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The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Old 03-15-20, 11:38 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Caught The Last Message a couple of weeks ago...



This is a film that I saw back in the '80s (IIRC) on pan-and-scan VHS. Who here has fond memories of those days with gawd-awful video transfers and subtitles that got cut off on either side? I don't either.

I remember very little about the film from that viewing except I had a pretty good sense of what the titular message was, meaning that it left an impression on me. (More about this later.)

The Last Message stars Sam and Michael Hui aka the kings of the Hong Kong box office during the '70s. Like their previous film (1974's Games Gamblers Play, which marked the Hui brothers' big screen debut), The Last Message had Hong Kong audiences of the mid-'70s in mind and is unquestionably dated.

Back in the '70s, mental illness was fair game for comedy, and the Hui brothers mined that subject for their sophomore effort. Sam plays Lee, a nurse at a sanitarium, while Michael plays Tim, a janitor and general gopher at the same institution.

Lee will do his job assisting doctors and evaluating patients' progress when he has to, but he'd much rather take unscheduled breaks with female nurses so he can, ahem, evaluate them. Tim, meanwhile, is constantly on the lookout for money-making opportunities: relieving live patients of valuables and taking gold teeth from the dead ones. Ah, the good ol' '70s...when being a complete bastard was played for laughs.

When Cheng (Roy Chiao) gets admitted, Lee determines the new arrival to be trapped in a fantasy where he's seeking a 'princess' and sticks him in a padded room. Tim shortly after goes through Cheng's personal effects and takes whatever seems to have value to an antiques dealer. The dealer goes through the items and says they're all junk...except for a couple of broken shards from Ming Dynasty vases which would be worth several hundred thousand dollars to Tim if can find intact versions.

In short order, Lee finds out about the valuable artifacts and joins forces with Tim to find out where Cheng got the pieces from. Cheng gives the pair a few clues that send them off on several quests, not the least of which is the one that will require them to locate and identify the 'princess'.

I'm not the biggest fan of modern Hong Kong comedies because the gags tend to be very broad. The Hui brothers, being old school, put a little more effort into their setups and pay-offs so they lean a bit towards my sensibilities when it comes to comedy.

Having said that, I found The Last Message to be very much of its time and largely laugh-free. I could tell it was a comedy, but the majority of jokes were either telegraphed (such as one where Cheng tells Lee and Tim where to find money) or simply didn't land (like a scene involving a transvestite).

The one gag that I found quite funny involved a cameo by the third on-screen Hui brother, Ricky, who plays a roller-skating waiter. His response to a customer who complains about having to wait 90 minutes for a pack of cigarettes to be delivered is pure gold.

Sam and Michael Hui must've figured out at this point that having Ricky in a bigger role was a good thing. The second eldest Hui brother also appeared in a cameo in Games Gamblers Play and was in that film's funniest scene as well. Ricky's first full co-starring role was in the Hui brothers' third feature, 1976's The Private Eyes, which would go on to become what is arguably their most beloved film.

A couple of things about The Last Message make it stand out: firstly, it's quite plot driven. This was unusual as most Hui brothers films tend to be very episodic, which is hardly a surprise given Michael and Sam had their own TV sketch comedy show prior to making the jump to the big screen. The Last Message, though, works more as a cohesive whole and feels like one story with a few side trips.

Another unusual aspect of The Last Message is that Sam Hui is the actual lead. Most of the Hui brothers films try to balance out the load that each brother carries, but this one sees the youngest Hui driving a fair bit of the plot with eldest brother Michael having moments of his own but acting as more of a supporting player.

Like most of the Hui brothers' movies, The Last Message has a moment late in the film where the comedy steps aside for a truly emotional beat. This Hui film delivers more of a punch to the feels than most when we find out what the title is referring to. It's little wonder that that moment stayed with me for decades after my first viewing of this movie.

Watching The Last Message again in 2020, I'd hard pressed to call this movie a classic Hui brothers film. It's very clearly targeted at a Hong Kong audience and what it chooses to joke about could make some viewers cringe or even gape in stunned shock. Being an older viewer, I'm aware of the period when the movie is from and took its '70s sensibilities with a shaker of salt. The movie never bored me but did have me wondering where the story was going at times. Still, The Last Message was good for a couple of laughs (there's a bit near the end that has nothing to do with the plot that's quite amusing even though I guessed the punchline) and is worth checking out if you're a fan of the Hui brothers.

Last edited by L Everett Scott; 03-15-20 at 11:46 AM.
Old 03-19-20, 03:26 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

I'm a huge fan of all the Hui brothers pictures, and don't mind the 'dated' aspects because, as you point out, they were intended first and foremost for a very specific audience (Cantonese-speaking Hong Kongers and their diaspora) and that should be front of mind before watching them. Context is everything, as always. The frustrating thing is finding ideal home video versions of the 'original five'. The old Universe DVDs have the authentic mono audio tracks, but are non-anamorphic. The Kam & Ronson blu-rays released around 2012 for all of those films -- and also available in a boxed set -- have ear-aching 6.1 (!) and 7.1 (!!) remixes (DTS and 5.1 on the DVDs) that they applied to nearly every 'vintage' film they released at the time (like most of the Jackie Chan catalog), which were at one time defended by certain users on this forum – phony added sound effects and all – because, hey 6.1 apparently automatically trumps mono just because it's newer. Jesus. The visual quality of those discs is excellent, but that audio is just painful because the very technologically-advanced (but poorly-designed) remixes are so completely at odds with what we see on screen. Really wish one of the UK companies currently seeing the value in reissuing vintage Hong Kong fare with ORIGINAL soundtracks intact would put out a nice set so we could get some closure, but obviously that's unlikely since they're not action or martial arts pictures. Waiting for HK distributors to step up at this point is futile. We've got what we've got, I guess.

The Blu and DVD releases from circa 2015 of the late 80's/early 90's Hui Brothers comedies MAGIC TOUCH, CHICKEN & DUCK TALK, FRONT PAGE and MR. COCONUT (some with Sam, some without) are all anamorphic with 2.0 audio, as I recall, but even those are getting harder to find.
Old 03-21-20, 01:08 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

^Glad to hear that the Hui brothers have at least one fan on this forum.

Sadly, I doubt we're ever going to get the original mono tracks with cleaned up transfers. The industry seems to think that digital releases require 'upgraded' mixes so the consumer doesn't feel ripped off by a mono mix. IIRC, even the Hong Kong Legends line did this, and the folks who put out those discs seemed like they actually cared about the movies they were releasing.

Given how much you can fit on to a Blu-Ray, it's pretty baffling as to why the original soundtrack can't be included as an option. I wouldn't think that would add considerable cost to producing the disc, but I'm just guessing.

I finally caught the latest Ip Man film...


...and I wish I could say that Wilson Yip saved the best for last. For me, his Ip Man movies have by and large been a case of declining returns even though each film has been a mixed bag. The original had a phenomenal first act before taking a sharp detour and turning into a WWII survival story. I quite liked the first half of the second movie before it devolved into an 'all foreigners are evil' screed...and let's not even bring up that ridiculous coda with the Tiny Toons Bruce Lee. The third film definitely had its moments and for once didn't feel like two separate films stitched together. Ironically, it also seemed somewhat unfocused, and the whole Mike Tyson plot line (as well as Tyson himself) seemed superfluous.

The Finale does breathe new life into the series by having the bulk of the action set in San Francisco. It's hard for me not to like any attempt to recreate the '60s and '70s because that's my Happy Place when it comes to nostalgia. Considering Ip Man 4 didn't have a Once Upon a Time in Hollywood budget, I thought the film did a fairly decent job of recreating the period, although anachronisms inevitably pop up here and there.

In terms of the story, the first positive thing I can say is that it doesn't have the multiple personality issue of the first two movies and actually feels like one whole story. I also enjoyed the movie's portrayal of Bruce Lee; yes, his fight scene was totally riffing on the fight in the alley from The Way of the Dragon, but like a good cover song, the scene was an enjoyable recreation of an old favourite.

The Finale is faithful to the approach throughout the series by excluding details from the real Master Ip's life. Ip had five children in real life, but the movie only ever shows Ip Ching, the second son. This certainly helps to streamline the story, especially since Ching's inclusion in the film is just to give the title character a chasm in his family life that he has to bridge.

Ip Man 4 also goes back to the evil foreigner well, giving us a racist family with a dad who happens to work for the INS, so you know that's going to be trouble. And then there are the Marines who want to show all Chinese how karate (what? really?) is superior to any form of kung fu.

I have to stop here for a second to address the elephant that's been sitting in the corner since Day One. I get that this series revolves around Ip Man so it only makes sense that he's the big hero who has to win all the big fights. This approach, though, suggests that Wing Chun is an unbeatable super power. In these movies, no one is able to beat Ip in a fair fight. The closest anybody comes is Master Hung (Sammo Hung) who battles Ip to a draw in the second film and Master Wan (Wu Yue) in The Finale who does the same during their two encounters.

Ip Man 4, though, goes above and beyond what any of its predecessors does. This film has Marines bulldoze over kung fu masters. I get the purpose of those scenes is to build up the threat of the antagonists, but by taking this route, the film is saying that their claims about being superior to practitioners of kung fu is correct. Their arrogance seems entirely warranted given that they're able to back up what they say by resoundingly beating the heads of martial arts clans. Making the Marines as powerful as they are in this movie puts them at the level of the main hero, which makes as much sense as having Rocky Balboa fight his greatest opponents and having Tommy Gunn as the final boss.

At least Ip Man 2 had an out for Master Hung who suffered from asthma and wound up succumbing to it during the boxing match. What's the reason for the masters in Ip Man 4 losing to the Marines? The way the story plays out suggests those kung fu masters just weren't good enough. The worst part is the karate instructor actually fought a gauntlet of masters and was still able to handily defeat all comers until Ip Man steps up. If any martial artist took issue with the way kung fu styles are portrayed in this film (other than the all-powerful Wing Chun, of course) then I think they have very valid concerns.

In terms of the actual combat, I'm really not sure what happened here. The sparring match that Ip had with Master Wan had some decent moments, but that was about it. The Bruce Lee fight I mentioned earlier was enjoyable primarily for the nostalgia factor...I doubt anyone would claim it compares favourably with Lee vs. Norris in The Way of the Dragon or Chan vs. Urquidez in Wheels On Meals.

So was Yuen Wo Ping slumming it? Was he worried that this movie would show up his efforts in his own film, Master Z? I might be alone in this, but I definitely think the law of diminishing returns applies in the case of the fight choreography, which is a real shame considering the combat is the feature attraction for a lot of fans of this franchise.

I could probably go on about the other issues in this film, such as Lee's disappearance after the first act and Vanness Wu's Staff Sergeant who's as big a villain in the film as the karate experts since he's such an instigator. (Did he get a promotion in between frames somewhere? How is he able to issue orders at the end?) I could complain about the single-dimensional bad guys who think they're shilling for dental hygienists since they're always showing off their pearly whites while gnashing their teeth. And here I was thinking that Scott Adkins was going to have a bright future as a big action star after 2009's Ninja.

But I think I've made my feelings pretty clear: Ip Man 4 isn't great. I've read a number of comments from people who felt this was a better conclusion to the series than the previous film, but I'm afraid I can't agree.with that view. The Finale isn't the worst martial arts film I've ever had to sit through (it's not The Final Master, which I had to turn off about 20 minutes in), but its list of faults isn't exactly short. If Wilson Yip, Donnie Yen, and Yuen Wo Ping ever work on another film together, I have to believe it would be an improvement on this.

Last edited by L Everett Scott; 03-21-20 at 01:15 PM.
Old 03-26-20, 02:01 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Huh Jung's Hide and Seek is on Tubi, so I thought I'd check it out...


...and I quite enjoyed it. Well, at least I did for about 70 of its 107 minutes.

The movie opens with a young girl's voice over telling us of stories about homeless individuals hiding in people's apartments and squatting without the residents' knowledge. We then follow a young woman returning home to a tenement. She has multiple locks on her door and a web cam recording inside the apartment constantly for security. None of that, though, helps when she makes the mistake of checking out noises outside and goes back to her unit to discover a figure wearing a motorcycle helmet wielding a metal pipe dripping with blood.

The story then shifts focus to restauranteur Sung-soo (Son Hyun-joo), his wife Min-ji (Jeon Mi-seon), and their young son and daughter. Sung-soo gets a call from a building manager telling him that his estranged brother has gone missing and that his apartment is considered abandoned and needs to be cleared out. The restauranteur goes to the building where we discover that his brotherís apartment is the one next to the woman with the web camÖand sheís nowhere to be found.

Sung-soo stays tat the tenement to try to find clues to his brotherís whereabouts and tells Min-ji to bring their kids back home to Seoul. She does so, returning to an ultra-modern apartment building with state-of-the-art security and around-the-clock on-site staff. These security measures donít seem to matter one iota, though, to a menacing figure who begins stalking the building wearing a motorcycle helmet.

As I said at the beginning, this movie starts with a lot of promise. The opening sequence with the web cam woman is executed expertly and really grabs your attention.

Director Huh gets creative with vantage points and positions the camera in interesting places, such as various nooks in the narrow hallways of the tenement to get different angles on confined spaces. He also takes advantage of the tops of buildings to get birds-eye views of streets. The framing in Hide and Seek is actually great throughout, which is saying something since this movie is the directorís first feature.

The story also introduces early on Sung-sooís severe case of OCD: he cleans obsessively and needs all the labels of cans in his refrigerator to face the same way. The story doesnít overtly tell us how he came to be this way but does eventually suggest that it might be because of an incident that happened years earlier.

The movie forces the viewer to question Sung-sooís mental state further by having him dream and have hallucinations of a shadowy figure who might be his brother but who definitely does rather disgusting things that could potentially push someone with OCD over the edge. I particularly liked that the film spent time on this part of Sung-sooís character because it opened up the possibility that the threat is from Sung-soo himself, that the figure menacing everyone might be a suppressed aspect of his personality.

The figure wearing the motorcycle helmet couldnít help but remind me of costumed boogeymen like the Fisherman or the Scream killer. Having that masked menace lurking about suggested that Hide and Seek could possibly venture into classic slasher territory despite the small number of potential victims.

All this great set-up earned no small amount of good will from me, which is why I was so disappointed when the movie started to fall apart around 70 minutes in. Thatís when the story began showing its hand in earnest and we find out whoís under the motorcycle helmet. Iím not going to say anything else about that character, but I will mention that Hide and Seek turns out to be one of those films that advocates for better understanding of mental illness will really frown upon.

To make matters worse, some of the plot lines that the film spent time developing wind up at dead ends and are essentially dismissed as being unimportant. I get really frustrated when a film does this because it makes the effort to put together storylines and build plot that you become invested in. Pissing all that away and saying they were just false clues is really not cool.

The story also wrestles with having to deal with the sophisticated surveillance and security system at the high-tech building where Sung-soo and his family live. Credit has to go to Huh for not looking for cheap excuses for the top-of-the-line security to fail, but by the same token, his movie doesnít satisfactorily explain how someone can get past so many safeguards, especially after security is alerted to a dangerous individual being in the area. And for gawdís sake, the movie actually highlights the fact that the building has a manned front desk; just how bad do the security guards have to be to allow strangers to waltz in after security is put on high alert?

The movie also doesnít explain why certain characters are dispatched without hesitation while others are just rendered unconscious. The obvious explanation is that this is lazy writing; if you need certain characters to hang around for the big finale then you canít have the villain kill them before that time. In other words, the killer lets them live so the story doesnít end prematurely. Thatís not a good reason because by taking this route, youíve introduced inconsistency in the way your antagonist behaves. Either that or youíre just saying that the killer is a moron.

The last bit of salt in the wound is the final shot of the filmÖwhich was not only telegraphed well in advance but makes no bloody sense at all. Itís one of those things that requires professionals (many of them, in fact) to be mind-numbingly bad at their jobs to enable the epilogue to play out the way it does.

The latter part of the film is seriously disappointing because what came before it was so good. If some Hollywood studio decides to do an English remake of this movie, I hope and pray that the screenwriter ditches the last third of the original script and attempts to do something better.
Old 03-28-20, 01:57 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Went back to '90s Hong Kong for a bit of light exploitation...



Anthony Wong plays Kin, a moderately successful insurance salesman with a loving wife, a nice home, and a baby on the way. He's also so mild-mannered that he may as well have the word 'Pushover' painted on him in neon pink. It's this latter point that makes him the mark of an unscrupulous cabbie who cuts him off, totals his car, but manages to bully Kin into coughing up money to pay for the taxi's damaged bumper.

So without a car, Kin has no choice but to call a cab when his wife goes into labour. Things go seriously wrong and his wife is critically injured by the taxi, resulting in the death of both mother and child. Kin develops a pathological hatred for taxi drivers and makes it his mission to take out every asshole cabbie he can find.

The set up for Taxi Hunter certainly sounds like an exploitation film, but--despite being a '90s Herman Yau joint--this one is actually pretty tame. Most of the action is pretty grounded (with a notable exception being the Jackie Chan-style introduction of Kin's good friend and super cop, Chung played by action vet Yu Rong Guang), which is necessary to show what vigilantism looks like when a paper pusher attempts to mete out justice. Yau even throws in a parody of Taxi Driver's 'Are you talking to me?' sequence where Kin practices what he would say to a cabbie before drawing his gun. The scene is played for laughs but most of us who've never tried to quickly draw a weapon concealed in our trousers will be able to relate to Kin's less-than-graceful attempts.

What I appreciated about this film is that Kin isn't a cardboard cut out. That is to say that he's a largely sympathetic character and we totally get why he becomes the way he does. Even though he's been driven over the edge, he still has a moral code and doesn't indiscriminately take out every taxi driver he sees. He even seems to remain aware that what he's doing is against the law, but he still deems it necessary for the crimes cabbies committed against him and others.

The film, though, supplies ample potential victims for Kin. Cabbies in Taxi Hunter are overwhelmingly of the asshole variety, being unhelpful and barking at the elderly, taking ridiculous routes to drive up the fare, picking and choosing which passengers they'll take, and even going as far as wantonly committing assault. I'm very lucky that I've never experienced the world that Taxi Hunter depicts, and I really have to wonder what kind of screening process the cab companies have for hiring drivers.

Aside from all the criminals who drive taxis, another contrivance that the film employs is making Chung into an incredibly oblivious cop. Apparently, he's great to have around when hand-to-hand combat erupts, but Sherlock Holmes is most definitely ain't. Chung is Kin's good friend and knows exactly what happened to his wife and unborn child, and yet the cop doesn't suspect his buddy when cabbies start getting killed. It's also very convenient that Kin has no idea that his close friend is leading the investigation of the murders.

The part of the film that really bothered me, though, was Ng Man Tat's bumbling cop. He's a really broadly comedic sidekick who's always in sports gear (a baseball cap from one team but a jersey from another, of course) and is more clown than he is policeman. In fact, if you saw someone like him at a police station, you'd swear he was someone the cops dragged in for being a public nuisance. This character does eventually work his way into the central plot, but he was a bit much to take leading up to that point.

Overall, Taxi Hunter is a pretty decent thriller. People who haven't delved into the complete nihilism of the more extreme Cat-III films from Hong Kong should start off with this one.

Old 03-31-20, 11:27 AM
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Love TAXI HUNTER. It's FALLING DOWN done right, with a narrower focus, and more clearly defined real-life triggers (late 80's/early 90s taxi strikes and ensuing riots, all traceable to anxieties stemming from the 1984 Joint Declaration and, of course, the then-upcoming handover to the nasty CCP). A lot of online reviews contrast it with Category III films of the era – as well as both Yau and Wong's prodigious output in that arena – which can be a little misleading as the film only garnered a Cat. II rating, which probably contributed to its ok HK box-office success at the time. That said, it's still a good stepping stone toward the more extreme fare of its makers. although I think it's a more complex and layered tale than most of those.
Old 03-31-20, 12:06 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Armour of God II: Operation Condor (1991) is getting a BD release in the UK via 88 Films!

https://www.kultcinema.ca/armour-of-...films-blu-ray/

Special Features:

* Limited Edition Slipcase By Kung Fu Bob O'Brien
* Limited Edition Booklet Notes by William Blaik
* NEW Never before seen Extended Version [117 mins approx] with Cantonese Mono
* Original Hong Kong Version [107 mins approx]
* Cantonese Mono
* Cantonese Stereo Surround Mix (Original Sound Effects) a true stereo track that was mixed for home video
* Classic English Dub
* [NEW] Commentary with Mike Leeder & Arne Venema
* [NEW] An Interview with Actor Bruce Fontaine
* Original Trailer
* Re-edit 2K Trailer
* Reverse sleeve featuring Original HK Poster Art
Old 03-31-20, 01:28 PM
  #108  
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

^Wow, an extended cut with Cantonese mono? Sign me up! Just hoping this is a Region-free release.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So before The Raid, Iko Uwais and Gareth Evans teamed up on this...


The plot follows Yuda (Uwais) who has to leave home for Merantau, a rite of passage for young men in which they go out into the world to make something of themselves before returning home. Yuda's plan is to go to Jakarta and earn money by teaching silat, in which he is an expert. When he witnesses a girl being mistreated by a gang, he interjects and makes short work of the hoods. This, naturally, puts him squarely in the sights of the gang bosses.

This pre-Raid effort from Evans and Uwais is unquestionably solid. There are fewer action beats in Merantau than The Raid, and the fights aren't as frenetic as in that later film. Still, as you can see in the trailer alone, Uwais knows how to handle himself and is pretty damned impressive in this first starring role. This is without a doubt a breakout performance along the lines of Tony Jaa's in Ong Bak.

Gareth Evans, meanwhile, acquits himself admirably behind the camera on his first action feature. He always frames shots so the action is easy to follow and isn't cutting to a different angle every two seconds. Evans does occasionally indulge himself, though; in the climactic battle alone, he has the camera circle around the combatants at least twice, which still captures the action well enough but really draws attention to the camerawork and is a bit distracting.

He also loves his tracking shots...so much so that he might actually over use them. If a guy is coming into an apartment, do we really need to have the camera unblinkingly follow him from room to room? It's a stylistic choice to be sure, but it just seems unnecessary.

The heavies are played by Mads Koudal and Lohan Buson who are serviceable enough though far from stellar in the acting department. Koudal is always switching between smirking and snarling because he is the bad guy, after all. His buddy Buson seems at times to struggle with his dialogue as he's not a native English speaker.

However, Buson does demonstrate very clearly why he's in the film once he takes on Uwais, showing off some pretty impressive axe kicks. (Yes, they're probably not the kind of thing you want to attempt in a real life scrap, but when they're used correctly in a movie fight, they rock.) Koudal employs more of a brawling style, but that contrast between him, Uwais, and Buson works. The two head bad guys come off as a legitimate threat to the hero and their final encounter, while not the flashiest sequence in the film, is solid and a worthy finale.

Merantau is a very obvious stepping stone towards The Raid. It doesn't have the sustained intensity of the later film, but it does have a bit more plot and some more than adequate eye candy for martial arts enthusiasts. Overall, a solid action debut for Uwais and Evans.
Old 03-31-20, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by L Everett Scott View Post
^Wow, an extended cut with Cantonese mono? Sign me up! Just hoping this is a Region-free release.
So far, I think all of the 88 Films and Eureka discs of Hong Kong movies have been region B. For my money, though, these editions are definitive, period (well, except 88 Films' early Shaw movies that retained creep Bey Logan's commentaries even after he was exposed). Primarily because of those original mono tracks, which have so often been left off other Blu-ray and DVD releases (most egregiously the ones from Hong Kong, which also frequently used upscaled video), but also because of the supplements, which mix new material with valuable vintage behind-the-scenes and promo material from both the UK and especially Hong Kong that a lot of folks probably haven't seen. I wish some company in the U.S. would step up to the plate like this, but I certainly don't see it happening to this degree.

Speaking of Logan, I was disheartened to see his name listed as an executive producer — even if it speaks to the truth — in the closing credits of the superior Vietnamese action picture FURIE, a speedy and unabashed take on TAKEN and any number of other "family rescue" thrillers, albeit designed with the local audience foremost in mind. I presume Wellgo chose (wisely) to leave his name off the opening credits, and definitely left it off the trailers and Blu-ray packaging, thus my surprise to see it associated with something this good in light of all the threadbare crap he's been churning out in Mainland China and other small corners of Asia for the last few years. Beyond that, though, FURIE is a solid repackaging of comfort-food genre elements, utilizing all the latest developments in screen fighting – and inevitable nods to classic HK-style choreography – from French heavyweights Kefi Abrikh, Yannick Ben and Marc David. The two battles between leading lady Veronica Ngo and butchy henchbabe Thanh Hoa are both phenomenal (especially the latter's nonchalant use of her smart-phone in the middle of a fight she clearly knows she'll win).

Last edited by Brian T; 03-31-20 at 05:38 PM.
Old 04-01-20, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
Beyond that, though, FURIE is a solid repackaging of comfort-food genre elements, utilizing all the latest developments in screen fighting – and inevitable nods to classic HK-style choreography – from French heavyweights Kefi Abrikh, Yannick Ben and Marc David.
That film was a whole lot of fun. Loved the motorbike chase scene.

I always welcome more Action films from Vietnam.

In terms of Vietnamese Action films, I highly recommend The Rebel (DÚng MŠu Anh Hýng) (2007) to anyone who hasn't seen it. Dragon Dynasty released a 2-Disc DVD in the States a while back.

Like Furie (Hai Phượng), the film also has Veronica Ngo in it.

Old 04-01-20, 11:07 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by asianxcore View Post
In terms of Vietnamese Action films, I highly recommend The Rebel (DÚng MŠu Anh Hýng) (2007) to anyone who hasn't seen it. Dragon Dynasty released a 2-Disc DVD in the States a while back.
Got it, and really enjoyed the film, but it's one that I wish another company would reissue to scrub Logan from the extras. Unfortunately, he's on the commentary for it with Veronica Ngo, Johnny Nguyen and Dustin Nguyen, so unfortunately they'd have to record something new, which is highly unlikely. Great movie, though.

My first experience with Veronica Ngo was actually her later action picture CLASH that I signed out from the library here, made by mostly the same folks behind THE REBEL, although the director Thanh Son Le must've been a hired gun since his career has been pretty threadbare since then (although that's trusting IMDB, so . . .). It's not as good as THE REBEL or, especially, FURIE, but the action scenes were top notch and Ngo was a standout. That prompted me to see if she was in other films, only to discover that THE REBEL had been sitting in my unwatched stacks for a while.
CLASH did get a U.S. DVD release CLASH did get a U.S. DVD release
, which came with a handful of decent extras. Worth seeking out, and it can be found pretty cheap.

I've also got Ngo's 2012 horror film HOUSE IN THE ALLEY in my queue at the library, but since the library's off limits now, it'll be a while before I get it. It's from the same director as FURIE, a connection which presumably got him the gig on that film, because his filmography doesn't suggest he's an action specialist. As with the director of CLASH, I suspect the Nguyens and Ngo already know they can deliver the action and just need a skilled journeyman to hold everything else together.
Old 04-01-20, 01:20 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

With the whole Pandemic situation, my family and I watched The Flu (2013) recently. This is a Korean movie that details an outbreak incident and the social chaos that creates. Some parallel to our situation with the only difference being that the movie virus was an airbone virus.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2351310/
Old 04-01-20, 01:21 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott View Post
^Wow, an extended cut with Cantonese mono? Sign me up! Just hoping this is a Region-free release.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So before The Raid, Iko Uwais and Gareth Evans teamed up on this...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtkLFm3QrmA

The plot follows Yuda (Uwais) who has to leave home for Merantau, a rite of passage for young men in which they go out into the world to make something of themselves before returning home. Yuda's plan is to go to Jakarta and earn money by teaching silat, in which he is an expert. When he witnesses a girl being mistreated by a gang, he interjects and makes short work of the hoods. This, naturally, puts him squarely in the sights of the gang bosses.

This pre-Raid effort from Evans and Uwais is unquestionably solid. There are fewer action beats in Merantau than The Raid, and the fights aren't as frenetic as in that later film. Still, as you can see in the trailer alone, Uwais knows how to handle himself and is pretty damned impressive in this first starring role. This is without a doubt a breakout performance along the lines of Tony Jaa's in Ong Bak.

Gareth Evans, meanwhile, acquits himself admirably behind the camera on his first action feature. He always frames shots so the action is easy to follow and isn't cutting to a different angle every two seconds. Evans does occasionally indulge himself, though; in the climactic battle alone, he has the camera circle around the combatants at least twice, which still captures the action well enough but really draws attention to the camerawork and is a bit distracting.

He also loves his tracking shots...so much so that he might actually over use them. If a guy is coming into an apartment, do we really need to have the camera unblinkingly follow him from room to room? It's a stylistic choice to be sure, but it just seems unnecessary.

The heavies are played by Mads Koudal and Lohan Buson who are serviceable enough though far from stellar in the acting department. Koudal is always switching between smirking and snarling because he is the bad guy, after all. His buddy Buson seems at times to struggle with his dialogue as he's not a native English speaker.

However, Buson does demonstrate very clearly why he's in the film once he takes on Uwais, showing off some pretty impressive axe kicks. (Yes, they're probably not the kind of thing you want to attempt in a real life scrap, but when they're used correctly in a movie fight, they rock.) Koudal employs more of a brawling style, but that contrast between him, Uwais, and Buson works. The two head bad guys come off as a legitimate threat to the hero and their final encounter, while not the flashiest sequence in the film, is solid and a worthy finale.

Merantau is a very obvious stepping stone towards The Raid. It doesn't have the sustained intensity of the later film, but it does have a bit more plot and some more than adequate eye candy for martial arts enthusiasts. Overall, a solid action debut for Uwais and Evans.
This is on Netflix Canada. I need to watch it before they take it down.
Old 04-01-20, 05:05 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by LorenzoL View Post
With the whole Pandemic situation, my family and I watched The Flu (2013) recently. This is a Korean movie that details an outbreak incident and the social chaos that creates. Some parallel to our situation with the only difference being that the movie virus was an airbone virus.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2351310/
Thought this was very good, but that tense ending with the mob and the military and the little girl and her mom really pushed tested the boundaries of credibility. Still, I'm kind surprised FLU didn't get a publicity bump like CONTAGION did when things went all shitty. Or maybe it did in Korea?
Old 04-01-20, 05:12 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by asianxcore View Post
Armour of God II: Operation Condor (1991) is getting a BD release in the UK via 88 Films!
Just noticed on Twitter that 88 Films also have DRAGON LORD, FEARLESS HYENA and UNTOLD STORY (!) scheduled for the third quarter of this year.

Goddammit there's just not enough money in this world. Damned colonialists get all the goodies.

Mind you, Unearthed Films is also working up an UNTOLD STORY edition for the U.S., so I guess it's a matter of comparing supplements and waiting to see if the film finally passes uncut in the UK.

Last edited by Brian T; 04-01-20 at 05:19 PM.
Old 04-01-20, 05:23 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
Thought this was very good, but that tense ending with the mob and the military and the little girl and her mom really pushed tested the boundaries of credibility. Still, I'm kind surprised FLU didn't get a publicity bump like CONTAGION did when things went all shitty. Or maybe it did in Korea?
It started off really good and then as you stated, the ending was hard to believe. It wasn't bad though.

I also watched Train to Busan which I really enjoyed and liked the ending much better. I'm not much of a zombie and horror fan but I really enjoyed it.
Old 04-01-20, 07:13 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott View Post
I caught Korean arthouse drama The Day After recently...
Ah yes, we showed that at my film festival; the year we showed the movies The Day After, One Day, and A Day. Yeah, that got confusing.

Of the three, I only saw A Day (South Korea), and I highly recommend it. It's a variation of the Groundhog Day formula. A doctor happens upon a car accident in which is pre-teen daughter is killed, and he keeps reliving the day (loved one dying? You KNOW it's a Korean flick then). He makes multiple efforts to prevent the accident and always fails. Then he is approached by another man, whose wife is also killed in the same accident. He too is reliving the day! They must work together to find out why this is happening to them, and prevent the deaths.

Edit:
Old 04-01-20, 10:19 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
Got it, and really enjoyed the film, but it's one that I wish another company would reissue to scrub Logan from the extras. Unfortunately, he's on the commentary for it with Veronica Ngo, Johnny Nguyen and Dustin Nguyen, so unfortunately they'd have to record something new, which is highly unlikely. Great movie, though.
Agreed. Bey Logan =

Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
Just noticed on Twitter that 88 Films also have DRAGON LORD, FEARLESS HYENA and UNTOLD STORY (!) scheduled for the third quarter of this year.

Goddammit there's just not enough money in this world. Damned colonialists get all the goodies.

Mind you, Unearthed Films is also working up an UNTOLD STORY edition for the U.S., so I guess it's a matter of comparing supplements and waiting to see if the film finally passes uncut in the UK.
88 Films have come a long way in comparison to their early HK output. Looking forward to so many of their releases! Same goes to Unearthed Films!

On a semi-related comment, Massacre Video announced recently they are releasing Men Behind The Sun (1988) on Blu-Ray. Brand new 4K scan from the original camera negatives!
Old 04-01-20, 10:38 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
So far, I think all of the 88 Films and Eureka discs of Hong Kong movies have been region B. For my money, though, these editions are definitive, period (well, except 88 Films' early Shaw movies that retained creep Bey Logan's commentaries even after he was exposed).
Sounds like I'll have to pull the trigger on the all-region Blu-Ray player I've been tempted to buy for years now.

I just know Bey Logan from the Hong Kong Legends releases but haven't been following news about him. Do you have links for articles covering his shenanigans?

Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
FURIE is a solid repackaging of comfort-food genre elements, utilizing all the latest developments in screen fighting – and inevitable nods to classic HK-style choreography – from French heavyweights Kefi Abrikh, Yannick Ben and Marc David. The two battles between leading lady Veronica Ngo and butchy henchbabe Thanh Hoa are both phenomenal (especially the latter's nonchalant use of her smart-phone in the middle of a fight she clearly knows she'll win).
Sounds like a winner. I'll need to see if I can track down that one.

Originally Posted by asianxcore View Post
In terms of Vietnamese Action films, I highly recommend The Rebel (DÚng MŠu Anh Hýng) (2007) to anyone who hasn't seen it. Dragon Dynasty released a 2-Disc DVD in the States a while back.
I have the DD release sitting around somewhere. I know I watched the whole thing but only remember the closing moments of the final fight. This'll be another one for my re-watch queue.

Originally Posted by LorenzoL View Post
This is on Netflix Canada. I need to watch it before they take it down.
Canuck Netflix would be the easiest way of watching the film. Alternatively, it's available on Hoopla if you have access to that service through your library.

Originally Posted by LorenzoL View Post
With the whole Pandemic situation, my family and I watched The Flu (2013) recently. This is a Korean movie that details an outbreak incident and the social chaos that creates. Some parallel to our situation with the only difference being that the movie virus was an airbone virus.
Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
I'm kind surprised FLU didn't get a publicity bump like CONTAGION did when things went all shitty. Or maybe it did in Korea?
I think the answer to that is the general stigma against foreign language films. Flu might be a great movie (haven't seen it, needs to go on my to-watch list), but the fact that it's not in English like Contagion definitely hurts its chances of getting any attention on those shores.

I think it was Bong Joon-Ho who talked about overcoming 'the one-inch high barrier' of subtitles as the price of admission to foreign language films. Unfortunately, that barrier is one inch too high for a lot of folks.

Originally Posted by Paff View Post
I only saw A Day (South Korea), and I highly recommend it. It's a variation of the Groundhog Day formula.
Sounds considerably better than Hong Sang Soo's The Day After. So many great recommendations in this thread...and so little time.

Originally Posted by DJariya View Post
Donnie Yen's new movie coming out: This actually looks pretty funny.
https://www.instagram.com/p/B8KpUmBF..._web_copy_link
I finally saw this and although I wasn't blown away or anything, I thought it wasn't bad. Like Brian T mentioned upthread, it's nice to see DY not bending over for China for a change. Still, the Japanese don't come out looking great in Enter the Fat Dragon, so that would certainly make it China-friendly.

I don't know if I ever LOL'd during the movie, but I'm pretty sure I smiled a fair bit. As I've said before, I'm not big on broad comedy, so Wong Jing is usually not my cup of tea.

The movie does get progressively more stupid and silly as it goes along, but the fact that it's largely targeted at a Hong Kong audience goes a long way with me (I think I've liked a grand total of two Mainland films) so I was very forgiving towards its ridiculousness.

I doubt anyone is going to come away saying this is the best DY movie ever, but it's mindless fun, and I can honestly say I had a good time while watching it. Now that he's done with Ip Man, maybe he'll do a couple more Fat Dragon movies.
Old 04-01-20, 10:56 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

1st trailer for Train to Busan presents: Peninsula

Old 04-02-20, 10:29 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott View Post
I just know Bey Logan from the Hong Kong Legends releases but haven't been following news about him. Do you have links for articles covering his shenanigans?
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article...nstein-and-his

https://www.newsweek.com/harvery-wei...y-logan-746639

Originally Posted by DJariya View Post
1st trailer for Train to Busan presents: Peninsula

https://youtu.be/yVucSRLLeIM

Old 04-02-20, 02:13 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

The trailer for Peninsula is giving me TWD vibes with a bigger budget. I don't know if that's good or bad yet.
Old 04-02-20, 08:08 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

That's some pretty disgusting stuff that Logan did. I only knew that he did commentary on a few DD releases...didn't realize he was close with Weinstein. I assume Logan was one of those who was never formally charged and that he's still working in the industry.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

This self-isolation period has given me a chance to catch up on films I've never seen before, like this one from Wilson Yip:



This is one of those cross-genre films that's part action, part drama, and part comedy. Louis Koo and Francis Ng play cops who get a tip about a suspect who might be able to lead them to a vicious gang. The two detectives manage to 'persuade' an elderly lady to let them use her apartment to stake out the suspect only for her to undergo an extended bout of dementia after they move in. With granny now believing that they're her relatives, the two cops have to keep on the suspect while getting entangled with the lives of the buildings' residents and a local dry cleaner.

Most of this story takes place inside the granny's building and involves Koo and Ng learning more about the granny (Law Lan, who's terrific in this film). Their dealings with her, the other residents, and the pregnant owner of the dry cleaner are quite easily the parts of Bullets that work the best. The cops' interaction with the neighbours as well as each other were quite engaging and are the main reason to see this movie.

It's unfortunate that the film begins and ends with segments that don't gel with that long middle portion. The opening sees a gang of robbers pull off a brazen heist in broad daylight and take down several cops as well as an entire wedding party that just happened to be in the area. The end of the film circles back to this gang using a coincidence that was really too much to believe. These parts feel like they belong in a different film as the bulk of the story involving the stakeout is a drama peppered with comedy.

The action-oriented opening and ending are surprisingly disposable. I talked with my cousin who had watched the film about a week before I did, and he said he liked the movie even though it had 'a low body count'. I pointed out to him that at least 10 people get taken out in about minute's time in the opening and bodies drop in the climax as well. My cousin's response was 'Oh yeah' because those parts didn't leave an impression on him at all, which is entirely understandable as they're the least interesting portions of the movie.

I would've liked to have forgotten how the final act plays out. One of the characters comes to a decision that you know from the get go is not going to lead to anything good. I thought it was a betrayal of the character, and the ending left a bitter taste. I give the filmmakers full credit for not going with a hackneyed conclusion, but what they came up with was pretty dissatisfying.

I'm still glad I caught up with this movie, especially since its middle portion was so entertaining. I would've preferred the inciting incident to have been handled with more tact (though this is Wilson Yip we're talking about) and a final act that took a different turn. Despite the issues, I still liked Bullets Over Summer a lot more than the last Yip film I saw (see upthread).

Old 04-07-20, 01:10 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread



Has anyone seen this? Fist of Fear, Touch of Death. Apparently a new 4K remastered BD just came out last week.

I don't think I've ever seen this straight through. But, this looks like one of those cheap Bruce-ploitation flicks. There's some horrible looking streams on various Roku channels right now.

Just want to know if anyone has seen this from start to finish. I find most of those unwatchable.
Old 04-10-20, 10:18 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Watched a few films last night.

Ip Man 4: The Finale (2019)

Enjoyed the film, though I know feelings about it are a bit mixed. Appreciated the Dream Match between Donnie Yen & Scott Adkins.

The racism presented in the film is a bit over the top with some characters (Barton Geddess) but understandable with others, especially Yohna, whose experience mirrored mine in Grade School, in a town that seemed to loathe my race. Started with racial slurs, then to large visual displays of those slurs, escalating to small to large bouts of physical violence.

The Longest Nite (1998)

It's never been the most coherent film on the planet. For me, it wins points for its incredible level of nihilism as well as strong performances from Sean Lau & Tony Leung.

Love seeing Tony Leung play an absolute scumbag.

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