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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.

Retro Review: THE KID (1950)

The Kid

Leaping from the pages of the comic strip by Yuen Wo-Pan comes The Kid, a 1950 Hong Kong film featuring a ten-year-old Bruce Lee in a starring role. Although The Big Boss was Lee’s first breakout motion picture as an adult, in truth, the now legendary icon starred in about twenty Hong Kong-made films as a youth before eventually relocating to the United States at the age of eighteen. In this, his fifth movie (aka Kid Cheung, Little Cheung, and My Son A-Chang), Lee plays Ah Cheung, the title character. For my full review of the film, click here. To see a short clip of the spunky little guy in action, check out a scene from the film embedded just under the cut.

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Retro Review: GAME OF DEATH (1978)

Game of Death

Before CGI face replacement technology, there was the revolutionary “let’s paste a cut-out of the deceased actor’s head on a mirror” technique. 

After Way of the Dragon, Bruce Lee began filming the ending battle sequence for a film he planned to call Game of Death. But Hollywood came calling so Lee shut down production on the film to begin Robert Clouse’s Enter the Dragon instead. After completing the American film, Lee had hoped to finish the postponed Game of Death, but sadly it was not to be — two weeks before Enter the Dragon’s premiere, the “Little Dragon” abruptly died of a cerebral edema.

Enter Raymond Chow, the famous Golden Harvest producer who owned the rights to the rare footage. Wanting to make a tribute to Lee (and make a little money in the process), Chow persuaded a reluctant Robert Clouse to reshoot the film with doubles and create an entirely different script from Lee’s original idea. As good as the filmmakers’ intentions may have been, in hindsight Game of Death comes off less like a fitting tribute to the master and more like a crass, shockingly amateurish disaster. Though Game of Death features Bruce Lee in his final onscreen appearance and even sports a rousing final act, the majority of the film can only really be deemed entertaining in a cheesy Mystery Science Theater 3000/Ed Wood kind of way.

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Retro Review: ENTER THE DRAGON (1973)

Enter the Dragon

Bruce ponders a Lacanian reading of this famous scene from Enter the Dragon.

Robert Clouse’s 1973 worldwide hit Enter the Dragon is a landmark film for a number of reasons. For starters, not only did the movie help introduce American audiences to the wonders of the martial arts film genre, but it also propelled Bruce Lee to international superstardom, albeit posthumously.

The film has been showing up on HD cable a lot lately, and I’ve been meaning to re-watch the whole thing from the beginning. But from the bits and pieces I’ve watched in glorious high definition, the movie still seems to hold up as the most polished and genuinely fun movie in Bruce Lee’s all-too-short filmography. If I ever do get a chance to sit down and watch this martial arts classic, I’ll be sure to revise my scandalously short, but trivia-packed review, which you can read here. Oh, and under the cut, there’s a nifty, totally 70s trailer embedded for your perusal.

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Tomorrow, As Soon As Possible

Yesterday Once More

Sammi Cheng and Andy Lau in Yesterday Once More (2004)

I have to admit that my curiosity was piqued by the recent announcement that Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng would be reuniting with director Johnnie To to make their fourth film together. At the very least, I’m hoping it’ll make up for the last movie they all worked on, Yesterday Once More.

While the Hong Kong megastars sparkled in Needing You and Love on a Diet, their third collaboration with director Johnnie To seemed like a sure thing. Sadly, it wasn’t. All told, 2004’s Yesterday Once More amounts to nothing less than a crushing disappointment.

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In Memory of My Dad

On the Tractor

Robert McMillin (December 22, 1943-February 17, 2011)

Today, I have been granted both the honor and the privilege of paying tribute to the life of Robert McMillin – husband, father, family member, and friend. We have all gathered here today in mourning, but also in gratitude. Yes, we mourn my father’s death, but we must also be grateful for his life – for just getting the chance to know him. That in itself is a blessing.

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Detective Dee 04

Sometime in the fall of 2010, Dragon Models, Ltd. released a set of figures in conjunction with Tsui Hark’s Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. Although previously featured in a post by forum moderator Wongsaurus in the community, I totally missed this bit of news. But since I’m trying to catalogue all Hong Kong cinema-related toy releases for as long as this blog exists, I figured I’d create a post especially dedicated to the Detective Dee figures.

Detective Dee Cast

The full set includes figures of Detective Dee (Andy Lau), Shanguang Jing’Er (Li Bingbing), Bei Dong-Lai (Deng Chao), Sha Tor (Tony Leung Ka-Fei), and Empress Wu Zetian (Carina Lau). No Tsui Hark figure has been announced of yet. I haven’t had a chance to see Detective Dee for myself, but the figures look quite good — at least in promotional photos.

If you’re wondering how much these figures cost, the currency converter I used on one online retailer’s price puts these babies at something like $128! And that was for the pre-order, so there’s no telling how much these things go for on the aftermarket. If you’re interested in buying them or you’re like me and can only look, check out the 1/6 Warriors forum for additional pictures or just click the thumbnails under the break for a closer look.

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Five Romantic HK Movies to Watch

Chungking Express 01

While I recognize that many people hate Valentine’s Day and believe it to be be a nefarious “get rich” scheme perpetrated by a shadowy conspiracy of flower shop owners, greeting card companies, and chocolatiers, I think it has some value as a celebration of love, as long one doesn’t get too caught up in the generic expectations associated with the event.

So…Happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you’re partnered up, just dating, or flying solo, here are some Hong Kong film recommendations for your consideration. I have to apologize to some of our readers for my largely heteronormative picks (with the possible exception of one), but frankly, the gay-themed Happy Together ain’t the most upbeat film around. Anyway, you can take a look at my recommended romantic Hong Kong films (w/pictures! Yay!) just under the break.

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