Posted in Chinese film, Taiwanese film

THE ASSASSIN (2015)

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A film by Hsiao-Hsien Hou

Cast: Chen Chang, Qi Shu, Yun Zhou

The film centers on Nie Yinniang (played by Shu Qi), an assassin who is directed to slay corrupt government officials by her master, Jiaxin, a nun who raised her from the age of ten.

Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien has been away for eight years. He is back with this gorgeously picturesque film The assassin. This film and I will give you a warning it is for a certain type of people. This is not your typical martial film it has drama in it and it is done differently than any other film. It is a cultural film here I am going to try to explain it as much as I can.

Two women are seated at a table with red pomegranates on it. Behind them is a screen painting of a pine tree. The season was autumn I know this because of the pomegranates are in season in autumn.Takasago is the name of a city, the two pine trees represent a long marital relationship.The pomegranate represents keeping  the title or rank from generation to generation in the same family.The peony symbolizes beauty, higher social status, and luxury.The film is actually about one particularly famous assassin.The Tang Dynasty (618-907) was the golden age of Chinese culture.Nie Yinniang was trained by a nun beginning at age ten in The Biography of Nie Yinniang. At the time a nun was the political power behind the assassin (that is what I discover). In this film we have a former princess who is passing judgment and using her pupil as an executioner. The teacher of martial art here is a nun that’s what the director wanted instead to be a male figure to make this story exceptional or less ordinary. Shu brings a sad and resourceful beauty to a role as athletic as it is melancholy. Hsiao-Hsien Hou paid attention to the detail of the costumes as well the decor and the colors are exceptional here. You will have to see this film one or two more time to get its meaning. It is a story that is been redone so many times before. The film’s pacing is very slow, and the actions of characters are very simple and straight to the point. Hsiao-Hsien Hou has won for best director at Cannes. No surprise there.

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Posted in Chinese film

MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART (2015)

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A  film by Zhangke Jia

Cast: Tao Zhao, Yi Zhang, Jing Dong Liang

Here I go it is 1999 in China where 3 friends are having the time of their life partying and working. Liang (Liang Jingdong), a broke but content coal miner; The rich and ruthless Jingsheng (Zhang Yi) and Tao (Zhao Tao) a bubbly young woman and daughter who works in the family store; When suddenly Jingsheng makes an enemy of Liang by purchasing his coal mine and warning him to stay away from Tao. Liang  leaves the village, leaving Tao and Jigsheng are getting married. The story moves up to 2014 where Tao has a son later  the story takes us to 2025 where Jingsheng and his son are in Australia.

1999 is shot in 4:3  ratio ; 2014 in 16:9 ; and 2025 in 2.35:1 . Here is a film about relationship that will takes us in a space of 26 years. As the years progress so is the technologies and people change, Jingsheng the father of dollar (yes that dos is son is named) went from hungry  business capitalist man to an estrange father that his son can not recognize anymore. As for the other friend well he has health problem due to the fact that he used to be a coal miner. Of course other relationship will form as we go along the fact is the matter is that here Tao let go her son with his father in order for him to have a better life because she thinks she can not give him anything.  In an other word human relationship is hard the mother thinks she can’t give hm anything here is her first mistake later the son who is trying to find her and wants to see her or does he? The father who is lost in his own world with a collection of guns. The family is spreading apart further and further and it is so hard to repair things or undo them. The director is making a point from the beginning you can see it in the eyes of the director with the fear of where is going China who is falling into capitalism head first and became this super power.

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Posted in Chinese film

THE TAKING OF TIGER MOUNTAIN (2014) 3D

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A film by Hark Tsui

Cast: Hanyu Zhang, Tony Ka Fai Leung, Kenny Lin

The story is based on the novel Tracks in the Snowy Forest by Qu Bo. The story goes like this it is the conflict between the People’s Liberation Army of China and a gang of bandits. While Yang Zirong (1917-1947) is based on the real-life person, the other hero of the story are fictional. It became the tenth highest-grossing film of all time in China.

The story is set in China in 1946. A gang who is dreadful as well as powerful led by Hawk (Tony Leung Ka Fai). He has at least 1,000 bandits and is based on the remote and well-defended Tiger Mountain. A People’s Liberation Army (PLO) squad of thirty-some Communist soldiers are led by a captain code-named 203 (Lin Gengxin) the objective getting rid of Hawk and his men. Later on they are Join by Comrade Yang, a political division scout sent by the Hejiang Military District and field hospital nurse Comrade Bai (Tong Liya). Yang plant his ass as a spy in Hawk’s gang in order to provide information on how to take over the tiger mountain.

La bataille de la montagne du tigre (2014)

The film is in 3D and it is action in you face. There is a lot of debris, bullets and blood that is dying around. Plus a mean digital tiger who is trying to get Yang for lunch as it tries to get him in a tree. well done here it is quite breathtaking even the cinematography. It is an impressive 3D action film here and you won’t get bored. It is a remake from the 1970 film but Tsui added stuff here and there and I was told there is more action. There is a sub-plot based upon the reunion of mother and son. That does not surprise me here in most film in China I except it nothing wrong with that. A spectacular scene involving a plane in a cave with a landing strip involving a lot of CGI. Over all a good action pop corn film here just enjoy the ride.

La bataille de la montagne du tigre (2014)

Posted in Based on a true story, Chinese film, French film

LE DERNIER LOUP (2015)

Le dernier loup (2015)

A film by Jean-Jacques Annaud 

Cast: Shaofeng Feng, Shawn Dou, Ankhnyam Rachaa

English title: Wolf Totem

1969. Chen Zhen, a young student from Beijing, was sent to  Mongolia to educate a tribe of nomadic herders to teach their children how to read and write Chinese.  But it was really Chen, who has much to learn – about life in this infinite land, hostile and vertiginous on the notion of community, freedom and responsibility, and the most feared and hated creature of the steppes – the wolf . Seduced by the complex relationship between these almost mystical and sacred creatures he captures a Cub to tame it. But the budding relationship between humans and animals – and the traditional lifestyle of the tribe, and the future of the earth itself – is threatened when an officer of the central government decides by all means remove wolves in this region. well remove the cubs. Kill them in the spring.

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Bare with me on this one this is my first film of Jean-Jacques Annaud. He has don films with animals before this is not the first one. This film is autobiographical from the book the totem Wolf the #1 best seller in China. This was a difficult film to make It took many years of preparation for this film, especially to raise the wolves and the whole management of the animals, including wild wolves and therefore difficult to train. Filming required “480 technicians, 200 horses , nearly a thousand sheep, 25 wolves, and fifties trainers . Let’s not forget the training of the armed guard and training the actors to be farmers. The two actors who play the students were professional actors the rest were the farmers and people who lived in Mongolia off the land. None of the animal were hurt some animals were CGI of course drone has to be used not to spook the animal instead of helicopters. Some crew members, trainers and others got scratches on their faces from the Wolf but that is about it. Here is the thing The Mongols lives off the land the story took place in the late 60’s , they have sheep to protect from the wolves. They try to contain the population of wolves by killing the cubs in the spring. This is the story of a student who took a cub and raise it. The problem it is hard to raise a cub it needs to be in the wild were it belong. It needs to learn how to hunt and feed himself.  Zhen capture one but did not know it comes with consequences. Wolf and men are not compatible. He got attach to it too much. The story revolves around the relationship about him and the cub plus the moguls. Human relationship are hard enough you through in there I am going to raise a cub wolf in the mixed you are going to have conflict. Great story there plus the cinematography is out of this world. Dam that is a beautiful country. It is an interesting film, the story moves along just fine. the shot at night are beautiful as well. We are stepping on the animal’s paws sort of speak they were there first we keep on taking the land to build houses and shopping mall. they retrieve and then what.

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Posted in Chinese film

BLACK COAL (2014)

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A film by Yi’nan Diao

Cast: Fan Liao, Lun Mei Gwei, Xuebing Wang

1999 a cop newly divorced find himself investigating a murder involving body parts in a coal factory further more they found several body part in different coal factory around the province of Manchuria on the both side of the country. Caught in a shootout in a beauty saloon, and  the only one who survives, leaving the murder unsolved. Five years has past he becomes an alcoholic ,no longer a cop he crosses path with his colleagues who are investigating two other  murders who revolves around a window of a dead man in 1999. Now He can’t help himself to investigate.

Here is a great film who took L’ours d’or in Germany for best actor. Original film written and directed by Yi’nan Diao and well filmed. This a strange story where the bodies has been dismantled and found in different coal factories. The film features a cop traumatized by his divorce a pathetic and nervous man played by Fan Liao who is perfect for this role. The story moves on with the strange relationship with the widow. The film has a film noir feel to it. Diao has film the in the urban  abandoned street in the middle of winter, strange act and body language and some dark humor .  You see you have to see how other director from other country how they tell their story and how they film it. A lot of medium to long shot in this film. Not the usual extreme close up that hollywood movie does all the time. That is why I choose to watch other film from other countries. The film is base on the relationship and emotions of the window and the cop. There is a twist in the story which makes it so good. There is an other thing is the club who is called fireworks in the day time. The musical score fits perfectly for this slow and dark setting thriller.

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Posted in Chinese film

THE CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER (2006)

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A film by Yimou Zhang.

Cast: Yun-Fat Chow, Li Gong, Jay Chou 

China, 10th Century. On the eve of the Chong Yang Festival, golden flowers fill the Imperial Palace. The Emperor (Chow Yun Fat) returns unexpectedly with his second son, Prince Jai (Jay Chou). His exuse is to celebrate the holiday with his family, but given the chilled relations between the Emperor and the ailing Empress (Gong Li), this seems a little fishy. For many years, the Empress and Crown Prince Wan (Liu Ye), her stepson, have had an affair basically the bang each other like jack rabbit. But Prince Wan dreams of escaping the palace with his secret love Chan (Li Man), the Imperial Doctor’s daughter (no that little pervert).  Meanwhile back at the ranch or I should say back at the palace son Prince Jai Is wondering why is mother is ill all the time and has an obsession with the golden  chrysanthemums. But the Emperor has plans of his own what he doesn’t know is that the Empress  has also plans of her own.

This film required a huge set of the palace that they build from scratch with flowers and at least 1000 plus extras. It took just 3 month to do the fighting scene along. 6 month shooting all together and 6 month of post-production. The eye popping scenes are breath taking with all kind of colors. The actors are well dressed with magnificent costumes to d-say the least. One army covered in golden armor attacks another of black-clothed Darth Vader wannabes armed with spears and arrows looking like ninja. The battle are spectacular and well choreograph.  The troublesome middle son, Jai ( a famous pop star in Asia), to a swordfight, and on the top of that that was his second film. The Emperor was played by the great Yun-fat Chow and that was a great choice there. as well the the Empress Li Gong the top actress in China has done a wonderful job.

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golden flower

 

Posted in Chinese film, U.S. Film

THE GRANDMASTER (2013)

A film by Kar Wai Wong.
Cast: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Ziyi Zhang, Jin Zhang.
Ip Man’s peaceful life in Foshan changes after Gong Yutian seeks an heir for his family in Southern China. Ip Man then meets Gong Er who challenges him for the sake of regaining her family’s honor. After the Second Sino-Japanese War, Ip Man moves to Hong Kong and struggles to provide for his family. In the mean time, Gong Er chooses the path of vengeance after her father was killed by Ma San.
This is a story of IP man which has been done in the 90’s I think. This one is told a different way in a non-linar way. which is fine. It took 10 years to make this one. The story hold and the cinematography is Magnificent. great fighting scenes well choreographed but a little too much in slow motion. This may be the best Zhang Ziyi role yet. It is not a martial arts movie in the traditional sense in where its conflicts are solved by fighting.This is a story about legacy. The kung Fu back then was a way of life now it has been lost. This film is a little different than the other kung fu film, so give it a try, who knows you might like it.