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Everybody is kung-fu fighting for sure, but it takes more than that to make a great martial arts movie. The Guardian and Observer critics pick the 10 finest ever made
• Top 10 movie adaptations
• Top 10 animated movies
• Top 10 silent movies
• Top 10 sports movies
• Top 10 film noir
• Top 10 musicals
• More Guardian and Observer critics' top 10s
The film that kick-started Hong Kong cinema's kung-fu renaissance and launched Jet Li towards a future of substandard western action movies. Its subject was already well known to local audiences: Wong Fei-hung was a real person: a turn-of-the-century martial arts master and healer who's become something of a folk hero. Like Sherlock Holmes or Robin Hood, he'd been portrayed many times before. Jackie Chan played him in Drunken Master, and a long-running Wong Fei-hung film series during the 1950s and 60s gave roles to the fathers of Bruce Lee and Yuen Wo-ping, »
As you might expect, we get one or two press releases sent to Empire Towers. Yet few contain such lyrical poetry as the one accompanying these new pictures from John Woo’s latest, The Crossing. As seems fitting for a film about people braving a treacherous journey, the release itself appears to have gone on a risky trip through a mangling translation program. Woo’s new film, which stars Zhang Ziyi, Huang Xiaoming, Song Hye-kyo, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Masami Nagasawa, is set against the upheavals of revolutionary China in 1949. The plot follows three couples from different backgrounds who make a fateful voyage on a ship fleeing China to Taiwan. It’s all drawn from a script by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s Wang Huiling.With Zhang picking up a award recently, the production decided to tie the first image release to the happy event, and produced an enthusiastic release that »
As one monthly theme begins, another ends. The former is, of course, Sound on Sight’s monthlong dedication to all films that scare, terrify, or spook us in conjunction with October being the scariest month of the year. (That’s a scientific fact, folks.) The latter is our look at the works of Wong Kar-Wai, inspired by his latest film, The Grandmaster. Though September’s just now ended, a handful of your intrepid Sound on Sight contributors, as well as our benevolent editor-in-chief/overlord, came together to vote on Wong Kar-Wai’s best films, his worst, and everything in between. What follows are capsule reviews of each of his films, listed in order based on the Sound on Sight’s staffwide vote. What’s our favorite Wong Kar-Wai film? Well, read on through the entire list, and you’ll find out. Enjoy!
Stylistically at odds with itself, »
- Josh Spiegel
Qin Hailu and Wang Qianyuan amongst new cast members.
Qin and Wang both previously starred in Chinese drama The Piano In A Factory. Qin’s credits also include Fruit Chan’s Durian Durian, for which she won best actress and newcomer at the Golden Horse Awards. Wang won best actor at the Tokyo International Film Festival for Piano.
Currently in production, The Crossing follows the journey of three doomed couples travelling from mainland China to Taiwan in 1949. The ensemble cast also includes Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Song Hye-kyo, Huang Xiaoming, Tong Dawei and Japan’s Masami Nagasawa.
Bgh is producing with Woo and Terence Chang’s [link »
- email@example.com (Liz Shackleton)
Dragon (China: Wu xia), 2011.
Directed by Peter Chan.
A sinful martial arts expert wants to start a new tranquil life, only to be hunted by a determined detective and his former master.
For Donnie Yen, the Chinese martial arts star that has as yet neglected to reach for Hollywood money and make a Western crossover taken by the likes of Jackie Chan and Jet Li, Dragon isn’t an appropriate display of the man’s talent. Uncomfortably, broadly comic in the opening third, which depicts his family man Liu Jinxi as a bumbling cartoon, Yen only works as the intense, mildly tortured character of the film’s middle and end sections. Only then, it’s too late – Yen is already stranded in a visually inventive but messy mixture of comedy, action and gangster epic.
Nominated for a pile of Hong Kong Film Awards, »
- Flickering Myth
Starring Donnie Yen, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Wei Tang, director Peter Chan's martial arts epic Dragon is set for a DVD release here in the UK on Monday, August 26th and to celebrate we have three copies of the film to give away to our readers courtesy of the lovely folk at Metrodome.
Read on for a synopsis and details of how to enter the competition...
Liu Jin-xi (Yen) is a village craftsman whose quiet life is irrevocably shattered by the arrival of two notorious gangsters in the local general store. When Liu single-handedly saves the shopkeeper's life, he comes under investigation by detective Xu Bai-jiu (Kaneshiro). Convinced that Liu's martial arts mastery belies a hidden history of training by one of the region's vicious clans, Xu doggedly pursues the shy hero--and draws the attention of China's criminal underworld in the process.
To be in with a chance of winning, »
- Flickering Myth
Today on Reader Spotlight we're talking to the very talented Santy Calalay from The Philippines whose interview was lost in my inbox for months. Sorry Santy! Without further ado... here he is with "the only Oscar winner I know"
Tfe: Do you remember your first movie?
Santy: It was either one of three Disney movies: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty or Bambi. That or it was a Filipino film from the 70's where my father played the bad guy. Haha. My most vivid childhood memory regarding movies though is with Ghost. My mother loved watching that when it came out but she would never watch it alone. My sister and I were only 6 and 8 at the time so when That Scene as we called it (clay. hands. white shirt. need I type more?) came up, my mother »
- NATHANIEL R
Issue 67 of Senses of Cinema is now online for your reading pleasure. Highlights include an interview with Matthew Porterfield (pictured above) by Brigitta Wagner, a piece on Assault on Wall Street by Celluloid Liberation Front, and a "Great Directors" article on Christian Petzold by Jaimey Fisher.
John Woo is set to make his next film, The Crossing, starring Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Ziyi, and Song Hye Kyo. From the press release: "The Crossing is about three couples from different backgrounds whose lives are affected by the tide of history. They survive war and disaster to finally find happiness." Jafar Panahi made a surprise appearance at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival via Skype. According to Variety, Panahi introduced a screening of his new film, Closed Curtain:
"Karlovy Vary festival is one of the festivals I truly love, and when I was here I had the chance to meet with great filmmakers »
- Adam Cook
John Woo’s “The Crossing” (formerly “Love and Let Love”) has officially kicked off production in Asia, and the “Face/Off” director back behind the camera for the first time in 4 years after helming the two-part war epic “Red Cliff”. That film starred guys on horseback fighting with swords, but Woo somehow still managed to put them in a stand-off where they’re pointing weapons at each other. From the sounds of it, there probably won’t be that kind of stand-off action in Woo’s “The Crossing”. Set in 1949, the film will follow “three couples from different backgrounds who make a fateful voyage on a ship fleeing China to Taiwan.” The Pan-Asian cast includes the likes of Tong Dawei, Huang Xiaoming, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Masami Nagasawa, and “The Grandmaster” co-stars Zhang Ziyi and Song Hye-kyo. Woo will direct from a script by Wang Huiling, who counts two Ang Lee films under his belt, »
John Woo’s return to directing after a four-year hiatus with The Crossing is now underway in Beijing, the production companies behind the project announced in a statement. The big-budget project is being dubbed the “Chinese Titanic” by local Chinese media and stars a bevy of local A-listers, including Zhang Ziyi, Huang Xiaoming and Tong Dawei, along with South Korea’s Song Hye-kyo, Japan’s Masami Nagasawa and Taiwan’s Takeshi Kaneshiro. Photos: Fan Bingbing: 14 Red Carpet Looks From Cannes' Fashionable 'It' Girl The film will be released in two parts -- much like Woo’s last project, historical epic Red Cliff
- Patrick Brzeski
John Woo hasn’t directed a film in four years, but that all changed yesterday when production started on The Crossing. Set in 1949 during the ravages of the Chinese revolution, the film will follow three couples from varying socio-economic backgrounds as they slowly make their way to a ship that will make the crossing of the title, in search of a better life.
His last film was the $80 million dollar two-parter Red Cliff, a historical epic based on the Battle of Red Cliffs, which occurred at the end of the Han Dynasty, immediately prior to the three kingdoms period. It took $248 million at the box office, so John Woo can basically do as he pleases at this point.
The Crossing has a budget of $40 million, will also be released in two parts, and is backed by steadily growing Chinese studio Beijing Galloping Horse, along with China Film Group and Zhejiang Huace Film & TV, »
- Rob Batchelor
Set against the upheavals of revolutionary China in 1949, the film is the story of three couples from different backgrounds who make a fateful voyage on a ship fleeing China to Taiwan. The screenplay is by Wang Huiling, who previously co-wrote “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and who adapted “Lust Caution.”
The $40 million two-part movie is backed by rising Chinese studio Beijing Galloping Horse, along with China Film Group and Zhejiang Huace Film & TV, with production by Woo and Terence Chang’s Lion Rock Productions.
“We are not shooting the foreign actors yet. »
- Patrick Frater
Shoot on John Woo’s Chinese-language romance-war epic The Crossing is underway in China and Taiwan.
Scripted by Wang Huiling (Lust, Caution), the film follows six characters and their intertwining love stories set against the backdrop of 1940s Taiwan and Shanghai.
Producers Beijing Galloping Horse estimate the budget of the first instalment in the two-part epic at $40m. »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Andreas Wiseman)
i09 King Kong the Musical - check out that enormous expressive ape puppet! But what's with that song and the vague speech-impediment style singing?
Coming Soon Anne Hathaway to star in The Lifeboat which is not a remake of the Tallulah Bankhead picture but does involve passengers in a lifeboat. Unfortunately since Hathaway is involved you know the internet will want her thrown off the boat or eaten by the other passengers first to survive.
Empire and here's a handy infographic of the Marvel Universe plans but if you ask me Phase Two looks pretty Unambitious considering what they pulled off for Phase One.
/Film the zombie apocalypse at cinemas will last forever. »
- NATHANIEL R
★★★☆☆ The opening scene of Dragon (Wu xia, 2011) features a family eating together, uniting over a meal as they sit around the dinner table; it's this coming together of family, and the intimacy of home life, that sets the tone for the rest of Peter Chan's martial arts drama - a multi-layered picture that's as much about humanistic traits and togetherness as it is about the fighting. Hong Kong superstar Donnie Yen plays Liu Jinxi, devoted husband to Ayu (Wei Tang) and father of two. Although vying for peace and tranquillity in his life, all this soon changes when he gets embroiled in the robbery of a local convenience store.
Jinxi, blessed with nimble agility and a brute strength, just so happens to be in the shop when the robbery takes place and bravely risks his life to tackle the two thieves, vanquishing them both with ease. Although labelled a hero amongst the grateful community, »
- CineVue UK
I'm So Excited (15)
Almodóvar responds to his country's economic woes with camp hysteria and Carry On humour. In many ways this airborne disaster farce – anarchic, absurdist, garishly stylish and gleefully debauched – is a return to the Spanish auteur's subversive roots. But there's a serious subtext to the silliness, and the metaphors are brought back down to earth for a satisfying landing.
The Eye Of The Storm (15)
The imminent death of Rampling's matriarch throws an aristocratic family's dysfunction into relief in this Aussie drama, whose overstuffed story is redeemed by three watchable leads.
Gimme The Loot (15)
- Steve Rose
Prolific producer and director Peter Chan steps into the wu xia genre with Dragon, which is set in 1917 in early Republican China and tells the story of Liu Jin-xi (Yen) a village paperworker whose quiet life is irrevocably shattered by the arrival of two notorious gangsters in the local general store. When Liu single-handedly saves the shopkeeper’s life, he comes under investigation by detective Xu Bai-jiu (Kaneshiro). Convinced that Liu’s success in fending off the gangsters is less of a fluke and more a sign of his mastery of the martial arts, Xu doggedly pursues the truth. However Xu’s investigation draws the attention of China’s criminal underworld and exposes Liu, and the rest of his village, to danger from the 72 Demons… »
- Phil Wheat
Director: Peter Chan.
Running Time: 115 minutes.
Synopsis: China, 1917. Liu Jin-xi (Donnie Yen) is a friendly family man enjoying a quiet life. But when he stops a robbery in a local shop and accidentally kills one of the criminals, obsessive detective Xu Ba-Jiu (Takeshi Kaneshiro) suspects there is more to this humble paper merchant, and dark secrets soon come to light.
Donnie Yen is one of the most revered martial artists working in cinema today. His achievements go back almost 30 years as both an actor and an action choreographer and he includes Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li among his contemporaries. However, he has not come close to their level of success in western cinema and is really only known amongst Kung Fu aficionados. He proves in Dragon that his leading man credentials match his fighting skills and in Jin-xi he provides a subtle, »
- John Sharp
Peter Ho-Sun Chan has directed films on both sides of the Pacific, and this brisk and twisty actioner, though set in 1917 China, bears marked western influences. It begins in CSI territory, with forensically minded acupuncturist Takeshi Kaneshiro dispatched to investigate after lowly paper-maker Donnie Yen kills a notorious criminal with an innocuous blow to the head. The character study that follows – after Kaneshiro's pinpointed how that tooth got in the pickling jar, and the significance of the vagus nerve – has clear DNA traces of Cronenberg's A History of Violence. Chan keeps the drama and fight scenes appreciably precise, while superior performers lend the hard science heart: Lust, Caution's Tang Wei makes a welcome screen return, wringing a lot from worried glances as the accused's wife, while Yen again proves one of the few »
- Mike McCahill
Dragon is a martial-arts epic which centres on Liu Jin-xi, a quiet village craftsman whose life is forever changed by the arrival of two notorious gangsters in the local general store, where he single-handedly saves the owners life. This brings him under the watchful eye of detective Xu Bai-jiu, played by Takeshi Kaneshiro, who is convinced that Liu’s brutal martial arts skills link him to the hidden history of training by one of the region’s vicious clans. However, by doing so, making him the target of the criminal underworld.
Dragon will be released in UK cinemas from 3rd May 2013.
- Craig Hunter
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