Chasing the Dragon (2017)

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Donnie Yen stars in this fact-based film on the life of one of Hong Kong’s most notorious drug lords with Andy Lau reprising a role from a two-film series in the 1990’s.

In the year 1960, a man named Ho and his three best friends escaped China and headed for Hong Kong. There, they make their money by joining gangs in street fights. During one fateful night, Ho and his men find themselves enraging a British police officer, Hunter. However, they are saved by Lee Rock, a recently promoted sergeant major who is as corrupt as his fellow officers, but has the smarts to outwits those who rank above him. Ho and his friends one day incur the wrath of crime lord Chubby, who offers Ho and the others a job after Ho proves himself to have impeccable fighting skills.

As the years go by, Ho gains respect within the ghetto known as the Walled City. Plagued with issues involving his brother, who has dropped out of school and has become a drug addict, to the possible idea of a double cross, when Ho learns that Lee is set up to be framed and killed by the nephew of Walled City’s top gangster Master Dane, Ho saves Lee only to be betrayed by his now former boss, who cripples Ho. No longer being able to fight, Ho decides to use his street smarts when he joins forces with Lee Rock. However, with power comes greed and Ho soon finds himself biting the hand that feeds him as he is set to play a dangerous game that could cost many lives.

Surprisingly, one would never have thought that someone like Wong Jing, who has been more known for his buffoonery of films in the 1990’s, would have written this film let alone direct it. However, he collaborated with cinematographer Jason Kwan, who shares both writing and directing with Wong. However, Wong has had his fair share of serious films such as his Colour gangster film series and he has executive produced the original Young and Dangerous films. It is safe to say that if he’s not out there doing goofball-style films, then gangster films are truly his forte.

It is clear that action star Donnie Yen is slowly branching out into roles that allow him to do both his frenetic action skills and even turn in some dramatic chops as well. Ip Man was just the beginning of that transition period, but this film is truly becoming to take that cake. In what is a very bold move, Yen gets to mesh the two strengths in the first half of the film only to take the dramatic side in the second half as his character is in fact crippled. Yen’s character Crippled Ho is based on a real-life Hong Kong gangster, Ng Sek-Ho, who was one of Hong Kong’s most notorious drug lords. Yen pulls off all the stops to tackle the role and does quite a great job of it.

As for Andy Lau, the Heavenly King returns to a familiar role. In 1991, he starred in a two-part film series produced by Wong and directed by Lawrence Lau entitled Lee Rock. The film series was based on Lui Lok, a real-life officer who was involved in major corruption during the 60’s and 70’s. Lau reprises that role and having played the role before, he just seems like a natural fit. Not only does this film bring some excitement that we have Donnie Yen and Andy Lau in the same film, but they actually play each other well.

What many will find extremely important is that while the focus of the film is on Crippled Ho and Lee Rock, the film has no real good guys at all. As a matter of fact, all of the important characters are extremely bad guys with no remorse towards their actions. Aside from Ho and Lee, we have Kent Tong’s Ngan Tong, who starts out as Lee’s superior only to become his biggest rival within the ranks of the police force. Bryan Larkin’s Hunter is the notorious British officer who has a hatred towards Chinese and yet, he finds himself in a situation where he and Lee have to show some sort of respect towards each other because of their profession. Even Ben Ng’s Chubby switches gears from ruthless to benevolent to even more ruthless as it is he who seals Ho’s fate in the first half of the film.

Chasing the Dragon is a film that proves that one, Wong Jing can make some pretty good serious films; two, Donnie Yen can be a solid actor with dramatic chops; and three, just because a film is about gangsters, there don’t need to be any good guys and this is a film where all the important characters are notorious and if need be, ruthless.


An Infinitus Motion Picture/Bona Film Group/Sun Entertainment Culture Limited/Mega-Vision Project Workshop Limited production in association with Sil-Metropole Organisation, Rock Partner Films, and Red Carpet Cultural Industry Investment Fund. Directors: Wong Jing and Jason Kwan. Producers: Wong Jing, Donnie Yen, Andy Lau, Connie Wong, Ren Yue, Jeffrey Chan, Stanley Tong, and Yang Guang. Writers: Wong Jing, Jason Kwan, Philip Lui, and Howard Yip. Cinematography: Jason Kwan, Ko Chiu-Lam, and Jimmy Kwok. Editing: Li Ka-Wing.

Cast: Donnie Yen, Andy Lau, Kent Cheng, Ben Ng, Kent Tong, Phillip Keung, Wilfred Lau, Yu Kang, Michelle Hu, Xu Dong-Dong, Felix Wong, Niki Chow, Bryan Larkin, Philip Ng, Jonathan Lee, Lawrence Chou, Wang Qianyu.


Yen and Lau Go Bad in “Chasing” Teaser

Get ready to see action hero Donnie Yen in a whole new light in the upcoming true story-inspired Chasing the Dragon.

Yen plays “Crippled” Ho, a Mainland China-based immigrant who arrives in 1963 Hong Kong and rises through the ranks to become a notorious drug lord, with a corrupt police officer named Lee Rock joining him.

Playing the role of Lee Rock is the legendary Andy Lau, who actually played the character in a 2-part film series from director Lawrence Lau in 1991.

Jason Kwan and Wong Jing directed this film with Wong writing the screenplay. Co-starring are Kent Cheng, Philip Keung, Wilfred Lau, and Michelle Hu.

Well Go USA has acquired the North American rights while a release date for Hong Kong is set for this Fall.

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

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Revenge of the Nerds. PCU. Van Wilder. These are films that have defined perhaps the “fraternity” movie in the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s respectively. However, this film is truly the ultimate “fraternity” classic that had it not been made, perhaps we would not have even seen anything like its successors.

Larry Kroeger and Kent Dorfman are college freshmen at Faber University. They are attempting to pledge fraternities. When they unsuccessfully attempt to pledge the superior Omega House, Kent convinces Larry to pledge with Delta House because Kent is a legacy. Delta House is the worst fraternity on campus due to the brothers’ hard partying ways and constant gimmicks. However, eventually Larry and Kent are accepted as the newest members of the fraternity and are given the nicknames “Pinto” and “Flounder” respectively.

Dean Vernon Wormer has had a plan to get rid of the Delta House since the beginning of the term. He places the fraternity on what he calls “double secret probation” and conspires with Omega House leader Greg Marmalard to find a way to have the entire frat house expelled. Despite the warning, the Deltas continue to cause chaos until it is too late and they hatch a plan to become the big men on campus once and for all.

From the minds of National Lampoon comes a true classic comedy about a college fraternity and their hijinx. Who will ever forget the late John Belushi’s classic scene in the cafeteria when he takes a cream puff in his mouth and spits it all over some Omegas and calls himself a “zit” or the famous performance of Otis Day and the band doing their rendition of the classic “Shout”? Or better yet, Twisted Sister fans will definitely know Mark Metcalf’s insane militaristic dad in their videos as a direct influence from his classic role of Niedermeyer here. While Belushi’s antics truly drive the film’s hysterical chaos, it has to be said that this is truly an ensemble film with a cast of characters that just have so many characteristics that could be said to be an influence on later “ensemble” films.

Belushi’s the drunken sailor type. Tim Matheson is the player as med student Otter. Peter Riegart is the lovestruck one as Boon with his relationship with Karen Allen’s Katy is a subplot in all the chaos. Tom Hulce is the newbie smart guy who proves not to be all brains after an incident. Stephen Furst is the nerdy pudge who attempts to gain his confidence. James Widdoes is the smart leader of the pack who constantly gets overthrown by the hard partygoers of the frat. One sees this eclectic cast of characters and one can think of John Hughes’ classic The Breakfast Club in a subconscious type of foremanner.

The film would mark the film debut of Kevin Bacon, who in this very film famously gets flogged and asks for another per his Omega loyalty. However, his flair for comedy comes in the insane climatic portion of the film in which, for those who haven’t seen this yet, will need to get their DVD players and find this title as soon as possible. Better yet, those who haven’t had the chance to see this yet, need to do just that. Get the film, rent it, buy it, who cares. This is truly a slice of Americana National Lampoon style.

National Lampoon’s Animal House is the definitive fraternity comedy. It may just want you to start a “food fight” and make you get out your “pledge ppppppin!!!” And okay, you might learn a thing or two about college in the process…*snicker*


A Universal Pictures production.  Director: John Landis. Producers: Matty Simmons and Ivan Reitman. Writers: Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney, and Chris Miller. Cinematography: Charles Correll. Editing: George Folsey Jr.

Cast: John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Peter Riegart, James Widdoes, Bruce McGill, Tom Hulce, Stephen Furst, John Vernon, Verna Bloom, Cesare Danova, James Daughton, Mark Metcalf, Mary Louise Weller, Marsha Smith, Kevin Bacon, Douglas Kenney, Karen Allen, Donald Sutherland, Sarah Holcomb, DeWayne Jessie.



REVIEW: Shag (1989)

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1989, Hemdale Film Company

Zelda Barron
Julia Chasman
Stephen Woolley
Lanier Laney (story and screenplay)
Terry Sweeney (story and screenplay)
Robin Swicord (screenplay)
Peter MacDonald
Laurence Mery-Clark

Phoebe Cates (Carson)
Scott Coffey (Chip)
Bridget Fonda (Melaina)
Annabeth Gish (Pudge)
Page Hannah (Luanne)
Robert Rusler (Buzz)
Tyrone Power Jr. (Harley)
Jeff Yagher (Jimmy Valentine)
Paul Lieber (The Agent)
Leilani Sarelle (Suette)
Carrie Hamilton (Nadine)
Jay Baker (Big Bob)
Donald Craig (Senator Clatterbuck)
Shirley Anne Field (Mrs. Clatterbuck)

This coming of age tale set in 1963 South Carolina is highlighted by the titular “shag dancing” as well as the cast of talents in the film.

Having graduated from Spartanburg High School, summer has come for best friends Carson, Melaina, Pudge, and Luanne. Carson is engaged to be married to longtime boyfriend and tobacco heir Harley while Luanne and Pudge have their sights set on college. As for Melaina, she has no idea what she wants to do with her life. Luanne, the daughter of Senator Clatterbuck, devises a plan in motion for the best friends to have one last hurrah together.

Without Carson’s knowledge, the girls plan to take Carson to Myrtle Beach. However, when they arrive, Melaina just wants to have fun. Luanne wants the girls to keep their self-respect. Pudge is obsessed with shag dancing and hears of a contest and all Carson wants to do is call Harley. However, the girls’ lives soon change when they run into two local boys, Buzz and Chip. Buzz relentlessly flirts with Carson, who despite rejecting Buzz’s advances, seems to end up falling for him while Chip and Pudge find themselves having a connection. When all madness goes down at a party at Luanne’s parents’ house in Myrtle Beach, Harley even arrives and with a dance contest the next day, the four best friends soon learn what they really want out of their lives as individuals but also keep the power of friendship.

The term “Shag” has many different meanings with perhaps the most famous being “sleeping with someone” as a famous International Man of Mystery would use on occasion. However, the term here is in reference to the Carolina Shag, a style of dance similar to swing dance that originated in the 1940’s and with the film’s setting in 1963 South Carolina, this is the perfect meaning to the film. Who better than one of the most renowned dance choreographers today, Kenny Ortega, to bring the Carolina Shag to life, especially when we see the dance being obsessed by the character of Pudge, played by Annabeth Gish.

This is truly a film with a sense of nostalgia as we are taken to the south in 1963, where interestingly enough, racism was to be somewhat at an all-time high, but never depicted in this film. Instead, the house band at Myrtle Beach is treated with the utmost respect from the fans. The film instead focuses on four best friends who spend one last weekend together in honor of the one friend who is set to get married. It is this character, Phoebe Cates’ Carson, who goes through the most change out of the four as she goes from wallflower to very confident woman thanks in part to her relationship with Buzz, played by Robert Rusler, who plays the typical bad boy with a heart of gold many are used to see him playing during this era.

Bridget Fonda’s Melaina is somewhat promiscuous, or at least seen that way but she tends to be more of a tease but perhaps it is because she doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life until she meets a teen idol and his agent. Page Hannah’s Luanne, like Carson, goes through quite a change herself. She goes from mature to somewhat immature when one, she devises the plan to go to Myrtle Beach and two, she unleashes her wild side which eventually attracts someone unexpected in the film. Another great performance comes from the late Carrie Hamilton, who as Nadine, definitely has her mother’s chops when it comes to accents. For those not in the know, Hamilton’s mother is none other than one of the greatest comediennes of our time, Carol Burnett. Here, Hamilton and Leilani Sarelle come off as redneck Southern villains who think the friends have no place at Myrtle Beach and especially find a threat in Melaina.

Shag is definitely a nostalgic trip to the 1960’s South, notable Myrtle Beach, highlighted by the performances of the ensemble and Kenny Ortega’s wonderful dance choreography that highlights the Carolina shag dance. Nostalgia and 1980’s film fans may want to give this one a look.