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Musings from the Edge of Forever

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with RONIN ON EMPTY.

Archive for the ‘Chow Yun-Fat’ Category

THE KILLER 2011 in 3-D and Smell-O-Vision!

Killer

“Jung Woo-Sung, huh? I’m holding out for Colin Firth.”

While composing a review for the surprisingly good remake of The Karate Kid yesterday, I happened upon the news that John Woo’s The Killer is also being remade — in 3D, no less. A Moment to Remember’s John H. Lee will direct and Korean star Jung Woo-Sung will headline the film. John Woo himself has apparently given the project his blessing, as he, along with his partner Terence Chang, will be serving as a producer on this 3D, Los Angeles-set re-imagining of his 1987 classic. How involved he’ll actually be remains unclear.

Personally, I like Badass Digest writer, Devin Faraci’s idea that Woo is basically taking a John Carpenter-style approach to the remake, as the legendary horror director (Halloween, The Thing, They Live) served as a producer on the updates of The Fog and Assault on Precinct 13, but really didn’t have anything to do with the creative process. If I remember Carpenter’s words correctly, he had no problem with remakes, “as long as the check clears.”

As some of you will remember, there was an earlier remake of The Killer planned by Walter Will in 1992, set to star Richard Gere and Denzel Washington in the Chow Yun-Fat and Danny Lee roles. According to Christopher Heard, however, some American producers balked at the seeming homoeroticism between the two male leads. Homophobia, it seems, derailed plans for the 1992 version. That was almost twenty years ago. God, I feel old.

Anyway, what do you think of the prospect of a Killer remake? Are you excited about its potential? Angered at the heresy? Resigned to the fact that every movie you ever loved will be remade in 3-D? Whatever your take, you can read the full press release under the cut.

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Return to a Better Yesterday

A Better Tomorrow III

Certifiable Badass

A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon isn’t a bad film, but as a true prequel to the first two ABT films, I have to admit it’s a little disappointing. Sure, the “origin story” explaining Mark’s penchant for trenchcoats, sunglasses, and explosive gunplay is pretty interesting, considering that Tsui Hark locates these aspects of the character in an unexpected romantic context. And yeah, Chow Yun-Fat, Anita Mui, and Tony Leung Ka-Fei deliver fine performances. Heck, there’s even some truly poignant moments between Mark (Chow) and Kit (Mui), but overall, the movie seems kind of…well…pointless.

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Great Moments in Hong Kong Cinema #1 — Mark Gor Gets Revenge in A BETTER TOMORROW

 ABT 01

Chow Yun-Fat in John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow (1984)

Periodically, Ronin on Empty will be taking a look back at some Hong Kong cinema classics, albeit with a specific emphasis on “Great Moments” — i.e. classic scenes that no Hong Kong cinema fan (old or new) should miss. Of course, “classic” will not only entail super-cool, gobsmacking moments, but also the downright ridiculous stuff, too.

The May 6th episode of the NBC comedy Community  featured a dead-on parody of some of John Woo’s films (particularly those featuring Chow Yun-Fat), which got me to thinking about some of the best scenes from Woo’s filmography. For the first installment of “Great Moments in Hong Kong Cinema,” I chose a stylish action scene from John Woo’s 1984 classic, A Better Tomorrow. The sequence, partially an homage to Martin Scorcese’s Mean Streets, features a dashing gangster named Mark (Chow Yun-Fat) getting a little payback for his friend, Ho (Ti Lung). What’s so “great” about it? Well, you’ll just have to watch for yourself.

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Heroic Paintshed

I just had to interrupt my self-imposed hiatus to call attention to the most recent and rather brilliant episode of Community. For those of you unfamiliar with this NBC comedy, the premise involves a lawyer named Jeff Winger (The Soup’s Joel McHale) who is forced to attend community college when questions arise about the validity of his undergraduate degree. At Greendale Community College, he befriends a ragtag group of students, played by an wonderful ensemble cast that includes Chevy Chase, Gillian Jacobs, Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Allison Brie.

At this point, you may be wondering just what the heck any of this has to do with Hong Kong cinema, but I think if you take a good look at the image and the video I’ve embedded below, you’ll know immediately why the episode in question is relevant to a site called LoveHKFilm.com.

Senor Chang

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My Top Hong Kong Films of the 1990s — A Cop Named Tequila

Tequilla

C’mon, who HASN’T wished they could do this?

I first saw John Woo’s Hard Boiled on Cinemax.The cable company gave us a free trial, and I timed my VCR to record this film, along with A Better Tomorrow, Vampire Hunter D, and The Wicked City. Although I can’t speak for those who lived in major metropolitan centers, in my day, both Hong Kong films and anime were damn hard to come by, especially if you lived in rural Oklahoma. Don’t worry, I’ll avoid the obligatory “You kids today don’t know how easy you’ve got it!” spiel and continue with my stroll down memory lane.

In my childhood, the only Chinese movies that I ever got to see on TV or on VHS were Bruce Lee films, Brucesploitation flicks, and badly dubbed chopsockies that were probably produced by studios other than Shaw Brothers or Golden Harvest. As a result, Bruce Lee was probably the only identifiably positive image of an Asian man in American popular culture, and, of course, his appeal was very much tied up in his proficiency in the martial arts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. My point is — for those of us very much stuck in an American pop culture perspective, for an Asian guy to be cool, he had to know kung fu.

All that changed with Hard Boiled and Chow Yun-Fat.  As silly as it may sound to those of you who are either a bit younger than me or who were always culturally plugged into Asian cinema, Chow Yun-Fat was the first Asian actor I’d ever seen who was undeniably cool. Of course, Cinemax showed the dubbed version, so Chow sounded like a pissed off Aussie, but it didn’t matter to me — Chow’s Tequila Yuen was a cool customer very much in line with the heroes I admired in Hollywood films — Dirty Harry, Snake Plissken, John McClane, etc. Role models aren’t that important to me anymore, but as a youngster, Chow Yun-Fat’s Tequila Yuen meant the absolute world to me.

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Calvin’s Top 10 Hong Kong Films of the Last Decade (4-2)

4. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

CTHD

Zhang Ziyi steals many a man’s heart in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

I saw this movie twice in theaters. The first time was in Stillwater, Oklahoma, home of my alma mater, Oklahoma State University. The second time was about a month later in a six-movie cineplex in Duncan, Oklahoma. Chew on that for a little while. Sure, Stillwater is a college town (with no arthouse theatre, mind you), but Duncan is just your average American town with an Asian population of 0.04% (and no telling how many residents of Chinese descent). So, showing a movie in Mandarin with English subtitles is, y’know, kind of a big deal. That’s how big of a game-changer Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was.

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