Maria (2019)

The vengeful female assassin is a recognisable character. Perhaps because they’re not as common, or because it plays against the idea of the fairer sex, Lady Snowblood and her ilk (such as The Villainess) stand out more than their male counterparts. Maria sticks its own knife in the lady killer body of work and while the title character herself does the job with competence, the film around her does not reach the same standard.

On a macro level Maria(read more)

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Baaghi (2016)

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The thing about trying to appeal to several lowest common denominators at once is it often turns films into cinematic fast food of the highest order. Low barrier to entry, high calorie count. That’s why it’s called broad entertainment. But man alive if it doesn’t go down a treat on a Friday or Saturday night. I’ve been pining for the 80s heyday of Hong Kong action-comedies of late, the kind of movie where the plot is an excuse to cram … (read more)

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Dangal (2016)

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You can’t keep a good man down. Or a good woman. Especially if the good woman is the daughter of the good man. That about sums up the energetic crowd-pleaser Dangal, for better or worse — but overwhelmingly better.

Having only seen one film from India before (two if you sneak in Slumdog Millionaire) and being only vaguely familiar with the behemoth that is the Indian film industry and all its sub-categories, Dangal came across this cinematic explorer’s … (read more)

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The Adventurers (2017)

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First of all, let’s clear up any possible confusion. The Adventurers (2017) is a light and breezy affair starring Andy Lau. The Adventurers (1995) is definitely not a light and breezy affair, although it still stars Andy Lau. Hey, it was directed by Ringo Lam in the middle of the 90s Hong Kong crime film boom. What ya gonna do? This most recent film to bear the name is directed by Stephen Fung and much more befitting of the adventure … (read more)

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Extraction (2020)

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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)

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Wira (2019)

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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)

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Furie (2019)

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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)

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Once Upon a Time in China 3 (1993)

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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)

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