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Modern East Asian Cinema Masterpieces - Hong Kong: Infernal Affairs

By MotorMachineMercenary in Culture
Mon Jun 28, 2004 at 11:02:11 PM EST
Tags: Movies (all tags)
Movies

Although Hong Kong is most known for its kung-fu flicks with flying Chinese à la Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and various bullet ballets, it has a long history of varied cinema mostly unknown to us westerners. I was introduced to HK cinema while I lived there in 1999 and quickly grew to love it for its differences from the usual Hollywood fare, its honest portrayal of humanity and unique style of storytelling.

Infernal Affairs is the best movie set in modern times to come out of Hong Kong since John Woo's A Bullet In the Head. This truly brilliant masterpiece is near-perfect. And as a fresh reminder of HK cinema's versatility Infernal Affairs is not a kung-fu movie nor a bullet ballet: it's a taut psychological thriller with little action, lots of heart and professionalism, and cast which will make you come back for more.


Infernal Affairs (official site), made and set in Hong Kong, tells the story of two cops, Tony Leung (not the other Tony Leung) and Andy Lau. It opens when their characters enter police academy from diametrically opposed backgrounds, leading them to diametrically opposed directions. I don't want to reveal more because your viewing will suffer if I do. What follows is a breath-taking, fast-paced cat-and-mouse game with a unique twist, a story that has not been seen in Hollywood or HK/Asian cinema to date.

Infernal Affairs was wildly popular in Hong Kong and spawned a well-received prequel and a reportedly inferior sequel. It broke almost all box-office records for a local movie, was hailed by critical acclaim and it received a ridiculous amount of awards. It is considered to be one of the driving factors in the return of Hong Kong cinema, along with the hilarious and original kung-fu spoof Shaolin Soccer and the funny and poignant - but not contrived - Golden Chicken.

Hong Kong had a serious slump in the box-office success and quality of locally made films in the late Nineties. It has always had a prolific movie industry which is revered by the people and has stars as huge as Hollywood has. Hong Kong cinema has its big-name exports as well, from the director John Woo to several actors (the ubiquitous Jackie Chan, kung-fu prodigy Jet Li and bullet-ballet god Chow Yun Fat) to fight choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping of Matrix fame. Hong Kong cinema was thrown into further disarray as the territory was handed over to the Chinese after one hundred years of British rule, which precipitated a slew of problems and tensions in the society which was already suffering from the raveges of the Asian Meltdown of the mid-Nineties. Despite rumors of censorship and some timid financiers, producers, directors and writers, Hong Kong cinema has awakened once again, releasing quality movies with universal appeal. Infernal Affairs is a prime specimen.

Infernal Affair's main stars are well-established in HK and have an impressive career although they are only in their early forties. Tony Leung starred in one of the best movies of all time, Yimou Zhang's ethereally beautiful Hero, as well as Hard Boiled and Chungking Express, another movie that had a theater run in the west. Andy Lau is known as an actor and a singer in Hong Kong. You might have seen him in Fulltime Killer or As Tears Go By, just two of the over one hundred films he's been in. His iconic status in Hong Kong is evident when he played himself in Golden Chicken mentioned above, a movie which might be considered to be a dissection of what the people of Hong Kong feel about themselves and Hong Kong in general. Both leads do an amazing, understated job in Infernal Affairs, and while their characters do not interact much, you feel there is a spiritual connection between them reminiscent of the relationship between the leads in Michael Mann's brilliant Heat.

Infernal Affairs has a strong supporting cast with the stalwart Anthony Wong (probably best known in the west for his supporting role in the Jackie Chan vehicle The Medallion) playing the police commissioner and the incredibly versatile Eric Tsang as the triad boss, nicely contrasting his loser-mugger role in Golden Chicken. The lesser roles are also nicely written and acted, most notably the beautiful Kelly Chan as Tony Leung's character's shrink who doesn't get to do much therapy.

But by far the strongest point of Infernal Affairs is in writing and directing. Co-director Wai Keung Lau is best known for The Storm Riders and the Young and Dangerous series. Siu Fai Mak, second director and co-writer, and co-writer Felix Chong are newer HK personalities whose work I have not had the opportunity to witness. The seamlessness of writing and directing is evident when you realize most producers with this much happening in the movie would make a 150-minute movie instead of the 100-minute Infernal Affairs is. The writing is incredibly concise without being hurried. There are several plot-twists that make you feel like you're on Top Thrill Dragster. It's paced almost perfectly, which is even more impressive as HK flicks often suffer from pacing problems. The characters are rendered brilliantly, and the plot unravels in just the right rhythm, keeping you guessing until the very end without giving away too much at any point. That might sound like a cliché, but when you realize how often that is promised and how often delivered, the reality sets in.

Now, Infernal Affairs is not perfect. People familiar with East Asian films know that directors don't lay everything out for the viewers; they don't hold your hand but let you come to your own conclusions. You really have to pay attention, especially in the first minutes of the film. If you don't, you will be brought up-to-speed in due time, though. The film is in Cantonese, so people who are not used to reading subtitles might have slight difficulties following it. And there is a couple of montage-like scenes which are somewhat confusing until you've seen the whole movie or are used to MTV-paced cuts. Some plot twists which a Hollywood producer wouldn't dare to try are a feature of Hong Kong cinema, not a fault.

Other than those minor issues, Infernal Affairs is a true masterpiece of Hong Kong cinema. While it doesn't surpass the pure perfection of Hero and A Bullet In the Head, it easily trumps most any film that has come from within and out of Hong Kong in the past ten years. It's a prime example that Hong Kong is back at the forefront of world cinema. If you like cops-and-robbers movies, foreign films or thrillers in general, you won't be disappointed. I'm sure Infernal Affairs has a lot to offer for others as well, being well worth the investment to order online, for example from here (note: region 3 DVD) or the entire trilogy here (note: region 3 DVDs which are claimed work in region 1 DVD players). And since there is a Hollywood remake on the way, with none other than Martin Scorsese directing Brad Pitt and Leonardo di Caprio, this is your chance to get to see the Real Thing before Hollywood butchers it and hypes it to death.

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Poll
Hollywood remake of IA:
o They'll butcher it 77%
o Might be good 19%
o Will be better than the original 3%

Votes: 31
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
o various
o bullet
o ballets
o Infernal Affairs
o A Bullet In the Head
o official site
o Tony Leung
o the other Tony Leung
o prequel
o sequel
o awards
o Shaolin Soccer
o Golden Chicken
o John Woo
o Jackie Chan
o Jet Li
o Chow Yun Fat
o Yuen Wo-Ping
o Yimou Zhang's
o Hero
o Hard Boiled
o Chungking Express
o Andy Lau
o Fulltime Killer
o As Tears Go By
o Heat
o Anthony Wong
o The Medallion
o Eric Tsang
o Kelly Chan
o Wai Keung Lau
o The Storm Riders
o Young and Dangerous
o Siu Fai Mak
o Felix Chong
o Top Thrill Dragster
o here
o here [2]
o remake
o Also by MotorMachineMercenary


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Modern East Asian Cinema Masterpieces - Hong Kong: Infernal Affairs | 96 comments (86 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
myself, i love contemporary asian horror (none / 3) (#10)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jun 28, 2004 at 04:01:32 PM EST

ever since the blair witch project, asian cinema said "what the fuck, that much money for a little creepy flick?"

and they responded with some of the best horror i've ever seen

namely, ringu (although, imho, the english version remake, the ring, was actually better)

the pang brothers the eye (optioned by tom cruises production house for a remake) was a cinema tour de force- about a chick who sees ghosts after a corneal transplant from a suicide, excellent story from beginning to end

that korean flick the isle was a fucking fucked up motherfucking movie... one word: fishhooks

and that weird japanese flick where those teenagers find that living human head in a bag: tomie

contemporary asian horror is the some of the best horror i've ever seen


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Have you seen... (none / 1) (#11)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Jun 28, 2004 at 04:42:35 PM EST

...Miike's Audtion? Not exactly a horror film in the traditional sense, but probably the most disturbing film I've seen in years.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
damn! (none / 1) (#12)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jun 28, 2004 at 05:22:42 PM EST

i saw the box for that at kim's video on st. mark's and was mighty tempted, almost picked it up... i will remedy the oversight, thanks ;-)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Ah, Miike (none / 2) (#15)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Jun 28, 2004 at 07:09:41 PM EST

Not exactly horror, either, but he takes splatter flicks to another level with Ichi the Killer. His other movies (there's many) are well worth checking out as well.

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
well (none / 2) (#24)
by bankind on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 03:34:19 AM EST

if you know who Miike is I'm suprised that you don't mention that he (and a couple others) took asian gangster films back to Japan, where they originated.

HK films have always worked on the principle of a million monkeys on typewriters...

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

well, (none / 2) (#32)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 09:00:09 AM EST

I avoided talking about other East Asian countries b/c I'm planning on doing a bit on those later if this story is received well (see my editorial comment).

While I see your point about monkeys writing HK movies, I think this is a misnomer (duh). I agree many HK movies have hard-to-follow plots, leave out entire subplots only to return to them later and introduce characters without much, well, introduction.

But as I've seen quite a few HK flicks, I've started to see that more as a feature than a flaw (cognitive dissonance, anyone?). Although the issue might be largely due to the screenwriting or editing culture in HK (which I don't know about), it makes for engaging movies. There's rarely such large holes in HK movies that the experience suffers; it just makes you think harder, you get more engaged in watching the movie.

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
its the crowd (none / 0) (#64)
by bankind on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 10:46:20 PM EST

typical HK crowd is that any plot or story equals boring.

And what I mean by a million monkeys is that HK produces a shit load of movies per year and only one or two every 5 years is remotely decent (save some dirctors, shaw brothers, war, woo, etc). The other factor is that there is a good deal of outside influence in HK film making (read Tongs).

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

Hmm, (none / 0) (#66)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 11:28:22 PM EST

I disagree with the ratio of good to bad movies you quote. But even then, how is that different from Hollywood? My point is, 99% of everything is shit. HK produces only a fraction of the movies H'wood does so it's not likely they'd have lots of brilliant movies.

While I have no real info, I don't think triads have any more influence over movies than studio executives have in Hollywood. And since I've seen Swimming with Sharks and plenty of triad movies, I'm an expert on them both. And with that evidence, most triad thugs look like kindergarten clowns compared to movie execs ;)

Thinking about this, I recall reading a short story in the news about HK movie people having a demonstration against the Tongs a year or two back, though, so you might be right.

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
degrees of shit (none / 1) (#77)
by bankind on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 01:43:33 PM EST

sure, plenty of holywood is unwatchable by a standard of people that say 'films' versus 'movies,' but not by the typical HK standard of complete and utter shit, just look at any of the God of Gambles movies, and there you even had a decent actor. HK movies work on a much tighter budget and thus have no second takes (it is the MOST defining trait of HK movies), but there is also this once is enough philosophy.

Trust me, I am a complete idiot about asian movies and I'm not slighting them at all, but I'm not gonna say that my tastes are somehow 'artistic' or that in any regard reflect any standard of "good" films. Sure, Drunken Tai Chi is the best movie ever, but I'm not going to make a stand and raise my flag there.

Regarding the tongs, many years ago Jackiue Chan led a march against them, but anyone I've every known (producers mainly, but also some directors and actors) in the HK/China/Taiwan movie scecne (which is a fair amount) have always had to deal with large amounts of protection money. In Tawain the shit is so bad the movie execs generally just are ganagsters and try to off each other during movie releases. It is the exact same in the music industry-with more media coverage. Actresses get kidnapped, actors get drugged up with hookers and somehow a camera man finds them during the launch of his 'kids' movie . The shit is still very active by any account I've heard.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

Pfft. (none / 3) (#16)
by The Honorable Elijah Muhammad on Mon Jun 28, 2004 at 08:50:52 PM EST

There are other far more disturbing Miike films.

Ichi the Killer (one word: tempura)
Visitor Q (... Even the MPAA warning doesn't do it justice: "Rated R for strong aberrant sexual and violent content, language and drug use.")


___
localroger is a tool.
In memory of the You Sad Bastard thread. A part of our heritage.
[ Parent ]
Different strokes and all that... (none / 2) (#17)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Jun 28, 2004 at 09:35:24 PM EST

Ichi was good, but it was really just an extension of the over-the-top violence found in the gun-fu gangster film genre. Audition, taken as a whole, was unsettling and disturbing. It wasn't just the scene which disturbed me, but the effect that scene had within the larger emotional and thematic context of the film.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Maybe... (none / 2) (#19)
by The Honorable Elijah Muhammad on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 01:35:24 AM EST

... I have a copy of Audition I still haven't watched, so I guess I can't really comment on that... I should watch it though.

Visitor Q was unsettling and disturbing to me -- not because of any emotional or thematic context of the film, but because of the unpleasant content... which I won't bother to describe on the off chance you see it if you haven't.

It did make one of my friends swear off Miike films indefinitely, which amused me.


___
localroger is a tool.
In memory of the You Sad Bastard thread. A part of our heritage.
[ Parent ]
which version did you have (none / 1) (#22)
by bankind on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 03:28:12 AM EST

the US version of ONE edits out several seconds that seem to me to make the difference. Not to knock Audition...

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

ONE? (none / 1) (#45)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 02:00:33 PM EST

And ONE is? If you meant Ichi, the American distribution.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
yeah (none / 0) (#63)
by bankind on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 10:42:21 PM EST

one is ichii (which is why he runs around with the number one on his back) and the American version has the nastier shots edited out.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

Dark Water (none / 2) (#28)
by BlackHawk on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 05:37:12 AM EST

More emotionary terrifying than horror, all I know is it creeped me out. Ichi the Killer, not horror, but flat out stylish cinema. Blue Spring, again, not horror, just some amazing Asian cinema. I saw it without subtitles, so it was quite hard to follow, but even still it was compelling.

[ Parent ]
yep, fishhooks (none / 1) (#18)
by khallow on Mon Jun 28, 2004 at 11:12:24 PM EST

that korean flick the isle was a fucking fucked up motherfucking movie... one word: fishhooks

I agree. There were a few points where I had some trouble suspending belief. How could someone feign being normal and do that sort of thing? In addition, some people may dislike the slow pace of the movie or the brutality to animals (a bunch of fish and perhaps a bird die in the movie). The plot was strange and sometimes hard to believe, but at least it kept you wondering what would happen next.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

ringu (none / 1) (#21)
by Gnateoj on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 02:30:59 AM EST

um, i hope you do know that Blair Witch was made after Ringu. Ringu 2 is a riot (and yes, i'm being sarcastic).


* * * * *

for the love

[ Parent ]
yeah, i know, my bad, sorry (nt) (none / 0) (#48)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 02:25:42 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
ever seen (none / 2) (#25)
by bankind on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 03:38:08 AM EST

that Marcos aerobics ala jane fonda tape done around 1982-ish, when the sweet young godfather wasn't sweet no more?


"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

huh? marcos? as in ferdinand? (nt) (none / 0) (#47)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 02:25:12 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
oh yeah (none / 0) (#65)
by bankind on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 10:53:27 PM EST

not the imelda, but ferdinand in leg warmers and a headband. And he yells through the entire thing at General Ver to "go for the burn."

And no I'm not kidding, i've heard from many good sources that it is a real exisiting tape.

You couldn't possibly think it was imelda's fat ass! by the 80's she was traveling via a gold platted, diamond studded Rascal.

Didin't we have this discussion before?

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

lol, who is this? (none / 0) (#67)
by circletimessquare on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 12:43:25 AM EST

are you in cebu or manila or something? i don't know if we talked before, remind me...

but marcos as richard simmons sounds hilarious, where can i get this kitsch? ;-P


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

not there (none / 1) (#78)
by bankind on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 02:06:57 PM EST

but I live near enough. I did some book learning on philipines political leadership and economic policy.

Actually, we had a chat about how Arroyo was the most fly executive on the planet...way back... And I talk about that Marcos video so much I can't recall who I talk to about it. I've never scene the thing, but I have heard the complete minute by minute summary. Many of my filipino friends have also said that it exists, somewhere, and another firend is completly obsessed with getting a copy-- some contact that is gonna sell him a VHS for 40 US, but I haven't heard of the results.

Ask some of your people and holler back if you get something.

we'll just have to leave the Poe and Erap films for another thread.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

Heh, (none / 1) (#79)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 04:17:47 PM EST

Sounds kinda like when I had a two-year-long obsession in getting my hands on a certain short movie just for its title alone. Us Scandinavians couldn't care less about political correctness as lons as its funny.

Since that one has been fulfilled, I need a new one. This sounds worthy, but even harder to find, I bet.

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
oh yeah! (none / 0) (#83)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 01, 2004 at 12:20:37 PM EST

you're the economist in vietnam right? i remember ;-)

i am so relieved gloria pulled through

she's an economist too right? ;-)

now we just cross our fingers that there isn't some bullshit poe tries to pull

he hasn't even given up yet, and is holding an alternate swearing in ceremony

what an asshole ;-P


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

thats me (none / 1) (#84)
by bankind on Thu Jul 01, 2004 at 11:18:38 PM EST

yeah, but I have this strange thing for RP politics where there needs to be a shock (land reform) And I wonder if arroyo can really get to the issue (land reform). But then again the asia times says that the rice exports are taking off even without the right institutions (land reform).

One thing that does need to be said about populist platform is that even though they might not be capable in implementing key changes in policy (land reform) they do have other great qualities (A love of guns and Ronald Reagan haristyles). Then again Arroyo's little military problem and her swearing off running for election kinda sours me on Arroyo's chance of doing anything (land reform) other than play politics (promises of land reform).

So you got family over there or just an interested observer?

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

i'm dating a visayan (none / 0) (#85)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jul 02, 2004 at 01:08:19 AM EST

i was in cebu in january for a month ;-)

what are you talking about land reform? you're talking about farmers owning their own land, right? isn't that all done? isn't that like spanish-era type hijinks? forgive me if i am woefully out of touch


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

sorry (none / 1) (#87)
by bankind on Fri Jul 02, 2004 at 06:18:45 AM EST

just my constant aggitation of any conference on the philipines economy always equals a discussion of the need to have broader access to land and a break up of the oligarchs (control of farming really).

As far as land reform being done... Marcos did it, People Power did it, Steady Eddie did it, Erap was doing it before he was removed by criminals from office, and Arroyo hasn't had enough time to do it (and Poe promised to do it). Add all that up and it equals nothing has ever really be done.

That and the private sectors ownership of the public sector being the sum total of my knowledge of the philipines.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

what about population control? (none / 0) (#88)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jul 02, 2004 at 07:41:04 AM EST

i always wondered: is the philippines catholic churchified to the the extent that population control will always be a pipe dream?

or is it just me who is anti-catholic churchified because vietnam, with no real catholic church presence, also has a population explosion problem without any control potential?

i mean, i just don't ever see the phil doing the chinese 2 kids per family experiment, ever, with the church around... but what about vietnam?

don't get me wrong, i've seen the work the church does with the poor in the phil, and it is beyond criticism in that regard... but i always wondered if the church's stance on abortion, contraception, etc. had anything to do with creating the very poverty it is supposed to fight

just wondering if my anti-church sentiment is too strong or if it is dead on

(a sentiment that if my gf ever found about, i would promptly be sporting some stigmata of my own LOL ;-P )

she came over in 1996, and let me tell you man, she puts me to shame... i'm the new england boy whose ancestors busted their asses, but i certainly do not have a smidgen of the much vaunted protestant work ethic i'm supposed to have anymore, while she, being roughly the same age, has, in the few 7 years she has been here, vaulted herself into the upper middle class, and is starting on a real estate buying spree!

let me tell you, the south east asian trumps the american work ethic any day lol :-P


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

well (none / 2) (#91)
by bankind on Fri Jul 02, 2004 at 12:39:01 PM EST

you're forcing me to put on my economist hat on this one. I frankly think the whole Malthusian population issue is junk, as overpopulation has never caused a famine. I think of it as the equivalent of the end of capitalism. People like to predict these doomsday scenarios and they just never happen.

Furthermore, fears of overpopulation always overestimate the inability of the poor to make their own decisions (studies show 80% of all pregnancies are intended) and more importantly population controls underestimate the productive potential of individuals.

There are enough economic incentives to cut back population growth with a increase in income and healthcare. Trying to have a preemptive strike on population prior to income growth is to me backwards and unnecessary. If there is a fear of the population size do whatever it takes to increase personal incomes, the rest will follow.

Anyway, enough of that soapbox, in the Nam the law is 2 children only and this is straight from the Party. Most people are fine with that, so they say...

What I find interesting on the issue is how abortions are generally viewed as a major form of birth control. Completely no hang-ups here about it. Has about as much life impact as picking up a bucket at the KFC drive-thru.

No my issue with the church is the whole "poverty is a gift from god." Those fuckers there suck nuts plain and simple in my book, and yes they do exist and they make up most missionaries I've ever met (that and closet homosexuals).

I totally agree on the SEA culture thing. The protestant work ethic is a huge fraud to me to justify the guilt of landing in a place where there was enough land for everyone. You take 10 million of any type of people, drop them in a concentrated uncultivated area of some of the world's best land and they would do the same. Them Native Americans just seemed to be spread too thin... Christ this is a weird thread of thought... from Malthus to Geronimo.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

"fuck the church!" (none / 1) (#92)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jul 02, 2004 at 02:30:02 PM EST

let's see how far i get with that with the gf's family ;-P

i have to bite my tongue real hard when i'm there sometimes, and assume the best tranquilized smile

i swear i'm going to get in real trouble there someday and speak my mind about the church and i will be promptly deported

sometimes i think the phil is a vassal state of the vatican, for christ's sake (lol)

my favorite takeaway experience when i was in the phil last time (except my i'm a fucking ugly american experience being driven around in makati in a senator's huge black ford explorer complete with tinted windows and red and blue flashers plowing through the gridlock... marie antoinette: "no, there are more peasants to run over over there, i think you missed some... let them eat cake!" christ) was in a small rural town on a distant island which will go unnamed lest i affront, where i attended the local congressman's new year's bash (the one supposedly behind most of the area's illegal logging) and seeing, at a table in the corner of the festivities, this scene which will be forever imprinted in my mind of the sacred trinity of corruption in southeast asia: the local cardinal, the local congressman, and the local loan shark (a fat german fuck who's tough as nails pinay wife was actually the enforcer, complete with scars and plastic surgery, but that's another story): politics, religion, and money, all locked in conspiratorial undertones, plotting the area's continued exploitation of land and people for the year to come

christ


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

More recomendations... (none / 1) (#53)
by dew_freak on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 03:31:22 PM EST

Here's a site with reviews of Asian horror movies: Snowblood Apple

I found it after googling for some kind of explanation for Suicide Circle.

[ Parent ]

that's an excellent little site, thanks ;-) (nt) (none / 0) (#55)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 04:43:55 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
More (none / 0) (#54)
by PhillipW on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 04:22:21 PM EST

Let's not forget:

A Tale of Two sisters. Excellent Korean horror. I used to think Korea produced only ass films(My Wife is a Gangster), but this movie converted me.

Ju On: The Grudge. Japanese horror. Creeped me out like nothing else I've ever seen. There's soon to be an American remake out starring (bleh) Sarah Michelle Gellar. Here's to hoping it doesn't blow.

-Phil
[ Parent ]
The primary difference (2.50 / 2) (#61)
by myrspace on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 09:59:29 PM EST

between western and asian horror/ghost flicks is that the western flicks depend on gore and mutilation to scare the viewers while asian flicks (and by asian i am talking mainly about korea/japan because frankly hk horror flicks arent even worth finding a pirated copy of (except for The Eye)) gear towards mood and subtlety. Take Ju-On: The Grudge for example. Ok, the camera was terrible and the scenes could have been twice as scary but imagine yourself showring and as you touch the back of your head to wash your hair, you feel someone's hand. Or Dark Water which will make you think twice about living in old apartments again. I won't say much about this film since it looks like Hollywood, running out of ideas has decided to do a remake for the westerners but given how The Ring turned out, I don't think I will complain too much.

[ Parent ]
you have to be careful with generalities like that (none / 1) (#62)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 10:11:55 PM EST

i can think of plenty of really good horror ghost story movies from the west with much subtlety and no gore (what lies beneath, the changeling) and plenty of asian splatterfest pictures (i mean come on man, decades of hong kong and japanese sword flicks and gangster fantasies... how many bajillion examples of that do you want?)

i think your problem is that you are in the west, and so you see planty of bad western pics, and only the cream of the crop of the east

so your opinion naturally gets skewed

the cream of the crop from either the west or the east relies upon subtlety insteade of gore, the truth is that a good ghost story is a good ghost sotry, period

but you've only seen the good eastern ones, and plenty of the bad western ones, when the truth is that the east and the west turn out both good and bad movies, in equal proportions

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Actually (none / 1) (#69)
by myrspace on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 05:22:10 AM EST

I'm from the east, but I agree my generalizations are in fact too general. What lies beneath was a great example perhaps of the 'subtlety' for a western movie, and I did mention that we should ignore the hk flicks because frankly the hk horror movies are heavily influenced by the western ones. Those that arent just throw in as much green as possible into the editing (and red) and have some of the worst plot and scare factors one can imagine. Take The Park for example, by the revered director of Infernal Affairs. You'll notice how the camera angles come from Fatal Frame(PS2) and how the show turned out into a big pile of BS, something you expect from a hk horror flick anyway(again excluding The Eye) I can also name some of the more 'known' western horror flicks such as the Fri 13th and Elm Street stories and not to be negative, but really, Dracula? Fright Night? House on Haunted Hill? Gore fest or Good examples of the horror genre?... Then there are the Evil Dead ones.

When it comes to the eastern ones, at least the ones that are shown, we've got good psychological thrillers like A Tale Of 2 Sisters and the literally hair raising Kakashi.

[ Parent ]

this is a chest thumping contest (none / 0) (#71)
by circletimessquare on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 05:50:25 AM EST

hey man, the east makes great movies, the west makes great movies... why sit here and argue about the details? enjoy 'em all i say

besides, we're both better than bollywood ;-P


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

But... (none / 2) (#13)
by NaCh0 on Mon Jun 28, 2004 at 05:29:39 PM EST

Do the words sync with their mouths?

--
K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
Actually they do. (none / 0) (#20)
by bchan on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 01:37:07 AM EST

Watching movies in their original languages is IMHO the best way to watch them. I don't speak or understand any Cantonese and found this movie very entertaining. I watched this movie using the English subtitles found on most DVDs on yesasia.com.

[ Parent ]
Hero (none / 1) (#23)
by Argon on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 03:32:44 AM EST

One of the best movies I ever seen... Much better than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Loved the images, loved the music, loved the story... It's an almost perfect movie.

correct me (none / 0) (#27)
by dimaq on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 05:20:15 AM EST

if I'm wrong I though hero was mainland china production.

[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 0) (#29)
by Argon on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 06:21:45 AM EST

You are right, the production and scenery is China based.
But the movie includes HK actors and is commonly compared with Crouching Tiger. Besides, since HK joined the mainland, it no longer makes sense to think about it as a separate entity.

[ Parent ]
movie industries are quite distinct (none / 0) (#90)
by dimaq on Fri Jul 02, 2004 at 10:03:29 AM EST

or at least that's what I thought. anyways last time I was at a film festival there were separate categories for hk and chinese films - first being all action, second being all weird dramas with hints of different genres, like fiction. all that I watched anyway.

[ Parent ]
It rocked (none / 1) (#30)
by bob6 on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 08:04:59 AM EST

Of course it was beautiful. But I loved the way one story is told three or four times by each party successively, the final narration being a consensus of both ennemies' versions. It seems the beginning of the Chinese nation is a classic setup for Chinese/HK movies. I saw The Emperor and the Assassin on the same theme but a very different tone (no fantasy), it's worth the sight.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
I was surprised (none / 0) (#35)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 09:19:35 AM EST

how political Emperor and the Assassin was, coming from mainland China. Think about it. Although the movie is set in far back in history, it has a very strong, almost blatant political message which is pertinent to contemporary China. How could the censors miss that? Or is it part of the slow process of progress in China?

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
Everything under the sky? (none / 0) (#39)
by Argon on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 10:27:57 AM EST

If its a political message, then Taiwan should improve their defense budget even more.

Anyway, its a beatiful story and that was really an Hero.

[ Parent ]

Censors are dumb (none / 0) (#72)
by bob6 on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 07:31:35 AM EST

Artists have many tricks to pass through control authorities and most of them involves showing everything but not to the same one. For instance a censor may have read the script while another one saw some shots; the political argument only arises when the movie is finally put together. Besides IMDB lists France and Japan alongside with China, which means it could have been edited somwhere else.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
Ahhhhh, Hero (none / 0) (#33)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 09:11:37 AM EST

Truly, truly, painfully (in a good way) beautiful film. I get goosebumps and tears in my eyes watching that film and I don't get emotional watching films. I went to see it twice in theaters (didn't have a chance to see it six times) and am getting the extended edition (if it's ever released) in addition to the original edit I have.

It is visually by far the most stunning film I have ever seen. The use of colors is magnificent, especially after you've seen it several times so you actually know what those colors mean. Editing and pacing is spot on. The ladies are absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, and all characters do an astounding job in the different re-tellings of the story. The story is one of the strongest ones to come out of mainstream cinema in years. The movie has a lot of historical significance if you know the history of China at that time. And the plot is amazing in its simple convolutedness. I can't believe this is Yang Zhimou's first kung-fu film.

Now, can anyone nudge me in the right direction in understanding the 'green' section of the film? By the way, the way the swords blades broke the surface of the water in that section is the most memorable single image from that movie, in addition to the leaves turning color in the 'red' section. And Tony Leung's character writing 'sword'. [SPOILERS AHEAD] And Maggie Cheung's character impaling herself through Tony Leung's char. And... [SPOILERS END]

I mean, how can a mortal make such a movie? Seriously!

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
Sorry (none / 0) (#40)
by Argon on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 10:29:46 AM EST

I was only able to see it 2 times, yet. Didn't had the time to catch all the nuances.
But I would Love to ear your interpretation.

[ Parent ]
Some info... (none / 1) (#43)
by nutate on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 11:59:50 AM EST

interesting link from xerox on color symbolism in China. Hero is a very good movie. I had seen Happy Times when it came out here in nyc, but I couldn't believe that Hero was by the same director. He's quite versatile. One of the key people in his work is his cinematographer, who is an Australian I think, but you can check imdb.

I don't really know exactly what the symbolism is, or how much to read into it, given the fade from yellow to red in the grove of trees, etc... Seems like it could be taken in many ways.

[ Parent ]

Color symbolism (none / 0) (#44)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 01:42:21 PM EST

Thanks for the link, good stuff.

There is a short special on color symbolism in one of the DVD releases of Hero. Here is an even briefer explanation of it (search for 'symblism' within that page). But it's a very good starting point to understanding the story and plot in Hero.

I have read some hackneyed explanations to the color symbolism in Hero. Either they assume color symbolism is universal, which it is not, or they say the colors are there just because they are pretty! I can't believe what kind of people call themselves critics these days.

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
Coming out in US theaters soon (none / 0) (#37)
by nollidj on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 09:21:24 AM EST

I picked up some VCDs of this in a Chinatown shop after watching parts of it without subtitles, and it really is everything previous comments say that it is.

It'll be coming out in US theaters quite soon, presumably subtitled (as was Crouching Tiger).

muahaha. MuaHaHA! MUAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAA!!!!
[ Parent ]

House of Flying Daggers (none / 1) (#41)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 10:39:17 AM EST

Zhang Yimou is releasing House of Flying Daggers later this year. It was screened at Cannes and was received very well there, from what I've read.

Yimou himself said that Hero was just a dress-rehearsal for HOFD. I find it hard to believe anyone can top Hero, but here's hoping!

I also just read that Hero is getting a theatrical release in the States soon. Good that you guys get a chance to see it in theaters as well. It's even more amazing on the big screen, as always.

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
Iron Monkey (none / 1) (#49)
by jolly st nick on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 02:28:32 PM EST

A lot of HK cinema doesn't translate well, because the Chinese love their melodrama and comedy served with a fat slice of ham. I got aquainted with HK flicks in the 70s by going to Chinatown movie theaters. If you go there early or stayed late you'd often be treated to a tear jerker. I remember a typical one where a family member gets cancer, and the surgeon comes out to talk to the family drenched in blood, to explain that "everybody has cancerous cells in their body." He must have went to the Bela Lugosi school of bedside manners.

And I defy anyone to forget the Jackie Chan combination tear jerker/chop sockey fusion flick The First Mission (I think the Cantonese title was something like Long De Xin), although people will remember it for different reasons. Jackie plays a police officer who wants to run away to sea but has to stay home and work to provide for his retarded brother, who is kidnapped by gangsters who want to blackmail Jackie, but Jackie and his buddies can't save him without breaking the law somehow or other, etc.

Their's a huge cultural divide here. Chinese people lap this stuff up, but American audiences will feel like they've been dropped down the rabbit hole.

I know the original author probably didn't want to have the conversation steered toward kung-fu flicks, but the reason I mention this is that as long as we're talking about kung-fu movies, Yuen Woo-Ping's Robin Hood movie, Iron Monkey, is just about the perfect one. It manages to have that wonderful Hong Kong exuberance without going over the top. There's also some interesting cultural things going on here. The movie gives us two protagonists, who are both doctors, abd represent opposite ends of the heroic ideal. Donnie Yen's Wong Key-ying is a upright, uptight C Confucian Knight-errant. Rongguang Yu is a slinky, sexy Taoist trickster.

I enjoyed Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but they were a bit too self-consciously arty for my taste. Not that there's anything wrong with being artistic, but I find it a bit superflous.

A good kung-fu flick is a lot like a classic MGM musical. They are both about people with superhuman capabilities who live larger than life. In the musical, it's about getting the girl. In the Kung-fu flick, it's about destroy corrupt power. You should leave the movie feeling exalted.

[ Parent ]

a bit late? (none / 1) (#26)
by dimaq on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 05:19:47 AM EST

infernal affairs was shown here in september and I bet earlier in hk

Of course (none / 0) (#34)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 09:15:56 AM EST

It's made in 2002 and both follow-ups are out, also. I didn't know it had a theatrical release in the States, mainly since I don't live in the US.

That shouldn't detract from the point of the article - that Infernal Affairs is a damn good movie and that HK has more good movies out and coming. And those who missed the US and other releases have a chance to be all high-and-mighty when the US remake is released, saying "bah, I saw the original ages ago and it was soooo much better." ;)

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
I assume 'here' means the US (nt) (none / 0) (#36)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 09:21:00 AM EST


--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
here means Finland (none / 0) (#89)
by dimaq on Fri Jul 02, 2004 at 10:00:47 AM EST



[ Parent ]
R&A? I'm not in .fi that much anymore (nt) (none / 0) (#93)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Fri Jul 02, 2004 at 09:26:32 PM EST


--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
yeah (none / 0) (#94)
by dimaq on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 06:39:20 AM EST

although I missed it *g*

[ Parent ]
Two words... (none / 1) (#31)
by it certainly is on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 08:24:01 AM EST

Naked Killer

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.

If you liked that, (none / 0) (#38)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 10:12:49 AM EST

check out Naked Weapon. I'm sure there are lots of other with the similar theme, seen only these two, though.

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
Hahahah (none / 1) (#42)
by bakuretsu on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 11:14:40 AM EST

Infernal Affairs. Ahahahhhah!!

One of the worst movies I've ever seen. Terrible acting, overly melodramatic, and generally lacking in any redeeming quality. My friend's ex-girlfriend is big into HK cinema and loved the whole Infernal Affairs series (there were at least a couple of them), but neither of us could figure out what she saw in it.

I don't mean to disparage all of HK cinema, as I have only tasted this small morsel, but I think it's a poor example of an outstanding film.

-- Airborne
    aka Bakuretsu
    The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004

How can you talk about HK cinema and not mention.. (none / 0) (#46)
by insomnyuk on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 02:08:12 PM EST

Wong Kar Wai? Probably the most important film maker (at least in terms of artistic achievement) to come out of Hong Kong.

He directed Chungking Express, which you mentioned, but he also directed two of my favorite films of all time, Fallen Angels, and In the Mood For Love. Compared to Wong, John Woo's work is vulgar and amatuerish. For a good, short example of Wong's talent, watch the short he did for the BMW Film's Hire series titled "The Follow." (click here to skip the registration).

Another brilliant artist left off this list is Tsui Hark, whose action flick Time and Tide is extremely entertaining and immensely watchable.

Do some more research before you hail Woo and his imitators as the kings of Hong Kong cinema.


---
"There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness." - H.L. Mencken
I have to admit (none / 1) (#50)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 02:40:48 PM EST

that I'm not too familiar with Wong Kar Wai's movies, although I'm aware of his status. This is mainly due to the genre of his films. I'm fixing this oversight, though.

You might have noticed I was focusing on Infernal Affairs and only then on HK cinema in general. In an article with this scope I didn't go into details of the movie industry and only gave pointers for people to check out some of the films I've enjoyed. With that in mind I still feel I did the right thing to leave deeper discussions and (de)merits of different directors to the discussion itself.

John Woo is not vulgar or amateurish at any point in his career, I don't care who you compare him to. If you don't like bullet ballets, that's another matter. John Woo has earned all the praise that has been given to him. Unfortunately, he has squandered his talent in Hollywood. Don't know if its his fault, his producers or the scripts' he's chosen there.

Tsui Hark. Now that's a different one. I've seen and own about 10 of his movies, and none of them were as memorable as John Woo's mediocre ones. Tsui Hark's films are like most Hollywood action flicks: mostly superbly executed, calculated popcorn for the brain with no substance whatsoever. And his movies invariably suffer from bad editing and hollow, non-engaging writing which is not unusual for HK flicks in general. I believe Tsui Hark would be better served if he didn't write, produce AND direct so many of his films. There are only so few people who can fill all those chairs, and he is not one of them. Tsui Hark is a hack, not an artist. But I do enjoy watching his films, just like I enjoy many Hollywood summer movies.

I'm not sure if you're implying that John Woo is imitating Tsui Hark. I believe they both have imitated each other throughout their careers.

[And why do kurobots always have to throw in the gratuitous ad hominem if they disagree with what others are saying? I have never said I'm an expert on Hong Kong cinema. I expressly said that I've been watching HK films for only five years. But I'm sure I've seen more HK films than most on this board. And certainly more than you assume. No need to resort to ad hominems because our tastes and preferences don't coincide.]

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
clarification (none / 0) (#51)
by insomnyuk on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 02:52:51 PM EST

Sorry, I was not trying to engage in an ad hominem, but merely explaining I think Wong, and to some extent Hark, are better than Woo.

Wong is extremely important in Hong Kong cinema. When Sofia Coppola accepted the Oscar for Best Screenplay this year, she thanked Wong when she was on stage. There is one scene in Lost in Translation that is a direct quote of In the Mood for Love (I'm being generous, others would say she stole it).

I certainly agree that Woo has squandered his talent. I walked out of Paycheck laughing due to how bad it was, for example.

On the matter of Hark v Woo, I must confess I have only seen The Killer and Hardboiled, so I am comparing those to Tsui Hark's Time and Tide.  I simply liked Hark's film better. The action was just as engaging, and it was over the top, but in different ways. I also thoroughly enjoyed Hark's camera work, which I felt was much more original than Woo's.

I am much more familiar with Wong, and even more familiar with Japanese films. I highly recommend Wong, especially if your familiarity is with just action films. It may take a bit of patience but watching him opens your eyes to a whole new world of film.

Oh, and I have not been watching HK films for more than five years, either, unless you count Jackie Chan.

---
"There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness." - H.L. Mencken
[ Parent ]

No sweat (none / 0) (#52)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 03:11:18 PM EST

I've been meaning to check Wong for a long time, and now you gave me the last impetus, thanks. And In the Mood for Love has both Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung, so it's a winner in my book already. I'll hold on to watching Lost In Translation until I've seen In the Mood for Love.

The Killer and Hard Boiled are probably Woo's best known works in his HK years due to their graphic violence and high bodycounts. While both are good bullet ballets, I believe Jown Woo is at his best in Bullet In The Head which I mention in the article. Not nearly as much gun play as the others, and this movie has a much stronger story and Woo wrings out the last drop of this very dramatic piece. I'm sure you would enjoy this much more than The Killer and Hard Boiled.

Heh, Jackie Chan. I'm not gonna diss him. His movies are always enjoyable, I don't care how silly they are, and they almost always are silly.

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
Jackie Chan... (none / 0) (#57)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 07:38:55 PM EST

...is the finest physical comedian since Keaton and Chaplin.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Japanese directors (none / 0) (#56)
by driph on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 05:55:18 PM EST

As a fan of Wong Kar Wei, what Japanese directors would you throw my way?

--
Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]
japanese directors for fans of wong kar wai (none / 0) (#59)
by insomnyuk on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 09:36:00 PM EST

Well, I'm not sure any of them are like Wong, exactly, but they are all great on their own merits:

Ozu: Tokyo Story (a beautiful, bittersweet film)

Hirokazu Kore-eda: Maborosi and After-Life (both are remarkable, emotional films)

Takeshi Kitano: Fireworks (a great film with moments of beauty and introspection punctuated by moments of extreme violence)

They are all different stylistically but all touch on similar themes and emotions, in my opinion.



---
"There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness." - H.L. Mencken
[ Parent ]
Only seen Fireworks, (none / 0) (#60)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 09:56:18 PM EST

and the experience was greatly diminished by the DVD sleeve which promised "A Masterpiece in Violence,"Brutal" and "Scenes of Harrowing Carnage." If I knew I was to see a rather mellow dramatic film with the occasional violent bit I would've enjoyed it more. Now I was expecting something along the lines of Hard Boiled. Such is the power of (false) marketing. If they told me how the movie actually is, I would've enjoyed it much more. I guess I need to watch it again.

BTW, that happens a lot with movies. For example, I think Fight Club suffered from bad marketing. People went into the movie expecting brainless fighting, but were served with a healthy dose of deep meaning. When expectations are not met it usually leads to disappointment. Of course sometimes it can work to its advantage (lowered expectations and all that). Fight Club redeemed itself because I had prior warning from my friends that there's more to it.

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
Kitano: (none / 0) (#75)
by tetsuwan on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 01:01:46 PM EST

Sonatine has the most striking scene I have ever seen in a movie.

Kikujiro's summer is his cutest film. How can Beat Takeshi be cute? I say, it is all in how many times he calls other people "you fucking idiot" (bakayarou).

Brother? I will never go see it.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Re: Takeshi (none / 0) (#76)
by driph on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 01:17:20 PM EST

Takeshi could make a two hour movie of himself boiling eggs and cleaning the kitchen, and I'd pay to see it.

Brother isn't bad, but it's not especially memorable, either. Kukijiro is probably my favorite of his films, I love it when Takeshi goes random.

Have you seen Zatoichi? Caught it at Cinevegas... entertaining take on the classic samurai story, and the ending was great.

--
Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]

Zatoishi (none / 0) (#80)
by tetsuwan on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 04:21:20 PM EST

Is Takeshi in that movie?

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Re: Zatoichi (none / 0) (#81)
by driph on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 04:53:24 PM EST

Yessir!

Writer/director/actor

--
Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]

I'll put it on my list ... (none / 0) (#82)
by tetsuwan on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 05:15:26 PM EST

Strange that the title was familiar but that I didn't recognise it as a Takeshi-movie.

Have you seen Sonatine?

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Re: sonatine (none / 0) (#86)
by driph on Fri Jul 02, 2004 at 02:28:09 AM EST

Yeah, it was one of the first films of his that I saw. Ended up picking up a copy of it at a previously viewed bin sale at the local video store several years back.

There have been a handful of Zatoichi movies made over the years, although Takeshi's version was the first I've seen. Well, as long as you don't count Blind Fury.

--
Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]

I rather like Tsui Hark... (none / 1) (#58)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jun 29, 2004 at 07:50:33 PM EST

...but he is at his best when working in the kung-fu/flying-swordsman genre. His Wong Fei-Hong series (Once Upon a Time in China I-VI) were all highly entertaining and a great Jet Li vehicle.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Wong Kar Wai--master of HK cinema (none / 1) (#95)
by nostalgiphile on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 09:41:44 AM EST

I couldnt agree more, whereas Woo has a certain glitz and flash worth watching, Wong has style and substance. Wong's only 'action film', "Fallen Angels" is a masterpiece that even the likes of Quentin Tarantino have tried to imitate (most recently in "Kill Bill").

If you want a nice demonstration of this, compare the scene in "The Killer" where Chou Yun-fat murders some thugs sitting round a table in a restaraunt to the near-identical scene in "Fallen Angels," where Leon Lai's character performs a similar assassination in the back of a barber shop. Both are filmed in slow mo with lurid music, but in Wong's version the scene is jarringly real, and beautiful, because each footstep is meticulously timed to the beat of the Massive Attack soundtrack and filmed with a hovering handheld that floats down the corridor and across Lai's shoulder blades.

Strolling down the serpentine corridor smiling at the patrons, Lai cuts a playboy figure without a care, but at the end he is brutal, and mercilessly unloads on his victims with shots that cover the camera w/flecks of blood and beautifully mix their sharp clacks with the deep bass rhythms of the music.

I wish it were possible for me to describe it better, but if you've never seen it yourself, do. This is hands down the most beautiful murder sequence in world cinema.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
Corrections...? (none / 1) (#68)
by Nigga on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 03:18:20 AM EST

while CTHD and Hero feature HK actors and crew they are pretty much chinese films aren't they? And A Bullet in the head isn't modern day, as I recall it's set in vietnam during the war wasn't it?

--------
The fuck happened to Nigga?

You are of course right (none / 1) (#73)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 09:08:13 AM EST

I thought about the Hero and CTHD bit for a while, but decided to bypass it for clarity. I guess it would've only taken a sentence or two to clear, though. But with them being co-productions, it's largely a matter of pedantics. I haven't looked into the respective productions and what is the movie-making culture behind them, but I believe both movies can and should be considered to be mainly mainland Chinese, not HK.

Bullet In the Head is set in Vietnam War and after it. What I referred to as modern day meant after WWII. I wanted to make the distinction just to ignore all the more historical (mainly kung-fu) flicks.

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
You forgot to add.. (none / 1) (#70)
by myrspace on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 05:24:50 AM EST

that Infernal Affairs is so groundbreaking in the HK movie industry if you watch the later films to come after the IA saga you'll realize some of them are trying to mimic the same style in IA. In a way it's good because it's set the standards for the rest of the moviemakers but there'll also be a lack of variety once everyone starts to follow suit.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (none / 1) (#74)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Wed Jun 30, 2004 at 09:15:24 AM EST

This is understandable and happens all the time. Have you noticed how many films and other visual pop culture presentations (ads, commercials) have had a greenish hue after the Matrix? Or how way too many companies have an iteration of Nike Swoosh as their logo?

Brilliant movies come out every few blue moons. Those brilliant ones will be the ones everyone will try to emulate. With great movie-makers this sometimes is a Good Thing, but with the movie producing culture in Hollywood it often becomes "let's make X^2 because X was so successful," leaving innovation behind. Revolutions are extremely rare, evolution is much more common.

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
Modern HK Cinema (none / 0) (#96)
by ComteDeLaFere on Fri Jul 23, 2004 at 12:46:19 PM EST

The problem I had with Internal Affairs (and the sequel, and the sequel to that), was that is was the most Western movie ever to come out of Hong Kong. The slight "otherworldliness" of HK films is on of the reasons that I enjoy enjoy them so much. My hope is that Western influence will not ultimately direct HK into a Hollywood-style morass of cookie-cutter films geared toward lowest common denominator viewers. And a plug for my own personal view of the best of modern HK cinema - check out PTU, by Jonnie To. The Mission, also by To, is another great find. -Le Comte

Modern East Asian Cinema Masterpieces - Hong Kong: Infernal Affairs | 96 comments (86 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
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