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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 ‘Nicholas Tse’ Category

LoveHKToys: SHAOLIN

ShaolinAndy

On their homepage, Dragon Models, Ltd. has announced that figures based on characters from Benny Chan’s Shaolin (2011) are “coming soon” to toy stores, presumably in Hong Kong and Mainland China. Since I live in the currently snow-covered town of Ann Arbor, MI, I’ll have to rely on my friends overseas to keep me informed of the actual release date.

In the near future, toy collectors can look forward to ponying up some serious dough for super-detailed figures of warlord-turned-Shaolin monk Huo Jie (Andy Lau), Cao Man (Nicholas Tse), Wudao (Jackie Chan), Jing Neng (Wu Jing), Jing Kong (Xing Yu), and Suo Xiang-Tu (Hung Yan Yan). Two of these figures even come with horses to play with, so I suppose when you’re tired of re-enacting your favorite scenes from the movie, Andy and Nic can take Barbie and Skipper for a ride. Click on the thumbnails below to get a slightly better look at all the figures in the proposed series.

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Very Young and Very Dangerous

Young and Dangerous: The Prequel

Nicholas Tse as Chan Ho-Nam

How many prequels are better than the original films that spawned them? Origin stories like the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, Hannibal Rising, or even shlock like Tremors 4: The Legend Begins never really come close to even matching their illustrious forebears, let alone exceeding them. Sure, you have your occasional Infernal Affairs 2 or Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but for the most part, prequels tend to leave viewers with a bad taste in their mouths. To a degree, these lackluster films have  spawned a bad case of prequelitis among moviegoers, who have perhaps grown leery over the overuse of the form. After all, it seems like most movie studios tend to view prequels as a new avenue to milk a cash cow franchise. After all, unlike sequels, the expectation is that prequels won’t use the original actors — who not coincidentally, probably happen to have hefty asking prices — and instead will turn to younger, cheaper talent to fill out their main cast.

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We Fight, We Cry, We Die

B&A 01

This is the coolest I’ve ever been!

Is Bodyguards and Assassins a great film? The folks who voted for Best Picture at the 29th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards seemed to think so, awarding Teddy Chan’s flick not only the top prize, but a slew of other trophies including Best Director and Best Supporting Actor, among others. Despite receiving some notice from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society and the Golden Horse Awards, the voters for these respective entities had other ideas about who deserved Best Picture, as did the folks at the LoveHKFilm.com Awards, who didn’t even nominate Bodyguards and Assassins in its top choices. Although I haven’t seen every film of 2009, I think I understand the omission.

In terms of pure filmmaking craft, Bodyguards and Assassins ranks as an impressive feat, overcoming a decade-long, intensely troubled production to deliver a top quality product, full of drama, political intrigue, action, and some top-tier actors to boot. But is Bodyguards and Assassins a “great film”? I don’t think so. The film spends a lot of time with its multiple protagonists, attempting to get us involved in their various subplots and sympathize with their individual plights. It works — to a degree — but the sheer number of characters that make up this ragtag group of misfits is so overwhelming that it’s hard to feel anything for them beyond a superficial level — that is, save Nicholas Tse’s excellent turn as a simpleminded rickshaw driver. Plenty of films ask you to care about multiple characters — The Lord of the Rings trilogy, for instance — but I think Bodyguards and Assassins only gives you the bare minimum to become invested in these characters. For some, it will be more than enough. For me, it was only adequate.

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The Best of the Rest, The Best of the Worst

Compiling a top ten list of the decade’s best movies is tough work. There are a ton of great Hong Kong films out there, and some just couldn’t make the cut on so short a list. To compensate for any perceived oversights, I’ve decided to list choices #11-#25. I’m certain that some of my picks might be a little unorthodox or downright surprising, but I’m just going to have to follow my gut here, folks — critical or reader consensus against me be damned.

BEST OF THE REST

Timeandtide

11. Time and Tide (2000) — I unabashedly love this movie, and it came very close to making the top ten. Whatever hesitancy I had in embracing Nicholas Tse as a leading man disappeared completely thanks to this movie, as his little brother/big brother chemistry with rugged rock n’ roller Wu Bai (who provides a killer soundtrack) is just part of what makes this movie so good. The other part is the action — in particular, that breathless, suspense-filled sequence that makes up a good chunk of the film’s second half. I’m hard pressed to forget that pulse-pounding tenement assault or the decidedly unconventional baby delivery sequence that caps the film. Time and Tide is an action fan’s dream, and, the last great Tsui Hark movie (so far) – and yeah, I saw Seven Swords.

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