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Broken Promises and Broken Bats

Hey, a blog entry! This doesn’t happen very often, so I intend to enjoy it, which means more pointless self-deprecation and references to the site being irrelevant. No offense, but pretty much all movie websites are irrelevant because they’re about movies. Sorry to burst that bubble.

“He’s talking about this crap again?
I’m a second away from a facepalm.”

We’re nearing the end of’s 10th year online, a milestone that has come with many broken promises and few actual events. The good stuff first: we completed both our Top 100 Hong Kong Movies of the Eighties reader vote and also the 2012 LoveHKFilm Awards. Good on us for actually doing what we said we would.

A random person claps for this website’s accomplishments.

Unfortunately, some of my initial promises for the site’s low-key 10th year have fallen by the wayside. Originally I planned on writing a bunch of posts summing up the past 10 years of Hong Kong movies, but I dropped that idea when I realized that this is reality, and in reality I simply don’t have that much time. Anyway, the subject can easily be summed up thusly:

2002: Still lots of Hong Kong movies. Not all are great, but at least they’re still making them! INFERNAL AFFAIRS and HERO just came out so my geek cup runneth over! Stephen Chow didn’t make a film this year but I know he will soon. Wong Kar-Wai has been working on 2046 for a while but it’ll be out at the end of the year. I hope. Yay, many Sammi Cheng romantic comedies to choose from! And about these Twins girls: they got talent and star quality! Edison Chen has potential, I know it.

The Past: The sky’s the limit.

2012: Not that many Hong Kong movies, and most are made for China anyway. MOTORWAY just came out, so my geek cup is half-full. Stephen Chow didn’t make a film this year and he probably won’t next year, either. Wong Kar-Wai has been working on THE GRANDMASTER for a while but it’ll be out at the end of the year. I hope. Hey, why aren’t they making romantic comedies anymore? And about these Twins girls: they never really went anywhere, did they? Edison Chen is a complete and utter douchebag.

The Present: That’s a nice hat.

So yep, that’s it. Hong Kong film is evolving into China film while the rest of us watch with mild horror and/or disappointment. One can only hope this is a Charmander to Charmeleon-type evolution, and one day Hong Kong film will fully evolve into its super-awesome Charizard form that will rule all other forms of cinema. Either that or we’ll be stuck at this sad midpoint, where Hong Kong filmmakers continually try to impress the mainland (if not the west) while making product with wan ambition and even less identity. But hey, at least Johnnie To is working, right?

He smokes them because he has them

Other promises yet to be fulfilled: I said I would come up with a new Mission Statement that outlines what the site is about and what it tries to do. The site’s focus should be apparent with a name like ““, but the PanAsian element has always come with some confusion, plus some site reviewers did express a desire to review Hollywood films along the way. Besides, who does this site write for? Genre geeks? Asian pop-culture followers? Me and me, alone? Not that it really matters, but I intend to answer this question.

Then again, whatever my answer is can always be disputed by someone saying, “Well, you say you write for [INSERT DEMOGRAPHIC HERE] but you’re really not writing for them at all.” Or, the response can be, “Doesn’t matter what you do, you’re not any good at it.” Ah, the magic of the Internet, where whatever you say can be turned against you in some bizarre Star War-sy “From a certain point of view” semantics battle. Big footnote to my future site mission statement: whatever it says, it’ll be a statement of intent only. Actual success can be debated by site visitors if they so desire. Yep, free speech is the bomb.

Cecilia Cheung believes in free speech:

“They said some nice things about me on this website!
Oooh, I found some pictures of me!”

The Mission Statement is one promise I will keep, so it’ll show up on the blog sometime before 2012 expires. Maybe. One promise I won’t keep: I will not write a lengthy review of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. I wrote a very long blog entry about the decidedly not Hong Kong movie THE DARK KNIGHT back in 2008, but that was on the heels of the Edison Chen controversy and his minor role in the film. Also, at that time, THE DARK KNIGHT was the movie on everyone’s mind and an unexpected cultural event. The sequel has been less of an event (unless we talk about the Second Amendment) so maybe I’ll make do with the following paragraphs:


Brief thoughts on THE DARK KNIGHT RISES:

The Worst Voice Ever™ competition begins

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is nowhere near as good as THE DARK KNIGHT but it’s still an entertaining sequel that’s bold for blockbuster fare while remaining true to the spirit behind the Batman mythos. Christopher Nolan and company shoehorn multiple influences into the film, from legendary Batman story arcs to Charles Dickens to sadomasochism instructional videos, and the result is something that’s easy to admire. The film covers so much territory that its clumsiness and cheesiness can be overlooked, and closes the series in an affecting if somewhat expected manner.


Despite all the hullaballo about Batman dying in this film, it was easy to figure out that he wasn’t dead because they didn’t give us one final look at that handsome Christian Bale face before the Bat exploded. If he were going to die, I’m sure he would have unmasked before towing off the bomb and gotten a Selina Kyle smooch that did not leave a massive bat-nose mark on her cheek. Seriously, his bat-nose leaves an impression on her face. Watch for it next time you spin the disc on your DVD/Blu-ray player.

Killing Batman would have been a balllsy way to get rid of the inevitable sequel talk, plus it would silence the online chatter that states: “Batman wouldn’t quit! He would fight forever!” Comic geeks have a point about that portion of Batman lore, and I understand it since I’m one of them. However, the “Batman will never give up” mentality only works for serial fiction, where Batman forever stays 30 years of age and has yet mentored four separate Robins, not counting the female Robin who earned the role simply so they could kill her off within a year. Don’t worry, she got better. Comics, everybody!

This picture also has a sixth Robin. I would explain but you should buy the comics:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the third from the right. Maybe.

DARK KNIGHT RISES suffered from ill-placed exposition (A revelatory speech in the middle of a chaotic firefight?), on-point dialogue that negated actual storytelling (anytime Batman met with anyone), plot holes and omissions (way too many for even a 165-minute film) and, most annoyingly, themes that really didn’t matter. The whole “Occupy Gotham City” thing was a red herring that did not affect at all since it was spouted by mad scientist voice Bane, who had zero conviction towards any of it and was basically satirizing revolutionary ideals for sh*ts and giggles. Joker’s spiels in DARK KNIGHT were eerily convincing and did not come off like blatant trolling - which was one reason that movie was so damn good.

Also, in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, the people of Gotham did nothing to save themselves except hide in their homes while Batman and a bunch of unarmed cops played rescue. This seems in direct opposition to THE DARK KNIGHT, where the people actually took part in deciding their own fates. Different movies, different storylines, but THE DARK KNIGHT RISES oddly took something away from DARK KNIGHT by reversing one of its most affecting and well-played moments. A misstep there by the screenwriters but hey, that’s what happens when you make big studio films.

“Just say your lines. We’ll get paid and the shoot will be over quicker.”

Regardless of the above issues, DARK KNIGHT RISES is really quite bold, not just because of its heady and pretentious themes, but because it actually chooses to end its story. Serialized fiction, e.g. comics and now comic book movies, may try to change things up by offing villains and supporting characters, but they usually won’t attempt a definitive end. Most comic book film series end with a whimper, usually due to falling grosses or the lead actor not re-signing. By ending its story, DARK KNIGHT RISES offered surprise and weight, rather than give us some half-assed finale where they kind of end things but leave room open for Tobey Maguire to come back.

Also, points to Nolan for not apologizing for Batman having that gravelly, super-angry voice. Michael Bay responded to TRANSFORMERS 2 complaints by getting rid of his racist robots, but Christopher Nolan chose to keep throat cancer Batman without lampshading it for an audience primed to giggle. So hats off to Christopher Nolan and also Christian Bale, who apparently isn’t embarrassed about creating a generation of people who think Batman sounds like someone gargling rocks.

So yeah, no more DARK KNIGHT! Let’s do this again when they make another Batman movie.

“Let’s go home! No more of this blog for us!”

That pretty much ties up the promises that I made and did not keep this year, in that I fulfilled or acknowledged them. I wish I had handled it all in a timely or relevant manner, but unlike THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, this blog (and probably the site) will end with a whimper one day, quietly shuffling off the Internets because I no longer have time or energy to keep it going. Already, the general western interest in Hong Kong and Chinese film has changed to the point that a site like this arguably serves any purpose. But maybe that’s why I still do it.

There was one last promise I made, and that one I’ll keep. I promised that we would do one final Reader Poll for the BEST 100 HONG KONG FILMS EVER and it will be happening. In fact, I’m so sure that it’ll be happening that we’ll start it in another week or so. It’ll be voting throughout November, after which we’ll come back in December, present the results and then close out the tenth year of this site. We’ll also look forward to year eleven, in which I promise to not make promises that I can’t keep. Really.

Casual Bruce and LGM will see you in a week:

Bruce is sitting in LGM’s chair

2 Responses to “Broken Promises and Broken Bats”

  1. Tim Chuma Says:

    100 Best ever Hong Kong movies? Might end up repeating a lot of what has been said with A Hero Never Dies, but that one was surprisingly diverse. Not sure what else I could say about the films I like.

  2. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Hi Tim,

    Martin did a great job with his lists at A Hero Never Dies and I expect a lot of the same films to reappear on this one. Hopefully we’ll get 100+ respondents, and if so the list will expand to more movies. And we still don’t know where MY WIFE IS 18 or INFERNAL AFFAIRS will place.

    There will also be a side vote, so that may provide some amusement.

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