Infernal Affairs
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Infernal Affairs
Hello, you've reached Raito's movie review blog. Most of what you'll find here is reviews of Chinese movies, because that's pretty much all I watch. :'D

November 2012
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Raito [userpic]

Woman Knight of Mirror Lake (2011) - A historical film about revolutionary Qiu Jin, I liked it for the most part.  The fighting was really fantastic.  Some of the best choreographed kung-fu I've seen in awhile.  However, on the other hand, the constant fighting distracted somewhat from the story, which had its own distraction problems in the way that it was told, jumping all over the place in time.  Huang Yi did a fantastic job though.

City Under Siege (2010) - On the other hand, this movie could have used more fighting and less attempts to make an already fairly silly premise into something sillier by adding drama to it.  The story is about some people in a circus, including hapless Aaron Kwok who wants to be Flying Dagger, but sucks at it.  They dig up some random Japanese bunker and get hit with mutant powder.  For some reason, Kwok's character gets all the powers but none of the bad looks.  Then there's the recently-fired news gal, Shu Qi, whose main job is to look amazing and the buttkicking team of Zhang Jingchu and Wu Jing.  Again, if this had just been loads of fights, it would have been quite entertaining, but the attempts to make it into something more fell pretty flat.

Shaolin (2011) - Another quasi-historical piece about an arrogant general who is overthrown by the inferior that he treats like crap.  He then learns the error of his ways by falling in with the monks of Shaolin.  It's a pretty obvious redemption story, but with some fantastic scenery-chewing by Andy Lau and Nic Tse.  You could almost see the sparks when they were in the same scene together.  Jackie Chan has a sorta brief turn as a Shaolin cook and demonstrates random crazy kung-fu.  Fan Bingbing is somewhat of a flower vase, but still has some good parts.  This was actually a really riveting movie so don't let the driveby status fool you, I'm just feeling lazy right now.

Raito [userpic]

This was billed as a sequel of sorts to Beast Stalker, but in the manner of Hong Kong films, it's only a sequel because of the two leads, Nic Tse and Nick Cheung.  It also stars Kwai Lun Mei and Sherman Chung.  Well, let's see, I expected this to be pretty good as I very much enjoyed Beast Stalker and had heard good things about it.  Sadly, it does not live up due to a litany of problems including Nic Tse's wooden acting and Nick Cheung's even MORE wooden acting.  The only good spot of acting is delivered by Taiwanese actress Kwai Lun Mei who shows herself capable of an expression and emotion.  The other problem with this movie vs Beast Stalker is that it utterly FAILS at making you care about any of the characters.

The plot is...honestly pretty thin.  It takes the title a little too seriously, being all about stool pigeons, or people in the criminal realm who betray their ilk to the cops for cash.  IN a role reversal, Nic Tse is the criminal and Cheung is the cop.  Nic Tse wants money for his sister, Nick Cheung wants to arrest some jewel thieves, Kwai Lun Mei wants to go back to Taiwan, and she might want Nic Tse too, but that's hardly played out in any tangible way.  What follows is a brutal montage of, well, brutality.  But the movie takes such a blase, monochrome look at it that it just sort of slides by on screen without any emotional attachment.  Again, compared to Beast Stalker that pulled you right into the lives of everyone involved.  Even the criminal as awful as he was, you could sort of see his point of view.  There is none of that here.

Another general problem is that Nic Tse really cannot play this type of role.  He simply isn't that versatile and the sad-sack low-life or the sad-sack good guy (Bodyguards) is just not in his range.  Instead he is overly wooden and fails to make you see anything in his character other than Nic Tse.

In conclusion, this is not a good movie.  Avoid, unless you really want to see Nic Tse get beat up for some reason.

Mood hungryMood hungry
Tags: action, buddy, nicholas tse, nick cheung
Raito [userpic]

This is apparently director Susie Au's debut and before she was a music video director. That definitely shows. There's also a lot of Wong Kar Wai going on here. But in all honesty? I liked it. It was entertaining, Zhou Xun was gorgeous, Daniel Wu was hot, and the whole thing was just nice to look at and attention-grabbing, not to mention keeping.

Essentially there's this superchick named Ming Ming (Zhou Xun). She has a thing for D (Wu), apparently some kind of mob enforcer. He wants to go to Harbin with 5 million. So she steals this money and a box from Brother Cat. In comes Tu, whom she hands the money to. And takes off running. He eventually meets another Zhou Xun in the form of an orange-haired girl named Nana. He thinks she's Ming Ming. Most of the movie is them running from Cat's cronies, with Ming Ming making occasional appearances to shoot her black balls at people. Eventually D comes back into it, and the true theme of the story is his story and what he wanted to go to Harbin for.

If that sounds convoluted, it kinda is, but I didn't find it as extremely so as some of the other reviews indicate. I found the style of the film extremely cool, and that by itself kept me into it. Zhou Xun did an excellent job in two roles and I was pretty surprised to realize that she was speaking Cantonese and not being dubbed. In fact, it seemed everyone was, which is weird because none of the stars are HK stars. But the director is, and I guess that's why.

Anyway, enough babbling. I really liked this movie.

Mood blahMood blah
Music Dear jane – 穿梭機
Tags: action, daniel wu, zhou xun
Raito [userpic]

I.....think I liked this movie. Or maybe I'm just being shallow because Chen Kun and Shawn Yue were extremely nice to look at. The problem comes with the pacing, which, I'm starting to realize, is Jingle Ma's biggest failure as a director. The plot wasn't entirely nonexistent, you could sort of understand how it got set up that way. And I guessed the villain right about as the shit started hitting the fan. The only problem with the love story though, was that I only saw any kind of convincing emotion from the girl. The guys just reminded me of Jordan Chan in Shopaholics; they just wanted what the other guy had.

Some setup. Shawn Yue is probably the cop of the title. He's rich, but only by virtue of his dad, and he uses his dad's money to solve crimes. Like catching poor Philip Ng at the start. Amg, I hope that man gets some real roles soon, he's such a qt. (that's not why, but how sidetracked do you want me to get here?) Then, Chen Kun comes in as a rich cop from the Mainland (yes, we buy that), and naturally the two hate each other at first sight, well, actually Shawn hates him, it's not really clear that Chen returns the favor. But Chen is looking for his brother's killer.

And that's basically the plot. It meanders around at a leisurely pace, with occasional bursts of action. Then suddenly, with about 30 minutes left to go, it turns into New Police Story. And the two leads look about as shellshocked as the audience (i.e. me) when it does. It's like, wtf, did I accidentally put in another movie? All of a sudden we have an over-the-top, twisted bad guy, a crapload of money, uncomfortable psychological games and an eventual bloody outcome. And in spite of it all, it still fails to wring much emotion from you.

One thing I will say though, it was nice that they let Chen Kun speak Mandarin, instead of having to be dubbed into Canto. He actually did speak it at the start and sounded decent though, lol. And even though all the Canto speakers understood him and vice versa, which is probably not likely, I was able to suspend that disbelief because I'd always rather hear the actor's own voice. I wish both places would do that more often. Isn't that what the Chinese subs are for anyway? C'mon.

Mood blahMood blah
Music MoNoLith – Fairy-tale
Tags: action, buddy, chen kun, crime, shawn yue
Raito [userpic]

Sa, the time has come to review one of my favorite movies. Starring Andy Lau and Japanese actor Takashi Sorimachi, it's an awesome assassin movie with a lot of absurdity, but remains enjoyable in spite of that. Essentially O (Sorimachi) is the assassin du jour, and Tok (Lau) wants badly to show him up and eventually kill him. IN the meantime there's this girl, Kelly Lin, who somehow speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese and English during the course of the film. She's O's cleaner and at the center of a sort of love triangle that develops. Simon Yam also stars as the cop mostly after O. And writing a book, which is one of the more ridiculous plot elements.

But let's go into more why this movie rocks. For one thing, the soundtrack is awesome and always appropriate. For another, Sorimachi is an insanely perfect assassin. His lack of expression and instinctive-looking movements are spot on. You really believe he's a professional killer. There's obviously some great action sequences. The dizzying array of languages is a bit distracting, but as long as you have subs, you'll be fine. The English is unfortunately cheesy, but Lin and Lau speak competent Japanese, so yeah, you get used to it.

Anyway, it's a slick action movie, ultimately, and I won't lie, Sorimachi is mad hot as O.

Raito [userpic]

I have the urge to be snarky and mention all the bad actors in here, but I won't, because I actually really enjoyed this stylish, action-packed, cool cinematographied movie.  Even Donnie Yen wasn't insufferable, and Kate Tsui was so cool as the evil assassin chick.  There was also Zhao Wei's amazing smile and Wu Chun's amazing abs, so really, who cares if 3 out of 4 are barely passable actors?

Story!  Check!  Qinglong is the captain of the brocade guards.  He's a badass, but then his bro betrays him and there's this whole seal he needs to get back.  He falls in with Zhao Wei and her father's Justice Escorts, and he eventually kidnaps her and goes looking for the seal.  Kate Tsui eventually comes looking for him, and somewhere along the line he enlists the Judge of the Desert (Chun) to help him take down the convey with the seal.  Ok, the plot is barely there.  But the movie looks so damn good and the action scenes were truly awesome.  Not to mention all the stars had unique RPG character looks about them.  Like I said, stylish.

As long as you don't go into it looking for something super complicated, and you like lots of wacky smacky, you'll be fine.  It wouldn't hurt to be a fan of any of the main stars either.  (In my case, Zhao Wei and Wu Chun for purely shallow reasons)

Raito [userpic]

You know what really annoys me about American movies? The sound editing. Somehow they always edit these things so you have to turn it WAAAY up to hear the dialogue, and then you just about crap yourself when the gunfire starts and it sounds like the person next to you just whipped out a tommy gun and started firing. Learn how to fucking balance your sound, Hollywood.

What an intro, huh? So this is the mobster movie about John Dillinger, starring Johnny Depp. Well, and Christian Bale as the guy who gets him, but I cbb about him. All I really noticed is how his attempt at an old Chicago accent kept coming and going. Tbqh, Depp was probably the only really good thing about this bloated nearly 2 1/2 hour monstrosity. Yeah, that's right Hollywood, I don't like your runtimes either. Unfortunately, it was also a walk in the park for Depp. He could have played the cocky Dillinger in his sleep.

The rest of the movie was a typical mobster movie that ran like a non-fiction. Bursts of violence, followed by long stretches of nothing useful. Despite the 2+ hours, it honestly seemed like Dillinger got out of prison, robbed like, one bank, and then the FBI was trying to kill him. It didn't give a very good idea of the crime spree he embarked on, or the Robin Hood personnna he had with the American people.

Meh. All it really did was remind how far Hollywood has fallen. The clip of Manhattan Melodrama looked more interesting. I was like, oh! it's William Powell and Myrna Loy.

Mood blahMood blah
Tags: action, hollywood
Raito [userpic]

Apparently continuing with the movies before he was a star...well, that's mostly because that all that's left of his filmography that I haven't watched, lol. Anyway, this was effectively Stephen Chow's first film, and as such, it's not a comedy, but rather the tried-and-true cops vs robbers story. Chow plays a car thief who gets mixed up with some violent bank robbers. Then he gets caught by Danny Lee's maverick cop character. Danny Lee wants to use him as a snitch to get to the robbers, but instead he effectively gets Chow framed for murder while going behind the back of his irritating superior.

That is...essentially the plot. Just add the inevitable showdown and trick ending. As for the other stuff, to me, it seemed like Danny Lee's character was terribly inept. And I still haven't decided if that was on purpose, if they were trying to be funny, or what. Stephen Chow, on the other hand, was awfully good as a punk in way over his head. He was equal parts false bravado and scared kid, but undeniably good at stealing cars. As Love HK Film put it, he possesses a range here that everyone forgot he had. Actually, it's getting easier and easier for me to say that he's just a damn good actor. He has so much charisma and is so expressive, that he can easily make you believe whatever it is he's playing. How else could he get audiences to suspend their disbelief for 10+ years of nonsense comedy?

Yeah, all these early movies WITH Stephen Chow (as opposed to Stephen Chow movies) just make me more and more convinced of what a legend he is.

Mood anxiousMood anxious
Tags: action, stephen chow
Raito [userpic]

Well now, this is an old one. An early vehicle of Jet Li's and co-starring a very pre-superstardom Stephen Chow as his dubiously-moraled sidekick. The story in a nutshell is Jet Li is part of a wushu team that comes to Frisco for a demonstration or smth, and presumably, they're from China, not Hong Kong, and that's why his friend, Tiger, runs away on the day they're supposed to go back. He also accidentally kills a cop. While chasing him, Jet Li misses his plane AND gets framed for the murder. Then, in an epic and really obviously set-up accident, he gets away and wanders the streets for a bit before running into Stephen Chow.

The rest of the movie is messy and somewhat hard to follow because of the mumbled, mangled and otherwise mispronounced English. Or, at least it would be if the plot was not completely generic and obvious where it was going. Jet Li's character tries to get by as a grocer helping Chow, but somehow Tiger keeps showing up (he's now working for a pan-Asian gang) and eventually the two's worlds collide and all hell breaks loose. Which, naturally, leads to lots of kung-fulishness.

Really, the only good points of this movie is Jet Li's martial artistry and Stephen Chow, whom I firmly believe could play anything now. If he's going to change his tune, he should go full circle and put out some more dramatic roles. He's good at being dark. Surprisingly good, in fact. Not that he didn't have some moments of comedy, several in fact, but ultimately his character was a pitiful bastard who pretty much made his own bed and had to lie in it. Though, a bit at the end suggested it might not have turned out so badly.

Ultimately, it was an ok movie if you're a fan of the stars, but otherwise, pretty damn generic.

Mood blahMood blah
Music FACT – 1-2
Tags: action, drama, jet li, stephen chow
Raito [userpic]

Your basic cop buddy film featuring a pre-superstar Stephen Chow and Heavenly King Jacky Cheung. I've only seen Cheung in one other thing, that being As Tears Go By playing the guy that nicely brought everyone down. He's alright as an actor, somewhat compelling, but not really. But as usual, this show is stolen by Stephen Chow, who wasn't even a big star at this point in his career.

The plot is fairly simple. Chow and Cheung are cop buddies, best friends, roomies, all that good stuff. They aren't at odds, quite the opposite. But Chow's character is Pepper, hot-headed, kind of a jerk. And Cheung is Curry, nicer, more easy-going, at least makes an attempt not to get into trouble. But either way, they're trouble-makers in the force that nevertheless, manage to get things done. Then a woman comes between them. I know, cliched, right? Lol. It's ok though, because this is a funny movie, so it doesn't take you down annoying roads of sap and emo.

Meanwhile, the rather frightening Blackie Ko wants to kill them. Mostly because Chow shot him after he killed their undercover. So eventually you know these guys have to make up so they can get the bad guy.

As I said, it's pretty standard stuff. But there's some great action sequences, it's plenty funny, and you gotta love how Stephen Chow steals nearly every scene he's in right up to really stealing the whole damn movie. Someone had to be watching this back then and thinking, wow this guy's gonna be big.

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