Monday, November 30, 2009
Shinjuku Incident (新宿事件) is a 2009 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Jackie Chan, Daniel Wu, Xu Jinglei and Fan Bing Bing. The movie is based primarily in Japan with a few scenes in China. Starting from the 1990s to current times. I've been looking forward to watching this since February and recently rented it on DVD.
The movie starts with Jackie as Steelhead arriving in Japan via a boat (FOB). Jackie eventually makes it to the Tokyo area to reunited with someone from his village from China, Jie, played by Daniel Wu. Steelhead primary reason from coming to Japan was to find is girlfriend/fiancee, Xiu Xiu, played by Xu Jinglei. Because Steelhead and Jie are illegal immigrants, they take whatever they can get and run when the police come sniffing. Steelhead befriends a restaurant owner, Lily, played by Fan Bing Bing. Steelhead comes to the rescue of Lily as some punks try to rob her. Through it all, Steelhead displayed a world view of working hard and not taking advantage of the situation.
Steelhead finally finds Xiu Xiu. But Xiu Xiu is now married to a mob boss and has a daughter with him. On top of that, she's changed her name to Eguchi Yuko. From that moment on, Steelhead's outlook on life changes. In essence, Steelhead heads down the path of crime and destruction as all that he believed in before was betrayed by Xiu Xiu.
As advertised, its the "new Jackie". Drama Jackie to be exact. Jackie does not display any of his comedy fu for you here and the action is based on reality for the most part. HK triad gritty movie moved to the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku, Japan.
The majority of the film is in Mandarin Chinese. The Japanese speak limited Chinese in this film and the HK boys speak Canto for some reason.
If you're looking for comedy fu Jackie, go somewhere else. If your looking for a new triad story from HK POV, this is a fresh look.
A few fun observations. Kathy Yuen has a couple of scenes and she is quite lovely in both. Jack Kao plays Taiwan gang leader. The "making of" was quite interesting, so don't miss it if you actually like the movie.
The LoveHKFilm guys love how Daniel Wu can integrate English terms so fluidly into his interviews and commericals. In the "making of", Daniel does it effortlessly. But, if you've spent anytime with Americanized Chinese/Taiwanese, its the same. We don't remember or can't recall lots of Chinese, so I use the English terminology. And after we graduate high school or go off and start a family, its even worst.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Eternal Beloved (愛有來生) is a 2009 film out of China. The movie stars Duan Yihong and Faye Yu. Faye Yu did it all on this film. Faye wrote, produced, directed, and starred in this film.
The film is about a couple that rents a house that use to be a temple over 50 years ago. The time frame seems to be pre-communist China. The wife is played by Faye Yu. While the husband is away, Faye stays home and tends to house work and always making sure the tea is hot. One night, Duan Yihong appears from the 1000 year old tree in the central court. Duan is waiting for someone, and has been for 50 years. Duan tells Faye the story of how he came to wait for this person.
We flashback to roughly 70 years ago and and the people seem to have the Qing ponytail. Duan is the younger brother of mountain theives. Duan meets a Faye of his generation and takes her captive. They eventually marry. The story than leads into more twists and goes back to the present. If I went more, I would spoil it for you.
This film was a great surprise. I wasn't expecting it to be any good, but it turned out quite good. From Duan and Faye to the unpredictable ending, I was drawn in and didn't care to leave.
I recommend this action romanance.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Storm Rider: Clash of Evils (風雲決) is a 2008 film out of Hong Kong. This film is a animated film. The two main voices are Richie Ren and Nicolas Tse.
The movie starts with Wind and Cloud on the top of a building planning how they will defeat their master and the one responsible for the death of their families. Cloud is going to engage the blood of the fire beast. With that power, Cloud could go crazy and unleash evil on the world. Cloud tells Wind that he should kill him if that became the case. During the battle with their master, Cloud is overtaken by evil after he kills his master. Wind gives chase to kill him. Instead, Wind is seen falling to his death.
Cloud temporarily has the evil suppressed. Saddened by Winds death, he drinks himself to sleep. Wind however survives the fall and is saved by a group of thieves. But when Wind wakes up, he doesn't remember his name or his past.
Eventually, Wind and Cloud do meet and they fight each other.
A sub story to his is Jue, who wants their evil blood to to resurrect his sword and to take revenge.
The Movie was pretty entertaining. I believe the animation was done in Hong Kong and its pretty decent.
Friday, November 27, 2009
"Bruce Lee: The Immortal Dragon" is a 1996 A&E feature about Bruce Lee. It tells mostly of his time after college.
I would watch the Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey instead of this.
Check out this clip from YouTube.
Happy Birthday Bruce!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
停車 (Parking) is a 2008 film out of Taiwan. The movie stars Chang Chen. The rest of the supporting cast include Kwai Lun-mei, Jack Kao, Leon Dai, Peggy Tseng and Chapman To.
The movie revolves around Chang Chen and his parked car. While buying a cake, someone double parks next to him, preventing him from leaving. Because of this, Chen gets involved with the happens of Chengde road, where his car is park. Chen patiently waits from late afternoon to sundown. The first is a one hand barber next to his car. The barber is played by Jack Kao and tells him that the car probably belongs to the people on floor 3. Chen goes up and finds an elderly couple with their granddaughter Nini. The grandfather calls him Xiao Ma, the nickname of their deceased son. Chen goes along with it and ends up having dinner with them. When he's done with dinner, the double parked car is gone. About to leave, Chen receives a phone call. Distracted by the phone call, he sits on the cake he bought. Now Chen's butt is covered in frosting and he goes back to the barber to clean up. After cleaning up, he finds that another parked car has blocked him via double parking. Chen goes to a nearby tailor store to ask for help. Chapman To is that tailor and doesn't help him. Chen calls the towing company to get the car towed. The towing company is busy from it being Mother's Day and a Sunday. The towing company tells him to take a cab. Chen finds a cab but the cabby refuses to take him to his destination. Leaving the car angered, he kicks the double parked car. The car is not empty and filled with triad members. Just as they are going to do something bad to Chen, To runs out being chased by triad members. The barber steps out and tells the triad head to let them go. The barber and triad boss are old buddies and chat about a little history and their current situation. Chen's car is still double parked, but by a different car now. Chen heads to the fourth floor to ask if its their car. Chen than gets into an argument with them and is beaten up and thrown into a park ditch.
The movie is a trip as there are many small subplots along the way. I didn't even bring up Peggy Tseng's character. One of the subplots revolves around Chang Chen and Kwai Lun-mei as his wife. There's also the subplot of tha barber that gets somewhat explored.
This was a slow moving movie, but for a purpose. The slowness in the beginning turns into lots and lots of things going on in the second half of the film. Peggy Tseng makes her movie debut. I've not seen Peggy before because she's in Taiwan commercials and appeared in a few MVs, two things I see very little to none of here in LA. I think she gives a breakout performance.
I highly recommend this film.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Plastic City (蕩寇) is a 2008 film out of Hong Kong. The film stars Odagiri Joe, Anthony Wong, and Crystal Huang. The whole movie is based in Brazil.
The movie starts in the past where Yuda, played by Anthony Wong, rescues Kirin, played by Joe Odagiri. Fast forward 20-30 years to the present. Yuda is now the king of piracy in San Paulo and runs the whole market of Brazil and surrounding regions. Kirin has been brought up by Yuda and has joined the family business. Someone with a new idea enters the turf. A turf war starts.
The movie was quite gritty and had very few asian people. Much of the film was in either Mandarin or Portuguese. As I was watching, City of Gods seems to flash through my thoughts over and over. A HK film with triad themes based in Brazil. Refreshing and depressing at the same time.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Ong Bak 2:The Beginning (拳霸3) is a 2008 film out of Thailand. The movie stars Tony Jaa.
The movie is a revenge movie in essence. Tony Jaa's character is Tien. Tien is the son of one of the 4 protectors of the emperor. The lead advisor has put into place steps to take over as emperor. As part of those steps, the lead advisor kills Tien's whole family. Tien escapes and somehow joins a group of pirates. These pirates are different though. They train in many different forms of martial arts. Tien eventually learns them all and becomes the best of the best among the pirates. The leader of the pirates wants to transfer power to Tien and retire. However, Tien has revenge on his mind and sets out to kill the lead advisor, who is now the emperor. Tien is then tracked down by the son when he succeeds in killing him. A climatic battle against the royal guard ensues.
The movie is not even 90 minutes, but seems that at least 75% of it is fighting. If you like to see fights, this is it. The fighting is intense and bone crushing.
The movie's storyline bares no relation to the first Ong Bak. In reality, they should have named this film something else.
The reason its called 拳霸3 in Taiwan, is because Tom Yum Goong was labeled 拳霸2 in Taiwan.
Monday, November 23, 2009
敗犬女王 (My Queen) has recently started broadcasting on Los Angeles LA18.8. As you know, 18.8 is one of the digital LA18 channels and is 24 hours of Chinese programing.
If you don't want to purchase, rent, or download the series, you can give it a go on 18.8. Shown on weekdays at 2pm and 10:30pm.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
倚天屠龍記 (Yi Tian Tu Long Ji/Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre) has already finished broadcasting in China. The DVD is available to purchase already from YesAsia.
I am not sure how the China market makes money from the wuxia dramas. But to broadcast some 40 episodes within a month seems like you would lose money. You're hoping each episode's ad revenue makes or goes beyond the costs of producing (making) costs. So, they play it all in one month? It doesn't make sense to me. Unfortunately, I only really understand the US television market and to a much lesser extent, the Taiwan market.
In China, the cost is $60 RMBs for the DVD set. On YesAsia, its going for $64 USD. Um, its much cheaper to buy it in China. Six fold cheaper.
I am just glad that within a couple of weeks, I think I might be actually watching this via DVD. Review of the 2009 and 2002 series to follow.
If you're looking for English subs, unless there's a fansub, I don't think you're gonna get one for this version. At least not in 2009. If Tai Seng picks it up and goes for a US DVD release, you might get one.
I have been eagerly awaiting this since January. I had a follow up about 6 months ago, another follow up 4 months ago and another a couple of weeks ago. So, you know I've been tracking this and waiting for it.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Basic Love (愛情故事) is a 2009 film out of Hong Kong. The three leads in the movie are Janice Man, Elanne Kwong, and Rex Ho. Jones Xu has a supporting role and Cheng Pei-Pei makes an cameo appearance.
The movie is about 2 gals and 1 guy. These three have been friends since junior high. Rex Ho plays Rex, a pizza delivery boy that is working on music and hoping his band can succeed. Janice Man plays June, the daughter of a fish monger and the quiet one of the trio. Elanne Kwong plays Ling, the outgoing and charismatic one of the group. Ling however has a secret that she's kept from her 2 friends. Ling has leukemia and doesn't have long to live. You may have guessed that if there are 3, there's got to be some kind love triangle. If you did, you're certainly right. Both gals like Rex, but Rex likes Ling. Ling however always pushes Rex towards June because she doesn't want to get into a relationship since she about to die at anytime. However, Rex cares about Ling and secretly does many things for her. Things that Ling doesn't know about but June does. June even starts dating another guy to forget Rex. But June's love for Rex is too strong and the relationship doesn't last.
As the movie goes along, Ling's secret is out and Rex comes clean about his feelings for Ling. Rex is able to spend a lot of time with Ling during her last days. June ends up going out of the country to school.
I wasn't really looking forward to this movie due to the poor review it received at LoveHKFilm. However, that was before La Lingerie and before I knew who Janice Man was. I noticed Janice on the cover in my video rental place and had to snap it up. I was not disappointed. Janice Man is only 20 years old, but she's shunning and comes off late 20-ish. The photo of Janice in front of a Basic Love poster was taken from her very open Xanga blog. Janice does wear a very fake looking wig for 99% of the movie. But her beauty was able to shine through still.
The movie is extremely slow. Very slow pace. And the colors abound to convey emotions of the seasons. You'll see a lot of unfocused shots. But what is most striking to me is the head shots and how the actors had to act with their facial expressions. The slight flicker of the eyes or the slight turn of the head.
The literal Chinese translation of the title would be "Love Story". And this movie totally reminded me of the 1970 Love Story. Maybe they wanted to differentiate from it and called it basic love.
In all, if you're looking for 96 mins of a simple love story based around leukemia and a love triangle that seemingly works out. I would suggest this. You should note that Janice Man is in this movie and gives a breakout performance.
Friday, November 20, 2009
風聲 (The Message) is a 2009 film out of China. The person behind the film is Taiwanese film-maker, Chen Kuo-Fu. The film stars Zhou Xun, Li Bing Bing, Zhang Hanyu, Huang Xiao Ming, Alec Su, Wang Zhi Wen, and Ying Da. The film is based in 1942 Nanjing during the Japanese occupation.
After the fall of the nationalist Chinese capital of Nanjing during the Nanjing Massacre, the Japanese have set up a puppet regime. But an underground resistance movement has been established and they have successfully assassinated many high level Japanese officers. The puppet government works in conjunction with the Japanese find that there may be a mole in their ranks. They than set out on a spy hunt. With a fake message sent and seen by only 5 people, these 5 are brought to a secluded castle where they are interrogated. One by one, they are subject to psychological games. Will any of these 5 survive? Will they turn on each other? What horrific methods will the captors be subjugated to?
The movie has a pretty star studded cast. Huang Xiao Ming plays the Japanese interrogator out to find the spy. Zhou Xun, Li Bing Bing, Zhang Hanyu, and Alec Su play the captors. Their job is the survive and get out alive. When put in that situation, how will you react?
I've been a big Alec Su and Li Bing Bing fan for many years now. From Alec Su's post military service days to Li Bing Bing's turn in wuxia dramas. I haven't seen much of Alec these last few years. Li Bing Bing has transitioned from a wuxia lady to leading lady. Although both have matured with age, they are still both very good.
Zhang Hanyu is starting to grow on me. Zhang has quietly established himself as one of the top tier actors of China.
I liked the movie for the most part. There are quite a few subplots that you won't see in the movie summaries that give the storyline added complexity and meaning.
The Message has done well at the box office in China and Taiwan so far. I don't think it'll make it here to the states other than in film festivals and eventually DVD. I bought an imported China version from a local DVD place for $10.
There are lots and lots of promo and press junkets for this movie. I've included some of the ones that I enjoyed.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Ace Mission (超能少年之烈塔任加) is a 2009 (guessing) film out of China. The movie stars a bunch of people I don't know.
The movie is about some CGI monsters. One protects the Earth and the other is out to destroy it. Than, there's a group of youngsters that are out to protect the earth against global warming. These youngsters are located all over the world. There's one in China and is told that some treasure will help global warming. Along with the help of a new gal acquaintance, they set off to find this treasure.
Um, I am surprised I knew so much about this movie. Skip it for your health, both physical and mental.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
A Very Short Life (短暫的生命) is a 2009 film out of Hong Kong. The movie's main stars are Leila Tong, and Maggie Siu. There's also a much larger cast, but are too many to name. The subject matter of this film is quite heavy and supposed based on true accounts.
The movie is basically the interrogation of Leila Tong, as Becky. The leader of the interrogation team is Maggie Siu, as Josephine. Becky has accidentally killed her daughter via a beating. But Becky's daughter had been molested by Becky's boyfriend, played by Samuel Pang. But Becky won't confess against him. Josephine does all in her power in the interrogation room to make her confess. At each step of the way, Becky has flashbacks.
The movie is quite heavy in subject matter and the way the interrogation goes. If you're not up for some serious subject matter, you should skip this.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Tracing Shadow (追影) is a 2009 film out of china. The film stars Francis Ng, Pace Wu, Jaycee Chan, and Xia Na.
The movie starts with a epic battle between Francis Ng and a barbarian. Ng, seemingly admits defeat and gives up the outskirts number 1 and retreats to the capital. Ng than embarks on a life of playing music. Ng has a chance meeting with a Pace Wu, as a ninja warrior looking for a treasure. 3 others are doing the same and as the 4 compete for it, Ng steps in to assist Wu. Along with rescuing Wu, Ng throws the map away. Fast forward 10 years later and these 4 four are still searching for the treasure. Jaycee shows up as the landlord of the city and falls for Xia Na, the adopted daughter of Ng and Wu.
I can see why this went straight to video. The story is a mess. If it weren't for Pace Wu, I prolly would have stopped midway. They also take comedic shots at Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Andy Lau, Richie Ren, Nicholas Tse, and Jay Chou. Interesting as Jaycee is in the film. This is no masterpiece.
Monday, November 16, 2009
K-20:Legend of the Mask (K20:怪人二十面相) is a 2008 film out of Japan. The movie stars Takeshi Kaneshiro, Takako Matsu, and Toru Nakamura.
The movie is based on an alternate reality. Where Teito is the capital of Japan, vs. Tokyo. In Teito, the aristocrats rule the country and the poor struggle to make ends meet. A thief label K-20 has been stealing artifacts from the rich, but is no Robin Hood, as he keeps it for himself. Endo, played by Takeshi, is a circus acrobat and performer. After being convinced to do a stunt, he's framed for being K-20 and captured. But the master plan of K-20 is to acquire the Telsa power plant. The secrects are in the hands of Yoko, played by Takao Matsu.
The movie was quite entertaining as it takes a 19th century feel and applies it to a 50s era Tokyo. The story was intriguing and the actors were quite easy on the eyes.
I highly recommend this movie.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
On His Majesty's Secret Service (大內密探靈靈狗) is a 2009 film out of China. The movie stars Louis Koo with Barbie Hsu and Liu Yang.
The movie is a comedy about a group of 12 zodics that protect the emperor. Amoung them is Louis Koo as Dog. Dog doesn't know much kung fu, but makes up for it by being a master inventor. Dog is engaged to Faithful, played by Barbie Hsu. But their engagement is loose as it seems to be broken a couple times during the movie. Enter a master plan to assassinate the emperor, things start to get tricky.
The movie's humor didn't seem all HK, especially with most of the cast being from China. The dialects and uneven storytelling were quite distracting. And Barbie Hsu being next to Liu Yang wasn't good for 大S. Liu Yang is working herself into a cinema beauty. Skip it if you're looking to laugh a lot, but watch it for Liu Yang.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Sophie's Revenge (非常完美:奪愛大作戰) is a 2009 film out of China. The movie stars Zhang Ziyi, Peter Ho, Fan Bing-Bing, and So Ji-Sub. Ruby Lin is on as one of Sophie's two best friends.
The movie is convoluted. Sophie, played by Zhang Ziyi, is engaged to Jeff, played by So Ji-Sub. But when Jeff encounters Joanna, played by Fan Bing-Bing, in the hospital, he's breaks up with Sophie. Sophie now wants revenge. The revenge plan is to make Jeff want Sophie back so that Sophie can dump him like he did her. Enter Gorden, played by Peter Ho, a still photographer from Taiwan. Ruby Lin as Lucy is there with another friend to help Sophie plan her revenge. But when Sophie breaks her leg in one of her schemes, Gorden volunteers to look after her.
Intriguing movie to say the least. The movie walks into Scrub like fantasy moments all too often for my taste. Playing off Sophie's cartoon profession the fantasies come and go. Very stylist movie though. I didn't like the movie, but didn't mind it either. I think it's worth a watch because of the high production value and eye candy the film provides.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Give Love (陳柏霖) is a 2009 film out of Hong Kong. The film stars Wilson Chen and Gigi Leung. Supporting cast include Shaun Tam and Shao Bing.
The movie is about story of two brothers played by Wilson Chen and Shao Bing. Gigi Leung enters their life. Gigi first enters Chen's life as she's on a flight for Hangzhou. Chen's is the flight counter rep. Chen instantly has a crush on Gigi. Fast forward a year later. Gigi is on a flight back to Hong Kong and is now engaged. Gigi is going to spend a month or so prepping for a wedding reception for her Hong Kong friends and family. Gigi has already tied the knot in China and is officially married. In a strange tale of coincidence, Gigi's husband is Chen's brother and Gigi is staying with him for a month. However, Gigi doesn't know or remember their first encounter.
That's enough for you to know that madness ensues and that that Chen and Gigi get together somehow. Because you got to give love.
In all, the movie was cliche after cliche. It became very predictable and boring as the movie went on. Going into the movie, I thought there would be more story arcs. But it was just one and bored me out.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Red Cliff (赤壁) is getting a one film US Release on November 18, 2009. It has also been available via VOD for the the past month or so in the US. The film was broken up into 2 parts for the Asian market. I wrote reviews for Part I and Part II in the past.
Red Cliff has a star studded cast of veteran Chinese actors including Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Fengyi, Chang Chen, Hu Jun, and Zhao Wei.
The US version will have some additional "explanation" scenes and voice overs. Some of the secondary stories from the Asian version will be out right deleted.
I am not sure I'll be catching this anytime soon. I am not sure I can watch a "English" dub. That just sounds wrong.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
If You Are The One (非誠勿擾) is a 2008 film out of China. The movie stars Ge You and Shu Qi (Hsu Chi). Supporting cast members include MiuMiu, Vivian Hsu, Alex Fong, and Fan Wei.
Qing Fin, played by Ge You, sells a rock scissor paper invention to a rich guy. Fin is looking to get married now that he doesn't have to worry about finances. Fin post an online ad about marriage. Amoung one those that answer the ad is a stewardess, Liang Xiaoxiao, played by Shu Qi. The movie is a story of Fin looking for love in all the wrong places, but finds his way eventually. The story expands to Shu Qi's love life, including Alex Fong.
In the end, its straight forward look at trying to true love through all the static.
The movie was quite entertaining. Listening to all the different dialects was fun.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
漂浪青春 (Drifting Flowers) is a 2008 film out of Taiwan. The movie is made by the same director of Spider Lilies, Zero Chou. The movie is broken up into 3 story arcs and are connected in a non linear fashion. The movie stars Serena Fang, Pai Chih-ying, Chao Yi-lan, Lu Yi-Ching, Sam Wang, and Herb Hsu.
The first arc is about pair of sisters that live on their own. The elder sister is blind and works as a singer in a nightclub. The younger sister is a second grader. The younger sister leads her sister to work each night and has started to fall behind at school. Prompting social services to investigate and to suggest foster care for the younger sister. An accordionist has recently started at the nightclub and enters the two sisters life. The younger sister fantasizes about a love relationship with the accordionist. But in real life, the accordionist falls for the elder sister, causing a rife between the two sisters. The result is the younger sister going to a foster family.
The second story is about Lily, who's come down with Alzheimer. Yen, Lily's husband has come to visit and ends up staying due to his AIDs. The two form a strange bond.
The third arc tells the coming of age story of Diego, from the first story arc. Diego and Yen from the second story arc are close friends. Diego grows up in a puppet troupe and has entertainment in her blood. Lily from the second arc is a performer in a competing troupe and strikes up a bond with Diego.
The movie has a running theme of a train on tracks drifting. As the movie ends, characters from all three arcs are on the train, but time isn't in continuum.
I was drawn to the movie by the trailer which highlighted Serena Fang, the elder sister in the first arc. The song and the premise of her blindness. I didn't know this was a lesbian film until I started watching. In all, the stories are coming of age stories at different times in life. You might come of age in certain stages but grow out of age as you drift to the next stage.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Bet to Basic (打雀英雄傳) is a 2006 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Jordan Chan and Rain Li.
The movie is a spoof of some of the more popular HK movies of around the same time. A play on Election and Kung Fu Hustle are very apparent. The other ones need a little more thought.
Based on God of Gamblers storyline, but with Mahjong. The story of a people that want to be the God of Mahjong.
The movie runs at a fast pace of around 89 minutes. Any longer and you're heading for the doors.
Skip it if you can.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Single Blog (單身部落) is a 2007 film out of Hong Kong. It stars mainly Rain Li. Jo Koo, Monie Tung, and Anya do get some screen time too.
The movie tracks three roommates. Lead mainly by Rain Li as Kitty, we find out a little slice of what its like to be single. Jo Koo as Vivian as the experienced teacher of the group that can't seem to settle down or stay away from bad situations. Kitty witnesses her boyfriend cheat on her and begins into a spiral of self-destruction after the break up. Monie Tung as May swings to the other side.
The movie is a classic comedy love movie out of the Hong Kong during that time. Is it worth a watch? Considering that there are 4 pretty attractive women in the prime roles. Why not? But that's all your staying around for.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Empire of Silver (白銀帝國) is a 2009 film out of China. The movie stars Aaron Kwok, Zhang Tielin, and Hao Lei.
The movie is based on the Shanxi bankers roughly 100-110 years ago in China. Nicknamed the "Wall Street of China". The Kang family are influential bankers headquartered in Shanxi. They have branches all over the eastern part of China. Beijin, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Fujian are mentioned branches. The Kang family is run by the elder Kang, played by Zhang Tielin. Elder Kang has 4 sons. The first is deaf and mute. The second is brash and hot headed. The third drowns himself in alcohol. The fourth goes crazy when his wife is abducted, raped, and commits suicide.
The third son (老三) is played by Aaron Kwok. 老三 is secretly in love with his step mother. The back story to their secret love and how she became 老三's step mother is throughly explored.
The story also covers the turbulent times of China from 1899-1910. In this case, it was the banking industry of China. Where silver taels have been the common currency of China. And than a switch to paper. And than the fall of the Qin dynasty.
The movie was visually very impressive. From the desert to the mountains, to the Shanghai, to the compounds of Shanxi, I was awestruck. Movies like this enhance the beauty of China in my mind.
It was also a very slow moving film. The film present 3 very heavy subject matters. The first is coming to grips with traditions handed down to you. The second is the freedom to search for love. The third is ethics in business. In all three areas, 老三 was the focus in relation to the others around him.
Aaron gives a strong performance. Hao Lei is a beauty to behold. This film is worth a watch if you want to think and see a slice of history.
Friday, November 6, 2009
鈕扣人 (Button Man) is a 2008 film out of Taiwan. The movie stars Francis Ng, Terri Kwan, Leon Dai, Ivan Huang, and Janet Lee.
The movie is about Francis Ng playing Wei, a button man. As the movie goes on to explain what that means. The button man is the guy that cleans up after the bad guys get through with someone. They go in there and wipe the area clean. They get the nickname, Button Man, because it is their job to button up the dead corpse. However, as the movie progresses, they refer to themselves as body collectors.
Wei is in a mutually beneficial relationship with a prostitute, Juan, played by Terri Kwan. Wei also harvest the organs of the corpse he cleans up and sells it on the black market with his partner, Doc, played by Leon Dai. During the first half of the film, Doc gets greedy and tries to take Wei's business. However, he harvests the organs of the nephew of a influential crime boss.
After Doc's death, Wei wants to get out. In comes Kid, played by Ivan Huang, a new recruit. Wei takes Kid under his wings and teaches him how to be a Button Man.
Wow, this film came out of left field for me. I wasn't expecting it and it blew me away. The movie moves pretty slowing, but its for a purpose and it totally drew me in. I didn't know what a button man was, and it reminded me of "The Wolf" from Pulp Fiction. But Wei does so much more.
It was also very gritty, especially when the bad things happened. But when authentic relationships were explored, it was usually in the day time.
This is a must watch for Taiwan movie fans. It's no HK flare, so stay away if you're looking for HK style.
Francis does it again with the hair and the ability to convoy his internal struggles.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Kung Fu Chefs (功夫廚神) is a 2009 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Sammo Hung, Vanness Wu, Cherrie Ying, and Kago Ai.
The movie is about the kung fu art of making Chinese food. Sammo Hung, as Bing Yi, is the master chef of his village. During a banquet, he's frame and subsequently kicked out. Vanness Wu is Kin, a recent graduate of a culinary school. Kin wants to increase his skills and seeks another master chef. When he seeks this master at Four Seas restaurant. But the master chef he seeks has just been defeated. Kin now joins Bing Yi's team. Learning the skills from the master, Kin's skills increase and is a force to be dealt with in the culinary world.
With Kung Fu, you have to have a competition and revenge. Queue the reason for the action and fight scenes.
A fun watch, but it has a lot of cheezy low grade effects. This reminds of 80s style HK movies.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The Way We Are (天水圍的日與夜) is a 2008 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Paw Hee-Ching, Chan Lai-Wan, and Juno Leung.
The movie follows a few days in the life of Mrs. Cheung and her son Cheung Ka-On, played by Pau Hei-Ching and Juno Leung. Granny Foon moves into the same building and becomes co-workers with Mrs. Cheung. We follow The Cheungs during a few days of summer break. Granny Foon has become good friends with Mrs. Cheung and Cheung Ka-On has been very helpful.
It's a rather slow movie. And you must have patience to watch this. This film has been up for many awards and you can see why as it's a well made film. It definitely falls on the artsy fartsy side of things.
In the end, it was rather enjoyable as it was a nice to see a simple slice of life of a rather normal HK family.
Give it a go and see what all the fuss was about.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
倚天屠龍記 - Yi Tian Tu Long Ji - Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre - 2009 - Upcoming - Part 3 - Broadcast Started
倚天屠龍記 (Yi Tian Tu Long Ji/Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre) started broadcasting on October 23 in China. Half of the series is already online.
Looks like I'll be able to get my hands on this around Christmas time.
Still don't like the all the female leads.
But I am eagerly awaiting this. And I had a follow up about 5 months ago and another follow up 3 months ago.
All the episodes and fan films are coming out in droves. Deng Cao also provides the vocals for the opening to the series.