Jump to content


Photo

Asian films


  • Please log in to reply
177 replies to this topic

#161 theoddone33

theoddone33

    Member

  • Member
  • 763 posts

Posted 30 April 2007 - 12:03 AM

From http://artsandfaith....showtopic=14691:

QUOTE(opus @ Apr 29 2007, 09:09 PM) View Post
How was The Banquet? I was hoping to catch it in Toronto last year, but it played after we left.


It was adequate. Not stunning as far as the recent barrage of historical epics has gone, but a decent film. Feng Xiaogang is a decent director (he did A World Without Thieves) and it had a good cast. (Ziyi Zhang and Zhao Xun in the same film... what's not to like?) Daniel Wu was pretty stiff and emotionless, but it was appropriate for the role... I wonder if he's getting typecast into the same rut as Jet Li in this way.

It's worth seeing, but probably not worth going out of your way to see.

#162 theoddone33

theoddone33

    Member

  • Member
  • 763 posts

Posted 07 March 2008 - 04:38 AM

It's been a while.

Tonight I watched Johnnie To's not-so-latest, called Exiled from 2006. I've had the DVD for a while but just now got around to watching it. IMDB Link

As is usual with To, this was an exercise in style over substance. But to me it really felt like a more focused version of The Mission from 1999, which is widely regarded as To's best film. The story focuses on five gangster friends reunited in an unusual way: one has returned to HK from exile, two are ordered to assassinate him, while two swear to defend him.

There's lots of traditional To in here: contrived blocking setups, long shots of people standing around looking cool holding guns, lots of shooting, etc. But selfless loyalty and friendship are big themes here... To wants us to believe that there is indeed honor among thieves.

I've found To's films to be hit and miss for me. This one was a cautionary hit. But I think that anyone who liked The Mission would find Exiled to be pretty interesting. I believe I saw it at Best Buy as an R1 DVD under another title as well, so it might be netflixable.

Edited by theoddone33, 07 March 2008 - 04:40 AM.


#163 opus

opus

    Supernatural Blood Sprinkling Victory Package

  • Administrator
  • 4,018 posts

Posted 07 March 2008 - 09:56 AM

I'd grown really tired of Johnnie To's films, after suffering through stuff like Throwdown and PTU. But The Mission is my favorite film of his, and since Exiled was its spiritual successor, I gave it a shot. And like theoddone, I was pleasantly surprised (my review).

There's one moment, near the end of the film, where I thought To had lost it and drifting back into the absurd excesses of those aforementioned films, but he pulled it out and ended the film wonderfully. You're absolutely right: it's definitely an exercise in style over substance, but there are still some poignant moments here and there, the kind that can only work in "heroic bloodshed" movies.

I had the privilege of seeing this right after To's awesome Election 1+2, and the films make for a great triple feature.

#164 Persona

Persona

    You said you'd wait... 'Til the end of the world.

  • Member
  • 7,428 posts

Posted 15 June 2008 - 07:46 PM

After a long slump in seeing film in general, I was able to catch up with an interesting one over the weekend. Retribution by director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. It looked interesting to me as a ghost story, but I think there's much more to this mysterious, pseudo-narrative. I say "pseudo" because if one were to try to link all the plot pieces together, there wouldn't be a way to explain what he just saw. But that's not always the driving force behind a good movie, and here, for the most part, the sum of the parts outweigh the whole.

This is a serial killer mystery in which a detective begins to believe, enigmatically, that he is actually behind the killings. The story centers on a wraith that begins visiting him after the first murder is discovered. That's about as much of the plot as you need to know.

There is at times great tension in the film, pulled off with outstanding shadow and lighting effects, and just a creepiness about the dead visitor -- she follows him and says that he is the one who killed her, and that she will never ever leave him alone. She floats at him and screams at him, and terrifies him and leaves him clutching at the core of his sanity. It's not typical Japanese horror though -- there is a lot more "ghost" in this story than gore, or even scare.

My favorite element in Retribution has to do with how the film moves from a ghost story into showing how isolating oneself from others produces loneliness, and how in our loneliness we will sometimes hold onto anything we can to escape even our own isolationism. Yes, it's a paradox, but at least in the case of this detective it is a truth. In the end, there is a scene in which the detective is shown holding onto -- nothing -- and it brought tears to my eyes, thinking of all the ones I love, and how I need to hold on to them more right now. You never know when they might have to leave you.

This is certainly not the greatest movie in the world. There are flaws. A scene toward the end with the wraith attacking a man into a bucket of water is just kind of goofy. And there are plenty of holes in the understanding of how this ghost-world operates. But it was a good experience, even a fun experience, and the transition in the end which almost fell into a love story was really kind of warm.

Warm and hollow at the same time I guess.

Edited by stef, 15 June 2008 - 07:49 PM.


#165 opus

opus

    Supernatural Blood Sprinkling Victory Package

  • Administrator
  • 4,018 posts

Posted 16 June 2008 - 08:45 AM

Although he's often labelled a "horror" director, Kiyoshi Kurosawa definitely rises above the genre. His films take elements of the genre (e.g., ghosts, serial killers) and often uses them to explore deeper issues, such as the alienation and loneliness inherent in modern society, and the need that people have to fine meaning and purpose in their lives despite that alienation.

If you haven't already, check out Cure. I think this was the film that first put Kurosawa on the map. It's not perfect, but the plot -- a detective is trying to solve a string of gruesome murders committed by people who have no recollection of doing the deed -- is harrowing, the performances are solid (especially Kji Yakusho as the world-weary detective), and the film strikes up a mood so ominous, it's palpable.

Another favorite of mine is Bright Future. Which is not a horror film at all, but rather, follows a disillusioned young man as he tries to find meaning and purpose in his life, and ends up in a lovely community and finding a life of beauty (albeit in a very strange way).

#166 Persona

Persona

    You said you'd wait... 'Til the end of the world.

  • Member
  • 7,428 posts

Posted 16 June 2008 - 09:24 PM

I had the honor of seeing Bright Future in the theater a few years ago... Think it may have been at Facets, can't remember. It was a very strange film, but I remember liking it.

Thanks for the tip! I will put Cure in the queue.

(They were one of my favorite bands, they've got to make a great movie too, right?!)

Edited by stef, 16 June 2008 - 09:24 PM.


#167 opus

opus

    Supernatural Blood Sprinkling Victory Package

  • Administrator
  • 4,018 posts

Posted 10 October 2008 - 09:38 AM

Thank goodness that Grady Hendrix (Kaiju Shakedown) is back in action, otherwise we wouldn't have articles such as "Critics miss point, again", in which Hendrix takes critics to task for downplaying the importance of action scenes in movies (specifically, the recently released Ashes Of Time Redux).

QUOTE
What I'm trying to say is that in a lot of movies the physicality, the action, the fighting, is the point of the film, not a useless garnish put in to appeal to the masses while the classes can ponder the subtext. For many Hong Kong movies, the actions are the emotions. The brutality of the action in Tsui Hark's THE BLADE, the physical bond between childhood friends Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao and Jackie Chan in DRAGONS FOREVER and even the fight choreography in ASHES OF TIME - these movies cannot exist without the action. It isn't a kitsch distraction as White maintains, it's the point. The story of Tony Leung's blind swordsman is just hot air without his big battle with the bandits. He does more physically in that sequence that he did in the rest of the movie, and his physicality comes off as honest, real and earned. Previously, he just talked up a storm about the insane odds he faced in his life, but in this action scene the sheer bravado required to face down those odds is made literal and heart-breaking.


#168 opus

opus

    Supernatural Blood Sprinkling Victory Package

  • Administrator
  • 4,018 posts

Posted 30 April 2009 - 12:12 AM

Jackie Chan has announced his 100th film, a globe-trotting action/adventure romp entitled Chinese Zodiac. Given the abuse and punishment that he's suffered throughout the years, I'm surprised Chan made it to 50 films, much less 100, but there you have it.

#169 opus

opus

    Supernatural Blood Sprinkling Victory Package

  • Administrator
  • 4,018 posts

Posted 20 June 2011 - 10:00 PM

My review of Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins is now available on Filmwell.

#170 John Drew

John Drew

    A vast sponge of movie minutiae... - Jason Bortz

  • Member
  • 3,449 posts

Posted 31 July 2011 - 02:32 PM

Looking forward to this from Tsui Hark.



#171 opus

opus

    Supernatural Blood Sprinkling Victory Package

  • Administrator
  • 4,018 posts

Posted 27 November 2011 - 04:58 PM

The Wall Street Journal explores why Hollywood is making more martial arts movies (or at least movies that feature martial arts prominently).

Hollywood also is gearing up with bigger-budget films, with better scripts, more-accomplished directors, and bigger stars than Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme. With international revenues increasingly important, studios are targeting Asia with all kinds of films: "Avatar" and "Inception" were big hits in China. But "Kung Fu Panda 2" broke the opening-weekend record there this summer.

The marquee names attached to martial-arts projects are piling up like Uma Thurman's body count in "Kill Bill." Ryan Gosling has been training in Muay Thai to star in "Only God Forgives," about an exile in Bangkok who takes on nasty gangsters, to be directed by his "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn. Leonardo DiCaprio is attached to a planned series of films based on the Don Winslow novel "Satori," about a martial-arts-trained assassin. Keanu Reeves has wrapped up "47 Ronin," a Japanese martial-arts epic due next November, and plans to make his directorial debut helming "Man of Tai Chi," which he says will include 18 fights and 40 minutes of kung fu action.

Russell Crowe recently finished shooting "The Man With the Iron Fists" in Shanghai with Lucy Liu. The gory kung fu extravaganza was co-scripted by Eli Roth and musician RZA, who directed it.

"It's a blend of classic kung fu moviemaking with Hollywood storytelling," says RZA, whose rap group Wu-Tang Clan got its name from his lifelong fanaticism for vintage kung fu flicks.

Filmmakers already redid "The Karate Kid"—now there's talk of a feature-film version of the 1970s TV series "Kung Fu." In December, Robert Downey Jr. will display kung fu mastery in the "Sherlock Holmes" sequel, battling Dr. Moriarty in a climactic balcony fight. Next July, Christian Bale will put his kung fu training to work again as Batman, facing a villain played by Tom Hardy, who became a star this fall playing a mixed-martial-arts fighter in "Warrior," and with Anne Hathaway, who studied martial arts prepping to be Catwoman.

The potential reasons range from Hollywood's growing interest in martial arts as a fitness regime to the influx of Asian pop culture that really began to take off in the 1990s.

#172 John Drew

John Drew

    A vast sponge of movie minutiae... - Jason Bortz

  • Member
  • 3,449 posts

Posted 11 March 2012 - 02:23 AM

I saw Wen Jiang's film Let the Bullets Fly the other night. Not as good as I was hoping, and felt really long. I did enjoy Chow Yun Fat, who plays two roles fairly effectively, and Jiang himself did terrific job. But the comedy was too broad, and the action scenes were not very inspired. Kind of surprised to learn that this is the all time highest grossing film in China.

There was a preview before Let the Bullets Fly that really caught my attention. That was for The Raid: Redemption, which has been getting some terrific advance reviews.



#173 opus

opus

    Supernatural Blood Sprinkling Victory Package

  • Administrator
  • 4,018 posts

Posted 12 March 2012 - 09:49 AM

I'm very excited about The Raid: Redemption. I've heard nothing but excellent things about it, as well.

#174 John Drew

John Drew

    A vast sponge of movie minutiae... - Jason Bortz

  • Member
  • 3,449 posts

Posted 07 April 2012 - 07:58 PM

There was a preview before Let the Bullets Fly that really caught my attention. That was for The Raid: Redemption, which has been getting some terrific advance reviews.






I'm very excited about The Raid: Redemption. I've heard nothing but excellent things about it, as well.


Saw The Raid: Redemption this morning. I'm gonna do a Roger Ebert influenced kind of report on this. In Roger's two star review of the Coen Bros. The Hudsucker Proxy, part of Roger was of a mind to award the film four stars for it's technical achievements, and part of him was willing to give the film zero stars for being all style and no substance. He settled with a two star review.

That's kind of where I'm at with The Raid. The movie has style galore. I've never seen martial arts action so well choreographed (or punctuated by music) as this film presents. The fights are stupendous, and have a progression that makes sense. More on that in a moment.

The thread-bare story is simple enough. A group of 20 cops set out to bring down an underworld gangster who resides in a highrise building populated for the most part by his goons (kind of similar to one of the settings in the Mel Gibson film Payback). The gangster gets wind of the police presence early on, and allows the cops to get fairly far into the building before cutting off all escape routes, and eliminating any chance for reinforcements to be obtained. This covers about the first 15 minutes of the film. Then the gangster lets loose with his cadre of murderous henchmen, and we get almost 90 minutes of near continuous action.

The progression of the movie is very much like a video game. The higher up the cops proceed in the building, the more difficult the action sequences become. Machine gun and pistol shootouts quickly give way to hand-to-hand fighting with machetes and knives, which then gives way to close quarters martial arts. All of these scenes are handled very well and very graphically (this is definitely not for the squeamish) by director Gareth Evans and his star/choreographer Iko Uwais. The sustained action rivals, and at times surpasses, the last 30 minutes of John Woo's Hard Boiled but, unlike that film, The Raid never takes any time to set up its characters. Hard Boiled takes the time to set up two great characters, along with creating incredible action scenes. The Raid just settles for the latter. It would have been much better had Evans taken an additional ten or twenty minutes to set up the story, rather than plunge head first into the action. Perhaps that would have betrayed the fact that most of these guys are stuntmen and not actors, but it still left me wanting more than what just fight after fight.

So, like Ebert and The Hudsucker Proxy, I give The Raid one star for story and character development, and five stars for the action set pieces, which averages to about a 2.5 out of 5 over all from me.

Edited by opus, 21 May 2012 - 04:13 PM.


#175 opus

opus

    Supernatural Blood Sprinkling Victory Package

  • Administrator
  • 4,018 posts

Posted 07 April 2012 - 10:27 PM

I'm hoping to see The Raid next week, when it comes to Lincoln, and I'm not really expecting anything other than what you've described, i.e., sheer spectacle. From what I've read, Evans wanted to make a film that was essentially a complete 180 from his previous film Merantau, which was a martial arts film that was heavy on drama and story. Indeed, I tried watching Merantau once and found it rather boring. I grew tired of all of the character development, and just wanted the butt-kicking to start.

#176 opus

opus

    Supernatural Blood Sprinkling Victory Package

  • Administrator
  • 4,018 posts

Posted 21 May 2012 - 04:08 PM

Trailer for Jackie Chan's final "big action" movie, Chinese Zodiacs.



#177 Jason Panella

Jason Panella

    "I like the quiet."

  • Member
  • 3,560 posts

Posted 21 March 2013 - 09:36 AM

Shout Factory is set to release Jackie Chan's Police Story and Police Story 2 as a blu-ray double feature, and I got a copy to review. Though I've seen (and liked) Supercop, I've always considered the first two Police Story films a gaping hole in my HK cinema viewing.

Boy, these movies are a blast. Visually, they haven't aged well (the transfer is from the HK masters, and I guess time hasn't been kind to them), but there's a sense of playfulness and joyful creativity that stuns me. And those action set-pieces are just amazing.

Edited by Jason Panella, 21 March 2013 - 09:36 AM.


#178 opus

opus

    Supernatural Blood Sprinkling Victory Package

  • Administrator
  • 4,018 posts

Posted 21 March 2013 - 10:38 AM

Boy, these movies are a blast. Visually, they haven't aged well (the transfer is from the HK masters, and I guess time hasn't been kind to them), but there's a sense of playfulness and joyful creativity that stuns me. And those action set-pieces are just amazing.

I couldn't agree more. No matter how many times I see it, the final mall fight in Police Story still blows my mind.