The Villainess (2017)

The Villainess goes through a lot in her two hours of screen time. She goes through a lot in her first five minutes. By the opening scene’s end a few dozen men lie dead or maimed at her hand. It’s as though the audience has been dropped into the climactic endpoint of an action-revenge saga — which is precisely what it is — but as one story ends another begins and we’re along for the ride.

The craft of action … (read more)

Comments Off on The Villainess (2017)

Rumble in the Bronx (1995)

Viewing Rumble in the Bronx today is a strange experience. On release it was Jackie’s successful comeback to the American movie market, a Golden Harvest production that finally showcased what Jackie could do, the Hong Kong way. Nowadays it feels very dated, and it’s hard to believe this film did well enough to trigger Jackie’s rise to Hollywood stardom. Ostensibly set in New York City, failing to disguise being filmed in Vancouver, Canada and very Hong Kong in style and … (read more)

Comments Off on Rumble in the Bronx (1995)

Police Story 2 (1988)

(from , dir: )

For a film industry that thrives on sequels, Jackie Chan made relatively few in his Hong Kong heyday. Police Story 2 is the first sequel in his longest running — at least in name — series, currently six films long as of Police Story: Lockdown and one spin-off strong with the Michelle Yeoh-starring Project S / Supercop 2.

It took the Marvel superhero franchise years to address the issue of collateral damage caused by its heroes’ actions, but Police (read more)

Comments Off on Police Story 2 (1988)

Dragons Forever (1987)

(from , dir: )

Given the success of the previous two films co-starring Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao, it’s no surprise the Golden Harvest studio produced another, although it took a few years to come to fruition. In the meantime, Jackie had become a superstar and movie theatres were teeming with modern-day Hong Kong action comedies, so the formula was remixed for what is still — despite the pleading puppy dog eyes of millions of fans — the final big screen collaboration … (read more)

Comments Off on Dragons Forever (1987)

A Better Tomorrow 2018 (2018)

(from , dir: )

Before watching the new Mainland release, A Better Tomorrow 2018, I was wondering why the world of cinema needed such a remake. I was still asking myself the same question after seeing this movie last week.

Film remakes are problematic at the best of times, and Hollywood is an industry leader at producing the best in bad remakes. My recent favourite titles in this sub-genre are Tony Scott’s Taking of Pelham 1,2,3, and Simon West’s The Mechanic. … (read more)

Comments Off on A Better Tomorrow 2018 (2018)

Dragon Lord (1982)

(from , dir: )

After the success of The Young Master, with its action stretching traditional kung fu choreography in unexpected directions, Jackie Chan pushed boundaries further in his follow-up film. Originally a sequel titled Young Master in Love, the experimental action maintains a thematic through-line with Jackie’s previous work, even as the narrative continuity is cast aside. After a long and difficult gestation of almost a year — forever by Hong Kong standards at the time — Dragon Lord was born.… (read more)

Comments Off on Dragon Lord (1982)

Our Time Will Come (2017)

Most film-makers have filmographies which consist of peaks and troughs, usually ranging from the very good to the forgettable. But not Cantonese director Ann Hui On-Wah, who over a thirty-plus year career has regularly made movies of the highest standard, both commercially and artistically. Her last film The Golden Era was a rare misstep in this gilded career. The good news is her latest release, Our Time Will Come is a reassuring return to form.

Our Time Will Come is … (read more)

Comments Off on Our Time Will Come (2017)

Downrange (2017)

(from /, dir: )

Like so many Asian directorial superstars before him (mostly in genre films), Kitamura Ryuhei has kind of gone Hollywood — or at he’s least tried to. In his defence, he’s doing better than most. Not quite as well as Oscar-winner Ang Lee, but not yet reduced to hired gun on B-grade schlock à la Ringo Lam (sad trombone sound). Still best known for Versus and Godzilla: Final Wars, Kitamura’s third English-language film (after Midnight Meat Train and No One (read more)

Comments Off on Downrange (2017)