Archive for the Kung Fu Category

Wong Kar-Wai’s “The Grandmasters” Final Trailer – film set for early January 2013 release in China [Mtime.com / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Kung Fu, Martial Arts, Sweet & Sour Cinema, Yuen Wo Ping 袁和平, Zhang Ziyi 张子怡 on December 29, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

“The Grandmasters” 《一代宗师》 final trailer: http://movie.mtime.com/104896/trailer/41852.html

Slated for January 8, 2013 release in PR China

“The Grandmasters” is this blog’s most anticipated film yet, since the work of Wong Kar-wai [Wang Jiawei] is much admired here. While this writer has been in China several years, this is the first of auteur Wang’s films to be released in that time. It’s kind of astounding when you think about it, but that’s Wong Kar-wai’s dilatory film-making for you… Not a fan of male lead “Little” Tony Leung [Tony Leung Chui-Wai / Liang Chaowei], whose career has been serially disappointing for quite some time. Hope he doesn’t screw this one up (cough “Red Cliff” cough). — Zuo Shou

Wong Kar-wai’s “The Grandmasters” to Hit China’s Big Screens on December 18 [CRIEnglish.com / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Bruce Lee 李小龙, Kung Fu, Sweet & Sour Cinema, Yuen Wo Ping 袁和平, Zhang Ziyi 张子怡 on April 18, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

2012-04-18 CRIENGLISH.com

[Please note that this release news is for the Chinese mainland. I’m not aware of release date announcements for the US and elsewhere. – Zuo Shou]

Wong Kar Wai’s martial arts biopic “The Grandmasters” is set for release on December 18, Sina Entertainment reports.

The movie is based on the life story of Wing Chun grandmaster Yip Man, the legendary martial arts master who trained Bruce Lee.

Wong’s frequent collaborator Tony Leung stars in the film as Yip man [sic]. The cast also includes Zhang Ziyi playing a Baguazhang master, Hye-gyo Song, Zhang Zhen and Zhao Benshan.

The film has taken a great deal of time to finish, as is often the case with Wong Kar Wai films. Knowing Wong Kar Wai’s impressionistic storytelling style, fans expect stunning fight choreography.

After the release date was announced, the official microblog of “The Grandmasters” initiated a competition which will give out 1218 exquisite posters to fans.

Article link: http://english.cri.cn/6666/2012/04/18/142s694021.htm

“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

Full article link: http://www.filmbiz.asia/news/anticipated-films-lock-china-dates

“Wu Xia” [武侠] (2011) – Exclusive Review [Sweet & Sour Cinema / Sweet & Sour Cinema Exclusive Review]

Posted in Donnie Yen 甄子丹, Kung Fu, Sweet & Sour Cinema, Sweet & Sour Cinema exclusive flim review on August 17, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

“Wuxia” [武侠] (2011) – Review by Zuo Shou 左手

Directed by Peter Chan

Starring: Donnie Yen, Kaneshiro Takeshi, Tang Wei, Jimmy Wang Yu, Kara Hui

Review of Mandarin version, w/o English subs

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

This film created a lot of anticipation with its genre-encompassing title, career-peaking Donnie Yen as male lead and its plum casting of martial arts film bad-mutha Jimmy Wang Yu, the original “One-Armed Swordsman”.

The film mostly cannot rise to its own high expectation; however, there are some classic sequences, namely with some exhilarating Yen-choreographed fights in the film’s final third with the still-formidable Yu as well as a female old-school counterpart.

Director Peter Chan, a good but not great director in my opinion, makes an ambitious attempt in “Wuxia” to synthesize disparate stylistic elements into an action film. These include the martial arts excitement and tragic drama inherent in the “Wuxia” [“Martial Arts Chivalry”] genre; “Rashomon”-like replays of dubious events; film noir’s philosophy of life as whirlpool of evil; and finally old-school martial arts cinema tribute. The only aspect which Chan unqualifiedly succeeds with is the last, which perhaps is all that necessary for martial arts film fans. I give him credit for showing a deep passion and respect for the “kung fu” film classics, a quality which eventually carries the film over its artistic weaknesses.

The plot is rather simple and involves an unassuming small town artisan (Yen) drawn into a brawl with a pair of vicious bandits whom he inexplicably manages to dispatch, achieving heroic status among the locals. Detective Takeshi Kitaharo discerns the deepness beneath Yen’s still waters, and his investigations lead to a dark underworld.

Donnie Yen makes a problematic anchor for the film. This may make Donnie Yen fans howl, but in my opinion he is miscast in this role. He’s the top martial artist film actor today, a major star in his own right, and his fight direction in “Wuxia” is not to be faulted. However, he is one whose martial arts skills quite surpass his acting ability, which is mainly suited to either genial affability (his career-defining “Ip Man” role, which Yen himself described as a “geek…family man”) or limited-dialogue heavies whose fists do the talking (Jet Li’s prime adversary in “Once Upon a Time in China II”). In this film, he’s required to embody a character of the darkest depths, which seems to be an acting task quite beyond Yen; to be fair, perhaps the vagaries of the character would be beyond all but the most expert thesps. It doesn’t help that with Yen now being identifed with his own iconic “Ip Man” character, in this film he’s required to play almost the opposite, one with a depraved background — a kind of role he hasn’t touched for years (if not decades). Furthermore, recently Yen is doing a welter of TV ads simultaneously, from “Head and Shoulders” to analgesics and extension cords. This trivializes his image and makes a heavier role even more improbable for him to manage.

The second lead Kaneshiro Takeshi, doesn’t fare much better, as he is more of a matinee idol and Asian marketing device with his dual Taiwan-Japanese background than a solid acting talent. He’s also called upon to play some weirdly improbable scenes, including a masochistic one where he tortures himself with acupuncture needles in order to suppress his tendency to absorb the grief and pain he’s exposed to in his crime studies.

So for the the first 2/3 of the film, there’s basically one fight sequence played twice (the Rashomon effect – deployed more as gimmick than art), and besides the not-to-compelling cat & mouse game between the Yen and Takeshi characters and the nice Southern Chinese village scenery (an odd choice for a noir-esque plot), all that one has to sink their teeth into is the character of Yen’s wife Tang Wei. Her main attraction is her career redemption; she’s slowly rehabilitating her integrity after the nearly career-killing choice of her introductory lead role in Ang Lee’s tawdry and reactionary misfire “Lust, Caution”. Tang seems to be the only talented lead actor in the film, even if she’s only got one tiny scene to show what she can do.

It’s all somewhat superficial and contrived, and with an hour or so having passed one realizes how sparse the action has been, and wonders what is the point of it all. And where in the heck is Jimmy Wang Yu?!? Then elderly Jimmy shows up as a sinister Buddhist abbot, and with his appearance the film suddenly realizes its latent potential. With an unnaturally menacing subterranean voice and casualty-inflicting rings on every fleshy knuckle, he’s a truly intimidating martial arts Jabba the Hut in sable robes.

Except for one sidetrack, the remainder of the movie thrills in classic fashion with new-school (Yen) vs. old-school stars Kara Hui (“My Favorite Auntie”, “Eight-Diagram Pole Fighter” – here as a superb knife-fighter) and dominating Jimmy Wang Yu. The climactic battle’s finale is absolutely brilliant…

So in the end, I’m not really sure why they called the movie “Wuxia” as it doesn’t quite embody the “chivalry” that I think of as defining that genre. (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is probably the best-know example of that.) The film overall doesn’t reach the heights of earlier wuxia classics. However, when Kara Hui and Jimmy Wang Yu are battling Donnie Yen in the final reel, it’s as good as it gets in the 21st Century martial arts flick world. This one is really for the genre fans, and the deeper your knowledge of the oldies which this film turns out being Peter Chan’s paean to, the greater the chance you’ll enjoy the multiple resonances. Just keep in mind that the lead-up to the really good stuff just might try your patience.

In the meantime, you might want to see the source of Jimmy Wang Yu’s legendary status; check out his auteur tour-de-force in the scrappy and sublime “One-armed Boxer vs. Flying Guillotine”.

******

I recommend Derek Elley’s fine online review of “Wu Xia” for Film Business Asia, he scores the movie 8 out of 10, saying “…Part period detective mystery, part martial arts drama, and part pressure-points manual, Wu Xia (武俠) is a sumptuously shot spin on the costume action genre whose only major weakness is a lack of narrative smoothness and tonal consistency…”

Full “Wu Xia” review from Film Business Asia site: http://www.filmbiz.asia/reviews/wu-xia

“Tony Leung Fights to Win in ‘The Grandmasters'” – first trailer of Wong Kar-wai’s 2011 martial arts film released, w/ English subtitles [CRIEnglish.com / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Bruce Lee 李小龙, Hong Kong, Kung Fu, Sweet & Sour Cinema, Yuen Wo Ping 袁和平, Zhang Ziyi 张子怡 on July 19, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Trailer / article link: http://english.cri.cn/6666/2011/07/19/1261s649264.htm

2011-07-19 / CRIENGLISH.com / Web Editor: Xie Tingting

Check out the first trailer for Wong Kar-wai’s long-awaited film, “The Grandmasters”, starring Tony Leung Chiu-wai as the martial-arts legend Yip Man.

Leung’s character, a master of the Wing Chun style of martial arts, was the real-life mentor of kung-fu and Hollywood legend Bruce Lee. The trailer shows the master applying his lose-or-win fighting logic by defeating a mob on a raining night.

Leung is the only leading actor to appear in the trailer, although the film’s cast also includes Zhang Ziyi, Song Hye-kyo, Chang Chen and Zhao Benshan.

“The Grandmasters” is slated for release in December, eight years after Wong Kar-wai first began planning the film.

[Action director of the film is by Yuen Woo-ping – Zuo Shou]

[Trailer without English subtitles can also be viewed at Mtime.com: http://movie.mtime.com/104896/trailer/33560.html%5D

“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: Filmovonline.net)

“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 (M1905.com / CRIEnglish.com)

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

Jet Li’s One Foundation turns into independent public fund-raising organization [Xinhua]

Posted in China, Jet Li 李连杰, Kung Fu, Reform and opening up, Shenzhen on January 22, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Xinhua writers Wu Chen and Wu Caixia

SHENZHEN, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — The One Foundation, begun by Kung Fu star Jet Li, has ended its cooperation with the Red Cross Society of China and announced the establishment of an independent public fund-raising foundation here on Tuesday.

This is the first case that a non-governmental foundation affiliated with a government-run organization has successfully been transformed into a public fund-raising organization.

Experts say this is a great step forward in China’s social organizations management system reform and shows the support of the Chinese government in the development of NGOs.

The Jet Li One Foundation had been operating as a special program under the Red Cross Society of China, since China does not have laws or regulations which allow the establishment of non-governmental public fund-raising foundations.

Wang Rupeng, spokesman for the Red Cross Society of China, says the One Foundation, under his organization, raised more than 190 million yuan (nearly 29 million U.S. dollars) in the past three years and distributed some 140 million yuan to different philanthropic projects.

Actually, many individuals or NGOs choose to cooperate with foundations or organizations run, or partly run, by the government, in order to receive permission to raise money from the public. For example, more than 40 “foundations” are currently under the organizational umbrella of the Chinese Red Cross Foundation.

However, Jet Li complained that the One Foundation had little say in deciding on the use of money it had raised. According to his plan, his foundation sought to focus more on supporting domestic grass-roots NGOs, which lack both money and professionals, while the Red Cross Society of China is an organization paying more attention to disaster relief.

Li has been trying hard to apply to establish an independent public-raising foundation.

And this is a common problem faced by Chinese NGOs when establishing public fund-raising foundations. Further, a lack of transparency by NGOs is another concern of the government.

In recent years, especially after the devastating Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008, Chinese NGOs have been developing rapidly, in terms of both quantity and quality, according to Wang Zhenyao, director of the Beijing Normal University One Foundation Philanthropy Research Institute.

The government has seen this development and has started to encourage the expansion of NGOs, says Wang Zhenyao, who is also a retired official from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

China started a trial project in Shenzhen, China’s first special economic zone, to advance the reform of the civil affairs system in July 2009, which allowed the city’s authorities to approve the creation of public fund-raising foundations. In the past, only the Ministry of Civil Affairs had this authority.

Liu Runhua, director of the Shenzhen Civil Affairs Bureau, says they invited the One Foundation to register in Shenzhen while knowing the obstacles it has been confronted by.

Finally, the Shenzhen One Foundation successfully registered on Dec. 3, 2010.

Besides Jet Li, most of the 11 members on the council of the Shenzhen One Foundation are top Chinese entrepreneurs, including Tencent CEO Ma Huateng and Alibaba Group CEO Ma Yun. Economist Zhou Qiren was selected as director of the council and Vanke Chairman Wang Shi is acting as the executive director.

Wang Rupeng says, at the request by One Foundation, the Red Cross Society of China will audit One Foundation’s financial records and the rest of the fund and ongoing projects will be transferred to the Shenzhen One Foundation.

Wang Shi noted that the newly established foundation will continue its original projects, including philanthropic funding to grass-roots NGOs, training professionals and assisting with disaster relief.

It will also develop new projects according to the demands of the public.

“A development strategy in the upcoming three years will be discussed at the next council meeting, which will be held no later than early March,” said Wang Shi during an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

Wang Zhenyao says the establishment of the Shenzhen One Foundation is a milestone for the development of China’s NGOs.

“It is a breakthrough in the system and can be copied by other organizations,” Wang Zhenyao says.

Ma Hong, director of the Shenzhen NGO administration bureau, says the door to registering public fund-raising foundations is now open to all NGOs.

However, it does not mean many of them will be approved in the short term, she says.

“We have to evaluate them properly and make approvals when they meet the standards,” Ma says, adding that credibility and transparency are critical for the development of NGOs.

Wang Shi says the successful experience of the establishment of the Shenzhen One Foundation includes transparency, professionalism and following rules and regulations.

“Other NGOs may learn from it,” he says.

Article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-01/12/c_13687548.htm