Sunday, March 30, 2008

LIST: My Most Anticipated Chinese Films

As some of you may know, I fell in love with Chinese cinema while studying in Beijing. Since then, I've been doing my best to stay updated on the latest movies coming out of China. Here's my list of my most anticipated Chinese films of 2008, in no particular order. With luck, these will all be imported to the United States or at least get a decent DVD release.

1) Red Cliff - This is John Woo's first Chinese-language film in over a decade, and is the most expensive film to be produced in Asia to date, with a budget of around $80 million. It also boasts an ensemble of some of China and Hong Kong's most famous stars, including one of my personal favorites, Tony Leung. With Woo at the helm, at least one thing is for certain: the action is going to be insane. Count me in!

2) My Blueberry Nights - I'm not really sure if this counts as a "Chinese" film, but it's the first English-language film made by famous Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai. In The Mood For Love is one of my all-time favorite romance movies, and I've enjoyed most of his other films as well. It'll be interesting to see if his style translates well to an American cast and audience.

3) Mad Detective - The latest thriller by famous crime drama director Johnny To. The Election movies were pretty good, and Exiled is fantastic, so hopefully he managed to make another good one. Word-on-the-street is it's one of his better films.

4) Yip Man - Not only does this movie star my favorite Chinese martial artist, Donnie Yen, but it also marks his fourth collaboration with director Wilson Yip. After seeing what they were able to achieve together in SPL and Flash Point (the final fight in FP is probably my favorite hand-to-hand combat scene of all time), I'm definitely excited to see what they do next. Hopefully they'll get the ball rolling on this soon and it'll be out by the end of the year.

5) Fatal Move
- I'm mainly interested in this because it stars Simon Yam and Sammo Hung, both of whom are pretty well-known actors in the East. It also looks like it has a crazy amount of violence and blood.


Director: Ang Lee
Starring: Tony Leung, Tang Wei
Synopsis: In WW2-era Shanghai, a young woman must seduce a high-profile collaborator with the Japanese in order to assassinate him.
Thoughts: This is a good film, and it's unfortunate that many people don't know anything about it other than "it's that NC-17 Chinese movie with the graphic sex scenes." It's true, the sex scenes are very graphic (the Chinese government even officially encouraged people not to attempt some of the sexual positions since they might injure themselves), but unlike most of the even the tamest sex scenes coming out of Hollywood, they're far from gratuitous (trust me, I've seen both the edited and unedited versions). This is a film about acting, and how one actor engages in a battle of wits against the other, each attempting to break through the other's mask to discover his/her true motives. It's a psychologically devastating game, and the sex scenes are the core of the struggle as each character must decide how much of themselves to reveal despite the most intimate of situations. That said, don't be scared off by what you've heard - the sex scenes only comprise about 5 minutes of the movie, and you can always skip them or rent the edited version. However, I recommend the unedited one simply because of how integral they are to the overall portrait of the characters. Though overall I wouldn't call this a "masterpiece", it's certainly a fine piece of filmmaking, with gorgeous cinematography and superb acting by the leads. At the very least, it's better than Lee's vastly overrated Brokeback Mountain.

Watch the trailer.