2009 Movie Recommendations

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2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Bearserk » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:59 pm

Just wondered if someone might wish to share which movies I should have taken the time to watch in the year that was.
Been way to negligent when it comes to new asian movies, pouring most of my movie watching time into old classics from the 80s and early 90s, so I was hoping that someone might guide me in the right direction as to what I should have been watching of new movies from Asia :)
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Taijikid » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:12 pm

Being a HK film fan with more interest than money, and having bought little this year myself, I am wondering about this issue as well and would appreciate some suggestions.

As an aside, Kozo ran a "top 50 HK films of the decade" list for a New Year's holiday feature over at his LoveHKFilm site. Readers were asked to submit their ten favorite movies, and the results were compiled and posted for viewing during the last week of the year. Interestingly, the top 50 included no film from 2009, unless you count the second installment of Red Cliff. I was very surprised that nothing from the last year made the cut, given the effect of recency on film fan memories.

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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby dleedlee » Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:35 pm

Being a HK film fan with more interest than money, and having bought little this year myself, I am wondering about this issue as well and would appreciate some suggestions.


What'd I'd _like_ to see:
Ann Hui's Night and Fog,
Herman Yau's latest , Rebellion and Split Second Murders,
Seven 2 One - sounds like a fun, potential guilty pleasure
Crazy Racer
The Message
Red Cliff I,II
...and on and on, but that's the short list.

What I've seen, mostly mainland features, that I'd be happy to recommend, not necessarily 2009 releases but watched last year:

Cow
City of Life and Death
And The Spring Comes
Dam Street
Red River
The Detective
Beast Stalker
Gao Kao 1977 aka Examination 1977
Underdog Knight
Shanghai Dreams
House of 72 Tenants, 1963 version - not subbed, but I imagine anyone that's seen the Shaw Bros version should be able to easily follow along.

Also worth noting is the 5 film Nikkatsu Noir collection put out by Criterion as part of their Eclipse series
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Bearserk » Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:00 pm

Checked out a few of them, those that I were able to find on youtube.

Cow, The Detective and Underdog Knights really seemed like great movies so I have put them on my to buy list, and a few of the others looked quite promising as well :)
For some strange reason I have easier for picking up comedy and action/thriller movies at the time, although I have no problems watching a good drama.
Goes a little bit up and down which genre I am up for, and now I have a bit easier time sitting down with something that isn't so heavy and involving.

I have only seen Beast Stalker of the ones you list there, ok enough movie, but it just seemed to miss something, at least to me. I will probably skip on Red Cliff, not one for those big grandiose historical dramas.
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby dleedlee » Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:47 pm

Hah hah, I forgot to warn you my list is probably not for most folks on this forum. I feed on '50s and '60s melodramas. :) Yes, I'm weary of costume epics, too, and I haven't even watched that many. But I feel I should check out Red Cliff. Wong Jing's I Corrupt All Cops is also worthwhile too I thought. I kind of wished it was spread out over two , or even more, parts. Beast Stalker wasn't great but it was one of the few recent HK films I saw last year and worth a look, especially for Nick Cheung (and , of course, Zhang Jingchu, hence Red River). Underdog Knight should please you. It's quirky, yet action packed, especially the big finale.

Another one I missed is All's Well Ends Well 2009. I need to see how that venerable old franchise got updated by adding mainlanders.
Shinjuku Incident is still in the pile, along with Overheard (what am I waiting for!?).
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:50 am

Taijikid wrote: I was very surprised that nothing from the last year made the cut, given the effect of recency on film fan memories.


I think this is because Hong Kong film fans are stuck in the past, often because of the very lack of funds you mention. The older stuff is simply more affordable. Thankfully, prices for the newer movies do come down in time . . .

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I've only seen a handful of 2009 releases so far, but nothing I'd overly recommend running out to buy. In fact, most of these are earmarked for the local library already, though not for awhile in case I need to double check anything:

KUNG FU CHEFS - probably better if you've seen some of the My Way productions leading up to it, as it's definitely one of their more accomplished offerings, but compared to A-list Hong Kong product of 2009, I'm sure it comes up wanting. Context is key . . . Having Sammo, Louis Fan and two of the Yuen clan on board definitely kicked things up a couple of notches.

THE UNBELIEVABLE - review in the DB; definitely not for all tastes, including my own . . .

LOVE CONNECTED - watched this as part of a Patrick Kong marathon undertaken after discovering how popular most of his pictures had been at the box office with local youth (info that doesn't turn up in online reviews), and how nearly all of his pictures are infused with a cynical, often refreshingly bleak philosophy about modern romance. 'Tis true! This picture, though, feels like it was scotch-taped together from sketchy story ideas he couldn't squeeze into his previous twisty tales of love gone sour. Gorgeous looking—all of his films are, frankly—but if you've seen his previous films in something approaching a chronological sequence, you'll realize he stuck gold with L FOR LOVE L FOR LIES in 2008, and this, like FORGIVE AND FORGET before it, becomes an mechanical exercise in waiting for Kong's patented Next Big Twist®.

TEAM OF MIRACLE: WE WILL ROCK YOU: This little dose of Godstuff would be right up Bjørn's alley, I'm sure! :P It has flaws—such as the unconvincing depiction of many of the soccer matches, and disadvantaged characters played too precociously to convince anyone that they could ever do what their namesake team did in real life—but I certainly couldn't fault it for being inspirational, which was its mission. These Media Evangelism pictures are generally not my bag, but they're often as well-made as similar-budgeted , but I tried to review the ones I've seen so far with impartiality toward the organizations behind them.

VENGEANCE: Saw this at TIFF. Though it was typically muscular Johnnie To, and it was great to see a Hong Kong filmmaker craft a movie around a gweilo who isn't Jean Claude Van Damme, but I think it will need some time to grow on me. At this point, I don't think it's his best work, but even second-drawer To is still infinitely watchable.

ACCIDENT: Another TIFF screening. Of this batch that I've seen, far and away the best. A brilliant, stylish exercise in creeping paranoia and logical twists, very much in the vein of producer Johnnie To's dark puzzlers (PTU, MAD DETECTIVE, etc.), but with Soi Cheang's indelible stamp. Possibly Louis Koo's greatest performance. This just left me energized for Hong Kong cinema in general after leaving the theatre. :D

L-O-V-E: This is from Taiwan actually. An anthology of four stories from four first-time directors (some with prior name recognition in the region) revolving around romance and related ephemera (memory, unspoken words, desperation, etc.), and starring a galaxy of Taiwanese pop idols. First story is probably the most heartfelt; second is the least developed, and ends unconvincingly; third is the best made and acted; and the fourth is a desperate screwball comedy loaded with broad acting and countless pop star cameos and precious little sense of wit.

INVITATION ONLY: Probably worth a boo if you can refrain from comparing it to all the American films it rather obviously emulates and place it in a local context, one in which young Taiwanese audiences had never seen anything like it made by one of their own, thus making it a smash. I expect we'll see something like this being made on the mainland by 2050. Full review in the DB. :lol:

I have literal tons of others here, old and new, and am just thankful that winter is now upon us in Canada, as I'm finally making some headway. :lol:
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Bearserk » Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:37 pm

Nothing wrong with your taste, I am just not up for dramas all the time. ;)
I do enjoy them, and they can be among the better movies I watch when I do get around to them, but sometimes I just need to get down and dirty with some well made trash :)
Checked out the few movies that I didn't have time for last time, and ended up putting some more movies on the list. Night and Fog, and both Herman Yau movies looked great, not to mention Crazy Racer which looked fantastic.

Checked out the list at LoveHKfilms and seems I have seen most of what they have listed there. A few surprises, mostly from movies which I didn't think was that great.
Finding CTHD so far up on the list is a bit disappointing, considering that I didn't like the movie at all. Not that big on wire fu and the soundtrack made it feel like a movie made in the west.
The opening with the orchestra just didn't sit that well with me.
I can be a bit difficult at times ;) I much more prefer the good old Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon :D

I was actually contemplating putting The Unbelievable on my to buy list here the other day, but I might have to reconsider that given that you didn't like it Brian. We do tend to have similar tastes when it comes to trash :lol:
I still wont go to the step of getting any more ME movies :shock: just as a precaution for my fragile mind ;)
Will put Accident on the list, liked the trailer, and I will have to check out Vengeance as well :)
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:07 pm

Bearserk wrote:...Checked out the list at LoveHKfilms and seems I have seen most of what they have listed there. A few surprises, mostly from movies which I didn't think was that great.
Finding CTHD so far up on the list is a bit disappointing, considering that I didn't like the movie at all. Not that big on wire fu and the soundtrack made it feel like a movie made in the west.
The opening with the orchestra just didn't sit that well with me.
I can be a bit difficult at times ;) I much more prefer the good old Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon :D
...


You are talking about the top 50 of the decade correct? An easier way to read it is at yesasia: http://www.yesasia.com/yumcha/top-50-ho ... ticle.html

Which movies did you not think were great? For me I'm not the biggest fan of either Needing You (though I was partially upset by the animal eatery scene) and Running On Karma. I do need to see New Police Story again, but it doesn't rank that high either.
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:27 pm

Bearserk wrote:but sometimes I just need to get down and dirty with some well made trash :)


. . . and then sell it to me! ;) That way, you'll have room for more trash.

Seriously, though, I often look forward to watching poorly-made Hong Kong trash more than I do sitting down with the latest blockbuster from Hollywood. With the latter, I know what to expect in terms of quality, performance, production value, etc., but with the former, it's always an adventure. ;)

I checked out the list at LoveHKfilms and seems I have seen most of what they have listed there. A few surprises, mostly from movies which I didn't think was that great. Finding CTHD so far up on the list is a bit disappointing . . .


I perused that list yesterday and, not unexpectedly, found myself somewhat split, which is probably to be expected with any "Best Of" list, really. One thing I'm fairly certain of, however, is that most of the people voting were probably limited to mainstream, populist titles because that's what they see or buy. I think if such a vote was to include more people who watch all strata of Hong Kong cinema, or included votes from Chinese-language critics (presuming they didn't vote in this particular poll), the list might look considerably different. In general, I like a LOT of the stuff on that list, LOVE a fair bit of it, and dislike very little, so I'm cool with it, but I suspect the voting probably ignored a staggering number of Hong Kong films—art films, indies, even low-budget B-movies that really shine—simply because people never bothered to see them, or they were shot on video, or they went direct-to-DVD with little fanfare, etc.

I was actually contemplating putting The Unbelievable on my to buy list here the other day, but I might have to reconsider that given that you didn't like it Brian. We do tend to have similar tastes when it comes to trash :lol:


THE UNBELIEVABLE is actually compulsively watchable in a Mondo, "is-this-shit-for-real?" kind of way, but the slaughter of live animals, especially in the name of hillbilly religious traditions, is an automatic black eye (though I did finish the film). I have serious issues with that in any film and Hong Kong cinema certainly has had its share of such wanton cruelty in the name of entertainment over the years. It's more insidious here because the context is so obviously embellished by the filmmakers (in keeping with the spirit of the TV series), which makes one suspect that many of the real-life subjects were actually in on the game from the start. There are also scenes of people doing bizarre things to themselves in the film, but these scenes aren't as disturbing because they're only hurting themselves or making themselves look thoroughly deluded and pathetic. To each his own on that count, but harm or kill other living beings (humans or animals alike) for the sake of a "documentary" film crew that is obviously encouraging the behaviour—even editing around it to make it more suspenseful and "creepy"—and that's where a line must be drawn.


I still wont go to the step of getting any more ME movies :shock: just as a precaution for my fragile mind ;)


Just be vigilant. They strike when you least expect it. Rather like Robert DeNiro's character in BRAZIL, you may one day find yourself trapped in a swirling tornado of looseleaf bible pages, and when the paper finally settles . . . you'll be gone! :shock:
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Bearserk » Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:34 pm

The ones that stood out for me was movies like Hooked on You and Throw Down which just didn't sit that well with me, but maybe the biggest surprise to me was to see My Wife is 18 in there.
I felt it was a rather boring romantic comedy which was way out shined by the korean remake, Eorin Shinbu (My Little Bride), but my judgment might be a little clouded on that one since I had seen My Little Bride first. I very enjoyable and funny movie and MWi18 just never managed to get to the same height.
I felt that both the acting and mood in MLB was much better.

Seeing CTHD and Hero in there wasn't that big of a surprise, although I didn't like either of them, pretty to look at, but not much more in my eyes.
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:43 pm

Hee hee, Throw Down was one of my favorite films from the decade (all countries) :D.

I really don't think of CTHD and Hero as HK movies so that fact they were chosen surprised me. But yeah it does not surprise me either on that type of list. I would have thought that THE EYE would have been higher.

I have not seen HOOKED ON YOU and several others :).
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:00 am

I was extremely disappointed that CRAZY SCUM: DICKY'S JOURNAL didn't make the list. Recount!





(If mankind someday begs for a true "Worst of the Decade" list of Hong Kong movies, I nominate Bearserk and myself to compile it. LoveHKfilm, like so many other web sites, pays almost no attention to the bottom of the barrel. They just don't know what they're missing! :lol: )
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Bearserk » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:13 am

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Hee hee, Throw Down was one of my favorite films from the decade (all countries) :D.


I usually like To's movies, but for some strange reason this one just didn't click with me. It just bored me to tears and never quite managed to get me involved in what was happening on the screen.

Brian Thibodeau wrote:. . . and then sell it to me! ;) That way, you'll have room for more trash.

Seriously, though, I often look forward to watching poorly-made Hong Kong trash more than I do sitting down with the latest blockbuster from Hollywood. With the latter, I know what to expect in terms of quality, performance, production value, etc., but with the former, it's always an adventure. ;)


Hehe, now that would be the day :lol: I still got some room for a few more trash movies ;)

Yeah, I have it the same way, sitting down and watching a no budget HK "horror" movie often give me much more enjoyment than many big budget Hollywood movies can ever manage to.

Brian Thibodeau wrote:THE UNBELIEVABLE is actually compulsively watchable in a Mondo, "is-this-s**t-for-real?" kind of way, but the slaughter of live animals, especially in the name of hillbilly religious traditions, is an automatic black eye (though I did finish the film). I have serious issues with that in any film and Hong Kong cinema certainly has had its share of such wanton cruelty in the name of entertainment over the years. It's more insidious here because the context is so obviously embellished by the filmmakers (in keeping with the spirit of the TV series), which makes one suspect that many of the real-life subjects were actually in on the game from the start. There are also scenes of people doing bizarre things to themselves in the film, but these scenes aren't as disturbing because they're only hurting themselves or making themselves look thoroughly deluded and pathetic. To each his own on that count, but harm or kill other living beings (humans or animals alike) for the sake of a "documentary" film crew that is obviously encouraging the behaviour—even editing around it to make it more suspenseful and "creepy"—and that's where a line must be drawn.


Animal cruelty has never been a big hit with me either, cruelty to other people however :twisted: consensual that is, can be a lot of fun.
Big fan of the Gaki no Tsukai shows which you can find most of on youtube.
Would love to have these on dvd with subtitles.
Have happened to come across the odd scene of animal cruelty in HK movies as well, and it always is a mood killer. Never quite seen the need for it.
Some sick perverted idea that it might sell a few more copies I guess.

Brian Thibodeau wrote:Just be vigilant. They strike when you least expect it. Rather like Robert DeNiro's character in BRAZIL, you may one day find yourself trapped in a swirling tornado of looseleaf bible pages, and when the paper finally settles . . . you'll be gone! :shock:


Hehe, I will try and be vigilant and check my purchases well. I have to show Brazil to a friend of mine one day, he has a notion that it is bad without even having seen it :shock: Wonderful wonderful movie.
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Bearserk » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:15 am

Brian Thibodeau wrote:I was extremely disappointed that CRAZY SCUM: DICKY'S JOURNAL didn't make the list. Recount!

(If mankind someday begs for a true "Worst of the Decade" list of Hong Kong movies, I nominate Bearserk and myself to compile it. LoveHKfilm, like so many other web sites, pays almost no attention to the bottom of the barrel. They just don't know what they're missing! :lol: )



Haha, now that would have been something :lol:
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:01 pm

Bearserk wrote:Animal cruelty has never been a big hit with me either, cruelty to other people however :twisted: consensual that is, can be a lot of fun.


I rarely have a problem with that kind of human cruelty, as long as the participants are both party to the stupidity. I'm not keen on "stupid human tricks" movies and TV shows, so I just don't watch them. If "cruelty" is part of a fictional work, and therefore faked, then obviously I have no problem whatsoever.

My main gripe above is with the actual killing of defenseless animals, be they chickens, lizards, snakes, frogs (I think that about covers THE UNBELIEVABLE's parade of slaughter). If this was done as part of a Discovery Channel documentary showing how indigenous cultures hunt, kill and prepare their food, it would certainly be cringe-inducing, but I'd accept it as a legitimate facet of existence for those cultures: we all gotta eat, after all, and our mechanized Western methods aren't exactly pretty!

But when lives are ended in gory closeup—often slowly and via live dismemberment, as they are in this film— as part of these mind-numbingly backwards voodoo/shaman/religious rituals that have NO evidence supporting their efficacy, it's just disgusting, both on the part of the uneducated fools doing it and the filmmakers exploiting it for maximum gross-out appeal. But I suppose that IS the appeal of something like THE UNBELIEVABLE, which is only a few steps removed from, say, the FACES OF DEATH series by virtue of the fact that it doesn't show actual, unsuspecting human beings losing their lives (although it does shows some extremely unpleasant still photos of victims of the 2004 Tsunami to "set the stage", which is nearly as offensive).

All said, I'm sure this movie will find it's audience over time, and probably already has in Asia, where the TV series has been running for more than a decade (the original host? Simon Loui! 8) )
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby ewaffle » Sat Jan 09, 2010 7:27 am

Regarding "The Unbelievable", this sentence from Paul Fox's review on lovehkfilm.com tells me all I need to know:

While film has typically approached this genre with a heavy dose of fiction (see Troublesome Night and similar variants), TV programs about real ghosts, hauntings, and supernatural phenomena have proven quite popular in Hong Kong.
(emphasis added)

There may be "real" ghosts but catching them on camera is a leap of faith I am unwilling to take.
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Sat Jan 09, 2010 7:19 pm

ewaffle wrote:Regarding "The Unbelievable", this sentence from Paul Fox's review on lovehkfilm.com tells me all I need to know:

While film has typically approached this genre with a heavy dose of fiction (see Troublesome Night and similar variants), TV programs about real ghosts, hauntings, and supernatural phenomena have proven quite popular in Hong Kong.
(emphasis added)

There may be "real" ghosts but catching them on camera is a leap of faith I am unwilling to take.



:D

I read Fox's review after I'd written my own and I never even noticed that "real" slipped in there. D'oh! Frankly, I have almost zero interest in shows that try to validate these ridiculous claims of the supernatural, there or here. They never prove anything! Except that the hosts can be "convinced" by the weakest evidence, and that home audiences like to be creeped out while presumably telling others around the water cooler the next day that they don't really believe in "that stuff" :lol: . You can see many clips from the TV series on YouTube, sans subs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUcLLhjhsug

This channel seems to have most episodes from the Master Szeto-hosted version to date. Like the movie, they're not without rubbernecking interest, as long as real people insist on strange beliefs and rituals, television and film crews will show up to encourage them. :roll:

According to this, the film opened well (though no stats to back up the claim):
http://hktopten.blogspot.com/2009/09/20 ... n-top.html
No big surprise that Master Szeto is hoping for big bucks and international distrubution. (actually, I suspect he'll get the latter, perhaps on DVD, as the film taps that Faces of Death vibe)
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby dleedlee » Sat Jan 09, 2010 7:48 pm

Has anyone seen the South Korean 'Chaw' yet? :P I just noticed that there's an inexpensive Malaysian DVD out.
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby ewaffle » Sun Jan 10, 2010 4:44 am

Brian wrote:
Frankly, I have almost zero interest in shows that try to validate these ridiculous claims of the supernatural, there or here. They never prove anything! Except that the hosts can be "convinced" by the weakest evidence, and that home audiences like to be creeped out while presumably telling others around the water cooler the next day that they don't really believe in "that stuff"


"Real" can slip into otherwise rational conversations and sound really odd. A friend of mine is an afficianado of zombie movies--he really has a lot of them, particularly American, Italian and Spanish. We were talking one day about the difference between typical movie zombies and the undead hopping ghosts of Hong Kong. At one point to differentiate them I said something like "Well, the main difference between real zombies and ones in Hong Kong movies..." but was interrupted by a co-worker who had been listening and who was concerned that when I said "real" zombies I meant that I believed that corporeal, re-animated coprses might exist. What I "really" meant was real as in traditional, the George Romero zombies with rotting flesh and a hunger for live brains. :oops:

"Real" is one of those terms one must be careful when using. :D
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Re: 2009 Movie Recommendations

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:17 am

ewaffle wrote:I said something like "Well, the main difference between real zombies and ones in Hong Kong movies..." but was interrupted by a co-worker who had been listening and who was concerned that when I said "real" zombies I meant that I believed that corporeal, re-animated coprses might exist.


Now just think of the fun you could have had with him/her by insisting with a straight face that zombies really do exist! :lol:
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