Tag Archives: Chinese

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.

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My Name Is Bruce… Campbell.

I am not afraid to admit without guilt and shame that I am a Bruce Campbell fan. I watch the Evil Dead trilogy with religious zeal and enjoy Sam Raimi immensely as one of my favorite directors because of the work he and Campbell did together. (This extends into Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, and the new Spider-Man can go and suck on that. Screw the new movie, without even seeing it.) The fact that Bruce Campbell has made a life for himself, shamelessly making B-rated movies in his cheesy and infallible way makes

Bruce Campbell. Here to save the day, in a cheesy way.

anyone who sees his movies realize the lovable goofball that is inside him.

And My Name is Bruce is no exception. In this ode to Bruce Campbell, the small town of Gold Lick has unleashed a demon back from its days when it had Chinese men building the railroads. The got locked down in a mineshaft and a demon known as Guan-Di looks over them. And bean curd. When two unsuspecting teens looking for a romp with two quite strange and unattractive goth girls, all Hell breaks loose.

The cheap Chinese demon emerges!

After the comical slaying of these two bimbos and the friend who accompanied him, Jeff (Taylor Sharpe) seeks out his personal hero, Bruce Campbell. Being a big fan of all his films and knowing that he’ll know what to do, Jeff kidnaps Bruce. Thinking it’s all part of the birthday surprise that his manager Toddner Mills (Ted Raimi) set up, Bruce goes along with it, expecting the cameras and stardom. He’ll do anything at this point, living in a trailer with his drunken dog and no one that loves him. He falls for Jeff’s mom, Kelly (Grace Thorsen) and saves the day. What could be better for Bruce Campbell?

This movie hits all the major points of Bruce Campbell’s B-rated career. He fights

A little bit of that lovable cartoon comedy.

sci-fi/fantasy killer bugs and demons, he swoons the ladies with his famous lines like, “Give me some sugar, baby” and “Hail to the king.” His cheesiness in this film is outweighed by the arrogant figure they create for him that he has to overcome throughout the movie. He has a big head that no actor like himself should have, and rightly so. But everyone can’t get enough of the Bruce at the end of the day.

I have to say it, but that Grace Thorsen has mighty big boobs in this movie. Give me some of that sugar, baby…

It was a reminiscing sort of a film that just takes you back through the heyday of Bruce. A cheesy little podunk town and goofy comic lines that no one but a 6 year old would laugh at. There’s slapstick and a bit of swearing that sets this above a PG-13 rating, but it’s all in fun. Even Sam Raimi’s brother Ted makes some character appearances

The unstoppable Bruce Campbell.

throughout the film. Overall, I was impressed with a film that takes a childhood hero and makes a joke about him. All in fun, this movie is good for any Bruce Campbell/ Evil Dead/ Bubba Ho-tep/Anything he does is gold fans out there. For what it was, it was a 7.1 out of 10.


Jet Li’s Fearless

In what was meant to be Jet Li’s last Wushu epic, Jet Li busts out all the big guns for this film. Although he has made other films that feature his style of martial arts, it goes without saying that movies like The Warlords, The Forbidden Kingdom, and the Expendables (soon to be followed by a second) aren’t exactly focused around Li’s stunt action coordination or anything of the sort. I would argue that War, the movie with Jason Statham that followed this film, was a bit focused on Li’s destructive power of those around him, although the movie questions his identity. In either case, it wasn’t meant to be Jet Li’s last film, just his last display of his martial art’s competence.

In this film, based loosely on Huo Yuanija’s life as a martial artist, this movie follows Jet Li as Huo and his fights to bring back honor and national pride to a broken country. With the Western imperialism and Japanese pressure, Huo fights those foreign invaders in symbolic battles that show off the strength of pride that the Chinese people hold. If it came down to Jet Li’s acting to represent honor for China in this film, it may not hold as much meaning. I was just a bit thrown off by Jet Li’s acting in this movie. It seemed forced and comical at times, but it didn’t matter when he closed his mouth and pounced on some ass with his destructive moves.

Jet Li at his finest.

The movie starts off at a martial arts display tournament in which Huo must defeat 4 competitors from 4 different countries. Using weapons and hand-to-hand combat, Huo fights back the attackers in order to defend his country. Before the fourth battle commences, a flashback to Huo’s life before takes place. For 2/3’s of the movie. Huo remembers when he was a child, being instructed by his father Huo Endi (Colin Chou) and how honorable he was. His father would take him downtown to the battles that took place in raised rings between fighters in the town. In this particular fight, Huo’s father is defeated and Huo finds his resolve to never be fearful and always to win and gain honor.

You’ve impressed me.

This mentality almost becomes Huo’s downfall when he won’t allow the attacking of one of his disciples to be delegated in a civil, non-violent manner. Quin Lei (Chen Zhihui) the rival martial arts master defies Huo and his newly found hubris and fights to the death versus him. With his ruthless manner, something not encouraged by his father, Huo kills Lei and retreats into the countryside to really reevaluate just what it means to participate in martial arts. (I left something out there, watch to find out.) Learning mercy and the righteous path, Huo finds himself in a position to fight for the honor of China.

This film has a lot of moving parts that really present a historical piece that is actually one of my favorite genres. Huo is a real person, and these events of his life weave a very compelling story. The fact that he fights for the honor of China at the end is a stab at those countries that would dare impose themselves on others, as the fights suggest. The tribute at the end to the dojos that are dedicated to Huo and his principles is a nice ending for the film and the events that

Some of my favorite weapons fighting.

transpire.

The fight scenes in this movie are really what stand out though. The rings that these men fight in are very stylistically stunning. Especially the fight between Huo and the man who beat his father’s son, is ridonkulous. The poles and camera angles that effortlessly flow through the fight scene really caught me by surprise. I always knew that Jet Li was a phenomenal fighter and stunt actor, but this movie really pulled out all the stops. His penchant for stunts and choreography, especially the weapon related fights show a lot of discipline and knowledge that I admire. Not being a martial arts expert myself, I’ve seen enough martial arts and have read up enough about it to know Jet Li has got his shit in order.

This big white dude shows up far too often in martial arts films…

The success this film had and the amount of good reviews it is given are just, but I felt, as some others have, that the film had its down moments that kinda left it at middle of the road. Yes, it didn’t have the acting oomph that would’ve elevated it to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but it was well above some of the straight to DVD martial arts films that’re out there. The story itself is inspiring and films like this are what make me wanna be a director. I’d equate it to a Cinderella Man type of film with the action and drama equalling each other out.

I am now psyched to hear that there are two other versions of the film, two of them depicting a more developed love/rejuvenation plot with Michelle Yeoh and a THAI BOXING SCENE. I wish they had included that in the theatrical version. My favorite form of fighting is Thai Boxing/Muay-Thai fighting. It’s one of the only forms that could take out Jet Li and I guess that’s why they were afraid to include it. I would still love to see a fight between Tony Jaa and Jet Li. Hell, Tony Jaa and anyone. Other than getting a bit of a boner over these martial arts masters, I thought this movie was very positively geared towards the Chinese community that Jet Li and director Ronny Yu were representing. It’s a great

Thank you Jet Li and Ronny Yu, for making a movie China can be proud of.

message to all those action stars from non-Asian countries. Back the hell off, we have pride, and that pride will stomp all over you. That message and this film deserves a 8.1 out of 10.


Bodyguards and Assassins: Poetry in Revolution

This foreign film from Hong Kong is a diamond in the rough on Netflix. I really gotta hand it to the foreign film section of Netflix in general. Whenever I wanna go for a movie that I didn’t even know was critically acclaimed, I check that shizz out. This movie surprised me. Me and my roommate Ian (that infamous Ian of my other blog posts) we love foreign martial arts films. We absolutely lose our shit when we watch these. And this one was like, “Okay, I’ll deliver that. But guess what. You’re going to feel like a G.D. revolutionary after you watch this film. Just wait.”

And wait we did. With a sweeping and dramatic 2hr. 20min. dramatic climax into some dramatic action scenes, this movie delivers intellectually and

There's definitely some of this.

emotionally. You may think, “Hm, Bodyguards and Assassins huh? Sounds like a straight ahead martial arts mind destruction machine.” And it should make you think that. Because that does happen. It teases you with a bit about 45 minutes in, but the last hour of the film really gives it to you on a grand scale.  In a historic context (they mention actual people and death dates in the movie, so many non-fiction?) this movie enters Hong Kong in a time of revolution and a call to action. This wonderful film pushes just what it means to sacrifice for your beliefs and what needs to be done to do so.

A time of revolution.

The plot of the film, as me and my friends struggled to understand at first, is that of a man named Sun Wen. This intellectual revolutionary intends to head to Hong Kong and debate on the issue of China’s corrupt Qing dynasty. With no safety and no secure way to get him into the city, a handful of citizens take up the call and arms in order to safeguard their country’s future. Headed by Chen Shaobai (Tony Leung Ka-fai) and Li Yutang (Wang Xueqi), these two older men who finance and head the revolution place their lifelihoods and lives on the line in order to see justice delievered.

The rickshaw driver makes his worth known.

With a unique cast with so many characters from so many parts of this small section of Hong Kong, it can be a hassle to try to keep them all straight. I had trouble myself, but I felt that the individual attention to storylines and amazing costumes and design really individualized each character. With each character came a heartful angle and allows audiences to connect. Not in a sappy way but in a way like… Black Hawk Down. You know they may not all survive, but you have hope and the want for them to do so. Everybody can have their favorite character, and it all works out.

And finally! Here comes a cinematographic film with great fight scenes not

What a picturesque scene.

directed or relating to Ang Lee. And no John Woo doves either. From director Teddy Chan (this guy has been busy since 1981…) and writer Peter Chan and Huang Jianxin (related? Not gonna assume due to racism…) comes a film that was worth the hype I didn’t hear and the Hong Kong Awards I didn’t know it won. 35 nominations and 13 wins from 4 different award affairs? Word. The action scenes though! Leave it to the Asians to make a hooked and metal linked harpoon into a deadly assassin weapon. Some of the fighting may have appeared overdramatic, but it led to a movie I would consider to be worth every minute.

What a great cast. Word.

I can’t talk specifically about the acting, but for most of the cast to be nominated for best actor or best supporting actor, I think, speaks for itself. As in most foreign films, I take the emotions I see through the characters actions and faces to be the true bridge between the gap in language. Another thought goes out to a good subtitled translation. It better sound more poetic than what they’re actually saying to work. If it sounds to corny of colloquial for even an American audience, it won’t cut it.

But this movie is definitely worth the watch. The beginning is slow with development, but it is well worth it by movie’s end. For those who love a good period piece that really has the feeling of the time its set in, check this out. And for those who love a damn good thrashing when it comes to action, be patient. It’s coming. Seeing as this is acclaimed and I loved the shit out of it, 9.3 out of 10 for a movie about Bodyguards and Assassins. Get some. 

Really. Get some.

 

 


Dance in the Vampire Bund: Sexual Twilight

 

So unfortunately for those of my friends who know that Dance in the Vampire Bund is awful, I still had to watch this show to determine just how bad it is. My girlfriend has only seen the nude child photos in the manga and, based on that small encounter, knows it was bad. If only I was as smart… Alas, I still watched this short 12 episode anime to see what all the fuss was about (and, as usual, Christopher Sabat, credited as C.T. Anger.)

This vampires and werewolves love dance that is

Like seriously, what is this?

Dance in the Vampire Bund is… interesting, if I could use any word. If I could use a more accurate word… weird. Creepy. Strange… Pornographic at worst. With such a small range of plot and characters that don’t necessarily change but come full circle, it was more of a laugh then a serious perspective on the age old tale of vampires vs werewolves and their touchy-feely relationships. Oh well…

This doesn't even border wrong. It jumps over it.

In this tale of woe, Mina Tepes (Monica Rial), the “Queen” of the Vampires is planning to reveal the existence of vampires and their desire to live hand-in-hand harmony style with the humans. How does she do this? Quiz/T.V. gameshow style. And some crazy shizz goes down. And people die. And she gets naked. What could be a better way to turn people off from this show?

As the show progresses we meet 3 main villains, a few werewolves, and our main werewolf and pro/antagonist, Akira Kaburagi Regendorf (Eric Vale, credited as Alpha Legrange) who has some freaky love interest with a girl at school, Yuki Saegusa (Alexis Tipton) and Mina… So, yeah, that’s going

This is what's wrong. Twilight won't even touch this.

on. Waking up naked beside a 12 year old girl who is also naked? What an interesting okay view of this taboo, because she’s an old vampire who is far older than Akira…

The show ends halfway through and kicks right back up again, and I’m not sure why… Is it because there was a real push for another 6 episodes? I’m really not sure, but I think (probably based on the manga) there was a need to bring Akira’s backstory full circle.

This is pretty legit...

With a few occaisional sob scenes and way too much boobage, this show is (and should be considered) another in a long string of pop culture spinoffs that should be attached to Twilight (not that that’s a bad thing… please, don’t ask…). With a dark element like Underworld (with very similar Lycan/Werewolf transformations) and a bondage element that is way out of this world/not cool, this show goes places most anime wouldn’t. I give a small ounce of credit to the artwork and sensuality of the drawing, but that’s about as far as that goes.

Other than Eric Vale and Christopher Sabat (One the father, the other the son in this situation.) and a decently not annoying girl voice by Monica Rial, there’s not really anything to say about the voice acting, even in its caliber. I did enjoy the Ayres bro.’s and their identifiable voices as

And there's this guy.

a young quiver voiced wimp (sad though) and a centuries old Chinese vampire, Chris and Greg do it again in what seems to be a string of melodramatic C-rated anime. (Not judging, just giving my opinion. Although, its a career and I like most of their stuff. They’re cool guys in person. Especially Chris with his liters of cola and Greg with his pink hair.)

So I send a sigh your way, Dance in the Vampire Bund. With all your potential, you tell an already told story with way to much sex. And mind you, child sex. No, the transformation sequence doesn’t make it okay. And nobody really dies. Which, okay, they’re vampires, but really? Even vampires have to die someday. And so did this show. 4.5 out of 10. 

Oh, and check this out.


Rush Hour 3: And Chris Tucker Rides Out on the Horse He Rode in On

And sadly, the Rush Hour series draws to a close. In Detectives Carter and Lee’s last hurrah, the duo meets up after the untimely assassination attempt of the ambassador from Rush Hour that Detective Lee was assigned to protect. Lee (Jackie Chan) is determined with the help of Carter (the infamous Chris Tucker) to find the people responsible behind this attempt. As usual, another old man is behind it, (Max von Sydow) and there’s another attractive girl for Chris Tucker (Noemie Lenoir). Although not the best of the trilogy (Rush Hour 2 fo life.), this one holds its own as another great Brett Ratner piece.

What has always surprised me about the Rush Hour series is just how great and accurate the locations are that Lee and Carter travel to. We have L.A. in the orig, Hong Kong and Las Vegas in the second, and now L.A. and Paris in

Paris, Biatch!

the third. Just like the Bourne Series, these movies span the world and keep the action coming. (But Matt Damon cannot perform the functions of both Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, and in that way, lack somewhat.) The B-roll footage all around picturesque Paris is quite cool, including shots of a recreated Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triumphe (I hope that’ s how it’s spelled…). The stunts are really notable in this film, and I love how they end the movies with bloopers of Jackie Chan hurting himself doing his own stunts.

Notable actors? There are a few. We have as I mentioned Max von Sydow as the evil old man (quite cantankerous). Most notably I remember him from Minority Report, but he’s been in the biz for a while now.

Not actually brothers.

There’s Hiroyuki Sanada as Kenji, the badass orphan brother of Detective Lee. (They’re not actually brothers at all, they just grew up on the streets together. Which is weird, because Jackie Chan is Chinese and Hiroyuki is Japanese. It’s quite noticeable.) There’s also Yvan Attal, a traditionally French actor who made an appearance in this movie as George, the taxi cab driver. I do like it when they use actual actors from their places of origin in travel movies like these.

Other than that, this movie functions purely as a nice little closing to the Rush Hour series. The Triads are defeated when the list is found, Lee and Carter went through their rough patches and became even closer, it’s all good. It’s just truly a feel good movie. Besides a couple of parts. I would put this on Ross LaManna and Jeff Nathanson, but it might partly be the fault of Chris Tucker’s delivery. There a quite a few racist remarks that are made towards Iranians, French, and even a feel of American supremacy while Lee and Carter parade around France. It’s almost unbearably awkward. I would watch out for it, but at this point, Chris Tucker is untouchable.

 

Chris Tucker. Untouchable

The stunts are good, maybe better than the other two. Brett Ratner again directs the movie to the best of his ability, that’s fine. Chris Tucker is hilarious (to an extent) and there are some hot and steamy scenes in this you won’t wanna miss. I’d give this one an average rating in comparison to the entire series. 6.6 out of 10.