Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand, etc.
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Masterofoneinchpunch
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Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

Post by Masterofoneinchpunch »

I had this posted at heroesoftheeast forum which no one actually visits. Maybe someone here might get a kick out of it. Not sure how valuable it is (other than for my own benefit), but it will make it easier for me to look up some reviews and data. As you notice below he had not reviewed that many Hong Kong films. I also think he did not understand many of the aesthetics of HK film as well. He used a four-star system.

I might add some other critics as well. Feel free to tell me if I miss anything. Debating on putting in the Cannonball Run films which he reviewed, though he really hated them.

Roger Ebert's Reviews of Hong Kong Including Co-production Movies

2046 **½
Ashes of Time Redux **
A Simple Life ****
Chungking Express ***
Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (US/Hong Kong) **
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Taiwan/Hong Kong/China) ****
Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (Hong Kong/China) ***½
Eros (segment The Hand) ****
Exiled **½
The Eye (Hong Kong/Thailand) **½
Fallen Angels ***
Farewell my Concubine (China/Hong Kong) ****
Hero ***½
House of Flying Daggers (China/Hong Kong) ****
Infernal Affairs ***
Infra-Man ***
In The Mood For Love ***
Ip Man 2 ***
Iron Monkey ***
Jackie Chan's First Strike ***
Kung Fu Hustle ***
The Legend of the Drunken Master (aka Drunken Master II) ***½
Lust, Caution (Taiwan/Hong Kong/US) ***
Mighty Peking Man ***
Mr. Nice Guy ***
Operation Condor (aka Armour of God II) ***
Red Trousers: The Life of the Hong Kong Stuntmen **
Return of the Dragon **
Rumble in the Bronx ***
Sex and Zen ***
Shaolin Soccer ***
Temptress Moon **
Three... Extremes (Hong Kong/Korea/Japan) ***½
Time and Tide ***
Vengeance ***½

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Markgway
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Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

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Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:He used a four-star system.
:thumbs:
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Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

Post by Yi-Long »

I've quickly read through a bunch of reviews, but it seems he doesn't even bother to mention that many of these movies were cut for western audiences, and it's unclear if he watched a dubbed or subbed version, which obviously can have a big impact on how you'll appreciate the movie...

For a critic who's been so insistent about movies being 'art', you'd think that would be a bit of a big deal.

That 'criticism' isn't exclusively aimed at Ebert btw. Magazines like Total Film and Empire, pretty much the two leading magazines about movies, also too often completely ignore to mention which cut the west is receiving, let alone condemning it. For pretty much any other art-form, including music, butchering the actual product would be a huge cause for concern and even outrage, but it seems when it comes to Asian movies, mainstream reviewers don't seem to give a shit.
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Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

Post by Markgway »

Most mainstream film critics tend just to watch whatever's projected and not bother about research.
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Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

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I'm not sure why you expect Roger Ebert to be aware of the politics of HK film distribution Yi? When you're a mainstream reviewer working for mainstream publications with limited "page space" then you choose your focus, and 99.9% of his readers are not going to be as anal as a hardcore asian film fan about how much the original edit of a film has been compromised.

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Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

Post by Yi-Long »

Shingster wrote:I'm not sure why you expect Roger Ebert to be aware of the politics of HK film distribution Yi? When you're a mainstream reviewer working for mainstream publications with limited "page space" then you choose your focus, and 99.9% of his readers are not going to be as anal as a hardcore asian film fan about how much the original edit of a film has been compromised.
His readers might not be anal about it, but isn't (wasn't) it his job as a reviewer/critic to do that research and be critical!? Of he's fed a crap version of a movie, or at least an incomplete version of a movie, and he openly states movies as art, shouldn't he at least speak up about that, and inform his readers about the different versions...!?

Hell, I'm not even a reviewer, but when I had to review One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest for school, I watched the movie at least 3 times, I watched the documentary about the movie that was on the disc, and I read about the movie online, before I started writing it.

I seriously do feel it's a responsibility of professional reviewers/magazines to inform their readers, and IF they're serious about movies as 'art', they should probably condemn it as well.
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Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

Post by Shingster »

Film critics aren't like doctors you know, they don't take an oath to always thoroughly research the background of every film they review & impart every bit of that knowledge to the reader, heck most of them didn't even get the job because they're huge cinema buffs anyway! Many are just journos working for a newspaper who ended up writing for the film section. It's completely impractical to become a fully researched expert on every film you're reviewing when you're doing the job week in, week out and have X number of other movies to cover each time. I agree that as a professional critic you should uphold certain standards and not willingly spread misinformation about a film, but that's about it!

Anyway, since when has a work of art become something that requires research to enjoy & write about? You've probably watched hundreds of films over the years that have been heavily altered by the studio or the censors against the filmmaker's wishes, it happens all the time behind the scenes!
Yi-Long wrote:Hell, I'm not even a reviewer, but when I had to review One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest for school, I watched the movie at least 3 times, I watched the documentary about the movie that was on the disc, and I read about the movie online, before I started writing it.
Ebert and many of the top critics out there spent most of their career in an era where you couldn't watch the documentary on the disk or read about the production online and it never hindered their career or their reviews, so they probably haven't had good reason to change their reviewing procedure.

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Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

Post by Markgway »

Ebert would have to review the versions that are released to US theatres. If they're cut and/or dubbed he might not know about it - or care. His job after all is to advise consumers whether or not to buy a ticket. Specialist critics are different. They do the research (or should...) and have the time to spend on checking every film they watch. Critics like Ebert see many films every week and have deadlines. To suggest he watch a film multiple times is fairly absurd.
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Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

Post by HungFist »

Agreed with Shing and Mark. When you gotta review every film that in the theaters there's limited amount of time for research.

I have about 15 movies to review for my Finnish Sonny Chiba festival article and damn is it taking time with the research. Just for a capsule review of Abashiri Prison 4 I have to watch the entire series up till then + one more entry that has Chiba in it. To review Okinawa Yakuza War I had to educate myself on the history of yakuza in Okinawa and the mainland, the true events in was based on, and of course countless other genre movies. And let's not even get started with the Toho-financed earthquake film Tokyo Daijishin Magnitude 8.1 (1980) which requires me to watch Deathquake (1980), Japan Sinks (1973), be knowledgeable of the monster films like Godzilla, and of course know how Japanese movie stars increasingly went to TV in the late 70's... And that's just for getting three films reviewed. And even despite possessing a pretty decent background knowledge already...

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Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

Post by Yi-Long »

I'm sorry (no I'm not), but it doesn't take hours to 'research' which cut you're being shown. That takes minutes. Let's say you notice the running times differ, and you do some background research, that can be done within 10-15 minutes. I'm not saying he should be doing an extensive article about all the differences and whatever, but at the very least he should offer the reader the information that the version being shown/sold here, is altered/cut/butchered/raped/whatever.

Can you imagine a CD being released here and it's missing 2-3 songs that are available on the USA disc? That would get mentioned. What about a book that's missing 30 pages, or a graphic novel which is released in black&white, instead of the original color? That would usually be addressed in a serious review. And it should.

When you change a soundtrack completely, that CHANGES a movie. For better or worse, but it changes the movie. When you cut out 20+ minutes, or even 5 minutes, that can completely change a movie. The Good, the Bad and the Crazy has a completely different ending in the Korean version, compared to the western releases.
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Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

Post by HungFist »

Well, of course, you're right that trying to inform the readers about the version would be good, but how many of those films were cut in the first place? The Jackie films for sure, but he reviewed those in the 1990s when it probably wasn't that easy to find the information.

The running time alone is a bad indicator. Sometimes you have the same running time but different versions (e.g. I Saw the Devil, and many Sonny Chiba films, which are missing some scenes but also feature new scenes in the Western versions), sometimes the Western version is actually longer, and a lot of time the internet is just full of incorrect information about running times (IMDb is a good example... every other Asian movie has some longer version listed that doesn't actually exist).

I'm not saying that you shouldn't do the research, just saying sometimes it's more complicated that it looks, especially when you need to review a big bunch of movies every week, travel to film festivals, and possibly have a second job to feed the kids. Of course whenever I review a film I thoroughly check the backgrounds, but I don't expect a mainstream critic to always know what he's talking about :lol:

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