ABC Film Challenge – Action – H – House of Flying Daggers (2004)

Director: Yimou Zhang

Writer: Feng Li, Bin Wang, Yimou Zhang (Screenplay)

Starring: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau, Ziyi Zhang, Dandan Song, Hongfei Zhao

 

Plot: A romantic police captain breaks a beautiful member of a rebel group out of prison to help her rejoin her fellows, but things are not what they seem.


Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visually Stunning

 

Story: House of Flying Daggers starts as we meet two police captains, Jin (Kaneshiro) and Leo (Lau) both have been assigned to locate the new leader of the group known as the Flying Daggers, the first lead is with blind showgirl Xiao Mei (Zhang) who is set to be tortured for the information.

Jin rescues Xiao because of his respect of the Flying Daggers and wanting away from the corrupt government system. With Captain Leo hot on their tails it isn’t long before we are on a race to safety but not everything is what it seems.

 

Thoughts on House of Flying Daggers

 

Characters – Jin is one of the captain’s in the police in China, he is a playboy with the women which helps as he goes against order to rescue a prime suspect in the search for the rebel group, known as the Flying Daggers. Jin uses his charm to get close to the truth but his status becomes difficult once the truth about his plan is revealed. Leo is the fellow Captain that is by the books to make sure everything goes to the plan with the torture of Mei. Xiao Mei is the blind showgirl that is a prime suspect in the search for the Flying Daggers. Once rescued from jail, he must decide whether to truth Jin or not in a world which is dark to her, her fighting skills are fantastic as she sounds around her to know where her enemies are.

PerformancesTakeshi Kaneshiro is great in this leading role, but this does go for the three lead roles Andy Lau and Ziyi Zhang, the three shine in the film with the combat skills required to handle everything they go through with the emotional moments too.

StoryThe story here starts out as any routine, save a prisoner to go against your government idea but soon goes in directions you wouldn’t have imagined as certain things are not what they seem and love consumes the characters and what they believe they stand for. This is a very good story to watch unfold, we get moments of breaking when we turn to the action but that offers us something as the action scenes offer a moment needed for the characters to develop in the bigger picture.

Action/Adventure/RomanceThe action through the film is breath-taking moments using nature and weapons is a blend of beauty. The romance side of the film comes on thick in the second half as we see just how far the people will go for love.

SettingsThe film takes place mostly in a countryside of China, this gives us the beauty needing for the fight sequences.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to help with the fight sequences look even more breath-taking.


Scene of the Movie –
Treetop battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We lose track of the bigger battle in the final act.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best-looking action movies you will see, it leads you one direction before throwing us into a new one too.

 

Overall: Visual experience for all.

Rating

 

 


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Chasing the Dragon (2017)

Chasing the Dragon is coming to DVD on the 22nd of January 2018.

 

Director: Jason Kwan, Jing Wong

Writer: Jing Wong (Screenplay)

Starring: Donnie Yen, Andy Lau, Philip Keung, Kang Yu, Kent Cheng

 

Plot: An illegal immigrant from Mainland China sneaks into corrupt British-colonized Hong Kong in 1963, transforming himself into a ruthless and emerging drug lord.


Runtime: 2 Hours 8 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brutal Gangster Movie

 

Story: Chasing the Dragon starts as we follow Ho (Yen) as he illegal immigrates from China to the British-colonized Hong Kong in the early 60s. we see how two different gangs are trying to take over Hong Kong while the British will go to any force to stop them. Police Detective Lee Rock (Lau) has been rising the ranks of the force for years now, he sees what Ho has to offer and helps him for his own personal corrupt reasons.

When Ho and Lee make a move to take over the troubled neighbourhood, Ho gets wounded taking away his fighting abilities, while Lee is lucky to walk away. The pair refuse to take this backing down and come up with their own plan to be the ruthless crime lords in Hong Kong, showing how far they will go against anyone that gets in their way.

 

Thoughts on Chasing the Dragon

 

Characters – Ho starts as a young man immigrating illegal to Hong Kong, he gets involved in fights and petty crimes before climbing up to more serious offences, his combat skills strike fear into his enemies, after he is crippled in an attack, he changes, he becomes psychotic with his behaviour killing, injuring anyone who gets in his way or disobeys his orders. Lee Rock is a detective that has risen in the Hong Kong force even though he has been against the British involvement in the country, he works with Ho to become a force that could take on the British, but with the corruption investigation in the force, he must step away from the light. He always seems to be thinking one step ahead of anyone he is working with. We do meet rival gangs, the British officers that abuse their power.

PerformancesDonnie Yen is known the world over for his combat skills in any movie, he has shown us year after year he could be the best combat actor in the industry today. In this role he has that skill removed and must show us his acting chops, he impresses big time here showing he is more than just a combat actor. Andy Lau on the other hand is an actor we know for his more serious roles in the Infernal Affairs movies being the most notable for the Western audience, he is great as this shady cop figures and this is no different.

StoryThe story follows two men either side of the law that rose to power in the drug battle in Hong Kong, one a petty criminal, the other a cop, the partnership took them to new heights and controlling the streets that the British have been taking over. The story shows how both use their skills and go after the people that cross them. If you want a gangster movie based on real people and see people outside of the normal American related gangsters.

Action/Biopic/Crime/HistoryThe action in the film does mix the start has more hand to hand combat before jumping into gun battles which entertain throughout. Diving into the biopic side of things, we only focus on the time in Hong Kong which focuses on the crime world for that moment in history.

SettingsThe settings show us the compact setting of Hong Kong which shows how the tensions will be rising during the drug war going on.


Scene of the Movie –
The final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The Brits are painted well in this.

Final ThoughtsThis movie flows nicely, it has a pace which increases to the explosive conclusion and offers us the story of one of the more notorious gangsters in the history of Hong Kong.

 

Overall: Must watch for gangster movie fans.

Rating

 

 

The Great Wall (2016)

Director: Yimou Zhang

Writer: Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, Tony Gilroy (Screenplay) Max Brooks, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz (Story)

Starring: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau, Pedro Pascal, Hanyu Zhang

 

Plot: European mercenaries searching for black powder become embroiled in the defense of the Great Wall of China against a horde of monstrous creatures.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Big Bad, Forgettable

 

Story: The Great Wall starts with a Great Wall history lesson as we learn the wall was constructed to keep enemies out some known others are legend, this is one of the legends. We meet the European mercenaries William (Damon), Tovar (Pascal) and their men on the run. Finding themselves under attack William and Tovar find an enemy unlike anything they have seen before but that is the least of their worries as they are still being hunted down but find themselves at the mercy of the Chinese.

Captured by the Chinese, Commander Lin Mae (Jing), General Shao (Zhang) and Strategist Wang (Lau) must decide what to do with the men and if their story is true. William and Tovar find themselves trapped in the middle of a battle between the Chinese and their defensive wall and blood thirsty creatures, a war their never asked for but a battle they were always ready to fight in.

 

Thoughts on The Great Wall

 

Characters/PerformanceWilliam is one of the Europeans who finds himself using all his combat skills to help the Chinese fight the creatures that terrorise their people and if they can get through the world. This battle gives William a chance at redemption for the wrongs he has committed in life. Tovar is his partner who wants to continue the darker path but his loyalty to William keeps him stuck between the lines.  Commander Lin is the strong leading women, she is willing to sacrifice herself to protect her people and he combat skills excel. Ballard is the once captured man who has become part of the battle but against his own will. The rest of the characters are all what you would expect in the wildly over the top action fantasy adventure films.

Performance wise, Matt Damon does struggle in this role, his accent skills are terrible as he bounces between most European from scene to scene even though he holds his own in the action sequences. Pedro Pascal is fun getting most of the comic relief throughout the film. Willem Defoe is the usual odd ball supporting role with Tian Jing being the star of the show.

StoryThe story does work in places, the mystery about the Great Wall will always make for an appealing story, while most of the history is known it is always interesting to see a twist on what could be a story about the history behind it all. The fantasy elements of the story is what drives this but in the end it is nothing more humans versus monsters with people needing to work together to make them win.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action is big, but at times hard to follow with the adventure coming from how the humans battle to survive. The fantasy side does work but also feels like something we have seen way too often.

SettingsHaving the film set mostly on the Great Wall works in my opinion because it plays into the fantasy idea of the wall being built to fight an ancient enemy.

Special EffectsThis is a film that is very heavy on the CGI and you can tell because a lot of them miss and look bad for the overall quality of the film.

Final ThoughtsI found this to be over the top, unoriginal but easy to watch, I don’t think this will be up for any awards just become forgettable.

 

Overall: This is an easy film to watch but nowhere near a classic

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Infernal Affairs III (2003)

infernalDirector: Wai-Keung Lau, Alan Mak

Writer: Alex Mak, Felix Chong (Screenplay)

Starring: Tony Leung, Andy Lau, Leon Lai, Daoming Chen, Kelly Chen, Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang, Sammi Cheng

 

Plot: Months after the events of the original film, Ming suspects a police superintendent as being a new mole for the triads, while years earlier, Yan embarks on his first mission.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacklustre Conclusion to the Saga

 

Story: Infernal Affairs III starts by splitting the stories in two, first we follow Yan (Leung) before his death in the first film as he deals with the gang trying to uncover the mole, while we also follow Inspector Lau (Lau) as he gets cleared of any wrongful in the death of Yan and his life after what happened in that day, where discovered he wasn’t the only mole within the police department.

We follow as Lau is trying to uncover the rest of the moles in the department while Yan continues to rise up the organisation with both clashing with Yeung (Lai) in their different time periods, but just who is he really working for that is the question being asked here.

Infernal Affairs III really enters into the realm of confusion with the final part of the story, jumping between the two times doesn’t help and the only way I could really understand what happened is to remember two other characters from The Departed which did seem to piece together the final outcome. If you were to see this film without any information you would finds yourself lost through this film.

 

Actor Review

 

Tony Leung: Chan Wing Yan is the man who is undercover with the gangs, he has just started to make a name for himself as he goes to climbs the ladders but we also get to learn more about his time in therapy to make sure he stays on the right path. Tony is good in this role returning to his original role.

Andy Lau: Inspector Lau Kin Ming is the lone survivor after the events of the first film, he now wants to uncover the rest of the moles in the department believing that there are in fact multiply ones with one trying to pick off the rest. Andy returns and gives a good performance throughout.

Leon Lai: SP Yeung Kam Wing is the man in the department taking over from Lau after he gets promoted to internal affairs, Lau believes he is in fact a mole himself and the two go into battle against each other to uncover the truth. Leon is a good addition to the films who adds enough mystery.

Daoming Chen: Inspector Shen Chen is the current crime leader that Yan has to answer to, he is keeping everything in order as we see Sam waiting for him to fall. Daoming is a good addition as we learn who his character is in the final act.

Support Cast: Infernal Affairs III has the same supporting cast as previous outing which all go very well throughout.

Director Review: Wai-Keung Lau, Alan MakThe pair finish their saga well even if it is slightly confusing in places.

 

Action: Infernal Affairs III has solid action when needed but doesn’t go over the top for it.

Crime: Infernal Affairs III continues to show the crime story going on in the world created.

Thriller: Infernal Affairs III keeps you wonder to what is happening through the film.

Settings: Infernal Affairs III uses the settings well again which you would expect from this saga.

Suggestion: Infernal Affairs III is one to watch to finish the saga off really. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Once you figure it out it is good.

Worst Part: Confusing at start.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

 

Overall: Tidy conclusion to the saga even if it has confusing moments.

Ratingcard

Franchise Weekend – Infernal Affairs (2002)

infernalDirector: Wai-Keung Lau, Alan Mak

Writer: Alan Mak, Felix Chong (Screenplay)

Starring: Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang, Kelly Chen, Sammi Cheng, Edison Chen, Shawn Yue

 

Plot: A story between a mole in the police department and an undercover cop. Their objectives are the same: to find out who is the mole, and who is the cop.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Suspense Thriller

 

Story: Infernal Affairs starts with the training of Lau Kin Ming (Lau) who goes undercover in the police force for the Triads and Chen Wing Yan (Leung) who is forced to go undercover as an officers and become a Triad. After they have both found their places in both sides of the battle they are called upon by both their superiors to find out who the mole is in both organisation leading to the tense race against time to uncover each other’s true identity before the other.

Infernal Affairs is the film that famously got remade into ‘The Departed’ and with this original we get the core story with the intensity we have learnt to love. If you haven’t seen either version, this will keep you guessing to what will happen next but even when I knew the basic storyline I was still on the edge of my seat waiting for things to unfold. This is how you should make a thriller keeping us guessing from start to finish.

 

Actor Review

 

Andy Lau: Inspector Lau Kin Ming is trained by the Triads to go undercover as a police officers to help get them early tip off when it comes to the arrests and busts. When he discovers a mole within the Triads he must uncover the mole before his identity is discovered by the mole. Andy is great in this role playing both sides of the fence.lau

Tony Leung: Chen Wing Yan is the trained cop who has to go undercover with the Triads, he gets push to his limits while undercover having to commit crimes to show his loyalty, but finds himself being hunted down by the mole as he looks for the mole himself. Tony also does a great job in this role and is easily on the same level as DiCaprio is in the remake.yan

Anthony Wong: SP Wong Chi Shing is the only man who knows about the undercover officers and liaise with him for updates. He works with the mole within the department without even knowing their identity all to bring down the Triads. Anthony does great in this role but it would be fair to say we would have liked to see more from him,

Eric Tsang: Hon Sam is the leader of the Triads who puts Lau with in the police department but doesn’t see Yan being a cop himself as he lets him enter into the higher up ranks of the Triad empire. He wants the mole gone but his seasoned battle against SP Wong could be his downfall. Eric is good in this role but much like SP Wong doesn’t get enough screen time.

Support Cast: Infernal Affairs has a great supporting cast that all play their roles in where the film ends up going.

Director Review: Wai-Keung Lau, Alan MakThe pair bring us one of the best crime thrillers of all time.

 

Crime: Infernal Affairs is a great crime thriller showing how both sides are trying to stop the other having the upper hand.

Mystery: Infernal Affairs gives us a mystery to how they are going to expose each other.

Thriller: Infernal Affairs brings you to the edge of your seat from start to finish.

Settings: Infernal Affairs uses the settings to show which character is on the line of the law and each location shows where they can be themselves or undercover selves.

Suggestion: Infernal Affairs is one to watch even if you have seen the remake you should go back and see this too. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Rooftop scene.

Worst Part: Slightly not enough use of supporting characters.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Part one of 3

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: The Departed

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

Tagline: Loyalty. Honor. Betrayal.

 

Overall: One of the best crime thrillers ever made

Ratingcards