First thing's first... Happy Chinese New Year.
It's customary that Hong Kong puts out a few Chinese New Year movies with big names like Andy Lau, Sammi Cheng, Jackie Chan, Stephen Chow, etc but this year all we get is Tony Leung ( I don't find him that great an actor ) and Lau Ching Wan ( great actor in serious roles... hideous in comedies ).
If you are an avid cinema goer like myself your Chinese New Year movie selection is... Seoul Raiders and Himalaya Singh. Ermm... thanks but no thanks. If you must catch a Hong Kong movie for Chinese New Year I would personally go for Seoul Raiders otherwise go watch Constantine starring every one's favourite bad actor Keanu Reeves.
Keanu Reeves is of course best known role is as Neo in the Matrix movies. It's a little bit of a curse for actors such as Keanu who played very famous well loved characters. The same applies for the likes of Christopher Reeve as Superman and Harrison Ford as Han Solo or Indiana Jones. Watching this movie there are some scenes where you expect Keanu to start dishing up some kung-fu mayhem... but he doesn't :)
Constantine is a good movie and believe it or not the source material is from a comic book ( ok, graphic novel ). Constantine is nowhere near as famous as Superman or Spider Man though which works to this film's advantage. It's not your typical superhero movie a stigma that is attached to all movies with comic book origins.
Our protagonist John Constantine is a supernaturally aware chain smoker. Keanu lights up in half the scenes in the movie. The basis of the movie's story is as such; Constantine was gifted with the ability to see creatures of the underworld ( and heaven as well ) from young. Troubled with his ability he commits suicide in his teenage years thus sending him to Hell.
He survives Hell ( not explained in the movie ) and returns with and understanding of how Heaven, Hell and the mortal world relates with each other. See there is a balance to be maintained and Constantine has taken it upon himself to ensure that when Hell has the upper hand in dominating the mortal world he will send as many of Hell's minions back to where they came from to maintain that balance.
Constantine is not all noble though. He has a personal agenda to do what he does. Constantine is a Catholic. The Catholics believe that when a person commits suicide his soul is sent to Hell for eternity. There is no retribution. Constantine aims to change his fate by earning favour with Heaven. He thinks that dispatching the demons will be is redemption. However his time is running out as Constantine is a super chain smoker and is near death with lung cancer.
Long story short the story involves angels, demons, the Devil's son and the Devil himself. Several characters take a trip to Hell and Hell is a very well rendered ( as in computer graphics rendered ) eternally burning wasteland. In short Hell looks rather awesome :P
The script for this movie is great. I love mythological mumbo jumbo which is one reason why I love movies like The Matrix and Star Wars and this movie delivers there. It helps also that the mythology is not overly complex and thus easy to follow.
The acting isn't so hot though with the routine Keanu performance and the pretty Rachel Weisz delivering a yawn inducing performance ( well she's not really that strong an actor anyways although she was fun to watch in the Mummy movies ). Plus points of the movie are definitely the story and the computer graphics except for the unconvincing soldiers of Hell.
If you have to watch a movie this Chinese New Year, drop the Hong Kong productions and go for Constantine.