Whale of a Tale Productions

A Post Production Company
INDY-JK--7494

Hong Kong, Chinese, Taiwanese

The Grandmaster by Wong Kar Wai (2012)

If you regular read my posts you should know I am a huge Wong Kar Wai fan. In fact I think he is the greatest film maker alive today. The only French New Wave director still making films, so I have long been anticipating his take on the story of Bruce Lee’s Master Ip Man, which was in fact the first film announced on this subject, but there have been so many out based on him now, though this one is of course very different. First off it stars the great Tony Leung Chiu Wai, one of the finest actors in the world as Ip man, and of course being by Wong Kar Wai it is a very different film. Yes it has awesome and incredibly visual fight scenes, but it is a much sadder and more languid film about the sadness in the great Ip man’s life, and those surrounding him. It is a wonderful if melancholy film that really is another must see. It is gorgeous, well acted and directed, and film to show just how great of a director Wong Kar Wai really is, and hopefully another best actor not for the great Leung Chiu Wai.

Tony Leung Chiu Wai plays Ip Man. We start with an amazing fight scene in the rain with Ip Man fighting many martial artists in a heavy rain. It looks awesome is worth seeing the movie to see. We then see some of his early training with his master Chan Wah Shun (the great Yuen Woo Ping) and his marriage to his lovely and understanding wife Cheung Wing Sing (played by South Korean actress Song Hye Kyo), and we hear how the first part of his life was the spring and was all good up until age of 40.

Then Gong Yutian (Wang Qingxiang), the main martial arts master from Northern China, who has united many martial arts styles arrives, and already declared that his protege Ma San (Zhang Jin) will be his successor, but also decides that in the south there should be a southern master. Many fights erupt in the whorehouse where the martial artists meet, but Ma San beats them all until Gong Yutian sends him back home. Gong Yutian daughter, martial artist Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi) arrives and wants the fight to stop, as she wants to succeed, but cannot as when she marries she will give up her name to her husbands. The Southern Masters decide that Ip Man and his Wing Chun should represent them.

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Motorway 車手 by Cheuang Pou Soi (Soi) 2012

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A Milkyway Police Drama about Car Racing! Co-written by my friend Joey O’Bryan! Hells Yea! Really the weakest part is Shawn Yue in the lead (he isn’t horrible, but doesn’t give much) , and you know what will happen when you hear his partner played by the great Anthony Wong Chau Sang is about to retire, but it is the look and action we are here for, and this delivers in spades! This movie has great vehicular action, and impressive driving kills. It is a must see action film because of that!

**EDIT** Woohoo, won best picture at the Hong Kong movie awards! Hurray Joey!

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry by Alison Klayman (2012)

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This is a fantastic and moving documentary about the world famous artist and outspoken critic of the Chinese government Ai Weiwei 艾未未. It starts talking about his art, and how he doesn’t even do his own artwork anymore, just conceptualizes it. The film really takes off with the Sichuan earthquake, where Ai takes it on his own to create a list of the dead from shoddy construction, when the government does nothing, and he becomes a fervent critic of the Communist government of China. The film is moving and powerful and very well done, must see documentary for anyone at all interested in China.

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A Chinese Ghost Story 倩女幽魂 by Wilson Yup Wai Shun (2011)

The only thing that can really be said for this film, is that the effects have finally caught up with it, and that they used the great music from the original, but other than that there is not too much here too love. Sure it looks great, but no one in the cast really shines, and honestly I would have rather had a really perfect restoration of the originals for blu-ray instead of this film which is fun, but not something I will care to see again, I would rather just watch the original, especially since the changes to the story don’t add anything, and how can you really top the originals cast? And by making it a love triangle, you really kill the main love story with Ning Choi Shan that is supposed to be the hear of the story, and make him a shallow love that really has no meaning.

This time around ghost fighting Taoist priest Yin Chek Ha (Louis Koo Tin Lok) on his first mission was sent to destroy the spirits at Black Hill, especially the 10,000 year old Tree Demon (Wai Ying Hung) but instead fell in love with the Fox Spirit Siu Sin (Liu Yifei), when he finally realized they could not be together, he used his ultimate weapon, which was meant for the tree spirit on Siu Sin to make him forget him completely. Then young bumbling scholar Ning Choi Shan (Yu Shaoqun) arrives at the town at the bottom of the hill, which is dyeing for lack of water, and they get him to go into the black hills to get the water flowing, along with a gang of convicts. They find the water source, where the tree is, but Siu Sin’s demon sisters take the convicts and eat them. Siu Sin likes the sweet Ning Choi Shan who gives her candy just as Yin did before, and Yin shows up and starts killing the spirits, and Ning Choi Shan thinks he is a murderer.

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Shaolin 新少林寺 by Benny Chan Muk Sing (2011)

An Epic Kung Fu drama with gorgeous production values that harkens back to Martial Arts films of old, with a character who is too arrogant then must learn the true ways of kung fu to be able to go against an enemy of his own devising. Not the best film, but Andy Lau Tak Wah is great, and the Jackie Chan cameo is quite fun, and Nick Tse is always good at playing a slimy baddy. A must see for Kung Fu fans, and it really does have an epic feel to it. Sure we have all seen the tale of the fall of Shaolin before, but this is a different twist to the story than I have seen before, though keeping with the old school kung fu esthetic, that doesn’t stick too closely to the facts. There are also some great martial artists in the film, and the film is done with very little CGI so it looks amazing. I do recommend checking it out if you have a chance.

Andy Lau Tak Wah plays Warlord Hou in the early 1900’s fighting to carve China up. He chases a rival General to Shaolin where many refugees have gone to seek food and shelter. Huo’s right hand Tsao (Nicholas Tse Ting Fun) has shown some mercy, but Huo shoots his rival on the sacred grounds, teaching Tsao that he has to be non-compromising. Hou then makes a deal with a general who is a friend of his to marry his daughter to the other generals son, but in fact sets him up to betray him, but in turn is betrayed by Tsao. He runs with his daughter, but Tsao knocks them over a cliff and his little daughter is hurt. Both Huo and his wife (Fan Bing Bing) end up at Shaolin Temple, and they watch as the daughter dies, and Huo’s wife leaves him. Huo with no where to go stays at Shaolin, being apprenticed to the cook Uncle Wudao (Jackie Chan) and slowly starts practicing his martial arts and learning the ways of Shaolin.

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Crossing Hennessy 月滿軒尼詩 by Ivy Ho (2010)

I have been a a Jackie Cheung fan for a long time, and a fan of the films of Ivy Ho (especially Comrades, Almost a Love Story which she wrote) and I was actually pleasantly surprised by this film, because it is not your typical Hong Kong romantic comedy, but instead a dramedy with great characters, that is very well done. I very much enjoyed this film, it is well done with great performances.

Loy (Jacky Cheung Hok Yau) is getting older and has had only one real love in his life, and she got left him and got married, and so he has never grown up. He would sleep through every day if he could, though his aunt (Mimu Chu Mi Mi) wakes him and tried to get him going. His mom, Mrs Chiang (Bau Hei Jing) who runs an appliance store where he works keeps trying to set him up with women, and he is introduced at a dim sum lunch to Oi Ling (Tang Wei) a girl whose uncle and aunt adopted her and she works at their toilet shop. The meeting does not go well as Loy doesn’t care and Oi Ling has a boyfriend, a punk named Xu (Andy On Chi Kit) who is currently in jail for beating someone up. They do end up meeting again though, and make friends, going to a restaurant where the meet an Indian waiter, who keeps showing up, and they want to know who he actually is. The title refers to the road which you must cross to go from one’s parents shop to the next and changing neighborhoods.

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Confucius 孔子之決戰春秋 by Hu Mei (2010)

Really an all over let down of a film. Sure it is epic, but the story and characters really fall flat, and they fail to go into the depth or even a true overview of confucian ideals, nor where they might have come from. This film glosses over any depth the story could have had. It felt like Chow Yun Fat trying to make up for not doing Red Cliff, but failing miserably instead. And it doesn’t help that Chow Yun Fat is dubbed into Mandarin here (as he speaks Cantonese). And while there is some detail in the first half of the film, where we see Confucius as a politician, the section where he is homeless and traveling doesn’t really go into depth of what they were doing, and instead just shows that it was hard, and makes the film not very enjoyable. Sure it looks good, but that is not enough to carry this film. Really a let down, I would stay away from this one.

The film opens with Kong Qiu [Confuscius played by Chow Yun Fat] as an old man remembering his life, looking out of badly digital windows. Then we got back to his period as an official in the Kingdom of Lu. He had been a mayor, but his ideals and disciples had turned the state into such a principled state, that the leader gets Chi Shun (Chen Jianbin) to give up his position as minister of Law to allow Confucius to gain that position and put his principles into affect. He first manages to save a burial slave from being slaughtered and killed with his dead master, and having the law changed to make the practice illegal. Kong then manages to get a treaty through with a warlike neighbor and get 3 cities back that had been taken in a previous conflict. He seems at the height of his powers, and according to the law starts to have the 3 walls taken down from the 3 powerful families fiefedoms, and this loses him his power, and he is banished from Lu.

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Legendary Assassin 狼牙 directed by Wu Jing and Li Chung Chi (2008)

I was hoping for a lot more from Wu Jing’s directorial debut. I love that he is trying his hand, but this story is uninspired, and the score awful, and while the action is decent, their is not really enough to carry the film. And the realistic feel is hampered by a bit too much bad wirefu which hurts the film overall. Wu Jing is decent enough here, and the Eurasian Celina Jade is cute, but that isn’t enough for this film to be anything but forgettable. And this is another film that really suffers from the post handover film restrictions as you know what will happen to the “bad guys” no matter what. Wu Jing is certainly someone to be watched, as he is a possible Jet Li successor having gone through the same Wushu training and won the same national tournaments, but hopefully he can be in some better films soon.

Bo (Wu Jing) visits a restaurant and then heads to a rural island off of Hong Kong, where he goes and kills crime boss Chairman Ma (Kou Zhan-Wen) having first knocked out his men, who only saw that he was carrying a brown bag (which is actually a bowling bag). Bo heads back to the ferry, but it is stopped because of a typhoon warning, so he is stuck in the island. As Bo wanders around, he saves a woman named Hiu Wor (Celina Jade) when she falls out of a tree trying to retrieve her cat. The go back to her place, where he realizes she is a police office, and then head out to the one open restaurant to get some food. On the radio is a broadcast about 3 theives who are also eating dinner there. Hiu Wor confronts the men (led by Jackie Chan’s ex body guard Ken Lo), but gets attacked, so Bo must save her, and they head back to the police station.

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Little Big Soldier (大兵小將) by Ding Sheng (2010)

It has been a while sing I can honestly say that Jackie Chan has made a good film, but he has done so here, and with a much different role. Sure he does some acrobatics and rock throwing, but no real fights here. And this isn’t a happy film either, but how can a serious take on the warring states period in China be? This film is gorgeously shot, well acted and well done.It actually comes down to being a buddy store, and a story about loyalty. An enjoyable film that is well worth checking out.

This takes place during the Warring States period in Chinese history. The kingdom’s of Wei and Liang have a huge battle with 2000 Liang troops and 1000 Wei troops and wipe each other out. One Liang soldier does survive (Jackie Chan Sing Lung). He survived because he has rigged up a gag in his armor, which pops up an arrow on both sides and makes it look like he has already been shot. He is busy looting and getting a wagon ready when a Liang general turns out to be alive, and ends up fighting a surviving Wei General (Wang Lee Hom). The Wei general survives, but it wounded, much to the soldiers happiness. He uses his own mix of herbs to treat his wounds and ties him up to take him to Liang, as a captured General means enough land to farm on, and exemption from military service. Of course the General is being followed by more Wei who also want him dead, the Prince (Steve Yoo Sung Jun) and his general (Gai Chun Wa who I loved in the Seven Swords soap opera) are hunting him for reasons unknown.

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True Legend (蘇乞兒) by Yuen Woo Ping (2010)

Some great action, and a throwback to Woo Ping’s great 90’s action, but some mediocre effects and a crappy last act make this fall a bit flat. The best thing is to see Vincent Zhao Zen Zhao back and kicking ass, and he is in fine form here, let’s hope that he can keep making features instead of only getting Chinese Soap Operas. For action aficionados this is worth checking out, but only if you a big fan, because it could be a better film.

Su Can (Vincent Zhao Zen Zhao) is a general working for a prince along with his adopted brother Yuan Lie (Andy On Chi Kit). They go out and save the prince, and he promises to make Su Can the governor of Hu Bei, but he turns it down, and asks that his brother be made governor instead. Su leaves to be with his wife Ying (Zhou Xun) who is Yuan Lie’s actual sister and to perfect his wushu. Su gives his sword to his comrade Ma (Guo Xiaodong) and leaves. 5 years pass and Su has a daughter, and his father tells them that Yuan is returning, and that it may be for vengeance since Su’s father killed Yuan’s father as he was practicing evil martial arts, and then adopted his children as his own. Su thinks it can’t be right, but when Yuan arrives he quickly kills his father using his Five Venom Fists,

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The Storm Warriors 風雲II by Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang Fat (2009)

I have been waiting for years for a sequel to the Storm Riders, and watching and enjoying the excellent Chinese Soap Opera based on the same story, so it was a bit worried about the Pang brother’s getting a hold of this. I have always thought the Pangs made visually stunning films, but couldn’t tell a good story if it hit them in the face. And this film sure follows that formula, though honestly the visuals weren’t even that impressive. This is way too much of a 300 want to be, but not done as well. Honestly I like the effects better in the first film. It is really sad that Aaron Kwok Fu Sing and Ekin Cheng Yee Kin came back together to make this mess of a film.

The film stars with Cloud (Aaron Kwok Fu Sing) and Chu Chu (Tiffany Tang Yan, it seems Shu Qi was smart enough not to return to this disaster) already captured by the evil Godless (even the great Simon Yam Tat Wah can’t make this crap good). Also captured is Cloud and Wind’s new master Nameless (Kenny Ho Kar King) as well as some other masters. Cloudless and his son Heart (Nicholas Tse Ting Fung) like Lord Conquerer before them want to take over the martial arts world and the whole world. Cloud and Nameless get free with the help of Wind (Ekin Cheng Yee Kin), as they had planned, but Nameless is wounded. They decide they need to power up to defeat this new threat.

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Overheard 竊聽風雲 by Alan Mak Siu Fai and Felix Chong Man Keung (2009)

Amazing that this duo’s last film was the awful Lady Cop & Papa Crook, but Alan Mak is the co-director of Infernal Affairs and Initial D, so I do have some faith in him, and especially with this cast! I am a huge Lau Ching Wan fan, and Like Daniel Wu, Alex Fong, and yes Michael Wong (Yes, he is so bad he is good, and you would think by now he could speak in all Chinese, but no, it is still half English) and Louis Koo Tin Lok has been getting better. This is an enjoyable police thriller set in Hong Kong about a group of police officers who spy for a living. Nothing deep or amazing, but the cast does well, and the story holds together, so this is certainly worth checking out. I still wish that Hong Kong films would allow some wrong doers to not have to pay at the end, which used to happen before the handover, but seems to have ended at this point, much to the detriment of the films.

A trio of cops who specialize in bugs and wiretaps are working with the CCB or Commercial Crime Bureau to investigate insider trading. The cops are Johnny (Lau Ching Wan) who is dating Mandy (Zhang Jinchu, who is amazingly lovely and I first saw in Huayao Bride in Shangrila and then Seven Swords) the estranged wife of his kind of friend, and boss Kelvin (Alex Fong Chung-Sun). Max is the smart kid, who is marrying into money, and now spends at least 3 days a week with the chief of police and his father in law playing gold, when not doing nights on the police force. The final friend is Gene (Louis Koo Tin-Lok) a married man whose son has cancer, and he has 3 other young children, and not nearly enough money, especially once he finds out that his son will be fine, but he won’t last another year. They almost were caught when they planted mics and cameras into the offices they are spying on, but use their brains and get out. They trio do night duty listening to Executive Mr. Low (the great Waise Lee Chi-Hung) having sex with secretary (Quennie Chu) and using their ability to listen to any Cell Phone with a battery in to spy on their feelow cops (William Chan Wai-Ting and Sharon Luk Tze Wan) who are having an affair, though she is the big inspector’s girlfriend. On the job, while Johnny is out for a smoke, Gene and Max hear their mark, executive Mr. Low giving a tip about some stock that is going to go way up the next day, and Gene convinces Max to help him erase the recording, to get money for his family, and Max needs money since his father in law wants him to quit the force and work for him. The next morning Gene and Max go with their life savings to invest in E&T stock, and Johnny wants to stop them, but he is such a nice guy, they get him to go along, because they need the money, and the stock does quickly rise, but then is frozen for illegal trading, and they may have lost all their money.

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Shinjuki Incident 新宿事件 by Derek Yee Tung-Sing (2009)

Interesting to watch the Story of Chinese Immigrants in Japan, who once they get power start to turn into a Triad, becoming what they hated, those who pushed them down. Jackie Chan Sing Lung tries his hand at serious crime drama, where he does not do the action he is so well known, and the film mostly succeeds, with some failings in that Chan’s character Steelhead starts to turn bad, but then has to turn back to the light, because Jackie can never really be a villain (though I did love the moments when he is going that way here). And it is too bad they do draw back from it, because the film is at it’s best watching the darkening of Steelhead’s soul. He is a man who has given up everything to find the girl he loves, including the village he loves, and even the ability to return to his own country, and when he finds her married to a Japanese mobster, he gives up all his ideals, ready to kill for power. Sure he still wants to do it for his friends, but their is still that loss of his morality when he goes from never doing illegal acts or taking people’s money when he hasn’t worked, to willing to break the law. And it is when that gets pulled back from that the film starts to lose it’s charm, but it does end with a huge yakuza fight, so that does partially make up for it. And a great Chinese and Japanese cast and compelling story help to make this an enjoyable film, that could have been better, but is still very worth checking out.

Steelhead (Jackie Chan Sing Lung) is a Chinese farmer, who lived happily in his village, until the love of his life Xiu Xiu (Xu Jinglei) loses touch after her aunt dies in Japan, and he goes to find her, sneaking into Japan illegally. He sneaks into Tokyo, and finds his childhood friend Jie (Daniel Wu) and his friends, including Dai (the great Ken Lo, formerly Jackie’s personal Bodyguard) and Lao Gewi (the great Lam Suet), who all live together and do any work they can to survive. Steelhead and Jie do any work they can get, working in a dump, or wherever. When Steelhead saves Hong Kong Boy (Chin Kar-Lok) at the dump, he gives Steelhead a bunch of illegal calling cards, and Steelhead starts to see the underbelly of Japanese society. Meanwhile there is a bit of a power struggle going on within the Yakuza because of the death of a leader, and Mob bosses Taro Watagawa (Kurata Yasuaki) and Toshinari Eguchi (Kato Masaya) vie for power. Steelhead and his friends are working in the sewers when the cops show up, led by Inspector Kitano (the great Takenaka Naoto who I will never forget for his role in Shall We Dance). Kitano chases Steelhead, but when he falls into the water, Steelhead saves the cop, who cannot swim, and the cop looks for Steelhead to settle his debt.

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Sniper 神鎗手 by Dante Lam Chiu-Yiu (2009)

This is a just for guys actioner that I enjoyed much more than I thought I would. Just a solid Hong Kong adrenaline actioner with little in the way of character development or deep story, and would probably have done well on release if it had not been so long delayed by the whole Edison Chen sex scandal. And Richie Ren is pretty damn good here, picking up where he left off in Exiled, and playing a real bad ass. Huang Xiaoming is good too, though obviously will be the villain as soon as you learn he left the Sniper Team, but the story is not why you are here anyway (lets hope, as you can tell what is going to happen from the start), and this film is filled with bloody sniping action. The worst part is the Edison who is set up as a major character, but seems to have been cut back to only a bit part, there to drive the other two leads, more of a McGuffin than a character. And other plot points get introduced, then just disappear, and I would actually rather have seen the full cut instead of this cut down version, though it does leave it very action packed. Actually the worst part of the film is the fact that there is way too much action with guys with their shirts off, showing how bad ass they are, but that can be overlooked, because the action is pretty damn good. And the blu-ray looks great! Hong Kong seems to have bypassed the terrible stage they had with early DVD’s with their blu-ray discs. Well worth checking out.

A young beat cop named OJ (Edison Chen) and his partner hear a call about some seriously armed robbers, and they see the car parked on the side of the road, and go to investigate a building off in the jungle. Luckily for them a Sniper team led by Hartmen (Richie Ren) is doing reconnaissance there, and Hartmen orders them in to save the cops. The partner is shot and taken hostage, and OK and Hartmen end up going against the villains, OJ takes Hartmen’s shooting advice and shoots the perp right in the head, and Hartmen realizes he has a potential new member of his elite police sniper team, and he recruits him. The team has some issues. Hartmen’s ex-wife (Michelle Ye) is suicidal, and their daughter finds her. And an ex team member named Lincoln (Huang Xiaoming) who has been in prison, has been released, and has gotten a sniper rifle, and seems to be threatening Hartmen’s family. We also see OJ going to try and give some money to his estranged father (Stephen Tung Wai) with his girlfriend, but this plot just goes away after that.

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Tactical Unit: Partners 機動部隊:伙伴 by Lawrence Ah Mon (2009)

The fourth out of 5 of the PTU films (Which I watched out of order, which didn’t really matter as this film actually could have easily been the third film) is another enjoyable police drama. This one has some highlight on May (Maggie Siu Mei Kei) but also deals with members of a local Indian gang dealing drugs, and a member who went to jail and is trying to go straight, as well as a new cop trying to prove himself, and see if he can prove himself as a cop. Not the best in the series, but an enjoyable police drama.

May (Maggie Siu Mei Kei) has dinner with her old school classmates, where her school lover Ken (Anthony Tang Ho Kwong), who is now divorced admits she was always his love, and wishes she had left with him to study in America. May then jumps up from the table to stop a fight at the bar, and they all talk about how she can’t stop being a cop. She and Sam’s (Simon Yam Tat Wah) teams get a new member, Rocky (Chiu Tien You) who is the nephew of the Super-Intendant and an engineer. Meanwhile “Fatty” Tong (the one and only Lam Suet) goes to a nightclub to talk a half indian guy named Velu Chan (Peter Chan Bei Dak) who has just gotten out of prison (Tong busted him) and who might be able to find out about some rumors of some Indian assassins being hired. May finds out her Philippine maid has all her money stolen by her cousin who was supposed to be getting married with it, but ran off with some Pakistani guy. Velu goes looking for his brother Ricky (Ricky Chan Bo Yuen) who is now working for the gangster Jaga, who deals drugs, and who Velu worked for when he got busted and went to jail for 4 years. Jaga ends up making Velu make a drug handoff out of the car, which pisses him off, so he jumps out of the car, as Jaga did nothing for him while he was in jail, except recruit his only brother.

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Tactical Unit: Comrades in Arms 机动部队-同袍 by Law Wing Cheong 2009)

The fifth and final of the PTU sequels was released in theaters. I watched it out of order, missing the fourth film, which will be next. Another enjoyable film, this one about distention in the ranks, and how it takes teamwork to make it, and be an effective police unit. A really enjoyable film, and a must see for all PTU and Milkyway fans.

Inspector Fatty Tong (Lam Suet) has been demoted to a PTU driver, and Sam has also lost some of his cache, and the new Inspector (Ben Wong Chi Yin) favors May (Maggie Siu Mei Kei). And May no longer gets along with Sam either, and is doing everything in her power to promote her people over Sam’s. When they all chase a robber, the two units fight each other, and May gets all the credit for her and her men. The transfers are in a week, and the assignments come up, and May and her closest (Samuel Pang King Chi) get promotions. At the celebration party, Tong gets drunk and when his mother-in-law calls and lost all his money in stocks, he gets drunk and accuses the Inspector of favoring May, and the units get in a fight. The last day before the transfers an armored car is robbed by 4 armed men, who escape into the mountains, and the PTU is mobilized to find them. The Inspector Ho Ka Kitputs May in charge, though Sam is much more experienced, and this causes more dissension.

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Tactical Unit: Human Nature 機動部隊:人性 by Andy Ng Yiu Kuen (2008)

The 3rd of the made for TV sequels to PTU is so far my favorite, mainly because this one is all about Lam Suet, who I have always enjoyed in the milkyway films, and here he really gets to shine. Another dark police drama, and this does have some inconsistenties with the first, but is still a very enjoyable film, and a must see. Like the others it is well shot, and well done (not as well as PTU, but amazing for TV), and with this cast you really can’t go wrong.

Detective Lam “Fatty” Tong (Lam Suett) owes money to the gangsters Hung (Gordon Lam Ka Tung) and he wants exorbitant interest added to what he already owes. And it is already considered a bad luck time for the cops, as the chief has taken away their god Kuan’s which they worship before going on patrol. Meanwhile a group of 4 former mainland cops, now robbers led by Berg Ng Tong Yip break in on a drug deal, killing both sides of it, and take the money, but destroy the drugs. Sam (Simon Yam Tat Wah) and May (Maggie Siu Mei Kei) and there teams are in a patrol van, that gets in an accident, right outside of the gun war, and when the robbers come out, they shoot up the van, and then take off, so they find the dead bodies, along with a lot of dropped money. They also find a mainland ID. When Tong arrives, both Sam and May see that he is tempted to steal some money to pay his debts. When Tong gets to his apartment, Hung is there, and is telling schoolchildren that he owns him money, and his wife sees. Tong takes off, and gets an apartment, where he cleans the bloody money he has taken. His wife calls him and tells him she is going to be leaving with their kid for America without him.

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Tactical Unit – No Way Out 机动部队 – 绝路 by Lawrence Lau (2008)

The second of the Milkyway televised spin-offs to the film PTU is an enjoyable drama that this time relegates the PTU officers to the sidelines, and that really works, especially because it is shown how the cops aren’t exactly saints, and in fact not all that likeable, much like in the first film. The production value is pretty high for a TV show, and of course it shares the amazing cast of the last film, so this makes it a must see, and an enjoyable film.

The PTU, led by Sergeant Sam (SImon Yam) start a crack down on triad activities in Portland Street. Sam picks on a lowly peon named Fai (Derek Tsang Kwok CHeung) who sells illegal cigarettes for the Triad, and even gets picked on by them. Sam beats him and forces him to help them get into the place where they are selling the cigarettes. The crack down causes the two Triad gangs of portland street go head to head, with both sides blaming Fai, so he can’t even support his hooker girlfriend (Wu Li). The younger hot head (Samuel Pang King Chi) in the gang Fai works for ends up killing a member of the other gang, and they try to pin it on Fai, offering him money to take the wrap, and go to prison, he knows he has no choice, so he agrees.

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Tactical Unit – The Code 機動部隊 – 警例 by Law Wing Cheong (2008)

The first of 5 parts of a made for TV sequel to Johnnie To’s police drama PTU. Certainly this is a low budget sequel, though it does have a great cast with Simon Yam, Lam Suet and Maggie Siu, though that is really all it has going for it. Sure I still enjoyed it, but as a made for TV movie, not a film like PTU, or even a film much less than PTU. The shows biggest problem, over it’s lowered production values, is it’s story, which is not too engaging, and in fact served to pull me away from liking the main characters more than actually making me like them more. In fact, this makes the cops seem much more like villains, and not likeable at all, and in fact the cops who are the best get drummed out, so it certainly doesn’t have a message I would think this series would carry. This is a very serious film with no humor, and not much to like in the characters, except that you already like them from the film. Worth checking out for fans, but non-fans should stay away.

The film starts with the police having to launch an internal investigation, because a surveillance camera picked up 3 PTU officers brutalizing a suspect in an alley. CAPO (Complaints Against Police Officers) is sent in to investigate, and to try and find the suspect who has not reported. The unit in question is led by Sam (Simon Yam), and he sets off to find the suspect first and get him to clam up. Meanwhile one member of his unit, the straight shooting Eight (Lee Kwok Lun) is such an honest cop that he has confessed he is in bad debt to their superior, so he is getting transfered off active duty, and is totally distraught about it. He has never done anything wrong as a cop, and always goes by the book, and feels he is being punished for it. Sam has his friend leading another unit May Cheung (Maggie Siu Mei Kei) and Officer Lo (Lam Suet) helping out in the search, as CAPO is on their trail at every turn.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Red Cliff II 赤壁 II by John Woo (2009)

After waiting on the first one and loving it, I rushed to see the second, and saw it on Blu-Ray, and it was well worth it, because no only is the movie as good as the incredible first, but the transfer is reference quality. This film proves Woo still has it, and Hollywood would just not let him do what he did best. Of course it also brings Chow Yun Fat further down after turning down a role in this film, and doing Dragonball, which now has a rotten tomatoes rating of 13, that guy is only out for money obviously, and should have done this amazing film. This film is of course the direct sequel to the previous film and could into stand without it, and my only complaint is the annoying page ripping transistion that is used way too much, other than that this film is near perfect, and the additions to the story all work incredibly well. This is a fantastic adaption and an incredible film, and Tony Leung Chu Wai and Kaneshiro Takeshi both outdo themselves, which is saying allot. The action is top notch, the effects are great. Everything about this is amazing. And a much faster pace than the first film, which has more discussion and setup. This is an absolute must see!!!

The film starts with the people of the Red Cliff and Liu Bei’s (You Yong) men awaiting the attack of Cao Cao (Zhang Fengi) from across the river. Zhuge Liang (Kaneshiro Takeshi) and Zhou Yu (Tony Leung Chu Wai) plot their attack on Cao Cao’s forces. Sun Quan’s (Chang Chen) sister Sun Xiang-Shang (Zhao Wei) has infiltrated Cao Cao’s camp as a male soldier, and is sending messages back to Zhuge Liang. Cao Cao has the superior force, so he is confident, and has his troops train in kick ball, and has his admirals strap the ships together with iron beams so that the ground troops won’t get sea sick on the crossing. He does have some sickness in camp, and uses it to play dirty, sending the corpses over to Red Hill, where soldiers and townspeople are exposed. The sickness is weakening the side badly, and causes Liu Bei and his troops to pack up and leave, though Zhuge Liang stays back to keep his promise to Zhou Yu and help in the fight. Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang compete to each fulfill a seemingly impossible task in the help of the battle against Cao Cao, each if they lose agreeing to give up their heads. Zhuge Liang agrees to get 100,000 arrows in 3 days, and Zhou Yu promisses to get the heads of Cao Cao’s two admirals Cai Mao (Yi ZHao) and Zhang Yun (Jia Hongwei). Meanwhile Sun Xiang-Shang befriends a enemy soldier (Tong Dawei) who is good at kickball, and is made a troop leader of arrow men, the two play together, and Xiang-Shang uses him to help finish her map of the enemy camp, but does start to truly like him as well.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Ip Man 葉問 by Wilson Yip Wai-Shun (2008)

Donnie Yen goes the route of Jet Li in fearless to do a biopic of Bruce Lee’s Master Yip Man in his early years, and makes for one Donnie’s best films, but does not come close to Li’s best historical films in any way. Sure Donnie does some great action, and his most sedate performance is certainly one of his best, though he still does not have too much depth to his acting skills. And from what I have heard the film is not too historically accurate, but that doesn’t make it any less of a fun martial arts romp, which some Chinese nationalistic story telling, and Wilson Yip has once again made an impressive looking film. Very worth checking out, and the blu-ray looks very good (though there are some motion artifacting in some dark scenes that do distract).

Donnie Yen plays the titular Ip Man a Wing Chun martial arts master in a town of masters named Foshan, but one who likes to keep his skills secret, as he is not a show off. Ip Man lives a quite life with his wife Wing Cheng (Lynn Hung) and young son. One day Ip Man is challenged by a fellow master named Liao (Chen Zhi Hui) and Ip man easily bests him, and this is witnessed by a local named Aha Da Yuan (Wong You-Nam) who was getting his kite from a tree. Sha Da Yuan goes into town and tells everyone what he saw, publicly humiliating Master Liao. Master Liao starts a fight, and local Inspector Li Zhao (Lam Ka-Tyung) intervenes, saying people fight with guns now, and not fists, though Ip Man easily disarms him, and removes the cylinder from the gun. A martial artist from out of town named Jin Shan Zhao (Fan Siu-Wong) comes in and starts challenging the masters of all the schools, and defeating them all. The teahouse owner who is also a martial artist named Lin (Xing Yu) tells Ip Man, but Ip man can’t help because of his wife’s disapproval of his fighting.Jin comes to challenge Ip man, and starts breaking things, and this causes Wing Cheng to allow him to fight, and he quickly defeats him. The whole town starts to respect Ip Man, and his Wing Chung.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Chungking Express 重慶森林 by Wong Kar Wai (1995)

The easiest and most accessible Wong Kar Wai film, which can really get people into his filmmaking has never looked better than this Criterion Collection Blu-ray disc. Sure I have seen better looking discs, but I am sure their source material was kept better, and this is certainly the best this film has ever looked (of course I have the original Hong Kong DVD with the original theatrical cut which looks terrible, but I did like that cut). This is really 2 films in one, both about cops in love, and both dealing with the same locations of Chungking Mansion and a food stall called Midnight Express, but two very different films, the first a noirish thriller, and the second a screwball romantic comedy. Both are fun, and both are pretty silly and strange, but both are quite enjoyable. This is fun, lyrical and fantastic film, and worth seeing again now that is is on criterion and has never looked better.

The first story is that of Cop 223 He Qiu-Wu (Kaneshiro Takeshi) a plainclothes detective that we see running through the city (the film is printed with step framing so the world blurs around him) and catches a pimp, but not before running into a strange woman in a blond wig (Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia) who he says he will fall in love with, but that running into her was the closest he will be to her. Then we see him mostly hanging out around a food stall pining over his lost girlfriend May, and trying to call other girls, none of whom want to hear from him. He decides he will move on on May 1st, his birthday, a month away if he has not heard from her, and goes to a convenience store and buys a can of pineapples that will expire on May 1st each day, and he plans on eating them on May 1st.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS….

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Painted Skin 画皮 by Gordon Chan Car Seung (2008)

I actually had some high hopes for this, because it is based on the same set of short stories written by Pu Songling that begat both A CHINESE GHOST STORY and the Chinese Soap Opera Strange Tales of Liaozhai, which I also greatly enjoyed, and I was hoping for more of the same fun here, but instead got a muddled mess, that underused it’s starts, especially Donnie Yen, and seemed more intent on showing off it’s sets and costumes than making a rip roaring Chinese Ghost tale. This tale has more love triangle stuff going on than action, and unfortunately most of the love triangle stuff seems forced, because the emotion isn’t really shown to be there, and some possible love stories aren’t even explored, and this all made the pacing seem rather slow and boring in fact. Not only that but the Blu-Ray disc was not all that impressive, with some motion artifacting in the dark action scenes that I did not expect to see. I would pass this one over, it is a waste of time.

A local militia officer named Wang Shen (Aloys Chen) saves a fox demon named Xiaowei (Zhou Xun) thinking she is an innocent girl, and takes her home to his town and into his house, though his wife Peirong (Vicki Zhao Wei) is not happy, and instantly realizes something is wrong. And the town becomes beset by a serial killer who is taking hearts, this is a demon (Qi Yuwu) who is devoted to Peirong, and loves her, and brings her hearts so she can stay looking beautiful and human, but she does not love him, she loves Wang Shen and wants to make him love only her. In this atmosphere Yong (Donnie Yen Ji Dan) shows up. He was the old militia leader, and the lover of Peirong, but when she left him for Wang Shen (we never know why) he gave up fighting them and became a lone drifter, but he comes to town, and is going to help with the serial killer. Yong ends up getting help from a self proclaimed demon buster named Zia Bing (Betty Sun Li who played the blind girl in Fearless). So we have multiple lover triangles going on here.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Lost in Beijing 蘋果 by Li Yu (2007)

I have been wanting to watch this dark drama about the harsher side of life in modern Beijing and the decaying of people’s morals is a great character driven piece with amazing performances by Fan Bing BIng and Tony Leung Ka Fai. The performances really bring the film together, and the handheld camera actually increases the intimacy (though Kelly could never watch it). It is good to be able to see the uncut version which had 15 major cuts made by Chinese censors because of it’s intense scenes of sex. It is great to see Fan Bing Bing playing such a grown up role, and really doing a great job, if she keeps this up she could really be a powerhouse in Chinese cinema in the future.

Fan Bing Bing plays Liu Pingguo, an young immigrant in beijing who works at the Golden Basin Massage Parlor as a foot masseuse, hiding the fact that she is married to Ah Kun (Tong Dawei) from her boss Lin Dong (Tony Leung Ka Fai) so she won’t lose her job. Ah Kun works as a window cleaner for the skyscraper his wife works for. Lin Dong is married to Wang Mei (Elaine Kam Yin Ling) who practices chinese medicine, but he is always out sleeping with whores. When Pingguo’s best friend Xiao Mei (Zeng Mei Hui Zi) is fired from the massage parlor for stabbing a guy who tried touching her breasts, the friends go out drinking and Pingguo ends up going to work completely hammered. Lin Dong finds her and when she mistakes him for her husband, he rapes her, which her husband sees through the window. Ah Kun then starts defacing Lin Dong’s Mercedes, and trying to get 20,000 yen out of him, but he is ignored, so he goes to the wife, who instead of giving him money, starts an affair with him.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Rule # 1 第一誡 by Kelvin Tong (2008)

A supernatural horror film that starts off with a bit too many Ring like scares, then seems to be going well, with an entertaining performance by Ekin Cheng as an alcoholic cop, but the end gets too convoluted, and even seems to unexplainably double back on itself in an ending that while enjoyably dark, doesn’t work with the double ending. And the dark premise seems to make it that everyone in the world would be getting possessed, it is just too easy. An enjoyable popcorn flick, but I wouldn’t pay for it, even though it is great to see Ekin playing his age, and doing such a great job.

Shawn Yue plays a uniformed police officer named Lee Kwok Keung who on a routine traffic stop, ends up finding a dead child in the back in of the car, and the perp ends up shooting him 5 times, and is only stopped when the trunk opens and the dead little girl sits up and distracts the murderer allowing Lee to kill him. Lee recovers, miraculously with a cast on one arm only, and wants to go back to work, though when he refuses to remove the girl from his report, since she had been dead for 4 hours when he found her, he is transferred to a unit called the Miscellaneous Affairs Department or MAD for short. Lee isn’t too happy and his girlfriend (Fiona Xie) notices something different, but continues to live with him. Lee goes to his department in a dilapidated warehouse, where he meets a kid in a wheelchair playing Jenga, and waits for his boss. The kid gets a call, and Lee is sent to a pool where a girl drowned and the worker hears screaming. There he meets his new boss, the alcoholic Lee (Ekin Cheng). Lee sees the dead girl, but Wong gets him to remember Rule #1 that there are no ghosts, and there is always a logic explanation, this being hair caught in a drain.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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