Blog Archives

The Great Wall (2016)

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To answer the question right off the top that everyone’s probably wondering about — no. Matt Damon does not save China in The Great Wall. Oh, he has a great white hand in slaying the monster, but he doesn’t strike the lethal blow. That’s splitting hairs, sure, but hey. Baby steps.

If you haven’t already heard by now, The Great Wall is Hollywood studio Legendary East and state-owned China Film Group’s US$150 million fantasy epic that is supposed to … (read more)

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Firestorm (2013)

The night I saw Firestorm, I was surprised that there were no posters or advertising material on display in the theatre for this new big-budget Hong Kong film. And I was even more surprised to see at the main entrance of the Century City multiplex an over-sized poster for Feng Xiaogang’s new movie Personal Tailor – which has yet to be released! Two hours later, I had a much better understanding of why there was a lack of advertising for … (read more)

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Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010)

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Way back in my misspent youth (spent watching telly, mostly), there was one of those midday movies on the box that captured my imagination. Titled Judge Dee and the Monastery Murders, the film was, to my young mind, cheeky, fun, spooky, and a tantalising glimpse into a world I had never thought of: the China of over a thousand years ago.

Years later I stumbled across Barry Hughart’s terrific and delightful trilogy of novels of a China ‘that never … (read more)

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Shaolin (2011)

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Our first Chinese film release in Australian cinemas this year is Benny Chan’s Shaolin, a big-budget action film packed full of stars and showcasing Shaolin kungfu and philosophy with an official seal of approval from the Shaolin Temple itself.

Straight off the back of his starring role in Detective Dee, Andy Lau stars as warlord Hao Jie, a calculating general who delights in ravaging across the countryside, capturing cities and amassing a serious retirement nest-egg. His most recent … (read more)

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Days of Being Wild (1990)

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Days of Being Wild is one of the early films by renowned Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai. It has all the trademarks of Wong’s later works, such as Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love. But despite being less well-known in the West, Days of Being Wild is certainly no less impressive than any other film by Wong. It is a beautiful movie that features unforgettable characters played by some of Hong Kong’s best actors and actresses working … (read more)

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Brothers (2007)

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The past twelve months have seen the release of three excellent crime films from Cantonese film-makers: Johnnie To’s Leone flavoured, Macau-based flick Exiled; Derek Yee’s drug trade expose Protege; and Brothers, which opened this week at Melbourne’s Chinatown cinema. Directed by Derek Chiu who is more known for his work with Peter Chan’s UFO company, helming quality dramas such as Ah Fai The Dumb. With Brothers, Chiu has created a very canny crime movie: a … (read more)

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Battle of Wits (2006)

About half way through Battle of Wits I put the movie on pause, tottered over to the kitchen, put on the kettle and idly set my thoughts to punning on the title. (For the record, I came up with Rattle of Zits, Cattle of Nits, and Tattle of Gits. Nervously Noel Coward brilliance, I do not think …) Cup of tea in hand, I sat outside on the balcony and read for a while.

You get the gist, dear reader: … (read more)

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Island of Greed (1997)

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The producer/director team of Johnny and Michael Mak have been responsible for some of Hong Kong’s best known and roughest crime movies. Titles like The Long Arm of the Law and To Be Number One were often based on actual people and events. The sexploitation classic Sex and Zen was also a Mak release.

In Island of Greed, the Mak brothers turn their cameras towards crime and corruption in Taiwan, with a factional retelling of the 1995 general election … (read more)

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