Blog Archives

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010)

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Way back in my misspent youth (spent watching telly, mostly), there was one of those midday movies on the box that captured my imagination. Titled Judge Dee and the Monastery Murders, the film was, to my young mind, cheeky, fun, spooky, and a tantalising glimpse into a world I had never thought of: the China of over a thousand years ago.

Years later I stumbled across Barry Hughart’s terrific and delightful trilogy of novels of a China ‘that never … (read more)

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Once Upon a Time in China 2 (1992)

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In light of the Hong Kong box office success of Once Upon a Time in China (which was the 8th highest earner in 1991, making HK$29,672,278.00 over its 56 day run), it was only a matter of course before at least one sequel would get spawned. This being a Film Workshop baby, one could also justly expect the ante to be upped in the second work of what turned out to be a six movie series. The appointment of Yuen … (read more)

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New Dragon Gate Inn (1992)

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They say you can’t have it all and in Ming Dynasty China the eunuchs certainly didn’t! OK, I must apologise for that lapse in comedic judgement. But the ball is in my court. Oh, please make me stop. Anyway this lack of a certain, um, something may explain why they were mad for power and painted Evil Eyebrows on their noggins to give them that extra mad-as-a-cut-snake villain look. Certainly works here for Donnie Yen’s character!

Yen is part of … (read more)

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Seven Swords (2005)

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Seven Swords is another enormous film from Hong Kong’s prolific master producer/director Tsui Hark, whose Once Upon a Time in China and Chinese Ghost Story series are regarded as classics of HK film. This film brings together a lot of talent: Tsui Hark as director, Keung Kwok Man as director of photography, Japanese composer Kenji Kawai (best known for Ghost in the Shell) and a trio of big names in action choreography — veteran martial arts director Lau Kar … (read more)

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The Blade (1995)

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Produced and released in 1995, The Blade is seen by many HK buffs and cineastes as Tsui Hark’s best film and, for a martial arts movie, is the antithesis of his earlier Once Upon a Time in China series. You won’t find do-gooding Wong Fei-Hongs or righteous no-shadow kicks — the realm of The Blade is a very unheroic one. The Blade is down and dirty, muddy and bloody, ultra-realistic action film-making. Initially, sold as a remake of Chang Cheh’s … (read more)

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Twin Dragons (1992)

Fun action romp featuring a cameo from virtually everyone in the HK film industry. This was made in support of a film industry move to get corruption out of the industry. Don’t know how well it worked, but it’s typical Jackie action, and you’ll have fun spotting famous faces.… (read more)

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Once Upon a Time in China (1991)

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There is no being objective in this review. Once Upon a Time in China was the first time I had ever come across Jet Li and well, here I am today. There is no understatement that without first catching this on SBS one night, I would not have learned the need to flip and kick like gravity was for lesser people. I would not see the nobility in virtue and righteousness. I would not see the heroic of cinema and … (read more)

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Time & Tide (2000)

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Tsui Hark is back, back, back! I, for one, am very happy that he’s returned to his old stomping ground after a sojourn in the US.

Time and Tide is a big departure from anything he has ever done but that’s not the real surprise – his films have always been incredibly varied. His resume reads like the lifetime work of several directors put together and the impressive fact is many of his films are considered modern HK classics; Peking (read more)

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