ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – G – The Grandmaster (2013)

Director: Kar-Wai Wong

Writer: Kar-Wai Wong, Jingzhi Zou, Haofeng Xu (Screenplay) Kar-Wai Wong (Story

Starring: Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang, Jin Zhang

 

Plot: The story of martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee.


Tagline –  In Martial Arts there is no right or wrong, only the last man standing.

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Just Watch IP Man

 

Story: The Grandmaster starts as we learn how the 40-year-old IP Man (Leung) life of luxury is turned upside due to the war in China, he loses everything including daughters to the effects, he moves onto Hong Kong to try to rebuild his life will being the excellent martial artists, we do follow a large amount of time in his life to get to where we do in the film.

 

Thoughts on The Grandmaster

 

Characters – IP man is the legend, arguable the greatest martial artist of all time, he trained Bruce Lee as his most famous student. This follows his life from riches, to rags and the rise of his dojo of training. We also follow Gong Er who wants to break boundaries in protecting her family’s honour and Ma San the man who uses his martial arts for evil in the world.

PerformancesThe performances here are fine, the fights between the different stars all click well making moments feel like edge of your seat, but after watching the IP Man I found those performances easier to connect too.

StoryThe story follows the life and times of IP Man, a legend in the martial arts field, we follow decades of his life which is fine, but it has been told before in three films, which gave them more time to develop the story. it feels like we gloss over too many moments that are much bigger in this life. The story just isn’t as interesting when it gets trimmed down this much.

Action/Biopic/Romance/WarThe action sequences are great fight sequences which is good to see, and they do feel brutal in effect. The biopic side of the story does seem to gloss over too much for us now we have a longer focus in the IP man films.

SettingsThe settings are fine throughout the film, they do seem darker than they need to be and quite often include rain for some reason.


Scene of the Movie –
Any of the fight scenes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The fact is that I have seen IP man films and this is the same story trimmed down.

Final ThoughtsThis is a basic biopic on the IP man, you could watch the three and soon to be four films with Donnie Yen to get more in depth stories that this film covers in trimmed down time, the action won’t let you down though.

 

Overall: Solid enough, but not great.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – Ip Man 3 (2015)

Director: Wilson Yip

Writer: Tai-lee Chan, Lai-yin Leung, Edmond Wong (Screenplay)

Starring: Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, Jin Zhang, Mike Tyson, Patrick Tam

 

Plot: When a band of brutal gangsters led by a crooked property developer make a play to take over a local school, Master Ip is forced to take a stand.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong but Still Weakest of the Trilogy

 

Story: Ip Man 3 starts as we learn Ip Man (Yen) is now one of the most respected men in town with larger class of students and helping in the community.  Secretly in town Frank (Tyson) has been running a fight club that Tin-chi (Zhang) is the star fighter and Ip and Tin-chi become friends as they fight to protect their children’s school from a gangster and former student Ma King-Sing (Tam) to fight their battles.

Ip must face his most personal battle when his own son is taken as part of the leverage to get his men to leave the school and Tin-chi proves to be a worthy fighting partner even if hi morals are not as clean as Ip’s, but soon Tin-chi becomes jealous of the publicity Ip man gets over him.

 

Thoughts on Ip Man 3

 

Characters – Ip has once again reached the status we first met him in the first film, respect from everyone that has heard of him. This time he must battle a personal battle against gangster and another one that he will not be winning. Cheung the wife of Ip has been by his side through everything but this time she must help Ip man face mortality. Tin-chi is also a Wing Chun fighter that has been fighting in the fight clubs but soon he wants to make a name for himself in battle against Ip.

PerformanceDonnie Yen continues his record of being great as the Ip Man showing the combat needed to handle a higher emotional level than before. Lynn Hung gives her best performance in the franchise to date, but this is because she actually has something to do this time. Jin Zhang is great to showing he could potentially be a next generation of big name fighters to come from China.

StoryThe story here does feel less significate this time around because Ip has his status regain, he is only fighting the odd gangster as one man wants to prove who the Grandmaster in town is, it is the personal story between Ip and his wife that is the strongest part of story but it just doesn’t get the most focus required in the story. of the three this is easily the weakest of the series, it is also the most confusing due to the villains seemingly only lasting for about 30 minutes.

Action/Biography/SportsThe action is fantastic once more and shows how to put together a martial arts movie but just for the biopic part of the film, it does just feel like they are just using the name to make a small story bigger.

SettingsWe continue to move into the future of Ip’s life and the settings show this without them looking out of place in anyway.

Scene of the Movie – Dance, not fight

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lack of true villain this time around.

Final ThoughtsThis is a strong trilogy for the action sequences throughout the film but this is the weakest combat story even if it does have the most important personal story for Ip to go through.

 

Overall: Great action set piece.

Rating

 

 

Pacific Rim Uprising (2018)

Director: Steven S DeKnight

Writer: Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, Steven S DeKnight, T.S. Nowlin (Screenplay) Travis Beacham (Characters)

Starring: John Boyega, Rinko Kikuchi, Scott Eastwood, Adria Arjona, Tian Jing, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Tian Jing, Jin Zhang

 

Plot: Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, reunites with Mako Mori to lead a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including rival Lambert and 15-year-old hacker Amara, against a new Kaiju threat.


Tagline – Rise up.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Average Action Film

 

Story: Pacific Rim Uprising starts in the aftermath of the great war with the Kaiju, cities have been rebuilt, while others became squatter’s paradise, Jake Pentecost (Boyega) has taken to this life style, getting what he wants through stealing, not following in his father’s footsteps. When he meets genius engineer Arama (Spaeny) who has built her own illegal Jaeger unit, the get captured.

Jake is force back into the Jaeger program by his step-sister Mako (Kikuchi) with Amara being one of his cadets. When Liwen Shao (Jing) has created drone controlled Jaeger, it looks like the program has become obsolete, until they malfunction bringing the Kaiju back with a bigger and deadlier threat. Jake must put his past a side, follow in his father’s footsteps and work with his rival Nate Lambert (Eastwood) to save the world again.

 

Thoughts on Pacific Rim Uprising

 

Characters – Jake is the son of the great Stacker Pentecost, he hasn’t followed in his father’s footsteps, believing the war to be over for good, getting himself in trouble with the law brings him back into the program to train new recruits in case the Jaegers return. When they do he must become the leader his father was. Nate Lambert is the Ranger that has been working in the force for years, he enjoys training and was once a brilliant combat operator, he is the rival in the sense of having different mentality, but they both respect each other. Amara is the 15-year-old genius engineer that can build Jaeger’s like the best, she gets to become a cadet where she must prove herself to the fellow cadets. We have a random love interest, that seems to be there to add slight, weak tension between the boys, the scientists are back with their experiments and Liwen Shao is the brilliant mind behind an improved defence system.

PerformancesJohn Boyega gets to have fun in this role, his performances feels like a mix of his Attack the Block streets wise and Fin who is being brave on the outside, this works even though he does get more screen time that you think he needs for certain moments. Scott Eastwood is good in his role, its not the most difficult role to play and he doesn’t put a foot wrong. Cailee Spaeny is the new comer here, she has good chemistry for the banter with Boyega which is important between the two. No one really gives a bad performance, it is the lack of time given to Jin Zhang and Rinko Kikuchi that disappoints the most.

StoryThe story here brings us into a world which has seen the war, believed it was over and moved with life. This reflects what would happen with major disasters, parts gets rebuilt others forgotten. The idea that a tech firm wants to improve, this time by going drone warfare is something we know and have seen before, while the twist behind everything just seems random and out of place. we come into this movie to watch giant robots fight giant monsters, we get moments but for a story this felt like almost a forced sequel that believes it will become a franchise. The characters arcs are basic Jake’s has the clearest one at that.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action sequences are a mixed bag here, the big finally one, great loved how it was shot, tracking the different battles, the problem with most of the action sequences comes when we jump between non action moments, taking us out of the carnage. The adventure side comes from new people needing to prepare for a big battle, been here seen this. The sci-fi side of this is giant robots fighting giant monsters from another dimension, can you get more sci-fi than this?

SettingsThe settings show us once again that Kaiju only attack tourist destinations, like Sydney and Tokyo, we have some random time in the snow because why not.

Special EffectsThe effects do look flawless on the surface, my only issue here is watching the destruction sequences, it always feels like the buildings just vanish at times.


Scene of the Movie –
Final battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The building destruction never feels permanent.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough sequel, it does everything a brain switch off movie needs to, grab popcorn, don’t car about anything for 2 hours and enjoy. If you want a deep story you will be disappointed and loveable characters, look elsewhere.

 

Overall: Solid popcorn nonsense.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – Kill Zone 2 (2015)

Director: Pou-Soi Cheang

Writer: Lai-yin Leung, Ying Wong (Screenplay)

Starring: Tony Jaa, Jing Wu, Simon Yam, Jin Zhang, Louis Koo, Ken Lo, Jun Kung

 

Plot: While undercover officer Kit is taken prisoner by the syndicate, he befriends his keeper and discovers an organ trafficking ring.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Emotional Charged Action Film

 

Story: Kill Zone 2 starts as we learn about an organ trafficking ring going on through China operated by Hung Mun-Gong (Koo), Kit (Wu) is an undercover police officer trying to break and expose the ring but finds himself in a Thai jail once his cover is blown. Inside the jail a prison guard Chatchai (Jaa) is dealing with his own daughter suffering with leukaemia with little hope in being able to afford a cure.

With Mr Hung also needing a transplant he finds himself searching for his missing brother with Kit even with the language barrier working with Chatchai to find his daughter a cure and bring down the crime syndicate.

 

Thoughts on Kill Zone 2

 

Characters/PerformanceChatchai is an honest hard working prison guard, he is going through heartache as his own daughter is suffering with leukaemia and in desperate need for bone marrow transplant. He risks his career and life to find a cure for her, much like any father in this situation. Kit is the undercover Chinese cop that is trying to bring down a crime syndicate that is trafficking human organs, he ends up in a Thai prison where he doesn’t speak the language and the only person that shows any kindness is Chatchai. Mr Hung is the man running the organ trafficking mostly so he can find a cure for his own sickness. Warden Ko is one of the loyal followers of Mr Hung that uses his position to help cover up the problems in another country.

Performance wise, we know we are going to get good action performances from the whole cast with Tony Jaa, Jing Wu and Jin Zhang all get scenes where they dominate the screen. There is also good emotional range because of what is going on to the characters through the film

StoryOn the surface this could have been a very basic take down the crime boss who is doing something illegal in organ trafficking but this story is so much more. We have characters that have true stakes going, the prison warden fighting to save his daughter, the cop needing to recover from his undercover position and a crime boss willing to sacrifice his own brother to survive. Mixing this altogether leaves us wanting to see what happens and rooting for all the characters.

Action/CrimeThe action is great and just what you have come to expect from Tony Jaa action films, but I would point out this isn’t just about him and his action appeal, this is a combined effort. The crime side of the film is crucial but at times doesn’t feel like it gets all the attention it starts off with.

SettingsMixing the settings between China and Thailand works because it builds the idea of things getting lost in translation between the two heroes.

Final ThoughtsWe all know I like a good action film, I also love an action film that has heart behind it all and this film does have that and then some. I like the stakes in play for the characters as we can all understand how far a parent would go to save their child and the mix in fighting styles is something to truly enjoy.

 

Overall: One for all the action film fans to enjoy.

Rating