Tag Archives: China

Ip Man 2: The Grandmaster Returns

I was happy to sit down and watch the second Ip Man after having watched the first, enjoying the story with interspersed martial arts fight scenes throughout. With more of a focus on story over choreography, this one didn’t catch my attention as much as I would have liked. It wraps up like Cinderella Man and makes you feel all good inside, but I didn’t have any of those jaw dropping moments. Let’s just get to the plot, shall we?

In this one, Ip Man (Donnie Yen reprises his role) has moved to Hong Kong after beating back the Japanese years before. He has plans to start his own martial arts school, but no disciples seem to be interested. With money problems and a

Two masters goin’ at it.

suppressive British government, Ip Man must maneuver his way through life, following his principles and maintaining a happy family. But it’s not all easy going for the Ip Man.

I really was surprised how this film focused more on story rather than substance. It had all the elements of a triumph of the will story without all the fight scenes and technique. My impression of Wing Chun from this film is one of precise and calculated moves, more than the clever and wily style of other martial arts styles. There aren’t flashy kicks or the use of elbows or knees, it is all more in the quickest

Donnie Yen, as refined as ever.

way to take someone out. I do appreciate that though. Donnie Yen shows off how quick he can be in a flurry of punches I’ve never seen demonstrated in a Kung Fu movie before. I give him his due for that.

The acting is just as good in this film as in the last. But I’m talking more about the Chinese actors than the English speaking ones. Although I’m pretty sure that Brian Burrell is living my dream of being a white man from America living in an Asian country. My country of choice, though? Thailand. Gotta give it up for the Muay Thai and Thai food. (Volcano chicken all the way.) But anyways, the English speaking actors (with as few of them as there probably are in China) just took things over the top and need to work on delivery. This is a common problem though in foreign films, so I don’t blame them too much. They were better than some.

I do appreciate the message the Ip Man films send to a wider audience than just China. The oppression felt in China has

I gotta get me one of those…

been quite prevalent in the last 100 years by foreign countries and bigger world powers. It has been a triumph over the bully in the last century, and China knew how to depict that. I give props to Wilson Yip for doing a good job in that department. I feel for the Chinese in this film and the way that most people look down on Chinese martial arts. Hell, martial arts in general. But I’m pretty sure, other than stamina, that any martial arts expert could take out a boxer with the right moves. Like me and all the other martial arts enthusiasts out there, I appreciate martial arts in all its capacity. Asia will always dominate in my heart.

Dope.

In a different twist I wasn’t expecting in this film, I was touched more than inspired to do martial arts. The music was good and uplifting, the cinematography wasn’t bad, and the Wing Chun kept it brief and brutal. Not much to complain about, but I still do love the fight scenes from the first movie more. 7.4 out of 10.


Ping Pong Playa

It’s all fun and games to playa hate on Ping Pong. But not to the Chinese. In a sport that originated in China (not in England, as white people claim, apparently…) Chinese people take the art of the Pong very seriously. (Balls of Fury can make fun of this one all they want. Yes, at times that movie was funny, but it is considered a sport.) But this movie

Yao Ming ballin’ it up at a Ping Pong table?

doesn’t take itself too seriously. Written by Jimmy Tsai the star of the film, combined with Jessica Yu’s directing and co-writing, comes a lighthearted and inspirational film that resets the Chinese at the top of the crop in table tennis.

At the start of the film we are introduced to C-dubs (Jimmy Tsai). He has amateur dreams of becoming an NBA basketball player, following in the famous footsteps of Yao Ming. In a mock interview with someone made to look like Ron Howard (Jonathan Oliver playing “Jon Howard), C-dubs attempts to shake the Asian stereotypes that are held over his head with his ghetto dialect, an effort in vain.

Everyone has 4th grader friends, right?

His parents, Mr. (Jim Lau) and Mrs. (Elizabeth Sung) Wang find him lazy and apathetic to the world of Ping Pong, despite owning and operating a Ping Pong equipment shop and Ping Pong lessons at the local community center. Spending all his days with his black friend, JP Money (Khary Payton) and his 4th grader friend Felix (Andrew Vo), C-dubs looks hopeless. Until the day that his older brother Michael (Roger Fan) gets into an accident with his mother, who is no longer able to host her Ping Pong lessons. It is up to C-dubs to hold down the fort and teach some Ping Pong.

As you can expect from an inspirational film like this, C-dubs is very resistant at first. He goes to the community center with no desire to

DESTROY THOSE FOOLS.

teach, despite having a talent from a young age. You know it’s getting in the way of his training for basketball, but there’s a little surprise with that… With the help of his elementary level school friends and the interest of a young and beautiful Chinese woman, Jennifer (Smith Cho). When rep is on the line, C-dubs picks it up and realizes he has been a mess his whole life. Time to step up to the paddles.

King Erotic, you’ve come back…

There are a few great appearances in this movie. Stephanie Weir from MadTV makes an appearance as the awkwardly racist Ping Pong judge. Shelley Malil from The 40 Year Old Virgin is also featured as the father of one of the awkward Indian kids who is to smart for his own good. And, what may be the best, is Khary Payton as C-dub’s black friend. Many may not recognize him, but his was King Erotic in the Troy/300 spoof, The Legend of Awesomest Maximus. Man was he latently homosexual in that movie…

The acting was fine and there were laughs and comedy throughout. Every time there is a swear word, a basketball bounce is played over it (making it funnier than if they had sworn). It’s a movie for teens that teaches a lesson about good

Asian fury.

sportsmanship, as well as race relations. Never judge a book by its cover (i.e. C-dubs and his bball dreams) and always have in the back of your mind that what you say may offend others. It has a nice message and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s semi-entertaining and may not be funny for everyone, but check it out. You might learn something. 6.4 out of 10.


Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple

I’m a huge sucker for anime that involves martial arts. Heck, for anything that involves martial arts. I dream about one day becoming a disciple of a certain martial arts form, but that day may be behind me (my only training was trying lethal moves out on my sister, in a joking manner of course). But the adrenaline and inspiration that martial arts injects into me makes me feel like I can do anything. And a character like Kenichi: History’s Mightiest Disciple proves it.

Although this anime boasts 50 episodes (and OVA’s to come), it is rather simple and extols the teachings and techniques of martial arts. Kenichi “Weak Knees” Shirahama (Josh Grelle) is just what his nickname suggests. Picked on all the time at school and always outcasted, Kenichi joins the school’s Karate Club in order to become stronger. After being

Kenichi and the masters of Ryozanpaku!

threatened by the biggest kid in the club, Kenichi is worried for his life. And his alien looking friend Haruo Niijima (Todd Haberkorn) confirms this.

Until one day when Kenichi’s entire life changes. Rescued by a new transfer student to the school, Miu Furinji (Carrie Savage), Kenichi discovers a way to fight back against all those bullies. Joining the Ryozanpaku dojo, Kenichi becomes the sole disciple and strongest hero by story’s end.

Miu, the boob action in the show. Pretty ridonk fighter though.

What I liked most about this show, other than the martial arts, is the sensei’s of the dojo. There’s Hayato Furinji (R. Bruce Elliott), the wizened leader of the gym who is basically unstoppable. Although he’s not around, he supports Kenichi and his granddaughter Miu. There’s Shio Sakaki (Christopher Sabat) the drunken comedy and Karate master. His punches are fierce and so is his standoffish personality. He likes Kenichi like a father (although he already has one) and pushes him to do better.¬† Apachai Hopachai (Sonny Strait) is the dumb guy in the group. He’s lovable and friendly, but he doesn’t know his own strength. Always kicking Kenichi into the atmosphere, he loves calling out his name when he performs Muay Thai (my favorite. Period.) Shigure Kosaka¬† (Trina Nishimura) is the weapons expert of the group. She doesn’t talk much, but makes up for it with quick sharp wit with her blade. Kensei Ma (Vic Mignogna) is an interesting old man. Bald and brazen, he brings the pervert aspect into the anime. Always taking pictures, he still finds time to teach Kenichi Chinese Kenpo (softer martial arts). And last but not least, Kenichi’s main teacher, Akisame Koetsuji (Kent Williams). His intelligence and artful technique pervade every aspect of his life. He can usually be seen forcing Kenichi to tow him around on a tire attached to a string through the city streets.

The Shinpaku alliance!

And there are far more characters than that that add spice to this show. As I mentioned before, Niijima is a wonderfully slithery character. His art of running away never fails, and his PDA never fails on recon. Todd Haberkorn brings a wildly raucous character to life with his evil alien features. And then there’s Ragnarok. Considered all to be Kenichi’s arch rivals, Kenichi must defeat them in order to keep from dying (or anything else terrible). One of my personal favorites is Hermit (Eric Vale) this solemn and quiet character has a masterful technique and an iron will. Eric Vale does a wonderful job as usual as a character who never gives up with a great dramatic voice. Jerry Jewell plays a ferociously sinister character I can’t really talk about, but he’s worth waiting for. And J. Michael Tatum does a voice I didn’t recognize at first with Ikki Takeda, the boxing beauty with shiny blue hair.

With all of these wonderful Funimation voice actors and so many characters, nothing could be better. And then you get down to all the fighting. Although some of it may be unrealistic and come with explosions of light and unheard of power with your fists, the technique is there. I’ve learned more from watching Kenichi than I have from anything else. I know moves, fluid techniques, and trick moves too. I know their names and why they’re significant, I might as well have just

Niijima and his wonderfully alien good looks.

watched a Discovery Channel show on it. And from so many different countries! China, Japan, Thailand, and any other Asian country that may have been mentioned. This show displays a sort of U.N. like congregation of the wonders and majesty of martial arts and brings them together in one wonderful show.

This show may floor you.

The plot is simple and straightforward, pulling no punches (pun-ch intended). Kenichi must systematically defeat and conquer enemies and his fears in order to become the best. What more of an archetypal story do you need? Throw in a whole lot of comedy, boobs, and amazing fighting technique, Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is one of the best shounen out there. Get some of that kick ass. 8.3 out of 10.


Invisible Target: Jackie Chan & Son

Jackie Chan has officially passed on his torch as the #1 stunt fighting action star in Asia. And who has he passed this gigantic burden of fame and stardom onto? Why Jaycee Chan of course! With this lineage created and the dynasty struck, good things can only come from Jackie and Son. And this movie, Jacyee Chan’s first debut on the big screen, Invisible Target promises great things from the son of a master.

In this cop vs bad guy film with a resonance of Police Story, Jaycee and fellow action stars Nicholas Tse and Shawn

3 Badasses right there.

Yue (the first name thing must be a sign of Chinese stardom) battle hand to hand and guns to guns with 7 of the most feared ex-military/con demons known in Shang Hai (or wherever this movie takes place. Bangkok?) After the intial heist of a armored truck that killed Carson Fong Yik Wei’s (Shawn Yue) fiance, three detective/inspectors are hurled together from differing pasts and fighting/justice styles to band together for one stand against some of the worst crime China has seen.

Filled with corruption of the police force and some badass roundhouse kicks, this film promises actions scenes at an almost intermittent pace, mixed with a few car chases and explosions. I mean, come on, some guy is forced to eat bullets with a straight leg to the face. This movie delivers hard with at least a 35 minute lull between action scenes in one section. For you action fans out there, this may prove hard to move past, but all-in-all there are at least 4 action scenes that are worth checking out, most importantly the final battle. Through this entire 2 hour, 20 minute movie, a plot of intrigue unfolds among scenes of unnecessary violence.

Look forward to a lot of this.

As far as the good and bad things, nothing necessarily sticks out to me. Jaycee Chan, as far as Chinese and English acting, seems to excel in the former and it is yet to be seen if he excels in the latter. Hopefully he’ll be given the chance. What’s strange is that it seemed that Chow Yun Fat, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan all gave children to star in this movie, following their very particular fighting styles. Amazing, if you ask me. Decent, yet semi-cheesy special effects and digital graphics, a decent foreign cast, and some fantastically orchestrated fight scenes. I give Benny Chan (relation?) and the whole crew of this movie a 7.3 out of 10.


Rush Hour 2: Chris Tucker Returns

So right after watching the first Rush Hour, I was like, “Let’s spark up the next one.” These movies are great and I need to watch them all in pretty rapid order. I mean, come on, it’s Chris Tucker. And you may be postulating, “What if the movie was called Traffic Jam and it starred Jet Li and Chris Rock?” Well I hear what you’re saying friend, but then we’re talking about a movie that’s not funny in which people die quite quickly. Call it Traffic Jam if you’d like, I’ll still go for Rush Hour 1-3.

So, basic plot. Detectives Carter (Chris Tucker) and Lee (Jackie Chan) have teamed up again, except this time, it’s different. (Straight out of the trailer, right?) This time, Detective Carter is on vacation, right where the last one dropped off, in China. Good old Hong Kong. But while there, a bomb goes off on U.S. soil at the local American Embassy, and somebody sinister is to blame. Detective Lee takes on the case, pulling along the constantly, yet hilariously bitching and moaning Carter as they cavort through the streets of Hong Kong (and later Las Vegas) in search of those no good hoodlums.

Now this movie is a step up in acting in comparison from the last movie. Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan are golden. We lose Tom Wilkinson as Juntao, but we gain John Lone as Ricky Tan, the triad boss and former friend of Detective Lee’s father (although I would find it hard to believe that Lee and Tan are actually closer in age than would be Lee’s father…) I didn’t realize how great

John Lone

John Lone really was. He’s been in War, (shortly after RH2) The Last Emperor, Year of the Dragon, and even a remake at the start of his career as a bit piece in King Kong (Chinese cook, 1976). Now that’s a great career if you ask me, especially The Last Emperor, that movie’s fantastic.

What surprised me more that I had forgotten about was that Ziyi Zhang is in this film. With all the movies she’s been in, I feel like she must be the pride and joy of China (besides Jackie Chan). But Ziyi is great as Hu Li, the badass woman who takes no crap and destroys Chris Tucker. I actually would love to take a second to recap her amazing career:

Ziyi Zhang. Yes.

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ridiculously good)

2. Rush Hour 2 (Great, reviewing it currently)

3. The Warrior

4. Hero (She’s worked with Jackie Chan AND Jet Li)

5. House of Flying Daggers (SO visually appealing)

6. Memoirs of a Geisha (Award winning)

7. Even TMNT (Voice acting at its finest)

So yeah, I would definitely think that Ziyi Zhang is a big deal. Her fighting is great and she’s really beautiful. Definite Top 10 actresses in my book.

We also have the amazingly gorgeous Roselyn Sanchez, the Puerto Rican goddess who has done her fair share of acting. She plays the sassy, no

Roselyn Sanchez. Puerto Rican Goddess

nonsense undercover agent with a smokin’ body, Isabella Molina. Although she doesn’t come in until later, this woman definitely lights up the screen.

Again, this movie is classic, suave, and full of Chris Tucker in a robe. What more could you want, I’ll throw something your way, sir. Comedy. And Chris Tucker has it all. Black comedy, situational quips and humor, observational comedy, rapport, slapstick. He’s got all that shizz on lockdown. Talk about your A-list comedian. The buck stops here with Chris Tucker.

Only the best.

I really feel like Brett Ratner and Ross LaManna have done it again with the sequel to a great movie. The moves and stunts this time are tighter, faster. Chris Tucker has picked up some moves. The Chinese girls are hot, spicy even. Ziyi Zhang brings a new kind of evil to the screen. The plot thickens and then disperses. And I can’t wait for the next one. 7.7 out of 10.

 


Rush Hour: Chris Tucker Comedy Hour

So I watched this my roommate recently and had a blast the whole time. I forgot how funny these movies could be. Chris Tucker, as the title of my blog suggests, really is the hilarious force behind this movie. Every line out of his mouth was perfectly delivered and left me literally laughing out loud. With the combination of Tucker’s black humor and Chan’s pretty much sick stunts, this movie makes out to be a pretty entertaining ride.

Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan become this super-cop duo of Det. Carter and Det. Lee in their search for the ambassador from China’s daughter. She has been kidnapped by Juntao (Tom Wilkinson) and she is being ransomed at a hefty price. Although Lee and Carter bungle up the drops every once in a while, they get the job done in the end and save the day. Pretty simple construct.

Most of the humor in this movie comes from the culture shock that both Lee and Carter face when they’re forced together. There’s this hilarious scene in which Lee confuses Carter’s greetings as something that he’s allowed to say, and Lee must use his badass moves to quell the situation. But enough about Jackie Chan as the Chinese version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Chris Tucker is where it’s at. Every line out of his mouth is either a slap against Lee and his ethnicity or something witty said in such a stereotyped way that you can’t help but laugh at it. There’s something about Tucker’s appearance and high, tinny voice that forces me not to take him seriously.

There’s not much to say cinematographically about the film, or even acting wise. Brett Ratner does a great job in directing all three of the Rush Hours and the acting, from mostly “A” to “B” grade actors is on par or better. The one thing I do like about this movie is the cameo appearance of Chris Penn, one of the Penn brothers who I always enjoy seeing. Back to Ratner though, I will say this about him. Any guy that can go from Rush Hour to Red Dragon to X-men, I find to be pretty darn impressive. The guy who wrote the story for the movie Ross LaManna is great. Great stuff he thinks up. Oh, and I almost

Ken Leung. Badass.

forget to mention, Ken Leung is in this movie! Can anybody say Sang from Saw?!?!? YES.

I just thought, “Hey, I like this movie.” Not my ultimate favorite, but let’s review it. It’s worth a laugh and it’s great seeing Jackie Chan at the pique of his prime. (He’s getting older now and The Forbidden Kingdom was kinda sad. I mean, yes, Jackie Chan, Jet Li. Awesome. But no to the story/white kid.) All three are great and I really can’t choose my favorite. But check back in to The Abyss and you might find the others reviewed later so you can decide for yourself. 6 out of 10.

By the way, it’s been suggested that I do a top 10 favorite anime/T.V./Movies/Video Games/Books/Whathaveyou, and I think this is a great idea. If anyone would like to comment (Please) and suggest genres or things I should review, please let me know. I’m up for everything and as you know, The Abyss encompasses Everything.