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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 ‘Anthony Wong’ Category

Princess Deeeeelightful

Princess D

Daniel Wu and Angelica Lee in Princess D

Before I proceed with an in-depth discussion of Princess D, a 2002 film directed by Sylvia Chang and Alan Yuen, I need to mention a far less entertaining American film I recently viewed. For reasons too boring to explain, I had the distinct displeasure of watching Did You Hear About the Morgans?, a 2009 romantic comedy starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant.  The film was impossibly bad, as the two actors seemed to be operating solely on auto-pilot — with SJP (as I’m told she’s called) channeling an only slightly modified version of her Sex and the City character and Hugh Grant recycling that stammering, excessively blinking English gent character he’s been using since the early 1990s. Not only did the two actors possess zero chemistry, but they were unable to convey in any way, shape, or form that their characters did love, do love, or even will love each other by the time the end credits rolled.

My purpose of this extended digression is merely to emphasize just how vital chemistry is to the success of a romantic film. Casting popular actors with toothy grins and throwing them in a few comic situations cannot make up one iota for the lack of genuine sparks between characters. Princess D does not suffer from this same problem, although it’s far from a perfect film. It is by no means one of the Great Films of Hong Kong cinema, but it’s not a total disaster either despite tanking at the HK box office. Instead, I find it to be both an effective and affecting romantic drama, despite its flaws.

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Sympathy for Monsieur Vengeance

 Vengeance 02

Vengeance…is His!

LoveHKFilm.com’s very own Kevin Ma reviewed Johnnie To’s latest film, Vengeance, after seeing it at the 2009 Hong Kong Summer International Film Festival. Then Kozo shared his thoughts on this stylish revenge flick on his blog back in February. So, seeing as how I’m the odd man out, I figured I might as well give my two cents on the movie as well.

For at least half of the film’s running time, I couldn’t help but wonder what Vengeance would have been like if its original star, Alain Delon, had not backed out of the project. After all, the character in Vengeance is named “Costello,” a nod to Jeff Costello,* the handsome, fedora and trenchcoat wearing protagonist of Jean Pierre Melville’s 1967 classic, Le Samourai. I won’t pretend that I’m an avid Delon fan; we do share the same birthdate (November 8th), although he’s a good ten years older than my father. But seeing him in Le Samourai and Purple Noon, Rene Clement’s 1960 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, shows me what a cool customer this guy was — and perhaps still is. Sadly, this “What if?” speculation must be confined to the annals of movie geekdom for now.

Jeff

C’est la vie

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Laugh Riot Encore: Herman Yau’s TURNING POINT

Turning Ppint

What is the point of a prequel? Is it meant to flesh out the backstory of a popular character in order to understand how he or she came to be the hero or villain audiences have come to love? Or is it merely a crassly commercial move made to capitalize on the success of a character or series that has probably run its course, but just might have enough juice left to make a few bucks at the box office? I don’t think it’s necessarily an either/or proposition.

Still, there’s a tendency to roll one’s eyes at the mere mention of a prequel (a film trend that is already being supplanted in Hollywood by the reboot — see the back-to-basics Spider-Man 4 for evidence of that). Let’s call it “prequel fatigue.” After all, the most anticipated prequels, if not films of all time were Star Wars: Episodes I-III, which after all that fanfare, ended up disappointing both die-hard and casual fans alike. Of course, not all prequels are bad, but for every one Infernal Affairs 2, there are dozens of shoddy “origin” flicks like Hannibal Rising (Lecter was a samurai!) and Butch and Sundance: The Early Days (Who needs Newman and Redford? We got the Greatest American Hero and the Substitute!).

Why do prequels often suck? Well, sometimes they tell us a story we already know, so there’s no dramatic tension. We’re basically just watching a movie go through the motions to reach a predetermined outcome. At least with Star Wars, there was a central mystery to be uncovered — what made Anakin Skywalker  turn to the Dark Side and become Darth Vader? And as we all found out, it was something we never anticipated: yep, mass genocide was a direct result of everybody calling him “Annie” all the time. But I digress. The point I’m trying to make here is that sometimes prequels just can’t live up to the originals.

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