The history between this film’s two main actors goes back a fair way. Star Tiger Chen met Keanu Reeves while doing stunt work on The Matrix films and the two remain buddies, with Tiger briefly showing up in John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum to get a cringeworthy knife in the eyeball. The script for Man of Tai Chi apparently kicked around for years until eventually being made and we should be glad it did. 2013 was the beginning of … (read more)
Like so many Asian directorial superstars before him (mostly in genre films), Kitamura Ryuhei has kind of gone Hollywood — or at he’s least tried to. In his defence, he’s doing better than most. Not quite as well as Oscar-winner Ang Lee, but not yet reduced to hired gun on B-grade schlock à la Ringo Lam (sad trombone sound). Still best known for Versus and Godzilla: Final Wars, Kitamura’s third English-language film (after Midnight Meat Train and No One … (read more)
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)
Leave it to Japanese auteur Iwai Shunji to find a way around the ongoing moony-eyed romantic vampire craze as it’s defined by Twilight. Simply titled Vampire, the vampirism of Iwai’s English-language debut exists in its own world as it were, one that’s rooted in reality more than the fantasy tropes of stakes through the heart, aversion to garlic and turning into the undead if bitten — and of course sparkling! Vampire hinges on a 28-year-old high school biology … (read more)
Sometimes the overwhelming success of a particular genre film can have an unfortunate effect on the movies following it. I’m talking here about Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, which has become so popular and awarded since its release in 2000 that it’s now the gold standard for martial arts films. It has allowed lazy film publicists, uninformed film reviewers and the general public to label a new kung fu / martial arts film as simply being not as good, or … (read more)
Vietnamese-French director Tran Ahn Hung’s Cyclo and The Scent of Green Papaya were exercises in style over substance. Atmospheric almost to a fault, both made you forget that great films possess a strong story to support their images. Unsurprisingly his latest, I Come With the Rain, is more of the same. Tran loads up the garden-variety revenge/redemption tale with enough religious imagery to make the Pope proud, mixing it with an audience-baiting (some would say calculated) international cast and … (read more)
The Forbidden Kingdom attracted huge attention from the moment it was rumoured that the world’s two biggest names in martial arts cinema would be working together. The J & J Project, they whispered. Yuen Wo Ping’s choreographing, they typed. There were naysayers, too: It’s American, from Miramax, and from the director of… Stuart Little, of all things. The trailers looked OK, though, with a strong emphasis on the action sequences, and it had Jet Li in … (read more)