Reviews by Country
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)
The night I saw Firestorm, I was surprised that there were no posters or advertising material on display in the theatre for this new big-budget Hong Kong film. And I was even more surprised to see at the main entrance of the Century City multiplex an over-sized poster for Feng Xiaogang’s new movie Personal Tailor – which has yet to be released! Two hours later, I had a much better understanding of why there was a lack of advertising for … (read more)
Johnny Mak’s powerful 1984 crime film Long Arm of The Law was a film for its time and a big box-office hit that year. Nearly thirty years later it stands the test of time extremely well and looks to be having a new lease on life, with recent incarnations on Blu-Ray, DVD and theatrically.
The Tower is South Korea’s first attempt at a full-on disaster movie, and overall it’s pretty good but does bear a strong resemblance to the Hollywood pic The Towering Inferno, widely seen as the peak title in this 1970s movie subgenre.
It’s also the latest film from director Kim Ji-hoon, whose most recent pic was the underwater-monster feature Sector 7, which did big business at the box-office.
Christmas Eve in Seoul sees the public debut of the Tower … (read more)
In just under twelve months, I’ve had the good fortune to have watched three superb new release Asian crime movies. In my opinion, they mark a turning point in their respective film cultures. The films are: from India, Gangs of Wasseypur, a very un-Bollywood-like crime saga which chronicles a century long blood feud; the Chinese feature Lethal Hostage from wannabe auteur Cheng Er; and Johnnie To’s first mainland produced and financed cop drama, Drug War. More on the … (read more)
One of the most enjoyable times I spent in the cinema last year was watching the big-budget, star-studded, South Korean caper flick, The Thieves — where the energy, humour and all-round film-making smarts were a joy to experience.
Sold nearly everywhere as an Asian version of Hollywood’s Oceans franchise – well, that’s called marketing. As I saw it, The Thieves was a surprisingly effective counterpoint to the lethargic, middle-aged preening of director Soderbergh and his precious stars.