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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 November, 2010

A Woman I Know

Someone Special 01

Jung Jae-Young and Lee Na-Young in Someone Special

The phrase “A Woman I Know” is the direct  translation of the title of a Korean film known more commonly under its official English moniker, Someone Special. Not only that, these words end up becoming a key piece of dialogue spoken a couple times in the film, culminating in a sort of tipping point for the onscreen relationship between our two main characters. But let’s back up a second; I’m getting ahead of myself here.

I first saw Someone Special at the Doris Duke Theatre in Hawai’i sometime in 2005, I believe, as a part of a locally-run Korean Film Festival. I didn’t know what to expect going into the screening, but when I came out, I was all smiles. Of all the Korean films I’ve seen, Someone Special ranks as one of my sentimental favorites.

The film begins with an idyllic scene in which a presumably happy couple walk hand-in-hand through the park. If the voiceover is to be believed, the two of them are most certainly about to proclaim their undying love for one another. But to the surprise of our hero, Dong Chi-Sung (Jung Jae-Young), his girlfriend is less than pleased with how their relationship is going. She casually and quite abruptly  dumps him. In retaliation, Chi-Sung erupts in that completely mental way that only Korean men can do, giving us a meltdown scene that is too hilarious to describe in words.

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An Odyssey Worth Taking

Faye Wong

While crossing over to Genting, Malaysia during a Singaporean vacation a summer or two ago, I picked up a number of affordably-priced Hong Kong DVDs, including Police Story 3: Supercop, For Bad Boys Only, and the TVB series, EU. Amongst the plethora of films I purchased for bargain basement prices was Jeff Lau’s Lunar New Year Comedy, Chinese Odyssey 2002, a comedic follow-up of sorts to the Lau-directed, Stephen Chow-led Monkey King movies, A Chinese Odyssey Part 1: Pandora’s Box and A Chinese Odyssey Part 2: Cinderella. I’d seen the movie previously and enjoyed it, but I only owned the VCD so I figured it was about time for an upgrade.

Although not directly connected to the two previous films I mentioned, the tone of Chinese Odyssey 2002 is quite similar. Mixing equal parts lowbrow comedy,  (self-)parody, and heartfelt romance, the film makes for quite a mishmash of genres. Narratively, Chinese Odyssey 2002 centers on Tony Leung Chiu-Wai’s Ah Long (aka “Bully the Kid” in the English subtitles), the local village hooligan whose frequent shenanigans have jeopardized the marriage prospects of his cute, prone to cross-dressing sister, Feng (a mesmerizing Vicki Zhao). As fate would have it, the Princess Wushuang (Faye Wong) has fled the palace in search of –well, I’m not sure. A genuine experience of the outside world? A newfound sense of freedom? A way to avoid an inevitable arranged marriage? One imagines it’s some combination of the three and then some.

Tony Leung 01

Stay strong, Little Tony. Stay strong.

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On this day in history…

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee was born — November 27th, 1940 to be precise. In case you need a refresher on just who this guy is and why he’s so damn important, I’ve included my moldy old bio write-up for LoveHKFilm.com below, but you can check out Time magazine’s much more recent photo gallery retrospective here.

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Jackie & Michelle Take Malaysia: A Look Back at SUPERCOP

Supercop

While Jackie Chan attempted to break into the American market in the early Eighties with appearances in two Cannonball Run films and starring roles in The Big Brawl (aka Battlecreek Brawl) and The Protector, he didn’t catch the attention of mainstream U.S. audiences until a full decade later. In 1995, New Line Cinema released  Rumble in the Bronx in the United States and the film was a surprise hit. Slightly re-edited and dubbed in English (even the English speakers!), this Chan actioner was number one at the box office ($9.85 million) during its opening weekend and went on to gross $32.3 million overall. The success of Rumble led to Dimension Films to release Police Story 3: Supercop in the United States, which was a modest box office success, insuring not only more Jackie Chan films in the United States, but catapulting Michelle Yeoh to international acclaim.

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Retro Review: POLICE STORY 2 (1988)

Police Story II

Jackie Chan and Maggie Cheung in Police Story 2

The original Police Story (read Kozo’s review) was a slam-bang action movie that was high on stunts, but low on plot. Still, the movie had some of the greatest action sequences ever put on film, not to mention a strong cast and a winning performance by Jackie Chan, so quibbles about the script are pretty much beside the point. Three years later, Jackie Chan and company returned for Police Story 2, a film which was more plot-driven, had better camerawork, and boasted somewhat higher production values. The results are pretty much the same as its predecessor. Still, nobody comes to a Jackie Chan flick expecting Hamlet. Believe me, when the action heats up, Police Story 2 delivers. While the finale of the original is hard to top, the last fifteen minutes of Police Story 2 comes pretty damn close.

You can read my LoveHKFilm.com review here and view an old-school, English language trailer after the jump.

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The Name is Chow. Stephen Chow.

 Stephen Chow

While doing a search on Wikipedia for god knows what*, I stumbled upon the following, Stephen Chow-centric entry. I had heard the term “Sing Girl” before, but I had no idea it was such a big deal to warrant a full-length article on everybody’s favorite online encyclopedia. In any event, a “Sing Girl,” according to Wikipedia, is “a nickname for actresses who starred alongside Stephen Chow, often as the main character’s romantic interest.” Such Sing Girls include Athena Chu, Cecilia Cheung, Karen Mok, and Eva Huang. Whether or not any off-screen romantic action is included or implied in this definition of a “Sing Girl,” I do not know. To be perfectly honest, gossip column material prior to the Internet age makes for a huge gap in my knowledge base of Hong Kong cinema.

Anyway, the only other comparable entry to “Sing Girls” that I can think of is one for “Bond Girls,” which basically makes Stephen Chow on par with fictional superspy, James Bond. I guess Chow’s starring role in that 007 parody From Beijing with Love was an apt one.

Chow

 Happier Times

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*Okay, I’ll admit it: after watching Chinese Odyssey 2002 for the first time in years, I was trying to see what  Ms. Athena Chu was up to nowadays.

Retro Review: DIRTY HO (1979)

A decade ago, I was an undergraduate at Oklahoma State University. During the weekends,  Aaron Jones — my roommate,  best friend, and president of the Oklahoma chapter of the Jaymee Ong Fan Club — and I would watch all kinds of films during our free time — Hong Kong action flicks, Japanese samurai movies, American cult classics,  you name it. I don’t know how we stumbled upon Dirty Ho, but upon seeing the title for the first time, we knew that one of us was going to have to buy it. That person turned out to be Aaron, and the version he purchased was this grainy, English dubbed copy:

Dirty Ho Dubbed

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