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]

Frequently blurring the line between reality and fantasy, Mural seems to be trying to be an allegory at times, but much of the lesson is either lost in translation or confused in the fantasy-adventure.  Basically the movie starts with Deng Chao as a scholar and his servant taking refuge in a temple along with a swordsman of dubious morals.  Eric Tsang is there as the resident monk.  Deng Chao finds himself staring at a mural and it comes to life.  Eventually the three men end up in a fantastical place populated by fairy women only, oh and an eyebrowless Andy On who is a bodyguard or something for the queen.  Men are forbidden in the place, so you can kind of imagine what ensues.

The interesting thing is how it ends.  It sort of leaves it up to the viewer to decide if any of it was even real or if it was a Chronicles of Narina thing where the person comes back to the exact time they left.  The other part that was interesting to me is how the queen initially asked her subjects if either she or they were beautiful, I can't recall, but at the end, the new queen asks them if they are happy. 

It was enjoyable though.  Good fantasy sfx not just for a Chinese movie, but period. I'm looking forward to the idea of more of this type of thing in Chinese cinema.

Mood calmMood calm
Music Agitato – BUBBLE
Tags: andy on, deng chao, eric tsang, fantasy
Raito [userpic]

I believe there should be a category of movies labeled 'quirky'. You know, those mildly pretentious movies that aren't quite dark or serious enough to be dramas, funny, but not so funny you can call them a comedy, and maybe even some action or violence, but again, not enough to actually be in that category. And then, their own elements that usually include a colorful cast of characters, a strange quest or plot point and a sense of 'there is no real meaning to this, but the way it's told you'll think there is.'

That's the category Half Cigarette belongs in, without a doubt. In it, Mountain Leopard (Eric Tsang) returns to Hong Kong after 30 years in Brazil (what is it with the Chinese and Brazil?) to get revenge on the man that stole his woman. Once there, he bumps into Smokey (Nicholas Tse), a low-level Triad wannabe whose mom was a hooker and who wants to know who his dad was. He also spies on a young policewoman (Kelly Chen) on her beat from his window. Not just spies, tapes. Meanwhile, he has some garishly dressed Triad who speaks random English after him. And his opening scene of chopping some guy in a bookstore for groping a hooker, comes back to bite him when Third Sister finds out.

Mountain Leopard has his own problems. He seems to be forgetting things and wakes up at 3AM to practice kung-fu. When he finally tells Smokey his story, we're treated to a long, rather violent but also darkly funny, flashback starring Sam Lee and Stephen Fung sporting polyester and 70's do's.

To be honest, I can't really say too much more about the "plot" without giving away the reason to sit through the movie in the first place. But as in many quirky movies, not everything is as it seems. And Nicholas Tse, in spite of all the flak he often gets, really is a very promising actor. He may not be Andy Lau...yet, but he's only had ten years and far less movies in that span than Andy Lau did. He was perfect here. Funny, confused, not as tough as he wished he was, totally believable in other words. Eric Tsang was great too, but that was more or less expected. At least, by me.

Also, the soundtrack, including a song sung by the very young-sounding Tse, was perfect. It stood out and augmented scenes, very like the movie I watched before this.

Mood awakeMood awake
Tags: eric tsang, nicholas tse, quirky
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