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Project A: Part II (1987)
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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Given the recent public demonstrations in Hong Kong, the film Bends, which I actually saw almost a year ago at the 2013 Stockholm Film Festival, feels especially pertinent. But for those following the socio-political debates and news of Hong Kong, the issues being dealt with in this film go back for longer than that.
Sort of a Chinese version of Driving Miss Daisy, though not quite as chatty nor spanning decades, Bends is a quiet and unassuming film … (read more)
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Let The Bullets Fly (2010)
This 2010 China-Hong Kong co-production finally makes it to Australia on DVD, which is surprising considering it was China’s highest grossing film for that year, a title it still holds despite tough opposition from the recent Christmas releases of Zhang Yimou’s wartime drama The Flowers of War and Tsui Hark’s 3D fest Flying Swords of Dragon Gate.
Let The Bullets Fly’s distribution history outside China was also worrying: it couldn’t find a distributor in Australia on its release … (read more)
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Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010)
Way back in my misspent youth (spent watching telly, mostly), there was one of those midday movies on the box that captured my imagination. Titled Judge Dee and the Monastery Murders, the film was, to my young mind, cheeky, fun, spooky, and a tantalising glimpse into a world I had never thought of: the China of over a thousand years ago.
Years later I stumbled across Barry Hughart’s terrific and delightful trilogy of novels of a China ‘that never … (read more)
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Days of Being Wild (1990)
Days of Being Wild is one of the early films by renowned Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai. It has all the trademarks of Wong’s later works, such as Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love. But despite being less well-known in the West, Days of Being Wild is certainly no less impressive than any other film by Wong. It is a beautiful movie that features unforgettable characters played by some of Hong Kong’s best actors and actresses working … (read more)
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Ashes of Time (1994)
As I see it, there have only been two rolled gold masterpieces of the Cantonese cinema since the late 1980s: John Woo’s bloodstained Vietnam odyssey Bullet in the Head and Wong Ka-Wai’s Ashes of Time. Both were produced within three years of each other and are poles apart in content and style, but they remain shining examples of a film industry at its peak.
Ashes of Time is based on a popular Chinese martial arts novel The Eagle Shooting … (read more)
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Astonishingly lush images lend 2046 a surface beauty unparalleled in previous Wong Kar-wai films, giving it a distinctive grainy ‘look’ that is difficult to faithfully describe. Production designer (and film editor) William Chang and cinematographers Chris Doyle, Lai Yiu-fai (Love Will Tear Us Apart, Infernal Affairs) and Kwan Pun Leung (Lavender, director of The Making of Happy Together) create textured, absorbing visuals that envelop the screen and make it shimmer, suffocating 2D space. This … (read more)
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The Eagle Shooting Heroes (1993)
Apparently, this one was made in a break in the filming of Ashes of Time, with mostly the same cast, and mostly the same characters, but absolutely none of the same seriousness. It’s more wacky than a firkin* of very wacky things, and will make your brain revolve at speed.
There’s no way to adequately describe most of this, except to say that the costumes are lavishly satinned, the performances are lavishly over-the-top, and seeing this will possibly answer … (read more)
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