Blog Archives

Little Big Soldier (2010)

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For a moment, around the time of The Forbidden Kingdom, it looked like Jackie Chan was going to start “acting his age”. This prospect had the satisfying feeling of things coming full circle, with the potential for Jackie to deliver some entertaining mentor roles like those Simon Yuen did for him decades ago in Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master. Things have not gone according to plan.

Given the downward trend of Jackie’s career of late, … (read more)

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A Better Tomorrow 2018 (2018)

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Before watching the new Mainland release, A Better Tomorrow 2018, I was wondering why the world of cinema needed such a remake. I was still asking myself the same question after seeing this movie last week.

Film remakes are problematic at the best of times, and Hollywood is an industry leader at producing the best in bad remakes. My recent favourite titles in this sub-genre are Tony Scott’s Taking of Pelham 1,2,3, and Simon West’s The Mechanic. … (read more)

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I Am Not Madame Bovary (2016)

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As I see it, the new Chinese film, I Am Not Madame Bovary, from director Feng Xiaogang is his best film to date, and easily the best new release I saw in 2016. There’s not a moment in this movie which I didn’t fully enjoy, and to watch Sino actress Fan Bingbing in, possibly, the role of her career — well, that was a pure delight.

This Mandarin language film was ignored by Australia’s mainstream media on its theatrical … (read more)

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The Great Wall (2016)

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To answer the question right off the top that everyone’s probably wondering about — no. Matt Damon does not save China in The Great Wall. Oh, he has a great white hand in slaying the monster, but he doesn’t strike the lethal blow. That’s splitting hairs, sure, but hey. Baby steps.

If you haven’t already heard by now, The Great Wall is Hollywood studio Legendary East and state-owned China Film Group’s US$150 million fantasy epic that is supposed to … (read more)

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Dearest (2014)

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I keep on coming back to one particular word when describing the 2014 mainland drama Dearest — and that word is unsettling. There’s also a subversive thread running through this movie which subtly but resolutely questions the ability of China’s government to comprehend and to act on very complicated legal and emotional issues. Dearest is about child-stealing and is based on a case which caught the public’s attention in 2009.

The film’s director, Peter Chan, is one of a small … (read more)

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The Monkey King 2 (2016)

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Sun Wukong returns to the big screen in The Monkey King 2, the follow-up film to director Cheang Pou-soi’s 2014 Monkey King feature film. Right on time for Chinese New Year in the year of the monkey, it’s exactly what you want in a New Year film: big, broad, comfortably familiar and filled with with ample amounts of comedy and spectacle.

(If you’re not up on the Monkey King story — Aussies of a certain age should think Monkey (read more)

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Behemoth (2015)

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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)

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Lost in Hong Kong (2015)

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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)

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