Master (2016)

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It’s a sign of the times: the financial thriller is officially a thing. It wasn’t so long ago that thrillers were dominated by communist infiltrators or spies, old fashioned corrupt cops, bank robbers, and garden-variety psycho killers. But as chatter of wealth inequality gets louder, globalisation continues to fail and the one percent closes ranks, the Big Bad du jour is increasingly the Wall Street banker or multinational CEO. As a ‘genre’, the financial thriller has been around in book … (read more)

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Project A: Part II (1987)

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Project A is a highlight of Jackie Chan’s filmography, and the movie I use to introduce those unfamiliar with Hong Kong cinema to the many and varied delights it delivers. However, Project A: Part II is my favourite Jackie Chan movie. It is perhaps one of the purest displays of Jackie’s talent for creating intricate action and comedy scenes, displayed so clearly that the skill behind their construction is almost invisible.

As if as a reminder of the high bar … (read more)

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I Am Not Madame Bovary (2016)

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As I see it, the new Chinese film, I Am Not Madame Bovary, from director Feng Xiaogang is his best film to date, and easily the best new release I saw in 2016. There’s not a moment in this movie which I didn’t fully enjoy, and to watch Sino actress Fan Bingbing in, possibly, the role of her career — well, that was a pure delight.

This Mandarin language film was ignored by Australia’s mainstream media on its theatrical … (read more)

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The Great Wall (2016)

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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)

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Pedicab Driver (1989)

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Sammo Hung has embraced the fact he is a large fellow. Often giving his characters names that draw attention to his size — Teapot in Winners and Sinners or Moby in Wheels on Meals — or even referencing his physique in the title of the film itself — Enter the Fat Dragon or Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon — he has never allowed his decidedly non-traditional fighting frame to slow him down. This is amply apparent in Pedicab Driver.

Seconds … (read more)

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Creepy (2016)

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It’s not that I live on a diet of serial killer movies and thriller novels. I did read Silence of the Lambs once, so I would never consider myself an expert, but for some reason – maybe the title, or maybe the fact that plenty of other Kiyoshi Kurosawa films (like Retribution and Real to name just a couple) have been fairly hair-raising – I did in all honesty expect this 2016 murder thriller Creepy to be far creepier. … (read more)

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Chocolate (2008)

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The one chocolate that most reminds me of this movie is a jaffa. Hard and crunchy on the outside, soft and melty on the inside.

Chocolate was Yanin “Jija” (or “Jeeja”) Vismitananda’s debut film role and director Prachya Pinkaew, the late Panna Rittikrai, and team created a movie designed to showcase her talents, much like they did for Tony Jaa with Ong Bak. A fairly basic story, acted out fairly basically, sets up a goal for our hero to … (read more)

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Empire of Corpses (2015)

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So, I’ve discovered a concept more disturbing than a zombie apocalypse, and of course it’s all thanks to anime. Well, anime and maybe Mary Shelley, and at a guess, cancer. Empire of Corpses was science and speculative fiction author Project Itoh’s (aka Satoshi Itoh) last, unfinished novel. He died of cancer in 2009 at the very young age of 34, and it’s perhaps no surprise that what he was writing immediately before his death was a somewhat hauntingly desperate, slightly … (read more)

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