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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 February, 2010

Laugh Riot, Part 2: Laughing Gor Boogaloo

 .EU 001

I did it! I completed all thirty episodes that comprise the TVB drama known as E.U. Is this a real “accomplishment” worthy of praise or a complete waste of time meriting nothing but scorn and pity? You decide.

I’m working on a review for the website, so for now, I’ll just shoot from the hip in terms of my general observations on the show.

At least at the beginning of the series, the limitations of television — both in terms of the show’s production values and perceived audience expectations — impact E.U. in ways that you’d NEVER see in a major Hong Kong film or American television show. These constraints make for some very “un-cinematic” heroes and villains. If you look at American television shows like Law and Order, CSI, 24, or NCIS, the characters retain a slightly larger-then-life feel. Not so in E.U. That obvious difference is something I’m really interested in talking about in a full review — as cool as Laughing Gor (Michael Tse) may be, he and his brethren aren’t Johnnie To/John Woo/Young and Dangerous-style gangsters. Further, the cops ain’t exactly Hard Boiled’s Tequilla Yuen or Infernal Affairs‘ Chan Wing-Yan either. The strangely  “ordinary” feel of all these characters is something I’m interested in analyzing.

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Bruce Lee vs. Philip Marlowe!

Winslow Wong

I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m a fan of Bruce Lee. After all, I’ve reviewed all his major films for this website, came up with a short bio for his LoveHKFilm.com People Page, wrote a little article about some film and TV projects of his that never came to pass, and even penned a long-winded blog post about his transnational appeal.

But if my love for man known as “The Little Dragon” has fairly been obvious, I doubt many LoveHKFilm.com readers are aware of another “idol” of mine — Philip Marlowe.  Not only is Raymond Chandler’s hardboiled private eye my favorite character in literature, but Chandler’s penultimate novel in the Marlowe series, The Long Goodbye, is perhaps my favorite novel ever written. First appearing in Chandler’s The Big Sleep, Philip Marlowe has gone on to be played on both the big and small screens by actors like Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Elliott Gould, Dick Powell, Powers Boothe, and James Caan, among others. Most, but not all, of these films and TV shows have made it to DVD, albeit with one glaring exception — a 1969 adaptation of the novel, The Little Sister, entitled Marlowe.

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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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