Posts Tagged ‘Barbie Hsu’

REIGN OF ASSASSINS [JIANYU | 剑雨]

2010/10/24

http://www.mediaasia.com/reignofassassins

http://jianyu.ent.sina.com.cn/

HONG KONG 2010  Directed by: John Woo, Su Chao-Pin Written by: Su Chao-Pin Produced by: John Woo, Terence Chang  Cinematography by: Wong Wing-Hung, Arthur Wong  Editing by: Cheung Ka-Fai  Music by: Peter Kam  Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Jung Woo-Sung, Wang Xueqi, Barbie Hsu, Shawn Yue, Kelly Lin, Guo Xiaodong, Jiang Yiyan, Leon Dai, Paw Hee-Ching, Pace Wu, Li Zonghan, Jiang Yiyan

We are still far away from a real renaissance, but with two small masterpieces launched around the same time that are reviving the best traditions of Hong Kong cinema we are kind of spoiled for choice: no matter if you see DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME or REIGN OF ASSASSINS first, you’ll end up coming to the same conclusion – that you just saw a film that looks and feels as good as Hong Kong movies did twenty years ago.

And again it is no surprise that REIGN OF ASSASSINS is helmed by a veteran director of the golden age of Hong Kong cinema: after RED CLIFF John Woo has returned to China once again, this time telling the tale of the mummified remains of an Indian monk that are supposed to bear magical powers. Various parties are after the treasure, including the Dark Stone gang whose top assassin Drizzle (Kelly Lin) gets hold of the remains, but decides to live an ordinary life instead of returning to the gang after meeting a monk and master swordsman who sacrifices himself to enlighten her.

She changes her appearance through surgery and assumes the identity of Zeng Jing (Michelle Yeoh). She moves to the city and opens a store selling cloth, and soon after marries messenger Ah Sheng. They could have lived happily ever after, but the script thinks otherwise: the Dark Stone gang is still in pursuit of the remains, and their leader Wheel King (Xueqi Wang) is upping the ante by sending three assassins to hunt down Drizzle. Lei Bin (Shawn Yue), The Magician (Leon Dai) and sexy but merciless killer Turqoise (Barbie Hsu) are are getting closer to the truth, while some more surprising twists complicate things further. Everything gears towards the last stand-off between Drizzle and her old gang, with some uninvited guests are joining the party.

For a Hong Kong swordsplay flick (new or old) REIGN OF ASSASSINS has a very solid story, detailed characterization and inventive script. All is quite right: the movie’s depth and complexity is intriguing, but never reaches the kind of confusion that have made movies like SWORDSMAN 2 as tiring as an accounting seminar. On the contrary, REIGN OF ASSASSINS achieves a great level of integration with the story driving the action and vice versa. I didn’t know what to expect at first with Su Chao-Pin being under my radar in the past, but it must be said that the script is fabulous.

The same must be said about the action: the choreography is state-of-the-art, a very modern yet artistic interpretation of swordsplay, with spectacular gimmicks and incredible pace, as beautiful to watch as it is breathtaking. Mr. Woo has teamed with legendary DOP Wong Wing-Hung (A CHINESE GHOST STORY, THE KILLER, HARDBOILED) and it is obvious from the beginning that he enjoyed shooting the film quite a bit more than BEAUTY ON DUTY (that’s only my assumption, of course). However, action hasn’t looked that good for a while, and it’s not a coincidence that it comes from the people who originally turned made in Hong Kong into a valuable trademark as far as filmmaking goes.

What brings me back to Tsui Hark’s DETECTIVE DEE and what I wrote about it earlier: DETECTIVE DEE and REIGN OF ASSASSINS are not exceptional for what they are inventing, but because of what they are preserving, or bringing back to the silver screen. Both mark the return to Pre-‘97 Hong Kong filmmaking, and while they are of course products of 2010 they seem as imaginative, untroubled, powerful and touching as movies were back then.

Those who don’t care much about the past or know very little about it should note however that contemporary Hong Kong cinema doesn’t get any better than this. If REIGN OF ASSASSINS, or DETECTIVE DEE for that matter, don’t convince you this kind of cinema simply isn’t for you. And all the dedicated fans will be pleased to hear that, at least for a moment, Mr. Tsui and Mr. Woo have put back the magic into Hong Kong films. Enjoy it while it lasts.

J.

 

 

 


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HOT SUMMER DAYS [CHUEN SING YIT LUEN – YIT LAT LAT | 全城热恋热辣辣]

2010/08/14

http://movie.foxmovies.com.tw/

HONG KONG / CHINA / USA 2010  Directed by: Tony Chan, Wing Shya Written by: Wing Shya Produced by: Fruit Chan, Paul Cheng  Cinematography by: Sion Michel  Editing by: Wenders Li  Music by: Eddie Chung Yan-Tai Cast: Nicholas Tse, Jacky Cheung, Rene Liu, Vivian Hsu, Barbie Hsu, Yihong Duan, Xinbo Fu, Angela Baby, Daniel Wu, Boran Jing, Zhuoyan He, Conroy Chan Fruit Chan, Phat Chan, Maggie Cheung, Jan Lamb, Michelle Wai, Shawn Yue, Joey Yung

Nothing beats HOT SUMMER DAYS in terms of star appeal, and few movies manage to put a star-studded cast like this to good use. The comedy / satire / romance is about, surprise, hot summer days in the Chinese territories, when temperatures rise to the boiling point and people go nuts. Not nuts like in FALLING DOWN, but for everyone in HOT SUMMER DAYS the period of exceptional heat seems to throw their lives off the regular track.

In the center of the story are ex-driver Wah and unsuccessful pianist Li Yan who have an SMS-relationship but never met personally. Both struggle with their careers, working McJobs to survive instead of doing what they were destined to do. Then there’s an air conditioner repair guy who’s interested in a crazy biker chick, and a sushi master who tries to get his relationship worked out with writer Wasabi; plus many other romantic or dramatic stories that take place during this one-of-a-kind heat wave.

HOT SUMMER DAYS is a classic omnibus movie with many different stories going on at the same time. However, these are mostly not related like in other films but are only connected through the locations and the heat wave scenario. The concept works very well and trying to complicate the various plot threads would have probably diverted our attention (and probably that of the writers) unnecessarily. HOT SUMMER DAYS concentrates mostly on the characters, and that makes for charming feel-good entertainment.

It is noteworthy that HOT SUMMER DAYS is not just a bland star vehicle like most of the Chinese New Year movies that have everything except a story to tell. Despite being a romantic comedy by genre HOT SUMMER DAYS is a serious movie indeed; whether or not all the stories have the depth you expect is a question everyone has to answer for her-/himself. But overall the movie is an example of discerning entertainment – maybe that isn’t too surprising after all, seeing one of the “heroes” of the independent Hong Kong cinema involved in the production, Fruit Chan of MADE IN HONG KONG / LITTLE CHEUNG / DURIAN DURIAN fame).

HOT SUMMER DAYS is spot-on mainstream cinema that at the same time is indie enough to satisfy true film buffs. While nothing’s perfect, the movie knows very well how to balance black humor, serious moments and the lightness of being. HOT SUMMER DAYS is enjoyable from beginning to end, proving that it all comes down to a big idea, good story and a non-fuzzy way to tell it.

J.


DIM SUM: REIGN OF ASSASSINS a.k.a. THE SWORDSMAN’S WORLD [JIAN YU JIANG HU | GEOMWOO KANGHO | 劍雨江湖 | 검우강호]

2010/08/13

http://www.facebook.com/pages/jian-yu-jiang-hu-Jianyu-Jianghu/186509717869

UPDATE: READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE! – – – – – – – – – – – – Another collaboration project, and a promising one this time: John Woo’s / Terence Chang’s co-production REIGN OF ASSASSINS could be the long awaited killer application. Set in the Ming Dynasty the movie stars Michelle Yeoh as skilled assassin who falls in love with the a man whose father was killed by her gang. Both are unaware of how they are related through this incident, but as their love grows they’ll soon find out…

Now the only thing between REIGN OF ASSASSINS and a truly magnificent movie experience for all of us is the Weinstein company that has an excellent track record of screwing up Asian movies… The movie is directed by Su Chao-Bin and reportedly John Woo and stars Michelle Yeoh, Jung Woo-Sung, Wang Xueqi, Barbie Hsu, Shawn Yue, Hee Ching Paw, Chen Chang, Kelly Lin, Pace Wu and Leon Dai.

J.