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

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

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Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:
grim_tales wrote:I also read City on Fire by Lisa Stokes (1999) when I was in college (I studied Film Studies) which was an OK book, but it did annoy me as it kept on quoting Karl Marx for some reason, and referring to the handover of HK all the time.
I have the book (and another HK book by her), but I have only skimmed it. I should read it (and review) all the way through, but I've always been wary of that reputation. I believe the thesis is based on the handover and uses that as a methodology for its discourse. Marx is so influential to some academicians that it overly influences much of their work (reminds me of how postmodernism can really ruin a critical essay as well -- now referencing either is fine but when it comes with a religious like fervor than watch out -- this breeds acolytes that can be quite annoying.)

Was studying Film Studies fun?
Yeah, it was really good actually, in the unit on World Cinema we looked at A Chinese Ghost Story and Chungking Express, the tutor said I discussed the genre mix in ACGS very well :D I did a project on Jackie Chan IIRC.
400 Blows was a fine film too :)

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

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Secret of Chinese Kung Fu (1977)

Passable basher (looking rather out of place in '77) with a dull lead (Lung Sze-Ma) but good villians in Lo Lieh and Lung Fei. Despite the title, there is no secret.

And the eternal dubbing drinking game reaches its point of no return with

"Yes boss, but still, but still..."
"But still? But still what???"

5/10
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Iceman (2014)

Most reviews of this thing are right. I don't know if it was the director or the writers but this was downright terrible and made absolutely no sense. The makers took almost no time building up momentum for key scenes in the story and properly explaining the logic behind the characters' origins and motives and just jumps right away into the essential parts taken from the original film.

The result is a hugely uneven film with LOTS of nonsense humor (many "wtf moments from Wang Baoqiang, Yu Kang, and even Donnie himself), incoherent acting performances, and obvious story loops. Unlike the original, the makers also couldn't balance seriousness and comedy at all and watching it was like watching several types of films rolled into one. It got to the point were I scratched my head thinking what the hell they wanted to achieve and whether they lost it somewhere along the process of making the film. The narrative is so confusing.

That being said, I think Donnie's action is the saving grace. I especially enjoyed the nightclub fight scene and the finale on the bridge which features creative fight choreography (don't expect the usual HK style exchanges of punches, kicks, blocks< because it's mostly situational and seeks dramatic tension), wirework, decent-looking CGI, all shot and edited exceptionally well. And something that surprised me: It has the same sound design from SPL, Flash Point, and Ip Man films which gives the impact of the hits and blocks an edgier/meaty feel to it. However unfortunately, they aren't in great numbers and, beside the ones I mentioned, they aren't lengthy either so what's present aren't enough to hold the whole film.

Overall, it's yet another good example of bad remakes as well as one of Donnie's worst films in recent times -- easily making Special ID look much better in comparison -- which has now given me little hope for the sequel being good in its' entirety (I'm sure the action will be good).

Rating: 3/10
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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^
I wasn't quite sure on the title above till I saw that review on KFC. :)
grim_tales wrote:I also read City on Fire by Lisa Stokes (1999) when I was in college (I studied Film Studies) which was an OK book, but it did annoy me as it kept on quoting Karl Marx for some reason, and referring to the handover of HK all the time.
[some thinking out loud]

OK, I just started reading it. Just finished the first chapter "Mapping the terriority" which pretty much lays out a thesis for the following I suppose with maining a retelling of the history of HK and literally going over the HK area. No mentions of movies yet :).

You can tell its political leaning pretty much right away. There is a jab at Milton Friedman: "Milton Friedman who have routinely sung paeans [no wonder I just reused this word] to Hong Kong laissez faire ignore the political state's contribution to the area's succeess[sic]." I have no problems with jabs when they are in the correct context, but this one is kind of funny since it is out-of-place and technically wrong since Friedman and most libertarians are not anarchists and have a strong belief in local government.

I think this might cover their thoughts more distinctly (I will have a better idea the further I get into the book):

"The history of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century capitalism reveals patterns of ruthless competitions that created unstable social relations; conquest, enslavement, robbery and murder, and gangsterism characterized this initial phase. As Karl Marx wrote, 'Capital comes [into the world] dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.'"

I do wonder how true this statement is: "Having fled political instability and social unrest, much of the population is apolitical, trading activism for materialism." It kind of ignores the population that was born there and the fact that I think most people tend to be apolitical regardless of the political institutions.

So far the book does seem to be interesting (to me) from a political standpoint. I am curious on how it is going to affect the "movie" portions of the book. I have wanted to read this for ages. :)

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

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Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:^
"The history of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century capitalism reveals patterns of ruthless competitions that created unstable social relations; conquest, enslavement, robbery and murder, and gangsterism characterized this initial phase. As Karl Marx wrote, 'Capital comes [into the world] dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.'"
Can someone remind me how many millions died under uber-communist Mao Tse-Tung?
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Markgway wrote:
Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:^
"The history of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century capitalism reveals patterns of ruthless competitions that created unstable social relations; conquest, enslavement, robbery and murder, and gangsterism characterized this initial phase. As Karl Marx wrote, 'Capital comes [into the world] dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.'"
Can someone remind me how many millions died under uber-communist Mao Tse-Tung?
I've brought that up so many times with pro-communistic people (along with Stalin supporters etc...) I always find it weird of the pro-Mao movement in France which some directors like Godard where whole-hearted supporters of him (as far as I know never apologizing for that fact later on -- feel free to show me otherwise.)

Of course I find it weird that Mao "I hate sparrows" is still on the money in China.

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

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"Last year, I went to prison three times. And instead was put in prison." -- Jenny

A Queen’s Ransom (1976: Ting Shan-hsi)

This movie makes Stoner seem competent. Sometimes it takes another film to realize how bad a movie can be made. (NOTE: I am going to have to modify a few of my past mini-reviews before I put them all together.) This is the worst film in the set with unfortunately very little Angela Mao and very little fighting or gun action or plausible sequences. While the setup is fine (even the twist is logical) and the backdrop is an important event in Hong Kong’s history (the movie even uses real footage of the event) it makes one hope for some team variation on The Day of the Jackal, but it is more like a less entertaining Fantasy Mission Force. There is a group of terrorists who are out to assassinate the Queen led by George Lazenby. Meanwhile there is an exiled princess/queen (Angela Mao) who has brought a large amount of gold along with her constituents. Hmmmm. While the plot structure sounds good, the execution is inept. For example there is one scene where Bolo Yeung is in a fight with a cop where he loses it by falling down a semi-steep embankment where he looks like he is literally forcing himself to fall backwards. Does he swim away, is he caught by the cops? No. He appears in a later scene with no explanation of what happened. The shooting “attempt” is pretty bad where it is the most obvious gun placement I have ever seen (there is a possible explanation for this, but it could have been a little more subtle.) This is full of atrocious editing, bad acting, waste of actors like Jimmy Wang Yu and Angela Mao and scenes like these. Make it a fun day and watch this with Iron Monkey 2 (full screen version) and Fearless Hyena 2 (I have not seen Badges of Fury -- yet).

Shout! Factory’s The Angela Mao Ying Collection: It comes with both the Mandarin and English dub (sounds original and in some scenes it is replaced by the Mandarin dub.) The back of the case lists these both as 2.0. The English subtitles are not dubtitles. While the print is good, though with some obvious damage to the print still intact, it does seem to suffer a little from the pal-to-ntsc transfer causing a bit of blur with action scenes. It comes with a trailer.

Some notes (which will find themselves in a review if I write one):

The English dub states her as Cambodian while the subtitles states her as Burmese. Cambodian makes more sense because of the year (1975) and the fact that the Lol Non government surrendered April 17 (less than a month before this story takes place) and I would suspect that government was friendlier to “princesses/queens” than the Khmer Rouge. Does the Mandarin dub indeed say Burmese?
KFC Review (Albert): A couple of mistakes here. Queen Elizabeth visited Hong Kong May 4 to 7 in 1975 not 1976. “doesn’t even speak in her role of Maria” Angela Mao does indeed speak in several scenes – though it is not much.
List of Commonwealth visits made by Queen Elizabeth II
HKMDB: I do question that one review gives it an 8/10 (don’t read the review until you have watched the film, it gives away at least one spoiler.)
Question: when did Dean Shek become more known for his comedy roles?
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Question: when did Dean Shek become more known for his comedy roles?
More Known? Mid 70s, I'd guess. I don't think he was ever taken seriously as a dramatic actor.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Markgway wrote:
Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Question: when did Dean Shek become more known for his comedy roles?
More Known? Mid 70s, I'd guess. I don't think he was ever taken seriously as a dramatic actor.
Thanks. The time on the disc is 1:33:34. I'm thinking (by looking at it) this is a pal-to-nstc transfer, though it does not look as bad as some of the others mentioned on this set. Do you have the original time? I wish HKFA would have this. Also there query algorithms could use improvement.

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

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Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Do you have the original time?
About 97m.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Markgway wrote:
Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Do you have the original time?
About 97m.
Thank you. This film does not have anywhere near as many action scenes which usually helps me in seeing a bad pal transfer :).

Back to complaining about City on Fire: read the second chapter "Reeling in the Years" and now almost done with the third "Whose Better Tomorrow."

What I do like about the book is the interviews done for it. I am certainly highlighting quite a bit of it. Unfortunately, too much is on attacking capitalism and quoting Marx. When I first heard the complaints on the book I thought it was exagerated, but she and Hoover draw from the same well too much. I find it interesting that the main reasons Mandarin speakers came here after the war was "wishing to escape Chiang Kai-shek's censorship policies" and yet while later mentioning "A third wave of people began flowing into the colony following hte establishment of the People's Republic in 1949..." yet never mentions in this section Mao by name.

Some interesting quotes from the second chapter (yes I'm picking on a little bit, but still having fun with the book; I probably made a few mistakes here and there transcribing):
"...commercial studios fostered possessive individualist values associated with consumer capitalism while exploiting the Chinese diaspora's curiousity about its culture and history."
"...despite the glaring inequalities present in the colony, movie audiences continued to grow."
"His words have a striking similarity to Marx's description of "the transformation of the laborer into a workhorse, [which] is a means of increasing captial, or speeding up the produciton of surplus value..."" [there is a block quote here that goes on for awhile.]
"provides a disturbing visual reminder of Marx's words."
"...whose consideration of women and sexuality not only deconstructed the ways that cinema 'naturalizes' socially constructed masculine fantasies and ideologies but also problematized essentialism of a 'heterosexual division of the universe.'"
"As Marx noted, the methods of early captialism were 'anything but idyllic.'"
"As Homi Bhabha points out, 'cultures are never unitary in themselves, nor simply dualistic in reltion of Self to Other.'"
"...what Uma Magal calls the 'reverse angle' of global cinema."
"...that Ackbar Abbas calls 'postcoloniality that precedes decolonization'"
"...what Michel Pecheux calls 'identification'"
"...affirm Horkheimer and Adorno's depiction of the culture industry as amusement, diversion, and distraction."

The book seems to cover mostly movies from the 90s and the more well known of the earlier films: the third chapter is on A Better Tomorrow, A Better Tomorrow II, The Killer and Hardboiled.

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

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"...whose consideration of women and sexuality not only deconstructed the ways that cinema 'naturalizes' socially constructed masculine fantasies and ideologies but also problematized essentialism of a 'heterosexual division of the universe.'"

Yeah, that keeps me awake at night, too.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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On Chapter 3: Whose Better Tomorrow

"What better contemporary vision to describe early capitalism than the imprimatur of John Woo's martial-arts-with-automatic-weapons movies, where competition rages among petty capitalists in the guise of Triads?"
"...the most meanly odious,' characteristic of early capitalist expropriation."
"Blood Brothers (1973), considered Chang's masterpiece" [now being more serious, I like this film, but this is an interesting choice to consider his "masterpiece"; Chang is tough to just pick one film it is kind of like saying Raging Bull is Scorsese's masterpiece.]
"Financial gain and expanded profit margins are all that matters to these villains."
"Shing will be the vampire-capitalist, who 'only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.'" [the inner quotations are direct quotations from Marx, same goes to the previous quotations in the earlier posts]
"Ko's ruling passions are avarice and a desire to get rich, shared by every capitalist upstart."
"To Ko they are a 'disposable reserve army of labor ... a mass of human material always ready for exploitation.'"
"Yet it is the expressiveness of such a scene that communicates to an audience and provides an alternative to a world currupted by capitalism."
"...they serve to reflect the harsh social reality for the many stepped on or over in a capitalist society."
"As Marx puts it, 'One capitalist always kills many.'"
"Marx reminds us, and 'the birth of the latter [Modern Industry] is heralded by a great slaughter of the innocents.'"
"Woo's gangster movies create a political and social subtext of early capitalism as a bloody battlefield."

Another serious question: this book reiterates that The Killer did not do well in Hong Kong. I know it made around 18M HK which is a dissapointment compared to A Better Tomorrow, but still quite a bit more compared to Bullet in the Head and barely less than Hardboiled. Wouldn't this be considered a canard? I would say that it might not have lived up to expectations.

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

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The Killer wasn't a flop. It did very well in Hong Kong and was the 9th highest grossing movie of 1989 (8th if you exclude import Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Markgway wrote:The Killer wasn't a flop. It did very well in Hong Kong and was the 9th highest grossing movie of 1989 (8th if you exclude import Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).
This is one of those canards that keeps getting passed around. It drives me nuts.

What would you consider Chang Cheh's masterpieces (or would you consider him to have one?)

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I have a lot of love for The Magnificent Trio, Kung Fu remake of a Japanese movie.

The Blood Brothers would be in my top five.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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I think I would have enjoyed The Magnificent Trio a lot more if I had seen it before Three Outlaw Samurai. I can see its appeal - it's a nostalgic piece of HK cinema from that era - but at the same time it feels like a more conventional version of Three Outlaw Samurai. Gosha's film was technically superb and probably ahead of its time in how it gave a darker, less heroic twist to the traditional samurai film genre. Chang copied most of the scenes in the film, but made them more heroic and conventional.

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My favourites from Chang are probably The One Armed Swordsman trilogy and Boxer from Shantung (not sure how much of that he directed). There are many 60's films that I haven't seen from him yet, though. Generally I think his 60's and early 70's films are quite enjoyable; the Venoms era films less so.

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

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Broken Oath 3.5/5 Excellent cast boosts this Angela Mao starring GH flick loosely based on Lady Snowblood. Starts off slow but gets into it's stride with some great fight sequences. hats off to Fortune Star they (deservedly) get a lot of stick but this transfer they've supllied Shout! with is excellent.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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HungFist wrote:I think I would have enjoyed The Magnificent Trio a lot more if I had seen it before Three Outlaw Samurai.
I haven't actually seen Three Outlaw Samurai, but even if I had, I'm not sure if it would have made much difference to me regardless, as I'm not really a fan of Japanese cinema. If it ever pops up on TV I'll make sure and check it out though.

As far as the Venoms films go, I don't remember disliking any of them. The original (The Five Venoms) is probably the best, with Crippled Avengers, Invincible Shaolin, The Rebel Intruders, Five Element Ninjas, and Two Champions of Shaolin further quality examples. The budgets had been cut and the emphasis placed more on acrobatic kung fu, but still enjoyable for fans.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Five Venoms is really good imo, not seen Crippled Avengers though, from what I saw - the trailer, it seems un-PC yet ahead of it's time at the same time (this is 1970's HK we're talking about).

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HungFist wrote:I think I would have enjoyed The Magnificent Trio a lot more if I had seen it before Three Outlaw Samurai. I can see its appeal - it's a nostalgic piece of HK cinema from that era - but at the same time it feels like a more conventional version of Three Outlaw Samurai. Gosha's film was technically superb and probably ahead of its time in how it gave a darker, less heroic twist to the traditional samurai film genre. Chang copied most of the scenes in the film, but made them more heroic and conventional.
...
I saw The Magnificent Trio (1966) first then I saw the Criterion release of Three Outlaw Samurai and then I rewatched The Magnificent Trio. I am in agreement with you because of what you state "technically superb" because the camera movement and especially the photography which is just beautiful. It just feels that every aspect of the film is done better in the Japanese film.

Reminds me I need to rewatch Sword of the Beast since I had not seen that since the Criterion release was out.

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

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grim_tales wrote:Five Venoms is really good imo, not seen Crippled Avengers though, from what I saw - the trailer, it seems un-PC yet ahead of it's time at the same time (this is 1970's HK we're talking about).
Crippled Avengers is a must watch for martial art fans and I prefer it to Five Venoms overall with Invincible Shaolin as possibly my favorite venoms film. Crippled Avengers is nowhere near as un-PC (or would some consider it emboldening) as Crippled Masters though.

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

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The only dubious aspect of Crippled Avengers in PC terms might be Chiang Sheng's mental defective; but knowing HK cinema it could've been much worse.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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When Taekwondo Strikes 2.5/5 Great cast enlivens standard kung fu plot,this time it's the oppressed koreans battling the evil japanese.Jhoon Rhee's only film appearance, he does ok but is rather bland and spends too much of the movie out of the action.

Stoner 1.5/5 Ha what a diabolical movie.inane plot that makes little sense and at 110 minutes way overlong.George Lazenby handles himself well with his limited fighting ability and it gets an extra half star for a decent battle between Angela Mao & Wang in Sik.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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saltysam wrote: ...Stoner 1.5/5 Ha what a diabolical movie.inane plot that makes little sense and at 110 minutes way overlong.George Lazenby handles himself well with his limited fighting ability and it gets an extra half star for a decent battle between Angela Mao & Wang in Sik.
I don't know if you read my paragraph on this film above, but I'm pretty much in agreement with you. What I don't understand is several on KFC who seem to generally like this movie (for example the 8/10 from City on Fire site).

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