Heroic Cinema http://www.heroic-cinema.com The guide to Asian movies in Australia Mon, 22 Apr 2019 07:46:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 18894642 Rise of the Legend (2014) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/rise-of-the-legend-2014/ Mon, 22 Apr 2019 07:46:51 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=14564 A title like this one could be seen as either portentous or incredibly bland and the one-sentence synopsis on the back of the box doesn’t give much away. The major point of interest in Rise of the Legend sounds like it’s Sammo Hung playing the big bad, but it turns out this is actually a gritty origin story for the legendary Wong Fei-hung.

At the time of this film’s release another notable folk hero, Wing Chun master Ip Man, … (read more)

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Lady Detective Shadow (2018) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/lady-detective-shadow-2018/ Wed, 06 Mar 2019 11:42:18 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=14188 I love wuxia movies — unlike fantasy settings in other cinemas, Hollywood for example, it has been a prominent mainstay of Chinese cinema for decades. For the uninitiated, think back to Crouching Tiger or 90s Hong Kong: period Chinese setting, murky political intrigues, heroic figures battling for a higher cause… or perhaps just for supremacy. There’s something about these worlds that draws you in, whether it’s via the lyricism and allegory of King Hu’s films, or the labyrinthine intrigue and … (read more)

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Call of Heroes (2016) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/call-of-heroes-2016/ Sun, 17 Feb 2019 11:35:14 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=14113 Feel the call of the hero. At least try — the movie really wants you to. Alas, the basic setup of Call of Heroes is a tense, action-packed opportunity gone begging. It’s not bad, just frustratingly less than it could have been.

We enter the story at ground level with teacher Miss Bai (Jiang Shu Ying), as she chaperones a group of children from the decimated Stone City to the town of Pucheng. Stopping at an inn, they witness a … (read more)

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Jailbreak (2017) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/jailbreak-2017/ Sun, 20 Jan 2019 06:30:24 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13994 With the decline of Hong Kong as an action film epicentre, it’s been exciting to watch other film industries step up to fill the vacuum. Marketing for Jailbreak positions it as Cambodia’s follow up to films like Thailand’s Ong Bak and Indonesia’s The Raid — a comparison begging to be made. While not quite in the same league, Jailbreak nevertheless goes all out to provide an entertainment-stuffed escapade in its own particular style.

The premise for this grind through the … (read more)

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The Scorpion King (1992) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/the-scorpion-king-1992/ Sun, 16 Dec 2018 19:17:23 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13891 No, not that Scorpion King. Erase the horrifying CGI amalgam of The Rock’s head on a scorpion’s body and the still-running franchise that it became from mind. This Scorpion King is way more interesting to watch. First glimpsed by a school kid through a window at night, he’s ever-ready to spring to the defence of his disabled father with his superlative martial skills and distinctive scorpion-style moves. Hero material. Except his father is a lecherous slave trader and the … (read more)

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Blood of Wolves (2018) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/blood-of-wolves-2018/ Fri, 30 Nov 2018 22:31:23 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13870 You only have to do a little digging to come to the understanding that the origins and history of the yakuza aren’t necessarily written in stone. Sources conflict about how they began – as ronin or samurai family retainers, or special police formed to fight organised crime – but most sources can agree that regardless of where they started, their main characteristics involved crime, violence, and their own specific set of codes and rules.

Blood of Wolves maintains this essence … (read more)

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Shoplifters (2018) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/shoplifters-2018/ Mon, 19 Nov 2018 09:41:47 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13849 Imagine, if you will, a movie where nothing much happens. Now, imagine being captivated by it. Now imagine going away feeling like you just witnessed some of the best, most wonderful cinema you’ve seen in a while. A long while. That feeling? That’s the Kore-eda effect.

Okay, fine, it’s not like Hirokazu Kore-eda is the only director who has the deftness and sensitivity to take the mundane and make it watchable without going over the edge into sentimentality and melodrama, … (read more)

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The Third Murder (2017) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/the-third-murder-2017/ Mon, 19 Nov 2018 09:41:12 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13858 You can call Hirokazu Kore-eda a lot of things: pretentious, navel-gazing, somnolent, repetitive, poetical and astute is just a handful. “Genre master” is most definitely not among them. Regardless of this minor hurdle, Kore-eda dips his toes into Lumet territory for his latest, The Third Murder. Even if you can conjure a marriage between Kore-eda’s signature deliberate, piercing, languid aesthetic and the conventional beats demanded of a murder mystery you wouldn’t be able to entirely capture the essence of … (read more)

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The Crimes That Bind (2018) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/the-crimes-that-bind/ Sun, 04 Nov 2018 06:29:30 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13829 (Ed: some might consider the following review to have some small spoilers. If you’re worried about that, go and catch it at the Japanese Film Festival and then come back and read our review!)

The mundane routine of actual police work has never been something that takes front and centre stage on our screens. From the days of the gumshoe detective, to the Lethal Weapons, to Miami Vice and NYPDCSINCIS, being a detective and hunting killers is exciting, dangerous, … (read more)

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Paradox (2017) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/paradox-2017/ Thu, 13 Sep 2018 09:08:24 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13775 What a curious sort-of-series this is. Way back in 2005 SPL was heralded as a return to hard-hitting Hong Kong urban action, a description that has stood the test of time. After a ten year hiatus, SPL II: A Time for Consequences remixed the recipe with some returning cast members as different characters in a completely new story, with the notable fusion of Thai star Tony Jaa into a Hong Kong production with great results. Now we have Paradox — … (read more)

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Believer (2018) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/believer-2018/ Mon, 10 Sep 2018 12:46:42 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13776 I have said previously that film remakes are often problematic. When I first heard that Johnnie To’s crime drama Drug War (2012) was to be remade as a South Korean production, I’ll admit it wasn’t joyous news (at least it stopped Hollywood from turning it into a Bourne movie). But a good trailer and a strong cast gave me some hope. The latter wasn’t misplaced and Believer is actually an excellent crime movie. Director Lee Hae-yeong has done a great … (read more)

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Your Name (2016) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/your-name-2016/ Mon, 16 Jul 2018 11:03:00 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13733 Stunning skyscapes. The beauty in everyday things and moments. Close ups of mobile phones. The contrast between light and shade. Separation, longing, regret. Yep, it’s a Makoto Shinkai movie.

Your Name concerns the growing relationship between high schoolers Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi), a girl from a lakeside township and Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki), a boy from bustling Tokyo. The catch is, they have never met. Each has what they first believe is a dream, walking a mile in the other’s shoes — … (read more)

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Little Big Soldier (2010) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/little-big-soldier-2010/ Fri, 15 Jun 2018 23:00:33 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13708 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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Starburst: Icons of Chinese Cinema (Art Gallery of NSW) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/2018/05/starburst-icons-of-chinese-cinema-art-gallery-of-nsw/ Mon, 28 May 2018 01:35:41 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?p=13693 The Art Gallery of NSW has just announced a series of ten (free!) screenings here in Sydney focusing on the careers of four of Chinese cinema’s leading actresses, from the 1930s to today: Ruan Lingyu, Anna May Wong, Maggie Cheung and Zhao Tao. Films screen every week from 20 June to 26 August.

From their blurb on the website:

In 1930s China, the term mingxing (bright star, 明星) captured the allure of a new public figure: the screen diva. … (read more)

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The Villainess (2017) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/the-villainess-2017/ Wed, 16 May 2018 06:40:24 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13672 The Villainess goes through a lot in her two hours of screen time. She goes through a lot in her first five minutes. By the opening scene’s end a few dozen men lie dead or maimed at her hand. It’s as though the audience has been dropped into the climactic endpoint of an action-revenge saga — which is precisely what it is — but as one story ends another begins and we’re along for the ride.

The craft of action … (read more)

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Rumble in the Bronx (1995) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/rumble-in-the-bronx-1995/ Sat, 14 Apr 2018 00:39:44 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13653 Viewing Rumble in the Bronx today is a strange experience. On release it was Jackie’s successful comeback to the American movie market, a Golden Harvest production that finally showcased what Jackie could do, the Hong Kong way. Nowadays it feels very dated, and it’s hard to believe this film did well enough to trigger Jackie’s rise to Hollywood stardom. Ostensibly set in New York City, failing to disguise being filmed in Vancouver, Canada and very Hong Kong in style and … (read more)

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Police Story 2 (1988) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/police-story-2-1988/ Wed, 14 Mar 2018 22:48:53 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13637 For a film industry that thrives on sequels, Jackie Chan made relatively few in his Hong Kong heyday. Police Story 2 is the first sequel in his longest running — at least in name — series, currently six films long as of Police Story: Lockdown and one spin-off strong with the Michelle Yeoh-starring Project S / Supercop 2.

It took the Marvel superhero franchise years to address the issue of collateral damage caused by its heroes’ actions, but Police (read more)

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Dragons Forever (1987) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/dragons-forever-1987/ Fri, 16 Feb 2018 10:23:56 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13621 Given the success of the previous two films co-starring Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao, it’s no surprise the Golden Harvest studio produced another, although it took a few years to come to fruition. In the meantime, Jackie had become a superstar and movie theatres were teeming with modern-day Hong Kong action comedies, so the formula was remixed for what is still — despite the pleading puppy dog eyes of millions of fans — the final big screen collaboration … (read more)

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A Better Tomorrow 2018 (2018) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/a-better-tomorrow-2018-2018/ Fri, 09 Feb 2018 22:40:00 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13603 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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Dragon Lord (1982) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/dragon-lord-1982/ Fri, 19 Jan 2018 23:49:55 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=13589 After the success of The Young Master, with its action stretching traditional kung fu choreography in unexpected directions, Jackie Chan pushed boundaries further in his follow-up film. Originally a sequel titled Young Master in Love, the experimental action maintains a thematic through-line with Jackie’s previous work, even as the narrative continuity is cast aside. After a long and difficult gestation of almost a year — forever by Hong Kong standards at the time — Dragon Lord was born.… (read more)

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