A stylized battle of this nature should come expected in the pantheon of Johnny To films. The fact that minutes later all four assassins are helping to rebuild and refurnish the apartment may not be expected. As it turns out, the four hitmen, and the target in question, are all old friends. Two of the hitmen have been called to take out the target while two have taken it upon themselves to protect the target. Blaze (Anthony Wong), the alpha-male of the group, lays down his guns but promises the target, his friend Wo (Nick Cheung), that he will have to kill him eventually.
Continue reading: Exiled Review
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.
Continue reading: Infernal Affairs Review
When Jackie Chan was in his low-budget, Hong Kong action-comedy prime, it was easy to forgive his better movies for simplistic plots and mediocre (sometimes downright bad) acting because enjoying them came down to two things: Chan's comedic charm and the dangerous, awe-inspiring, ingeniously choreographed fights and stunts that he always performed himself.
When Chan started making $60- to $100- million Hollywood films, it was reasonable to begin expecting more, but the star just hasn't lived up to those higher expectations except when sharing the load with ad-libbing, scene-stealing Owen Wilson in the buddy pictures "Shanghai Noon" and "Shanghai Knights."
But "The Medallion," which is a Hong Kong production made with Hollywood money, feels like the return of good ol' cheesy, charismatic, pardonably haphazard Jackie Chan -- even if the daredevil actor has finally begun accepting the inevitable ravages of age and injury.
Continue reading: The Medallion Review
The most cinematically fluid fists-aflyin' guns-ablazin' shoot-em-up in long time, "Time and Tide" is such a funny, thrilling, kinetic barrage of brilliant Hong Kong action that getting totally lost in the plot is almost part of the fun.
Here's what I know for sure: Our streetwise young hipster hero (Nicholas Tse) is trying to score some fast cash working as an unlicensed bodyguard because he wants to do right by a beautiful lesbian cop (Cathy Chui) he got pregnant during a drunken one-night stand. His boss is a loan shark who got into the protection racket to "hire" his debtors to work off the money they owe. Tse befriends a reformed mercenary (Wu Bai), who is being pressured to kill his own father-in-law and eventually targets the mobster Tse is protecting instead. And there is a briefcase full of money.
Beyond those facts, this movie is a 100 mph blur of inventive and wildly entertaining -- but nearly impossible to follow (at least on a first viewing) -- intrigue, gunplay, stunts and martial arts showdowns. Why it works in spite of being so bloody abstruse can only be attributed to the genius of writer-director-genre legend Tsui Hark, the man behind "Chinese Ghost Story," Jet Li's "Once Upon a Time in China" flicks, Jackie Chan's "Twin Dragons" and 37 more movies as a director.
Continue reading: Time & Tide Review
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