brain and the world of Gyruss. Montages and Iron maiden tracks also feature and “I Need a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler features, which to me represented each member and the story which was ultimately made for pure entertainment. 

Themes of achieving success is a presence in this documentary as it has scenes filled with pure joy, sentimental bliss and deep philosophical moments of the loss of a friend and acceptance. As we watch Kim make his way through hours and hours of his challenge we see his friends are always with him for comfort and to help keep track. They play Iron maiden music to boost his moral but its clear to me that with friends like this, Kim has already won.

Continue Reading


Last Night in Soho – It Lends Itself To The Big Screen Experience That We Have All Craved



Edgar Wright returns to his British roots with his love letter to 1960’s London…

When the trailer was first released for Last Night in Soho, it looked far removed from anything that Edgar Wright had ever directed and that is proved with the final product. Wright perfectly captures the intense, chaotic energy that is London with its somewhat ‘seedy’ underbelly. It feels like a love letter from Wright to a location that is clearly very close to his heart.

At times thrilling, at times exciting and at times frightening, Last Night in Soho never felt boring nor did it outstay it’s welcome. The screenplay is excellent with some vintage moments of Wright’s comedic style and the soundtrack is fantastic, perfectly reflecting 1960’s in London.

Thomasin McKenzie in Last Night in Soho

When the audience is transported back to London in the 1960’s through the eyes of our protagonist, Eloise (McKenzie), the iconography really does make it feel as though you’re stood in the middle of Soho in the 60’s. Certainly a wonderful, and at times unsettling, experience for both the audience and our lead character.

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Sandy and Matt Smith as Jack in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release. Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / Focus Features

As for the cast, they all fit perfectly into their designated roles. Youngsters Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy are our leading ladies and they perfect their roles to a tee. McKenzie goes from strength to strength with every role she does and Anya Taylor-Joy is beginning to find herself as the go to actress for horror. It will certainly be interesting to see the types of performances these two actresses put in for their next films.

Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith in Last Night in Soho.

Matt Smith is also very good here, his career trajectory since Doctor Who has been a very interesting one and he really is beginning to find his feet now. Acting greats Terence Stamp and the late great Diana Rigg play a crucial part in the films proceedings. It was wonderful to see Rigg back on the big screen for one final time.

The last ten minutes did begin lose the immersion that was felt during the rest of the runtime however the twist is a very good one. It’s great to see Wright experimenting more with his filmmaking and it would be wonderful to see more of this style from him, he is clearly a filmmaker who is not adverse to taking risks with his craft. Definitely catch this in cinemas if you get the opportunity, it certainly lends itself well to the big screen experience that we have all craved!

Last Night in Soho is released in UK cinemas on the 29th of October.

Continue Reading


Mothers of the Revolution – They’ve Challenged World Leaders, Altered The Course Of History And Truly Inspired Millions



Mothers of the Revolution tells the story of one of the longest protests in history. Between 1981 and 2000, thousands of women from around the world came together at Greenham Common to take a rightful stand against nuclear proliferation. This remarkable group of fearless women were shunned by the press and the media. Director Briar March reveals the women as the cold war heroes they truly were, she tells the story of these women through their eyes and though reenactments as they persisted arrests, condemnation and scorn. 

In the early 1980s, a young mother in Wales was alarmed like many about the UK government’s Campaign called “Protect And Survive”, which advised people to use the four minutes between the warning and a nuclear strike to stack suitcases full of objects like books to absorb the radiation. The Pressure and rising threat to their own families’ safety called for action and thus the Women for Life on Earth group was born.

From the conversation around the kitchen table in Wales, Karmen Thomas took action. She was instrumental in organising the initial protest which on the 5th of September 1981 these women marched from Wales too Berkshire to protest over the nuclear weapons being kept at RAF Greenham Common. Over 120 miles they become a living protest against the British Governments decision. The protest surly gathered momentum as when the reached Greenham Common permanent camps were set up. 

Many women joined the camp such as Chris Drake, a single mother and millworker who truly felt like she belonged and felt like she was born again. Young mothers were not a group who traditionally had their voices heard at the time and the press moved on to other issues they deemed more important, So the women organised Embrace The Base. A day in which the camp and women across the country who travelled up joined hands to form a human chain around the entire military base. 

This documentary is a celebration of Greenham such as its spirit and the effects, which were all worth celebrating. However the film also shows the difficult aspects such as the brutal evictions and assaults by the police force and soldiers. It truly was a Cold War drama/thriller with the tension of a soviet spy novel. It’s also the story of love especially for family and children , and of the commitment these women made to a higher cause. 

They’ve challenged world leaders, altered the course of history and truly inspired millions, it’s an emotional and empowering documentary. 

Continue Reading

Popular Now


Top Box-Office


Would love your thoughts, please comment.x