Tag Archives: foreign film

Election: Chinese Gangsters

After a long hiatus, I’m back with a vengeance (hopefully) after some getting back into the swing of things here at college. This is my senior year, and this blog better take off, or I’m gonna be an English major out roaming the streets like a drifter. That’s kind of a joke and kind of not… Anyways…

I don’t remember this movie that clearly, but if I watched it, I like to give a little bit of an impression on it. From what I remember, Election is a Chinese movie about the election of a gang member to lead a sect of the Triads. It’s Lok (Simon Yam) versus Big D (Tony Leung Ka-Fai), and the stakes are high. The old ass bastards of the Triads select the member to lead the gang for two years, and the world is a changing. With Lok’s commitment to hard work and Big D’s commitment to bribes, it all comes down to who sides with who.

There’s some inter-gang fighting, some martial arts, and a whole lot of dramatic dialogue (from what I remember). The movie was a bit dark, but certain parts lagged when it came to moving the film along. It really didn’t stand out to me, and that’s probably why it hasn’t stuck in my head these last two months. I’ll probably just leave it at that. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and I’m sure it was a good movie, as most foreign films are. The ending was memorable, and it was cool to see a foreign perspective on the Triads instead of an American one.

Just wish I could remember more… 6.7 out of 10.

Advertisements

Goemon: The Funimation Crew

I’d like to classify this movie as an anime, but that would be a straight up lie. But, when you watch this, you’ll see what I mean. The plot, the action and special effects, everything in this movie is set up to be an anime. The stylistic violence explodes off the screen and Goemon skirts building tops at a Flash-like pace. There’s love and betrayal, there’s status, loyalty, and duty. Brotherhood plays one of the bigger roles in this movie to a point that really took over the movie. Goemon and Saizo, two ninja brothers at odds, rival and play to each other’s strengths, recognizing each other as friends in the end. And this is all supplemented by an amazing English dubbed cast from the Funimation studios that actually did a good job at dubbing a foreign film. Imagine that.

In a very overly dramatic style, this movie tells the story of a young ruffian who found the ways to honor and strength

The cast and its wonderful costumes that won it some awards.

through the teachings of his slain master, Nobunaga Oda. Slain by who you may ask? Well, the evil lieutenant, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (acted by Eiji Okuda, voiced by Chistopher Sabat). In a power move that succeeds, Hideyoshi plans to take the Princess Chacha as well (strange name, but all the same…) and all the power he can grab. With the exchange of a small box that was stolen from the royal coffers, Goemon is set on a chase that will reunite him with his sparring partner, Saizo (played by Takao Osawa, voiced by Troy Baker) and the aforementioned brotherhood is rekindled.

The rivalry rekindled!

What ends up happening leads to three huge fight scenes and the dramatic death of someone in the film. There’s some major slaughter, tastefully done I may add, and some traditional face-off scenes between Goemon and the big baddies. With a bigger political and army related plot at hand, the multi-layered elements of the plot may or may not be lost on you when you check this movie out. But, it also begs the question why a lot of the scenes in this movie weren’t as choreographed as I would’ve liked them to be. The special effects were geared more towards destruction than any sort of blood and kill scenes. It does leave you asking for a bit more than was offered, but the plot makes up for that lack of action sequences.

And for those American audiences who complain, “Why do I have to read a movie? I’ll miss stuff!” Whine no more. This is an actually well done dub. Yes, it’s always awkward to watch a film knowing that the foreign actors can hold their own and don’t need a voice actor trying to translate their feelings and emotions into another language, but this film does it differently. These aren’t any old voice actors. These are some of the best from the most well known English anime/voice acting company in America. Funimation. If you were a kid in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, you’ll know of their talent from Toonami. Dragonball Z, Yu Yu Hakusho, all these anime and more from Toonami were voiced by those Funimation voice acting wonders.

The stunning visual effects at play in the film.

 

Set sail on this epic tale of battle.

Other than that, this is a well done live action… action movie. It has all the elements of an epic and almost feels like an overdone Japanese play or something similar. The special effects give a heightened stylistic element to it and may leave those of us more keen to a Tony Jaa film wanting a bit more fight oriented element to it. But for entertainment value, this movie delivers quite well. The music was well done and the comedy was on cue, and you may actually shed a tear at one point in the movie or another. Either way, check this out dubbed and let me know what you think. It’s at least worth a watch. 7.5 out of 10.


Dragon Tiger Gate

All hail the great and mighty Donnie Yen! All become confused by the content of Dragon Tiger Gate! This film had a whole lotta promise and became strange as it progressed. It almost feels like some strange live action tribute to an anime. Oh well, Donnie Yen is in it. In this film of a powerful martial arts dojo and the threat looming over them of an evil master fighter, a handful of scenes redeems what was otherwise a comedic endeavor.

The film centers around two brothers in combat, Dragon Wong (Donnie Yen) and Tiger Wong (Nicholas Tse). After a long history of brotherhood between the two as a couple of wig-haired ruffians, these two go on to bigger and better things, in opposite directions. Dragon becomes the hard brawler of the Triads and Tiger fights for the justice of their dojo, Dragon Tiger Gate. The two worlds collide when the two cross dukes in a restaurant when a deal goes horribly wrong.

They have the same hair as children…

The gang is led by Ma Kun (Chen Kuan-tai), this old badass whose daughter and himself can send a softball yard with one swing. Connected to the Luocha cult, led by Shibumi (Louis Koo), it all starts with the exchanging of the Luocha plaque. And then all Hell breaks loose. From the very beginning, there is a shed of light. There are some big fights scenes with a lot of stunts and falls. It’s lookin’ ballin’s and fine. And then there’s some lulls in the action. And then a scene or two of fighting. And it goes this way for a while, culminating in the strangest of boss fights I’ve ever scene. But what can you expect from this anime/Dragonball Z inspired film?

Pretty good, eh?

It’s disappointing to me that Netflix chooses not to show certain foreign films in their original language with subtitles. This is a movie that desperately needed the original voices to save it from the mockery it got in English. This film has some great locations and sets combined with a B-C rated plot, but it just becomes moderately laughable when its done in English. The voice actors (which, I think some of who are the original actors…) don’t have the ability to match the emotions of the character’s facial expressions and actions. It sends a shiver of shame down my spine.

I did like the three main characters though. There’s Dragon and Tiger, half brothers til the end. And my personal favorite, Turbo. Shawn Yue plays this supremely comedic action hero named Turbo who specializes in nun-chucks, is the weaker of the three, but he has all the heart in the world. The Asian version of Rudy. Master Wong may defeat him one too many times, but he vows to become a great warrior. There’s lots of defeat, a strange power gaining scene in this tall pagoda tower with anal beads and an old man, and some cheesy CG effects towards the end.

Good old Turbo.

The movie ends worse than it began, but there’s a great use of weapons and martial arts skills. I was impressed with Donnie Yen’s stunt coordination and fight scenes, which was well worth the watch. I recommend the original version and avoid all the classic hilarity of a dubbed. All-in-all, it’s an entertaining dramatic martial arts film with a plot. Those are sorta rare, so check this one out. A decent 5.5 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.