Rosamund Kwan

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The Legend Of The Swordsman Review


Good
A decade before Crouching Tiger, Jet Li was flying and spinning impossibly in this ninja/kung fu/sorcerer kinda story. Although it has none of the production values of the movies it inspired, The Legend of the Swordsman (actually a sequel to an earlier film, made with an entirely different cast) is often entertaining, though equally often is tiresome.

Li stars as Ling Wei, a member of a religious sect trying to get out of the world of violence. Of course, the sect stumbles upon a war and find themselves embroiled in it, replete with supernatural battles and high-flying choreography.

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Once Upon A Time In China And America Review


OK
Tubby action star Sammo Hung steps behind the camera for this, the sixth entry into the Once Upon a Time in China series, with decidedly mixed results. Hung doesn't have much grasp of cinematic technique, and even his action scenes are hard to follow, as they're invariably filmed from too close to the action. Jerky editing and bad framing makes matters worse. The story -- about Chinese immigrants in the Old West getting in trouble with the nascent mafia -- is nothing to write home about either.

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Once Upon A Time In China Review


Essential
The West has Billy the Kid and the East has Wong Fei-hung... and if ever the twain shall meet I will lose all faith in humanity and moviemaking. [Check out Shanghai Noon. -Ed.] Wong Fei-hung, arguably the biggest folk hero in Chinese legend and cinema, has shown up in various movies and dime novels in China since the 1930s. In America, he's just begun to make a real dent... showing up via Jackie Chan in The Legend of Drunken Master and Jet Li in Once Upon a Time in China.

Master of just about any kung fu style out there and massive opponent of imperialism, the legendary Wong Fei is pretty much there whenever China needs him, and, when one of China's anti-imperialist generals goes off to resist the French Occupation of Vietnam, Wong Fei is set to train a local militia to ensure that the West doesn't overrun the country while the General is away. Wong, with the help of many a militiaman with a strange-translated nickname (like Porky or Buck Teeth), attempts to do so, but this being a movie, something had to go wrong. In this case, his militia men get involved in a street fight with a local mobster, Leung Fu (Biao Yuen), and just happen to fight their way into Wong Fei-hung's diplomatic dinner with the Americans.

Continue reading: Once Upon A Time In China Review

Project A 2 Review


Weak
In this 1987 chopsocker, Jackie Chan returns as Dragon Mao, a supercop who, just back from his adventures in Project A, discovers corruption in the police force. He's then framed for a crime and ends up battling both cops and robbers to clear his name and bring the true evildoers to justice.

Unfortunately, former sidekick Sammo Hung is absent this time around, and there are far fewer fights to be had. The cool stuntwork doesn't come out until the final 15 minutes, but by then I was honestly too bored to perk up. The rest of the film is just much less inventive than its predecessor, proving Project A 2 to be a vanity knockoff for Chan, who was busy directing every action film he could get his hands on. Chan would go on to make much better movies with a more impressive sense of humor later, but A 2 qualifies for little better than a C-.

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Big Shot's Funeral Review


OK

It seems everyone is getting into the act when it comes to Hollywood behind-the-scenes movies these days -- even the Chinese.

After 10 films in the genre just last year (from "Adaptation" to "S1m0ne"), we're barely three weeks into 2003 and here comes "Big Shot's Funeral," a comedy from Beijing about an out-of-work cameraman (Ge You) hired to shoot making-of footage for a big American studio's way-over-budget historical epic.

Despite a nearly insurmountable language barrier, Ge is befriended by the increasingly erratic director of this imitation "Last Emperor" -- a flaky filmmaking legend, played with befitting bewilderment by Donald Sutherland. The big shot thinks Ge understands him inherently, and the crazier he gets, the more he wants Ge around.

Continue reading: Big Shot's Funeral Review

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Big Shot's Funeral Movie Review

Big Shot's Funeral Movie Review

It seems everyone is getting into the act when it comes to Hollywood behind-the-scenes movies...

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