Reviews written by registered user
|11 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Barbara Wong has apparently decided that the way to revive her career
is to become the Chinese Communist Party's Leni Riefenstahl. This film
received its premiere at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to
mark the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to the PRC, so it's no surprise
that everything in the past 10 years is presented in a positive light.
The Asian financial crisis? All the fault of George Soros, according to
this film. Donald Tsang's "election"? Just another example of the great
things that have happened since 1997, according to the director.
With the clear political motive in mind, the storyline is secondary. Basically, Joy (played by Gigi Leung) is moving up in her career, juggling her work and her newborn child. Then, all sorts of challenges come up, none of which come across as plausible. Her assistant (played by Fiona Sit) helps her face the challenges, even though Joy's character seems hardly suited to fight back. Unbelievable coincidences also help Joy revive her situation.
Many Hong Kong films have product placements, but this film has even more than most. Overall, there is no reason to see this movie unless you want to see propaganda.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film tracks the experiences of three friends, Lucky, Chi-To and
Chik, who go to Taiwan with plans to sell counterfeit US currency.
Lucky's wife also comes along on the trip. The buyer is arranged by
Chi-To's cousin, but not all is what it seems. Chi-To is also
interested in Lucky's wife, who used to be his girlfriend.
The storyline gets even more complicated from here- the main plus of the film is the unexpected plot twists. The film is also like many other HK films from the 1980s- very violent, with no sacred cows. The action scenes are not particularly impressive, and neither is the acting, but the unique storyline is a reason to see this film.
This is the type of film which Hong Kong is not famous for- a courtroom
drama. While a bit extreme in parts, the story does catch the viewer's
attention. Andy Lau plays a brand new attorney, just back from England,
who defends a prostitute accused of killing a high society playboy. The
courtroom scenes do a good job playing up the differences between the
prostitute (and the other prostitutes who support her) and the high
society types. This is a rare Hong Kong film dealing with class
Lau does a good job as the young attorney, although the story line makes him out to be almost a saint. Although his law degree gives him entry into high society himself, he is an orphan who hasn't forgotten his roots. As the case goes on, he find his new society friends (and his girlfriend, the daughter of a high-powered lawyer) do not understand why he would defend a prostitute. In addition, the prosecution's entire case seems based on the premise that a prostitute doesn't deserve to live, which comes across a bit extreme.
For those who would like to see what Hong Kong courtrooms were like (at least to some degree) under the British (you will see Andy Lau with his courtroom wig on), this film is a good choice.
Empress Wu tells the story of China's only female emperor. While this
is a very interesting story in history, the film does only a marginal
job of bringing it to the viewer. The director, Li Han-Hsiang, uses
several short anecdotes from throughout the empress' life. While this
could have been an effective storytelling method, they are all far too
similar to grab the viewer's interest.
Almost every anecdote involves some threat to the throne, which the main characters then must act against. The main problem with this approach is that none of the plotters agianst the throne have fully developed characters, so it is hard to understand why they want to take over. The film would have been better if it it had just focused on one such plot, or had focused on one plot and other aspects of the empress' life.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Golden Lotus is based, in part, on Jin Ping Mei, a famous erotic novel
of ancient China. Li Han-Hsiang adapted part of the story into this
film, which starts with Hsi Men Ching, a successful merchant, wooing
Pan Chin Lien, the beautiful wife of one of the townspeople. While
there is some promise with this part of the story, the film goes
steadily downhill from here.
Li provides almost no redeeming qualities to Hsi- Hsi is a inveterate womanizer, stealing and killing in order to get any woman he wants. His extremely sexist attitude may have been the norm in ancient China, the source material does a much better job in making Hsi a symbol of degradation. In this film, Li does introduce some commentary criticizing Hsi's behavior, but it seems a cynical afterthought. Li is also very sloppy with the "romances" that come after Hsi seduces Pan; in almost every case, he rushes through the "romance" to get to soft-focus sex scenes.
Li's obsession with bound feet is very hard to understand- clearly, bound feet were considered attractive for hundreds of years in China, but it was hard for this reviewer (and, I think, most modern audiences) to view grossly disfigured feet in a sexual manner. Yet, again and again, the audience is subjected to Li's fetishistic view of bound feet.
Li also uses voice-over to skip through some of the most important parts of Jin Ping Mei, robbing the film of much structure. Li's direction features many zoom-in closeups at supposedly dramatic parts of the story, and positioning shadowing objects in the foreground of his shots in order to obscure the sex scenes. Li was a talented director, but this film is nowhere near the quality of The Love Eterne; in fact, it is hard to believe that both films were made by the same director.
Cold Blade is a fairly simple story of two students of a martial arts
master who are charged with delivering a map of a treasure trove to the
Song forces, who are fighting the Yuan forces in China. The two
protagonists encounter various challenges along the way, all of which
allow them to demonstrate their fighting skills.
The fight scenes are fairly well done in the film, and each is different from the other, although the two main characters do have similar techniques that they use. The main criticisms I have of the film are some of the changes in character are hard to follow, and the biggest fight scene is not until the end of the film; the ending just after it seems a bit abrupt.
All in all, though, a good film for Chor Yuen fans and those who enjoy older martial arts films.
The R.M. has some inspired moments, and generally treats the idea of a
returned missionary with humor. All of the things that go wrong are
generally predictable, but expressed in a humorous way.
There are problems with the film, however. The biggest is the film's racial insensitivity. Early in the movie, Jared Phelps finds that a Chinese-American family has moved into his old home. With vaguely Asian music in the background, Mr. Wong kicks Phelps in the face. Why does the Asian-American character have to be an expert in martial arts? Why is there Asian music in the background? This might not have been an issue had there been any other Asian-American characters, but there were not.
Similarly, the Tongan exchange student in the film is named Humuhumunukunukuapua. This is the name of the Hawaiian state fish. Would a French foreign exchange student have been named Bratwurst?
Another problem with the film is the blatant ad for utahweddings.com. While presented in a slightly humorous way, it's still clear that it's an ad, and takes up at least 2 minutes of screen time.
This cheaply executed "thriller" tells the story of a man, Dan Townsend,
has visions of murders around town. The police begin to suspect him when
knows details of the murders no one else does, and he lacks an alibi at a
key point in the film.
Dan Townsend also has a stripper ex-girlfriend, Arianna Chavez, who begins to show up in his visions. This gives him an excuse to reconnect with her.
The film is very cheaply made, with most of the murders having taken place before the story begins, thus to save on special effects costs. Several parts of the story make little sense, and the best acting is by the two child actors in the film.
While Distinto Amanecer has many strong moments, the plot undercuts the
movie in several places. The film starts out focusing on the story of a
labor organizer who is trying to get ahold of an envelope with key
in it. He meets a woman who is his old college friend, married to another
college friend of his. Instead of merely focusing on the relationship of
the three old friends, the film also throws in story lines on the
relationship between the woman and her husband and the woman and her
brother. These story lines only serve to distract from the main plot
The film is well shot and Palma and Armendariz act well, although some of the supporting players overact a bit. Worth seeing, certainly, but not an excellent film.
This film attempts to show a more realistic view of prostitution in Hong
Kong and, by and large, it succeeds. Prostitution is not glamorized by
means, with the prostitutes acting bored while servicing clients and the
johns appearing pathetic.
The documentary style of the film suits its subject, and it has a great deal of social importance. Fans of Hong Kong action films may not like its slower pace, but this movie does a good job of showing a different side of Hong Kong.
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