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)
Five years of planning and production, a seven million dollar budget, and three hundred staff shooting over five months travelling ten thousand kilometres across the Chinese continent. It is unfortunate that these figures speak to me (and probably you) more than the names involved with the production of MUSA: The Warrior. This film is the result of an amazing creative process, with the time and effort invested clearly displayed on screen.
This was made on a seven million dollar … (read more)
I have to admit that when I first saw House of Flying Daggers, I felt somewhat ambivalent about it. I had somewhat decent expectations for the film since it was a Zhang Yimou film, the man who brought us Hero, and had a solid enough cast of Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau and Zhang Ziyi. Yet, while the performances were strong and set pieces impressive, the story was lacking and a great deal of the fighting lacked a certain … (read more)
Well it’s been about two years since I first saw Zhang Yimou’s Hero and, at long last, I am getting around to writing a review. Sure this has to do with finally seeing it on the movie screen and it finally receiving a general release but my point is that I am in no way vain-glorious enough to believe that whatever audience this may very well reach is in anyway exclusive to HC and it is likely that that those … (read more)
Astonishingly lush images lend 2046 a surface beauty unparalleled in previous Wong Kar-wai films, giving it a distinctive grainy ‘look’ that is difficult to faithfully describe. Production designer (and film editor) William Chang and cinematographers Chris Doyle, Lai Yiu-fai (Love Will Tear Us Apart, Infernal Affairs) and Kwan Pun Leung (Lavender, director of The Making of Happy Together) create textured, absorbing visuals that envelop the screen and make it shimmer, suffocating 2D space. This … (read more)
It’s almost impossible to write about Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon without using words like “grandeur”, “breathtaking”, and suchlike. The scenery positively demands it, without even starting on the film itself. Sweeping vistas over mountainous regions, wreathed in mist and clothed in vivid green, offer the sort of territory that is probably quite foreign to most of us. Ancient Chinese towns and cities, likewise, do a great job of transporting us into another time and another world. Clearly this film did … (read more)
“…an unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world required that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists should be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English-speaking audiences.”
— The Age of Innocence
I couldn’t help but think of Edith Wharton’s witty summary of 19th century opera society as I watched Memoirs of a Geisha. Hollywood’s oriental-chic movie of the year is based on a novel narrated by a Japanese geisha, but written by … (read more)
Zhang Yimou followed his schoolroom drama Not One Less with this charming rural romance. The plot for this film could be neatly inscribed on a postage stamp – and by that, I mean to praise its elegance and simplicity.
The film begins in the present, and this section is shot in black-and-white. Luo rolls up in an incongruous four-wheel drive to his family property, somewhere in the boondocks, to help his mother make preparations for his father’s funeral. She insists … (read more)