Reviews by Country
It might be safe to say that the late 80’s and the early 90’s was possibly the high point for Hong Kong crime cinema. Sure, there’s been a lot of brilliant flicks since then (Johnny To probably responsible for more than his fair share) but the hey day of John Woo and Ringo Lam just somehow stands out as some of the freshest, most electrifying cinema around. True, the fairly standard criminal betrayed revenge story Full Contact wasn’t the most … (read more)
A mysterious man tells a group of scholars at a remote historical site the story of two generals, once friends and allies, who wrestled for control of the throne in a long and bloody game of chess — literally and figuratively — during the last days of the Qin Dynasty.
Car movies are hot right now. We’ve had more Fast and the Furious films than really ought to exist (believe it or not, the sixth is in production) and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive won over last year’s Cannes audiences and critics; there’s an undeniable appeal to these stories, whether they’re about gangs of thrill-seeking speedsters or the archetypal getaway driver on a job gone wrong.
The latter in particular is a great fit for the Milkyway Image house style, actually. … (read more)
Have you noticed how the last few years have seen South Korean cinema fall under the influence of the great Hong Kong crime thrillers of the 1980s and early-’90s? Whether it’s in a stylistic and/or thematic shout-out or a straight-up remake of a classic — like Son Hae-sung’s A Better Tomorrow or the upcoming 3D remake of The Killer (nooooooo!) starring Jung Woo-sung — the Korean industry owes a lot to the trail blazed by John Woo, Ringo Lam and … (read more)
The role of Chen Zhen is a storied one in Hong Kong film. First played by Bruce Lee in (arguably his best film) Fist of Fury, the fictional vengeful student of real-life martial artist Huo Yuan Jia has been played by Jet Li (in Fist of Legend, also a classic), and in television adaptations by Donnie Yen, Bruce Leung and Jordan Chan. Fist of Fury’s original director Lo Wei also went on to make a sequel, 1976’s … (read more)
I didn’t think I would see a better Cantonese film this year than Soi Cheang’s Accident – then along came Johnnie To’s Vengeance, a remarkable crime drama which ultimately transcends the genre.
A Hong Kong / France co-production, Vengeance is set mainly in Macau and stars French actor/singer Johnny Hallyday. Initially, Alain Delon was to be the lead but he pulled out and was replaced by Hallyday.
The opening twenty minutes are superb and announce to the audience that … (read more)
After following reckless and ruthless triad bosses across Hong Kong and China in Election and its sequel, Johnnie To returns to the perspective of the heroic underling as well as to the celebrated story dimension of 1999’s The Mission, one of the major highlights of his prolific career.
Exiled is neither a direct sequel or prequel to The Mission, but rather an interplay of similarities and divergences from the earlier film’s plot, themes, characters and stylistic approach. … (read more)
Thankfully, 20:30:40 is not – as some marketing material has suggested to the contrary – a Sex in the City replicate with a Taipei backdrop. Unless you are the type of person that gets really upset when films about women are not also films that deconstruct feminism, try to ignore this kneejerk promotional tactic. I certainly wouldn’t climb over mountains to chase down a movie so advertised, but I might be inclined to set up a base camp, fire up … (read more)