Blog Archives

Gorgeous (1999)

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The whimsical opening music of Gorgeous accompanies the narration of a romantic legend, while the camera pans across a dazzling night sky. This is promptly followed by a CGI fish burp gag. It’s not a movie to be taken seriously, but still ultimately wants to be a fairytale romance at heart. I can’t believe I watched this with my brothers back in the day without squirming.

Innocent, starry-eyed, Taiwanese girl Bu (Shu Qi) strikes out for the big city with … (read more)

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The Grandmaster (2013)

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A solitary man in a white fedora weaves his way among dozens of nameless fighters as a silver rain cascades down around them. The slick street is illuminated by a single lamp, which casts off an ethereal glow. A blur of fists erupts and the bodies start to fall — elegantly in slow motion. We hear a comment that summarises the martial arts in two words: horizontal and vertical. Whoever remains standing, wins. The solitary man walks into the rain … (read more)

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Red Cliff (2009)

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When Cantonese director John Woo left Hong Kong for Hollywood in the mid-1990s, many people expected him to become one of the giants of world cinema. His American movies turned out to be, at best, problematic and his talent for combining strong human drama and rip-roaring action sequences was never fully realised. His most recent Hollywood film was Paycheck, I doubt in the history of American movies has a more apt title ever been given.

Two years ago, Woo … (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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Confession of Pain (2006)

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The word ‘confession’ carries a great deal of weight in Western culture; in religion, it goes hand in hand with the concept of sin; in the secular world, it’s generally accompanied by legal action. It comes in as many shapes and forms as there are people to make it – from Okay, yeah I ate the last piece of cake to I’m having an affair with your boss and worse. It can ruin lives and relationships, damage trust, hurt others … (read more)

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Ashes of Time (1994)

As I see it, there have only been two rolled gold masterpieces of the Cantonese cinema since the late 1980s: John Woo’s bloodstained Vietnam odyssey Bullet in the Head and Wong Ka-Wai’s Ashes of Time. Both were produced within three years of each other and are poles apart in content and style, but they remain shining examples of a film industry at its peak.

Ashes of Time is based on a popular Chinese martial arts novel The Eagle Shooting (read more)

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My Lucky Star (2003)

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Ah, another Romantic Comedy. If I was the paranoid sort, I’d suspect Mark Gor was sending me to these things with the intention of brightening my outlook and making me a happier person. That may very well work for the weaker amongst us but worry not faithful reader, be comforted that I am much too bitter and cynical to fall for such a weak and obvious ploy.


Yes. Well.

No, instead that cynicism comes in to recognise My Lucky (read more)

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Infernal Affairs III (2003)

My expectations for Infernal Affairs 3 were not high. Infernal Affairs 2 had proved to be little more than a lazy attempt to ‘cash in’ on the (deserved) success of the first film by inexplicably substituting the original’s too-cool style for some bland direction and stupid story choices, and there seemed little reason to think IA 3 would be any different.

Well, at least this time Andrew Lau and Alan Mak have made something that can be described as a … (read more)

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