13 items from 2006
Mickey Rourke has refused to comment on why he left director Quentin Tarantino's latest film Grindhouse, insisting he'll stay silent until Tarantino speaks out first. Rourke was set to play the part of Stuntman Mike on the Kill Bill director's latest collaboration with director Robert Rodriguez, and was later replaced by Kurt Russell. The 9 1/2 Weeks star had previously worked with the directors on the hit movie Sin City and hints there might have been a falling out with Tarantino. He tells Radar Online, "You know what? He hasn't made any comments about it. And until he makes a comment about it, I'm not going to say anything. It just didn't work out. And I hope that's what he has to say. I'm just going to wait." The actor was supposedly Tarantino's first choice to play the movie's villain and he hints in the interview that he was actually the one who passed on the role and he wasn't fired from the film. Rourke also turned down a role in the film that made Tarantino's career, Pulp Fiction, back in the early 1990s. »
Talk show host Jerry Springer is the latest celebrity to sign up for the new season of US hit reality show Dancing With The Stars. US network ABC announced the new performers, which also include former LA Law star Harry Hamlin, Kill Bill actress Vivica A. Fox, Blossom star Joey Lawrence, Saved By The Bell's Mario Lopez, Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker's estranged wife Shanna Moakler and American football star Emmitt Smith. Rounding out the show's competitors are country music singer Sara Evans and pop star Willa Ford. Dancing with the Stars is the US version of the British hit series Strictly Come Dancing and will premiere on September 12. »
Kurt Russell has replaced Mickey Rourke as the sick killer in Quentin Tarantino's new horror film Grind House, according to internet reports. Rourke reportedly pulled out of the project earlier this month and Tarantino immediately went to Russell and asked him to play Stuntman Mike, a man terrorizing young girls in his portion of the new film, which will also feature a separate storyline shot by pal Robert Rodriguez. Internet website Moviehole.net reports the Poseidon star signed on for the role on Friday. Tarantino's section of Grind House, subtitled "Death Proof," will also feature Marilyn Manson's ex-girlfriend Rose McGowan and Kill Bill stuntwoman Zoe Bell in her first starring role. Horror movie master John Carpenter is in negotiations to record the film's score. »
Uma Thurman has split with hotelier Andre Balazs after dating for two years. The couple were recently photographed enjoying a summer holiday in Saint Tropez, France, but the Kill Bill star has moved on. In an interview with US publication Parade she says, "I've been in and out of a relationship with a wonderful man, and I'm out of it now." The interview was conducted on June 2 and the couple were photographed on July 7 frolicking on the beach, leading some to believe they had reconciled once again. But Thurman's representative insists her client hasn't had a change of heart: "The quote is still correct." »
BEIJING -- State censors have demanded that car chases and gun battles in Shanghai be cut from Mission: Impossible III before it can screen in China, allowing pirates more time to cash in on the Tom Cruise blockbuster, industry executives and Chinese media said Thursday. Communist censors, China's state-appointed image police, telephoned M:I-3 distributor United International Pictures on Wednesday with a list of edits, Chinese media reported, citing a UIP executive. Censors also asked producers to lose images of laundry hanging from bamboo poles and villagers gambling at mahjong. "These guys can be supersensitive about foreign films' portrayal of China," Teng Jimeng, professor of film and American studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said. For example, director Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill films were rejected, Teng said, because "The censors didn't like that he 'expropriated' Chinese martial arts." »
BEIJING -- State censors have demanded that car chases and gun battles in Shanghai be cut from Mission: Impossible III before it can screen in China, allowing pirates more time to cash in on the Tom Cruise blockbuster, industry executives and Chinese media said Thursday. Communist censors, China's state-appointed image police, telephoned M:I-3 distributor United International Pictures on Wednesday with a list of edits, Chinese media reported, citing a UIP executive. Censors also asked producers to lose images of laundry hanging from bamboo poles and villagers gambling at mahjong. "These guys can be supersensitive about foreign films' portrayal of China," Teng Jimeng, professor of film and American studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said. For example, director Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill films were rejected, Teng said, because "The censors didn't like that he 'expropriated' Chinese marital arts." »
HONG KONG -- For anyone who saw Election, Johnnie To's masterful, modern reworking of the Hong Kong Triad drama and its mythology, Election 2 isn't so much a sequel as a logical extension of the story.
It's hard to say why To hasn't transcended cult/art house status outside of Asia and specialty festivals, but in the wake of the moderate success of Infernal Affairs, the present mood might be right for To.
Less cryptic than The Longest Nite, which he produced, and less minimalist than The Mission -- two of To's best -- Election 2 is a more traditional narrative that audiences can easily follow. It focuses on fewer characters, giving audiences a chance to keep track of the major players. It's a natural for Asian and genre festivals following its international debut Out of Competition at this month's Festival de Cannes, where To has a stellar reputation.
When the first film stopped -- because it didn't end by a long shot -- Lok (Simon Yam) had won the chairmanship election and feloniously consolidated his power. The saga picks up with Lok angling to extend his term for another two years, which goes against all tradition, and lining up his allies and targeting his foes.
The less aggressive, more entrepreneurial Jimmy (Louis Koo) is his biggest rival: He's popular with the uncles because he is a good businessman, and he knows the future is in mainland China. Bloody circumstances unfold that force Jimmy to make a string of violent decisions that do, in fact, lead to the chairman's throne as well as a suitably ambiguous ending.
An ambiguous ending doesn't mean that To isn't completely in control of his material. In what could be either a Hong Kong answer to Kill Bill (one long film in two parts) or The Godfather, To seems to be exploring areas of the story that he didn't in Election. Perhaps the first film's production inspired other avenues To wanted to explore. Whatever the case, where To and writers Yau Nai-hoi and Yip Tin-shing stripped the Triad of its underworld tone in the first film and painted it as the modern quasicorporation it is today, in Election 2 the trio strips what remains of the Triad mythos -- its image as a heroic, loyalty-based brotherhood. Jimmy turns out to be every bit as ruthless and brutal as Lok or the deceased Big D, and this discovery is where much of Election 2's drama lies. This sequel is considerably darker, literally and figuratively, than its predecessor, and the prevailing sense of dread and simmering danger is palpable.
Credit should go to shooter Cheng Siu-keung and score composer Robert Ellis-Geiger. The film is every bit as vivid in its portrayal of the brotherhood as To's A Hero Never Dies; it's just that the pendulum has swung the other way. That film was glamorous. This one is not.
But it's not all violence and brutality. To allows his morbid sense of humor to shine through. There are moments of absurd hilarity that don't necessarily lighten the mood so much as bring it down to earth. The performances are strong all around, especially from Koo, an actor known less for his thespian exploits than for his tan. Mark Cheng as hired enforcer Xi provides the lightest moments as he goes about adjusting his rates from situation to situation. To fans are going to be delighted, and it's a good start for viewers unfamiliar with his work.
Milkyway Image Limited
Director: Johnnie To
Screenwriters: Yau Nai-hoi, Yip Tin-shing
Producer: Dennis Law, Johnnie To
Director of photography: Cheng Siu-keung
Production designer: Tony Yu
Music: Robert Ellis-Geiger
Editors: Law Wing-cheong, Jeff Cheong
Jimmy: Louis Koo
Lok: Simon Yam
Kun: Lam Ka-tung
Uncle Teng: Wong Tin-lam
Jet: Nick Cheung
Xi: Mark Cheng
Big Head: Lam Suet
No MPAA rating
Running time -- 97 minutes »
- Park Chan-wook proves once again he is both a visionary – and re-visionary – filmmaker with his latest work, a philosophical meditation on politics, religion, revenge, feminism, violence and redemption. Lady Vengeance is the concluding film in Chan-wook’s “Vengeance Trilogy,” which began in 2002 with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and continued the following year with Oldboy, the winner of the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes film festival as well as an enormous commercial success (Min-Sik Choi, who played the leading role in Oldboy, again collaborates with Chan-wook, this time as a sociopathic school teacher and the film’s villain). These three films make up a trilogy not in the sense of The Matrix or Lord of the Rings films, but more along the lines of Sergio Leone’s “Man with No Name” films (A Fistfull of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly) or even »
Hollywood beauty Uma Thurman and hotelier Andre Balazs have rekindled their romance - after announcing their split last month. The pair have been photographed enjoying passionate embraces on the beaches of celebrity Caribbean hideaway, St. Barts. The Kill Bill actress declared the end of their relationship on March 6 after her lone appearance at the previous day's Academy Awards sparked speculation their two-year romance was over. However, new pictures show their passion is very much alive. Thurman has two children, Maya and Roan, from her six-year marriage to Ethan Hawke and was previously married to English actor Gary Oldman. »
TOKYO -- Audiences in the U.S. may soon have the chance to see Japanese boxoffice hit Shinobi at local cinemas. Capitalizing on the recent demand for Asian action films popularized by Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill series, Japanese entertainment conglomerate Shochiku Co., has sold rights to the live-action film to U.S. distributor FUNimation Entertainment. When Shinobi was released across Japan in September 2005, it became a critical and commercial success for Shochiku, bringing in over ¥1.4 billion ($11.8 million) at the boxoffice and ranking within the top 20 highest-grossing domestic films of the year. "We're very proud of 'Shinobi,'" said Masaki Koga, head of Shochiku's international business division. "We hope its success in the U.S. mirrors its success in Japan." »
NEW YORK -- Despite its opening credit sequence featuring comic book-style illustrations, Ultraviolet was not inspired by an actual comic but rather, believe it or not, by John Cassavetes' Gloria. This futuristic tale of a genetic mutant woman blessed with otherworldly abilities attempting to protect a young boy from murderous humans is the latest entry in the "This film is so bad we're not screening it for critics" genre. As usual for this sort of thing, expect a big opening weekend followed by an immense drop-off, with video riches in store.
Milla Jovovich, who has, thanks to The Fifth Element and the Resident Evil series, become the go-to babe for sci-fi, stars as the scantily clad Violet, who displays a mean aptitude for weaponry of all kinds combined with dazzling gymnastic feats and martial arts. It takes only a few minutes for her character to hear this directive that will no doubt gladden the hearts of the sci-fi geeks in attendance: "Please remove all articles of clothing and proceed into the scanner."
Violet is part of a race of genetically modified mutants slated for extermination by the majority humans. While attempting to protect a 10-year-old dubbed "Six" (Cameron Bright), she's hunted down by the villainous Daxus (Nick Chinlund) and his minions. We know Daxus is bad by the tight black suit he wears as well as the metal nose plugs that somehow don't produce a nasal tone in his voice.
Aided by Garth (William Fichtner), a sympathetic fellow mutant, Violet goes on the run, frequently engaging in numerous battles with an assortment of evildoers.
The tale, beginning with narrated flashbacks that make it curiously seem like a sequel, essentially is an excuse for a seemingly endless series of ultraviolet, uh, ultraviolent, action scenes in which the titular character kicks serious male butt. Although extravagantly staged, they're more than a little derivative; a rooftop gun battle and a highly choreographed swordfight owe more than a little to The Matrix and Kill Bill, respectively.
Other sequences are rather more ridiculous, such as one in which Violet makes deadly use of her opponent's dreadlocks and a flaming swordfight that looks like something out of Cirque du Soleil.
Director Kurt Wimmer, filming in high-definition video, uses extensive visual tricks to produce a comic book-style effect, with mostly ugly-looking results. There are at least some notable locations thanks to the extensive use made of various futuristic looking buildings in Shanghai.
Fortunately, the film comes in at a brisk running time, with only the threat of the inevitable sequel dampening the relief that it's over.
Director-screenwriter: Kurt Wimmer
Producer: John Baldecchi
Executive producers: Tony Mark, Sue Jett, T.C. Wang, Charles Wang
Director of photography: Arthur Wong Ngok Tai
Production designer: Choo Sung Pong
Editor: William Yeh
Costume designer: Joseph Porro
Music: Klaus Badelt
Violet: Milla Jovovich
Six: Cameron Bright
Daxus: Nick Chinlund
Nerva: Sebastien Andrieu
Young Violet: Ida Martin
Garth: William Fichtner
BF-1: David Collier
Detective Cross: Kieran O'Rorke
MPAA rating PG-13
Running time -- 88 minutes »
Hollywood beauty Uma Thurman and hotelier Andre Balazs have split up after dating for over two years. The Kill Bill star, 35, and property tycoon, 48, began dating in December 2003 - only four months after the actress separated with ex-husband Ethan Hawke. After attending the Oscars on Sunday alone, Thurman confirmed speculation she was single again. A statement to the New York Post confirms, "Unfortunately it's true. But we remain close friends." In January, Thurman gushed about Balazs in interviews, declaring, "Everyone constantly taunts you that rebound relationships aren't a good idea and they don't work. But mine is working, surprisingly." Thurman has two children, Maya and Roan, from her six year marriage to Hawke and was previously married to English actor Gary Oldman. »
Hollywood beauty Lucy Liu arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday as she began a tour of areas ravaged by October's earthquake. The Kill Bill beauty is expected to spend time with children affected by the horrific natural disaster as she travels with the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef). She follows in the footsteps of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who spent three days in the region in November. The 37-year-old is scheduled to leave Pakistan today. »
13 items from 2006
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