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


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Chu Liu Hsiang

RUNNING OUT OF TIME - amazing. Loved the chemistry between Andy Lau and Lau Ching Wan. Like in many movies,  the cops behave too stupid to tolerate, especially in the bowling hall.

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The Battle at Lake Changjin 2 aka Water Gate Bridge - Dir. Tsui Hark, Dante Lam, Chen Kaige [2022] China

I enjoyed the first film and read this "sequel" was filmed concurrently and it wasn't as good but still fairly entertaining. Like the first movie, It definitely has a HK action feel and the influence of Hark & Lam were unmistakable. Let me preface by saying I'm not a military historian, so no idea how close this was factually to the real battle during the Korean War & I'm sure quite a few artistic liberties were taken but I can't deny from an entertainment standpoint this was worth a watch.

I mentioned that a HK influence was readily apparent and to its detriment, it did feel over stylized at certain points and not as gritty as I would've preferred. If you go in expecting a Chinese Saving Private Ryan type movie, this isn't it. Asian war films such as The Assembly, The Eight Hundred, Tae Guk-gi: the Brotherhood of War or My Way were much more realistic in the depiction of the actual horrors of battlefield combat. That's not to say this film didn't indulge the viewer in war gore and violence because there are plenty of scenes of bodies blown apart by munitions and ravaged by artillery but it felt like a special effects spectacle rather than a somber display of battlefield casualties and death.

Some of that had to do with the unconvincing CG effects and the the worst parts were in the final battle scene which bordered on farcical. In particular, the scene...

Spoiler

...the gravely wounded commander drives a jeep packed with explosives kamikaze style into the bridge and when Wu Jing is shot by the American soldiers off the bridge but still manages to shoot the explosive shell in slow motion...

Yes, I went in expecting a nationalistic, jingoistic interpretation of the PLA's involvement in this historic battle and I have no qualms with it. This movie was made during the CPC's centennial anniversary of its founding, so of course this film would reflect that and I grew up watching tons of American war films (from Battle of the Bulge to Deer Hunter) which lionized the American soldier and demonized the enemy whether they be Germans, Japanese, Vietnamese, etc, as nameless, faceless masses of cannon fodder for the heroic American soldier to kill.

Now this film inverts that and shows the PLA soldiers as human beings and the US forces as the "faceless" enemy. If you can't accept that then certainly this movie will not interest you but if you go in just wanting to see some nice action set pieces, winter battle scenes mixed in with an underdog plot about a small cadre of Chinese soldiers tasked with an impossible mission against an opposing armed force with superior equipment & numbers then you will be rewarded with a decent war action pic for its 2 and half hour runtime.

 

Edited by Yihetuan
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Drunken Monk

I might get torn apart of these forums for this but I recent watched Time and Tide and fucking HATED it. And I'm not using that word lightly. I thought it was an ugly looking, badly plotted, chore of a film. The only good thing about it was the action set piece in the middle (the one where they're on the side of the building). Besides that, I think this film has little in the way of redeeming features. An absolute nightmare to sit through.

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Insanity (2015) - 7.5/10

Well-structured and intriguing story with Lau Ching-Wan playing a mentally disturbed person and veteran actress Pau Hei-Ching playing a traumatized mother. Huang Xiao-Ming (Ip Man 2) was alright and the film would've benefited greatly had they replaced him with someone more competent for the doctor role. Because that's where the film goes a bit downhill as it reaches the climax. What appeared to be interesting -- the premise of Hei-Ching's character being a menace to Ching-Wan's protagonist later on -- turned into something far less appealing and out of the blue (in true HK movie fashion). That said, the acting was terrific as a whole and made up for the cons of the movie; Ching-Wan and Hei-Ching particularly.

Dealer/Healer (2017) - 7/10

A biopic about former Hong Kong drug dealer Chan Shun Chi (https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/陳慎芝) who later reformed and opened a rehabilitation center during the late 1980s, in hope to cure drug addicts from taking the same path as he did. Great directing from veteran director Lawrence Lau, and great acting performances from Lau Ching-Wan, Gordon Lam, and even Max Zhang Jin who plays a pivotal role here. It was also nice to see a variety of familiar faces in Hong Kong cinema: From Ng Man-Tat, Chen Kuan-Tai and Nora Miao to Ben Lam, Vincent Wan, Patrick Tam etc. This movie is mostly acting-oriented but does contain a good handful of action scenes in form of gang brawls, empty-handed and with weapons, which should be enough to please both HK action and crime movie enthusiasts.

Edited by DiP
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Godspeed - Dir. Chung Mong-hong [2016] Taiwan

Loved it when I first saw this and a recent re-watch just reinforced my belief this gangster/road trip dark comedy/drama is one of the best Taiwanese films since the New Wave cinema movement. One of the best performances from Michael Hui as well. I remember reading one review that said this movie is a Johnnie To film played at the wrong speed & that is an apt description but discredits the job director Chung did in taking a lot of disparate elements (gangster thriller, road movie, slice of life comedy) to form a really cohesive and wonderful film.

The same two scenes that affected me in my first viewing are the same that still haunt me today...
 

Spoiler

...when Na Dow and Michael Hui are locked in the trunk of the Mercedes and Hui starts waxing about the time he spent his birthday taking his wife, kid and mother-in-law to a fancy steamed bun place to celebrate and the aftermath of his decision to forgo parking in the adjacent lot to save a few bucks is a very simple story which on the surface seems to be a tale of frugality gone awry but is just such a poignant painful look at the life of a "everyday" man & being invisible to his family...

...the brutal & violent scene where Leon Dai captures the two gangsters who betrayed Brother Tou & has his enforcer saw through the guy's motorcycle helmet with a hack saw and split it open like a bloody watermelon and then gives him a chance to save his life by smoking a cigarette in one drag without dropping any ash while he has a gun to his head. The palpable tension and emotion was just so raw and real in that scene...

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masterofoneinchpunch

Your Name. (2016: Makoto Shinkai: Japan):

This had been recommended to me by a barista, it is in IMDBs top 250 movies (it is the eighth most voted on Japanese film on IMDB), it was a box office smash not only just in Japan (currently third highest grossing Japanese film in Japan) but worldwide and it was about time I saw this.  It is quite a good film.

This movie is an interesting mix of Somewhere in Time and Freaky Friday (or you Vice Versa fans out there) mixed with a teen love story in Japan (later on it reminded me a bit of Early Edition, but I don’t want to spoil that).  I also got some Quantum Leap vibes as well.

There are two teenagers Taki and Mitsuha: one from Tokyo and one from a small city who is yearning to get out.  They both seem to have the same issue as occasionally missing a day in their life or suddenly getting the urge to grope oneself when waking up.  Why is this happening?

There is also a comet coming which seems to collide with their fate.  It unfolds nicely with its story line which makes me hesitant on writing too much about it because there are surprises throughout.

I find it interesting when animation uses (imitates) time lapse photography.  There is use of split screen (not overdone) as well.  It also has some extraordinarily beautiful scenes. The music by the Japanese rock band Radwimps is good.

There is one semi-large plot issue, but I cannot state it as it is a spoiler.  I was wondering how could they miss this very crucial aspect when they are both on their smartphones a lot and going to class.  I am sure you will figure out the ending.

This is worth watching.  It is a film about memory, time and a search for love.  It is moving and the animation is outstanding.  Now I wish I saw this in the theater like Belle.

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Darth Kermit

I recently watched Lam Ngai Kai's The Cat and A Moment of Romance. The Cat was good, but AMoR blew me away. So beautiful and such a haunting Romeo and Juliet type story. I need to watch some more Benny Chan, I've seen 8 of his and liked/loved all of them so far. Call of Heroes peaks my interest.

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On 8/8/2022 at 1:13 PM, Drunken Monk said:

I might get torn apart of these forums for this but I recent watched Time and Tide and fucking HATED it. And I'm not using that word lightly. I thought it was an ugly looking, badly plotted, chore of a film. The only good thing about it was the action set piece in the middle (the one where they're on the side of the building). Besides that, I think this film has little in the way of redeeming features. An absolute nightmare to sit through.

Uh-oh. I haven't seen TIME AND TIDE since it first came out in 2000 (I did a blind buy of the DVD), and I remember enjoying it a lot. Even though it's not a film I was compelled to revisit over the last two decades (and change), I ordered the Eureka Blu-ray to support physical media releases of Asian cinema and check out the extras. I hope when I get around to re-watching it I still like it and don't feel the same way that you do about it, @Drunken Monk. However, this was around the same time that Tsui Hark directed BLACK MASK 2... so... :sweating

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Drunken Monk
22 minutes ago, KUNG FU BOB said:

Uh-oh. I haven't seen TIME AND TIDE since it first came out in 2000 (I did a blind buy of the DVD), and I remember enjoying it a lot. Even though it's not a film I was compelled to revisit over the last two decades (and change), I ordered the Eureka Blu-ray to support physical media releases of Asian cinema and check out the extras. I hope when I get around to re-watching it I still like it and don't feel the same way that you do about it, @Drunken Monk. However, this was around the same time that Tsui Hark directed BLACK MASK 2... so... :sweating

I think I’m firmly in the minority on this one. I’ve been condemned for my alleged “bad take.”

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3 minutes ago, Drunken Monk said:

I think I’m firmly in the minority on this one. I’ve been condemned for my alleged “bad take.”

Nothing wrong with that. I'm thankful we don't all feel the exact same way about everything. That would be really boring. One of my closest friends on here rates one of my all time favorite films an over-rated, uninspired mess. I was surprised for sure, but no love was lost.

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Running Out of Time (1999) - 8.5/10

Johnnie To gets to direct this high-budget action thriller with slick direction and ace production values. What a great match-up of Lau Ching-Wan and Andy Lau (this was the first movie that I was impressed by his acting) too showcasing their rivalry to the extant of having you at the edge of your seat, and the story used for that is also a huge plus being told and executed refreshingly. Good mix of action and even humor combined with an excellent cast of supporting actors, including Benz Hui, Waise Lee, Yoyo Mung, and Lam Suet.

Vengeance (2009) - 7/10

This was Johnnie To's attempt at reinventing Exiled for the international market using some of the same actors -- Anthony Wong, Simon Yam, Lam Suet, Gordon Lam, Eddie Cheung -- and using a French lead actor in the mix. The result is good and entertaining only suffering from a weak plot twist in the third act. The acting here is only decent as To wasn't going for accolades for this one. To's movies are known to be quite monotonic so the story suits the acting from everyone nicely playing almost impersonal and stoic characters within the underworld circuit. Johnny Hallyday as the lead is a mixed bag as his acting skills are limited but possesses alot of charisma to carry the movie (I can see why To chose him specifically for the movie). If there's anything to marvel about the movie it's To's slick direction, the rich production values, and especially the inventive action scenes (gunfights in the forest, and the open grass field being my favorites).

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TibetanWhiteCrane
17 minutes ago, DiP said:

Andy Lau (this was the first movie that I was impressed by his acting)

I don't get the whole "Andy Lau is not a good actor" thing... never did. Even his early performances, which is what gets the most flak. I think he's perfectly fine in those too. Maybe he was on auto pilot for some of them in the late 80's-early 90's, but when you make something like 15 movies a year, some under triad threats, I think it's excusable. But hey, art is subjective.

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Prior to watching Running Out of Time for the first time (which was around 2005 or 2006, when I started getting into other kind of HK movies beside action), I'd only seen him in a few handful of movies. The aforementioned movie got me watching more Andy Lau movies. Eventually, I realized that his acting was already good in earlier movies such as the Lee Rock movies and Full Throttle.

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TibetanWhiteCrane
14 hours ago, DiP said:

Prior to watching Running Out of Time for the first time (which was around 2005 or 2006, when I started getting into other kind of HK movies beside action), I'd only seen him in a few handful of movies. The aforementioned movie got me watching more Andy Lau movies. Eventually, I realized that his acting was already good in earlier movies such as the Lee Rock movies and Full Throttle.

Oh, got it... thougt you meant all films up untill ROOT were underwhelming.

Also, not just directed at you... many people, perhaps more previously than now, thought he was shit, and just never understood that.

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Darth Kermit

I like Andy Lau. I've only seen 6 films of his so far, but all impressed me, except maybe Drunken Master II because it's just a small role, and Infernal Affairs 3, which is just not too great altogether. But Infernal Affairs, Blind Detective, Shaolin, and especially A Moment of Romance I thought he was fantastic in.

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8 hours ago, TibetanWhiteCrane said:

Oh, got it... thougt you meant all films up untill ROOT were underwhelming.

Also, not just directed at you... many people, perhaps more previously than now, thought he was shit, and just never understood that.

No problem. My thoughts of him as an overall actor at the time was based on his action and comedy roles but the more I watched many of his other movies the more he won me over.

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I guess this counts enough since it's Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam, but I watched Maximum Risk, Double Team, Knock Off, Replicant, and In Hell recently. Thought they were all great and I enjoyed them all about equally, thought each one for different reasons. I'm almost done with Ringo Lam's filmography, and he has definitely secured his spot as one of my 5 favorite directors. Tsui Hark is at least in my top 20, though the only film of his I've seen that blew me away was Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain. Although I do want to revisit Better Tomorrow III eventually after I get a bit more of a taste for his style. Gonna watch the China films soon from Criterion.

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I've been watching some of my Korean Cinema backlog lately, finally got around to checking out Parasite, and The Wailing. Gonna watch Train to Busan next

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On the Run (1988) - 9/10

Out of all movies I've seen Bill Yuen in, I believe nothing else has come close to what he displays here in terms of sheer acting skills. Ok, maybe Righting Wrongs but that movie was more on the lighty side alongside incredible and fancy modern day fighting and a nice touch of subject matters of morality vs justice. This story however, is very dark and harsh and doesn't hold back. That and extremely violent and brutally ugly. Bill Yuen makes this whole movie but let's not forget all the other key actors in the cast that also brought their A-game in the movie: Pat Ha as the excellent cold-blooded contract killer with a bit of heart, Charlie Chin as the dirty and senseless cop, Lo Lieh, Philip Ko Fei, and Yuen Wah as the greedy henchmen. Heck, even child actress Chan Cheuk-Yan (had notable roles in Mr. CoconutWild Search, and Fatal Termination) as Bill's daughter is good.

Edited by DiP
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Darth Kermit

Rewatched School on Fire the other day with friends. I first watched it with the HK blu, and didn't know it was censored. But this time I watched an uncut reconstruction, which added back in all the cut moments of violence, which I think improved the picture, especially the last shot of the climax. The way Ringo handles violence in his films is extremely impressive. They are ultraviolent, but they have a sense of disgust at the violence. Even when it leads to some sense of justice it's still repulsive. It is now my favorite Ringo Lam film and firmly establishes him as my 2nd favorite director behind John Woo. My friends also loved it, and one of them said he loved it more than any of the films I'd shown them before, being City on Fire, Hard Boiled, The Killer, and Police Story.

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Hua Tuo and Cao Cao - Dir. Zumo Huang [1983] (China)

I really enjoyed the historical authenticity and very good character driven tale of the famous Three Kingdoms folklore. It's available subbed on YT on Siegiman's channel and he even includes a visual gallery of the various historical props and set-design in the film (with names & commentary).

https://imgur.com/gallery/tQxE3P0

 

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The Killer: A Girl Who Deserves to Die - Dir. Choi Jaehoon [2022] (Korea)

I really wanted to like this and I admit that Jang Hyuk is pretty cool as the stoic latte slurping hitman on a personal mission to take down an international sex trafficking ring. Yes, it's Taken, Man on Fire, Ahjussi all rolled into one and funny enough, The Man from Nowhere is referenced in this movie in a tongue in cheek way. But despite some cool action set pieces including a nice fight sequence in the hallway of a hotel ala Old Boy (axes and guns instead of a hammer) and some brutal knife and gunplay, it just left me sort of "meh" in the end. It was also cool to see Bruce Khan again after a long hiatus from Revenger but the ending fight between him and Jang Hyuk like the majority of the move left me rather wanting.

 

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