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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 BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR 2

Bride 2

When we last left swordsman Cho Yi-Hang (Leslie Cheung) in the original Bride with White Hair, he was meditating on the snowy slopes of Mount Shin Fung. Due to Yi-Hang’s mistrust of his lover, Lien Ni-Chang (Brigitte Lin), the poor woman’s hair went from black to white and she slipped further into a bloodthirsty rage. Guilt-stricken by his betrayal, Yi-Hang stands ready on the frosty, precipitous mountain in the hopes of plucking a magical flower that may very well hold the key to healing his beloved Ni-Chang.

In the meantime, Ni-Chang is content with slaughtering the remaining male members of the prominent clans. At the top of her list is Yi-Hang’s nephew, Fung Chun-Kit (Sunny Chan), the last descendant of the once-powerful Wu Tang. Chun-Kit takes a wife named Lyre (Joey Man), but their wedded bliss is short-lived when Ni-Chang pays a visit to the clan. The witch kidnaps Lyre, indoctrinating the newlywed into her cadre of lethal, quasi-lesbian women warriors. Naturally, our substitute hero leads a ragtag group band of do-gooders, including the beautiful Christy Chung as the tomboyish Moon, in an assault on the white witch’s inner stronghold.

As the sequel to one of the best Hong Kong movies of the 1990s, The Bride with White Hair 2 had its work cut out for it. If you’re curious whether the honeymoon is over, check out my review here. I’ve even embedded a trailer of the second film under the cut.

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Gwailo Corner: ROCKY BALBOA (2006)

Rocky Balboa

Year: 2006

Director & Writer: Sylvester Stallone

Cast:

Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Antonio Tarver, Milo Ventimiglia, Geraldine Hughes, Tony Burton, Mike Tyson (cameo)

The Plot:

Thirty years after the first Rocky film comes the triumphant final entry in this long-running movie saga. The story picks up a few years after Adrian’s death, as we find Rocky running a successful restaurant back in the old neighborhood. Unfortunately, he’s still reeling from the loss, and his relationship with his son Robert (Milo Ventimiglia) is slowly deteriorating, causing Rocky to take refuge in the cherished memories of his well-storied past. Meanwhile, ESPN creates a CGI-assisted virtual boxing match between Rocky and current heavyweight champion of the world, Mason “The Line” Dixon (real-life boxer Antonio Tarver). Rocky wins the VR bout, and Dixon’s management convinces the champ to agree to a ten-round exhibition bout with Rocky in Las Vegas. Will Rocky be up to the challenge? Well, with the help of Duke (Tony Burton), Paulie (Burt Young), and Robert/Rocky, Jr., the Itallian Stallion is ready to put it all on the line one last time.
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Retro Review: THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR

Bride with White HairTold in flashback, The Bride with White Hair details the ill-fated love story of Wu Tang swordsman Cho Yi-Hang (Leslie Cheung) and Lien Ni-Chang (Brigitte Lin), the top assassin for the rival Supreme Cult. When we meet Cho at the beginning, we find that he has been waiting on a mountain for ten years in order to pluck the “majestic flower,” a rose that blooms every twenty years and can cure any illness. But at that point in the narrative, we don’t know his reasons. What unfolds next is a an exciting tale of divided loyalties as the heroic Cho finds himself falling for the “villainous” witch, who in turn comes to love him, a man she was ordered to kill by her hideous master, the misshapen Siamese twin, Chi Wu-Shuang (Francis Ng and Elaine Lui).

Strong performances by Leslie Cheung and Brigitte Lin are just part of the thrill of this 1993 Ronny Yu film. The Bride with White Hair is a fantastic introduction to not only the fantasy swordplay genre, but to the HK film experience as well. The film is based on on a novel by Liang Yu-Sheng which was previously adapted into several films and a handful of subsequent television series. The character of Ni-Chang even appeared in the long-awaited Jackie Chan-Jet Li vehicle, The Forbidden Kingdom (2008).

My very brief review was written early in my tenure at LoveHKFilm.com, so it’s not as in-depth as I’d prefer, but you get the gist — I liked it. I’d love to take another look at the film, if only someone would release a Blu-Ray to give me an excuse. Until then, you can read my barebones review here. You can watch the French trailer (with the alternate title Jiang Hu: Between Love and Glory!) under the cut.

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Gwailo Corner: ROCKY V (1990)

Rocky V

Stallone ponders the final fate of the Rocky franchise.

Year: 1990

Director: John G. Avilson

Writer: Sylvester Stallone

Cast:
Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Sage Stallone, Tommy Morrison, Richard Gant, Tony Burton, Burgess Meredith (cameo)

The Plot:

A brain-damaged Rocky returns to the United States, only to find that his accountant has swindled him out of his vast fortune. Without medical clearance to fight, Rocky can’t earn the big payday he most desparately needs to save himself from personal bankruptcy. Consequently, Rocky, Adrian, Rocky Jr. (Sage Stallone), and Paulie are forced to move back to the old neighborhood in order to make ends meet. While there, Rocky meets Tommy Gunn (real-life boxer Tommy Morrison), a scruffy kid from Oklahoma with dreams of boxing superstardom. Rocky agrees to manage Tommy, but unfortunately, he ends up neglecting his real son in the process. Meanwhile, a Don King-esque promoter (Richard Gant) seeks to steal Tommy away with the lure of big bucks and easy women. Will Rocky be able to mend his relationship with his son? Will Tommy go over to the dark side? And will Rocky be able to solve the situation with a good hard uppercut to Tommy’s jaw? Absoloootely.

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Happy Lunar New Year!

CNY

I know I’m a bit behind on this, but I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Lunar New Year. Since 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, I figured a photo of a certain Looney Tunes character dressed in traditional Chinese garb would be an appropriate way to mark the occasion. Technically, it’s the Year of the Metal Rabbit, but since I don’t have a picture of Bugs wailing on a Fender, I figured the attached picture, courtesy of Life.com, was the next best thing.

Anyway, here’s hoping you’re enjoying the Lunar New Year festivities, eating some good food, and, if at all possible, watching some entertaining Hong Kong films. I can’t vouch for the quality of this year’s choices, but for your viewing pleasure, I’ve linked to trailers for Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, All Well That End’s Well 2011, and I Love Hong Kong.

Personally, I celebrated Chinese New Year in a very small way — by eating dim sum at a local restaurant. Nobody gave me any red packets. Since there aren’t any Lunar New Year comedies playing in my neck of the woods, I guess I’ll have to pull out an old favorite from my DVD collection. Heck, maybe it’s time to convince my girlfriend to finally watch Needing You.

In any event, I’ve got a lot of new Hong Kong and Pan-Asian reviews in the pipeline for LoveHKFilm.com, and I hope you’ve been enjoying the daily updates to Ronin on Empty. I’ll do my best to make it a worthwhile stop on your internet wanderings in the coming year.

To you and yours, I wish all of you Long Life, Good Fortune, Health, Happiness, and Good Luck!

AFTER THE LONG GOODBYE

After the Long GoodbyeA few years ago, I had mapped out rough drafts of reviews for Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, and Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. Solid State Society with the intention of possibly even tackling a critique of the first season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Unfortunately, I didn’t back any of those files up, so those reviews died along with my Compaq’s hard drive. Someday, I hope to revisit at least one of those films and maybe even write a review, but until that day, perhaps I can at least “atone” for their disappearance with this mini-review of Masaki Yamada’s After the Long Goodbye, a literary prequel of sorts to Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.

Perhaps in a bid to stave off a nervous breakdown, I’ve been trying to read things from my collection that have nothing to do with my dissertation. After all, it’s about time I catch up on the many, many books that adorn my shelves, but have yet to be cracked open. One such book is the aforementioned After the Long Goodbye, which was purchased at the height of my interest in the popular Ghost in the Shell franchise.

First published in Japan in 2004 and later translated by Yuji Oniki and Carl Gustav Horn for publication by Viz Media in 2005, the novel takes place shortly before the events of GITS 2: Innocence, and is told from the perspective of Batou, the primary male character in the Ghost in the Shell franchise. A soulful cyborg working for the counter-terrorist task force known as Section 9, Batou still carries a torch for Major Motoko Kusanagi, his female superior officer and, as I interpret it, his unrequited love. I would explain what happened to Motoko in the first movie, but I don’t have all day.

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LoveHKToys: SHAOLIN

ShaolinAndy

On their homepage, Dragon Models, Ltd. has announced that figures based on characters from Benny Chan’s Shaolin (2011) are “coming soon” to toy stores, presumably in Hong Kong and Mainland China. Since I live in the currently snow-covered town of Ann Arbor, MI, I’ll have to rely on my friends overseas to keep me informed of the actual release date.

In the near future, toy collectors can look forward to ponying up some serious dough for super-detailed figures of warlord-turned-Shaolin monk Huo Jie (Andy Lau), Cao Man (Nicholas Tse), Wudao (Jackie Chan), Jing Neng (Wu Jing), Jing Kong (Xing Yu), and Suo Xiang-Tu (Hung Yan Yan). Two of these figures even come with horses to play with, so I suppose when you’re tired of re-enacting your favorite scenes from the movie, Andy and Nic can take Barbie and Skipper for a ride. Click on the thumbnails below to get a slightly better look at all the figures in the proposed series.

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