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Sheng

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Everything posted by Sheng

  1. I always admired Kar Lok, thought of him as the best AD working in HK in the last decade and a half or so, and I genuinely enjoy his acting presence as well. But in all honesty: despite a cast that made me run to see this , GOLDEN JOB is a total mess. Shockingly predictable plot, badly executed, poorly - no laughably - written and saddled with some of the worst FX in living memory (I mean, CG in Chinese language films did look a whole lot better recently than three or four years ago. And not just in OPERATION RED SEA or EXTRAORDINARY MISSION). Yes, I understand there must have been some tampering with the script to get the go-ahead of the ever more intrusive censorship hacks and maybe they had to fight with budget constraints (that would explain the dismal quality of the CG work), but the cookie cutter roles and incessant 'brotherhood' ramblings forced on all the acting talent assembled here sink the project even before the half-time mark. Final shootout is on par with what we saw in recent JOHN WICK movies ? Well, bodycount-wise maybe. But in terms of creativity, staging and inventiveness of the action, the JOHN WICK films are simply on a different level. Oh, and wanna see Jordan Chan in a great and fairly recent film? Go for TRIVISA, he's killing it!
  2. You're wrong. Witness the truly uncalculable impact that kung fu cinema had on black popular culture. Think 70's black street culture, the influence of, say, Venoms movies on early rap music, dress code, hell, even on breakdance moves ! (that beetle-on-the-back tavern fight in CRIPPLED AVENGERS was pure b-boy shit, yo!) Or think of the fu fever that swept Reggae & Dancehall culture in Jamaica in the late 70's / early 80's. Wasn't no niche business as it was in Germany or the UK, it was all over the place and all over the public imagination on Planet Reggae! Like, when you went to sound system dances and watch the girls modelling inna dem kung fu shoes, while screw-faced bredrin holding their Heinekens and spliffs talkin' 'bout the badman t'ing in relation of who did the wickedest killings in the latest fu flick they caught at the usually packed Majestic cinema in East-Kingston. (Leung Kar Yan, known a 'Brigadeer' in Jamaica, would have received a hero's welcome in those days!) Or by extension: dem times you'd walk into a cinema in North or South London when a kung fu picture was screening and it was like... bare yardies! And noisy and physically agitated ta raas! And going to cinemas in West Africa in the 80's and early 90's... most of the time you had to choose between an Indian melodrama or a kung fu movie. Those were the cinematic staples!
  3. Scottish Sikhs and Hasidic Jews from Borough Park, eh...? Well, no offense, but some of the responses here remind me of those vacuous slogans on 'answer t-shirts' to 'Black Lives Matter'... like 'White Lives Matter' or 'All Lives Matter', etc. Fact is that from the early 70's on Kung Fu had an infinitely stronger impact on black popular culture than on any other outside the place of its origin. If, like me, you grew up infatuated with African-American or Jamaican music, you'd eventually came across classic Kung Fu cinema and found it easy to develop a lasting relationship with its heroes - and probably even more so with its most notorious villains... 😅
  4. A "no"... for the first question, is that what you're sayin'? But how do you do "translations" then? Or do you mean you straighten out / correct existing but deeply flawed subs?
  5. Allow me two questions here: are you fluent in Cantonese (and in this particular case: in Putonghua) ? And... you're not that Markgway, or are you?
  6. Something of an ok movie, I agree. Not more, not less... and that's mainly because Chong is always an interesting writer (yep, with a knack to make his storys too convoluted) and obviously because of the superlative performances of the two leads. I didn't get over the screeching plot twist in the final reel, honestly (went to see the film again the next day coz I felt I was too jet-lagged and missed something... well, I didn't!) Nicky Li's action gets insanely OTT (as it did in EXTRAORDINARY MISSION), especially in the Golden Triangle shoot-out. Its a sequence that feels like a postcard from the golden days of HK cinema with Chow, double-gun-slingin' and dressed in white, mowing down scores of mu'fuckas running undauntedly into the muzzle fire of his heavy artillery. Nostalgic with a John Woo-ish touch (and certainly a lot better than anything Woo himself dished up in his pretty dismal MANHUNT), the whole set-up nevertheless lacked any semblence of believability and felt kinda out of place here. Yes, CG enhancement was certainly noticeable, but not as painfully distracting as in other recent HK/China co-ops.
  7. Sheng

    The Trough (2018)

    I got through watching THE TROUGH earlier last month, and what a bloody disconnected trainwreck of a superhero film this is. I mean, I do check for Cheung and thought that HUNGRY GHOST RITUAL wasn't half-bad as the actor-turned-director's debut feature, but this? Yes, the whole thing's a hoot, you might consider the colour-drained, rain-drenched look of the film as 'stylish' and who knows, THE TROUGH might even stand a chance to end up as one of those "so bad it's (almost) good' cult movies in the future (it proved to be a box office dud anywhere it played in the here & now!) The plot's going bonkers from the word go, storytelling continuity, cohesion and logic seem to be alian concepts, dialogues fluctuate between badass, bizarre and soppy and the more Cheung is playin' it straight as an undercover supercop, the less appealing his role gets. Still, despite all that being said, the plentiful action cartoon sequences of THE TROUGH do work for the most part, bordering on the ridiculously entertaining during the child hostage and the laundromat shoot-outs in particular (CG bloodspurts are as OTT-terrible as in, say, THE MOBFATHERS, but tonally they do fit better here given the unintentional hilarity of the proceedings). And that hardcore HK film geeks get to see a cast of familiar faces is a plus as well ! THE TROUGH even begins to get moderately engaging in its middle part, but then dips again when Xu Jinglei is revealed to be "the boss" and god-awful dialogue, predictability and pitiful green-sceen work take over. Its all capped off with an unctious say-no-to-drugs message Cheung delivers in a totally unrelated final scene in Thailand- as if the the film had anything to do with drug pedding, but who gives a fuck if you wanna coax the SARPPFT into passing your patchy, mutilated looking mess of a film.
  8. Sheng

    Three Milkyway movies on bluray!

    Three of To's best ever... and then only French subs.... aaargh!!! 😭
  9. You're kidding, right? Trailer looks as cringeworthy as the one they recently had for KUNG FU MONSTER... To put things into perspective though, this opens on the 5th of February in China, Lunar New Year, so its tailor-made for toddlers. Seems like they're trying to emulate the pattern of the MONSTER HUNT films, and those unfortunately had a huge BO.
  10. Sheng

    Line Walker 2

    D'accord, mark187, LINE WALKER was a pretty decent film and Kar-Lok's action - especially the extended Brazilian set-piece - was already worth the price of admission. Now, I won't file a missing person's report for Miss Sheh - she was merely ok in THE LEAKERS and ALWAYS BE WITH YOU - but the choice of Andrew Lau as director is definitely a reason to keep your expectations as low as possible. The man's been involved in some truly pitiful Mainland drivel lately; matter of fact, just last week I was going to check out his latest, KUNG FU MONSTER, and while standing in the queue at the cinema watching the film's trailer on the screen above the cashier, I changed my mind and went to see CREED II for the second time instead !
  11. Had a chance to catch this the other day in an empty Chinese cinema - the film bombed big time in the PRC ! - and was suitably impressed. A truly involving, well directed sequel with a uniformly great cast (Michael B. Jordan's totally commanding presence, Sly excelling once more as Creed's crumpled coach and even Ludgren - an actor I usually despise! - putting in a passable performance). Fights were remarkably well choreographed and dramaticallly shot and those beautifully composed and edited desert boot camp training sequences were a real treat !
  12. Sheng

    To Be Number One (1991)

    A re-mastered release of TO BE NO. 1 was long overdue since the old K & R blu ray was a piss-poor one - even by their own rock-bottom standards. I remember screaming at the telly back in 2011 when I picked it up because the subs were so badly translated and so insanely fast programmed that I constantly had to rewind or freeze the picture. And as OAB also pointed out in his review, large swathes of text remained untranslated, something that was even more distracting in Poon Man-Kit's (almost) equally engrossing LORD OF THE EAST CINA SEA films. Hell, the second part was almost incomprehensible if you didn't manage to read the long chinese intertiltles that explained major parts of the story. So, great news and let's hope Panorama can righten the wrongs. I'm sure we'll see a massive upgrade in PQ, as for better subs and full text translations... well, I remain sceptical.
  13. Sheng

    Ringo Lam R.I.P

    Ah, SCHOOL ON FIRE, one of the most gut-wrenching, hardest hitting HK films of all times... Imagine a company like Arrow scooping that one up and releasing it on BD with the cut scenes reinstated... Aiight, gettin' carried away here, flicks like that don't exactly look like obvious restoration jobs for L'Immagine Ritrovata, so it might never happen.
  14. Hmm... can't help it, but that is exactly what I expected this movie to be. Producers asking to approve reviews before posting 'em, what is this world coming to ? Producers or production companies approve promo texts or hype blurbs, not reviews. Thanks for not letting this BS pass without comment, Bob !
  15. Sheng

    Ringo Lam R.I.P

    Shocked when I read the news this morning. To me one of the master craftsmen of action cinema and one of the greatest filmmakers. Ever. Gone with just 63. Tragic. Dunno why, but as always when a personal icon passes whose private life and thoughts are little known, I found myself looking for clues in some of the contrite and sobering interviews he gave since his comeback in 2015. Like this one... https://www.scmp.com/culture/film-tv/article/2048285/audience-hong-kong-action-film-master-ringo-lam He appeared as a thoroughly depressed sounding man of his time, and a misfit in today's HK/China film universe. This millenium wasn't his, for sure. Time to go back to his classics, some of which are still only available as incredibly poor DVD's (if you ever find 'em, that is !). Think SCHOOL ON FIRE, THE SUSPECT or WILD SEARCH.
  16. These two Sammo scorchers poppin' up on BD ? Guess before that happens we'll see the full rehabilitation of Harvey Weinstein... 🤣 Lee Hoi-San as a Minstrel show escapee in ETFD, 'homophobic' joke-crackin' in PH... Nah, won't happen, blood, no way. PANTYHOSE HERO didn't even get a DVD release back in the day, VCD only.
  17. Went to see MASTER Z all by myself yesterday in a totally empty cinema - and that was on its opening day in China !! - and I must say I got a lot more pleasure out of this joint than you, OAB. I agree with your judgement on the utter ridiculousness of the bamboo scaffolding and neon-sign hopping fight scene (that also made me think about CHOCOLATE for a hot minute or two), but for the most part I truly relished Woo Ping's oftentimes exhilerating fight choreo. Certainly the most creative he coughed up in years! And no, didn't mind mucho wire assistance all that much. Besides the numerous fights MASTER Z also benefits from inspired casting. Finally Zhang Jin could prove that he really can carry a film as a lead actor, what an improvement from his miscasted and underwritten part in the tepid THE BRINK. And anybody who, like me, thought that Michelle Yeoh wasted her talent for dumb shit like CRAZY RICH ASIANS, here she lit up the screen everytime she appeared and also proved to be fairly convincing in her big fight scene with Zhang ('nuff doubling for Madame though!). Unfortunately the great Philip Keung (actor-of-the-year candidate for me for his recent lead part in in TRACEY !) had way too little screen time as an upright Chinese police officer who finds himself constantly humiliated by his racist British superior - until his (admittedly pretty ridiculously staged) comeuppance. Tony Jaa's wordless assassin cameo was the most baffling one: why was he here, what side was he on? We won't know until the sequel, I reckon - and MASTER Z's real downer of an ending literally screams 'sequel' in your face! Now on to the evil gwailo business that Woo Ping and others seemingly can't do without anymore. Yes, it did grate as much as it did in anything from TRUE LEGEND to CHASING THE DRAGON. And that's irrespective of the reality in 50's Hongkong, that many modern day film buffs conveniently ignore - namely that a lotta white cops were nothing but racist scumbags in those days and drug-peddling wasn't exactly an unknown sideline for 'em either. But if its rammed down your throat in comic-bookish black & white time and again, you can't help to think that this reality is politically instrumentalised these days in order to elevate the Chinese mob to a morally higher ground and ultimately cast them as powerless colonial henchmen. Another turn-off that should also not go unmentioned: just as with IP MAN III it was quite distracting to see that the film, despite all its relentlessly brutal looking (and sounding!) fight action was surprisingly bloodless, save for the scene where Bautista Still, bearing all these shortcomings in mind, I believe that if you had a good time with recent fight fests like Teddy Chen's KUNG FU JUNGLE you'll definitely warm to Woo Ping's latest romp as well !
  18. Sheng

    Full Alert (1997)

    Saw an HD print of this the other day on a Chinese pay channel and it looked pretty damn' good, a big step up from the old (remastered) Mei Ah DVD. One reason why some of these classic films turn up on BD now is obviously that they're remastered primarily for television sales in China. Almost forgotten how good this film was! Day 1 purchase for me.
  19. An ultra-nihilistic tour-de-force, a stone-cold classic and big favourite of mine! I was countin' on Arrow to drop this sooner or later!
  20. No doubt! ASURA would be classified as a heibang pian in Chinese. And this format, a staple in HK cinema, is a total no-no north of the border. Even Johnnie To struggled to conceive DRUG WAR as a jingfei pian. It's now considered to be a classic of this genre in China. And rightfully so. But people who're excited about DRUG WAR oftentimes don't realize how much To twisted his patented formula to meet the requirements of the the China/HK co-production deal of 2003 ("Closer Economic Partnership Agreement", really). Nothing of the type of the Milkyway classics could hope to be screened in China. And another rule of the game that is conveniently forgotten (or simply unknown) in many discussions on the subject of HK/China co-productions: unlike in the good ol' days when the Taiwanese market could be milked and you could sell 'em a different cut of a any film (more Leslie, less Andy, mó man tai), producers nowadays can't just create different versions of a film for HK and China (not even for home video consumption). Guess the people who drafted the conditions for the CEPA won't allow themselves to, er... 'loose face'... This is why I said that it feels like portions of expository footage were dumped. Continuity problems and gaps of logic of this magnitude do bring down my rating of any film. Yes, I meant current. Still, when you do get the increasingly rare chance to see veteran HK actresses strutting their stuff, you'd realize how good some of them still are. Take Carina Lau's wonderful performance in BEIJING LOVE STORIES as an example (I know, not the kind of film that folks would care to discuss here). I mean, she just lit up the screen in tandem with another seasoned veteran, Tony Leung (Ka Fai), and made what would otherwise be a fairly routine romcom excercise eminently watchable. And hey, in my view Zhou Xun has been pretty outstanding for years, even in HK-centered movies like Fruit Chan's HOLLYWOOD HONG KONG or Ann Hui's recent OUR TIME WILL COME. Even her dubbing into Cantonese worked perfectly for me.
  21. Haha, I just ordered SEA FOG from 88 Films five minutes ago, blood! (before reading your post!). But seriously, the melodrama and the choppiness of the action design made it hard for me to really enjoy the final fight(s). Couldn't switch off my brain either... Maybe because I watched my new HK BD of ASURA - CITY OF MADNESS (a film I seem to rate higher than you - say 9 and a half stars outta 10) before THE BRINK, I was constantly thinking how an AD who specializes in realistic brutality like Heo Myeong-hoeng would have choreographed those fights. Janice Man looked totally out of place in the context of this movie. But yeah, there's not many hot new HK actresses, granted. Cherry Ngan (Cheuk Ling) promised a lot in THE WAY WE DANCE, but she's not been casted in any relevant flicks since then. Went to see her latest, CONCERTO OF THE BULLY, a few weeks ago, one of those middling HK independents that is unlikely to do much for her career. Stephy Tang (Lai Yan), so far mainly associated with inconsequential fluff, proved to a revelation in THE EMPTY HANDS and based on this , I'd almost say, career-defining performance I look forward to see her in more serious films. But there's certainly no new Maggie or Anita (or Wu Chien Lien or Carina Lau, for that matter) on the rise, far from it. Nowadays the most interesting actresses come from the Mainland, period. And as far as I'm concerned, no HK actress can hold a candle to Zhou Xun!
  22. Well, with this assessment you're in good company with Mr. Chan and Mr Lau, Andrew that is, who said in an interview conducted for the excellent HKIFF "Filmmaker In Focus" series: "Who wants to watch a Hong Kong film nowadays? Joint ventures can reach all kinds of viewers and make several hundred million. INFERNAL AFFAIRS made HK$ 57 million and was seen by over a million viewers, but if it was screened on the Mainland there would have been tens of million of viewers." So in a nutshell here's the rationale for 90-some percent of the industry to look northwards. But is HK cinema really dead? Depends on what you watch and how closely you follow contemporary HK cinematic culture. As for me, the city's film output can basically be devided into two categories right now: A: HK/China co-productions, joint venture cinema in other words, that comes with the usual requirements, has to seek SARPPFT approval and will, as Lau infered, easily find big budgets and big audiences. B: NFFC cinema (Not-Fit-For-China, that is... ). Meaning films that find relatable, occasionally controversial local topics (and then wear their CAT. III rating with pride!), usually made on petite budgets but oftentimes with a lotta heart and creativity. Just to mention some truly great HK films from the last few years that fall into this category: RIGOR MORTIS, VULGARIA, DOOMSDAY PARTY, TRIVISA, TEN YEARS, PORT OF CALL, MAD WORLD (which did receive limited circulation on the Mainland and gained the distinction to be the only Cantonese language film screened in China in 2017) or To Man Chat's recent karate-centered drama THE EMPTY HANDS. Granted, films like these are harder & harder to make right now. But as long as they can be prodced and some of the city's most talented directors - Pang Ho Cheung, Johnny To, Herman Yau, amongst others - seem to be content to straddle both sides of the above mentioned divide with their works, yes, I for one would say that there's still some life left in HK Cinema.
  23. I did have high hopes for this, but after watching the HK blu ray two times in a row I just can't understand the props THE BRINK seems to get here. Is it just for the mere fact that balls-to-the-wall action spectacles made in HK seem to be a dying breed these days and we're all hoping something, anything, comes along to buck this trend ? Honestly though, the ridiculousness of the story, its plotholes, the unexplained and occasionally befuddling relations between the key protagonists (especially those towards the film's two female characters), the way-too-obvious set-ups plus clichéd characters saddled with cringeworthy dialogue, all this starts to grate after the film's first half hour or so. Zhang Jin's opening scene already makes it impossible to tell on what side of the law he's really on. Actually you'll be perplexed to learn that he's not the villain of this piece! If THE BRINK would have been conceived as a hei shebang picture, i.e. set inside the mob, things would have made at least some sense. But doing so would have forfeited the film's chances of being screened in China, so they went for a jingfei pian (cops 'n robbers film) and sacrificed any semblance of believability. Matter of fact, for some reason the gaps of logic and understanding seem to grow bigger & bigger the longer THE BRINK runs - especially in reference to Janice Man's bomb-throwing character and her inexplicably slavish attachment to Shawn Yue. It all left me with the feeling that portions of expository footage were possibly left on the cutting room floor! Good points? I definitely enjoyed the film's cinematography, the seedy locations were well picked. Lee Chung Chi's multiple action set-pieces were fairly decent too - with the fish market chase a real showstopper - , but they appeared sometimes a bit sloppily executed and irritatingly over-edited. With quality screenfighters like Zhang Jin and Wu Yue on board you wonder why the editing of the fight scenes had to be so jerky. And the characters? Shawn Yue, while certainly a fanboy's epitome of "badass" here, was a bit too one-note for my liking (and what kind of effect they put on his voice?). Wu Yue, who recently proved to be the best thing about PARADOX, was criminally under-utilized and given a thankless role as the conflicted turncoat cop. Kurata's part was regrettably even smaller than in MANHUNT (I couldn't help to think that his role as the evil Jap gambling boat operator only existed to pacify SARPPFT watchdogs). Lam Ka Tung made the best out of his totally unbelievable part that was possible, and Zhang Jin... well, he deserves a better written role. And as much as I like the brother, I'm afraid that as a leading man he still has some way to go. The grand underwater finale, that everybody appeared so excited about in the BD's "Making Of" extras ("first of its kind in HK cinema", rah, rah...), was certainly fun to watch... if you don't forget to switch off your brain! Characters jumping into the ocean, diving for gold, climbing back on board time and again in the middle of a full-on TYPHOON with waves meters high and the sea heaving like crazy ... Well, in the real world, out there in the real ocean - in other words: outside the confines of the studio whirlpool where they filmed this - you'd be flung miles away from your ship and drowned pitifully! While there are some promising elements here that would make me agree that Jonathan Li might be a new director to watch, THE BRINK hardly qualifies as a return to golden-age HK action cinema.
  24. Sheng

    Operation Red Sea (2018) Dante Lam

    Another perceptive and insightful review, ODB. Can't wait to catch this on the big screen on Monday... hope Lam improved his CGI work, some FX in OPERATION MEKONG looked outright lousy.
  25. Sheng

    Black Panther (2018) - Chadwick Boseman

    Caught this last week on the big screen and was truly surprised how well thought-out, casted, scripted and directed it is. Yes, it comes with the trappings of the usual Marvel superhero silliness that I'm usually allergic against - the bloodless, cartoonish, kiddie-friendly fight scenes, a computer-game-ish spaceship chase, not to mention the Disneyfied goofyness of the rhino rodeo in the end - but the thoughtful africanisation of its entire universe, the underlying cultural and historical signifiers, the numerous references to the Black Holocaust and its aftermath, the philosophical, deeply humane concepts about sharing advanced technological knowledge for the benefit of mankind, all this made BLACK PANTHER a standalone movie experience. And they gave us a villain with Michael B. Jordan armed with a truly identifiable message that anyone who ever understood Fanon could at least partially sympathize with (basically to 'vibranium'-arm the dark-faced, ghetto-icarcerated wretched of the earth). Nothing less than a class-act from Coogler & crew! Not, as could be anticipated, a Marvel boy-toy in blackface, but a whole 'nother dimension. I'ma go watch it again in the next few days.
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