Tag Archives: elegant

Ip Man: The True Master

Ip Man, the trainer of Bruce Lee in Wing Chun martial arts style. One of the true Grandmasters that has left a legacy all martial arts film fans must appreciate. Here comes a film from Wilson Yip, a director who has brought us Donnie Yen in the forms of Dragon Tiger Gate and Flash Point. But this film has a different pace and style. More elegant than other kung fu films, this movie flows in the same Ki as Fearless with Jet Li. I think here’s a point where I’m going to list my favorite martial artists just to get it out there. Let me know what you think of this list:

1. Tony Jaa (that’s a given, he got me into martial arts)

2. Jeeja Yanin (she’s a girl who can Muay Thai kick ass)

That is a killer stare right there.

3. Donnie Yen (straight masterful ever since I saw him in Iron Monkey)

4. Jet Li (straight destructive martial artist who has made it big in American films)

5. Dan Chupong (this dude is not as well known as Tony Jaa, but his films are just as brutal as Jaa)

I want me one of those…

6. Jackie Chan (all his movies are entertaining. Me and my roommate love Rush Hour!)

7. Iko Uwais (up and comer from Thailand. He’s in the most anticipated film for me this year, The Raid: Redemption)

8. Panna Rittikrai (this guy helped teach Tony Jaa all he knows, elderly Asian master)

9. Bruce Lee (he’s gotta be on this list somewhere! He’s ballin’ hard!)

10. Kazu Patrick Tang (this dude rocked shit in Raging Phoenix and Bangkok Knockout! Most handsome Thai man in martial arts)

The single greatest scene in the film.

And there it is. Hate me for listing Bruce Lee so low, but he’s on there. And, after watching this movie, I have gained all the more respect for Ip Man and Bruce Lee and what they do and stand for.

This film is a heartfelt one, and may bring a tear to your eye. During the Sino-Japanese War, Fo Shan is a city of prosperity until the Japanese invade and take over. Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is a respected martial arts master who takes people to school on a daily basis. He and his family lose everything after the invasion and it is up to Ip Man to reclaim his honor and the honor of the Chinese people in this tale of inspiration. I can’t wait to see what they do with the next one.

Shit’s about to pop off.

There were a lot of things about this movie that surprised me. Unlike the traditional shoddy acting from the martial artists in films like this, there’s none of that. Only good acting and prideful performances. Donnie Yen always surprises me as a showman first and, well, a martial arts master also first. He can perform well and with honor and dignity (as he did in this role) and kick the shit out of people. It’s really refreshing to see an aging martial arts actor gracefully enter the older years with poise and the ability to still perform at a younger level with fire and passion.

This movie also pulls back the reins on the stylistic elements of Kung Fu films. You expect the people flying from rooftop to rooftop and kicks that send people flying, but not so much in this film. In this

Breathtaking scenery.

return to reality, Donnie Yen styles down his brutal kicks and flips to hone in on a form that is more elegant, precise, and lethal. I had a jaw dropping moment when Ip Man takes on 10 Japanese martial artists at once and probably kills about half of them with these precise little blows. You have to see it to believe it.

Get on dat destruction.

Other than that, this movie has a moving soundtrack, a strangely dubbed over audio track, and fairly accurate subtitles. It’s inspirational and humbling, informing you on one of the greatest martial artists of all time. It’s one of those films you see that makes you want to know more, and reminds you why you love to watch Kung Fu films. Ip Man all the way! 8.4 out of 10.

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Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

Most of the time when you hear a vampire movie is being made, you don’t ever think it will ever get any Oscar buzz. In the case of Anne Rice’s novel turned movie, Interview with the Vampire, that’s a different story. Winning best score and art direction, even

Two regal and noble vamps.

nominating Kirsten Dunst for best supporting actress, this movie cleaned up for a drama about blood suckers. With an all star cast including Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Antonio Banderas, what woman could resist the allure of at least two hunky men? For me, I couldn’t resist a movie spoken in Old English (Shakespeare style).

At the start of the film, we encounter a reporter (Christian Slater, supposed to be played by River Phoenix before his untimely death) following an interesting man with long hair. Before he knows it, he is cornered by what he finds to be a vampire from the late 1700’s. His name is Louis (Brad Pitt, french pronunciation) and instead of sucking his blood dry, he tells him of his story. How he was turned and why he is here, now, telling him all this.

Is Jumanji what tainted this wonderful performance from Kirsten the child actress?

It all starts when Louis loses his wife and child, feeling as if he is a soulless human, wandering through the world in a cold daze. Seeking any means of escape, he encounters Lestat (Tom Cruise), a malevolent vampire who wishes to fulfill his wish, but not in the way he thought. Becoming companions, Lestat teaches Louis the way of the vampires and encourages him to enjoy the new life he has now. But Louis’ problem is that he still feels human with compassion and sympathy, not wanting to live a life alone, in the dark. Forever.

The movie moves through to the present day, skipping a few decades here and there, a century or more until we come to the point where

Great costumes.

Brad Pitt is talking to Christian Slater. It’d be interesting to see Louis enter the 20th century, but the movie was 2 hours long as it was. It covered all the important parts of a period piece film, with elegant and regal outfits galore. The music I didn’t notice as much (sorry those who won an Oscar for the soundtrack) but I was more swept up with the look and feel of the film. Elegant, but always with that underlying element of death.

Hispanic thunder.

I had tried to catch this movie earlier, but I’d only seen snippets of it. I always came in on that depressing scene with Kirsten Dunst and I was like, “I gotta check this movie out.” Sitting down to an elegant (not Underworldy) film about vampires, I had no idea what to expect. Anne Rice, another woman who wrote about vampires? Pleasantly surprised was the end result.

I really liked all the performances in the film. I think that, and the writing/scripting for the film really set it apart from other vampire movies. You felt like they were humans first, and you forgot that they were out in the dark all the time. The language is poetic and fluid, and seems to slip off their tongues as if it was first nature. Tom Cruise (although people may shit all over his attempts as an actor for his beliefs in Scientology) was ballin’ in this film. He’s one of those actors that you know it’s him, and you’ll always see him as Tom Cruise and not the character he’s playing. But by god, he can deliver a vengeful rage of a line or something just as emotionally stirring. He’s a very

‘Sup, Slater?

engrossing actor and needs to be given credit for it. Beliefs/opinions needs to be separated from a body of work. They have nothing to do with each other.

As for the rest of the cast, they all did just as well. Brad Pitt (other than a Fabio looking vampire with long hair) is emotion filled and  a likable main character. That’s what he usually is. Kirsten Dunst was a phenom as a child actress in this movie, playing the adult in children’s clothing, Claudia the vampire. You know those performances where you see it and you think, “That girl was in Spider-Man with a snaggle

Vampires you can fall for.

tooth…” That’s a “wow” performance. Antonio Banderas, you don’t see him that much anymore these days (other than Nasonex commercials). But I appreciated his accent all the same. The Hispanic Schwarzenegger. Rico Suave.

With a great cast and some spectacular settings, who wouldn’t believe this was a well done period piece. And I love a good period piece. This film deserved awards and it really focused on the humanity of the vampire. People didn’t like The Queen of the Damned in the mind of Anne Rice, but we’ll see what I have to say on the matter… 8.5 out of 10.


Oldboy: Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This

Based on the Japanese manga (where all good stories come from) written by Nobuaki Minegishi, what incredible things can I say about Oldboy? Considered the best in the Revenge trilogy, Oldboy comes from a very visceral place combining elements of all

Hammer time.

kinds of storytelling into one film. It’s got revenge and tragedy, theatrical protestations and all the heart and music of an opera. People have said (CNN has said) that it is one of the 10 best Asian films ever made. Let’s back that up and rephrase. There’s no need to include Asian in that statement. Ten best films ever made? Sounds good to me.

I’ve seen Oldboy twice now and I’ve been thoroughly entertained both times. The story is fresh and there’s just enough plot and action that keeps you captivated to the edge of your seat. Visually striking, poetic in the way it is formulated and the scenes are shot… Think about the snazziest guy you know that does things in such an elegant way and give him a beat-up haircut and a hammer. That’s this movie in a nutshell.

If you laugh, then the world laughs with you…

Revenge, as I’ve talked about in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is played with in this movie as well. Just when you think you have the good and bad guy figured out, it turns itself on its head. Sympathy is the keyword in all these films. You are meant to feel sympathetic towards all characters in this film. Nobody is spared a reason for doing what they do, and that makes it all the easier to see this as a truly brutally honest humanistic film.

Basic plot, shall we? Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) was kidnapped after a drunken night out around his daughter’s birthday. He vanishes from society for 15 years and we get to see a montaged version of that process. Through Oh Dae-su’s diaries, we see the tortured mind that has no idea of his crimes or who he wronged. He writes down every name he can remember in case he has to seek

I forgot to mention Ji-tae Yu, but he did some great work in this movie too.

revenge or beg forgiveness, it’s all up in the air at this point. But, with no reason or rhyme, Oh Dae-su is released after 15 long years of seeing no one and having no company other than a T.V. This leads him on a calculated and cold chase for the man who put him away for seemingly no reason.

Choi Min-sik is a theatrical master in this film. I’m pretty sure Park Chan-wook liked him so much that he brought him back for Lady Vengeance for that reason (different character, just as good). He has a great sense of theatrical, dramatic moments, and he takes his time in delivering lines. That’s what I found interesting about this movie (and Lady Vengeance). Choi Min-sik gathers his thoughts (as a person not on camera would) and says things as if he is choosing his words carefully (no script style). It’s a very unique and non-traditional way of acting, and I enjoy it every time I see him (i.e. watch I Saw The Devil).

The cinematography in this film is a bit more fluid, but you see the same basic ideas come across in this one that you saw in Sympathy for Mr. Revenge. Long shots, wide angles, an extreme focus on the bigger picture. This movie has a fight scene from a side angle that is about 5 minutes long and took 17 takes in 3 days to make. Uncut and visceral, it’s realistic fight scenes like this that make martial arts films being made today possible. (You can see a similar scene in Tony Jaa’s The Protector.)

The plot is fantastic and the cast is great as usual. It’s movies like this that only come around once in a lifetime that everything comes together perfectly to make a film that transcends genre, style, and overall movie like quality. You feel you are watching something more real and ethereal than you expected to see with something created by man. I can’t say anything bad about this movie and I feel, for all audiences (above 13, I’d say) this movie is worth watching again and

A strange sense of Korean comedy…

again. Moviemakers out there, if you don’t already have this for your collection, get it. This should change the movie industry (hopefully) for the next 20 years. And I really hope Spike Lee doesn’t remake it…

Anyways, 10 out of 10. Obviously.