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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

Gen Z Cops: The Revenge!

Invisible Target

Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yu, and Jaycee Chan share a moment in Invisible Target

[This post has been adapted from an entry first published on my previous, now defunct blog of the same name. Enjoy.]

Right after I left Hong Kong while on vacation in the summer of 2007, Benny Chan’s then-recent action flick, Invisible Target, hit DVD shelves everywhere. Alas, I was unable to purchase the Hong Kong version of the film. However, a Singapore edition was awaiting me on my arrival to that ultra-clean city-state. One problem — no Cantonese language track. I don’t know why Singapore insists on doing that to Hong Kong films, often excising the Cantonese track entirely. If you buy a Korean or Japanese movie, they preserve the original soundtrack, but Cantonese is for some odd reason a big no-no. Even worse is when they dub a movie like Overheard in Mandarin and then release the film with no subtitles at all! You’re killing me, guys!

Anyway, I would prefer to watch the movie in the original Cantonese, and I thought I’d better wait until I returned to the United States to order it from Yesasia (the Dragon Dynasty version hadn’t been announced). But day after day. I’d walk into DVD stores all around Singapore, and Invisible Target would be playing non-stop. This constant teasing and the fact that the Singaporean side of my family possessed a 42-inch plasma screen convinced me that I should just go ahead and buy the damn movie already. Even if I don’t get to hear Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yue speak in Cantonese, it doesn’t really matter. It’s a helluva entertaining film. And as a consolation, I get to hear Wu Jing (and a couple other performers) speak Mandarin as they performed it during principal photography.


Retro Review: THE HIDDEN FORTRESS (1958)

Hidden Fortress

From right to left: Toshiro Mifune, Minoru Chiaki, and Kamatari Fujiwara

If the idea of an epic tale told through the eyes of two bumbling characters sounds familiar, it should. For some, the names C-3P0 and R2-D2—the robotic supporting characters that anchor the Star Wars trilogy—will come to mind immediately. However, creator George Lucas has admitted that an earlier Japanese film — Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress served as the inspiration for his own phenomenally successful space opera. But even so, there’s certainly more to The Hidden Fortress than just being the answer to a Star Wars trivia question.


You are the Last Princess / You Possess the Power…of the GLOW!


Sorry. The title’s a Last Dragon joke that only certain children of the 80s might get.

For the record, I don’t dislike remakes, and I don’t dismiss them out-of-hand whenever they’re announced. I’m actually intrigued by the potential that remakes hold. Put into the hands of a talented filmmaker with a distinctive creative vision, a remake can take the source material and create something new and impressive that stands on its own. And then there’s Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween. But I digress.


Ride of the Tom Yum Goong Cowboys

Tears of the Black Tiger

Subtitled in some markets as a “Spicy Thai Western,” Tears of the Black Tiger declares its intentions almost immediately. Early on in the film, the protagonist successfully shoots a hiding villain  in an impressively circuitous, Rube Goldbergian fashion. Immediately thereafter, the following words appear onscreen: “Did you catch that? If not, we’ll play it again!” The firing of the bullet is then replayed in slow-motion, showing the trajectory of the bullet as it ricochets off several items before hitting its unfortunate mark. From the get-go, this film lets you know what you’re in for as an audience member.

I first watched Tears of the Black Tiger on Netflix Instant and was immediately taken with the film. However, when I reached the film’s climax, something seemed terribly wrong. The film ended on a strange note, one that not seemed tonally inconsistent with what came before, but left a few dangling plot threads as well plot. A quick check of IMDB and Wikipedia confirmed my suspicion and reminded me of a long-forgotten controversy in Asian cinema – the film had been re-edited by (surprise, surprise) Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax. Why Netflix decided to run this version, which apparently never had a DVD release of its own anyway was more than a little puzzling.


A Long Birthday Break

Save Ferris

Well, it looks like my day off turned into a whole week! On the bright side, the time off from updating the blog gave me the chance to take in some Asian-related films I’d been itching to see — the Thai actioner Raging Phoenix (starring Chocolate’s Jeeja Yanin), the Japanese cult classic horror/comedy/WTF experience known as House (Or Hausu, if that helps you from confusing it with the 1986 William Katt movie), and the ground-breaking, all-Asian American cast musical, Flower Drum Song, starring Nancy Kwan (The World of Suzie Wong) and James Shigeta (The Crimson Kimono). Reviews for these and other films should be ready for the eventual December site update. And although I’m back in Oklahoma for the next week-and-a-half, I’ll be updating the blog as frequently as time permits. Although I can’t always provide up-to-the-minute news and reviews, I hope you’ll at least enjoy the occasional trip down memory lane. Heck, maybe some of it will be new to you.

Takin’ the Day Off

Today, I turn 32. It seems like just the other day, I was still playing with Star Wars figures. Oh wait, that was the other day. Whoops! Anyway, despite my occasional bouts with George Lucas induced immaturity, I think my underlying point still stands.

Time flies. Honestly, I don’t feel very old at all.

Jodo Kast

Clearly I wasn’t kidding. (image courtesy of

So due to the requisite birthday festivities, there will be no update of any real substance to the blog today, as I’ll instead be perusing one of my birthday presents, contemplating a possible frivolous purchase or two, grabbing a bite to eat, and  watching some quality programming on the idiot tube. If I can sneak a Hong Kong movie into the day’s proceedings, that would be ideal. I’ve been working on my dissertation every single day, and I need a break.

For other HK/Asian related news and notes, do yourself a favor and check out Kevin’s recent blog posts on the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival and maybe even catch up on some past blog entries by Kozo and Sanney.

But most importantly, try to find some time to really enjoy the day, wherever you are. Today may not be your birthday, but who cares? The day is yours. Commence seizing. Life’s just too damn short, innit?

Native Oklahoma



“I am Ieeeenvincible!” — Donnie Yen in Flash Point

I have not yet had the pleasure of watching Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, but I look forward to that undoubtedly auspicious day. Sure, the last time he played Chen Zhen, I wasn’t that impressed, but that was probably due to a Tai Seng hack job, not due to Mr. Yen’s lack of trying. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to bore you with my thoughts about another Donnie Yen-fest, the 2007 flick, Flash Point. This doesn’t quite count as a retro review, as I never initially reviewed it for the main site. What follows is slight revision of some thoughts I had on the film that I posted on an earlier, endorsed version of this blog. Sorry for the lack of newer updates this week; I’ve been busy.

Anyway, despite its commitment to hardcore action in the place of the more high-flying wire-fu of Dragon Tiger Gate, this pre-Ip Man collaboration between Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen may actually be a worse movie than their earlier comic book-inspired project. Those of you hoping for at least one battle that comes close to challenging the Wu Jing/Donnie Yen alley fight in SPL (something I think people are still waiting for) will be sorely disappointed with the fights in Flash Point. Sure, Yen fights Collin Chou in an extended one-on-one duel at the end of the flick, but let’s face it, it’s not anything worth raving about.

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