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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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Buybust (2018)

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As much as it is a product of its time and place, Buybust is also another film indebted to The Raid. Gareth Evans’s hard-hitting cult classic is not even ten years old, but its influence is wide and continuing to spread. It popularised both the premise of a police squad finding their backs to the wall in a confined location and the tightly choreographed dance of fighters and camera operator with its action. The 2012 film Dredd was practically … (read more)

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Mad Monkey Kung Fu (1979)

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Mad Monkey Kung Fu is another of director Lau Kar Leung’s classics from his Shaw Brothers heyday. 1979 also saw the release of his top notch hoe-down Dirty Ho, but this time we get to see him act in his own film as well. Having put mantis style to celluloid the year before with Shaolin Mantis, Lau brings another animal to the party here and it’s barrels of fun all round.

The film opens with a prologue of … (read more)

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Ip Man 4 (2019)

Donnie Yen returns for a victory lap as Wing Chun master Ip Man, once more directed by Wilson Yip and ever-ready to humbly stand up to injustice and demonstrate to a fresh batch of bullying foreigners the value of Chinese kung fu. Sometimes bearing the subtitle The Finale and not to be confused with Ip Man: The Final Fight — a different take on the master’s later life featuring Anthony Wong — Ip Man 4 delivers a satisfying conclusion to … (read more)

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Man of Tai Chi (2013)

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The history between this film’s two main actors goes back a fair way. Star Tiger Chen met Keanu Reeves while doing stunt work on The Matrix films and the two remain buddies, with Tiger briefly showing up in John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum to get a cringeworthy knife in the eyeball. The script for Man of Tai Chi apparently kicked around for years until eventually being made and we should be glad it did. 2013 was the beginning of … (read more)

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Parasite (2019)

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A receding hairline is not inherently creepy. I see one in the mirror daily without much thought beyond a vague wistfulness for those follicles whose usefulness is consigned to the past. But like so many little everyday details in Parasite — a packet of hot sauce, a walkie-talkie — it will be hard to look at that slowly expanding bald patch the same way again. Parasite is everyday life reflected back in one’s face with the veneer of the everyday … (read more)

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