Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Code of Honor

Fans of Hong Kong cinema should know that a DVD cover can often be misleading. Most big name actors and actress’ had their share of small roles before they truly broke the big time. It’s been done countless times with early Jackie Chan films where he may have had anything from a small supporting role, to no role at all. Yet he manages to make it to the cover of the DVD as a lead star to sell it. Code of Honor manages to use this same formula, in this case its exploits a small throw away role from Chow Yun-Fat. The result is “Chow Yun Fat in Code of Honor”. So keep that in mind, if you are looking for a hard boiled, killer action flick then look elsewhere.

That said, this deceptive strategy does have its payoff. In this case Chow’s small appearance being the reason this film received international is a blessing in disguise! Because Code of Honor is a top notch triad thriller, which is essentially pieced together by an all-star cast . . . of supporting actors. The films three lead characters are played by Dick Wei, Chun Hsiang Ko, and Wai Shum. With the exception of Shum you rarely see these actors in anything but a supporting role. The films main highlight is the wonderful, and very rare (this may be the only time, but at this point I have not looked into it enough) leading good guy role by Dick Wei as a cop! And he pulls it off so well. It’s a surprise that he didn’t play more good guy roles because his presence is actually quite familiar to that of Simon Yam as a cop. And I think we all know that has been done more than once. However as good as he was he is Wei is still the definitive bad guy, so it’s no surprise that he pretty much stuck to that role throughout his career.

For a triad film, Code of Honor finds a way to shed a little originality with its story. It starts with our lead character, and Triad boss played by Hsiang Ko and his daughter running from a band of thugs. He makes it to safety with the help of an innocent Vietnamese refugee played by Wai Shum, who helps him evade his pursuers. Unfortunately his daughter is brutally murdered in the process. This is where if you don’t blink you might catch Chow Yun Fats first small appearance (he show up again late in the film) as Hsiang Ko’s son who lives in Australia, resents his father for his line of work and inevitably blames him for his sister’s death.

Fast forward several years later and now we see Wai Shum has been rewarded for his services and is now one of Hsiang Ko’s head associates. However it seems that the now aged Kos days are being numbered as the CID (Lead by Dick Wei) has been working on their case to take him down. Ko knows this and informs his long trusted triad family, more importantly his key brothers (Played by Fui-on Shing, Sunny Fang, and Yihara Shinichi), and warns them of the impending case that will soon come down on them. Suddenly the three men who he has trusted his entire career turn out to destroy the code of honor they have served by and team up to sell out their trusting leader and leave him to take all the blame for their crimes. The title of the film is key to the events portrayed on screen. Indeed Ko’s character lives by the Triads code of honor which in layman’s terms basically means that they will stick together through thick and thin and not rat one another out.

It may be deceitful as it tries to call itself a Chow Yun Fat film, but Code of Honor is one of the grittiest and well played Triad Film to date! With an engaging story, some truly horrific violence the substitutes style with brutal realism. Dick Wei fans will appreciate seeing him in this rare good guy Cop role (without make-up or a crazy hair style) that shows a side of his that most have probably never seen. And will probably not see again. . .


A Film by Billy Chan

Rich & Famous

Receiving help from triad boss Ah-Chai (Chow Yun Fat) to settle gambling debts. Two brothers Yung and Kwok (Andy Lau and Alex Man) enlist themselves into Chai’s gang to repay him for his services. Over time they establish themselves more deeply into the family, but when Kwok begins showing tremendous potential and loyalty to the gang, Yung is slowly being left in the shadows as a disappointment to Chai. This leads Yung to drift away and sway his loyalty over to rival triad boss Big Eye (Lam Chung). Leaving Kwok to decide where his own loyalty lays, with his mentor Chai or his brother.

If you have seen a triad movie or two in your lifetime, then Rich and Famous may not offer you much that you have not seen before. It may not be the best in its genre, but it still manages to get the job done fairly well. It has a pretty straight forward plot, with pretty predictable plot turns here and there. But what it does not have, that most other gun shooting’ Chow Yun fat action flicks do . . .is a gun shooting Chow Yun Fat! Well that is not all together so. Yes, Chow does manage to get a few shots off here and there. But be warned Chow Yun Fat action fans, this is no “Hard Boiled” or “A Better Tomorrow”. He is still indeed an important character, but he does not carry the film on his back like he has in previous outings. No, this time the weight is being shared by Andy Lau and Alex Man. Both actors were fantastic, especially Man who showed great character development throughout the course of the film. In addition, we get treated to a small but rewarding appearance from Danny Lee as the grumpy cop trying to take Chai down.

Getting back to the action, there are gun fights, there are car chases, there are some kicks and punches (and cutting and stabbing). But in the end, you realize this is much more a drama then the action film it’s been labelled as. It is really the drama, and the story, that carries the film. The action only comes in when it’s needed to compliment the plot. But if you watch this film anticipating the 25 minute gun blazing shootout, when the credits roll do not think you missed it, because it wasn’t there.

Rich and Famous does not completely wrap up at the end, this is because it’s the first half of a two part series, the second being Tragic Hero. So there are many things left unresolved. Don’t worry though, there is enough or a wrap up at the end that is does completely itself as a stand along film. But if you want the whole story, you must seek out Tragic hero.


A Film by Taylor Wong

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Oh Dae-su (played brilliantly by Choi Min-sik) is about to experience a series of horrific events that nobody could ever possibly begin to imagine, in the blink of an eye his life is about to change forever. It all begins one night in 1988 when he is arrested for public drunkenness. This is where the film opens, a rather plump looking Oh Dae-su making a complete ass of himself at a police station while awaiting his friend to come bail him out. Finally the friend arrives, and with daughter’s birthday present in hand Dae-su leaves the station. Before heading home they stop at a pay phone to call home. After a brief conversation Dae-su hands the phone over and steps aside. His rescuer assures Dae-sus wife they are on the way and hangs up. As he steps out of the booth he is horrified to find that in just a mere few seconds Oh Dae-su is gone.

Oh Dae-su awakens, he finds himself locked in a prison disguised like a cheap motel, equipped with a bed, kitchen, and even a television. Confused and frightened he yells out the small hole in the door where his meals are slid to him like a dog being fed in a cannel. He rapidly spends all his energy pounding and crying out for answers that he would inevitably never be handed to him. He would go on to spend 15 years in this room with not even a hint as to where he is, or more importantly why he is being held prisoner. But this time would not go by wasted. He uses the television as a companion and teacher who would guide him through the major events going on in the outside. Including the grim news that not only is his family dead, but he himself is blamed for the murders. Now He will train, train, and train. Training himself physically and mentally, preparing himself for one thing and one thing only. To escape this confinement and to find answers. Though he begins his rigorous escape plan it would prove all too unnecessary.

He has gotten used to being gassed to sleep on occasion and awaked to a cleaned room, a haircut, and a clean shave. But one day after being gassed he wakes up to something completely shocking. He has been released. Given a new suit, money and a cell phone he is finally free. But why? The answer to that question won’t come easy for Oh Dae-su as he is about to embark on a grizzly and brutal journey to find this answer, and when he does the answer itself may be far worse than anything he has be subjected to thus far.

Simply said Oldboy is a genuine masterpiece of film making, easily one of the best and most universally beloved films to date and Director Park Chan-wooks finest work. But watching it comes with a price, the journey itself takes the viewer on an almost equal ride with our protagonist Oh Dae-su. All the way up to the truly spine chilling reveal at the end, everything that happens is explained only as Dae-su learns it himself. It’s an unforgettable experience that will leave anyone who watches it both amazed, and horrified!

Besides great writing, superb direction, and top notch cinematography the cast is absolutely stellar. Choi Min-sik is of course fantastic. But co-stars Yoo ji-tae and Kang Hye-jeong are outstanding in their roles; especially Yoo ji-tae whose final moments in the film are simply stunning! Top that off with a superb supporting cast of mostly Park Chan-wook regulars including Kim Byeong-on, and an unforgettable appearance from Oh Dal-soo.

Oldboy should be mandatory viewing for anyone who appreciates fine film making. It’s defiantly not for the casual movie-goer who may not appreciate what it has to offer, and who may be quite off put by some truly horrific moments. But if you can appreciate talent you will enjoy this, and for fans of Korean Cinema. Well if you are one you have seen this already, probably many many times.


A Film by Park Chan-wook

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Going by the Book

In a small Korean city a string of recent bank robberies has left the police stumped, and the public outraged. The angry citizens demand the police do something, so in a last ditch effort they bring in the new Police Chief Lee, played by the always menacing Son Byeong-ho. Immediately after he begins his new position he announces his plan to prepare his department to handle the continuing robberies. They will commence an exercise where the police themselves will hold a pretend robbery at a local bank in order to train themselves on how to properly handle the situation. All duty officers will draw a card with a certain task that can range from a bank client, to the robber himself. Unknowing to anyone else the Chief withholds the position of the Robber to be given to someone he chooses personally, a decision he would come to deeply regret.

On his way in on his first day he is pulled over by Traffic Cop Do-man, played brilliantly by Jeong jae-yeong, whom after finding out he had pulled over his new superior still continues issuing the ticket. Why? because it’s the law. Do-man has a ‘By the Book’ mentality (hence the title of the film) and will do everything in his power to obey his sworn duties. It is because of this enthusiastic attitude Chief Lee personally assigns him the duty of playing the robber, a task that Do-man does not take lightly, and because of this turns what was supposed to be a quick stunt to show the city they are ready to handle this new threat, and turns it into a humiliating day long nightmare. A pretend nightmare that is. . .

Going by the Book is a brilliant and original take on Bank Robbery/stand-off films. The idea alone of an entire film focusing on a police standoff, and hostage situation that for all intents and purposes is pretend, sounds rather ridiculous. Yet despite that it still has its share of comedy, drama, tension and suspense that is often highlighted by a brilliant performance from Jeong jae-yeong. The care and precision Do-man puts into a task is very impressive and can be hilarious at times. He even prepares cardboard signs for everyone to wear that would display their current status. Some would read ‘tied up’ and for other unfortunate wannabe heroes, ‘Killed’. Yes this pretend Heist also comes with its share of casualties, something that only fuels our poor unexpected Chief Lees even more while his planned Exercise further humiliates him and the Police.

It’s always a treat when film makers can find a way to take a fairly common theme, in this case a bank heist movie, and find a way to turn it into something original, and exciting. Originality in film making these days appears to be growing fewer and farther between. But Director Ra Hee-chan, and writers Jang Jin, and Lee Gyoo-bok has given us a true gen of a film, one that deserves more international exposure then it will probably get. Though it wouldn’t surprise anyone if this concept is taken by Hollywood and remade someday, at least for now it remains one of the most unique and original films in quite a while!


A Film by Ra Hee-chan

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Danny the Dog (Classic Rant/Review)

This is a review/rant I dug up that I had written the weekend Danny the Dog aka Unleashed was released in North America. It seems I was pretty upset at the US treatment it was given. . .

(May 14, 2005)
I am reading the reviews for Unleashed(the title is my first point). and I have realized just how ignorant and stupid the average film critic can be!

Unleashed, or I should say DANNY THE DOG, being as how that is its non-lame ass generic title, is one of the most original and touching films I have seen in a long time. And Jet Li was fantastic! But wait, he ACTED! Well I'm sorry average film critic, I AM a Jet Li fan and I am not dissapointed. You know what, he may be a martial artist, but he is also an actor. And his talents easily shine in this film. But all these critics are so stereotypical of him, that they think because he is not fighting every 5 minutes, that its a bad movie. I actually read a review that said "The nicer Jet Li is, the poorer the movie" and "Jet Li fans will be dissapointed" Bullshit! I speak for all Li fans when I say these jokers are full of shit!

In Danny the Dog, we see a side of Li that has never been shown to most US movie go-ers, and he does it so well. You don't see the same Jet li that you did in his inferior Hollywood films such as Romeo Must Die,Cradle to the Grave etc. You see a completely different person. I am sorry folks, he is not just some chinese guy who knows Kung Fu. He is fully capable of acting in a film without throwing a single punch if he ever wanted. I am not saying I did not enjoy the fights, they were brilliant! But they were only a fraction of what the movie had to offer.
The story of Danny, what a great story! Also the inclusion of Morgan Freeman, and Bob Hoskins added a rare blend that balanced the overall film so well. The sceens with Hoskins, and Morgan were as different as night and day. We jump from a sweet story of a man finding himself, and being invited into the loving arms of strangers who will soon accept him as a part of their family! Then when we all feel nice and warm, and everything is happy, in a literal bump! We are taken back to the heartless brutal world of the menacing Uncle Bart! But do we see the same Danny this time? No, he has developed the ability to think for himself. At the beginning he was not fighting, he was destroying life. We was trying to hurt! But now he does not want to hurt anymore, he is doing what martial arts really is, the art of not being hit! He is defending himself.

I could rant all day, but I have seen the movie twice with two different crowds, FULL seated crowds. And as I looked around I can see the reactions. People like this movie, people who like violent movies will like it, people who hate senceless violence, will like it. people who watch movies for a great story will like it. And despite popular beliefs from our ignorant critics(not all but too many) Jet Li fans will like it!

But you know what, as I read the User reviews, I realize that a critics opinion means nothing. Its the people who go to the movies because they want to see it that matters. And though this is not everyones movie. At least the users know a good film when they see it!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thirst (Para-Review)

(Full Review coming soon)

Ever wondered what a Vampire film that didn't suck looked like?

Simply amazing, I am a big Park fan so I am very disapointed in myself for taking so long long to see it(it was late last year I watched it for the first time), but it was worth the wait. It has a familier style that Park Chan wook fans will immediately recognize, and tosses almost every vampire cliche out the back door and gives us a fresh spin on the recently lame genre(no shirtless tweens here!). Great supporting roles from Park Chan-wook regulars Shin Ha-kyun, and Dal-su Oh! And a truly amazing ending!

Was one of the best films of 2009 for sure!


A Film by Park Chan-wook

Bangkok Dangerous(2008)

When I first heard about the Bangkok Dangerous remake , I was unsure what to think. I am not a big Nic Cage fan, but I am a Pang Brothers fan, and found their previous American outing, the flawed The Messengers, to be a decent but underwhelming break into the US market. Now we get a remake of their career starting masterpiece. One I have actually not seen, but have heard a great deal about. A director remaking his own film in a new market is not something new. Japanese director Takashi Shimizu did it with his famed Ju-on: The Grudge franchise re made simply as The Grudge and The Grudge 2. With Bangkok Dangerous is basically a Thai production funded by what appear to be enthusiastic American producers (though behind the scenes interviews can be deceiving). So this time The Pangs were given the funds needed to really stretch their legs.

Nic Cage plays an Assassin named Joe, who is taking on his ‘last job’ in Thailand. He is to take out four targets, collect his money, and leave the business for good. A plot set up we have all seen before and can agree that if we ever become successful assassins, and decide to take on “one last job”, it would be in our best interest to, well, not! However Joe does not take this advice and goes to Thailand for this last mission anyway. Joe has a standard operating procedure. He settles in, finds a lowlife to hire as his runner, completes his hits, kills the runner, takes his money and moves on. All while adhering to four simple rules. 1) Don’t ask questions, 2) Leave no trace of your identity, 3) Don’t make lasting bonds with other people, and 4) Know when to get out. Well we all know he broke rule 4 already, but his problems really begin when he starts breaking rule 3. This is where we start to see some similarities to the original film. He meets and falls for a young mute woman at a pharmacy, played wonderfully by the great Charlie Yeung, and then finds himself caring for his lowlife runner (Shahkrit Yamnarn) to the point of training him to be an assassin himself. An aspect of the plot that seems to be meant as an homage to the kung fu films of old. These decisions start a chain reaction that sees out anti-hero seeing the light (as they say). However the more he begins to feel remorse for his work, the worst things get for him until he finally finds himself a target.

In the original version our Assassin is actually a mute, something that would have really added a lot to this version, and especially Nic Cage’s character. Weather is as a decision by the Pangs to make this drastic change, or perhaps the producers didn’t want their big named actor not speaking we will never know. However Cage manages to pull off the role pretty well, though I could imagine there is more than one A list Hollywood actor that may have been able to pull it off better. It did help that Cage himself is a fan or both the pangs and the original film, so he did bring with him a good deal of personal enthusiasm. Aside from Cage the rest of the cast is primarily Thai, with the exception of Charlie Yeung of course. As I mentioned above she did a wonderful job. Playing a mute requires far more talent than one may think, and her ability to convey her emotions with simple expressions, really shows what a talented actress she is. It was Shahkrit Yamnarn who in the end steals the show. He enters the film as a mere lowlife thief, but his character gets very well developed throughout the film and is capable of making you care for his situation far more than Joe. Where the film lacks the solid plot and unique storytelling it makes up in sheer style. The Pangs use the full extents of their talents to give us a great looking film, and manage to really give the world a look at just how stunning Bangkok really is. In fact the city almost becomes a character itself.

Bangkok Dangerous didn't steal any awards, and certainly doesn't break any new grounds in action film making, but its not the worst entry into the drab Hollywood action genre. I can only hope this isn’t the last we have seen on The Pangs, or any foreign film makers getting their shot to show Hollywood what they have to offer. Yuen Woo Ping came into the market with The Matrix and helped change Martial Arts film making in Hollywood for good, maybe the Action genre will receive the same one day.


A Film by The pang Brothers

The Departed

(Written in 2006)
This Scorsese revision of the 2002 Hong Kong classic ‘Infernal Affairs’ tells the story of two moles, one an undercover police officer(Dicaprio) who worked his way into the Irish Mafia. The other(Damon) a disciple of notorious crime boss Frank Costello(Nicholson)who has worked his way up the ranks of the Boston Police Department. However things heat up when both sides learn that there is a mole in their group. Now both moles have been assigned to sniff out the other. A task that will inevitably lead to a series of violent, blood shedding events.

Remakes in Hollywood have become anything but a rare circumstance. It seems that every other film to come out of the giant movie making machine that is Hollywood has been done before. We have seen remakes of classic Hollywood films, remakes of not-so-classic Hollywood films. Remakes of European films, french films, and especially of recent Japanese films. We have even seen remakes of remakes. Hollywood loves their remakes.

However, every once in a while among the giant cesspool of Hollywood re-tellings. We see a true master piece. A movie, that even though its been done before, harvests enough raw talent, and visionary film making that is stands up on its own with out needing the original to be its crutch.

The Departed is one of those.

Martin Scorsese is easily one of Hollywood, nay, the worlds greatest film makers. So when it was rumored that he would be remaking a film like Infernal Affairs. There was very little to be disconcerted with. It was thought that if anyone would be able to remake such a universally loved film, he would be that man. And the man he indeed is. The Departed has it all great cinematography, wonderful music, a great pace, and of course a top notch cast, which leads to some outstanding acting. Everyone from Jack Nicholson to Anthony Anderson is at the top of their game. It almost appears that the role of Frank Costello was tailor made for Nicholson, he is absolutely wonderful, and in my humble opinion, Oscar bound. Martin Sheen is also great as the incredibly likable Oliver Queenan. Alec Baldwin is the very entertaining Ellerby, who shares the bulk of the films comic relief with MarkWahlberg’s show stealing performance as Dinam. But as good as the supporting cast is, it comes down to weather our two main men, Leonardo Dicaprio and Matt Damon can carry this film. Can they? Oh they can! Both actors truly shine. Leonardo Dicaprio has worked with Scorsese a few times, but this is indeed his finest moment! Same can be said for Matt Damon.

The films itself works off a lot of the key moments in Infernal Affairs. There are many moments in The Departed that fans of the original will easily pick up. Basically its build of a number of key moments strung together with Scorsese’s own touches. Each scene is recreated, but with his touch. What does that mean?? Well, more violence, more sex, and more language. Lets use the arm-cast as an example. In Infernal Affairs we see Eric Tsang pick up and smash Tony Leungs broken arm against a table, shattering his cast. In the Departed, Nicholson does indeed smash Dicaprios arm against a table, but in this case it takes a few swifts slams before the cast breaks. Then to add to the torture, he proceeds to beat his arm with his own shoe. The Departed does tell the story almost the same, but it does fill in a lot more detail to the story then the original. Also without giving anything away, it is apparent this will not be a trilogy. They were able to add enough meat to the story that there is no need.

Is The Departed better then Infernal Affairs? No. Is Infernal Affairs better then The Departed. Not really. Infernal Affairs is about as good as it gets when it comes to Hong Kong crime thrillers. And the Departed, well its about as good as it gets with American crime thrillers. Maybe it’s the story, maybe it’s the directors, or each films stellar casts. Whatever it is, it works extremely well, both times.


A Film By: martin Scorsese


(Note: This review was originally written for HKCuk.co.uk in 2007 in conjunction with Stewart Sutherland of www.podcastonfire.com)

Plot (HKFlix): Slipper (Jackie Chan), Landlord (Michael Hui) and Octopus (Louis Koo) is a 'dream team' of "Thieving Musketeers". They are like a bullet out of a gun whenever an opportunity for a heist comes. However, rape and pillage is out of the question, as their principle is never to intentionally hurt anyone.
Man Yee, sole heiress to the distinguished Ding Family's fortunes, has given birth to a boy - Matthew. However, he is snatched away by Man Yee's ex-boyfriend Max (Terence Yin), who in a state of jealous delusion, thinks Matthew is his own flesh-and-blood. An unfortunate accident leads to Max's untimely death. Max's father, a mafia boss is out to take revenge, but more importantly, to regain custody of his 'grandson'.

A reward of 30 million for the kidnapping of a tiny tod sounds like an offer that the thieving trio cannot refuse. However, one thing snowballs into another, landing everyone into a moral dilemma and a dangerous quandary. And adorable Matthew has made his way into everyone's heart, so they have to choose between the ransom and their conscience.

Review: When this project was first announced the movie was entitled “Project BB” and the trio of thieves were going to be Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung & Yuen Biao. This sent the internet community into a fit in the hope that there could be one last movie starring “The Three Brothers”, plans soon changed with Eric Tsang replacing Sammo. Plans changed again when the trio of thieves were changed to Jackie Chan, Michael Hui & Louis Koo and the film was renamed “Rob-B-Hood”. With the new cast and new title, it obviously killed some of the momentum that the film was gaining.

The film is great, I laughed, I nearly cried and I shouted “Kick his ass!” at the TV on two occasions. The cast was flawless, the guest appearances we’re great and the cameo appearances from Daniel Wu and a stammering Nicholas Tse were just priceless.
Now many Michael Hui fans will be let down by this flick since Hui is only really in 1/3 of the entire movie. They’ve chosen the right character, because Hui’s character ‘Landlord’ was a boring guy really. I have nothing against Michael Hui, oh, no, no I respect him immensely. Comparing his character with the unlucky gambler and the womanizing playboy, he’s a bit of a dull one

Yuen Biao co-stars in the flick as a police inspector ‘Steven Mok’, his character was friends with Thongs when they were in School together, but now on opposite sides of the law he tends to over look some of Thongs flaws. There is a great scene where Steven goes to Thongs apartment which is filled with debt collectors, triad lackeys, Octopus’s pregnant wife, Thong’s crush Melody and the baby. Confused by the amount of house guests Thongs tries to play some of them off as his cousins. Soon as Stevens back is turned the Triads and Debt Collectors lunge for Thongs!

Part of what makes this such a great film for the hard core HK cinema fans is seeing Yuen Biao and Jackie Chan together on screen. That said, his talents felt wasted, and his appearance comes off as a little forced. The role he played was just not important enough. The biggest disappointment is having one of the best climactic showdowns to come out of a HK film in a long time, and having Yuen Biao show up when its all over. However, we do get a little taste in the middle of the film with some limited action from Biao. But when its all said and done, it almost felt like a tease.

Probably only the only joy kills in the movie is the CGI. Now I know CGI was only used in scenes where it wasn’t humanly possible for a child, but it still looks pretty naff. Some CG shots of baby Mathew strangely look two dimensional. I even think there was a blue a screen of Jackie running with the basket, but why wouldn’t he use a blue screen, if he actually went and done that stunt and it goes wrong this would have been Jackie’s last movie! Trust me the CGI is the only thing that spoils the movie, the rest of it can possible be the best action comedy of 2006.

The cast is excellent. However, as good at the film is, if it had stayed a three bothers film, it would have been so much better. Perhaps having Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung, and Jackie as the three thieves would have been too obvious. So in this reviewers humble opinion, and with all due respect to Louis Koo, it would have been great to see Yuen Biao in Koo's place, and Sammo in Yuen's place as the cop. The idea of pairing Jackie and Yuen, and then having Sammo as the third wheel works so well(See Wheels on Meals, or Dragons Forever). The film is wonderful, but having our beloved trio together again would have made it a true classic.

Guest appearances? As I mentioned above Daniel Wu and Nicholas Tse make cameo appearances as security van drivers. Ken Lo (now know as Ken Low) plays a heavy along with Hayama Hiro. Charlene Choi plays Octopus’s long suffering wife, Concory Chan plays Thongs debt collector, Terence Yin makes a quick appearance at the start as Cherrie Yings ex-boyfriend, Andrew Lin plays Cherrie’s current boyfriend, Gao Yuanyuan plays the nurse – Melody, Chen Baoguo plays the father of Terrence Yin’s character. Teresa Carpio plays the nut-bag wife of Michael Hui’s character. Umm other appearances include, Gordon Lam, Joe Cheung, Hui Siu-Hung & probably that I didn’t notice.

Final thoughts, a nice light hearted action comedy, the perfect combo. Enjoy!


A Film By Benny Chan

Review Co-written by Stewart Sutherland (www.podcastonfire.com)

The Forbiddon Kingdom

It was an event that fans of Martial Arts Cinema had been craving for many years. An on-screen pairing of two of the living legends of Asian Cinema, Jet Li and Jackie Chan. The biggest question that wondered through many minds was how would it work? Who would be the villain, who would be the hero? Could they manage to pull off a buddy cop film? How do you put together two icons that have individually created two quite different catalogues of films? Chan with his family friendly anti-violent stunt showcases, and Li with his polar opposite fist to face, bone shattering action showcases. The answer would come from the surprising duo of Director Rob Minkoff and screenwriter John Fusco. An American made production that can only be compared to that of the Never-ending Story esc 1980’s fantasy adventure films. Something that I think we can all agree would have been the last thing we could have ever guessed.

The story begins in modern day Boston as we are introduced to our hero, no not Jet Li or Jackie Chan, but a young martial arts film fanatic Jason Tripitikas. (Played by Michael Angarano) A rather unknown actor, who has managed to earn the envy of many die-hard kung fu fanatics across the globe. Right away fans can relate to Jason’s character, who frequents a local China Town shop run by an old man named “Old Hop” to hunt down as many old kung fu films he can get his hands on, upon one visit he also discovers an old bow-staff in the back of the store which Old Hop tells Jason is waiting to be picked up by someone and returned to its rightful owner. Mysterious?

Jason’s adventure starts to unfold when he has an unfortunate run-in with a local bully who forces him to return with them to the Old man’s shop to help rob it. During the commotion of the robbery attempt Jason discovers that there is more to that old Bow then he though as he is suddenly jolted back in time to ancient China. What exactly triggers this event is not entirely explained but really, does it matter?

Not long after he find himself in the strange new land Jason meets an old drunken traveler Lu Yan (Chan) who immediately recognises the Bow he is holding as that of the legendary Monkey King (Li), who has been turned to stone by the Evil Jade Warlord (played by Colin Chou). Soon joined by a beautiful young girl and a mysterious Monk (also Li), the group set off to return the bow to its rightful owner, but not before they have to teach Jason Kung Fu! (Insert Montage here)

This may not have been exactly what fans were looking for when they were awaiting collaboration between Jet Li and Jackie Chan. What we did get though, is far from the disaster it could have been. With the help of Yuen Woo ping, the fight choreography is nothing short of spectacular (in a wire-fu fantasy kind of way). Obviously the highlight of the film comes with a memerable showdown between Li and Chan. The kind of fight we have been waiting for since Jackie Chan had his small brawl with Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung in Dragons Forever.

Fans of Kung Fu cinema will also enjoy the many nods to several classic martial arts films. Including a villain who bares a striking resemblance to Bridget Lin in “The Bride with White Hair”, as well as an opening credit sequence that will make Shaw Brothers fans jump for joy! However great these moments are, its Jackie Chan doing Drunken Boxing again that really sets the nostalgia a blaze!


A Film By Rob Minkoff