Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Pun’

SHAOLIN a.k.a. THE NEW SHAOLIN TEMPLE [XIN SHAO LIN SI | 新少林寺]

2011/02/13

http://www.emp.hk/title.php?film_id=66

HONG KONG 2010  Directed by: Benny Chan  Written by: Chi Kwong Cheung, Cheung Tan, Alan Yuen  Produced by: Benny Chan, Albert Lee Cinematography by: Anthony Pun Editing by: Chi Wai Yau   Music by: Nicholas Errera  Cast: Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse, Bingbing Fan, Jackie Chan, Jacky Wu, Yu Xing, Xin Xin Xiong

Armies march, bullets fly, monks pray and fight, evil lords say evil things while Jackie Chan provides comic relief – all orchestrated by Benny KILLER CLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE Chan.

SHAOLIN or THE NEW SHAOLIN TEMPLE is an update of Jet Li’s debut from 1982, but is mostly related by name and concept, not so much through storyline or characters. Released closely to Chinese New Year 2011 it is one of the less commercial almost-CNY-films, however tries to draw in the crowds with household names (Andy Lau, Jackie Chan et.al.) and big PR (concentrating on budgets, locations, stars etc.). So how did it turn out?

Let me answer this question by going into a few details. SHAOLIN is, in principle, supposed to be a martial arts movie, and I believe that is what most people who know the Jet Li film or any of the other Shaolin-themed flicks of the past decades expect. What sense does it make therefore to cast an ageing star and non-martial-artist (Lau) as the hero, an ageing martial arts star solely as comedian (Chan) and a few younger, more capable fighters as cannon fodder? None, right. Also, you wouldn’t expect SHAOLIN to be primarily an epic tale of rival warlords and the westernization of China, repeating pretty much what last year’s blockbusters have featured well enough. SHAOLIN pays relatively little attention to Shaolin, the monks and the martial arts heritage, instead loses itself in confusing plot threads, personal feuds and vaguely developed characters who mostly contribute nothing to the development of the story, which by the way would work quite as well without the Shaolin.

As expected, Benny Chan’s direction has no focus, resulting in a movie that seems randomly assembled, with various units filming all kinds of scenes and a failed attempt to patch things together. One again Mr. Chan proves to be a stranger to coherence as much as a stranger to the more traditional martial arts cinema, as well as having little eye for details. The extensive wirework feels outdated and repetitive, frankly speaking it’s unimpressive, the way the action scenes are captured lacks verve and inspiration, the extensive use of doubles is too obvious and many special effects seem out-of-place. What I found most lackluster is the fight choreography, as the film passes by without a single original idea to beef up the action. And the training sequences of the monks are a bit funny to watch, as their positions and movements never seem aligned correctly – the choreography of any Lady Gaga show is more precise than those training sequences.

Thematically, SHAOLIN is by the book, featuring ideas like brotherhood, hierarchy, code of honor, love, trust and betrayal in A-Z order, ticking off one by one from the must-have-ingredients list. The most remarkable message of the film, especially bearing in mind that Chinese New Year was around the corner, is that materialism and pursuit of money shouldn’t be our main goals in life (SHAOLIN doesn’t really answer the question what should be instead, though). So in light of the ever money-centered CNY SHAOLIN tries to make a point, but I am not sure if the audience will really get it or mostly miss the one or two respective lines of dialogue by Andy Lau’s character.

I don’t know what others have seen in SHAOLIN, but as far as I am concerned SHAOLIN is an exceptionally uninteresting film, a whopping two hours of boredom, a revue of incoherent scenes and plot threads leading nowhere, a mixed bag of whatever sprung the makers’ minds. What were they thinking? Armies march, bullets fly, monks pray and fight, evil lords say evil things while Jackie Chan provides comic relief.

J.

 

 

 

 


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TRIPLE TAP [CHEUNG WONG CHI WONG | QIANG WANG ZHI WANG | 鎗王之王]

2010/08/05

http://www.facebook.com/TripleTapMovie

HONG KONG 2010  Directed by: Derek Yee Written by: Derek Yee, Chun Tin Nam, Lau Ho Leung Produced by: Henry Fong  Cinematography: Anthony Pun  Editing: Kwong Chi-Leung  Music: Peter Kam  Cast: Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Charlene Choi, Li Bingbing, Chapman To, Alex Fong, Lam Suet, Andrew Lin, Kenny Lo

A blind man would find a plot quicker than TRIPLE TAP does: Derek Yee’s movie is an amazing disaster with at least as many plot holes as bullets fired throughout its ninety-something minutes running time.

DOUBLE TAP was a quite solid B-movie, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t exactly qualify for a sequel. With a well-known and rudimental storyline, two main actors, a few fine action sequences and otherwise nothing noteworthy at all DOUBLE TAP was the kind of flick you watch when your satellite TV signal drops out during a thunderstorm or as an appetizer on a movie night with friends.

Yee nevertheless was inspired to do another installment, so now let’s have a look at the “improvements” over the original (I assume the objective of a sequel is to excel): an incredibly confusing story with Louis Koo playing a fund manager (!) who is also one of the best marksmen (!!) in town (aren’t we all leading a double life as master shooter), a heist that doesn’t make sense, actors that have the same what-am-I-doing-in-this-movie expression on their face as Andy Lau in FUTURE X-COPS, very talkative dialogues (while having nothing to say), a lot of male camaraderie that borders on gayness (I hope the way Wu and Koo are looking deep into each other’s eyes all the time was scripted; otherwise…) and a plethora of entirely unrealistic plot threads, plot points and behavior of all characters.

During the first third you’ll wonder what TRIPLE TAP is all about; by the end of the last third you may still not have comprehended more. Between the opening and the closing credits some shootouts happen, murders, police investigations, huge amounts of money are juggled with, women come and go dropping stupid one-liners. I’d say you simply stop caring after a while if you’d ever started to care in the first place. It never comes to the point that we feel for anyone in the movie, or are interested to find out what’s behind the heist and the beef these guys have with each other.

All we wanted from DOUBLE TAP was a bit of after hours action. All we get from TRIPLE TAP is three times the B-ness. A few aspects about the movie may be quite ok, but when all is said and done there can be no doubt that TRIPLE TAP’s most prominent feature is causing fatigue. If boredom was currency, Derek Yee would be a billionaire.

J.


OVERHEARD [QIE TING FENG YUN | 窃听风云]

2010/03/25

CHINA / HONG KONG / SINGAPORE 2009   Directed & Written by: Alan Mak, Felix Chong  Produced by: Henry Fong, Tung-Shing Yee  Cinematography: Anthony Pun  Editing: Chi Wai Chan, Chi Leung Kwong  Music: Kwong Wing Chan  Cast: Lau Ching Wan, Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Jingchu Zhang, Michael Wong, Waise Lee, Lam Ka Wah

It’s good to see that Alan Mak and Felix Chong are getting back on track after their very own disaster movie LADY COP & PAPA CROOK: OVERHEARD turns out to be a very mature film – quite the opposite of LADY COP – and easily bears comparison with international productions.

OVERHEARD is the right film at the right time, a film that reflects the global zeitgeist and perhaps that’s why it is so profoundly melancholic. The story about a wire-tapping mission during which a group of policemen learn about stock market manipulation and want to use this insider knowledge for their own gain is very much contemplating and doesn’t want much more than to dramatize the all-embracing depression on personal level. Many elements of the story line are not necessarily new though, and several times the typical Hong Kong style dominates the structure of the movie, somewhat erratic, nervous, and a bit far-fetched.

What’s remarkable about OVERHEARD however is that it’s so subtle. It almost seems as if Mak and Chong wanted to discover the virtue of slowness for themselves and for Hong Kong’s film industry. OVERHEARD is no action movie, perhaps a thriller, it most certainly is a drama. The more the film concentrates on the criminal acts and those responsible the more it tends to thin out; as long as it closely follows the protagonists it is very personal, moving and caring. It comes as no surprise that OVERHEARD is featuring one of the best ensemble performances of last year.

OVERHEARD is a film about ethics, reality and the gap between. The film doesn’t take the easy path: it does not really sympathize with the policemen, even though that would be obvious due to the circumstances. Lau Ching Wan’s character, not exactly having a clean slate himself, is setting an example for ethical behavior, but we nevertheless feel for his colleagues, just as he does. Why not benefit when opportunity knocks?

The lesson OVERHEARD teaches is that it’s not about those up there and those down below, about kings and peasants, abound bad banks and good citizens. It’s about the non-polemical statement that it all doesn’t have anything to do with one another. What really matters is that everyone must decide which side he’s on. And that everyone is accountable for the consequences.

OVERHEARD thinks out loud, makes us follow its train of thought and doesn’t forget that it has to entertain its audience so that they are willing to buy into that thinking process. OVERHEARD is a commercial film with far above-average IQ. In these short-lived times that is an artistic accomplishment.

J.