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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 March, 2010

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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Shameless Self-Promotion

This content of this post may seem a bit unprofessional, but then again, I’ve never felt entirely professional about this LoveHKFilm.com writing gig anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I put my heart and soul into what I do for the site, but it’s not like I expect to be invited into the Hong Kong Film Critics Society anytime soon.  With that in mind, I couldn’t help but be tickled when I saw the back cover of Dragon Dynasty’s Return to the 36th Chamber DVD:

Quote

The quote is pulled from my positive review of the 1980 Lau Kar-Leung-directed classic. To my knowledge, I’ve only ever been quoted by name once before — on the packaging of Optimum Releasing’s Swordsman 2 DVD in the UK — so it was nice to actually have a DVD that I could point out at Best Buy to my friends and family. Let’s just say it made my day.

Now does Roger Ebert track every time he’s been quoted in print advertisement or DVD boxart? Probably not. But I’m no Roger Ebert.

So if any you folks out there see pull quotes attributed to LoveHKFilm.com – or more specifically, quotes from Kozo, Kevin, or me — please let us know.

COMING SOON:

My picks for the Top Ten Hong Kong Films of the 90s, a LoveHKFilm.com Time Machine review, and my thoughts on such semi-recent fare as Storm Warriors, Accident, and Vengeance — unless I keep playing Yakuza 3 into the wee hours of the night, then all bets are off.

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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