Reviews by Country
Competing in the 2015 Stockholm International Film Festival’s Documentary section, Behemoth is a visually striking documentary about the negative effects that coal mining in rural Mongolia have on the environment, and the lives and health of the coal miners. Although the film strives to connect the dots between the causation of air pollution in big cities in China like Beijing that is in part due to unchecked industrial development, such as coal mining and the running of steelworks, it is … (read more)
I will admit to not having been in a big hurry to see this film, as I had recently watched Lost in Thailand, the second entry in this loosely-connected series. I can only describe that feature as being interminably long and totally unfunny — not good descriptions for a comedy. Also, I wasn’t a fan of mainland star and director Xu Zheng, but I do like Zhao Wei and her recent films have been so varied (Dearest, Hollywood … (read more)
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)
After experiencing the boorish and juvenile jingoism of Wu Jing’s Wolf Warrior, I was looking forward to the new big budget HK movie, Helios… although I was a bit wary of the fact that its release date had been put back three times in the past six months. From directors Sunny Luk and Longman Leung (Cold War), Helios starts well but fades quickly.
The film opens with the theft of a South Korean manufactured nuclear dirty … (read more)
Coming Home is the latest Zhang Yimou-Gong Li screen collaboration, and it reminds me of their great films from the 1990s. In Coming Home Gong Li once again shows that she is one of the world’s most gifted actors.
Director Zhang Yimou’s recent film-making has kept him busy, but mainly in a workmanlike way. International hits such as the Grand Guignol of Curse of the Golden Flower and the arthouse-wuxia pics Hero and House of Flying Daggers have kept his … (read more)
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)
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)
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)