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Kung Fu Jungle (2014)

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Donnie Yen returns to the big screen in Kung Fu Jungle, in the well-worn guise of a skilled martial artist brought low, doggedly chasing down a brilliant but broken adversary. Not that he’s been away for long; arguably the last big action star standing from Hong Kong’s golden years, he’s been working harder than ever, turning in a couple of huge films every year since the early 2000s, often as action choreographer as well.

In this film, director Teddy … (read more)

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Cold War (2012)

From the outset, Cold War is an ambitious effort. Its big budget execution sets a bar that the narrative tries – and in some respects fails – to achieve with its high-scale intrigue and cast of dozens. For a non-Chinese speaking audience it’s not the easiest thriller to follow (I couldn’t even guess at what it’s like for the Chinese speaking one), which detracts a little from the overall enjoyment of the tense and tightly paced drama.

To set the … (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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New Police Story (2004)

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See Jackie laugh! See Jackie cry! See Jackie get drunk and throw up in the gutter!

New Police Story opens in a very unconventional way: the camera pans slowly, in loving and almost surgical close-up, over the stubbly, tear-stained face of the waking Inspector Wong. We know straight away that this is not going to be a humorous waking. There’ll be no knuckles in the mouth, horrified memories of the night before: “Did I really strip down to my underwear … (read more)

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Seven Swords (2005)

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Seven Swords is another enormous film from Hong Kong’s prolific master producer/director Tsui Hark, whose Once Upon a Time in China and Chinese Ghost Story series are regarded as classics of HK film. This film brings together a lot of talent: Tsui Hark as director, Keung Kwok Man as director of photography, Japanese composer Kenji Kawai (best known for Ghost in the Shell) and a trio of big names in action choreography — veteran martial arts director Lau Kar … (read more)

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Fallen Angels (1995)

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Now we’ll have no nonsense about post-modern this or metaphors for urban that: for me, Fallen Angels is nothing more nor less than lush visual art set to a soundtrack that will send your cool meter spinning.

The saturated colour makes even an MTR station look exciting (I think it’s Mongkok, but I can’t be sure). Chris Doyle’s inimitable camerawork, combined with some of the most beautiful faces in the biz, should make everyone with a pulse want to down … (read more)

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Dr Wai in the Scripture With No Words (1995)

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This is a delight, as you’d expect from Ching Siu Tung, the director of Swordsman 2 and all three Chinese Ghost Story films.

The film is neatly split between fantasy and reality. In the real world, pulp writer Chau (Jet Li) is morose at his impending divorce with Monica (Rosamund Kwan). His idea box is empty, but he has a deadline to finish the latest thrilling instalment of Doc Wai, the Adventure King. He writes for a bit, but gives … (read more)

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High Risk (1995)

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Wong Jing launches a not-thinly-veiled-at-all satiric broadside at Jackie Chan in this amusing action movie. Frankie (Jacky Cheung) is a womanising alcoholic action superstar who no longer does his own stunts; Kit (Jet Li) is a member of his stunt team, and habitually takes the fall for him. Kit is also an ex-cop; he left the force after he failed to save his wife, child and a busload of schoolchildren from a mad bomber. Lo and behold, the self-same mad … (read more)

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