Archive for the Jackie Chan 成龙 Category

Lau Kar-leung (1934-2013) – Obituary [Film Business Asia / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Jackie Chan 成龙, Sweet & Sour Cinema on June 28, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Stephen Cremin

26 June 2013

Obituary News

Martial arts legend LAU Kar-leung 劉家良 died yesterday, 25 Jun, in Hong Kong. The 78-year-old had been battling cancer for almost two decades…

…At Shaw Bros, he choreographed the action of such classics as CHANG Cheh 張徹’s The One-Armed Swordsman 獨臂刀 (1967) and The 36th Chamber of Shaolin 少林三十六房 (1978), which he also directed.

Other beloved films in a career spanning fifty years include Jimmy WANG 王羽’s Master of the Flying Guillotine 獨臂拳王大破血滴子 (1976) and Drunken Master II 醉拳Ⅱ (1993) starring Jackie CHAN 成龍.

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Jackie Chan’s disparaging words touch sore spot – “the US is the most corrupt country in the world” [Global Times]

Posted in China, Corruption, Jackie Chan 成龙, Taiwan, USA on January 16, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

I would rather that his comments were better documented, but as a US citizen I totally agree. I also question any purported ‘international corruption ratings’, mentioned in the article, which rank the US relatively low – Zuo Shou

January 13, 2013
by Yu Jincui

Hong Kong martial arts actor Jackie Chan’s criticism of supposed US corruption has put him at the center of a controversy recently.

During a talk show last month, Chan responded to netizens’ opposition on [sic] patriotic remarks he made in the past. Chan refuted this by claiming that China is continuously making progress in tackling corruption, but the US is the most corrupt country in the world. He called his Chinese countrymen to support their home country especially when China is targeted by foreign countries.

As a public figure, Chan is not shy about expressing his political views. He was once quoted as commenting that democracy in Taiwan is the biggest joke in the world and in another occasion stated that Chinese in Taiwan and Hong Kong had too much freedom. But this time, he caused a much bigger uproar by attacking the US, a major market for his action movies.

Chan was dismissively labeled as representing “anti-American” sentiment of China by American journalists and bloggers. He was questioned about how he won his fame and fortune in what he claims to be the most corrupt country, and why the US ranks relatively low on international corruption ratings, especially compared to China.

Chan is quite candid about his political stances, even those that may backfire. On the program, he admitted he couldn’t compete with economists and that he had no data or knowledge of the subject, but just said what he saw and believed. There is no sign that Chan had a malicious intent toward US in the program. The unusual reaction from US commentators might be because the remarks came from an actor that was born and raised in a democratic [sic] region and has a huge fan base in the US.

And the criticism against Chan on the base that US market has helped his movies grab a fortune is particularly weak.

China is the largest holder of US treasury bonds, but does this make the US less harsh toward its biggest creditor? In the latest US presidential election season, we heard enough China bashing words. But to me the anti-US sentiments in China are no stronger than the anti-China sentiments in the US.

Everyone has the freedom to express his view. Making too big a deal out of Jackie Chan’s words may be a sign that many Americans are losing the grace to face different opinions.

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“Anticipated films lock China dates” – The Grandmasters, Seediq Bale slated to open in mainland [Film Business Asia / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in China, Jackie Chan 成龙, John Woo 吴宇森, Kung Fu, Sweet & Sour Cinema, Yuen Wo Ping 袁和平 on April 18, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Stephen Cremin

Wed, 18 April 2012

* Excerpted *

Distribution News

Three long-awaited films have finally locked their China release dates after months of speculation.

WONG Kar-wai 王家衛’s martial arts drama The Grandmasters 一代宗師 will open on 18 Dec, WEI Te-sheng 魏德聖’s war epic Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale 賽德克・巴萊 on 10 May, and Dayyan ENG 伍仕賢’s black comedy Inseparable 形影不離 on 4 May 2012.

The opening of the still-in-production The Grandmasters in mid-December…[means i]t will likely go head-to-head with Ang LEE 李安’s Life of Pi, while Jackie CHAN 成龍’s Chinese Zodiac 十二生肖, which opens 12 Dec, is still on release.

Warriors, which opened in Taiwan in Sep 2011 in two parts, was submitted to the State Administration of Radio, Film & Television (SARFT) 國家廣播電影電視總局 in December in its new international version with additional cuts made for violence. Further cuts were demanded last month.

Inseparable…stars Kevin SPACEY opposite Daniel WU 吳彥祖…

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

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“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:

“True Legend” / 《苏乞儿》- Exclusive Review [Sweet & Sour Cinema / Sweet & Sour Cinema Exclusive Review]

Posted in Jackie Chan 成龙, Kung Fu, Sweet & Sour Cinema, Sweet & Sour Cinema exclusive flim review, Yuen Wo Ping 袁和平, Zhou Xun 周迅 on May 21, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

True Legend / 苏乞儿 -- Chinese poster (Source:

“True Legend”(2010)–  Review by Zuo Shou 左手

Directed by Yuen Woo-ping

Starring:  Chiu Man-Cheuk [Vincent Zhao], Zhou Xun, Andy On

Review of Mandarin, English-subtitled 2-D version seen in 2010

Releasing a review now, as the film currently has a limited release in the US.

“True Legend”, I’m sorry to report, is a true disappointment.  This film was a box-office flop in China, and even its classy bilingual website is now defunct as the film is released in North America.

Sadly, this film held multiple potentials that it just couldn’t fulfill.   Reknowned martial arts director Yuen Woo-ping was returning to the “Drunken Fist” style that was so iconic a few decades back in his legendary “Drunken Master” collaboration with young Jackie Chan.  Vincent Zhao was primed for a comeback.  David Carradine is seen in his final role (ok, maybe not too much promise in that).  There’s cameos by an array of martial arts film icons.  The story isbased on a colorful legend of an impoverished martial arts master, perhaps empowering in a time of global impoverishment when the poor have hardly been more invisible.  And 3-D martial arts!

Well, after this film’s release lets just say Steven Chow’s comical, Kurosawan assaying of the Su Qi-er legend “King of Beggars” is in no danger of losing its ranking as the top cinematic take on the subject.

Critics, in their enthusiasm to review this one, are overlooking that Yuen Woo-ping is just the director, not the action director here.  That should be enough to raise qualifiers, as his directorial efforts have been a decided mixed bag and sometimes dilutes his martial-arts-choreographing strength.   There are 2 action sequences that undoubtedly satisfy – one rolling on the edge of a waterfall and a (literally) ripping 2nd act chain-wrapped-fist-in-the-face brawl that still ends too abruptly –  but in my opinion they don’t make it a good film.

Still from "True Legend" w/ Andy On, Vincent Zhao ( /

The film’s major fault here is in the screenplay, which takes risks required to juice up the  the martial arts film genre (mainly in a conceptually interesting, if cinematically flat, extended sequence dramatizing the internal psychic struggle that great talents and / or substance abusers could go through).  Yuen Woo-ping does seem to have some noble conceptual intent involving the highs and lows of seeking martial arts perfection.  But while cheer-worthy, these risks undo themselves in a progressively deflating sequence of events that approaches dramatic absolute zero in a Heilongjiang East-West battle of no apparent significance and which is lamer than those seen in any number of recent productions (the Ip Man films, for instance) which tend to wind up in an “international” martial arts arena. Continue reading

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


…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

The man who was Mao’s hero – Bruce Lee [People’s Daily / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Bruce Lee 李小龙, China, Hong Kong, Jackie Chan 成龙, Jet Li 李连杰, Kung Fu, Mao Zedong, Sweet & Sour Cinema on December 26, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

December 17, 2010

The Bruce Lee legend never fades but it might surprise some to learn that among his legion of fans was Chairman Mao, who called him a hero.

Chairman Mao Zedong (1893-1976) and Bruce Lee the martial arts legend (1940-1973) both declared – in their unique ways – that the Chinese people had “stood up”.

Mao made this proclamation on the founding of the People’s Republic of China, on Oct 1, 1949, Lee said it in a cinematic way that needed no translation when he kicked and smashed a wooden panel bearing the words: “Chinese and dogs not allowed”, one of the iconic scenes steeped in fiery nationalism from ‘Fist of Fury’.

The words are supposedly from notices at the entrance of public parks in colonial Shanghai, and have come to symbolize the country’s humiliation.

It turns out the Great Helmsman was a huge fan of the kungfu legend.

By 1974, Mao was diagnosed with a cataract and was advised by his doctors to refrain from reading. Thus he turned to movies. After a heavy dose of foreign biopics, such as those on Abraham Lincoln and Napoleon, he moved on to Hong Kong fare.

The task of collecting these films fell to Liu Qingtang, then deputy minister of the Ministry of Culture, a ballet dancer who shot to prominence by affiliating himself with Jiang Qing (Madame Mao) and starring in her “model repertory”.

At that time there were no cultural exchanges between Hong Kong and the mainland. Liu flew down to Guangdong and sought the help of the local authority, but it had no recourse either. Finally, the Hong Kong bureau chief of Xinhua News Agency was summoned. He knew an attorney who was a friend of Sir Run Run Shaw, Hong Kong’s movie mogul at the time.

Shaw was reluctant at first, it was said, fearing his films would be the target of mainland political campaigns. He relented, however, without knowing exactly who would be watching the movies. Among the prints on loan were three films starring Lee, then totally unknown to most mainlanders due to China’s self-imposed isolation.

Reeve Wong, a noted film critic from Hong Kong, who shared the details with me, says there is one inaccuracy in the above account: Lee’s main body of work was by Golden Harvest, a competitor of Shaw’s studio. Wong says even so, Liu Qingtang insisted it was Shaw who loaned the movies. Here, Wong reasons that it could be a slip of the tongue, or Shaw’s name stood for all the people who loaned films, because he had the biggest name.

Liu, who sat with Mao during the screenings, said he watched ‘The Big Boss’, ‘Fist of Fury’ and ‘The Way of the Dragon’. Mao would burst into eulogies when he got excited.

While watching ‘Fist of Fury’ for the first time, Mao dissolved in tears, Liu recalled, and said “Bruce Lee is a hero!” Mao watched the film twice more. Liu said he did not know of any other movie that Mao viewed three times.

When it came time to ship the prints back to Hong Kong, nobody dared do so lest Mao got another urge to watch them. Only after he was terminally ill were two of the movies returned.

Think of it, had Mao publicized his approbation, Lee would have instantly become an exalted figure like Lei Feng, the good Samaritan every Chinese student was encouraged to imitate.

But Lee did not need Mao’s help. He became more than just a national hero, transcending geopolitical boundaries. As Mao correctly observed, Lee’s movies portray the fight between good and evil and Lee invariably embodied the good. That’s something everyone can relate to.

A few years ago I was asked by a film magazine to name the biggest Chinese film star of all time. After a long period of deliberation, I picked Lee. Agreed, he was not the best thespian, nor the best looking, and he had a very limited oeuvre. Yes, he was a brilliant kungfu fighter, but we trained them by the busloads in martial arts schools or opera academies, didn’t we? But Lee had an appeal that went beyond the screen, or kungfu for that matter. He personified an aesthetic that shattered the stereotype of the Asian male.

It is very difficult for an Asian man to take the center stage in Hollywood productions, which shape public consciousness on a global scale. In the early years, Asian male roles were portrayed by non-Asians who resorted to painting their face yellow, slanting their eyes and adding buckteeth. Asian females had a relatively easier time of it compared with their male counterparts. Although their roles were highly restricted, they at least got to impart exotic beauty. Men were relegated to nerds, axiom-spewing sages or bad guys.

Even if you take into account the accomplishments of Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Chow Yun-fat, the situation is not much better. They are niche players with obvious limitations. And none of them project such a robust image of the Asian male as Lee did. (Japan’s Toshiro Mifune, an Akira Kurosawa regular, had an opportunity to do so, but he rarely strayed from period dramas, which were too overblown to be a role model for contemporaries.)

Lee combined dexterity with a virility that busted the hoary stigmas of the Asian male. Alas his reign was too short-lived.

There is a new biopic of Lee in his youthful days, Bruce Lee, My Brother. Interestingly, the filmmakers dug out details of his life that contradicted his public persona. For example, he suffered from severe myopia. (Can you imagine Bruce Lee wearing a pair of thick glasses?) As a teenager, he was sometimes shy and would rather dance with his brother than ask the girl he had set his eyes on. Of course, tales of his street fighting are even more legendary.

Lee’s screen debut was in 1950 with The Kid. I saw the movie and he was so good it is no exaggeration to say he was a child star on a par with the best in the world. In 1957, he played the idealistic younger brother in Thunderstorm, adapted from the classic play, still the stepping-stone for many a young thespian hoping for a breakthrough. It is not easy to catch snippets of Lee’s early movies, but they show Lee with multi-faceted talents. Given proper guidance, he could have become Hong Kong’s king of drama.

I was also surprised when I heard Lee speak English – in documentaries of course. Sure, he was born in San Francisco, but he was 3 months old when he headed to Hong Kong and only returned to the United States when he was 18. I can only say he was a quick learner.

In terms of cinematic charisma, Lee was in a league of his own. His best-known work was made in Hong Kong but gained an unprecedented following worldwide. He did something nobody had done before and nobody in Chinese cinema has surpassed since. The Chairman was spot on when he declared Lee “a hero”.

By Raymond Zhou
Source: China Daily

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