What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

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

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Thu Jun 07, 2007 4:04 am

Wow!!! Good to see you're at least back up to full typing speed, Mike! I never knew there was so much business going on behind the scenes here, least of all campaigns. Kinda unfair to those of us who keep it open here in the forums. Bummer. I must admit—for those reading—that I did PM Mike regarding one "issue" a long time ago, and that was indeed a lengthy response to an earlier decision to leave the site, but now I know why I never received a response! :shock: I even sent a PM tonight (to someone else) that basically parroted a thought I've shared in various threads hereabouts, but I never knew that the posting of opinions here was leading to so much backstage lobbying there! Hell, I didn't even know there was a powers-that-be heirarchy in place, outside of the top spot. And here I've mainly been using the private message system to swap VCDs. :oops: Looks like I've been missing out! Regardless, I might not always agree with everybody's thoughts—maybe even wrongheadedly—but I'll defend your right to voice them, etc. etc. and so forth ;)
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Thu Jun 07, 2007 4:33 am

Almost hate to attempt to bring this thread on topic after such passionate discourse, but I just noticed some updated reviews in posts on page 2 (if only I'd seen those sooner, eh? :lol: ), particularly the review of RICE RHAPSODY. I've got this around here somewhere and now I'm thinking it might be worth moving up in the pile. Just curious, was the film controversial at all in Singapore/Malaysia do the inclusion of gay characters? From what you've said Mike regarding the risque content of the LEGEND ABOUT HUNTING GHOST "documentaries" in another thread, I'm curious to know how the culture would respond to something like this, if at all, or if the movie even gives it much thought.
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Postby Mike Thomason » Thu Jun 07, 2007 5:10 am

Brian Thibodeau wrote:...RICE RHAPSODY. I've got this around here somewhere and now I'm thinking it might be worth moving up in the pile. Just curious, was the film controversial at all in Singapore/Malaysia do the inclusion of gay characters?


Yes, Brian, the film was quite controversial in Singapore itself, and its release was debated by the domestic censors there for over a month (there were talks of it being refused release due to content) before it was eventually granted a release. There's a little more about the issues raised and the fight Kenneth Bi had with Singapore's censorship board here.

As for neighbouring Malaysia? No idea...it screened on TV on one of the Sarawak networks while I was there one time, though (but I didn't watch the broadcast as I still had the film sitting at home on DVD to watch and I didn't want to "spoil" that) so I'd say there wasn't quite so much concern about it -- it's available everywhere there on DVD/VCD in the shops too.

This was just a ploy to keep me here until I get banned, right? :P
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:23 am

Yes, Brian, the film was quite controversial in Singapore itself, and its release was debated by the domestic censors there for over a month (there were talks of it being refused release due to content) before it was eventually granted a release. There's a little more about the issues raised and the fight Kenneth Bi had with Singapore's censorship board here.


Interesting interview. Bi mentions that he had enough material from his own life that he didn't have to reference Ang Lee's two similar films. Is there an autobiographical tinge to the movie, I wonder?

This was just a ploy to keep me here until I get banned, right?


Ye of little faith! Believe it or not, no. I don't usually read back through threads, but doing so in this one to try and see how everything goes so wacky so quickly in these internet forum thingies made me notice your damned placeholders were filling up :lol:, which means I'll probably have to flip back through other threads as well, I suspect! Figured I should address the ones that interest me now just to be safe! :D I don't like to think people will get banned solely for expressing worthy opinions, although it's tough not to (personally only) feel like everyone's getting the same coat of paint sometimes no matter how hard we try to make things better. But still, hardly seems ban-worthy, at least to me. (and I still think the site has plenty of potential, so there! 8) :lol: )
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Postby Mike Thomason » Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:59 am

Brian Thibodeau wrote:I don't like to think people will get banned solely for expressing worthy opinions, although it's tough not to (personally only) feel like everyone's getting the same coat of paint sometimes no matter how hard we try to make things better...and I still think the site has plenty of potential, so there! 8) :lol: )


Trust me, you and the majority are not being tarred with the same brush, but I felt it was time to make clear the issues I have had over my tenure here that have left me feeling somewhat marginalised. Most here have proved worthwhile individuals indeed -- just during my time as editor (which I am not vying for reinstatement) there were a handful of people I continually went to bat for out of PM correspondence, who promptly dropped me like a hot potato when I did; maybe instead of playing Devil's Advocate for those few I should have been more assertive that they stepped up of their own accord and aired their greivances themselves?

Yes, the site has great potential, that I won't deny -- but a measured and reserved (over the formerly passionate) stance would do me far better in the short-term; we'll see where things are at and the evolutionary status of things in a few years time... 8)
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Thu Jun 07, 2007 6:16 pm

I'll Digress for a second:

Finally saw Elimination Pursuit (aka 3 Famous Constables) Taiwan 1983: I love getting these Taiwanese (or according to the Rarescope cover Tainwan one of the funnier misspellings, normally this would point to a bootleg but eh its Rarescope) films that actually have decent Martial Arts or in this case swordplay. Good review by ewaffle so I will not go over the plot (which is best since it is a little confusing). Rarescope actually has a pretty bad copy with burnt in subtitles (the ones with Chinese too), lots of flare and film degradation.

Mr. Booth, I want to hear your opinios on the extras on Born to Fight (1986). I felt they were much stronger than the R1 extras on Spirited Killer. The second film (Best Buy edition only) has a horrible copy of Thai Police Story (no idea what original name was; Panna did about 40 films in such a short time so quality appears to have suffered.

Meanwhile back to the previous conversation:

My opinion on the subject of what should be in the database (and this is what I was told when I originally joined this fine place) is that the films should only be of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland. This was we can keep the conceptual integrity of the database (well not straying too far from the titular Hong Kong Movie Database).

I'm not against non-clickable movie slots (like Brian has mentioned) but I'm not sure films like Golgo 13 (as interesting as these films can be) belong in the database. Films like Cannoball Run probably have a better right (I'm not saying this should be in here) since it was partially produced by Golden Harvest. The more fine-grained approach this database takes the easier to keep the quality (and improve it) of this site.

Of course I would like to see a really good Japanese movie database. Maybe use web services to communicate between the two :-D.

I also believe in the right of discussion so I too would not want to see Mike banned. This site has plenty of potential (maybe RSS feeds off of columns -- and I enjoy this place very much).
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Postby Gaijin84 » Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:37 pm

Of course I would like to see a really good Japanese movie database. Maybe use web services to communicate between the two :D .


Working on it! :oops:
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Postby cal42 » Fri Jun 08, 2007 7:23 am

Obviously I feel a bit guilty about bringing up Golgo 13 at all now :oops:
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Postby Mike Thomason » Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:59 pm

Anybody want me to continue where I left off before we all (well, mainly me) got a little sidetracked? That includes bumping up capsule reviews in all those empty placeholders that I left... :P

(I've watched loads of Asian flicks since we crashed and burned this one -- as well as quite a few old Hammer films!)
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:41 pm

Funny, I was just about to revive this one, but you beat me to the punch! Haven't read back through yet (have to remember to do that!), but I can add this for now (although I suppose is should be in the Contempo HK thread, but it still fits here, I guess):

I watched a movie called SET UP last night and was rather impressed on a B-movie level. Seems like a throwaway Wong Jing screenplay that actually resulted in a not-bad film. Not great, but not bad. Christy Chung is left temporarily blinded by the most unconvincing lasik surgery ever, and terrorized by three gold thieves in her sister's secluded house. Blind women in peril movies go way back, and this one reminded me an awful lot of an old favourite, WAIT UNTIL DARK (I wonder if Christy's character name Siu was a deliberate not to Audrey Hepburn's "Suzy" in the older film! Not likely, but I'm not too worried :lol:), except that the opening moments contain such a jaw-dropingly blatant....set up for the finale that you can't help but automatically adjust your expectations. It's spoiling nothing to say that Christy's bridal shower gifts from her sister and friends include precisely the following: a scuba-diving spear gun, a mallet and stakes (she's a horror novelist, so it's supposed to be a gimmick gift, I guess) and a pretty little heart-shaped box full of rapist repellents! Despite this, the filmmakers don't waver too much from the high concept, and the only unneccessary silliness (since this IS a Wong Jing production after all) involves Tony Ho and a toilet bowl.

I think the DB entry for this one requires a bit of updating, though. It's listed as a 2005 release, but the film bears a copyright of 2003! Any ideas why this one was held up for so long? I realize it's not classic, but I'd have thought they could've either given it a couple of theatrical screens or even dumped it on video long before 2005... :?


I also watched KARMIC MAHJONG, which I just had to pull from the pile after noticing several internet reviewers were disappointed that the film WASN'T a gambling movie because it had "Mahjong" in the title. It's pretty obvious that it isn't supposed to be a gambling film. It's nice to see a mainland Chinese film take much-deserved swipe at phony mysticism without seeming didactic or desperate to please the government. Sounds like the censors aren't as strict as the used to be anyways, but I recall reading on Variety's website that the producers still insisted on submitting the script for approval nonetheless. The performances from the three leads were quite good, especially Francis Ng as the chronically ill-fated car detailer who's told by a sham fortune teller to rid himself of "villains." I found the "troubled" relationship dynamics between Francis Ng and Leung Ching (as his wife and the "villain" he comes to believe must be eliminated) to be a bit familiar, but perhaps that would be fresher for audiences in China. Definitely a welcome departure from the social realism of the director's earlier films. The wry humour is situational, but thankfully they don't play it like a sit-com, which is what might have happened had something like this been made in Hong Kong.

Also watched the airplane hijack thriller OPERATION COUGAR. Dull, dull, dull, and sequences that would normally carry most of the suspense in a film such as this—high level meetings, pan-Asian politicking, dogged media investigations—are entirely told in still-photo montages that have a suspiciously high amount of stock travel photography! :shock: Now I know why Zhang Yimou has stayed away from contemporary-set films for so long! Gong Li even won a film award for her performance here, but you'll definitely wonder about the voting process!
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Postby cal42 » Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:47 pm

I've watched a couple more Sonny Chiba films - Yakuza Deka and the sequel Yakuza Deka: The Assassination. Not as entertaining as I expected them to be, to be honest.

Finally got round to watching Fearless as well, which I've written about in me blog as usual.
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Mon Jun 25, 2007 5:49 pm

Ninjas and Dragons (1984): In this joint Japanese/Taiwanese production (Junya Takagi said it never shown in Japan) the student of Sonny Chiba (Junya Takagi) goes after his father's killer (and there is an anti-coup sub plot). Forgetable plot with decent action and ninjitsu skills. The Rarescope print looks good. However, it has the normal Rarescope annoyance with burnt in subtitles. I finally have watched all of the Rarescope R1 releases and would have to say that this is not a must have :). This film is not in the database, does anyone have any information on this film?

Above the Law (1986) HK: Awesome action and not so awesome western influenced vigilante plot. Yuen said he was dissapointed with the acting in this film but very proud of the stunts. The one scene where he fell and landed on his neck (not shown, only shown as an up angle after he falls from the airplane) Yuen considered it his closest call to being seriously injured. I am not the biggest Rothrock fan though her fight scenes are very good especially her fights with Yuen and Karen Sheperd (her style is too stiff for me probably because of her background in forms). The Dragon Dynasty edition is decent with nice extras of Yuen Biao, Rothrock and Peter Cunningham interviews (of course the alternate endings too).

Shower (1999) Mainland. A film I recommend to people looking for comedy/drama (warning a copious review: http://hkmdb.com/db/reviews/show_review.mhtml?id=13287)
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Postby ewaffle » Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:16 am

The non-HK films have been Kurosawa/Mifune Samurai movies. Recently: Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Hidden Fortress, Throne of Blood (this may not count as a Samurai movie as such) with Seven Samurai next.

Next in line may be the Hiroshi Inagaki trilogy.
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Postby Mike Thomason » Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:25 pm

I have absolutely no idea where to start since my last post pertaining to actually watching a movie (Frankie Chan's IQ Dudettes, back on the 2nd of June), as I've watched quite a number of movies...so I'm just going to list what I've watched and if anyone wants any more depth about a particular (Asian) title, just ask... :)

Asian films watched since 02/06:
Between Love & Hate (2006, South Korea, 120m), Bloody Tie* (2006, South Korea, 117m), The Coast Guard (2002, South Korea, 94m), I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK (2006, South Korea, 107m), Marathon (2005, South Korea, 117m), Mission Sex Control (2006, South Korea, 110m), A Mob Story (2007, Hong Kong, 90m), My Wife Is A Gangster 3 (2006, South Korea, 116m), Old Miss Diary (2006, South Korea, 110m), R-Point* (2004, South Korea, 107m), Twilight Garden (2000, Hong Kong, 91m) and I fell asleep 40m into Super Fans (2007, Hong Kong, 93m).

Non-Asian films watched since 02/06:
Emanuelle Around The World (1977, Italy, 98m), Emanuelle In Bangkok (1976, Italy, 92m), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed* (1969, Great Britain, 101m), Taste The Blood Of Dracula* (1969, Great Britain, 95m), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2* (1986, United States, 101m), Twins Of Evil* (1971, Great Britain) and Vampire Circus* (1971, Great Britain).

* Repeat viewings!
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Postby dleedlee » Mon Jul 09, 2007 5:49 pm

3 anti-blockbusters from the Mainland and all worthy of recommendation. Coincidentally, all were released this year which bodes well for the near future I hope.

Teeth of Love - the literal pain of love is depicted in this compelling story. Yan Bingyan gives a remarkable chameleon-like performance as the young student who blossoms into an attractive student and finally mature woman. Each stage is hallmarked by a painful romantic encounter.
http://hkmdb.com/db/movies/view.mhtml?i ... ay_set=eng


Call For Love - a comic modern story about a man who scratches his seven year itch by divorcing his wife and then finds a magic cell phone that grants him ten encounters with a different type of woman. Features familiar faces from Crazy Stone and a bevy of beauties including Fan Bingbing and Eva Huang Shengyi.
http://hkmdb.com/db/movies/view.mhtml?i ... ay_set=eng

Getting Home - a black comedy and a cinematic rendition of a picaresque novel. Zhao takes his old (and very dead) buddy Liu back to his native village near Chongqing for burial. Travelling together by bus, truck, cart and tractor tire but mostly with Liu on his back, Zhao encounters a cross-section of humanity, some good and some not so good. Alternately swindled, robbed and assisted, Zhao achieves his goal only to be met with one more final surprise. Features a nice little segment with old Wu Ma, too.
http://hkmdb.com/db/movies/view.mhtml?i ... ay_set=eng

All three are solidly entertaining.
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Mon Jul 09, 2007 6:15 pm

ewaffle wrote:The non-HK films have been Kurosawa/Mifune Samurai movies. Recently: Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Hidden Fortress, Throne of Blood (this may not count as a Samurai movie as such) with Seven Samurai next.

...


All of those jidai geki are great. I'm such a huge fan of Yojimbo.

The Lower Depths aka Donzoko (1957) Japan:

This weekend I finished Kurosawa's 1957 The Lower Depths (also a Kurosawa/Mifune collaboration). Based on Maxim Gorky's play (and I've heard it is more faithful to the original than the earlier adaptation by Jean Renoir; actually Renoir complemented Akira Kurosawa in creating a better version than himself; I will probably watch that movie this week).

It is a moving comedic tragedy that is a departure from most of Kurosawa's other work. He uses a two-set design that is much more static than most of his work, though he keeps his multiple camera rolling in the claustrophic environment. It somewhat reminds me of the experimentations from Hitchcock with single set design (Rope, Lifeboat, Rear Window).

It is an ensemble piece with Mifune (Sutekichi) giving an excellent performance as a thief in love with a termagant landlady's sister (Kyôko Kagawa who is also in the Bad Sleep Well, High and Low and Red Beard). There are so many good performances in this film though (this film deserves a real review :)).

After watching this film I recommend reading Donald Richie's essay on this film in his brilliant book on Kurosawa "The Films of Akira Kurosawa, 3rd Edition". He has a commentary on the Criterion DVD that I will definitely check out later (I have too many commentaries that I want to hear piling up :-)).

Since I have now seen (and own) all of the Criterion Kurosawa's (though I'm going to rewatch Ran and Hidden Fortress) I just hope they come out with more (like Drunken Angel) or his older films on Eclipse.

Also saw One-Armed Swordsman (1967) and Warriors Two (1978) again, but I'm working on a review of that film and possible the Wang Yu film too.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Mon Jul 09, 2007 8:54 pm

Yikes, doing a flip back through this thread reveals Mike has pointed out yet another one of our DB flaws in his inserted review of I.Q. DUDETTES a couple weeks back.

Amazing facts: .........and 2) Malaysian actress Irene Santiago (of Malaysian-Filipino lineage) receives zero credit on either the DVD sleeve or this DB, even though she's the leading actress in the film! Must suck to be a high profile Malaysian and so often get ignored by the international, as well as SE Asian, communities!


I'm not sure how many people would have caught this since a lot of us here don't exactly get to see a lot of Malaysian cinema and, apparently, even the DVD company couldn't be bothered to credit this leading actress on it's sleeve :shock:! I trust the poor girl is given proper credit on screen at least? I might be able to get a screen grab tonight, and then we can get this posted in Additions where it can be taken care of properly, but my first thought was to draw further attention to it since it's been pointed out in this thread and undoubtedly some folks might have missed it if they didn't re-read it.

At least she's not totally ignored hereabouts. :D She does reside in our DB, so the necessary link won't take long to make.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Mon Jul 09, 2007 9:08 pm

He has a commentary on the Criterion DVD that I will definitely check out later (I have too many commentaries that I want to hear piling up ).


I would give anything to have DVD commentaries made available through Itunes and the like (and not just stuff like Rifftrax and homemade commentaries). I realize it's best to listen to them while you're actually watching the film, but let's be honest, most people who listen to commentaries—especially ones by the likes of Richie—have probably got the film etched in their brains already (even after one viewing), and could logically listen to just the commentary on an mp3 player or a work computer or what have you.

I've listened to nearly every commentary on every disc in my collection with the exception of some titles picked up in the last six months or so since I moved, and the only way I could do it was buy running the discs on my work computer with the video viewer off but the audio turned on. Dull job made instantly more enjoyable as movies I'd seen replayed themselves in my brain while the commentators did their thing.

Sadly, my Mac at my new job hasn't got a DVD drive, so my Ipod gets a solid workout everyday, but man, what I wouldn't do to have a handful of new commentaries every week. But then I can imagine the studios bitching about it hurting DVD sales or something... :(
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Tue Jul 10, 2007 8:54 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote:
I would give anything to have DVD commentaries made available through Itunes and the like (and not just stuff like Rifftrax and homemade commentaries). I realize it's best to listen to them while you're actually watching the film, but let's be honest, most people who listen to commentaries—especially ones by the likes of Richie—have probably got the film etched in their brains already (even after one viewing), and could logically listen to just the commentary on an mp3 player or a work computer or what have you.
...


It would be great to have certain commentaries on .mp3 (though I would get behind on my music while at work :)).

Last year I listened to many more commentaries then this year (been focusing more on so many different genre's of catching up :)) so I have have a whole section of commentaries I need to listen too (maybe 60 or so). The best Asian movie commentary I've heard this year (this should tell you I haven't heard too many commentaries this year) has been Toby Russell (though he does seem uncomfortable talking and has stated that he never wants to do a commentary again) and Wang Tao in Along Comes A Tiger. The worst commentary this year (not Asian) has been (other than Tim Burton's Batman Returns commentary) surprise Marian Keane's commentary on Spellbound (Criterion) where she talks Ad Nauseum about pseudosexual psychology (look he carries a smaller knife than the professor).

Quick question have you heard the Warrior's Two commentary (yes its Bey Logan) and how much good info does it have (most reviewers have stated only basic facts about this commentary except Bey talks about tea finger tapping which I already know)?
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Wed Jul 11, 2007 1:21 am

Figured out the Irene Santiago mix-up. Turns out she's not ignored here at all (shame shame on those other sites though, including IMDB, where both "versions" of her are credited in I.Q. DUDETTES :D ).

Here, she's been included in the DB cast list for I.Q. DUDETTES under her Chinese name as it appears in the opening credits, which appears to have been then sounded-out for an English spelling (as Sin Oi-Lin), only someone forgot to add her proper English name after the fact. For a leading actress, though, they sure billed her far enough down in the credits. Now I'm even more curious to see this one. :?

http://hkmdb.com/db/people/view.mhtml?i ... y_set=big5

http://hkmdb.com/db/people/view.mhtml?i ... ay_set=eng

I'd imagine a merge is in the works:
http://hkmdb.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=63305#63305


...
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Postby Mike Thomason » Wed Jul 11, 2007 6:43 am

Brian Thibodeau wrote:I'm not sure how many people would have caught this since a lot of us here don't exactly get to see a lot of Malaysian cinema...


Irene was only a model and dancer before she made the short sojourn to Hong Kong and appearances in a handful of films there; apparently, though (as my wife informs me), she's quite well known at home. :)
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Mon Jul 23, 2007 9:25 pm

Early Spring (1956) Japan: I always enjoy watching Ozu films though I would only recommend his works to the few who like slow relationship dominated cinema.

Early Spring is about an unhappy office worker (salary) Shoji Sugiyama who has an affair with "Goldfish" a gregacious office worker who he states to his wife "looks good from afar but not close ...". Since it takes place in a post-WWII economy there is a burgening economy and more emphasis put on the "salary" worker. However, Sugiyama is one of the masses who feel disaffected by this cog-in-the-machine employment (hence the affair).

Another great film Japanese film from the 50s. This comes in an R1 Eclipse set of Ozu. It looks rather good, no extras and occasional flicker.

Small note: I finally listened to the commentary on Hard Boiled from the Criterion edition. Excellent commentary with John Woo having the definitive comments on such things as his referencing Le cercle rouge (Melville), the original script, what the hospital scene could possibly be a metaphor for and more. Great analytical points from Dave Kehr. WOuld liked to have heard more from Terence Chang. Roger Avery was the weak one on the disk with no great insight (though he did mention calling John Woo and hearing music from Lawrence of Arabia on the answering machine). This commentary (along with the Fox Lorber one) would be nice to fine a transcription of.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Tue Jul 24, 2007 12:55 am

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Small note: I finally listened to the commentary on Hard Boiled from the Criterion edition. Excellent commentary with John Woo having the definitive comments on such things as his referencing Le cercle rouge (Melville), the original script, what the hospital scene could possibly be a metaphor for and more. Great analytical points from Dave Kehr. WOuld liked to have heard more from Terence Chang. Roger Avery was the weak one on the disk with no great insight (though he did mention calling John Woo and hearing music from Lawrence of Arabia on the answering machine). This commentary (along with the Fox Lorber one) would be nice to fine a transcription of.


Both of those tracks would be ideal mp3 downloads (preferably legit, of course) that one could sync up on an ipod or what have you, especially now that the market for those particular DVDs has dwindled somewhat. The Fox/Lorber commentary, if I recall correctly, removes Kehr and the pointless Avary and expands both Woo and Chang to even better effect. For all I know, though, they may have recorded new tracks (they're separate again) and simply covered the bases all over again. As you've probably read elsewhere ;), masterofoneinchpunch, the commentary on the new R1 release leaves a bit to be desired. But then, I suppose Fox/Lorber wasn't about to loan them such a rewarding track.
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Tue Jul 24, 2007 9:59 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote:
Both of those tracks would be ideal mp3 downloads (preferably legit, of course) that one could sync up on an ipod or what have you, especially now that the market for those particular DVDs has dwindled somewhat. The Fox/Lorber commentary, if I recall correctly, removes Kehr and the pointless Avary and expands both Woo and Chang to even better effect. For all I know, though, they may have recorded new tracks (they're separate again) and simply covered the bases all over again. As you've probably read elsewhere ;), masterofoneinchpunch, the commentary on the new R1 release leaves a bit to be desired. But then, I suppose Fox/Lorber wasn't about to loan them such a rewarding track.


I'm borrowing the Fox Lorber Hard Boiled disk this weekend so I'll know by then if it is expanded commentary or a completely new one. Nowadays, most likely Criterion would have separated the commentaries out (Roger Avery/Dave Kehr --- FYI: his RSS Feed http://davekehr.com/?feed=rss2) and John Woo/T Chang. Of course they really need to take to HK/China/Taiwan cinema more.

I am interested in hearing the Logan commentary just to see the differences (maybe buy that off Brian :)).

I wouldn't mind an .mp3 of those commentaries as well as or a transcription of them (if I get sick and have extra time I might do it myself :D).

Brian, other places have been indirectly talking about you :D http://adg.invisionzone.com/index.php?s ... st&p=21526.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Tue Jul 24, 2007 11:28 pm

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:I am interested in hearing the Logan commentary just to see the differences (maybe buy that off Brian :)).


Logan's commentaries are listenable, and there are things he gets right, obviously, even on the HB one, but to me, if the best we can hope for is passive "research from memory" cut with conjecture and contradictions, I'll keep my fingers crossed for something better someday, on just about any HK title, even if it seems unlikely at this point.

Brian, other places have been indirectly talking about you :D http://adg.invisionzone.com/index.php?s ... st&p=21526.


Yeah, I noticed that the other day. Just hoping no one feels the need to gripe, since my main reason for even posting that review was largely to counterbalance the others that were posted there previously, which were from people who hadn't had a chance to buy the DVD yet. And also because if I my apartment ever caught fire, there's only about 15 films I'd risk the flames to rescue, and HARD BOILED is one of 'em. I usually don't mind these tolerable techie issues on 98% of what I watch, but when it comes to that handful of titles I just couldn't live without, perhaps my pedantry becomes a little hard to hide? :lol:

I wish Amazon would stop allowing people to rate products so far ahead of the actual release (a week or so is fine, since stores frequently break street dates). Any earlier, though, and people might think the disc was a five-star gem rather than the movie it contained. Still, the additional review only dropped it to four stars, so hopefully others will buy the disc and add further real reviews (good or bad) to balance things out. I'm surprised it's taking this long, but that's Amazon for you... either that or people really aren't bothering with this one after all the others.
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Wed Aug 01, 2007 6:32 pm

The Hidden Blade (2004) Japan:

I finally got a chance to see this (I don't know why I take so long to watch Jidai Geki films I own). This is another film that takes place during the Meiji Restoration in the end of the Edo period. So much of this film is similar to his (Yoji Yamada's) 2002 Twilight Samurai (another film I really like) that even Yoji has stated this as more of a remake than any distinct piece (though Bushi no ichibun will round out the Samurai trilogy).

Ultimately this film is a love story about a widower Samurai Katageri and his love for an ex-servent (lower caste than Katageri though he is a low-caste Samurai himself) Kie. Beautifully made, very authentic (not a chambara film) and a joy to watch. Yamada's detail is fastidious and sublime.

The secret of the Hidden Blade (Devil's Claw) is a bit of a surprise too.
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Postby Mike Thomason » Sun Aug 12, 2007 12:52 pm

Here's a few of my recent Asian watches...

Whispers & Moans (2007, Hong Kong, 99m)
After the excellent Gong Tau: An Oriental Black Magic and the modest A Mob Story, Herman Yau had to have at least misfire this year, right? And this is that film. Thoroughly middle-of-the-road hostess drama with largely little of interest or substance to keep its audience involved much beyond its first act set-up. Apart from Don Li's transexual character, it's all a bit bland really. The Category III rating was earned for a few passages of "adult dialogue", which would probably be considered so innocuous in any other country/territory as to not draw a rating much above an "over 15s" bracket.

Love Is A Crazy Thing (2005, South Korea, 101m)
Another adult-themed drama with precious little going for it. Single-mother Au-Jin (Jeon Mi-Seon) dabbles in phone-sex work from home to support her two boys, eventually falling into escort work when that venture goes bust. I never expect salacious thrills when I watch these kinds of films, especially those of a South Korean origin, but this film gives solid meaning to the term 'a crashing bore'. Very little happens, Jeon is banal to watch going through the motions, and the only incidences of punctuation in the boredom are two scenes of shocking misogyny. Like seeing victims of unfortunate circumstance being appalling bashed or raped? This is the film for you... :shock:

Cheaters (2007, South Korea, 99m)
In an otherwise sea of mediocrity, this one proved a wholly amusing sexy comedy that examines a group of people, all unknowingly intertwined, and their various interpersonal relationships. It starts out with a guy who is trying to hook up with a young waitress, who in turn is playing him along while keeping her own boyfriend out of the loop, who is actually having an affair with the first guy's other mistress...who is the object of affection for guy # 1's workmate, who has secretly been trysting with his wife since her marriage...and so on and so on. Hugely funny how the whole thing plays out and just how complicated all of those relationships eventually become during the course of the film. If you're not put off by a lot of bare skin and sexual situations, this is well worth a look.

Wise Guys Never Die (2006, Hong Kong, 86m)
There's hardly a Wong Jing film I've seen that I haven't liked in some manner, and this was no exception. Accountant Nick Wong (Nick Cheung) is put away for embezzling from his employer, a charge he vehemently denies all the way to his penitential new home. Inside, he is brutalised, bashed and repeatedly raped, but fellow inmate and conman Teddy Chan (Wong Jing) takes him under his wing, training him in myriad gambling skills for their eventual release and a BIG job on the outside. Once out, nothing is at it first seemed for the much put-upon accountant. This harbours the same mean-spirited tone of pyschological cruelty as Wong's previous My Name Is Nobody (where a major character was gang-raped, whilst another played out their act instead of saving them), and as such holds a few surprises along the way -- most notably the final act. However, once some MAJOR plot revelations come up in the mid-section, the viewer knows where things are inevitably headed. Surprisingly grim and downbeat, but I enjoyed it for what is was.
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Postby Mike Thomason » Sun Aug 12, 2007 4:09 pm

Single Blog (2007, Hong Kong, 89m)
More thoughts tomorrow, when I have sufficient time, but perhaps the best Hong Kong movie I've seen this year... :)

Well, that didn't go to plan -- I'll give this a shot tomorrow... :wink:
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Postby ewaffle » Mon Aug 13, 2007 3:46 am

Sex is Zero
South Korea, 2002.

A movie about horny college students which might be worth seeing if one is a horny college student.

There is one scene that would be funny almost anywhere involving locked doors, people moving from one dorm room to the next on outside ledges, people being discovered doing unsavory/embarrassing things by those they least wish to be discovered by. About 30 seconds long.

A very touching scene between the two (more or less) leads, a scene that seemed out of place in a raunchy comedy but was quite moving nontheless. Maybe 45 seconds long.

An extended set of scenes that involved most of the cast, several tearful confrontations and a beat down. Might as well have been dropped in from another movie entirely, completely at odds with the tone of the movie, made me think it would end with the suicide of one of the characters. About 5 minutes long, seemed a lot longer. As if a really tawdry and cheesy death scene--Debra Winger in "Terms of Endearment" for example--was spliced into the last few minutes of "American Pie".

Otherwise it consisted of lots of porn watching and masturbating by the guys, plenty of not very sexy dance numbers--the women are on the competitive areobic dance team--and much general dreariness
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Mon Aug 13, 2007 6:01 am

Might as well have been dropped in from another movie entirely, completely at odds with the tone of the movie...


This can be said about so many Korean movies that one seriously has to start taking it for granted as some sort of cultural expectation. Bugs me every time, but I've grudgingly learned to bite my critical tongue a bit and examine it in the larger context. But it's so prevalent. Maybe it's my western-coloured glasses, but I think Korean cinema might have, in part, avoided the current downturn it's in (financial, NOT creative, although that's arguable too) if more of the country's filmmakers were able to think outside this box that dictates that every romance or comedy—hell, every film—needs to have (frequently contrived) tragedy elements thrown into the mix or else Korean audiences won't bother attending. And look what's happened anyways! Korean audiences aren't attending. Well, they're attending D-WAR in droves, so what's that tell us? :lol:

In spite of it all, I think I hold SEX IS ZERO in a little higher regard, but only because I'd seen countless comedies-turned-tragedies before it and, to be fair, it pulls off the transition better than a lot of the others (so just imagine what you're in for if you keep digging into K-cinema of the past five or six years! :lol:) Can't say I minded the American Pie flavouring, as that seemed to be precisely the mindset the creators were aiming at. In that sense, the dance sequences didn't need to be anything other than realistic looking gymnastic performances: those sexy costumes were the selling point.

I have to admit though, I was just about exhausted by the short but brutal tonal shift in SEX IS ZERO, and that was before the girl's mother came into the hospital room! Yikes!
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