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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 ‘Jackie Chan’ Category

My Top Hong Kong Films of the 1990s — Jackie Chan, Man of Action

 Drunk as a Skunk

Drinking is cool! It makes you invincible!

Drunken Master II is another choice of mine that is just as equally deserving of the top spot. In fact, I think it’s probably one of the best martial arts films ever made. This just goes to show what an inexact science these kinds off lists are.

Here’s what I said about the movie awhile back:

Drunken Master II is perhaps Jackie Chan’s finest film, if not the best kung fu movie ever put on celluloid. It has some of Jackie’s best stunts, mixing original director Lau Kar-Leung’s old school choreography with Jackie Chan’s contemporary kung fu comedy shtick. A word of warning: don’t analyze the plot too closely (Oh Andy Lau, where art thou?), and you’ll be just fine. Just sit back and enjoy the fireworks. Chan’s last stand against the amazing leg-fighter Ken Lo is probably one of the best ending battles in cinema history. Really.

What some of you may not know is that this movie actually had a troubled production. Shaw Brothers legend Lau Kar-Leung was the film’s original director, but when Jackie Chan screened the film for the Hong Kong Stuntman’s Union, he realized that Drunken Master II had some problems — namely, it was a little too old-fashioned for modern sensibilities. According to Chan, he offered Lau Kar-Leung the chance to make changes, and when he wouldn’t comply, Chan himself had to step into the director’s chair and rework the ending fight. Although I’ve not heard Lau’s side of the story, Chan claims that he would have kept all this under his hat, but it was Lau who complained publicly, announcing that he’d do a REAL drunken kung fu movie. However, the resultant film — the  misleadingly titled Drunken Master III – was a complete disaster and a real embarrassment for Lau Kar-Leung.

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My Top Hong Kong Films of the 1990s

 LoveAndy

With the official LoveHKFilm.com reader poll on the Top Hong Kong Films of the 1990s now complete, I thought I might as well share my own top choices with everyone. The moment this poll was announced, I scribbled down what amounted to about  twenty-five or so 90s era Hong Kong films that I absolutely loved or really, really liked. After consulting our archive and recommendation lists to make sure a really wonderful movie hadn’t completely slipped my mind, I whittled the list down to twenty choices and sent them in to Kozo. Of course, there are so many films to choose from, so even personal faves like Lost and Found and Rave Fever got cut out in the process. Before I begin, let me be clear about one thing, I had ZERO desire to create a list that would be considered as “representative” of the decade. That’s a tactic  we often see in random magazine and website top ten lists (I’m looking at you, Entertainment Weekly), as a few “respectable choices” are mindlessly tacked on to add some air of legitimacy. Well, NONE of my choices were made because I thought I should fulfill somebody else’s expectations of what a top ten (or twenty in my case) list should look like. I went with my head, my heart, and my gut.

The last time I composed a top ten list, I chose to do a countdown. I did so for at least three reasons: 1) I was modeling it after current AICN and former CHUD.com critic, Jeremy “Mr. Beaks” Smith’s ambitious Top 100 Films of the Decade countdown, 2) a LoveHKFilm.com’s reader’s poll countdown was already under way, and I thought that readers might be interested to know if my picks coincided with their own, in anticipation of the final ten, and 3) it seemed like writing and posting about my choices in piecemeal fashion made a lot more sense than crafting an overlong and unwieldy blog post that nobody would want to read. Sounds logical enough, right?

Well, this time around, I’m going to do things a little differently. Not only is the 90s readers’ poll long over, but I just really don’t have a desire to write about every movie that I chose with the same level of depth. Instead of a countdown, I’m gonna just lay it all out here and then talk about some of the films in separate blog posts.

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Shinjuku Incident Now Playing in the US

Shinjuku

Fan Bing-Bing and Jackie Chan in Derek Yee’s Shinjuku Incident

Derek Yee’s dark 2009 drama Shinjuku Incident is getting a limited stateside release courtesy of the folks at Barking Cow Distribution.  For now, the film is showing in California, Hawai’i, New Jersey, New York, and Washington. Click here for specific theater listings. I’ve actually already seen the film, albeit on a Singapore Airlines flight, but if I get a chance, I might catch a screening at the AMC Van Ness 14 here in San Francisco. The airline version seemed to be slightly edited for violence, although I don’t think seeing the reinstated footage would do much of a difference in terms of altering my opinion of the film.

In rereading Kozo’s original review, I have to admit that I concur with much of what he has to say. Shinjuku Incident does try to be, as he writes, “an immigrant drama and a gangland thriller.” For what it’s worth, I really liked the immigrant story much more than I did the “emerging criminal empire” angle that emerges halfway through. Part of the reason for the film’s difficulty in transitioning well between the two genres is the casting of Jackie Chan. To be fair, he does a fine job in the role, but — through not fault of his own — he simply can’t transcend his iconic onscreen persona. Jackie Chan’s character, Steelhead, does some very bad things in this movie, but it’s easy to forgive him because of that familiar, affable “I don’t want any trouble” personality he’s cultivated in a myriad of films in the last two decades. We shouldn’t be giving his character a pass during these moments, but strangely, even the worst crimes all feel very justified.

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