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Everything posted by Writ

  1. This is great! I haven't posted in some time because life has just been so busy, but I'm so glad that one of my reviews has contributed to this mega compilation. I'll make sure not to dissappear for too long next time because I'd love to contribute more if I can!
  2. Hero (1997) Directed by Corey Yuen I'll preface this review by saying that I've seen both the original Boxer from Shantung and one of the recent remakes Once Upon a Time in Shanghai. Both of them have their strengths and weaknesses as films, and I love some aspects of one much better than the other. Hero is another retelling of that same story from 1997 and just like those two films also has some aspects which I love much more than either of the other two. It feels weird saying this, but if you smashed the best aspects of all three films together, you'd actually get a really great film. As it is, all three films are very good, but they have parts which prevent them from reaching greatness. Let's get into this. The film starts introducing our lead Ma Wing Jing (played by Takeshi Kaneshiro) and his brother Ma Tai Cheung (played by Yuen Wah) attempting to board a train. Off the bat, it looks like your typical 90s Hong Kong action film which is both good and bad. It looks messy as all hell - think The Heroic Trio where a lot of images don't seem to link to each other and it's a little bit difficult to tell what is happening. On the flipside though, these images tend to be absolutely beautiful. I'll be showing a few examples of these a little bit later. One advantage this film has over the original is that it seems to effortlessly build its world. Just a few shots early on - people out on the streets cutting hair, shining shoes, making goods - it sets the scene immediately that while there may be jobs, it doesn't necessarily mean that people will prosper. This is even immediately reinforced by the fact that our two leads are fired from their jobs as soon as we understand this. Many of the classic Shaw Brothers films, as beautiful as they were with their studio-bound sets tended to be rather weak when it came to building worlds and atmosphere unless it was meant to be otherworldly. Hero has the advantage of having outdoor sets and probably a much bigger budget meaning they could actually afford to build the world physically rather than through implication. Of course this is just my opinion, and I'm sure many would argue for the classic SB style of world building. Another thing this film does incredibly well it the dramatic staging. When Yuen Biao's Tam See first enters the film, the way the camera slowly follows his movements, the way Yuen stares at the camera, the larger than life music that is almost like a wrestler's theme song. It builds him up to be the big boss without having to explain who he is. Of course, the characters don't know he is Tam See, but we can pretty safely assume that he is. Shortly after this entrance, we are treated to our first real fight scene of the film. It isn't quite as grounded or brutal as the original, and it isn't quite as gimmicky as the 2014 remake. It is however just as what you'd expect out of your 90s HK action films. Larger than life. We have wuxia styled action in our more traditional-esque kung fu films. The fights are more than just punches and kicks, but the environment plays a big part. Wooden poles, and chairs, and tables, and boxes. Think Once Upon a Time in China. The action is more flashy and less realistic. More Tsui Hark than Chang Cheh. A good comparison actually because this film cuts a lot just like Tsui would in his films, but the shots here are held probably a fraction longer than in any of Tsui's films. And here's an example of one of the beautiful images this film produces. If we were to look at this from a real world standpoint, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but damn if it isn't beautiful. Biao's character, regardless of how well intentioned he is, is still a gangster and a gangster's life is unfortunately a lonely one. He wants to retire, but once you're in, you're in for life. This is a theme that comes back a little later on. Of course our "hero" Kaneshiro has no idea what being a gangster would entail. Almost immediately following that scene is this one. Kaneshiro and Yuen are seen sitting on some stairs. They're working their way up in the world and their ambitions see them above the regular people that go about their lives without question. I just love how Yuen shows this physically - the ambitious ones are half way up the stairs and everyone else is down below. A little later on, we get this shot. Ironically not a particularly beautiful shot, but in it's own way holds a double meaning. Wing Jing has made it to the top and he can now look down on everyone else. But he isn't happy like he thought he would be. The love of his life has left the town and as far as he is concerned, the only other thing in his life is being rich and famous. He's got that, so what now? The only thing he can do is be more rich and more famous. And one more screenshot just because I love this scene: Just an example of the flashiness of the action scenes. Its unique colour scheme doesn't only lend itself to the action scenes though. We have a scene earlier than this one in which we have otherworldly purple and red lights lighting up the dance club. There's definitely a lot to like about this film. I've mentioned much of it, but there really is much more. There is a good amount of humour which actually works! There's a scene in which the Ma brothers are at the police station and try to steal a gun which I found hilarious. There's also Kaneshiro who makes for a great lead. It'll be a controversial opinion, but I actually prefer him over Chen Kuan Tai from the original if only because Kaneshiro is so much more charismatic, and he fits the whole arrogant, ambitious and charming archetype much more. Chen looks so much more humble. I will mention though that Chen's martial arts skills are much better than that of Kaneshiro's, but Yuen works around that disadvantage with some really good camerawork. Another scene I just wanted to make mention of because I found it incredibly interesting is actually rather early on in the film. Kaneshiro's character jumps up onto the stage of the dance club and starts playing the drums. At this point, the cutting of the film actually corresponds to the tempo of the drums. This creates some amazing tension where it cuts between the faces of the Axe Gang, our protagonists, the singer, the hands holding the axes and back between all of them. People thought this type of editing was amazing in the recent Baby Driver, but Hong Kong films seem to have been doing this casually for decades prior. There are a couple things I dislike about this film however. The film is a bit short clocking in at about 90 minutes. This makes the film easy to watch, but the film could have used some time to slow down. A few contemplative scenes would have been nice, as well as a few more character building ones. I think the original Boxer from Shantung had a good length at over 2 hours as it gave the film more time to develop each of the pieces. This one feels very rushed at points. Once Upon a Time in Shanghai has a very similar problem but at least that film doesn't feel like it cut entire scenes out. The other thing I'm not too fond of is the fact that the film turns into a shootout for the iconic fight between Ma and the Axe Gang. In fact, this time, it isn't just 1 vs many because Tam See even survives and a bunch of the other gang members show up to help fight as well. This really is a shame because I love the way that the martial arts was shot in this film and was looking forward to how they would present this fight. It's more comprehensible than Tsui's films, and just as beautiful even if flashy and unrealistic. Luckily it reverts back to some hand to hand combat when both Yuen and Kaneshiro take on Yuen Tak for the final fight, and as short as it is, it's pretty great. To summarise, this is a really good film. I think I probably reviewed this one more as a film than as a kung fu movie, but to be honest, I think the fact that there is just so much to talk about craft wise that it deserves it. To be honest, the three films I've mentioned in this review are all well crafted, but I think this one is the most interesting because it tends to go out of the usual comfort zone a lot more, as well as having actors that just work better for the roles.
  3. Alright, let's try this again since I completely dropped the ball on the previous mutual review I tried to join. I'll be doing 1997's Hero. I promise not to disappear this time!
  4. I do wish I had more knowledge of 90s HK films to contribute more to the discussion, but as it stands, I really haven't watched enough. Two more that might fit the bill of "alternative HK films" might be A Hero Never Dies and Where a Good Man Goes. They are Johnnie To films, but they tend to be overlooked in his filmography - not quite as popular as The Mission or Running Out of Time though I think they're actually more interesting than the latter two. Where a Good Man Goes especially is actually quite unique in his entire filmography with maybe only Throw Down (which is a 2004 film of his) matching it's quirkiness while A Hero Never Dies is absolutely bonkers even by To's crazy standards.
  5. Really sorry for getting back so late as well! I've watched The Master and I've got a bunch of notes written down for it. I'll piece that together into a proper review at some point but I've just been way busier than I expected recently.
  6. I shall be! Currently thinking about what film I want to do this month. I'll be back once I've decided!
  7. Writ

    Atomic Blonde (2017)

    I caught this last week and had a pretty good time with it. Similar to The Villainess, it's carried almost solely by the quality of it's action. The story really isn't much to write home about (the film ends like 3, 4 times? And each of the endings get progressively worse), but the film is absolutely gorgeous to look at and cold war settings for action movies are always fun. But I really didn't care for the story - the parts where characters just sat around talking to each other bored me in pretty much the same way that parts of the first John Wick movie did. Interestingly enough, John Wick Chapter 2 didn't have this problem. So if this is anything to go by, I might make go ahead and make the proclamation that Chad Stahelski is a better director than David Leitch. I really don't know what it is about these slower scenes in Leitch's films that bore me, but if I ever find out, I'll definitely make note of it. Anyway, the action in Atomic Blonde is phenomenal. There is a faux long take in the third act which is absolutely amazing. It lasts like 15-20 minutes and the camera follows Charlize Theron kicking ass as she progresses through a hotel. And damn does she kick ass in convincing fashion. It isn't slick quick kills like it is with John Wick. Here, it's sloppy, brutal, dirty. You feel every punch as they're thrown. Theron's beautiful face is beaten to a pulp, she's hardly able to walk and it's painful just watching, but the movie sticks with it. Leitch finds the beauty in the grotesque and it just works. I'm not much for giving scores, but maybe a 7.5 out of 10? It'd be much higher if it wasn't bogged down by a weak story, witless dialogue (it feels like it's kinda trying to ape Tarantino styled dialogue and it doesn't quite work) and progressively sillier endings (and endings are the parts we all remember making it that much more important), but hey, 10/10 for the action.
  8. Really exciting news! Hana-bi really is one of the best Japanese movies I've ever seen and one of my favourite movies ever. If you only ever watch one Takeshi Kitano film in your life, I'd say that this one should be it. Sonatine might be his most idiosyncratic work, but Hana-bi feels like his most personal, and the absolute perfect culmination of the style he was working towards up till that point.
  9. Writ

    I Am a Hero (2015) - Japanese Zombie Movie!

    I agree with everything here but I would personally add a 0.5 to the score. There are moments of greatness such as the scene that has our protagonist running through the streets where people are just discovering the outbreak. The gore effects are really disgusting and are simultaneously scary and funny. The movie slows down a lot in the second half and brings in anime cliche plot points that go nowhere such as the cute girl who gains amazing zombie powers and yet can never use them when she needs to (which is a stupid plot point and pointless). But for all the fluff, there is heart wrenching character work, great action scenes and a likeable protagonist that keeps the movie afloat. I disagree with One Armed Boxer here though and I think Train to Busan is the slightly superior movie if only because that movie runs along at a much more consistent pace and is more consistently suspenseful and exhilarating. Both are very flawed films, but both are very good entertainment and I really wouldn't mind more Asian zombie films if they continue to be this good.
  10. Writ

    The Villainess (2017)

    I did catch this in cinemas a couple weeks back. Absolutely unbelievable camerawork combined with extremely kinetic action making it probably one of the most exciting films of the last few years. I imagine this is what got the film a spot on the Cannes Out of Competition. However, the story, while having somewhat of an interesting background, is actually very uninteresting and barebones. "Important" characters get pulled in just to be killed for dramatic purposes and big plot points are made with no build up. I always love myself a good melodrama, but the melodrama in this dives right into cheese territory. BUT, this film is 100% worth a watch. Seriously. The action scenes are incredible and I guarantee you've never seen camerawork as involved and breathtaking as the stuff you'll see in this film. It turns ugliness into pure beauty. While the script could've definitely used a lot of work and the tonal control is all over the show, I'm actually really excited to see what else this director puts out if only because he has a lot of potential to in the future make a legitimately great film.
  11. Agreed. I thought it might be controversial for me to say, but seriously one of the most mediocre films I've ever seen, so I'm glad someone around here agrees. Not even saved by the action scenes which are completely incomprehensible even by modern Hollywood standards. Michael Keaton was awesome though, so good to the point that I was actually rooting for him.
  12. Alright, this time for a quick review. I actually watched this film a week ago, but I couldn't think of anything to say. I still can't really think of much, but here are a few thoughts. The Rebel Intruders (1980) Directed by Chang Cheh I really do like Chang Cheh as a director - he elevated bog standard material to the realms of watchability and occasionally near greatness. It's really sad then that every time I want to review one of his films, there really isn't much to say about them. Apart from some overarching themes in his work (brotherhood, honour, all that usual heroic bloodshed stuff), there is very little to talk about with regards to his films. Did I have fun watching this? Yeah, definitely. Are the fights good? It's as good as it gets with the Venoms brand of athletic and energetic choreography. Thing is, Chang always had other things on his mind when directing a film. He didn't care about an interesting or unique story. He didn't care about compelling characters. He didn't care for his female characters a good majority of the time. He was more about showing off the male form in spectacularly choreographed combat. It generally works, but it also makes his films very difficult to analyse or call a favourite because they're so interchangeable with the repeated themes and attitude towards everything but the usual heroic bloodshed cliches. With that said, I don't think I even need to get into the story here. It is worth mentioning that Chang knows his audience and there are a few surprise plot twists because of how well we know his films and his actors, but in so doing, he also wastes some of his actors. There's some potentially interesting material here such as the mistreatment of refugees and the poor and corruption in the higher ranks of the army, but that isn't explored beyond giving our heroes motivation to fight back. And yes, there is heaps of action. The action is definitely top notch with all five of the Venoms showing off their skills in a variety of situations. Some of the costumes are pretty weird, but the simple colour scheme makes it very easy for us to know who is who in the big scraps that this film also has a quite a number of. That said, if you're a fan of Chang, it's definitely worth the watch because it is a very fun film. But as usual, don't expect much more than that to latch onto. It's more simplistic than even a lot of his other films because this one doesn't even seem to care about the characters all that much. But hey, if there's good fights, what more can we ask for in our martial arts films?
  13. Thanks! I've really wanted to get into reviewing movies, and having this obligation to the monthly review thread is great for getting me to do so. Yeah, I also felt the same way - just wanting to complete Lau's entire oeuvre. I haven't even finished seeing all of Lau's "good" films yet, but I really wanted to get some of the weaker ones out of the way. Lau really was one of the great directors of the 70s and 80s, but his commitment to only doing martial arts films means he was generally overlooked as another one of those exploitative trash directors. It's a shame really, but I think in the next few years, especially with the recent average improvement in film literacy throughout the mainstream, his films (especially his best ones) might finally get more respect as perfect expressions of a unique auteur. Anyway, I think I might review one more for this month. It'll be The Rebel Intruders (1980).
  14. Cat vs Rat Directed by Lau Kar-leung Lau Kar-leung is probably my favourite Shaw Brothers director. In my opinion, he directed the most "perfect" martial arts films for the Shaw Brothers while ironically having certain quirks which would prevent most of his films from reaching perfection, or completely ruin an entire movie. Cat vs Rat is unfortunately the latter. Before watching this, I had expected it to be one of Lau's worst films especially because of what I heard about the humour aspect. My expectations were absolutely met, though there are still some bright spots. There isn't much of a story in this one. Alexander Fu Sheng and Adam Cheng are fellow students at a martial arts school and they happen to both come from rich families who live across from one another. It seems like their families have been rivals for a long time and so they constantly fight each other to prove who is better. One day Fu Sheng saves the emperor played by Gordon Liu but doesn't believe he's the emperor. On the same day, Cheng saves the emperor and is appointed as captain of the guard. As you can imagine, Fu Sheng's character becomes jealous and spends the rest of the film trying to snag that position for himself. So yeah, the humour is this movie absolutely sucks. I maybe cracked a smile about twice throughout the duration of this film, but never did I laugh or even chuckle. I do understand that this wasn't meant to be one of Lau's serious films, or light-hearted films with an agenda, but I can't be the only one to think that most of the humour in his movies just don't work. I dunno, I just don't find an arrogant guy speaking in an annoyingly squeaky voice or the stroking of facial hair very amusing. The moments where I cracked a smile were small moments during fights where Fu Sheng and Cheng are trying to hide their injuries from their opponent just to look cool. Speaking of the fights though, some of them are pretty good. With Lau, you can always expect the actors to be pushed to their absolute limit in terms of speed and movements. The best fights are early on between Fu Sheng and his master played by Lau Kar-wing and some of the duels between Fu Sheng and Cheng. This is unfortunate because while fights may be enough to get us through a weak story or annoying characters, when the fights get progressively worse as you go along, it just makes it more of a slog. The last 20 or so minutes are all fighting, but it's all very gimmicky as Fu Sheng and Cheng fight Hsiao Ho, Johnny Wang Lung Wei, King Lee King Chiu and Cheung Chin Pan, and each one of them is obscured by some sort of element for a majority of the fight be it underwater, underground, in the sky or behind rocks. We essentially get Cheng punching the water for like 5 minutes at one point. Despite this though, the film is somewhat watchable because it is incredibly fast paced. There's always something happening, and even when it looks like it might just be dialogue for the next few minutes, the talking is over faster than you expect and it goes on to the next event or bit of action. That doesn't make this film all that fun though, but at the very least you can sit back with your brain turned off and still get everything you could out of it. One thing that personally helped me get through the film though was the great cinematography. There are some unique shots like this one with the fish (please excuse the low quality screenshots): Or even hyper functional shots like these two: The first of which is not only symmetrical with the three guards in the doorway, but you can see the five rats sneak through the window above Cheng's head (albeit very blurry). The second has each of the rats in shot from the perspective of the bed which is a really nice touch. Anyway, to wrap this up, Cat vs Rat is probably one of Lau's weakest films. I don't think it quite reaches the unwatchability of Disciples of the 36th Chamber (though that has a very good finale despite me wanting to turn it off for the entire runtime before that) or as boring as The Lady is the Boss, but its definitely his most cartoonish film with the most unfortunate sense of humour. If you're in it for the action, you're gonna get some good fights, but nearing the end they get progressively worse. However, I think the film is still worth a watch if only because Lau directed it. I certainly didn't have a very good time with the film, but if you're more tolerant of this kind of humour, you might actually find a lot more to enjoy than I did.
  15. Thanks! I think the next one I'll review will be Cat vs Rat. I've been hearing some bad things about that one so I've put it off for some time. I'll give my thoughts on that a little later this month though, but I'll be keeping up with the thread!
  16. Pedicab Driver Directed by Sammo Hung Before coming into this film, I expected to love it. What I didn't expect was to love it as much as I do, so much so that I'm willing to consider it probably my new favourite martial arts film. Here are a few words on why: First and foremost, Pedicab Driver is actually really well directed. Many of these martial arts actors turned directors don't really have much in the way of directorial skill, but they do know exactly what they want to show on screen so the camerawork tends to be very functional (which I should add is better than what most directors can claim). Sammo Hung isn't exactly an exception when it comes to directing, but what he lacks in creativity with the camera, he makes up for in dramatic chops and pure heart. There are many establishing shots giving us a great view of the location and time period while the people that inhabit the film give it that extra flavour. Pedicab Driver is a love letter to the genre we all know and love and Hung makes sure to allow us to cherish every detail from the food stalls littering the streets, the pedicabs whizzing through the town, and the whimsical soundtrack that only beckons us to stay. The film starts off as a martial arts romantic comedy about the lives of two friends who are desperate for love, but it very quickly turns around and starts to explore the dark underbelly of prostitution and the implications it has for society and the people involved. And I think I probably don't need to mention this, but the fights are absolutely stunning. As with all Hung films, the choreography is fast, flashy and mixes brutality with light hearted flourishes. A standout fight is actually one that is totally irrelevant to the plot, but sees an extended cameo from Lau Kar-Leung who fights Hung in what is possibly one of the best choreographed fights to ever be put to screen. Any description I could give wouldn't do this fight justice, but I love the fact that many of these older martial arts films would gladly sidetrack the narrative just to get a fight in, even if it served no purpose beyond spectacle. Unfortunately the fights never quite get as great this irrelevant one, but due to the added stakes of each subsequent fight, you'll feel yourself rooting for the good guys so hard that you'll have a hard time sitting while watching. At least this is what happened to me. This brings us to the dramatic chops I mentioned earlier. While I'm sure the main purpose of this film, like most martial arts films of the time, was to show off some beautifully choreographed fights, what sets this far above most is the fact that the drama actually works. It isn't just good drama for a martial arts film, but even if you removed the martial arts from the film, it'd still work as a good drama. While it does tend to fall into melodramatic bouts, the emotions that are felt are totally heart warming and heart breaking. In the more tragic relationship of the two, it's the little moments that count - Max Mok staring at Fennie Yuen in the reflection of his pedicab mirror, Mok throwing a tarp over his pedicabs hood to plug a hole that has water leaking onto Yuen - when the reality catches up to them, the tragedy just hits that much harder. Of course this wouldn't be a Hung film without some of his usual light hearted humour. I love that the occasional scene that should be dark and dramatic is handled with a light hearted touch. Some of these scenes, if handled by a different director like John Woo, would stoop so far into melodrama that it would just feel ridiculous. The light heartedness gives it just enough levity to prevent the drama from becoming overwrought, but not enough to completely overwrite the scenes purpose. One such scene sees our four main guys attempting to force Yuens into saying she wants to marry Moks character with the usual "if you don't say it, I guess we'll have to take him away" shtick. A scene that follows shows all the friends sell their pedicabs to pay for the wedding. While much of this is done in a humorous manner, Hung makes sure that it all serves a purpose and it only serves to strengthen the bonds between these best friends. To summarise, Pedicab Driver isn't just a great martial arts film, it's also a great film full stop. It's a film about friendship, love, life and our ultimate reality. It's a tragedy, but it's also optimistic. It's a great change of pace from the usual martial arts film only concerned with spectacle. In a recent interview with Hung, he mentioned that he probably had the chance to work with maybe only four or five great scripts as a director. I'm gonna go ahead and assume that this is one of them because it is damn great.
  17. I was mostly absent from the forum last month, but I'll be back this month! I'm thinking I'll give Pedicab Driver a go. It's like number 1 on my list of shame in that I've never actually watched it and I'm pretty sure I'm gonna love it. I have a few more in mind, but let's see if I can get through this one first!
  18. Really sad to see that the quality of martial arts films in general has fallen a lot. I voted for The Assassin and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. The former is more because I absolutely love the cinematography and the story (the action is incredibly lackluster) and the latter because even though its kinda weird, the choreography is probably some of the best stuff in the past few years. I also do like Ip Man 3 and SPL 2, but considering how much I love the previous films in each respective series, I think both were a bit of a disappointment.
  19. I am absolutely ashamed to say I have not seen a single one of the films listed under 1990, however Outlaw Brothers needs to be added to the list! An incredibly underrated, but really fun martial arts film with great choreography and humour and definitely one of my favourite HK films overall.
  20. 2006 - Fearless. The Directors Cut is the best way to watch this as far as I'm concerned. It's also the first martial arts movie that had stuck around in my head because I saw my dad watching it on DVD sometime when it came out but for one reason or another I couldn't watch it, but I caught a few minutes in the beginning where Jet Li fights all those Europeans. The Directors Cut moves that scene back to where it belongs chronologically and it makes more sense. The Directors Cut does unfortunately add a subplot with Michelle Yeoh that is completely useless and uninteresting, but hey, the rest of the film is improved in almost every other way. 2007 - The Warlords. I think Flash Point is technically the better martial arts film, but I hardly ever think of it as a good film itself. The Warlords on the other hand is a great drama first and foremost as well as having some great action scenes. 2008 - Chocolate, (Ip Man is a close second). Not much to say really. Both modern classics of the martial arts genre.
  21. 1976 and 1977 were easy choices for me from the poll - Master of the Flying Guillotine and Invincible Armor. Both are also coincidentally the first two films I watched when I started getting back into martial arts films a couple years back. One that I might actually have voted over Invincible Armor though is The Sentimental Swordsman. 1978 though... wow... that's a tough year. It's between Shaolin Mantis, Heroes of the East, Five Deadly Venoms or Drunken Master. I voted Heroes of the East because I think it's the most "perfect" of the lot, but they're all amongst the best martial arts films ever made really. But speaking speaking of which, I'm so surprised there are no votes for Drunken Master!
  22. While I don't have specific numbers, I would imagine The Raid: Redemption to be up there. I remember around the time I first watched it, when I recommended it to friends, I'd call it 10 minutes set up and 90 minutes of pure adrenaline. While that isn't completely accurate because there are some moments of quiet in the film, it's essentially set piece after set piece after set piece.
  23. The Deadly Duo (1971) Directed by Chang Cheh Quick review because I don't think there's a whole lot to say about this one. It's another one of the "Iron Triangle" collaborations that had Chang Cheh, David Chiang and Ti Lung form the base of a couple dozen films. For the most part, I think the "Iron Triangle" era is probably the strongest for Chang, a close second being the "Venom" era, with most of his best films coming out within those two collaborations respective eras (though I'm sure people would make a case for his Wang Yu collabs). The Deadly Duo doesn't take exception to that generalisation. A problem I sometimes have with many of Chang's films is that the scripts are very generic and weak. While I agree that his directorial prowess much of the time overcomes the weaknesses of the script, it occasionally weakens the entire product with very weak roles for women and much ham-fisted drama making the romances in his films simply functional rather than actually being anything interesting. In my probably controversial opinion, you can see much of these problems come to the forefront in many of his "Shaolin Cycle" era films. So while I did watch a shortened version of the film coming in at about 77 minutes (I believe the original should be slightly over 90), I think a big part of my enjoyment was the quick pacing that emphasised more action and less drama, or in other words, emphasised Chang's strengths and downplayed his weaknesses. The story is as basic as it gets. Some Sung dynasty supported want to rescue a kidnapped prince. Ti Lung gets a very generic role as a good axe fighter. David Chiang gets his usual role as the loner with good martial arts skills. There are a long of classic martial arts movie moments in this film such as a scene in which some guys attempt to cross a bridge that collapses under even the tiniest of weight. The first guy tries to cross and the boards break under him making him fall to his death. A second guy then says something like "out of all of us, I have the lightest foot, let me try!". So he does and he too falls to his death. So a third guy who even admits that he is less skilful than the second guy goes "I think I can make it!" and so he tries and he too falls and dies. Yeah, we aren't expecting "smart" characters in our Chang movies, but it does make for great, if unintentionally hilarious, viewing. And what review of a Chang Cheh movie would this be without some talk of the action? I still think Chang's action scenes are the best Shaw Brothers have to offer and that's because of his beautiful framing and obsession with movements on screen. As with many early basher films, the choreography isn't as graceful as the later shapes films and the fights tend to be one against many. This makes the fights down and dirty which presents a different kind of excitement to the more carefully choreographed fight scenes of later films. Like Hollywood director Nicholas Ray, Chang was very expressive with his use of colours on screen, so in these fights that have dozens of actors on screen, we have many different coloured costumes, silver weapons, neon red blood and all the blurring that the movement of our actors and camera makes. The action scenes are an almost kaleidoscopic use of colour. This doesn't just apply to the Deadly Duo though as many of Chang's action films are like this. That doesn't take away from what this film does do though, and its glorious to behold.
  24. Does The Deadly Duo (1971) count? If so, will review that one this month!
  25. Writ

    Ghost In The Shell (2017)

    Yes. Yes. 2017. How does that make any of what I said false? You or anyone else being angry doesn't change the fact that what I'm saying is true. The millions being alienated are are the ones who have no idea what the original anime is and would more likely watch it because of a white actress in the starring role. It's the unfortunate reality of the world right now that white stars make more money than Asian ones. It didn't need to be made, but it was and it isn't nearly as bad as many people thought it would be or are making it out to be. And if you have any idea about the source material, you'd know that the Major was never said to have a Japanese body either so there's even an in-universe explanation for said "whitewashing" even if the idea itself is unethical. And while the original wasn't made for Western audiences, what is wrong with translating foreign stories for the Western world if done right? Heck, we're on a forum where people love watching Hong Kong movies dubbed in English! I'm not saying this film did everything right, but it's a start. Did you ever think you'd see Beat Takeshi in a strong role in an English language movie? Well we got it with this one! Baby steps man. Though let's be honest. Because of it's popularity, I'm sure many people were asking for live-action Ghost in the Shell.