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

Old 06-19-20, 03:49 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
The movie I just re-watched would be the message-free answer to both Battle Royale and The Hunger Games:

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

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.

I saw TOKYO RAIDERS likewise 20 years ago, and have still enjoyed it on my infrequent re-visits, precisely for the reasons you bring up. It's no classic, though, and I can understand how it's not everyone's cup of tea. It was a Chinese New Year movie for the year 2000, which pretty much explains why it's so lightweight and inconsequential; barring rare exceptions, most CNY movies from the 80's Hui Bros. era onward are empty calories to a tee, and their makers – even someone like Stephen Chow, who made his fair share – happily owned up to it. It's a shame that Hong Kong doesn't crank them out like they did in those days; they barely crank them out at all anymore. And CNY movies from China, well, those aren't worth the keystrokes to type about (except to say that their even shallower, CCP-approved consumerist comedies compete for screen time with the usual heavy-handed propaganda - ugh). For me, the 'prize' in the CNY box of cracker jacks is simply the movies themselves, with then-big stars in pretty locales simply having fun to bouncy soundtracks, no stakes. So many CNY movies were divorced from their original context when they were released on DVD outside of Hong Kong, as well as in the ensuing years as newer viewers stumble across them via old discs or streaming and can't figure out why they're so frivolous and rate them accordingly. This isn't to say that any of them are five-star, perfect-10 movies – most definitely aren't, but historically I think they're important, especially as there are so few of them being made anymore.

SEOUL RAIDERS was likewise a CNY movie for 2005, but its desperation to 'recapture the magic' and its failure on so many levels (including a quarter of the original's box office take), makes one appreciate its predecessor all the more. At least it did for me.

Regarding Kelly Chen: she's a beautiful woman, but she always seemed rather enigmatic and distant in many roles. Something about her eyes, I think; she has kind of a dead stare, which could be alluring but also disconcerting depending on the role. I liked her in certain movies, though: LOST AND FOUND, AND I HATE YOU SO; her tiny role in METADE FUMACA (a personal favourite HK movie) is surprisingly captivating. She gets the final shot in that last one and it puts a lump in my throat every time. Plus it's got Shu Qi at arguably her most enigmatic, which is never a bad thing.

2 trailers for METADE FUMACA. Star Nicolas Tse performs the song in the second one.

Last edited by Brian T; 06-19-20 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 06-21-20, 01:24 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Damn, you guys are making me want to dig out my DVD of TOKYO RAIDERS (purchased 18 years ago) and my VCD of METADE FUMACA (purchased 17 years ago), neither of them ever watched.

P.S. I just realized I have a ton of 1990s HK movies on disc that I've never watched.

Last edited by Ash Ketchum; 06-22-20 at 09:05 AM.
Old 06-23-20, 02:15 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
Damn, you guys are making me want to dig out my DVD of TOKYO RAIDERS (purchased 18 years ago) and my VCD of METADE FUMACA (purchased 17 years ago), neither of them ever watched.

P.S. I just realized I have a ton of 1990s HK movies on disc that I've never watched.
Well, if you don't get around to watching them, I'd be happy to take some off your hands! I've likewise got plenty of unwatched HK discs (and tapes), not to mention all the other unwatched discs from around the globe, but I keep plowing through the latter Ė and selling many of them off Ė so I can get back to the former, which is where I'm most at home and which I've never actually stopped accumulating, even as the options to do so here in the city have dwindled. I visit regularly to rifle their clearance bins, usually for stuff I'm pretty sure I already have, but since it's only a matter of time before these last few shops are gone, I figure why not. And the public library system here is phenomenal in keeping up with the new releases of Hong Kong movies, and mainland movies of course, so even though I have to return them, I still make sure they, cough cough, stay in my private collection for future viewing.

By the way, I forgot to mention earlier that TOKYO RAIDERS has two sequels. The latest, EUROPE RAIDERS, came out in 2018, albeit not at CNY. Same formula as the first two; about on par with the second one, arguably worse, and a far cry from the first one. It's certainly the beneficiary of the digital era, for better or worse. The China-pandering is its worst distinction, and it was all for naught as it tanked there anyway.


Last edited by Brian T; 06-24-20 at 12:53 AM.
Old 06-23-20, 10:55 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

I recently watched Hana-bi (Fireworks) and I loved this movie. The only other directed movie that I seen previous to to Hana-bi from Beat Takaahi was his Zatoichi remake.

I loved the cinematography as well as how the level of violence slowly increases until the end.
Old 06-24-20, 12:37 AM
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Heís made a lot of highly recommendable movies. Iíd add BOILING POINT, VIOLENT COP and SONATINE to the pile, and they all should be easy to find on streaming. I do wish more of his films got released over here ó heís still cranking out some good stuff even today ó but it seems mostly like his 90ís crime pictures and the more recent OUTRAGE trilogy have gained any traction. Heís also part of a great ensemble in Takeshi Ishiiís violent heist thriller GONIN.

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Old 06-24-20, 04:23 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Brian T
Heís made a lot of highly recommendable movies. Iíd add BOILING POINT, VIOLENT COP and SONATINE to the pile, and they all should be easy to find on streaming. I do wish more of his films got released over here ó heís still cranking out some good stuff even today ó but it seems mostly like his 90ís crime pictures and the more recent OUTRAGE trilogy have gained any traction. Heís also part of a great ensemble in Takeshi Ishiiís violent heist thriller GONIN.
Thanks Brian! I was able to find Violent Cop and Boiling Point on tubi streaming service just like I did with Hana-bi. Now finding the rest of his filmography will be a challenge especially his recent stuff unless I buy the Blu-rays.
Old 06-24-20, 01:21 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Brian T
Regarding Kelly Chen: she's a beautiful woman, but she always seemed rather enigmatic and distant in many roles. Something about her eyes, I think; she has kind of a dead stare, which could be alluring but also disconcerting depending on the role. I liked her in certain movies, though: LOST AND FOUND, AND I HATE YOU SO; her tiny role in METADE FUMACA (a personal favourite HK movie) is surprisingly captivating. She gets the final shot in that last one and it puts a lump in my throat every time. Plus it's got Shu Qi at arguably her most enigmatic, which is never a bad thing.
Lost and Found is pretty greatÖdefinitely a personal fave despite my not being the biggest Kelly Chen fan. It has a rather contrived premise but rises above it with a lot of charm, much of it coming from Kaneshiro. I recall the DVD being a bare-bones release with burnt-in subs, but itís better than nothing.

I think I missed And I Hate You So but did catch Metada Fumaca way back when. I didnít realize how much I had forgotten until I watched the trailer. I recall enjoying it for the most part, but then, itís hard to go wrong when you have Eric Tsang in your movie.

Originally Posted by LorenzoL
I recently watched Hana-bi (Fireworks) and I loved this movie. The only other directed movie that I seen previous to to Hana-bi from Beat Takaahi was his Zatoichi remake.
.
Another Kitano fan here. I had the pleasure of seeing Hana-Bi on the big screen back in the late í90s and remember enjoying it. It was one of the first (if not the first) Kitano crime thrillers that I had watched and unfortunately donít remember much about it...I believe itís the one that ends on the beach.

I saw the other Kitano titles listed on TubiTV as well. Iím pretty sure Iíve seen Violent Cop but have no recollection at all about Boiling Point.

I have a better recollection of Zatoichi, which I liked quite a lot. Even though itís been almost 20 years since I watched it, the storyline of the ronin and his sister really left an impression. So did that ending with the
Spoiler:
dance scene.



☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼

Speaking of TubiTV, I saw Sector 7 listed and gave it a try.


The concept of a monster on an oil rig brought back memories for me. I remember watching The Intruder Within back in í81, which had the same premise although the plot is different and the monster (which didnít appear until the last 20 minutes IIRC) was a guy in a suit shuffling slowly.

Sector 7 has ĎLook at meóIím a spectacular blockbusterí written all over it. (I wasnít surprised to learn afterwards that it was South Koreaís first IMAX 3D production.) It uses CGI liberally, has a score that tells you how epic it is, and delivers several big set pieces.

Itís really too bad all this was in service of a rather obvious pastiche of better films. Alien, the most well-known creature feature set in an isolated setting, is the most obvious influence, and scenes underwater as well as small organisms they discover are nods to The Abyss. An early scene where the crew members show off scars and tell stories about how they got them will be familiar to anyone whoís seen (or just heard of) Jaws. Doing a remix of other films is all fine and wellóso long as you do a good job and bring some kind of inspiration of your own.

Sector 7, though, is a grind. It takes a good while to set up the back story (impatient company wanting to move the project to a new drilling site, the scrappy heroineís reasons for staying put, the socially awkward guy having a thing for an emotionally distant researcher, etc.) and feels very perfunctory while itís doing so. I simply felt that everything seemed so rote and tired, as if everyone involved knew what a genre blockbuster expected of them and that they dutifully carried out their assignment but in a mechanical and uninspired way.

The movie gets interesting for a few minutes after the first death. It suggests that a member of the team is a killer, which leads hot-headed crew members to go on a witch hunt. For those few precious minutes, I thought the creature would play a much smaller role than advertised and that the movie would focus more on human drama.

My hopes were dashed pretty quickly. In no time at all, the witch hunt dovetails into the main story involving the crew meeting the big monster. This is a shame considering there was potential in keeping the suspense going by having the team suspecting that there might be something going on other than a human killer but not encountering the actual threat until much later.

I suspect that the studio passed a note to the filmmakers asking them to make sure that fans get the most bang for their buck, so the movie needed to use CGI extensively. The studio note may, in fact, have insisted that the monster be shown early and often. This is extremely unfortunate because the creature does appear in all its disgusting glory around the 45-minute mark (keep in mind this movie is almost two hours long). I donít know what everyone elseís experience has been like, but I have yet to see a movie which is able to maintain suspense when the monster or killer is revealed early.

As a result of the surprisingly early unveiling, Sector 7 turns into a big chase for well over an hour with the crew trying to keep away from the creature. Itís amazing how tedious this gets despite the stunts and CGI-based action. Ridley Scottís deft handling of a similar scenario is very sorely missed here.

All this film accomplishes is to show you how soulless a big effects extravaganza can be and remind you of much better movies that you could be watching instead.
Old 06-24-20, 03:24 PM
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SECTOR 7 – if there wasn't a phenomenal 3D disc of that available (now only $3.95 at Hamilton Book), I wouldn't have it in my collection. I signed it out from he library here and felt the same way you did: it's paint-by-numbers "This Summer..." filmmaking end-to-end. I suppose the experience for Korean audiences might've been different, seeing a familiar Hollywood concept populated with top Korean faces in the lead roles, so I can cut it some slack for that (same goes when any non-American production takes a crack at an effects-heavy blockbuster of their own – Hollywood has probably already done it, sure, but re-doing it allows overseas domestic audiences to see themselves in outsized jeopardy on screen, which has to be fun). The visual effects were well done despite an overabundance of green screen work, and the creature was well-designed. The 3D, though, is excellent, and because it was actually filmed with 3D cameras you get a lot of pop-outs along with the requisite depth. The filmmakers exploited the technology well.
Old 06-24-20, 03:57 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by asianxcore
I also love Johnnie To. Easily one of my all-time favorite Directors.
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Old 06-27-20, 08:53 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

My copy of Mr. Vampire came in, so will probably watch it over the weekend. Looks fun.


Old 06-30-20, 09:48 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Eureka has been killing it with all of their HK releases. Makes me regret that I’m not Region Free.
Old 06-30-20, 09:54 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

I watched Seoul Station as is done by the same director as Train to Busan and people said it was a prequel to it. It’s not. Don’t get fooled like me. Yes, it was made by the same director and it’s about zombies. That’s it.

Also this is an animated movie. The movie is not bad as it has its moments but it could have used better animation.
Old 06-30-20, 11:51 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Why So Blu?
My copy of Mr. Vampire came in, so will probably watch it over the weekend. Looks fun.
Is fun. And a quintessential Hong Kong film. I wish Eureka could've done a boxed set of the five more-or-less official entries in the series, as they're all pretty good (though inconsistent), but maybe if this one sells well enough, they'll consider a set for the other films, perhaps similar to that single-case Sammo Hung three-pack they released last year. There's a Hong Kong 5-film collection, but as with far too many re-issues over there, the original, authentic mono tracks have been irritatingly upgraded to 5.1 and beyond.
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Old 07-25-20, 10:30 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

New martial arts action movie starring Max Zhang and Anderson Silva




When a brilliant but trigger-happy detective (played by martial arts powerhouse Max Zhang) is outsmarted by a serial killer, he pays a high price for his momentary lapse in judgment. Robbed of both his fiancťe and his job, he soon spirals out of control and goes back to what he knows best: fighting. Unbeknownst to him, a serendipitous reunion with an old rival (Brazilian mixed martial artist Anderson Silva) may be the key to unlocking the truth about his fiancťe’s disappearance—and to apprehending the killer. .

Old 07-26-20, 02:05 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by DJariya
New martial arts action movie starring Max Zhang and Anderson Silva

https://youtu.be/JVkIM-zGvNo


Interesting that the subject of this filmís director Fruit Chan came up recently in the Masters Of Cinema blu-ray thread. That company is releasing his indie classic MADE IN HONG KONG on disc. Heís known for expertly lacing his films Ė even the ones that flirt with commercial viability Ė with biting social commentary and cutting satire, and deeply drawn characters that give actors real meat to chew on.

Heís out of his element on this one, much like he was with his other recent Ďactioní picture KILL TIME. This was actually finished in 2017, shelved until 2019, and the mixed-to-ho-hum reviews put paid to its theatrical prospects. Now Wellgo is probably hoping no one remembers. That trailer makes the fights look more dynamic than they really are. With Stephen Tung Wai behind them theyíre not without merit, but they feel, I donít know, dated and by-the-numbers, I guess.

Anderson Silva is pretty awful in this. Itís not just the ridiculous dialogue heís given, but his delivery is just all wrong. He can smolder like a good MMA fighter should, and thatís about it. Iíll confess I havenít seen his other movie performances, so I canít say if this is an isolated incident due to writer-producer-director Chan just wanting to get it over with. Hopefully he relooped his dialogue or was dubbed in Wellgoís version.

That trailer is more effective than the original Chinese ones, which had way too many clips of Zhang and Silva speaking English (both horribly) in their real voices, presumably to impress callow mainland audiences). This new trailer being all in Cantonese at least gives the right feel for a movie set partly in Hong Kong and featuring mostly Hong Kong characters. In fact, that credit block lists largely HK personnel, which is nice in an era where such blocks usually have to list 32 Mainland Chinese industrial concerns as Ďproduction companiesí first! Still, some were involved in this, which makes the outcomes utterly predictable Ė except for the balls-out stupid swing into WTF territory during the climactic battle. I wonít spoil that, but Iíd also suggest not reading too many reviews if you donít want it spoiled, as pretty much everyone made fun of it.

Proceed with caution, and this has its moments, but itís the kind of movie the HK industry moved past ages ago, but keeps periodically dumping on the market because of the easy sell on the mainland and to Wellgo for over here.

Last edited by Brian T; 07-26-20 at 02:18 PM.
Old 08-11-20, 07:43 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Shudder does a great job with this trailer of making this look like a good movie…



…which it unfortunately isn’t. It’s a Ringu reboot with a retread of Ju-On stitched on to it.

I haven’t watched all the Ringu sequels, but I’m not aware of the images in the video changing or the curse period being shortened until this movie came along. (Feel free to correct me if I’m mistaken.) I found this aspect of the movie confusing and was wondering if the Sadako in this movie was different than the one from the main franchise.

As for the Ju-On portion, it seemed like another exercise in finding excuses for people to enter the cursed house. By now, everyone knows that it’s haunted, so people need to go in because they were dared to or because reasons.

The aspects most refreshing about this mash-up are Masahiro KŰmoto’s urban legends teacher, Professor Morishige, and the exorcist duo of Keizo and Tamao (Masanobu AndŰ and Maiko Kikuchi). Morishige is a Sadako fanboy who’s hellbent on seeing his idol in person even if it kills him. Keizo (an exorcist who dresses like a rock star) and Tamao (a teen spiritual sensitive who’s blind) feel like they stepped out of a much livelier movie and dropped into this one to tell everybody what the rules are governing the two demons.

The big problem with S vs K is that it takes forever for the title bout to happen. The movie runs about 100 minutes and it isn’t until the last 10 that the title characters come anywhere near each other…only for their grudge match (see what I did there?) to last about 2-3 minutes.

The method of getting the two in the same room is pretty bonkers and sounds like the premise for a great movie when you hear it. Also, Kōji Shiraishi has a pretty solid track record as a horror director. Combine these elements with the two exorcists, and what should’ve resulted was an instant winner.

But it’s not. Like many J-horror movies, S vs K isn’t in a hurry to get to where it needs to go and feels like it’s treading over far-too-familiar ground despite changing up some of the details. There are moments in this movie that work, such as the very late in the game clash between demons, but those are rather few and far between.

The non-ending in S vs K obviously sets up a sequel. I have to think that movie (if/when it happens) will be considerably better because whoever’s making it would have to try pretty hard to make one less engaging than this one.
Old 08-11-20, 11:39 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread




I rented Enter the Fat Dragon and watched it yesterday.

It was pretty fun with lots of action and had a some laughs. I was pretty amused that they made this have very "loose" tie-ins to SPL and Flashpoint. You'll have to see it to understand that. But, they took a comedic approach to it.

The majority of it was shot on location in Japan.
Old 08-11-20, 01:09 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
Shudder does a great job with this trailer of making this look like a good movieÖ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yw0Ip5XoXyw

Öwhich it unfortunately isnít. Itís a Ringu reboot with a retread of Ju-On stitched on to it.
Saw this at TIFF Midnight Madness about four years ago and was rather bored, despite level expectations and an appreciation of the craftsmanship. Been a while, but I remember it taking forever, as you mention, to get to the title bout, and spending way too much of the preceding run time rehashing stuff from these franchises, which were pretty pooped-out even then. It really seemed to be designed with newcomers in mind, even though both franchises had fairly recent entries. The 3D was about the only thing it had going for it.

And they weren't done yet! Hideo Nakata came back for SADAKO in 2019, which updated that franchise for the social-media-wannabe-ghost-hunters era. It's an improvement over the silly SADAKO VS. KAYAKO and a solid attempt to right the franchise, but it's still awfully familiar. Proof positive that the experience of the original is literally trapped in amber, and virtually impossible to replicate. And that's not necessarily a bad thing for those who got to experience it first hand in 1999.

Old 08-23-20, 05:07 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/new-police...104035038.html

Hong Kong film director Benny Chan dead at 58 from cancer

Probably his most notable credits are Jackie Chan’s Who am I? and New Police Story.

Old 08-23-20, 05:17 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by DJariya
https://sg.news.yahoo.com/new-police...104035038.html

Hong Kong film director Benny Chan dead at 58 from cancer

Probably his most notable credits are Jackie Chanís Who am I? and New Police Story.
My favorite is THE MAGIC CRANE (1993) with Anita Mui and Tony Leung.
Old 08-23-20, 06:28 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by DJariya
https://sg.news.yahoo.com/new-police...104035038.html

Hong Kong film director Benny Chan dead at 58 from cancer

Probably his most notable credits are Jackie Chanís Who am I? and New Police Story.
RIP

I enjoyed Invisible Target (2007)
Old 08-24-20, 01:40 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by DJariya
Probably his most notable credits are Jackie Chan’s Who am I? and New Police Story.
Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
My favorite is THE MAGIC CRANE (1993) with Anita Mui and Tony Leung.
Originally Posted by asianxcore
I enjoyed Invisible Target (2007)
While the Jackie Chan pictures are probably more notable in the west because Jackie's participation guaranteed a wider international release – even for his lesser entry ROB-B-HOOD – Benny Chan's earlier pictures are still among his best, and more unique to Hong Kong's cinematic and overall culture because they didn't have to pander to either Mainland China or overseas audiences: A MOMENT OF ROMANCE (1990), A MOMENT OF ROMANCE II (1993), the aforementioned MAGIC CRANE (1993) and especially BIG BULLET (1996). I believe only the latter got any kind of release here, buried in the Warner Archive collection with bad subs. Whenever I moan about the availability of golden-era HK films in the west being limited to maybe the most well-known couple of hundred films (mainly starring Bruce, Jackie, Donnie, Jet, Sammo, Michelle or Chow Yun-fat, etc.), it's films like these that I wish small companies like Eureka, 88 Films and whatever U.S. company still gives a shit would pay some attention to.

Like so many others in the HK industry, Benny Chan became beholden to China and it's ridiculous rules in order to keep making big shows (some of which aren't bad), but of his films before that time I'd second the recommendation of INVISIBLE TARGET and add CONNECTED, his superior 2008 remake of the American film CELLULAR, plus GEN-X COPS (99), HEROIC DUO (03) DIVERGENCE (05). His films weren't always perfect, but he definitely had a way for crisply-shot, large-scale action shows.

I was wondering lately why Donnie Yen's RAGING FIRE, which I had posted about in this thread ages ago, had fallen off the radar. Sad to learn the reason.

Looks like his last, fully hands-on completed picture is also his strangest: the kiddie film MEOW

Spoilered for, well, cloying weirdness:
Spoiler:







Last edited by Brian T; 08-24-20 at 01:46 PM.
Old 08-24-20, 06:28 PM
  #173  
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Sad news about Benny Chan.

As usual, @Brian T, some great insight...thank you.

I've only watched a handful of BC's films. The three Jackie Chan vehicles he made are entertaining and pretty solid amongst JC's efforts after he started turning his attention towards the international market.

As for the other Benny Chan films I've watched, I find them to be a mixed bag. I really enjoyed Invisible Targets and thought Call of Heroes was quite good but Louis Koo's role required him to go outside his range, and he came off as a cartoon character as a result. Shaolin and The White Storm are definitely middling movies in my book.

I'm pretty sure I watched A Moment of Romance and Big Bullet but have absolutely no memory of those movies at all. That's probably less a statement about the quality of those films than it is my age.

RIP Benny Chan.

🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸🚸

Caught a more recent Hong Kong film over the weekend...


...and it's nice to be able to say it's legitimately an HK film. For those that didn't hear, writer/director/star Dayo Wong claimed on social media that The Grand Grandmaster was self-financed because he didn't want to deal with Mainland restrictions or their interference.

His movie's 'HK-ness' rather shows with all locations being Hong Kong-based and characters behaving and sounding like HKers. The kowtowing to the PRC so common in Mainland-financed movies is nowhere to be found. Even the one bit of Mandarin dialogue in the film is explained by the leading lady (Annie Liu) having a mother who's Taiwanese. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure I've ever heard Taiwan referred to in any Mainland-friendly film I've seen.

In terms of the plot, The Grand Grandmaster is pretty timely: self-promoting martial arts master Ma Fei-lung (Wong) seems to be on top of the world (at least for the first five minutes of the movie). He teaches his family's fighting style (the Ma Thunder Fist) at multiple schools, he's a local media star, and he shamelessly puts his mug on any piece of merchandise that he can get his hands on. (The translators may have missed a golden opportunity by not calling this film The Grand Brandmaster, but I digress.)

When hailing a cab one day, Ma gets into an altercation with an old man. Thinking that Ma is picking on a senior, passerby Chan Tsang (Liu) steps in and makes short work of the so-called Grandmaster. With the story taking place in modern Hong Kong, everyone in the crowd that gathered has a cell phone and captures the entire incident, putting a hurt on Ma's brand.

Ma goes on TV to explain that he couldn't fight back because it's not right for a man to strike a woman. The interviewer, though, is quick to point out that Chan Tsang is no ordinary woman, that she's in fact a highly trained boxer. Sensing a ratings event, the interviewer presses Ma to have an official match against Chan, and the Grandmaster suddenly finds himself having to go through with a fight he doesn't want in order to save his business and salvage his family's reputation.

First, the good news: a number of the jokes really land, although not as many as you would expect from Wong who's arguably Hong Kong's most well-known stand-up comedian. Gags about Ma's brand ubiquity will resonate with most people who are familiar with corporate marketing efforts to dominate every square inch of the landscape, both physical and virtual. Wong isn't afraid to be the butt of insults, and the movie has a few that managed to get me to laugh out loud. He also pokes fun at martial arts philosophy and uses a 'flow like water' analogy as a running joke that I found myself chuckling at.

Wong also managed to get HK TV and movie veteran Hui Shiu Hung in a brilliant supporting role as a fighting coach. Hui has taken numerous dramatic and comedic roles in his storied career, and he brings his deadpan approach to this film, serving as a great foil for Wong. Their interactions produced some of the best gags in the film, such as when the coach tries to teach Ma how to protect his head against punches. The jokes from their training sessions are some of the most memorable from the movie, reminding me of Stephen Chow in his prime and Wong Jing when he brought his A-game.

Annie Liu is pretty solid as the serious and battle-hardened Chan Tsang. Word is the actress trained for half a year for this part, and she does look comfortable in the ring. Mind you, she's no Hilary Swank from Million Dollar Baby but does come off as someone who's paid her dues at the gym.

And now for the bad news: while it has its moments, this movie is just under two hours long, and at least half an hour could've been cut from it. To set up certain gags, Wong takes the story in different directions. What this means is that he goes all over the map. Practically all the supporting characters have subplots, which means more screen time for the actors, but that comes at the expense of the film, making it bloated.

Even Catherine Chau (the lead inspector in Project Gutenberg) gets multiple appearances in a minor role as Ma's ex-wife. Her part is one of many that feels like it may have been expanded when it should have been confined to just a few minutes.

With the movie overstaying its welcome, a lot of the comedy gets diluted. I found myself wondering at times when the next laugh was coming. I certainly found myself thinking that repeatedly during the film's climax, which goes on far too long.

Also, the story goes in an unfortunate direction, which I won't spoil since it's not shown in the trailer. A straight battle of the sexes comedy certainly isn't novel by any means, but it would've been something a little different for a Hong Kong movie released during the Chinese New Year. This movie, though, strays from that path about halfway through, which probably helped it reach its almost two-hour running time.

Lastly, there's a scene that plays during the credits which seems rather self indulgent on Wong's part. It's almost as if he realized he spent two hours making the lead character look like a fool but wanted to show his ancestors had legitimate claims on being kung fu masters. The scene is kind of ponderous, obviously adding a chunk of change to the production costs, and is wholly unnecessary.

In terms of CNY comedies, you could do worse than The Grand Grandmaster. The parts with Hui Shiu Hung and some of the gags in the first half are definitely worth seeing, but there's a lot in the movie could potentially test your patience.


Old 08-28-20, 11:59 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Apologies if it had already been mentioned but the New York Asian Film Festival announced it's lineup a few weeks ago.

Obviously, they are going with a Virtual Festival this year, with many films being On Demand.

https://www.filmlinc.org/daily/new-y...eup-announced/

Interested in checking out that new Johnnie To film, Chasing Dream.

(Schedule)
https://www.nyaff.org/nyaff20/overview
Old 09-10-20, 04:19 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

I debated about posting this trailer or talking about this movie.

But, here's the trailer for the newest movie from China called "The Eight Hundred"



It looks very well made and I do like war movies. But, some here take personal offense to Chinese movies nowadays saying that it's all Chinese communist propaganda. I prefer to stay out of that discussion after I got a lot of heat in a few recent Chinese movies I tried to talk about individually. I won't get into the discussion about politics. There is a story in Variety that talks about some controversy surrounding this movie. I guess the CCP had some issues with it. You can read the link if you choose.

https://variety.com/2020/film/asia/e...te-1234723185/

This movie has made $336M so far.

All I'll say is that I read this film was shot with IMAX cameras and will probably look amazing on the big screen. Maybe if it plays near me I'll check it out at some point.

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