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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

Retro Review: DISCIPLES OF THE 36TH CHAMBER (1984)

Disciples Poster

Day 3 of Ronin on Empty’s unplanned retrospective on The 36th Chamber of Shaolin franchise comes to an end with Disciples of the 36th Chamber, the third and final installment in the series. In comparison to the previous two films, Disciples turned out to be an extremely disappointing way to close the trilogy, as star Gordon Liu was relegated to a mere supporting role as the monk San Te in favor of Shaw regular Hsiao Hou, who plays quite possibly the most annoying Fong Sai-Yuk in the history of Hong Kong cinema. Looking back, I was probably a little too hard on the film and perhaps somewhat misguided in my criticism of the film’s portrayal of Fong Sai-Yuk. While I’m fairly certain Sai-Yuk’s annoying hypocrisy was intentional, I have to say that it didn’t make for a very enjoyable film. Sure, Sai-Yuk’s utter repugnancy makes the film “interesting” and perhaps worthy of further discussion, but I think my review was written from the point of view of a martial arts film fan, and the film just didn’t measure up to its intensely fun predecessors.

However, I will say that the movie is cool to look at, particularly if you’re a fan of the “heightened” period realities of these Shaw Brothers productions. And the fights, as always, are pretty nifty, too, thanks to director Lau Kar-Leung. Perhaps even worth the price of admission (aka DVD price) It’s not a great way to end the series, but it is an end, of sorts. For interested parties, you can read my review here. And I’ve embedded a trailer, which shows so much, you probably don’t even have to watch the movie:

 

 

Retro Review: RETURN TO THE 36TH CHAMBER (1980)

Return to the 36th Chamber

Snazzy Spanish Language Poster to Return to the 36th Chamber

I wasn’t planning on running three retro reviews in a row this week, but I’ve been pretty busy with my dissertation work, and since I’d already started with The 36th Chamber of Shaolin yesterday, I figured I might as well continue spotlighting the second and third entries in the series for today’s post and tomorrow’s follow-up.

This winning, but entirely unconventional sequel recasts the first film’s star, Gordon Liu, as a down-on-his-luck con artist learning the ropes from the very same character he played in the original movie: the venerable Shaolin monk San Te. That may sound confusing, but the role switcheroo actually turns out to actually be a casting masterstroke as it successfully solves the problem of trying to follow up a film like The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, which has a beginning, middle, and end to San Te’s arc with very little room for a sequel. By having Gordon Liu play a different character, one gets to a) experience the “journey”all over again in a way that wouldn’t make sense using the same character or a different actor as the rascally pupil.

Equal parts spoof and straight-ahead martial arts actioner, Return to the 36th Chamber is one of the rare sequels that’s just as much fun as its predecessor.

You can read my review here.

 

Retro Review: THE 36th CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN (1978)

36th Chamber of Shaolin

Widely considered to be one of the greatest martial arts movies ever made, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) remains a definite must-see film for fans of the genre. Thanks to an intriguing premise, inventive choreography by Lau Kar-Leung, and a star-making turn by lead actor Gordon Liu, this film still retains the ability to hook new viewers even after all these years. Simply put, I liked it.

Check out my old LoveHKFilm.com review here. The film is available for purchase in Intercontinental Video Limited (DVD and VCD) and Dragon Dynasty (Blu-Ray and DVD) iterations.  Coincidentally, the film, which was released in Hong Kong on February 2, 1978, turned thirty-two this year, something I will do in about…oh…six days. Man, how time flies.

 

Yakuza of the Dead

Kiryu

Last week, I posted a review for the PS3 game Yakuza 3, expressing my opinion that the next iteration of the series would need to make some big changes if it wanted to keep things fresh. And reportedly, Yakuza 4: Heir to the Legend does just that. The game has yet to be imported to U.S. shores, so I’ll have to judge for myself when it’s released in 2011, but at least from where I’m standing now, it doesn’t seem like a dramatic leap forward in the series.Enter Yakuza 5; or, as its known, Yakuza: Of the End. This newest iteration of the franchise takes everything you know and love about the Yakuza series, amps it up to 11, and then adds — wait for it — a post-apocalyptic zombie-infected Japan! I don’t even know what to say. I know it sounds like a crass attempt to jump on the zombie bandwagon, but I have to admit that the trailers make it look like a lot of fun. Hey, zombies worked like gangbusters for the Undead Nightmare DLC for Red Dead Redemption, so maybe some zombie-killin’ will do the Yakuza boys some good, too. Check out this trailer and be amazed at Sega’s exciting gamble:

 

 
 
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