Irma Vep (1996)

Directed By: Olivier Assayas

Screenplay By: Olivier Assayas

Cinematography By: Eric Gautier

Starring: Maggie Cheung & Nathalie Richard

Runtime: 99 minutes

This is an interesting French film that deals with the state of world cinema generally and French cinema specifically. It’s about a French production of a remake of an old silent film, and for the remake the director casts a Chinese actress as the star.

Irma Vep is engaging throughout but the last few minutes is where this movie busts a whole through your brain. Of course it wouldn’t have any power if it weren’t for everything that comes before it, but dang the ending is mesmerizing and shows what movies are truly capable of.

Maggie Cheung is super seducing wearing a skin tight latex suit for a good portion of the film. And it doesn’t hurt how everyone in the movie talks about how beautiful she is. The influential power of other people.

This is worth a watch for anyone interested in a movie about filmmaking and movies.

God Bless America

Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Directed By: Kenneth Lonergan

Screenplay By: Kenneth Lonergan

Cinematography By: Jody Lee Lipes

Starring: Casey Affleck & Lucas Hedges

This is a really good film. This is what more movies should try and be. I’m not saying everything needs to be super depressing, but time is given to the characters and the audience to allow the story to actually matter. We get to witness a situation unfold. We get to understand nooks and crannies of a man’s psyche. It is beautifully shot and gives an importance to the image that isn’t always seen nowadays.

While people have been talking about how depressing this movie is, there is also a lot of humor in it. Lucas Hedges hits every line that he needs to to make us laugh but also perfectly juxtaposes for us how broken his uncle is.

Because of the location and shot selection, even the lack of dialogue from the main character, I found Manchester by the Sea to have a strange soothing quality. Like that of a sad man who has gone to the shore to watch the waves roll in and out.

This is a very lovely film. It is not the best film, it’s not the most beautiful, but it sets a standard for filmmaking and storytelling that people should take notice of.

God Bless America

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Directed By – Stephen Chow

Screenplay By – Man Keung Chan, Stephen Chow, Xin Huo & Kan-Cheung Tsang

Cinematography By – Hang-Sang Poon

Starring Stephen Chow, Xiaogang Feng, Wah Yuen, Siu-Lung Leung & Qiu Yuen

99 min.

I think Kung Fu Hustle was too hyped up for me and that is why I feel disappointed after my viewing of this movie. Recently I heard it compared to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and well, for me, it definitely does not live up to Scott Pilgrim and therefore I am let down. It does have glimpses of the same style so I can understand the comparison, but ultimately Scott Pilgrim is a much more compelling story that uses its style impeccably, not only to entertain but to enhance the story. Here, the style feels more important than the story, and actually the story itself falls to the wayside as you are constantly figuring out who the protagonist is.

Kung Fu Hustle seems like its hustling itself. If this movie had given us a clear hero and goal I think it would have been way more successful given how fun and unique its style is. What it is is a convoluted mess that doesn’t give the audience time to care for any of its characters.

God Bless America

Five Shaolin Masters (1974)

Directed By – Cheh Chang

Screenplay By – Kuang Ni

Cinematography By – Mu-To Kung

Starring David Chiang, Lung Ti, Sheng Fu, Kuan-Chun Chi, Fei Meng, Lung Wei Wang & Ka-Yan Leung

105 min.

Five Shaolin Masters has a solid plot but an inevitable flaw in its structure. Basically here’s the set up, five Shaolin masters escape a traitors ambush of Shaolin and go looking for help amongst villagers. Each master goes on his own path and encounters and enemy he cannot defeat. The problem is that five times of having a master get defeated, one after another, gets very repetitive.

However, the payoff is when all five masters reunite and train for a final battle with each of their foes, all working on Kung Fu styles and with weapons that will exploit their particular enemies weaknesses. Then it become a badass Kung Fu movie. Five Shaolin Masters is a waiting game and I’m not so sure it’s worth the wait.

God Bless America

Dragon Lord (1982)

Directed By – Jackie Chan

Screenplay By – Jackie Chan, Jack Maeby (english adaptation), Edward Tang & Barry Wong

Cinematography By – Ching-Chu Chen & Chung Yuan Chen

Starring Jackie Chan & Mars

102 min.

Dragon Lord (or Dragon Strike, depending on translations) is another solid Jackie Chan movie. There’s something about the light heartedness mixed with creative choreography that goes together so well with Jackie and his movies. This one has two great scenes of Jackie leading teams to victory that are a lot of fun to watch. It is also fun to watch young Jackie with his long hair.

God Bless America

The Imitation Game (2014)

Directed By – Morten Tyldum

Screenplay By – Graham Moore

Cinematography By – Óscar Faura

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kiera Knightley & Matthew Goode

114 min.

The Imitation Game is imitating what it thinks a good movie is. The story about these code breakers is amazing and that’s what makes this an interesting movie. Benedict puts on a great performance for the first half of the movie but then the directing, the pacing, the screenplay divert path and end up becoming something that is ultaimately something we’ve all seen before. The movie could have ended about twenty minutes earlier than it does.

There’s no real reason to bring Alan Turing’s life after the war into any of this. This movie is not about the life of Alan Turing and yet it tries as hard as it can to make it about Turing’s life and that’s where the problem lies. This movie is about and should have solely been about the genius that was Alan Turing and how he was able to crack the Nazi’s enigma code.

God Bless America

Supercop (1992)

Directed By – Stanley Tong

Screenplay By – Edward Tang, Fibe Ma & Lee Wai Yee

Cinematography By – Ardy Lam

Starring Jackie Chan

 91 min.

Supercop…Supercop is just a fun Jackie Chan picnic where he brings laughs and stunts to spare. Everything Jackie Chan does is filled with comedy and heart but isn’t afraid to make himself look silly and ridiculous…or risk his life.

God Bless America

Project Almanac (2014)

Directed By – Dean Israelite

Screenplay By Andrew Stark & Jason Pagan

Cinematography By – Matthew J. Lloyd

Starring Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista & Virginia Gardner

106 min.

I know it’s Kung Fu February but just try and keep me out of the theater, I dare you.

That being said, Project Almanac is entertaining but doesn’t give you anything more than what the previews showed. It’s hand-held time traveling high school fluff, riddled with plot holes and time travel paradox dilemmas. The female roles are flat and all played by extremely attractive girls. Not that hot girls are bad but that there’s no way these would be the girl involved in this story. Even the girl bully is super hot. Also they totally ruin the climax of the film by adding visual effects that are completely unnecessary.

Eh, Project Almanac is a bit of fun and I’m sure my father will enjoy it when he sees it VOD, but overall it’s pretty basic and unintelligent.

God Bless America

Shaolin (2011)

Directed By – Benny Chan

Screenplay By – Alan Yuen

Cinematography By – Anthony Pun

Starring Andy Lau

131 min.

Compared to the rough look of the Kung Fu movies for the 70s and 80s and even into the 90s, Shaolin is a very fine tuned film. It is also very character driven more so than most that I’ve watched during this seasons Kung Fu February. That’s not to say Shaolin isn’t a good film, it did take a some time for me to get into it but by the end I find myself very engrossed in the film. The climax of the movie gets a bit ridiculous and losses some of the steam it works so hard in developing but for the most part Shaolin is a very good addition into the kung fu film cannon. Jackie Chan also plays a minor character and is just perfect, not stealing the show per se, but doing an incredible job with what he’s given and adds a much needed quality of frivolity to this movie.

I’d recommend this to anyone celebrating this beloved holiday of ours.

God Bless America

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)

Directed By – Chia-Liang Liu

Screenplay By – Kuang Ni

Cinematography By – Yeh-tai Huang & Arthur Wong

Starring Chia-Hui Liu

115 min.

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin starts off slow and I was skeptical for a while, but once the story gets into full gear it’s just an awesome movie that makes me happy I celebrate Kung Fu February. 36th Chamber isn’t as flashy as a Jackie Chan movie or full of pure force like Bruce Lee but it has a story that is as compelling to watch as the best of them. There’s nothing like a boy learning the ways of Shaolin Kung Fu and that’s all this movie is for an hour of stream-lined entertainment.

This movie turned out to be a personal favorite.

God Bless America