ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – R – Red Cliff (2008)

Director: John Woo

Writer: John Woo, Khan Chan, Cheng Kuo, Heyu Sheng (Screenplay) Guanzhong Luo (Novel)

Starring: Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fengyi Zhang, Chen Chang, Wei Zhao, Jun Hu


Plot: The first chapter of a two-part story centered on a battle fought in China’s Three Kingdoms period (220-280 A.D.).


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Spectacular Battles but Hard to Follow


Story: Red Cliff starts in the year 220 A.D. with Sun Quan (Chang) sending his army lead by General Cao Cao (Zhang) to defeat the southlands to create a peace within China. The other sides of the battle come from Zhuge Liang (Kaneshiro) who joins a union with Zhou Yu (Leung) to stop this battle from taking over the country.

As the battle rages on we come to the final showdown as the Red Cliff, one of the most famous battles in Chinese history and if you don’t know history you will be left wondering who won.


Thoughts on Red Cliff


Characters – Zhou Yu is a great warrior that eliminates any enemy that comes close to threatening him. Zhuge Liang is the calm tactical leader that brings two sides together in battle to stop the general. Cao Cao is the general trying to win the battle against the Southlands, he is aggressive in his tactics which would eventually be his weakness.

PerformanceThe performance from the whole cast are good throughout the film, we get to see the combat skills from some of the cast and their abilities to look like the calmest person in the room in other.

StoryThe story is focused on one of the greatest battles in Chinese history, it bought change to the nation and most importantly showed how organised and deadly the three sides of the battle were. If I am honest I did find this hard to follow as I haven’t done much in research into Chinese history but other than that if you just look to watch the battle sequences this is a visual over storytelling experience.

Action/History/WarThe action is the highlight of this film because the sequences are amazing to watch, we do get to look into history which is fine with the war side of the film showing us just how far the three sides would go for victory.

SettingsThe settings are mostly military based as we see both sides prepare for the battle around the iconic location of Red Cliff.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show in the increased number in battles which looks great through the film.

Scene of the Movie – The arrows on the river.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It was hard to follow at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good action packed historical film but it does drift into the land of hard to follow at other times.


Overall: Breath taking battles but difficult storyline.




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.




Hard Boiled (1992)

hardDirector: John Woo

Writer: Barry Wong (Screenplay) John Woo (Story)

Starring: Yun-Fat Chow, Tony Leung, Teresa Mo, Philip Chan, Kwok Chun-Feng, Anthony Wong


Plot: A tough-as-nails cop teams up with an undercover agent to shut down a sinister mobster and his crew.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Just Wow


Story: Hard Boiled starts as Inspector Yuen known as Tequila (Chow) is in the middle of a battle between two different sides of the Triads who are struggling for power in the international arms trade. He loses his partner in the latest attempt to bring members of the mobsters down but knows who are the people in play with Mr Hoi (Kwan) and newcomer Johnny Wong (Wong).

As Tequila gets closer to his answers he learns of the mysterious outsider Alan (Leung) who works on the inside of both sides will be Tequila’s best assets when it comes to taking out the mobsters once and for all.

Hard Boiled is an action crime thriller that is just something that leaves you with the feeling of believing the hype. We get non-stop action sequences around the crime story which is easy to follow. The story can come off slightly thin because it is just about cops trying to take down criminals. We don’t get many twists because this is all about the action.


Actor Review


Yun-Fat Chow: Inspector ‘Tequila’ Yuen has been trying to take down the mobsters for years and when he loses his partner he becomes even more obsessed with stopping them. He is constantly being held up by his superiors that are tired of the body counts each encounter leaves but now he is closer than ever with the help of Alan. Yun-Fat is great in this role as we see an action at his very best.

Tony Leung: Alan is working undercover within the mobs, he is doing the dirty work he shouldn’t be involved with but it is anything to stay undetected by the mobs. He works with Tequila to finally finish his job. Tony is great in this role coming off cooler than the hot headed Tequila.

Teresa Mo: Teresa Chang is the on again off again girlfriend of Tequila, she doesn’t like how much he risks his life if they are to stay together but they do have great chemistry. Teresa is good in this supporting role without doing too much over the top.

Philip Chan: Supt Pang knows both men are trying to take down the same people but isn’t willing to let them know each other, he tries his hardest to control Tequila without much success. Philip does what you would expect for the character of authority in the story.

Support Cast: Hard Boiled has a supporting cast which includes the villains that are very typical for action along with the huge body count of victims in the film.

Director Review: John WooJohn gives us one of the most over the top action films ever with so much fire going on from start to finish all shot with the intensity needed for action.


Action: Hard Boiled is filled with the best action sequences you will ever see in film.

Crime: Hard Boiled is a film that is completely about the crime story the cops find themselves in the middle off.

Thriller: Hard Boiled keeps us on edge from start to finish through the story unfolding.

Settings: Hard Boiled uses the setting for added moments through the actions sequences which just adds to everything.
Special Effects
: Hard Boiled has amazing special effects for all of the action sequences.

Suggestion: Hard Boiled is one for all the action fans out there to go and watch. (Action Fans Watch)


Best Part: The Hospital sequences.

Worst Part: Some people will say too much action.


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 2 Hours 8 Minutes

Tagline: As a cop, he has brains, brawn, and an instinct to kill.


Overall: Easily one of the greatest action films of all time.




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.


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