Posts tagged "China"

Animal World (Review)

Animal World

aka 动物世界 aka Dongwu Shijie
Animal World
2018
Based on the manga by Nobuyuki Fukumoto
Written and directed by Han Yan

Animal World
The trailer for Animal World featured a murder clown slicing and dicing his way through subway cars full of rejected alien designs from the Star Wars prequels. Also Michael Douglas was randomly in it. These things meant that of course I was going to go watch it if I got a chance, and thanks to the magic of it actually getting a release in America and MoviePass, I snagged me a seat as soon as humanly possible. It also meant that I saw two separate Michael Douglas movies in theaters in one week, as Ant-Man and the Wasp also dropped. This is what we call synchronicity, and further solidified the goal of seeing Animal World in theaters. While the trailers were almost entirely murder clown-focused, Animal World is actually a movie about high-stakes gambling, as in you play Rock/Paper/Scissors on a ship in international waters, and if you lose, you get experimented on until you die! Don’t worry, it’s even more weird than it sounds, yet I can’t say I was disappointed.

Zheng Kaisi (Li Yifeng) is your typical young guy with problems, in that his parents were brutally assaulted as a child, leaving his dad dead, his mom in a coma, and Kaisi imprinted with a cartoon of a murder clown that was playing on the television during the attack. Now, whenever he is stressed, he will start seeing images of the monsters and believes he is transforming into the murder clown himself and striking them down. While this leads to some ridiculous imagery, it doesn’t lead to a healthy mental life, which is why he’s working as a clown in an arcade and perpetually broke. He can’t even afford to marry his girl Liu Qing (Zhou Dongyu – This Is Not What I Expected), who works at a nurse at the facility his mom is kept at. This changes when his former childhood friend Li Jun (Cao Bingkun) reappears with a can’t miss opportunity to make money. We all know this will miss spectacularly, and now Kaisi is in massive debt. Big enough debt goons are following him. Goons working for Michael Douglas, who plays a bored bankster who has resorted to organizing death sports among people who have gigantic debts. I guess it’s more profitable than them dying in bankruptcy?
Animal World
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 7, 2018 at 7:52 pm

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How Long Will I Love U (Review)

How Long Will I Love U

aka 超时空同居 aka Chao Shi Kong Tong Ju
How Long Will I Love U
2018
Written and directed by Su Lun
How Long Will I Love U
Time-displaced romantic comedy How Long Will I Love U succeeds entirely on the backs of the chemistry of the two leads, Tong Liya and Lei Jaiyin. Thanks to them, what would be a by the numbers film instead becomes an engaging exploration of people chasing dreams while being pressured by life and tempted to make unsatisfactory choices to further their own goals.

In 2018, Gu Xiao-Jiao (Tong Liya) works at jewelry store desperate to marry but mostly because she wants a husband to buy her a house. A very specific house, the house she grew up in before her father died. But she’s over 30 and also the target of scammers who soon manage to walk off with most of her savings, putting her even farther away from her dream. In 1999 Lu Ming (Lei Jia-yin) is a struggling architect who has no one to sponsor his designs for construction. He’s also broke and stumbles across a plot at work from his supervisor to steal from his boss. His supervisor offers to fund his projects if he looks the other way, giving Lu Ming a real moral dilemma. Both of them live in the very same apartment in the same building 21 years apart. Now it’s time for time travel! Due to the power of it’s what happens for the plot, their apartments merge together into a sort of hybrid apartment.

Upon awakening Gu immediately starts hitting Lu Ming and chasing him around the apartment with a cleaver, but both of them stop when they realize half of the apartment is not the one they know, and the weather is completely different out of the two different windows (one shows a sunny day, the other a torrential downpour!) The door has handles on both sides, they figure out that if Ming opens his side, they arrive in 1999, while if Gu opens her side, they are in 2018. They cannot open the other person’s door side, and if they try to open both sides at once, the apartments begin contracting more. It’s time’s way of keeping things in balance. We see this later as computers won’t allow network access to Google what happened to Lu Ming, nor will Ming’s phone allow Gu Xiao-Jiao to call her father. An attempt to buy lottery tickets in 1999 results in the ticket blanking out.
How Long Will I Love U
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - June 4, 2018 at 9:10 am

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Dead Pigs (Review)

Dead Pigs

Dead Pigs movie
2018
Written and directed by Cathy Yan

TarsTarkas.NET returns for one last CAAMFest 2018 movie review! Even before Cathy Yan got tapped for Birds of Prey I was interested in seeing Dead Pigs, as it was getting some great buzz and people I trust on Twitter were thrilled with it. It’s a story of modern China as it goes through the growing pains of leaping forward to superpower status at light speed. It’s also five different interconnected narratives that are part of a larger picture of unintended consequences and reveal a lifestyle of walls of deception being put up to fake achievements that just haven’t quite happened yet. Pieces with multiple characters and stories can be complicated and sometimes just don’t work at all, but Yan has managed to weave together the parts into a wonderful tapestry, and I hope this is just the beginning of an amazing narrative career.

Old Wang (Yang Hao-Yu) is a pig farmer but his pigs start dying. The bigger problem is he borrowed a bunch of money to invest and got swindled by a fly by night operator. The pigs were his collateral and now the triads he borrowed the money from are angry. His sister Candy Wang (Vivian Wu Jun-Mei) women powered business with mantras and slogans and networking but lives alone with her dog in the house she grew up in. Right now it is a nail house, the last house standing where a modern development project is going in, and she refuses to leave. The desolate location is offset by the house’s bright colors and whimsical decorations, but all of which look quaint compared to the modern new architecture and design going up everywhere else.
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 27, 2018 at 8:08 am

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Manhunt (Review)

Manhunt

aka 追捕
Manhunt
2017
Script by Lip Wang-Fung, Gordon Chan Ka-Seung, and James Yuen Sai-Sang
Based on the book Kimiyo Funno no Kawa wo Watari by Juko Nishimura
Directed by John Woo

Manhunt
John Woo returns to the world of action cinema to show us that he still….uh…he still can make a movie? With some action scenes? That’s about it, because Manhunt is decisively not in the tradition of classic John Woo action and is more in the tradition of ridiculous scenes wrapped around an overly complicated plot. So basically it’s like a benchwarmer Hong Kong action flick. It isn’t terrible, but it’s like Gordon Ramsey making you waffles and they taste worse than McDonalds. Part of the problem might be that this is a big coproduction between China and NetFlix, packed with a great cast who get parts that are either wasted or follow trajectories that we already know their outcome. Tragically, some of theme don’t even get to ham it up before they buy the farm!

Lawyer Du Qiu (Zhang Han-Yu) , the best lawyer in all of Japan, is leaving his cushy job at a pharmaceutical mega-conglomerate for another position. But the pharmaceutical company is up to no good, and before Du Qiu can move to Bel Air, he’s framed for murder and is on the run! Don’t worry, there is also a super duper detective named Satoshi Yamura (Masaharu Fukuyama ), who is hot on Du Qiu’s trail despite figuring out that Du Qiu is innocent and there is a bigger story at play. Hey, he’s still got to do his job! Du Qui and Yamura’s disagreement on whether Du should be sitting in a cell while they sort out what is what causes the crux of a lot of action sequences, as Du Qui manages to escape large police pursuits again and again. Toss in a mysterious woman (Stephy Qi Wei as Mayumi) whose almost husband used to work for the villainous megacorp (and was later killed on their wedding day after losing a big case thanks do Du when he tried to stop what was going on) and Ha Jiwon and John Woo’s daughter Angeles Woo as two female assassins who randomly show up to shoot everyone (when Ha Jiwon and Du aren’t talking about old movies), and you got a film that can’t find its focus. This is before it suddenly goes all Marvel. But more on that is spoiling things…
Manhunt
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 26, 2018 at 7:43 am

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Hanson and the Beast (Review)

Hanson and the Beast

aka 二代妖精 aka Er Dai Yao Qing
Hanson and the Beast
2017
Written by Xiao Yang and Guo Yiwen
Directed by Xiao Yang

Hanson and the Beast
A tale as old as time in Chinese cinema is humans and fairies hooking up, and Hanson and the Beast is the latest incarnation of that situation. To try to switch things up, Hanson throws in a bunch of economic anxiety and racial oppression being used as a tool of power by a corrupt official. The result is a big budget effects film that seems like it has a lot to say, even as there is an obvious point where they ran out of money and the themes are mostly simplistic when looked at with any depth. That being said, Hanson and the Beast manages to be enjoyable in a sweet way and I ended up coming out of it liking it a lot more than I thought I would. Somehow this cynical soul is growing soft as he hits middle age. Must be popcorn poisoning or something!

Hanson Yuan Shuai (Feng Shaofeng) is a broke zookeeper (we learn he was bamboozled out of money trying to get a film financed and the resulting drama caused his dad to have a mental breakdown) trying to get rich quick through an arranged relationship deal. He has a gang of tryhard Triads trying to shake him down for the $2 million he owes them, and to top it all off, now a crazy woman is stalking him. Except she’s not crazy, she’s just weird, and believes she is a fox that he saved as a child from some bullies. Of course she actually is, otherwise we wouldn’t have a movie! She’s Bai Xianchu (Liu Yifei – The Forbidden Kingdom, The Four) and her reveal as a fox fairy causes Yuan Shuai to freak out and run down the road screaming in his underwear.
Hanson and the Beast
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 5, 2018 at 7:06 am

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Kung Fu Yoga (Review)

Kung Fu Yoga

aka 功夫瑜伽 aka Gong Fu Yu Jia
Kung Fu Yoga
2017
Written by directed by Stanley Tong
Kung Fu Yoga
Jackie Chan is still a legend, and though he’s running past retirement age, he’s still out there punching bad guys in the face. We get plenty of action in Kung Fu Yoga, a sprawling archeological adventure that spans the whole of Asia while not forgetting to be fun on the way. Fans of CGI lion puking will be especially pleased with Kung Fu Yoga. In an era where Chinese blockbusters can be hit or miss, Kung Fu Yoga delivers a win, even though at first glance you would wonder if it could.
Kung Fu Yoga
Jackie Chan is Jack, the famous Chinese archeologist who is one of the best archeologists anywhere, even though he will repeatedly point out that he’s just one guy and there are many good archeologists in China. Jack is humble, see, but he’s popular enough that the mysterious Ashmita (Disha Patani) has brought an ancient map from her family’s archives that might point the way to the lost treasure of a Chinese army that went to India. We see parts of this flashback in the opening sequence in Playstation-3-o-vision, as CGI Jackie Chan, Aarif Lee, and Sonu Sood battle amidst elephants and nameless troops. Jack and his grad students – Xiaoguang (Zhang Yixing) and Noumin (played by famous yoga practitioner Miya Muqi) snag the son of Jack’s old archeology bud, Jones Lee (Aarif Lee Chi-Ting, and his name is far from the only Indiana Jones reference in the film!) to go treasure hunting! Also Eric Tsang is briefly there because his character owns an oil refinery company that can break through ice. Science and industry, synergizing together!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 8, 2018 at 9:35 am

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