Hero (2002)

Hero Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

Hero Movie Review

Hero is a 2002 Chinese wuxia film directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Jet Li, Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung. It is such a good, visually extraordinary action film.

……………………………………………………………………..

How swift thy sword

……………………………………………………………………..

Hero Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

It is based on the story of King Ke’s assassination attempt on the king of Qin in 227 BC. The plot itself is serviceable, but is undoubtedly the weakest aspect of Hero as it is a mish-mash of previous ideas. For example, you have the structure of ‘Rashomon‘ as the story is told two times before being told as it happened the third time.

Then you have the action and the flying which is reminiscent of ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon‘. It isn’t too similar, but some scenes are obviously influenced by it. But even though it isn’t original, the story is well told and sometimes quite powerful and emotional, especially in its tragic conclusion. The flashback structure is well utilized and the film serves as a good historical piece as well as a great martial arts picture meaning that it is one fine wuxia movie.

……………………………………………………………………..

Hero Movie Reviews……………………………………………………………………..

Jet Li isn’t as memorable, but Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung as great as you would expect from these two great actors. I also liked the King of Qin and Moon who was particularly likable. The characters aren’t the strongest, but they are nonetheless pretty good and the performances from its great cast are all terrific.

Hero succeeds due to its technical aspects and action. Let’s first touch upon the action. I loved it. I didn’t really care for the slow-motion moments, some were fine, but most of them were annoying as I really dislike that approach overall. But the action was well choreographed and I loved how everyone had different styles in their fighting and that women were definitely weaker than men physically, but they were more elegant and refined in their style. That was awesome and very realistic. One of the highlights includes that gorgeous fight between the two ladies as the leaves fall down the trees and create an amazing color of yellow first and then red later on to fit in with the blood. So beautiful. Another highlight is the fight on the water as it was the best of the fantasy sequences, beautifully shot and just marvelous to behold.

……………………………………………………………………..

Hero Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

The cinematography is absolutely stunning in Hero. The camera shots are so refined and polished and the action is so well filmed. But the direction from Zhang Yimou is so strong as he is responsible for the overall look of the film and he is quite a visionary director for sure. His use of color is absolutely beautiful and at times even artistic. The various colors here were so well utilized and they ranged from green to red to yellow and were mostly accompanied with appropriately colored clothes as well which I loved as I always enjoy such things. What I also admired is the thematically complex nature of the film as it deals with not only martial arts, but also leadership as well as art and calligraphy while being set in a historical surrounding. The mix is well realized and the film ended up being all the more powerful for it. In the end, it isn’t as great as it could have been, but it’s still one very good Chinese martial film that didn’t disappoint.

Hero isn’t the most original in terms of storytelling as it uses the structure of ‘Rashomon’ and some fantasy elements of ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’, but what it lacks in originality, it more than compensates with a moving feel to it, a thematically rich storyline, mostly terrific action sequences, many memorable scenes, excellent direction from Zhang Yimou and absolutely gorgeous cinematography with sumptuous costumes and a wonderful use of color.

My Rating – 4

……………………………………………………………………..

 

Share

Enter the Dragon (1973)

Enter the Dragon Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………….

Enter the Dragon Movie Review

Enter the Dragon is a 1973 Hong Kong-American martial arts film directed by Robert Clouse and starring Bruce Lee, John Saxon and Jim Kelly. It is the quintessential, but far from great genre flick.

…………………………………………………………………………………….

Now, you must remember:

the enemy has only images and illusions behind which he hides his true motives.

Destroy the image and you will break the enemy

…………………………………………………………………………………….

Enter the Dragon Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………….

I liked the plot here and most of all because it involved a martial arts tournament which I love. The story here isn’t particularly original and I’ve seen this countless times before, but it serves its purpose and the execution is quite good. The action is also memorable, the philosophy is solid and the entire third act is a rather great conclusion.

Bruce Lee is of course great here delivering such phenomenal action sequences. His character isn’t particularly likable, but he is the most memorable actor here. As for Roper, he is solid, but rather forgettable. And Williams is an archetypal blaxploitation character. I found the movie’s racism to be very funny, but still extremely ignorant and troublesome. But it is still admirable for having a diverse cast with the main three characters being white, Asian and black and that is certainly commendable for its time.

…………………………………………………………………………………….

Enter the Dragon Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………….

Let’s talk about the action. Enter the Dragon benefits from an awesome fight at the end and that entire mirror sequence is excellent and I loved that he had to use the advice obtained at the beginning of the film in order to beat Han. However, everything that came before it is not that great. There wasn’t enough action before that last fight and all of the previous fights were forgettable. That is one of the reasons why I prefer more contemporary martial arts films to this one and why I find Enter the Dragon to be good, but frankly a bit overrated as it is far from great and it is just influential, but never perfect.

The film is very well filmed and the cinematography and scenery are both great. I loved the structure of the film and the characters are fine, but definitely forgettable and not particularly likable. The script is good, but not at all sophisticated which was a problem to me.

…………………………………………………………………………………….

Enter the Dragon Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………….

The editing is really good and the film moves at a brisk, but not abrupt pace. It is entertaining and it is definitely engaging to watch. But it is rarely as exciting as I wished for it to have been. Again, that ending is great, but everything that came before was a bit forgettable. The score is solid as are the sound effects and the acting is serviceable. The dialogue is solid, but the tone is somewhat problematic as the film seems to be light at times, but rarely humorous. It should have either gone full light or full serious tone and it would have been much better. I liked the island imagery and I liked the fight choreography, but the film lacked in terms of the sophistication and detail as it is way too simplistic. And it is too much a product of its time with its drug/crime elements being overly abundant and sometimes the film reminded me too much of James Bond. All in all, Enter the Dragon is definitely a good film, but far from a truly great one and its impact is understandable, but overly exaggerated nonetheless.

Enter the Dragon has good action sequences with the last fight being excellent, that entire ending sequence is superb, the plot is solid and the film is very well made and quite entertaining, but it is still a bit overrated as the characters are rather forgettable, the film is too simplistic and some of its parts are very problematic. It’s a good film, but far from a great one.

My Rating – 4

…………………………………………………………………………………….

Share

Ip Man (2008)

Ip Man

Ip Man Review

Ip Man is a 2008 Chinese biographical martial arts film directed by Wilson Yip and starring Donnie Yen. The movie succeeds as both a rousing historical drama and as an action flick.

It follows the life of the titular grandmaster and martial artist and focuses specifically on the Sino-Japanese War and its aftermath. As I said above, the movie succeeds in both genres. Let’s first talk about the historical one. The first half is action and the second is historical. That second half, although vastly different from the previous one, is so wonderfully executed with a lot of emotional heft. I adored its ending and I loved both the conflict at the end and its conclusion and overall explanation of what happened afterwards. It is a typical stuff seen countless times, but I liked this triumphant ending here as it is emotionally satisfying and so uplifting.

But of course the highlight is the kung fu action. I loved the action sequences in Ip Man as they are so beautifully realized. The choreography is amazing, the abundance of style is evident and the execution is almost flawless. I liked that the camera angles are so good here, letting you see all of the action perfectly. All of the styles are well explained and it is vastly entertaining and so riveting to watch. The highlights are the fight between Ip Man and the Japanese general Miura and the fight between the protagonist and Kam Shan-chu. The former is so dramatic and powerful while the latter one is so exhilarating and even comedic in tone. Yes, the humor here is present from time to time and I really enjoyed it as some moments can be quite funny.

The character development isn’t as great as I hoped it would be, but it is still pretty good. Ip Man is naturally the highlight and he is at first a one-note character, but he quickly showed his human side. I loved his family struggles as it shows how he, though such a powerful martial artist, is still a flawed human being. And I loved the dialogue between him and his wife about his inability to find a job. The wife is really good and their relationship is really sweet and touching, but also quite realistic. I loved that in the film. Miura is really good and Kam Shan-chu is so funny and memorable as this redneck brute.

Ip Man is visually a strong picture, but not as mesmerizing as I expected it to be. The scenery is too forgettable and the photography is overly dark, but it is still well shot, some sequences are quite beautiful and the camera angles are terrific during action. Wilson Yip did a fine job in the director’s chair and the acting is superb throughout with Donnie Yen in particular giving a respectable performance.

But there are some problems here and that is mainly the structure of the film. It does succeed in both of its genres, but it does so at the expense of the tone and pacing. The pacing is all over the place and the tonal shift in the middle is so jarring as it literally changes from action to drama out of the blue and with no subtlety whatsoever. Also, the film is predictable and no matter how satisfying to watch, it is still a familiar farce. And I expected more character work and even more emotion than I’ve got from the end product.

Ip Man has a jarring tonal shift, inconsistent structure and pacing and it could have been even better overall, but it is still quite a good film with fantastic action sequences that are so thrilling to watch and impeccably crafted, solid character development, good acting and it is a satisfying flick both as a historical biopic and as martial arts action.

My Rating – 4

******************************************************************************************

      Interior & Exterior Stills from Ip Man

[wppa type=”slide” album=”37″ size=”1200″ align=”center”]Any comment[/wppa]
Share