What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

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

Postby Mike Thomason » Tue Sep 25, 2007 11:53 am

You can try here...

http://www.ethaicd.com/show.php?pid=17775

...or any one of a number of the regular US online retailers for the R1 version. Though the US version offers subtitles on its extras, which have largely been ported from the Thai edition (which doesn't), be warned that the film itself is a standards conversion (PAL-to-NTSC) and from all online reviews exhibits all of the inherent flaws of such a transfer.

The Thai disc, however, offers a nice 16:9 anamorphic and progressive transfer -- it's pretty grainy in parts, but that's how the film was intended. Good heavens, it feels like years since I watched this...even though it was realistically less than three years ago. :P
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Postby cal42 » Wed Sep 26, 2007 7:29 am

Thanks guys, I've ordered myself a copy :) .
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Postby Mike Thomason » Sun Oct 07, 2007 10:39 am

Flashpoint (2007, Hong Kong, 87m)
The following is personal opinion, and personal opinion alone: this was a half-arsed nothing of a film. Donnie Yen really has become the Jean-Claude Van Damme of Hong Kong cinema, and I so wish Wilson Yip would return to the quirky, offbeat and character-driven tales he used to make instead of trying to make us believe he's Hong Kong's next great action movie auteur...because he's not. :shock:

The review's up... http://column.hkmdb.com/mike/?p=136

PS: If anyone wants to see ANY review on the blog in its correct formatting, make sure you click on the title at the top of the review to bring up its own page. For some weird reason, every time I post up a new article, the rest of the page formats into italics...lord knows why... :?
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Postby ewaffle » Mon Oct 08, 2007 1:00 am

Donnie Yen really has become the Jean-Claude Van Damme of Hong Kong cinema


I must agree. When I saw Donnie Yen in "Dragon Inn" as the evil Eunuch Tsao I was very impressed--the character was completely over the top but Yen kept his performance reigned in enough so that it was very effective, making Tsao seem like a very scary and powerful person.

By the time "Ballistic Kiss" rolled around--a movie that starred Donnie and of which he was also the producer, director, lead action director and star--he was a self-parody. The scene in which he all but hypnotized a roomful of thugs, gunmen, drug dealers and pimps by (I think) pretending to conduct a symphony orchestra and then shoot all of them was cleary an instance of Donnie saying to the audience, "Look at me--I am the smartest guy in the room be far."

I think he needs someone in the director's chair to keep in under control.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:34 pm

By the time "Ballistic Kiss" rolled around--a movie that starred Donnie and of which he was also the producer, director, lead action director and star--he was a self-parody. The scene in which he all but hypnotized a roomful of thugs, gunmen, drug dealers and pimps by (I think) pretending to conduct a symphony orchestra and then shoot all of them was cleary an instance of Donnie saying to the audience, "Look at me--I am the smartest guy in the room be far."

I think he needs someone in the director's chair to keep in under control.


So true. If I recall correctly, BALLISTIC KISS (Uggh! The memories) also had an assist (however brief) from legendary screenwriter and professional Friend of Donnie Yen® Bey Logan. I often used to think Yen tailored his movies more to the kinds of people who would have been avid readers of Logan's old martial arts magazines and similar publications—amateur and wannabe martial artists—rather than just fans of HK cinema. Thus writing often takes a back seat to the choreography and whatever contrivances can make the star look like a two-dimensional "hardass." For me, that's OK: we'll never get the next INFERNAL AFFAIRS out of the man, so I tend to watch his films within a certain context. Some of them suck, others less so, but it's obvious how he operates, which easily tempers expectations, especially after so many films built around Yen's unvarying stock persona.

At the Toronto festival, the programmer (a member here) read aloud an email from the Great One to the audience before the screening of FLASH POINT and it became instantly clear whose movie this was. Yip, as Mike has noted, almost functions as a journeyman on these pictures—and a very talented one at that, as far as I'm concerned, but still working beneath his true abilities. But these are really little more than Yen putting his "mission statement" about martial arts on film, as he plainly stated in the email. And making back the investment in the process: with mixed martial arts (you know, this cage match-type stuff where grown men essentially pound the s**t out of each other under the guise of martial artistry) being so confoundingly popular right now, along with video games that have taken concepts of fighting to even more ridiculous, body-straining levels than any filmmaker ever could, Yen's got a perfect window in which to make these movies and cater directly to that audience. And if the product may alienate some of us true HK cinema fans, I'm betting he doesn't mind, as the MMA crowd will more than make up the difference. Personally, though, I hate the real-life stuff, but I did enjoy what Yen does with it in the film.


EDIT: Just read this interesting news from Dennis' daily news report :lol:
http://www.kungfucinema.com/news/2007/100701.html
Looks like the Yen routine might get even more money behind it. :(
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Postby ewaffle » Tue Oct 09, 2007 4:30 am

Face, 2004, South Korea. Not a horror movie but a detective story with supernatural elements, not unlike some of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories. There is a bit of vengeance from beyond the grace and some images recycled from recent Japanese and Korean horror flicks. One thing that is made clear: if your job is reconstructing the appearance of murder victims from skeletal remains, especially those that have had all their soft tissue burned away by acid, it is not a good idea to work from your home.

Terror Taxi, 2000, South Korea. While on his way to pick up his girlfriend a taxi driver is in a fatal accident--fatal to him. He doesn't really recover from the accident but realizes that he is still driving the cab, except now he is a ghost. He finds the regular hang-outs for the other ghost cabbies--there are quite a few of them--and tries to figure out which of them killed him.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Tue Oct 09, 2007 4:40 am

ewaffle wrote:Terror Taxi, 2000, South Korea. While on his way to pick up his girlfriend a taxi driver is in a fatal accident--fatal to him. He doesn't really recover from the accident but realizes that he is still driving the cab, except now he is a ghost. He finds the regular hang-outs for the other ghost cabbies--there are quite a few of them--and tries to figure out which of them killed him.


Hey Ed, this wouldn't be a retitling of a film called GHOST TAXI would it? I have that on VCD from ages ago, and it sounds pretty similar (from what I can recall :oops:), so I'm wondering if you found a version from another region or something altogether different...
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Postby ewaffle » Tue Oct 09, 2007 12:40 pm

They are indeed the same.

Here is a link from Poker Industries which shows "Terror" as an alternatve version for "Ghost".

http://www.pokerindustries.com/poker.store?page=item&sku=GHOSTAXI-VCD
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:37 pm

ewaffle wrote:They are indeed the same.


Thanks! Guess I shoulda looked there first. Interesting retitle, as I don't remember the movie being particularly terror-filled... :D
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Postby cal42 » Sun Oct 14, 2007 11:14 am

Our postal system has gone bye-bye over here, so I've only just received SARS WARS: BANGKOK ZOMBIE CRISIS. You can read my review here if you want to.

Thanks to ewaffle for bringing this to my attention and to Mike for the R1 details :) .
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Postby steve_cole1 » Tue Oct 16, 2007 6:11 pm

I been into a Sonny Chiba Mode recently i watched his films return of the streetfighter golgo 13 and the yazuka deka 2 film which were quiet good going on the fact they were made in the 70s . Ive watched Protege which i thought was a big disapointment it was half a good film
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Fri Jun 06, 2008 9:18 pm

random terse thoughts on:
Dynamite Warrior (2006: Thailand) **½/****:

Newer Thailand action films are an interesting bunch. CGI is used interestingly well, the action scenes (stunt and fight) are top notch, acting ability is not required and plot, well plot is not a top consideration either. Most of the times this does not hinder the enjoyment of the movie like Born to Fight or Tom Yum Goong (both of these should be watched before this movie), but with less action scenes and more reliance on humor and plot Dynamite Warrior is not as enjoyable.

It is for the most part fun though. With a mixture of Muay Thai action, several stunts, one hungry cannibal, witchcraft (not quite the Taoist related witchcraft of HK films, but there is some resemblance), a man seeking revenge who rides on a rocket (Dan Chupong, Born to Fight) who needs virginal menstruation to help him defeat a sorcerer, a Tractor selling upper-class Thai who is bent on ridding Thailand of cattle and well more weirdness you get a mixture of humor and action that does not quite gel.

Fans like myself will enjoy this more than most of the populace, but it does drag and not all the comedy is funny (I noticed some reviewers did not know it was supposed to be funny in many parts). There is too much of a hodge-podge amount of genres put together too without cohesion. The scenery in Northwest Thailand is quite beautiful though. I was impressed though with some of the CGI and its use in the fight scenes with massive amount of homemade rockets.

Though there is one main reason to watch this: Where else are you going to see a man ride a rocket?
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Tue Jul 08, 2008 6:05 pm

some random thoughts on HK films recently watched (want to do full length reviews later):

Flashpoint (2007: HK: ***½/****): Donnie Yen has been creating some of the best fight choreography together these days. The last 40 minutes of Flashpoint is an insane mix of gun action and awesome choreographed martial art extravaganza of mixed styles. Yen's biggest influence recently has been from his search into eclectic disciplines that have been fostered by the rise of MMA (mixed martial arts). He has incorporated arm-bars, thai plum grabs, judo flips, boxing, and even a triangle (even if you do not know these terms the action is quite adroit and beautiful to watch).

This film is solidly directed by Wilson Yip (SPL, Biozombie) though the plot of this film is not as interesting or involved as SPL (aka Kill Zone) with many stereotypical triad themes. It takes place during the year of the handover to China (1997) where many triad/cop films are built around even though this really has nothing to do directly with the movie (used for mood and the anxiety that took place during that time period). Wilson (Louis Koo Tin-Lok, Rob-B-Hood) is an undercover cop working for three underworld Vietnamese brothers (including the lead brother Tony played by Collin Chou) and feeding information to Donnie Yen's tough guy cop character (he constantly injuries the felons :D). This leads to the possibility of Wilson being found out.

Fans of plot more than action will want to take a half a star away from my review.

I did get to watch Fatal Contact (2006: HK: **½/****) this weekend. This too was a bit disappointing, but nowhere near as bad as Dragon Heat. The Jacky Wu Jing (SPL) action scenes are quite good and it is an interesting, somewhat stereotypical Mainlander into big city (analogous to the American country bumpkin role). The main emphasis though (even though the film is about underground boxing fights) is the relationship between him and somewhat detached friend (not quite girlfriend) Tin (Miki Yeung Oi-Gan) who is a emotionally distant individual whom he should stay away from. The ending is a bit bizarre and comes somewhat out of nowhere (though at a certain point you just know it is going to happen). The different subplots do not work as congruently as they should. I did like the bumming Zen-like pal.

It was Dennis Law Sau-Yiu's third directed film, but I have not seen the previous two. He has directed a film this year called Fatal Move that has had mixed reviews.

Dragon Heat aka Dragon Squad (2005: HK: *½/****): This really should not be on the Dragon Dynasty label. It is poorly executed, badly written, scattershot, Michael Bay's and Chris Marker's bastard love-child influenced direction and should be ignored (watch Flash Point (2007) instead). This is another one of those idiotic covers from Dragon Dynasty that do not match the film (Maggie Q is the main attraction on the cover though she is just a small character; also she really isn't that popular). I am not going to try to explain too much of the plot except that it pits 5 young various cop(ish) members (including Shawn Yu Man-Lok; I'm not sure on who they actually report too) against a terrorist organization who kidnapped a triad member (one of the members looks like Christopher Titus). Don't think while watching this (how come the terrorist organization can kill all non-Dragon Squad people with ease while missing that team from close range).

Fans of the triad/cop genre will notice that Simon Yam is in it -- well like Gordon Liu it is also just a small underwritten role.

What more can you expect of a film that is partly produced by Steven Seagal and Bey Logan (who has a small role in this also). Hmmm I wonder how this got on Dragon Dynasty?
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:27 pm

It was Dennis Law Sau-Yiu's third directed film, but I have not seen the previous two. He has directed a film this year called Fatal Move that has had mixed reviews.


Law's LOVE @ FIRST NOTE is a must-see, if only to marvel at the "packaging" of it all. Not a first in HK cinema, I know, but definitely near the apex of the craft, even if it's not a great film overall. THE UNUSUAL YOUTH is probably the better of the two, though both are worth seeing in my view.
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Tue Jul 08, 2008 8:06 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote:
It was Dennis Law Sau-Yiu's third directed film, but I have not seen the previous two. He has directed a film this year called Fatal Move that has had mixed reviews.


Law's LOVE @ FIRST NOTE is a must-see, if only to marvel at the "packaging" of it all. Not a first in HK cinema, I know, but definitely near the apex of the craft, even if it's not a great film overall. THE UNUSUAL YOUTH is probably the better of the two, though both are worth seeing in my view.


Thanks for the information (always appreciate that). I noticed that LOVE @ FIRST NOTE seems to be OOP while THE UNUSUAL YOUTH has a R1 copy available on HKFLIX.com. Does this seem right? I will put a feed on ebay if so for LOVE @ FIRST NOTE.

Also Brian, did you get a chance to see any of the three I watched this past several days?
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Tue Jul 08, 2008 10:38 pm

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Thanks for the information (always appreciate that). I noticed that LOVE @ FIRST NOTE seems to be OOP while THE UNUSUAL YOUTH has a R1 copy available on HKFLIX.com. Does this seem right? I will put a feed on ebay if so for LOVE @ FIRST NOTE.


I just checked at DDDhouse and they're still selling LOVE @ FIRST NOTE, except they've got it filed as I LOVE FIRST NOTE for some strange reason. :? I'm guessing it's still in print, and quite cheap, too, though you'd have to import.
http://www.dddhouse.com/v3/product_deta ... uctID=6125
They also still sell UNUSUAL YOUTH. which makes me question the "out-of-print" designations HKFlix assigns to a lot of stuff . . .


Also Brian, did you get a chance to see any of the three I watched this past several days?


I've only seen FLASH POINT so far, at the Toronto film fest and again on video to confirm what I already knew and watch the extras at least once. Glad to see another fan willing to acknowledge what Donnie Yen & co. were trying to accomplish with that film rather than the tired old line about it desperately clinging to Hong Kong's cinematic past, I hate Donnie Yen, etc. etc. I have the other two in the stacks, but as mentioned in another thread, I'm plowing through a lot of long-accumulating non-HK stuff right now so I can properly get back to the joy of watching primarily Hong Kong movies! Gettin' antsy, actually. Can't earn my keep around here lately! :D

Good observation about DRAGON HEAT and Bey Logan. ;)
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Postby Chungking_Cash » Tue Jul 08, 2008 10:59 pm

I'm currently screening notable titles that I've missed for one reason or another in the last 11 years I've been consuming Hong Kong cinema.


Arrest the Restless (1992)
Butterfly Sword (1993)
The Chinese Feast (1995)
The East is Red (1993)
Full Alert (1997)
Full Throttle (1995)
Green Snake (1993)
Gunmen (1988)
The Iceman Cometh (1989)
In the Line of Duty 4 (1989)
Long Arm of the Law II (1987)
Mack the Knife (1995)
A Moment of Romance (1990)
The Moon Warriors (1992)
Organized Crime & Triad Bureau (1994)
Peace Hotel (1995)
Pom Pom and Hot Hot (1992)
Return to a Better Tomorrow (1994)
Royal Warriors (1986)
Run and Kill (1993)
To Be Number One (1991)
Warriors: The Black Panther (1993)
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Tue Jul 08, 2008 11:14 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote:...
I just checked at DDDhouse and they're still selling LOVE @ FIRST NOTE, except they've got it filed as I LOVE FIRST NOTE for some strange reason. :? I'm guessing it's still in print, and quite cheap, too, though you'd have to import.
http://www.dddhouse.com/v3/product_deta ... uctID=6125
They also still sell UNUSUAL YOUTH. which makes me question the "out-of-print" designations HKFlix assigns to a lot of stuff . . .
...
I'm plowing through a lot of long-accumulating non-HK stuff right now so I can properly get back to the joy of watching primarily Hong Kong movies! Gettin' antsy, actually. Can't earn my keep around here lately! :D
...


I'll look more into those two. HKFLix does state that too many are OOP when they are not necessarily (always throws me off :D). Though to be fair they have one OOP for UNUSUAL YOUTH and one current (9.95 US Dollars).

I've been watching so much Buster Keaton of late myself :D (from the Art of Buster Keaton Kino box set). I have a few lists I'm trying to accomplish, but I also was missing HK movies (and want to catch back up watching the Dragon Dynasty, Image/Celestial releases).

For those truly bored here is my movie watched list for the year (back to March 1): http://www.listsofbests.com/list/56326 you can see what Asian and other films I've seen
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Postby ewaffle » Tue Jul 08, 2008 11:59 pm

"The Machine Girl"

The web is awash with reviews/commentary/profundities on this movie so I will refrain from saying anything else other than--it has some very funny lines including "Honey, are you finished with that machine gun?" in the exact tone of voice that a wife would ask a husband "Did you take out the garbabe?"

Plus several others.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:21 am

ewaffle wrote:"The Machine Girl"

The web is awash with reviews/commentary/profundities on this movie so I will refrain from saying anything else other than--it has some very funny lines including "Honey, are you finished with that machine gun?" in the exact tone of voice that a wife would ask a husband "Did you take out the garbabe?"

Plus several others.



Was hoping this would be at my U.S. postbox during a visit home last weekend, but no luck, so I have to wait a couple more weeks to get it. I've been skeptical of all the praise, though, as I tend to be with films that get free passes over here simply because they're wild and crazy and foreign and aware of their own schlockiness. This article recently linked by Dennis in the Daily News forum really struck a chord in regards to the craft of reviewing cult films.
http://www.asiaarts.ucla.edu/080627/art ... ntID=94148
Still, there's no way it's not worth seeing at least once! ;)
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Postby Chungking_Cash » Wed Jul 09, 2008 2:33 am

I've been skeptical of all the praise, though, as I tend to be with films that get free passes over here simply because they're wild and crazy and foreign and aware of their own schlockiness.


Amen. I saw "Versus" for the first time last month and had to watch it in 30 minute segments because my attention span kept waning.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Wed Jul 09, 2008 3:14 pm

Chungking_Cash wrote:Amen. I saw "Versus" for the first time last month and had to watch it in 30 minute segments because my attention span kept waning.


I remember thinking how fun that movie was when I first started watching it at a festival screening before its release, but as it went on, and on, and on, I started to get a little irritated. I'm pretty sure it ran over two hours at that point (don't know if that was a director's cut, a preview cut or what have you), which I just felt was too long for such a knowingly cultish film that very nearly wouldn't exist were it not for its cult film antecedents. Overall, though, I liked it for what it was, but were I to write a review, I still would have docked a few points for length, at the very least. I don't mind filmmakers wearing their influences on their sleeves, especially if it's obvious they know their way around a camera, but like that UCLA press article mentions, the "cool" and "different" factor clouds serious discourse sometimes, even though the films under discussion often have much to recommend them.

I think WILD ZERO, another cult-y Japanese film I saw at the same festival as VERSUS, was a far more original piece of work, and ran a much more reasonable length, although it too carried a whiff of earlier films its director had seen.
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:37 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote:
Chungking_Cash wrote:Amen. I saw "Versus" for the first time last month and had to watch it in 30 minute segments because my attention span kept waning.


I remember thinking how fun that movie was when I first started watching it at a festival screening before its release, but as it went on, and on, and on, I started to get a little irritated. I'm pretty sure it ran over two hours at that point (don't know if that was a director's cut, a preview cut or what have you), which I just felt was too long for such a knowingly cultish film that very nearly wouldn't exist were it not for its cult film antecedents. Overall, though, I liked it for what it was, but were I to write a review, I still would have docked a few points for length, at the very least. I don't mind filmmakers wearing their influences on their sleeves, especially if it's obvious they know their way around a camera, but like that UCLA press article mentions, the "cool" and "different" factor clouds serious discourse sometimes, even though the films under discussion often have much to recommend them ...


Versus was a fun yet unoriginal mix of genres to me (the director's cut seems to be at 119 min; the ultimate cut is at 130, I also see it mentioned at 157 which would be way too long for this film). I borrowed, didn't buy the director's version (anyone have the three-disc Ultimate edition to confirm or mention the longer edition). But since it has been years since I've seen it (2003 or 2004), I might have a different opinion now.

I still hate the ending (director's cut) of that film (won't spoil it here) which seemed to be the same idiotic endings of many other Japanese films I saw during that time (Suicide Club, Ichi the Killer, etc...).

EDIT AGAIN: now I'm just thinking too much on this film -- which reminds me I need to get the multi-disc edition.
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Postby cal42 » Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:01 pm

I've mentioned it before (and I hate to sound like a broken record) but Versus is a real grower, at least as far as I'm concerned. I've seen it a few times now and I can't wait to see it again. I take on board all criticisms (they're pretty much all correct) but I had a great time last time I watched it.
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Postby KMGor » Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:32 pm

Haven't been any updates here in a while huh...

I just saw the Machine Girl. It had a few inspired moments, but mostly it was kind of dull and uninteresting. Didn't really enjoy it.

I saw Dragon Heat/Squad. Very flawed, and I have to agree some of the Michael Bay stuff in it was pretty irritating. On the whole though, it was passably entertaining - the machete duel at the end is probably the standout. I must say Michael Biehn was either poorly directed or just phoning it in, or maybe both. He can be a quite solid actor in the right hands, but he isn't in this one. I would also agree this is the weakest film thus far on the Dragon Dynasty label.

Also saw Saint of Gamblers 2, which I bought in Chinatown quite a while ago. It was in a bargain bin. I think people are a little too hard on this. It's got some pretty big problems, but I actually enjoyed it about as much as as the first Stephen Chow gambling film (All For the Winner is the name, I think). I don't really love either of them a whole though though.

Finally, another oldie people love to hate: Wonder Seven. What a mess of a film. It's crazy and confusing even for the style, time frame and director. That is, early 90s HK action done by Ching Siu-Tung. The plot is very hard to follow exactly, though eventually I simply stopped caring. What is left are some silly but fun fight scenes, stunts, and a maniacal villain giving evil laughs. The elevator gag at the end, along with a guy fighting a helicopter, are amongst the most ridiculous things I've seen in any film. I must say, I liked it more than I expected (I bought it knowing what I was getting into, but it was very cheap). For the $3 or $4 you'll pay for it, not bad.
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:02 pm

Here's some mini ones I've done somewhat lately:

Bat Without Wings (1980: HK: **½/****): those familiar with the Chor Yuen directed movie The Magic Blade, will definitely see the similarities with his work in the Wuxia Bat Without Wings, but with an added early horror element (a kung fu killer dressed up like Gene Simmons of Kiss) it seems that this could be a great cult classic in the Shaw Brothers' filmography. However, the amount of plot turns and new characters soon overwhelm any coherence with story (a problem with many Shaw Brother's films, I've read especially with Chor Yuen directed movies though The Magic Blade is an exception). Ultimately the movie is about the "Bat Without Wings" a killer who was supposedly killed five years earlier, but has apparently come back. Three heroes (the father, the fiancé of the deceased daughter and a good Samaritan played by Derek Yee Tung-Sing from Shaolin Intruders) go off in search of this person. However, it appears that he is not the original "Bat Without Wings".

There are some great scenes though. An early macabre seen involving a headless woman returning her head to her father (the horror element is gone soon into the film though) and a tavern of dead customers (much like in The Magic Blade, except it was done a little bit better there). The Wuxia (swordplay) scenes are solidly done (not spectacular).

Fun film for Shaw Brother's fans for others I would recommend The Magic Blade (1976) instead as a somewhat unknown Shaw film that is superior to this one.

Triad Election (aka Election 2: 2006: HK: ***/****):
Election 2 is a solid sequel to its superior predecessor. I feel this film sometimes strays too much from a satisfactory cohesive whole that the first worked so well at delivering on. Simon Yam's character so important in the first seems underused, less panache and less bright than the first film. There is one great moment (referencing the first film) where he has a smile and stares at the camera for a quick second or two (if you had not watched the original you would have not gotten this in-joke).

To has an interesting way of inserting humor into the scenes, the silly masks, Lam Suet having martial issues, Lam being forced to well watch it, and Mark Cheng's Bo character asking for more money (even if the last time seemed a bit forced).

There is definitely one scene (reminiscent of Fargo, but goes much further, once again showing that a true triad member should not allow himself to be captured) that is definitely shocking, grotesque and a bit bothersome. But it did show the lengths the Jimmy Lee (Louis Koo) character would go to accomplish his goal (in many ways Koo is reminiscent of Michael Corleone).

I still feel Election was a movie that probably did not need a sequel to it, though the premise is easily remade (over and over again, especially since the election is every two years). Since Jet (Nick Cheung Ka-Fai, one of my favorite characters in this movie) is still alive and so is Kun, there is definitely the possibility of a third.

Note: the trailer showed scenes that were deleted from the movie (possibly showing something that might have happened to Kun)

I need to start doing some full reviews again.
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Postby KMGor » Tue Aug 26, 2008 6:23 pm

I finally watched Bullet & Brain, which I bought on VCD months ago. I must say, after having my expectations reduced a LOT by some very negative reviews, I actually enjoyed it. No, its nothing special, but it is passably entertaining. You can tell it was shot VERY quickly though. The handful of brief fights in the film show the choreographer knew what he was doing but probably wasn't given enough time (the first fight in particular, where there's an awkward pause in the fisticuffs for no apparent reason). Just a guess. Another thing is there are shootouts done very cheaply. They consist of a shot of a gun firing plus rapid closeups of people being shot. It's cheap and kind of lazy, but at least they're quick. Still better than my least favorite style of shootout, which consists of tons of medium shots of people shooting while standing still next to a box and an occasional random death.

Also, the twists in the film are entertaining enough, and the pacing is quite solid (probably the one area the film beats out a number of more lauded recent HK films, even something like Flashpoint) - it's pretty old school in that a single reel never goes by without some kind of gag, whether it be an action scene, bit of violence, or a bunch of lame jokes in a row.

However, it does have many negatives. Some kind of bad acting from some people in the film, a lot of bad effects work, and just the overall quality isn't high. The key point for me isn't that this is a bad film - just that this is a crime/triad action-comedy from Hong Kong, and there are so many better ones. And, of course, the older ones would probably cost less too.

Overall, 6/10.
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Postby AV1979 » Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:04 pm

Where do I begin???

Saw some classic kung fu to start:
Death Duel of Kung Fu (1979) - love this Secret Rivals-esque actioner with Wang Tao, John Liu, and the late Eagle Han in one of his finest performances as the villain. Han definitely had some powerful kicking abilities and it showed here.

Of Cooks and Kung Fu (1978) - I never really heard of Jacky Chen until I saw this and he's pretty good. Plus, Chai Kai and the awesome Chan Shen as Chen's grandpa and the villain. Love the use of "cooking kung fu". Imagine this on Iron Chef!!! LOL

Newer flicks:
Invisible Target (2007) - blew me away. Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue, and Jaycee Chan pulled off some performance as three cops with different agendas against the common enemies of Wu Jing, Andy On, and crew. The stunts and homage to "Parkour" were enjoyable and loved the fight scenes as well.

Kamikaze Girls (2004) - A buddy movie like no other IMO. There's Kyoko Fukuda's warped-Rococo fashionista combined with Anna Tsuchiya's badass biker chick as these two go on some wild and crazy adventures. There is a funny scene that reminds us of those supermarket ads that just had me rolling, but Sadao Abe's pachinko tough guy man, looking like he's hiding a loaf of French bread in his hair. LOL
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:28 pm

terse reviews (a couple for Halloween :D):

Human Lanterns (1982: Hong Kong: ***/****): Continuing on my Shaw Brother horror watching of late I knew that I was going to have to watch this more talked about than seen exploitation flick. This movie is a well done mixture of horror and martial arts directed by Sun Chung (The Deadly Breaking Sword (1979)) whom Siu Yam-Yam calls a very weird man in an interview. However, there is certainly a tinge of misogynistic intent (common in many Asian horror films) that is off-putting in viewing this.

Master Lung Shu Ai (Lau Wing) has a long going feud with Master Tan Fu (Chen Kuan-Tai who certainly is getting more R1 releases these days including recent releases Challenge of the Masters (1976), The Master (1980), Deadly Duo (1983)) and has to beat him or embarrass him in everything. A lantern festival is coming up and Lung Shu has to win. This leads him to use an old enemy Chao Chun Fang (Lo Lieh) to incorporate him to help him with this task. Unbeknownst to him, he still harbors a long standing grudge and of course makes his lanterns out of human skin.

Finally released on an R1 Celestial/Image disc, this makes a fun (if you are disturbed) film for Halloween. The martial arts are done well, the sets and design are also done well. There is also an annoying didactic message though that is common in many of these films: do not be too proud.

Kiss of Death (1973: Hong Kong: **/****): There are more metallic objects stabbing groins that I have ever seen in any other film – one reason several of you might want to see this. Otherwise it is another exploitation film from director Hoh Mung-Wa (Black Magic, Oily Maniac) with sub par plot. It is the typical scared girl (Chen Ping) gets gang raped by thugs (Fan Mei-Sheng amongst them), contracts a rare but deadly VD called Vietnam Rose, gets nightclub job, learns martial arts from crippled nightclub owner (Lo Lieh sporting the best suit in the movie) and gets revenge by piercing pertinent body parts with various sharp instruments on thugs. Quite typical of course.

The martial art parts are a bit small, not performed that well (it is bad when Lo Lieh is the best martial artist you have) and most of the focus is on the exploitation elements which are somewhat effective though not particularly fun to watch (rape, women tricked into porn, leery gynecologist etc…).

The modern day Shaw Brothers films are always interesting to see (even if the film is so-so) with their use of on location shooting on locale.

However, love that deck of cards that is actually a weapon. Be warned there is no kiss of death though.

CJ7 (2008: China: ***/****): An interesting detour of a movie that Stephen Chow directed (and costars in) that he had wanted to make for quite a while and got to make while putting Kung Fu Hustle 2 on hold. It is directly inspired by ET (stated by Chow himself), sometimes a bit too much so, but still has plenty of his mo lei tou (nonsense) humor while keeping it aimed at the family crowd -- the dubbed voice of the huge girl and the poop joke being the funniest. Sometimes I winced on how they treated the space creature, but it was mostly indestructible so I guess no harm.

Dicky Chow (Xu Jiao who is actually a girl as are several of the kids in the film playing boys) is the son of a poor construction worker (Stephen Chow) who has lost his wife and is working hard to put his son through a private school. He wants a toy (the CJ1), but his father cannot afford it. However, while looking for newer shoes at the garbage dump he finds an inflatable green ball to give to his son (I wonder what that is). Dicky soons finds it to be an incredible alien who seems to be a mix of a pet dog, an anime creature and a slug. Of course, things don't work quite as expected for Chow (though there is a funny dream scene that works quite well).

There are a few callback jokes to both Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer, but I'll let you find them ï
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Postby KMGor » Fri Oct 31, 2008 10:35 pm

At the Toronto festival, the programmer (a member here) read aloud an email from the Great One to the audience before the screening of FLASH POINT and it became instantly clear whose movie this was. Yip, as Mike has noted, almost functions as a journeyman on these pictures�and a very talented one at that, as far as I'm concerned, but still working beneath his true abilities. But these are really little more than Yen putting his "mission statement" about martial arts on film, as he plainly stated in the email. And making back the investment in the process: with mixed martial arts (you know, this cage match-type stuff where grown men essentially pound the s**t out of each other under the guise of martial artistry) being so confoundingly popular right now, along with video games that have taken concepts of fighting to even more ridiculous, body-straining levels than any filmmaker ever could, Yen's got a perfect window in which to make these movies and cater directly to that audience. And if the product may alienate some of us true HK cinema fans, I'm betting he doesn't mind, as the MMA crowd will more than make up the difference. Personally, though, I hate the real-life stuff, but I did enjoy what Yen does with it in the film.


I'm not a big fan of it, but I've found some MMA entertaining. However, I've always found the ground fighting in it dull and boring - and somehow, this is the main aspect of MMA they tend to use in films. For that reason, while I thought it was skillfully portrayed in both SPL and Flashpoint, I didn't like those parts of the fights - particularly not in the SPL fight with Sammo Hung at the end. I just don't think it is entertaining no matter how it is used.

It also lacks the kinetic rhythm of kung fu fights in other HK films, which I feel is a big part of what makes them so energizing. Instead, you've got people basically straining and pounding on each other constantly. It's like the sort of crap in bad America action films in the 80s, only with more talented performers.

But yeah, on the whole, wasn't too impressed with Flashpoint. The storyline was pretty crap, and the pacing was poor. The finale of Flashpoint helps, but not enough. I unfortunately saw Flashpoint dubbed in english, which was atrocious. I did like one terrible dub joke though - Donnie is reading the instructions for his TV, and says "What's all this stuff mean!? It's like it's written in Chinese!!".

Pacing problems and a blah storyline also plagued Dragon Tiger Gate. The only Yip/Yen film I think I'll watch again anytime soon is SPL. It's storyline isn't brilliant or anything, but it had quite a bit better pacing, the best fight sequences of any of their films (The Wu Jing and Yen fight is the best fight sequence I've seen in a post-turnover HK film), and is just generally the best of the lot.

Anyway, aside from that, I just watched Hero of Tomorrow. I enjoyed it, but it was very uneven and spotty at points. Looked to be very low budget too. However, it does have a decent storyline, even if it is very cliched. The action scenes are solid and well-handled. Probably the most impressive thing about the entire film is Miu Kiu-Wai. I barely could recognize him, only having seen one or two films with him in minor parts in them, but wow. His performance was excellent, perfectly evoking his character's touch of inner sadness and exhaustion. His character also actually changes some over the film (somewhat unusual in this sort of film), and the entire performance is just great. It makes me wonder if I should seek out more films with him in them.

Also saw Chocolate. Really enjoyed it. Thought it quite a bit better on most levels than Ong Bak or Tom Yum Goong. The lead girl (whose name escapes me) is not quite as good as Tony Jaa, but the storyline was much better than his two films, and it has stunt work equaling the best HK has ever done - perhaps even topping it towards the end with all the roof falls.
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