Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sword Stained With Royal Blood - 碧血劍 (2007)

Sword Stained With Royal Blood (碧血劍) was released on DVD in the US! That's amazing. It is awesome that the english reading world will be able to enjoy the televised version's of Jin Yong's novels. However, the language is Cantonese. It doesn't matter if you're looking for the English Subtitles. You can rent it at Netflix too.

Tai Seng has in the pass released abbreviated dramas. Like taking 30 hours of a drama and editing it down to 3 hours. From the looks of the current catalog, they have abandoned that concept and are releasing the full series. That's good for all the peeps that need English Subtitles. But if you're looking for the Mandarin dubs, you're gonna have to find it elsewhere. Most of the series are in Cantonese dubs even if the original series is from China and in Mandarin.

碧血劍, the 2007 edition, has a mix of stars from Taiwan, HK, and China. The male star is Bobby Duo from Taiwan. The two main femaile stars are from China, Eva Huang and Sun Fei Fei. Rounding out the cast are Vincent Jiao, Lily Hsiao, and Ma Su.

The story is mostly set during the last years of the Ming Dynasty and ends as the Qing Dynasty takes over China. This is the summary from Netflix:
Family honor and revenge fuel this epic television series set at the end of China's Ming Dynasty. Driven by vengeance, Yuen (Bobby Dou) -- the sole survivor of an attack on his family by corrupt constables -- seeks to train in the art of kung fu. After the massacre, Yuen meets a mysterious man and a beautiful swordswoman (Shen Yi Huang) who teach him the way of the Golden Snake Sword. His eventual revenge is a spectacle of grace and fury.

That summary will suffice. It is hard to give a concise summary of something that's going to run 25-30 hours long. Drama series can take a large emotion commitment from you.

This is the 3rd television series and the fist from a non TVB production crew. But since the turn of the century, the Jin Yong television productions have mainly come from China. It's a sign of the times. In roughly 10 ten years, there will no need for Taiwan, HK, and China co-productions. They'll all just gonna come out of China. Actors and Actresses will still come from all over.

I am looking for the 1981 Shaw Bros. movie with some of the "Five Venom" guys. The clips on Youtube are pretty bad quality.

Friday, February 27, 2009

America's Best Dance Crew (Season 3) - Episode 7 - Hip Hop Decathlon and Last Chance Challenge

America's Best Dance Crew (Season 3) - Episode 7 - Hip Hop Decathlon and Last Chance Challenge is online and available for viewing.

Its down to the two LA crews, Quest Crew and Beat Freaks. I am pulling for Quest because I like their style more in general. I voted for Quest again this week.

I was blown away by both of the Quest performances. When are they going to release this stuff on DVD? I'd buy it!

It's sorta whacked, but if you are up from 4am - 9pm on February, 27, 2009, this episode is on MTV.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cheer Chen-Immortal - 陳綺貞-太陽

Cheer Chen (陳綺貞) released Immortal (太陽) last month. My local Chinese media store AMAX didn't get it until a week or so ago. I did manage to hear a few clips via Youtube before the purchase.

It is pretty mellow and has some nice rock elements to it. Music is hard to describe and there are so many clips on YouTube that you need to decide if you like it or not.

This is the first Cheer Chen CD I've purchased and I like it. In the US, this kind of music is more alternative folk rock.

This album is named Immortal. But the direct Chinese translation is "The Sun". Maybe there's some hidden meaning that I don't get. Maybe if I pay attention to the lyrics more, I might get a hint. (BTW - I almost never listen to lyrics)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chinese Odyssey - 天下無雙

Chinese Odyssey (天下無雙) is a 2002 movie that stars Faye Wong, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Chen Chang, and Wei Zhao (張震, 朱茵, 梁朝偉, 王菲).

The movie is about a brother and sister pair that gets together with another brother sister pair. Does that mean that when they have kids, they kids are not cousins but brothers or sisters?

The movie stars the lovely Faye Wong in one of her few acting roles and Chen Cheng hot on the heals of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame. Tony and Zhao Wei had been pretty established by 2002.

The movie is crude and rude and is a comedy all rolled up into one. In HK cinema, the wuxia stuff is thrown liberally into most films. For this movie, that was the case.

In all, I remember this film being well made, but didn't leave a lasting impression.

I was only reminded of this film because it was a recommended movie for me on Netflix.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fast & Furious - 玩命關頭4 - Upcoming

Justin Lin is back at the helm of 4th installment of the The Fast and the Furious film series, Fast & Furious. This is a step back into the past by bringing back Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster from the first film.

The hype is starting as trailer and production stills are making their way slowly to the web. I caught the trailer during this years Super Bowl and was excited.

I hope Justin Lin will get more opportunity to make his type of films. I think of these as his "keep the ball moving" type movies. I expect his next film to be more his style. Especially since Fast & Furious will only feature Asians in the back drop and no one in a prominent roll.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Shinjuku Incident - 新宿事件 - Upcoming

Jackie Chan is back making movies in HK again. This time, in a movie called "The Shinjuku Incident" helmed by Derek Yee. The movie is based on a familiar subject in HK films, the triads. But this time, its in Japan, so its called the Yakuza. The movie is set for release on April 3, 2009.

The movie also stars Daniel Wu, Xu Jinglei, Fan Bing Bing, Ken Watanabe, Yasuaki Kurata and Naoto Takenaka.

From the trailer, it looks like regular triad/yakuza fair. A gritty film for Jackie and familiar territory for Daniel Wu.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009

America's Best Dance Crew (Season 3) - Episode 6 - Battle Of The Sexes Challenge

America's Best Dance Crew (Season 3) - Episode 6 - Battle Of The Sexes Challenge is online and available for viewing.

Its down to 3 crews and 2 of them are based in the LA area. Go Quest Crew. I would like to see you guys do the stunts and also mix in more choreography. I voted for you guys on!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dual Blogging - Update

I started the Populasian Blogger Blog on November 14, 2008.

It was mainly so I could see if Blogger's blog tool was better than Xanga's. Well, it is and so much more. I pretty much stopped posting to Xanga after a week. I've since, slowly but surely moved all my post from Xanga to over here on Blogger one at a time. Which I finally finished last night. Woot! Along the way, I've standardized on a template for my movie and drama reviews. I'll be updating old post with the template as time permits. Basically, more images!

So, I am simi-retiring my Xanga Blog. I will occasionally post something there from here. Since I've been blogging a lot, I'll post the ones I want more focus on over on Xanga too.

But, like its been since I started on Blogger, I won't have any post originate from Xanga anymore. Well, maybe a post or two to point them to the Blogger Populasian blog.

I will look into trying the wordpress blog tool in the future.

I am still in the single digit readership. And most of my traffic comes from a post about "Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles" regarding channel 44.6, its nice to see the traffic trends.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla

I caught Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla via Netflix a few months back. It reminded me of my childhood days watching those Godzilla marathons on Channel 5 here in Los Angeles. That was back in the 80s.

Oh, the joy of watching badly dubbed Japanese movies. The thrill of watching a man in a Godzilla costume destroy miniatures. What did I know? I was a kid and loved every moment of it. I wanted to be that guy rampaging through there. The blue energy ray was the best!

Well, fast forward 20+ years. I am not digging it and the story is weak. But Yumiko Shaku of Princess Blade and Sky High fame made the movie barely bearable.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

籃球火 - Hot Shot

I finally finished the 16 episode Taiwanese drama 籃球火 (Hot Shot) starring Jerry Yan and Alan Luo. This is one of those series that I relegated to watching when I am washing dishes and when I am waiting for a Netflix DVD.

The series is about Alan trying to play basketball. Alan eventually lands on a college team and falls for a girl that reminds him of a friend from his childhood. Jerry is a basketball star in Taiwan and has recently transferred to the same school. Jerry and Alan end up on the same team and going after the same girl. Jerry and Alan soon become good friends, but the affairs of 2 generations before affect their lives.

The basketball is paired with the logic of wuxia quite liberally. The references to these guys playing in the NBA are used to emphasize that skillz are abundant. It was a novel concept and quite annoying at the same time. As a baller since my junior high days and religiously watching the Lakers. That whole basketball mixed with wuxia didn't enhanced the story for me. Instead, it made is more unbelievable and cheezy.

The story was quite interesting away from basketball and the comedy was ok. The hype for this series was quite high. I don't think it lived up to the hype.

Not the best of dramas for Jerry and Alan. There are better Jerry and Alan dramas.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

Looking forward to Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. It's one of those guilty pleasure type movies. No one is going to be up for any awards in this film. Except awards for kick @$$.

Coming out in 10 days and the hype is starting to build. Will it be a Friday the 13th like 45 million opening weekend? I know Capcom does.

Here's a nice "behind the making" of on IGN.

I hope it does well, because I want to see a Ryu one.

Filmed in Thailand and stars a lot of Asians. Kristin Kreuk, Taboo, Robin Shou, Moon Bloodgood, Josie Ho, and Cheng Pei-Pei. Check it out.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chocolate - ช็อคโกแลต - 女拳霸

Chocolate (女拳霸) was recently released in the theatres in the USA on February 6th and than on DVD a week after on February 10th. Very strange release schedule. It was released on 7 screens for a total take of $11,180 for the Feb 6 - 8, 2009 weekend.

Chocolate is a Thai film released in Asia in 2008 staring Yanin "Jeeja" Vismistananda named Zen as an autistic girl who happens to have a couple of special skills. The first is super sensitive hearing that allows her to catch balls and other objects as they are projected towards her. The second is the ability to master and mimic martial arts moves just by seeing it.

If you have those 2 special skills, you can pretty much kick super butt and ask questions after.

The movie has a few layers revolving the main character. The main plot point is that Zen's mother Zin needs treatment for cancer and they need to pay bills. Moom, a stray that Zin picks up is Zen's best friend and like a brother, starts doing street performances for loose change to pay for medicine. But Zin's condition gets worst and they need more money. Moom finds a black book of people that owe Zin money. Moom and Zen set out to reconcile these accounts. Well, these guys don't want to pay Zin back. Zen has to take it back. Cue action!

I liked the sub plots in the movie and it kept the fighting relevant. There was a reason for the fighting.

Jeeja Yanin is tiny and she does a great job selling the action. The behind the scenes was really eye opening. It reminding me of Red Trousers. The stunt men are risking their lives to make a shot.

Movie is worth the wait and lives up to the hype!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Lucky Star - 行運超人

My Lucky Star (行運超人) was a light hearted romantic comedy starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai (梁朝偉) and Miriam Yeung (楊千嬅).

The story is based on Miriam's character having extremely bad luck and accidentally bumps into Tony, who's a feng shui expert. However, as they start to fall for each other, the past lives of before are revealed and they cannot be lovers due to the destiny set in the stars. They over come this and live happily ever after!

I enjoyed the movie because its a role I don't see Tony play all that often in his recent years.

You can actually catch the whole movie via Netflix or on Youtube.

I've been a big fan of Tony since his Duke of Mount Deer TVB days.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

America's Best Dance Crew (Season 3) - Episode 5 - Illusion Challenge

America's Best Dance Crew (Season 3) - Episode 5 - Illusion Challenge is online and available for viewing.

This is first time I've seen MTV allow for embedded video's for ABDC for performances.

Incorporate magic into your dance routine? Nice. But a little dorky too. The Illusion Challenge was interesting in concept but didn't appear to enhance anyones performance.

Quest Crew and Beat freaks were the 2 that impressed me the most and Dynamic Edition finally bit the dust. Clogging and hip hop dancing can only go so far.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mission: Impossible III - 不可能的任務III

I caught Mission: Impossible III (不可能的任務III) right when it was released on DVD back in 2006. One of the best things about this movie was that they filmed roughly 20% in Shanghai, China. The city of one set of my grandparents. Shanghai will always hold a special place in my heart. I got a chance to visit Shanghai for 2 days back in 2000. I've been pining to get back there and spent at least a week.

So, when the movie moved to the Shanghai portion of the film, I was all eyes and ears. It was quite funny to hear Tom Cruise shout a couple of Mandarin Chinese terms.

You would be better off getting a movie synopsis from Yahoo! Movies or Wikipedia or even the M:i:3 site.

One of the standout features of the film is Maggie Q. Maggie plays one of the agents that supports Tom Cruise on his mission. Maggie actually has a nice roll and is credited with playing someone called Zhen Lei. Maggie Q was not the dragon lady bad gurl or the the eye candy for white guys to drool over. She was part of the team and did her part.

I thought the plot was a little confusing, but I understood it for the most part. I was a huge fan of Alias and thought this was a good vehicle for J.J. Abrams to enter the film market.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mongolian Ping Pong - 綠草地

Mongolian Ping Pong (綠草地) was making all the film festival favorites a few years back. Almost an afterthought, I added it to my Netflix queue a year or so back. I've got a 400+ queue so for it to have come, I must have bumped it up.

The story follows a group of Mongolian boys finding a ping pong ball drifting in a nearby riverbed. These boys do not know that its a ping pong ball. The ask around and everyone seems to know. Except, all of them are wrong. They finally find out and what the words on the ball mean.

Its a comedy of sorts and is quite cute. Its my first mongolian language film and I liked it.

I don't know if its inner Mongolia or the country of Mongolia. In any case, it was an eye opener. I was justified moving it up my queue.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift - 玩命關頭: 東京甩尾

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (玩命關頭: 東京甩尾) was a good film. I liked the movie as it presented a good story for the racing and the drama was actually quite believable. As for the white guy being the lead among all the Asians in Tokyo, that's not surprising because it came from racist Hollywood. If you put that whole aspect aside. The movie was the best of the 3 fast/furious franchise.

The movie is about a kid in the US of A that gets into trouble a lot. This kid ends up racing another kid through mid way constructed new homes and causes havoc. At least he won the race. What a rebel. This time, his mom has had it and send him to Tokyo where is father is stationed with the US of A armed forces. Once in Tokyo, the kid enrolls in a English school and eventually gets mixed in with the underground activity of drifting. And the emergence of a love interest is introduced to add drama. You gotta have a reason to act stupid and irresponsible right?

Lots of racing ensues and the kid finds his way. The way of drifting. Other plot points and characters move the story along so you get to the grand finale.

I think Justin Lin did a good job for the script he had and the lack of any stars in the cast. The movie was slick, cool, and had a bit of everything.

Don't forget to check out the special features on the DVD. I love the extras!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

最好的時光 - Three Times

Three Times (最好的時光) by director Hou Hsiao-Hsien is an art film at its core. The 3 episode movie stars 舒淇 and 張震 (Hsu Chi and Chen Chang).

The movie is divided into 3 episodes. Each episode is a different period in time. One in the present 2005, one in the Qing Dynasty, 1911, and one in 1966. Each time period portrays a relationship between 舒淇 and 張震. All 3 get to it in different ways.

It was an interesting look at 1911 during the end of the imperial age. The 1966 storyline was a look into the innocence of love. The 2005 story was the modern take on love as its lost its innocence and is part of the globalized community.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Legend of the Shadowless Sword - 無影劍

There haven't been as many Korean swordplay films. That's why I was excited to see a few made and released in the 2004-2007 period. Among those made during this time frame was "The Legend of the Shadowless Sword" (無影劍).

The movie is based on a locate and rescue storyline. The protagonist must locate and bring to safety, a person of interest. Along the way, their are many many battles. You know how it goes, the person that needs the rescue always puts up a fight and doesn't do what is good and rebels. This is no different. Chaos ensues after said person is located.

The fighting is slick and polished. However, I didn't get that excited over the fighting or the characters. I was generally bored and hoping for the film to end.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

候鳥 - Migratory Bird

候鳥 (Migratory Bird) starring Rene Liu (劉若英) was very entertaining and a surprise. I didn't think it would take place in Vancouver, Canada. I've heard of the large Chinese American presence there, but this was in a movie!

The movie follows the arrival of Rene's parents to Vancouver from Taiwan to visit. Rene's husband is also arriving home after a long business trip. The parent appear to be staying around a couple of weeks. From that set up, it explores Rene's relationship with her husband, parents, and kids. Chance meetings with others in the film allow for Rene, the husband, and both of Rene's parents to get into some interesting situations that put their marriage to the test!

Its also a interesting look into 華人 or overseas Chinese, like me. The way we incorporate into the culture of the country we ultimately reside in, but its not in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Macau. But instead of this being of Canadian or American Chinese origin, its from Taiwan.

I was a little bored toward the middle of the film and when they started to explore Rene's parents' broken marriage, but it ended well.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

America's Best Dance Crew (Season 3) - Episode 4 - Whack Track Challenge

America's Best Dance Crew (Season 3) - Episode 4 - Whack Track Challenge is online and available for viewing.

This was a great theme! Its weird because I might have tried some of these moves sometime in the past. Especially the NKOB shuffle, 2 Legit to Quit, and the running rabbit.

I gotta give props to Quest Crew for bringing it and making everyone else look like they're shooting for second place.

Often times, I don't agree with the judges, but we agreed on Quest Crew this week.

Friday, February 6, 2009

American Zombie

American Zombie by Grace Lee is listed as a Comedy and horror film. We've had our share of zombie movies of late with Dawn of the Dead to Shaun of the Dead.

This one however is not like the "of the Dead" movies. The zombies in this film are for the most part docile and have integrated into regular lives like you and I would.

It follows 4 zombies and their lifestyle in urban Los Angeles. However, all 4 zombies cumulate into the a annual Woodstock for zombies (sorry, forgot what they call it). After said event, things change for all parties and ends in a rather entertaining way.

A fresh take on a very old concept. I enjoyed it and you might too.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Finishing the Game - 非關英雄

I didn't really know what to expect from "Finishing the Game". Made by the director of Better Luck Tomorrow and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. I had wind that it was a mockumentary of the events around how the Game of Death was finsihed after Bruce Lee's Death. But I also thought it was going to have more documentary style story telling. Instead, the events have no baring on the Game of Death movie, but a satire of the film industry.

Justin paints a picture of the film industry that isn't very smart, old boys club, insensitive, and racist. Through the telling of the casting process to replace Bruce Lee, we explore the characters played by Roger Fan, Sung Kang, and Dustin Nguyen. At every step of the way for each of these three main protagonist is an example of the film industry at its worst.

Put on your thinking cap on and don't expect to be hand held through the film. If you're not familiar with racist Hollywood, some of the points presented in this film will go over your head.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Master of the Flying Guillotine - 獨臂拳王大破血滴子

Master of the Flying Guillotine is deserving of its reputation as one of the classics of the 70s kung fu films.

Sequel to the One Arm Boxer, it continues as Jimmy Wang Yu trains rebels loyal to the Ming Dynasty. The Eagle Claw clan has set up a tournament to see who's martial arts is supreme. Various schools and clans from China and foreign fighters join. You get to see various martial arts displayed during the tournament. However, its interrupted when the Master of the Flying Guillotine appears, who also is blind. The story continues until this blind Guillotine master and Jimmy Wang Yu meet in the movies climatic battle. Along the way, Jimmy Wang Yu has to defeat Indian, Thai, and Japanese fighters.

It's a 70s martial arts film and it is not in the vain of "A Touch of Zen", but more Shaw Bros. style. Fighting to the max and very entertaining if you suspend belief. It is almost non stop fighting once the eagle claw clan is introduced.