Miracles | aka Mr. Canton and Lady Rose (1989) Review

"Miracles" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Miracles" Japanese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Black Dragon, The Canton Godfather
Director: Jackie Chan
Writer: Jackie Chan, Edward Tang
Producer: Leonard Ho
Cast: Jackie Chan, Rose Gua Ah Leh, Anita Mui, Wu Ma, Michael Chow Man Kin, Fung Hak On, Ricky Hui, Ray Lui, Mars, Richard Ng, Dick Wei, Gloria Yip, Kenny Bee, Alan Chan, Anthony Chan
Running Time: 125 min.

By Reefer

Let this film go down as one of Jackie’s best looking films. The cinematography, camera-work, and sets are really a step up from his normal action-fests. I understand that Jackie learned to use a steady-cam for this movie and its safe to say that he fell in love with it. There are some rather complex and gracefully shots in this movie. But, unfortunately, good movies are not simply a bunch of pretty pictures spliced together.

Jackie plays a poor country boy who rescues a gangland boss and ultimately gains control of the crime world of 1930s Hong Kong. He romances the beautiful Anita Mui, who is a welcome addition to any movie, and battles a rival gang.

There are fewer fights in Miracles and considerably more story, which is all at once a plus and minus. Fewer fights are bad because unless you have lived under a rock, this guy is the best action star of his time. More story is good if you have something to say, to show, and to explore. What we get in the story are a lot of farcical comedy scenes, some force-fed touching moments, and Jackie playing the good guy. Fight scenes are still forced into the mix, not that anyone would complain. I was waiting for them and have the fast forward button calluses to prove it.

Action fans seem to rate Jackie’s films based on the quality of the stunts and fights found within. I am no different. There are three quite wonderful fight sequences in this movie. They are really some of his best. The fight in the tea house. A fight featuring rickshaws, stairs, and clay pots. The finale is the infamous rope factory fight. Individually, these scenes are better than the climaxes from most movies. There are simply unmatched skills at work right up on the screen. Creativity to spare.

Jackie, apparently, is his own worst enemy. He has created for himself a persona that is not easily shed. We see and love his films for the rewards we expect. Action. Action. Action. I hope in future that he can maybe branch out (maybe as a director) and show us that he can be a Kubrick, a Wilder, or a Spielberg.

Reefer’s Rating: 7/10

By James H.

It seems that Jackie Chan has spent his entire life trying to make the prefect kung fu/comedy film. He tries like hell yet again, with “Miracles”. Chan has a gift, whether you would like to admit it or not. He has a gift for action, directing and physical comedy. He does not, however, have a gift for writing.

The two problems with “Miracles” are the story and the running time. The two, coincidentally, go hand in hand. You may or may not know this, but “Miracles” runs a full 127 minutes long. What’s the problem with that, you may ask. Well, a large portion of that running time is devoted to a sub plot that is cliched, wholly unoriginal and remarkably boring. I will not describe said plot, as I do not want to waste more time on the subject.

The main plot concerns a country bumpkin (Chan), who inadvertently becomes a mob boss. A rather interesting plot does make room for some good, even great scenes here and there. There are some great fights near the beginning and one at the end involving several henchmen in a rope factory.

As always, Jackie does a great job as director. There are some very nice shots, and great cinematography, although the second half of the film is very flawed in terms of pacing. With a better script, and a more liberal editor, “Miracles” could have been the “Godfather” of kung fu films. Unfortunately Miracles” ended up being the “Mobsters” of kung fu films. I’m just glad Richard Grieco wasn’t in it.

James H’s Rating: 5.5/10

By Ro

To a fan of 1930s screwball comedies, this movie is Nirvana… The Holy Grail… and Valhalla rolled into one. It’s a wonderfully faithful reproduction of the style (Anita Mui’s manners and movements are pure 30s!) mixed with Jackie’s special brand of mayhem. What could be better? The result is pure delight! Granted, there are only a few fights leading up to the incredible rope factory brawl, but you can (and did) say the same for Wheels On Meals and Who Am I?, and the battle with the richshaws (?) was awesomely inventive. I think most of the physical outtakes were from that one fight – shows you how hard it was to film.

I got the dubbed Venom Video version from Advantage. The picture quality is very good and the voices are clear. My only objection is that many of the gangsters did imitations like Bogart or Peter Lorre and it sounded bizarre and Jackie was dubbed (I think) by the same guy who did Twin Dragons. He did a better job here, but it still sounded awful in spots.

Dubbing aside (and we can’t blame Jackie for that), this movie is just wonderful. I especially adored Jackie’s typical, “Why can’t we do good…?” speech and the gang’s non-typical reaction! Brilliant! If you love 1930s comedies, you’ll LOVE this movie! If you don’t – “Go feed the goldfish!”

Ro’s Rating: 10/10

By Exothrash

Wow. I never thought that I’d see Jackie Chan play a Hong Kong mob boss. The movie starts off with Jackie playing a dumb-ass who only knows how to fight (imagine that), and the movie ends with Jackie playing a dumb-ass who only knows how to fight. Only at the end of the movie, he controls one of the most powerful organized (I guess) crime syndicates in HK. Don’t get me wrong though, I liked the movie a lot. The fight scene in the restaurant when Jackie had to prove that he was tough enough to run the gang was short, but pretty cool. I liked the string factory fight, but not as much as the fight in the restaurant when Jackie was meeting with another mob boss. Overall, it was a very good movie, maybe not worth buying, but definitely worth watching.

Exothrash’s Rating: 8/10

By Numskull

Some movies are kind of like the average American middle class family sofa. From the exterior, it is both inviting and fuctional, but not as appealing to the eye as it could be. Perhaps the pattern is ugly, the colors clash with the wallpaper, or there are some rips in the upholstery that will make it a little less pleasant to rest your weary bones upon it.

And, when the time comes for a thorough cleaning of the environs, it might be deemed appropriate to remove the cushions and scavenge the mixture of undesirable refuse and buried treasure to be found beneath them. At first, the waste material that has found its way betwixt the cracks of the supreme family seating unit is a dizzying array of nauseating garbage; dust bunnies, lint, used kleenex, and condoms whose times and owners have come and gone as far as the eye can see. But look beyond this germ’s paradise, and lo! there’s that spare key to the tool shed you thought was lost forever. Here’s a ketchup packet from McDonald’s that has yet to expire; there’s one of those ill-fated Susan B. Anthony silver dollars. And what’s that in the corner with that wad of chewing gum that lost its flavor two years ago stuck to it? Why it’s that prescription you picked up last month, lost, and had to use one of your five remaining refills to replace!

So you see, the family sofa in question hosts a veritable smorgasboard of wayward articles that it’s definitely worth your time and energy to extract…you have only to pluck them from the grime and spent hygiene products with which they are integrated.

MR. CANTON AND LADY ROSE is that sofa. It is neither the best nor the worst case of Jackie directing himself. It sounds like a mixed bag if ever there was one after reading the reviews posted here. If you can tolerate the negative aspects of the film, it will be that much more rewarding when you get to see the excellent restaurant fight, the remarkable rickshaw sequence, and the blow-U-away rope factory scene that should be firmly implanted in the list of Jackie’s ten best finales. Sure there’s a cheesy, sitcomesque story and plot holes big enough for the average male pervert to have an orgasm with, but if you introduce me to a person who gets their jollies by watching Jackie act rather than risk his life, I will in turn introduce them to the jarred and preserved brain of some hapless organ donor to fill their empty cranium.

Numskull’s Rating: 6/10

By Dan-O

Geez, people seem really divided on this one. I see both over the top blowjob reviews AND really bileful maligning blurbs. Brothers, Sisters; come together. Can’t we call a truce just this once?! This is NOT a BAD film, do you understand this?! Y’wanna see a bad film, rent the sequel to the Power Rangers movie, and then get back to me. Better yet, try to keep from taking a sledgehammer (or a jackhammer) to your VCR whilst watching Cannonball Run 2. Then again, this is NOT one of his best movies, especially when it comes to story (how often does THAT happen) or acting. Fights, certainly, some the best ever caught on film, but the (over) acting, uh, no. This movie has it’s moments to be sure, and I’m sure if I had and emotion left in my soul after my recent break-up, I’d feel sorry for the old bag in this movie. There is more plot in this movie than the last 3 JC American theatrical releases, BUT as for the acting, I saw nothing special other than what seemed to me to be a rather forced teary moment at the end. I’d even go so far as to say that I thought Crime Story was the epitome of his acting career.

The fight scenes, yes, are amazing, but again, we KNOW THIS! You don’t go into a Jackie Chan movie thinking or expecting anything less, do you? It’s one of the reasons why you’re a Jackie Chan fan whom happens reading this stupid review right now (which, by the way, is written by a total crank), correct? So why should I waste MY time discussing it any further? They’re superb, that’s all you need to know. If I were to put this movie in my list of favorite JC films, it would probably go in somewhere towards the end of the list, but it’s still a good goddamn movie. Not great, just good. So there. Now BUG OFF!

Dan-O’s Rating: 7/10

By Hendri Liato

Many complained about Jackie Chan trying to make a film instead of just a JC film chockful of set-pieces from the first reel to the last. That’s cynical. While this obvious riff on LADY FOR A DAY sometimes bogs down miserably in trying to observe a semblance of a plot, the whole film has a nice, cheery period atmosphere about it. The gags and melodramatic moments are sometimes crude but when they work, they complement the film to a degree. And I just love seeing actors and stunt people throw punches and kick furnitures in three-piece suits. The fight sequences are all excellent. The fight at the tea house is brimming with comic inventiveness and has a wonderful flow to it. It is one of the best edited sequences in all of JC movies. The rope factory fight is a favorite among fans. The setup for this Rube Goldberg grand finale is mind-boggling enough. The film is an all-round well-mounted production even when the plotting and the feeble score (except for Anita Mui’s nicely done song-and-dance number) are both uninspired. And Jackie even tries that Scorsese-esque tracking shot in the night club. One of JC best.

Hendri Liato’s Rating: 9/10

By Aloho

I loved this film! I would have to say Jackie does his best directing and acting ever. The story is simple and at the same time strong. Every minute is worth watching in this. It never left me waiting for something to happen, like a fight. I just watched it with joy scene by scene. Chan’s acting is so well done when he is naive, confused, angry, etc…This film would still be worth watching without the fights. This really shows how good of an actor Jackie really is. He is not just an action star. But the film is not a drama, and so it doesn’t really call for out-of-this-world preformances. So, the acting is kinda a special bonus. You also get great proformances out of Anita Mui and Bill Tung.

The plot and acting acting are only half of it though. The fights are ever so good. First one, Jackie must prove he is good enough to be boss in a fight with two men. The next scene not to long after that is a fight at a restaurant where Jackie fights off many foes. He uses the enviroment a great deal. Watch him hop around tables and a spiral staircase and fend off opponents with chairs and other props found in the area. This sequence had to have been perfectly planned, it was much like a dance. Then next fight is interesting. With several rickshaws scattered around the street…with Chan’s brand of action, you can probably predict what happens. Well, if you haven’t figures that out, he fights using rickshaws. Then the super rope factory fight. What can I say, it’s just hell’a good.

There is a little one on one fight going on in the finale. I think the guy with that white cloth around his head is the guy Jackie fights at the fish market in Drunken Master 2. The person at the fish market also had the white thingy and I could be mistaken. You think it is over, well, your’e half right. No more action stuff (there was already plenty of that), there is a sappy ending. Some scenes that stood out during the movie. At a party rehersal, Chan asks who has a gun, only expecting a couple of people to raise it up in the air. Unanimously, everybody raises a gun. It’s kinda funny. Another, you see all this stuff happening like explosions and stuff while Mui sings a soft song. Go put this movie on the top of your list if you want to buy Chan movies. This one seemed very rare for me. Thank God for Advantage Video.

Aloho’s Rating: 10/10

By Vic Nuyen

Aside from Drunken Master 2, this is Jackie at his all time best. We all have bashed him for his virtually plotless films, and now it is time to bite our tongues and shut up. The story tells us about a poor young man who’s luck changes every time he buys a rose from a local vendor. After buying the first rose, the once poor man with no hope becomes a highly paid triad boss. He eventually learns the ropes, and now is leading his gang to war with a rival gang, but there is also jealousy among his own gang, which leads to all sorts of trouble.

Enter Anita Mui, a out of work singer hoping to pay back her father’s gambling debts by singing at night at Jackie’s new casino. He agrees, and she is a hit. They eventually fall in love, and now enters the rose vendor from the previous storyline. She is in deep trouble, her daughter is coming on a surprise visit. Her daughter believes that she is a rich successful woman, and if her daughter finds out the truth, than she will be humiliated. To make matters worse, her daughters fiance is also coming to visit with his father, and if they also find out the truth, than the wedding could possibly be called off. Jackie agrees to help and earns the gratitude of the rose vendor.

This film isn’t just a series of gripping storylines either, it also contains some of Jackie Chan’s most innovative and breathtaking fights. The best fights occurs in a rope factory and an outside market place. Now, the format that this film has to seen in is widescreen, which showcases Jackie Chan’s talent as a director. The most impressive shot by Jackie is the tracking shot where Anita Mui enters the new hotel and the camera quickly follows her around, showing her admiration for the hotel room. The problem with this film is that it is extremly difficult to find a subtitled letterboxed copy of this film, I managed to track one down after months and months of calling and bidding. Face it, the only way that this film can possibly be viewed is in widescreen. The widescreen version shows that Jackie talent just doesn’t limit to acting, he is a brilliant director as well. Over all, this film should be viewed by all Jackie Chan fan’s everywhere. If you watch it, you probably will be as impressed as I was.

Vic Nguyen’s Rating: 10/10

By Clint

This movie ranks #10 on my all time JC movie list. After watching this film, I wanted to go put on a 3 piece suit and one of those really suave hats that Jackie seems to have an obsession for. Maybe I am alone on that, but I do not care. This movie has a touching storyline with a tear jerking ending, but who cares, JC still puts on a show for you. There are three fight scenes that leave you a “wow, they must’ve spent years filming that” feeling; the restaurant fight, the fight/chase on the street, and that rope factory fight that everyone seems to have a hard on for, myself included. Don’t expect an ample amount of stunts or comedy, but the storyline is entertaining enough to keep you interested in between fight scenes. Good luck finding a good print of this one, I watched the letterbox/no english/no subs version, then I had to pick up a dubbed/pan & scan copy just to comprehend what was happening.

Clint’s Rating: 9/10

Posted in Chinese, Golden Harvest, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CJ7 (2008) Review

"CJ7" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"CJ7" Japanese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Alien
Director: Stephen Chow
Producer: Stephen Chow
Cast: Stephen Chow, Xu Jiao, Kitty Zhang Yuqi, Yuen Qiu, Danny Chan Kwok Kuen, Tin Kai Man
Running Time: 86 min.

By Ningen

Dicky (played by newcomer child actress Ju Xiao) is an impoverished youngster living with his hard-working dad (played by Stephen Chow) who does dangerous construction jobs to pay for Dicky’s private school. After being taunted by his peers for his dirty appearance, his second-hand clothes (including shoes obtained from garbage dumps), and his short height, Dicky simply wants a high-tech toy dog to impress the other kids at school. But with his father being too poor to afford it, Ti (Chow) scours the dumps, and finds a mysterious green ball which turns out to be an egg for a space dog. Dicky hopes the dog will help improve his rank at school.

Stephen Chow’s answer to E.T. – but without the Hallmark moments – is a fun light-hearted comedy with enough action and adventure to please even the most stoic cynics. Unlike other children’s films, CJ7 doesn’t rely on “Ugly Duckling” – like cliches in which the lead gets magical powers or becomes a success story overnight. In fact, the picture pokes fun at those ideas by having Dicky re-enact his super-powered dreams [depicted as amusing spoofs of Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer] in real life with disastrous results. No, CJ7 (the name of the alien dog) is as frail as his (her?) child owner. But the pet does aid Dicky’s family when they need it most. These moments serve to make the point that true satisfaction comes from having someone who cares about you and vice versa, not your status, or a symbol thereof. The peers of the child star come off as brats, by throwing their weight around, but they eventually learn that respect comes from cooperation and humility, not bullying.

The CG isn’t used as extensively as in most Hollywood films, but that’s why it works so well. Instead of going the Pixar route of making everything as realistic as possible, Chow opts for making the scenes as cartoonish and whimsical as possible. For example, fights and facial expressions are exaggerated and powers are expressed in minimalistic, but creative terms. [For example, instead of going the infrared route when cheating on a test, Dicky’s glasses have robotic flies which spy on other students’ papers.]

The comedy is admittedly meant for a younger crowd, but it manages to appeal to older audiences by not coming off childish. One can easily put oneself in the children’s shoes without feeling like they’ve outgrown the setting. And it’s refreshing to see kids who act like kids, not know-it-all adults.

At the sneak I caught, Stephen said he modeled his CG dog after a real dog he used to have called a Pekingese, which caused someone in the audience to hoot in response. His experience as a host of a children’s show helped prepare him for working with them on a movie. [Though it wasn’t always easy for them to stay awake on set….] Ju Xiao was one of thousands of children who auditioned for the role, and was surprised she got picked to play a boy, but seemed to adjust to the part with Stephen’s support.

The film was shot entirely in Mandarin, because Chow argued that he wanted to be fair to the child actors, since their primary language was Mandarin.

Ningen’s Rating: 8.5/10

Posted in Chinese, Reviews | Tagged | Leave a comment

City Hunter (1992) Review

"City Hunter" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"City Hunter" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Director: Wong Jing
Producer: Chua Lam
Cast: Jackie Chan, Joey Wong, Leon Lai, Chingmy Yau, Richard Norton, Kumiko Goto, Gary Daniels, Ken Lo, Eric Kot, Jan Lam Hoi-Fung, Mike Abbott, Louis Roth, Carol Wan, Mike Miller, Cordelia Choi, Donna Chu Kit Yee, Mike Leeder, Mike Abbott
Running Time: 88/105 min.

By Dan-O

About 2 minutes into this movie, I thought to myself, out-loud, “Well OK, this is, uh, different”. I think I can state with moderate certainty that this movie (or anything resembling it) would NEVER make a profit in the US of A. This was pure corn; not even drunken Leslie Neilson with a lampshade on his head could lay down as much corn as was seen in this movie. Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Yes Dan-O, I understand this, you rambling jackball, now tell me something I DON’T know, like, is that a good thing……. or a bad thing?” OK, in THIS movie, it’s a GOOD thing, in places.

See, I like anime, to a point. I just don’t think it translates over into live action very well, and if you ask anyone who knows anything about this crap, they’d probably tell you that the reason why alot of anime is so popular among most geeks today is the fact that there are certain concepts and gags that ONLY work in the whimsical realm of animation. For instance, those oversized anime hammers. In a cartoon… sure, what the hell, it works; In live action, it blows… IT AIN’T FUNNY! Only removing my own toenails with a pair of pliers would be less funny. Cartoons usually don’t make for good movies (EXCEPT for “The Addams Family”, which for those of you socially illiterate goons out there, started out as a single panel comic). The visual stuff was one step up from the 60’s Batman show, and I half-expected Adam West or Burt Almost-Got-His-Sorry-No-Talent-Ass-Kicked-All-Over-Town-By-Bruce-Lee Ward to jump out from behind a corner in their frighteningly snug fitting short-shorts.

That aside, it was a fun, bouncy little flick, although is anyone else getting tired of hearing how Jackie’s movies are supposed to be “family entertainment”. I’ve heard on several occasions about how there is (supposedly) NO unnecessary killing or death in his movies, and absolutely NO dirty jokes or sexual innuendo. PLEEEEASE. This entire movie is one big tit joke. And what’s with Richard Norton (who should regrow that beard he used to sport) plugging round after round into those poor bastards who lose at that card game? What a complete prick! How “family friendly” can ya get?!. And, although funny as bloody hell, does anyone else (who’s seen this thing already) find the homoerotic near-rape scene in poor taste. I’m mean, the guy’s wearing buttless chaps for chrissakes! Is that disturbing to anyone else out there in net-land (or whatever the hell it’s called)?

If you’re a horny red-blooded heterosexual guy like me, you’ll probably want to check out this movie simply to marvel at the ample supply of genetically blessed women showcased within. The amount of throwaway sex jokes in this flick blows my mind in more ways than one. I personally find it disgusting that Jackie’s character is trying to seduce a girl that he helped raise (ala Woody Allen), but this IS anime, or at least derived from anime, and that explains quite a bit.

To sum up: “The greatest motion picture of all time!” “An instant classic!” “It’s Die Hard in a circus tent!” “Two very enthusiastic thumbs up… WAY up!!

None of these phrases would EVER, EVER, EVER be used in the same breath as City Hunter. But if you dig The 3 Stooges, Anime, Street Fighter 2, cute women and/or breasts, and watching Jackie hit people, then this is YOUR KINDA MOVIE!

Dan-O’s Rating: 6/10

By Brmanuk

I first rented this film in 1996. I looked at “Rumble In The Bronx” and I really wanted to get it out, but because the film was rated “fifteen” my parents wouldn’t let me get it out (pathetic, I know). I had no idea who Jackie Chan was at the time but I had seen a trailer for one of his films and I was very interested. The only other Jackie film that Blockbuster Video had at the time was City Hunter. Since it was a “Twelve” and I was almost that age my parents got it out for me. I had never seen a Hong Kong film before and I thought it was a load of rubbish. Corny jokes that I didn’t get, no exit wounds when people got shot, Dubbing, It looked cheap. I hated it.

Four years later I saw Hard-Boiled and since then I’ve been addicted to Hong-Kong cinema. I had seen a few Jackie Chan movies by now, (All the American ones, about 10 of the Hong Kong ones) and I thought it was about time I saw City Hunter again, since I now appreciated Chinese movies. I read a few reviews on this film before I spent my hard earned £5 on it. The reviews I read were very mixed. From people saying that it was “the worst film ever” to people saying, “it rules!”.

Well, I bought it anyway, and I must admit I was quite pleased. It still had more corn than a Hillbillies foot, but I understood it this time! The action was quite frequent and at times funny. The girls in the film (and there’s plenty) are gorgeous. And Jackie is as funny as ever. The film is quite boring at times and the famous “Street Fighter II” scene wasn’t that impressive, but overall this flick was well worth the £5 I spent on it (except for the fact that half way through the film the tape went blank for about half a minute).

Brmanuk’s Rating: 7/10 – BTW did anyone else notice that the Clarinet tune from Hard-Boiled was playing in the posh clothes shop?

By Numskull

Numerous sources say that Jackie Chan “dismisses this movie as a lesser effort.” As well he should. City Hunter may be funny but the action is definitely sub-par. It relies more on gunplay than on fights and stunts, and it’s not like that old TV show The A-Team where nobody receives a single graze after 1700 rounds of ammunition are spent by everyone involved. People get killed in this movie, quite a few of them in fact, and not always “in the line of duty”. In an effort to make the slaughter more kid-friendly, the death is largely bloodless and people pretty much drop without any fuss. I find this rather annoying. Trust me folks, I’ve shot a few innocent bystanders in my time and I can tell you that they don’t just fall over like mannequins. They scream and bleed and thrash around on the ground and generally make things very unpleasant for those around them.

The high body count is offset by the humor. After all, if you can’t laugh at a movie where idle millionaires are executed for losing at baccarat, what CAN you laugh at? The introductory sequence, in which Jackie directly addresses the viewer(s), is great, but his doomed quest for a bit of grub later on is even better. When some guy who looks like he has Down Syndrome steps on a slice of bread, Jackie pummels him senseless. When Chingmy Yau’s bimbo cousin tries to score some J.C. action, he tries to take a bite out of one of her breasts, expecting to get a nice mouthful of tasty hamburger instead. The famous (notorious?) Street Fighter 2 parody is the real highlight, though. Jackie dresses up as a woman for what seems like the hundredth time…

The scene where J.C. beats two behemoths by mimicking Bruce Lee was clever but not terribly exciting. And the final showdown with Richard Norton is good but hardly makes up for the lack of good action for the rest of the movie.

This is a must for completists but not recommended for the casual fan. Unless you’re one of those buffoons who just watches movies for chicks. There are several of them here. It’s got “lowest common denominator” written all over it…

Numskull’s Rating: 5/10

By Ro

Wow – are people divided on this movie! More so than usual. And I have to say I’m split as well. I admit, there were times that I got a kick out of the comic book quality of the film. The Street Fighter scene was a clever addition to the overall fun, as well as the nod to Bruce Lee. I also enjoyed all the times Jackie stopped and posed to his theme song. And I have to add the drool factor of Jackie in a sleeveless tee shirt with suspenders (even if he has a jacket over it most of the time) as well as the cute – and very talented gambler guy and Gary Daniels doing the split in his jockeys! For the guys, the drool factor is the 4 gorgeous leading ladies. There were more beautiful women per square inch of this film than any other – even the extras were hot (and usually in bathing suits, guys!)

However, the comic book quality also worked against the film in my opinion. For something that was supposed to be a farce, it was incredibly violent! Sometimes that works (see Pulp Fiction, Fargo) and sometimes it jsut misses by a mile. This one misses! Richard Norton weilding a gun whose size would have Freud choking on his cigar was funny, but the way he used it wasn’t (Yes, I AM saying, “Size doesn’t matter – it’s what you do with it.”) And I apparently got a washed down version of the original. I read about a lot of tasteless jokes, especially gay bashing and there was only one gay joke in the video I had (and it was pretty funny). I think this movie could have been fun and action packed at the same time in another director’s hands, but not this director!

Also, I don’t know if it was the quality of my video (Venom Video from Advantage) or the filming, but parts of the movie were VERY red, while all the scenes in the casino were in a blue haze that was incredibly hard to see thru. And Jackie has his only really good fight (aside from the good but too short one with Gary Daniels) in the casino with Richard Norton! If this was filmed this was as part of the comic book idea – it didn’t work for me.

Ro’s Rating: 6.5/10

By Jan-Michael

I still haven’t figured out why Jackie Chan doesn’t like this film; its on my top ten list at least somewhere. City Hunter is Chan’s funniest film ever. City Hunter has non stop hilarity and action. When there isn’t any action/fighting one doesn’t notice because your laughing your butt off at one of the zany comedic character sketches. Jackie is at his absolute best putting on a show of hilarious sight gags and fight scenes. There isn’t a single serious moment in this film, and I love it. There is even a unbelieveable parody of the Street Fighter II video game! What will Chan think of next? The story to this film is unlike any Chan movie before; especially because he plays a womanizer. Chan and Gary Daniels make an excellent match and I hope they team up again real soon. Almost the entire fight looked like it was improvised! Chan vs. the two Kareem lookalikes makes Bruce Lee’s Game of Death match with Kareem just plain pathetic. And Chan vs. Norton can be analyized for an eternity just for the speed and accuracy of each of their strikes. I got to hand it to Richard Norton, I was surprised that he could ever keep up with Chan. Also, let’s not forget the rest of the supporting cast that makes this film sing – Joey Wong, Chingmy Yau, Leon Lai Ming, Kumiko Gotoh, a gay Ken Lo and let’s definately not forget Joey Wong’s cousin, who is obsessed with sleeping with Joey. I crack up at every line he has. Overall, this film is a must watch; don’t miss it. Highly recommended.

Jan-Michael’s Rating: 9/10

By Dead Channel

I really dug this movie! I must say, I had to laugh my arse clean off at many parts, hell.. even my mom was laughing!.. I like the comedy, which took over the whole movie (without a doubt). The asian “ladies” in this movie looked good as hell, there was enough action to keep me interested and it was funny. So, like it or burn it, City Hunter is the jam in my opinion. A different side of Jackie Chan, the best part being when… hah! I can’t remember! So fork it, buy/rent this bitch, and if ya don’t like it, ask for your money back and say “Dead Channel sent me, sir.” And ya might get ya assed kicked.

Dead Channel’s Rating: 9/10 (because Chingmay Yau and Joey Wong (FEMALE) never got naked)

By James

So I asked my friend: “Have you heard anything about ‘City Hunter’?” He replied: “It’s like ‘Die Hard’ on a boat with Jackie Chan.” OK, that sounded good enough to me. Well, I don’t know if it was the dubbing, the bad story, the fact that it was 12:15 am or the fact we were just blown away by “Evil Dead 2.” In my mind, and the minds of my friends, the movie was crap. The dubbing was shit, it sounded like the voice actors were going through a first reading. The end fight was so ho-hum. The only things that sticks in my mind after viewing the movie were: Jackie’s wicked-ass flip off the upper deck of the boat to the lower deck, and the hilarious “Street Fighter” parody. Below average Jackie.

James’ Rating: 5/10

By Aloho

I don’t know what happened, I just didn’t like this one. I guess there were such strict guidelines to follow by when making this movie. The comedy in this was very cheesy. Slapstick can be all right at sometimes, except for when it is not funny. It starts out with a very funny melodramatic sequence. I laughed out loud at that part. Then I admired the corny sound effects and the unrealistic falls. It is funny, but it gets old. For the next hour or something, the jokes are just lame and boring.

Onto the action stuff, I hear all this comotion about the theatre and the skateboard chase. The skateboarding thing was just plain stupid. I wait for Jackie to do all these cool moves, but he doesn’t. Finally I get what I’ve been expecting, where towards the end of the chase, he is doing all these flips over the cars and stuff. It looks extremely fake. However, if Jackie were directing it, it would have been much better. I blame it on the director.

The theatre was funny. I cannot at all consider this an action scene. My argument on this one is that it should have been more built up. Chan should have copied more moves from Lee. After we are infested with more crappy jokes, we get Jackie fighting Gary Daniels for…about a minute. Could have been longer, like I said, things could have been much longer/better if Jackie had a some say in the production. Then an extremely unrealistic, but good (I have to accept the unrealistic factor for it is based on an anime), with Richard Nortan.

Now, the Streetfighter take-off was the best. Jackie Chan as Chun-Lee and E. Honda. Very hilarious stuff. I think a scene that receives honorable mention is when Jackie fights using a woman as a prop. The film as a whole, I liked a little bit, but the majority annoyed me. I would not consider watching this again. It could be because I expected it to be a “Jackie Chan” film and it is opposite from one.

Aloho’s Rating: 5/10

By Vic Nguyen

This is quite possibly the weirdest Jackie Chan film ever made. Goofball and slapstick level’s are at an all time high, but I liked this film alot. In it Jackie plays Ryo Saeba, a horny as hell and womanizing detective that has to find a business man’s lost daughter. Ryo eventually follows the daughter onto a cruise ship where all hell breaks loose. The best sequence in this film is definetly the Street Fighter 2 parody. I was laughing so hard my brother had to come in to tell me to shut the hell up. The only complaint that I had with this film is that Jackie dresses in drag again. As much as I admire him, I can’t stand the sight of Jackie Chan as a woman. Aside from that, this movie is definetly worth checking out.

Vic Nguyen’s Rating: 9/10

By Clint

Does anyone else think that this is the lamest and strangest movie that JC has made? Not counting the oh so popular Fantasy Mission Force. I am not critical of a JC movie if it is lame or weird, because that usually means that it will be hysterical. Guess what? This movie is hysterical. I just wish they hadn’t ruined the fight scenes with humor. I usually like my fight scenes with no humor. Like the JC/Gary Daniels fight, they play that awful music in the background, somewhat ruining it, so I just mute the television during that fight. Then the JC/Richard Norton fight, two skilled veterans of movie fighting do nothing to showcase what they are capable of doing. Enough with the disappointing fight scenes, let me move on to what this movie really has……comedy. I won’t mention the Street Fighter parody scene, because everyone and their grandmother has talked about it in these reviews. I will mention the scene where JC is passed out drunk and talking in his drunken coma, and the scene where that fat guy steps on Jackie’s bread, when he so desperately seeking out something to eat. I loved how they did that in slo-mo. The Game of Death fight scene was great, when one of the giants drag JC across the theater seats, mangling his balls. This review is already too long. So I am through.

Clint’s Rating: 8/10

By Yummyspam

Personally, I loved this movie. But that may just be my personal opinion. Though this film is most certainly enjoyable, to gain a true understanding, you must have some knowledge of the Japanese manga/anime (comic/cartoon, respectively) upon which it is based (I personally reccomend the anime). Anyway, Jackie plays a skirt-chasing, hormone-driven, self-obsessed womanizer. This is quite out of context with jackie’s usual characters. If you are familiar with Ryo Saeba, the guy Jackie plays, you will understand underneath all that he’s an Ok guy, and you will better comprehend and enjoy the flick. If you don’t know Ryo, you may find him cocky and annoying. Jackie does do all sorts of wonderful stuff in this movie, though. The Hilarious Street fighter II parody, which is a little Overrated, is still funny as heck. The gunfights are all pretty cool, and there are plenty of good stunts. Like any good HK movie, thew ending fight is spectacular. Overall, just verygood cinema that keeps you laughing in between the Oooo’s and Aahhh’s.

Yummyspam’s Rating: 9.5/10

By Tom

Well, if you have ever seen a Jackie Chan film before, you should know he is always the good guy in any of his films. This one is not out of the usual either. The movie is actually made after a famous Japanese Animation character from a few years back, if you have seen the Animation before and don’t expect Jackie to do the samething in this movie, some of the material is just too adult oriented for a PG rating. But never less, there are still lots beautiful women in short dresses to be seen though out the movie (which is good, hehe…) However, the entire entertaiment value tend to fall short on the expectation. The plot is simple and straight forward, but after the first 10 or 15 minutes into the movie, you can probably guess what will happen to the bad guy at the end. Jackie is most known for his daredevil stunts in all of his movies, but don’t expect much out of this one. Because this movie is based on an Animation, lots special effacts are used instead of real actions (they are just not humanly possible even for Jackie). Sadly, most of the special effacts in this movie seem cheesly done as well. Because the entire movie was shot in Hong kong and Japan, so it is just not even close when compare to hollywood style industrial level special effects. Well, if you just love all Jackie Chan movies, this one is ok to see. But if you have never seen Jackie Chan movies before, I suggest you rent something else (like Police story). This movie didn’t show what he is truly capable of.

Tom’s Rating: 6/10

Posted in Chinese, Golden Harvest, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gen-Y Cops | aka Gen-X Cops 2: Metal Mayhem (2000) Review

"Gen-Y Cops" Chinese DVD Cover

"Gen-Y Cops" Chinese DVD Cover

Director: Benny Chan
Writer: Bey Logan, Felix Chong
Producer: Benny Chan
Cast: Edison Chen, Stephen Fung, Sam Lee, Richard Sun Kwok Ho, Paul Rudd, Maggie Q, Christy Chung, Mark Hicks, Rachel Ngan, Vincent Kok, Brian Banowetz, Cheung Tat Ming, Johnnie Guy, Teresa Maria Herrera, Eric Kot, Reuben Langdon, Ricardo Mamood, Anthony Ng, Jude Poyer, Marc Redmond, Ron Smoorenburg, Anthony Wong, Lee Lik Chi
Running Time: 109 min.

By Brmanuk

Oh well, I guess for £2 you can’t really complain…or can you? It’s debatable I’m sure but no matter what you pay for this film nothing’s going to change the fact that it has an awful script, horrible acting, annoying characters, poor CGI effects and the looks of a poor US cop show that would probably get shown on TV at 2.00 am.

Edison Chen plays Edison (original huh?), one of the 3 Gen Y Cops who meets an old friend (Kurt) who invented a killer robot that got stolen by some bearded fella. His friend gets pissed and hypnotises Edison to hack into the robot and make it kill it’s new owners and run riot. Eventually Edison realises what he’s done and is on the run from his two annoying cop buddies. Obviously everything works out in the end, blah blah blah.

The story sounded interesting to me, but believe me the film poor. It possibly could have been quite good but it isn’t, it’s just crap. Richard Sun who plays Kurt is annoying. His constant use of phrases such as “Bro!” and “wassup main man!” along with his sub par acting make him look a joke. Edison Chen who uses the same phrases but isn’t as over the top as Sun, is equally annoying. Sam Lee (Alien) and Stephen Fung (Match) who reprise their roles from Gen X Cops (but have taken the backseat so Edison can talk out his ass) are ‘quite’ enjoyable and keep the viewer curious on what stupid things they might do next, but Alien’s overacting and annoying facial expressions become a bore after about 2 minute’s into his screen time. And don’t even get me started on the token white FBI stiff, you know the type; the ‘cool’ lead characters (or maybe I should say ‘playas’, dawg) hate him, and he hate’s them, as well as their country and their inferior technology which is in the stone age compared to American’s standards, apparently (ironically a US company did the CGI for this film, and well it’s ermm…….urgh). Oh yeah another thing, the CGI is appalling, the robots look like something out of a children’s TV ‘adventure’ show and don’t look very threatening at all, and the fight scenes seem to be played as jokes which might have worked if they were funny, but they’re not.

I must admit though, despite my comments the film did hold my attention pretty much throughout, mainly because it was so poor it was intriguing to see if it would get any better or worse. However the last few scene’s did pick up a little until the two robots confront each other and you get to see how REALLY BAD the effects are. There was the odd entertaining moment with the two idiot cops (Alien and Match) but the film was like MPM said “A fucking fashion show” and a poor one at that!

So was it worth £2? Yeah I guess so, but I’ll be selling it back to Blockbusters tomorrow.

Brmanuk’s Rating: 4/10

By Tequila

Gen-Y Cops is great for the OPPOSITE of the reasons that the original was great for. While the first was a great action-entertainment flick, it’s sequel is just as good as it’s like those hilariously bad B-movies. It’s painfully funny to hear Chinese cops and computer geeks to say “Whaz up ma dog?” or “You ma bro, man!”. Edison Chen is from Canada so he has the accent, meaning that he sounds like an unconvincing fake Canadian ghetto boy. Richard Sun is just HILARIOUS as the twisted geek trying to steal a robot he designed, although I fail to see how he would have had the time to design one if he was as doped-up as he sounds.

While the acting is pathetic to the point of comedy, the intentionally funny moments are great and it’s just as enjoyable as the first. I like the look of Maggie Q as much as I like that of Jaymee Ong too, so go out there and download the photos…er, I mean see this movie now, if you liked the first.

Tequila’s Rating: 9/10 as a fun film, 2/10 as a FILM.

Posted in Chinese, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gen-X Cops (1999) Review

"Gen-X Cops" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Gen-X Cops" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Benny Chan Muk Sing
Cast: Nicholas Tse, Stephen Fung, Sam Lee, Jaymee Ong, Grace Yip, Eric Tsang, Toru Nakamura, Francis Ng, Daniel Wu, Moses Chan, Bradley Allan, Vicky Chen, Jeff Kam Chun Man, Wayne Lai, Gordon Lam, Ken Lo, Alan Mak, Keiji Sato, Sin Ho Ying, Robert Sparks, Terence Yin, Jackie Chan, Bey Logan, Alan Mak
Running Time: 113 min.

By James H.

“Gen-X Cops” is, without a doubt, the most American looking Hong Kong film I have ever seen. Not that that is a bad thing, it just is a fact. It is directed by Benny Chan of “Who Am I?” fame, and has style to spare. The story concerns a trio of rag-tag police rejects that are fired and re-hired to infiltrate a gang of bad guys. There is a little more to the story, but it really isn’t very important. The script throws a twist or two here and there to keep thing interesting.

The highlight of the film is not the plentiful action sequences, but the acting of one Toru Nakamura. He plays the Yakuza villain Akatura. He is, hands down, the coolest villain I have ever seen. Always dressed in black and ready to kick some ass. Nakamura plays him with this calm and composed way. Never does he give way to anything else.

The action scenes are directed with style and grace. They can give any recent American action flick a run for its money. There’s not much more one can say, except that they are exceptional. The martial arts, although not enough for my liking, was done expertly as well.

“Gen-X Cops” suffers from a somewhat cliched script. The final five minutes is, unfortunately, horribly corny and contrived, but it does leave plenty of room for a sequel.

James H’s Rating: 8.5/10

By Tequila

Although it’s by no means an excellent film, Gen-X Cops is thoroughly entertaining. It is very funny at times (Y2K giving Alien a Japanese translation) and has one of the coolest villains for a while in Akatora/Tiger, the Yakuza boss permanently in black. Francis Ng is also in this which should be recommendation enough anyway.

For what it is, a piece of entertainment, there are no better films to watch. While the plot may seem corny and the acting in some cases may be a bit poor, this is the most fun “leave your brain at the door” movie I have ever seen. It’s hard to rate in that aspect as you may not like light-hearted, fun movies and may prefer to go for the Better Tomorrow style drama and story (like I usually do). You can do a lot worse than pick this up when you have the chance though.

Tequila’s Rating: 9/10 as a slice of action-entertainment, 6/10 if you prefer a story/acting over fun

Posted in Chinese, Golden Harvest, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tetsuo: The Iron Man | aka The Ironman (1988) Review

"Tetsuo: The Iron Man" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Tetsuo: The Iron Man" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto
Producer: Shinya Tsukamoto
Cast: Tomoro Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Shinya Tsukamoto, Nobu Kanaoka, Renji Ishibashi, Naomasa Musaka
Running Time: 67 min.

By HKFanatic

Back in 1988, Japanese filmmaker Shinya Tsukamoto unleashed “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” upon an unsuspecting world. The movie was a seething techno-fusion of flesh, sex, and machinery that aimed to shock and disturb. It has since become a cult classic and rightfully so: despite borrowing elements from David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” and the work of David Cronenberg, “Tetsuo” is a unique vision that stands on its own and offers a viewing experience unlike any other. Anyone drawn to the darker side of cinema or just looking for something a little bit ‘out there’ should definitely sit themselves down and watch this film.

Shinya Tsukamoto’s black and white cinematography is immediately striking. He portrays the world as a mess of wires and circuitry, an industrial hell of smoke and rubble. Right away comparisons can be made to the seminal David Lynch movie “Eraserhead”. The two films are very similar in look and tone, and the Fetishist’s internal prison (it’ll make sense once you see the movie) directly recalls The Man in the Planet. However, I found “Tetsuo” to be a little easier to follow than “Eraserhead”, as well as slightly less disturbing. Whether or not this is good or bad depends upon your own personal taste. One thing that has always intrigued me about Tsukamoto is how he wears his American influences on his sleeves. Most Japanese directors don’t seem all took taken by Hollywood but Tsukamoto is a fan of filmmakers like Lynch and Sam Raimi and he isn’t afraid to show it in his work.

The premise of “Tetsuo” is relatively simple but it allows for so many interpretations. I’ll explain it briefly: a man is experimenting, trying to merge metal with his own body. He is struck by a car and some how imparts a techno-virus on the man who hit him. From here, we follow the guilt-stricken driver and his gradual descent into a techno-organic nightmare.

The visuals are out of this world as man becomes machine and machine becomes something else entirely. The film is low-budget but the effects work remarkably well. There is a homemade, physical quality to them that adds to the realism of the film. The main character’s transformation into a machine is visceral and shocking to watch. It’s difficult to find fault with this movie’s visuals, unless you absolutely loathe low-budget effects or fast motion camera work.

“Tetsuo” does lose focus during the third act, as many of Tsukamoto’s films tend to do. He has an uncanny ability to pull the viewer in during the first 2/3 of his movies, but for some reason he loses you towards the end. “Tetsuo” becomes far too ambiguous, esoteric, and convoluted to understand during the last fifteen minutes or so. Characters are screaming more than they’re speaking, wires are shooting out everywhere, and you have no idea what’s really happening; thus, it’s hard to care. Fortunately, the film redeems itself with a superb ending, especially the moment when a character utters the unforgettable line “Our love can destroy this whole fucking world.”

Much like “Eraserhead”, “Tetsuo” has a simple theme behind its bizarre happenings. While David Lynch’s film dealt with the anxieties of approaching fatherhood (among other things), at its core “Tetsuo” is about survivor’s guilt. With this in mind, the movie becomes easier to follow and more emotionally resonant. All of us have dealt with guilt at some point and “Tetsuo” shows, in graphic detail, how it can tear apart one’s life.

Over ten years later, “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” still shocks and disquiets. It’s a visually stunning, nihilistic piece of art that should not be missed. Just be warned: this is a relentless and haunting journey into a world where man and machine are one. I repeat: not for the squeamish!

By HKFanatic’s Rating: 8/10

Posted in Japanese, Reviews | Tagged | Leave a comment

Guns & Talks (2001) Review

"Guns & Talks" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Guns & Talks" Korean Theatrical Poster

AKA: Guns and Talks
Director: Jang Jin
Producer: Kang Woo-Suk
Cast: Shin Hyun-Joon, Shin Ha-Gyun, Won Bin, Jung Jai-Yung, Jeong Jin-Young, Yun Ju-Sang
Running Time: 123 min

By Equinox21

This film is a classic! Though, it took watching it twice to come to that realization. But every time I watch this one, I come to appreciate it even more. The acting is terrific, the comedy is funny, the action is spectacular, and the music is excellent!

The movie is about a foursome team of Gen-X hit men. The leader is Sang-yeon (Shin Hyeon-jun [Blue]); he gets the team their jobs and likes to take pictures of himself with the clients. The sniper/marksman is Jae-yeong (Jeong Jae-yeong [No Blood No Tears]), a man of few words; his cold, quiet delivery is super cool! The crazy one is Jung-woo (Shin Ha-kyun [J.S.A., Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance]); he just can’t seem to pull off a solo mission to kill a pregnant woman, so instead he comes up with some great excuses as to why he keeps failing. Finally, the narrator of the movie and last member of the team is Ha-yeon (Won Bin); the younger brother of Sang-yeon, he just wants his chance to actually be able to do the shooting, instead of being the support man every time. This movie was perfectly cast. The scenes of the team in their house are terrific, especially when they’re all sitting around watching the pretty newscaster Oh Young-lan on TV. They certainly aren’t the brightest bulbs in the bunch, they’re all funny in their own quirky ways and that just makes the movie even more enjoyable!

The movie is a perfect blend of comedy and action. There’s enough of each to satisfy most people, and more than enough to be thoroughly enjoyable. The action is VERY stylish, and some of the coolest I’ve seen in any movie, period. The Hamlet scene is probably in my top five coolest movie scenes of all time. None of the other action scenes could compare to this one, but were all still really cool. Between the mix of action and comedy, this movie flowed perfectly from beginning to end, and could not have worked better. The funniest elements of Guns & Talks only seem to get funnier with each viewing, as well. Just watch for the Leon reference, hilarious!

One of my favorite elements of this one was the soundtrack. The theme was extremely catchy, and was used quite appropriately in various scenes. Thanks to the music, a couple scenes feel much like an old Saturday morning cartoon. The music during the aforementioned Hamlet scene was also some of the best I’ve heard in a recent movie. It was so good that I had to go out and buy the OST, which is worth every penny!

This one is near perfect, and is easily one of my favorite Korean movies. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. Then watch it again to fully appreciate it. It will not let you down, and will only get better the more you watch it!

Equinox21’s Rating: 9.5/10

By Joe909

More of a comedy than an action fest, Guns & Talks is a chatty, slightly-too-long “offbeat gangster” flick about a quartet of fashionable hit men. As a matter of fact, at first glance you might figure these guys would be members of a Korean N’Sync, rather than dangerous hit men. They have large, expensive wardrobes, each of them probably spent a ton on their haircuts, and they drive a nice car.

Narrated by the youngest member of the group, an annoying and effeminate Won Bin, Guns & Talks starts off with a hit, as the four work together to take out a few mob bosses. Their assassination methods aren’t of the John Woo variety, however; instead, these guys use poisonous gas and other tricks to kill their targets. Only the sniper resorts to old-fashioned shootings, and in the opening we’re treated to one of those “bullet time” effects as we follow his bullet through the parking lot and to its target.

After that, the plot kicks in, with each of the assassins (save for the sadly-underused sniper) getting his own story. There’s also a police inspector who has it in for the guys, as they murdered his prime witness in a case against a high-level thug. What follows is a multi-leveled story filled with a few comedic moments, lots of dialog, some sappy melodrama, and gorgeous cinematography.

I can’t say that it all works perfectly, though. Like most Korean movies, Guns & Talks is just too long for it’s own good. And I’ve never been one for voice-over narration. You can moan about how “dumbed down” Hollywood is until you’re blue in the face, but I still think Asian movies can even be worse. Guns & Talks is a case in point, as the prettyboy narrator feels that he must explain each and every thing to you in the most minute detail. The ending is a perfect example of this, as the hit men’s boss (Shin Hyun Jun) and the police inspector (Jeong Jin Young) have their final showdown in the local precinct. The inspector refuses to kill or arrest Jun, and any fool with a walnut-sized brain would understand why. However, the narrator spells it out for us, and it just feels cheap and unnecessary.

What keeps this from being an action extravaganza is the fact that the hit men must kill their targets in the exact method desired by their clients. For example, they must blow the left hand off of a target, and on another job they must blow a target up. So there aren’t any gun fights or elaborate action scenes in this movie, which is a shame. There aren’t even that many gadgets, even though these guys have a gadget-making, “Q”-type uncle who whips together devices for them.

The music is probably the most annoying factor in the mix. It blares over the action and dialog at any possible moment. What makes this bad is the fact that the music sounds like rejected elevator muzak. Not sure if any viewers have noticed, but the central theme of Guns & Talks is basically a rip-off of Herbie Hancock’s early ’80s hit “Rockit.” It was stuck in my head for days after I watched the film.

There are good points about the movie, though. For example, during one of the sappier moments, in which Won Bin relates to the other hit men the effects of being in love, he mistakes the other hit men’s laughter for swells of emotion. The payoff for this scene is done very well, because at first we don’t know the others are laughing, and we’re left thinking that the director’s trying to shove this maudlin dialog down our throat. There’s also a cool assassination set-up during a play, but the resolution is terrible. Before the hit, the guys worry over how they’ll escape after they do the job. Yet we never see how they actually do manage to escape.

In the end, Guns & Talks is just an okay movie. It doesn’t have enough action or suspense to thrill action fans. It isn’t consistently funny enough for the comedy fans. It doesn’t have enough drama for the drama fans. It doesn’t have enough romance for the girly-men or the ladies. Actually, it tries to embrace all of these separate genres, but doesn’t manage to gel them together into a coherent, fulfilling whole.

The movie’s a bit too sappy at parts, and the ending is saccharine beyond belief (picture this: an armed hit man walks into a police precinct, shoots a few things, and walks out without a scratch). Some of the plot threads don’t have much of a resolution (such as the surly hit man’s blooming romance with a pregnant, would-be target; the first half of the film makes you think this will be an important part of the story, but the thread is basically dropped halfway through). The comedy doesn’t always work, and the melodrama gets doled out pretty thick; but then again, this seems to be the standard for most Korean movies, and I figure those people who really like them will be expecting this.

Joe909’s Rating: 7/10

Posted in Korean, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Versus (2000) Review

"Versus" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Versus" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Writer: Ryuhei Kitamura, Yudai Yamaguchi
Cast: Tak Sakaguchi, Kenji Matsuda, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Misaka, Yuichiro Arai, Minoru Matsumoto
Running Time: 120 min.

By Numskull

Hot damn! Evil Dead and Bad Taste meet in-your-face combat like only those bloodthirsty Asian film makers can do it, God bless ’em, with ample doses of anime and Matrix-style visuals thrown in to let the viewer know, without just coming out and saying it, that this movie is strictly for members of some ill-defined cinematic “in crowd” with enlistment criteria based solely on attitude; all others fuck off.

The plot is so secondary to the action that it’s scarcely worth mentioning, but it has to do with a really annoying girl (when she TALKS, anyway…just standing there, she’s quite likable) with mystical powers who reincarnates every 500 years, this evil undead wizard type guy who wants to exploit those powers, a forest where the dead come back to life, and a prison escapee who runs around kicking everybody’s ass partly because he has to but mostly just because he can. There are two homicidal prison officials, one of whom has recently (as in, VERY recently) lost a hand, tracking him down, and a gang of villains including a vaguely faggoty guy in a necktie who flicks his tongue a lot. These characters don’t have names, so that’s how you’re going to mentally refer to them; “Stumpy”, “Necktie”, etc.

The movie is really little more than a protracted chase and series of battles (with knives, with guns, with swords, and with good old fashioned fists) inside this haunted forest. There’s plenty of visual humor which viewers who are really “into it” will appreciate but which bored girlfriends of gore-hungry guys will probably miss. Nothing as obvious as a pie in the face, but the camera angles and facial expressions frequently make it quite clear that everyone involved in this movie had the time of their lives making it. When our boy swipes the long black leather coat off a dead man’s body and an electric guitar riff pops up out of nowhere, it’s like the movie is saying: “I fucking dare you to say this isn’t cool.” When our boy twirls his sword around and says “Don’t touch my girl, fuckin’ asshole!”, it’s like the movie is saying: “I fucking DOUBLE dare you to say this isn’t cool.” When our boy spits out a wad of his own blood for what seems like the hundredth time, it’s like the movie is saying: “Yeah, okay, that’s getting kind of old, but still, I fucking TRIPLE dare you to say this isn’t cool!”

The point of Versus is not to follow it but simply to WATCH it; there’s a difference. Cast aside your day-to-day troubles for two hours and revel in the carnage.

Numskull’s Rating: 8/10

By Joe909

Finally, I have seen a movie that ranks up there with “Chinese Super Ninjas.” Like that Shaw Brothers classic, Versus has everything: gun-blazing, John Woo action, samurai battles, gravity-defying kung-fu, savage and bloody action, and, instead of ninjas, zombies. And not just your everyday, garden variety zombies: the ones here know how to use the guns they were buried with (which, for some reason, are still operable).

There’s no plot in Versus. But it’s possible you might not even notice. You’ll be too busy keeping up with the action. The story is as basic as you can get: a prisoner (who is known to us only by his number: KSC2-303) is broken out of prison and brought to a remote forest, where he meets up with some yakuza thugs. These thugs proceed to inform him that they’ve been hired to break him out of prison. The yakuza also have a captive young woman, whom the male prisoner demands they release. The yakuza refuse, and so our “hero” blasts the shit out of them. Strangely, the thugs killed in this firefight come back to life. KSC2-303 and the yakuza shoot apart these zombies, and then KC takes the girl and they rush off into the forest. The yakuza follow after, and soon enough more zombies start popping out of the ground. Lots of bloody shenanigans transpire, and then the head yakuza honcho shows up: an immortal, evil wizard who needs both KC and the young woman together to carry out his schemes for world domination. Sounds stupid, but it actually works on screen.

If you see this movie, expect: lots of hard-hitting, “Matrix”-like kung-fu, ferocious gunplay, and campy gore. A lot of dark humor, too. For example, one character, a crazy policeman who’s chasing the main hero, spends the entire movie bemoaning the loss of his right hand. At one point he comes across the person who cut his hand off. “Hey,” he yells, “I want back my hand!” The person who cut the hand off, who is KSC2-303, of course, bends down and picks up a severed hand from the pile of carnage about him. He tosses it to the crazy cop. The cop tries to stick it on his stunted arm, but realizes, “Hey, this is a left hand! I need a right hand!”

Versus, a two hour-long action movie with little plot, is in need of a little editing. Word is it’s been picked up for US distribution, and edits are supposedly going to be made. I think this is a good idea, as the movie could stand to be tighter. It’s very possible that some movie-goers will get sick of the relentless action. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t like a Bruce Le movie: all fights and no story. But still, action takes precedent over plot in this film. But at least it’s great action. And at least every single one of the characters, none of whom have names mind you, are memorable and entertaining.

As of this writing (January 4, 2002), Versus is nearly impossible to find. It was produced in Japan last year, and shown in only a few international festivals. I don’t believe it was even given a wide release in Japan. So far, it hasn’t officially been released in any format. However, a DVD came out several months ago, but this dvd was in fact a bootleg. Same goes for all of the vcds you’ll come across. But no matter, get the movie in any format you can.

I’ll finish this up by saying I’ve never seen a Japanese movie I liked, and I’ve seen a lot of them. I went to school in Tokyo for a while, had a lot of Japanese friends, and rented a lot of Japanese movies. And they were all the same to me: static, plodding, and boring. Japanese movies were like the pretentious, pansy cousins of Hong Kong cinema. But now, finally, Versus ups the bar: it’s got more action than any HK movie I’ve seen in years. The actors are cool and hip without trying to be. The dialog is memorable and the film as a whole doesn’t pander. The music is straight-up rock meets techno, no Cantopop shit. It’s the most enjoyable movie I’ve seen in a long time.

Joe909’s Rating: 10/10

Posted in Japanese, Reviews | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Branded to Kill (1967) Review

"Branded to Kill" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Branded to Kill" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Director: Seijun Suzuki
Writer: Hachiro Guryu
Producer: Kaneo Iwai, Takiko Mizunoe
Cast: Jo Shishido, Mari Annu, Mariko Ogawa, Koji Nambara, Isao Tamagawa, Hiroshi Minami
Running Time: 91 min.

By Milkcan

I must say I am very glad to have seen this film. Did it make me a better person? No. Did it teach me things about the cinema I never knew? Well, no. But it did, along with “Super Ninjas”, remind me of how much mindless fun movies can be. “Branded To Kill” certainly ranks near the top of the list of guilty pleasures; it’s a gangster film noir directed by Seijun Suzuki, layered with a shade of violent, perverse quirkiness. The story involves the Yakuza’s No. 3 hitman, played by Joe Shishido, who botches an assassination job and ends up on the run for his life. Suzuki took this “cookie-cutter” script (as described by the Criterion Collection DVD release), and blended it with a dark sense of style.

Several “legendary” tales surround “Branded To Kill”: Suzuki would go on to be fired for directing the film the way he did (the studio producing the movie, Nikkatsu, claimed it made no sense). He wasn’t able to direct a film for 10 years. The main star, Joe Shishido, altered the look of his face for the part by having his cheekbones raised through surgery. Yes, surgery. And there is also the story of how the filmmakers avoided trouble with censorship laws by utilizing several clever techniques during the movie’s more risque sequences. The end product of these efforts and consequences? One of the most enjoyable and cool cult classics out of Japan!

This is not a yakuza picture with characters you feel for or even cheer for: people in the film range from cold-blooded killers, sexpots, drunks, necrophiles, and those with a fetish for the smell of rice. The actors and actresses chosen to play these parts couldn’t have been better. The gangsters can stir up some laughter; their dialogue consists of conversations about the different rankings of hitmen, who is in the top 5, the mysterious No. 1 killer, and how the life a hitman leads can take it’s toll. I particularly liked how Suzuki, through the use of hallucinations, made it apparent that these killers live in a world where everything, and anyone, is of suspicion. Above all, “Branded To Kill” has style going for it. The dark lighting and the full use of the Cinemascope bring out an unusual, intoxicating, gritty atmosphere. The film’s environments consist of various places throughout the mega-city, but are given a unique twist with some bizarre imagery. Creative camera angles, up-close shots, wide-screen shots, and shadows all excentuate the violent, sexual, and gothic artistry of the scenes. Also on note are the action sequences, which play out beautifully. They’re smart, well-thought of, bone-crushing, and nicely choreographed. To top it off, the musical score suits the film perfectly; the theme song can’t be beaten and the background music is decadent, haunting, and reminiscent of a Western.

The bottom line: “Branded To Kill” is a stylish and weird pulp masterpiece that belongs on everyone’s recommended viewing list.

Milkcan’s Rating: 10/10

By Slaxor

To paraphrase a famous quote “LSD is one hell of a powerful drug”.

I love this movie. It’s not perfect, but what parts I do love about it are.

So what’s not perfect? The middle portion. It just drags on for probably about 10-15 minutes too long.

The movie can be broke down in to three sections.

1) Our star, the No.3 Killer, goes around doing jobs and offing people – like the swank motherfucker he is – in creative ways that I still haven’t seen done to this day.

2) Our star runs in to a bit of trouble and a tripped-out love story unfolds; after it’s done unfolding and perfectly is developed, it just kinda sits there and ends up a little longer then I would have liked.

3) The question is raised, ‘Who is numbah 1?’ and the journey to find out is on.

After seeing this movie with a buddy, who was the only person out of a group to survive the middle portion, we would answer the phone when either of us called each other with the line “Who is numbah 1?” everytime, for about a month or two after seeing this. If you’ve seen the movie you would fully understand this and also get a little giggle out of it.

I would follow the trend and give this a perfect ten, but I’m docking a point for the dragged out middle portion.

Slaxor’s Rating: 9/10

By Woody

Brutal eroticism, dark humour, great action scenes, beautiful B&W cinematography, one of the coolest leading men EVER, and an absolute lack of dimensions like time and space make this one of the best, yet most puzzling, films I have ever come across.

Describing the plot of this film is pointless. Any plot description would make this sound like a generic Yakuza flick. If anything, this is not a generic movie. If David Lynch, Jean-Luc Godard, and John Woo got together to collaborate on a movie, the result would be something along the lines of this bizarre masterpiece, only not as strange.

Jo Shishido stars as Hanada Goro, one of the coolest, most fucked in the head character’s I have ever come across. Hanada, the Yakuza’s “No. 3 Killer” seemingly has it all: a bizarre rice fetish, a nymphomaniac wife, a nice pad, and an easy job. Things start unravelling, though, when he takes a job from a young gothic woman, in which he has three seconds to shoot his mark. He misses and hits a woman, and a contract is put out on him. Upon returning home, Hanada is shot by his always-nude wife and left for dead, as his house burns around him. Escaping, he goes to the apartment of the gothic girl, and…describing any more would be a fulltime job. It all culminates between a greatly staged showdown between Hanada and the Yakuza’a “No. 1 Killer”. I think.

This is a dreamlike, surreal masterpiece. Dead butterflies, bizarre, well-staged action, great music, nudity, rough sex, a rice fetish, pissing down a sock into a shoe, Shishido’s collagen cheek implants, butterflies landing on rifle barrels, some more sex, a gothic chick in Japan in 1967, a dead bird handing from a car mirror, and an absolute disregard for the rules of cinema make this one of my favorite films.

This film is perhaps best known as the film that got Seijun Suzuki sacked from Nikkatsu Studios, who told him that the film “didn’t make sense” and accused him of “uncommercial and unprofitable film making”. After winning a case against them, for violation of his contract, Suzuki was blacklisted and no one would produce or show his films. Thankfully, Suzuki was able to rebound and bring us such classics as “Zigeunerweisen”, “Mirage Theater”, and “Yumeji”.

Suzuki is one of the true masters of cinema. His direction and planning is so good that the bizarre, outrageous excess of the film eventually starts to make sense, in it’s own twisted way. The action scenes, the love scenes, everything is well filmed and well edited, and shows that Suzuki wasn’t on psychotropic drugs when he made this film. No folks, this is how he intended the it to be.

All in all, if you are looking for something different, this is the film for you. It’s funny, it’s troubling, it’s strange, and will leave you with a bit of a headache, but you won’t regret it. Worth owning.

Woody’s Rating: 10/10

Posted in Japanese, Reviews | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Black Belt | aka Kuro-Obi (2007) Review

"Black Belt" International Theatrical Poster

"Black Belt" International Theatrical Poster

Director: Shunichi Nagasaki
Writer: George Iida
Cast: Akihito Yagi, Tatsuya Naka, Yuji Suzuki, Fuyuhiko Nishi
Running Time: 120 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

After their karate master passes away, two of his best students take opposite directions in life. Giryu (Akihito Yagi), chooses a more philosophical approach, practicing his master’s passive, yet effective, teachings on karate. Taikan (Tatsuya Naka), follows a more savage path, fueled by what he believes karate is all about. The two clash and duel it out, but only one will be their master’s successor and inherit his Black Belt.

If you ever decide to check this movie out, try not to watch it back-to-back with any other martial arts movies. If you do, Black Belt will expose just how light, unrealistic and cartoony those titles really are – all 99% of them.

If you’re looking for some over-the-top Tony Jaa/Jackie Chan/Jet Li type stuff, you won’t find it here. There are no guys flying around on wires, nobody flipping around on moving vehicles, and not a single elephant to walk on; The choreography in Black Belt consists of fights that appear to be as natural and realistic as they possibly could for the camera. As cut and dry as the sequences are, they’re so intense that you can feel the power.

The non-action segments of the film are simple and straightforward. I’m not the biggest Japanese film conessiur, but a similar title that comes to mind would be Kitano Takeshi’s Hana-Bi (aka Fireworks). They both have a calm, somewhat generic, but beautiful, feel to them. But low and behold, when it’s time for some violence, the viewer WILL notice.

One thing’s for sure, that scene in Fists of Fury – where Bruce Lee walks into a dojo full of karate men and kicks their asses with no problem – will never feel the same again.

Martial arts movies aren’t supposed to be this good.

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 10/10

Posted in Japanese, Reviews | 7 Comments

Battle Royale 2: Requiem (2003) Review

"Battle Royale 2: Requiem" Japanese Theatrical Poster

“Battle Royale 2: Requiem” Japanese Theatrical Poster

Director: Kinji Fukasaku, Kenta Fukasaku
Writer: Kenta Fukasaku
Producer: Shigeyuki Endo
Cast: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Shugo Oshinari, Ayana Sakai, Riki Takeuchi, Natsuki Kato, Ai Iwamura, Masaya Kikawada, Aki Maeda, Takeshi Kitano, Sonny Chiba
Running Time: 134 min.

By Equinox21

When good ideas go bad. Ok, so I can understand the point of Battle Royale. I loved the first movie. It made sense (in a sadistic sort of way) to have hooligan kids killing each other off. Fine. No problem. But why would they then, for the sequel, dress the kids up as soldiers, give them all assault rifles and send them in, under threat of collar-induced-head-explody, to kill Shuya Nanahara and his “terrorist” element of previous survivors of Battle Royale? It made no logical sense.

BRII was an excuse to show more kids getting shot and blubbering to each other about secret crushes and high school love in their death throes. Of course, after the initial idea fails, to kill Shuya the military sends in hundreds of actual soldiers. Well, that’s all fine and dandy; however, why not just nuke the island? It’s not as though they weren’t planning on killing everyone there anyway. Instead they sacrificed scores of highly trained soldiers in the assault against the untrained kids. Huh? Why??

I don’t know what Kinji Fukasaku was thinking when he decided to make a sequel. A sequel to Battle Royale wasn’t a bad idea in and of itself, however, what they decided to do with the story was. Turning Shuya from a troubled teen into a terrorist mastermind in 3 short years was simply too far fetched (even for the world of the BR movies) to be truly enjoyable.

The best thing about the movie was the character of Kitano’s daughter. I thought that was a very cool addition to the movie and to the story. It really tied the two movies together far better than what they did with Shuya.

Overall, stay away from BRII if you enjoyed the first one. It will only spoil your impression of the originality of BR. And, if you DO watch BRII, try not to laugh too hard at the absurd overacting of Riki Takeuchi playing a character named… Riki Takeuchi.

Equinox21’s Rating: 5/10

Posted in Japanese, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Battlefield Baseball (2003) Review

"Battlefield Baseball" International Theatrical Poster

"Battlefield Baseball" International Theatrical Poster

AKA: Battlefield Stadium
Director: Yudai Yamaguchi
Producer: Ryuhei Kitamura
Cast: Tak Sakaguchi, Atsushi Ito, Hideo Sakaki
Running Time: 87 min.

By Equinox21

Without knowing anything about the movie Battlefield Baseball, I decided to pick it up (a bootleg, unfortunately, as it’s the only format that’s affordable) only because it was a re-teaming of actor Tak Sakaguchi and producer Ryuhei Kitamura of Versus fame. I was expecting another bloody action packed extravaganza, starring Tak as Jubeh kicking ass and taking names. Well, it’s not exactly that, at all. In fact, it’s about as different from Versus as you can get, while still embodying a similar feel.

While Versus is an action movie through and through, Battlefield Baseball is a total slapstick comedy, complete with song and dance (pretty miserably sung by Tak, I might add). The plot involves a high school team that gets slaughtered by a rival team that doesn’t PLAY Baseball… it FIGHTS Baseball. Jubeh transfers to the losing High School and is convinced to pick up the sport he gave up years earlier, after his powerful pitch accidentally killed his father. Jubeh becomes the savior of the team, which is then reduced to whoever can be scraped up to fill the ranks, as the regular players have all been killed in horrible, nasty ways by the evil, zombie-like high school team (who all look like Clive Barker creations).

BB is more like a live action anime movie than any other film I’ve ever seen. The characters (especially the evil ones who are all painted blue) are so animated and over the top that it wouldn’t have shocked me if they had actually been ANIMATED. But, alas, it was only a hokey, live action movie that was reminiscent of something you might see in anime form. The comedy doesn’t really work for the most part, but there were a few scenes that had me chuckling.

Don’t get Battlefield Baseball expecting another Versus or Azumi. That was my mistake. Even though I enjoyed it, it’s a completely different movie from Versus and Azumi. Tak Sakaguchi still rules, and I’ll still check out anything that Ryuhei Kitamura is involved in, and even though it was amusing, Battlefield Baseball is, unfortunately, not one of either of their best efforts.

Equinox21’s Rating: 7/10

Posted in Japanese, Reviews | Leave a comment

Eye, The 2 (2004) Review

"The Eye 2" US DVD Cover

"The Eye 2" US DVD Cover

Director: Pang Brothers (Oxide Pang, Danny Pang)
Writer: Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui, Jojo Hui
Producer: Peter Chan Ho-Sun, Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui, Jojo Hui
Cast: Shu Qi, Eugenia Yuan Lai-Kai, Jesdaporn Pholdee, Phillip Kwok Chun-Fung, Rayson Tan
Running Time: 98 min.

By Raging Gaijin

I have good memories of “The Eye”. I saw in the theatre many years ago but I remember it being an altogether absorbing and chilling horror film. Angelica Lee gave a solid performance, the Pang Brothers’ directing was stylish without being overbearing, and it had the scariest opening credits sequence I have ever seen. And, while it may be because it was one of the first Asian horror movies I’d viewed, it seemed fairly original. Yeah, it owes a lot to “The Sixth Sense” but at least there weren’t any long-haired ghosts with glaring eyes crawling out of electonical devices. In short, “The Eye” is what I would consider Asian horror done right.

Alright, everything I just said about “The Eye”? Throw that out the window because “The Eye 2” is the polar opposite of its predecessor. The direction of the Pang Brothers is as stylish as ever, but this is just a sequel that did not even need to be made. “The Eye” had a definite sense of closure about it and, really, “The Eye 2” has very little to do with the original film. Everything about it screams ‘We did this for money!’ right down to the casting of global superstar Shu Qi in the lead. No offense to Shu Qi: she is more than adequate in the lead role, but not even her presence could save this movie.

I think the main problem lies in Shu Qi’s character. She’s a depressed and suicidal young woman. The only proactive things she does in this movie is try to kill herself during the first ten minutes, seek help from a janitor, and then try to kill herself again at the end of the movie. In other words, she’s a victim. She’s a character who lets everything happen to her and her reaction is usually to just pass out. In fact, she passes out and then wakes up in the hospital at least three or four times during the entire 98 minutes of the film. It gets old really fast. This is not to say that you *can’t* write a compelling story about a depressed and suicidal person… but these screenwriters didn’t. There comes a point when you have to make your main protagonist actually do something in retaliation against the forces assailing them. It’s honestly hard to care for Shu Qi’s character when she spends most of the movie crying, screaming, or in the hospital. Shu Qi herself performs all these scenes with aplomb but it just doesn’t matter: this not the kind of person you base a movie around.

The rest of “The Eye 2” is filled with the familiar Asian horror clichés and “Sixth Sense” retreads. Shu Qi sees dead people, some of which are Asian women with long black hair who float through the air. The movie’s most original aspect is its take on reincarnation. I always thought that Buddhists had a rather positive take on the subject but in “The Eye 2” it’s not altogether pleasant. It seems that when women are pregnant, the dead soul of someone waiting to be reincarnated hovers beside them until they were ready to give birth. As they’re about to deliver their child, the ghost will *swim up the birth canal and into the womb* to be reincarnated within the baby. So, yeah, this is original…but it also looks absolutely ridiculous on film! Imagine a CGI-ghost floating through the air and then straight up a pregnant woman’s legs. Yeah, it’s just plain silly and it completely ruins the dread-filled tone the Pang Brothers are going for.

It’s a shame too, because I like the Pang Brothers. I’ve liked them since I saw “Bangkok Dangerous”. I think they’re both talented filmmakers and I’ll continue to watch their films, but they completely missed the mark with “The Eye 2”, which feels like a slapped-together attempt to cash in on the success of the first one. I’d recommend you avoid it unless you’re a die-hard fan of Shu Qi (or you just want to see her vomit, which she does at least twice here). Unfortunately, “The Eye 2” is just another nail in the coffin of Asian horror, which is swiftly becoming a tired and clichéd genre.

Raging Gaijin’s Rating: 5/10

Posted in Chinese, Reviews, Thai | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Eye, The (2002) Review

"The Eye" US DVD Cover

"The Eye" US DVD Cover

Director: Pang Brothers (Oxide Pang, Danny Pang)
Producer: Peter Ho-Sun Chan
Cast: Angelica Lee (Sin Je), Lawrence Chow, So Yut Lai, Candy Lo Hau-Yam, Ko Yin Ping, Edmond Chen, Ben Yuen, Winson Yip, Chutcha Rujihanon, Pierre Png, Wang Sue Yuen
Running Time: 98 min.

By Numskull

Much like the well-intentioned but underwhelming Inner Senses, The Eye stays a healthy distance away from the camp where past Hong Kong horror films have traditionally spent their summer vacations and attempts to capture the tension and dread typical of newer Japanese films in this category. Alas, it falls short of its mark. It’s certainly better than the dinky little Kiddie Koaster, but can’t match the thrills offered by the roller coasters that the big kids ride (and wait three and a half hours in line for).

We’ve got Angelica Lee as Mun, a woman with bony Carrie-Anne Moss shoulders who has been blind since age two. She undergoes a corneal transplant with the elder Dr. Lo to restore her vision, then begins to see ghosts and flickers of an unfamiliar place while at home. But, since the sensation of seeing is new to her and she doesn’t quite trust her new eyesight yet, she does not fully realize that these are supernatural phenomena. At least, not at first. Eventually, the movie shows us so damn many phantoms, apparitions, revenants, and what have you while advancing the rest of the plot at a snail’s pace that the only horrified cries from the audience will be along the lines of: “Okay. She sees ghosts. WE GET IT!!!”

At long last, the younger Dr. Lo, the specialist who has been helping Mun get acquainted with her new fifth sense, assists her in tracking down the cornea donor to get some answers. Off to Thailand they go, and the facts they learn about the previous owner of Mun’s peepers are more disturbing than the visions she’s encountered thus far.

And so on.

The Eye isn’t a bad film, but, all things considered, I wasn’t impressed. The big problem is that it has very tough competition in Japan’s crop of horror movies from the last few years and it’s hard not to make unfortunate comparisons. It doesn’t have Ringu’s tick-tock impending doom; nor Kairo’s quiet, bizarre otherworldliness; nor Kakashi’s smothering sense of isolation; nor Ju-On’s primal, jolt-a-minute rawness. What it does have is one very effective scene involving an elevator, a fact-based ending that scores a few points for ballsiness, and a premise with more potential than was utilized. That’s about it. I won’t make the absurd generalization that Hong Kong can’t make a good horror film, because the potential is certainly there. Keep trying, people.

Numskull’s Rating: 6/10

Posted in Chinese, Reviews, Thai | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Pee Hua Kurd | aka The Beheaded (2002) Review

"Pee Hua Kurd" Thai DVD Cover

"Pee Hua Kurd" Thai DVD Cover

Director: Komsan Tripong
Cast: Thep Phongarm, Theng Therdtherng, Thanisorn Satayamongkol, Note Chernyim, Noppawan Srinikorn, Jaturong Mokjok, Chanis Yaisamer
Running Time: 120 min.

By Numskull

This limp-wristed Thai film (all three of it) seems to be afflicted with the cinematic equivalent of multiple personality disorder. It starts off with a ten minute, Mr. Vampiresque segment in which a sorcerer named Master Gorey visits a graveyard with his three bumbling fuckwit assistants: Puag (cross-eyed), Koa (hard of hearing), and Muek (irritable bowel syndrome). He accidentally summons a small army of zombies and one of his underlings ends up having to have snake venom sucked out of one of his butt cheeks. This was done previously in Corey Yuen’s “High Risk”, but it’s funnier here. All in all, this opening sequence promises a good amount of amusement in the upcoming 110 minutes. The rest of the film’s failure to keep that promise can only be described as “spectacular”.

For the next hour and change we are subjected to a dull and meandering story about Diew, a wandering good guy who shows up in this little town looking for a “Mr. Groan”, his late father’s kick boxing teacher. The town is run by Chief Khem and Mr. Yang. The former has a son named Maad who beats people up for not paying protection money and always wins the yearly festival’s boxing competition; the latter has a son named Mompong who always wins the buffalo race at the same festival. Naturally, it’s up to Diew to defy the powers that be and win the heart of Tuptim, the local beauty, while he’s at it. However, that stuff has to wait until after Diew meets up with Master Gorey (aka Mr. Groan, big surprise) and bails Puag, Muek and Koa out of the trouble they keep landing themselves in. Nothing remarkable here except for the fact that the hero has an infuriating, high-pitched, girly voice that makes you wish the bad guys would come along and chop his head off.

And you know what? They do. Oh, don’t look so shocked. That’s Diew’s severed head grinning at you on the DVD package. Besides, what the hell did you expect from a movie called “The Beheaded”?

So, Diew and his trusty buffalo are killed in an ambush and subsequently framed for murder. Such a shame, he won the boxing match, he won the buffalo race, he seemed like such a nice boy, his voice could cut glass in cold weather, blah blah blah. Maad abducts Piptin and her friend Sa, and since Master Gorey and his trio of dipshits can’t do much about it, Diew comes back from the dead to wreak bloody revenge upon all of the villains. Even his buffalo rises from the grave, hell-bent on goring every evildoer in sight. Obviously, the buffalo is the coolest character in the film. Even more obviously, this is the movie’s other big tone shift; the supernatural element makes a big comeback, especially when Gorey has a sorcerers’ duel with a villainous mystic. Gone, though, is the outright buffoonery of the now distant opening scene. The Beheaded scores some points for being unique, but very few for overall entertainment value. When the most likable character is a large, hoofed mammal, you know you’ve got problems. The lackluster fight scenes and sappy romance aspect are impossible to ignore. Only the opening, which is like a mini-movie in and of itself, is truly worth your time.

Numskull’s Rating: 4/10

Posted in Reviews, Thai | Leave a comment

Tom Yum Goong | aka The Protector (2005) Review

"Tom Yum Goong" Thai Theatrical Poster

"Tom Yum Goong" Thai Theatrical Poster

AKA: Warrior King
Director: Prachya Pinkaew
Producer: Prachya Pinkaew
Cast: Tony Jaa, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Xing Jing, Johnny Nguyen, Nathan Jones, Bongkoj Khongmalai, David Asavanond, Dean Alexandrou, Lateef Crowder, Damian De Montemas, Don Ferguson, Jon Foo, Ron Smoorenburg
Running Time: 110 min.

By Kioko

I’ve been a martial arts fan for over 20 years now. So from the Bruce Lee films, to Jackie Chan, to Jet Li, I have seen most of these trend setting films for the genre and have a deep appreciation for them. Right now Tony Jaa is unmatched, and will be for sometime now. No one can touch him. Tom Yum Goong confirms Tony Jaa as the next in line for the martial arts film genre. It’s simply outstanding!

Tony Jaa makes no apology for his brutal, creative, fresh style. He has the intensity of Bruce Lee, the choreographic genius of Jackie Chan, and the Rise-to-Stardom success of Jet Li. With all it’s predecessors in mind. This movie has things that have never been done before. Muy Thai boxing is taken to yet another authentic level. What’s more impressive is it’s practical yet entertaining use of it. Vs. Capoeria – an African Brazillian martial art form never before seen on film, Wu Shu Kung Fu, Pro Wrestling, and the historical Warrior(Elephant) Thai Boxing.

The camera is forgiving, pulling back for us to see what is going on. And the story, although quite simple, is more intricate than people give credit for It’s probably best to know Thai and Chinese – yet the English Dialogue keeps you somewhat informed. The theme of the boy’s relationship with the Elephant continues through the film, with a nice way of brining it together at the end. No complaints about a dragging storyline, the quick fade to blacks and cut to next scenes moved it right along for me.

You cannot be considered a martial arts film fan until you see this movie.

Kioko’s Rating: 10/10

By Yi Long

Saw Tom Yoon Gung in the theatre on opening’s day: GREAT FLICK. If you thought Ong-Bak was good, TYG is at least twice as good, action-wise. Looks like Tony has listened to all the criticism that was aimed at his first movie, and really did something about it.

I’m sure most of you are already familiar with the story so I won’t waste my limited online time discussing it… (Story is so-so, treating Sidney like it’s only a few square miles big, since the characters keep running into each other…)

The first fight-scene is in Thailand where Tony goes to battle with the gangsta’s responsible for kidnapping his elephants. Very hard, kick-ass action, although it only lasts maybe a couple of minutes, it’s pretty sweet and raw. It’s followed by a boat-chase scene which is OK, and has a funny moment in it as well when the boat jumps through a billboard… but the ending CGI (I think it was CGI) was a lil’ unconvincing; not that it really bothered me.

After the boat scene Tony heads to Sidney, where he quickly runs into the gang responsible for importing his stolen elephants. After a brief street light on/near the pier, in which he gets kicked around a bit, he enters the warehouse where the gang is, and has a Jackie Chan-style gang-fight, taking on tons of opponent who come in on bikes and skates; with Tony jumping and hopping through and making use of the environment, and it’s totally kick-ass. Tony outdoes Jackie here. There’s also a nice Dragons Forever style shot, where he makes a backflip which is filmed from above (Remember the Yuen Biao flip in Dragons Forever?) where he takes out a guy on a motorcycle. Anyway, the action is really sweet.

After that scene there’s some story blahblah…

Anyway, there’s a big scene where he enters the restaurant and Tony tries to outdo the brilliant one-shot, one-take John Woo (Hard Boiled) action scene, in which he moves through the building, taking out MANY bad guys, without a cut, which is really impressive since there are some heavy falls and some stunts etc involved. The fight sequences are pretty basic which is understandable, considering the complicity of the whole scene. Very VERY impressive, and extremely ambitious for such a young film-maker. Really shows he cares for giving his fans something special and new… which is great news of course

When he’s at the top of the building, the camera finally cuts and we get a very nice fight between Tony and a chinese guy, who is kind like the ringleader. He has some good skills, although he keeps doing the same (very nice looking) move a bunch of times…

First Tony gets kicked around a bit, then he gets angry and starts beating up ‘Johnny’ or whatever his name was… and a few henchmen join the fight. Good fight.

Story blahblah…

Burning buddhist temple, sprinkler has sprayed the ground FULL of water. First fight is between Tony and a black Capouira guy. Extremely impressive fight. One of the best in martial arts movie history, considering the moves and the water. Cinematography is very good.

It’s followed by a wushu guy with sword. Also pretty good, don’t really remember much of it but that’s cause I’m usually not that interested in weapon fights.

After that fight, the big TROY dude comes in, using the ancient martial art called Bob-Sapp-Do, which consists of storming forward, grabbing, and using haymaker etc. don’t remember much of that either, except Tony scarring the guys forehead with the Ong-Bak move where he jumps on the guy’s shoulders and the using both elbows on his head…

In the end-fight he takes on a zillion guys in black suits (no idea why they were in the building btw…), including a really really short cameo by Ron Smoorenburg, where he (Tony) uses Hapkido style grab-and-breaks, which is kind like Jet’s first fight in Fist of Legend (although I probably like Jet’s fight better simply because it’s a lil bit ‘cooler’, although I’m being very biased here of course, and this fight in TYG is MUCH longer and more impressive action- and choreography wise…

After the zillion guys, the TROY guy returns, aided by his two brothers Huey and Louie … plus the main bad villainess (haven’t really mentioned that transvestite before… mainly cause there wasn’t a need for it…) who uses a whip and a leather suit. It’s OK. I really don’t care much for these kind of fights where the main villains lack martial arts skills, since it kind limits the choreography.

Anyway, action of the movie was GREAT. Sadly, the version I saw didn’t have English subs (Gee, I wonder why…). Story-wise it was pretty basic, but I guess we’re all kind expecting that from these movies anyway. There are a bunch of plotholes (like ‘Johnny’ returning just to kill the main bad white guy, then never even returns in the movie…), and it’s a shame that the soundtrack isn’t anywhere as special or memorable as Ong-Bak’s.

There’s also a very bad CGI scene where they tell about the ancient warriors using that martial art he does; it’s really REALLY bad.

Really looking forward to seeing it again, though I’m sure it will be a while considering the @#%$ that has been going on with Ong-Bak thus far…

So, What we have here is a movie that in terms of budget and ambition is a lot bigger then Ong-Bak. We see real progress in what Tony is giving us, having listened to the criticisms of his first movie, notably that it had no real impressive villains, and that he used the slow-mo replay too often, and fixed it. The story is truly one big fucking mess, but as an action show-piece, this is fucking entertaining and impressive, and seeing Tony really giving his fans what they want, can only make you very excited about his future

Yi Long’s Rating: Verdict: 8/10; Crappy story, Amazing action-sequences: Must-see flick if you’re into action!

Posted in Reviews, Thai | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Nang Nak (1999) Review

"Nang Nak" Spanish Theatrical Poster

"Nang Nak" Spanish Theatrical Poster

AKA: Return from the Dead, Nang Nak: Ghost Wife
Director: Nonzee Nimibutr
Writer: Wisit Sartsanatieng
Cast: Indhira Jaroenpura, Winai Kraibutr, Pramote Suksatit, Pracha Thawongfia, Manit Meekaewjaroen
Running Time: 101 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

Nang Nak is the story of Nak (Indhira Jaroenpura), a pregnant woman whose husband, Mak (Winai Kraibutr), is sent off to fight in a war. While he’s away, she gives birth with strange complications. Months later, after recuperating from a serious war injury, Mak returns and is reunited with Nak. However, things are not what they seem. Neighbors begin to turn up dead and friends begin to warn Mak about his “wife”. Does he listen? Of course not.

Nang Nak won four awards at the 1999 Pan Asian Film Festival, including one for Best Picture. Kind of makes you wonder if the judges were blind and deaf? Okay, maybe not blind, but certainly deaf. Nang Nak is full of beautiful camera work, exotic locales, and lavish costume/set design. Kudos to some of the visual effects. Those dead people sure looked dead and Plastic Man’s cameo was pretty impressive; But this is where the fun stops, folks.

Nang Nak really never goes anywhere. It’s boring, drawn out and is never scary. It’s 101 minutes long, but would have worked better as a short film. If you like Mark Dacascos lookalikes and Thai wenches with dyke-haircuts, then this Bud’s for you.

My best advice: Skip Nang Nak and visit your favorite Thai Restaurant instead. Tell the hostess Miss Nak sent you, and maybe you’ll get some free shit out of it. By the way, the story of Nang Nak is based on a well-known Thai legend (you know, like Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster and The Bible).

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 3/10

Posted in Reviews, Thai | Leave a comment

Last Life in the Universe (2003) Review

"Last Life in the Universe" Japanese Theatrical Poster

“Last Life in the Universe” Japanese Theatrical Poster

Director: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
Writer: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, Prabda Yoon
Cast: Tadanobu Asano, Sinitta Boonyasak, Laila Boonyasak, Yutaka Matsushige, Riki Takeuchi, Takashi Miike, Yoji Tanaka, Sakichi Sat
Running Time: 112 min.

By Alexander

Comparisons between Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s Last Life in the Universe and Wong Kar Wai’s Chungking Express are inevitable: both are photographed by Christopher Doyle; both are studies of quirky characters; both explore the relationships of disparate yet similarly lonely men and women who meet under unusual circumstances. However, aside from a shared DP and few similarities in pacing and plot, Last Life in the Universe is but a shadow of the richness and fun that is Chungking Express.

The first half hour held promise. We’re introduced to a quiet, obsessive compulsive, suicidal and lonely man named Kenji, a librarian. Tadanobus Asano (in a complete 180 from his role as Ichi) effectively tempers the seriousness of his role with an appealing blend of bumble and earnestness. He manages to make being a total square attractive. Asano’s performance, coupled with Doyle’s cinematography, make for an enjoyable and intriguing introduction.

But when Kenji meets Thai native Noi (Sinitta Boonyasak), a sexy, chain-smoking bar hostess the film stumbles and never recovers. The circumstance in which they meet for the first time is novel and well-filmed, but the ramifications of their meeting are nil. Nothing happens. He cleans her house. They watch television. They eat. They talk in a combination of Japanese and English. They… well, that’s about it. Not an ounce of chemistry between the two. Not an iota of growth in Kenji, despite his introduction to a world completely alien to his own.

Ultimately, the film looks great, and Asano-as-bookworm is interesting to watch. But if you’re looking for a film with energy, intrigue and even an ounce of passion, I’d recommend looking elsewhere.

Or just watch Chungking Express again (THAT never gets old, does it?).

Alexander’s Rating: 6/10

By Ningen

The commercial was the main reason for me to check this Thai flick out, but it had better editing and pacing than the actual film. Tadonobu Asano plays a nerdy suicidal yakuza named Kenji who runs into a working girl of Thai descent named Noi (Played sufficiently, but not impressively by Sinitta Boonyasak.) who’s trying to cut ties with her thuggish beau. The two leads both lose their siblings, due to uncontrolled circumstances, and manage to slowly bond as a result, despite the language barrier. The pair rely on Engrish for the majority of the film in order to communicate, whenever their limited Japanese and Thai fail them. The majority of the film also consists of them eating and watching old-school Thai films, among other things. In other words, nothing happens until the end, when the Thai and Japanese gangsters go after the couple.

Unfortunately, like Tarantino, the director for Last Life wasn’t very good at filming action sequences, so he comes up with a vague and unsatisfying ending to keep the film’s dark atmosphere, just when the situation was looking up. And like the Asian cast in Kill Bill, the talent is wasted in this film. For some reason, the main characters are underdeveloped, while the gangsters are given more dimension, even though Asano and Boonyasak are more appealing than the criminals. And Christopher Doyle’s masterful camerawork is either overused on unimportant scenes and settings. So, in conclusion, I consider Last Life in the Universe an example of wasted potential.

Ningen’s Rating: 7/10

Posted in Japanese, Reviews, Thai | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Jan Dara (2001) Review

"Jan Dara" Korean DVD Cover

"Jan Dara" Korean DVD Cover

Director: Nonzee Nimibutr
Producer: Peter Chan, Jo Jo Yuet-Chun Hui, Duangkamol Limcharoen, Nonzee Nimibutr
Cast: Christy Chung Lai-Tai, Santisuk Promsiri, Eakarat Sarsukh, Wipawee Charoenpura, Pathawaran Timkul
Running Time: 113 min.

By T-Style

Ah, the long awaited film for whoever that wanted to see some celebrity tits. To make it more clear for those who aren’t familiar of this film, three words: Christy Chung’s Tits. Before watching this film, I haven’t read any review for this and had no expectations at all which is not needed if all I intended to see was some tits. For those who are pondering weather this big fuss about Christy tits is just a quick half a second glimpse or not since that’s what I assumed, well it ain’t. Intercourse, intercourse and some more intercourse. Lets just say, it was a good amount of screen time for them titties. I hope that wasn’t a spoiler. A spoiler would be telling someone about a porno that the guy didn’t climax in the climax which would be a funny climax.

Let me set aside all my nasty thoughts of this movie and stop being a pervert. No, I can’t. The whole movie was about sex. This is the American Pie of Thailand. But of course, with a deeper story and better acting. The movie is about a kid name Jan. His father has this never ending hatred toward Jan due to his mothers death right after Jan’s birth which leads to the dads theory that he’s a curse, a burden of the family or something. The majority of the movie shows how Jan deals with his dad and at the same time, enjoying a shitload of sex when the new neighbor comes along played by actress Christy Chung. A coming of age sex drama that you shouldn’t watch with yo mama.

Even without Christy’s appearance straight after the title appears, the movie still hold my interest for quite some time. Maybe cuz it’s rare seeing a 5 year old watching his dad fuck as a credit opener. Maybe I’m just a sick fuck that’s into sick shit. Sadly, even with all the fucking here and there, three-fourths into the movie gets quite pointless but tolerable which works it way into a disappointing ending. Disappointing endings don’t always necessarily mean a bad movie though.

Without Christy Chung, this movie would have no selling point. It would have been just something softcore outta the porn section on the shelf, watching some old dude fuck his endless troops of Thai maids. Watching the old dude’s son fuck Thai maids. Watching old dude son’s friend fuck Thai maids. Oh? What’s this?! Christy Chung getting banged? Yeah, there ya go.

T-Style’s Rating: 6.5/10

Posted in Reviews, Thai | Tagged | Leave a comment

Quiet Family, The (2002) Review

"The Quiet Family" Korean Theatrical Poster

"The Quiet Family" Korean Theatrical Poster

AKA: The Quiet Family: A Ruthless Comedy
Director: Kim Ji Woon (Kim Ji Wun)
Producer: Lee Eun
Cast: Park In-Hwan, Na Moon-Hee, Choi Min-sik, Song Kang-ho, Go Ho-Kyung, Choi Cheol-ho
Running Time: 105 mins.

By Equinox21

Welcome to The Misty Inn Where guests check in, but they don’t check out! And, as the saying goes, the family that kills together stays together. The Quiet Family is a movie about a group of people who make such stupid decisions and are so dysfunctional you just want to scream, but in you just end up laughing at the absurdity of their situation.

The movie starts off with the family taking over the Misty Inn, located near a hiking trail but no paved roads, so it gets very few visitors. The family consists of the father, Kang Taegoo (Park In-hwan), the mother, Mrs. Kang (Na Mun-hee), the uncle (Choi Min-sik [Shiri, Chihwaseon]), the son, Yeongmin (Song Kang-ho [JSA, Foul King]), and the two daughters, Mina (Go Ho-kyeong) and Misoo (Lee Yun-seong). After a few weeks of absolutely no guests visiting the inn, one strange man finally shows up. And of course, during the night, he kills himself. When the family finds him in the morning, they are afraid that if the police investigate they’ll be accused of murdering him, so they bury him in the woods. Following this is more guests checking in and dying in various ways, some are morbid but some are downright hilarious.

This movie is the epitome of a black comedy. Never have I laughed so hard at such blatant disregard for human life. Seeing the family get itself into one sticky situation after another and making one stupid decision after another only makes this a darker movie, because with every bad decision they inevitably end up with more bodies.

The acting all around was very good, but of course Song Kang-ho steals the show, yet again. That guy will instantly make any movie better! Choi Min-sik also shines as the uncle. This was the first movie of his that I’ve seen where he did any sort of comedy, and he pulled it off well. The soundtrack was enjoyable as well, until the song “I Think I Love You” came on over the ending credits.

The Quiet Family is a great black comedy that most people should enjoy. It’s not too gory, but there is a high body count. The movie isn’t perfect, there are a few plot points that don’t get resolved by the end, but it’s still enjoyable nonetheless.

Equinox21’s Rating: 8/10 (subtracted points for unresolved plot points, added points for a funny movie, and Song Kang-ho’s performance)

Posted in Korean, Reviews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment
Pages: Prev 1 2 ... 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 Next