Sunday, May 31, 2009

Buddha's Palm - 如來神掌

Buddha's Palm (如來神掌) is a 2004 Chinese language martial arts drama. The version I am reviewing today is the one you can rent off Netflix and buy via Amazon. The drama stars Julian Cheung, Athena Chu, and Christopher Lee.

The American release is a shorten version of the orginally 40 episode drama. Basically taking roughly 35 hours of a drama and condensing it down to 3 hours for the US.

I had watched the original series when it first came out around 2004 or 2005. It was a tough watch back than, its a tough watch now as a super condensed version.

The story doesn't flow and things are jumping from here to there with no explanation. Lucky I had a context or I would have pulled all my hair out.

Skip this version and look for the full 40 episode version. I may review that in the future someday. I've included the cover of that drama below and the youtube clip is from the full version as well.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters - 殭屍大時代 - Era of Vampires

Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters (殭屍大時代) is 2002 movie out of Hong Kong. Set in the 19th Century Qing Dynasty, a group of vampire hunters seek and destroy the undead.

After 40 minutes, I couldn't go on. I stopped and wondered why? Why? Why did I stop on this movie, but have finished countless other bad movies? Was it the English dub and I like my stuff in Mandarin?

Anyways. You may finish it. Maybe you'll like it. I don't know. I didn't finish and I have a pretty high tolerance level. Just check out my other posts.

Friday, May 29, 2009

福氣又安康 - Easy Fortune Happy Life - Upcoming

福氣又安康 (Easy Fortune Happy Life) is an upcoming drama out of Taiwan. It stars Lan Cheng Long and Joe Chen. Set to air in Taiwan on June 7th on SETTV.

From the trailer, I am not sure I would want to watch this. I'll have to check out a few more clips.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

蜂蜜幸運草 - Honey And Clover

蜂蜜幸運草 (Honey And Clover) is a 2008 drama out of Taiwan. It stars Eddie Peng, Joe Cheng, Janine Chang, Lego Le, Ito Chiaki, Tarcy Su, David Chen, and Chang Han. The drama is based off a Japanese manga. The Japanese manga has also been made into a movie and drama in Japan.

Running at 14 episodes, the drama was quick and delirious as well. The character development was heavy for a few characters and light for the supporting cast. This drama is also directed by Robin Lee. Robin Lee also direct 2 other movies, The Shoe Fairy and My DNA Says I Love You.

The drama is about a group of art students at a Taipei University. The University seems to have many different forms of "art" that you can study. 3 of the 5 main characters are just starting their Senior year. For Sen Tian, he's been a senior for a few years now. No graduating because he doesn't turn in his senior project. Ya Go and Shen Sian are a "couple" and Chu Bun is the junior.

It was a pretty interesting drama. I didn't have a clue where it was going. But I was happy to be on that ride. I thought back to my college days a lot while watching this series.

I think that Robin Lee added her eclectic artsy feel to the drama that I've not seen in other Taiwanese dramas. It was both refreshing and a change of pace.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Taste of Tea - 茶之味

The Taste of Tea (茶之味) is a 2004 film out of Japan. It follows a family in the suburbs or farmlands of Japan.

The family includes, Father, Mother, Son, Daughter, Uncle, and Grandfather. And yes, all of these characters are explored in the movie. The story is that all 6 live in the same house and have their own unique personalities.

Father, the least explored but a responsible earner for the family.
Mother, a stay at home mother that use to be an animator. Now, working from home as an animator as her children are older.
Son, a loner at school with a secret crush on a girl that moves away.
Daughter, she sees a giant version of herself looking at her (picture below).
Uncle, a music producer that's decided to take a break from Tokyo.
Grandfather, a legendary animator that's now retired and does crazy stuff.

I thought it was rather interesting how the movie could explore all 6 characters and have you like them all. But this movie does it. I felt happy after the movie and wished for my daughters to be as cute as the daughter was in this film.

You can pick it up via Amazon or rent it via Netflix.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

換換愛 - Why Why Love

換換愛 (Why Why Love) is 2007 drama out of Taiwan. It stars Rainie Yang, Michelle Chen, Mike He, and Kingone Wang.

Rainie plays a cheap, caring, and genuine character named Jia Di. Jia Di works for a department store. That department store's owner has two sons played by Kingone and Mike He, Huo Da, Huo Yan. So, two rich guys with lots of issues. Jia Di's best friend is Xiao Nan played by the lovely Michelle Chen.

The drama goes for 15 episodes and is a classic, poor girl, rich guys drama. Girl falls for one, than the other. But other rich girls get in the way. Family gets in the way. Misunderstandings are a given and everyone seems to NOT be communicating with each other.

I like the series a lot and it was a breeze to watch. I don't recall even fast forwarding anything.

A note on the Chinese and English titles. The Chinese is translated to Change Change Love or Exchange Love. So, I don't understand the "why".

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Sword - 名劍

The Sword (名劍) is a 1980 film out of Hong Kong starring Adam Cheng. The film would fall into the martial arts and wuxia genre.

While searching for information about this film, two sources mention different adaption origins. The first is that its adapted from a Ying Huang (黃鷹) novel and second says its adapted from one of the 5 novels of Wang Dulu's Crane-Iron Series. When I dig more, I can't confirm either of these sources adaption claims. My Chinese is too limited for me to get far.

The movie is about Adam Cheng as a swordsman out to make a name for himself. That name being the best in the wu ling (martial arts world). Along the way, he ends up dueling and fighting many people.

The martial arts in the movie can either excite you or annoy you. There is a lot of editing during the fight scenes. To demonstrate the dynamics of Ching Gong, excessive tumbling and flips are done through the air. Wire fu was already pretty sophisticated back in 1979/1980. So its a preview of things to come in the 1980s and the its maturity in the 1990s.

I thought it was quite a depressing story frankly. The story drags and the fighting is for a purpose. When the goal is achieved, what than? This was a thinking mans wuxia movie. Its a similar dynamic as "Duel to the Death - 生死決".

I think I might get it again from Netflix and watch it again.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

不良笑花 - Miss No Good

不良笑花 (Miss No Good) is a 2008 drama out of Taiwan. It ran for 14 episodes on CTS from September to December. It stars Rainie Yang, Wilber Pan, Dean Fujioka, and Michelle Chen. I had a first thoughts a few months back.

Yupe, it took me a few months to finish. On and off, I watched half the series with my wife. When it became apparent that my wife wasn't going to be able to finish it, I watched the second half by myself. I think I would have chopped it to 11 episodes. Episodes 12 and 13 dragged. Because I watched it while washing dishes, I couldn't fast forward the parts that dragged. Episode 14 was like 75% flashbacks. The series started super funny, got super serious, and tried to end on the funny side. For the most part, 小花 stayed true to her character. I've seen Rainie through the years and this may be my favorite from her.

小花 was so interesting and they presented her as a kid in an adult world. So many mannerisms reminded me of my 3 and half year old daughter. From the "looking up" as she talks. Putting her fingers together in nervous situations. Sucking her thumb when she sleeps. Confused look when things don't make sense.

As much as I liked the first half, it had to get serious in the second half and add the drama. But it came full circle and it was a nice ride.

Wilbur Pan puts in a good leading performance.

I picked up my copy from AMAX.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

DOA: Dead or Alive - 生死格鬥

DOA: Dead or Alive (生死格鬥) is a 2006 film directed by Corey Yuen. The movie is based off a video game of the same name. It stars an international cast from the US, Australia and various Asian countries.

I don't know if I ever played it before. Up until the Wii, I've never owned a console. But I have no recollection of playing this game or the characters. So, I have no clue if the movie was true to the game or not.

But beyond that, the movie is a classic tournament style action b-movie. The characters beat each other up for a little and than main plot happens. They beat up more people! And of course, the main draw of the film are the lovely ladies. Plenty of sun and bikinis.

Filmed in various parts of Asia but mainly in China and Thailand. Check it out for the stunning beauties and decent fighting. Not for the plot and production value.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fighter In The Wind - 追風武士

Fighter In The Wind (追風武士) is a 2004 film out of Korea. The movie is based on Masutatsu Oyama, who developed the karate style of Kyokushin.

Masutatsu Oyama is of Korean orgin that goes to Japan to be a fighter pilot as a stowaway. Escaping abuse and finding his way in post war Japan. The story is about how Masutatsu develops his style and the life experiences that shaped it. Masutatusu finds a living as a rickshaw driver. But local gangsters and Korean immigrants get in a fight and Masutatsu is taken out early, but not harmed. Masutatsu takes to the hills and trains. Like they do in kung fu movies. From the mountains returns a hardened Masutatsu.

Masutatsu starts going to all the dojos he can find to challenge the experts.

The romantic love interest of the movie is the lovely Aya Hirayama.

Fighter In The Wind is not released in the US and the version I watched had decent subtitles with many errors, but I was able to decipher the movie.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

潘瑋柏 - 零零七 -- Wilber (Will) Pan - 007 - Upcoming

Wilber Pan is releasing a new CD tomorrow in Taiwan on May 22, 2009. It'll make it to Los Angeles in the next couple of weeks. From the leaks on youtube these pass few weeks, the CD looks like it may be pretty good.

Two MVs for 007 have already made it around town. The first is a duet with Akon and the second is pretty nice vid. Wilber has normally stayed on the R&B and Hip Hop side of the music sphere. Of which, I am not a big fan of. But his last CD and this current one seems to mix in a few pop songs that I dig. Check out the youtube clips and decide if you like what you hear. I'm not a fan of Akon so the duet doesn't do anything for me.

The Akon video was pretty interesting as it played on concept of 24's time countdown and the mission impossible type running across the screen. Pas de deux played out the bodyguard theme.

The Lake House - 跳越時空的情書

The Lake House (跳越時空的情書) is a 2006 film starrring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. This is a remake of a Korean film from 2000 called, Il Mare.

The film is about 2 people that apparently start sending letters to each at the same house! But its revealed later that they're actually sending letters via different years!

I haven't seem the Korean version, but it was popular and the concept seems pretty good. However, I was pretty let down as the pacing and development of the love story wasn't convincing and it was slow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

蘇打綠 - 春‧日光 -- Sodagreen - Daylight of Spring

I picked up Sodagreen's latest CD, 春‧日光 at AMAX a couple of days ago. I have been waiting for this CD for a couple of weeks.

I've had it on repeat in my car, ipod, itunes since. I love it. Sodagreen is alternative pop for me. They don't stick to a certain style and cover a pretty nice range of alternative style sounds. At one point, I thought I was listening to the Amelie soundtrack.

This is a highlight for the Taiwan music industry in my opinion. It's music that could be in a car commercial or in the background of a buffy episode and you'd be digging it here in the US.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Linda Linda Linda - 琳達! 琳達!

Linda Linda Linda (琳達! 琳達!) is a 2005 film out of Japan.

The movie is about a group of girls that form a band to play 3 songs at the school cultural student festival concert. 3 of the 4 girls were in a band that was originally suppose to play. But the band broke up when the lead singer has a fight with one of the members and the guitarist injures her hand. They pick up a Korean foreign exchange student as the lead singer. Eventually deciding on doing covers of a popular Japanese punk band, The Blue Hearts. Among the songs is one called "Linda Linda Linda". Of which this movie is called. None of the girls or characters in this have the name Linda.

The girls bond as they have to pull all nighters to practice and find studio time. It is a story of friendship in the making that should last a lifetime.

The movie ran way too long for me and I was debating to fast froward almost throughout the film. I did fast forward the walking scene and other scenes with no apparent action.

You can get it off Amazon or rent it via Netflix.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rise: Blood Hunter - 獵殺鬼世界

Rise: Blood Hunter (獵殺鬼世界) is 2007 film starring Lucy Liu (LL). The movie has LL playing a journalist that happens to cover a "Gothic" underground scene. Gothic, underground? Its vampires! And these guys decide to torture LL by turning her into a vampire.

Fun stuff right?! Well, not really. There's not much action and the movie is quite slow. It does feature a lot of pretty people all gothed out for you.

I can't classify this as a guilty pleasure because I didn't get it. But if you like Vampire mythology, its a different take on these blood suckers of the night. You also get lot of people for eye candy and vengeance caper as well.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The City of Violence

The City of Violence is a 2006 film out of Korea. It is a action adventure buddy movie.

Some kids in their youth band together and form a psuedo lifetime bound. Fast forward to the present, one of them is dead and a couple of others start to investigate. Mystery surrounds his death and roadblocks keep coming up. Until the mystery is finally solved.

There are lots of fighting in this movie. Lots! There are 2 mob (lots of people) fighting scenes that doesn't borderline on absurd. It is absurd. How 2 guys can beat 50+ people that have weapons is crazy. It's crazy like a video game.

For all the hype, I was disappointed and extremely bored watching this video game in the form of a movie. And I couldn't even control anything other than my DVD remote.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dance Of The Dragon - 龍之舞 - 龙之舞

Dance Of The Dragon (龍之舞 / 龙之舞) is a 2008 film out of Singapore starring Fann Wong, Jang Hyuk and Jason Scott Lee. This internationally casted film is mainly in English.

The movie starts in Korea where Tae is a boy and is exposed to ball room dancing. From that one experience, Tae dreams of becoming a dancer and taking the stage and spotlight. Fast forward to his senior year in high school. Tae gives up his dream of going to the university and takes a factory job. For 10 years, he works in the factory dreaming. A chance comes for Tae and he takes it. The chance is to join a school in Singapore. Tae goes against his father wishes. Landing in Singapore, Tae faces a new culture in both spirit and mind.

Emi is the head of the school and becomes Tae teacher. Emi was once a champion but hurt her ankle and now has a pin in it. Emi still dreams to compete, winning no longer the objective. Emi learns that Tae has learned all his dancing by himself through books. Intrigued by Tae, they strike up a affectionate relationship.

Cheng is Emi's boyfriend and a former martial arts champion. Cheng runs a martial arts school right across the street from Emi's studio. Cheng is not presented in a good light and comes across as a control freak. Both as an instructor and boyfriend. Cheng notices Tae getting close to Emi. Cheng tells Tae to get lost. Tae doesn't and Cheng challenges Tae to combat. Tae accepts but not a fight but to a choreographed southern shaolin "dance".

In the end, all three parties learn and find themselves. Including Tae's parents in Korea. Specifically, Tae's father.

I liked the movie a lot and thought it was very well produced. Glad to see Singapore doing international movies like this.

I do have a problem with the title of the film as "Dance of the Dragon" isn't really a major plot point. I don't even know why dragons are even mentioned. Nothing is gained by Tae's admission to being told stories of dragons by his father. Nor the dragon dance that was in the middle of the street when Tae lands in Singapore. Personally, I think it was a plotted point to sell the movie aboard. Having an Asian film with dragons and martial arts may be an easier sell to non-Asian countries.

For the past 10 years, I've seen Fann Wong in numerous films and dramas. Fann's heading into the twilight of her career, but it was refreshing to see her in a role like this.

I've been a Jason Scott Lee fan since his portrayal of Bruce Lee back in the day. It seems Jason is also heading into the twilight of his career. I've seen him as villains or super support roles more recently.

Surprising, Jang's character was very believable. Jang is usually in much more manly roles. This was a departure for Jang and I really bought into it.

Doesn't appear that this film will be released in the USA anytime soon. If you're looking to watch it, you'll have to get the import version.

Friday, May 15, 2009

九降風 - Winds of September

九降風 (Winds of September) is a 2008 movie out of Taiwan.

The movie is about 9 high school kids in Taiwan. 7 of the kids are boys and known trouble makers in the school. The kids are not all in the same grade. The 2 gals are both in band and romantically involved with the 2 of the guys. The story mainly revolves around Tang and Yen. They seemed to be the focus of the film and have the most face time. You get a slice of their life and trouble they get into. The only parents in the film belonged to Yen. The rest seem to drift to school and life without mention of their parents.

As with all friendships, there are riffs and some are fixed and some are not. Emotion riffs start and the boys are loyal to each other to a fault. When tragedy befalls one of the members, the groups starts to splinter. When a criminal event happens, the group dissipates before us.

The movie has a lot of scenery shots that I liked a lot. The colors were quite beautiful. It is a slice of Taiwan that I've not seen before.

Overall, I liked the film. I am in my mid 30s, so the subject matter wasn't that interesting. But I let that take a back seat. The movie starts the storyline in September of 1996 and ends it in June 1997.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

倚天屠龍記 - Yi Tian Tu Long Ji - Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre - 2009 - Upcoming

倚天屠龍記 (Yi Tian Tu Long Ji/Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre) is set for release this fall. The pictures are in and the official poster is out. I am eagerly awaiting it to make it to the US in good quality on DVD by Christmas time. Oh, there's gonna be the bargain bin $5-$10 versions crammed into 2 DVDs. But I shall wait.

I was mid way through the 2003 version with Alec Su when I found out that they were making this version. I had to stop so that I could try to forget the story. Knowing it all isn't a good thing.

I am not that happy with the 6 female leads. In the 2003 and 1986 one, I liked at least 5 of the 6. In this one, judging from the pics, only 3 seem to fit the role.

But I am eagerly awaiting this. I think that the scenery for the this will be the best yet. Getting a scenic view of China via this series will be awesome. Also, from the pics, it looks like it'll depart from the 2003 storyline a lot after they get back to the mainland from the island.

It's got a tough act to follow. I think the 2003 Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre is my favorite series ever, followed right behind by the 1986 one.

Here's some news clips and a "trailer".

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

郭采潔 - 愛異想 -- Amber Kuo - i amber

I picked up Amber Kuo's (郭采潔) sophmore CD a few days ago at AMAX called i amber (愛異想).

The CD has 10 songs that lean on the pop and guitar vibe. Amber has a very strong clear voice with a nasally tone. You have many YouTube clips to decide how you want to describe it.

I'll be looking for her debut CD in the bargain bins.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles, May 2009

KXLA's 44.7 is a New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) channel, based out in New York City. I noticed some of the commericals had NYC addresses. They are showing mostly strange stuff to me at the moment.

KSCI's 18.8 is starting to re-run some of the main LA 18 main Chinese programming.

KXLA's 44.6 is IAVC and they changed the nighttime programming to have Taiwanese variety shows every night at 9 now. Most of the weeknight shows are from around a year ago.

Keep it up LA, the free programming in Los Angeles is getting better. I am not getting cable anytime soon.

Related Posts:
Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles
Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles, Part 2
Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles, Part 3
Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles, April 2009
Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles, October 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Amazing Race 14 - Tammy and Victor - Leg 12 - Finale

I caught the full episode of Amazing Race Season 14, Leg 12, the finale. In Leg 12, the teams continued to Maui with 3 main challenges.

The first challenge was a swine roast luau task. They had to season a pig, carry it via a bamboo rod to the luau location, and cover it properly. Tammy and Victor got there first but were overtaken and finished the task second. The inability to carry the pig on their shoulders caused them the greatest time delay. I feel sorry for the people that have to eat that pig.

The second challenge was a water craft trip to a 100 buoy location to find a clue. They got there second, but finished the task last.

The third challenge was to rummage through a pile of 300 surfboards to find pictures of there 11 previous legs. On the way there, Tammy and Victor got stuck behind a slow car. Probably costing them a few minutes. But they got there second. Victor took the road block and had to dig through the surfboards to find 11 pictures. The pictures had to represent one of the activities of each leg. Due to the inability of the other 2 teams to get their last clue, Victor was able get all 11 and finish first.

In the end, Tammy and Victor became victorious at the end when the other two teams had trouble with the surfboards.

Reunion of all the pairs for Season 14.

I started watching Season 14 with Leg 6. I started again with Leg 9 and finished the rest of the season. Because of Tammy and Victor, I continued to watch and cheered them on. Congratulations to Tammy and Victor for representing the Asian American and Chinese speaking American community. And also for winning a million dollars!

I wish I had seen the Thailand episodes. I may end up watching them online one of these days (unlikely). Maybe future seasons will present a compelling pair like Tammy and Victor and locations I am interested in for me to watch again.