Punching at the Sun (2006)

“Maybe that’s why there called Legends. They’re too big for this world.”

Words: Desmond Childs

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“We all have the same future.”

Dealing with the loss of a loved one seems nearly impossible to those going through it. The very idea of “moving on” or “getting use” to life without that special person actually sounds and feels like an insult to some. Why do I have to move on? Why did they have to pass away? What is death?

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Paradise (2005)

“You’re useless!”

Words: Desmond Childs

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Have you ever wondered how well you would cope with a series of unfortunate events. Would you crumble under pressure? Would death be a welcome release? What about your character? Your integrity? If you were stranded on a desert island with someone, would they trust you enough to co-exist? And there is always the matter of their character. You could never really know whether you’re hold up with a killer. Could you?

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Brown Sugar (2010)

“What kind of person do you think I am?”

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Words: Desmond Childs

Hey guys, do you remember that first time? The first time you fell in love? Your first kiss? The first time you-

CUT! CUT! Oh shoot! I can totally write a better lead-in than this! Alright, quiet on the set! I can’t think with all this noise!

Weird, Sexual Tension: The movie, take 5! Action!

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The Housemaid (2010)

Running Time: 29 min 15 sec.

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http://www.blogtalkradio.com/otakast/2012/08/16/rewind-wednesday-the-housemaid-2010

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The Butcher, the Chef, and the Swordsman (2010)

Oh, so it’s a “Hand-Me-Down”?

Words: Desmond Childs

 

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The Butcher, the Chef, and the Swordsman seems to want to accomplish one thing, and one thing only: to entertain. I’ll admit that on some levels it can be entertaining, in a off-beat sort of way. This movie‘s central plot seems to revolve around a specially made “cleaver“; which in turn is seen as a swordsman’s blade, a chef’s knife, and a butcher‘s cleaver. As flimsy and uncouth as this story is, Wuershan tries to meld some humor and artistic flair; in order to spice things up. Does this improve the quality of this film? Well, I’ll give my opinion in a moment. First, here’s some information on the director of The Butcher, The Chef, and The Swordsman: Wuershan.

Mystery Man?

Oddly enough, I was unable to find any biographical information about Wuershan. Even IMDB.com only seems to have his body of work, which will have to suffice. Anyway, the man has not put out (At least according to IMDB) many theatrical projects, aside from Soap Opera (2004) and The Butcher, the Chef, and the Swordsman (2010). Wuershan did win an award for Soap Opera, snagging the FIPRESCI Prize for New Currents. Personally, the one thing about Mr. Wuershan’s style that sticks out, is the amount of flair he brings to The Butcher, the Chef, and The Swordsman. There was so much flash and comedic grit in stuffed into this picture to make me question whether or not I had really seen some of the onscreen silliness that occurs through this picture.

So whose is it? The Butcher, the Chef, or the Swordsman’s?

The look of this film seemed to imply it was a film about three men brought together by fate, in some climatic standoff/showdown/battle. Whether that battle was with swords, dance moves, insults, or sight gags; is still (even now) unclear to me. The three title characters are actually from different points in time; with all three having something to do with the creation, use, and abuse of the legendary “cleaver”. Without spoiling too much, I will say that the “chef” story in this picture was the most interesting. The fact that it’s narrative wasn’t muddled by wacky, music-video like rap songs or a loud obnoxious butcher didn’t hurt either. All three stories were of mediocre quality, and I felt like some scenes that would’ve helped string this picture together may have been cut in favor of more ‘comedic’ scenes. As a consequence, the only real coherent part of this story that I understood clearly, was this: The swordsman killed many men (and birds) in search of the ‘perfect weapon’, with his story ending ironically. Fine. The story about the mute ‘chef’ who must cook lavish dishes or be killed is interesting, but at times I wasn’t sure the motive of important characters in that story. Why is the mute chef also seeking revenge on a man who wasn’t even responsible for his family’s death? To take his cleaver? Really now? The butcher’s story is so grating, I hardly understood anything outside of the Butcher wanting to marry some beautiful, uninterested concumbine of a badass patron. By the end of that story, and the movie, I was so underwhelmed and happy to see the credits roll, I actually considered not writting a review for it. But that would defeat the purpose of my blog here. I write my opinion, whether my reaction to something was positive or negative I still want to discuss. Besides, with all the trash I watched blow around freely in this movie, there was admittingly some scenes that made me chuckle. That’s right, I remember chuckling when a scene is taken to diagram a replay of someone splitting a horse in half; sending the rider flying. Weird, right? That’s were this movie goes, as if it was a cartoon filmed through a live action camera. It’s a bouncy, goofy, gross slopped together movie looking to make you laugh, and retweet it’s one-lines. As of now, I have yet to recall a line funny enough for me to retweet, without wanting to immediately delete it afterward. Go figure.

 

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Check out the trailer below:

FULLTIME Killer (2001)

“What’s the matter? Don’t want to be a Killer’s Woman?”

Words: Desmond Childs

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Andy Lau (Right) and Takashi Sorimachi star in this thriller from directors Johnnie To (The Mission) and Wai Ka Fai.

There was a time when finding a job was much easier. You’d pickup a couple of newspapers and read the ads. No? Still having trouble finding work? How about if you match every third word on one newspaper ad with every fifth word on another newspaper advertising page altogether? Does that sound a bit excessive? You know, when it comes to being a full-time killer, you’ll always take work when you can get it. 

“It’s about that time?”

Full-time Killer (yes, I hyphenated the title) is about two assassins. One is the best “in the world!” while the other appears to be some hot-shot, upstart. The entire movie quickly plugs away through it’s hour and forty minute running time. And the worse part is that the cast and crew seemed to feel like it was necessary that characters speak multiple languages in this movie. It doesn’t add anything to the plot. But it does make the movie much more confusing at times. The story itself isn’t anything to write home about, it’s literally just about these two assassins. We get to see them both carry out their missions using contrasting styles. O’s (played by Takashi Sorimachi) more cold, and calculating when executing his mission; while Tok (Andy Lau) is a loose cannon. Tok parades around town wearing High Point-style president masks when carrying out his missions. He also seems to enjoy killing his targets in public and then frolicking around until the police show up. Then he disappears. O doesn’t seem to enjoy his job (thankfully) and often goes out of his way to keep civilians out-of-the-line of fire.

So what could ramp up the stakes in an already fast-paced, bullet-riddled thriller like FULLTIME KILLER? Throw in a woman. That’s right, this is what usually happens. The two killers end up scoping each other out, trying to get the drop on one another. And, inexplicably, end up dating the same boring, video store clerk. She’s not much of a character. Simply there to give reaction takes, fire a few rounds, and make love to one or both of the assassins. Yeah, I can’t stress how boring she is and really unneeded. She’s simply in this movie to be the commonality that ties O and Tok together. Once she’s sort of spent time with them both, the movie turns into this unexciting, poorly paced “story-within-a-story” where a traumatized cop begins to write a story about O and Tok. The police officer guy desperately wants to finish his book so he spends many days (months?) researching. Finally the end of the movie is the special girl who dated both O and Tok telling the cop about who emerged victorious out of their rivalry. And that’s it. I didn’t spoil anything for you guys. Seriously.

Is this a film I’d recommend to a fan of action-thrillers? No, it’s not. Why? Because of the screenplay. The action in it is pretty well done, and there are some cool set pieces that add a nice touch. But having some of the script written in a language that many of the actors and actresses were not comfortable speaking was a bad move. It takes you out of the movie. Or at least it took me out of it. Not to mention silly, stupid mistakes having to do with the execution of scenes. For example, the cops are chasing one of the assassins through a library and lose sight of him. So they proceed to scamper down the middle of the library aisle and flash their weapons at nearly everybody inside. They don’t say anything. They just start waving their guns around like a couple of idiots. There are a few more things. The notion that a romantic relationship can be sparked over a souvenir is one. The other is how the police are either portrayed as really good at their job or complete morons. But you’ll see what I’m talking about, if you watch this movie. Like I said, the action scenes were well paced and entertaining. The acting, even with this screenplay, wasn’t the worst. Andy Lau was a little off-putting, but I guess his character is supposed to be.

For some reason critics and filmmakers alike were looking to this movie as a good example that Hong-Kong cinema was “BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER BABY!”. I’m here to say that THAT is not the case. At least if you’re going to base such a statement on a sorta cool picture like FULLTIME Killer.

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