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The Sad Café

USA 2011
produced by
Andrew Nathan Janzen (executive), Karen Lynch (executive) for Jiang Hu Productions, Brotherhood Entertainment
directed by Bennie Woodell
starring Bradley Fowler, Katie Lanigan, James Jeske, John LaFlamboy, Matt Ukena, Liz Davis, Eliza Shin, Will Cummings III, Ashley Moret, Walt Sloan, George Gibson, John Rushing, Chad Floor, Joseph Goratowski, Tony Lee Gratz, Patrick Love, Kendyl Lynch, Steven James Price, Andy Pruski, Michael Schmid, Bruce Spielbauer, Darryl Villacorta, Ben Woodell, Andrew Hempfling, Benjamin Nicholson
written by Bennie Woodell, fight choreography by Andrew Hempfling

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Jack (Bradley Fowler) is in love with Rose (Katie Lanigan), waitress of the café he eats at every day. But even though he has got a strong feeling his affection is mutual, they have never exchanged a word mre than they had to - because you know, Jack is a professional assassin, and in this profession dragging those one loves to hell pretty much comes with the job. Jack would know, the murder of his first wife Julie (Ashley Moret) was even ordered by his own boss, Ares (James Jeske).

Why Jack has continued to work for Ares after the incident remains at anybody's guess, but deep down he knows he is scum, and he will always bring hell to the ones he loves.

Then though Jack does something good when on an assignment for Ares, he ends a hostage situation with none of the hostages killed. This gives him the feeling that he is capable of doing so and encourages him to ask Rose out on a date - and before you know it, the two are lovers. Of course, though, Jack refrains from telling her what he does for a living.

He should be in seventh heaven, but then Jack sees love gone horribly wrong when his partner Steve (John LaFlamboy) is lured into a trap and killed by his very own psychotic girlfriend Lin (Eliza Shin), and when Jack gets his hands on her and tortures her to death, she only mocks him - and seems to transform to Rose before his very eyes.

Jack meets Rose's father (Will Cummings III) - who just happens to turn out to be his next assignment to kill. Jack fulfills his assignment and still tries to be the loving boyfriend to Rose he always has been, but Ares and his sadistic daughter Selena (Liz Davis) have soon found out that Rose has become a liability, and while they send Jack on yet another assignment, they kidnap Rose, and Selena brutally tortures her.

It all leads to a showdown that leaves only Jack standing, but a broken man ...


Nice entry into the contract killer genre, a genre that for some reason has become particularly popular in Hong Kong over the last two decades or so - and indeed, The Sad Café has much more in common with Hong Kong cinema than with any thriller ever produced in the USA. And with its deliberatly unhurried pace, its style-conscious and atmospheric direction, and it's sudden outbursts of violence outbalanced by a strong romance subplot, it resembles most closely the works of genre-bending directors like Wong Kar-Wai or Johnnie To - but without merely copying their films or best scenes, just by remaining true to their spirit. And add to that the very low budget The Sad Café was obviously made on, and you can't help but being impressed.



review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD