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Very into asian cinema, especially movies from Hong Kong.
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Frank Castle + Gil Grissom x Patrick Bateman = Dexter Morgan
Dexter Morgan works for the Miami Dade County Police Department as a blood spatter expert of the forensics department. He is currently dating Rita,a former victim of an abusive drug addict, has a sister who's just joined the homicide devision and a superior officer who enjoys busting his balls whenever the opportunity arises. Oh and he's a completely sociopathic serial killer.
But instead of quenching his thirst for murder on the innocent citizens of Miami, he carefully chooses gangsters, drug dealers, paedophiles, murderers. Individuals all of which Dexter feels have long outlived their purpose in the world because they are simply bad people.
I first became aware of this series after seeing posters advertising it in a local comic book store in my home town. now the idea of a forensics expert who's also a serial killer screams comic books origins and you'd be on the right track to assume that. It's based on a novel or rather a series of novels. I haven't read them myself but I've read several positive reviews.
Getting back to the series. It's nice to see television putting some effort into their programming these days. With the reality TV bug dieing, thankfully, a slow and painful death. Shows such as this, Heroes, Supernatural, Lost etc have proved that the writing seems to be getting better and much more entertaining.
Dexter is basically could the result of Brett Easton Ellis ever wrote an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in which Gil Grissom goes insane and starts killing off the bad guys or if The Punisher wasn't so wild about big guns. When the viewer watches Dexter they can't help him but find the guy somewhat likable. Given he's a complete sociopath and a killer we should be repelled by his actions but the fact that he only punishes those who deserve it, we are forced in some ways to support his "fight" against evil.
Dexter's emotional well being or lack there of, often feels conflicted whenever in the presence of his girlfriend Rita. As stated earlier she was a victim of an abusive husband and has zero interest in sexual intercourse. Something which, Dexter admits, is comfortable which. Yet he often finds himself having thoughts which he can't understand, could they be feelings? or something much more sinister? we don't know but this creates definitely the most complex and deep character driven relationships in the entire series.
The reviewer only wishes the other interactions between Dexter and the other characters were this fascinating. Another relationship which played out very well in the series was between Dexter and his adoptive father, backed up brilliantly by James Remar's wonderfully understated performance as a detective who's own emotional reserve has been burnt out by the justice system allowing the wrong people getting away with crimes they were so obviously guilty of. This is a state of mind which, for better or worse is instilled within Dexter.
What probably stands out most is the writing and of course the acting. Michael C. Hall, James Remar and Julie Benz are fantastic in this. It's outstanding to see their hard work hasn't gone un-noticed with Hall, Benz and Remar picking up awards for their tremendous effort on what has to be one of the best TV shows in this past decade.
I can't recommend this series enough. Fans of American Psycho will really enjoy this or people who enjoy TV that can be both engaging and entertaining at the same time. Please, watch at least one episode, I'm sure there'll be something in there that will get your attention and keep for the run of the series.
Qing dian da sheng (2005)
Hayao Miyazaki Meets Wong Jing!
STORY Chinese Tall Story tells the story of righteous monk Tripitaka, who, along with his guardians Monkey, Sandy and Pigsy make their journey west on a quest to recover ancient Sutras, finally, they reach the final leg of their journey in Shache City But all is not as it seems when the city is attacked by evil tree demons. Monkey tries his best to battle them but is overwhelmed, knowing his master is in grave danger, he uses his trusty golden staff to thrust Tripitaka to safety.
The monk ends up being knocked out when he land and when he wakes up he finds himself in the presence of a young lizard imp named Maiyan who takes quite a shine to our young hero, after many verbal misunderstandings Maiyan becomes convinced Tripitaka loves her, so when the monk decides he must rescue Monkey and the others, she insists on accompanying him. So the mismatched pair begins their adventure together.
REVIEW Okay, so, it's another Journey To The West movie, which isn't a bad thing to me since I love the story and the characters associated with it, so I was a little excited to get my hands on the DVD. So I think I'll start off my review with the story, which is all over the place, at first it was your standard fantasy film, then it became a ridiculous comedy then suddenly became full blown sci-fi, if the director Jeff Lau was experimenting with mixing genres then he did a pretty scatological job with this movie. I think it's a pretty unique approach by having the story centre on a character other then the infamous Monkey King, especially taking a character as pacifistic as Tripitaka and then putting him into what is at it's core a love story. So overall, I liked it.
The acting is for the most part solid, with leads Nicholas Tse and Charlene Choi putting in some really good performances, though Ah Char does spend most of her screen time behind some rather ugly make up. The supporting cast is nicely put together, it includes all the usual EEG main stays so Boy'Z and Isabella Leong make appearances, one actor I'd like to mention is Wilson Chen, who plays the Monkey King, he did a good job with the limited material he seemed to have been given, he played a version of the Monkey King who was subdued yet arrogant, I had a feeling he'd be retreading Twins Effect II territory but fortunately that's not the case here. I hope he gets to do a follow up to this with himself in the central role, since the film does leave itself open for a sequel.
Okay, so let's get down to the directing, which again is kinda all over the place, Lau gives too much time to the Stephen Chow-esquire nonsense comedy, which includes a scene where Tripitaka in order to toughen himself up, dresses up as Spider-Man, which I assume lead to many a head scratching moment since the film is meant to be set in Ancient China. He does create some really nice and tender moments between the two leads and does delve into sappy territory but this reviewer does enjoy a bit of sap on occasion so it didn't bother me in the slightest.
Right, now onto the CGI, which for the most part is quite bearable, there are a lot of moments which probably belong on a PS2 like many other reviews have stated but there are some cool moments particularly the scene in which Monkey battles a flying minion. A lot of the CG gags are provided in the form of the golden staff which turns into a range of different things, ranging from a giant fly swatter to a mech suit straight out of The Matrix Revolutions. So yeah, it sounds crazy but I guess you'd have to see it to believe it.
Right, so in closing A Chinese Tall Story isn't a movie without it's flaws but it keeps itself together long enough to be able to entertain and generally be a overall enjoyable movie. If all of the above doesn't swing you to see it how about I put it this way, it's much better then Twins Effect II.
Mang lung (2005)
Micheal Mann, Hong Kong Style!
Film: Dragon Squad Year: 2005 Genre(s): Action/Drama Director: Daniel Lee Language(s): Cantonese, Madarin, English Running Time: 111 Mins Format: DVD(Hong Kong Release) Cast: Venness Wu, Shawn Yue, Xia Yu, Eva Haung, Lawrence Chou, Sammo Hung, Micheal Biehn, Simon Yam, Huh Joon Ho, Maggie Q
Synopsis: Five interpol agents are drafted into Hong Kong to keep watch over a witness in an important trial, while being transported the convoy is ambushed by a gang of masked gun man.
The agents, come together to solve who attacked them and, while being mentored by an almost retired officer, decide to take out the gang before more people are killed.
So this film has been receiving a lot of negative press, both from fans living in Hong Kong and those who live in other countries, having seen the flick, i's easy to understand why, the pacing is chaotic and the camera work as extremely frantic during it's many action sequences, add in some awkward attempts at character development and some repetitive flashbacks and you'd have a stinker on your hands right?
Well, I hate to break it to you guys but no, despite some of the films superficial flaws, it does not fail in being one of the finest films to come out of Hong Kong in 2005 and while it didn't get the box office reception it deserved, this reviewer felt refreshed to find some creativity among the watered down Rom-coms the local film industry have seem to be putting out this past year. So let's start with the plot.
It's your typical by the numbers tried and tested plot, there's the bad guys and there's the good guys, they fight, bad guys win, good guys get mentored by wise senior, fight again, good guys win.
So really the plot is an excuse for director Daniel Lee is experiment with some very Micheal Mann-esquire camera work, about that, the camera work for the most part does the job right, it creates excitement and tension which kept this reviewer glued o the screen throughout, as it suited the style of the action scene s very well.
Now the action, well, the good news is, there's plenty of it, lots of gun play with the odd martial arts sequence thrown in for good measure, the fighting mostly being done by Huh Joon Ho and Sammo Hung who confront each other twice, the second encounter being the most bloody and brutal. The shootouts are very well put together.
For a movie which could be considered a mainstream film in Hong Kong, it isn't afraid to be extremely violent when it wants to be, there's plenty of blood on offer here, so if the acting doesn't grab, the blood soaked action will.
The acting ranges from sleepy to extremely good. Micheal Biehn, who's a familiar face to Hollywood movie fans as Kyle Reese in James Cameron's seminal classic The Termintor, stars as the lead villain, for a man who's been working in the film industry for so long, I thought he would have brought some much needed acting to the movie but really he seems to be almost sleep walking in his role but one may interpret Biehn's characterisation as a person who's so cold, he shows very little emotion.
The actors who played the five interpol agents where all very good, although, really, I would have liked it if they had a little more personality, they all came off as a little bland in place. Eva Huang is extremely easy on the eyes, definitely a face to look out for in future movies. former pop star Vanness Wu gives a credible performance, while Shawn Yue gives his usual calibre of acting but this reviewer felt the best acting had to go to the one and only Sammo Hung, who plays a character reluctant to get involved but realises if he wants to leave the past behind him, he must confront his demons, it's also worth mentioning he has the best fight in the entire movie against Huh Joon Hoo, who plays a chillingly sociopathic villain.
So, overall I really liked it, I think it's nowhere near as bad as everyone seems to be making it out to be and deserves at least one viewing by anyone who's a fan of Hong Kong cinema or Micheal Bay.
Chek lo dak gung (2002)
Exploitation; Thy Name Is Wong Jing
Naked Weapon tells the story of Charlene, a young Eurasian girl who is taken from her family at a young age by the ominous Madam M and raised as an assassin, while training she meets Katherine, whom she develops a sisterly bond with, six years later they are dispatched into the real world to use their skills as Madam M sees fit.
Soon a police detective who has been searching for Charlene for ever since she disappeared but soon an mysterious figure who has a personal vendetta with Madam M and her syndicate appears and both Charlene and Katherine must use the skills they have learnt to defend themselves.
This movie began it's life as a follow up to Wong Jing's cult classic Naked Killer but as with most of Jing's projects, the finished product is different to what was originally conceived.
So I'll begin with the film's plot, it's your average Wong Jing affair, two dimensional characters and some bland dialogue backed by some uneven acting, this is essentially an action movie, so really there's little need to care for the characters or the situations they find themselves in. Though, there where a lot of films with plots similar to this made in the 1980's when the Hong Kong film industry was at it's peak in terms of quality and amount of releases.
The acting, like I said, is uneven, Daniel Wu and Anya are the only two which give notable performances, I would say the same for Maggie Q but unfortunately her performance dips into melodramatic a couple times, though her performance overall is very good. There's no denying both Maggie and Anya are two extremely beautiful women so if the plot doesn't grab you, the leading ladies' good looks will.
The directing is competent, Ching Siu-Tung, who also did the film's martial arts sequences, did a good job, his talents can also be seen on the Steven Seagel sleeper hit Belly Of The Beast. the visuals are very good, that sheer will of the directing alone gives this film a high recommendation. though there is one particular sequence which should have been cut down or at least completely removed but alas this is a Wong Jing produced film so what can you do?
The action scenes are brilliant, Ching did a great job making anybody who threw a punch or a kick look like martial arts machines, don't expect anything realistic, that's not his style, it's very over the top but for a movie such as Naked Weapon, it works.
So overall I highly recommend this to Hong Kong film fans as it recalls itself to the glory days of HK film in the 80's when films being released like this where the norm and not over-stuffed pop vehicles like the industry seems to more interested in now.
For you DVD junkies I recommend the Region 2 double disc platinum release, it's chock full of great extras.
Chao ji xue xiao ba wang (1993)
The Ultimate Party Movie
In the year 2043, M. Bison is about to serve a hefty jail sentence but not if he can help it, he sends his best men Ken, Sagat and E. Honda back to the year 1993 to kill off the judge that originally jailed their leader. The government get wind of Bison's plans and send a crack team of officers to put a spanner in Bison's work, those officers are Vega, Guile and Dhalsim.
The three officers arrive in the past and befriend a bumbling high school student who is the butt of both the school's bullies and his sister's, Chun Li, jokes.
The three future cops begin their search for the judge before Bison's men can get their hands on him.
This movie was insane, I had heard many bad things about it so I didn't have high expectations when I out the disc in, I mean I figured it couldn't be as bad as it's made out to be.
So, basically it's Wong Jing's attempt at adapting the characters from the popular arcade classic Street Fighter II into a feature length movie, he had already played around with the characters in the Jackie Chan classic City Hunter in which Jackie and the other co-stars imitated the game in one scene.
Clearly Wong had enjoyed the experience he decided to stretch the whole thing out into a 90 minute movie.
First off I should mention when Wong began production he had "forgotten" to ask the developers of Street Fighter II if he could use the names and likenesses so what you see are names played around with i.e. E. Honda becomes Toyota and Sagat becomes Tai King and so on. Also the costumes are changed slightly but still have the look of the original characters.
The plot is a send off of Stephen Chow's Fight Back To School when the good guys disguise themselves as pupils at a high school and get into all sorts of wacky high jinks which for the most part work well on a brainless level.
The action in this one is scarce which is a shame since it is a fighting game which was the inspiration for this flick but when the action does occur it's fast and frantic, a trade mark of the action director Ching Siu-Tung's work, He styled the scenes to emulate the game play and he did it quite well, although the scene from City Hunter was a little bit better. Each of the actors display the signature moves of their respective characters.
Wong Jing's directing leaves little to be desired but the cast is pretty star filled for a Hong Kong movie, in here you've got Andy Lau, Jackie Cheung, Aaron Kwok, Simon Yam. Chingamy Yau, Dicky Cheung and Ekin Cheng.
Each actor gives a decent performance, well it is a comedy so there's not much reason to flex the acting muscles in this one.
My only problem is that the film should have given more screen time to Aaron Kwok as Ryu or as he's referred to in this Lung, he his a crazy fight with Ekin Cheng at the beginning of the movie and then you don't see him for the rest of the movie until right near the end.
Really this kind of movie could only be fully appreciated if you're viewing it with friends, preferably in a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 type of situation. I recommend you buy the movie if you can find it cheap, just try not to take it too seriously.
Jet Li Serves No Master
Year: 2005 Genre(s): Action/Drama Format: DVD (Hong Kong Release) Director: Louis Leterrier Cast: Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, Bob Hoskins, Kerry Condon, Micheal Ian Lambert.
This is the story of Danny(Jet Li), a slave who has lived his whole life without any sort of normal human education, With the mind and personality of a young child, with only one lesson learnt: how to fight. Treated like a dog by his owner/boss, Bart(Bob Hoskins), which includes wearing a collar, Danny has been raised to a lethal fighting machine for Bart when ever anybody refuses to pay Bart money.
However, when a car accident lands Bart in a coma, Danny manages to escape and is found by a kind elderly blind piano tuner Sam(Morgan Freeman) who lives with with his step-daughter Victoria(Kerry Condon), who use music to teach Danny some things about the world and about being human.
Let me begin by saying this has to be one of Jet Li's best movies in a very long time, I thought this movie had the perfect blend of drama, comedy and bone crunching action.
So let's start with the acting, I thought it was flawless, Even Jet's Chinese accent didn't get in the way of his excellent performance as the naive and child-like Danny, I was surprised his could be so docile and then become an unstoppable, vicious animal when he fought.
Jet also had a very strong supporting cast, with Morgan Freeman putting in yet another stand out as Sam, he played a character, although blind, could easily see the child within Danny and how he could not understand the new world around him. Bob Hoskins played a good villain, making Bart a very cruel and sadistic, in someways he is revisiting his character from A Long Good Friday.
The cast was nicely rounded off by Kerry Condon as Victoria a young girl who helps Sam show Danny the simple joys in life, such as boat rides and eating ice cream, I thought she played a very sweet and genuine character.
The story was very well written by Luc Besson of Leon fame, there are moments in the film that border on melodrama but otherwise it was able to balance the characters and the situations out very nicely, it is worth noting Luc Besson also helped develop one of Jet Li's better English language films Kiss Of The Dragon, so it seems Besson knows what Jet is looking for when it comes to making an action movie.
Now down to the action, it was choreographed by Yuen Woo-Ping of Matrix fame and yet again proves why he is in such demand by making Jet forget all the stylish Wu Shu fighting Jet has portrayed in his earlier films and turns him into a vicious animal as he punches, bites and stomps on anyone who gets in his way.
The most outstanding sequence takes place at the beginning of the movie which shows what sort of killer Danny is and his style slowly changes from being an all out attacker to actually defending himself, as is shown in the swimming pool sequence when Danny fights the four fight club gladiators in a long, gruelling sequence.
so, to finish, I think this is an excellent movie and I enjoyed viewing, it has become one of my favourite Jet Li movies, so that means it's right along side Fist Of Legend, Once Upon In China 2, Black Mask, Kiss Of The Dragon and My Father Is A Hero.
I think any fan of action movies should go see this movie without hesitation because you won't be disappointed.
San ging chaat goo si (2004)
A Return To Form For Mr. Chan
Film: New Police Story Year: 2004 Genre(s): Action/Drama Director: Gordon Chan Language: Cantonese Running Time: 123 mins Format: DVD(Hong Kong release) Cast: Jackie Chan, Nicholas Tse, Charlie Young, Charlene Choi, Daniel Wu, Andy On, Hiyama Hiro, Terence Yin, Coco Chaing, Wang Chieh.
Jackie Chan plays Chan Kwok-Wing, one of Hong Kong's top ranking officers, with the help of his team of highly trained men he is able to crack any case in record time. Then one day when Chan's men are killed trying to apprehend a group of bank robbers known as The Gang Of Five. Soon he goes into a downward spiral of alcoholism, depression and loneliness, even hiding himself from his Girlfriend Ho Yee(Charlie Young), who's brother was a member of Chan's team.
Then one night while laying in the gutter, a young man by the name of Cheng Siu-Fung(Nicholas Tse), brings him home and claims to be his new partner. So with the help of Sasa(Charlene Choi), a computer whizz, they set out to take down each member of The Gang Of Five, especially the gang's leader Joe Kwan(Daniel Wu)
Review: This movie was a result of Jackie being increasingly dissatisfied with the way he was allowed to make movies in Hollywood and returned to Hong Kong to show them how a real Jackie Chan film should be made.
I loved this movie, it was so refreshing to see Chan back in form. it is evident by the way he delivers his lines that he's far more comfortable being in a Hong Kong film. I thought he give a very good performance, It was good to see Jackie trying to broaden his horizons as an actor by playing a very haunted and tragic character, rather then playing the happy go lucky underdog he's portrayed in many of his other films. The lot was well written with the key players being fleshed out quite nicely.
The supporting cast where great, especially Nicholas Tse, who gave a really solid performance. The pacing of the film was good, with some nice trademark Jackie Chan style comedy beats added throughout the movie.
Now let's move onto the best part; the action.
The action was fantastic, some of the best I've seen Jackie do before he hit it big in the U.S.
Even thought Jackie is in his 50's he can still kick plenty of butt, the few fight scenes in the movie where excellent. The fight between Jackie and Co-Star Andy On, which takes place in a Lego Museum, was a joy to watch. Also there's a brilliant chase sequence involving a double decker bus, a nice nod to the original Police Story film.
Overall I thought this was an excellent return to form for Jackie Chan and it was great to see him do some cool stunts and some great fight sequences backed up by some solid acting. The film was recently acquired for distribution in the U.S. and Europe so keep a look out for this movie hitting the shelves.
Into the Sun (2005)
Steven Seagel returns as Travis Hunter, a former CIA agent who's brought out of his retirement as a sword-smith in Tokyo to help with an investigation involving a pact between The Yakuza and The Triad.
Soon Travis is under threat and he must use his deadly skills in the martial arts and the blade in order to take down the Yakuza and the Triads who are both out to end his life.
This movie really surprised me, I'm not a huge fan of Seagel's recent efforts but I was so impressed with Belly Of The Beast that I decided to give this a try.
First off, Seagel actually looks like he wants to be in the movie, going as for as to give some effort in the acting. Te story isn't all that great and there are some very cliché moments but overall it was enough to keep my interest through out.
The action was well paced and nicely choreographed, Seagel's fight with Ken Lo being a highlight but it was good to see they didn't hold back when it came to the sword fighting as he cuts his way through various sword wielding thugs in order to get to the final showdown, there's lots of blood on offer there.
I was nice to see Seagel being backed up by a strong supporting cast, even going as far as the let the Asian actors speak their native languages instead of making them speaking very bad English, I have to say as well Seagel's Japanese was way better the his Thai in Belly Of The Beast.
To finish off I have to say I'd like to see Seagel make more movies like this in the future, it seems mink* new what he was doing when he directed this as he gave the movie a nice level of flashiness without making it look like an MTV music video.
So if Seasgel decided to make more hack and slash type movies, I'd definitely be interested.
Jing mo gaa ting (2005)
Hell Hath No Fury Like A Family Scorned
The story tells of Yue Siu Bo(Anthony Wong, The Medallion) who lives in Hong Kong running his own Chinese Health clinic. Here he raises his two children High school student Natalie(Charlene Choi, The Twins Effect) and Ocean World Dolphin instructor Nicky(Stephen Fung,The Gen-X Cops, also the film's director). who he also taught martial arts. Both of them have grown weary of their father because of his constant bragging of how he's defeated many opponents in battle, they have just believed he is always lying.
Then one fateful day, a wheel chair bound man by the name of Rocco(Micheal Wong, First Option) arrives at Siu Bo's clinic looking for a man by the name of Tai Chi-Lung, the man responsible for Rocco's condition. When Siu Bo tells him he has no idea who he is talking about, Rocco leaves and later that night send his henchmen to capture Siu Bo.
When Nicky discovers his father has been kidnapped, he goes to the clinic to investigate only to discover that his father was once in fact a secret agent for British Intelligence.
Soon, Rocco finds out that the information he is looking for is hidden inside two charms worn by both Nicky and Natalie, he dispatches his team of lethal martial arts assassins to retrieve them.
Now Nicky and Natalie, with th help of Natalie's Boyfriend Jason(Daniel Wu, Around The World In 80 Days) and her best friend Ella(Charlene Choi, The Twins Effect) whom Nicky has a crush on, must use the martial arts skills they learnt from their father to defend themselves and save Siu Bo before it's too late.
Phew, now thats a synopsis.
This is the second directorial outing for Star Stephen Fung, who's previous film, Enter The Phoenix, was a fun look at the gangster genre which dominated the box office during the 1980's, so his second film was an eagerly awaited film and boy let me tell you it was worth it.
This movie was so fun, it's probably one of the best movie to come of Hong Kong in 2005. Firstly I'll comment of story and acting.
The story is probably the films weakest point, mainly due to Anthony Wong's character being very open about his past as a secret agent, you thin being part of British Intelligence he'd know the meaning of discretion. The plot as well as an action movie is also in some ways a domestic comedy, with the characters many conflicts being due to the fact that the children think their father is a lair and the father thinks he is no longer fit to look after them.
This is where some of the humour stems from in a way, although the humour is little weak, it did give me a few chuckles here and there. Now plotting and story aside, let's talk about the acting. For a film like this not much is really called upon of the actors. It's worth noting that this was executive produced by Jackie Chan so the end product is very family friendly, so no graphic violence or bad language of any kind, which isn't a bad thing in this case. Anthony Wong gives the strongest performance in the movie giving some much needed gravitas to what is really a flawed character. Stephen Fung does a good job as always as the frustrated and weary Nicky, while Gillian Chung has improved greatly since her performance in The Twins Effect.
Daniel Wu gives fine support considering he does very little in the movie but the worst performances come from Charlene Choi, who is given some of the worst lines, and Micheal Wong, who was just too wooden to make the character seem menacing in anyway. Also veteran Hong Kong actor/producer/director Wu Ma provides strong support as Uncle Chiu.
Now lets get to the good stuff, the martial arts fighting. Which has to be said is the best thing about the movie. They where directed by martial arts action supremo Yuen Woo Ping(The Matrix Trilogy, Kill Bill 1 & 2) who has once again proved why he's one of the best in the business. He does a great job of making everyone who fights in the movie look highly skilled, even thought most of the actor are not martial artists. Each fight is a joy to watch and recalls the glory days of martial arts action cinema in the 70's and the 80's.
To finish off, this is an extremely fun film and I highly recommend that if your a fan of Kung Fu action movies you go and buy the DVD without hesitation as you will not be disappointed.
I gave this film 5/5 stars!
Shou hu fei long (1990)
One Of Sammo's Best!
Sammo Hung plays 'Fatty Dragon' a thrill seeking, crime fighting martial arts expert who is partners with the conniving and fast talking 'Skinny Tiger'(Karl Maka), together they take down criminals in their own compromising style.
One day they are assigned to one of the biggest cases in their careers, they must take down an known drug baron(played by the wonderful Lau Kar-Wing) and bring him to justice.
The Plot is very basic, with a rather pointless sub-plot in Singapore involving the two main characters and two local girls wanting to open a karaoke bar, but apart from that the rest of the movie is an extremely enjoyable action romp.
Sammo displays his skills proving once again why he's the best in the business, adding this time a little Bruce Lee flavour into the mix, with each fight scene having Sammo performing signature moves from all of Buce's films, it's also worth noting he's one of the best Bruce Lee imitators despite his large physique .
Karl Maka however provides most of the movies comedy, as he talks his way through out the film in a rather manic manner.
All in all this film really should be viewed for the action, not the story or acting. Also watch out for a fast and furious confrontation between a lightening paced Sammo Hung, and a knife wielding Lar-Kar Wing.
Siu Lam juk kau (2001)
A Cinematic Gem!
Stephen Chow plays "Mighty Steel Leg" Sing, a garbage man and Shaolin follower who is looking for a way to bring Shaolin martial arts to the main stream, then one day he meets a down and out soccer couch, who after seeing Sing's incredible kung fu skills convinces him to start a soccer team.
Together they gather Sing's former Shaolin brothers to put their latent skills to use on the pitch, even though non of them have ever played the game before. Then the team set out to help Fung achieve his life long dream, to win the coveted China Super Cup from Team Evil.
I absolutely loved this movie, I thought it was a brilliantly written,well directed piece of action/comedy.
This stands as the first movie I have ever seen starring the brilliantly dead pan Stephen Chow. was put off from seeing his previous movies because the humour was very local to his native Hong Kong, but viewing this movie it's interesting to see that a lot of the humour has not lost it's touch through the translation. I feel Chow is starting to in someways play to his overseas fans who may not speak Cantonese, because I found myself to my relief that I was laughing at a lot of the jokes, some physical, others verbal.
The acting in this was brilliant though the part played by Vicky Zhao could have been a little better, she served as Chow's love interest in the movie but she never got to do a whole lot except look sad in most of the scenes she was in.
But the rest of the cast was great from Kwok Kuen Chan as the goal keeper who has a frightening resemblance to the late great Bruce Lee to Man Tat Ng as the hapless Fung. It's also worth mentioning that Patrick Tse(Father of Hong Kong superstar Nicholas Tse) does a great job as the chillingly cool villain of the movie.
Now let's talk about the action. It's basically wire kung fu mixed with CGI, which in some ways I'm not a huge fan of but in this particular film it works because this story feels a lot like a comic book, even though that really wasn't Chow's original intention for the film. I thought the scenes where excellently put together and it never dampened my enjoyment of the movie.
overall this is an extremely fun, enjoyable movie which delivers in all aspects. Don't go and view this movie expecting a grounded realistic martial art extravaganza, as you'll be sorely disappointed but if you have seen movies such as The Storm Riders, The Duel and Volcano High, this is the movie for you.
Wo de Ye man Tong xue (2001)
School Of Hard Knocks....Hell Yeah!
The story concerns Edward(Stephen Fung), a high flying scholar who after being expelled from his school because of an incident involving a window ledge and his ex-girlfriend, is enrolled into one of the worst schools in Hong Kong after a mix up in communication by his mother.
While there he meets Fung, a young girl who has had a crush on Ed for a long time, he soon discovers that Students often settle their disputes using their fists rather then talking, he then finds out to his horror that the teachers do nothing to prevent this.
Then in his first class he meets Stone(Nicholas Tse), who is the former "King Of The Idividual Fight" who had disappeared inexplicably for nine moths before returning to school
Upon his return he found out that another student, named Mantis, had taken up his crown as "King of The Individual Fight"
Soon Ed lands in big trouble with Mantis, so he asks Stone to help him.
This movie was just brilliant, it had a really cool manga comic vibe to it, very reminiscent of Volcano High(Another great movie)
The plot has some good surprises, which actually has a little room for some character development.
The characters are quite memorable,the way they are portrayed adds the the comic book feel.
From the over baring father of the female lead to the over enthusiastic best friend of the female, to the annoying talkative croney of the villain each character adds in some way or another to the over all enjoyment of the film.
The fight scenes, directed by Chin Siu Tung of Hero fame, proves again why he's one of the best in the business, with rapid editing, good wire work and nice tight close ups of certain moves, it gives the movie a unique quality and again adds to the comic book feel.
One stand out performance came from Nicholas Tse, who comes off as the reluctant hero who must help out those who desperately need even though he does not want to get involved.
I recommend this to anyone who like really fun comic book style action movies and doesn't mind having to be bombarded with goofy behaviour, I also strongly recommend you check this out if you've seen Volcano High and liked as this is right up your alley.
Guyver: Dark Hero (1994)
Steve Wang,Koichi Sakamoto and David Hayter...What a combo!
It has been a year(Or three depending how you look at it) Since Sean Barker first became the Guyver and destroyed the Cronos Corperation and their shape changing killers the Zionoids.
As he struggles to find the purpose of the thing living inside him he is drawn to the caves of Utah where he will dicier the Guyver's true purpose.
It had been three years since the world had been exposed to the Americanization of a manga classic, some loved it,other despised it. The movie was inappropriately funny or unfunny,badly written and directed. The only redeeming feature where the really cool creature effects helmed by Co-Director Steve Wang.
Then came Guyver 2 this time helmed by Wang and it has to be one of the best sequels ever made. It stays more true to the comic,featuring some very cool monsters and some brilliant fight scenes choreographed by Drive action director Koichi Sakamoto which Steve Wang also directed.
It seems Wang wanted to be as faithful as possible to the original comic and he does it very well. One thing worth mentioning is a good acting turn by the voice of Solid Snake David Hayter who plays the role of Sean Barker, a role horribly done by Jack Armstrong(who?) in the original.
The story is better written in which Sean struggles with his curse that is the Guyver.
Although the acting is very hammy at times(What do you expect for a sci-fi b-movie) I recommend that people wanting to find out about The Guyver best watch the original anime show then view this live action version before viewing the first movie.
I also recommend you pick up the Region 1 uncut DVD as it presents the film in all its gory glory.
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
One of my all time favourite movies.
Bubba Ho-tep tells the story of Sebastian Haff an ageing geezer wasting away at Shady Rest Convalence Home, but Sebastian claims to be none other then The King himself Elvis Presley. He bitterly struggles to come to terms with his decision of switching places with an Elvis impersonator several years before he supposed death,.
But as he does this he discovers some grim goings on at the home in the form of a soul sucking mummy, Then he meets Jack a fellow resident who claims he is former president John F Kennedy despite the fact he is black.
Soon the two old fools team up in order to stop Bubba Ho-tep before he sucks the souls out of the ass crack of every resident at Shady Rest.
Let me begin by saying WOW this has to be one of the best movies I have ever seen, the story alone made me want to see it, the fact Bruce Campbell also starred in it was a bonus.
The acting in this is top notch with a absolutely brilliant cast. Both Bruce and Ossie Davis, who plays Jack, are in top form. They are backed up by a strong supporting cast as well.
There are some genuinely touching moments in this film, especially from Bruce, in my opinion this is one of the best performances in his career. There are also some very funny moments too.
I'd also like to talk about the musical score by Brian Tyler, it has to be one of my all time favourite sound tracks ever written, it has some wonderfully conceived moments and a wonderful main theme.
I hope you choose to view what I like to call 'The ultimate ode to Old People'
Long de xin (1985)
Excellent Drama and Action From HK's Best
Heart Of Dragon tells the story of Hong Kong SWAT officer Tat Fung who must juggle a career, a girlfriend and looking after his older brother Do-Do who is mentally retarded. Tat feels he is beginning to lose touch with himself so decides to join the navy, but before he can do that he must straighten things out with both his girlfriend and his big brother.
Let me begin by saying this has to be the best performance in Jackie's prolific career,this is the film which made me take him seriously as an actor. It is such a shame this wasn't a big hit when it first came out.
Jackie and Sammo are the best actors in the film. Sammo plays his character with such depth and sensitivity,while Jackie does excellently as the frustrated Tat.
I thought I'd never cry at a Jackie Chan movie but I was wrong. One scene which got me misty eyed was a scene when Do-Do's tutor begins to emotionally abuse him,while Tat listens to what is going on from outside the room.
Another scene is when Tat finally lets his true feelings for Do-Do come forward anger may be the most raw of human emotions but to let yourself explode like that is very difficult to pull off, but thats not the point I began to cry, it was when Tat goes to his room and Do-Do follows him and apologises for the way he is, I mean wow, talk about emotionally heavy.
Moving on from the emotional side of the film and commenting on the action, this has very little action in it until towards the end which I have to say has one of the best fights in Jackie's career in which he takes on the amazing and brilliant Dick Wei in a one on one brutal marial arts fight. This has to be Jackie at his fastest, they exchange the moves with such quickness I had to go back and watch the fight again once it was over.
I urge any Jackie Chan or Sammo Hung fan who has not yet seen the film to go out and get the DVD you do not know what you are missing.
Reservoir Dogs.....Japanese STYLE!
Score tells the story of former Yakuza gangster "Chance" who is hiding in the U.S. until he is tracked down by his former colleagues and forced to do small bank jobs for them. Soon he comes to one last job, a jewel heist and if all goes well he'll be able to sever all ties with the Yakuza and leave for Paris, but Chance has his own plans.
When I watched this movie I was very surprised as how bloody this film actually was but of course being a huge fan of John Woo's gangster epics I just sat back and watched the blood and bullets fly.
The main story and a couple of other plot elements are lifted directly out of a couple of American movies such as Reservoir Dogs and Natural Born Killers, which made a change to Hollywood ripping off Asian cinema.
The action was very well done, clearly influenced by the works of John Woo as I mentioned before.
The cast do very well in this picture, each one brings different personalities to each of their respective characters they play.
If you choose to view this movie don't expect a hard hitting gangster thriller such as the works of 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano, this is purely action all the way.
Sheer brilliance from start to finish
Volcano High tells the story of Kim Kyung Soo, a high school student who has super natural powers, after he is expelled from his last school he is sent to 'Volcano High' a place where he thinks he'll be able to control his abilities with other students who have similar powers such as he.
Soon he locks horns with the school bully Jang Ryang while he tries to win the affections of the most beautiful girl in school. the gorgeous but deadly Jade, but another problem for Kim presents itself in the form of the five lords of discipline, five teachers who travel from school to school controlling the most unruly of students oh and they all have super natural powers also.
I LOVED this movie, I got such a kick out of watching it. Everything about this movie is great the acting,the action and sometimes even the script.
Watching this you'd think it was based on a Japanese manga comic but it isn't, the director Kim Tae-Gyun was heavily influenced by these comics and animated movies and set out to do a live action japanime movie and he was successful in every aspect.
Jang Hyuk who plays Kim does such a wonderful job in this role he is able to be a serious hard-ass one moment then straight away making himself look like a total goof.
A great highlight in the movie are the fight scenes, in my opinion they make good use of wire work and visual effects which is very reminiscent of movies such as 'The Storm Riders' or 'The Avenging Fist' The humour is some times lost in the translation which is to be expected if you don't speak Korean. This movie is one of the few which has been making Korean cinema more and more prolific over the past few years its up there with such other Korean gems as 'Friend' 'Bichunmoo' 'Musa' and 'Guns n Talks' I recommend this film to anyone who is a fan of Andrew Lau f/x laden fantasy epics or Japanime, you will not be disappointed.
I also recommend you try and pick up the Region 2 Premiere Asia DVD as it contains the best version(The 95 minute one) and also contains the cut footage and the second disc full of great extras.
Hong Chang Fei Long (1990)
Better then Cristophe Gans' Version
'Dragon From Russia' Tells the Story of Yo an artist who is kidnapped while fleeing Russia with his Girlfriend and her family, He soon finds himself chained to a mysterious Martial Arts master and begins to teach him the ways of being an assassin.
This action classic directed by the brilliant Clarence Fok is taken from the Manga comic book 'Crying Freeman' and is one of the best comic adaptations out there with scenes lifted directly from the pages of the comic itself.
The cast is well put together Sam Hui handles himself well in the leas role of the Free Man while Maggie Cheung puts gives a touching performance as the woman he loves. Another interesting performance comes from Jet Li's wife Nina Li Chi who plays an assassin fighting along side Yo, which makes a refreshing change from her role in 'Tiger On The Beat' in which she receives a rather brutal ass kicking from Chow Yun Fat, but thats a different movie all together.
But one thing which made this movie spectacular was Yuen Clan member Yuen Tak, who co-stars in the movie as both Yo's master with the rubber face and Yo's assistant.
Each fight is expertly choreographed and exciting to watch, showing that each Yuen clan member has their own unique and energetic style.
All in all a fun action film to watch especially if fans of the Crying Freeman comic would like to find something different to that of the western version starring Mark Decascos, which has to be said is a good flick as well.
Ed Wood (1994)
All he wanted to do was make good movies....
.....But of course he failed, miserably. Tim Burton directs the film which gives insight into the career of one of Hollywood's worst director,Ed Wood(played with such enthusiasm by Johnny Depp) a man with a vision to make it in Hollywood.
When you think of a movie about the worst director of all time you'd think it would be a stinker,well you'd be thinking wrong. Ed Wood is Tim Burton and Johnny Depp at their best. everything about this film is wonderful. The script,the cast and the directing.
Its worth mentioning that Johnny's co-stars do a fantastic job,especially Martin Landau's portrayal of horror legend Bela Lagosi. Landau plays him with such passion that you can tell this was a role he enjoyed immensely.
Tim Burton does an excellent job directing this movie,he faithfully recreates scenes,sets and costumes from Wood's movies such as 'Glen or Glenda' 'Bride Of The Monster' and 'Plan 9 From Outer Space' I urge any self respecting Depp or Burton fan who has not already seen this film to buy the DVD without hesitation as you will not be disappointed.
I give this film 10/10.