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Movies Not to Miss: January 2018

Which of these are you going to watch?

The new year starts with Hollywood growing cold on the release front, but that leaves much room for titles from other countries to fill in the gaps.

As a result, the first month of 2018 starts with strong variety. From high-level animation, indie dramas, gripping horror to Oscar baits, there are even a few Asian titles in between if you need something new.


So start your year strong with these movies not to miss for January 2018!

The Outlaws

When two rival gangs, one from Korea and the other from China go into an all-out turf war, the police are called in to bring an end the gang war in the Garibong district. Based on the real events of the Heuksapa Incident that happened in 2007, this feature debut for actor-turned-director Kang Yoon-Sung became the highest grossing R-rated movie of Korea in 2017. Starring Ma Dong-Seok as the brutal police detective who puts another knock-out performance (that actually involves his fist naturally) since "Train to Busan", while Yoon Kye-sang is the leader of the Chinese faction and Jo Jae-Yoon defending his Korean turf. Jin Seon-kyu also plays a role in "The Outlaws" that garnered him the Best Supporting Actor from the Blue Dragon Film Awards.

General Release Date: 4 January

The Big Call

As telecom scams are growing rampant, China calls in the Anti-Telecom Fraud Center to infiltrate a crime syndicate headed by a clever mastermind based in Thailand. As the cat and mouse game are fought over telecom lines to catch the mastermind red-handed, undercover agents are trying to get an angle on him from his weakest link; an estranged lover. This action packed crime thriller comes from director Oxide Pang of the Pang Brothers, that also comes with a strong cast on both sides, with Eddie Cheung and Reve Jiang on the side of the law, opposed by Chang Hsia Chuan and Gwei Lun Mei on the other side of the fence. Shot in locations from China, Hong Kong, Thailand to Taiwan, Oxide Pang is very familiar with setting up explosive set pieces that will come with thrilling mind games.

General Release Date: 4 January

Insidious: The Last Key

The hauntings from the Further continues with the fourth installment but chronologically the second of the "Insidious" series. Following the events of "Insidious Chapter 3", parapsychologist Elise Rainier is off to investigate a house from the town of Five Keys that she is all too familiar with; her family house where she used to live. Lin Shaye reprises her role as Elise Rainier, this time confronting her demons by entering deeper into the Further as written by creator Leigh Whannell, with new director Adam Robitel whose previous works include "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension", and "The Taking of Deborah Logan" bringing out old and new fears.

General Release Date: 4 January

Along with the Gods

While saving lives, firefighter Kim Ja Hong finds himself preparing to stand 7 trials in 49 days for the afterlife that he deserved, guided by grim reapers and appointed legal defenders to ensure that he goes through reincarnation. After going quiet since 2013's "Mr. Go", director Kim Yong-hwa makes a huge return with his adaptation of Joo Ho-min's webcomic for his largest VFX-driven outing. Once again made through collaboration between China and South Korea, "Along with the Gods" stars Cha Tae-hyun as the paragon soul, followed by Ha Jung-woo, Ju Ji-hoon and Kim Hyan-gi as his spiritual guardians as they travel through trials and tribulations. This is the first of a two-parter, with the second installment expected later in 2018.

General Release Date: 11 January

Ayat-Ayat Cinta 2

After losing contact with his wife who went to volunteer at the Gaza Strip, Fahri Abdullah is now living in Edinburgh; a city Aisha loved, as a lecturer in Edinburgh University. While praying to hear of Aisha's fate, Fahri tries to go through life and grief as he lives without his wife. Fans have waited for a decade for the sequel to the hit novel by Habiburrahman El Shirazy, and now the adaptation is here. While Fedi Nuril returns to reprise his more matured role, director Hanung Bramantyo has handed over duties to Guntur Soeharjanto, who last did "Pinky Promise" and "Assalamualaikum Beijing". Malaysia's own Bront Palarae also takes a role in this Islamic story of true love.

General Release Date: 11 January

Downsizing

Bored with his current life, Paul Safranek decides to perform an irreversible procedure that would shrink him down to 5 inches and live in a new downsized community. The premise of Downsizing sounds like someone was trying to scale "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" up to a commentary on the state of the world's population. However, when it is co-written and directed by Alexander Payne, it is more of a personal character study in the vein of his "Nebraska" and "The Descendants" that uses an otherwise outlandish setting by Payne's standards. For such a character-driven story, the cast plays an important role to carry them out. Coming off from a suburbia as a disgruntled office worker, those vibes would do good for Matt Damon as the lead, and Kristen Wiig as his wife. Also found in the neighbourhood is Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, and Hong Cau, who has recently been nominated for a Golden Globe, and a whole slew of surprising cameos.

General Release Date: 11 January

Roman Israel, Esq

Roman J. Israel is a legal genius but socially handicapped, a former fiery civil rights activist, who now uses his lawyering skills to help the downtrodden and disenfranchised. When he gets kicked from the small legal firm where he was a partner, Israel get sick of fighting for justice and craves for the high life. Fans of screenwriter turned director Dan Gilroy have been eagerly waiting for his next directorial feature after licking their fingers from "Nightcrawler". Now teamed with an actual Oscar winner in the form of Denzel Washington, and "Nightcrawler" cinematographer Robert Elswit and editor John Gilroy, we are looking to see if Gilroy is able to put himself in the Oscar race again. Already having its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017, "Roman Israel, Esq" also stars Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo.

General Release Date: 18 January

Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel

After being orphaned by a fire, Shirou Emiya is embroiled in the Holy Grail War after meeting with his servant, Saber. As Shirou discovers Shinji and his grandfather to be Masters, the war drags on till its involves Shinji's sister, Sakura. After pulling out all the stops on making "Unlimited Blade Works", anime studio Ufotable has announced that it was proceeding to adapt the final route from the "Fate/Stay Night" visual novel as a film trilogy. While fans may already be familiar with how this story will unfold if they have already completed this route, but it has not been told in the extravagant level that Ufotable has delivered for "Unlimited Blade Works".

General Release Date: 18 January

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

After the events of "The Scorch Trials", the Gladers are now determined to free their friends captured by WCKD in their base of operations; the Last City. But as Thomas leads his band deeper into the city, he begins to question whether he should save his friends or the entirety or humanity from the Flare. Originally set to follow closely after 2015's "The Scorch Trials", this adaptation of the third book in the "Maze Runner" series hit a road bump when Dylan O'Brien was hospitalised during production. Now coming back to close the final chapter on the book, "The Death Cure" has upped the ante from a young adult adaptation to a full blown action thriller under the direction of Wes Ball. This could the end of the young adult era as the last known young adult novel series being adapted, and a worthy send-off this will do.

General Release Date: 25 January

Darkest Hour

As Germany begins its invasion of Europe, Winston Churchill has to decide the fate of the United Kingdom on whether to negotiate with Hitler or be the one to bring his nation to war. 2017 certainly had its fair share of World War II films with "Dunkirk", and one centered on the famed British prime minister starring Brian Cox in "Churchill", but we haven't seen the best that 2017 had to offer till 2018. After a disastrous outing when trying to cash in on a Peter Pan origin story, director Joe Wright is looking to make a prime return with what he does best in the "Darkest Hour". The main highlight here is Gary Oldman who takes the leading role as Churchill. Talks of this being Oldman's ticket to his first Oscar has only been fuelled by his nomination at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild makes this a legitimate performance to look out for.

General Release Date: 31 January


Cinema Online, 01 January 2018