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Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans (15) 102min •• Movie mogul Len Wiseman’s madly popular horror-action hybrid series gets serious with this prequel to the first Underworld film. Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy reprise their roles as werewolf Lucian and enemy vampire Viktor. But Lucian loves Viktor’s daughter Sonja (Rhona Mitra). Could this be where their future troubles lie? This ponderous but perfectly watchable prequel has such a strong built-in fan base it doesn’t really matter what we think. Wiseman takes a producer post on this one and hands the director reigns over to special effects wiz Patrick Tatopoulos, the man responsible for much that was magical in the previous films. General release from Fri 23 Jan.

A Christmas Tale (15) 150min ••• Kings and Queen and Ma Vie Sexuelle director Arnaud Desplechin’s new film is another typically idiosyncratic, loquacious, stylistically ambitious and sprawling tragicomedy. Well acted by an ensemble cast, all centring on a Christmas reunion where Catherine Deneuve’s matriarch announces she needs a bone marrow transplant from one of her own relatives, as her middle son Henri (Mathieu Amalric) points out, ‘We’re right in the middle of a myth, I’m just not sure which one.’ GFT, Glasgow from Fri 30-Thu 5 Feb.

Love and Honour (12A) 122min ••• Third and final installment of Yôji Yamada’s revisionist samurai trilogy based on the novels of Shûhei Fujisawa which began with 2002’s The Twilight Samurai and continued with 2004’s The Hidden Blade. This one deals with the troubled times of a shogun’s food taster. As with all 78 year-old Yamada’s best work, Love and Honour redefines genre clichés in rare and humanistic ways. A poignant close to a great trilogy. Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 23-Wed 28 Jan.

Love and Honour

  • 3 stars
  • 2006
  • Japan
  • 122 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Yôji Yamada
  • Cast: Takuya Kimura, Rei Dan, Mitsugoro Bando

Third and final installment of Yôji Yamada's revisionist samurai trilogy. This one deals with the troubled times of a shogun's food taster. A poignant close to a great set of films.

A Christmas Tale

  • 3 stars
  • 2008
  • France
  • 150 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Arnaud Desplechin
  • Written by: Arnaud Desplechin, Emmanuel Bourdieu
  • Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Mathieu Amalric, Anne Consigny, Melvil Poupaud, Emmanuelle Devos, Chiara Mastroianni

Another typically idiosyncratic, loquacious, stylistically ambitious and sprawling tragicomedy from director Desplechin. Superbly acted by an ensemble cast, all centring on a Christmas reunion where Catherine Deneuve's matriarch announces she needs a bone marrow transplant from one of her own relatives.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

  • 2 stars
  • 2009
  • US
  • 92 min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Patrick Tatopoulos
  • Cast: Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Rhona Mitra, Steven Mackintosh, Kevin Grevioux
  • UK release: 23 January 2009

Sheen and Nighy reprise their roles as werewolf Lucian and enemy vampire Viktor in this prequel to the first 'Underworld'. Lucian loves Viktor's daughter Sonja (Mitra). Could this be where their future troubles lie? Ponderous but perfectly watchable horror-action hybrid.

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