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Blood Brothers Review


OK
John Woo turns up as a producer of Blood Brothers, and it's not too surprising since the film is a reimagining of an earlier Woo effort, Bullet in the Head, which has a similar setup and plot points. Both films track the adventures of three friends from the boonies who seek to make it in the big and dangerous outside world but get much more excitement than they bargained for.

While Bullet in the Head is set in Vietnam during the war, Blood Brothers takes us back to the glamorous nightclubs of Shanghai in the '30s. Feng (Daniel Wu), Kang (Liu Ye), and Kang's brother Hu (Tony Yang) decide to leave their poor village and venture into town to see what they can make of themselves. It's rough going at first, with the guys taking on menial and humiliating jobs such as rickshaw pulling, but Hu lucks out by landing work as a waiter at the gorgeous Paradise Club, where all of haute Shanghai comes to party and to pay homage to the crime bosses who run it. The star of the show: Lulu (Shi Qi), who's the plaything of the big boss but is secretly in love with Mark (Chang Chen), one of his bodyguards.

Continue reading: Blood Brothers Review

The Monster (2005) Review


Good
In Hong Kong they don't have enough room for haunted houses, so they have haunted luxury high-rise apartment blocks instead. It's into one such complex that yuppie couple May (Qi Shu) and Ray (Alex Fong) move with their utterly adorable five-year-old son Chi Lo (Tam Chun Ho). That's the setup for The Monster, and even before the happy family finishes lugging all their boxes into the elevator, there's trouble. Little Chi Lo sees something -- or someone -- lurking in the elevator shaft.

May is a skittish and high-strung mom, a worrier. She has trouble mixing with the other yuppie housewives and looks to a birthday party for her neighbor's daughter as a way to break the ice. Fat chance. At the rooftop party, she watches Chi Lo disappear over the parapet. The weird thing: He doesn't fall. He is grabbed and pulled. When the police look for a splattered corpse at ground level they find nothing.

Continue reading: The Monster (2005) Review

Beijing Rocks Review


Good
If you're still harboring images of China as a sooty sullen place where countless millions in Mao suits ride bicycles down broad avenues, Beijing Rocks should serve as a nice loud wake-up call. Just a few minutes in we're treated to the punk rock stylings of the charismatic Road (Le Geng), who's all flowing long hair and leather pants, and his band of hard rockers, including his girlfriend, go-go dancer Yang Yin (Qi Shu).

Catching the tale end of their performance and the inevitable bar brawl that ensues is Michael (Daniel Yu), a poor little rich kid and well-known pop star from Hong Kong who's in town to learn Mandarin and hide out from the Hong Kong press, which wants to learn more about pending criminal charges against him.

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Millennium Mambo Review


Weak
What's a girl to do? Nothing seems to be going right for the young and beautiful Vicky (Qi Shu) as she makes her way around noisy and chaotic Taipei looking for ways to get her life heading in the right direction. Hsaio-Shien Hou's Millennium Mambo is a grim and ultimately unrewarding slice of Vicky's life that slowly -- very slowly -- tries to move from point A to point B but never really arrives.

Vicky's biggest problem: her no-good boyfriend Hao-Hao (Chun-Hao Tuan). Unemployed, strung out on drinks, drugs, and an endless supply of cigarettes (this may be the ultimate smoker's movie), Hao-Hao spends most of his time in the couple's tiny apartment practicing to be a DJ and working himself up into jealous rages. When Vicky arrives home after a night on the town with the girls, he smells her neck and then goes through her handbag looking for receipts and phone cards that might implicate her in some kind of deception. A female narrator tells us that Vicky leaves Hao-Hao all the time, but she always comes back "as if hypnotized."

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So Close Review


Good
They're beautiful sisters. They're high-heeled hackers. They're ruthless assassins. What more do you need to know? In So Close, Lynn (Qi Shu) and Sue (Vicki Zhao) kick serious ass all over Hong Kong while the equally gorgeous (though somewhat mannish) cop Hong (Karen Mok) tries to track them down before they strike again. Whether they're bringing down a global network of banking computers, shooting two dozen black-suited security goons, or poisoning a corrupt CEO with a pair of cyanide-emitting sunglasses, Lynn and Sue are big trouble. Either one of them could easily dispatch all three of Charlie's Angels before breakfast.

Artfully orchestrating the action is legendary Hong Kong director Cory Yuen, who shows no signs of tiring with this, his 34th directing job in 21 years (in addition to his 32 gigs as an action choreographer). Yuen, whose credits include most of Jet Li's best films, including High Risk and The Enforcer, has more recently entertained Western audiences with The Transporter (also starring Qi Shu). A genius in his cinematic genre, Yuen knows how to make screen action look fantastic, with just the right pacing and skillful editing. His films are visual feasts, even if the plots sometimes fall by the wayside.

Continue reading: So Close Review

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