Archive for the Nicholas Tse 谢霆锋 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

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

“Shaolin” (‘New Shaolin Temple’) film w/ Andy Lau, Nick Tse, Jackie Chan — China poster & newest trailer with English subtitles / 刘德华谢霆锋戎装斗拳《新少林寺》港版预告 [Youku.com 优酷 / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Andy Lau 刘德华, China, Fan Bingbing 范冰冰, Jackie Chan 成龙, Nicholas Tse 谢霆锋, Shaolin Temple 少林寺, Sweet & Sour Cinema on November 6, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Poster for “Shaolin” 《新少林寺》

TRAILER LINK HERE

Looks like this trailer was released September / October, it slipped by my radar.

Anticipating a December 2010 release here in China.

Directed by Benny Chan; Action Director Corey Yuen

HK action thriller “The Stool Pigeon” (线人) with Nick Tse, directed by Dante Lam – Final trailer and 2 English reviews, including this blog’s exclusive [CRIEnglish.com / Sweet & Sour Cinema / Sweet & Sour Cinema Exclusive Film Review]

Posted in Hong Kong, Nicholas Tse 谢霆锋, Sweet & Sour Cinema, Sweet & Sour Cinema exclusive flim review on September 7, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

"The Stool Pigeon" / 《线人》poster (www.mtime.com)

  • LINK TO TRAILER FOR “THE STOOL PIGEON” HERE.  It doesn’t have English subtitles, but the action excitement is a universal language.
From the CRIEnglish webpage containing the trailer:
Action thriller “The Stool Pigeon,” which opens in theaters on August 24th, released its final trailer in order to catch audiences’ attention. Sina. com reports.

The trailer starts with [scene clips from] director Dante Lam’s last film “Beast Stalker” (《Zheng Ren》, 2008).  It [the new film] features many fierce shootouts and car racing scenes and also the first screen kiss between Taiwan actress Guey Lun-mei and Hong Kong heartthrob Nicholas Tse.

To everyone’s surprise, the ending of the film is also included in the trailer, but it will take the viewer some time to find it.

* CRIENGLISH. COM REVIEW OF “THE STOOL PIGEON”, link here

By CRI reporter Yang Liu

In a recent talk, Hong Kong filmmaker Derek Yee shared his experience about how to deal with Mainland film examiners.  As for advice when shooting action films, he concluded that directors had better use a panoramic view to shoot violent scenes.

His fellow Hong Kong director Dante Lam’s latest action film “The Stool Pigeon” shattered [this suggestion].

The…Hong Kong cops and gangsters film “The Stool Pigeon” was screened for the press in Beijing recently, and [despite scenes of intense mayhem] the film had passed the Mainland examiners and would be presented in its original form without any cuts.

In this film, the director prefers to be more realistic when expressing his aesthetics of violence.  When a stool pigeon is stabbed by a group of gangsters, the director zooms in to capture the facial expression of the stool pigeon.  While an informer is escaping, Dante Lam cuts the sound and adds light music to augment the actor’s concentration.

For female audience members, some of the violent scenes may be tough to swallow; but rest assured most men will enjoy the action.

One critic said the film wiped away the recent years of love stories, as it recalls the classic gang themes from Hong Kong crime films.  There are definitely a few violent scenes which stimulate the senses and gets the adrenalin flowing.

Meanwhile, Lam has made a subversive change to the cast.  Although the film is made by the same team that produced the action film, “The Beast Stalker,” Nick Cheung, who won Best Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards for his role as the kidnapper in that film, plays a cop in this one.  And the sergeant Nicholas Tse from “The Beast Stalker” now portrays a recently released convict who becomes an informer for Cheung.

This is a big break for Tse, and his performance will provide him with a good chance to win Best Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards next year.

This role reversal is also seen with Kwai Lun-Mei and Lu Yi, whose girl-next-door and “sunny boy” images have already impressed mainland audiences. Kwai plays a gang member and girlfriend of the gang’s big brother Lu Yi.

These changes within the film and the actors may not reform the current downturn situation of Hong Kong films, but at least it’s a refreshing break.

*  SWEET & SOUR CINEMA REVIEW

by Zuo Shou (左手)
September 2010
I’m limited in my review capabilities, since I saw a non-English-subtitled screening.   There were portions of the plot that I did not fully grasp.  However…
Dante Lam is one of my favorite working Hong Kong directors.   A real pro, he doesn’t always score high with me; but in the case of “The Stool Pigeon” he does  —  with a predominantly authentic-feeling, and authentically thrilling, cops & robbers film.
This is a heavily-mined genre in HK so to make it work and work well is highly laudable.   The device that puts its over is probably the fact that star and matinee idol Nicholas Tse is playing against type as a the titular character, a somewhat grungy ex-con.
There’s plenty of excitement for action fans.   A desperate chase which  turns into a running battle of brutal hand-to-hand combat showcases Dante Lam’s capacity for action set-pieces that are deceptively simple yet devastating.  It is worth noting, as the above reviewer does, that this film’s violent scenes passed the mainland censors completely; which itself illustrates the  dynamics between ultraviolence and restraint which Lam skillfully utilizes.
Any film which rejuvenates the often-tired Hong Kong cops vs. gangs genre is worthy of praise, and I walked out of “The Stool Pigeon” feeling invigorated thanks to Dante Lam’s expert direction and some fresh casting choices.  If this genre appeals to you, I expect you’ll enjoy it.