What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Discussions on Asian cinemas: Japanese, Korean, Thai, ....

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:01 pm

terse comments on:

Dragon Tiger Gate (2006: Hong Kong: **½/****): For many Asian martial art fanboys, this is mostly known as the film between Wilson Yip Wai-Shun/Donnie Yen's SPL (2005) and Flash Point (2007) (Yip is the director and Yen is the star/choreographer of all three and yes they will work together in their next production Ip Man (2008)). While the other two are gritty combination of triad/martial art genres, this film is a CGI filled "comic book" film based on a Hong Kong comic called "Oriental Heroes". Unfortunately many times throughout the film I get the feeling of a teenage action film with he biggest problem of a stereotypical plot.

Tiger Wong (Nicolas Tse) is the good son and possible heir apparent to the academy Dragon Tiger Gate which is run by Master Wong (Yuen Wah, Eastern Condors) and Dragon Wong (Donnie Yen) is the bad son (who is good at heart) who must come to terms with his past. On a side-note, the age difference between these two is hilarious, especially since you seen flashbacks of them as kids and they are only a couple of years difference. In real life Donnie could be Nicolas's father.

The beginning has an excellent comic-book influenced introduction and amazing action scene that actually makes good use of cinematography mixed with wire-influenced action. However, there is not much action until the end (which is good) and the plot does not get past stereotypical plot/characterization of death of master/revenge for master which has been done to death for many decades.

Action fans will like scenes of this movie and are probably the only ones who would enjoy this movie.
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Postby AV1979 » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:46 pm

CJ7 - I was pleasantly surprised that Stephen Chow pulled off making a family film and doing it really well. I was so used to his mo lei tau style and action that I wasn't sure how I would like this, but I really did like it. The little CJ7 alien is just adorable and the chemistry with Xu Jiao was great. Showed it to my kids and they loved the movie too.
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Postby kiliansabre » Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:28 am

Some recent watches:

Chocolate (Thailand) - a gem by the team that brought us Ong Bak and The Protector. The fight scenes here are fantastic, with the final scene that takes place on the ledges of a three story building playing out about as much like a real video game as I have seen. If you love Tony Jaa movies, you'll also love this.

Shnobi: Heart Under Blade (Japan) - Before I rented this I read it was sort of like a Japanese ninja laden X-Men and this is for the most part true, right down to a character who was obviously inspired by Wolverine. I originally rented this because I wanted to see Tak Sakaguchi (of Versus fame) and he does have a pretty great part, even managing to play a second character briefly later on. The fights are brief, but the effects are great and the plot moves quickly.

SARS Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis (Thailand) - This is a very silly movie with a lot of goofy comedy, but some decent zombie fighting acting in the same vein of Sean of the Dead (though this was made before that). A little too silly for my tastes over all.

Death Trance (Japan) - Another one I rented to see Tak Sakaguchi. The costumes in this were fantastic. The fight scenes were only ok at best, pretty much just loose. The ending took things in a strange direction, and though the plot was technically great, something fell a little flat in the delivery here. It feels like it was left unresolved, which it was.

I think that's it for now.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby sharkeysbar » Sat Feb 14, 2009 6:15 am

After quite some time away (have been watching a lot of Bollywood and Tollywood (Bengali) films), I have finally got back to watching some East Asian films, to begin with;

The Holy Man (Thailand 2005)
A typical Thai style comedy, it isn't for everyone, I laugh and laugh watching Thai comedies but have friends who just sit there and don't find it the least bit amusing.

Sukiyaki Western Django (Japan 2007)
Takashi Miike's version of a spaghetti western.

Wild Zero (Japan 2000)
Strange sort of rock n roll horror film, partly filmed in Thailand from the looks of it.

SARS Wars(Thailand 2004)

A comedy horror film, again not everyone's cup of tea. Lena Christensen is one of the leads.

Bombay to Bangkok (India 2008)

A Bollywood film starring a Thai actress Lena Christensen. A very typical Bollywood film, even down to the setting in Thailand, which was all the rage a year or two back.

The list of what I have to watch is getting longer and longer, but will work through it.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Sat Feb 14, 2009 8:51 am

Watched two subpar remakes of Korean films this weekend:

THE UNINVITED strips most of the psychological depth from TALE OF TWO SISTERS so as not to make a PG-13 audience think too hard. Bland. The remake stays true to its own logic, but its most frustrating alteration involves making "real" one of the two characters that wasn't real in the original (at least until the ending), thus denying audiences one of the great kickers of all time. What, did they think that many people had seen the original that they had to try and do something "unpredictable." Moving SISTERS' first big twist to the end of the remake ultimately makes it more predictable than they could've hoped. Thankfully we saw this using a 2-for-1 pass that I was given at the office. :lol:

And in what universe does the remake of MY SASSY GIRL take place, because it sure isn't one that I'm familiar with. It touches most of the bases (including the "yelling-across-a-distant-space" and "time capsule" bits), but these characters are sooo much more self-aware, as is much of the dialogue they speak (check Jesse Bradford's conversation early on in the park with college pal Austin Basis, who gets way too much screen time in this, as they rate the girls passing by--no one talks like that!). Performances are good, but Bradford and Elisha Cuthbert have no chemistry, and the love that supposedly develops between them does so without and ounce of conviction. I don't know if it's just them, or just the poor screenwriting that requires them to do unrealistic things like dance in multiple indoor and outdoor New York locations on a single night that logic dictates they couldn't get to without hailing cabs all over town but which when pasted together constitute a romantic montage, or commandeer subway louspeakers to proclaim clear up a restaurant misunderstanding while commuters look on with nary a look of irritation in sight. And they blow the surprise ending about five beats too early with an oddly-placed single shot of Bradford entering the restaurant whereas the original maintained the suspense until the last possible second. There are plenty of little off-notes like that throughout the film (such as Bradford's mentioning his aunt at the outset, then having no contact with her at all for until the end). Needless distraction department: the director seems to think that speed-ramping is his own never-before-seen invention, so often does he use it.

Also viewed:

TRUCK: a Korean horror flick that beggars belief, despite some good tension. Trucker Yoo Hae-jin's little daughter is forced by schoolyard bully-ettes to spin them on the merry-go-round, which lands her in the hospital in need of heart surgery. He tries to win the money to pay for it gambling with some hoods, but they fleece him then, partially to make amends, force him to truck a karaeoke room's worth of dead bodies out to the country for dumping. Along the road, he picks up a serial killer who involves him in even more murders! I've read that this was one of an increasing number of low-budget pictures being made in Korea presumably to keep the industry chugging along, and if so, it certainly looks much glossier than a low budget might typically allow, but man, the story just keeps getting more ridiculous as it goes along.

HANBANDO: Boy, what a big sanctimonious turd this thing is! This is probably as close as any South Korean has come to making a North Korean movie without being kidnapped there and forced to do it at gunpoint, and for that reason alone, I'll probably keep it around as an often-hilarious, textbook example of how not to make an epic movie in the 21st century. Writer-director Kang Woo-suk hires very good actors (including the usually reliable Ahn Sung-ki, who's frighteningly wooden here) not for their ability for craft realistic, lived-in characterizations but rather to shout his left-wing ideologies at each other for more than two hours. There are potentially hundreds of powerful, emotional stories--both true and fictional--that could be and have been set to celluloid to address historical and lingering hostilities between Korea and it's one-time occupier Japan (even 2009: LOST MEMORIES was more level-headed), but this kind of nauseating megabudgeted chest-pounding makes the Koreans look nearly as delusional as their biggest "enemy" was in its heyday. The flashback sequence detailing the assassination of Empress Myeongseong absolutely must be seen to be believed: perhaps something so appallingly over-the-top might have been considered normal in 1960's Korean cinema, but in 2006?

MY FATHER: cliche-ridden and generally predictable relationship drama buoyed largely by Daniel Henney's sincere performance (mostly in English) as an adopted Korean raised in the U.S. who joins the army as a pretext for returning to Korea to find his birth parents, only to discover that the one still living, his father (Kim Young Cheol), is sitting on death row. The movie soft-pedals some of the more controversial aspects of the true story of Eron Bates on which it's based, but it does at least address them (the father really IS a murderer; though the movie very vaguely suggest there might have been holes in the conviction). Henney's acting here is a HUGE improvement over his average work in SEDUCING MR. PERFECT (although much less of him was required in that one); I have no doubt that this performance got him tagged to appear in the upcoming WOLVERINE movie as a key character. Non-Korean actors are solid here as well: veteran character actor Richard Riehle (look him up at IMDB; you've probably seen him before) is a nice choice for the small-ish role of Henney's adoptive dad; while TV lesser-known Brian Durkin is appropriately thuggish as Henney's bigoted rival at the military base. Not an especially memorable movie, but a good one.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:22 pm

Chocolate (2008: Thailand: ***/**** maybe ***½/****):
Woe to being a Thai stuntperson. Where you will be kicked, dropped, fall on hard concrete, bruised, broken and impaled all for the attention of a few seconds on the big screen and a small amount of bahts (Thailand currency). However, for us viewers we do gain from your pain (as long as we are sadists or just fans of incredible stunts and martial arts action). Even if you are small female lead you are not protected from being hurt (just watch the outtakes at the end).

JeeJa Yanin (Zen) stars as a slow (possibly autistic) girl who is trying to get money owed to her mother to help pay for her chemotherapy. She learned Muay Thai from living next to a training studio, watching Tony Ja movies (there placement really weren't necessary but they are pushing her as the female Tony Ja; both Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong were shown) and video games (I think Tom Yum Goong the game was shown). Because of her mental disability she compensated by having a higher sense of acuity of vision and sense of timing (to make money her only friend uses her as a sidewalk show by giving people balls and having them throw them at her to see her catch at amazing speed).

The fight scenes start off good and get better as each new one show her doing more and more fancy footwork (her punches are not that unique and are underused), mixed with stuntwork and perilous situations.

There are tons of homages (and some are blatant rip-offs) to other action films from an ice factory (The Big Boss, this one was so evident she even did her best Bruce Lee impersonation) to Kill Bill (House of Blue Leaves: a homage to a film of homages) to a fight scene reminiscent of the air conditioners scene in Rob-B-Hood to popping chocolate candy like Jackie Chan in Armour of God. The outtakes to this scene are some of the scarier impacts I have seen. One of my favorite battles was between her and a Tourettes inflicted capoeria-style fighter. This one was just awesome.

Directed by Prachya Pinkaew (Tom Yum Goong) this is a beautiful action film with a decent plot (better than many Thai action films I have seen) that does dwell into the melodramatic at times.

terse comments on:

My Left Eye Sees Ghosts (2002: Hong Kong: ***/****):
I had seen half of this film before on a now defunct cable channel called AZN. At the time I had no idea who directed it, but found it interesting enough to watch (and remember) until I had to leave. A few years later going over the oeuvre of Johnnie To, I noticed that he was the co-director of this comedy/drama (not really horror so a lot more like Ghost Town than The Eye) with Wai Ka-Fai (they codirected Fulltime Killer and Mad Detective too).

This film does play well with the genre though it is more focused on humor and the tragic love elments of May Ho (Sammi Cheng: Infernal Affairs) who lost her newly wed rich husband whom she had known for a total of seven days. She is taken in by the rich family who doesn't trust her but has to tolerate her since she received a huge amount of money, house, cars etc… after the husbands death. She is not happy with the arrangement and while drunk smashes her dead husbands car. This accident injures her body and her left eye and after she wakes up she (of course) can see dead people.

She is haunted by a grown up boy (Lau Ching-Wan: Running Out of Time) who died at sea and was a classmate of hers who eventually becomes her friend.

Fans of Johnnie To's triad films might be a bit perplexed by this movie, but to make you feel at home there is plethora of his regular actors such as Lam Suet, Simon Yam, Lau Ching-Wan and several others that populate this film. But the duo of Wai (he does not get enough credit on many of the To films) and To are quite comfortable in this genre. It doesn't always feel as fresh as the newly dead and the Taoist elements might confuse some western viewers, but overall it is a solid film that sometimes dwells too far in the romantic tragedy genre but surprisingly that works too.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby KMGor » Thu Apr 23, 2009 5:03 am

Today I watched Avenging Quartet. Well, sort of. I watched some of it and quickly realized how bad it was. I ended up skipping big chunks of it, which is pretty unusual for me. Still, it really is bad, some decent action not-with-standing.

I also saw Undercover Dragon. This was the first Ronald Cheng comedy I've seen. He's definitely no Stephen Chow, but with the right material he was funny. In the case of this film, that was only like two or three scenes. Good action, but very little of it. The worst film from either Gordon Chan or Dante Lam I have seen.

I also watched Oldboy for the second time recently (first time was shortly after it first came out). Still very good.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Fri Apr 24, 2009 5:39 pm

terse and quick reviews on:

From Beijing With Love (1994: Hong Kong: ***/****): Stephen Chow's first co-directed film (IMDB has him co-directing on Love on Delivery the same year while HKMDB does not; I will have to check my R0 copy) is a zany, mo lei tau (nonsense) box office smash hit in Hong Kong. It made 37 million HK Dollars; compare that to another 1994 film Chungking Express which made 7.6 million HK Dollars.

While the film is a parody of Bond films and a small satire of Mainland Police, it works best when Chow does his shtick. Scenes where he drops off liver as payment, a solar flashlight invention and a gun that shots reverse one time and straight the next are just some of the small gags. I really do not want to spoil any of them for people who have not seen this film (has anyone seen this film here), but you will learn the importance of watching a porn film while have a bullet taken out of your thigh.

The plot is basic spy thriller: an invincible bad guy with invincible armour has stolen the head of a dinosaur, thereby embarrassing the Mainland police. A Chief Inspector decides that for this job China needs to hire a bumbling ex-spy (whom one officer states he is as important as a piece of toilet paper) who is currently a pork butcher and who appears incompetent but actually has some secret talents. Normal spy material there.

As with many Hong Kong comedies with action there is always an uneasy amount of brutish violence. People who dislike Chow will obviously not like this silly, silly comedy. Those who are only familiar with his later work might find this a bit pedantic, but several gags will be familiar though (as well as fans of the spy spoof in general).

The Universe R0 DVD is OOP, but I see yesasia has an existing Taiwanese version. That and a really expensive Japanese edition are still available. Will Criterion every get a Chow film? :D Should they? Why did you spit on me?

Breaking News (2004: Hong Kong: ***/****) Hong Kong

Starting off with a brilliant six minute plus crane tracking shot to display an awesome gun battle, Breaking News breaks out with a bang. This scene has been compared to Orson Welles's Touch of Evil opener in other reviews, but I will mention again that this shot does seem inspired by that exemplary example, though this one is a bit more shaky and clumsy. Unfortunately, while I did like this film, much of the rest of the film does not match the tenacity and with weak characterizations feels more like a technical exercise. But with every Johnnie To directed film there is much to glean and embrace.

Inspector Cheung (Nick Cheung Ka-Fai was Jet one of my favorite characters in Election 1 and 2) is an impressive one-dimensional character whose monomania in wanting to capture Chat Yat Yuen (Richie Ren Zian-Qi: Gorgeous, Exiled) is never quite explained though his Terminator inspired character still intrigued me. His boss Rebecca Fong, who is trying to use the media to her advantage has several angles that are never quite explored like her possible relationship with Asst. Cmdr. Wong (Simon Yam in another cameo) or her feud with Cheung (though with his no nonsense Inspector Callahan demeanor that angle could easily be explained).

Cheung ends up trapping the set of gangsters (with their never-ending supply of grenades) and force them to hold up in an apartment complex. Unbeknowest to everyone there is another Triad set hiding in that same apartments.

The media angle and aspect that while prevalent in much of the film is never really used satisfactory. It is not realist and ultimately has no message.

However, there are many excellent scenes like when two different triad leaders cook a meal together for themselves and their hostages (its sounds strange, but it is vintage Johnnie To) and the performance of Lam Suet (a regular in To films) who plays a scared but loving parent being held hostage. The ending chase/gun/battle scene is also stellar and brilliantly done.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Fri Sep 25, 2009 12:16 am

I will work on this one at a later date before I post it in the database here:

Street Angel/馬路天使 (1937: Yuan Muzhi : China) ***½/****

Since I had been enjoying the Hiroshi Shimuzu films from the Eclipse box-set I thought it was a good opportunity to watch a similar era-film from Mainland China (the Japanese would occupy Shanghai in 1937 around July or after during the Sino-Japanese War). There are some similiarities between the two directors. There is a realist feel between both this movie and comedic aspects from several of Shimuzu movies. There certainly are some differences though. The quick early montage of daily life and the plot seems influenced by a cross of Soviet Realism, Frank Borzage's Street Angel (reading over the plot summations I can tell that this movie is not a remake) and traditional Mandarin Theater.

This is the earliest Chinese language film I have now seen and I found it interesting, well made and surprisingly funny. It is too bad that much of the early Chinese cinema is has been lost and what is remaining appears to not be in great shape. While this film is not quite an artistic success that the later Spring in a Small Town (1949) is I do hope western viewers give this movie a chance. It is quite popular amongst Chinese-language critics and usually appears on many "best of" lists when dealing with Mainland China cinema.

Xiao Chen (Zhao Dan) is a musician who makes very little money, has very loyal friends (whom he dubs the Three Stooges; I have no idea how accurate are the subtitles but comedies of those type were popular in China) and is in love with a Xiao Hong (Zhou Xuan) who lives across the street in the local tenement. However she is stuck in a very bad situation with her sister (who is a prostitute and looks like Lam Ching-ying) and are basically involuntary servants to the people they live with (I will need a second viewing to exactly figure this relationship out; several reviews on this are quite bad and have misleading information). Xiao Hong is promised to a local thug who at first intrigues her with a purchase of expensive cloth and puts her at odds with Xiao Chen but then frightens here when she finds out he does not have good intentions. This lead her, her sister and Xiao to escape to a different place, but with very little money can they hide for long?

While there is pathos to the film, there is a lot of fun situations between the friends and their relationships. The direction is actually quite good with a fluid moving camera and some solid editing.

Zhou Xuan who performs as the sing-song girl (an entertainer in restaurant or brothel) was quite popular during the 30s and 40s and was nicknamed the Golden Throat for her popular singing. While she is absolutely adorable in her petulant way in this film her life outside of theater was quite sad and marked with tragedy, bad relationships, suicide, mental institutions and ending with her early death at the age of 39. Now what is interesting in this film and common for these films was that whenever she sang in the film (called chaqu) it would be accompanied by subtitles for the songs lyrics and according to Chinese film critic Stephen Teo this was done to get the audience to sing along with the singers.

The director has one other DVD available (this is the only other movie listed in IMDB) called Stories of the City though there is very little information on this movie and the quality of that DVD. I will look into getting that at some future date. The DVD I saw is from Cinema Epoch and is a R0. While it has many issues I do not think there is a better version out there.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby AV1979 » Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:19 am

Ip Man, great semi-biopic with Donnie Yen in the lead role.

The entire Red Cliff saga...great to spend nearly five hours watching this John Woo film.

Shinjuku Incident...I knew Jackie Chan had it in him to do a more serious film and showcase his acting.

Ong-Bak 2...was quite surprised at the climatic fight of the Tony Jaa/Panna Rittikrai film...can't wait for Ong-Bak 3.

Power Kids...3 Ninjas meets Die Hard as I call it and the young teens showcased some nifty Rittikrai-esque skills.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:33 pm

HAEUNDAE (Korea; 2009)
We were fortunate to have had this year's Korean Blockbuster® playing a screen at one of the biggest multiplexes in downtown Toronto the past couple of weeks, so I ventured down for a peek. It's a rarity to view any Korean cinema on the big screen in this town outside of the annual film festival, although TYPHOON did play one week on a screen near the north-end Koreatown a couple of years back, but I missed that one.

Though it has much to recommend it, to these jaded eyes (and possibly damaged ears), HAEUNDAE wasn't quite the "experience" it's been cracked up to be by various media (particularly the Korean media), despite a clearly and earnestly herculean effort on the part of everyone involved, as well as the suitably epic scope of the "super tsunami" (and the almost-Hollywood grade special effects utilized to pull it off) when it finally lays waste to virtually all of Busan.

The only real problem I had with HAEUNDAE is balance (the film's A-list budget is all up on the screen), which is tipped uncomfortably in favour of that very distinctly Korean brand of loud, slap-happily violent interpersonal relationships for virtually the entire first 70 minutes of the picture, relationships that weave an assortment of romantic misfits—scheming tyrants (repped by vet Song Jae-ho, whose planned mega-mall will oust plenty of local business people), love-struck twenty-/thirty-somethings (fisherman Sol Kyung-gu and restaurant proprietess Ha Ji Won, united by her father's death in the 2004 Tsunami, and lifeguard Lee Min-gi and cute college girl Kang Ye-weon), cute moppets and salt-of-the-earth pensioners—into position for the rilly big shoo.

Nationalistic Koreans (of which there are many) would likely say that these hyperbolic dynamics between family, friends and colleagues are indicative of passion for melodrama and their "earthiness" as a culture, but when it's pitched as loudly, as gracelessly, and as unceasingly (not to mention as drunkenly) as it is here, it's could leave the uninitiated with a splitting headache. It's disconcerting to see such chronic familial dysfunction in almost every film from a culture that prides itself on its outwardly strong family values. Koreans, however, may need a tissue or two by the last reel, since this is exactly the kind of melodramatic rollercoaster they've been conditioned to expect from virtually any film in any genre.

Science? Forget it. Veteran thesp Park Joon-hoong is on hand as a marine geologist (with his own dysfunctional family problems!) whose thoroughly researched predictions of impending doom are, in typical disaster-movie fashion, scoffed at by those around him, particularly his aggressively stupid boss, who's played as such a dim bulb you can't help but wonder how he achieved such high office (this idiot even requires Park to illustrate the super-tsunami principle in the office fish tank!). When he's not dealing with the return of his estranged wife (Eom Jeong-hwa) and the daughter he never knew she bore him, Park's stares ominously at computer screens, pours over ominous maps, receives ominous readouts from colleagues, and generally gets brushed off by the brass.

Fine enough, but the audience is given little sense of what's so ominous "out there" about until well over an hour into the picture. We're given brief shots of an underwater landscape near a Japanese island, the imminent collapse of which, Park suspects, will touch off the killer wave. But these shots show little activity beyond a slightly increasing rumble or shifting of sand. If you're gonna follow the American disaster movie model—and import American special effects masters to punch up the realism—you've GOT to have a tease of what's to come to keep people baited--maybe a sequence showing the destruction of a small portion of the island that doesn't quite register back on the mainland. In HAEUNDAE, the filmmakers seem to think the posters and trailers were all the tease they needed to get patriotic Koreans out to support this year's mega-budget blockbuster: "Face it, folks: you know what's coming; so sit back and watch this hearty stew of soap opera characters drink, scream, cry, fall in love and slap each other for a while!" We do get a few Michael Bay style high- and low-angle slow camera dollies around groups of people in multiple locations transfixing on television news broadcasts. Surely there must be better ways to film these kinds of gatherings?

Then the wave hits (prefaced by a minor earthquake, no less). And it's hum-dinger! A good 50 meters of briny CGI doom wipes out much of the popular tourist beach of the title, topples the hotels and skyscrapers lining it into each other, props a gargantuan container ship up against the Gwangan Bridge (it's cargo providing a ludicrous but enjoyable falling obstacle course for one hapless schmoe trying to get off the bridge), and washes all of the characters in one direction or another, during which they crank their emotions to eleven, if they hadn't already done so. And then it hits again, and we accept this because it's what we paid to see, but it stretches logic in ways the Americans stopped doing a couple of decades ago, to say the least (repeat "events" make sense in something like DANTE'S PEAK; they don't really make sense here, but it's still a lot of fun to see). Then, as the waters recede, and two of our beleaguered principals stand on top of a decimated skyscraper with other survivors as the last rescue helicopters roar away with seniors and children in baskets, the camera pans out to the sea and—blammo—another, hundred-metre wall of water comes barreling ashore. At this point, logic has headed for the mountains, and not just to stay dry. But just when we've prepared for this last dose of spectacle, just before it smooches land, the film fades to black, then picks up the story a few days later so the writers can really go for the emotional jugular with several scenes of mourning and redemption. Jip!
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby dleedlee » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:54 pm

Thanks for your description, Brian. Still, I'm curious to see it myself. My standards are obviously lower than yours. I don't mind my emotions being manipulated or lack of plausability - I've believe almost anything I see on film. I'm thinking grandiose attempts are worthy of attention even it's not Bruckenheimer-esque. I found enjoyment in Top Danger, Red Snow and Crash Landing after all! But I'll wait for a less-uber possibly-HK-edition when/if it comes to DVD.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:15 pm

dleedlee wrote:Thanks for your description, Brian. Still, I'm curious to see it myself. My standards are obviously lower than yours. I don't mind my emotions being manipulated or lack of plausability - I've believe almost anything I see on film. I'm thinking grandiose attempts are worthy of attention even it's not Bruckenheimer-esque. I found enjoyment in Top Danger, Red Snow and Crash Landing after all! But I'll wait for a less-uber possibly-HK-edition when/if it comes to DVD.


Oh, this is definitely worth seeing, despite my criticism. Heck, my own standards were modest enough to pay $13 (+ subway fare) to see it on the big screen, despite my skepticism that a Korean movie this big would require Korean emotions every bit as outsized! :lol: The spectacle is definitely there, although on reflection, I realized that many of disaster sequences were "shot" from a considerable distance away. Ostensibly this is to give us a sense of their scope, but I think the budget, as big as it was by Korean standards, only allowed for so much personal interraction between the cast and the rushing water, thus we get three set main set pieces once the disaster hits: Park Joong-hoon rescuing his daughter from her room in a fast-draining room on the upper floor of a devastated hotel; Song Jae-ho, Sol Kyung-gu and Ha Ji Won joining hundreds in fleeing a massive wave as it barrels down a CG-extended street scape, and clinging to telephone poles where they can indulge some more melodrama; and the secondary character mentioned above (a familiar character actor from every K-gangster comedy I've ever seen but whose name escapes me) trying to get off the bridge impacted by the upright freighter ship. Mind you, that's more than enough to expect from any country's first disaster movie, but I suspect Hollywood's money would allow for several additional (possibly fleeting) sequences involving tertiary and bit players facing the disaster on a more intimate level.

I should quality all my bitching by stating that HAEUNDAE is, regardless of its (comparably minor) flaws to jaded western eyes, the most convincing disaster film to ever come out of Asia, and the very Korean-ness I'm bemoaning is what makes it stand out from other attempts in other countries. The Japanese did a pretty slick job with JAPAN SINKS back in 2006, but the Korean film easily supplants it on many technical levels, and part of that, I think, is because it isn't afraid to dumb things down a bit for the domestic audience in order to give them a fun time at the movies. As I said, my main beef was that there's a line drawn, more than half-way through, where the dysfunctional-family drama-comedy suddenly becomes an epic scale disaster movie, whereas I think there could have been a more seamless integration of the two halves.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby ororama » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:34 pm

Evil Dead Trap (1988) Late night cable TV host receives a tape which depicts a murder, and goes with her mostly female crew to investigate the site where she believes it happened. Obviously one of the stupidest groups of victims in horror movie history. Doesn't live up to its hype, but I'm not a fan of the Italian movies that apparently inspired it. The ending is pretty weird.

Evil Dead Trap 2 (1991) Makes Evil Dead Trap look like a masterpiece. This time the serial killer definitely isn't supernatural, but the story is even more incoherent,and the ending is really weird.There are a few beautiful images, but this is probably one of the worst movies that I have ever seen.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:51 pm

ororama wrote:Evil Dead Trap (1988) Late night cable TV host receives a tape which depicts a murder, and goes with her mostly female crew to investigate the site where she believes it happened. Obviously one of the stupidest groups of victims in horror movie history. Doesn't live up to its hype, but I'm not a fan of the Italian movies that apparently inspired it. The ending is pretty weird.

Evil Dead Trap 2 (1991) Makes Evil Dead Trap look like a masterpiece. This time the serial killer definitely isn't supernatural, but the story is even more incoherent,and the ending is really weird.There are a few beautiful images, but this is probably one of the worst movies that I have ever seen.


I've only seen the first but don't forget the un chien andalou reference (I own both of those though). The film definitely was made with the cheap horror/softcore porn mixture. It has its moments but I also didn't overly like it. Now the ending I did like :D.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby ororama » Fri Nov 06, 2009 5:00 pm

I think that I missed the Un Chien Andalou reference in Evil Dead Trap, although I think one of the beautiful images in Evil Dead Trap 2 that I referred to may have been a version of that same shot. I haven't seen Un Chien Andalou in many years, but I think that it is probably the only film that I've seen by Bunuel that I didn't particularly like.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Fri Nov 06, 2009 5:29 pm

ororama wrote:I think that I missed the Un Chien Andalou reference in Evil Dead Trap, although I think one of the beautiful images in Evil Dead Trap 2 that I referred to may have been a version of that same shot. I haven't seen Un Chien Andalou in many years, but I think that it is probably the only film that I've seen by Bunuel that I didn't particularly like.


The shot is the famous eye slit paralleled in Evil Dead Trap. I actually saw EDT before the Buñuel short but I don't feel like revisiting EDT anytime soon (or even watching the sequel for this first time).

I've seen 9 Buñuel films (need to get to that ten spot soon :D; I own a couple more from his Mexican period). I want to get L'Age d'Or or Belle de Jour soon (seen all the Criterion releases of Buñuel). I'm not sure I disliked any that I've seen but DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID might be my least favorite. I wish TRISTANA would get a proper R1 release.

I'm trying to think of some other parallels to Asian cinema from Buñuel but not coming up with any.

On a different note:
Has anyone seen BACKDRAFT and compare it to Johnnie To's directed LIFELINE? Since I saw LIFELINE I am wondering if BACKDRAFT is worth watching and how much did it inspire LIFELINE. The reviews here mention the connection (as well as every book I have) but don't get into too much detail.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:26 pm

Your thoughts on the EVIL DEAD TRAP films—neither of which I've seen—got me to thinking about a more recent J-torture horror I watched called GROTESQUE, a film so extreme Britain banned it! Decided to give it a thread of it's own, as I increasingly hope to do with other stuff I watch, in the hopes of generating interest beyond those few of us who still participate in these catch-all discussions. :D I'll post it here, for those who prefer this format:


Brian Thibodeau wrote: The quote below from Shawn appeared in the "What Have We Been Watching" thread as part of a brief discussion of Japan's EVIL DEAD TRAP films, which got me to thinking about another, more recent such film I watched a couple of months back.


Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:The film definitely was made with the cheap horror/softcore porn mixture.


This aesthetic seems wholly, unique to Japanese culture, especially with so many recent films utilizing actual hard-core porn starlets who are willing to go that extra mile for "realism". American and Euro horrors have had their mix of sex and sadism over the years, but the Japanese seem to have made a cottage industry out of it. Hardly surprising considering their early and casual acceptance of nudity in mainstream film would find its lowest outlet in these sleazy little mock-snuff movies and the like. The "banned in Britain" hoo-hah surrounding the recent Japanese horror-softcore GROTESQUE (2009) led me to view the film via unsavoury online means recently. Having seen a sizable cross section of the horror-sex films from Japan that have been released on HK DVD (which sadly seems to make up a majority of the Japanese cinema released by Hong Kong companies :shock:), I need to see what could possibly be ban-worth in our permissive age.

This is pretty strong meat, clearly designed to out-torture all the other alleged torture "porn" films made to date (most of which seem to come from Japan, anyways), probably the most realistic (at least in its first half), willfully sadistic and ultimately pointless and near-plotless exercise in degradation of recent vintage. The "story" is literally the abduction, humiliation, torture, rape, disembowelment/dismemberment and murder of a pair of fresh-faced young lovers (Tsugumi Nagasawa and Hiroaki Kawatsure) abducted from their date by a depraved, inbred-looking psychopath (Shigeo Osako) who makes various promises to let them go if they can make him orgasm while he performs "experiments" on them, which include—mostly in full view with a bit of clever cutting to make it even more nauseating—all manner of sexual humiliation, snipping, slicing and chainsawing, keeping his victims alive through it all as a test of their love for each other, which never wavers even in the face of impending death. Respite comes when they're allowed to heal—as horrific cripples, nonetheless happy to be alive and together and still very much in love, of course—in a "hospital" room where the pervert gingerly tends to their wounds with further promises to let them go once they fully recover, as thanks for getting him off. He's lying, of course, and they soon wake up back in the torture chamber for one final round of invasive procedures, this one (thankfully, I suppose) much more over-the-top than the first, though no less graphic.

Not much point here, something which seems true of many of the abduction/torture/sex movies that Japan's pink industry has been producing for decades. I haven't seen a lot of this stuff, in case you're wondering. A few years ago, a pair of extreme pink roughies known as WOMAN IN A BOX 1 and 2 (both from the 80's, no less) were probably my first exposure to this rather disturbing undercurrent of Japanese adult filmmaking, and I've rarely had a desire to expand upon the experience as most of the others I've read about sound like more of the same the recent wave of "silly" Japanese sex/horror pictures like CRUEL RESTAURANT, GIRLS SWIM TEAM, ONICHANBARA and the like tend to be exceptions with their cornball FX and willing actresses); bereft of serious screenwriting, there's only so many directions these darker pictures can go. The abject humiliation and ultimate destruction of the human body and mind IS the whole point, apparently, and I can see why it would move conservative types to recommend a ban of something like GROTESQUE, even if such a ban ultimately holds little water in light of the film's increasingly gonzo second half. Nonetheless, it's probably best watched on a sated tummy, as it certainly has the potential to cause dizziness. :lol:
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:32 pm

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Has anyone seen BACKDRAFT and compare it to Johnnie To's directed LIFELINE? Since I saw LIFELINE I am wondering if BACKDRAFT is worth watching and how much did it inspire LIFELINE. The reviews here mention the connection (as well as every book I have) but don't get into too much detail.


I think there are only obvious similarities between these two films, such as you might find when comparing any two films about firefighters: some aspects of the job are simply universal. Personally, I think BACKDRAFT is the better overall film—let's face it, it had a LOT more money and star power behind it—but LIFELINE earned a lot of cred with me for just being a film about Hong Kong firefighters, which was not something we'd seen very often, if at all, in the city's cinema. I thought it was a very good picture, although hardly a great classic by any means. ;)

The best Asian firefighter movie I've seen is Korea's LIBERA ME (2000).
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:52 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote:
Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Has anyone seen BACKDRAFT and compare it to Johnnie To's directed LIFELINE? Since I saw LIFELINE I am wondering if BACKDRAFT is worth watching and how much did it inspire LIFELINE. The reviews here mention the connection (as well as every book I have) but don't get into too much detail.


I think there are only obvious similarities between these two films, such as you might find when comparing any two films about firefighters: some aspects of the job are simply universal. Personally, I think BACKDRAFT is the better overall film—let's face it, it had a LOT more money and star power behind it—but LIFELINE earned a lot of cred with me for just being a film about Hong Kong firefighters, which was not something we'd seen very often, if at all, in the city's cinema. I thought it was a very good picture, although hardly a great classic by any means. ;)

The best Asian firefighter movie I've seen is Korea's LIBERA ME (2000).

On LIFELINE (some possible spoilers):

I thought it had problems with the relationships (not bad, just not convining) and pacing at the beginning. However, the forty minute fire sequence was quite good. It overdid certain elements like the situations like is that person going to die -- well no (and repeat). But the photography of the fire and the ab(use) of the actors worked quite well. So far the only HK firefighting film I have seen :D. I know Jackie Chan for several years wanted to make one on firefighters. This film might have made him reconsider or postpone it (like Melville posponing RED CIRCLE because of THE ASPHALT JUNGLE and RIFIFFI).

In the Teo book on To, Johnnie pretty much states that he had to have a happy ending. Teo jibbed him a bit in an interview about that (if I bring my book to work I'll quote from it and give some of the reasons behind it).

One critic (either Paul Fonoroff or John Charles; I read both reviews close together so I will have to reread to see who stated this), said that some of the plot was taken directly from BEST OF THE BEST (1996). I have not seen that film, but information like that I love :D. I do remember John Charles giving this a 4/10. I find this a bit amusing because of his high (either 9/10 or 10/10) for Executioners. Paul actually has some nice things to say about this film (always surprises me when he is not too surly :)).
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby ororama » Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:33 am

Sukeban Boy (2006) Tough boy who looks like a girl is again expelled from school for fighting, so his father enrolls him in a girl's school as a girl. He finds it is rougher than his old school. Plenty of girls in bras and panties and excessive, ridiculous gore. The director and actors obviously aren't taking the movie seriously. A lot of fun if you approach it in the proper spirit.

The Machine Girl (2008) The director of Sukeban Boy gets a chance at a movie with a bigger budget. A high school girl seeks revenge against the gang that caused her brother's death, but it turns out that their leader is the son of a leading yakuza family. Plenty of torture, mutilation and killing, and some really perverse family relationships. Obviously a comedy because it is so extreme that it can't be taken seriously.It has more gore and a more professional appearance, but it loses some of the breezy feel of Sukeban Boy.

These two movies make a good double feature.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Wed Nov 25, 2009 7:05 pm

some small reviews I might expand later before I put them in our database:

July Rhapsody (2002: Ann Hui: Hong Kong) ***/****:

At first glance (and the first half and hour of this film) it seems that this movie is a laborious and languid effort of relationship malaise. You get the feeling that Ann Hui is trying to cross a Bresson-influenced acting style (this is one scene at the end of the film which is analogous to the end of Pickpocket) with a camera style that is less austeur and more Wong Kar-wai (it is interesting note that the Editor is Kwong Chi-leung who edited Ashes of Time and Chungking Express) though Hui was directing long before Wong. But as the film commences the characters display an arras of interpersonal problems that are a result of themselves and not the others in their life.

Lam Yiu Kwok (Jacky Cheung: Days of Being Wild, Ashes of Time) is a forty-something teacher who is accomplished in his classroom and has had an outstanding scholastic career but has not received the success that his other classmates have had. He has two kids and a wife (Anita Mui: The Heroic Trio, Drunken Master II) who is taking care of a pervious love who is dying. While she has her reasons for doing this it creates a small rift between her and her husband because of it (though nowhere near as much as you might think; while this film has melodramatic elements it presents them with a muted attitude). Unfortunately at this same time a student of Lam's (Katrena Lam) is pursuing him recklessly. Her performance is a key to this film (she would win a HK Film award for her performance). She is no Lolita though and no femme fatale. She is a strong-headed and a precocious youth who really does not need school (though you do wonder what she seems in him; apparently he is more interesting in class than his more morose personality in the film).

This would be Anita Mui's final performance before her death from cervical cancer. While is not quite as apparent as Steve McQueen in The Hunter, she does not look healthy. Her delivery and mannerisms are quite different here then what I have normally seen from her. Watching this and Rouge show her to be quite a talented actress (her comedy scenes in Drunken Master II are quite good).

This is my first film from Ann Hui. While she is quite well known amongst Asian critic circles she is not as well known here. Her most famous film, which I really want to see, The Boat People is only available on R3/Pal. I am quite impressed though. There is some beautifully visual styles though sometimes certain movements are overdone and without purpose. This movie I saw on a R0 Universe release. While many of their releases can be hit and miss (like Tai Seng) this one is of decent quality.

The Longest Nite (1998: Patrick Yau Tat-chi) ***/****:

Before I was ready to watch Mad Detective (hopefully this week before the 2008 S&S deadline), I needed to see The Longest Nite which has several parallel themes. This is an early film in the Milkyway catalogue which was officially directed by Patrick Yau but later it was found out that Johnnie To took over directing duties rather early in the production (To mentions this again in Stephen Teo's book Director in Action). His touch can be seen throughout this film from its pacing, actors (of course Milkyway stock) and other cinematic references.

The Longest Nite is a labyrinth of plot twists and character juxtapositions that sometimes get lost amongst the beautiful cinematography (Ko Chiu-Lam and another regular employee in Cheng Siu-Keung) and the nihilistic and sadistic content (with some definite echoes of the Election series). What is missing most is any character development or motivation.

Sam (Tony Leung Chiu-wai: Happy Together, Hero) is a crooked Macau detective who is trying to find a mysterious triad member (Lau Ching-wan: Expect the Unexpected, Mad Detective) during the background of a possible triad war. Mr Lung, an elderly triad leader who resides elsewhere has control of the region. Two factions have rumored to agree to join forces to try to take over the region from Mr Lung. Sam tries to prevent this war but after a headless corpse is found in his apartment with a number scrawled in his hand he soon finds himself in over his head.

One of the most interesting scenes takes place in a warehouse (a homage to Lady From Shanghai and Enter the Dragon) where there is a duel between the two main characters (I feel it is used more effectively than the analogous scene in Fulltime Killer – though I do like that too). The use of lighting, shadows and placement of cameras are used superlatively for these doppelgangers.

Fans of Hong Kong triad/cop films should definitely seek this out. The acting is quite goodJust be warned that there are no redeemable characters and the mood of melancholy permeates every corner of the movie. Just do not peek what's in that duffel bag.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby cal42 » Thu Nov 26, 2009 8:46 am

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:The Longest Nite (1998: Patrick Yau Tat-chi) ***/****:



I'd never heard of this film. Thanks for the review; it sounds good. I trust Lam Suet makes an appearance? :wink:
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:21 am

cal42 wrote:I'd never heard of this film. Thanks for the review; it sounds good. I trust Lam Suet makes an appearance? :wink:


This film is a must if you want to see the genesis of the style that Johnnie To (and to a great degree Wai Ka-fai) would become known for on nearly every action/crime/thriller film that he made after it. It's still often labelled a Patrick Yau film at many review sites (including IMDB, Love HK Film, etc.), but to watch it in retrospect, which you'll be doing, is to see the stirrings of something great. Yau reputedly directed just five scenes before a) becoming creatively blocked or b) being replaced by To and Wai, who were producing. Perhaps the book Shawn mentions reveals more detail?? I viewed this when it first hit DVD (or VCD?) in 1998-ish—before any of the great Johnnie To pictures that would follow—and can remember being utterly blown away, thinking "this is extremely cool, and this Patrick Yau's gonna be a name to watch out for!" Years later, I discovered the behind-the-scenes truth and, having by then seen all of To's subsequent pictures, it made perfect sense that he was really the guiding hand on this one, and the experience obviously showed him the way of his future. ;)

I don't think Yau had much to do with EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED, either, which bears his name but To's fingerprints on nearly every scene.

LOSER'S CLUB from 2001, on the other hand, is probably more representative of Yau's capabilities, and it might explain why he's mostly worked in television ever since.

More on the To/Yau split can be read here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milkyway_Image
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:02 am

Brian Thibodeau wrote:
cal42 wrote:I'd never heard of this film. Thanks for the review; it sounds good. I trust Lam Suet makes an appearance? :wink:


This film is a must if you want to see the genesis of the style that Johnnie To (and to a great degree Wai Ka-fai) would become known for on nearly every action/crime/thriller film that he made after it. It's still often labelled a Patrick Yau film at many review sites (including IMDB, Love HK Film, etc.), but to watch it in retrospect, which you'll be doing, is to see the stirrings of something great. Yau reputedly directed just five scenes before a) becoming creatively blocked or b) being replaced by To and Wai, who were producing. Perhaps the book Shawn mentions reveals more detail?? I viewed this when it first hit DVD (or VCD?) in 1998-ish—before any of the great Johnnie To pictures that would follow—and can remember being utterly blown away, thinking "this is extremely cool, and this Patrick Yau's gonna be a name to watch out for!" Years later, I discovered the behind-the-scenes truth and, having by then seen all of To's subsequent pictures, it made perfect sense that he was really the guiding hand on this one, and the experience obviously showed him the way of his future. ;)

I don't think Yau had much to do with EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED, either, which bears his name but To's fingerprints on nearly every scene.

LOSER'S CLUB from 2001, on the other hand, is probably more representative of Yau's capabilities, and it might explain why he's mostly worked in television ever since.

More on the To/Yau split can be read here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milkyway_Image


Of course Lam Suet is in it :D.

Brian, Yau was also relived of duties on EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED (I do own this and have seen it) and To has stated he was the main director of this (I include this on my To page filmography on criterionforms but this site does not). Especially with the "Team Spirit" motif the film definitely feels like To (and an ending which I did not quite like which really reminds you of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN in some regards. I will look tomorrow to see if I have a capsule review of EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.

Later when I have the book (or I do a real review for THE LONGEST NITE) I will quote on that film. I would possibly raise it another half a star (I do not like EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED as much as this film). THE LONGEST NITE is a harsh film and a difficult one, but it is quite brilliant.

Quick note: I was twenty minutes from finishing CASINO RAIDERS when the damn DVD would not go any farther. I lost another half an hour trying to push through the pixalization and stoppage. I am pissed. I wanted to get through that film before I went on to either GOD OF GAMBLERS or CASINO RAIDERS 2 (which is not a real sequel and directed by To).

Also I've been working on a PROJECT A II review which I'll have done in a week or so.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:08 am

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:(and an ending which I did not quite like which really reminds you of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN in some regards.


Well, chronologically speaking, NO COUNTRY should remind you of EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED. ;)



Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Quick note: I was twenty minutes from finishing CASINO RAIDERS when the damn DVD would not go any farther. I lost another half an hour trying to push through the pixalization and stoppage. I am pissed. I wanted to get through that film before I went on to either GOD OF GAMBLERS or CASINO RAIDERS 2 (which is not a real sequel and directed by To).


I'm a big fan of both CASINO RAIDERS films, and slightly prefer the second over the first. I think both are quintessential HK movies of the time. The HK disc of the CASINO RAIDERS 2 has a trailer that features a rather interesting looking car chase that doesn't appear in the film itself, at least on this particular DVD, which makes me wonder if there's a longer version out there, or the sequence was legitimately dropped before the film hit theatres. The "official" sequel to CASINO RAIDERS is actually NO RISK NO GAIN, which is likewise unrelated to the first one but reunites more of the original cast than the To film.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:48 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote:
Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:(and an ending which I did not quite like which really reminds you of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN in some regards.


Well, chronologically speaking, NO COUNTRY should remind you of EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED. ;)

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Quick note: I was twenty minutes from finishing CASINO RAIDERS when the damn DVD would not go any farther. I lost another half an hour trying to push through the pixalization and stoppage. I am pissed. I wanted to get through that film before I went on to either GOD OF GAMBLERS or CASINO RAIDERS 2 (which is not a real sequel and directed by To).


I'm a big fan of both CASINO RAIDERS films, and slightly prefer the second over the first. I think both are quintessential HK movies of the time. The HK disc of the CASINO RAIDERS 2 has a trailer that features a rather interesting looking car chase that doesn't appear in the film itself, at least on this particular DVD, which makes me wonder if there's a longer version out there, or the sequence was legitimately dropped before the film hit theatres. The "official" sequel to CASINO RAIDERS is actually NO RISK NO GAIN, which is likewise unrelated to the first one but reunites more of the original cast than the To film.


Well I did see NO COUNTRY after I watched EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED :D (both within the past few months). I'm not saying there was an influence but there certainly a mixture of a PSYCHO style turn and that ending.

I'm going to have to pick up another copy of CASINO RAIDERS (I do own CASINO RAIDERS 2, GOD OF GAMBLERS, but not NO RISK NO GAIN which I need to get -- thanks for reminding me). I hate not finishing a film (even if I knew what was going to happen :D -- yes much is mentioned in Bordwell's PLANET HONG KONG book which I brought today but forgot to bring the To book). Many books talk about the gambler films and I had been wanting to start them for awhile. Most critics (especially HK critics) seem to prefer GOD OF GAMBLERS from that bunch, but enjoyed what I saw of CASINO RAIDERS (everything but the damn ending).

Reading through Bordwell's book it seems that he is wrong about CASINO RAIDERS in a few passages. I will double check when I get another copy of CASINO RAIDERS as well as watch CASINO RAIDERS II to make sure he is not getting those confused.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Tue Jan 05, 2010 8:06 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote:...I'm a big fan of both CASINO RAIDERS films, and slightly prefer the second over the first. I think both are quintessential HK movies of the time. The HK disc of the CASINO RAIDERS 2 has a trailer that features a rather interesting looking car chase that doesn't appear in the film itself, at least on this particular DVD, which makes me wonder if there's a longer version out there, or the sequence was legitimately dropped before the film hit theatres. The "official" sequel to CASINO RAIDERS is actually NO RISK NO GAIN, which is likewise unrelated to the first one but reunites more of the original cast than the To film.


I saw the trailer last night (and the film CASINO RAIDERS 2) and yes I noticed that chase scene including the bouncing balls which is not in the movie. I'm not sure on why it was dropped (of course trailers with deleted material is not new :)), but the Teo book does not talk much about CASINO RAIDERS 2 unfortunately. I will check my other books on this film tonight, but don't expect much. The reviews in the VideoHound's Dragon: Asian Action & Cult Flicks don't add much except for plot summary (some reviews are better than others in that book).

For the heck of it I did this:

Top 10 Hong Kong films of the decade:

1. Throw Down (2004: Johnnie To): There is a certainly ineffable element to this movie that keeps me thinking about it. Is it the references to Kurosawa? Is it the hopelessness of the main character and his possible redemption? Nah, it must be the mumbling, video game playing, judo throwing Triad member.
2. Infernal Affairs (2002, Hong Kong, Andrew Lau Wai-Keung, Alan Mak Siu-Fai): While I like The Departed, I saw this first and it helped me affirm my love for HK cinema.
3. Sparrow (2008: Johnnie To): Read my review http://hkmdb.com/db/reviews/show_review.mhtml?id=14424.
4. In The Mood For Love (2000: Wong Kar-wai: Hong Kong): Beautifully moving film from Wong.
5. Election (2005: Johnnie To): The film along with PTU that got me back into Johnnie To.
6. Kung Fu Hustle (2004, Hong Kong, Stephen Chow): I really can't decide between this or Shaolin Soccer.
7. Shaolin Soccer (2001, Hong Kong, Stephen Chow): A toss up between this and Kung Fu Hustle.
8. Infernal Affairs II (2003, Hong Kong, Andrew Lau Wai-Keung, Alan Mak Siu-Fai): Has one of Francis Ng's greatest performances. An underrated sequel.
9. July Rhapsody (2002: Ann Hui: Hong Kong): One of the slowest beginnings comes with one of the most endearing endings. My first Ann Hui film.
10. Flashpoint (2007: Wilson Yip): One of the greatest martial art endings ever. This is not an overstatement. Though shouldn't SPL be here instead?
My Amazon Reviews

“That’s Icky to Infinity.” – The Tick
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby cal42 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:53 pm

Great list, Shawn (even though I disagree with one of your choices, naturally :P ). It's got me thinking, but I'm not sure I could pick a good enough list, as I STILL don't think I've seen enough films from the decade in question. I'd have EXILED in there for sure though.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:00 pm

cal42 wrote:Great list, Shawn (even though I disagree with one of your choices, naturally :P ). It's got me thinking, but I'm not sure I could pick a good enough list, as I STILL don't think I've seen enough films from the decade in question. I'd have EXILED in there for sure though.


Which choice? I know July Rhapsody is not liked by everyone :D. Just have fun with the lists they are never that serious. I think no matter what we always want to watch more films (460 movies watched last year :D) and I'm always looking to see more.

It's OK, you should see my top 50 list of the decade (all countries). EXILED is in my top 50 list BTW.
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