What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Masterofoneinchpunch
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

Post by Masterofoneinchpunch »

HungFist wrote:Neither Yojimbo nor Sanjuro have ever been among my favorite Kurosawa films. My top 3 would be
1. Seven Samurai
2. High and Low
3. Ran
...Completely agreed, although I saw A Fistful of Dollars first, which may be the reason why I never became such a huge fan of Yojimbo... It's been ages since I last saw it, though.
High and Low (aka Heaven and Hell) is highly appreciated by me (and critics as this is on a ton of lists.) This has one of my favorite non-samurai Mifune performances (heck, possibly all performances.) I have two different Criterions of this.

Ran: This is the film that got me into Kurosawa (first Kurosawa watched). I had watched Siskel and Ebert talk about this film and I got it on VHS (I now have two different DVDs of this) and had been hooked ever since. Brilliant film and probably the Kurosawa film I have seen the most times next to Yojimbo.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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I have mixed feelings on Special ID and here is some random unorganized blather. I feel that the plot here is worse than Flashpoint, but the fighting scenes are quite good. Donnie Yen keeps improving his choreography with an eclectic style that does not seem to repeat itself much (with some exceptions like a leg triangle that results in a reversal by picking up and either ramming the participant into something or power bomb ala Flashpoint.) I am seriously impressed with Donnie Yen for his continual work in martial arts, but his improvement as an actor. Some on KFC were criticizing his "overacting" but it fits the role. I was hoping for more of a Donnie Brasco influence from the aspect of being undercover for too long, but the plot was too disjointed for its own good.

I am not impressed with the script or some of the characters motivations. For example cop Jian Tian, she is either a reckless cop or just stupid (though her fight scene in the car was impressive, her earlier one not as much because her frame is Ally McBeal like where I just feel she would not do any damage; how she got to the car was rather unbelievable.) She has the annoying aspect of "straight cop" where she has to ignore the advice of the sage "street wise", but, of course, puts herself in danger as well as his fellow cops. In one scene she literally jumps into an unseen area putting herself in complete harms way (a no-no for any half-decent cop, because it is an easy set-up for an ambush), but is thankfully saved by Donnie Yen's character who is then taken hostage. She dispatches the bad guy luckily, but then is sad for killing him (yet not sad for getting several officers shot, herself almost shot and Donnie Yen's character almost shot.)

The transition from Hong Kong to China was done fine, but the transition to other locales seemed arbitrary. I lost track of where they were at several points. How did he get back to his Mom so quickly? The whole plot structure was flawed as well (was there a finished script, it does not feel like one) with Collin Chou being badly misused. I do wonder how many of these issues were because of the Mainland's influence/guidelines. I mean the Mainland cops seemed like bumpkins. At first I thought it might be a clever dig from the director, but I wonder if it was just the incompetence of the screenplay.

But the action was good, damn good in several instances. I liked the repeated ground punches that Yen used in a fight scene involving multiple fighters against him. Vicious yes, but effective. Now if they had only built up a decent film around him.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Haven't bothered with this yet. Based on clips and 98% negative reviews, this will most likely be a bargain bin purchase for me. I think Clarence Fok bears a large deal of blame here.... 9 times out of 10 he is just a shit director. But the Mainland pandering is probably to blame too. Why do they feel like they have to inject the lowest form of comedy when catering to the Chinese market (that recent Jet Li abominatin is another example). Is the Mainland Chinese audience a bunch of child like retards? There's like billions of them. Surely there are some smart, sophisticated folks in there somewhere.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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RetroRobot wrote:Haven't bothered with this yet. Based on clips and 98% negative reviews, this will most likely be a bargain bin purchase for me. I think Clarence Fok bears a large deal of blame here.... 9 times out of 10 he is just a shit director. But the Mainland pandering is probably to blame too. Why do they feel like they have to inject the lowest form of comedy when catering to the Chinese market (that recent Jet Li abominatin is another example). Is the Mainland Chinese audience a bunch of child like retards? There's like billions of them. Surely there are some smart, sophisticated folks in there somewhere.
It is one of the those films where I would just watch the action scenes and eschew the rest (for multiple watches; though if I ever do a proper review I would have to rewatch it as already I have a dozen questions about the plot that may or may not be answered while going over it.) For me the action scenes were impressive, I just wish there was a movie around them. The humor did not bother me, the "make it up as you go" plot did (which as we know can work when you have a talented director and crew.)

I was thinking Fok was to blame on many of the script and pacing issues. I would need to see more films from him, though what I have read from some of the reviews is that he is not overly sublime. I surely would not credit him for the action scenes which were competent while the rest was not.

I still have not seen Badges of Fury yet (the only reason I had not was my Best Buy copy did not work so I had to return it -- for a BD of Ishtar :D.) I will eventually get to it, but it has been pushed, now, far down in my Mainland/HK watchings (which makes it even further down since I have so many different areas/genres/directors I tend to go over.)

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Badges of Fury and Ishtar.... now that is one serious shit sandwich :)

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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RetroRobot wrote:Badges of Fury and Ishtar.... now that is one serious shit sandwich :)
Haven't you ever wanted to see Jet Li team up with Dustin Hoffman? :P
RetroRobot wrote:I think Clarence Fok bears a large deal of blame here.... 9 times out of 10 he is just a shit director.
Fok may be a hack, but he has put out some decent work.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Yes, that would the 1 out of 10. Century of the Dragon and H.K. Triad are two I like. On the Wrong Track, Iceman Cometh and Dragon From Russia are watchable and...... well, I guess that's it

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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The Ballad of Narayama (Japan, 1958) [DVD] – 3.5/5
Keinosuke Kinoshita’s adaptation of the classic tale of a small village whose elderly people travel to a holy mountain to die as they reach the age of 70. A highly theatrical, kabuki inspired, though innovative, movie filmed almost entirely in beautiful studio sets. Oddly enough, it was also a major influence to Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 which replicated many of the elements and techniques used in the film.

The Ballad of Narayama (Japan, 1983) [DVD] – 3.5/5
Shohei Imamura’s take on the classic story replaces the studio sets of 1958 version with real locations and strong, gritty realism. An impressive movie, but also a very bleak one compared to the more emotional 58 version.

Oh Women! A Dirty Song (Japan, 1981) [35mm] – 4.5/5
Asshole rocker Yuya Uchida plays himself in Tatsumi Kumashiro’s unbelievable sleaze fest, which is supposed to be a true accounting of Uchida’s life. The film begins with Uchida getting into car accident with his prostitute girlfriend while cheating on his wife, and the falling in love with the nurse he rapes in the hospital. What then ensue is loads of sex, awesome rock music performed by Uchida, bar fights, and a classic scene in which Uchida’s sadomasochistic lover his strangling him with telephone cord during sex while his girlfriend is crying at the other end of the line. Heavyweight rocker / actor Rikiya Yasuoka is excellent as Uchida’s manager.

Hana-Dama (Japan, 2013) [DVD] - 2/5
High school bullying turns expectedly grotesque in Hisayasu Sato’s (Lolita Vibrator Torture) new film. The horror drama was scripted by pink director Shinji Imaoka (Underwater Love) with Carrie clearly in his mind. Unfortunately neither of the gentlemen are quite at their best here. The film swells in its protagonists’ exaggerated misery and draws a vision of Japanese trash not entirely unlike the films of Rob Zombie; only Sato’s movie is shot much cheaper. Acting and visual look aren’t up to much, and the film takes nearly 80 minutes before turning on its supernatural revenge gear. Once that happens, we’re treated an anarchic climax of bloodshed unlike anything ever staged in a classroom before. It comes a bit late, but for once the audience is left hungry for the (planned, not promised) sequels.

Love’s Whirlpool (Japan, 2014) [DCP] - 4/5
Daisuke Miura’s latest movie is the most stylish Japanese adult drama in years! The 18-rated character study sees eight strangers – from a businessman to a kindergarten teacher – gather in a luxury apartment to have sex. Keeping anonymity, denying emotions and playing roles turns out more difficult than expected, however. Director Miura is notorious for his ultra-realistic theatrical plays that have driven the performers on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but here he also shows remarkable visual eye. The film looks stylish as hell, in addition to being a fascinating social study.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Shaolin Abbot- 1980

Never quite know how to feel about this one. I think David Chiang does a fine job, but is perhaps a bit miscast as your standard shaven headed Shaolin monk. Gordon would have been the obvious choice, but again, that would just feel like lazy typecasting in something as generic as this. Cuz it is pretty damn generic in every way. Evil Chings, Burning of temple, righteous monk, recruiting students, master whitebrow etc. And this is definitely Lo Lieh's least engaging performance as Pai Mei, out of the three he did. He's not really menacing like he was in EFS or energetic like he was COTWL. He just kinda meanders about looking cranky. The action is, for the most part, decent. But the end fight is thoroughly disappointing. It feels like they ran out of time or just couldn't be bothered. All in all, very standard Shaw fare... which isn't bad, but it's not exactly great either.

Judgement of an Assassin- 1977

I think I have fallen a little out of love with this movie. I know it's on my Top HK films list for '77, but viewing it again, maybe it needs to be replaced. Though with what, I don't know. I still love Chan Wai Man's badass character here, the premise is fine, and there's some really cool action on display. Always felt that Dave (once again) was a bit miscast here. Ti Lung or Fu Sheng would probably have been a better choice. Don't know why, but it dropped a little on the esteem-meter with this viewing.

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Shaolin Abbott feels rather old fashioned for its time, which oddly makes it rather pleasant. The title music was written for a hilarious Peter Cushing horror called The Blood Beast Terror. I do feel Chiang is miscast - he worked best playing happy-go-lucky or brooding intensity, but holier-then-thou is Gordon's schtick.
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Yeah, everything just seems a little off here. It also strikes me as perhaps a bit of a lower budget production. Feels kinda rushed, the set dressing and props looks a little cheaper than usual etc. Although that is merely conjecture on my part. I have no idea how Shaws budgeted their productions. They used the same sets, props and wardrobe for all their films, but it just looks a little less impressive here. On the mountainside bridge set you can clearly see big air bubbles in the sky baground paint and at one point a door.... with clouds on it. Not super convincing :D But their indoor-for-outdoor sets were starting to look particularly phoney by the 80's. As much as I love Five Element Ninjas, it looks like a straight up stage play.

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RetroRobot wrote:... Not super convincing :D But their indoor-for-outdoor sets were starting to look particularly phoney by the 80's. As much as I love Five Element Ninjas, it looks like a straight up stage play.
What did you think of the set for The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter? But yeah I agree that less effort/money seemed to be going into the 1980s sets.

It's always funny seeing a door in the scenery of a martial arts movie. This is one egregious example from a 70s Chang Cheh film, but I cannot remember the title right now (one of my R1 Chang Chehs.)

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The intro battle set in EDPF looks very stagey. I always thought it was a slight disservice to what is an emotional and frenzied opening. Though other sets like LKL's forest hideaway and the temple garden pond where GL trains are beautiful. I always found the Shaw sets a huge part of the charm of their movies. But especially with later flicks, I can only ignore so much.... and doors in the sky is a bit too much. Sometimes I think it was downright unecessary, like in Martial Club where they're doing the pyramid formations and you can see that they just stapled a bunch of mats on the studio ceiling to simulate..... actually I don't know. A roof on the street?? :dontknow: It looks awful. Yes, they have more control in the studio than outside, but come on.

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I imagine rushed schedules meant there wasn't time to do sensitive photography - the lighting is very bright and flat. Much like later Hammer films when they replaced Jack Asher with faster cinematographers.

The music in later Shaws frequently shows the problems of this cookie cutter attitude. Most of the "scores" are by Eddie H. Wang, who basically went to the De Wolfe library and picked up the most random and inappropriate cues and slapped them on the movies. It's very hard to soak up the Chinese atmosphere when you've got music from English Civil War dramas and British game shows clogging up the movie - though oddly enough I have no problem with the days when Shaws felt the ideal score for a classic Chinese epic was Uriah Heep. Maybe I just don't like the British feel.
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RetroRobot wrote:Is the Mainland Chinese audience a bunch of child like retards? .
Judging from Kids of Shaolin, I'm afraid they write the scripts.
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Masterofoneinchpunch wrote: * My favorite book on Kurosawa is still Donald Richie's The Films of Akira Kurosawa. The Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto book is good on supplemental studies and contrarian thought, though not my first pick for delving into Kurosawa. Don't forget about Kurosawa's autobiography Something Like an Autobiography which is also a recommended read.
I have Richie's most recent book on Japanese cinema which is very interesting up to a point - you get your Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Ozu,, Naruse etc. But if you're interested in commercial and exploitation cinema, you'll find it lacking. No mention of Sonny Chiba at all, a cursory mention of Godzilla, and the last section on anime feels it was a publisher stipulation.

I'd certainly like to read his book on Kurosawa and also the one by Stuart Galbraith IV, who is one of my favourite reviewers.
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Ivan Drago wrote:I imagine rushed schedules meant there wasn't time to do sensitive photography - the lighting is very bright and flat. Much like later Hammer films when they replaced Jack Asher with faster cinematographers.

The music in later Shaws frequently shows the problems of this cookie cutter attitude. Most of the "scores" are by Eddie H. Wang, who basically went to the De Wolfe library and picked up the most random and inappropriate cues and slapped them on the movies. It's very hard to soak up the Chinese atmosphere when you've got music from English Civil War dramas and British game shows clogging up the movie - though oddly enough I have no problem with the days when Shaws felt the ideal score for a classic Chinese epic was Uriah Heep. Maybe I just don't like the British feel.
You're definitely on to something with the cinematography.... with one exception. The films of Chor Yuen. Unlike much of the studio's other output, I don't feel that his films dropped in overall visual quality, which im sure was his doing.

Regarding the scores, I actually love most of the DeWolfe stuff, and still to this day have all the hundreds of Shaw music bits that KFC member Iron Boat uploaded to Megaupload back in the day. Im also not a big music expert, so often a piece that will be very recognizable to most people, will pass me right be. Although the spaghetti western and Bond stuff is fairly obvious. The most egregious is no doubt some of that electronic blippety beep stuff that they used in later films for comedic scenes. You can hear it in Five Super Fighters, Mad Monkey Kung Fu, Legendary Weapons and others. It sounds like a broken Commodore 64 or something. That shit will make your ears bleed.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Ivan Drago wrote:
RetroRobot wrote:Is the Mainland Chinese audience a bunch of child like retards? .
Judging from Kids of Shaolin, I'm afraid they write the scripts.
I love that movie!
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Martial Arts Movie Marathon Vol. 1(Shout! Factory)

This set contains four Golden Harvest films from 1974/75.All have original language mono and an english dub option.

Manchu Boxer 2/5 Tony Liu,who appeared in all of Bruce Lee's completed films (his biggest part the Big Boss's son) takes up a lead role in this short but rather slow moving tale of an expert fighter who kills a man in the films opening sequence and is banished from home.Of course he takes up a vow to never fight again and he frustratingly sticks to it till near the film's conclusion.In between there's a few action sequences involving Liu's co-stars (Sammo's in there).Print like most of these Fortune Star prints is a bit battered but ok.

The Skyhawk 3/5 Probably the best movie in this set,Kwan Tak-hing reprises his Wong Fei Hung role and has Sammo & Carter Wong along for the ride.Add in Nora Mao and Hwang-in-Shik and you have an entertaining basher.As above the print used has seen better days but is passable.

The Association 1.5/5 As noted elsewhere this movie is as mad as a bag of spanners,mixing softcore nudity with bouts of kung fu.The star Byong Yu (his only film appearance) is a Dirty Harry style cop out to avenge his girlfriends unjust execution. Unfortunately Yu while clearly having fighting ability is a charisma free zone.Saving graces are Angela Mao & the ubiquitous Sammo.not sure the lack of a climactic fight was the director daring to be different or he just couldn't be arsed! and Carter Wong's "appearance" wtf was that all about?

The Dragon Tamers 2.5/5 Decent cast (James Tien,Carter Wong,Yeung Wai) in an early John Woo effort.A little overlong but some decent action,interesting how GH seemed to be moving towards the softcore nudity market (gratituous nudity here) i mean even in the climactic fight with the female boss the knockbout blow sees her fall to the ground,her boob pops out of her robe as it would do :)

All in all a mixed bag,personally i'm made up to see these movies getting a release in the USA at least,i hope they sell well so Shout! keep up with releasing them.i'll be supporting them by buying anyway.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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The Pinkie (Japan, 2014) [Yubari Fanta] – 1.5/5
Lisa Takeba’s previous film, Wandering Alien Detective Robin, was a charming low-key film noir tribute. Her latest, The Pinkie, is a far less successful film. The storyline follows a jealous girl who makes herself a boyfriend by cloning the man she’s in love with. Trouble starts when the clone and the original meet. The wacky pop-film resembles the works of Tetsuya Nakashima (Kamikaze Girls) and Takashi Miike (For Love’s Sake), but doesn’t manage to add anything worthwhile to the concept. It goes from overly energetic love-comedy to horrifying CGI splatter bloodbath. A catchy theme song by the band ‘Andersons’ is the film’s only real asset.

The Greatful Dead (Japan, 2013) [Yubari Fanta] – 3/5
A lonely girl gets her kicks from spying on other lonely and miserable people. When her favourite target, an elderly man, finds new happiness with a Christian missionary, she goes insane. The clash between genders and generations ends up in one of the most unusual duels, in which anything from sex to murders is fair game. The film has a slow start, but it becomes relatively engaging as it proceeds. Comparisons to Sion Sono’s masterpiece Love Exposure, however, are grossly exaggerated in every sense.

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Found this capsule of mine. I rewatched the first film on the Dragon Dynasty release which really helps the viewing experience (will have to change my capsule some time) with the better subtitles. It makes it a lot less hard to follow, but it is easier to catch some of the verbal play too. I also recently watched Journey to the West (2013) which was fun and extremely successful, but I do not like it as much as the two below.

A Chinese Odyssey Part One: Pandora’s Box (1995: Jeffrey Lau), A Chinese Odyssey Part Two: Cinderella (1995: Jeffrey Lau): I tend to think of these as one film especially since the two Hong Kong releases overlapped each other in 1995 and were filmed back-to-back. This is a crazy experience as an “adaptation” of the classic novel Journey to the West, but ultimately it is a showcase for Stephen Chow and action director Ching Siu-tung. The movie can be hard to follow (and the subtitles on the current DVDs do not help), but Chow as the sarcastic Monkey King is an unstoppable force with his mannerisms, quite-witted verbal style and just plain silliness. In this film you will see crotch stomping, crotches on fire, crotches on fire being stomped, attacking demons, a spider woman, time travel, true love, flatulence, needless deaths, reincarnation, body switching, a giant bull-man, lots of wire wuxia action and Buddhist monks. I had you at crotch stomping didn’t I?

----------------------------------------
On a related note: I was thinking this: sometimes exaggeration only works so far. Chow loves to exaggerate sometimes to the detriment of his movies. It reminds me of when you do a sarcastic joke and clearly state an exaggeration (say a 1000) only to have someone say something completely ridiculous (like a billion) the joke just does not seem that effective. I see that quite a bit in Chows films that if he held back a bit (like power with the main villain on Kung Fu Hustle or the size of the foot when enlarged in Journey to the West) it would be more effective.

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I find Stephen Chow flicks really hard to get into. One minute he's making me laugh, and the next he's groan inducingly annoying or just plain unfunny. I usually only steer towards the films of his that has a noteworthy action element to them. Cuz then that can at least be a saving grace if the humor falls flat.

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I feel the same. But to be fair, I don't speak the language or understand its nuances.
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saltysam wrote:Martial Arts Movie Marathon Vol. 1(Shout! Factory)

This set contains four Golden Harvest films from 1974/75.All have original language mono and an english dub option.

Manchu Boxer 2/5 Tony Liu,who appeared in all of Bruce Lee's completed films (his biggest part the Big Boss's son) takes up a lead role in this short but rather slow moving tale of an expert fighter who kills a man in the films opening sequence and is banished from home.Of course he takes up a vow to never fight again and he frustratingly sticks to it till near the film's conclusion.In between there's a few action sequences involving Liu's co-stars (Sammo's in there).Print like most of these Fortune Star prints is a bit battered but ok.

The Skyhawk 3/5 Probably the best movie in this set,Kwan Tak-hing reprises his Wong Fei Hung role and has Sammo & Carter Wong along for the ride.Add in Nora Mao and Hwang-in-Shik and you have an entertaining basher.As above the print used has seen better days but is passable.

The Association 1.5/5 As noted elsewhere this movie is as mad as a bag of spanners,mixing softcore nudity with bouts of kung fu.The star Byong Yu (his only film appearance) is a Dirty Harry style cop out to avenge his girlfriends unjust execution. Unfortunately Yu while clearly having fighting ability is a charisma free zone.Saving graces are Angela Mao & the ubiquitous Sammo.not sure the lack of a climactic fight was the director daring to be different or he just couldn't be arsed! and Carter Wong's "appearance" wtf was that all about?

The Dragon Tamers 2.5/5 Decent cast (James Tien,Carter Wong,Yeung Wai) in an early John Woo effort.A little overlong but some decent action,interesting how GH seemed to be moving towards the softcore nudity market (gratituous nudity here) i mean even in the climactic fight with the female boss the knockbout blow sees her fall to the ground,her boob pops out of her robe as it would do :)

All in all a mixed bag,personally i'm made up to see these movies getting a release in the USA at least,i hope they sell well so Shout! keep up with releasing them.i'll be supporting them by buying anyway.
Dragon Tamers sounds awesome!
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Post by Masterofoneinchpunch »

Ivan Drago wrote:I feel the same. But to be fair, I don't speak the language or understand its nuances.
A lot of his humor is not based on colloquialisms or especially idiomatic language. I think people overstate this aspect (though earlier on he was more reliant on this style of humor.) Some of the analogies are not that difficult to understand especially the following -- for example when he is saying grapes he means testicles in that instance (just replace anything roundish with bollocks/balls or long with penis.) If you think he might be talking about sex, he probably is.

This reminds me that sometimes when dialect and slang comes into a film it actually can be easier to understand if it is translated by someone who knows the nuances of what was said than even by native speakers (I'm actually thinking of several French films that are so full of slang that some French audiences could not understand a lot of the film, ironically an aspect that is lost to someone reading the subtitles -- some examples Port of Shadows or many of the Jean-Pierre Melville films.)

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