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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 January, 2011

Everybody Loves Kato

Green Hornet and Kato

Seth Rogen and Jay Chou in The Green Hornet

Last night, I had the opportunity to watch The Green Hornet in IMAX 3-D. While I plan to submit a full review to LoveHKFilm.com in the next few days, it probably won’t get posted for awhile, and thus, may not seem very timely for US readers of this website. With that in mind, I thought I’d at least scribble down my initial impressions here.

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Little Bitty Jackie Chan

Little Big Soldier

“Err…it’s not what it looks like.” — Leehom Wang and Jackie Chan in Little Big Soldier.

For quite a while now, Jackie Chan has seemed pretty cognizant of the need to re-invent himself as an actor in order to stay relevant to a contemporary audience. He’s made it clear in interviews that he knows he’s getting older, and he can’t keep (and hasn’t kept) playing the young romantic lead doing the same death-defying stunts with any degree of believability. Over the years, Chan has made several attempts at reinvention as a dramatic actor, but he’s always reverted back to the comfortable “Jackie Chan-type” character in Hong Kong and American films. More recently, he’s tried to walk on the dark side as reluctant crime lord in The Shinjuku Incident and tried to act his age as the Sifu in the recent remake of The Karate Kid. But in my view, the most successful attempt at reinvigorating Chan’s career was 2010’s Little Big Soldier.

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2011 Preview: FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE

Flying Swords of Dragon Gate

Jet Li returns to wuxia pian in Flying Swords of Dragon Gate

Said to be a reworking of King Hu’s Dragon Gate Inn (1966) and New Dragon Gate Inn (1992, aka Dragon Inn), Tsui Hark’s Flying Swords of Dragon Gate reunites the director with his Once Upon a Time in China leading man, Jet Li. Budgeted at a reported $35 million USD, the film will be the first 3-D wuxia film. Chuck Comiskey, who served as a visual effects supervisor for James Cameron’s Avatar, has been hired as the 3-D director in charge of managing special effects. (more…)

Shane Black’s DEATH NOTE

Death Note I wake up from a short catnap to discover that not only have in-costume pictures of Andrew Garfield as Spider-man and Chris Evans as Captain America emerged online, but that Shane Black has been hired to direct the live-action U.S. adaptation of Death Note for Warner Bros.

If you do not know who Shane Black is, let me give you a refresher course. This is the man who wrote the action classic Lethal Weapon (1987), one of my childhood faves The Monster Squad (1987), the original screenplay for Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), cult fave The Last Boy Scout (1991), the guilty pleasure The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), and the criminally under-appreciated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) with pre-Iron Man Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer. Whatever Black chooses to do with Death Note, it’s sure to have some great action sequences and some snappy dialogue. He certainly seems to be a fan of the source material:

“It’s my favorite manga, I was just struck by its unique and brilliant sensibility,” Black tells MTV.com, “What we want to do is take it back to that manga, and make it closer to what is so complex and truthful about the spirituality of the story, versus taking the concept and trying to copy it as an American thriller. Jeff Robinov and Greg Silverman liked that.”

Previously, the manga has been adapted in Japan as an anime, a two-part film series (1, 2), and a spin-off featuring fan-favorite character, L. Time will tell as to whether or not the cartoonish Shinigami will remain in the American version. I guess it’s only a matter of time before the “Zac Efron as Light” fan-casting begins.

P-P-P-Pokerface!

Poker King 01

Louis Koo and Lau Ching-Wan square off in Poker King

Two of Hong Kong’s top-rated actors  — Louis Koo and Lau Ching-Wan — face off in Poker King, a 2009 film from co-directors Chang Hing-Ka and Janet Chun, the team behind 2008’s La Lingerie and 2010’s La Comedie Humaine. However, whatever promise was held in the casting of these two likable, fairly frequent co-stars nearly gets squandered in the opening act of the film. I would imagine that the first ten to twenty minutes of Poker King would test the patience of even the most die-hard Hong Kong cinema fan. As the film wore on, I was starting to seriously question  why either of these guys agreed to do this movie in the first place. Characters are saddled with childish and annoying personalities, the plot seems to have zero forward momentum, and everything just oozes with the stench of lowbrow HK comedy cheese. Luckily for both the film and its prospective viewers, the film gets better, although I’m not sure it  makes a whole lot of sense.

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Return to a Better Yesterday

A Better Tomorrow III

Certifiable Badass

A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon isn’t a bad film, but as a true prequel to the first two ABT films, I have to admit it’s a little disappointing. Sure, the “origin story” explaining Mark’s penchant for trenchcoats, sunglasses, and explosive gunplay is pretty interesting, considering that Tsui Hark locates these aspects of the character in an unexpected romantic context. And yeah, Chow Yun-Fat, Anita Mui, and Tony Leung Ka-Fei deliver fine performances. Heck, there’s even some truly poignant moments between Mark (Chow) and Kit (Mui), but overall, the movie seems kind of…well…pointless.

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Gwailo Corner: ROCKY II (1979)

Rocky, Too

Year: 1979

Director: Sylvester Stallone

Writer: Sylvester Stallone

Cast:
Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burgess Meredith, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Roberto Duran (cameo)

The Plot:

After going the distance with Apollo Creed, Rocky retires from boxing and marries Adrian. Ol’ Rock tries to get a regular day job, but finds himself struggling to make ends meet, so a pregnant Adrian volunteers to work part-time at her old job to help pay the bills. Pissed that he didn’t knock Rocky out, Apollo challenges Rocky to a rematch, but Adrian objects, voicing her concerns over Rocky’s health. However, neither Rocky nor his trainer Mickey (Meredith) can ignore Apollo’s taunts for long, and a second bout is arranged against Adrian’s wishes. The Italian Stallion begins training, but without his wife’s approval, Rocky’s heart just isn’t in it anymore. A dramatic turn of events causes Rocky to abandon his training regimen and rush to Adrian’s side. Will he be ready for Creed? Three words: “Gonna Fly Now.”

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