July 16, 2004 |
"Zhou Yu's Train" is something of a rarity in Chinese cinema, the all-stops-out romantic movie. It stars Gong Li, master director Zhang Yimou's former longtime muse. Since their personal and professional breakup with "Shanghai Triad" (1995), Gong has been largely absent from overseas screens, but she returns here as beautiful and accomplished as ever.
January 31, 1993
I would agree with Dacy up to a point, that it's the star performances that make Hong Kong films popular. But who creates many of those star performances? Until he was cast in a John Woo film, Chow Yun-Fat's "undeniable personal charisma" didn't find much of an audience. Woo's ability to bring out the best in actors and to give them a previously unimaginable weight and depth has in the past revived the failing career of Ti Lung, made a serious actor of pop star Leslie Cheung and made Chow Yun-Fat a mega-star in Asia.
December 20, 1993 |
The second annual Festival Hong Kong continues at the Monica 4-Plex with Johnny To's "The Heroic Trio" (Tuesday at 5:15 and 9:30 p.m.; Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.), the kind of martial arts fantasy only the Hong Kong film industry could pull off.
February 13, 2014 |
In the tradition of hit-and-miss anthology valentines like "Love Actually" (but with less pandering), Chinese writer-director Chen Sicheng has assembled five interlocking tales in "Beijing Love Story. " Each romance focuses on a different stage of life, from teen infatuation through the sometimes-thorny devotion of those long married. Adapting his TV series of the same name for this big-screen spinoff, Chen has an appealing visual style and deploys a sharp ensemble. The uneven movie benefits especially from the magnetism of Hong Kong stars Tony Leung Ka Fai and Carina Lau in the comic-poignant tale of a middle-age couple whose romantic getaway in Greece hits troubled waters.
September 2, 2011 |
"Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" finds Tsui Hark, a genre wizard, in top form in this splendid, action-filled period epic. It has opulent, stylized settings of elegance, grandeur and scope, flawless special effects, and awesome martial arts combat staged by the master, Sammo Hung. Yet bravura spectacle never overwhelms either the plot or the key characters. Chang Chia-lu's intricate script bristles with wit and suspense; the film from start to finish is a terrific entertainment.
July 4, 2008 |
HONG KONG -- After 16 years directing Hollywood movies, John Woo is returning to Chinese film with an ambitious two-part historical epic that he hopes will also appeal to Western audiences. "Red Cliff," whose first installment is due out in Asia this month, is based on a famous battle in divided 3rd century China that saw 2,000 ships burned. It draws from a storied period in Chinese history that has spawned comic books and video games. Expectations are high for the movie.
January 18, 2008 |
HONG KONG -- Ang Lee's spy thriller "Lust, Caution" and Peter Chan's historical epic "The Warlords" led with six nominations each in the shortlist for the second Asian Film Awards announced Thursday. Other top contenders include Jiang Wen's "The Sun Also Rises," with five nominations. The Japanese movie "I Just Didn't Do It" and South Korea's "Secret Sunshine" each had four in the event organized by the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
September 21, 2013 |
HONG KONG - There is a scene near the beginning of Wong Kar Wai's "The Grandmaster" in which the main character, the martial arts expert Ip Man, expounds on the ethos of his practice. "Kung fu: two words. One horizontal, one vertical - if you're wrong, you'll be left lying down. If you're right, you're left standing - and only the ones who stand have the right to talk. " Lately it seems filmmakers can't talk enough about Ip Man. Born in southern China in 1893, he was notable for having taught the iconic Bruce Lee and popularizing the Wing Chun school of kung fu. Though he died in poverty and exile in Hong Kong in 1972, Ip has become an almost mythical figure featuring in multiple films in recent years.
October 30, 1992 |
"The Lover" is easy to watch and even easier to forget. A pleasant enough piece of commercial sensuality from French director Jean-Jacques Annaud, its selling point is its very pretty, clothing-optional sex scenes. Their effectiveness, however, is undercut by an air of self-congratulatory pomposity that the film is way too insubstantial to support.
April 30, 1993 |
John Woo's time is now. Known as the director who never leaves you begging for more, Woo is a veteran of the rowdy, populist Hong Kong cinema who's been embraced both by fickle critics and the financiers of Hollywood. "Hard-Boiled" (at the Monica 4-Plex) not only demonstrates why, it doesn't keep you waiting to find out.