What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

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

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Tue Aug 14, 2007 5:55 pm

Tokyo Twilight (1957) Japan:

After a dearth of Swedish films (mostly Bergman since his death) it was time to watch more Asian films.

Tokyo Twilight is considered one of Ozu's bleakest films and his only film to wholly take place in wintertime. The emotional resonance did not stay as much as Early Spring (or Tokyo Story) but it is an exceptional work. Since I was not as emotionally involved it did not feel that bleak (even though an unexpected death does take place). His later films like this focus more on youth though his regular cast of characters (like Setsuko Hara and Chishu Ryu).

The movie is about the two daughters of Shukichi Sugiyama (Ryu), one contemplating divorce and one pregant who find out that their estranged Mom has came back to Tokyo.

So far the Eclipse Ozu set is quite good (definitely better than the Bergman Early set).

I also watched the new Image/Celestial R1 release Bells of Death. I'll probably eventually write a review (in a few years) so terse comments: good, too much handheld, too many plot holes, interesting Western influenced plot (and music too :D; not sure what film it is taken from).
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Postby Mike Thomason » Sat Aug 18, 2007 9:45 am

Eye In The Sky (2007, Hong Kong, 90m)
Really, this is just another Milkyway crime-thriller, which by now are all starting to gel into one big amorphous blob...except it's screenwriter Yau Nai Hoi in the director's chair instead of Johnnie To; not that it makes a great deal of difference though. Tell me, how exciting do you think a film would be based around the concept of undercover "spies" walking about Hong Kong's streets watching potential miscreants -- but never getting involved with their affairs due to their job description? Well, I found it interesting for about half an hour, and after that it was virtually just endless repetition. Not the most exciting way to spend 90 minutes of my life, and as I said on another forum the film kind of smacks of being Expect The Unexpected-lite. I am baffled why this would be lauded as a great film, as it's clearly nothing more than a very average one... :?

Undercover (2007, Hong Kong, 84m)
By comparison, this Billy Chung take on the central thematic of Herman Yau's On The Edge is much more entertaining, even if the usually reliable Shawn Yue comes a cropper in the acting stakes on a handful of occasions. Yes, it's the old "undercover operative tries to return to a normal police life" tale -- albeit, returns to a life of crime again, as usual. At 84m, it's a pretty lean thriller, as one would expect of director Chung, and it's also quite a decent time-filler that is well-paced and modestly budgeted (it's another of Andrew Lau's HD feature films -- only a handful left for release now). On a par with Herman Yau's A Mob Story, which of itself was quite good.

Gangs 2001 (2000, Hong Kong, 93m)
Drugs are bad, mmm-kay? You've gotta love these hokey little morality plays disguised as throwaway exploitation that Hong Kong produces sometimes, don't you? A bunch of kids cut school, steal, do drugs, and party like it's 1999 every other day of the week; when they get tied in with a sleazy Shenzhen drug dealer it's time for triad-cum-social worker Blackie Ko to sing 'em a rock song in the vague hope of making them see the error of their ways. You know you're wasting your time belting out your best karaoke hit when the same kids just try and hit you up for more drugs, right? Needless to say, it all ends in tears. Equal parts moderately engaging and unbelievably ill-informed and lame. But it only cost a few bucks to see...so I don't feel too cheated over the whole thing.

Haunted Karaoke (1998, Hong Kong, 90m)
Who would've thought? Billy Tang can make as annoyingly lame horror comedies as anyone else in Hong Kong, given a camera, a few bucks, a couple of C-grade actors and a green light! Michael Tao and Wayne Lai, now there's a wacky combo if ever you thought -- throw along Kingdom Yuen in horribly unfunny form (with goofy joke-shop horror teeth) and Taiwanese nudie-model Jessica Chung (who dropped the English name "Jane" to distance herself from the soft-porn she made) and guess what you've got? Yep, one of the lousiest horror-comedies this side of Hong Kong X-File -- I really wasn't impressed by this at all, can you tell? :shock:
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Fri Aug 24, 2007 9:44 pm

Equinox Flower (1958 – Japan):

Equinox Flower is a wonderfully shot movie with a beautifully cinematic collage of colors (Ozu’s first use). The strength (as with most Ozu films) is the poignant story with its deep understanding of human nature (without being just a simplistic parable; though Wataru Hirayama (Shin Saburi) was probably too obviously hypocritical, but I digress).

Wataru’s elder daughter Setsuko (Ineko Arima) wants to marry her own choice, a lower-level office worker that is not approved by Wataru. He is a good person whom Setsuko loves but his fear of losing a daughter (and her going against traditional values of an arranged marriage though this point seems secondary) makes him unhappy about her choice.

Ozu’s later films find much more fascination with the younger generation and their rebellion against traditional values. “Equinox Flower”s relationship seems in contrast to another Ozu masterpiece “Late Spring” where the daughter was not allowed to make her own choice.

Humorous and full of anecdotal scenes Equinox Flower is a very good film in Ozu’s oeuvre.
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Postby kiliansabre » Mon Aug 27, 2007 10:01 am

Recently caught:

Khon Fai Bin - Another Muay Thai boxing movie. Unfortunately it wasn't subbed so I missed a lot of the plot, but basically it's like the Thai old west with boxing. The hero shoots rockets (the kind that you light) at people and jumps on them and rides them. The fight scenes were pretty edited up but there were some solid moves and fights throughout. I'll have to watch through it again to try to get more of the plot.

The Bodyguard 2 - (from my imdb review) Unfortunately this review will be a bit incomplete as the version I saw didn't have subtitles and I don't speak Thai. That said, I have not seen the first movie, but when I heard Tony Jaa had a cameo I looked it up. The lead of the movie is played by Petchtai Wongkamlao who was George in Ong Bak. This is an action movie and there are fight scenes, but it's clear that Petchtai Wongkamlao's boxing ability is still in it's earlier stages. The plot as far as I can tell is about an agent trying to stop a threat to the nation, posing as a high profile singer in the mean time. The first action sequence is probably the best which is a nice gun battle in a gay club followed by some car action. The rest of the action scenes in the movie (with the exception of the one featuring Tony Jaa) seem to be more or less about introducing a skilled fighter and then killing him off in some silly way. Basically you never get to see any real martial arts displayed throughout. Tony Jaa's appearance seems to be about his character looking for an elephant figurine (an obvious reference to the Protector). The fight itself only lasts about a minute and takes place outside at a vendor stand, but it was still a treat to see Tony Jaa in action if just for a minute. The comedy seemed pretty good, a lot of it was visual with references to Ong Bak and probably other Thai movies as well. Hopefully someone will add a review who has seen the subtitled version, but I did want to give some heads up since there are no other reviews. Overall, probably not worth going out of your way to find, but if you come across it check it out.

Azumi - I've caught most of Ryuhei Kitamura's work. This would probably be my second favorite behind Versus. A lot of fighting throughout and it was dramatically satifying as well. Sort of felt like Japanimation brought to life at times in regards to characterization. No real review for it, but if you like Versus or anything else by Kitamura you will definitely dig it.

Picked up a copy of The Princess Blade but haven't watched it yet. Donnie Yen apparently did the fight choreography which should be interesting depending on which mode he was in for it.

Mostly been watching old school kung fu movies from Hong Kong though.
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Postby Mike Thomason » Mon Aug 27, 2007 11:59 am

Attention: Brian -- scroll up, dude! I wrote some brief snippets! :D
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:48 pm

Mike Thomason wrote:Attention: Brian -- scroll up, dude! I wrote some brief snippets! :D


Thanks for the heads-up! I don't often take the time to read back through these things, but when I do, I usually discover your posts have suddenly grown a bit. :lol:


Haven't seen EYE IN THE SKY in it's entirety yet, but did catch a very big chunk of it in a music/DVD store downtown. I usually try to avoid watching the TV while I'm in there because they're always playing new releases that I've yet to see, but I think I found this one more compelling that you did, but obviously I have to reserve judgment until I've seen the whole thing.

Got UNDERCOVER just recently, and have had GANGS 2001 for an eternity, but haven't watched them yet. Interesting take on GANGS, though I think you've got your subjects reversed in this sentence :lol: :lol::

You've gotta love this hokey little morality plays disguised as throwaway exploitation that Hong Kong produces sometimes, don't you?


Think I'll move that one up the priority list now (which may or may not have been your intention :P ). Which reminds me, did you ever get around to watching FING'S RAVER? Practically a sister film to GANGS, based on what you've written about it. Personally, I love this stuff (in context, of course), and the truly dismissive reviews I've found (unlike yours) seem written by people who clearly took them way too seriously. :D


Definitely not in the same camp about HAUNTED KARAOKE, which I watched just a few weeks back, so I guess it's safe to debate. Michael Tao would definitely not be my first choice for wacky either, so I'll agree there, but Wayne Lai definitely would, and I thought he was good in this. The fact that it's rooted in a real-life tragedy actually earned it points in my book for having the balls to take this approach to such a tragedy. Only in Hong Kong, I suppose. Of course, if they cut the goofy green-light horror elements and turned it into some sick Category III horror-show-cum-Danny-Lee-police-procedural where his cops beat the arsonists with phone books, then it would've been a bit more transgressive, and offensive. Oddly enough, this reminded me thematically of LAST GHOST STANDING (which came later, I know), only with a bigger budget. And that one was definitely an opinion splitter, too.





kiliansabre wrote:Azumi - I've caught most of Ryuhei Kitamura's work. This would probably be my second favorite behind Versus. A lot of fighting throughout and it was dramatically satifying as well. Sort of felt like Japanimation brought to life at times in regards to characterization. No real review for it, but if you like Versus or anything else by Kitamura you will definitely dig it.

Picked up a copy of The Princess Blade but haven't watched it yet. Donnie Yen apparently did the fight choreography which should be interesting depending on which mode he was in for it.



My first exposure to Kitamura was VERSUS at a film festival premiere years ago. Loved it, but grew less fond over the years, mainly because of it's length. Couldn't deny the guy's fondness for genre films, though. ALIVE was great to look at, but sooooo pretentious and talky and I thought he blew a great opportunity with that last GODZILLA movie. Again, great visuals, but not sure they needed to be on crack. Weird, too, that GODZILLA came along after AZUMI which, like you say, is probably one of the best live-action anime-style movies ever, and shows such a strong maturation of his skills. I think he really nailed it with this one, and the timing of many of the gags was so much better than in any of his previous features.

Thought PRINCESS BLADE was better than I was expecting for whatever reason at the time. I'm not a big follower of Japanese swordplay stuff, but the addition of Yen made me curious, and the action doesn't disappoint. My girlfriend loved this, as did her sister later on, so perhaps you might find it worth sharing... ;)


My own Asian cinema watching of recent vintage has been a mixed bag of Hong Kong stuff, three of which are:

TRUE LOVE 2003: Latest in the long line of CALL GIRL movies ('88, '92, etc.) is probably the closest Hong Kong cinema has ever come to producing an Albert Pyun experience. It's ungodly how long scenes are extended in this. In one part, an old dude sips booze for nearly two minutes before keeling over. That's all he does. He just keeps on sipping. Later, a hooker waits in a hotel room, silently, for another full two minutes, before anything happens. A film like this forces you to put all the other HK shot-on-video productions in a new perspective, which is a good thing, as a great many of them don't deserve the dismissive scorn often thrown at them. Decent cast, slick production values, but absolutely nothing to latch on to. But you know what? It probably made a profit for it's makers in DVD sales considering its low budget, which was probably the only reason for it's production in the first place. Despite the Cat. III rating, there's absolutely no nudity, and the sex scenes are the only scenes that aren't protracted beyond all reason. Go figure!

HERO OF BEGGARS: here's one that caught me totally by surprise. Considering it's a Michael Hui movie, I actually shouldn't have been surprised, since I do admire his brand of comedy, and this is an ideal showcase for it, plus he's backed up by strong comic turns by Sandra Ng and Alfred Cheung, both great comedians in their own right. They don't get as many of the laughs as he does, which is a tiny disappointment, but there are so many nicely-designed vignettes here that it's tough to carp. They all play jobless former PLA soldiers forced to fend for themselves, eventuallly making their way to Guangzhou, then Hong Kong, crossing paths with gangster Michael Chan in both places. Has a smilar vibe to HER FATAL WAYS, but has a lot more sympathy for the characters, and allows them to win the day without the aid of Hong Kong counterparts, while keeping them naive enough that local audiences could still have sense of superiority.

LOVE IS NOT ALL AROUND: Thematically, this steals so much and so blatantly from Korean soap operas you might just as well go to the sources. Where LOVE @ FIRST NOTE was a fun piece of bubblegum that had no pretentions beyond being a feature-length infomercial for Paco Wong's stable of pop talent, this one, similarly intentioned, overextends its reach. Pretty people having pretty, contrived romantic issues set to pretty (good) Cantopop tunes, but the director is so taken by the narrative trickery in his screenplay ("hey folks, here's another flashback so you can see what really happened there!"), his characters are forced to operate entirely on false assumptions and mixed signals. A little of that makes for good tension in any film, but here it's the whole film!, and it's all in the service of a rather arbitrary twist ending. Love the music, as always. But that's probably not enough in this case. YMMV, as they say.
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Postby kiliansabre » Mon Aug 27, 2007 6:35 pm

Brian wrote:

My first exposure to Kitamura was VERSUS at a film festival premiere years ago. Loved it, but grew less fond over the years, mainly because of it's length. Couldn't deny the guy's fondness for genre films, though. ALIVE was great to look at, but sooooo pretentious and talky and I thought he blew a great opportunity with that last GODZILLA movie. Again, great visuals, but not sure they needed to be on crack. Weird, too, that GODZILLA came along after AZUMI which, like you say, is probably one of the best live-action anime-style movies ever, and shows such a strong maturation of his skills. I think he really nailed it with this one, and the timing of many of the gags was so much better than in any of his previous features.

(screwed up the quotes somehow)

Godzilla was at least interesting and different from the previous incarnations. I remember being indifferent to it. Sadly, Kitamura is coming to America to direct... a Clive Barker horror movie to start <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0805570/" title="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0805570/">Midnight Meat Train</a>. I like some of Barker's stuff, but I can't see how this is a good idea. Perhaps he's trying to stray away from the swords and guns genre.

Haven't seen the movies you mentioned, but I'm a Michael Hui fan so I will be checking the Beggars one out when I get a chance.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Mon Aug 27, 2007 9:04 pm

kiliansabre wrote:Sadly, Kitamura is coming to America to direct... a Clive Barker horror movie to start <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0805570/" title="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0805570/">Midnight Meat Train</a>.


Man, I remember reading that in college, or maybe just after it. A friend was a big Barker fan and I wasn't overly familiar, so the book it was in was a loaner, but I don't remember much about it now.:? I seem to recall my friend recommending it to me because he thought it would make a cool movie. I suppose Kitamura could make something interesting with the concept. And with Vinnie Jones and Brooke Shields, how can it fail? :lol:
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Mon Aug 27, 2007 9:14 pm

Thought PRINCESS BLADE was better than I was expecting for whatever reason at the time. I'm not a big follower of Japanese swordplay stuff, but the addition of Yen made me curious, and the action doesn't disappoint. My girlfriend loved this, as did her sister later on, so perhaps you might find it worth sharing...


I just could not get into this film. When I originally watched it (a few years back) I had problems with the story and action. I've been meaning to buy it and watch it again, but I've always found something else to buy and/or watch. It's been too long and it didn't penetrate my memory that many films do so a synopsis of my feelings is a bit terse.

I did get to watch In The Mood For Love (2000) this weekend:

Small spoilers below in some comments I had on the film in a previous posting earlier today:

Wong makes the stylistic choice of not filming the philandering partners of Mrs. Chan and Chow Mo-Wan putting our complete observation on the temporal relationship. This increases our exasperation as the final events unfold in the movie. However, since Wong does not take a holistic approach to the relationships we are only viewing a fraction of what we expect or psychologically need to know to feel challenged. This is where I feel multiple viewings of the film might breakdown. The more you watch the more you might feel you are being manipulated by the constant focus on those two and the beleaguered coincidences that prevent them from being together.

Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk is such an exquisite beauty in this film it is hard to figure why anyone would cheat on her unless there was something abhorrent in her character or mentally wrong with her husband. It is hard to believe this is the same actress since Police Story (1985).

Anyone else's feelings on this film that many ciniphiles feel is one of the best from Hong Kong.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Mon Aug 27, 2007 10:49 pm

Anyone else's feelings on this film that many ciniphiles feel is one of the best from Hong Kong.


Loved it. Loved the Criterion version of it, too. One of those movies that I must have put on at just the right time on just the right day, because I was sucked right in. :lol: Maybe if I'd watched it the next day I'd have like it less, but I'll never know. I'm usually not fond of such a languourous pace in any film, but the world he creates in this film made me wish that it moved even slower so I could soak in the atmosphere. The flaw you point out is an interesting one, and who knows how it might effect subsequent viewings. But until then, it remains a personal favourite Wong Kar-wai film, although all of his films have impressed me on some level or another.
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Postby cal42 » Tue Aug 28, 2007 7:39 am

Rica - Japan 1972 - not really what I was hoping for, sadly :( .
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Postby Mike Thomason » Sat Sep 01, 2007 5:33 pm

Some recent watches, expanded thoughts later, if requested...

The Mission (1999, Hong Kong, 84m)**
This seems to be the "ne-plus-ultra" of Johnnie To films amongst his fans on the internerd, but finally having seen it I have (personally) almost no idea why. The plot is so slight that it could be sketched on the inside lip of a matchbox (here: five ex-career gangsters are pulled out of their regular jobs to be bodyguards to a ganglord under threat. After much posing and standing around like Hugo Boss/Giorgio Armani models*, the threat is eliminated. The end!), the score is absolutely horrendous (was To looking to make the film sound like a cheap videogame?) and after eighty odd minutes you suddenly realise that almost bordering on nothing really happened. Anthony Wong and Francis Ng are fine, Simon Yam overacts as always, everyone else is "meh". Don't get me wrong, it's a better than average movie -- I just don't see the cult appeal nor Cannes masturbatory ejaculate that this film has been afforded over the years... :oops:

* the "Hugo Boss" moment, in a deserted shopping mall, was later mirrored to even more lethargic screentime swallowing in To's successive PTU

Death Note: The Last Name (2007, Japan, 140m)
A good sequel with a dopey, moralising, conservative finale.

Never Compromise (1999, Hong Kong, 83m)
Cheap-jack rubbish from the hit & miss Bosco Lam.

Sisily 2km (aka: To Catch A Virgin Ghost) (2004, South Korea, 103m)
Entirely not what I expected, but entertaining regardless.

** capsule comments cut & pasted from my entry on the DVD Maniacs forum.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:10 am

Mike Thomason wrote:The Mission (1999, Hong Kong, 84m)
Can we say...overrated beyond belief?


Nope. ;) But do share...
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Postby Fan » Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:20 am

Mike Thomason wrote:Eye In The Sky (2007, Hong Kong, 90m)
...Tell me, how exciting do you think a film would be based around the concept of undercover "spies" walking about Hong Kong's streets watching potential miscreants...


I found it's exciting because I'm living here and using Octopus card everyday. :wink:
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:35 am

Fan wrote:I found it's exciting because I'm living here and using Octopus card everyday. :wink:


Wow! 14 million cards in circulation! :shock: They've been talking off and on about something like that here in Canada, but as always, it's held up by those who think it will infringe on this or that human right, or lead to crime or identity theft or bar codes on our heads or whatever else people are afraid of these days (always fertile ground for the local filmmaker/audience, I suppose, in whatever country they happen to be). But there it is, and it looks ideal... Much like Octopus, which started out as what sounds like a fancy bus pass, many countries already have pieces of the concept in play (gas cards, transit cards, bank cards, ID cards, health cards, debit cards, aero-plan cards, etc.) , but do they move in the direction of consolidating them into a single card? Nope.



.
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Postby Fan » Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:47 am

Brian Thibodeau wrote:Wow! 14 million cards in circulation! :shock:


Each cardholder has to pay HK$50 deposit to possess that little card!

Don't know when the company will go listed....off topic. :P
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:53 am

Just realized my last post said "$14 million" instead of just plain "14 million" which is still an impressive number of cards. Fixed.

So, is that deposit refundable some day? :lol:
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Postby Fan » Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:59 am

Brian Thibodeau wrote:So, is that deposit refundable some day? :lol:


Conceptually: Yes

Practically: Not really :wink: Because if you keep using it, you won't cancel the card and get the refund. And in case you lost the card, then kiss the HK$50 goodbye. If you're a tourist, you can't do the refund within 3 months (if I remember it correctly)...so I still want to know when the company will go listed. :lol:
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Sun Sep 02, 2007 6:37 am

Fan wrote:...so I still want to know when the company will go listed. :lol:


Indeed! That's one way to get the equivalent of your deposit back, and then some. I might watch for an IPO on that one myself! :D
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Postby Mike Thomason » Sun Sep 02, 2007 9:39 am

Brian Thibodeau wrote:
Mike Thomason wrote:The Mission (1999, Hong Kong, 84m)
Can we say...overrated beyond belief?


Nope. ;) But do share...


See above -- the gap has now been filled in. :D
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Sun Sep 02, 2007 3:06 pm

Mike Thomason wrote:[b]The MissionSee above -- the gap has now been filled in. :D


Ouch! I guess hindsight really can be 20/20, especially if one's not a fan of the amorphous blob of Milkyway thrillers (or To's occasionally mimimalist intent). I am interested why it still rates above average, though. Doesn't seem to have much of anything going for it outside the two performances you noted. :?
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Postby Mike Thomason » Sun Sep 02, 2007 3:28 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote:I am interested why it still rates above average, though?


"Averages" for 1999*:

Afraid of Nothing, The Jobless King; Believe It Or Not; Body Weapon; Century of the Dragon; The Deadly Camp; Erotic Nightmare; Fascination Amour; The Fruit Is Ripe; He Is My Enemy, Partner & Father-in-Law; The H.K. Triad; Horoscope: The Voice From Hell; House of the Damned; Indecent Woman; Last Ghost Standing; The Masked Prosecutor; The Mirror; My Loving Trouble 7; Raped By An Angel 4; Rules of the Game; Sunshine Cops; The Tricky Master; Troublesome Night 5; Troublesome Night 6; When I Look Upon The Stars; X'mas Rave Fever

"Above averages" for 1999*:

Bullets Over Summer; The Conmen In Vegas; Fly Me To Polaris; Gen X Cops; Gorgeous; King Of Comedy; Legend Of Speed; A Man Called Hero; Metade Fumaca; Moonlight Express; Purple Storm; Running Out Of Time; Tempting Heart; The Truth About Jane & Sam; Victim

Thereby, with better filmmaking craft and some veritable memorable scenes (I have the same complaint of a number of To's films, even though I am a great champion of his, in that he often will bring a film to a halt all in the name of "style over substance" being passed off as "impossibly poignant moments") I think The Mission actually belongs more in the second camp than the first, wouldn't you say? :wink:

* these lists are personal opinion and as such should not be taken seriously... :P

NB: The films not listed in the above brackets either a) rated as "(well) below average" or b) have been missed/forgotten/overlooked in the rush to type up Brian a swift reply...
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:59 am

Mike Thomason wrote:The Mission actually belongs more in the second camp than the first, wouldn't you say? :wink:


Well geez, now that you've provided a scale, yes. That brief review, however, seemed only to list faults, so hopefully you'll understand my curiosity! :D Hope we get to see a more detailed analysis some day. hint hint.

The nicest surprise in either of those groups is LAST GHOST STANDING. I have these...how you say...vague memories of that one not being worthy of the either list...once upon a time. But this darned internet thingy makes it so easy to tweak history a bit... :lol: :lol:



And, since I was fortunate enough to see THE MISSION in the theatre (and review it) in 1999, before the supposed cult arose, and before the Cannes folk apparently ejaculated all over it :shock: :lol:, I don't mind giving it a little love, though strictly as good-natured contrast/counterpoint for those who may not have seen it yet. Firstly, though, I gotta admit I loved the score, so that probably makes me dreadfully predictable amongst the film's defenders. Compared to the actually cheaply-produced synthesizer "scores" that background many of the titles on Mike's partial '99 lists—scores that truly weren't worthy of being compared to even those written for videogames of the day—it was nice to hear one, as I did back in '99 on the big screen, that finally went against the norm, and involved the writing of themes/melodies that were carried through in an apporpriate fashion rather than just sorta stuck there because a particular scene needed some extra noise, or transplanted with the usual Cantopop ditties (though I tend to like those, really! :lol:). And I also enjoyed the fact that, as Mike so rightly observed (but didn't like), the film does leave you with the feeling that nothing much happened. That emphasis is on "much" because things do happen in the film; they're just not heralded to the cheap seats. It was clearly intentional, and as such an interesting antithesis to the incident-crammed Hong Kong "style" of so many movies of the time (particularly many of Mike's "averages" which, sadly, make up most of the production list for that year. And, finally, the mall shootout, and it's thematic cousin in PTU, are still favourite jump-to scenes in both movies! If I recall correctly, he even repeats the motif—beautifully but differently and more painterly—a couple of times in EXILED, and it's a stylistic flourish I've come to embrace, at least in certain types of To pictures.


a swift reply...


...always appreciated!


P.S. Having seen virtually every film in your '99 overview but one :shock:, I would very nearly rate them the same way—in relation to one another, that is (and have, as a matter of fact). In all honesty, I think we'd only be arguing degrees of average-ness and above-average-ness, but the two camps would be largely filled with the same titles! :lol:
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Postby Mike Thomason » Sun Sep 09, 2007 6:55 am

Hey fellas (and ladies)!

Remember this?

http://column.hkmdb.com/mike/

Bob and I have brought it back from the dead! All of my most recent viewings will now appear there! And hopefully this new format* will keep everyone happy, as well as provide an outlet on my many and varied thoughts about Hong Kong movies in general (as well as the odd diversion off into my other spurious interests in cinema!).

Cheers! :D

* as stated in the previous post to the Crazy Sex review -- I've decided to keep things pretty much as "review only".
http://eyeswidescreen.wordpress.com/ (Due for a sporadic return throughout 2010)
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Sun Sep 09, 2007 6:29 pm

Welcome back, so to speak! It was getting rather lonely (and self-admittedly dull :oops:) in HKMDB-Blogland. Now if only a few other folks around here would take a shot at the form...



.
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Postby steve_cole1 » Sun Sep 09, 2007 8:45 pm

At last i found someone who agrees with me that the mission is heavily overrated. I am a big Johnnie To fan but this is not a film of his that i liked
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Postby ewaffle » Mon Sep 10, 2007 8:26 am

Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk is such an exquisite beauty in this film it is hard to figure why anyone would cheat on her unless there was something abhorrent in her character or mentally wrong with her husband. It is hard to believe this is the same actress since Police Story (1985).

Anyone else's feelings on this film that many ciniphiles feel is one of the best from Hong Kong.


While far being a from a ciniphile, "In the Mood for Love" has been among my very favorite movies since I first saw it. My only complaint it that it is too short--about 12 hours too short. You could make an episode for a mini-series from the meal they share when the realization comes home to both of them that not only are their spouses cheating but doing so with each other--one assumes that both knew or strongly suspected that the spouse was unfaithful but not the circumstances.

While it is obviously not universally admired, I feel "In the Mood for Love" is close to being perfect.

Bangkok Dangerous, Thailand, written and directed by the Pang brothers. "So this deaf assassin walks into a drugstore..."

Bleak is an overused term when describing movies--so are urban, gritty and harrowing. But they are also effective, allowing reviews to use some shorthand phrases to describe the tone, texture and feel of a film. "Bangkok Dangerous" makes "Taxi Driver" seem like a sweet love story or "Le Samourai" paean to the brotherhood of man. While by no means in the same artistic league as those movies it is a very well done crime movie.

Also bleak, urban, gritty and harrowing. 8)

It has been remade by the Pangs with Nicolas Cage as the assassin although apparently not deaf. It is finished and set for release in early 2008.
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Postby Mike Thomason » Sun Sep 16, 2007 3:18 pm

Finally watched another couple of Shaw flicks: AN AMOROUS WOMAN OF TANG DYNASTY and CALL GIRLS (as well as Just Jaeckin's GWENDOLINE, which I'd seen years back in a version closely resembling the US DVD release through Severin Films [sans a few seconds here and there of the mild gore] albeit under an Aussie M-15+ rating). Expect some reviews up on the blog over the next couple of days! :D
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Postby ewaffle » Tue Sep 25, 2007 3:53 am

More movies from Thailand:

Born to Fight--Thailand--2004. Amazing action. Thai stuntmen really take a pounding--must be a tough life. Everything between the fight scenes is deadly dull although some of it, like the gymnasts and soccer players who use their skills to fight terrorists might have looked funny on the page.

Sars Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis--Thailand--2004. Might be funnier than it seemed to me. This is a parody of zombie movies but I must have missed some of the jokes due to my unfamiliarity with the conventions of the genre. Also tosses in references to "Star Wars" such as an anti-zombie light saber type of weapon that takes Double A batteries. As is the case with a few zombie movies I have seen recently the heroine spends much of her time in leather and fishnet. Worth watching.

Tomboy Commandos--Thailand--One of the worst movies I have seen in years. The runtime is about 64 minutes which is at least an hour too long.

Killer Tattoo--Thailand--2001. Compelling but very brutal, almost constant violence--mainly shooting, some grenades, some torture, a few suicides--including shooting a pregnant woman and a child. Small but telling flashes of Buddhist philosophy and ritual are part of the flow of the movie but also really stand out.

Jan Dara--Thailand--2001. The teenaged Jan Dara meets his new stepmother who is played by Christy Chung. As an adult he reflects on what happened and why when he followed his heart and his hormones into her boudoir. Based on a novel serialized in a Bangkok newspaper.

Suthep Po-ngam starred in both "Killer Tattoo" and "Sars Wars". Very distinctive look, a decent actor.
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Postby cal42 » Tue Sep 25, 2007 7:31 am

ewaffle wrote:
Sars Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis--Thailand--2004. Might be funnier than it seemed to me. This is a parody of zombie movies but I must have missed some of the jokes due to my unfamiliarity with the conventions of the genre. Also tosses in references to "Star Wars" such as an anti-zombie light saber type of weapon that takes Double A batteries. As is the case with a few zombie movies I have seen recently the heroine spends much of her time in leather and fishnet. Worth watching.



This sounds right up my street! Where can I get a copy?
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