Archive for HK movies

Dragon Heat and The Viral Factor

Posted in Action/adventure, Crime, Movies with tags on October 15, 2013 by Cara Marie

Two Hong Kong action flicks edited by Chung Wai-Chiu, a fact I only bring up because one of them was so shockingly edited we had to IDMB the editor afterwards. Here we go …

Dragon Heat

A Hong Kong action movie staring Michael Biehn! What could go wrong?

… a lot. Luckily, this was the kind of movie that was hilarious while it was being awful. It suffered from an excess of characters (six good guys, plus miscellaneous cops to serve as canon-fodder; four bad guys on one team, two bad guys on another, plus miscellanous flunkies and an ex-girlfriend). The movie did make an effort to introduce most of them … with little introduction cards and characteristic dramatic shots. (The characteristic dramatic shots get used again whenever a character does something especially cool.) There were also title cards for each ‘chapter’ of the movie.

Dragon Heat is one of the most incoherently edited films I have ever scene. If you can think of an editing technique, it’s in here. (At one point, L asked me why I was complaining about a bizarrely placed fade when we’d just crosscut between the present-day action scene and a black-and-white clip of the character’s signature dramatic shot. The answer is, because it was just another unnecessary thing.)

At first, L and I were impressed that the bad guys were actually decent shots – but it turned out that only applied to people other than our heroes. We were told – in the introductions, and in a particularly memorable scene featuring a duck-shooting game – that our heroes were good shots, but we never saw any evidence of this outside of the duck-shooting game. (Later, there is a close-range sniper battle!)

There was also a cringe-worthy moment when the only woman on our team of heroes actually killed one of the bad guys (no-one had managed it till then; you have to pretend it’s a cop’s job to kill bad guys to watch this movie) and she takes a moment to smile goofily at the team sniper who has a crush on her. They have a *moment*.

… and then Nikita shoots her in the head.

(I’m kidding, it’s not Nikita. It’s Maggie Q playing a much less competent female assassin! And being wasted in general.)

The rest of the team get a little moment of bonding-in-grief, and we move on. Luckily, she wasn’t one of the characters we were expected to care about.

Sadly, I don’t think I ever managed to care about any of them. Which, given the size of the cast, isn’t really a surprise.

The Viral Factor

I watched this while I was in Malaysia, but it turns out it was edited by the same guy who edited Dragon Heat, so I feel like I should talk about it now. Unlike Dragon Heat, this movie seemed competently edited.

This is one of the many movies I watched while I was in Malaysia; I’m talking about it now because turns out it was edited by the same guy who edited Dragon Heat. This surprised me, because The Viral Factor seemed competently edited.

The Viral Factor is the sort of movie that is competent without ever achieving anything greater. The region 4 DVD case is misleading – it makes the movie seem far more action-y than it actually is. Which isn’t to say there’s no action, but at its heart this is a drama about two brothers on opposite sides of the law. It wasn’t until I realised that that I actually started to enjoy the movie.

The action plotline was the least memorable part – someone had manufactured a virus in order to make money selling the vaccines; Jay Chou had to stop it. Also Jay Chou was dying. Also he’d just been reunited with his estranged gambling addict father and criminal brother, and met his criminal brother’s adorable daughter. Awkward family bonding! Things resolved much as you’d expect them to, and I teared up at the end.

The only action scene that really stuck with me was the car chase, and that was for the wrong reasons. See, they were in KL at that point. And I’d just been in KL. More specifically, I’d just been in a KL traffic jam. And I had trouble suspending my disbelief that the roads would ever be that clear.

Movies which may or may not be weirder than usual

Posted in Action/adventure, Horror, Movies, Science fiction with tags , , on March 14, 2010 by Cara Marie

The theme for our latest movie night was ‘weird movies’, although whether or not they were any weirder than usual is debatable. And it’s probably noteworthy that we watched a bunch of the short films we made in high school, and they were entirely fitting.

The first film we watched was Resiklo, which is a Phillipine post-apocalyptic alien invasion story. With giant mecha. And people developing psychic powers. And BMX action sequences. What more could you ask for? It was a lot of fun – maybe not good exactly, but fun. And a lot of the times when the plot seemed random it was just that you had to have been paying a lot of attention.

Surprising things:

  • It was a ‘family movie’. You can tell because it had small children in it who they actually let do stuff (except for the youngest one who was meant to be adorable but was rather just creepy).
  • It was set up for a sequel – the love interest character (who I hadn’t actually realised was going to be the love interest on account of her being my age and the main character being in his forties…) turns out to be the daughter of one of the alien collaborators and ends up being taken when the bad guys flee at the end, willingly or not.
  • The bookending device was to talk about Christmas, and whether or not people were open to the Christmas spirit (more so after the aliens got run off!) I just don’t expect religion in my giant robot films.
  • The patriotism. Maybe that’s a New Zealand self-deprecation thing – people expressing pride in their country is just so unexpected!

Also, someone on the movie liked the Matrix a lot. It was in the costume designs for the bad guys (the good guys were more The Tribe), and the reveal for the aliens’ evil plot.

The second movie we watched right through was Trolls 2. Which doesn’t actually have any trolls in it – it’s about goblins. Goblins who want to eat people, except that they first have to turn them into vegetable matter. Because meat is abhorrent. So people get turned into trees, or just into green sludge, and there’s an ominous zoom when the protagonist’s father reads a vegetarian cookbook.

It is an awful movie. The best actor is the child protagonist (I’m not damning with faint praise, he was actually good). The goblin queen is decent, and her ridiculousness is deliberate – everyone else is just bad.

It is an awful movie, but it is hilarious. You will never want to eat anything with green food colouring, and you will never ever look at a corncob the same way again.

The third movie is always the one where I doze off for ten minutes and then wake up wondering why everyone’s blowing each other up all of a sudden. Bury Me High is an action flick about feng shui – the key to defeating the villain is to destroy his ancestor’s burial site. And we learn holding up a sword in a lightning storm is a bad idea.

It’s quite funny, and the fights are good, but apparently the climax didn’t make any more sense even if you were awake for the build-up.

Resiklo and Bury Me High both taught me that if someone wears sunglasses, they are probably evil. Trolls 2 taught me that if someone is a vegetarian, they are also evil. And probably a goblin in disguise. These are both useful pieces of information that I am sure will apply in my everyday life.

Actually, Facebook, I see my friends in person. We watch movies.

Posted in Movies with tags , , , on March 7, 2010 by Cara Marie

It’s funny how Facebook will tell me to ‘reconnect’ with somebody I was only just hanging out with. In real life OMG. I would quite like to just get rid of Facebook but there are some people who will only invite you to things over it, and I would miss out. /rant

Polyytech has been keeping me well busy, but it is so much more satisfying than university ever was. Classrooms are just so much better than lecture halls. It probably helps that I actually want to work in book publishing, whereas while I found geology interesting, I never had any intention of being a scientist. So it’s easier to feel fully engaged. And my degree was a comparatively practical one!

It does mean getting up in the mornings though. Obviously that’s why I have to go to movie marathons and stay up till 5 in the morning, to make up for all the early nights. Last night was spaghetti western night. It’s interesting how differently things can come across in a different context – we watched The Great Silence, which is apparently famously bleak. So if you’re coming from a background of spaghetti westerns, and expecting your heroes to get kicked around but to ultimately prevail, it’s quite shocking to have the bad guys win (and so thoroughly!) Whereas I’d only seen The Good, the Bad and the Ugly before last night, so it’s not challenging any genre conventions that I’m aware of.

Or maybe I’m just a nihilist who expects that kind of thing.

The other one we watched was A Bullet for the General, which surprised me with how slashy it was. ‘Nino’ and Chuncho are instantly BFFs, and Nino gets questioned so many times as to whether or not he actually likes women, and the ending. Kind of tragic for the ‘romance’, but strangely upbeat at the same time.

It was also quite a political film, being set during the Mexican revolution, and deals quite a lot with class. As does The Great Silence on that latter note – I don’t know that this is actually typical of spaghetti westerns. I was told that we were watching some of the more sophisticated ones.

So after that we had to be thoroughly unsophisticated and watch The Story of Ricky, which is a splatter film from Hong Kong. So, lots of punching people’s stomachs open and use of meat grinders, but also a strangely charming David vs Goliath story. It’s the kind of over-the-top violence that is more hilarious than anything else. I do recommend it – for when it’s two in the morning and you need something ridiculous.

Now, isn’t that so much better than ‘reconnecting’ with someone over Facebook?