Another little set of mini-posts, usual rules apply!
That most of unusual of things, a successful Asian science fiction movie. Lovingly inspired by the dystopian time travelling “Terminator” via the more human touch of “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”, “Returner” is the tale of A time-travelling Anne Suzuki coming back to the present to enlist the aid of Takeshi Kaneshiro in avoiding an Alien takeover of earth. By turns exciting and touching, with some quality SFX that belies the budget, this is a wonderful little movie. It manages to avoid the complexities and paradoxes by not delving too deep into time travel, spending much more time on the burgeoning friendship between two people that are opposites in so many ways. Bonus marks as well for never straying into the potential creepy.
A superior Korean sports film, that on the face of it is about a Coach (and former Olympic Bronze Medallist) who trains a bunch of misfit girls to become weightlifters. It maybe tackles too many storylines, and is awfully hurried at the end, but is far far better than I expected.
It maintains interest by not only having a small poke at the Korean School system, but also the modern obsession with looks and appearance, whilst not laying on the normal clichés of this kind of story too thickly. It is very broadly based on a true story, taking some major story points from the life of a real-life Coach, but laying on top a completely fictitious set of events.
Beom-su Lee puts in a very interesting performance as the coach, moving from disenchanted loner to a caring teacher as the film progresses.
My main criticism is that the film does seem to end awfully abruptly, leaving some of the storylines dangling, but surprisingly Recommended.
A modern update on the Jackie Chan classic covered a couple of weeks ago. Boy what a difference 20 or so years can make. We revisit Chan’s character in a more modern time, wracked by grief and alcoholism over the loss of his team by a bunch of nihilistic modern youths led by Daniel Wu. Glossy and sleek, exciting but rather downbeat. The fun of the first movie is gone, but the introduction of Nicolas Tse adds some often needed lightness to proceedings. It will never be timeless, as it is firmly stuck in a mid-1990’s world of online computer games and extreme sports that will look dated in 10 years time.
Jackie Chan is getting on a bit now, so it lacks a lot of the physical side of his previous work, although there is a brilliant updating of the Bus stunt from the original, and product placement aside, the fight in the Lego bricks is undoubtedly exciting.
Criticisms aside, it is an interesting and exciting update to the series, but only gets Recommended as it has lost a little of the charm which made the original so exciting.
My first foray into the films of Carol “Do Do” Cheng, and a delicious little number it is too. She plays a mainland security officer escorting a prisoner to Hong Kong. Cue lots of Mainland vs. Hong Kong conflict – although interestingly, it is far more balanced than I expected.
Do do is brilliant, humorous both physically and in her delivery, but also showing some nice little touches (her small seduction by something as simple as a lipstick, and her obvious attraction to “Big” Tony Leung). She really is a stranger in a strange land, but also searching to find the links between the two societies. This isn’t a bumbling Inspector Clouseau, sure she makes mistakes, but often her more forthright approach gets results.
Being an early 1990’s Hong Kong film, the subtitles are pretty horrendous, and to be honest I suspect a lot of the wordplay is lost on me, but as usual I think I coped OK. Occasionally the film is frustrating as it does sometimes try and tell a sexual joke that is maybe a little too “adult”.
What I really liked was though that although humorous mileage was made out of the ideological conflict between Mainland China and Western Hong Kong, it never veered into outright hostility. This is 1991 Hong Kong, which is starting to understand the changes which are going to happen as part of the 1997 handover. The characters are mirrors onto their own societies on both sides, showing both the good and the bad.
The final sequence is also surprisingly touching, eschewing both the ideology and the comedy for something a little poignant and ultimately human.