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Brotherhood of Blades (2014)

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Brotherhood of Blades

Brotherhood of Blades is one of the best Chinese martial-arts films to have graced our cinema screens for quite some time. The movie boasts a volatile mix of quasi 17th century Chinese history, political paranoia and deadly palace conspiracies. With an individual emphasis on ornate film sets, power-crazed eunuchs, sadistic secret police and a trio of Ming Dynasty elite killers, there’s much here reminiscent of the best of the Shaw Brothers’ swordplay films.

The movie’s main focus is on the … (read more)

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Kung Fu Jungle (2014)

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Kung Fu Jungle

Donnie Yen returns to the big screen in Kung Fu Jungle, in the well-worn guise of a skilled martial artist brought low, doggedly chasing down a brilliant but broken adversary. Not that he’s been away for long; arguably the last big action star standing from Hong Kong’s golden years, he’s been working harder than ever, turning in a couple of huge films every year since the early 2000s, often as action choreographer as well.

In this film, director Teddy … (read more)

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The Wrath of Vajra (2013)

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The Wrath of Vajra

Slick-looking and super-masculine, The Wrath of Vajra feels like a “fight movie” from a much earlier time, supplemented with mostly modern production and cinematography. A time when men were men and fought each other for reasons that were delivered in an early barrage of impenetrable exposition, getting it over with at the start so that we can get on with the kicks and punches.

The setting is the 1940s, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the Japanese are finding that … (read more)

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The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom (2014)

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The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom

China’s big summer release for 2014 is The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom, based on the popular 1950s tome Baifa Monu Zhan written by Liang Yusheng. Its most recent and most favoured screen version is the 1993 Hong Kong pic The Bride With White Hair, directed by Ronny Yu and starring Brigitte Lin and Leslie Cheung in a beautifully lensed tale of romantic obsession amidst the clan wars during the Ming Dynasty. Like the mystical flower of … (read more)

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Overheard 3 (2014)

Overheard 3

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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Dancing in the Room (2013)

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Dancing in the Room

This year’s Sydney Film Festival has a track devoted to new films from China across a wide swathe of budgets, genres and styles, and Chinese director Peng Lei’s oddball portrait of the educated urban twenty-something, Dancing in the Room, just might be the cutest of them. It certainly looks to be the only one to include anything quite this adorable:

Dancing in the Room

Huabian (played by Jiang Yuchen) is a young woman who moves to Beijing after completing … (read more)

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From Vegas to Macau (2014)

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From Vegas to Macau

Sequels, Prequels, Send-ups and Spin-offs: Director Wong Jing finds Chow Yun Fat a new tuxedo amongst his usual box of tricks.

The recent release of From Vegas to Macau harks back to Hong Kong’s gambling fad of the early 1990s. Wong Jing, director of the original God of Gamblers series, offers up a super-silly pastiche of recycled gags that should appeal to fans of classic Hong Kong gambling films. Unfortunately, this time Chow Yun Fat does not play suave gamesman … (read more)

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The Monkey King (2014)

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The Monkey King

Well, this one’s been a long time coming! News that Soi Cheang was to direct a giant, IMAX 3D adaptation of part of the classical novel Journey To The West with a major action star in the lead hit the Web in early 2010, and there’s apparently been a sales stand with a poster at HK Filmart every year since then.

Now, all is revealed! After a couple of years of delays, The Monkey King is here in cinemas in … (read more)

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