This week in cinemas: ‘The Grandmaster’ (Hong Kong/China)

The Grandmaster

Opening on September 4 in Australian cinemas is Wong Kar Wai’s take on the Ip Man story, The Grandmaster. It’s been a long time coming: the film’s Chinese release happened in January 2013, and it’s taken this long for it to wend its way through the mysterious process of international distribution.

The story is a very loose biopic of real-life martial artist Ip Man, famous for being Bruce Lee’s Wing Chun teacher and more recently the set of Hong … (read more)

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The Suspect (2013)

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The_Suspect_-_Korean_Movie-p2

By now it should come as no surprise that South Korea makes some damn fine films. In fact, if there’s anyone out there consistently living up to the U.S. action blockbuster in terms of content if not money, it’s definitely South Korea. The 2013 offering, The Suspect, directed with a controlled hand by Won Shin-yeon (Seven Days), not only is a thoroughly exciting action movie but it’s also a better-than-decent espionage thriller, a little bit Robert Ludlum, … (read more)

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The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow (2014)

The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow

The last couple of animated films I’ve seen from Korea have been Yeon Sang-ho’s powerful, perhaps even brutal films The King of Pigs and The Fake, both of which use the medium in a very distinctive style to present and criticise aspects of Korean society. This film, The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow is no less confident a feature debut for director Jang Hyung-yun, but it is much lighter fare, focusing as it does on romance, heartache, geostationary orbits … (read more)

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The Wrath of Vajra (2013)

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The Wrath of Vajra

Slick-looking and super-masculine, The Wrath of Vajra feels like a “fight movie” from a much earlier time, supplemented with mostly modern production and cinematography. A time when men were men and fought each other for reasons that were delivered in an early barrage of impenetrable exposition, getting it over with at the start so that we can get on with the kicks and punches.

The setting is the 1940s, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the Japanese are finding that … (read more)

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Fairy Tail the Movie – Phoenix Princess (2012)

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Fairy Tail Phoenix Princess DVD cover

For once I’m watching a series-based movie with absolutely no knowledge of the series, and in this case I can’t help but think I perhaps haven’t found the best entry. Fairy Tail Phoenix Priestess gives the impression that its strengths lie in the direction of the series, where you have time to develop some level of interest in and attachment to the characters. In feature length format, there’s just a few too many of them to really get involved in … (read more)

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The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom (2014)

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The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom

China’s big summer release for 2014 is The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom, based on the popular 1950s tome Baifa Monu Zhan written by Liang Yusheng. Its most recent and most favoured screen version is the 1993 Hong Kong pic The Bride With White Hair, directed by Ronny Yu and starring Brigitte Lin and Leslie Cheung in a beautifully lensed tale of romantic obsession amidst the clan wars during the Ming Dynasty. Like the mystical flower of … (read more)

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Korean Film Festival in Australia 2014

KOFFIA

In one short week’s time the Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) kicks off this year’s season of films in Sydney on August 13, to be followed by screenings in five other cities this year: Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide!

The important dates are:

  • Sydney: Aug 13 – Aug 21
  • Canberra: Aug 13 – Aug 14
  • Brisbane: Aug 27 – Sep 2
  • Perth: Sep 3 – Sep 6
  • Melbourne: Sep 9 – Sep 16
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The Protector 2 (2013)

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The Protector 2

The news arrived last week that celebrated Thai action choreographer Panna Rittikrai has passed away, at the far too young age of 53. He had been the driving force behind Thailand’s new wave of action movies, touched off by his work with his student Tony Jaa in 2003′s Ong Bak. Amidst a cinematic sea of elaborate fantasy wirework, CGI-enhanced stunts and elaborate, unrealistic weaponry, Panna’s films brought a grounding in reality back to modern action cinema: hard-hitting Muay Thai, … (read more)

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