Blog Archives

Call of Heroes (2016)

Feel the call of the hero. At least try — the movie really wants you to. Alas, the basic setup of Call of Heroes is a tense, action-packed opportunity gone begging. It’s not bad, just frustratingly less than it could have been.

We enter the story at ground level with teacher Miss Bai (Jiang Shu Ying), as she chaperones a group of children from the decimated Stone City to the town of Pucheng. Stopping at an inn, they witness a … (read more)

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Paradox (2017)

What a curious sort-of-series this is. Way back in 2005 SPL was heralded as a return to hard-hitting Hong Kong urban action, a description that has stood the test of time. After a ten year hiatus, SPL II: A Time for Consequences remixed the recipe with some returning cast members as different characters in a completely new story, with the notable fusion of Thai star Tony Jaa into a Hong Kong production with great results. Now we have Paradox — … (read more)

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SPL II: A Time for Consequences (2015)

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Ten years ago in 2005, Hong Kong action film SPL arrived, suggesting a triumphant return to the sort of film that Hong Kong has always done better than pretty much any industry on the planet; beautifully cheoreographed and edited hard-action cinema, the sort that’s only possible when you have a cast of martial artists and an experienced crew that knows how to shoot them to maximum effect.

In the intro to my write up back then, I called it:

A … (read more)

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An Inspector Calls (2015)

One of this year’s biggest Chinese New Year film releases has belatedly arrived in Melbourne’s Chinatown Cinema for a short season. Well, better late than never I suppose. A successful Chinese New Year movie will nearly always have the following ingredients: it must be family oriented, have big name stars, countless celebrity cameos and story-lines guaranteed not to tax the intellect.

An Inspector Calls is a strange choice for a Hong Kong movie, let alone a major Chinese New Year … (read more)

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Overheard 3 (2014)

By way of full disclosure: When Overheard 3 arrived in Australian cinemas and distributor Magnum Films were kind enough to send me a ticket for review, I was worried. I hadn’t seen the first two films, and this is generally a recipe for incomprehensibility as far as the third is concerned. I saw the first installment on iTunes as prep, and then discovered that I needn’t have worried: writer/director duo Alan Mak and Felix Chong have crafted a series of … (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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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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Election 2 (2006)

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With this sequel to the excellent 2005 film Election, Hong Kong director Johnnie To adds yet another great film to his long and impressive list of work. Few other directors have managed to make so many movies and maintain the same high standards in one film after another. Election 2 sees the return of all the characters (at least those who managed to survive) from Election, and guess what; it’s time for another triad election.

It’s been two … (read more)

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