Machi Action (Review)

Machi Action

aka 變身
Machi Action
Written by Giddens Ko
Directed by Jeff Chang

Machi Action
Machi Action is a hilarious tale of a tokusatsu hero actor who is replaced and must find a new purpose in life. The film will resonate for anyone who has lost a job and struggled through the uncomfortable period of trying to readjust their life to the new actuality. Unfortunately thanks to the Great Recession, far too many of us have experienced that reality.
Machi Action
A unique film in the tokusatsu genre due to the focus on the actors and decisions behind the series, instead of just a parade of easily replaceable teenage heroes. Machi Action covers all the bases, from the lame effects to generic monsters to shows growing stale due to lack of drama and repetitiveness. The visuals are largely inspired from the various Kamen Rider series, with bits of Super Sentai and Ultraman thrown in for good measure.

The success of Machi Action is due to the mix of Tie Nan’s employment struggles and the tokusatsu genre humor. The balance keeps the film grounded enough for you to feel for the character while providing plenty of joke fodder of not only the effects heroes shows, but the entertainment industry in general. 10 years and a ratings nosedive cause Tie Nan to be on the unemployment line, the hero fighting his greatest battle, trying to stay relevant in a world that has moved on. As an ongoing plot thread shows, modern children have changed, and the show’s greatest failure is being stagnant instead of moving with them. People fear change, and it’s all too easy to get stuck in a routine that becomes a rut. But the longer you put off the inevitable, the bigger the pain will be when things are finally altered. Had Space Hero Fly kept up with the times there would have been no danger, but no one looked at the big picture.

The struggles of Tie Nan becomes the struggles of everyone to adapt and change with what life gives you, while still living up to your principles and doing what you believe in. There is always the danger of someone newer and younger coming in to replace you. But don’t give up the fight!
Machi Action

Tie Nan (Wilson Chen Bo-Lin) – Actor who has portrayed the tokusatsu hero Space Hero Fly for the past decade, and soon finds himself without a job. He was born to play a super hero, having pretended to be one as a child to help his sick brother deal with his illness.
Monster (Chiu Yang-Shiang) – Actor who plays all the monsters on the Space Hero Fly show, and best friend of Tie Nan. Opened a noodle shop with his pay. His face is never seen on tv because it’s always under a rubber suit.
FACE (Owodog Zhuang Ao-Quan) – FACE is the new exciting Space Hero actor brought in as Space Hero Face to replace Space Hero Fly and Tie Nan. Is a recording artist and dancer for maximum multi-media penetration.
Jingfen (Chen Ting-Hsuan) – A makeup girl on the Space Hero Fly show who secretly crushes on Tie Nan. They end up together, but his esteem freefall dealing with his home shopping network stint takes a toll until Tie Nan regains his own self-respect.
Su Ying Ying (Puff Kuo Xue-Fu) – Daughter of SUTV Chairman Su and takes over programming after being educated in America. Her first task is to deal with the ratings disaster Super Hero Fly and fix the problems. Hates the super hero show.
Chairman Su Wu Xiong (???) – Owner of SUTV and creator of the Super Hero Fly program. It’s his wish to keep that show on the air to help give the youth good morals to look up to. Has a distant relationship with his daughter after he sent her overseas for education so she’d have a better life.

Machi Action
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The Sorcerer and the White Snake (Review)

The Sorcerer and the White Snake

aka 白蛇傳說 aka It’s Love aka Bai she chuan shuo aka Madame White Snake

Written by Charcoal Tan, Tsang Kan-Cheung, and Sze-To Cheuk-Hon
Directed by Tony Ching Siu-Tung
Action Directors – Tony Ching Siu-Tung and Wong Ming-Kin

Ice Age 5: Journey to Mt. Doom!

The Sorcerer and the White Snake is a big budget effects bonanza that also doubles as a sleeping aide. Thanks to China attempting to become a major player in the movie department, they’ve begun adopting the worst aspect of Hollywood blockbusters. Giant empty special effects, bland characters, story arcs that go nowhere, and a film made as generic and non-offensive as possible to ensure the widest possible audience. Sadly, that also makes The Sorcerer and the White Snake just like so many of those big budget films in that it is not very good. Now, I can’t fault them entirely for being inspired by generic Hollywood junk, that’s most likely the films that are imported over to China that clean up in the box office. But in the race to show how China can do it too, they failed to realize what China is doing is failing just as bad.

We’ve come to avenge Ting Ting from Thunder of Gigantic Serpent!

When making The Sorcerer and the White Snake, the producers decided the most interesting part about this classic love story was a supporting character who fought spirits. My thinking is they wanted to do a familiar story but also wanted to do a film with huge action sequences. The only feasible way was to graft it onto the classic White Snake story. But it just doesn’t work. The original tale is diluted and weakened, while the Monk’s expanded story receives little payoff. This decision even further boggles the mind because they kept the title It’s Love, which hints that the film should be focused on the couple and not the monk. The biggest sin of all is the action sequences ring hollow and bland. Large portions of what should have made the film great were sacrificed for spectacles that focues on looking good over actual impact. Thousands of people at thousands of computers worked for thousands of hours to make me bored. Many of the huge battles fail to even convey a sense of danger for the combatants, even when the entire ocean is turning into giant tidal waves with giant snakes swimming around, no one seems to be in real danger.

Someone wasn’t paying attention when they read the Book of Genesis!

But are there bright spots? Well, the film certainly looks very nice. Good cinematography. Moments of the action sequences are good, but not enough. This paragraph should be longer, but I really can’t think of anything.

By that time, my mouse lungs were aching for air.

It is legally impossible to talk about The Sorcerer and the White Snake without bringing up the last well known theatrical version of this story, Green Snake. I’m serious. Lawyers will call you and yell. While Tsui Hark’s film is a masterpiece, it is a completely different story (based, in fact, on a separate work, the book Green Snake by Lilian Lee!) Comparing Green Snake to The Sorcerer and the White Snake is like complaining because The Muppets Wizard of Oz isn’t enough like Wicked. They are two different stories with two different tales, with the same narrative starting point. And this post isn’t about Green Snake, it’s about The Sorcerer and the White Snake.

I hate it when I’m in the bamboo forest and a rap video breaks out…

Let’s meet the cast, then I’ll point out some places where the film did okay and where I got annoyed.

Master Fahai (Jet Li Lian-Jie) – The abbot of Jin Shan Temple and famed demon hunter. Very arrogant and strict, though he does try to capture most of the spirits in case they want to meditate for rehabiliation. See more Jet Li in The Forbidden Kingdom.
Susu aka White Snake (Eva Huang Sheng-Yi) – White Snake spirit that is thousands of years old and has the fortune/misfortune to fall in love with a human being. Eva Huang is best known for appearing voicelessly in Kung Fu Hustle, then getting fired from Stephen Chow’s production company, and drama ensuing, then still making it in the cutthroat world of acting/producing.
Qingqing aka Green Snake (Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin) – The rowdy Green Snake, who is more emotional and joking than her friend White Snake. But she is loyal and will defend her friend to the end. Charlene Choi is also on TarsTarkas.NET in Treasure Inn, Hidden Heroes, Beauty on Duty, and Protege De La Rose Noire.
Monk Nengren (Wen Zhang) – Assistant monk to Master Fahai and he accompanies him on all his adventures. Until he’s bitten by a bat demon and begins turning into a spirit himself. It also looks like the monks don’t have much of a health care plan…
Xu Xian (Raymond Lam Fung) – A young herbalist with big dreams and posessing enough of a cool factor to catch the eye of Susu for some cross-species romance. Turns out he isn’t that upset that his wife is a snake.
So much CGI, the excitemenZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

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The Sorcerer and the White Snake

[adrotate banner=”1″]The Legend of the White Snake lives again in movie form with the upcoming The Sorcerer and the White Snake (白蛇傳說), which hits theaters in China in September. The Legend of the White Snake is a story older than writing, and has been the basis for countless stories, books, operas, tv shows, and films. The version probably most familiar in the west is Tsui Hark’s 1993 Green Snake, with Maggie Cheung and Joey Wong. White Snake and Green Snake are two snakes that have taken human female form, and the basic story usually involves White Snake and a young scholar falling in love, until a monk comes along and throws White Snake into a well. Later versions sometimes change things to a more happy ending.

The Sorcerer and the White Snake has Jet Li as the Monk Fa Hai, and it will feature many martial arts battles. Eva Huang is White Snake, and Charlene Choi is Green Snake. The scholar Xu Xian is Raymond Lam, and the Monk’s understudy is played by Wen Zhang. Several others have been cast as various demon characters, including Jiang Wu as Turtle Devil, Vivian Hsu as Snow Goblin, Miriam Yeung as Rabbit Devil, Chapman To as Toad Monster and Lam Suet as Chicken Devil. So it will be a huge zoo of fairy monster people!

The Sorcerer and the White Snake has had a few English titles, originally Madame White Snake and then It’s Love. But It’s Love is a lame name, thus the distributor changed it to The Sorcerer and the White Snake to pull in Harry Potter fans. I’m kidding, they actually did it to get fans of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice franchise! But will it have the “mocha mocha” song? Because you need the “mocha mocha” song!

Ching Siu-tung (1987’s A Chinese Ghost Story) directs.


English subs trailer:

Effects work video:

Sorcerer and the White Snake
Sorcerer and the White Snake
Sorcerer and the White Snake Charlene Choi
Sorcerer and the White Snake
Sorcerer and the White Snake
Sorcerer and the White Snake
Sorcerer and the White Snake