Blog Archives

Island of Greed (1997)

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The producer/director team of Johnny and Michael Mak have been responsible for some of Hong Kong’s best known and roughest crime movies. Titles like The Long Arm of the Law and To Be Number One were often based on actual people and events. The sexploitation classic Sex and Zen was also a Mak release.

In Island of Greed, the Mak brothers turn their cameras towards crime and corruption in Taiwan, with a factional retelling of the 1995 general election … (read more)

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20:30:40 (2004)

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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)

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The Myth (2005)

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Well, we’re a little late with this one, and we’re terribly sorry — a new Jackie Chan film should be an event, exploding on to the screen with jawdropping stunts and inspired action choreography. With ceiling fans, clock towers and pachinko parlours. Instead, my copy of The Myth has sat on my shelf a while, looking sorrowfully at me while I passed it over in favour watching of Shaw Brothers classics.

But no more. I picked it up the other … (read more)

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Three… Extremes (2004)

Three… Extremes is both an obscure and a completely appropriate title for this cross-cultural horror film anthology. Obscure because, as titles go, usually you can kind of work out what you’ll be watching or at least the genre it’s going to be presented in, just from the title. This title, however, doesn’t give away a lot up front. I mean, what’s with the ellipsis? Three dot dot dot Extremes. Yeah okay. Clever way to label it a sequel to Three(read more)

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New Dragon Gate Inn (1992)

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They say you can’t have it all and in Ming Dynasty China the eunuchs certainly didn’t! OK, I must apologise for that lapse in comedic judgement. But the ball is in my court. Oh, please make me stop. Anyway this lack of a certain, um, something may explain why they were mad for power and painted Evil Eyebrows on their noggins to give them that extra mad-as-a-cut-snake villain look. Certainly works here for Donnie Yen’s character!

Yen is part of … (read more)

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Everlasting Regret (2005)

If the idea of one of those ponderous European romantic dramas – only Asian! – appeals to you, then look no further than Stanley Kwan’s disappointing latest effort. A woman leads her life (which is, naturally, only ever defined in terms of her relationships with men) set against the background of this event and that event; and if it sounds like I am failing to pay proper respect to the impact of World War 2 and the Cultural Revolution on … (read more)

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Dumplings (2004)

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Okay, everyone knows that the surprise is that there’s no surprise: the age-defying dumplings are filled with foetuses. Chan shoves that fact in our face right up front, with no coy pretence, so we know this is not a mystery with a horrifying secret to be revealed in the final scene. So, given that the whole plot is given away in the first few minutes, what keeps us watching?

Well, gentle readers, what keeps us watching is that Chan is … (read more)

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Election (2005)

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This is one of those movies that just gets better and better the more you think about it. Johnnie To has actively sought to bring a realistic representation of the triad to the screen, to subvert the glamourised manner with which the Hong Kong cinema (To included) has portrayed its local gang culture, and lay bare its true nature. These kind of revisionist gangster movies have always been the best, and Election reminded me of The Godfather Part 2 and … (read more)

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