Blog Archives

Days of Being Wild (1990)

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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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Inner Senses (2002)

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Hong Kong produced a rash of “I see ghosts” films over the space of a couple of years, and this is one of the better ones. This is probably largely because of the cast: it’s really a two-person film, with several supporting actors popping up briefly just to show that the city’s not completely uninhabited.

It’s not just that they’re good, although that’s definitely true. Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing was one of the finest actors around, and particularly good at … (read more)

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Farewell My Concubine (1993)

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Farewell, My Concubine is not an easy film to watch. It deals with social and political upheaval in China from the Japanese invasion through to the Cultural Revolution, by following the three main characters through those difficult times. But it is still a very moving, and very beautiful, film, with some superb performances.

The story follows two boys training in a Beijing Opera school, who grow up to be major stars. Shitou, the older of the two, is a strong … (read more)

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The Bride With White Hair 2 (1993)

The Bride With White Hair is one of the guaranteed classics of Asian cinema. The Bride With White Hair 2, alas, is not.

I soooo wanted to be able to say something good about this. Really. But there’s precious little good to say. All the glories of the first film have turned to dust and ashes and second-rate burlesque here. The sweeping epic beauty of the original, which could make us forgive the occasional scenery-chewing (such as Francis’ star … (read more)

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The Bride with White Hair (1993)

This is simply one of the finest films ever made, in my not so humble opinion. Read on, and I’ll tell you why.

First up, the director and producer were both determined that this would be a special swordplay movie, unlike the usual genre fare. Raymond Wong’s Mandarin Pictures is known for turning out well-crafted films, and this one was lovingly tended by all those working on it. No time or expense was to be spared in bringing this novel … (read more)

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The Eagle Shooting Heroes (1993)

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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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A Better Tomorrow (1986)

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This is where legends were made.

Little known director John Woo was hired to direct a gangster film, but had the idea that it would use the warrior code of a swordplay film, exchanging the swords for guns. In the role of the lead killer he cast television drama star Chow Yun Fat, against the wishes of the studio, but Yun Fat had exactly the right ‘everyman’ qualities that Woo was looking for. He plays Mark Gor, the close buddy … (read more)

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