Sunday, 25 July 2010
When comes to erotic thriller, Atom Egoyan isn't particularly among the favorable candidates spring into mind. In fact, his movies are always cerebral and clinical, regardless what kind of genre he was given to be accomplished of. Movies that touches on the explicit issue of sex, love, obsession and nudity are actually nothing new for Egoyan in which he has previously helmed genre of such in 1994's EXOTICA and 2005's WHERE THE TRUTH LIES. In his latest movie here, his Americanized reinvisioning of 2003's French-language NATHALIE (which re-titled as CHLOE) is an exciting erotic thriller blessed with provocative themes of insecurities, sex and obsession and coupled with a line of top-flight casts. It's also a sleekly-mounted picture so lurid and beautiful you just can't simply take your eyes off the screen. Those are just part of the glossy style that plays so well on its surface that it's quite sad that same cannot be said for the overall of this movie. CHLOE is the kind of movie that could have been better, but Atom Egoyan and Erin Cressida Wilson's adapted screenplay manage only to reach a half-baked point and stays there.
Sunday, 18 July 2010
Once upon a time, a Hollywood summer movie tentpole would not be complete without delivering an event picture that featured a pair or a couple of A-list superstars. There are also the time when a superstar alone can open a movie. But by today's standard and the increasingly picky and sophisticated audiences, such gimmick is no longer a trend whatsoever. Which is why, it's a refreshing delight to see the once-trendy gimmick made a comeback in KNIGHT AND DAY, which paired two major movie stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Not only that, the movie has all the right ingredients of a potential summer hit as well -- spectacular action, gorgeous locations and a crowd-pleasing genre of action-comedy-romance hybrid thrown into the mix. Well, that is at least for the first half of the movie before everything is bogged down with overlong expositions and terribly hackneyed (not to mention equally lazy) payoff.
At the first glance, JONAH HEX looks like something of a unique comic-book movie. Based on the cult DC comics of the same name, the movie's mix of old-fashioned fashion with additional supernatural twist is no doubt puts a fascinating spin on the genre. But too bad the movie is a train wreck from minute one. Heck, JONAH HEX was one of the most troubled productions ever seen in recent memory. Extreme writing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, of CRANK fame, are originally slated to direct the movie but retained their screenwriting credits and chose to left the production due to "creative differences". Since then, the movie has underwent to several last-minute reshoots, with some tinkering by I AM LEGEND director Francis Lawrence. No doubt it's a bloated mess of epic proportions that what's left is a movie so bland and terribly uninspired it's very embarrassing to witness this as one of the worst comic-book adaptations ever made.
Loy (Jacky Cheung) is a forty-something underachiever who spends most of his time slacking around and likes to sleep a lot. He still lives with his widowed mother (Paw Hee-Ching) and helps run the family's air-conditioner business. His mother has increasingly fed up of watching him fooling around and desperately wants him to get married as soon as possible. And so she sets up a date with Oi Lin (Tang Wei), who helps her uncle selling toilets and bathroom appliances down the Hennessy Road. But the problem is, both of them doesn't exactly want to meet each other. On the other hand, Oi Lin already has a boyfriend, Xu (Andy On) who is about to be released from prison. Adding the complication is Loy's ex-girlfriend, Mina Siu (Maggie Cheung Ho-Yee) who reappears in his life and somewhat misses their moment being together. On the other side of the story, Loy's mother is facing a problem of her own when she learns her sister (Mimi Chu) is somewhat falling for Uncle Ching (Danny Lee).
The movie tells the story of a young Ip Man (played by real-life kung-fu champ Dennis To), who is trained by his master Chan Wah-Shun (Sammo Hung, in a cameo appearance) ever since he was a kid before his eventual death. Ip Man continues to learn Wing Chun from his senior, Ng Chung-Sok (Yuen Biao) who is now Chan Wah-Shun's immediate replacement. Ip Man is then leaving Foshan to study in Hong Kong's St. Stephen's College. While playing in a hockey tournament, he is subsequently bullied and humiliated by foreigners, in which they love to look down Chinese people like him. He steps up for a challenge against one of the cocky foreigners and beats him down in a matter of minutes. He is gradually earned respect from a small community in Hong Kong. But it is not until he meets a medicine practitioner named Leung Bik (real-life Wing Chun master, Ip Chun) who is actually the son of Leung Jan, Chan Wah-Shun's teacher. Apparently, both Leung Bik and Chan Wah-Shun are rivals back then because both of them adapt a different style of Wing Chun. In an ensuing short duel between Ip Man and Leung Bik in the medical hall, Ip Man soon learns that there is a more adaptable style of Wing Chun than he ever imagined. Four years later, Ip Man returns to Foshan in which he is subsequently falling in love with Cheung Wing-Shing (Huang Yi), the daughter of the vice-mayor Cheung Ho-Tin (Lam Suet). Her father is particularly disliked of Cheung Wing-Shing hanging out with a fighter like Ip Man whom he thinks they have no future together. Added to the complication is Ip Man's fellow disciple, Lee Mei-Wai (Rose Chan) who also happened to hold a secret crush on him ever since they were kids. That's not all, Ip Man's stepbrother, Ip Tin-Chi (Fan Siu-Wong) loves Lee Mei-Wai and apparently he's a Japanese spy-in-disguise.
Mann (Simon Yam) is a veteran cop who once a top marksman but now has fallen on tough times since the death of his wife at the hands of the triads. He is currently leading a small team, consisting of Spring (Vincent Wong) and tough-guy fighter Rocky (Xing Yu) in which they are assigned to investigate a kidnapping case of a notorious triad member Tang Qing (Parkman Wong). Aided by their new superintendent Koo (Fala Chen), they soon learn that the mastermind behind the kidnapping involved an ex-cop named Sam (Michael Miu). Apparently, he holds ransom against Tang Qing has something to do with his dark past. To make things complicated, Sam has also suffered a dilemma between two girls of his love: his current partner-in-crime, Can (Qu Ying) and his ex, Eva (Liu Yang). Added to the complication is Ice (Kenny Wong), a triad boss who is later revealed for responsible of causing Sam's brother died in a hit-and-run accident.
Sunday, 11 July 2010
At the first glance, a remake of the original THE KARATE KID (1984) is wholly unnecessary but you can't blame of Hollywood for lacking of fresh ideas nowadays. But surprisingly, this 2010 remake manages to hold on its own. Not only that, it's also a decidedly faithful remake with a few minor differences aside (the teen characters have now reduced to preteens and the setting has been changed from California to Beijing). The rest is more of the same: a formulaic underdog story that director Harald Zwart and screenwriter Christopher Murphy and Robert Mark Kamen follows closely to the genre convention without bringing anything new to the table. The result is thankfully decent enough, except that the movie is unbelievably overlong (which is clocking at 140 minutes!).
Saturday, 10 July 2010
TRIPLE TAP begins promisingly with a tense showdown between a successful investment banker named Ken Kwan (Louis Koo) and a by-the-book police detective, Jerry Chong (Daniel Wu), at an amateur shooting competition where they first meet as friendly adversaries. To Jerry's surprise, he finds out Ken manages to beat his all-time record who mastered the shooting technique, not twice but three times so lightning fast in exactly the same spot. After the competition, Ken is on his way somewhere when he stumbles upon an armoured truck heist at the underpass. During the heist, Ken reacts by gunning down four of the masked robbers after an unfortunate traffic cop (Andrew Lin) is being shot. However, the last robber (Chapman To) manages to escape. Ken's reckless action for shooting down the criminal may have been against the law, but his act of bravery and especially for saving the life of a traffic cop immediately made him a media attention. Still, he is facing criminal charges for illegal uses of the firearm. At first, Jerry has his own share of doubts over Ken's involvement in the shooting incident but Ken is fortunate enough to be proven not guilty during the court trial and being set free. Jerry remains sceptical because he believes Ken has a hidden agenda lying somewhere in between. On the other side, Ken is facing pressure of his own as he is seeing both women of his love -- one is Anna Shaw (Li Bingbing), her superior who often keeps a watchful eye on his ever-growing career in the investment banking firm, and another is a sweet-looking nurse named Ting (Charlene Choi). Soon enough, the missing robber is coming back to stalk Ken and this is where the suspicion has subsequently escalated to the point that Jerry begins to believe Ken might be the mastermind behind the armoured truck heist after all.
Told in the child's perspective of a goofy eight-year-old boy nicknamed Big Ears (Buzz Chung), he lives with his strict shoemaker father, Mr Law (Simon Yam), his street-smart mother, Mrs Law (Sandra Ng), and his 16-year-old brother, Desmond (Aarif Lee), a role model of his and athletic student who adores The Monkees. Big Ears has always dreamed of becoming an astronaut (in which he is frequently seen running around with a glass bubble in his head) and of course, eating a whole order of double-yolk moon cakes. Throughout the movie, we see him narrating the ongoing story of how his hardworking parents have been working day, running their little shoe store on a small neighbourhood street in Shamsuipo. Much of their earnings are spent for their sons' school fees. In the meantime, Desmond has been doing great at school while pursuing his first love with the wealthy and sweet-looking Flora (Evelyn Choi). Of course, it is also not forgotten that 1960s were among the turbulent era of a bad economy, corruption and typhoon that subsequently affected the life of the Law family. Worst still, it doesn't take long before Desmond is unexpectedly suffered from terminal illness and the Laws have a tough time trying to cope with their ongoing difficulties.
Sunday, 4 July 2010
In this Scott Cooper's directing debut, CRAZY HEART, the movie centers on a 57-year-old alcoholic and onetime legendary country singer/songwriter Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) who is now in a career slump touring hundreds of miles a day in his beat-up truck to play numerous gigs in bowling alleys and bars with a different set of local musicians every night. When he is not performing, he spends most of his time getting drunk with cheap whiskey. But things about to change when he agrees for an interview with struggling young music writer and single mom Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Nevertheless they become friends and eventually falling for each other. And then comes an opportunity for Blake with an offer from his manager (James Keane) to have him open a big show for Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), a onetime member of Bad's backup band who's now grooming into a country superstar.