Blog Archives

Drug War (2012)

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In just under twelve months, I’ve had the good fortune to have watched three superb new release Asian crime movies. In my opinion, they mark a turning point in their respective film cultures. The films are: from India, Gangs of Wasseypur, a very un-Bollywood-like crime saga which chronicles a century long blood feud; the Chinese feature Lethal Hostage from wannabe auteur Cheng Er; and Johnnie To’s first mainland produced and financed cop drama, Drug War. More on the … (read more)

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Lethal Hostage (2012)

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With a title which sounds more like a low-budget straight-to-DVD feature, mainland director Cheng Er has created a major film which deserves an audience outside China. Lethal Hostage is an inventive and meticulously crafted crime drama set on the China-Burma border.

The story opens with a father who has just been released from jail meeting his only daughter {May Wang) who he hasn’t seen for over ten years. As a child, the daughter was kidnapped by a drug dealer (Sun … (read more)

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Mongol (2007)

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Flawed but magnificent, Mongol, by Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov, is a film of truly epic proportions. From the sprawling canvas of scenery shot in some of the most remote parts of China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, to the mythos of one of the most feared men in human history, this film paints both an elusive and visceral personal portrait.

There probably aren’t many people even today who have never heard the name Genghis Khan, and as a success story, this … (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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The Road Home (1999)

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Zhang Yimou followed his schoolroom drama Not One Less with this charming rural romance. The plot for this film could be neatly inscribed on a postage stamp – and by that, I mean to praise its elegance and simplicity.

The film begins in the present, and this section is shot in black-and-white. Luo rolls up in an incongruous four-wheel drive to his family property, somewhere in the boondocks, to help his mother make preparations for his father’s funeral. She insists … (read more)

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