Movie Review: Iceman Cometh/急冻奇侠

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You’d never expect a Hong Kong remake of a Eugene O’neill play, would you? Well, don’t expect it now either, ya moron.

Unless Chip Tsao gets his hands on a camera again.

Three centuries ago, a royal guard played by Yuen Biao is tasked with apprehending Yuen Wah, who’s been raping and killing women.

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They have a big swordfight in the snow and fall down a cliff. The opening was filmed in Korea, and it’s nice to see something different in terms of the setting and background.

300 years later a team of Chinese scientists led by Elvis Tsui unearth the two frozen men. The scientists decide to take their find overseas, but transit in Hong Kong for the express purpose of going to the Volvo club, one of the leading hostess clubs of the time.

A gay joke or two later, the two Yuens are in Hong Kong where they get defrosted, electrified, and resurrected.

Cue lots of action and fighting and comedy, all of which is pretty damned entertaining.

Yuen Biao meets a hooker played by Maggie Cheung, and he slowly learns about life in 1989.

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And we get to see things like huge mobile phones and pagers.

Big pagers.

Maggie Cheung is very easy to watch, playing a coarse, pushy chicken who may feel something for Yuen Biao other than contempt.

There’s a typically funny Wong Jing cameo, too.

This movie is a classic in a lot of ways, and it’s a great example of what made Hong Kong movies so special once.

The pace of the film is pretty brisk, but that’s part of what I like about movies from this period. At times it seems a bit frantic, but it’s a lot of fun too.

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The action and martial arts are top-notch, as well they should be.

Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah were Jackie Chan’s classmates in a Peking opera school, which makes them not just trained martial artists but acrobats as well.

They were both still young enough to do some amazing stunt and action work, including one stunt by Yuen Wah that defies description.

I almost sh*t myself when I saw it.

As was the fashion back then, the really good stunts get shown three times, from each camera angle, and usually in slow motion.

I know it’s not real fighting, but the physicality, or physical ability of these guys is still incredible.

There was no CGI back then, and your eye can definitely see that these stunts are real. These stunts are visually impressive on a level I can’t adequately express.

The stuntmen and the stars get thrown, dropped, and otherwise knocked around quite a lot, and you can see there’s usually no padding.

Another tradition back then was to make the bad guy really bad.

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And Yuen Wah is really bad. 

It may seem excessive, but the idea is that by making him so terrible, when he finally gets his comeuppance you feel even better because he was so evil.

The film was made in 1989, and there is use of the pejorative ‘Ah Chan’ to describe Mainlanders.

There are also discussions about students and repressive government figures and tanks.

I’m sure the new version won’t have any mention of those things, and not just because the story isn’t set in 1989 any more. 

If there’s any mention of tanks, they’ll be Japanese. 

The visual effects are dated, but I like the way they look. It’s hard to explain, but the aesthetic of these effects has a certain charm.

And if someone says “oh, they’re not realistic,” I wanna ask ‘how the hell do you know what it looks like when you put the Black Jade Buddha into the reincarnation wheel?’

Movie Review: The Midnight After/《那夜凌晨,我坐上了 旺角開往大埔的紅VAN》

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Fruit Chan hasn’t made a full-length feature since 2004’s Dumplings, a movie so disturbing and twisted that I couldn’t get the smile off my face for days.

He returns with The Midnight After, a story adapted from an internet novel that so popular they published it as a book.

It’s the story of 17 people who find themselves utterly alone in Hong Kong.

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Or are they?

Who f@#$ing knows?

Maybe the people who read the book.

This is a movie I can easily concede that I don’t understand, at least partially because I don’t understand enough Cantonese.

Maybe even partly because I’m not ‘Asian.’

 I’m joking.

But I honestly don’t feel like its totally my fault. As is so often the case, this film assumes its audience has some familiarity with the story.

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Or who knows? Maybe the books is the same disjointed, overindulgent, tedious pile of horse sh*t.

Early on during the movie, I made my by-now-requisite observation: I was afraid that this very interesting premise was gonna shit the bed in the third act.

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I hate to say it, but I was right.

Actually, it happened sooner than the third act.

I don’t feel I should be obligated to do a pre-screening read so I know what’s happening. 

I don’t feel like reading a f@#$ing book just so I can watch a movie.

Especially if it’s written by someone named Pizza.

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The Midnight After is like decorating your first apartment with the furniture you could afford.

You can’t put it together if you haven’t read the directions… and the directions are in Chinese.

It’s just a cultural difference, I guess. It’s the same reason local people like having the endings spoiled by the synopses on DVDs. They want to know the whole story before they watch the movie.

I didn’t make that up, I was told, by someone who is in a position to know.

I admit, I am tied to Western narrative convention; I like to be told a story in a movie, not just shown a recreation of a story devoid of the necessary information to know, understand, or care about the story and/or the people in it.

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I’m just tired of movies where you have to read the book first.

I read Silence of the Lambs well before it was made into a film, so when I saw it, I had no interest in the story because I knew what would happen and I knew what was missing. In the novel, when Buffalo Bill lays dying, he asks Clarice “How does it feel to be so beautiful?”, and it explains everything about him.

But it also makes you mildly sympathetic, and of course H’wood can’t do emotional contradiction.

THAT’s why I always read the book after.

I tuned out of The Midnight After pretty early on, after about the third plot thread that led nowhere.

Because I got the impression that we were just going to keep getting shown these threads that would then get abandoned, and I was right.

My reaction to a pointless karaoke segment was, as you can imagine, loudly negative.

I admit, part of it is because the person doing it is a musician who is one of the most self-absorbed, egotistical pricks I’ve met in Hong Kong.

You could see he was so proud of himself getting to sing David Bowie.

Badly.

So I was really, really, really glad to watch his character burst into flame.

And if you think that’s harsh, you should hear the joke I wanted to make.

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This is NOT the person I’m talking about.

And if you think that’s a spoiler, guess what?

You can’t spoil a story that doesn’t exist.

All of the plot threads end up being pointless, so no harm no foul.

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If Fruit Chan wants to make a local film, then don’t send it to Berlin.

I’m fairly certain that novel hasn’t been translated into German. 

If there’s a sequel… I don’t care.

I wanted to like this movie more than it turns out I could.

I’ll leave you with something seemingly random and pointless.

Because I saw so much of it.

I have no idea why Janice Man’s feet got photographed at the premiere.

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But here you go.

Movie Review: Enthralled/愛.尋.迷

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Chip Tsao is a popular Hong Kong columnist and author. And now he’s a script writer and a movie director.

Because writing a column qualifies you to write and direct a movie.

I can’t wait to read Wong Jing writing about politics. 

Because it’s bound to be better than this god-awful piece of sh*t masquerading as a movie.

Enthralled/愛.尋.迷 is the story of three friends, schoolmates whose lives take three very different paths. 

And just like the movie, all those paths lead… nowhere.

The opening of the film kinda tells you everything you need to know:

A jump scare into a John Milton quote.

Wow. This movie must be important.  

And the director must be too. Because he appears in a scene while the opening credits are still rolling.

Tremble before the might of his merciless artistry.

Tremble with laughter. His first line is blatantly dubbed.

Nice job, jerkoff.  

But wait. He’s not done yet being artistic. Enthralled/愛.尋.迷 has one of those oh-so-hip late title cards, where it finally shows up a good way into the movie.

And after that… it’s June 1989.

SEE? IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, THIS MOVIE IS POLITICAL!!!

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This isolation metaphor is the subtlest thing in this pile of fail. 

Not political enough to have the b@lls to say Chief Executive, though; one of the plots has to do with an election in Hong Kong.

For mayor.

 And considering how well Chip Tsao speaks English, if that’s a subtitle error… he’s still at fault.

Everything in this movie is delivered with such a clumsy,  didactic sledgehammer you could use the DVD to knock down buildings.

He did manage one thing; Enthralled/愛.尋.迷 could never play in Mainland China. Because apparently it involves time travel.

Back in 1989, the television screen is showing something contemporary.

With a very legible logo for DVD Creator.

But the whole movie is that way.

This movie stinks.

Here’s a few (more) lowlights.

Guess what? Lymphoma doesn’t give you Alzheimer’s.

Stop asking Barbara Wong about movie diseases.

Could anyone be naive enough not to notice the most obvious crossdresser since Eddie Izzard?

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Two people are kissing, and then there’s a jump cut to someone chopping up a roast duck. 

Huh?

Enthralled/愛.尋.迷’s climax evokes Alfred Hitcock’s Saboteur.

Because the visual effects look like they were done in f@#$ing 1942.

It’s so monumentally bad that I laughed my ass off, and if it offended anyone in the cinema, now they know  how I felt about them talking on their Godd@mned phones during the whole movie. 

Two people involved in a non-financially motivated sexual encounter have ALL the lights on in the hotel room. And the guy has an absolutely blank stare the whole time.

But don’t pity him. 

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Now we know how she got the role…

These characters are all unlikable, filthy humans who are so one-dimensional it’s ridiculous.

 These characters are so badly written that blaming the actors would simply be unfair.

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 This whole movie is self-indulgent, clumsy, slow, and just… awful.

 The foreshadowing in this film is solid black.

 With the next plot point written on it in fluorescent spray paint.

 Wilson Chin could have done a better job of directing this trash.

 And he’s Wilson Chin.

 But I want you to watch Enthralled/愛.尋.迷.

Really, I do. 

It’s such a monumental wallow through a cinematic slop trough that it may be one of the funniest, most entertaining films I’ve seen this year.

For all the wrong reasons.

The best thing I can say about this movie is that it goes so far past horrendous that it actually comes back around to side-splittingly ridiculous.

At this point, I’ll take what I can get. 

Movie Review: Fist of Fury/精武門

It’s rare that a 40-year old action movie is just as good today as it was then.

But when it’s a movie starring one of the greatest action movie stars ever, it’s a lot easier.

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Fist of Fury/精武門 stars Bruce Lee, and if you didn’t know that… why are you here?

Let me make something clear: I do not now nor have I ever studied martial arts.

I’m an American. We just use guns.

I think that’s important because a lot of people who study martial arts watch martial arts movies.

So many other people assume that if you watch martial arts movies, you must practice martial arts.

Especially if you’re white.

I watch a lot of movies about hookers, but that doesn’t mean I’m peddling my ass on Temple St.

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I know this is Portland St. and not Temple St. I copy-edited that sign.

I don’t know if a lot of the Rocky audience study boxing. Doesn’t matter.

Good Lord, where were we?

Ah, yes, the longevity of Fist of Fury/精武門.

One reason this movie holds up so well is because of the people Bruce Lee is hitting.

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Jackie Chan, Yuen Wah, Sammo Hung and Lam Ching Ying, among others, all help make Bruce Lee look amazing because they could keep up with him.

I’m not going to talk about the story, because you’ve either already seen it, and if you haven’t, you need to watch it your damn self.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

This movie deserves its legendary status. But it’s not perfect.

Fist of Fury/精武門 shows its age in some places. 

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Bow chicka bow-wow…

It’s obvious it was made quickly, and for not a lot of money, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining.

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The use of blackface is a little cringe-inducing now, but hey, it was 40 years ago.

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So I don’t know what excuse Donnie Yen has.

One of the things you can take away from the movie is just how good an actor and comedian Bruce Lee was.

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Some of his emotional responses seem overblown, but that was the style back then.

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So I don’t know what excuse Donnie Yen has.

But watching Bruce Lee in disguise is a lot of fun, because he actually plays it quite well.

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These days, a lot of China films demonize Japan, and a lot of people say that Bruce Lee did it too.

I disagree.

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The Japanese characters aren’t very well-defined, but none of the characters in this movie really are.

I don’t get the sense that Bruce Lee wanted people to think that the Japanese were inherently bad or evil, just that they did bad, evil things to Chinese people.

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There is a difference.

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So I don’t know what excuse Donnie Yen has.

The important half of the argument, to me, is that he was saying Chinese people are not the Sick Men of Asia. He was talking about Chinese pride as a quality, not as a response to Japanese inferiority.

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Yes, he was better than them at martial arts, and he let them know, but I don’t get the impression he thought he (or Chinese people) were intrinsically better.

Like I said, there is a difference.

One thing that people today may not understand is just how famous Bruce Lee was even in the early 1970s, and why. His movies came out right at the beginning of what we now call Third Cinema. Politically speaking, the world was changing a lot. Colonialism was finally fading away in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

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At this time, people around the world got tired of seeing the usual Hollywood heroes.

Who usually looked… like me.

They wanted to see themselves represented, or someone with whom they could more easily identify.

Bruce Lee became a global icon of social and political importance because he was one of the first non-white movie heroes.

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And he beat up white people.

That may not seem very new today, but in 1972 it certainly was. 

In Africa, Latin America, and everywhere else, Bruce Lee became a hero and an inspiration.

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He is literally one of the most recognizable people in the world.

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It’s a shame Bruce Lee died so young, but then again… look at Jackie Chan.

An Object Lesson

I tutor English for students (and grown ups).

I also tutor Liberal Studies.

I’d like to think I’m good at it, and I’d like to think my students have fun.

I try.

Part of what I do is to explain/encourage the importance of being a good student, if for no other reason than getting through school as quickly as possible and ensuring a smoother career path than, say, tutoring English while pushing 50.

As I often tell my students, my job is to help them be better students (and people) than I was (am).

And sometimes I am lucky enough to be able to illustrate the how and why not only of English excellence, but academic idiocy.

Recently a student was working on the following assignment, where you look at pictures and describe what happened.

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I explained to young [name removed at lawyers' insistence], I could assure him he was a good kid and a good student, because he did the right thing and wrote the correct story of what happened to Peter and Francis while playing badminton.

I told him I could assure him because when I was his age, if I had the assignment, the story would have been different:

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Peter and Francis are two young schoolboys in Damascus.  

They wave cheerily at an NSA satellite, which signals a drone strike on them, thinking they are terrorists.

Luckily, the bomb gets caught in a tree.

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Peter and Francis want to see what landed in the tree.

They have no idea it is an explosive device that will kill them. 

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Suddenly Francis hears a noise behind him that sounds like the wings of the Angel of Death.

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Just when it seems all hope is lost, the Dove of Peace swoops down to pluck the bomb from the tree, saving Peter and Francis.

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But it turns out the dove actually works for the CIA, and drops the bomb on them.  

I also told him that he was much smarter than me because even if he thought of such a terrible story, he would never have written it down, put his name on it and handed it in.

Whereas I did that sort of thing all the time.

Because it amused me.

No matter how bad the resultant grade was.

I didn’t care, and I still don’t. 

Because if my English teachers had the chance to ask me “Where do you think that attitude will get you in life?” again, I can say “Christmas dinner in Tokyo with a retired porn star.”

Among other things.

It’s been worth it. 

Movie Review: Love Lifting/高舉‧愛

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Herman Yau is one of my favorite Hong Kong directors.

His versatility is as impressive as his body of work; he can do comedy, social commentary, and extreme violence.

He’s one of a very few directors whose work I will watch simply because it’s his work.

He can manage to make a movie better than it should be, and usually does.

That’s certainly the case with Love Lifting/高舉‧愛 .

If I told you there was a movie where Elanne Kong plays a female weightlifter and her love interest is Chapman To, and it’s really enjoyable, you’d probably think I was insane.

Maybe I am.

But I still really enjoyed Love Lifting/高舉‧愛, flaws and all.

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The timeline jumps around a couple times without clearly letting you know, but it’s no big deal.

You don’t cure diabetes. But if Barbara Wong can cure Alzheimer’s, then Herman Yau can cure diabetes no problem.

And Barbara Wong can kiss my ass.

Unlike me, Li Li is the poster child for smiling and making the best of her situation.

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She was a promising weightlifter whose career was ended because she’s diabetic. She works doing any kind of job where she can use her still-impressive strength.

In fact, people call her Strong Girl.

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She meets Chapman To, a former bar owner down on his luck. They slowly form a relationship, and a marriage, and a family. But Li Li can’t quite forget her dream to be someone special.

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Love Lifting/高舉‧愛 shouldn’t be as good as it is. It’s not perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than a lot of movies I’ve seen lately.

I really appreciate that it’s a story about regular people, doing (mostly) regular things.

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I appreciated watching Chapman To act as a character rather than being Chapman To.

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He can act well. He’s just not called on to do it very often.

Elanne Kong is really impressive as the weight lifter. I’d never have thought she could be this good. She is.

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I’m not saying Love Lifting/高舉‧愛 is a great movie.

But it’s a damned good one.

It’s hard for me to explain (or understand), but Herman Yau creates a world that’s both real and ideal.

The movie naturally has some cliches, but it also has some surprises.

It might manipulate the viewer at times, but the rest of the film has built up enough good will that you can forgive it.

I think the nicest thing I can say about this movie is that it deserves better than to have someone like me talk about it.

But since I do have to talk about it, let me then say that this movie kicks Barbara Wong’s movies in the ass with a steel-toed boot.

How’s that?

I really liked this movie, and I would recommend it.

Movie Review: Naked Ambition 2/3D豪情

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10 years ago, Dante Lam gave us Naked Ambition, a story about two young men who published a magazine -style guide to prostitutes in Hong Kong.

Nowadays you can just use the internet. From what I’ve read.

It was Category III and so is the sequel.

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In Naked Ambition 2/3D豪情, a young man played by Chapman To (see? that’s funny right there) named Chan Wai Man (get it?)  loses his job writing soft porn for a magazine and decides to seek his fortune elsewhere.

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He heads north… To Japan. And ends up becoming an AV sensation.

See? That’s funny.

Actually, it is funny.

I laughed a lot more than I expected to when I saw Naked Ambition 2/3D豪情.

Chapman To is basically being Chapman To, but as I always say, Chapman To is funny.

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And the movie indulges in what I call, for lack of a better term, adult humor. There are certain kinds of jokes you can only make in Category III, and this movie makes a ton of them. It keeps the movie light, which I really enjoyed.

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I also enjoyed the guilty pleasure of laughing at bodily function jokes.

I’m immature like that. And a lot of other ways.

After Wyman’s first AV experience goes south, he seeks the guidance of a master.

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Bater.

Whom does he study next to?

It’s a guy, so I can’t say studies under. That would just be gross.

If you’ve seen the trailer, you know.

Taka Kato plays himself, the man they call Goldfinger, the king of digital manipulation.

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I don’t mean CGI.

Under Goldfinger’s tutelage, Wyman become an AVIP (sorry) He ends up being managed by Josie Ho, who plays a Hong Kong person living in Tokyo.

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I think maybe she has Tourette’s or something, because she’s completely and chronically foul-mouthed. It was great. But she’s also vulnerable, in that way that totally psycho women are, (from what I’ve read), and it would be really hard not to like her character.

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It would be hard to date that character, but to enjoy the performance it’s totally safe. She’s the emotional center of Naked Ambition 2/3D豪情, and provides it with a little weight where it is otherwise just fluff.

Wyman has a girlfriend in Hong Kong, who’s not so sure about his new job.

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She’s also the only woman in the f@#$ing movie to do a sex scene with her bra on. In the f@#$ing shower.

But never mind, because there are a lot of professionally naked women in Naked Ambition 2/3D豪情.

We see a lot of breasts, and the occasional bit of pubic hair.

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If Category III can have anything said in its defense, it at least allows haam sup lo to see these AV stars’ pubes for perhaps the first time.

There are cameos aplenty in the movie, including Wong Jing, Sandra Ng, Louis Koo, and Charlene Choi as a Fujianese hooker working in Japan.

She was really good in the role, because listening to her talk for 30 seconds was enough to drive me batsh*t.

There was a joke at Dada Chen’s expense, and I was very happy to hear it.

In fact, I was happy just about the whole time I was watching this movie.

Only one scene seemed to drag, and it was early, so the rest of it was just fun.

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Naked Ambition 2/3D豪情 doesn’t take itself seriously and it’s willing to laugh at itself.

Thank God for that.

Movie Review: Naked Ambition/豪情

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Naked Ambition/豪情 is directed by Dante Lam, and was released in 2003. 

There’s a good reason this movie is called Naked Ambition/豪情. There’s an ambitious amount of nakedness.

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See?

So there’s nudity. But I know what you’re thinking.

What about the story?

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Two regular guys, played by Eason Chan and Louis Koo Tin Lok, work irregularly in the lower echelons of the magazine trade.

After their latest dismissal, they decide to branch out into irregular magazine publishing.

The movie, which is based on a true story, was made in 2003, when the internet wasn’t the staple of our lives that it is today.

That’s one reason why these guys could find unexpected success: They published a guide to Hong Kong’s horizontal refreshment industry.

Sort of a Michelin guide to help you find the best chicken.

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As their power grows, they find themselves becoming sexual celebrities, rubbing elbows (and other extremities) with the creme de la creme (?) of Hong Kong’s sex industry.

The popularity of their magazine means that they have become (salty) taste-makers; if they give you a bad review, your operation is doomed.

Both men have girlfriends.

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 And they’re nice women.

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And not hard to look at.

But both men are men.

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The temptations aren’t just a singing group.

As if this wasn’t enough, they also find themselves the target of a police investigation headed by Daniel Lee.

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There are a ton of cameos and small roles in the movie, and while none of the name actresses do anything Category III, some of them wander tittilatingly close to it.

Jo Koo is really funny as a lazy prostitute who comes up with a novel way of getting time off.

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Josie Ho plays Tess Tickles, a woman whose oral scores have nothing to with education.

Naked Ambition ends up much more of a buddy story than a morality tale, and I for one am grateful.

This movie makes no apologies for its content, and why should it?

It also thankfully doesn’t try to rationalize its excesses through cheap tragedy.

Let’s face it, that’s what I do. Just ask my ex-girlfriend.

After Naked Ambition came out, a company in mainland China bought the rights to it, cut out all the Category III stuff like nudity, sex and profanity, and dubbed it into Mandarin.

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Even better, they hired Danny Lee to reprise his role in new footage, and the grey shirt he wears in some of the intercut scenes almost looks the same.

But not quite.

They change the plot to a story about a young female cop from China who comes to Hong Kong to bust a porn ring.

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It’s weird to me that they made sure to get rid of all the porn, and sex, and swearing, and replace it with light comedy, righteousness and laughably bad acting.

It’s called The Inescapable Snare in English, and that’s your ending ruined.

Speaking of which, at the end of the movie the young female cop ends up becoming Danny Lee’s girlfriend.

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Ewwwww.

The sequel, Naked Ambition 2/3D豪情 opens on April 3, and here’s hoping it’s worth the decade-long wait.

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I’ve seen the trailer, so I am not terribly optimistic.

Movie Review: Horseplay/盜馬記

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It was nice to see a UFO logo on the big screen, and it even looks nice updated to the digital realm.

And if they keep making movies like Horseplay/盜馬記, I’ll be really happy!

An international thief wants to steal a priceless national treasure.

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A disgraced cop wants to catch him.

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An aspiring journalist wants to cover the story and take her career up a notch.

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Two bumbling idiots try their best to do their job, all the while looking for love in all the wrong faces.

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Tony Leung’s entrance as one of the ugliest cross dressers in the history of Western civilization in incredibly memorable.

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Especially because he’s in a women’s bathroom, peeing while he’s standing up.

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And because he looks like Siu Yam Yam.

Early on, a scene is played with a little too much overstatement.

I found it unfortunate that it was also a scene featuring a mainland person, since I find Big 6 Overstatement to be really annoying.

But it was over quickly, and it was the only instance of it I really noticed.

The scene in the fun house dragged a little, but it was interesting, and the lightness of Horseplay/盜馬記 made it seem a lot easier to deal with.

Almost all of the time.

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Blackface isn’t funny.

It happens twice, and both times the audience thought it was funny. I don’t think it is.

But then I’m not Asian.

Other than that particular low-light, there’s a lot to like about Horseplay/盜馬記.

It’s quite sophisticated in its own way. It’s paced really well, it looks great, and it’s an awful lot of fun.

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It’s a classic road movie-slash-caper ensemble film, and I really enjoyed how effortlessly it unfolded.

Drama and suspense aren’t the order of the day here. Light, whimsical fun is, and the film delivers.

It was a lot of fun to watch a Hong Kong movie that not only took place overseas but was really shot overseas. It’s obvious that some significant money was spent here, and it shows.

It was also nice to watch the cast, most of whom are veteran actors, play their roles with such grace, assurance, and finesse.

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Tony Leung Kar Fai displays really commendable levels of wit, charm, and silliness in his character, and even more commendably he does it in the right places and to the right level.

The comedy in Horseplay/盜馬記 might peek over the edge, but it never goes over the top.

Movie Review: Hard Boiled/辣手神探

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Let’s dispense with the obvious: Hard Boiled/辣手神探 is the story of a pair of cops, played by Chow Yun Fat and Tony Leung, who take on a gunrunner played by Anthony Wong.

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It’s also a 2-hour firefight occasionally interrupted by a smattering of dialogue.

I first saw this movie in early 1993, at a midnight showing in one of those classic off-campus cinemas, you know, between the Army Navy store and the Indian restaurant, situated near the redheaded stepchild of the Ivy League.

I won’t say the name of the school, but it’s a color.

What I remember most about watching it was that for the first time I ever remembered, I was completely focused on a film and forgot I was sitting in a cinema.

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I have the attention span of a meth-addicted chipmunk, so it was a revelation.

It’s easy to see how a movie like this could hold my attention.

Hard Boiled/辣手神探 was essentially John Woo’s job application for Hollywood.

He wanted to show just how capable he was at designing, executing, and filming action sequences.

What I really love about the action in Hard Boiled/辣手神探 is the way the camera moves with the action.

It’s very complementary; it helps make the action more exciting and draws the viewer in closer.

While it may seem standard today, 20 years ago it was pretty exciting.

Chow Yun Fat plays Tequila, a cop who will stop at nothing to solve this case.

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He definitely solves his problem, and he definitely makes a bigger one.

Anyone can have a shootout in a warehouse, but it takes a special kind of maniac to shoot up a hospital, a teahouse, and a yacht club.

Why do you think Sleeping Dogs has a hospital level?

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It takes a special kind of director (and movie industry) to create a movie like this for less than 4 million US dollars.

For me, one of the great things about a lot of the older HK movies was the way that they could overcome their budgetary restrictions and essentially make a much better movie than they should have.

4 million dollars in Hollywood won’t pay the catering bill.

The other thing I really appreciate about the movie is that it has more to offer than just gunfights.

There are a number of themes and allegories in the film that appear repeatedly.

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Loyalty, emigration, and Sinophobia中國恐懼症 (look it up) are worked into the narrative in noticeable but not obvious ways.

These themes were very prominent in HK people’s minds in 1993, and I think they’re starting to make a comeback these days.

If you’ve seen the movie already, I strongly encourage you to watch it without any subtitles at least once.

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I attended a screening at the film festival a few years ago, and the print had no subtitles. I saw something I had never seen before. Try it.

While you’re at it, check out this Review Bonus: