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A Simple Life Review


Extraordinary
Based on a true story, this gently episodic drama beautifully portrays the connection between a man and his long-time family maid. It's funny, involving and so well-observed that it sticks in the mind for a long, long time.

Ah Tao (Yip) has served four generations of the Leung family over 60 years and is a friendly, cheerful fixture in the community. Her only real company is her cat until busy filmmaker Roger (Lau) returns to live in the family's Hong Kong flat. When she suffers a stroke, Tao doesn't want Roger to care for her, so he arranges for her to live in a nursing home and visits her regularly during her recovery. As the years pass, what was once a nanny-child relationship becomes something much more meaningful for both of them.

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Shaolin Trailer


In early Republican China, feuding warlords are fighting over neighbouring lands to expand their power and in doing so, plunges the rest of China into conflict. Hou Chieh, a young army leader, has conquered the township of Dengfeng with his avowed brother, Tsao Man and with thousands dead or injured, there is little in the way of resistance.

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attend the press photocall of 'Three Kingdoms: Resurrection Of The Dragon at Yongsan CGV and make plaster impressions of their hands

Maggie Denise Quigley and Andy Lau - Maggie Denise Quigley, Andy Lau and Sammo Hung Kam-Bo and director Daniel Lee Seoul, South Korea - attend the press photocall of 'Three Kingdoms: Resurrection Of The Dragon at Yongsan CGV and make plaster impressions of their hands Monday 24th March 2008

attend the press photocall of 'Three Kingdoms: Resurrection Of The Dragon' at Yongsan CGV

Maggie Denise Quigley and Andy Lau - Maggie Denise Quigley, Andy Lau and Sammo Hung Kam-Bo and director Daniel Lee Seoul, South Korea - attend the press photocall of 'Three Kingdoms: Resurrection Of The Dragon' at Yongsan CGV Monday 24th March 2008

attends the press photocall of 'Three Kingdoms: Resurrection Of The Dragon' at Yongsan CGV

Andy Lau Monday 24th March 2008 attends the press photocall of 'Three Kingdoms: Resurrection Of The Dragon' at Yongsan CGV Seoul, South Korea

Andy Lau
Andy Lau

attend the press photocall of 'Three Kingdoms: Resurrection Of The Dragon' at Yongsan CGV

Sammo Hung Kam-Bo and Andy Lau - Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Maggie Denise Quigley and Andy Lau Seoul, South Korea - attend the press photocall of 'Three Kingdoms: Resurrection Of The Dragon' at Yongsan CGV Monday 24th March 2008

Infernal Affairs Review


OK
A twisted pretzel of secrecy and betrayal that always seems on the verge of exploding into an inferno of gunfire, Infernal Affairs strives to be the end-all, be-all of undercover cop movies and comes so close to achieving its goal that one feels petty for registering any complaints. Instead of setting up the standard cop/criminal dichotomy, this film tries to turn genre expectations on their head, blending shades of black and white morality into a foggy gray from the get-go and undermining audiences even further with an almost comically complex plot. This is a film where you can be convinced of one thing only, that you won't know where things stand until the absolute last scene, if then - whether or not some will have mentally checked out by that point is another question.

In its clever introduction, Infernal Affairs presents a triad boss who assembles a band of kids from his gang to infiltrate the Hong Kong police academy - this is a criminal with an unusually long-range vision. Years later, the principals come into focus: there's the undercover cop, Yan (Tony Leung), struggling with his identity after so many years as a fake criminal, and the highly-placed internal affairs officer, Ming (Andy Lau), who turns out to be one of the triad moles. Throwing another loop into the plot is the fact that the triad Yan has infiltrated is the same one Ming is working for, each one knowing that there is a double agent on the opposite side (which is actually their side), whom they have been assigned by their respective bosses to root out.

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Fulltime Killer Review


Excellent
Captured in dizzying dolly shots and featuring massive body counts, bodily fluids a-spraying, enormous guns, and super-slick action sequences, Johnny To's latest gonzo hitmen epic Fulltime Killer is a real thrill.

To and his partner Ka-Fai Wai have constructed a beautiful, energetic take upon the old standard of dueling Asian assassins vying for the position of Number One Killer. The woman who stands between them and the burnout police officer determined to stop them only add more gunpowder to the wild ride.

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The House of Flying Daggers Review


Excellent
A poet of the small gesture, Zhang Yimou moves on from his slice-of-life dramas Not One Less and Happy Times to the more broad, operatic strokes of Hero and The House of Flying Daggers. The resulting House is an astonishing work of cinematic beauty; filled with strong primary colors and evocative storybook forests of green bamboo or autumn leaves. The sound design is remarkable, staging a series of ritualistic combat scenes between policemen and assassins that are stunning in their brevity -- focusing the attention on the swish of cloth, the murmur of breath, or the rush of a cool breeze.

That said, House of Flying Daggers is basically a love triangle set against the backdrop of an epic political struggle. As the Tang Dynasty wanes and the emperor drowns in incompetence and sloth, an underground movement known as the House of Flying Daggers takes action, Robin Hood style. As they rob from the rich and give to the poor, the police decide to infiltrate this underground through the capture of their sleeper agent, a blind dancer, Mei (Zhang Ziyi), hiding out at the classiest brothel in town. She is drawn out by police captains Leo (Andy Lau), a stern disciplinarian, and flirtatious pretty boy Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro).

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The Legend Of Drunken Master Review


OK

Widely considered Jackie Chan's best movie, "The Legend of Drunken Master" (released to the rest of the world in 1994 as "Drunken Master II") features what are arguably the fastest, most furious and elaborate -- and the most entertaining -- fight sequences ever filmed.

Chan plays a fictionalized version of Wong Fei-Hung, a real martial arts master and philosophical altruist in the early 1900s who, legend has it, once defeated a gang of 30 men single-handedly, armed only with a bamboo staff.

That skirmish is, of course, recreated in "Drunken Master" as a kinetic, highly concentrated blur of acrobatics and lightning-fast limbs as two dozen toughs invade a quiet restaurant, forcing Jackie to whip them all silly with flying fists and feet, upside-down wooden tables and cheer-rousing picnic bench-fu.

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House Of Flying Daggers Review


Unbearable

How the same talented director (Zhang Yimou of "The Road Home" and "Raise the Red Lantern"), working with the same talented actress (lovely Zhang Ziyi of "The Road Home" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") could turn out one of the year's best movies and one its worst -- in the same genre no less -- is a complete mystery. But that's exactly what has happened with a pair of handsomely grandiose martial arts films set in ancient China.

Last summer's "Hero," starring Jet Li as an assassin locked in unblinking intellectual combat with the king he's come to kill, is an imaginatively allegorical, action-packed but understated, brilliant historical epic (in which Zhang Ziyi plays another assassin's apprentice). Pure in vision and bold in execution, it uses real events as a momentous backdrop for jaw-dropping scenes of graceful, physics-defying swordfights, each of which has an increasingly profound consequence on the future of the whole Chinese nation.

But "House of Flying Daggers" is the polar opposite: an outsized and endlessly pretentious romantic melodrama, also about assassins, in which the director has clearly lost any sense of moderation or self-discipline. Every overly polished moment of visual refinement is dragged out to the point of absurdity. Every hint of emotion becomes an excuse for floodgate histrionics. Each swordfight (or combat of any kind) slowly, slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y builds past an initial stage of breathtaking stylishness into a protracted mockery of itself. It's the snooty, art-house equivalent of a Jerry Bruckheimer action movie.

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Andy Lau

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