Anthony Wong

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Anthony Wong - Sunday 17th May 2009 at Cannes Film Festival Cannes, France

Anthony Wong

Exiled Review


Very Good
For a moment near the beginning of Johnny To's Exiled, a piece of furniture floats in open air between two assassins, each shooting the piece in a maelstrom of a gunfight. The camera, sturdy and entranced in patented Hong Kong slow-motion, picks up every particle from every gun-blast and every molecule of dust and dirt that is kicked up in the small apartment. There are only four actual gunmen but between the sprays of flying shrapnel, you'd believe there were entire battalions having it out in the dinky apartment.

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

The Painted Veil Review


Good
In its space, pacing, and plot dynamics, John Curran's The Painted Veil has an inherent nostalgia for Hollywood yesteryear. Never as shrewd as to reference it ad-nauseum (see Nancy Meyers' The Holiday), Curran's love story in the time of cholera accepts its rather sparse elements and lush landscapes as a way to reconnect with the simplicity of story and intricacy of image that classic Hollywood prided itself on, even if the attempt isn't wholly successful.It's at a 1920s London socialite meeting that Walter Fane (Edward Norton) gets his first glimpse at Kitty (Naomi Watts). Under a rather light dress, she ignores men as if she wasn't even aware of her attire, but Walter's fascination is adamant and quite terminal. Swiftly, Fane asks for her hand in marriage at a local flower shop which Kitty accepts solely to prove her mother wrong. This genuine shallowness and pride makes Walter the bacteriologist look quite boring and married Vice Consul Charlie Townsend (Liev Schreiber) look so appealing. It's when Walter learns of Kitty's adultery that he decides to take up an opportunity to study a cholera epidemic in the Chinese village of Mai-tan-fu, insisting that his wife accompany him.The couple's mutual bitterness toward each other doesn't so much set up a rousing battle of the sexes as it becomes a divider that allows them both to explore the plague-stricken remnants of Mai-tan-fu. As Walter investigates the water supply under the surveillance of Colonel Yu (Anthony Wong), Kitty becomes a regular fixture of the orphanage that is run by the Mother Superior (a no-bull Diana Rigg). Their only common bond when they arrive is Waddington (Toby Jones), a cynical Deputy Commissioner who is the only other Englishman in Mai-tan-fu. It's through a gently built admiration of each other's work that they begin to notice each other again.Constructed by a solid script by Ron Nyswaner, Curran seems dead-set on keeping the conflict and characters clear-cut. Watts and Norton, two consummate professionals, use each their characters' flaws (his boredom, her vanity) to ignore the serious danger of contagion. Similar to his first feature, Curran's fascination seems to be with the vastness of nature seen as a place of intimacy. Though nothing here matches the work in We Don't Live Here Anymore (another Curran-Watts collaboration), the film has a fluidity of imagery that paints Mai-tan-fu as very personal area for Walter and Kitty, its danger and isolation both seen clearly.Curran's heaving romance is reminiscent of classic displaced love, but there's a meandering mood to it that's hard to shake. It's not particularly boring, but its fascinations with character and landscapes are often fleeting. When Kitty and Walter finally embrace each other fully, it's not long before another passable conflict arises, and it's soon followed by yet another one. At other moments, its fascination with classic Hollywood seems horrifyingly blatant: As Walter gallops away to stop an impending cholera outbreak, the hat on his head blows off as his white shirt writhes in the wind. And yet, these awkward moments never seem to be of great detriment to Curran's seething romance nor to his haunting imagery that seems to have the specter of the cholera epidemic looming overhead like a rain cloud. Short of a "Here's looking at you, kid," The Painted Veil is an apt visitation to the curious romances of the old days. Smell me.

Infernal Affairs Review


Good
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.

Continue reading: Infernal Affairs Review

The Medallion Review


OK

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

Time & Tide Review


Good

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

Anthony Wong

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Anthony Wong Movies

The Painted Veil Movie Review

The Painted Veil Movie Review

In its space, pacing, and plot dynamics, John Curran's The Painted Veil has an inherent...

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Infernal Affairs Movie Review

Infernal Affairs Movie Review

A twisted pretzel of secrecy and betrayal that always seems on the verge of exploding...

The Medallion Movie Review

The Medallion Movie Review

When Jackie Chan was in his low-budget, Hong Kong action-comedy prime, it was easy to...

Time & Tide Movie Review

Time & Tide Movie Review

The most cinematically fluid fists-aflyin' guns-ablazin' shoot-em-up in long time, "Time and Tide" is such...

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