July 7, 1995 |
Her name is Asia the Invincible. Her weapon of choice, flying needles. Asia deploys them in delicate embroideries and the martial arts, riveting her enemies and then tangling them up in silken threads. In more ways than one, her movie is a stitch. The East Is Red, a giddily entertaining, foot-flying kung fu fantasy from Hong Kong, is really Swordsman III, a sequel to the fabulously popular action series. In the last installment, Asia, the omnipotent Ming Dynasty antihero, metamorphosed into a woman (Brigitte Lin)
August 15, 2008 |
While the J-Horror fad may have come and gone (well, most of these films have gone to remake-land in Hollywood), things have never been better for that old mainstay of Asian cinema - the martial-arts movie. Genius Products (a division of the Weinstein Brothers) has practically cornered the market on the best of Hong Kong martial-arts cinema with its "Dragon Dynasty" DVD collection. The remarkable series, launched just two years ago, already boasts 29 titles, each featuring a wealth of extras, including at least one commentary track, making-of featurettes, and cast and crew interviews - not to mention surveys of martial-arts weapons and techniques.
April 16, 2004 |
In the beginning of Kill Bill, Vol. 1, Uma Thurman, a.k.a. The Bride/"Black Mamba," wakes up in a hospital four years after her former associates (the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad and Bill) have turned on her. Unfortunately, Kill Bill's first foray into home theaters is a betrayal, too. For all the hoopla of the DVD release, Quentin Tarantino's violent epic is on the QT in terms of satisfaction, as in the quiet tip. With the release of Kill Bill, Vol. 2 this week (see review on Page 4)
February 7, 2003 |
Two top bananas each imagine that the other is his sidekick. That's all there is to the joke of the irresistibly funny Shanghai Knights, but that's not all there is to this kicking sequel to Shanghai Noon. Once again Jackie Chan and his nimble limbs join forces with Owen Wilson and his loose lips, this time to rid 1887 Peking of British imperialists and London of Chinese assassins out to kill Queen Vicky. And once again the whirligig with the waist-length locks and work ethic (that would be Chan as Chon Wang)
September 14, 2003 |
Quentin Tarantino, whose profane eloquence snagged an Oscar for his Pulp Fiction screenplay, hasn't released a film since Jackie Brown in 1997. His fans are pumped for Kill Bill, described by producer Lawrence Bender as a "kick-ass female-action revenge movie with humor - imagine Clint Eastwood in the body of Uma Thurman. " The Pulp Fiction goddess stars as a hit woman who awakens from a four-year coma hell-bent on revenge against the man (David Carradine) who ordered a hit on her. Billed as "the only movie you need to see this year!"
July 2, 1986 |
Big Trouble in Little China, the first kung fu screwball comedy, is a hodgepodge of action and martial slapstick. None dare call it good, but its nonstop goofiness has comic appeal. How many movies does Little China spoof in its gaga swath through subterranean San Francisco? No mathematician can count that high. Possibly every movie ever made, but most notably Indiana Jones and Ghostbusters. But it's a slaphappily inverted Indiana Jones, China featuring an Anglo sidekick to its Asian main man. Would-be hero Jack Burton (Kurt Russell)
February 3, 1989 |
In movie terms, we think of Hong Kong - if we think of it at all in movie terms - as the home of the late and inimitable Bruce Lee and as the capital of kung fu. The defiantly zany Peking Opera Blues suggests that it's also the capital of kung foolery. Directed by Tsui Hark at a frenzied allegro molto tempo and with a flair for action that would put many a big-name Hollywood filmmaker to shame, Peking Opera Blues answers a question that I must admit had not occurred to me before.
February 16, 2001 |
At the very least, "Sweet November" deserves credit for maintaining a consistent tone - it's perfectly awful from start to finish. The needle on the Drek-O-Meter starts jumping immediately, when we see that Keanu Reeves has been miscast as a genius, tough-guy ad exec, assigned to come up with a cutting-edge campaign for hot dogs. His name is Nelson Moss, and when he makes his pitch to his conservative clients, he describes a campaign so dreadful, so offensive, so amateurishly conceived that his character immediately loses all credibility, taking "Sweet" down the tubes with him. This meltdown serves its bare-bones narrative purpose, though - Moss loses his job just as he hooks up with a fetching San Fran bohemian (Charlize Theron)
May 10, 1993 |
In the early 1970s, Rhodes Middle School Principal Jacob J. Hoffman used television as a learning tool, immersing his 1,600 students in unique read- along lessons, coupled with popular TV programs. The experiment worked and it was expanded to several other schools. Students who were only mediocre students became avid readers when the course subject was "Kung Fu" or "Sanford and Son. " Mr. Hoffman, 76, died Friday. But his friends and relatives remember his work during four decades as a Philadelphia teacher and school principal, implementing a number of pilot educational programs that proved highly successful.
May 19, 2003 |
Long lines snaked out of the cineplexes this weekend as The Matrix Reloaded scored the biggest opening weekend take ever for any R-rated movie: $93.3 million. Pretty good for a film in which kung-fu-fighting characters talk in philosophical riddles such as: "Choice is an illusion" and "There is only one constant. . . causality. " One must wonder which draws the crowds: Is it the existential terror that reality might really be an illusion concocted by evil computers to enslave humanity?