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234 reviews in total 
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2 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: The Viral Factor, 1 February 2012
7/10

Dante Lam is fast becoming one of the most consistently good directors from Hong Kong. With Beast Stalker and Stool Pigeon under his belt, Lam once again impresses in The Viral Factor. There is something about this film that takes hold of you and despite the tame finale; Viral Factor manages to come up with plenty of guns, body counts and high stake stunts to entertain action fans. Casting Lam's regular Nicholas Tse and Liu Kai-chi springs no surprise in the good acting department, but it is the mis-cast of Jay Chou that ruins an otherwise pretty good flick.

Jay Chou has zero facial expressions, his eyes are too small for any type of impact and his face is that of a wooden statue. Comparing with the matured reigning Best Actor in Tse, Chou is purely poor and totally out of place. Tse on the other hand oozes with confidence and in one scene his eyes was so intense that it bulges out to the audience. Tse has all the hall-mark of a versatile actor and another Best Actor gonk does not seem far away. Liu Kai-chi once again gives a scene stealing display as the gambling addict yet loving father. Another weak link is the villainous turn from Andy On and it is clear that he lacks the menacing presence that is required of the role. Like Chou, On is too wooden to have any impact on the audience.

All in all, The Viral Factor is a decent Hong Kong action-er that shoots and shoots from start to finish. With some indifferent acting display and a tame finale, the film ultimately suffers and stops it from elevating the film to the same level as the wonderful Beast Stalker or even The Stool Pigeon for that matter. In hindsight, if Chou and On are replaced by the likes of Nick Cheung and Francis Ng respectively, the film will probably go leaps and bounds. Still, The Viral Factor entertains from start to finish and for Hong Kong film nowadays, one shouldn't expect perfection…

Neo rates it 7.5/10

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: The Loan Shark, 18 December 2011
5/10

The Loan Shark can easily be dismissed as outright low budget crap. However, points must be given to Malaysian director Hor Chee Leong for trying to turn a poorly written script into something seemingly better. It also helps when you have the likes of everyone who never made it big in Hong Kong cinema, namely Eddie Cheung, Lam Suet, Sam Lee and the return of Irene Wan. Of the four, Eddie Cheung at times steal the show with his villainous overacting and hideous laugh, while Lam Suet is Lam Suet, he is one actor who can so effortlessly make people laugh whether he is acting serious or not. As for female lead, I am quite impressed with newcomer Jojo Goh as she handles her internal turmoil extremely well and considering this is probably the most difficult role in the film as well. She is definitely one rising star to watch for the future. Still, in the world of Loan Shark, this film offers nothing special and most likely nothing we have not seen before. The only reason this film is watchable is because of its stars and the style over substance approach that Hor Chee Leong is well known for. With cheap sets, cheap budget, cheap actors, The Loan Shark somehow manages to rises above these constraints, but that's not really saying much.

All in all, The Loan Shark is really C-grade movie and never really rises above its conventions. However, given the constraints, the budget and everything else, one just cannot wonder how bad this film potentially can be, given the hand of a lesser director. Luckily that's not the case and all the actors does well enough to make the film watchable and full credits to the director for making all the cheap sets look better than it is. The Loan Shark is really a film that is hard to recommend and is best approached if you go into the film with ultra low expectations. In reality, it isn't exactly that bad and it really could have been a hell lot worse…

Neo rates it 5/10

16 out of 45 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: Flying Swords of Dragon Gate 3D, 18 December 2011
9/10

Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is exactly how to make use of 3D technology. Apart from James Cameron's Avatar, the use of 3D has been mostly disappointing. Innovative director Tsui Harks does it again and exceeds all expectations in delivering not only a great movie, but uses 3D to maximum effect. In a reunion of sorts, Jet Li teams up with Tsui Hark for the first time since the Once Upon a Time in China days. After the staggeringly excellent Detective Dee's last year, Hark continues his great form by bringing the audience into his imaginary world with 3 times the realism and some stunning special effects. Every inch of the budget seems to be perfectly used and the action direction is top class. The use of daggers, flying swords and martial arts display are all perfectly aided by the 3D effects. It is rare that a remake/re-imagination of an all time classic New Dragon Gate (1991) can be out-dux, but Hark achieves the impossible by delivering the most impressive and creative Hong Kong movie of the year. Although Jet Li seems wasted in a role that is far too limited for both his acting and martial arts abilities, Zhou Xun impresses in a role that requires little, but crucial to the movie. Chen Kun once again impresses in a duo role and Taiwanese Kwai Lun-mei adds some flair and style. However, if there is one big flaw in the film, it is the lack of chemistry between Li and Zhou. Then again, it is probably truism by now that Li rarely strikes up chemistry with co-stars and with Rosamund Kwan (Once Upon a Time in China series) out of the game, it is hard to see which actress can bring down his romantic defenses.

Still, Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is more than a stellar effort and qualifies as true Asian Blockbuster of the year. It is the kind of movie that will bring the people back to the cinemas. All in all, it is probably an understatement to call Tsui Hark a genius, but just when all his Hollywood count parts fails to understand 3D technology, Hark steps up and above his peers and deliver a sucker punch of a movie. Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is not just a good movie, but it is a great movie on all levels. It is what you call a unique movie experience that brings in the world of Wuxia to the maximum effect. I am proud of Tsui Hark's achievements and after watching Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, he too should be proud of himself. Simply the film to beat in 2011…

Neo rates it 9.5/10

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: Magic To Win, 12 December 2011
7/10

Magic To Win is not your usual Hong Kong flick, but instead it is a movie that requires the audience to totally suspend your belief, escape from the reality and enter a world of magic, weirdness, fun and enjoyment. This is certainly the most light-hearted attempt to come from the director of Ip Man franchise, Wilson Yip. It is a kind of film where you either go along for the ride or have fun or it will just end up on the gutter of your basement. Yip smartly cast a number of veterans to go with a cast of inexperience girls. Producer/star Raymond Chow puts in a fun 90s performance as a University professor who knows magic, likewise he is perfectly aided by a more than capable Wu Chun (My Kingdom), bright-faced newcomer Karena Ng, the ever improving Wu Jing (SPL) and a fun, yet needless cameo display by the ever likable Louis Koo.

All in all, Magic to Win is by no means a movie that will light up the crowd or reinvent Hong Kong cinema, but it is easy for the candy coated eyes and simply enjoyable as a whole. If you can ignore the weirdness of the genre, the mix and hash of East meet West elements (namely Star Wars and Harry Potter), Magic To Win feels like a fresh update of Chow's successful Happy Ghost series. The good news is Magic To Win demands very little from the audience and with a light hearted mindset, this film can be a bit of fun. For a Hong Kong industry lacking in any sort of identity, creativity and humor, Magic To Win is a success in many ways…

Neo rates it 7/10.

- www.thehkneo.com

Burning Man (2011/I)
19 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: Burning Man, 4 December 2011
7/10

Burning Man is a different film that goes the route not taken. It is works in the same manner of films similar to Memento. It requires the audience to invest into the film and with the effect of constantly solving a complicated life puzzle. It is an unique experience that will stay in your memory for a good while. It is a essentially at its core a film about dealing with loss, moving on, grieve, the love of your life, cancer and the aftermath of a tragedy. It is what you call a smart film that let the audience work it out for themselves. The film also constantly uses sex as a symbol, motif, and metaphor and to depict the passion with the relationships. Shot in the backdrop of Bondi Beach in Sydney, the location is almost unrecognisable and the cinematography is mostly excellent. Although the film is shot and edited in a creative manner, meaning that nothing happens coherent and the director is clearly playing with time and memory, it is exactly this aspect that the film fails to connect with the audience and ultimately feel for the characters deep involved in their respective situations. Still, for an Australian film, these is an admirable effort and along with a wonderful yet conflicted performance from British import Matthew Goode and the screen stealing beauty in Bojana Novakovic. Although I have not since any of director Jonathan Teplitzky's previous works, with Burning Man, one can only say that this man is filled with potential.

All in all, The Burning Man is not a film for everyone; it can be am torture to sit through and also rewarding at the same time. In essence it is very much an independent film, but for what it is worth, The Burning Man is a fine effort and deserves some much needed credit for the Australian Film Industry…

Neo rates it 7/10

- www.thehkneo.com

Moneyball (2011)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: Moneyball, 4 December 2011
9/10

Moneyball is just another one of those inspirational sporting flicks, but rather it is a movie about the running of a business in sport, the implications of questioning and doing something against the norm and at its very core a character drama about Billy Beane. In fact the film being adapted by Aaron Sorkin at times felt like The Social Network in the way it analyse the human condition through some smart dialogue and interchange. The casting of Brad Pitt as the complicated, passionate, yet lonely Billy Beane is pitch-perfect. Years ago, Pitt would need been able to pull this off, but he is now a matured and reformed actor and a far cry from his Troy's days. The chemistry between Pitt and the polar opposite in the nerdy Peter Brand (played by Superbad's Jonah Hill) is fascinating and involving to watch. The way the two persist on their vision against the odds is both inspiring and rewarding for the audience. Baseball like most other sports have become part of the money game, therefore it is always refreshing to see the underdogs match it with the big boys. Still, Moneyball isn't just about a small team going on a 20 game winning streak and matching it with the big boys, but about the difficulty to influence change and the hardship involve in going against tradition. Fortune flavours the brave as the saying goes and for Moneyball it very much rings true.

All in all, Moneyball is a realistic look at the baseball industry and how it operates and the dynamics that goes on behind the scenes. It may never be an outright successful film, but Moneyball works on all levels and go the extra mile to take the audience along for the ride and eventually winning the audiences' hearts along the way. Great acting, wonderful direction and terrific multi-layer film that ends up working wonders. A film to beat for 2011…

Neo rates it 9/10

16 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: The Legendary Amazons, 28 November 2011
3/10

The Legendary Amazons looks great on paper, produced and funded by Asian superstar Jackie Chan, aided by a huge budget to burn, a quality cast list of Richie Ren, Cecilia Cheung, the return of much missed Kathy Chow and old school veteran Cheng Pei-Pei and directed by a veteran in the HK film industry in Frankie Chan. So what exactly went wrong? The answer is everything. From the lame and weak script, cheesy acting, extremely poor directing and execution, The Legendary Amazons promises a lot, but delivers absolutely nothing. When you have one of the best actresses in Hong Kong cinema in Cecilia Cheung, one wonders how she can turn in a career suicide performance. Apart from the NT$30 million pay check that she received from the role, her performance here is laughable at best and a far cry from the days of being acclaimed in Lost in Time and A Nite in Mongkok. Richie Ren is one actor that have improved dramatically in the past decade and in particular due to his involvement in numerous Johnny To's films, but here, he lacks presence, more wooden than Edison Chen and his character is far to distant for the audience to feel for him. Perhaps the best thing in the film comes in the form of the much missed Kathy Chow and despite her limited screen time, she graced the film with the same determination like she did 13 years ago in the grity Beast Cops. Still, the shoulder of blame should be attributed to Frankie Chan, a director who have not done much in the past decade and have not made a decent film in almost 20 years. With such a huge budget on the ball, what was Jackie Chan thinking? Couldn't he have at least gone for someone who can handle epic commercial war movies like Benny Chan or himself? These are all questions that are no longer of importance, as the fact is out there – The Legendary Amazons is a bad film and there are no excuses to be made.

All in all, The Legendary Amazons fails big time, especially with all the talent involved. To say The Legendary Amazons is a bad film is an understatement, as not only did it fail to meet expectations, but it is an outright disappointing effort. If not for some good action scenes and the grand scale of the battle scenes, the film will not even be watchable. Still, for such a film, being watchable is not good enough and let's hope this is just a one off mis-step from Cecilia Cheung, as this is easily her worst performance in her career. It is that disappointing…

Neo rates it 3/10

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: A Boy and His Samurai, 27 November 2011
8/10

A Boy and His Samurai is a perfect example of how to blend comedy, drama and emotions all into one mixture of a delicious cake. This film has a rare and unique quality that captures the audience attention from the beginning to the very end. In the midst of the film, it also have the ability to make you laugh, cry little and finishes off with a bittersweet smile. In essence this is a movie made for kids, but also an enjoyable film for adults to watch together. This is the kind of movie that Ninja Kids!!! fails to be and should have been. Putting in a Samurai of the 1800s Edo period into modern day Tokyo is a smart idea, but full credit must go to the entire likable cast of Ryo Nishikido, Rie Tomosaka and Fuku Suzuki. In particular Fuku Suzuki steals the show with steady child cuteness and the trio (Nishikido and Tomosaka) plays off each other with chemistry and fun. All in all, A Boy and His Samurai is one of those films that allows the audience to enjoy the experience, laugh together, carefree, light-hearted and engages the audience at an emotional level. It is a rare quality and the pacing is much faster than most Japanese movies. In doing so, A Boy and His Samurai is fast becoming a contender as the most enjoyable movie at the 15th Japanese Film Festival. A must see.

Neo rates it 8.5/10.

- www.thehkneo.com

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: Arrietty, 27 November 2011
8/10

From the creators of the acclaimed Spirited Away, Totoro and Howl's Moving Castle comes another imaginative anime flick that brings you back to your childhood memories and dreams. As a child, I have always dream about another world that exists within our world where tiny people exists, but we cannot see. I remember playing lego and imagining building a house for them. Therefore in the sell-out screening of Arrietty, it invoked and clicked at my memories. Imagine a family of tiny human beings living in your basement with their own little dream house. Such is the simple yet creative premise of this film and it is exactly why the film works. What I love about Studio Ghibli anime feature films is that they are just as appealing to children and for adults alike. There are always themes and motifs behind its simple and imaginative nature. The characters seem to come alive within their cartoon outlook and the scenery and details are simply beautiful to watch and endure. Arrietty may never reach the heights of Totoro or Spirited Away, but it remains true to the line of films that we have all grown up and dream about. Sometimes, in the midst of adult life with all the daily stress and growing up reality, it is wonderful to be able to escape into another world and become a carefree and imaginative child for a little while. Arietty is exactly that and therefore it succeeds in its attempt. All in all, Arrietty is a kind of film that is impossible to dislike, certainly a crowd pleaser and a beautiful dream to aspire to. I feel like I am a child again

Neo rates it 8/10

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: Hankyu Railways: A 15-minute Miracle, 27 November 2011
6/10

Hankyu Railways is not the usually kind of film. It is a film about life experiences, the ups and downs, the hope, the miracle and the people around us. The film possesses multiple plot lines and somehow they will all interlink together through a 15 minute train ride on the Hankyu Railways. The obvious flaw about this film is that it requires more verbal and obvious expressions to express out its underlying message in place of subtlety and cleverness. In doing so, it seems like the audience is reading the film like a book and thus losing some lasting effect that it could be capable of. Still, Hankyu is an extremely well-meaning drama that depicts how people deal with ups and downs in life. How someone you randomly sit next to on the train, can have an influence in your life and decision. It is by all means a positive film and provides hope for those that require it. Some stories are more interesting than others, in particular of interest will be the story of the good girl (played by the very pretty Erika Toda – see pictures below) being in a violent relationship with a total jerk and the main story of a woman going to her cheating fiancé's wedding in a bridal white dress. There are some moments in the film that seems real and others that seem to be more manufactured and laboured. Still, Hanky Railways is by no means a terrible film, but rather it is what you call an uneven well-meaning film that isn't executed as well as it can be. All in all, Hankyu Railways does convey its message out even if it is a tad too obvious and its well-meaning and positive nature provides people who are facing difficulties in their life with some sort of hope. There is a quote in the film that I wanted to share about cutting the losses in life: "you can cry as much as need to, but you need to know when to stop the tears from continuing." Overall, the film is not bad, but not great…

Neo rates it 6.5/10

- www.thehkneo.com


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