Could 'The Grandmaster' u-surp some of the bigger names at the Oscars? We think so.
Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster? Chances are, you haven't heard of it. As the Academy were preparing to decorate Ben Affleck and his Argo team in January, the acclaimed Chinese filmmaker was about to kick off the Berlin Film Festival with his latest martial arts movie.
Set in China at the time of the Japanese invasion in 1930s, The Grandmaster stars Wai's regular muse Tony Leung Chiu Wai as the kung-fu master and Zhang Ziyi as his rival. The highly stylized and visually spectacular picture is a story of "honor, principle, betrayal and forbidden love."
It spans the tumultuous Republican era that followed the fall of China's last dynasty - a complex period of time rich for filmmakers to tap into. Wai filmed on location, and the snow-swept landscapes of Northeast China, juxtaposed with the subtropical south makes one of the most stunning films of the year.
Continue reading: Why Wong Kar Wai's 'The Grandmaster' Could Storm The Oscars [Trailer]
Chungking Express offers two parallel stories of love and loss brought together by a dine-and-dash eatery. In the first half of the film, a detective (Takeshi Kaneshiro) stops in at the local greasy food dive while pining over his lost love. And in the second half, a beat street cop (Tony Leung) stops in while also pining over his lost love. Although Kaneshiro's desperation and tragic romanticism sparks our interest in the first story of the film, it's the second story that really captures our attention. The power of that second story line comes from Faye Wong, who invades the screen (and Tony Leung's) apartment with childish charm and an obsession with the Mama's and Papa's "California Dreaming."
Continue reading: Chungking Express Review
Chang Chen, Tony Leung, John Woo, Kaneshiro Takeshi and Lin Chi-ling - Chang Chen, Tony Leung, John Woo, Kaneshiro Takeshi and Lin Chi-Ling Seoul, South Korea - Photocall to promote the movie 'Red Cliff' at W Hotel Wednesday 25th June 2008
But before we ever get to see these thrashing entanglements, we are plummeted into the early rumblings of the Chinese resistance to the Japanese occupation. Little does Yee know that the woman he is tossing around the bedroom would love nothing more than to feel his blood splatter all over her in the middle of one of their sessions. See, Wang was once a schoolgirl with aspirations in acting, sparked by collegiate cutie Kuang (Wang Leehom), a director who wrote (terrible) plays about the damages of the war and subsequent occupation on the normal Chinese family. While discussing politics in a theater balcony, Kuang and his actors turned from thespians into resistance fighters, planning the assassination of the traitorous Yee.
Continue reading: Lust, Caution 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
Continue reading: Happy Together Review
Wong's fan base may be most surprised at the stillness of this new entry. Putting aside the hyperkinetic blurry visuals of his earlier works, Wong favors careful compositions and warmer lighting. If this film were in black and white, it might be confused for early Bresson. Wong shoots entire scenes of Love in static, pristine minute-long takes emphasizing the distant spatial relationships between a handsome young man, Mr. Chow (Tony Leung, Hard Boiled) and a beautiful young woman, Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung, Irma Vep).
Continue reading: In The Mood For Love Review
This time, Tony Leung's Chow Mo-Wan is far from the repressed creature that he played in Love, eternally suffering for the married beauty living in his apartment building. Mo-Wan is now going through all the highs and lows of numerous affairs in 1960s Hong Kong, playing out almost an entire history of love within the space of one film. The title comes from the number of the apartment next to his, wherein reside a number of women with whom we will see him become entangled over the course of the film. 2046 is also the name of a science fiction serial he scribbles down (part of the dues he pays as a struggling hack writer), scenes of which we see acted out, watching its hero endure an eternal train ride away from the mysterious place called 2046, where everybody goes to reclaim lost memories and never returns from; except him.
Continue reading: 2046 Review
Another achingly evocative and melancholy near-masterpiece from virtuoso writer-director Wong Kar-Wai, "2046" is breathtakingly beautiful and lush with color, narratively dense and psychologically complex, and blessed with vivid, visceral performances that burst at the seams with reserved passion.
Its tender yet abrasive story catches up with Chow (Tony Leung), one of the broken-hearted lovers from Wong's unforgettable "In the Mood for Love," years after the affair that redefined his life has ended. Now a cold, slippery, charming, Brylcreem-ed playboy, newspaper hack and pulp writer in 1960s Hong Kong, he lives a film-noir life (complete with gritty voice-over and dark wit) in a semi-seedy hotel, across the hall from Room 2046 where he once spent the night with the love of his life. Lately the room has been occupied by a string of beautiful women (Gong Li, Faye Wong and Zhang Ziyi among them), and Chow seduces (or is seduced by) each of them in turn, often with unforeseen emotional consequences.
These liaisons and the quiet turmoil they produce in his leathered soul serve as fuel for Chow's latest dime novel, a highly symbolic science-fiction story of ardent rebel activists and android women incapable of love, set largely onboard a bullet train speeding on elevated tracks through worldwide skyscraper canyons in the year 2046. (The title -- which is also the year China's promise of sovereignty for Hong Kong expires -- crops up many times.)
Continue reading: 2046 Review
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