Star Trekking


Doctor Liew’s take on Star Trek: The Next Generation after watching 3 episodes:

“It’s watchable, but you know what to expect. They’ll meet some aliens… Borgs, Romulans… something will go wrong with  the warp drive, or the shields will fail, everyone will run around for a while and things turn out ok in the end.”



IP Man 2

Doctor Liew’s Capsule review:

Just saw IP MAN 2 again … Have watched it a few times before but still fun to see it again …. like I watched Shane so many times. Basically it is a sort of kung fu film built around the David vs Goliath theme, and the Chinese Martial Arts against Western-style Boxing sequence is well choreographed. It reminded me of the final showdown in An Officer & Gentleman.

In fact I believe the Hollywood Studio movie guys were so impressed by Donnie Yen’s  performance that they hijacked him to play a significant role in Star Wars: Rogue One.

May there be more successful sequels!

Reaction: Bridge of Spies

On Bridge of Spies

Doctor Liew: The movie portrays a gripping tale set in the Cold War era based on a true life incident. Tom Hanks’ performance is credible enough and I thought it was Oscar-worthy.

Sonny: But he wasn’t nominated, and it was Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel who in fact won a Best Supporting Oscar. What did you think of his performance?

Doctor Liew: It was ok, but didn’t really stand out for me. (!)

Sonny: Do you remember the Cold War when you were growing up?

Doctor Liew: I was aware of it, but I wasn’t really interested in the politics then.

Sonny: What about the Bomb? Were you worried about the prospect of a Nuclear War?

Doctor Liew: Not really…

Sonny: But as a doctor you were always worried about germs… why worry about that and not a Nuclear Apocalypse?

Doctor Liew: Well.. germs are all around us, but there are no nukes in Southeast Asia. Even if the Americans and Russians bombed each other, they probably wouldn’t bother with Malaysia!

Sonny: But what about the fallout and radiation??

Doctor Liew: Well… Human beings will survive somehow, some small pockets here and there.

Sonny: What about other potential Apocalypses… infectious diseases wiping out the human race, or Global Warming…

Doctor Liew: As I said, humans would survive somehow.

Sonny: So you’re not worried about any of these End of the World scenarios?

Doctor Liew: Would it help?


Review: The Sting

Dr. Liew writes: Just re-watched  the 1976 caper The Sting… It is still fun to see Robert Redford & the late Paul Newman in the 2nd installment of their back to back runaway hits …. the other being Butch Casidy & the Sundance Kid. It was a pity that they didn’t collaborate in more films after that. They were amongst the most charismatic actors to grace the screen… second only to Gregory Peck in my book….

(Sonny: They almost did a third movie together  years later, according to this piece:

The Sting itself was a joyride to watch as it shows the taking down of a “hoodlum” portrayed by Robert Shaw… However, even though we celebrate his downfall… on reflection, one also cannot help but empathize with him because he is formidable character….

Truth be told one needs to be intellectually superior to be a successful person, be it for the good or a life of crime. History will testify that some of the most notorius minds are endowed with superior intelligence.


Sonny: But what about someone like Donald Trump?

Dr. Liew: Well… he must be quite smart in his own way to be a succesful businessman.

Sonny: Well that’s partly because his father loaned him a million dollars!

Dr. Liew: Still, he didn’t squander it away.

Sonny: He has had a lot of failed ventures though, especially with casinos.

Dr. Liew: Still, he’s the President of the United States.

Sonny: Exactly! So maybe success is not about being smarter, but luckier or being in the right place at the right time…?

Dr. Liew: Well… they still have to be clever in their own way. You can’t really be totally foolish and successful.

Sonny: There must have been some people who were…

Dr. Liew: Forrest Gump!

Sonny: Well… he was clever in his own way.

Dr. Liew: Exactly.


Movie Lessons

Fact 1: In a previous review, Doctor Liew had mentioned Gregory Peck’s character in To Kill A Mockingbird being an influence on his own life, as someone who  “showed the importance of compassion and justice, what it means to be a real hero.

Fact 2: When we were kids, whenever we dropped anything on the floor, my dad would get rather agitated when we tried to pick it up – as a doctor, he saw germs everywhere, and would rather us throw the object away or wash it much too thoroughly (in our eyes). So when he was rewatching Mockingbird recently and came across the following scene when Atticus Finch takes out a rabid dog… (start from 1:30 in the clip)

…his first reaction was: “He put his glasses back on without washing them!”

At which point me and my mum practically leapt out of our chairs to say – See?? Even Greogory Peck thinks its ok!!

But of course it’s just a movie, probably shot on a set with very clean floors, and so we’d still be better off not trying to pick up anything off the floor when Doctor Liew is around.


Q&A: Logan and Superheroes


Sonny: What did you think of Logan?

Dr. Liew: A lot of violence and mayhem!

Sonny: What did you think of the aging of the characters?

Dr. Liew: Well… there isn’t really a choice… time has to pass by. They can’t remain youthful forever.

Sonny: Did you relate to the theme of mortality?

Dr. Liew: It’s just a movie.

Sonny: But movies can affect our lives, right? Like the one you learned to swear from…

(Editor: Dr. Liew claims that, when he was younger, watching a film where a military general was swearing made him feel more at ease with doing the same as it demonstrated that even figures of authority did it.)

Dr. Liew: That was a long time ago…  that time people seldom sweared in the movies. These days it happens so often…

Sonny: The point is that film influenced you even though it was just a movie.

Dr. Liew: Nowadays the mind is numb already and cannot be influenced anymore… if it’s something new, not done before for, then the idea is fresh and has an impact. But once you repeat it too often it feels like a daily routine.

Sonny: Do you remember any other movies or actors that have influenced you?

Dr. Liew: (Chuckles) To Kill A Mocking Bird.

Sonny: Again? In what sense?

Dr. Liew: It featured Gregory Peck as a lawyer trying to defend an innocent black man.

Sonny: But how did it influence you?

Dr. Liew: It showed the importance of compassion and justice, what it means to be a real hero.


Additonal Thoughts by Sonny

I thought some of the most interesting things about the movie were some of the almost throwaway visuals and lines: the depiction of self-driving trucks on the highway, and the brief discussion of giant cornstalks and the agro-industry  for example hinted at the possibilities of a different kind of superhero movie, even if these were mood-setting rather than primary themes in this one.



Movie Review: Midnight Run

Doctor Liew’s Capsule Review:

Just watched Midnight Run on DVD… It is not one of De Niro’s best efforts  but still  “watchable” – 6/10 rating maybe. The film uses a formulaic theme – a conman/hustler with a heart of gold – that has been told in various formats before, hence there are no real surprises in there.

De Niro still is & always will be a great actor , and  there will always be a sizable audience for his flicks. From Raging Bull to Cape Fear his films will continue to enthrall cinema audience for many good years to come, so kudos to him.

I put him up there with the likes of Daniel Day Lewis and Jack Nicholson… somehow one scene from one of his movies will always be etched in my mind – the one in Men of Honor with Cuba Gooding Jr, where he ridiculed a stammering navy recruit.

Q & A

Sonny: Is Robert De Niro your favourite actor?

Dr. Liew: He’s one of many that I like.

Sonny: Who else is there… Paul Newman?

Dr. Liew: Yes, Paul Newman. And the actor from To Kill a Mocking Bird… Gregory Peck…

Sonny: I’ve never seen many of his movies to be honest.

Dr Liew: Moby Dick, The Guns of Navarone… those were some of his other films. Also Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster… those are the older ones.

Sonny: If you could meet one of them for a dinner who would you pick?

Dr. Liew: Who’s paying for the dinner?

Sonny: Of course they’d pay, lah!

Dr. Liew: If they’re paying then anyone will do!

Q&A: Hacksaw Ridge

Sonny writes: Watching Hacksaw Ridge recently started me on a WW2 Tv and movie binge – Band of Brothers, The Pacific, Saving Private Ryan. Hacksaw Ridge itself stars Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss, a  conscientious objector who volunteered to serves as a medic during WW2, recieving the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Okinawa.

Q&A after watching Hacksaw Ridge

Doctor Liew: The younger generation today no longer identifies with the second world war… to them it’s more like watching a Western.

Sonny: But Saving Private Ryan was a big hit… I guess that was like 10 years ago though… (Editor’s note: It was actually released in 1998 –  18 years ago)

You were born in 1945 – the war had ended by then  – do you feel a sense of affinity watching WW2 movies?

Doctor Liew: I was born in February 1945… so the war hadn’t quite ended.

My mother – your grandma, she had malaria at the time, and so when I was born I was a very small baby. Well… that means she either that I was born premature or that she had malaria. They told me she was in and out of fevers.

Sonny: So they never really knew if she had malaria or not. This was something you surmised later.

Doctor Liew: Yes… anyway she couldn’t breast feed me because of the illness. And at that time, because of war shortages, you couldn’t find any milk formula. Fortunately our 4th aunt had given birth a year and half before I was born, and she was still breast feeding at the time, so she ended up breast feeding me too. That’s how I survived.

Those kinds of hardships are what I associate with the war.

Sonny: What about things you actually remember? What is your first memory?

Doctor Liew: I remember living in Mambau (Editor’s note: a small town in Seremban, Negri Sembilan, Malaysia) before there was electricity… In the night we had to depend on kerosene gas lamps  and candles… and I also made a vain attempt to catch fireflies & put them in bottles for lighting!