Heroic Cinema http://www.heroic-cinema.com The guide to Asian movies in Australia Tue, 18 Feb 2020 13:04:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 18894642 Mad Monkey Kung Fu (1979) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/mad-monkey-kung-fu-1979/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mad-monkey-kung-fu-1979 Tue, 18 Feb 2020 13:04:30 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=16415 Mad Monkey Kung Fu is another of director Lau Kar Leung’s classics from his Shaw Brothers heyday. 1979 also saw the release of his top notch hoe-down Dirty Ho, but this time we get to see him act in his own film as well. Having put mantis style to celluloid the year before with Shaolin Mantis, Lau brings another animal to the party here and it’s barrels of fun all round.

The film opens with a prologue of … (read more)

Ip Man 4 (2019) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/ip-man-4-2019/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ip-man-4-2019 Fri, 17 Jan 2020 22:08:37 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=15851 Donnie Yen returns for a victory lap as Wing Chun master Ip Man, once more directed by Wilson Yip and ever-ready to humbly stand up to injustice and demonstrate to a fresh batch of bullying foreigners the value of Chinese kung fu. Sometimes bearing the subtitle The Finale and not to be confused with Ip Man: The Final Fight — a different take on the master’s later life featuring Anthony Wong — Ip Man 4 delivers a satisfying conclusion to … (read more)

Man of Tai Chi (2013) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/man-of-tai-chi-2013/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=man-of-tai-chi-2013 Sun, 20 Oct 2019 07:58:23 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=15524 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)

Parasite (2019) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/parasite-2019/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=parasite-2019 Sun, 08 Sep 2019 08:44:06 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=15464 A receding hairline is not inherently creepy. I see one in the mirror daily without much thought beyond a vague wistfulness for those follicles whose usefulness is consigned to the past. But like so many little everyday details in Parasite — a packet of hot sauce, a walkie-talkie — it will be hard to look at that slowly expanding bald patch the same way again. Parasite is everyday life reflected back in one’s face with the veneer of the everyday … (read more)

Triple Threat (2019) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/triple-threat-2019/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=triple-threat-2019 Sun, 14 Jul 2019 08:02:58 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=15303 I’ve been waiting to see Triple Threat for over two years. Seemingly caught up with distribution difficulties and generating little buzz, it nevertheless carries the potential to be an all-time action classic. Check that cast list. It’s absolutely stacked with talented action practitioners. Real ones, who know how to make fights look good. Even if not all the names are widely known, the sheer amount of experience there is mouth-watering for a dedicated action fan. Game on!

It’s always exciting … (read more)

Armour of God II: Operation Condor (1991) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/armour-of-god-ii-operation-condor-1991/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=armour-of-god-ii-operation-condor-1991 Sun, 23 Jun 2019 11:30:52 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=15033 Asian Hawk is back! Now renamed Condor for some reason! It’s definitely the same chewing-gum-chomping character, tasked with tracking down some treasure by the same gentleman who put him up to it in Armour of God, except the daughter played by Lola Forner from that movie is never mentioned, so Jackie (as he’s still sometimes called) is lumped with a few other, less useful female characters instead. Continuity was not a priority in this cinematic universe.

Operation Condor begins … (read more)

Martial Arts of Shaolin (1986) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/martial-arts-of-shaolin-1986/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=martial-arts-of-shaolin-1986 Sun, 19 May 2019 10:44:13 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=14875 The Shaolin Temple trio of films left a strong cultural impression. They brought Jet Li to the big screen, as one of several members of the Chinese national wushu team brought on board to execute the impressive choreography. They also featured extensive shooting at the temple itself, lending a real sense of history to proceedings. These combined factors brought about something of a renaissance for the Shaolin temple at the time and its martial arts tradition. The first two films … (read more)

Rise of the Legend (2014) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/rise-of-the-legend-2014/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=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)

Lady Detective Shadow (2018) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/lady-detective-shadow-2018/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=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)

Call of Heroes (2016) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/call-of-heroes-2016/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=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)

Jailbreak (2017) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/jailbreak-2017/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=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)

The Scorpion King (1992) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/the-scorpion-king-1992/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=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)

Blood of Wolves (2018) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/blood-of-wolves-2018/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=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)

Shoplifters (2018) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/shoplifters-2018/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=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)

The Third Murder (2017) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/the-third-murder-2017/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=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)

The Crimes That Bind (2018) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/the-crimes-that-bind/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=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)

Paradox (2017) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/paradox-2017/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=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)

Believer (2018) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/believer-2018/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=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)

Your Name (2016) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/your-name-2016/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=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)

Little Big Soldier (2010) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/little-big-soldier-2010/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=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)