More Capsules – Swordsman II, Green Snake, Princess Blade, Irma Vep

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It’s that time again when I try and catch up on a whole host of films I have watched recently, that I think might be worth your time, but that I have not quite gotten around to doing a full review for.  One day I might return to one or two of these.

Swordsman II

I really should make more time for this one.  It is pretty much theSwordsman_II quintessential film of its genre.  Featuring a cast of the great and the good of the Hong Kong film industry at the time (Jet Li, Brigette Lin, Michelle Reis, Rosamund Kwan to name the obvious), this film is the epitome of fantasy Wuxia.  It has it all – exemplary action, bizarre love triangles, moments of tragedy and an ending tinged with sadness and regret.  And all is shot through Tsui Hark produced angles and filters.  It is mightily glorious, but there is a lot going on here and is possible a little too dense for the uninitiated.  Lin is especially good, playing somewhat against type (except she isn’t, in a rather disturbing way).  Kinetic and frenetic, but with the required amount of emotion and heart. Seriously Recommended.

Green Snake

In a similar vein, this Tsui Hark directed movie also lives in the417px-Greensnakemov realm of the fantastic, exploring the efforts of two snakes (Joey Wang and Maggie Cheung) to find love and become human, all the while hunted down by a rather zealous Monk (Vincent Wong).  This is high concept, glorious stuff.  I liken it to a dream – there is a lot of craziness going on the surface, but the questions it is asking are very human.  However, if Swordsman II was not one for the newcomer, this applies even more in spades to this film – it is not the film to convert you, but rather one to relish in context.  Wang is radiant and Cheung is wonderfully naive and playful.  Recommended with reservations – enjoy as a spectacle.

Princess Blade

A really rather interesting take on “Lady Snowblood”, moving thePrincess_blade story to a dystopian future.  Our heroine (Yumiko Shaku) is part of a cult of mercenaries, who discovers that her past is not as clear cut as she had been raised to believe.  She meets a man who has demons of his own, and they start to form an ultimately tragic romance. 

It is a very intresting film, and the action scenes are of exceptional quality.  The dystopian future is well laid out, not by special effects, but more by exposition, but worked for me.  On the down side, I wanted to know a lot more about this future, and major parts of the story are left undeveloped, indeed it almost felt as if 20 minutes had been removed.  Recommended

Irma Vep

A French movie, that gets to be discussed as the wonderfulIrmavep Maggie Cheung (playing herself) is the star.  Cheung has gone to France to play a role in a fading Directors attempt to remake a 1920’s silent movie.  The film is really a barbed commentary on the state of the French Film Industry at the time, and I will admit much of it probably went over my head.  But Cheung commands the screen with her usual presence, not only when she is prancing around in the middle of the night in a leather cat suit, but also when being totally confused and bewildered by those around her.  Her frustration at one journalist is a delight to behold.  There is not a lot of story here, just lots of scenes of French people sniping about each other, usually to Cheung.  However, it is very absorbing, and genuinely amusing.  Unfortunately it is ultimately unsatisfying in terms of story, but certainly worth a look.  Mildly Recommended.

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