Blog Archives

Lost in Hong Kong (2015)

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I will admit to not having been in a big hurry to see this film, as I had recently watched Lost in Thailand, the second entry in this loosely-connected series. I can only describe that feature as being interminably long and totally unfunny — not good descriptions for a comedy. Also, I wasn’t a fan of mainland star and director Xu Zheng, but I do like Zhao Wei and her recent films have been so varied (Dearest, Hollywood (read more)

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Drug War (2012)

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In just under twelve months, I’ve had the good fortune to have watched three superb new release Asian crime movies. In my opinion, they mark a turning point in their respective film cultures. The films are: from India, Gangs of Wasseypur, a very un-Bollywood-like crime saga which chronicles a century long blood feud; the Chinese feature Lethal Hostage from wannabe auteur Cheng Er; and Johnnie To’s first mainland produced and financed cop drama, Drug War. More on the … (read more)

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The Sorcerer and the White Snake (2011)

Remaking Hong Kong cinema’s greatest hits seems to have been all the rage lately. Last year we had Wilson Yip’s swing at remaking A Chinese Ghost Story and Tsui Hark’s second go at King Hu’s classic Dragon Inn. To be fair, Tsui’s Flying Swords of Dragon Gate ended up as more a sequel to New Dragon Gate Inn than a remake, and it was considerably more fun than I was expecting — I’ll write it up when I get … (read more)

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Vengeance (2009)

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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)

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Accident (2009)

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Milkyway Image Films latest Hong Kong release is the classiest and most intelligent film to come from Hong Kong so far this year. Lead actor Louis Koo (Overheard) gives a brilliant performance in Accident and is quickly becoming one of the best screen actors in Asia.

In his debut feature for Milkyway Films, director Soi Cheang (Dog Bite Dog) has tempered his usually dark, violent cinema visions and created a wholly satisfying cerebral crime drama, very … (read more)

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The Shinjuku Incident (2009)

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Jackie Chan has been making forays into more dramatic acting in the last few years — there were early attempts like Crime Story and Thunderbolt, and in the last few years we’ve had New Police Story and The Myth as well. But these have still been identifiably Jackie Chan movies — grueling stunts, inventive high-impact fight choreography, Jackie front-and-centre as the hero.

I didn’t think it very likely that we’d get one of those from director Derek Yee, though. … (read more)

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Sparrow (2008)

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Johnnie To’s films have been favourites here at Heroic Cinema for years: Alison showed me The Mission years ago and got me hooked on modern Hong Kong film. Hong Kong and its surroundings transform through To’s pictures into somewhere preternaturally cool: all rain-slicked night metropolis, populated by street-crawling thugs (often played by Lam Suet) and the occasional ambiguously dangerous Anthony Wong. And he makes it look easy, too — most of Milkyway Studios’ pictures are beautifully shot, from … (read more)

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Exiled (2006)

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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)

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