Thursday, September 30, 2010

Amazing Race 17 - Nat and Kat

Due to all the hype around KevJumba, I didn't really pay attention to the rest of the cast, but there's another Asian amoung the other 10 teams. Kat Chang of team Nat and Kat. These two ladies showed great pose and energy getting to the finish line.

I am now not only cheering for Michael and Kevin, I will be cheering for Nat and Kat too now. Thus, I'll be dropping Michael and Kevin from the titles hear on out. I wonder if Kat will know any Chinese when they get to China. We'll see.

This is awesome. Amazing Race 17 would be the best season ever if these two teams finish in the top 2.

Including their bio from the CBS site for historical purposes

Nat and Kat
Nat Strand
Age: 31

Hometown: Scottsdale, Ariz.

Connection to your Teammate: Friend

Current occupation: Doctor

Favorite hobbies: Scuba diving, skiing and traveling

Achievements: Becoming a doctor

Lifelong to do list: Cage dive with great white sharks, take pilot lessons, finish a triathlon, establish a comprehensive pain rehabilitation center, write a book and learn how to speak Spanish.

What scares you most about traveling? Not having access to medical care

What excites you most about traveling? Traveling will give me the opportunity to see new places, learn about different cultures and grow as a person

If I could switch places with someone: The Dalai Lama or Heidi Klum

Role model/hero: My Dad. He is the kindest person I know.

What are you passionate about? I am passionate about helping people live the best possible life.

What would you do if you won the million dollars? If we were to win the million dollars, I would donate money to support challenged athletes and to support the search for a cure for Diabetes. I would pay off my debts from medical school and I would buy a baby blue vintage Bronco with the top chopped off.

People would be surprised to learn: I am absolutely terrified of heights.

Favorite place you have ever visited: Belize

Biggest challenge you and your teammate will face on the Race together: We went to get our backpack for the Race and we could not find Kat's car in the parking garage afterwards. We were in the completely wrong parking structure. Navigation might be our biggest challenge.

What do you hope to accomplish by running the Race (other then winning one million bucks)? I hope to gain personal satisfaction from traveling, meet new people and represent strong, career oriented females.

Pet peeve about your teammate: Kat is so perfect! I don't have a pet peeve.

Kat Chang
Age: 35

Hometown: Santa Monica, Calif.

Connection to your Teammate: Friend

Current occupation: Doctor

Favorite hobbies: Cycling, traveling and eating

Achievements: The biggest achievement for me was completing medical school and residency - both of which did not come easy for me.

Lifelong to do list: Learn to scuba dive, surf and cook; have a rewarding career where I am proud of my work; live a healthy and balanced life; have a loving family; run the New York City marathon; remember to live in the present

What scares you most about traveling? Getting sick

What excites you most about traveling? Meeting new people and seeing/experiencing new things - that makes me reflect and learn something new about myself.

If I could switch places with someone: Maybe only for one day, I would switch with a comedian like Chelsea Handler. She's hysterical and what a great skill to be able to make an entire room erupt in laughter.

Role model/hero: I'm inspired by a lot of people -- especially strong, successful women. Thanks to all the female physicians before who paved the way for my generation of doctors.

What are you passionate about? Travel, love and good food

What would you do if you won the million dollars? Donate to charity, pay off part of my medical school loans and bring some loved ones on a sweet vacation

People would be surprised to learn: I'm very sensitive and emotional.

Favorite place you have ever visited: Bali

Biggest challenge you and your teammate will face on the Race together: Having to adjust to not being in control of our daily schedules

What do you hope to accomplish by running the Race (other then winning one million bucks)? I hope to have a fun adventure. One million dollars would also help make a huge dent in my enormous student loans.

Pet peeve about your teammate: She tends to show up late for things (fashionably of course).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hacienda Heights Chinese Classes

It's sad to hear a neighboring community call Chinese language learning communist. Jay Chen recently did a guess post at Angry Asian Man about the situation. From what I can tell from the opponents is that the program is funded by the government of China. Which is "communist". Which means that what is taught in the classroom will be communist. Which means that the children will be communist. But this is America! Where communist are not allowed.

If you follow that chain of thought, you should be an opponent! No doubt, fight it! But I ask you if that will happen? Will your children become communist if they were taught communist doctrine?

I don't know about you, but my two daughters wouldn't become communist even if they were to head over to China and start classes there. Heck, 2 junior high aged students from the Sichuan area spent two weeks here during the summer as part of a host family program, and I felt more communist than them.

I haven't reviewed the materials, but I'll take Jay's word that the materials do not promote communist agenda. They promote Chinese language learning. I feel sorry for the students too, they'll forget it all when they goto high school where there are no Chinese classes. As a lifelong speaker of Chinese, since moving out of my parents house, my Chinese continues to deteriorate. These kids won't remember the material nor their Chinese language, nor communist doctrine.

I am not for or against the class. If it were offered at my kids school, they probably wouldn't want to be in it. Because I'll already have been sending my kids to private Chinese school for years before that and they'll want to run away from it. They'll say in Chinese to me, "I already speak and write Chinese, I've been in Chinese school for 6 years already and you make me speak Chinese to you." I can hear them already. Ah, the defiance against speaking Chinese.

BTW - the chinese school students these days aren't just Chinese. A fourth are from non-Chinese speaking families that want their children to learn Chinese.

BTW #2 - Jay's use of "Confucius Says" sickens me. It's a reminder of the stupid fortunate cookie racism of the US. I don't know about you, but when I hear it, it's always with a stupid faux accent. But Jay's trying to reach an audience that might relate to what I perceive to be a racial slur.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Losers is a 2010 film out of the USA. The movie is based off an adult themed comic from the Vertigo line of DC Comics. A team of skilled players is framed and tries to find a way back home to clear their name.

The Cast
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Franklin Clay
Idris Elba as William Roque
Zoe Saldana as Aisha al-Fadhil
Chris Evans as Jake Jensen
Columbus Short as Linwood "Pooch" Porteous
Óscar Jaenada as Carlos "Cougar" Alvarez
Jason Patric as Max
Holt McCallany as Wade

The Story
Clay leads a team of 5 called the "Losers" on missions assigned to him. On a mission in Bolivia, they are ordered to tag a compound. Once they've radioed in the tag, they decide to take a look and see children bussed in. They decide to call off the strike but orders above are not changed. The group decide that 10 minutes is enough time to save the kids and proceed to do so. They save the kids and decide to load them into the helicopter that picks them up. Right as the helipcopter lefts off, a plane flies by and destroys it with a missile. Thought to be dead, they decide to work for money to get back to the states. But they can't go back as is and have to get menial jobs. However, Clay is approached by Aisha who promises them help to get to the states if they go and find Max, the person responsible for the hit on the compound. Can these Losers get max and clear their names?

My Thoughts
I had high expectations for this film due to the nice trailer and a couple of friends saying good things about it. So, I might have been expecting it to be great. But it was not. Not even close. I probably wouldn't have liked it even if I had no expectations. Hard to say. But the movie had plots and twists that didn't make sense. The team didn't really seem like a team most of the time. And Aisha's American accent was never explained. Lots of holes that kept me from full engagement. I'd take a pass if I were you.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Amazing Race 17 - Michael and Kevin - Leg 1

I caught the first episode of the Amazing Race 17 last night. KevJumba and his father, Michael, were part of this season's cast. For the first 75% of the show, they didn't get much screen time. Unfortunately, after the first 4th of the teams finished, they started to focus on the other guys, which included Michael and KevJumba.

The show started out in Boston with 11 teams from a pretty varied background. The blond factor seemed to be in full effect though. But in the end, Michael and KevJumba finished 7th!

From the looks of things, things aren't going to go well for Michael and KevJumba. If they can make it to China, maybe they can use that to stay in the game a little, but from the first episode, it's not going to end well. But I will hope for the best!

Ghana seems to be the next stop! Good luck Michael and KevJumba.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Chinese Ghost Story III - 倩女幽魂Ⅲ:道道道

A Chinese Ghost Story III (倩女幽魂Ⅲ:道道道) is a 1991 film out of Hong Kong. The film stars Tony Leung, Joey Wong, Nina Li Chi , and Jacky Cheung. This is the second sequel to the very successful "A Chinese Ghost Story" and "A Chinese Ghost Story II". Directed by Ching Siu Tung and produced Tsui Hark.

The Cast
Tony Leung as Monk Shi Fang
Joey Wong as Lotus
Jacky Cheung as Yin
Nina Li Chi as Butterfly

The Story
Set 100 years after the first film, the tree demon is back in action and up to no good. A pair of monks are on a mission to deliver a golden buddha statue. They end up trapped in the village and do battle with the Tree Demon. But Fang is pretty inept and need the help of Yin to rescue his master. Oh, forgot to mention that the ghost Lotus looks like Nie. Fang and Lotus grow fond of each other.

My Thoughts
You take the formula that did the first movie well and repeat it. But through in some popular guys and see if it sticks. I remember watching this back in 1991 when it came out. Tony Leung was my favorite TVB actor of the 80s and I hadn't seen him in many things. Right around 1991, he started showing up in lots and lots of movies. This was one of them and the character was played pretty well. However, the storyline seems rehashed. Prolly why this was the last in the series.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Chinese Ghost Story II - 倩女幽魂 II: 人間道

A Chinese Ghost Story II (倩女幽魂 II: 人間道) is a 1990 film out of Hong Kong. The film stars Leslie Cheung, Joey Wong, Michelle Reis, and Jacky Cheung. This a sequel to the very successful "A Chinese Ghost Story". Directed by Ching Siu Tung and produced Tsui Hark.

The Cast
Leslie Cheung as Ning Caichen - Mail Protagonist
Joey Wong as Windy - Female Protagonist
Michelle Reis - Moon
Jacky Cheung - Autumn - Taoist Monk
Waise Lee - Fu - General
Wu Ma as Yan Chixia - Taoist Priest

The Story
We leave off almost immediately from the first movie. Ning is leaving for home and is mistakenly thrown into jail. Ning's cellmate is a famous writer. The writer saves Ning and give him a plaque. Once out, he takes a horse nearby thinking it has no owner. But it is the horse of Autumn. Autumn gives chase and finds them in a abandon house. They are ambushed by fake ghost. Among these fake ghost are Windy and Moon. Windy is a look alike of Nie and Ning instantly takes note and wants to find out. Windy and Moon are trying to free their father. Autumn finds ghost in the area and wants to take them out. Ning gets caught up in it all.

My Thoughts
Not as good as the first one, but still very entertaining. Ning starts to get on my nerves in this film. Ning's lack of skill is hard to watch, but when Autumn comes in, it makes up for it. Joey does a good job of playing a strong character in this film, but doesn't really have to do much more. Michelle Reis was quite stunning back in the day. If you liked the first one, you'll prolly also like this one.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Girlfriend Is An Agent - 我的特務女友

My Girlfriend Is An Agent (Secret Couple/我的特務女友/我女友係零零7/7級公務員) is a 2009 film out of Korea. The movie stars Kang Ji-hwan and Kim Ha-neul. This movie has quite a few names associated with it. 3 Chinese names and 2 English names.

Kang plays Su-ji, a government agent disguised as an Travel Agent. Kim plays Jae-jun, disguised as a nerdy accountant but is an Russian expert. The two dated for many years, but due to neglect, Jae-jun heads to the states to study. Su-ji however is two busy with her target to stop him. Three years later, they meet again when Jae returns to Korea. However, this time, they no longer dating and special Spy circumstances get in their way.

The movie was quite long. Longer than it should have been. It was also very Korean centric so i was a little lost at various times in the film. The two agencies, the level of government workers, etc. I would avoid this if you're not that familiar with Korean culture specifics. The two leads also didn't really develop any chemistry for me to cheer them on. If not for Kang, I wouldn't have finished the film.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

一頁台北 - Au Revoir Taipei

一頁台北 (Au Revoir Taipei) is a 2010 Taiwan film. The film stars Amber Kuo and Jack Yao. The supporting cast include Joseph Chang, Lawrence Ko, and Frankie Gao. The film was written and directed by Taiwanese-American Arvin Chen.

The film starts off in Taipei with a gal leaving for Paris and a local boy staying behind. The boy is Kai and has recently graduated from college. Kai helps out with his parents food stall and studies french in a local bookstore. Kai goes to the bookstore daily to study french. A worker at the store, Susie, sees him everyday and starts to take an interest in his activity and eventually him. Kai desperately leaves phone message with the gal that left for Paris with no response back. Eventually one day, Kai gets a call, but its a call to end things. Kai takes into his own hands and decides that he should fly to Paris and win her back. Asking his parents for money without success, he calls on a local loanshark and gets a ticket to Paris. However, that loanshark makes him do something for him. Mistaken for a criminal, Kai and Susie are chased around town by a cop. In the background, the loanshark's muscle kidnap Kai's friend and in exchange for the package that Kai has for the loanshark. The chase around Taiwan begins!

The movie was really amazing. It was an ode to Taipei for both its street life, quarky personality, night market, and food stands. Amber is both sweet and strong at the same time. While Jack was suppose to be emotionless. The subplot that caught my attention was between Joseph Chang, Peggy Tsang, and Tony Yang. That was a weird love triangle in the middle of this caper. The music was also excellent.

I do highly recommend this light hearted romantic comedy that highlights Taipei and its citizens.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing -- 生死戀

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing is a 1955 film from 20th Century Fox. The movie stars William Holden and Jennifer Jones.

After the communist take over China, a widowed doctor with a Chinese father and European mother is relocated to Hong Kong. There she is introduced to an American journalist, Mark Elliot. The journalist is relentless in his quest to woo Doctor Han Suyin. At first, Han is reluctant to due to her Eurasian background, fearing for discrimination they would face as a couple. But love was meant to be and they become a couple. However, Mark is still married, but separated from his wife in Singapore. Will it work out between these 2 star crossed lovers?

I recently saw this movie on the Fox Movie Channel. I probably missed the first 20% of the movie. But when I noticed it being based in Hong Kong, I stopped to watch. And as I watched, the movie started to make sense. I was thinking the whole time that this is a film in the 50s. 50s! And the subject matter is one that is still discussed with passion these days. However, mixed race marriage are commonplace now, it still has its detractors. I was blown away and couldn't stop watching. The movie was hard to figure out. I didn't know if the set was Hong Kong or the Los Angeles Chinatown. In the end, I think it was mostly made in the states with montages of HK.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid - 虎豹小霸王

Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (虎豹小霸王) is a 1969 film that stars Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Katharine Ross. The movie is said to have started the buddy movie formula used many times over. The movie is based on real life events of it's two main protagonist.

Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid are expert bank robbers as well as train robbers. They are successful for a number of years around the turn of the 20th century. But the law seems to be catching up with them and they skip town all the way down to South America's Bolivia. The movie is basically their plight to escape the law and keep robbing.

I recently caught the movie in its entirety on the Fox Movie Channel. Along with some commentary from the producer of the film. The movie is pretty well made and seemed very stylist 40+ years later. The montage of the picture and the way it transitions the movie seemed fresh even today. The movie was also pretty awesome too. Even as I was watching it, the music didn't seem outdated nor give it a "old" feel.

40+ years later, the film stands the test of time. This is a testament to the director, producer, and music coordinator. Great film.

Unfortunately, there was no Asian representation in this film.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Futute X-Cops -- 未來警察

Futute X-Cops (未來警察) is a 2010 film out of Hong Kong staring Andy Lau, Barbie Hsu (大S), Fan Bing Bing, and Mike He.

In the future, 2080, Andy Lau is the chief of a team of cops set to protect a scientist. Fan Bing Bing and Andy are a couple but in the process of protecting the scientist, the wife is killed. But the bad guys find a way to go back in time. But in order to do that, you have to be a cyborg with limited human organs. Andy is transformed into a super cyborg and sent into the past to protect the young scientist.

The movie was pretty weird. It felt slapped together. There seemed to be gaps that just assumed you knew what happened. The acting from Andy felt early 90s when all he did was smile a whole lot and looked surprised. 大S and Andy's romance seemed way icky.

I had high hopes due to its sci-fi nature, but was ultimately let down.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ip Man: The Legend Is Born - 葉問前傳

Ip Man: The Legend Is Born (葉問前傳) is 2010 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Dennis To, Fan Siu-wong, Huang Yi, Yuen Biao, and Rose Chan. The supporting casts includes Sammo Hung, Lam Suet, and Bernice Liu.

The movie starts with Ip Man, played by Dennis To, joining a Wing Chun association. The association is headed by Sammo Hung as Chan Wah-shun. Ip Man joins with his god brother Ip Tin Chi, played by Fan Siu-wong. Ip Man goes off to school in Hong Kong, where he learns English and a separate style of Wing Chun. After he graduates, he heads back to Foshan to rejoin the Wing Chun association. But the Japanese want to take over the association and even plant a spy. Ip Man finds out who this spy is and saves the association. But not before they do lots and lots of fighting.

The movie was a brisk watch over a period of 3 days. On and off I watched and it wasn't a film that made me want to finish it in one sitting. The fighting was ok. Nothing spectacular. If anything, Dennis To's Ip Man seemed slow.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Chinese Ghost Story - 倩女幽魂

A Chinese Ghost Story (倩女幽魂) is a 1987 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Leslie Cheung, Joey Wong, and Wu Ma. Directed by Ching Siu Tung and produced Tsui Hark.

The Cast
Leslie Cheung as Ning Caichen - Mail Protagonist
Joey Wong as Nie Xiaoqian - Female Protagonist
Wu Ma as Yan Chixia - Taoist priest

The Story
Ning is a tax collector and travels to a far away town. Ning take shelter in a abondon village. There Ning meets Nie who is a ghost working for a tree demon. However, Ning doesn't know this and falls in love with Nie. Yan is on a search to destory demons and gets on the trail of Nie. Will Ning let Yan destroy Nie. Will Ning and Nie's love have a happy ending?

My Thoughts
If you've seen enough 80s HK movies, you'll know that a sense of tragedy is part of most successful Hk movies. This movie follows a similar formula. I first saw this film in the late 80s while visiting my grandparents. I have since seen it a couple of times, including most recently. The kung fu in this film was pretty cutting edge at the time. Having grown up on 70s style shaw bros, this style was a blast in the face. The flying and the quick editing was something completely new. I was instantly drawn in. This style would serve Tsui Hark in the Once Upon a Time In China film series. I sort of mess this style. It still seems fresh and very dynamic even 20+ years later. In essence, it stands the test of time and should go down as a HK classic.

I wasn't able to find a trailer so this MV will have to do.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Vengeance - 復仇

Vengeance (復仇) is 2009 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Johnny Hallyday, Anthony Wong, Gordon Lam, Lam Suet and Simon Yam. The movie also features a supporting cast of Michelle Ye, Felix Wong and Maggie Siu. A large portion of the film was in English due to scenes with Hallyday.

A family of four is gunned down by hitmen as the movie starts. The wife is of French decent and her father comes to Hong Kong from Paris. The daughter asked her father, Francis, to take revenge. Francis start looking around Macau but doesn't get anywhere. Dejected, Francis head back to his hotel. On his way back, he bumps into 3 hitmen right after a job. Francis than looks for these 3 to help him find his killers. The three hitmen than methodically located the hitmen that gunned down the family. But there a twist to the story. Hitmen hold no grudge against their victims. Someone hired them and Francis is no after the one who hired the hitmen.

The movie plays at a very similiar pace a Exiled. However, due to Hallyday in the lead, the movie doesn't flow so well. Hallyday seemed very one dimensional and didn't express his feelings through his face. If you watch enough Hk films, the face is 90% of the acting most time. In this case, it was like 1% of the acting. The hitmen however were the interesting part of the film. You knew they were bad to the bone and could take on any comers. I would have rather seen a film focused on the hitmen than the father out for revenge.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Big Shot - 大人物

Big Shot (大人物) is a 2007 wuxia series out of China. The main stars are Nicholas Tse, Angelica Lee, Yan Kuan, Liu Tao, and Zhao Qing. The supporting cast include Tang Yi Fei, Yang Jia, Xiong Nai Jin, and Yang Huai Ming. The version I watched runs a smooth 40 episodes, but its listed as 31 in drama wiki.

The Cast
Nicholas Tse as Yang Fan
Angelica Lee as Tian Si Si
Yan Kuan as Qin Ge
Liu Tao as Gong Zi Chu (Chu Chu)
Zhao Qing as Fei Wu Ji
Si Qin Gao Li as Zhang Hao Er
Tang Yi Fei as Qian Ning
Ren Tian Ye as Liu Qing

The Story

There is a metal masked man that been terrorizing Wu Ling for decades. The masked man has his grips in many activities. Yang Fan is the son of a successful general. Yang Fan is sent to Meteor Clan to study at an early age and has the double duty of finding out its dirty secrets too. However, he's engaged to the daughter of a very rich business man in the capital, Tian Si Si. Si Si is as annoying as heck and wants to get out in the Jiang Hu and see it for herself. However, the night before their wedding, Yang Fan is killed and replaced. No one knows this and not even the replacement Yang Fan. The two get married, but Si Si has more hate than love for her new husband. Can Yang Fan investigate and find out if the Meteor Garden is evil and who is that masked man controlling all those puppets.

My Thoughts
The series was pretty enjoyable for the most part. The wuxia mythos were all there. Strange kung fu, lots and lots of clans, Shaolin monks, cool swords, flying when convenient, and Chu Liu Xiang! Haha, Chu Liu Xiang was in this film. It was also weird that the later half of the series shifted away from the stars, Yang Fan and Si Si. A good third of the series shifted to a snowy mountain adventure that didn't include them. It was strange! And than the last story arc of 45 or so minutes brings them back?! But since they had the Gu Long formula to fall back on, the story wasn't a complete disaster. Nicholas Tse had some really bad acting in this series as well. Tse's acting in Beast Stalker and The Stool Pigeon was completely absent in this series. Angelica's lone venture into wuxia dramas should be considered a complete failure too. Angelica should stick to movies and not play annoying teenager roles. Si Si was seriously annoying for half of the series and it was just strange to see the 30 something Angelica doing it. However bad the acting of the two leads were, the story was the drawing point for me.

This series also features some easy on the eyes female leads. Liu Tao as Chu Chu was stunning and had a fair amount of screen time. Si Qin Gao Li was a welcome surprise as Zhang Hao Er. Si grew on me and I eventually came to appreciate her beauty. Tang Yi Fei stole the show for me. Tang was stunning and her scenes kept me engaged. I hope to see more of Tang. And Xiong Nai Jin rounds out the last of the beauties.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ip Man 2 - 葉問2

Ip Man 2 (葉問2) is a 2010 film out of Hong Kong. The film stars Donnie Yen. Supporting cast include Sammo Hung, Lynn Hung, Simon Yam, and Huang Xiao Ming.

Ip Man escapes to Hong Kong after the communist take over and starts his new life with wife and son. To makes ends meat, Ip Man starts up a school and is given free use of an abandon roof top location. At first, no students show up. Wong Leung decides to give it a try and eventually recruits his friends. However, in order to have a martial arts school in Hong Kong, you need to join and pay association fees. Given this ultimatum, Ip Man is forced to compete with the masters of the schools in the association and the head of the schools. Ip Man is not defeated and refuses to give in. However, a British boxing stars rolls into town and challenges Chinese kung fu. Hung Chun-nam is killed in a fight and offers a rematch, to which Ip Man agrees. Ip Man than trains to fight the British boxer.

The movie was very fast paced and didn't really take anytime to slow. Even the slow parts were brief such as the Simon Yam cameo. The fighting between Ip Man on the British bloke was quite dull and boring. I kept wondering when it was going to end. You just knew Ip Man would come out alive.

Epic failure in my opinion due to the lofty expectations. Donnie's movies have become hype themselves. Its hard to be Donnie these days. Its hard to please us all! You're our last hope Donnie (wink wink, Star Wars reference).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

艋舺 - Monga

艋舺 (Monga) is a 2010 film out of Taiwan. The movie stars Ethan Ruan and Mark Chao. The supporting cast include Doze Niu, Alice Ke, and Rhydian Vaughan.

Based in the 80s, a new student named Mosquito to the area is bullied in school and 4 other boys comes to his rescue. These 5 boys form a brotherhood and hang out not only in school, but when they're out of school. 4 of the boys have been together for quite a number of years. Among the 4 is the son of the current leader of the local mafia, Dragon. Dragon grew up with a sidekick in Monk. Monk is both the brawn and brains of the outfit. However, the area mafia is going through change and it directly affects the 5 boys. The outside forces start to manipulate the area. Thus, a gang war is about to break out and the status quo is going to be a thing of the past. Monk and Dragon's relationship is put to the test and Mosquito finds himself in the middle. The movie revolved Mosquito in a coming of age story versus the other 4, whom already know that their life is with the mafia.

A well made film that established the connection of the 4, explores Mosquito's coming of age story and concludes with a mafia gang storyline. The movie isn't great, but a good film that will make people respect the Taiwan film industry a little more than before. Romantic comedies are hard to sell internationally, but gangster flicks do better. You can see that from 3 other markets, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. Monga is Taiwan's most recent entry.

I had so much hope for this film, having to wait months to get it on DVD with English subtitles that I was ultimately let down at the end. If you have no expectations, this would be a good and maybe a great film. However, a must watch for those dedicated to Taiwan cinema.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Stool Pigeon - 線人

The Stool Pigeon (線人) is a 2010 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Nick Cheung, Nicholas Tse, and Kwai Lun-mei. Supporting cast include Liu Kai-Chi, Lu Yi, Miao Pu, and Philip Keung.

Nick Cheung plays Lee, a police officer that uses informants to crack cases. The beginning story is Lee at an exchange and the informant is identified because the deal goes bad. The informant is subsequently tracked down and brutally beat up. To the point that the informant is not mentally challenged. Fast forward 1 year and another case comes up. Lee finds Car Ghost, played by Nicholas Tse, to be his informant. Car Ghost has connections to Barbarian, a jewel thief. Car Ghost gets in with his gang as the get away driver. Along the way, we find out more about both Lee and Car Ghost's background. How will this relationship end?

The movie was pretty intense and very very violent. I was actually taking back by the grittiness of the fighting. I wasn't expecting the fighting to be the way it way. The story was also very engaging. This time, its still the same cat and mouse game of cop going after the bad guy. But this time, it isn't a an undercover cop, but an informant. The movie explores that dynamic with an exploration between both the informant and the handler.

I highly recommend this film if you're into Dante Lam films. It was a little bit of a let down in comparison to "The Beast Stalker", but that movie was in a league of its own.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Inception - 全面啟動

Inception (全面啟動) is a 2010 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, and Dileep Rao. The film is helmed by famed director Christopher Nolan.

The Cast
Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cobb
Ken Watanabe as Mr. Saito
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur
Marion Cotillard as Mal Cobb
Ellen Page as Ariadne, the Architect
Tom Hardy as Eames
Cillian Murphy as Robert Michael Fischer
Dileep Rao as Yusuf

The Story
A group of hired guns will go into a person's dream to extract valuable information. The way they do this is via a technique developed by the US armed forces to "share dreams" But these team members aren't just sharing dreams, they have roles to fill. A architect is someone who builds the dream and there are the guys the run missions in the dream. Dom and Arthur are a team and look for architects to make their living. Mr. Saito is looking to one up his competition and hires Dom. But this mission is different. This mission isn't to extract information but to plant an idea, Inception.

A must see for any movie fan of suspense trillers. Since the story is based on suspense and slow reveals, my synopsis is going to do the film justice. Its also a movie that's commanded quite a few discussions around the ending and beginning.

You'll get the highest of recommendations from me to watch this film and to watch it on the big screen.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Kick-Ass -- 勁揪俠

Kick-Ass (勁揪俠) is a 2010 film out of the US. The movie stars Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

The movie is about a teenager that decides to become a superhero, Dave Lizewski. Dave gets a costume and goes out on his first mission and gets stabbed and beat pretty bad. Dave survives but is not full of metal and has a decreased sense of pain. After Dave recovers, he goes back out to become a superhero. This time, he is caught on tape and its uploaded. Dave tells the camera guy that he's Kick Ass after he's brutally beat up again. This makes him a celebrity and the city starts have copy cats. However, in the background, there is a real superheros set on taking down the crime boss of the city, Big Daddy and Hit Girl. They make contact with Kick-Ass to keep tabs on him. The crime boss doesn't know this and decides to go after Kick-Ass. Kick-Ass however is preoccupied with his new girlfriend. However, through MySpace, he's found. Will Kick-Ass be able to defeat the crime boss or will he suffer a horrible defeat.

This is one of the better films out this year. Since I am a big comic book fan, the mythos of the movies were familiar to me. And the way the movie was paced made it a easy watch. There were no dead moments.

I highly recommend this film for the excellent pacing, engaging story, and solid acting.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Revenge Of The Nerds

Revenge Of The Nerds is a 1984 film out of the US. The film stars Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards. They are flanked by Timothy Busfield, Andrew Cassese, Curtis Armstrong, Brian Tochi, Larry B. Scott, Ted McGinley, Donald Gibb, Julia Montgomery, and Michelle Meyrink.

The story of Lewis and Glibert that are computer nerds. They head off to college at Adams for their superior computer program. But are kicked out of the freshman hall when the football team take over. Forced to find shelter, they renovate a run down house and get a fraternity to sponsor them, Lambda Lambda Lambda. Along the way, they are bullied and terrorized by the football team. What will they do to get "revenge"?

This brings back really fond memories of my childhood. Even before long duck dong, I was aware of Takashi, played by Brian Tochi. Takashi had a pseudo fob accent and played up the nerdy Asian stereotype of that era. Well, maybe that stereotype is still around. But with perfect grammar and his propensity to follow the group, it wasn't a depiction that helps. But it did push the envelope that Asians were just as likely to be nerds and to want to have fun.

I recently caught this on the Fox Movie Channel in 2 different sessions. Its still a classic and I never did catch the sequels. And I had never watched the uncut movie version as I saw the TV version from the 80s.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Clash Of The Titans - 超世紀封神榜 - 2010

Clash of the Titans (超世紀封神榜) is a 2010 film out of the USA. The film stars Sam Worthington and Gemma Arterton.

The story starts in the sea as young Perseus is told a story by his earth father, Spyros. On a fishing trip, they witness the status of Zeus being thrown into the sea. But a dark force comes from beneath the seas and wipes out the soldiers and subsequently Perseus's family. Perseus is now mad at the gods and wants revenge against Hades. Perseus gains the help of the kingdom and sets out to gain the head of Medusa. Off they go and one by one, the men fall until its time to fight the Titans! Oh wait, the Kraken.

The movie was boring and the special effects were a complete let down. Give me back my time!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Take Off - 國家代表

Take Off (國家代表) is a 2009 film out of Korea. The movie stars Ha Jung-Woo, Kim Dong-Wook, Kim Ji-Seok, Choi Jae-Hwan, Lee Jae-Eung, Song Dong-Il, and Lee Eun-Seong. The supporting casts included Lee Se-Rang, Lee Hye-Suk, Lee Han-Wi, and Hwang Ha-Na.

The story is based in the 90s starting with a variety show where adopted Koreans are coming back to find their birth parents. Bob, played by Ha Jung Woo, is back looking for his parents. Bob and his sister were adopted to the US when they were elementary school age. Bob still remembers his mother. But Bob is unable to find his birth mother. Bob was kicked off the US alpine team just a few years prior to his return to Korea. The local ski-jumping coach takes notice and recruits Bob to join the team and to train the other members. The coach puts together a rag tag team of former rejects. If they win the gold, they will all get a apartment as a reward. The year is 1996 and they work to make it to the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. Will the drama between the coach and team of misfits allow them to chase the gold?

If you look at the history books, there was no Korean team for the 1998 Nagano Ski-jumping competition. So, the story is based on fiction, but rooted in the reality of the Korean team. The team is still very much a rag tag team these days. But the movie takes the real life situations and adds drama elements that makes for a very compiling story. You'll notice that there's quite a fair amount of English spoken in this film and Ha Jung Woo's English is quite stiff, but is passable.

I good take on a real story, but based completely in drama elements. I was drawn in to the characters and their apparent shortcomings right away. Although the movie started to drag in the middle, when the competitions started, I was on board again.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hot Summer Days - 全城熱戀熱辣辣

Hot Summer Days (全城熱戀熱辣辣) is 2010 film out of Hong Kong. The movie is an ensemble cast wrapped around 5 stories. These 5 stories have some interlocking events, but the characters do not drive each others stories. The other aspect is that the temperature is HOT. Everyone has sweat dripping down their faces for most of the movie.

The Driver and the Pianist (Jacky Cheung as Wah and Rene Liu as Li Yan)
Wah is a driver living in Hong Kong. Wah has a daughter and his wife left him a year or so ago. Li Yan is a classically trained pianist looking to make ends meat in Shenzhen. Desperate for a job, Li Yan takes a job as a foot masseuse. By chance, Li Yan and Wah start their relationship via SMS. Will these two ever meet? And what will happen when they do?

The Chef and the Writer (Daniel Wu as Sushi Chef Soy Sauce and Vivian Hsu as Wasabi)
Wasabi head into Hong Kong hoping to settle down with Sushi Chef that she nicknamed, Soy Sauce. Soy Sauce and Wasabi ended their relationship in the past predicated that Soy Sauce needed to own his own restaurant. But when Wasabi calls Soy Sauce to task, Soy Sauce is unable to respond. Devastated, Wasabi heads out, but gets into an accident. In parallel, after Wasabi leaves the restaurant, Soy Sauce comes to his senses and starts to look for Wasabi without success. Will Soy Sauce find Wasabi in time before its too late?

The Bikers (Barbie Hsu as Ding Dong and Nicholas Tse as Wai)
Wai is a AC guy. Repairs and used ones are his specialty. Ding Dong is a rebel with a cause and she's strange too, helping those in the hospital fulfill their last wishes. One night, as Wai was heading out on his Vespa, Ding Dong nearly crashes into him. Wai makes chase and eventually catches up. They start a rebel without a cause type relationship. Will they have an happy ending?

The Factory Girl and the Handy Man (Angelababy as Xiao Qi and Jing Bo Ran as Xiao Fang)
Siu Kei makes her daily trip to the factory and passes the shop of handy man Xiao Fang. Xiao Fang and his boss bet his watch that he can get Sui Kei to be his girlfriend. The next morning, Xiao Fang declares to Siu Kei that he wants her to be his girlfriend. Siu Kei declares that if he stand outside her window for 100 days, she will be his girlfriend.

The Photographer (Duan Yihong as Leslie, Fu Xinbo and Da Fu, and Michelle Wai as Yuan Yuan)
Lesile is a famous photographer that treats his models like trash. Da Fu is his assistance and has dreams of being great too. Lesile wakes up one day with his eyesight diminished. It eventually goes all away and he is blind. They suspect Yuan Yuan cursed Lesile with blindness. Lesile and Da Fu set out to look for Yuan Yuan.

There's a certain level of happenstance between all 5 story arcs. But the characters do not bleed into each others stories. There are also many cameos in the movie. From the likes of Gordon Liu, He Zhuoyan, Charlene Choi, Shawn Yue, Fruit Chan, He Zhuoyan, Kate Yeung, and Maggie Cheung.

Ensemble movies like this really bring out a wide range of emotions. In this case, all the cast members are quite famous. So, you may or may not have any preconceived notions about them. Each story had its own character. But the style flowed though it all.

Random thoughts about the movie include:
- Lots and lots of crying
- Lots and lots of sweat
- The dialects were a treat
- Jacky's story was kept cantonese for story purposes
- Angelababy is beautiful
- Maggie Cheung was a welcomed surprise
- I need to make sure my AC works all the time

For all the shortcomings of this movie, I wasn't bothered by it. The cast really kept me engaged. If it were casts with unknowns, I'd prolly wouldn't be so forgiving. If you know the cast, watch it and enjoy it. If you don't, it might

Monday, September 6, 2010

Black Ransom - 撕票風雲

Black Ransom (撕票風雲) is a 2010 film out of Hong Kong. The movie stars Simon Yam and Michael Miu. The movie also features Liu Yang, Fala Chen, Qu Ying, Andy On, Kenny Wong, and Xing Yu.

The movie is about a cat and mouse chase between cops and kidnappers. In this movie, Michael Miu as Sam, is the mastermind behind the kidnappings. However, the people he kidnaps are mob bosses that do not get prosecuted. Simon Yam as Mann is a the leader of a group of misfit cops. Looked down upon for his old age, Mann is recruited by new police Madam Koo, played by Fala Chen. Mann is to help track down the kidnappers. You get a cat and mouse game after that.

This was a very good movie. Flawed in many areas, but still good enough to put those to the side. The movie does go back and forth in theory of good and bad. Does vigilante-ish merit the law to turn a blind eye? Does playing Robin Hood put you above the law?

Both Michael Miu and Simon Yam put on a performance for the ages. You can see the conflict in their eyes and you can see that really believe their side is the only way.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Triple Tap - 鎗王之王

Triple Tap (鎗王之王) is a 2010 film out of Hong Kong. It stars Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Charlene Choi, and Li BingBing. The supporting cast include Alex Fong, Lam Suet, Chapman To Andrew Lin, and Michael Wong. The film is directed by Derek Lee.

The movie starts with a shooting competition with the first place going to Louis Koo as Kwan. Second place is Daniel Wu as Chong. Kwan congratulates Chong on his improvement. On the way back home, Kwan notices a bank robbery taking place. The robbers start to kill the armored car's securtity guards and ends up killing a traffic cop that comes to the scene. Kwan takes out 3 of the 4 robbers. Calls the police and is named an hero. Chong is part of the police and ends up the lead investigator of the case. But instead of setting Kwan free, he sends Kwan through the prosecution. But the leads end of Chong on the case and he begins to question if Kwan's presence at the scene was coincidence or planned. Chong starts to dig deeper into Kwan's past. Kwan on the other hand starts to make maneuvers to quit his company and retire to a life of traveling.

Signature Derek Lee film. Which two of his favorite actors of late in Louis Koo and Daniel Wu. The film was really well made and the pacing was good. But you could predict where the story was going. And it relied on something that's all too common on a CSI show, showing only a little portion of the crime and than filling it in as the movie goes on. I always feel like that's an un-creative way of telling a story. Which is perfectly fine a show like CSI, but not for a movie.

But the movie was well made and suspenseful nonetheless. I was engaged the whole time and trying to figure it out along the way. Worth its A-List billing.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Funemployed is a web series from KevJumba and Wong Fu Productions. The web series also features contemporary Asian American web celebrity guests like Ryan Higa aka nigahiga, David Choi, and Kina Grannis.

The series was making the rounds of all the AA blogs at the beginning of the summer. As summer comes to a halt in just a few short days, I wanted to re-visit and make sure I get the word out about it.

The series is pretty funny and touches on many taboo subjects. But that's what comedy does. Taking the norm and smashing it in the mouth.

KevJumba and Ted Fu work well together and present an irrelevant slice of life.

And as part of this production, a dope @$$ song was created to bring out the summer spirit called "Dance to this Song".

Friday, September 3, 2010

KevJumba in Amazing Race 17

For the 17th season of Amazing Race, it is confirmed that KevJumba and his father will be participants. Back in June/July/August, it was just rumors floating around. I had even posted about it on August 15, a couple of weeks ago.

From the clip and pass races, this is going to be awesome. With KevJumba's videos, you get a edited and best foot forward type stuff. Although Amazing Race will still be edited, it isn't always edited to present people in their best light, but when they are just naturally interacting with each other.

When the season starts on September 26, I'll be sure to keep up until they win or are eliminated.

For historical purposes, I will be posting the BIOs posted on CBS.

Michael and Kevin
Michael Wu
Age: 58

Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas

Connection to your Teammate: Father

Current occupation: Software Consultant and Content Creator/Internet Entertainer

Favorite hobbies: My favorite hobbies include reading a good book, watching old movies and going to the park/lake.

Achievements: I have provided a stable and comfortable environment for my two kids to grow up. My wife and I did our best to raise them while running our own business.

Lifelong to do list: Travel around the world, be good at martial arts like Tai-Chi and pursue an advanced degree

What scares you most about traveling? Being in an airplane accident

What excites you most about traveling? Seeing different places and people, and getting out of the routine to do something different

What are you passionate about? I like to make friends smile and laugh. I also love to share my knowledge with young people and hope to make a difference in their lives.

What would you do if you won the million dollars? I would share half of the amount equally among the 11 teams and the rest I would donate to charity.

People would be surprised to learn: I am not really comfortable in a competitive situation.

Favorite place you have ever visited: North European countries

Biggest challenge you and your teammate will face on the Race together: We need to try and put our different personalities aside and work to be the best team we can be.

What do you hope to accomplish by running the Race (other then winning one million bucks)? I hope the Race will be an exciting and fun experience that we can share for the rest of our lives. I'm also sure that facing the challenges and solving them together will definitely make us understand each other better. I hope to improve our relationship.

Pet peeve about your teammate: He uses foul language in situations when it's not really called for.

Kevin Wu
Age: 20

Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas

Connection to your Teammate: Son

Current occupation: Student/Internet Entertainer

Favorite hobbies: Making videos, competitive sports and traveling

Achievements: I just recently hit one million subscribers on Youtube. Also I'm the youngest person ever to be on Amazing Race!

Lifelong to do list: Ultimately I would like to learn how to cook, travel the world, start a production company.

What scares you most about traveling? Losing my luggage

What excites you most about traveling? Getting to experience new places

If I could switch places with someone: I'd rather not switch places with anyone.

Role model/hero: My dad. He knows how to keep it real.

What are you passionate about? Food

What would you do if you won the million dollars? I would use it to fund a show I have in mind.

People would be surprised to learn: I make YouTube videos with my dad. My dad is hilarious!

Favorite place you have ever visited: Amsterdam

Biggest challenge you and your teammate will face on the Race together: Being decisive and using our heads more than others, because as a team we might be at a disadvantage physically.

What do you hope to accomplish by running the Race (other then winning one million bucks)? The experience of traveling around the globe.

Pet peeve about your teammate: Sometimes we have a difficult time comprehending one another.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bad Blood - 滅門

Bad Blood (滅門) is a 2010 film out of Hong Kong. I had written an upcoming post about this back in January. The movie features many people, but mainly stars Simon Yam, Bernice Liu, and Andy On.

The movie starts with a group of running Tung Luen Shun guys in China mainland dressed in delivery men uniforms called "RedEx". The guys giving chase are the good police officers of the mainland. The leader of the pack, Andy Lok is killed. We see Andy Lok get executed and Audrey Lok, played by Bernice Liu, watching from the audience. Back in Hong Kong, the leaders of the clan are together to settle who's the new leader. Funky, played by Simon Yam, is the unanimous winner. But to see the will, Jason Lok must be present, but the youngest of the 3 Lok children cannot get away from work in San Francisco. Calf, played by Andy On, visits a house and fights a mute girl and wins. We come to find out that this mute girl, named Dumby, was an orphan Calf takes in years ago and is secretly in love with Calf. Jason returns and the will splits Andy's assets between the siblings. Almost immediately after, all the main bosses who voted for Funky get whacked. Who is behind the assassinations. Who's behind the master plan to rule the clan?

The movie was pretty insane. The fighting was really only an afterthought to the plot points. Lots and lots of "huh?" moments. It also includes Simon yam in a Yellow trenchcoat and Bernice Liu in a multi-colored jumpsuit!

Worth a watch for a different spin on "getting to the top". And its a Dennis Law movie. That's usually worth a watch.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Assault Girls

Assault Girls is a 2009 film out of Japan. The movie stars Meisa Kuroki, Rinko Kikuchi, Hinako Saeki, and Yoshikatsu Fujiki. This film is has a lot of special effects and requires you to understand video games, specifically, hit points and experience points.

In the future, humans can join a virtual world called Avalon. In the game, they track these giant earth worms, hunt them down, destroy them, and gain experience points. At first the four main protagonist are in single player mode and hunt the worms alone. But the main computer tells them that they should team up to gain even more experience points and move up to the next level.

The movie is in English while they are in game mode. They would revert to Japanese if they talked to each other outside of the game. So, I didn't understand those parts. The movie was advertised as in English. When they spoke in English, the subs were in Japanese.

So, I can't say I completely understand the movie.

The movie was visually stunning. But the plot and story was weird to say the least. And it ran for about only 1 hour.

I would skip this unless you really want to check out the visuals.