Wu Xia – Is Donnie Yen Enough to Save This Film?

For the past one week, Cynthia has been nudging me to watch “Wu Xia”.  Normally she is not into Chinese movie, so I was curious.  Then I found out that Takeshi Kaneshiro is starring in the movie.  I suppose her fascination to Takeshi is like mine to Shu Qi.  I was still unmoved until she told me that Tang Wei is in it as well.  Really?!  The last time I saw Tang Wei on big screen, my nose bled for hours.  Despite that unsightly bushy armpit scene – which I understand that perhaps in 1940, no one in China shaved their armpits – I still think that Tang Wei’s performance on and out of the bed was breathtaking.

When I was young, I was a huge fan of books of the Wu Xia genre.  I believe that it is a genre that cannot be fully presented in a film format.  In a way, “Wu Xia” does not have a strong plot of treachery and betrayal, no heartwarming romance or a strong heroine figure, and no character development in terms of how one becomes more powerful as the story unfolds.  There are no legendary weapons either or the quest for one.  Is there honor and sacrifice?  Perhaps a little bit.  The story is dark.  There are bits and pieces that took me by surprise.  Towards the end, there is a strong association to one of the famous Wu Xia stories.  Because of that, to me in comparison, “Wu Xia” seems a bit dimmer.  And the lack of love in the mist of family dispute also appears to be unrealistic to me.

Despite my lukewarm reaction to the plot, Donnie Yen is one fine actor.  It was my first time to see Donnie taking on the role of a martial art action actor.  In “Wu Xia”, whenever he fights, my body trembles.  He is my new Jackie Chan.  Takeshi plays the role of a detective (again) and he narrates part of the story.  With the help of computer effects, Takeshi has done a pretty good job in explaining some of the mechanisms according to the world of Wu Xia (still, no match to reading a proper Wu Xia novel).  What about Tang Wei?  She plays the role of an ordinary housewife well.  I wish she had a bigger role in shaping how the story climaxed.

In conclusion, “Wu Xia” is overall one ordinary film with moments of excitement with Donnie Yen is doing his things.

K-20: Legend of the Mask – A Japanese Batman?

K20

It’s Takeshi so Cynthia has got to watch it.  So I have got to accompany her.  And I had no idea what to expect.  Besides, I reckon since my parents are going to be in town this week, my sister is getting Singaporely married this weekend (for her wedding tour, click here), I’d better catch up with my Movie Review Squad for a movie, this week.

Nope.  There was no tears.  No Japanese female eye candies either.  Just Takeshi in what seems like a Batman meets Thief Guild kind of western concept set in Japan when World War II didn’t happen.  Cynthia loves it, I love it less.  Just because I feed on tearing moments and eye candies, and none in this.  The film though, is quite a classic.  There are moments of memorable acts.  Moments that I could visualize decades later when some of us play back the scenes and recite the dialogues with the actors.

The special effect is jaw dropping.  No doubt “K-20” is one of those rare big budget Japanese movies.  A fantasy story with the background of Japan entering a class movement separating the rich and the poor.  Naturally – I suppose – someone would stand up and redistribute wealth in his own way.  Lack of originality aside, “K-20” is blessed with the right kind of humor, a storyline in suspense, amazing backdrops, and Takeshi.  I kind of enjoy watching Takeshi in his not-too-pretty-boy look (did someone just stepped onto his face in the set or was it a double?).  He is as hilarious as ever, someone can who put a smile to my face even in his most serious moment.

While watching “K-20”, I couldn’t help but to have flashbacks to Batman, Zorro, Robin Hood, Spiderman, and V for Vendetta – the fighting, the flying, the stealing, and the mask.  It is good to watch Takashi taking a leading role again.  An enjoyable evening, early this week.

Accuracy of Death, Sweet Rain, 死神の精度 – Whatever the Title is, It’s Takeshi Kaneshiro

OK.  I have to make this movie the final stop of my Asian Movie Marathon, take a break, and blog about something else.  This morning, I asked Cynthia who is not a big fan of Japanese movies, “Why pick this?”  Her answer was “Takeshi Kaneshiro” together with a isn’t-that-obvious look.

Isn’t that obvious that all the girls love Takeshi?  The sound of exhilaration from the female audience at those heart-melting moments makes me wonder if “Accuracy of Death” (literal translation) or “Sweet Rain” (alternative International title) is indeed a chick-flick (it’s probably not).

It’s not a tear jerking movie for sure.  “Accuracy of Death” is divided into 3 parts with each part tells a story of its own.  The “Death God” or better known as “Grim Reaper” in English talks to his targets (or contracts?) in human form and judges them for a week.  On the 8th day, he then makes a decision to “proceed” (i.e. death) or “suspend”.  What is special about this film is that by and large, the three sub-plots are unpredictable.  With such a high degree of unpredictability comes a price of a lack of anticipation of something dramatic.  At times, both Cynthia and I wondered where the story was heading.  It is also one of those movies that when the ending hits you, it really hits you and makes you go “ah-ha”.  Perhaps not as deep as I personally wish it to be.  But it is good for a change and have something challenges our minds a bit.

From my close to non-existing understanding of the Japanese language with lots of help from the online translator, the movie appears to be inspired by part 1, 2, and 6 of a 6-book series written by 伊坂幸太郎 between 2003 to 2005 – 「死神の精度」「死神と藤田」and「死神対老女」.  I wonder what happens to the rest of the stories.  Perhaps time for me to learn Japanese.

An unusual mystery Japanese movie uplifted by a good sense of humor.  All three sub-stories have different themes and since my favorite one is the first one, the rest of the stories seem to fall flat just a tiny bit.  After some research, I found the music video clip (featured below) sung by the main actress from the first story, 小西真奈美 (Manami Konishi), titled “Sunny Day”. 

Out of the four Asian films that I have recently watched – “Dance of a Dragon”, “Ayat-Ayat Cinta”“Chocolate”, and “Accuracy of Death” – and if we could have time for only one movie, Cynthia would pick “Ayat-Ayat Cinta”.  I would probably pick “Chocolate”.  It is quite a rare moment that there are so many good Asian films showing at the same time.  And hence this crazy marathon.