Blog Archives

The Third Murder (2017)

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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)

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Downrange (2017)

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Like so many Asian directorial superstars before him (mostly in genre films), Kitamura Ryuhei has kind of gone Hollywood — or at he’s least tried to. In his defence, he’s doing better than most. Not quite as well as Oscar-winner Ang Lee, but not yet reduced to hired gun on B-grade schlock à la Ringo Lam (sad trombone sound). Still best known for Versus and Godzilla: Final Wars, Kitamura’s third English-language film (after Midnight Meat Train and No One (read more)

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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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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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Snowpiercer (2013)

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Making the leap beyond regional borders for Asian filmmakers is not as easy as it sounds. The road to global domination, particularly with an assist from the Hollywood marketing machine is littered with the broken, bitter careers of many an auteur. For every Ang Lee there are countless Ringo Lams and John Woos. Added to that pile in the last little while are Kim Jee-woon (A Bittersweet Life, I Saw the Devil), whose underrated The Last Stand(read more)

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A Touch of Sin (2013)

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Jia Zhangke is almost bulletproof. He’s attained a status akin to Wong Kar-wai or Michael Haneke wherein critics fall all over themselves to fawn over the brilliance and daring of their Art and anyone who disagrees is a Hollywoodised philistine. What many people — writers, academics, occasionally filmgoers — forget is that movies are the Shakespeare of our time: mass entertainments that may have a deep message for those seeking it. The key there is “mass”, and if no one’s … (read more)

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CZ12 (2012)

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As if we needed confirmation that Jackie Chan has been drinking Beijing’s Kool-Aid, the one-two punch of his recent remarks in the Hong Kong media and the ghastly and cynical CZ12 should put any queries to rest. Right before the film was released, Chan started shooting his mouth off about how Hongkongers complain too much and about how they’re just too quick to exercise their right to free speech and protest. He suggested the government look at putting some kind … (read more)

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The Grandmaster (2013)

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A solitary man in a white fedora weaves his way among dozens of nameless fighters as a silver rain cascades down around them. The slick street is illuminated by a single lamp, which casts off an ethereal glow. A blur of fists erupts and the bodies start to fall — elegantly in slow motion. We hear a comment that summarises the martial arts in two words: horizontal and vertical. Whoever remains standing, wins. The solitary man walks into the rain … (read more)

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