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]

So then. I read nothing but bad reviews about this, from mostly American movie fans re:the special effects. And that, to me, just illustrates what the crap is wrong with both the fans and the industry. THERE WAS NOTHING GLARINGLY WRONG WITH THE SFX. Srsly. A few bits might have been a bit unconvincing, but otherwise, um, they mostly did what they were supposed to do. GOD. This makes me feel old, because that's what I hate about video games these days too. That's all people freakin' care about.

Ok, rant aside. It was an entertaining enough movie for an hour and a half. I'm sure if Hollywood did such a thing, it'd be at least 30 minutes longer and with more car chases. *insert eye roll here* Yes, this might be my most sarcastic review ever. I think I'm mostly irked that people thought it was so horrible for stupid reasons. I'm still ranting, ok then, lemme stop.

Basically, there's some cyborg people and...actually I'm not sure what they're trying to do. Kill some doctor perhaps. But they're thwarted, so they go back in time. And Andy Lau (he's the hero) goes back to stop them, or locate the kid version of the doctor, I'm not sure. But there's some funny stuff, and some action bits, and Mike He was really hot. Anyway, so there you go, the bigger problem was the lack of plot, not the sfx. But oh yeah, I forget, American movie fans don't care about plots anyway. *coughavatarcough*

Honestly, I'm more concerned that I didn't spot Wong Jing. He always makes a cameo.

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 guess Hong Kong loves these kind of movies. The undercover cop gets too close to the gangster boss and ends up conflicted in his duty. That's sort of how this one went down. Louis Koo plays the undercover, Andy Lau plays the boss, and a very slimy Patrick Tam plays the villain. Oh and produced, but not directed, by Wong Jing.

Andy Lau plays Fei-lone, who is an ex-boss of the gang, Hung Hing. He's gone straight and has legitimate business ventures. But, as always happens, his Triad buddies are constantly hanging around trying to start trouble and get him back into it. Louis Koo plays Sing, who is an undercover, apparently assigned to Fei by a superior who has some kind of grudge against Fei, despite Sing telling him that Fei is straight.

Enter Chun (Patrick Tam). He's the son of the current boss (Pao, played by Anthony Wong) of Hung Hing. You can sort of tell he's up to no good right away, and when Pao is critically injured, he starts putting his slimy plans in motion. Those plans being that he wants to take over Hung Hing, but he also wants all Fei's money and he wants Fei to take the rap for all his killing that he does to get there.

Andy Lau, is, as usual, great as the guy nobody wants to mess with, and even when they do, you can sort of tell that he's going to get them all back eventually. I especially liked the sequence when Cole (Sing's asshole superior) is blocking him and his people from going to see the injured Pao. Fei initially is genteel and persuasive, but when Cole gets more and more belligerent, Fei's eyes suddenly harden and he gives him this kind of glare that would make anyone step back. Andy Lau is just so effective at stuff like that, lol.

Sing just kind of lurks, but always seems to show up at the right time to make things right. In the end, he's being held and questioned by his douchebag of a superior, while Fei-lone and his family are captured by Tam and his gang. Somewhere around there was an excellent sequence wherein Fei-lone's wife and Sing's drunk hooker girlfriend chop and explode their way out of a holding pen created by some guys of Tam's, intending to keep them captured.

Amazingly enough, this wasn't a film where everyone dies. Well, ok, a lot of people do, but the people you want LEAST to die, amazingly don't. Basically Louis Koo's film characters are like the Terminator. They can take lots of shots, but still keep you from shooting the bad guy. The ending was rather open-ended, but it fit.

I thought this movie was pretty good, actually. It was nearly two hours long and it was a very capable Triad action film. Plenty of violence, posturing and sadistic plots. Basically, all the good stuff. And it still managed to entertain and end ok.

Mood okayMood okay
Tags: action, andy lau, louis koo, triads
Raito [userpic]

So Andy Lau plays a thief again. Or rather, he played two thief roles that year. This time it's a romcom, sorta, also starring Sammi Cheng. In spite of the great soundtrack and snazzy cinematography, both hearkening back to old Hollywood, the plot was at once thin AND hard to follow. The problem was that the director got too lost in the clever sparring between Cheng and Lau's characters.

The two play divorced thieves and Sammi is about to get married, but her engagement present gets stolen, and it seems to me that she's in on it, but she doesn't end up with it, so naturally she suspects Andy Lau. And the rest of the movie is really about her trying to find this out. It's billed as the two rediscovering their feelings for each other, but it's not really that. I had to think about that as I watched, trying to figure out my issue with it. And I came to the conclusion that this is a relationship based on trickery. So even if they do love each other, they can't quite reveal it completely to the other, because then they would have revealed their last hand, so to speak.

Basically, in a relationship between two tricksters, there simply cannot be full disclosure. And that's how it goes right until the end. So in spite of the final plot twist, it's hard to really feel anything because even you as the viewer are not convinced that it's not another trick. In any circumstance, this would be a hard story to portray well and to be able to "get" your audience so to speak, but it's certainly not something that can be done in an hour-thirty with much of the time wasted on fantastic scenery and somewhat meaningless dialogue.

In the end, the film came off flat and emotionless. Gilded with nice looks, good music and attractive stars, but there was no substance. Sammi and Andy acted well, but even that couldn't save it.

Mood okayMood okay
Music 闇撫 – A:decal
Tags: andy lau, romcoms, sammi cheng
Raito [userpic]

In spite of a rocky start, this turned out to be a pretty good gangland flick. I say rocky start because for the first 20 minutes or so it was not real clear what was going on. And Andy Lau didn't even show up until around ten minutes in. This is only significant because the movie is, of course, only an hour and a half long. Fortunately, it used the other hour and ten minutes wisely. It's not exactly a complicated story. A war between gangs, complicated by cop contacts.

Andy Lau's character somewhat reluctantly takes over his father's gang, which is more or less in chaos, and meanwhile, a Anti-Triad officer fresh from the UK is determined to bring all the gang guys down. So, it sort of becomes more of a conflict between the two of them, Andy Lau and Roy Cheung. Andy Lau is only fighting to bring order back to the societies, while Cheung wants to get rid of them all in a particularly holier-than-thou manner. The latter half of the movie IS mostly action, with some pretty slick fighting scenes, though terrible sound effects, lol. Like 70's kung fu movies.

And in the end, Cheung slowly starts to respect Lau and his purpose and the two end up more or less on the same side. The last fight, a major gang/gang/police war was pretty awesome, and it wrapped up ok. So it was entertaining at least. The main issues I have is that it's obviously meant to be an action movie, but for an action movie, started out very slowly and was very talky at times. Also, Andy Lau's role was ridiculously easy. Or he makes it look easy, but it was his typical gangster role, not very complex at all. Cheung's was a little more complicated and he did a fair job of presenting his character's conflict.

So yeah, as long as you don't expect genius, this was pretty entertaining, honestly.

Mood awakeMood awake
Tags: action, andy lau, triads
Raito [userpic]

So this was probably one of the more hilarious wuxia movies I've seen.  The problem is, vs say, The Duel, is that I don't think the hilarity here was intentional.  I could be wrong, lol, but on the other hand, I don't think you can make up this kind of comedy.  The movie stars Andy Lau, Anita Mui and Maggie Cheung.  Also a couple of other guys who play dueling brothers.

That is, fourteenth brother has stolen the throne of thirteenth brother, who is now on the run, with apparently faithful swordswoman, Maggie Cheung.  Along the way, he runs into Fei (Andy Lau), who is a simple fisherman, but with mad skills and an Orca pal.  No no, you read right, he has his own personal Free Willy.  They even do tricks.  I'm sorry, but it was pretty hilarious.  And speaking of hilarity, my personal favorite villain scene ever is when 14th is practicing his ~evil~ bow and arrow, and when a messenger shows up with bad news, he decapitates him with his bow, shoots the head before it hits the ground and it lands in a torch, then HE, who is still flying, punts it into his hillside or wtvr that is littered with arrows, and they all catch on fire to form the words "heaven and earth". 

Then later, Fei gets sent to find thirteenth brother's lady (Anita Mui), and naturally they are attacked and Fei and the lady go running off together.  Cue a fantastically funny fight in the Forest of Thorns, and then somehow she carries a wounded Fei for a very long way.  At first they don't really like each other, but naturally this changes.  Then it turns out that Maggie Cheung is actually working for the other guy, and after an attack on Fei's village, there's a final fight in which everyone tries super hard to kill 14th, but in the end it's Fei's Orca that saves the day.  Everyone else dies, and Fei, somehow once again, miraculously escapes death.

Yes, this movie was, in fact, ridiculous.  But really funny, if that's what you're looking for.

Mood amusedMood amused
Tags: andy lau, wuxia
Raito [userpic]

Lol....a lot of this movie was unbearably cheesy, but when it wasn't, it was funny, light-hearted and reminded me of an old b&w movie. C'mon, rich guy falls for dancing girl? That is so totally an old movie plot. Probably starring Ginger Rogers or smth, lol. Anyway, yeah, it's basically a three-way love story. Andy Lau plays Sam Ching, a very rich guy who wants his cronies to find love too, and enjoys speaking random English.

But not as much as Denise Ho's high-powered secretary lady. I actually LOVED her in this. She was really hilarious and such a realistic portrayal of that sort of character, it was great. Honestly, I found myself wanting them to go back to her story half the time as opposed to Andy's. Shu Qi is an interesting actress. Sometimes I liked her, sometimes she was annoying, so I'm not sure. The only story I felt was a total flop was the one going on with Ching's driver. There was absolutely NOTHING interesting about that story.

Anyway, the story for Andy's side is pretty simple. He meets Shu Qi randomly in an elevator, is intrigued by her, so he follows her around. Then they start dating, but he doesn't tell her who he is. Of course, once he does, things get complicated, and the typical poor-girl-out-of-her-element situations abound. For Denise Ho, she's obsessed with her lack of boobs and while drunk one night, runs into a maintenance guy. They both kinda alternately follow each other around, not saying much, neither willing to admit anything.

And I won't even bother with the other story. But yeah, this was a harmless piece of fluff, and a long one at that, clocking in at pretty damn close to two hours. I wouldn't say it was as good as 'Needing You', as far as romcoms go, but it was enjoyable enough.  I'll say it again, Andy Lau can play ANYTHING.

I loved the scene where he's in the office and one of Shu Qi's friends texts him something lewd, and he reads it and is all "wah!" and drops the phone, and everyone looks.  Then he's all, "I'm OK!" in English.  Ahh, I cracked up.  And funny filming note; apparently Shu Qi pleaded with the director to let her do more in bed with Andy than just lay there.

Mood awakeMood awake
Music VelBet – Song
Tags: andy lau, romcoms
Raito [userpic]

Alright, the time has come to post about this movie. I actually watched it a couple days ago, but it was one of those amazing movies that you have to sit back and carefully digest before talking about it. The story is essentially this: two thieves, a man and a woman are driving through what looks like a remote area of China, and the female decides she's not doing it anymore. It then becomes apparent the two are also a couple, and judging by her random gagging, you also can't help but guess that she is pregnant. The man, however, is oblivious.

So after some arguing she makes him drop her off in the middle of nowhere, and a villager eventually picks her up and she prepares to board a train, some time later. Meanwhile, the little subplot is that the villager (nicknamed Dumbo) is going back to his town to get married and settle down. He has about 60k yuan that he's bringing with him, because he is too cheap to wire money. Also, he doesn't believe in thieves.

Naturally, the male thief in the form of Andy Lau, ends up at this train station too and they board together. At this point, the story cannot be described by itself, as it takes so many twists and turns.  Because there is another group of thieves on the train.

Everyone in the cast was phenomenal and even just thinking back to a lot of scenes, gives me chills. Because as exciting as the mystery and intrigue was, the themes whispering through the movie were great too. Sacrifice, redemption, love, greed, lust, trickery...ok, that last isn't really a theme, but there was trickery aplenty.

To be honest, when it comes to movies, music or even books that wow me, I find it hard to put my amazement into words. Mostly because I don't want to do whatever it is, a disservice by not describing it adequately. Suffice it to say, this was an awesome movie. I can't recommend it enough, and it stands as one of the few that made my eyes leak at the end.

Mood impressedMood impressed
Music 麦田守望者 – 大闹天宫
Tags: andy lau, drama, li bingbing, mystery
Raito [userpic] what I say to this movie. It was a little complicated, a little MORE complicated than your average Triad drama. Essentially you have two brothers, whose dad is killed at the start. A fortune teller predicts that they will kill each other, so the mob boss separates them. by sending one to the US. Later, said mob boss is killed, which means the other brother reappears.

It's a short film, again at that lovely running time of an hour and forty minutes, so you have to really be paying attention. Unlike some of these though, I had it pegged at the end. The elder brother was trying to do two things; one, make his brother not trust anyone, and two, get rid of their enemies and then take the blame himself. This more or less worked out. But in the meantime, you were left to wonder if the elder brother wasn't trying to kill the younger one, and then slowly you realized that the brain cancer defense (which Andy Lau's character laughed at so vigorously) was not a crock and in fact, was actually the case.

So Idk. This is one of those movies I don't know how I feel about, plotwise. And I'm further miffed at the red herring at the beginning of the film, which didn't quite pan out. It was like they were trying to make you think something that simply wasn't. Acting-wise though, I was pretty impressed with Eason Chan. He was perfect as the out-of-his-depth character, and his initiation, so to speak, was believable. I was surprised, having heard some bad things about his acting. Also good was the brother, Kiu Wai Miu, and of course, Andy Lau, in a rare supporting role. His asshole cop was quite amusing, what with laughing at the guy with brain cancer and ordering his flunkies to search a car extra slow since the guy was in a hurry. Though, it was so good that I wanted to see more, lol. 

So basically, Andy Lau, you are too good to be in a supporting role.  It was like in Protege, despite watching it for Daniel Wu, as the leading man, Andy Lau, quickly and deftly stole the show in every scene.

Mood thoughtfulMood thoughtful
Tags: andy lau, brothers, drama, eason chan, triads
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