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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 ‘Tony Leung Chiu-Wai’ Category

Calvin’s #1 Hong Kong Film of the Decade

1. In the Mood for Love (2000)

Mood

Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai are In the Mood for Love

Did you honestly think I would pick My Wife is 18? Well, I didn’t. If it’s any consolation, Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love does deal with a seemingly inappropriate relationship of its own — a budding romance between a man and a woman who just so happen to be married to other people. But then again, their respective spouses are having affairs — with each other, no less – so the line between what’s right and what’s wrong gets more than a little hazy as the story unfolds. The two wounded lovers (played by Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Maggie Cheung) end up forming a peculiar sort of friendship, borne out of a mutual pain and a fervent desire to both understand and hopefully come to grips with their spouses’ cruel betrayal. The results of their experiment are nothing less than movie magic. In the Mood for Love is a rare movie romance where entire pages of dialogue can be conveyed in a single look and the “real action” may just reside somewhere between the lines (or edits, as it were).

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Calvin’s Top 10 Hong Kong Films of the Last Decade (7-5)

With the results of the LoveHKFilm.com reader’s poll slowly trickling out, I give you a few more of my personal top ten. Will they in any way reflect the choices of the readers? I have no idea. Let me know what you think!

7. Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Kung Fu Hustle

Stephen Chow is all out of bubblegum in Kung Fu Hustle

How great is this movie? Well, let me put it to you this way: Kung Fu Hustle is so great that comic genius-turned-filmmaker extraordinaire Stephen Chow can disappear for long stretches of the narrative, and I didn’t even miss him. Think about that for a second. The star of the film (and likely the singular reason why people bought tickets for the movie in the first place!) occasionally gives up screen time to lesser known actors in an A-budget picture. Sure,  familiar faces like Yuen Wah and Shaolin Soccer alums Chan Kwok-Kwan and Lam Chi-Hung round out the supporting cast, but a lot of the story hinges on the performances of a bunch of relative unknowns — the residents of Pigsty Alley. During my first viewing, I found myself asking, “Who are these guys?” And better still, “Why am I so riveted to what’s happening to them?”

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Calvin’s Top 10 Hong Kong Films of the Last Decade (10-8)

Since Kozo recently asked the readers of LoveHKFilm.com to send in a list of their favorite Hong Kong films of the last decade, it got me to thinking about what my top picks would be if I had to come up with a list of my own. That bit of brainstorming turned into – wouldn’t you know it? – my very own top ten list!  Originally, I planned to talk about twenty-five Hong Kong films that I really, really liked, but after hashing out all the flicks I could possibly mention, I soon realized that this would be too big a task to complete in so short a period of time. I mean, I should be spending my holiday celebrating Christmas and the New Year (not to mention passing my qualifying exams for the PhD), right?

So, I’ve whittled down my choices to cover what I think are the top ten Hong Kong films of the last decade. Be warned — when I say “Top Ten,” my definition lies somewhere between “best” and “favorite.” As with any list, my personal biases will become blatantly obvious, and I make no apologies for them.

Some of you may bristle when you see that this list is not filled to the brim with all of Johnnie To’s creative output between 2000 and 2009. I’ll try to address the reason for this potential ”oversight” if any of To’s films actually make it onto my list. Similarly, you might see a slight bias in favor of films that came out in the early part of the decade. The reason for this inclination is simple — I think they made better films back then (or at least more of them anyway). If that makes me sound like a gruff old timer, so be it.

In any event, the list is meant  as a) a fun little celebration of the last decade of Hong Kong cinema and b) the perfect jumping off point for you to discuss your own top picks in the comments section. So don’t take ‘em too seriously, enjoy the walk down memory lane, and, of course…

Happy Holidays!

10. Infernal Affairs (2002)

IA

Andy Lau and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai square off in an iconic scene from Infernal Affairs

If Infernal Affairs 3 had been a better movie, I would’ve bent the rules and listed all three films here as a trilogy. Although the third film has grown on me (like a fungus!), it’s not nearly as good as the first two entries in ”The Legend” (as the series was billed in HK advertisements. I think they meant to say ”saga.”). I’m sure some people might have a beef with this choice because they think Infernal Affairs 2 or Colour of the Truth is a better film. While I acknowledge that both films are solid genre flicks, I find that I have little interest in revisiting either of them when perusing my own back catalog of Hong Kong movies. To put it bluntly, the first Infernal Affairs has something that those two films simply don’t possess – across-the-board star wattage.

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Red Cliff — The Condensed Version

Red Cliff Tony

In the early press releases for John Woo’s Red Cliff, it was announced that the film would be split in half for Asian audiences. Part I was almost two-and-a-half hours long, while Part II was only slightly shorter than that. With the split-release of Kill Bill already well behind us, this announcement was certainly nothing new, and I’m sure most John Woo fans were glad that he wouldn’t have to compromise his vision by cutting his film to fit a conventional theatrical running time. However, that wasn’t the only announcement that was made in regard to the film’s release. It was also mentioned that there would be an American version of the film, one that would run only two-and-a-half hours total. For purists, this probably seemed heretical, and for the rest of us, it just seemed odd. How can you squeeze over four hours of story into a movie that’s only a little over half its original running time?

Well, while watching the first installment of Red Cliff I became convinced that it could be done. Later, I watched Red Cliff II and started to have other ideas, but whatever my reservations, I’ll transcribe my thoughts on how to rework the first installment for your amusement.

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Welcome to RONIN ON EMPTY!

 Sanjuro Logo

Hello, my name is Calvin McMillin, a.k.a. Sanjuro. You might remember me from such film reviews as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Swordsman 2, or perhaps the strangely infamous Flowers of Shanghai. I’m here today to give you the skinny on my new blog, Ronin on Empty. Now, you might be aware that I once had an irregularly updated column on the site called A Man Called Sanjuro or that I most recently maintained a blogger account also called Ronin on Empty. Those previous writing venues have been folded into this brand-spankin’ new LoveHKFilm.com blog. I wasn’t sure how or where to begin, so I did a few test posts to start out, which you can read underneath this one. With that initial tomfoolery out of the way, I thought I might use this first substantive posting as an opportunity to reflect on the past, consider the present, and speculate on the future.

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