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Blood Brothers Review


Good
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

Combination Platter Review


Very Good
Robert (Jeffrey Lau) works at the Szechuan Inn in the burgeoning Chinatown of Flushing, Queens. Robert is from Hong Kong and, like most of his co-workers, he doesn't have his green card. He speaks Cantonese and a little English, whereas the kitchen staff speaks mostly Mandarin and the American-born Chinese hostess and white busboy only English. The hostess is picking up a few words in Cantonese, such as "mild," for the sake of the cooks. The busboy wants to know how to say "fuck you." Robert's only friend is another Hong Kong immigrant who has a plan to get Robert his green card; when the Chinese-American woman he introduces Robert to asks for fifty thousand dollars, rather than the twenty-five thousand agreed upon, to provide him with citizenship by marrying him, Robert is introduced instead to a white American woman named Claire (Colleen O'Brien). Robert wonders why this American woman would want to date him. Maybe she's just lonely, his friend explains. Robert and Claire spend time together, but Robert's limited English prevents any real relationship from developing and his conscience nags at him. Meanwhile Immigration is sweeping Chinese restaurants in the area, hauling undocumented workers away in handcuffs. How long before Robert gets hauled away, too?

Combination Platter, which took the screenwriting award at Sundance in 1993 and subsequently played a limited theatrical run to positive reviews, is in many ways the ideal independent feature. Its outside-the-mainstream perspective -- that of an undocumented, specifically Asian immigrant -- is one that a studio would never touch; or, if it did, the perspective would be broadened so that, like Dirty Pretty Things, the film encompassed the experiences of outsiders of many different types. Combination Platter remains specific to the plight of Chinese immigrants, and it recasts a familiar American landscape in a new light. While all of us are familiar with restaurants like the Szechuan Inn, bare apartments like the one Robert retires to nightly, the bodegas and delis that dot urban street corners, Robert's necessarily low-profile existence is more or less confined to a circuit of locations like these, and the viewer is introduced to an America parallel to, but more restricted than, the one we know. In Robert's small world, Americans are the outsiders, customers mostly, although all of them are to be treated with suspicion since any of them -- and especially the customers -- might prove to be Immigration agents. Meanwhile Robert's Chinese acquaintances are sometimes nearly as foreign to him as the Americans: there are the Mandarin-speakers, those more assimilated than he, and Chinese such as the hostess who were born and raised in America.

Continue reading: Combination Platter Review

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Blood Brothers Movie Review

Blood Brothers Movie Review

John Woo turns up as a producer of Blood Brothers, and it's not too surprising...

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