Tuesday, June 30, 2009

La Lingerie - 內衣少女

La Lingerie (內衣少女) is a 2008 movie out of Hong Kong. It was released the same day that the 2008 Beijing Olympics started. Starring Stephy Tang, Janice Man, JJ Jia, Kathy Yuen, and Ronald Cheng.

The movie follows Stephy Tang as Miu as she tries to find "love". Miu is a bra researcher. Miu's aunt dies and leaves her apt for half a year. Miu moves in with her best friend, Janice Man as Donut. Downstairs, Kathy Yuen as Celine is a strange neighbor looking to marry a well to do guy, without love. Donut works at a bra store and JJ Jia as CC is a call girl that shops there for new bras frequently. So, all four girls are interconnected in some way to Miu.

The movie does feature a lot of skin and a showing of the next wave for HK's female leads. Janice Man, JJ Jia, and Kathy Yuen remind me of when Cherrie Ying burst onto the scene in the early 2000s. Stephy is already in a lot of movies the last 4 years. Of the 4, I liked JJ and Kathy Yuen the best. I am looking forward to what they do with their careers.

Ronald Cheng as Miu's boss and getting Miu at the end of the film was a major stretch and was totally unbelievable. What can you do?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Home Run - 回家的路

Home Run (回家的路) is a 2008 film starring Fan Bing Bing and Chapman To.

The movie is based in the city of Shanghai during the span of roughly 12 hours. Chapman To plays a single dad. To leaves his son in a daycare center while he goes on a blind date. When To arrives at the site, he mistakes another girl there as his blind date. When the misunderstanding is revealed, both open up more to each other.

Fan plays a TV host of a show called "The Road Home". With ratings at a low point, she slaps together a show starring To's son, who also happens to be Fan's son. But Fan is not suppose to engage in her son's life after she and To divorce 5 years ago.

Fan's character is about looks, perception, and using people to get her way.

The movie was funny in parts and charming while To and the mistaken women interacted. When it shifted to Fan, the tone of the move diverges to mean spirit-ness. You're pulling for Fan to turn the corner.

Not sure what to make of this movie. If it were 30 minutes less, I probably would recommend it. But at over 2 hours, its a chore.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hard Boiled - 槍神 (辣手神探)

Hard Boiled (槍神/辣手神探) is a 1992 film out of Hong Kong. Directed by John Woo and starring Chow Yun-Fat and Tony Leung. This would be John Woo's last Hong Kong film until he returned to Asia for Red Cliff.

This movie changed my life. Back in the summer of 1992, I was working full time and carrying a full load of courses at a local community college. I was just starting to re-acquaint myself with my Chinese Taiwanese background. I wasn't too sure about Chinese movies and series. But when I watched Hard Boiled, I was blown away and wanted to dive into Chinese entertainment. Which lead me to Faye Wong and 4 Four Heavenly Kings (四大天王) of hk in the 90s.

Chow plays a "break all the rules" kind of cop thats out to take down any bad guy. Tony plays a undercover cop that's in too deep. The two eventually meet eye to eye to take down a triad boss. The bullets fly everywhere but on Chow and Tony. The body count is high and some HK humor is thrown in with a peeing baby Chow is trying to save.

There is no possible reason for you not to watch this. Yes, it is extremely violent. It is in a sense like a video game as bodies fall left and right. But this is HK cinema at its epitome and 2 of the best HK actors in their prime. With Woo at his best.

Since I am watching this 18 years after its release, there are lots of people in "extra" roles that are still in the HK film industry. The music is a bit outdated, but that's what happens to movies as they age. I watched the mandarin dubbed version. I need to rent the Dragon Dynasty release one to see the extras.

I had originally watched the Taiwan version with the title, 槍神. For many years after that, I tried to buy it via VHS, VCD, or DVD with no luck. I couldn't find it. Once I found out that the HK name was 辣手神探, people started to know what I was talking about. Names do matter.

This is the first review of a film I've listed in my favorite movies post.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pieces of 2008 Beijing Olympics on Universal Sports

Recently on Universal Sports, they've been showing the main events from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This past week, they had the Men's and Women's Gymnastics Finals on during prime time.

In each case, it was the story of the underdog team from the USA battling for a medal against the favorites from China. In the end, the pressure seem to get to the US teams more as China took gold in both. Last night, it was a whole night on pothead Phelps.

While getting some of the 2008 Olympic action, a short ad for Universal Sports comes on. Its a ping pong table and 2 guys hit the ball back to each other. It than cuts to a montage of Table Tennis (all look Chinese). The end was that there would be more Table Tennis on Universal Sports this summer.

I get Universal Sports on 4.4 here in Los Angeles.

The website is terrible. I can't find the schedule beyond 2 days and it doesn't recap events it has broadcast.

Check out clips from their YouTube channel.

盛夏光年 - Eternal Summer

Eternal Summer (盛夏光年) is a 2006 film out of Taiwan. It stars Joseph Chang, Bryang Chang and Kate Yeung.

Jonathan and Shane are childhood friends. Shane is a trouble maker and Jonathan is asked to befriend Shane in the hopes of transforming him into a better student. The once class number one Jonathan declines as they get older and Shane becomes a better student. Carrie enters the picture in High School and the love triangles start.

On a trip somewhere, they three start to realize how important they are to each other. However, Shane is so use to having Jonathan around, but Jonathan wants to part with Shane. Things come to a head and everything comes out.

The movie was very stylish and had really good cinematography in my opinion. Although the story wasn't all the appealing to me, I was glued to the movie.

This movie is a good example of good Taiwan cinema.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Seven Swordsmen - 七劍下天山

Seven Swordsmen (七劍下天山) is a 2005 wuxia series out of China starring Vincent Zhao. The series came on the heals of the "Seven Swords" movie by Tsui Hark.

I didn't finish this wuxia series. I stopped around the 13th or 14th episode. I couldn't take it anymore. I had to stop. The wuxia was extremely cheezy. The acting was worst. To be honest, I am not sure why I am even writing about this. It must be that I actually own this and its sitting in my stack of unwatched series.

But the Netflix reviews have been very very kind. If you go off of those, this is a must see series! Hey, you can rent it.

I've liked Vincent Zhao a lot since he first appeared as the replacement Wong Fei Hong in the Once Upon A Time in China movie series. But I've had a hard time finishing the other wuxia series he's been in. I may get to those in the future.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Seven Swords - 七劍

Seven Swords (七劍) is 2005 movie out of Hong Kong. The movie is based off a Liang Yusheng novel. The movies main stars are Donnie Yen and Leon Lai.

The movie is based on a group of Ming swordsmen that help refugees fend off oncoming Qing forces. The refugees seek help from a master swordsman and sword maker. The sword master gives the group 7 swords and sends some of his students to help. Among the pupils is Donnie and Leon. Along the way, some of the refugees are given swords and are part of the Seven. They have to learn to trust each other and learn to use their swords.

The fighting was a little disappointing and the story was way too fast paced. I was losing track of people and what they need to accomplish.

I did watch a china dub of this movie. China dubs can come with non standard mandarin sometimes and this was the case with the one I watch. Maybe if I have time, I'll rent the Dragon Dynasty version to watch the extras.

There was a whole lot of hype with this film. With Hero and House of Flying Daggers making a splash internationally, this was to be Tsui Harks's return to prominence. The film was successful, but had to struggle to get there.

At the time of this writing, the movie website is still up here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stolen Life - 生死劫

Stolen Life (生死劫) is a 2005 film out of China starring Zhou Xun.

The is about a Yanni (Zhou Xun) who leaves for college. Once there, she experiences a sense of freedom she has never had. Yanni comes from a broken home where her mother left her in the care of her aunt and grandmother. Growing up in a home with no love. But her parents allow her to goto college when she is accepted. It is there that she meets Mu-yu, a delivery boy. In a strange turn of events, Yanni ditches college to shack up with Mu-yu where they eventually have a baby. Things get worst from there, Mu-yu sells the baby and dumps Yanni.

If that were to happen to you? You might call it a Stolen Life. With a bright future ahead of her. If she was successful in college, Yanni throws it all away for a low life scum Mu-yu. Whom Yanni finds out later, is doing it to other women.

I wasn't sure how I felt after watching this. Mainly because I thought the path that Yanni took was much too unbelievable. But regardless, the signs of Mu-yu being a bad influence were pretty evident. Yet, Yanni still stuck around.

Since I have two daughters, I hope they never meet a guy like Mu Yu.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gen X-Cops - 特警新人類

Gen X-Cops (特警新人類) is a 1999 film out of Hong Kong. It is hard to believe that its been 10 years since this films been out. Starring a majority of young unknowns, this movie was part of the launching pad for some of today's more popular Chinese male actors. The male stars are Nicholas Tse, Stephen Fung, Sam Lee, and Daniel Wu. The female stars are Grace Yip and Jaymee Ong.

I recently re-watched this while washing dishes and it was a doozy. I remember that I had lost almost all faith in HK cinema at the time. Of the gazillion movies being release from HK, only a couple every few months are even watchable. The quality of the films suffered from the handover. This wasn't a great film, but it was so much better than all the other junk at the time. I remember renting this bad quality version and than watching it a few months later on an official release DVD.

At the time of its release, I was in my mid-twenties and the males leads were all younger than me. The "coolness" factor was emphasized and they threw in rave and club culture on top of that. Something that was new at the time. Is it accurate? No way, but movies only present a scene to move the story along. And the way the story moved along caught my attention.

Jaymee Ong was the star of the movie for me. Jaymee was really just eye candy in the film as she had so little screen time. But the scene time was greatly appreciated. It's too bad Jaymee moved on to the US after to break into Hollywood. I read that she's onto Singapore now. With only 2 HK movies to her credit, its a shame.

In all, the movie actually stands the test of time and is entertaining to watch. Turn you brain off and reminisce to the that Y2K era. A guilty pleasure it is.

They did have a sequel to this that was no where as good. More on that in the future.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Zheng Jie (郑洁/鄭潔) - 2009 Wimbledon

The 2008 Wimbledon was memorable for the epic finals match between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. A five setter than displaced Federer as the world number 1.

But for many in China, the story for the 2008 Wimbledon was the epic run to the semifinals by Zheng Jie. She was the first Chinese women to reach the singles semi-finals of an Grand Slam. On top of that, Sichuan born Zheng Jie donated all her Wimbledon earnings to the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake victims.

Well, Zheng Jie is at it again in 2009. Getting to the fourth round of the Australian Open. 2009 Wimbledon, Zheng Jie is onto the 2nd round with a too close for comfort win in the first round.

Good Luck Zheng Jie, this guy is cheering you on.

On a sidenote, Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan got bounced by favorite Roger Federer today.

Air Guitar Nation

Air Guitar Nation is a 2006 documentary about the 2003 World Championship of Air Guitar.

The story starts with the the discovery of the 2002 Air Guitar Championship. But there is no USA representative. They decide to send a US rep and put on 2 events to find one. One on the East Coast in NYC and one on the West at the Roxy.

The winner of the East Coast event is David Jung as C-Diddy. The story than centers on David and the runner up, Dan Crane as Björn Türoque. They give a brief bio of each and follow them just a little bit prior to the event and after. The 2nd event on the west coast is eventually won by David Jung, making him the official representative of the USA at the 2003 Air Guitar Championship.

Of course, there is a little drama. Dan Crane, not happy as the runner up, crashes the west coast event and enters the at large competition at Air Guitar Championship and makes it. However, the highest that Dan ever gets in direct competition with David Jung is the runner up spot at the US East Coast event.

The movie also explores David's life with his family and fiancé. David apparently abandoned a pre-med college path for acting! The horror for the only son of a first generation Korean family.

The American dvd covers of this movie shows nothing about David Jung, but Dan Crane! What the! Racist hollywood at work again. Dan is a supporting figure yet lands the picture on the cover of the DVDs.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

白色巨塔 - The Hospital

白色巨塔 (The Hospital) is a 2006 drama out of Taiwan. The 3 main stars are Jerry Yan, Janine Chang, and Leon Dai. Among the many supporting cast members are Linda Liao, Ryan Tang, Cheryl Yang, Saya, Pally Jian, and Josephine Hsu. The series has 39 episodes.

I watched this drama 1.5 times. First in 2006 when it made it to DVD here in Los Angeles. Than again on and off during 2008. I put on the first 25 or so episodes while washing dishes. So, for me, the best parts came in the first 25 episodes. The series has an extremely high production value including a star studded cast. Emotions were high and drama was at the center. The first episode had me liking Jerry Yan's Yi Hua right away. I was stricken by Janine Chang and Linda Liao. I have a vague remembrance of the drama on TV here in LA. I can't remember if it was LA18 or a cable channel.

The drama is about life in "The Hospital". Apparently, there are a lot of politics and an hierarchy to adhere to. Yi Hua is a prodigy of sorts. The youngest to ascend to his position in the hospital. Yi Hua is good natured and keeps his patients number one. However, the top position in the Hospital is going to open us soon as the person there is retiring. Politics and jostling of positions starts. Yi Hua seems to be at the center of lots of the politics. All the while, Yi Hua is trying to get back into the life of Janine Chang's character, Guan Xin. Yi Hua and Guan Xin were a couple in college. But when Yi Hua went to the army, Guan Xin went to another man. Ever since, Guan Xin has rejected Yi Hua. However, for Yi Hua, Guan Xin is still the love of his life. A president's daughter is admitted. 2 sides, surgery and internal medicine duke it out for the honor of treating the president's daughter.

Wow. That's drama for you. High drama. Intense moments. Yelling, crying, amazing scenery shots. Great music. Its got it all. If you wanted the epitome of Taiwanese Drama production in 2006, look no further than "The Hospital".

A sidenote on the OST. I picked it up via YesAsia and it doesn't contain the Jerry Yan version. Sucks.

This is among my favorite series and I think I'll be watching parts of it every 3-5 years. Writing up this review has me interested in it again.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Assembly - 集結號

The Assembly (集結號) is a 2007 film out of China. The film stars Zhang Hanyu.

The movie starts with the Chinese Civil War in 1948. The CPC vs. the KMT. The battle sequences are "Saving Private Ryan" like. The first third of the movie is during the Chinese Civil War. Since this is a China movie, the CPC are the eventual winners of the War. The climatic war sequence is blacked out to Capitan Gu's troop making the ultimate sacrifice.

The movie shift than to the post war life of Captain Gu. Gu is trying to pick up his life after the war and make a living. Gu finds out that his troop is considered AWOL and not honored. Gu sets on a mission to say that his troop sacrificed their lives for the CPC and that they should be honored and not considered traitors. Gu's way proving this is to find their bodies. The site of the the troops last battle is now under tons of coal. Gu starts digging.

The movie doesn't go for or against sides of the war. The war happened, life needs to go on after. In that sense, it sidesteps any political statement.

The movie instead focuses on the life of Gu and those that come into it. Because of this, the movie succeeds in entertaining.

I thought the movie was good and recommend it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Confession of Pain - 傷城

Confession of Pain (傷城) is a 2006 movie out of Hong Kong. It stars Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Hsu Chi and is directed by Andrew Lau.

Tony plays a cop named Lau and Takeshi plays a private investigator named Bong. Lau and Bong had been onetime co-workers. When Bong's girlfriends cheats on him and than commits suicide, Bong goes a little bonkers. Bong's girlfriend committed suicide because her secret lover dumps her. Bong is now on a quest to find this secret lover and quits the force to do it full time. Bong takes up PI-ing to survive. Bong visits the same bar everyday. The site of the last meeting between the secret lover and Bong's girlfriend.

Tony's part is that of a calm, collected, and very smart police officer. I won't go into much with Lau, because it'll give away the movie.

The movie is a thriller, suspense and drama. You're in for a ride if you can wait toward the latter half of the movie.

The movie is long, quite long. I was getting a little restless at the end. Does it pay off. Yes! Pays off. You have to follow all the details.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

夏天的尾巴 - Summer's Tail

夏天的尾巴 (Summer's Tail) is a 2007 film out of Taiwan. It stars Enno, Bryant Chang, and Dean Fujioka.

The movie is about Yvette. Yvette is a high school student with a medical heart condition. In the movie, this heart condition sends her unconscious and to the nurses office. Yvette along the way befriends Akira. Who is in Taiwan to improve his study habits. Akira just day dreams about soccer all the time. Yvette then befriends Jimmy. Jimmy longs for a teacher at his school. Rejected, Jimmy acts out and is expelled from school. A boy with no mother sends paper boats down a stream. Yvette reads the paper and investigates.

All in all, the movie is a coming of age story for Yvette in high school. Exploring friendships, family life, school life, helping out others, and looking for love.

Its a movie targeted for those maybe looking for direction, a glimpse of what it was like to be young again.

For me, I am an oldie. I am not looking for direction. But it was a nice glimpse into the adolescent life of some young people.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

CJ7 - 長江七號

CJ7 (長江七號) is a 2008 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Stephen Chow and Kitty Zhang and a computer generated space creature. The main star of the movie is actually a pre-teen, Xiao Jiao.

Stephen plays a poor construction worker with a son. On his way from home, he picks up a ball from a landfill. The ball however is an alien. He give the ball to his son, Dicky. The ball comes to life and Dicky starts to find out its power.

The movie didn't live up the hype for me and for the international audience. The movie bombed in terms of how Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle performed. Stephen Chow hasn't been in the spotlight in awhile too.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

敲敲愛上你 - Knock Knock Loving You - Update

I wrote about 敲敲愛上你 before here, here and here.

I can't find out much info as some google digging didn't net me any results. But 敲敲愛上你 (Knock Knock Loving You) has finished broadcasting in China. That's why I was able to pick the series this week. But in Taiwan, they just showed episode 10 and have another month of broadcast.

Kung Fu Hustle - 功夫

Kung Fu Hustle (功夫) is a 2004 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Stephen Chow and launched the career of Eva Huang.

Stephen Chow plays a loser named Sing. Trying to get through life, he joins the Axe Gang to make ends meet.

But little does he know that the kung Fu manuals that he's been reading since childhood are real and has given him the foundations of real kung fu.

The movie was so hyped from the success of Shaolin Soccer. The movie was a smash hit around the world and solidified Stephen Chow as an international super star. Eva Huang's career took off from here too, even though she doesn't show up much.

The title in Chinese is really just "Kung Fu" and Stephen Chow has in the past express confusion to the addition of "Hustle" to the title. I do too.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shaolin Girl - 少林少女

Shaolin Girl (少林少女) is a 2008 film out of Japan. The movie is based on the concept of Stephen Chow's Shaolin Soccer.

The movie is about Rin who just spent 3000 days at the Shaolin temple. She returns home to find that the dojo she grew up in is in ruins. But Rin wants to expand Shaolin Kung Fu to the masses. Rin starts looking for the students from the old dojo. Rin finds her old master at a Chinese restaurant. There she befriends Minmin played by Kitty Zhang and joins the lacrosse team at nearby SIU.

But SIU is a bad school with a dark past and an evil dark side. SIU is the reason that the dojo shut down the first time while Rin was at the Shaolin temple.

Lots of crazy CGI fighting a la Kung Fu Hustle. Lots of video game type fighting a la Game of Death.

I was entertained, but I wouldn't want to watch it again.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Shaolin Soccer - 少林足球

Shaolin Soccer (少林足球) is a 2001 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Stephen Chow and Zhao Wei and plenty of other supporting characters.

The movie is about Sing played by Stephen Chow. Sing is trained in Shaolin Kung Fu and has made it his goal to tell the world about it. However, the world doesn't want to hear it. As a result, Sing is dirt poor and wanders the streets of Hong Kong. Fung is a down and out soccer legend. Fung and Sing hook up to form a team to play soccer.

That is all you need to know that this movie is going to kick ass and make you smile, laugh, and LOL! It's hard to remember the days before Shaolin Soccer. Stephen Chow was no international star and the classic Kung Fu genre in HK was bleek. But not after this film. HK cinema was back on the international map again after this film.

The movie still stands as a classic and will forever be one of those that you watch again every few years.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

不能說的秘密 - Secret

不能說的秘密 (Secret) is a 2007 film out of Taiwan from Jay Chou.

The movie is a romance between Jay Chou as Jay and Kwai Lun-mei as Rain. The movie also features Anthony Wong as Jay's father and as the school master. Alice Tzeng makes her debut in this film as Sky. Alice was in many many things in 2008.

The movie is based on the senior year of high school for Jay. During the year, Jay bumps into Rain over and over again and they eventually fall for each other. Little does he know that there's something special about Rain.

Rain however disappears for awhile and Jay starts searching for her. A mystery starts and the movie's pace picks up.

The movie is very entertaining. It wasn't until the movie was over that the many plot holes started to introduce itself. But it didn't matter as the entertainment value of the movie was overwhelming.

Jay's movie star was rising in 2007 and Secret was Jay at his peak.

Alice Tzeng was both cute and sweet in this movie. Alice was quite busy in 2008 and hopefully makes more stuff in 2009.

Kwai Lun-mei has been on my radar since Blue Gate Crossing. At first, before I watched the movie, I wasn't sure she was right for the role. After watching the movie, I couldn't think of anyone else that would have been better. Lun-mei was also quite busy in 2007 and 2008.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Painted Skin - 畫皮

Painted Skin (畫皮) is a 2008 film out of Hong Kong. The film stars Donnie Yen, Zhou Xun, Aloys Chen, and Zhao Wei. The story is based on a ghost story from Strange Tales of Liaozhai.

The story is based on a several love triangles. With the center wrapped around Wang and Pei, a married couple. Wei, a fox demon spirit, needs human hearts to stay in her painted skin. Without the painted skin, humans will see her true form.

Wei is rescued by Wang one day and brought back to his house to be a servant. Pei immediately feels something is strange about Wei. Pei tells Wang, but without proof, Pei feels unheard. Pei seeks out Pang, a friend and former suitor for help.

The fun begins when Pang starts investigating Wei.

There is a certain level of Chinese mythos that need to be understood for the movie to be fully realized. If you're not familiar with Chinese mythos, some things are not spelled out for you.

I was rather impressed with this film and thought it to be a drastic departure from recent Donnie Yen films. However, this was a Donnie Yen film per se. Donnie just isn't the almighty fighter in this film that you would expect.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Storm Warriors - 風雲II - Upcoming

The Storm Warriors (風雲II/風雲2) is set for release in Hong Kong on December 17, 2009. I've been hearing about this movie since the summer of 2008. The film is produced and directed by the Pang Brothers. This is the sequel to the 1998 film, The Storm Riders. Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng reprise their roles as Cloud and Wind. Simon Yam, Charlene Choi, and Nicholas Tse round out the rest of the star studded cast.

The poster, teaser, scene and trailers are now available. The build up starts now. This could be a visual extravaganza or a total letdown. I hope its good. But I don't have high hopes for the story.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Legend of Bruce Lee (李小龍傳奇) on LA 18.8

The first episode was shown on LA 18.8 tonight at 8pm for The Legend of Bruce Lee (李小龍傳奇). It's been on the air for about a month now at noon on the regular LA 18 channel.

For those in the Los Angeles area, you can get your Bruce Lee on for the next couple of months on LA 18.8 at 8pm every night.

Playboy Cops - 花花型警

Playboy Cops (花花型警) is a 2008 film out of Hong Kong starring Shawn Yue and Aloys Chen.

The movie is about Shawn Yue playing Michael and Aloys Chen as Lincoln. Shawn is rich because his father is a tycoon. While fighting crime, he uses is own exotic cars and $$ to get the bad guys. Lincoln is a cop from China who's come to HK to investigate his brother's death. The two are linked to Lisa. The 2 alpha males go at for half the movie before they realize that they each can help each other out in solving Lincoln's brothers death.

The movie is here and there in terms of consistency. Is it entertaining and contains a lot of eye candy? Yes. For all those reasons, you need to watch it just once and its ok to fast forward. The story is confusing regardless.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

愛到底 - L-O-V-E (Love)

愛到底 (L-O-V-E / Love) is a 2009 movie out of Taiwan. The movie is split up into 4 story arcs. Each arc has its own directer and stars. But none of the 4 stories are linked together. This film has been on my radar since March.

The first story arc stars Van Fan and Megan Lai. Van and Megan are celebrating their 7th year together. They recall together how they met and fell in love. In a 3 hour elevator ride. Van had a broken foot in that elevator. While at the hospital for an examination, another patient approaches him because they have the same sounding voice. The patient has 3 months to live and ask that Van calls his suicidal mother to wish her well, so that she will continue to live on. Van now has a brain tumor (assuming here) and he's going in for life threatening surgery. Van ask for the same to the ether for someone to call Megan.

The second story arc stars Blue Lan, Annie Liu, Alan Kuo, Tammy Chen, and Chie Tanaka. Annie Liu is a tour guide for the 華山 area. Blue Lan is the director for a MV shot in the area. Alan Kuo, Tammy Chen, and Chie Tanaka are there to make the MV. Annie Liu and Alan strike up a friendly relationship. To Blue's distaste. Blue confronts Annie and ask her why she's ignoring him. Annie doesn't remember him and the love triangle is officially started. We later find out that Annie and Blue were together 3 years ago. But three years ago, they split and Annie gets into an car accident and loses some of her memory. Including all of her memory of Blue.

The third story arc stars Ethan Ruan and Alice Tzeng. This arc is hard to describe as it doesn't have a story. It is about a couple that are at a crossroads in their relationship. One is more mature and one is less. When will the less mature be ready to grow to the same level?

The forth story arc stars mainly Tracy Chou. The rest of the crew is like a who's who of the Taiwan entertainment industry. Many many cameos. The story arc is also hard to describe because it has a storyline, but an exaggerated one. The premise is comedic in nature. This arc doesn't have the feel of the other 3 and is the most light hearted.

Should you watch it? Yes. It was a well made film that presents love in 4 very different view points. Can they stand along on their own? Probably not. But as a premise of the title of the film goes, love to the end (愛到底), with all 4 stacked together, you get the point.

Monday, June 8, 2009

All About Women - 女人不壞

All About Women (女人不壞) is a 2008 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Zhou Xun, Kitty Zhang, and Kwai Lun-mei as the female leads. Eddie Peng, Stephen Fung, and Godfrey Kao show up as the supporting male cast.

The movie follows the lives of 3 women who are all very different in personality and demeanor. In a strange twist of happenstance, all 3 get linked together mid way through the film.

All the people in this film are eye candy. Even in glasses and a bowl cut, Zhou Xun doesn't come across as disgusting or ugly as the film suggest.

It does expose us a little to the Beijing Rock and Roll scene and that there are mega-corporations left and right in China.

I didn't like the movie much and fast forward through 25% of it. Didn't skip a beat with the fast forwarding as the story was uniquely predictable.

The cast only includes a couple of HK stars, but is a HK film. Funny. Watch it for the pretty people, Beijing, and production value.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

All's Well End's Well 2009 - 家有囍事2009

All's Well End's Well 2009 (家有囍事2009) is a 2009 film out of Hong Kong starring Louis Koo. It is a remake of the 1992 film that starred Stephen Chow and Maggie Cheung.

I saw the original and sequels, but can vaguely remember them. So, when I watched the 2009 version, I had no baggage. Clean slate and thought it was a cheezy movie.

Louis plays a dating expert and is hired by Ronald Cheng to get his sister married. Because there is a curse on his family. The curse is that the oldest have to be married first or the younger sibling cannot.

The sister is a major "non-marriage" proponent. Even writing books about it. A self made executive that has lots of power and money.

They end up in a Qiandao resort. Hilarious situations ensue. Queue laugh tracks.

It is a watch once, may have entertained me for X minutes, back to the daily grind kind of movies.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Ping Pong - 乒乓

Ping Pong (乒乓) is a 2002 film out of Japan.

The story follows two friends that are on the school ping pong team. These two friends have been friends since childhood. The charismatic Peco wants to be the best ping pong player in the world. Smile is the introverted friend that also picks up ping pong. The pair practice together with Peco as the attacker and Smile as the defender. Peco always wins and doesn't care much for the school team.

The movie also includes Sam Lee of Hong Kong as a reject ping pong player from the China team. Hoping to make it back into the spotlight in Japan.

The movie turns into a coming of age of story for both Peco and Smile. Smile is the timid introvert that's unwilling to upset people. Smile enjoys some success and turns into a prima-donna while Peco's defeats have him soul searching. Smile about his introvert-ness. Peco about his ping pong work ethic. Peco cruise through life on his talents without putting in the time. Smile was always just tagging along.

The movie is a little long, but the story was unique and the coming of age part was quite enjoyable. However, I wasn't drawn in with any of the characters too deeply. But you don't always need to be if the story flows and entertains.

Friday, June 5, 2009

藍色大門 - Blue Gate Crossing

藍色大門 (Blue Gate Crossing) is a 2002 film out of Taiwan starring Kwai Lun-mei and Wilson Chen.

The story follows 3 high school age students as they try to figure things out. Meng, Lin, and Chang. Meng and Lin are best friends. Chang has an interest in Lin. Lin doesn't want to get involved with Chang. Chang uses Meng to get to Lin. Chang falls for Meng. BUT. BUT....Meng doesn't want Change, but Lin.

Yes. It's a lesbian based movie that isn't overtly lesbian as almost all screen time is with Kwai Lun-Mei and Wilson Chen.

A artsy fartsy film all the way and a simi reflection of Taiwan beginning its conversation with homosexuality in media. I first watched this film back in 2003 or 2004 so Kwai and Chen being so young wasn't a distraction.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Storm Riders - 風雲之雄霸天下

The Storm Riders (風雲之雄霸天下) is a 1998 film out of Hong Kong starring Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng. Consider the first of a martial arts movie trilogy from Andrew Lau.

Based off a Hong Kong comic book called Wind Cloud (風雲), it follows Aaron Kwok as Cloud and Ekin Cheng as Wind. Cloud's special martial arts is to leverage water and Wind's is his kicking. Both obtain legendary weapons.

The movie's been around for a long time. Back in 1998 when it came out, it was considered amazing as it was a HK movie with heavy CGI. Before this, no HK movie had used this much CGI in a film. In a sense, it was a pioneer for HK films, back in 1998. Fast forward to 2009! CGI all over the place. But still not to the extent of The Storm Riders.

I had a chance to re-watch the Taiwan DVD recently while washing dishes and it was pretty good. I am a big fan of Aaron Kwok and thought he presented Cloud the way his character is. Emotionless until those dear to him are in danger. That emotion turns to rage.

But don't come here looking for classic HK martial arts. The CGI is heavy and the fights are fantasy based.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

心星的淚光 - Starlit

心星的淚光 (Starlit) is a 2009 drama out of Taiwan. The drama stars Jerry Yan, Terri Kwan and Alice Tzeng. It runs a quick 22 episodes (47-49 minutes each). I was surprised at how fast I got through it.

Jerry Yan plays Ah Yue. Terri Kwan as plays Xiao Lu. Alice plays Rui Zhan. Zhang Xi Xi plays Da Hong. These are the major players in the drama and they all put on quite a show.

Xiao Lu is on assignment in Taiwan from Beijing. Xiao Lu takes some time out to take pictures in Jioufen. Ah Yue is walking by when Xiao Lu is in the middle of the street. Xiao Lu can't move and Ah Yue pushes her out of the way, but gets hit by the bus. After the hit, Ah Yue falls on the ground and the bus runs over his hand. Taken to the hospital and Xiao Lu follows. But Xiao Lu's plane is leaving and she does not want to miss her flight back to Beijing. Xiao Lu leaves her information, but through the magic of dramas, it is lost.

Well, Ah Lu recovers, but his hand can no longer return to the way it was. Which was that of a piano prodigy. Now that Ah Yue was lost everything he's lived his life for, he takes to the road. Two years later, Ah Yue ends up in Shanghai. Through the magic of dramas, Ah Yue and Xiao Lu bump into each other. You know how it goes from there...

Well, I was impressed and really dug this drama. The story, formula, etc. have all played out someway in other dramas. But there was something about all the played out clichés and drama magic that didn't turn me off. I am also not a big fan of Terri Kwan. But somehow, none of that seemed to bother me. Jerry is Jerry and played the character well. The rest of the cast somehow made everything work for me.

Zhang Xi Xi (章西西) was the biggest surprise for me. I'm not sure if I'll see her in any other dramas as she's a China actress and isn't going to be many idol dramas from Taiwan. But 章西西 was someone I hoped had a bigger supporting part. Maybe 章西西 will have a big supporting role in Always Smile! Check out this blog page for more of 章西西. I am a fan!

The drama actually spends only 3-4 episodes in Taiwan. The rest is in Shanghai. The majority of the secondary cast seemed native to China and not Taiwan. All but 2 the major parts were played by Taiwan based actors. Maybe this is the future for Taiwan dramas that want more penetration in China's emerging market.

But I must warn that the ultimate subject matter is quite depressing. Doom and gloom is a heavy subject. The first half is the chase, the second half is the doom and gloom.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Princess Blade - 修羅雪姬

The Princess Blade (修羅雪姬) is a 2001 film out of Japan starring Yumiko Shaku and Hideaki Ito. The film is an post-apocalyptic adaptation of Lady Snowbird.

Yuki is the remaining member life in her family. Yuki is an assassin that finds out her mother was murdered by the same group she belongs to now. Yuki leaves the group and that's when the fun begins. The assassin group comes after Yuki and Yuki befriends a rebel movement leader Takashi.

Lots of fighting ensues and Yuki comes out on top.

Back in 2002 when I heard about this film, it was because of Donnie Yen's association. Donnie was the fight choreographer on the movie. It was the beginning of the HK choreographers going to Japan and Korea.

The movie was pretty good. I bought it from ebay back in 2002. It had really bad subs and I didn't understand the movie. I re-watched it again from Netflix. I had forgotten almost all of the movie. Don't know if it was time or that the English sub of the 2002 version was just that bad.

Monday, June 1, 2009

無敵珊寶妹 - Invincible Shan Bao Mei (Woody Sambo)

無敵珊寶妹 (Invincible Shan Bao Mei (Woody Sambo) is a 2008 drama out of Taiwan. Starring Nicholas Teo and Amber Kuo. Cameos by Ethan Ruan, Joe Chen, and Jessica Song during the first and second episodes.

The drama was transitioned from Fated to Love You without a commercial in Taiwan. Helping it to very healthy ratings.

The story is of Nicholas Teo as Wu Di and Amber Kuo is Shan Bao. Of which they series gets its name. Wu Di is a boss of a famous restaurant, TV cooking show, and instant meal. Shan Bao is presented as a down on her luck, looking for love, and flat chested. Yikes! How do these two get together? When you're as obnoxious Wu Di and as pure hearted as Shan Bao. It means that Wu Di is going to loose everything and see what's important in life. And that is Shan Bao.

Generic story, generic characters, and generic finish. I wasn't surprised by anything and fast forward through a lot of the second half of the series. The cameos were funny and continues Xin Yi and Cun Xi's story a little.

I watched it for the hype (high ratings) but was ultimately let down. Its better than a lot of other stuff I've watched. But its a middle of the pack drama that I won't be watching again.