Heroic Cinema http://www.heroic-cinema.com The guide to Asian movies in Australia Mon, 14 Sep 2020 22:07:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 18894642 Extraction (2020) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/extraction-2020/ Mon, 14 Sep 2020 22:07:48 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=17905 Reviewing this film here on HC is stretching the rules a bit, but it’s been done before. The excuse this time is that Extraction falls at the intersection of several points of interest for this site. Although it’s an American film, the setting is Bangladesh and India, the action is descended from the style popularised in various Asian film markets and that burly white guy on the poster is an Australian.

Stunt performers directing action films has become a … (read more)

Wira (2019) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/wira-2019/ Sat, 15 Aug 2020 23:11:29 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=17831 If I had to choose one word to describe Wira, it would be endearing. That may seem strange, given how the movie begins — a hard-hitting bout between two women in a ring. However, after this excellent screen fight and a blockbuster-style opening credits sequence, the screen fades in to a slow-paced village location and an interior monologue about returning home and the importance of family. There’s an earnestness to the film that gives it emotional clarity. It’s not … (read more)

Furie (2019) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/furie-2019/ Sun, 19 Jul 2020 01:44:06 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=17707 The last time I soaked up the projected humid climes of Vietnamese cinema was with the sumptuous The Rebel in 2007. That film’s female lead, Veronica Ngo (Ngô Thanh Vân) is the sole lead for Furie — wearing a very similar outfit — and it’s great to see her in action stride again. Vietnam kept producing films in the intervening years, but they were not widely distributed. Once Upon a Time in Vietnam — also featuring Ngo — is the … (read more)

Once Upon a Time in China 3 (1993) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/once-upon-a-time-in-china-3-1993/ Sat, 13 Jun 2020 01:38:10 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=17561 The first two chapters in this telling of the legend of Wong Fei Hung are bona fide classics, so the third has to aim its no-shadow kicks high. While it may not reach those heights, Once Upon in China 3 does a great job of carrying on the story and themes of international influence in China and the interplay between tradition and modernisation. It just goes about this in a different way, which while a little disappointing should still be … (read more)

When Fortune Smiles: The Life and Times of Raymond Chow and Golden Harvest http://www.heroic-cinema.com/2020/05/when-fortune-smiles-the-life-and-times-of-raymond-chow-and-golden-harvest/ Mon, 04 May 2020 14:09:40 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?p=17115 Raymond Chow, a major figure in world cinema, died on 2 November 2018. He was the co-founder and public face of the Hong Kong based Golden Harvest Film Company. From 1970-2003, Golden Harvest produced approximately 600 feature films, and through its theatrical arm distributed nearly as many titles again. From the mid-1980s, Golden Harvest became the most prosperous and prolific movie business in South East Asia, supplanting the once all-powerful Shaw Brothers Studio.

Raymond Chow and … (read more)

Buybust (2018) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/buybust-2018/ Mon, 20 Apr 2020 09:47:53 +0000 http://www.heroic-cinema.com/?post_type=reviews&p=17147 As much as it is a product of its time and place, Buybust is also another film indebted to The Raid. Gareth Evans’s hard-hitting cult classic is not even ten years old, but its influence is wide and continuing to spread. It popularised both the premise of a police squad finding their backs to the wall in a confined location and the tightly choreographed dance of fighters and camera operator with its action. The 2012 film Dredd was practically … (read more)

Mad Monkey Kung Fu (1979) http://www.heroic-cinema.com/reviews/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/ 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/ 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/ 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/ 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/ 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/ 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/ 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/ 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/ 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/ 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/ 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/ 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/ 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)