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

Old 04-12-20, 07:31 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

I managed to catch The Island recently...


...which is an '80s exploitation film about Mr. Cheung (John Sham) taking a group of six high schoolers on a camping trip to one of Hong Kong's outlying islands. The group is supposed to stay for the weekend, and with it being set in the mid-80s, no one has a cell phone.

What the campers don't realize is that three rather disturbed brothers live on the island. Their recently deceased mother drilled into their heads her desire that at least one of them should marry and have children. Since three girls are among the visiting group, the brothers see their opportunity to fulfill their mother's wish.

The Island is a low-budget survival thriller that pits defenseless people against a group of sociopaths. The visitors are initially unaware of how deranged the brothers are but do get progressively more spooked with each encounter. It's not until the eldest brother approaches Mr. Cheung about one of the school girls marrying his youngest sibling that alarm bells really go off for the teacher.

The escalating tension is handled pretty well and rises steadily. The movie manages to avoid having people make dumb mistakes for the most part, but some of the decisions that the teacher and the kids make would definitely qualify as being questionable. The cat-and-mouse games keep the story moving at a brisk pace and vary enough to not feel repetitive.

People who are sensitive about how mental illness is portrayed should probably take a pass on this movie because the depiction of the brothers isn't flattering at all. Also, if you don't like the idea of teenagers being fair game for killers then this isn't the movie for you.
Old 04-25-20, 09:20 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

FYI

Ip Man 4 and The Captain are currently available and free to watch on the Hoopla library streaming service if you have it in your area.
Old 04-26-20, 10:43 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Thanks for the heads-up, DJariya. I’ve noticed that the selections on Hoopla differ from one library to another. I just checked my account, and both those titles are there. I had my buddy, who has access through a different library, check his Hoopla and he can see The Captain but not Ip Man 4. He says the other Ip Man films are available (even The Final Fight), so he’ll probably get IM4 a bit later.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I had been meaning to go back to turn of the millennium Miike films and found a few on TubiTV. Just picked one at random and wound up watching this…


I went in completely blind and had no idea what I was in for. Damn good thing I’ve watched my share of David Lynch and don’t mind impossible to understand shows and movies. Gozu feels like Takashi Miike watched Twin Peaks and then rolled up his sleeves to show Lynch how absurdity is supposed to be done.

The movie starts off the way you’d expect a Miike Yakuza film would with a bunch of gangsters meeting at a restaurant. They have some idle conversation until underboss Ozaki (Sho Aikawa) tells Big Boss Azamawari (Renji Ishibashi) that a Chihuahua outside has been trained to kill Yakuza. Ozaki then goes out to deal with the problem; if you’ve seen Miike films from the ’90s and early 2000s then you’ll have an idea what happens here.

Boss Azamawari knows this isn’t the first time Ozaki has fallen off his rocker so he quietly passes along an instruction to Ozaki’s right-hand man Minami (Hideki Sone) to take him for a ride. Minami is actually very loyal to Ozaki but also knows better than disappoint the Big Boss so he takes Ozaki on a trip outside the city.

When he comes across a bridge that’s out, Minami slams on the brakes and sends Ozaki flying from the back to the front of the car. He initially doesn’t think anything of this until he notices that Ozaki has gone glassy eyed and completely unresponsive.

Because he’s outside the city, Minami has no cell reception and drives around until he finds a coffee shop. Intending to use the phone inside, he leaves the seemingly dead Ozaki in the car. The phone is in use so Minami has to wait. He gets served some complimentary custard, which doesn’t agree with him…rather violently. Upon returning from the men’s room, Minami sees the phone is free…and then notices that Ozaki has vanished.

Thus begins Minami’s descent into a waking nightmare where he goes from one person to the next to locate the missing underboss. His search works like a linear adventure game where you have to complete one task to move onto the next one. I suspect that rigid structure is necessary because what happens during that search is hard enough to understand as it is.

By blind luck (or maybe not), he meets Nose (Shohei Hino), a man who always has half his face covered in white cream. Nose turns out to be of assistance to Minami…for a short while, at least. The search has to wait until morning so Minami has to stay at an inn where the manager (Keiko Tomita) offers him milk. That she produced herself.

Minami’s search takes him to various places in town, like a store where the grocer has to be prompted for every little bit of detail and a liquor store where the American clerk answers his questions but sounds like a robot from a ’50s TV show. Minami finds himself going in circles and winds up back at the inn where he comes across an almost naked man who has the head of the a cow. (I forgot to mention that Gozu literally translates as ‘cow head’.) This is a fortuitous meeting because Minami gets a vital clue that leads him to Ozaki…or does it?

Gozu really messes with you because it revels in its absurdity. Despite the repeated pattern of finding one clue that leads to the next, the story is actually a series of non sequitur sketches. Miike seems to have realized that trapping the audience inside a dream world means abandoning logic and giving the boot to rational thought.

What’s amazing is that Minami’s search ends in uncertainty, but the movie at that point has about 25 minutes left in its running time. That’s so that the nightmare he’s been living through can follow him into the normal Yakuza world.

I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say that Gozu doesn’t end with a big fight sequence. Miike saved the best for last and delivers a climax that will just burn itself permanently into your retinas. I haven’t seen every Yakuza movie ever made, but I’m pretty confident in guessing that no other Japanese gangster movie (or perhaps any other movie ever) ends the way this one does.

Miike seems to have no end of fun screwing with the audience and piles one gonzo scene on top of another. It’s as if he’s constantly daring you to continue watching this film. Gozu a major league brain scrambler for sure. If you’re tired of watching the same recycled crap then give this one a try because the one thing I can say for sure is that this movie is really original.

Last edited by L Everett Scott; 04-26-20 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 04-26-20, 10:57 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Revisited The Host (2006) last night. It had been a while since I re-watched the film.

It was just as enjoyable as I remember. The entire scene/sequence involving the creature initially storming the shores of the Han River are fantastic.

Even though the Creature FX had budget limitations, I still think many of the FX hold up fairly well 14-years later, as not everything was done in CG.

Old 04-26-20, 11:54 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Thanks for the heads-up, DJariya. I’ve noticed that the selections on Hoopla differ from one library to another. I just checked my account, and both those titles are there. I had my buddy, who has access through a different library, check his Hoopla and he can see The Captain but not Ip Man 4. He says the other Ip Man films are available (even The Final Fight), so he’ll probably get IM4 a bit later.
That's how the majority of these work with regards to the library system they may be pulling from. It's a licensing issue. The same with book/audio e-services. Each library has a different e-media collection - Libby, Overdrive, Kanopy, Hoopla, etc. You can circumvent it by having multiple library cards from different systems and syncing the to the service(s).
Old 04-26-20, 11:35 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

This was added to Netflix the other day:


In a hopeless dystopian city, Jun-seok (LEE Je-hoon) is released from prison and plans his next step in life in order to start anew with his friends Jang-ho (AHN Jae-hong), Ki-hoon (CHOI Woo-shik) and Sang-soo (PARK Jeong-min). But their excitement for the plan is short-lived as an unknown man chases after them. Can these best friends get away from the hunt?
Old 04-27-20, 09:33 AM
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Old 04-27-20, 11:37 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

I finally watched Joint Security Area (2000) after all these years thinking that it was a political movie. It wasn't really and Park Chan Wook did a great job highlighting how messed up political ideology and situation can have on personal relationships.
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Old 05-01-20, 08:42 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Headshot (2016) is a whole lot of fun. I love Timo Tjahjanto's films.

On a related note about his films, even though Netflix distributed it, I hope that some day The Night Comes For Us (2018) eventually gets a physical release. That film is bananas.
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Old 05-02-20, 01:39 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

If you have the Criterion Channel, take time to watch the following old school Jackie Chan movies for the month of May (at least):
Half Loaf of Kung Fu
Fearless Hyena
Spiritual Kung Fu
Young Master
My Lucky Stars

Hopefully, they be open to adding more of the Fortune Star movies to the channel. The last time I watched some of these movies were VHS quality like Fearless Hyena. They look really good.
Old 05-02-20, 01:55 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

A lot of them are up on Prime as well.
Old 05-02-20, 01:57 PM
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Unfortunately, not in Canada.

However, Prime Video Canada has a majority of the Shaw Brothers movies but the quality varies especially in terms of Audio.
Old 05-03-20, 06:18 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

I had been meaning to catch up with this for a while, and I finally managed to work it into the schedule...


Chocolate really reminded me of a video game where your character has to defeat a whole bunch of NPCs, take out the boss at the end to clear the level, and then collect your reward. Then you get to do it all over again on the next level...and the next, etc.

This film doesn't short change fans who show up wanting fights. The dramatic scenes in this movie feel like they were shot just so the actors and stunt team could take breaks. I don't have anything against movies with wall-to-wall action (I love The Raid, quite enjoyed Ong Bak, and have no issues watching The Martial Arts of Shaolin over and over), but I would like them to be varied.

With this movie, Zen (Jeeja Vismitananda) goes to a business owned by a bad guy who owes money to her mother, thrashes a dozen henchmen, 'persuades' the boss to pay his debt, and then repeats this cycle. The environments--ice factory, warehouse, and meat market--don't feel terribly different. They all have (or are) open areas with things you can climb on to and have items like chains, hooks, and cleavers lying around that can be used as weapons.

The faceless goons who fight Zen score hits about a third of the time (which is very respectable if they're playing in the Major Leagues) and have a tendency to lean in to her or stand still without blocking. That's very gentlemanly of those thugs, allowing the heroine to knock them down like that, but it's distracting and makes the fights seem unpolished. The fact that the henchmen constantly give Zen free shots adds to the lather-rinse-repeat pattern of the fights which really reduced my enjoyment of them.

Thankfully, the big finale changes things up somewhat by throwing in fighters who can keep going after taking a few punches and kicks (apparently, they brought in actual Muay Thai champions). Also, the environment felt different with the fight starting inside a Japanese restaurant, making its way to the roof, and then winding up on those giant protruding signs that are still popular in parts of the Far East.

It's in the climactic battle that Zen has to face Thomas (Kittitat Kowahagul), an odd character who has some sort of medical condition that makes him move jerkily and unpredictably. Her one on one against this fighter is the most engaging in the whole movie because Thomas doesn't fight like anyone else (it's what b-boying looks like when used in combat) and actually poses a challenge for Zen. It's a shame that their fight is so short.

Chocolate was Jeeja Vismitananda's first movie, so my guess is the action choreography had to take into account her lack of experience with stunts and movie fights. AFAIK Vismitananda was very accomplished in taekwondo going into this film but didn't have the extensive experience of someone like Tony Jaa who was a stuntman for almost 15 years before making Ong Bak.

Chocolate will likely satisfy most cravings for martial arts action, but I'd be surprised if anybody were to put it in their top ten of all-time.
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Old 05-03-20, 10:02 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

I watched Half of Loaf of Kung Fu and Fearless Hyena in the Criterion Channel and quality wise, is the best I ever seen. No more horrible dubbing to put up with and VHS like image quality. Nice to see it in their original language with competent subtitles. I don't remember in the countless previous viewing in regards to the Looney Tunes and Popeye music and sounds effect, but they are present in the Criterion version.

Half of Loaf of Kung Fu has not aged well IMHO, but Fearless is still good. Not on the same level as Drunken Master or Snake in the Eagle Shadow but not bad for his first directorial debut. If you never seen Fearless Hyena, now you know where the chopsticks scene from Kung Fu Panda comes from.
Old 05-03-20, 10:08 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 had been meaning to catch up with this for a while, and I finally managed to work it into the schedule...

Chocolate really reminded me of a video game where your character has to defeat a whole bunch of NPCs, take out the boss at the end to clear the level, and then collect your reward. Then you get to do it all over again on the next level...and the next, etc.

This film doesn't short change fans who show up wanting fights. The dramatic scenes in this movie feel like they were shot just so the actors and stunt team could take breaks. I don't have anything against movies with wall-to-wall action (I love The Raid, quite enjoyed Ong Bak, and have no issues watching The Martial Arts of Shaolin over and over), but I would like them to be varied.

With this movie, Zen (Jeeja Vismitananda) goes to a business owned by a bad guy who owes money to her mother, thrashes a dozen henchmen, 'persuades' the boss to pay his debt, and then repeats this cycle. The environments--ice factory, warehouse, and meat market--don't feel terribly different. They all have (or are) open areas with things you can climb on to and have items like chains, hooks, and cleavers lying around that can be used as weapons.

The faceless goons who fight Zen score hits about a third of the time (which is very respectable if they're playing in the Major Leagues) and have a tendency to lean in to her or stand still without blocking. That's very gentlemanly of those thugs, allowing the heroine to knock them down like that, but it's distracting and makes the fights seem unpolished. The fact that the henchmen constantly give Zen free shots adds to the lather-rinse-repeat pattern of the fights which really reduced my enjoyment of them.

Thankfully, the big finale changes things up somewhat by throwing in fighters who can keep going after taking a few punches and kicks (apparently, they brought in actual Muay Thai champions). Also, the environment felt different with the fight starting inside a Japanese restaurant, making its way to the roof, and then winding up on those giant protruding signs that are still popular in parts of the Far East.

It's in the climactic battle that Zen has to face Thomas (Kittitat Kowahagul), an odd character who has some sort of medical condition that makes him move jerkily and unpredictably. Her one on one against this fighter is the most engaging in the whole movie because Thomas doesn't fight like anyone else (it's what b-boying looks like when used in combat) and actually poses a challenge for Zen. It's a shame that their fight is so short.

Chocolate was Jeeja Vismitananda's first movie, so my guess is the action choreography had to take into account her lack of experience with stunts and movie fights. AFAIK Vismitananda was very accomplished in taekwondo going into this film but didn't have the extensive experience of someone like Tony Jaa who was a stuntman for almost 15 years before making Ong Bak.

Chocolate will likely satisfy most cravings for martial arts action, but I'd be surprised if anybody were to put it in their top ten of all-time.
The plot is very minimal at best. It's just something so they can set up the next action scene. The premise that she was able to learn Martial Arts by watching it on TV is laughable. Having said that, I don't mind this movie. You can tell that Jeeja is very talented in terms of physicality and Martial Arts moves but her acting is very poor. I suggest don't even bother with the other one she did, Raging Phoenix or something like that. It makes Chocolate seems like an Oscar winner.
Old 05-15-20, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by asianxcore View Post
I hope that some day The Night Comes For Us (2018) eventually gets a physical release. That film is bananas.
Have you ever seen Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky?


Riki-Oh obviously sticks closely to its OTT manga source material, but to me, the gory violence in TNCFU really reminded me of that earlier film. I have to admit, I'm not into Saw-style maiming in action movies, so I wasn't fan of either Riki-Oh or TNCFU.
​​​
Originally Posted by LorenzoL View Post
I suggest don't even bother with the other one she did, Raging Phoenix or something like that. It makes Chocolate seems like an Oscar winner.
It’s a good thing I don’t really use the Oscars as a barometer for quality. Seriously, I watch a lot of different movies, and the majority of them are crap. I’ve been curious about Raging Phoenix and will still check it out since it’s available on Hoopla in my area.

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I had been meaning to watch this since 2006 and didn’t around to it until this past week…


Anybody who’s been paying attention to what I’ve been saying about Johnnie To will know I’m a fan of his movies. It’s because I’ve watched a number of his films I realize he sometimes gets a little too hung up on experimenting with directorial techniques and ignores issues with the narrative. If you’ve seen Three (2016) where nothing slows down Wallace Chung (not even a bullet to the head) you’ll know what I’m talking about.

So I was hoping that going into his back catalogue would turn up a film I would enjoy. I found Exiled on Hoopla, which was great news because I have no idea where my DVD went.

I think a lot of people connect this movie with The Mission because they’re both Johnnie To joints and have a lot of overlap with the cast. The vibe, though, is totally different. The Mission is a very urban story where the bulk of it (if not the entire thing) takes place in Kowloon with its busy streets, tightly packed buildings, and ultra-modern shopping malls.

Exiled is set entirely in Macau, which is a location I’m not used to seeing in Hong Kong cinema. Actually, to clarify, exteriors shot in Macau are something I’m not used to; every other scene inside a casino in a HK movie allegedly takes place in Macau.

The cityscape feels considerably more relaxed than Kowloon. The parts shown in Exiled have low rises and spaces between buildings, giving the film a suburban vibe. For me, where it starts to feel like a Western is the lobby of the hotel which appears a couple of times in the film. It’s reminiscent of a two-storey saloon with its layout and its wooden floors, staircase, and wall paneling.

When the movie follows the gunmen into the barren terrain, I was reminded of Spaghetti Westerns. The only way the scene could’ve been more Western is if the gunslingers were on horseback. The inclusion of a subplot involving a shipment of gold that’s begging to be robbed is another signpost in the film tells us we’re in Sergio Leone territory.

I’m focusing on aesthetics because 1) as I’ve mentioned, they’re rather distinct in terms of Hong Kong movies and 2) because that’s the part of the film that worked for me. To be fair, I thought the acting was pretty solid, although I didn’t care for the occasional childish antics of the gunmen that were supposed to show how the guys have been lifelong friends.

I don’t know if Exiled was written the same way as The Mission, which I heard was essentially made up as it was shot. Regardless of how Exiled’s screenplay was put together, the story didn’t really work for me. Unfortunately, this is one of those cases where it’s next to impossible for me to pin down exactly what it is about the writing that didn’t click.

I don’t have a problem with modern Westerns—I think No Country For Old Men is damned good movie and that Hell or High Water is mostly solid. Nor do I have an issue with stories about brotherhood and personal ethics being stronger than your loyalty to an employer.

It could be that I heard over the years too many comparisons of Exiled to The Mission, a film which I’ve always enjoyed. I suspect that I might’ve liked Exiled a lot more had I not seen The Mission first. As it stands, this in my books is one of the lesser Johnnie To movies.
Old 05-15-20, 09:24 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
Have you ever seen Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky?
Yup! I own a copy of it on DVD. Love that film.

I also love Johnnie To. Easily one of my all-time favorite Directors.

About 3+ years ago, I was fortunate to see him in person at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, who had a program celebrating his work over the course of an entire month. He was in attendance at screenings during the final month of the program.

The screenings were a mix of films that he had Written & Directed as well as films he asked to be screened per their influence on his film-making.

Last edited by asianxcore; 05-15-20 at 10:48 PM.
Old 05-15-20, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by asianxcore View Post
About 3+ years ago, I was fortunate to see him in person at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, who had a program celebrating his work over the course of an entire month. He was in attendance at screenings during the final month of the program.

The screenings were a mix of films that he had Written & Directed as well as films he asked to be screened to to their influence on his film-making.
That's pretty awesome. After seeing Exiled, I have to think that Leone was one of his influences.

I'm still making my way very slowly through To's catalogue. I have yet to see a film from him that tops the original PTU. I'd have to put his two Election movies among the top five of his filmography that I've covered so far.
Old 06-16-20, 01:59 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

I revisited Battle Royale (2000) after so many years last week and it still holds up. I highly doubt that this movie will get made in 2020. I still find Hunger Games to be a much inferior version of a similar theme. The violence served a purpose and it wasn't all for show (for the most part).

I watched the Director's Cut which gives more insight to the Dream sequences.
Old 06-17-20, 02:13 AM
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Originally Posted by LorenzoL View Post
I revisited Battle Royale (2000) after so many years last week and it still holds up. I highly doubt that this movie will get made in 2020. I still find Hunger Games to be a much inferior version of a similar theme.
Isn’t Battle Royale an allegory of the pressures Japanese teens face preparing for the national university entrance exam? I remember reading somewhere or hearing on a show that a lot of Japanese high school seniors suffer psychological trauma because of the stress they’re under to do well on the exam so they can get placed at one of the top universities. IIRC, Battle Royale was meant to be a criticism of the system and societal expectations that were causing mental harm to the Japanese youth.

The Hunger Games, if I’m not mistaken, is supposed to be about resisting tyranny and government oppression. I doubt The Hunger Games’s target audience would take seriously lessons about fighting cultural traditions that demand that high schoolers do well on a college entrance exam.

→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→

The movie I just re-watched would be the message-free answer to both Battle Royale and The Hunger Games:


I first saw Tokyo Raiders about 20 years ago and enjoyed it. During my recent revisit, I couldn’t help but notice how completely inconsequential it is. It’s a box of Cracker Jacks with no prize.

Tony Leung and Ekin Cheng are quite charming despite the former playing a rascally P.I. (Leung’s typical role) and the latter being a bit of an eh-hole. Kelly Chen is…well, if I want to be diplomatic, she’s not in the same league as her male co-stars in terms of acting. Chen might have an oak tree somewhere in her ancestry, but she’s passable in this movie.

I had forgotten about the big twist in this film, which worked out well because it did legitimately surprise me during my re-watch. It’s about the only thing I can really say about the plot which is really just stock standard MacGuffin chasing. The story hangs together well enough, but that’s the epitome of damning with faint praise.

Even though I’m not a fan of action scenes that are edited to death like they are in this movie, I thought they were fine and reasonably entertaining. But even the action seems as lightweight as everything else in Tokyo Raiders—no one ever faces mortal danger so it’s just a lot of running around, throwing punches, and firing off the occasional shot with no stakes. Again, no meat, just empty calories.

Tokyo Raiders is an OK time while you’re watching it, but it’s the type of movie that leaves no impression. There’s not a whole lot to think about while you’re sitting through it, and there’s certainly no deep discussion to be had about it afterwards.

I have Seoul Raiders somewhere in my DVD collection. I’ve never seen it and have trouble believing it could have any less substance than this movie. I’m pretty sure, though, that’s not impossible.
Old 06-17-20, 09:05 AM
  #146  
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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
Isnít Battle Royale an allegory of the pressures Japanese teens face preparing for the national university entrance exam? I remember reading somewhere or hearing on a show that a lot of Japanese high school seniors suffer psychological trauma because of the stress theyíre under to do well on the exam so they can get placed at one of the top universities. IIRC, Battle Royale was meant to be a criticism of the system and societal expectations that were causing mental harm to the Japanese youth.

The Hunger Games, if Iím not mistaken, is supposed to be about resisting tyranny and government oppression. I doubt The Hunger Gamesís target audience would take seriously lessons about fighting cultural traditions that demand that high schoolers do well on a college entrance exam.
By similar theme, I meant creating a movie about Goverments putting bunch of teens with the purpose of killing each other.
Old 06-17-20, 09:18 AM
  #147  
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Shiri was my very first action film from South Korea. Pretty wild and action was over top but I greatly enjoyed it. Yunjin Kim better know playing Sun in the tv show Lost played a North Korean assassin.


Old 06-17-20, 12:38 PM
  #148  
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

^ Good grief, time does indeed fly. Shiri is another title I saw almost 20 years ago, and I’ll need to revisit it. I remember liking parts of it but not loving the third act. With this need to go back to movies I’ve already watched, the possibility of my seeing every movie on my ever growing to-watch list looks to be unlikely.

◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕◕

I found 2 Ĺ hours to spare, so I gave Fists of Legend a look.


The story follows Lim Deok-kyu (Hwang Jung-min), a middle-aged proprietor of a noodle shop and single father. He was an Olympic hopeful in his youth, but an unfortunate series of events landed him in jail, putting an end to those dreams. His buddy from high school, Lee Sang-hoo (Yoo Jung-sang), is now an executive at a media company working for CEO Son Jin-Ho (Jung Woong-in), a man with seemingly very few moral scruples. Son also happens to have been friends with Lim and Lee back in high school. Rounding out the quartet is Shin Jae-seok (Yun Je-moon) who in the present is a third-rate (if that) gangster but is directionless otherwise.

What brings these former friends back together is Legendary Fighter, a reality show in which men who were once fighters or just plain tough guys in their younger years are called upon to train and compete with one another in MMA fights. Hong Kyu-min (Lee Yo-won) is the steely and utterly ruthless producer of Legendary Fighter who tirelessly goes after potential competitors for her show and will milk for ratings every victory, loss, and bit of personal drama among the fighters.

Inevitably, Lim, Lee, and Shin find themselves on Hong’s radar, and the former friends have the reality TV spotlight shone on them whether they want it or not. As the men progress (or don’t) through the tournament, we learn about their past during their days in high school, how they met, and what ultimately drove them apart.

Fists of Legend is essentially two movies woven together. The present day plot focuses on the lives mainly of Lim and Lee but makes room for Shin and other supporting players. The flashbacks to the friends’ formative years almost form a feature in themselves, taking up about 45 minutes of the running time. The supporting story of Lim and his friends in their youth is a bit more of a character piece than the main plot (which has the TV tournament to help drive it) and is not filled out enough to stand on its own whereas the present day story has so much going on that it would work fine if the flashbacks were dropped.

The fights in the movie are entertaining but are grounded. These are, after all, middle-aged men who’ve learned MMA fighting for the TV show, and most of them haven’t been in a proper fight since they were teenagers. The combat tends to be repetitive with the same strategies and moves coming up in several of the matches, but this is in keeping with the idea that all the competitors were coached by the one trainer on the show.

Despite its bulky length of 2 Ĺ hours, Fists of Legend is engaging and entertaining for the most part. It really reminded me of Rocky where the drama outside the ring had to carry most of the movie and manages to do so because of characters that are easy to root for. Fists of Legend isn’t the shortest sports drama you’re ever going to see, and at times you will feel the weight of its sizable running time, but it’s a pretty solid film overall.
Old 06-17-20, 01:39 PM
  #149  
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

If any of you here are interested, there is a streaming service called "Hi-Yah"

https://www.hiyahtv.com/

$4/month to stream Hong Kong/China/Taiwan/Korea and some Japanese action/martial arts movies from Well Go USA.

I've been using it for about a month now and like it. It's on pretty much all the major streaming platforms.

There's a 30 day free trial if you want to try it out first.

The service has been around for a few years now, but they only launched this dedicated streaming app last month.

It's a really inexpensive service to keep up with some of these Asian movies and they get new titles every month.
Old 06-17-20, 02:32 PM
  #150  
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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
That's pretty awesome. After seeing Exiled, I have to think that Leone was one of his influences.

I'm still making my way very slowly through To's catalogue. I have yet to see a film from him that tops the original PTU. I'd have to put his two Election movies among the top five of his filmography that I've covered so far.
Both Election films absolutely floored me the first time I saw them on DVD.

At that Johnnie To Retrospective, I attended a screening of both films as a Double Feature. Had the same effect on me as well that night.

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