Blog Archives

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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Full Contact (1992)

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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)

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Nightfall (2012)

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Wong Yuen Yeung (Nick Cheung) gets a get-outta-jail card after doing 20 years for the rape and murder of a teenage girl called Yi Wan. He comes across Tsui Suet (Janice Man), a classical pianist who looks the spit of Yi Wan, and, like wow, crazy, she has the same father, Tsui Hon Lam (Michael Wong). So naturally Yeung follows her to her luxury home in the hills she shares with her parents and goes all creepily stalker, spying on … (read more)

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The Thieves (2012)

One of the most enjoyable times I spent in the cinema last year was watching the big-budget, star-studded, South Korean caper flick, The Thieves — where the energy, humour and all-round film-making smarts were a joy to experience.

Sold nearly everywhere as an Asian version of Hollywood’s Oceans franchise – well, that’s called marketing. As I saw it, The Thieves was a surprisingly effective counterpoint to the lethargic, middle-aged preening of director Soderbergh and his precious stars.

Gianna Jun in … (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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Bodyguards and Assassins (2009)

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I knew very little about Bodyguards and Assassins going into the theatre. I had heard a basic plot outline that could be described as ‘16 Blocks with a team of kung-fu fighters instead of Bruce Willis’. Having now seen the film I think that sentence does a disservice to the film.

B&A is set in 1906, British ruled, Hong Kong. Revolution is in the air with student protests and rebel groups finding their footing. With police and other forces … (read more)

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Storm Warriors (2009)

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It’s been a decade since Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng starred as Cloud and Wind respectively for Andrew Lau’s adaptation of Ma Wing-shing’s popular The Storm Riders (1998). Released on the cusp of the Hong Kong industry’s virtual collapse, it was a hit that set the digital standard for filmmaking in the SAR for years to come. It was also one of the last big, all-star epics from that period to find a cult following overseas.

So what’s changed, what’s … (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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