Reviews by Country
I keep on coming back to one particular word when describing the 2014 mainland drama Dearest — and that word is unsettling. There’s also a subversive thread running through this movie which subtly but resolutely questions the ability of China’s government to comprehend and to act on very complicated legal and emotional issues. Dearest is about child-stealing and is based on a case which caught the public’s attention in 2009.
The film’s director, Peter Chan, is one of a small … (read more)
I will admit to not having been in a big hurry to see this film, as I had recently watched Lost in Thailand, the second entry in this loosely-connected series. I can only describe that feature as being interminably long and totally unfunny — not good descriptions for a comedy. Also, I wasn’t a fan of mainland star and director Xu Zheng, but I do like Zhao Wei and her recent films have been so varied (Dearest, Hollywood … (read more)
One of this year’s biggest Chinese New Year film releases has belatedly arrived in Melbourne’s Chinatown Cinema for a short season. Well, better late than never I suppose. A successful Chinese New Year movie will nearly always have the following ingredients: it must be family oriented, have big name stars, countless celebrity cameos and story-lines guaranteed not to tax the intellect.
An Inspector Calls is a strange choice for a Hong Kong movie, let alone a major Chinese New Year … (read more)
After experiencing the boorish and juvenile jingoism of Wu Jing’s Wolf Warrior, I was looking forward to the new big budget HK movie, Helios… although I was a bit wary of the fact that its release date had been put back three times in the past six months. From directors Sunny Luk and Longman Leung (Cold War), Helios starts well but fades quickly.
The film opens with the theft of a South Korean manufactured nuclear dirty … (read more)
Coming Home is the latest Zhang Yimou-Gong Li screen collaboration, and it reminds me of their great films from the 1990s. In Coming Home Gong Li once again shows that she is one of the world’s most gifted actors.
Director Zhang Yimou’s recent film-making has kept him busy, but mainly in a workmanlike way. International hits such as the Grand Guignol of Curse of the Golden Flower and the arthouse-wuxia pics Hero and House of Flying Daggers have kept his … (read more)
Brotherhood of Blades is one of the best Chinese martial-arts films to have graced our cinema screens for quite some time. The movie boasts a volatile mix of quasi 17th century Chinese history, political paranoia and deadly palace conspiracies. With an individual emphasis on ornate film sets, power-crazed eunuchs, sadistic secret police and a trio of Ming Dynasty elite killers, there’s much here reminiscent of the best of the Shaw Brothers’ swordplay films.
The movie’s main focus is on the … (read more)
After sitting through all 179 minutes of this new Chinese release one question occupied my mind: how did a director of the calibre of Ann Hui become involved in such a road wreck of a movie? Obviously the people behind this mainland production were seeking the artistic cachet that Hui’s name would give the film. Instead, The Golden Era resembles the leaden propaganda of the 2009 pic The Founding of a Republic.
The film recounts the short and often … (read more)
China’s big summer release for 2014 is The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom, based on the popular 1950s tome Baifa Monu Zhan written by Liang Yusheng. Its most recent and most favoured screen version is the 1993 Hong Kong pic The Bride With White Hair, directed by Ronny Yu and starring Brigitte Lin and Leslie Cheung in a beautifully lensed tale of romantic obsession amidst the clan wars during the Ming Dynasty. Like the mystical flower of … (read more)