20 items from 2014
Gareth Evans's second Jakarta-set martial-arts flick is as astonishing as the first
You want hardcore? Here it is: after his extraordinary martial-arts picture The Raid set in gangland Jakarta, Gareth Evans gives us another slice of spleen-splittingly, pelvis-dislodgingly, inner-ear-damagingly hardcore action. He lets rip with everything but subtlety. Evans opens a family-sized can of whupass in your face, having shaken it up well in advance. The sequel may not have the first Raid's absolute novelty, and the plot is a bit superfluous. But the sheer mayhem-stamina of this followup is really staggering. I found myself every five minutes yelping "Owww!" like James Brown at the beginning of Get Up Offa That Thing. The mass brawl in the rainy, muddy prison yard is amazing, like something by Kurosawa. As before, Evans hoovers up influence from Park Chan-wook, Takeshi Kitano and Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, directors of the original Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs. »
- Peter Bradshaw
Feature James Clayton 11 Apr 2014 - 06:14
With The Raid 2 arriving in UK cinemas too, James wants a word about violent movies...
The Raid 2 is now out in cinemas. I really recommend that you go and see this film. In fact, I urge you to stop whatever you're doing right now and head directly to the nearest movie theatre so that you can experience it immediately. True, it may not be showing for several hours, but that just means you'll get there early and that would be ideal. You're going to need time to settle into your seat and get comfortable before the carnage unfolds.
Still here? Get up, get out and go see The Raid 2. I am mentally slapping you across the face (with a dash of silat martial arts style) as I write this in the hope that I can telekinetically shock some sense into you »
When the Indonesian martial arts movie "The Raid: Redemption" began making the rounds at film festivals back in 2011, it gained instant popularity for its frenetic choreography, and became an impressive calling card for Welsh director Gareth Evans. Simultaneously bruising and taut, it was always going to be a tough act to follow — making it all the more beguiling that its sequel, "The Raid 2: Berandal," is grander and superior in every conceivable way. While its predecessor used John Carpenter's "Assault on Precinct 13" as a reference point, "The Raid 2" pulsates with countless other influences — "Yojimbo," "The Godfather," "Infernal Affairs" – and contains a finale that not so much mirrors but perfects Bruce Lee's unfinished masterpiece "Game of Death." This is a feat that raises the bar for modern action filmmaking, and while claims of its stature as greatest action film of all time might sound premature, they aren't unwarranted. »
- Robert Cameron Fowler
Significantly, it portrays the Icac, Hong Kong’s 40-year-old anti-corruption body, in a three-way conflict among the police and the government. “This is fiction, not reality,” says producer John Chong, “and is different to the TV series that the Icac funded.” (The Icac’s four-decade-long role in funding film and TV production in Hong Kong is being celebrated this month by the Hong Kong Intl. Film Festival.) However, Chong likens the pacing and feel of the film to Fox’s U. »
- Patrick Frater
These days, Media Asia is a pillar of the Hong Kong film industry establishment. It can boast a production pipeline connected to a large talent pool, enviable connections in mainland China, a profile in Hollywood and even a stock market listing. But it was not always so.
The company was founded 20 years ago when seven mid-ranking executives from Star Television, then News Corp.’s Hong Kong-based, pan-Asian TV unit, were fired en masse.
Known collectively as the “Seven Samurai,” the execs took with them a contract to manage Star’s massive film library, which includes all six Bruce Lee movies, as well as many early Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh titles. And, reflecting the film catalog origins, the company’s distinctive, but somewhat retro “Ma” logo initially stood for Media Assets.
Coming at the end of the “Golden Era” of Hong Kong cinema and only a few years »
- Patrick Frater
Jet Li, star of countless classic martial arts movies, teams up with the producer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Kung Fu Hustle for Badge of Fury (aka Badges of Fury) a crime drama caper that is more caper than crime… Even though, at least on paper this would seem like a perfect Hong Kong action flick:
When a spate of murders erupt across Hong Kong, two kick-ass cops are assigned to the case. Chaos soon escalates when they reach a dead end and the detectives must play a deadly game to lure the killer out.
- Phil Wheat
News Ryan Lambie 5 Mar 2014 - 08:43
The Raid 2: Berandal is out next month, and it's already being touted as a great action film. But while the fame of both the series and those involved in it continue to rise, American production company Screen Gems has been working away on an English-language remake of The Raid, having snapped up the rights shortly after it screened at the Toronto Film Festival.
Hong Kong – Director Pang Ho-cheung's Aberdeen and director Fruit Chan's The Midnight After will open the 38th Hong Kong International Film Festival. Aberdeen, starring Louis Koo (The White Storm), Gigi Leung (The Monkey King), Eric Tsang (Infernal Affairs), and Miriam Yeung (Love in the Buff), will hold its world premiere at 8pm on the festival's opening night on March 24. The film sees Pang (Vulgaria) explore the difficulties faced by three generations of a Hong Kong family. Photos: China Box Office 2013: The Top 10 Movies "We choose Aberdeen because it's a film by Pang Ho-cheung, whom we
- Karen Chu
What Hong Kong helmer besides Wong Jing could still get away with a comedy featuring hairy boobs and lie-detector injections? “From Vegas to Macau” is another one of those gambling-themed action-farces Wong reliably churns out every Lunar New Year; the director knows exactly what his fans want and gives them no more and no less. This glossy, reassuringly campy production serves up a boisterous mix of goofy humor and kinetic action, in which the crew and cast — led by Chow Yun-fat at his most waggish — cruise along so smoothly that the ridiculous story radiates an infectious sense of fun. The result has earned a whopping $68 million-plus in China so far, and can bet on a good run in other Asian territories.
In a career that spans 33 years, Wong has penned more than a dozen films celebrating cardsharps as if they’re superheroes. “From Vegas to Macau” features new characters and an original storyline, »
- Maggie Lee
Two of Taiwan’s top media investors have injected $10 million into Hong Kong studio Media Asia.
Fubon Financial Holding Venture Capital and KBro Media, one of Taiwan’s leading cable TV groups, agreed to buy new Media Asia shares representing 14% of the company.
Media Asia, which is backed by property tycoon Peter Lam and a fund controlled by billionaire Jack Ma, topper of Alibaba, is one of Hong Kong’s biggest producers and film financiers, having been involved in titles including “Infernal Affairs” and “The Departed.” Media Asia was also a backer of “Cloud Atlas.”
At Berlin, Media Asia’s sales slate includes Chinese martial-arts pic “The Wrath of Vajra,”supernatural thriller “Helios” and romantic comedy sequel “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2,” directed by Johnny To.
A series of changes, including the listing of the company’s shares on the Hong Kong stock market, have been made as Media »
- Patrick Frater
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that GTA V was a monolith of gaming. The record-breaking and critically-acclaimed masterpiece has comfortably succeeded GTA IV’s place in the all-time great seventh-generation of games, and will be a testament to what the Xbox 360 and PS3 are capable of years down the line.
But as excellent as GTA V is, it isn’t perfect and there are other open world games out there that do better in certain areas, such as Sleeping Dogs.
Sleeping Dogs is a 2012 game that was originally supposed to be the third game in the True Crime series. After the series was discontinued it was eventually picked up again and repackaged as Sleeping Dogs, a game in which the player must infiltrate the Hong Kong Triad and bring them down internally.
This article isn’t to suggest that Sleeping Dogs is a superior game, »
- Thomas Broome-Jones
Tuesday night, following the premiere of The Raid 2 at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Twitter exploded with mouthwatering, hyperbolic fanboy glee, with attendees comparing the film to everything from The Godfather to The Dark Knight Rises and Children of Men. Welsh writer-director, Gareth Evans broke out with his stylish Indonesian-set action film Merantau in 2009, but his follow up, 2011's The Raid: Redemption, was unexpectedly (and unrelentingly) brutal: a claustrophobic nightmare turned action-lover's dream in quicksilver action star Iko Uwais battles his way through an entire building of mobsters and thugs, »
Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: March 4, 2014
Price: DVD $24.98, Blu-ray $29.99
Studio: Anchor Bay and The Weinstein Company
Written and directed by acclaimed Chinese filmmaker Wong Kar Wai (Happy Together), the 2013 biographical action epic The Grandmaster tells the story of martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee.
Asian superstar Tony Leung (Infernal Affairs) portrays legendary Kung Fu master Ip Man, who survived the turmoil of 1930s China to change the world of martial arts forever. The film covers his life in 1930s Foshan, his flight to Hong Kong after the second Sino-Japanese War, and the events leading to his death in 1972.
This visually stunning saga of love, honor and vengeance, featuring breathtaking action choreography by Yuen Wo Ping (Legend of the Black Scorpion), also stars Ziyi Zhang (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) and Chang Chen (Red Cliff)
The PG-13-rated film is currently available on all major digital retailers, »
With its blissfully crude setup and ferociously inventive fight sequences, Gareth Evans’ “The Raid: Redemption” (2011) was an exhilarating, exhausting treat for those who like to take their genre poison straight. If “The Raid 2: Berandal” disappoints somewhat by comparison, it’s not for lack of ambition: At nearly two-and-a-half hours, this sensationally violent and strikingly well-made sequel has been conceived as a slow-burn gangster epic, stranding the viewer in a maze-like underworld that doesn’t really get the adrenaline pumping until the film’s second half. Once the carnage kicks in, Evans’ action chops prove as robust and hyperkinetic as ever, delivering deep, bone-crunching pleasure for hardcore action buffs. Still, given its diminished novelty and hefty running time, the Sony Classics item (set for U.S. release in March) may have trouble wooing as many viewers theatrically as it will in homevid play.
To the likely chagrin of some viewers, »
- Justin Chang
In 2011, a small Indonesian action movie directed and written by a guy from Wales became an overnight cult classic. The Raid: Redemption was a pure adrenaline injection of a film, a constant assault of blistering fight choreography and pin-point editing. It was 100 minutes of pure, unadultered brutality with more wince-inducing beatings than any movie in living memory. It was, in short, completely badass.
Now, Gareth Evans and his Indonesian crew are back (complete with a much-improved budget) to deliver The Raid 2. Not only does this sequel more than live up to its predecessor, but its epic scope and newfound sense of humour manage to surpass the original. For fans of Evans’ first effort, this is the stuff of dreams.
- Dominic Mill
When the Indonesian martial arts movie "The Raid: Redemption" began making the rounds at film festivals back in 2011, it gained instant popularity for its frenetic choreography, becoming an impressive calling card for Welsh director Gareth Evans. Simultaneously bruising and taut, it was always going to be a tough act to follow — making it all the more beguiling that its sequel, "The Raid 2" (internationally titled "Berandal"), is grander and superior in every conceivable way. While its predecessor used John Carpenter's "Assault on Precinct 13" as a reference point, "The Raid 2" pulsates with countless other influences — "Yojimbo," "The Godfather," "Infernal Affairs" – and contains a finale that not so much mirrors but perfects Bruce Lee's unfinished masterpiece "Game of Death." This is a feat that raises the bar for modern action filmmaking, and while claims of its stature as greatest action film of all time might sound premature, they aren't unwarranted. »
- Robert Cameron Fowler
The Berlin International Film Festival (Feb 6-16) has named Us producer and writer James Schamus as president of the international jury, whose members will decide the winners of the Golden Bear and Silver Bears of the 2014 Berlinale Competition.
In his work with Ang Lee, Schamus has won awards as a screenwriter (The Ice Storm) and producer (Brokeback Mountain). He was also the chief executive of Focus Features - the company he co-founded - before it merged with FilmDistrict.
The strong line-up of filmmakers and actors that make up the rest of the jury including Barbara Broccoli (Us), Trine Dyrholm (Denmark), Mitra Farahani (Iran), Greta Gerwig (Us), Michel Gondry (France), Tony Leung (China) and Christoph Waltz (Austria).
Broccoli is best known for co-producing the James Bond films while Danish actor Dyrholm recently »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Rosser)
X-Men franchise director Bryan Singer, whose first two features debuted at the Sundance Film Festival — including The Usual Suspects in 1995 — was one of the industry figures named to the Sundance juries that will judge this year’s films when the festival begins next week. Singer, who has X-Men: Days of Future Past due in May, will be one of five members of the U.S. Dramatic Jury. Other members of the juries include Tracy Chapman, Lone Scherfig, Leonard Maltin, and screenwriter Jon Spaihts (Prometheus). A complete list of the juries, courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival, can be viewed after the jump. »
- Jeff Labrecque
Laying waste to everything with blaring 3D effects, “Firestorm” plays more like a disaster movie than a crime saga, given its risibly implausible story of a policeman fighting mainland Chinese robbers on the rampage in Hong Kong. Helmer-scribe Alan Yuen makes every scene go bang and boom, burying his potentially compelling subject — a law enforcer’s quandary when justice crumbles under brute force — under so much CGI rubble. This being the most extravagant (though not the most technically polished) Chinese 3D blockbuster in recent release, pic boasts whiz-bang B.O. in China and currently holds top spot in Hong Kong cinemas.
Although Yuen has helmed a B-grade romance (1994′s “Touches of Love”) and shares writing-directing credits with Sylvia Chang on the cyber-love story “Princess D” (2002), he is best known for scripting Benny Chan’s blockbusters, including “New Police Story” (2004), “Rob-b-Hood” (2006) and “Shaolin” (2010). While these hits succeeded by prioritizing action and spectacle over plot and character, »
- Maggie Lee
Man is there a lot of new content on streaming services this week. There are literally hundreds of new titles available for your viewing pleasure, I couldn’t possibly have written about all of it because I would be writing into next week! Just know that there is something there for everyone whether your bag is comedy, drama, action or horror.
Most impressively this week, Netflix have stepped up to the plate and unleashed a full load of good stuff. They have also announced that they are going to add an audio commentary to their original show House of Cards, which can only be good news for those holding on to their physical media love and may mean that this most valuable of DVD extras is not going away but will instead be reborn in a different guise.
This week’s new titles are as follows:
- Chris Holt
20 items from 2014
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