Archive for the Andy Lau 刘德华 Category

“Shaolin” [新少林寺] (2011) – Exclusive Review [Sweet & Sour Cinema / Sweet & Sour Cinema Exclusive Review]

Posted in Andy Lau 刘德华, Buddhism, China, Fan Bingbing 范冰冰, Hong Kong, Jackie Chan 成龙, Kung Fu 功夫, Martial Arts, Nicholas Tse 谢霆锋, Shaolin Temple 少林寺, Sweet & Sour Cinema, Sweet & Sour Cinema exclusive flim review on September 9, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

“Shaolin” [新少林寺] (2011) – Review by Zuo Shou 左手

Directed by Benny Chan

Starring: Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse, Fan Bingbing, Jackie Chan

Review of Mandarin version, w/o English subs

[Qualifier: this reviewer is not fully fluent in Mandarin, which may affect the film appreciation]
***

Watching this film – the title literally meaning “New Shaolin Temple” – was a happy circumstance for this long-time martial arts film fan: a cinematic experience that surpassed expectations and reached epic significance.

The rich mythos of Shaolin Temple has been heavily mined in action films over the years, yielding several classics: “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” and “Return to the 36th Chamber” (both starring the inimitable bald-pated Gordon Liu], and Jet Li’s sensational debut “Shaolin Temple” and the sequel “Kids from Shaolin”.

With these classics in the back of my mind, “Shaolin” was looking just ok in the previews, the simulated Shaolin Temple sets having a kind of blah dusty-brown production design. [Jet Li’s “Shaolin Temple” had the distinct advantage of being shot in the authentic environment.] The assignment of HK director Benny Chan had me feeling ambiguous, as he’d previously made some “OK” action movies. I find that while the martial arts in his films can be fine to outstanding, the direction and surrounding elements tend to be pedestrian. It also was weighted with leads getting on in years, Andy Lau and Jacky Chan (who is actually more of a guest star).

The film begins in a milieu of military internecine contesting. Set in a [pre-?] Republican warlord era, Andy Lau is the focus as an amoral officer who, along with his evilly-coiffed 2nd-in-command Cao Man [Nicholas Tse] conquers Chinese territory which includes the legendary Buddhist Shaolin Temple, home of Chinese kung fu. Lau desecrates the place in just the opening minutes.

The first thrilling action sequence is a rollicking battle atop horse-drawn carts jostling at high speeds, which coincides with Lau’s major reversal of fortune.

From this point, the film follows Lau’s redemption, which starts out in a rather lackluster manner. Comparing the scene where Lau cuts his own hair to surrender into monkhood is lackluster compared to the blazing masochistic passion of a similar scene with Gordon Liu in “Eight Diagram Pole Fighter”. Also the plot and ancilliary characters seem to be just kind of plodding along, and one wonders if it’s going to be a good film after all.

Before you know it, it’s turned into something like Jacky Chan’s “Drunken Master II”, with slaves, a foreign plot to rob China of its priceless treasures, and Chinese running dogs facilitating the plunder. All of which is very much to the good; I can’t remember the last time an anti-imperialist theme was used so effectively in a Chinese action film.

Some strong action set pieces explicating Buddhist philosophy bring things up to the next level, and Jacky Chan suddenly is in the middle of the best comic relief action sequence – aided by a bunch of kiddie kung fu monks — that I’ve seen in years. An army attacks Shaolin Temple, and the film is very successful in showing the overcoming of firearms with fists and wit – something that’s usually just a laugh-out-loud proposition on the cinematic screen.

By the end the Temple blows up real good – really, the pyrotechnics are top-notch; the monks have adjusted their ethics dogma and armed themselves with slashing blades to dispatch the wolvish foreigners and their minions to hell, and Andy Lau is redeemed in an amazing scene, I can’t really think of a better representation of Buddhist salvation on cinema. In fact, considering all the films which have been based on Shaolin Temple, mostly they are concerned with the conflict between worldliness/violence and seclusion/pacifism. This one seems to me to have the best portrayals of Buddhism as redemption, making it probably the best overall allegory of the essence of Buddhism. I suppose it’s a credit to Lau that he can credibly pull off his character’s ultimate transformation.

The action by Corey Yuen and Yuen Tak is uniformly excellent without overdoing the wirework or CGI.

Honorable mention should be given to Fan Bingbing, who plays Lau’s warlord wife. While she’s basically a guest-star damsel in distress, she actually shows improvement as an actress, doing some decent emoting that transcends her recent transformation into eye-candy fashionista and cosmetics spokes-model. There’s also a resonant cameo by the actor who played Jet Li’s mentor in the original “Shaolin Temple”, here as the Temple’s abbot who gets a memorable stage exit.

Overall a film which verges on classic-hood, flawed by a mainly mediocre production design and lack of stronger directorial hand to tighten up the first half of the film. By the standards of 21st Century martial films, it’s a classic…
***

Film Business Asia’s review (by Derek Elley) rates the film 7 out of 10. “Potentially epic tale ends up as okay popcorn entertainment.”

Film Business Asia “Shaolin” review link: http://www.filmbiz.asia/reviews/shaolin

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“Beginning of the Great Revival” (建党伟业) aka “Founding of a Party” – Film Review [Film Business Asia / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Andy Lau 刘德华, Beijing, China, CPC, Fan Bingbing 范冰冰, Liu Ye 刘烨, Mao Zedong, Shanghai, Sweet & Sour Cinema, Zhou Xun 周迅 on June 16, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

China

Period political drama

Directed by Han Sanping (韓三平), Huang Jianxin (黃建新)

By Derek Elley

Wed, 15 June 2011

Cameo-studded blockbuster is a notch down on [2009’s Founding of a] Republic but still a savvy big-screen experience.
***
The…idea by China Film Group (中國電影集團公司) head Han Sanping (韓三平) of “selling” official anniversary movies to the general public by cramming them with star cameos worked a treat in the 2009 The Founding of a Republic (建國大業), made to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the PRC.  The clever marketing…gets a second outing in…Beginning of the Great Revival (建黨偉業), celebrating the 90th birthday of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Shanghai — and the result still works, though to a lesser extent…

…For foreign viewers unacquainted with the complex ins-and-outs of the period, the movie will take some following, though the history has been cleverly compressed and sticks pretty closely to events, allowing for some cinematic licence.  To its credit, there is some time spent on how the CCP groped its way towards a unified political stance, flirting with and then rejecting other revolutionary and communist models to finally come up with one that suited the Chinese (rather than European or Russian) experience…

…here, even more than in Republic, the film comes up with several jaw-dropping setpieces between the political stuff.  The 10-minute sequence of the 4 May Movement protests is true big-screen cinema, a New Year sequence featuring Mao and his second wife in Beijing has a fairytale atmosphere, and the staging of the actual CCP founding (by a dozen characters on a boat in a lake) is genuinely inspired in movie terms, with actress Zhou used in an almost mystical way.

Though the film as a whole is not so grand in scope as Republic, production values are a notch better…some actual B&W documentary footage is included, but relatively little this time round.

Rated 7 out of 10

Excerpted / edited by Zuo Shou

Article link here

All-Star ‘Party’ Due out June 15 – Chinese Epic Film Commemoration of CPC’s 90th Anniversary “ The Founding of a Party” w/ POSTER, PHOTO [CRIEnglish.com / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Andy Lau 刘德华, China, CPC, Liu Ye 刘烨, Mao Zedong, Sweet & Sour Cinema on March 31, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

A poster of the film "The Founding of a Party" ("Jian Dang Wei Ye") [Photo: yule.sohu.com]

"The Founding of a Party", the all-star historical epic that pays tribute to the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party of China, will hit local cinemas on June 15, Sohu.com reports.

The release will come two weeks prior to the July 1 anniversary celebrations.  Previous reports said the film would be available in both regular and IMAX formats.

Some of the movie’s 100-plus celebrity cast members joined co-director Han Sanping on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 in Beijing to release four posters of the movie.

Liu Ye, who plays Mao Zedong in the film, told the media about the pressure he was under in portraying the role, but credited makeup artists for increasing his confidence in making him look like Mao.

The 140-minute film features A-list actors fleshing out a long list of historical figures, among them Chow Yun-Fat (as Yuan Shikai), Chen Kun (as Zhou Enlai), Chang Chen (as Chiang Kai-shek), Dong Jie (as Soong Ching-ling), Andy Lau (as Cai E), and Tang Wei (as Tao Yi).

Compared to the film "The Founding of a Republic", Han’s 2009 extravaganza which also featured a similar cast scale, the co-director said that the new film would be "much better" in terms of plots and scenes.

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Tsui Hark Plans ‘Detective Dee’ Prequel [CRIEnglish.com / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Andy Lau 刘德华, Jet Li 李连杰, Sweet & Sour Cinema, Tsui Hark 徐克 on February 26, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

February 26, 2011

Director Tsui Hark says his Golden Lion-nominated film "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" doesn’t tell enough personal history of the legendary detective, and so he is propelled [sic] to make a prequel.

A film provisionally named "Detective Dee: The Prequel" has been in production, the director told Sina.com.cn on Thursday, February 24, 2011.

"The new film, like the first one, will also focus on a mysterious crime that is designed to show how Detective Dee impressed his fellows and started to build his reputation," said Hark.

Detective Dee, known in China as Di Renjie, was a legendary detective and official who lived under the reign of Empress Wu Zetian (624-705 AD).

In Hark’s first film on Dee, Andy Lau plays the detective who appears already having a reputation for solving difficult cases.

Hark says Lau is unlikely to continue the role, although casting for the prequel is yet to begin.

The director is looking to shoot the film in 3-D.  He has recently finished filming "The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate", a martial-arts film that was shot with 3-D cameras.

"Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" was released in China on September 29, 2010…  The film was nominated for a Golden Lion, the top honor of the 2010 Venice Film Festival.

"Detective Dee: The Prequel" is among the ten films announced by Huayi Brothers for the entertainment company’s 2011 filmmaking plan. Other projects announced include a martial-arts film to be starred and produced by Jet Li, and another action film to be directed by Jackie Chan.

Article link here

Shaolin (新少林寺) Film Review [Film Business Asia / Sweet and Sour Cinema]

Posted in Andy Lau 刘德华, Fan Bingbing 范冰冰, Jackie Chan 成龙, Kung Fu 功夫, Martial Arts, Nicholas Tse 谢霆锋, Shaolin Temple 少林寺, Sweet & Sour Cinema on February 2, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Derek Elley

1 February 2011

Potentially epic tale ends up as okay popcorn entertainment.

Rated 7 out of 10

=Excerpt=

…As a popcorn movie, Shaolin is an entertaining two-hour-plus ride, with strongly drawn characters, some good action sequences (Andy Lau’s 劉德華 early escape with axes and horses, the temple’s final destruction), and handsome production values with a grey, dusty look to the temple scenes.  Its main problem, as with many of director Benny Chan’s (陳木勝) films (Gen-X Cops 特警新人類, City under Seige [sic] 全城戒備), is that it still promises much more than it actually delivers.

The movie’s original version was reportedly around three hours, and a lot appears to have disappeared in the cutting room while trying to get it down to just over two…

Full article here

New “Shaolin” trailer w/ English subtitles; Andy Lau tonsures, Jackie Chan speaks dialect – UPDATED 2011/1: newer trailer, posters / 《新少林寺》再曝预告 刘德华剃度成龙秀方言 [Mtime.com / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Andy Lau 刘德华, Fan Bingbing 范冰冰, Jackie Chan 成龙, Kung Fu, Nicholas Tse 谢霆锋, Shaolin Temple 少林寺, Sweet & Sour Cinema on December 13, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

UPDATE: 2011/1/9

Newest trailer; unlike previously linked trailer below, there are no English subtitles.   However, this newest trailer does seem to reveal more of the story.  Link: http://news.mtime.com/2010/12/28/1447882.html

This link’s page is titled: 《新少林寺》预告 成龙:范冰冰见我就变小鸟  [Literallly translated:  “Shaolin” trailer  —  Jackie Chan: “Fan Bingbing saw me change into a bird”] from December 28, 2010 and has photos from the recent premiere in Beijing attended by the director Benny Chan and aforementioned leads.   The page also has a new poster for the film.

See also the CRIEnglish.com entry from January, “‘Shaolin’ Releases New Poster”, which has yet another new, nice-looking poster.  Text follows:

“Benny Chan’s action movie “Shaolin” has released a new poster featuring the four leading actors in the film  —  Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse and Fan Bingbing.

The background of the poster shows the burning Shaolin temple.  To make the temple look older than it actually was, the director asked Chung-Man Hai, the film’s artistic director, to build a second Shaolin Temple.  Chung-Man Hai spent two months and 20 million yuan (US$3 million) building the temple, which is larger than the original Songshan Shaolin Temple.

The story is set in the 1920s when an arrogant warlord named Hou Jie (Andy Lau) is trapped by his follower Cao Man (Nicholas Tse).  Hou loses his family and hides in the Shaolin Temple where he becomes a monk.  As social unrest spreads and people continue to suffer, Hou and the Shaolin monks are forced to take a fiery stand against the evil warlords.

“Shaolin” opens in cinemas nationwide on January 19.

CRIEnglish.com “‘Shaolin’ Releases New Poster” link: http://english.cri.cn/6666/2011/01/05/2701s613534.htm

Trailer / article link:  http://news.mtime.com/2010/12/12/1446618.html

Film to be released for Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) on Chinese mainland January 19, 2011.

New “Shaolin” film release in China pushed to early 2011 [Film Business Asia / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Andy Lau 刘德华, China, Fan Bingbing 范冰冰, Jackie Chan 成龙, Kung Fu 功夫, Martial Arts, Nicholas Tse 谢霆锋, Shaolin Temple 少林寺 on December 7, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Stephen Cremin

7 December 2010

Benny Chan’s (陳木勝) martial arts film Shaolin (新少林寺) has had its China release date pushed back to 19 Jan 2011 from its previously announced December slot.

The move was expected — with regional distributors tipped off last month — as it would otherwise have competed head-to-head with co-producer Huayi Brothers’ (華誼兄弟) romantic drama If You are the One 2 (非誠勿擾2).

The film’s A-list cast includes Andy Lau (劉德華), Nicholas Tse (謝霆鋒), Fan Bingbing (范冰冰), Wu Jing (吳京) and Jackie Chan (成龍). It is the first film in 28 years officially endorsed by the Shaolin monastery.

Shaolin will still face tough competition in January, a month that is expected to see the China release of high-profile foreign blockbusters…

Article link: http://www.filmbiz.asia/news/shaolin-kicked-into-2011