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What is the last non martial arts Asian movie you've watched?


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10 hours ago, DiP said:

Fatal Vacation (1990)

HD transfer is great, and the sound is true mono and representative to its' time line. T

Thanks for this info. I have the old Legendary Collection DVD and wanted to upgrade but I was unsure of the BD quality.

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City War (1988)

Took me a good while before eventually seeing it. I've read reviews of the movie and it was not very good mostly, which is the reason why I passed it during the ADC days when the movie was released on DVD (by Joy Sales). Fortunately, I got into Chow Yun-Fat movies again recently and got the curiosity of wanting to see it. So I ordered the Panorama bluray -- Once again, the HD scan is fantastic and sound is genuine quality (in uncompressed LPMC 2.0).

The story is nothing remarkable (a buddy cop-movie with the usual movie ingredients), and things take a while before concluding with lots of guns, and violence. But I enjoyed it still though. Sun Chung's direction is incredible, there's alot of fabulous camerawork both shown, edited and put together brilliantly. Plus the cinematography, the music, the acting; The whole movie's tone and feel (it's so 80s but so much fun)... This is why I appreciate movies made in the 1980s and early 1990s. It's special and something they can't replicate today, even if they tried. Chow Yun-Fat and Ti Lung made a great onscreen duo in the A Better Tomorrow movies, and this is no exception, although their chemistry here is somewhat uneven in comparison. Other good performances come in form of Norman Tsui as the crazy, vindictive main villain, lead actress Tien Niu playing it both ways for Chow and Tsui in terms of love relationship, Ricky Yi as the strict and by-the-book police chief, and Lo Lieh as the sympathetic gang boss. As for the action, as said above, you'll have to wait for the second half of the movie until you get what you came to see. There's three major action scenes in total, one is a flash-back scene with the other two taking place toward the end. Action co-ordinated and staged by veteran Yuen Bun, the action has lots of good gunplay and gritty/brawly fight scenes that will satisfy any avid fan of Hong Kong action cinema.

The movie could've used a few more action scenes spread throughout the story, that way it would've made things more entertaining and more than made up for the straight-forward story formula and conventions. That said, it's still a movie worth watching just for what it is: An 80s movie filled with 1980s:ness.

Rating: 7/10

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On 1/5/2022 at 12:42 AM, Majin Android said:

Taiwanese pervert melodrama. My tape is dubbed in Vietnamese. Husband Killer 1994

How was the movie? I MUST HAVE A CAPSULE REVIEW!!! (just kidding...maybe)

 

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Majin Android
56 minutes ago, DrNgor said:

How was the movie? I MUST HAVE A CAPSULE REVIEW!!! (just kidding...maybe)

 

It was okay. Effective in some parts, mediocre in some. The lack of recognizable actors didn't help. Strong, sleazy exploitative moments but really low production values, lack of artistry.

The main bad guy commits 6 onscreen rapes. 1 offscreen. The bad guy is a low level gang leader and he looks like a totally normal kinda scummy person on the street. Nothing theatrical about his performance or character which makes it strangely effective.

I don't know much about Taiwanese productions, rating classifications or what native audiences were into at this time.

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Super Ninja
21 hours ago, DiP said:

City War (1988)

Took me a good while before eventually seeing it. I've read reviews of the movie and it was not very good mostly, which is the reason why I passed it during the ADC days when the movie was released on DVD (by Joy Sales). Fortunately, I got into Chow Yun-Fat movies again recently and got the curiosity of wanting to see it. So I ordered the Panorama bluray -- Once again, the HD scan is fantastic and sound is genuine quality (in uncompressed LPMC 2.0).

The story is nothing remarkable (a buddy cop-movie with the usual movie ingredients), and things take a while before concluding with lots of guns, and violence. But I enjoyed it still though. Sun Chung's direction is incredible, there's alot of fabulous camerawork both shown, edited and put together brilliantly. Plus the cinematography, the music, the acting; The whole movie's tone and feel (it's so 80s but so much fun)... This is why I appreciate movies made in the 1980s and early 1990s. It's special and something they can't replicate today, even if they tried. Chow Yun-Fat and Ti Lung made a great onscreen duo in the A Better Tomorrow movies, and this is no exception, although their chemistry here is somewhat uneven in comparison. Other good performances come in form of Norman Tsui as the crazy, vindictive main villain, lead actress Tien Niu playing it both ways for Chow and Tsui in terms of love relationship, Ricky Yi as the strict and by-the-book police chief, and Lo Lieh as the sympathetic gang boss. As for the action, as said above, you'll have to wait for the second half of the movie until you get what you came to see. There's three major action scenes in total, one is a flash-back scene with the other two taking place toward the end. Action co-ordinated and staged by veteran Yuen Bun, the action has lots of good gunplay and gritty/brawly fight scenes that will satisfy any avid fan of Hong Kong action cinema.

The movie could've used a few more action scenes spread throughout the story, that way it would've made things more entertaining and more than made up for the straight-forward story formula and conventions. That said, it's still a movie worth watching just for what it is: An 80s movie filled with 1980s:ness.

Rating: 7/10

I know it's not that well regarded by the fans, but I loved it. All objectivity aside, one of my favorite heroic bloodshed films.

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masterofoneinchpunch

Rebels of the Neon God (1992: Tsai Ming-liang: Taiwan):

There is a soporific feeling that I when watching a Tsai Ming-liang film -- analogous to Bela Tarr and some of Andrei Tarkovsky oeuvre for me.  Beautiful languid shots of an existentialist nature with the ennui of a Michelangelo Antonioni picture.  I have to be in a certain type of mood (usually late and night, alone, a bit tired) for me to fully appreciate it.

This was Tsai’s first theatrical film (and probably the most important Taiwanese film I have not seen yet) and watching it reminds me so much of his later work and, of course, stars Lee Kang-sheng whom you can consider a muse of the director.  He is one of four youths that this film portrays.

It is interesting in such a large city as Taipei that these four continue to cross each other’s path, often without knowing it, sometimes with only one party knowing it, through the film as all four seem to stumble through life.

Lee mostly wanders around. He just quit his tutorial school and really does not seem to have any aim. The ending scenes with him reminds me a bit of Billy Liar.  But it really shows you his character.  Two brothers Ah Bing and Ah Tze work menial jobs and steal things on the side (they are not really good, they are pretty bad actually).  A potential love triangle happens when Ah Kuei enters their life.  She is pretty aimless as well. She has a job working in a roller rink. She does not have much ambition (the thieves have some but here is a tip, do not sell back the same amount of motherboards you steal to someone who is most likely connected to the person you stole it from).  But then thieves are not normally intellectually gifted people -- at least these ones are not.

His films are a hypnotic journey.  I do not expect everyone to like his leisurely pace of his taciturn characters. But his movies are well made.  There is humor, there are random bizarre scenes, there is lots of water, with some obvious future references like his The Hole, and the cinematography is quite good.

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Super Ninja

I remember not really liking it as much as I thought I would, partly because it has one of my favorite titles ever, which got me expecting to see something, well, like Fallen Angels I guess.

Tsai Ming-liang is definitely an interesting director. I regret not reviewing his films as I watched them, but I was planning to revisit most of them and so some scribbling along the way. I remember The River being a beautiful movie, perhaps one of his best, and Vive L'Amour one that I liked but knew I couldn't truly appreciate at that time. I couldn't get a ticket to see one of his more recent films in Venice, think it was Afternoon which is, from what I understand, his "interview" with Lee Kang-sheng, his regular and an actor who's relationship with the director is said to be more than friendly.

Watching his movies I remember thinking they all belong to the same celuloid universe, with even the same items reappearing years later in his later works. Much like Hou Hsiao-hsien's films, Tsai Ming-liang's films are also slow and are best consumed in the right mood.

Still I'd call myself a fan, with The Hole you mentioned being my favorite. Wayward Cloud deserves a special mention. If not one of my favorite movies of his, it certainly has one of my favorite Tsai Ming-liang scenes.

 

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masterofoneinchpunch

Crossroads (1937: Shen Xiling: China):

I wrote elsewhere that I was going to watch a Hong Kong, Taiwanese and Mainland film for Chinese New Year and this completes the trifecta (Swordsman II, Rebels of the Neon God and this). It is interesting to see Mandarin films from before Mao Tse-tung would hinder Chinese cinema for decades.  For those who follow lists this is on “Golden Horse's 100 Greatest Chinese-Language Films” list (https://bit.ly/3gjSTA2) and watching this now has me at 50% done with that.

At first you think this will be a socialist realist drama like Street Angel (1937: Yuan Muzhi), but it quickly turns into a Hollywood romantic comedy for the majority of the film.  There is even a meet cute of sorts.  This takes place in 1937 Shanghai among a backdrop of the Japanese invasion of China which hurt the economy.  This is mostly a farce.  It will remind you of A Shop Around the Corner, though in this situation the “couple” live back-to-back in a tenement housing, hate each other, but do not know who each other is until the meet after a bus incident and lie to each other about who they are (well mostly him).

This movie does not eschew politics, but when it approaches it, it lessens the film.  It seems tacked on (and is since the beginning and the ending feel like different films) and feels didactic. 

Also, the landlady archetype is a lot older than Kung Fu Hustle.

I love paying attention to the cinematography details of early sound cinema.  Superimposition is used a lot (not new to sound).  There is a nice amount of camera movement.  Some of the composition is nice.  An interesting use of wipes: one is this weird cut-wipe and a side-wipe (like Akira Kurosawa and Hollywood films of this time) is used a lot. Non-diegetic music is used especially classical like The William Tell Overture: The Storm.  Sound came a little later to China but notice the use of post-dubbing here.

The Cinema Epoch DVD of this is quite bad, but I do not think the original elements are good.  So this OOP DVD is probably the best you will see of it.  The special feature on it is an essay by Andy Klein.  Nice mention of Shanghai Blues which this film definitely reminds me of.  Now while several others have noticed this including Stephen Teo in Hong Kong the Extra Dimensions, I could not find Tsui Hark mentioning this film directly.

The only book I really see mention this is in some detail is Encyclopedia of Chinese Film by Yingjin Zhang and Zhiwei Xiao, but it is mostly recap of the plot (and it really reads like the writer did not see the film, focusing mostly on the very beginning and ending )and several mentions of the actors in it.

https://www.filmarchive.gov.hk/en_US/web/hkfa/pe-event-2020-3-1-8.html

“Director Tsui animates Shanghai of the 1930s and '40s with equal measures of nostalgia for old China and projection of Hong Kong's modernity, with references to such Shanghai classics as Crossroads and Street Angel.”

https://www.filmcomment.com/article/an-annotated-tsui-hark-interview-part-ii/

Nice interview of Tsui Hark, but he does not mention Crossroads.

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masterofoneinchpunch

Watched Belle (2021: Mamoru Hosoda: Japan):

I have only watched Ponyo in the theater for Japanese animation so when this went to the theater here I had to see it.  I am fan of the director’s Wolf Children, so I am glad I got to see this on the big screen.  It was a bit of a travail to finally see it (the day before I ordered tickets and could not get to the theater because of stopped traffic on the freeway and I could not get a refund because I got back 30 seconds too late at my office … argh).  Get this: I got the whole entire theater to myself.  Maybe it was better that I went a day later?

There are many beautiful scenes throughout the movie.  Check out the beginning: https://youtu.be/K1W61zetQ1c

You have this Japanese teenager who has lost her mother, but finds solace and her voice (singing) by immersion into this virtual reality of “U.” However, a beast who disrupts her concert fascinates her.

I would have preferred to watch this in Japanese and have subtitles as the mouth movements do not always match up and some of the voices seem a bit off for me, but I was just happy to see it on the big screen.

A big part of the film is the Beauty and Beast influence.  It is obvious, it is not trying to hide it though it makes me think of the 1946 and 1991 film (I saw that three times in the theater, not I’m not old enough to have seen the 1946 during its original run).  You can definitely find a multitude of references like The Secret of NIMH (1982).

Some issues: a small issue I have is how uninteresting the U is, especially compared to Ready Player One where you feel that is where people would go, of course, Neuromancer (which I want to reread sooner than later) and love the Internet in Futurama.  Her rise in fandom was too quick and I thought they should have shown more of that and the main antagonist is too obviously pathetic, though I love that his weapon is basically a cyber-doxing weapon.  And of course the coincidence of several of the characters being that close to each other (not even counting the impossibility of the them finding each other at the end).

But the heart is in the right place.  Maybe a bit too much pathos toward the end, but there are several emotional scenes that help push this analogous to Wolf Children. You feel for her as a character and strangely enough the plot had a similarity to Insidious: Chapter 3 which was the previous film I saw. I love connections like that.

 

 

 

Edited by masterofoneinchpunch
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A Leg - Dir. Chang Yao-sheng [2020] Taiwan

I really enjoyed this dark comedy/marital melodrama centering on a bereaved wife's dogged determination to find the amputated leg of her late husband which was accidentally misplaced by the hospital staff post-surgery. There were some really poignant moments as well as some low key hilariously funny comedic ones and this film did a good job of balancing both. I credit the script for never allowing the humor to step into bizarre self-parody which would've been easy to do with this material. Both main actors were excellent in portraying the slow destruction of love and trust within their marriage but I thought Gwei Lun-mei really stole the show here with her nuanced performance.

★★★★☆

 

Edited by Yihetuan
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S.W.A.T. (PRC, 2019: Ding Sheng) - I guess this would be the Chinese take on the Hollywood SWAT movie from 2003. I missed the first half (came across it while channel surfing), but the second half focused on the fledgling team's first missions: 1) bust some black guys (including one who looked like Vin Diesel) holding a Chinese woman hostage in a high-rise apartment and 2) rescue an undercover officer from a big-time meth producer and his American mercenary clients, led by Robert Knepper. There is also some drama about one guy trying to become a sniper and the girl feeling oppressed because of her gender. The last half hour is the second aforementioned action sequence, set at a meth lab located in an abandoned building on the coast. I thought the set piece is generally handled well, although some brief moments of two-fisted gunplay and occasional foray into Doom-esque 1st person shooter perspectives cheapen what might have been a (relatively) realistic action sequence. In that case, you're better sticking with First Option. There is a smattering of hand-to-hand, although nothing really special: a black guy attacks a SWAT team member with a barrage of spin kicks, who responds with a series of roundhouse kicks to the arm; then it goes into groundfighting mode. The movie has awful reviews and a fairly low score (4.2/10) at the IMDB as of this moment.

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Ming Ming (Hong Kong, 2007: Susie Au) - This was released on DVD in Brazil (by Universal) with a cover and retitling (O Combate; transl. The Combat) suggesting this to be a martial arts film of sorts. That was very dishonest of the distributors. Ming Ming is very much its own creature, sort of a Wong Kar-Wai film by way of David Lynch with a smidgen of Quentin Tarantino, photographed and edited by the people who did Tony Scott's movies (or Tsui Hark in Knock Off mode). This super-stylized tale tells the story of Ming Ming (Zhou Xun), a Triad enforcer who falls in love with a kickboxer (Daniel Wu) and steals 5 million dollars (and a mysterious box) from her crime boss employer to run off with her new lover. The money lands in the hands of a "professional runner" Tu, who drags another woman, Nana (also Zhou Xun) into the mix, mistakening her for Ming Ming. There are some "martial arts" sequences, courtesy of Nicky Li Chung-Chi. A few action scenes have Ming Ming flicking beads at her enemies at near-bullet speeds. There's a "big" set piece that pits Daniel Wu against what can only be described as a "gang of synchronized match flickers." But those scenes aside, the film is a really weird concotion of noir and "lovers on the lam" elements. In the end, it wasn't really my thing.

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masterofoneinchpunch

The Phantom Lover (1995: Ronny Yu: Hong Kong):

This is another one of those watch if you are into Hong Kong films and maybe eschew if you are not.  The cinematography here is brilliant; the music is good (though if you are not into Leslie Cheung’s singing some of that might annoy you); the set design is fantastic; however, the plot and some of the acting leaves a bit to be desired.

This is based after a few films: the mainland classic Song at Midnight (1935: worth watching for fans of Chinese cinema) and, both were influenced by The Phantom of the Opera (if you have not read Gaston Leroux’s book – read it, which I loved; obviously watch Lon Chaney in silent film as well).  But it deviates enough to not really be a remake.

In the 1920s there was a singer Sung Danping who owned a large opera house where he titillated the masses with the play Romeo and Juliet (the local government did not like this), fell in love with a woman whose parents wanted her to be wed to a local boy of an important family and well this was not to be (of course).  His opera house not-so-mysteriously burnt down, apparently with him in it.  Yeah it is obvious he did not die and we know he was disfigured.

But in the meantime (not the Helmet song), 1936 to be exact (around the time of the original film Song at Midnight),  a troupe rents the large Crimson Peak like abode and at first fails in their local plays until their lead singer “finds” the Romeo and Juliet singing play (well given to him by a hooded figure whom we already know who it is).  He has relationship issues too.  This aspect is completely underplayed and gets sacrificed for the main love story.  This is a mistake since it is supposed to parallel the long-lost couple.

Here is a movie that needed to be longer.  It needed to explain more, it needed to not rush over so much and it concluded way too fast.  There were some other issues like Leslie Cheung’s stage acting which was like an overly sanguine Vincent Price on too much coffee, but Cheung broods well.  Too bad he died early as he could have easily been so emo.  Imagine Cheung as an emo vampire with Falling in Reverse being played in the background.

This was a modest box office hit for Ronny Hu, though if you have not watch his The Bride with White Hair (1993) before this.  This has potential, falls too much into pathos and really needed a more complete script.  But the score is good and it looks beautiful.  Unfortunately, the Tai Seng 2-Disc DVD set is not a good transfer (though the extras are great including a couple of commentaries).

Nerd Notes: this was filmed in sync Mandarin. John Charles gives this a 9/10 in Hong Kong Filmography. Paul Fonoroff blasts it in At the Hong Kong Movies.

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Posted (edited)

Break out the champagne, @One Armed Boxer, I watched a Korean movie!

The Ring Virus (South Korea, 1999) - Korea's answer to the highly-popular Ringu is essentially a scene-for-scene remake of the Hideo Nakata film, with only a few token differences (ex. instead of an ex-husband, it's a quirky morgue doctor; instead of having a son, the lead has a daughter; the first victim is in a two-parent family; both grandparents are present; etc.). The most notable differences are that the movie goes to greater lengths to keep the heroine's reporter buddy in the story, as opposed to Ringu, that sort of forgets about him after the first act. But even more important is that the 10-extra minutes to the run time gives the filmmakers more of an opportunity to develop the Sadako-variation's backstory, which involves more sex than we ever saw in the Japanese films. This film benefits from looking for polished than the Japanese film, complete with more dynamic camerawork and better lighting. It's never particularly scary (it's arguably less intense than the Japanese version), but it looks good.

Edited by DrNgor
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One Armed Boxer
9 hours ago, DrNgor said:

Break out the champagne, @One Armed Boxer, I watched a Korean movie!

I'm breaking out the bubbles now. :tongueout For me this one is more of a curio-piece to see Bae Doona in an early role, as Sadako no less, before she'd really establish herself as a popular actress in the early to mid-00's through her collaborations with the likes of Bong Joon-ho and Park Chan-wook. Interestingly if you compare Hideo Nakata and Kim Dong-bin's respective takes on Koji Suzuki's original 1991 novel, it's actually the Korean version which sticks to it more closely, with Nakata wisely deciding to crank up the horror elements of the story, and in turn create the Japanese classic that kick-started the whole late 90's/00's long haired Asian ghost genre.

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One Armed Boxer

I recently got through watching the 2016 China & Korea co-production 'Foolish Plan', that I believe may be the first example of Jordan Chan sporting a haircut 20 years too young for his age. I gave it the full review treatment over at COF - 

https://cityonfire.com/foolish-plan-2016-review/

 

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Yihetuan
Posted (edited)

Knock Knock - Dir. Xiang Liu [2021] China

Entertaining but at times convoluted crime mystery whodunit in the mold of a Coen Brothers dark comedy. There was never a lull and the pacing was quite good and the plot kept me engrossed until the end even with some absurd plot elements and twists. Well, that is until you realize how it will end since this is a Mainland Chinese film and everyone knows how these end.

Worth a watch.

★★★☆☆

 

Edited by Yihetuan
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Chu Liu Hsiang

BANGKOK DANGEROUS - impressing and depressing. It's easy to sympathize with the protagonists. I liked the idea of having the "ghost" of Kong's buddy walking besides him on his first vendetta trip.

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FightingFool
Posted (edited)

Run and kill.

After sort of sorry guy Fatty Cheung catches his wife sleeping with another man he goes to bar for drinks. Completely drunk he accidentally orders hit to betraying wife. And end ups owing $800 000 to killers, tough vietnamese gang. And things go even lot worse...

It`s truly amazing dark crime thriller with great cast ( wang lung wei, simon yam, danny lee, melvin wong), few bits of martial arts, some gunplay and fair amount of violence. In atmosphere IMO Run and Kill holds it`s own against creme of HK crime movies.

Can`t wait to upgrade HK dvd for american BR...

Edited by FightingFool
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morpheus

Untold Story (1993)

Anthony Wong Chau Sang was outstanding.  Perhaps I'll do a write up someday.

Untoldstory.jpg

untoldstory1.JPG

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