Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Exiled - 放逐

Exiled (放逐) is a 2006 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Anthony Wong, Nick Cheung, Francis Ng, Roy Cheung, and Lam Suet. The supporting cast include Simon Yam, Josie Ho, and Richie Ren. The film was written and produced by Johnny To. Exiled has a limited relation the 1999 Johnny To film, The Mission.

The movie is primarily based in Macau. 5 childhood friends who grow up into gangsters congregate at the house of one that's left the triads. 2 are there to save the guy and 2 are there to take him out. But emotions run thick as the 5 are very close. In the end, the former gangster dies and the 4 remaining guys set out for revenge in the most unique of ways.

The final gun fight is one for the ages and the ones scattered throughout the film are very nice too. It reminds me of the gun play movies of John Woo when he was a HK movie machine.

A very slow movie when the action is on pause, but very intense. If you're a Johnny To fan, this is a must see.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Mission - 鎗火

The Mission (鎗火) is a 1999 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Anthony Wong, Francis Ng, Jackie Lui, Lam Suet, Roy Cheung, and Simon Yam. The film was produced and directed by Johnny To.

5 of these guys are the guards for a triad boss. They take their jobs very seriously. You see a lot of different scenarios where they protect their boss and work as a fluid team. Stylist gun play and unique scenarios make the action amped up and never a let down.

The movie has been very highly regarded by many HK cinema enthusiast. However, I didn't like the film that much in 1999 and when I re-watched it a few weeks ago. The cats are totally too cool for their suits, but I didn't get the "wow" feeling after it ended. In fact, I was wondering when the movie would end.

But the movie is still very good. Johnny To goes on to make a lot more movies that are even more stylish than this.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Elixir of Love - 花好月圓

Elixir of Love (花好月圓) is a 2004 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Richie Ren and Miriam Yeung.

Miriam Yeung plays the only daughter of the Emperor, Heung. But Heung was born with a rare disease, she stinks all the time. Heung is now at an age of marriage, the Emperor challenges the citizens. Whoever can cure the Princess of her odor can marry her. Richie Ren plays Shum, a laborer with an extreme love for flowers and fragrances. Shum enters the contest and makes it to the final two. He has 3 months to come up with a winning solution. Shum retreats back to his village and starts to experiment with different cures. Shum befriends a group of fish mongers and experiments with them. Among these fish mongers is Princess Heung in disguise. Shum and Heung eventually become close and may be falling for each other. Who will Shum choose, the princess in the palace or the stinky fish monger that's in front of him.

The movie was right up Richie Ren's ally in the 1999-2005 era of romantic comedies. My wife is a fan of Richie's music and subsequently his movies. But by 2004, she wasn't watching much anymore. The movie has a predictable formula. I'll be honest, it crept up my netflix and it came. I wasn't ready for it, but it was enjoyable for the most part. Maybe if I watched in 2004, it would have been better.

I wasn't able to find a trailer, just a MV on YouTube.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Running Out of Time - 暗戰

Running Out of Time (暗戰) is a 1999 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Andy Lau, Sean Lau, and Yoyo Mung. The film was produced and directed by Johnny To.

Andy Lau, plays Cheung, a terminally ill cancer victim. With 4 weeks left to live, Cheung sets the stages of a cat and mouse cat between him and Ho Sheung-Sang, played by Sean Lau. Cheung and Ho meet via a planned robbery by Cheung. Ho is told that a game will be played for the next 72 hours (3 days). Cheung escapes, but Ho catches up to him. Cheung escapes again. There goes your cat and mouse chase.

I can't really go much further into the story as I'll reveal spoilers for the plot. You can read the wikipedia plot version for a more concise version.

I had seen this film back in 1999 when it was first released. But had since forgotten about it. Recently made aware of it again via's Top 100 movies of the 1990s, I decide to get it via Netflix.

I can't say that I really enjoyed it that much, but it was a style of film that started to define what would be early 2000s HK films for me. More story and less action. For me, HK films of the 80s and early 90s were about action, but with a story behind it too. The shift was to move away from the action and go towards story. Which is good, but just not as exciting.

A good film none the less and it does feature Andy Lau and Sean Lau, two of most accomplished actors in HK cinema.

The English name of the film doesn't match the Chinese name. The Chinese name is "dark/hidden/secret" and "war/battle". Both titles do describe the movie. The Chinese one is a much better description of the contents of the film.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

有一天 - One Day - Upcoming

有一天 (One Day) is an upcoming film being released in Taipei on June 4, 2010. The movie is produced by famed Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien. The movie stars Nikki Hsin-Ying Hsieh and Bryan Shu-Hao Chang. It is also the first full film from Hou Chi-Jan.

From the trailer, the movie looks to be about "love". Love from the past, Love for the present, and are you willing to take that leap for future guarantee of Love.

Looks abstract and it was well received at the Berlin film festival. My guess that it's half artsy fartsy and half modern. I hope that the balance can make it watchable. Unfortunately, for Taiwan cinema to advance, I think you'll need more mainstream films than artsy fartsy ones.

13 days to film the movie is rather impressive. I hope the editing can take that style of gorilla film-making to the masses.

Friday, March 26, 2010

America's Best Dance Crew - Season 5 - Illusions Challenge

Last night was the ninth episode of America's Best Dance Crew (Season 5), Illusions Challenge.

The remaining four crews for season 5 took the stage having to perform an illusion as part of their routines. If you remember back to season 3, the illusions challenge was maybe the best overall episode. Would this hold true in season 5? It did not unfortunately. But the show was still pretty entertaining. Nothing mind blowing.

Poreotix and Hype 5-0 were both voted into the top 2. Poreotix put on a pretty good show. But again, nothing special but entertaining none the less. Hype 5-0 was a little blah.

Blueprint Cru and Jungle Boogie fell to the bottom. Blueprint went cabaret, but I didn't get it. Jungle Boogie had a lot of energy, but I didn't really enjoy it.

In the end, Jungle Boogie was eliminated to my surprise. I thought they were a shoe in for the finals. Now, unless Hype 5-0 puts on an amazing performance next week, it's gonna be Poreotix and Blueprint Cru in the finals.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

紅氣球 - The Flight of the Red Balloon

紅氣球 (The Flight of the Red Balloon) is a 2007 film out of France. The film is directed by famed Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien.

The movie follows the life of a Chinese exchange student in France, played by Fang Song as Song. Song is the care taker for Simon and his mother Suzanne. The story followers a slice of Suzanne, Simon, and Sang's life. You go from school pick up, to pinball machine, to piano lessons. Suzanne has problems with her current partner and father of Simon, Pierre. The tenant downstairs hasn't payed rent in over a year. Suzanne's life is a roller coaster of emotions and interactions. Song and Simon however, have a calm and even demeanor through it all.

The movie is very slow and you may have 40% of the film following a red balloon. Some of it is like the bag a la American Beauty. It was a very hard watch since I wasn't prepared to watch a artsy fartsy film. It's also in French and I had to read subtitles. Which making doing other things while the film is on very hard.

Critics loved it, I didn't and Netflix raters didn't either.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gran Torino - 經典老爺車

Gran Torino (經典老爺車) is a 2008 film. The movie stars Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, and Ahney Her. This is a mainstream Hollywood film that features Hmong American as a prominent part of the storyline.

The movie starts at the funeral of Walt Kowalski's, played by Clint Eastwood, wife. The story eventually follows Walt back to his home and his broken relationship with his two sons. Walt was a Korean war veteran and worked at a Ford plant for 50 years before retiring. Now retired and widowed, Walt spends a lot of his time on his porch. Walt's neighborhood has progressively transformed into a ethnic community with a high concentration of Hmong. His next door neighbors are a Hmong family of a grandmother, mother, daughter and son. Walt befriends Sue, played by Ahney Her, after Walt helps Sue's brother, Thao, played by Bee Vang, out. Thao has been recruited repeatedly to join a Hmong gang. And the night before, Thao tried to steal Walt's 1972 Gran Torino as an initiation, but failed. Sue and family eventually get to know Walt more. Thao is forced to serve Walt for 2 weeks to work off his wrong doing. In that time, Walt teaches Thao how to be "handy". And they strike up a friendly relationship. Walt even gets Thao a job as a construction worker. But things go south when the gang wants Thao to join again and uses many scare tactics.

The movie was pretty intense and it was interesting to see "Hmong" life onscreen. Was it accurate? I have no idea. I'll be honest that I do not know much of anything about the Hmong. The portrayal seemed to be sympathetic.

The movie did feature Walt splitting out racists remarks the whole way. It did drive home Walt's character, but the message seemed to express that its normal to be racists. It is not ok to be racist. Regardless of your background, life experiences. However, this is a very "American" type of thought pattern. Chinese pop culture is extremely racist.

I liked and dis-liked the film at the same time. The movie was well made and is an inspirational story. But at the same time, it was another story of how a white man saves the Asians from their own destruction. Because, as Hollywood would like you know, there's no hope for the Asians. Especially if you leave them to fend for themselves among their own.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

2010 US Census

I've recently submitted my very first Census form for my family of 4. The last 2 census, my dad filled it out for me. But for the 2010 Census, I filled it out for my family. There's not much information to give actually. Other than your name and birthday, it asked for your ethnicity. In the past, I am pretty sure that my father checked the box in the Asian category for "Chinese". However, in this years' Census, I wrote in "Taiwanese" for my family.

Technically, I qualify for both Chinese and Taiwanese. My parents would check Chinese this year too. As they were both born in China, moved to Taiwan when they were around 10, immigrated to the US when they were around 30, and spent the last 30 plus years in the US. In Taiwan, I would be considered an Waishengren (外省人) because my parents came from the mainland. Waishengren or not, I was born in Taiwan. That makes me as much Taiwanese as anyone in Taiwan, outside of the aborigine groups of Taiwan. Since I am Taiwanese, my two daughters are too. My wife is an second generation Taiwanese-American (born in the states from Taiwanese parents). So, that makes my whole family Taiwanese.

Prior to this past decade, there wasn't a lot of "I am Taiwanese" speak in the greater Los Angeles area. In general, prior to 2000, if you were asked your ethnicity, most people would say "Chinese". However, these last years, the common response is most likely "Taiwanese" now if you have any "Taiwan" connections.

That's actually happened to my Chinese friends with origins in Singapore and Malaysia as well. I didn't hear any, "I am Singaporean" or "I am Malaysian" much until these last ten years. It's very common to hear that now as well.

But if you ask me what I am, I'll say, "I am American". I've been a resident of Los Angeles since I was four, all my schooling has been in the US. And my Chinese isn't that good. I am a naturalized American citizen. So, within American, I can be Asian American, Taiwanese American, Chinese American, and an Angeleno.

So, what are you? And what did you put on your Census?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Planet Hulk - 浩克星

Planet Hulk (浩克星) is 2010 animated film from the Marvel Animation Studios. The film is based on the hugely popular comic book series of the same name from 2006.

The Hulk is sent in a space ship to a distant planet by the Illuminati (Iron Man, Mister Fantasic, Doctor Strange, and Androd - film version). On the way to a planet that is livable, Hulk starts to smash and sends the space craft off course into a worm hole. The worm hole sends the Hulk to a planet called Sakaar. Sakaar is filled with many different races and is captured as a slave. As a slave, he's sent in as a gladiator. The Hulk proceeds to SMASH, but also show a more "human" side to this incarnation. In the end, Hulk saves the planet from the existing monarchy. Thusly named, Planet Hulk.

Marvel animation has done a great job of putting out a good PG-13 type animated film every film since 2006. This one is no exception. The animation is based on "American" standards so the detail and action lines are not anime like. But I liked it more for the storyline than the animation.

A must watch for you Marvel fanboys. Even if you are not an Hulk fan.

BTW - I came up with the Chinese name. 浩克星 is "hul-ke" planet vs. Planet Hulk.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Departures - 送行者:禮儀師的樂章

Departures (送行者:禮儀師的樂章) is 2008 film out of Japan. The movie stars Masahiro Motoki, Ryoko Hirosue, Tsutomu Yamazaki, and Kimiko Yo.

The movie is about a cello player, Masahiro Motoki as Daigo Kobayashi, that moves back to his hometown when he is unable to find an orchestra to play for. Daigo's wife, Ryoko Hirosue as Mika Kobayashi, also follows him back without an argument. Daigo starts looking for a job and answers an job ad with a misprinted job description. Daigo inadvertently joins a encoffinment business. Ashamed but unable to turn down the money, Daigo takes the job. Back at home, Daigo hides his job from Mika. Daigo slowly starts to learn the craft of one that does encoffinment. Mika finds out and ask Daigo to quit. But Daigo has a love for the job that he didn't think he had in the beginning. Mika leaves Daigo and goes back to her hometown. But comes back when Mika reveals that she is pregnant. Mika asks again for Daigo to quit and to get a "normal" job. But Mika's heart changes when she sees Daigo perform an encoffinment ceremony.

The movie was well received around the world and won an Oscar last year. I can see why as the movie really goes into character development of its 4 main leads. But specifically Daigo. From his failure as a cello player, to learning a new craft that others look down on, to figuring out how to be a good husband, and the resolution of his childhood parental issues with his mother and father.

I must admit that this film was a tearjerker. It really went out of its way to present death and the families attitude towards the deceased.

I would recommend this film to anyone. But this film is not for children.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

America's Best Dance Crew - Season 5 - Usher Challenge

A couple of nights ago was the eighth episode of America's Best Dance Crew (Season 5), Usher Challenge.

The remaining five crews for season 5 took the stage performing to the music and moves of Usher. Usher pre-recorded tasks for the crews.

Jungle Boogie, Poreotix, and Hype 5-0 were the top three and moved on next weeks show. Poreotix had a very memorable performance. Gone are the days of isolations for 90% of the show. This young fellas threw in b-boy moves and played to the crowd. Five 5-0 also had a good performance. Jungle Boogie, wasn't as into it.

Blueprint Cru and Saltare fell to the bottom. Both had ok, but not very exciting performances.

In all, I would like to see Hype 5-0 and Poreotix as the final two. Unfortunately, I think it'll be Poreotix and Jungle Boogie as I look at the voting and the way the judges of been swayed. Jungle Boogie is riding a lot of good will from both the voters and judges. I don't think that kind of karma can be stopped.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Up In The Air - 型男飛行日誌

Up In The Air (型男飛行日誌) is a 2009 film. The film stars George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick.

The movie is about George Clooney's character of Ryan Bingham. Ryan is a professional "layoff" specialist and spends around 322 days a year on the road. Travel to various companies that rather have strangers do the laying off. Along the way, Ryan meets Vera Farmiga as Alex Goran in a hotel. They strike up a causal traveling relationship. However, at Ryan's headquarters, a new idea of firing people over a T1 is introduced. Which means that Ryan is grounded. Ryan convinces he boss to spend the person behind the idea come with him. That person is Anna Kendrick as Natalie Keener.

Along the way, there is a security scene where George stereotypes Asians as efficient and the type of people that you should line up behind. This scene also shows up in the trailer.

In all, it was a good film that reminded me of my traveling days a few years ago. The funny was funny, eye opening and depressing all at the same time.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Myth - 神話

The Myth (神話) is a 2010 wuxia drama out of China. The series stars Hu Ge, Bai Bing, Ren Quan, Chang Chih, Zhang Meng, and Jin Sha.

This wuxia series is vastly different than the 2005 movie from Jackie Chan. Although the main elements of the movie do drive the series. The movie was based on re-incarnation of the Jackie character. The series is based on time travel.

The series starts around with the introduction of Yi Xiao Chuan, played by He Gu. Xiao Chuan is a photographer and adventurer. On this particular day, he's gone into a remote area to photograph stuff. But in a strange turn of events, he's stung by a snake and clinging on to dear life. But a magical amulet is nearby. When Xiao Chuan touches it, he is saved.

We than move on to the site of a dig around the Terracotta Army. Da Chuan, played by Ren Quan is a archeologist and the older brother of Xiao Chuan. Get it, Da and Xiao Chuan. How convenient. You don't need to think to know who's the elder. Xiao Chuan shows Da Chuan the amulet. Da Chuan says its a archeological find. At the same time, other things are found at the site, including a magical box.

But a group of bad guys burst onto the scene and steal the magical box. Da Chuan and Xiao Chuan gives chase. Xiao Chuan catches up with the guys and defeats them to get the box back. When Xiao Chuan opens the box, he's magically brought back 2000+ years into the past. Xiao Chuan is brought to the Qin Dynasty, roughly 210 BC. Xiao Chuan brings a friend with him, named Gao Yao.

From that point on, the story forks from ancient to present. About 70/30. Xiao Chuan makes his way thought the ancient times with his present upbringing. Along the way, he befriends many many historical figures between the Qin and Han dynasty.

The series is very playful for the first third of the series. Gets more serious during the second third. The last third brings back all the movie elements. The ending can be said to fit the movie quite well.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thirst - 蝙蝠:血色情慾

Thirst (蝙蝠:血色情慾) is a 2009 film out of Korea. The movie stars Song Kang-ho and Kim Ok-bin. The film was directed by Park Chan-wook of Oldboy fame.

The movie is about Song Kang-ho as Sang-hyun. Sang was brought up in an catholic orphanage and went into the priesthood in Korea. A devote man of faith, he truly wants to help others. Sang signs up as an volunteer for a experiment for the Emmanuel Virus (EV) vaccine somewhere in Europe or Africa. Like the other volunteers, he falls victim to the deadly outcome of EV. However, during this death experience, he receives a blood transfusion. That blood was that of a vampire. The blood helps Sang recover completely from EV. Sang goes back to Korea and starts to go back to normal priesthood duties. Including praying for the healing of others. On one such trip, he heals the cancer of a childhood friend. Thus begins Sang's relation with his friends wife, Kim Ok-bin as Tae-ju. At the same time, the effects of the blood makes a complete transformation of Sang into an vampire. Including super strength, fast healing, and an appetite for sin. Which includes a adulteress affair with Tai-ju. Sang eventually converts Tai-ju into a vampire so they could be together forever.

The movie itself explores many things that is labeled taboo in human nature. It also takes bits and pieces of vampire mythos that are convenient for the story.

In the end, the movie was not able to live up the hype. Maybe I needed to watch the movie with no preconceptions. However, at the end, I was ultimately let down. The story is unconventional and the subject matter is very specific. Maybe if I had some background on catholic traditions, I may have thought more of it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Hangover - 醉後大丈夫

The Hangover (醉後大丈夫) is a 2009 film. The movie stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Justin Bartha. With a supporting that includes Heather Graham and Ken Jeong. And a very special cameo by Mike Tyson.

The movie follows 4 guys who head off to Vegas for a bachelors party. But they have a huge hangover and lose the groom. The 3 guys now have to back track from the night before. Unfortunately, they have a special hangover and none of the 3 remember a thing.

The movie features a special cameo by Mike Tyson that is pretty funny. The drawback of the movie is the stupid Chinese gangster caricature played by Ken Jeong, with FOB accent to boot.

In all, I laughed a lot, was more appalled than anything else. The three guys have such different personalities that they played off each other well.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dolls - 偶斷絲連

Dolls (偶斷絲連) is a 2002 film out of Japan. The movie is written and directed by Takeshi Kitano. The movie is an emsemble cast that includes Miho Kanno and Hidetoshi Nishijima.

The movie is broken up in to 3 stories. The main story for me were the 2 drifting love birds. Matsumoto is engaged to be married but remembers a past wrong. Matsumoto sets out to right this wrong, but instead leads to a life of drifting.

The movie was slow and the stories didn't always seem what it should. I was drawn to watch this movie by the well made trailer. But in hindsight, I don't recall liking this movie much.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sonatine - 奏鳴曲

Sonatine (奏鳴曲) is a 1993 film out of Japan. The movie was written, directed, and starred Takeshi "Beat" Kitano.

The movie follows Murakawa, played by Takeshi "Beat" Kitano, a yakuza member in Tokyo. Murakawa is a "boss" due to his many years in the yakuza. But he's not popular and is sent to Okinawa to settle a dispute. The scene in Okinawa is vastly different than that of Tokyo. Murakawa is not happy that he's sent there. But his office in Okinawa is bombed and his crew retreat to a beach house. There, hijinx ensue and they befriend the lovely Miyuki, played by Aya Kokumai. But the hard life of the yakuza disrupts their beach get away. Murakawa is forced to put the Okinawa situation to rest.

The movie was super slow, but when it picks up, it really impresses. There's not a lot of action and there is not a lot of dialog. Scenes are cut long and the effects a little B movie grade. But the point of the movie isn't about effects and a tight story. It's about the hard life of yakuza.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Kikujiro - 菊次郎之夏

Kikujiro (菊次郎之夏) is a 1999 film out of Japan. The movie stars Takeshi Kitano and Yusuke Sekiguchi. The film was also written and directed by Takeshi Kitano.

The movie follows the adventures of Kikujiro, an ex-yakuza, that is totally obnoxious. Kikujiro helps Masao look for his mom. Masao has an address and that's enough to go on as the two set out from the hustle and bustle of the city to the countryside of Japan. Along the way, lots of different situations happen that put Kikujiro's resolve and character to the test. These situations include the funny and touching.

I actually feel asleep watching this film with a group of friends. There were so many walking scenes and I was extremely tired that night. But I rented it again later to re-watch it and it was a blast.

The movie is extremely slow paced and the character development can get frustrating, but the payoff is nice. If you're looking for a quirky and to a certain degree, light hearted movie, you can check this one out.

Friday, March 12, 2010

America's Best Dance Crew - Season 5 - Disco Challenge

Last night was the seventh episode of America's Best Dance Crew (Season 5), Disco Challenge.

In this episode, the remaining seven crews for season 5 took the stage, but due to technical difficulties with the voting two weeks ago, two crews will be eliminated this week.

Blueprint Crew gained immunity last week and was up first. BC had a pretty fun performance. Good lifts, funky guitar, and the soul train line. But it was missing that extra "wow" factor.

In comparison, Poreotix gave their more energetic performance to date.

For the bottom three, I thought they were going to keep Heavy Impact. But they ended up keeping Jungle Boogie around.

I like the show this week. Nothing impressive, but still entertaining.

I think we may be seeing Saltare's welcome exhausted next week.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Blind Swordman: Zatoichi - 座頭市

The Blind Swordman: Zatoichi (座頭市) is 2003 film out of Japan. The film stars Beat Takeshi and Tadanobu Asano.

The movie is follows The Blind Swordman named Zatoichi to a village in Japan. The village is in a middle of Yakuza war between two powerful gangs. Zatoichi fights fot the common man and eradicates those that use their force with prejudice. Zatoichi helps out the villagers by taking down the Yakuza of the town.

I am not actually that familiar with the Zatoichi mythos. I didn't grow up watching too many Japanese imports, so this Zatoichi film was fresh for me. Although the manga and talk of Zatoichi has been around for many many years.

The movie had great pacing and dealt with everyday life of the villagers well. As well as Samurai trying to make ends meat in a changing society. The tales of villians and heroes were at times black, white, and very grey.

This is a must watch for all you samurai loving fans.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Hurt Locker - 危機倒數

The Hurt Locker (危機倒數) is a 2009 film starring Jeremy Renner and directed by Kathryn Bigelow. The movie has also done well at all the award shows, including the Oscars.

The movie follows an U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) group of three in Iraq. The tech lead of the group is killed in the first scene and replaced by Jeremy Renner's character, William James. The movie than spends the next half of the movie following various missions that they go on and the kind of dangers that they face. The later half to a third start to explore the characters of the group, but specifically William James.

The movie was quite intense. The explosions were very realistic and it really felt like you were there, at least in my mind. The character explorations also connected you to the group and what they go through. At the end of the movie, I felt really tight and uneasy. The subject matter is intense and the Iraq situation is so touchy.

From personal experience, a childhood friend who became a life long army guy out of High school was killed on duty in Iraq. I've also had co-workers spouses get shipped off to Afghanistan. A client of my company has been sent to Afghanistan and Iraq and came back injured nearly losing his life. I bet many people in the states have similar experiences.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Iron Man 2 Trailer

The new Iron Man 2 (鋼鐵人2) trailer is out. Let me tell you, it is pretty awesome. I am mad that the rest of the world will get to see Iron Man 2 on April 30th. But here in Los Angeles, I have to wait until May 7th.

The movie is a fanboys delight. From the over the top Tony Stark, to the the beginnings of "The hall of armors", to War Machine. The story is very much bits and pieces of the run by David Michelinie, Bob Layton, and John Romita Jr. from 1979-1982.

One thing that I am glad that they haven't explored yet is the stupid Mandarin storyline. Iron Man 1 hinted at "rings", but didn't dive into it. If number 3 or future ones do cover Mandarin. It's gonna suck. You can imagine all the stupid Chinese stereotypes getting worked in.

Also coming out this week were the Iron Man 2 toys. Dood! There's like a gazillion Iron Man 2 toys. Seriously great toys. Why weren't these out when I was a wee lad?!

Monday, March 8, 2010

一頁台北 - Au Revoir Taipei - Upcoming

一頁台北 (Au Revoir Taipei) is an upcoming film being release in Taipei on April 2nd.

The movie stars Amber Kuo, Joseph Chang, Tony Yang, Peggy Tseng, Jack Yao, Lawrence Ko, Jack Kao, and Frankie Kao.

The trailer looks interesting in the fact that it seems to take place in modern day Taipei, but some elements are 70s style.

The background music for the trailer is dope too. I haven't been able to figure out if its The Postal Service or not.

Looks to be a fun film by a Taiwanese American, Arvin Chen. What can his American upbringing lend to this Taipei story?

The English translation is One Page Taipei.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Poker King - 撲克王

Poker King (撲克王) is a 2009 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Louis Koo, Sean Lau, and Stephy Tang. Supporting cast include Cherrie Ying, Josie Ho, Jo Kuk, and Kama Lo. Although this movie is from Hong Kong, almost all of it takes place in Macau.

The story is about Poker! Texas Hold 'em Poker. All the rage on the sports channels in the US. Is Poker even a sport? Throwing chips and cards takes a lot of skill. Louis Koo plays Jack, the heir to a casino in Macau. Sean Lau plays Uno, the current head of the casino after Jack's father passes away. Uno brings Jack in to help him run the casino. But Jack's a computer poker king, but not very good at the table. Uno forces Jack out of the casino. Jack roams the streets of Macau and finds Smiley, played by Stephy Tang. Jack and Smiley form a partnership. Jack gets better and better. Will Jack have enough to face Uno again?

The movie was really loose. The plot was everywhere. The gals were really pretty, but the story didn't flow well. But I actually enjoyed it. It's worth a watch, but don't expect it to be good.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

America's Best Dance Crew - Season 5 - Lady Gaga Challenge

A couple of nights ago was the sixth episode of America's Best Dance Crew (Season 5), Lady Gaga Challenge.

In that episode, the remaining seven crews for season 5 took the stage, but due to technical difficulties with the voting the week prior, no one was eliminated. But 2 crews will bite the dust next week. They also introduced an "immunity" prize for the group the judges liked the most.

This week was rather entertaining. Even though no one group really stood out as the "favorite". I think Heavy Impact and Jungle Boogie will be the two crews eliminated next week.

Much like Season 4, no one is a front runner. It's anyone's guess who'll make it to the final two.

Friday, March 5, 2010

射鵰英雄傳 - Legend of the Condor Heroes - Broadcasting

Starting Monday, March 8th, CTS will be broadcasting 射鵰英雄傳 (Legend of the Condor Heroes 2003).

This version is still my favorite version of the 4 out. Li Ya Peng's turn as Guo Jing was spot on for me. Zhou Xun is serviceable as Huang Rong. But it was the drama as a whole that keeps me liking it years after. I'll have to put it on again someday.

Unfortunately, I have the VCD version. Imagine having to change the disc for every episode. I'll have to pick up the Taiwan version one of these days.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the 1990s

Below is the list I submitted to for the Top 50 list of HK films for the 1990s.

Here is my list:

  1. Hard Boiled

  2. Chungking Express

  3. Chinese Odyssey I & II

  4. Once Upon a Time in China II

  5. Swordsmen II

  6. C'est la vie, mon chéri

  7. Once A Thief

  8. Legend of the Liquid Sword

  9. Bullet in the Head

  10. Royal Tramp I

  11. Once Upon a Time in China IV

  12. City Hunter

  13. The Bare-Footed Kid

  14. The Bride with White Hair

  15. A Moment of Romance

  16. Ashes of Time

  17. Armour of God II: Operation Condor

  18. Mermaid Got Married

  19. The Longest Nite

  20. Tom, Dick and Hairy

The hard part about putting this list together was the that according to this HK Film archive promoted by Lord Kozo of, there were 1,344 movies released in the the 1990s. Looking at that list really fast, I probably saw about 30-40% of those. That's a lot of films I missed out on. On the other side is that I didn't re-watch the majority of the films. So, I really can't remember all of them. But the list above are the movies I remember and they are fond memories.

Did I forget some films that should make my top 20? Absolutely! But with 1,344 films, this is all I could do for the time allotted me by life.

In the future, I would like to re-watch these. At the moment, I've only seen 4 of these in the past 10 years. So, I am going purely off memory. Netflix, here I come!

BTW - I don't consider "Ashes of Time" a 00s film, even if WKW redux it. Just like I still consider Star Wars a 1977 film, even though GL redux it with new scenes and graphics in 1997.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bodyguards and Assassins - 十月圍城

Bodyguards and Assassins (十月圍城) is a 2009 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Donnie Yen, Leon Lai, Nicholas Tse, Li Yuchun, Wang Xueqi, Hu Jun, Tony Leung, Eric Tsang, Simon Yam, and Fan Bingbing. The movie is based on visit to Hong Kong by Sun Yat-sen in 1905.

Sun Yat-sen will touch down in Hong for a mere 1 hour to talk to the revolutionaries. But the Qing officers don't want that to happen and would like to assassinate him while he's in Hong Kong. Enter Wang Xueqi as the money behind the supporters based in Hong Kong. The people you see in the poster all work to protect him. And one that wants to take him out.

The movie is not very action based until Sun Yat-sen arrives. The movie up to that point is all character development and back story on why its important to protect Sun Yat-sen with their lives!

It was both intense and thought provoking. Because of Donnie's presence, you might think this is an action film. But its only a third of the film. You shouldn't miss this one.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics - Final Thoughts

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics are now over and the world can go back to normal. It's been a great 2 week run. I followed the Pairs and Women's Figure Skating. I watched as Apollo won medals, but none were gold. I saw a bunch of skiers succeed but more so for not finishing. The 50 Kilometer cross country skiing had killer finishes.

Asian countries seem to dominate the top spots of short track speed skating and figure skating these days. Asian Americans and Asian Canadians have also added to that mix.

I would have rather watched the figure skating gala than the closing ceremonies.

In all, I liked these games and wished it had gone on longer.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles, March 2010

Much has changed in just 2 short months.

There are now 4 more free digital stations with Mandarin Chinese content since my last update on January 1st! Four!

57.9 was advertising at my daughters' Chinese school during their spring festival celebration. So, I checked it out and it's mostly Taiwan programming. The station is run by Zhong Want TV Inc.

Three other new channels:
31.5 - SkyLink TV
31.7 - TBWTV - Advertised for months, but as of my last report, wasn't airing. Now its up.
31.8 - Programming from China (company unknown)

The 31.X channels are really poor signal quality. I can't watch it nor understand anything due to poor sound quality. I'll check them out periodically to see if KVMD gets a stronger signal.

There you have it, 4 more Mandarin Chinese centric stations in the Los Angeles area. It really is making the argument for dropping cable.

BTW - 31.9 and 31.10 are airing content but the signal is so poor, I can't make out what type of broadcast. Maybe it's more Chinese stations!

Related Posts to Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
April 2009
May 2009
October 2009
January 2010