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Old 11-19-01, 06:43 PM   #1
Trigger
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[Reviews] Ashes of Time, Help!!!, Memento Mori, Spacked Out & Sex Phone Girl (HK)

Ashes of Time

The Film - 6.5/10

It was very difficult to follow... It was a collection of stories that were very loosley tied together. It reminded me of Dragon Inn a little with different characters all ending up in one place, but it's very much different (except for Brigitte Lin's part). It's more of an artsy film (well Wong Kar Wai - what do you expect?) though and so if you're hoping for some conventional standards of HK cinema, you won't find many here. I did like the story for the most part - I will have to watch it a few more times perhaps so I can follow what characters are doing what and to whom. I was tired when I watched it so that might have something to do with it.

The DVD - 4/10

Mei Ah - burned in subs and 1.85:1 letterbox with the sides cut a little. The transfer is fairly clean for an earlier Mei Ah release though. No menu or extras or chapter stops.

The Action - 4/10

A few good dismemberments and some decent flashes of action, but all the action is handled the "artsy" way with choppy editing and ugly camera effects that just make the action really hard to follow - you almost have to wait until the motion sickness is over to see who won.

The Actors - 9.5/10

The acting was all superb though and it was a pleasure to watch all these fine A-list actors and actresses together on screen giving some of their best performances ever. I mean - we're talking Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung, Brigitte Lin, Jacky Cheung, Leung Ka Fai and Leslie Cheung. What more could you ask for?

Overall - 7/10

I think this film as a whole is better than if you dissect it. It works on a few levels and is different than most other HK films. If you're into Wong Kar Wai then you've probably seen it and if not then it should be on your list. If you're not really into artsy films and just like good action, then probably skip it.

Memento Mori (Korean)

The Film - 7/10

Neat idea. It's about a couple of girls at an all girls school who fall in love and keep a REALLY detailed secret diary together. Another girl finds the diary and uncovers the dark secrets behind the two lovers relationship. It's almost a horror/suspense and it's almost a drama. It just doesn't really become either and it's not both. The film shares something in common with Stephen King's Carrie, but I won't go any further than that. It's a riveting story though despite there not being much in the way of scares or shocks. It is certainly creepy though.

The DVD - 6/10

Mei Ah again - they're all Mei Ah in this post. They're all average unless otherwise noted. This one is in full screen though so I'd suggest going with a different version. The sound and subtitles are good though and despite being fullscreen, it's a fairly clean transfer.

The Action - 6/10

The scares either aren't delivered right or I just wasn't in the right frame of mind... I can say that they seemed like they were done well and they should've scared me, but they just didn't.

The Actors - 8/10

Very believeable for the most part. I really liked most of the characters in this one.

Overall - 6.9/10

Worthy of a purchase, but it won't be a favorite. There are better movies out there. Did I read somewhere that this is based on a true story? If so that would explain things a bit more. It's a good film, but it didn't have the impact on me that it should have.

Spacked Out

The Film - 3/10

Garbage. Hong Kong's version of Kids basically. It is supposed to shock you with the deviant behavior of 13 year olds, but it just ends up reminding us how much trouble 13 year olds can get into if they don't have some good parental guidance. The movie is a complete mess... it's basically just watching 13 year old girls talk to each other about stupid crap - they don't even bother subtitling half of it because it's just 13 year old girls babbling like idiots. The movie gets progressively heavy but never really reaches the shock level we've already been exposed to here in the US so it just ends up being really boring. The ending does a really fantastic job of tying everything up nicely, but it's too little too late after making the viewer endure the rest of the film which is 99% pointless dialogue amongst unsupervised teenage girls.

The DVD - 6/10

Mei Ah - subs are incomplete (which is ok) and the sound is ok - the transfer is decent as well... average for a Mei Ah.

The Action - 3/10

There's a few wrist cutting scenes and there's a decent dream sequence about abortion that almost rivals the baby scenes in Trainspotting, but there's nothing that can save this movie from mediocrity.

The Actors - 4/10

Pretty awful really - on par with the "acting" from the movie Kids or the original punk classic - Suburbia.

Overall - 4/10

There's a few good scenes in this, but nothing that would make it worth while sitting through the rest of it. It's mostly just crap. Watch Kids instead.

Help!!!

The Film - 5/10

Really incohesive plot. It's about this poorly run hospital and how the doctors turn it around. The film doesn't really flow very well and seems more like a series of skits that have the same sense of humor that PBS does. The jokes are canned and the thread that holds the film together is about as thin as dental floss. If you've seen Young Doctors In love - just remove all the sex bits and half the humor and it's kinda the same. Synopsis is that Celicia CHeung plays a young girl who decided to become a doctor after undergoing surgery at the hands of Ekin Cheng and Jordan Chan. Together they decide to turn a slacking hospital around and make the apathetic doctors care about their work again.

The DVD - 6/10

Ditto... see above

The Action - 6/10

The jokes are good and all that but Wai Ka Fai tries to make a Wong Jing movie but doesn't have the right delivery or something... they just don't work. They miss some really golden opportunities and the comedy just comes out mediocre. I'd like to see this same film through the eyes of Wong Jing. There's even some movie parodies in here - like The Ring for example (seems to be a popular film to parody as well as remake). There are some decent special effects and stunts I guess, but nothing new.

The Actors - 5/10

Could've been better - I don't think it was their fault so much as the script. It was supposed to be a comedy, but everything was delivered really dry... they should've just gone all out if that's what they were trying to do - that's what the script called for anyway.

Overall - 5/10

Decent enough - worth a rental. Not worth a purchase unless you just gotta have everything like I do. Perhaps someone else will find this funny - I know the jokes were funny, but I wasn't laughing.

Sex Phone Girl

The Film - 0/10

The worst stinker ever. It's just this girl dancing around naked. Now I like porn just as much as the next guy, but this was just lame. Waste of time. I bought it thinking it might be a cat III comedy like Electrical Girl (which I enjoyed), but this wasn't a movie at all, it was just crap.

The DVD - 6/10

Mei Ah - blah blah.

The Action - 3/10

For what it is - it's not every good either... The same girl in every scene and although she's cute, this didn't really do anything for me.

The Actors - 0/10

What actors? There's some scenes inbetween the nakedness with her pretending to be on the phone taking requests from men. It's just dumb.

Overall - 0/10

Don't you dare waste your time on this.
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Old 11-19-01, 09:19 PM   #2
gabegarwick
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Thanks Trigger. Finally playing catch-up on your backlog? Looks like you maybe hit a slump? Then again, with the number of titles you have, I'd be suprised if every movie was a winner.

cheers,
Gabe
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Old 11-19-01, 10:59 PM   #3
pum
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Trigger, i don't think anyone can appreciate Ashes Of Time if they didn't read the book, which it's applied from and which is very famous.
lots of ppl here in asia know these great characters of the book by heart, so the film worked for us.
i don't know the name of the book in english though.
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Old 11-19-01, 11:01 PM   #4
IC_Freeze
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ashes of time

Ashes of time gets a rating of 0/10

there is no plot, just a bunch of film strips somebody found on the ground at a college editing room and glued them together randomly.

I can take a camcorder and film a traffic light changing colors and that would be more enjoyable to watch
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Old 11-19-01, 11:06 PM   #5
IC_Freeze
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oh btw Trigger, u sure do have a lot of time to review movies do u goto work? I have a stack of about 20-30 movies that I haven't even opened up yet. Well keep up the good work
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Old 11-20-01, 12:42 AM   #6
Yellow Hammer
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Re: ashes of time

Quote:
Originally posted by IC_Freeze
Ashes of time gets a rating of 0/10

there is no plot, just a bunch of film strips somebody found on the ground at a college editing room and glued them together randomly.

I can take a camcorder and film a traffic light changing colors and that would be more enjoyable to watch
I'm with you 100% on this one. To me it's just a boring artsy movie with unusual camerawork. On the Mobius board (mhvf.net) it is the number 1 rated film of all the rated movies there, so there's gotta be something to this movie. Maybe it's because I'm a simple person who likes to be entertained and/or immersed into the movie that I'm watching, and Ashes of Time does neither for me. Or perhaps it's because people are lemmings and say that the movie's great even though it's not, kinda like CTHD.
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Old 11-20-01, 01:11 AM   #7
Trigger
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Yeah - I didn't really enjoy Ashes of Time, but I do like artsy films if they're well constructed. This one I think has a specific appeal to it and most people won't latch on to it in the broader sense. Having some background would certainly help. I kinda gave this film the benefit of the doubt with my score because I figured I'd enjoy it more if I watched it a few more times and was able to understand some of it better. Probably for entertainment value I'd give it more like a 4.5/10. I guess there's just a part of me that appreciates artsy films.

I also liked CTHD and I'm not a lemming. Growing up in the US, I wouldn't know bad Mandarin from good Mandarin (although I can tell Mandarin from Cantonese), so the acting wasn't a problem for me - I thought all the actors maintained a good screen presence. I found the wire work to be sub standard... not that the actual stunts were bad, but the way they were filmed was ameturish... Ang Lee should've studied up more on how to film wire shots so they didn't look so wired. Outside of those two flaws, I really enjoyed the story and found it to be a visually breathtaking film. The score was exciting and the action was entertaining to me as well.

For alot of people, it's the film that got them interested in Hong Kong cinema which can't really be a bad thing... for getting me back into Asian cinema, that honor goes to the invention of DVD and Story Of Ricky which was my first reason to purchase a DVD from Hong Kong... otherwise I'd still only have my 10-15 Jet Li and Jackie Chan US dubbed DVDs. I've always had an interest in Kung Fu films and HK cinema that dates back to Kung Fu Theater in the afternoons and carries up to renting half the asian films my local video store carried over the years. I noticed that after CTHD was released, my video store started carrying more Asian titles... which is a good thing. I also gotta say that if it wasn't or places like DDDHouse, I would never be able to see most of these films... for the cost of a rental or a night out at the movies, I can buy one of these films on DVD and if I don't like it, I can sell it or swap it. I love the way this works.
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Old 11-20-01, 02:58 AM   #8
Grimfarrow
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Re: Re: ashes of time

Quote:
Originally posted by Yellow Hammer


I'm with you 100% on this one. To me it's just a boring artsy movie with unusual camerawork. On the Mobius board (mhvf.net) it is the number 1 rated film of all the rated movies there, so there's gotta be something to this movie. Maybe it's because I'm a simple person who likes to be entertained and/or immersed into the movie that I'm watching, and Ashes of Time does neither for me. Or perhaps it's because people are lemmings and say that the movie's great even though it's not, kinda like CTHD.
People who are acquainted with Antonioni and Godard films will probably understand better of what Ashes of Time tries to achieve. To me, it is the most complex, exciting, and deepest film of Wong's yet. 0/10? Pshaw! I give it a 10/10.

Here are some excellent reviews that may give you more insight to this complex film:

http://www.wongkarwai.net/stories.ph.../05/04/5209180
http://www.brns.com/pages/wkwai3.html
http://www.urth.org/reviews/films/Ashes_Time.shtml

There's a great page that charts the relationship of all the characters, but I lost that link, unfortunately.....
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Old 11-20-01, 03:17 AM   #9
Trigger
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Re: Re: Re: ashes of time

Quote:
Originally posted by Grimfarrow
People who are acquainted with Antonioni and Godard films will probably understand better of what Ashes of Time tries to achieve. To me, it is the most complex, exciting, and deepest film of Wong's yet. 0/10? Pshaw! I give it a 10/10.

Here are some excellent reviews that may give you more insight to this complex film:

http://www.wongkarwai.net/stories.ph.../05/04/5209180
http://www.brns.com/pages/wkwai3.html
http://www.urth.org/reviews/films/Ashes_Time.shtml

There's a great page that charts the relationship of all the characters, but I lost that link, unfortunately.....
While I appreciate what you're saying, some people just don't think they should have to bring a decoder ring or a treasure map to decipher the hidden meanings within a film that's less than entertaining at least on the most basic level. It's like with Kubrick - The Shining is a very entertaining film and most people who like it won't even bother to dig deeper into the Native American subtext that hides beneath. Ashes of Time seems to be devoid of any rudimentary entertainment value for most people so the potential to get them to search for meaning is fleeting. If the film didn't fail to entertain, it would've grabbed more viewers and provoked them into searching for deeper meaning. I just found it mildly engrossing, but I can see the potential in it that you're talking about... I don't think it'll be on my list for awhile though. For you it's different though because you seem to make every effort to see and like just about every "Artsy" film out there... so I can see why you would do the research and legwork and whatnot required to enjoy such a film.
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Old 11-20-01, 02:12 PM   #10
Grimfarrow
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I didn't know a thing about Ashes of Time before I watched it (in fact, it was the second WKW film I ever saw, after Chungking Express - so I had no idea it was such an infamous film). And on the first viewing, I *really* enjoyed it - although I was admittedly confused about what went on. Only after subsequent viewings did I understand the scope and the depth of the film. Saying that the film is "devoid of entertainment values" is very subjective. Even on my first viewing, I found the movie to be sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious, sometimes thrilling - all the landmarks of "enjoyment", if there ever was a definition for it.
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Old 11-22-01, 08:05 AM   #11
Rocky_Raccoon
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Ashes of Time is an amazing movie. The acting , the directing and cinematography are all top notch. The story while confusing is very interesting and I like how the varying threads tie together. This movie should not even be attempted to be reviewed unless you have watched it at least three times. It is a very complicated movie and it is one of the kind of movies that will become clearer and better with each successive viewing. Some people out there not only want to be just entertained, they also want to use their brain. I really don't understand all of the bashing out there of WKW. He is the most inventive, interesting director out there right now. I know he is not for everyone but at least he doesn't cookie cut his films. A WKW film is not like anything else out there, which to me is very refreshing.

Clint
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Old 11-22-01, 09:02 AM   #12
jtkv
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Ashes Of Time is an awesome movie... I have found it to be a love it or hate it scenario from viewers.
It's basically stories of the adventures of those characters, so there is no real storyline or plot. Just a bunch of stories that the Inn Keeper tells us, although they are somewhat intertwined.

I really enjoyed this movie, but the Mei Ah DVD is pretty bad. I'd love to see this DVD remastered....



J.T.
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Old 11-22-01, 10:16 AM   #13
Trigger
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Quote:
Originally posted by jtkv
Ashes Of Time is an awesome movie... I have found it to be a love it or hate it scenario from viewers.
It's basically stories of the adventures of those characters, so there is no real storyline or plot. Just a bunch of stories that the Inn Keeper tells us, although they are somewhat intertwined.

I really enjoyed this movie, but the Mei Ah DVD is pretty bad. I'd love to see this DVD remastered....



J.T.
I noticed that most people either loved it or hated it... I don't fit into either camp though - I thought it was pretty good though. I think this is the type of film that subsequent viewings would help. I liked it, but I wouldn't say I really enjoyed it. I think had WKW done a little better job with the action scenes, this film would have a much wider audience despite the steep learning curve of the plot structure. I found it a little confusing at first as most people seem to, but it's not impossible to follow. I think part of this films shortcomings is that it leaves alot of loose ends in exchange for moving the story along to the next set of characters. The performances make up for alot of that though, so I'm surprised that more people aren't on the fence about the film. I would certainly purchase it again if a better DVD came out for it and it wasn't too expensive. I'd like to see MegaStar redo some of the WKW films.
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Old 11-22-01, 12:35 PM   #14
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Ashes Of Time, what can I say...didn't hate it but did not like it either. I do know that it gave me a headache
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Old 11-22-01, 11:00 PM   #15
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Trigger,
Why would you want Megastar to release the WKW DVDs?? They suck... They don't restore the image. Just dumping the damaged file to DVD is not good enough...
I'd much rather see Anchor Bay, Hong Kong Legends or TF1 (France) release his catalgoue.


J.T.
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Old 11-24-01, 02:01 AM   #16
Phyre
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What books is 'Ashes of Time' based on and where can I purchase them online?
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Old 11-24-01, 10:58 AM   #17
pum
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Phyre, from IMDB user comment, the book is Louis Cha's "Eagle Shooting Heroes". i still had this 10-volumes novel which i bought myself when i still was a little child.
the book is about the only sons of two best friends which supposed to be best friend like their father when they grow up but they not. one turned out to be great hero of the time. another was villian who died sympathetically.
in the book, there's four greatest old warriors who dominated the time. they're superior to anyone but themselves.
Ashes of Time is the intimate story of these greatest warriors "as WKW envisioned it when they're young". most interesting is that the main character of the movie, the one played by Leslie Cheung, is the most evil of the fours. it's the one that every reader hated.
Trigger, to say the film need better action scene is to miss the point. fans of the book knew how great these character are already. they only didn't know what they feel. which is exactly what WKW did this film for.

Last edited by pum; 11-24-01 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 11-25-01, 06:45 AM   #18
Trigger
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Quote:
Originally posted by jtkv
Trigger,
Why would you want Megastar to release the WKW DVDs?? They suck... They don't restore the image. Just dumping the damaged file to DVD is not good enough...
I'd much rather see Anchor Bay, Hong Kong Legends or TF1 (France) release his catalgoue.


J.T.
I'm sorry... I've just had good experiences with MegaStar DVDs. I thought they made good DVDs. I agree with you as far as Anchor bay or HKL or TF1, with the exception that if MegaStar did it - they would be better quality than the Mei Ah stuff at least and they for sure would be cheaper than buying a $30 MSRP DVD from R1 or actually paying $30 for a R2 HKL release. Plus - I'd rather see a good release of some of Tsui Hark's MIA movies like The Blade (I've heard the HKL disc is bad), Love In The Time of Twilight or The Lovers... even the OUATIC 4 and 5 films. Just my opinion for what it's worth. You're right though - Anchor Bay or HKL might do a better job, but they would be more expensive. You sound mad... didn't mean to upset you.
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Old 11-25-01, 11:54 AM   #19
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I watched Spacked Out last night and it is definetly not garbage or crap. I really enjoyed this film. It was a slice of life piece and reminded me more of Yi Yi then Kids. I didn't give a damn about any of the kids in Kids. I found myself really involved in these four girls stories. I really wanted to see what was going to happen to them the more I watched it. The acting was not awful. I thought these four girls that were untrained actresses really brought a level of realism rarely seen in teen films today. The direction was very nice in several scenes. It also dealt with issues of the day that need addressing but didn't beat your head over it with long winded moralizing. I guess it would be more for the art house crowd but I really liked this film. I am definetly going to get this director's new film Gimme Gimme next order.

Clint
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Old 11-25-01, 12:07 PM   #20
benedict
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A timely reminder....

I trust that all past and future participants in this thread will remember that opinions are subjective and will often diverge: if someone disagrees with you it does not follow automatically that either you or your opinion are devalued/insulted. Proof of this is that one can still find the occasional point of convergence, where those with usually differing tastes actually agree.


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Old 11-25-01, 10:43 PM   #21
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Was that post meant for me benedict? I just disagreed with Trigger's previous review of Spacked Out. Can we not give an opposing viewpoint? I really liked this movie and thought I should give a positive review. Some people may have passed on this film because of Trigger's review and I just wanted to give another viewpoint on it. I don't think I was insulting in my post at all.

Clint
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Old 11-25-01, 10:43 PM   #22
jtkv
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Trigger,
I sounded mad?? Didn't mean to...
Anyways, back to Megastar.. first off, most of their DVDs are converted from PAL sources. I have not seen these movies before, so I don't see or hear the 4% speedups.. But they do not clean up the print. Some of their older releases do look good, but the HKL releases blows them away.
The latest Megastar DVDs could use some work.. they are just bad prints dumped to DVD. Lots of scratches or too bright/dark, etc...



J.T.
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