China

“Wolf Warrior II” Dominates China Box Office

Things are looking up for action star-director Wu Jing as his recent outing, Wolf Warrior II, has dominated the China Box Office as the highest grossing film in its native country.

In a matter of two weeks, the sequel to the 2015 action film has raked in a total of $506 million US, breaking the record held by Stephen Chow‘s comedy The Mermaid. The film was also given a limited theatrical release in the United States from Well Go USA and made $1.10 million in its release.

Wu reprises his role of Leng Feng, a Chinese military officer stationed in an African war zone protects the locals from a gang of mercenaries led by Frank Grillo. The supporting cast includes Yu Nan, Celina Jade, former WWE star Oleg Prudius, and Zhang Han.

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Wolf Warrior II. Check out the action packed trailer below:

 

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Martial Medicine Man: American Hwang Fei Hung (2002)

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2002, Z Productions/The Supreme Ultimate Fist

Director:
Dr. Zee Lo
Producer:
Dr. Zee Lo
Writer:
Dr. Zee Lo
Cinematography:
Sam Fong
Dr. Zee Lo
Rich Cascio
Editing:
Kate Johnson

Cast:
Dr. Zee Lo (Lew Jing Fan/Fu Man Chu)
Catherine Damian (Dr. Liz Montgomery)
Sid Campbell (Detective Reginald O’Rourke)
William Appel (Fulshon)
Ava Mendoza (Marilyn)
Brian Vouglas (Weasel)
Steve Baishiki (“Scarface” Ono)
John Lim (Master Lee)

Dr. Zee Lo brings the legend of Hwang Fei-Hung and modernizes it in this film that was meant to be a four-part episodic series.

Lieutenant Lew Jing Fan is the top combat instructor for the People’s Liberation Army. When he learns his teacher, Master Lee, is on his deathbed, he goes to him. Under his dying breath, Master Lee requests that Lew go to the United States to find his son Mickey. Mickey has been missing for three years and if Lew can find him, then it would provide closure for Master Lee’s soul. Lew is given temporary leave due to his impeccable record and heads to San Francisco.

As Lew arrives, he is accosted by three robbers. However, Lew’s martial arts talents get him arrested for assault and battery. However, the arresting detective, Reginald O’Rourke gives Lew a break as long as he doesn’t get arrested again. During his search, Lew offers to help a low-income medical clinic run by only one staff member, Dr. Liz Montgomery. Given room and board, Lew begins to work at the clinic as well as help run a martial arts school. He also learns that Mickey is missing because he is on the run from a local crime lord, Fulshon. When Lew takes on Fulshon’s men, Lew goes to the extreme and hires Japanese assassin “Scarface” Ono to take out Lew once and for all.

Once again, the man known simply as “Dr. Z” returns and this time, he not only brings his grandmaster Bruce Lee to life, but invokes the spirit of Hwang Fei-Hung, the legendary Chinese folk hero skilled in both martial arts and medicine, and gives the legend a modern day update. The film seems a bit like a re-hash of Jet Li’s The Master in certain parts. Dr. Z, or Zee Lo, actually sports a hairstyle similar to Li in The Bodyguard from Beijing. However, he once again shows that he may not be the best actor in the world, but he is a capable martial artist.

While Catherine Damian’s Liz Montgomery is not seen as a love interest but more of a trusted ally when it comes to Lew, it is welcoming to see martial arts legend Sid Campbell on the screen again as the detective who first doesn’t want to see Lew again, but ultimately befriends him and even reveals himself to be a martial arts teacher in his off-time. Campbell even assisted Lo out on some of the film’s fight sequences but more on that shortly. Villains Fulshon and Weasel, played by William Appel and Brian Vouglas, are mere buffoonery while Steve Baishiki makes the most impact as deadly assassin “Scarface”, who lets his Muay Thai skills do the talking for him.

Dr. Z and Sid Campbell were responsible for the fight scenes and it looks like this time, Lo improved on his film fighting skills. Granted, the angles are mostly correct and once again, we get to see him pretty much be America’s version of the Bruce Lee clone. However, there are loads of both undercranking and triple takes that at times, hinder the quality of the fight rather than make it look impressive. It is safe to say that Lo gets an A for effort in terms of shooting fights, but they are more akin to the late 80’s-early 90’s days of B-movie martial arts. While that may not strike a chord with fans of today’s martial arts films, for someone who self-finances their own films and can churn this out, this is quite a step above from Lo’s debut film, The Deadly Cure.

Martial Medicine Man: American Hwang Fei-Hung is ultimately an improvement for Dr. Zee Lo. He seems to have gotten it right here and while the film still has a shot-on-video quality, the fights are okay despite some crazy undercraking and unnecessary triple takes at times.

WFG RATING: B-

This film is available to buy from Reel Asian Films, Dr. Z’s film distribution company.

Kung Fu Yoga (2017)

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2017, Top Entertainment/Sparkle Roll Media/Taihe Entertainment/Shinework Pictures

Director:
Stanley Tong
Producers:
Jackie Chan
Qi Jianhong
Jonathen Shen
Barbie Tung
Wang Wei
Writer:
Stanley Tong
Cinematography:
Horace Wong
Editing:
Kwong Chi-Leung

Cast:
Jackie Chan (Professor Jack Chen)
Aarif Rahman (Jones Lee)
Lay Zhang (Xiaoguang)
Muqi Miya (Nuomin)
Sonu Sood (Randall)
Disha Patani (Ashmita)
Amyra Dastur (Kyra)
Eric Tsang (Jack’s Friend)
Paul Philip Clark (Max)

Jackie Chan and Stanley Tong reunite for what can essentially be called a sequel to their last collaboration, but the film ultimately is a mixed bag that has both hits and misses.

Professor Jack Chen is one of China’s top archaeologists. Ashmita, a young Indian woman arrives in Jack’s class to inform him that she has a map of an area in India that will lead to the Magadha treasure, a collection of relics that Jack has long been attempting to find. He forms a team with assistants Guomin and Xiaoguang, along with Jones Lee, the son of Jack’s late best friend. In addition, Kyra, Ashmita’s assistant joins the team as well as they head for the Kunlun Mountains.

Randall, the last descendant of a rebel army leader involved in the first war for the treasure centuries ago, is obsessed with getting his hands on the treasure in order to restore the honor of his family. When Jack and the team find a possible lead in the mountain, Randall sends his team to get the treasure. In the midst of the battle, Jones finds the Eye of Shiva and takes off, leaving the group to suffer. After a narrow escape, Kyra and Ashmita return to India while Jack, Nuomin, and Xiaoguang head to Dubai to find Jones, but Randall is not far behind either.

While he had declared that Chinese Zodiac would mark his last big action spectacular, it seems that Jackie Chan just can’t seem to get away from doing his trademark style and as of late, they have come with not too stellar results. Skiptrace had its moments, but wasn’t totally exciting. For his latest film, Chan reunites with Stanley Tong, who directed Chan last in 2005’s The Myth, which started out promising but ended with a very flawed final act due to the duo resorting to some ridiculous moments that even had Chan fans turn the other way. So how does this compare to The Myth?

Well, once again, we do have a mixed bag ultimately in terms of Chan’s trademark style of comedy and action. Virtually playing the same character he played in The Myth, Chan and meshing it with shades of his Armour of God series, Chan treks to Tibet, Dubai, and India to seek ancient treasures that could help solidify China-India relations and gets help from a team consisting of the level headed Muqi Miya, Lay Zhang of Korean-Chinese boyband EXO, and Aarif Rahman, who played Bruce Lee in 2010’s Bruce Lee, My Brother and appears in Cold War and Cold War II. Disha Patani and Amyra Dastur bring some fun international eye candy while Sonu Sood makes for a pretty decent mastermind villain who presents his obsession quite calmly with various JC Stunt Team members playing his henchmen.

In addition, there are some fun action sequences that despite the use of CGI brings a bit of fun to the film. One of the scenes that proves to be quite laughable is a car chase in Dubai in which Chan finds himself driving with a lion in the backseat. Surprisingly, while Chan has the age factor, he is able to bring shades on Operation Condor when it comes to the girls fighting but props have to go to Rahman, who gets quite an good amount of action himself whether he’s fighting some of Randall’s men or even pulling off some pretty good stunts in the car chase scene.

The major flaws come in the overabundance of CGI, from wolves in Tibet, where Eric Tsang makes the most of his cameo appearance, and a ridiculous scene involving an escape from hyenas. As of that is not bad enough, the finale starts off promising but then delves into a truly “what the $&@#” moment that comes out of nowhere and granted, it’s a tribute to Bollywood, but this film could have been better off as a true Bollywood-Chinese movie like 2009’s Chandni Chowk to China.

Kung Fu Yoga is a mixed bag that has some good moments and not so good moments that results into something that is borderline ridiculous. The hardcore Jackie Chan fans may enjoy this film, but if you have grown tired of Chan’s brand of humor and action, then you may want to skip this one.

WFG RATING: C+

Kung Fu Yoga comes to select theaters nationwide tomorrow. Check Well Go USA’s Kung Fu Yoga homepage for theater listings.

The Story of 90 Coins (2016)

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Making his film debut, Malaysian-born China-based Michael Wong brings a beautiful story about the choices one makes and what they can cost to life.

Chen Wen is an aspiring fashion designer who makes a promise to Wang Yu Yang to possibly marry him in ninety days. For each day, Yu Yang gives her a dollar coin and vows that if she accepts, they will be married and if she does not accept, they will go for drinks. However, when an opportunity arises for Chen to go to Paris, the relationship between Chen and Wang is at risk of being destroyed.

A film clocked in at only nine and a half minutes, this short film is beautifully shot and revolves around a relationship that starts out well but goes in turmoil. It looks like there is a love triangle of sorts as we see our central couple Chen Wen and Yu Yang at high risk when Andre, a Frenchman, invites Chen to Paris and has a somewhat flirtatious nature that makes Yu Yang angry. This is seen when Yu Yang arrives to Chen Wen’s debut press conference and thinks something is going on. While the film revolves mainly around the couple, Andre is seen as the wrench that causes this relationship to be in danger.

The film has a moral lesson as it is revealed in the final act, which we won’t spoil here but it involves the choice that is made and its effect. Through a series of flashbacks, we get to see why this lesson can be seen as important and it is showcases some the talents of lead actors Han Dongjun and Zhuang Zhiqi.

The film has truly earned its many accolades in many film festivals as it is a beautifully shot and very well acted short from debut director Michael Wong. It is definitely worth checking out The Story of 90 Coins as a great short film debut.

WFG RATING: A

A Hiersun Production in association with E&T Films Productions. Director: Michael Wong. Producer: Liu Yunsong. Writer: Bai Xuedan. Cinematography: Jian Liwei. Editing: Song Kaiyi.

Cast: Han Dongjun, Zhuang Zhiqi, Jose Acosta .

Thank you to Michael Wong for providing the short film. For more information on the film, check out the film’s official Facebook page.

REVIEW: Police Story III – Supercop (1992)

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1992, Golden Harvest Pictures/Golden Way Films Ltd.

Director:
Stanley Tong
Producer:
Willie Chan
Edward Tang
Writers:
Lee Wai-Yee
Fibe Ma
Edward Tang
Cinematography:
Ardy Lam
Editing:
Cheung Ka-Fai
Peter Cheung

Cast:
Jackie Chan (Sgt. Kevin Chan)
Michelle Yeoh (Captain Yang Chienhua)
Maggie Cheung (May)
Kenneth Tsang (Chaibut)
Yuen Wah (Panther)
Bill Tung (Bill)
Josephine Koo (Ching Wingxi)
Kelvin Wong (Pierre)
Phillip Chan (Y.K. Chan)
Lo Lieh (Thai General)

Jackie Chan returns in his iconic role of Hong Kong police officer Kevin Chan and this time, he’s met his match with the returning Michelle Yeoh as his new partner in this action packed adventure.

The drugs market has been a serious problem all over Asia and it has been decided that the best Hong Kong officer must join forces with the top ranking Mainland China officer in an effort to bust the dealers. The Hong Kong police officer chosen is Sgt. Kevin Chan, who wants to go on another dangerous mission, knowing that his longtime girlfriend May, will object. However, he tricks her into thinking he is going on a police retreat. Upon arriving in Mainland China, he meets female officer Yang Chienhua, who will become his partner on this dangerous assignment.

Chan will go undercover as Lin Fu Sheng, a refugee who is to bust out notorious drug boss Panther to earn his trust. Yang goes in undercover as well as Hana, Lin’s little sister while Chan’s superior Bill comes in as their mother. When Chan and Yang eventually earn Panther’s trust after getting him out of a few jams, they meet the real mastermind, Panther’s brother Chaibut. When the partners head to Thailand, they incur the wrath of a general and his rebel army but after getting out of that jam, they head to a resort in Malaysia where Chan gets the biggest shock of a lifetime: May is there as a tour guide. What will happen if May finds out that Chan is there and what will be the consequences?

While Jackie Chan is back as Sgt. Kevin Chan, this time, he gives longtime stuntman turned filmmaker Stanley Tong take over the director’s chair for this third installment in the series. This would be the first in a series of films in which Chan and Tong would work together on, showing that these two have a high amount of respect for each other. However, Tong decided to up the ante with this installment when it was announced that he would be bringing in a female as Chan’s partner.

It has been known that Jackie Chan had never been too fond of female action heroes. However, when Michelle Yeoh came in and proved herself, Chan definitely changed his tune. Yeoh, fresh off her divorce from D&B Films founder Dickson Poon, said goodbye to retirement and said she was coming back to kick some serious butt and in this film, she does just that. While she doesn’t strut her stuff until midway through the film, she matches Chan verbally at first and once she unleashes her martial arts skills, it is clear she has not lost a step. As a matter of fact, like Chan, she performs all of her own stunts here. The most impressive being a motorcycle stunt where she jumps onto a moving train. The stunt double who had originally done the stunt missed and ended up breaking his leg. Yeoh did the stunt herself and makes it safely onto the train.

Maggie Cheung and Bill Tung return to bring some comic relief to the film while Kenneth Tsang and Yuen Wah are quite to watch as the villains of the film. The final act has Chan hanging onto dear life on a helicopter ladder as the copter flies all over Kuala Lumpur. In a very shocking outtake, Chan himself is sideswiped by the passing copter as he hangs on to the side of the train. He even does a nipup on a bar in between two train cars and nearly falls over until stuntmen Ailen Sit and Ken Lo save him in time in another outtake. The final fight on the train is quite nicely shot with Chan adding some very funny tactics to trick Lo.

Police Story III: Supercop definitely is worth seeing for its insane stunt work involved and the return of Michelle Yeoh. Jackie Chan nearly outdoes himself even with the assistance of Yeoh as his partner. A match made in action heaven? Truly indeed.

WFG RATING: A-

DVD/BLU-RAY
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A Series of Trailers to Get One Going…

As we approach both Christmas and the end of 2015, there are a lot of films from around the world coming in 2016. Here are some trailers for some of those upcoming films!


Bhooloham – a Tamil boxing action flick that stars Jayam Ravi, Prakash Raj, Trisha Krishnan and Australian powerhouse Nathan Jones. N. Kalyanakrishnan directs the film, which is due out shortly.


Skiptrace – Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville star in this new action comedy from director Renny Harlin. Chan plays (what else?) a Hong Kong police officer who must rely on a gambler with a big mouth to take down the Triads.


Ip Man 3 – with a Christmas release in China followed by a January release in the United States, this is the final installment of the seminal trilogy about the Wing Chun grandmaster most famous for being the teacher of Bruce Lee. Speaking of Bruce, expect him in the film to be played by Danny Chan, who played Lee in a 2008 TV series. The film pits star Donnie Yen against the likes of Max Zhang and…Mike Tyson!


Ultraman X – a theatrical adaptation of the 27th series of Tsuburaya’s iconic character will be unleashed on March 12, 2016. Kensuke Takahashi, Akana Sakanoue, Yoshihiko Hosoda, and Ukyo Matsumoto are reprising their roles with Yuichi Nakamura donning the suit to play the titular superhero.


Re: Born – the film marks the return of Tak Sakaguchi in front of the screens as he spent most of the last few years behinds the cameras as director and action choreographer of many Japanese films. While the plot is not known, expect some amazing amazing from Sakaguchi-san in this film, directed by Yuji Shimomura.


Duelist – a Russian action film revolving around a man who duels for pay in the 1800’s, a very interesting concept. The film was written and directed by Alex Mizgiryov.

Thanks to the crew over at Twitch for unveiling some of these trailers for some of these upcoming films and more.

Chan and Tong reunite for “Kung Fu Yoga”

Jackie Chan and director Stanley Tong have officially reunited after ten years. The pair is currently in Dubai, where production has commenced on a new film entitled Kung Fu Yoga.

Tong is a veteran stuntman turned director and stunt coordinator. He and Jackie Chan had collaborated on Police Story III: Supercop (1992), Rumble in the Bronx (1996), First Strike (1996), and The Myth (2005). Disney was impressed by Tong’s work that they hired him as the director of the live action adaptation of Mr. Magoo (1997), which starred the late Leslie Nielsen.

Kung Fu Yoga is the first Chinese-Indian co-production since its introduction a year ago. China’s Taihe Entertainment and Shinework Media, and India’s Viacom 18 are producing the film together. Joining the cast alongside Chan are Bollywood legend Jackie Shroff (Dhoom 3) and Aarif Rahman (Bruce Lee: My Brother). Shroff’s Dhoom 3 co-star Katrina Kaif was considered for a role, but that has yet to be determined.

Plot details are kept under wraps, but Chan’s going to have quite a full plate. He has also signed up to star in Martin Campbell’s action thriller The Foreigner. He has two upcoming releases, Skiptrace with Johnny Knoxville, Kung Fu Panda 3 (which he returns as Monkey), plus in development are Railroad Tiger, Shanghai Dawn and the The Karate Kid 2.

Kung Fu Yoga is scheduled for a 2016 release.

Wolf Warrior (2015)

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For his second film as director, action star Wu Jing brings a military action film that combines the pride of China with perhaps a nod to 80’s military action films, notably the Missing in Action films.

Leng Feng is an Army sniper who on a dangerous assignment to stop a dangerous drug dealer, Wu Ji, disobeys orders. Instead of standing down and waiting, he proceeds to get the job done and assassinate the hot-headed dealer. This incident causes Leng to be court martialed and sent to solitary confinement. However, he is given a second chance when he is offered a position to join an elite squadron of the China Special Forces known as the Wolf Warriors.

Under the leadership of Long Xiaoyun, Leng Feng may seem like a hero to some, but to some of his newfound comrades, they see a cocky arrogant soldier without getting to know his true nature. A field test involving both the Wolf Warriors and Leng’s old group causes a bit of resentment towards the new Wolf. However, that all will change. Wu Ji’s older brother, criminal villain Min Deng, has hired a band of foreign mercenaries led by Tomcat to find Leng Feng and kill him. The two rival troops now must unite to take on the mercenaries in an all-out war that goes beyond simple revenge.

Wushu champion turned action actor Wu Jing is quite the person to watch. Once hailed as the successor to Jet Li, he has taken a different approach in the films he makes. Five years after he made his directorial debut with Legendary Assassin, Wu returns to the director’s chair in a film that is a military action thriller that has the feel of an 80’s Hollywood military film and we’re talking more akin to Missing in Action rather than the greats like Full Metal Jacket and Platoon.

Wu brings the character of Leng Feng as someone who is more or less solely military-minded due to the fact his father was once a soldier. Even while in solitary confinement and at risk of being out of the army, he still has that mentality of being a soldier, but instead of a hard-head, he’s more relaxed. Yu Nan, of The Expendables 2, plays the commander who gives Wu his second chance and it is clear throughout the film she has some sort of attraction towards him. While this proves to be quite unnecessary, it does make a good breakaway from all the seriousness of the film.

If you don’t know the name Scott Adkins by now, seriously, it’s time you did. He always makes the most of his screen time and here, he pulls it off once again as the lead villain of Tomcat, the leader of a band of foreign mercenaries. While Adkins doesn’t get to pull off his trademark moves that he’s known for, he adapts extremely well with the use of firepower and even some close quarter combat, something we will get to see him pull off again in the soon to be released Close Range for his usual collaborator, director Isaac Florentine.

Former Jackie Chan Stunt Team leader Nicky Li, who co-directed Legendary Assassin with Wu, served as action director and does a decent job of serving up the action. With help from the Chinese military themselves, the war scenes are quite entertaining. However, one has to ask a question. How is the Wu-Adkins fight scene? Well, there may be a bit of a complaint that Wu does resort to using some wire assistance for some kicks and there is a good reason. Wu has had a very nagging leg injury and the wires are used only for his safety. Adkins does show some kicks, but don’t expect anything resembling Undisputed III or Ninja II. As mentioned, their fight is more of a close quarter style but still done to good effect for its production value.

Wolf Warrior is definitely a good time-waster with two of the finest on-screen fighters today. While there may not be a major kickfest with a military backdrop, the overall action is not as bad as one would think. Definitely worth checking out if you like military action films in the vein of Chuck Norris’ Missing in Action trilogy.

WFG RATING: B

A Chunqiu Time Co. production in association with Beijing Dengfeng International Culture and Nanjing Military Area Command of the TV Art Centre. Director: Wu Jing. Producers: Lv Jianmin, Wu Jing, and Ji Daoqing. Writers: Wu Jing, Liu Yi, Feng Wu, and Yao Ji. Cinematography: Peter Ngor. Editing: Cheung Ka-Fai.

Cast: Wu Jing, Scott Adkins, Yu Nan, Ni Dahong, Zhao Xiaoou, Liu Tengyun, Zhang Yongda, Kevin Lee, Chris Collins, Joseph Eninganeyambe, Kyle Shapiro, Samuel Thivierge.

 

Police Story: Lockdown (2013)

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After retiring from his trademark style of action with Chinese Zodiac, Jackie Chan returns in a new installment of his seminal Police Story series. However, unlike his previous films, this is a thematic sequel (like 2004’s New Police Story) that has a dark and gritty tone that showcases Chan’s acting ability.

Zhong Wen is a Mainland police officer who has come to Bar City to meet up with his daughter Miao. He goes to one of the bars and meets the owner Wu Jiang, who is revealed to be Miao’s new boyfriend. Zhong is unhappy but Miao has a rebellious side because she blames Zhong for practically sticking with his job while her mother was ill. However, after a conversation and witnessing a scuffle between bar patrons, Zhong finds himself knocked off.

When Zhong awakens, he finds himself tied to a chair. He learns that Wu is the mastermind behind the kidnapping. Wu tells Zhong about an incident that occurred in the past that Zhong was involved in, but doesn’t give full details. Zhong, who eventually escapes and makes up with Miao after she learns of Wu’s betrayal, must fit the pieces of the puzzle and learn why Wu has kidnapped him while having a prisoner come to the scene as he has a bone to pick with him for his involvement in the very incident that prompted him to kidnap Zhong in the first place.

It seems that Jackie Chan is beginning to make good on his promise. As he has finally hit the big 6-0 this year, he finally decided to end his trademark style of action and focus on taing more roles that would showcase his acting and lessen down on the action. While 2004’s New Police Story had Chan’s trademark style action, it would also showcase his acting skills as an embittered cop who drinks his sorrows away only to get motivated by a young upstart. 2009’s Shinjuku Incident was a treat for Chan fans to see him do something that doesn’t rely on action, but more on acting.

Even more under the radar, Chan had shot this film while doing rounds for his last action spectacular, Chinese Zodiac. After going out with a bang with his trademark action film, this film brings Chan in a much darker and grittier tone that works well. Here, instead of playing an everyman Hong Kong cop, Chan plays a Mainland cop who finds himself under the mind control of a crazy bar owner who blames Chan for an incident that occurred in the past. Yes, this may sound like the Korean film Oldboy, but there is no controversial theme and the film takes place in the span of one night. In addition, Chan knows who the kidnapper is.

Veteran actor Liu Ye does quite well as the villain of the piece. A crippled bar owner, we get to delve into his backstory as an underground boxer in Thailand and how his past eventually connects to Chan’s incident. While Liu doesn’t fight in the present day (he leaves that to Liu Hailong in the film’s only “big fight” scene), the fight scenes involving Liu in the past are quite nicely done.

The film plays like a cat and mouse game between Chan and Liu. As mentioned, Chan only engages in one major fight scene against Liu Hailong. Kudos must go out to Jackie Chan Stunt Team members He Jun and Han Guanhua for their choreographing this particular fight. They use slow motion to showcase the impact of certain moves but what’s even better is that Chan uses more grounded techniques rather than his usual style of acrobatic action. After all, at the time of the film, he was already pushing the age. It shows that Chan adapts well with the age and is forced to use a more close quarter style of combat here.

If you want to see Jackie Chan in a new light, check out Police Story: Lockdown. He may only have one fight scene, but that is the intention as the film plays more like a cat and mouse game that has some twists and turns only for everything to finally be revealed with a somewhat drop of the mouth reaction. Definitely a worthy “new Jackie Chan” vehicle.

WFG RATING: A

A Jackie & JJ Productions Film. Director: Ding Sheng. Producers: Jackie Chan, Jerry Ye, and Lu Zhang. Writer: Ding Sheng. Cinematography: Ding Yu. Editing: Ding Sheng.

Cast: Jackie Chan, Liu Ye, Jing Tian, Yin Tao, Na Wei, Zhao Xiao-Ou, Yu Rongguang, Liu Peiqi, Liu Hailong.

 

Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal (2015)

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A cross between wuxia pian, romance, and shades of The Incredible Hulk make up this very interesting film from the Academy Award-winning cinematographer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

In seven days, on the 15th day of the seventh month, the millennium will arrive, meaning the lost spirits of innocent people will be reborn and peace will be brought back. However, the Demon King plans to summon his top monsters to Earth in order to cause chaos. The deity Zhang Daoxian has offered to volunteer his services to the city of Hu and has found the perfect warrior to carry out this mission.

Zhong Kui is a respected demon slayer, whom Zhang had trained, has him steal the Dark Crystal from the Demon King. Kui learns that as long as he is in possession of the Dark Crystal over the next seven days, the souls of the innocent will be reborn and thus, bring peace again to the city of Hu. The Demon King, angry at what had transpired, unleashes his greatest weapon, a snow demon named Que Xing, who unbeknownst to her, wxas one Zhong Kui’s love three years ago. Will Zhong Kui convince his once beloved to be with him once again, or will Que Feng have no other choice but to kill Zhong Kui to regain the Dark Crystal.

This is quite an interesting film that comes from the minds of six screenwriters, including co-director Zhao Tianyu, and is executed by the team of Zhao and Peter Pau, who won the Academy Award for his impressive cinematography in 2001 for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The result of the film is a very interesting film that will please fans of the romantic wuxia pian as well as possibly fans of superhero films with that aspect proving to bring curiosity for the viewer.

Chen Kun plays the lead Zhong Kui, who is seen as someone who is just doing his job as a demon slayer, but knows it will take more than just his heart to destroy the demons. This is where our superhero comes in. Given a mystical fan, Zhong Kui drops some blood onto it, which turns him into a demon that may be the key to destroying the Demon King and thus, protect the Dark Crystal. The demon form of Zhong Kui looks like a cross between The Incredible Hulk and Devilman, Go Nagai’s character that spawned an anime and a live action film.

Li Bingbing, who delved in wuxia before with playing the White Haired Witch in The Forbidden Kingdom, plays the titular Snow Girl. She is a demoness that can be best described as Disney’s Frozen’s Princess Elsa kicked up a number of notches. Her demon form looks like an ice form of Fantastic Four’s Human Torch. Disguised as a dance troupe, each of the young women are actually demonesses that take the forms of different animals.

The only flaw in the film is the visual effects, which was done by an international alliance consisting of a Korean FX company, a Chinese FX company, and WETA, who were responsible for films like Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games. While some of the visuals look impressive, especially backgrounds due to Pau’s cinematography, others are a hit and miss combination. At times, both the Zhong Kui demon and the Snow Girl demon look good, but other times, they don’t look exciting and could result in a loss of interest. Thankfully, this isn’t the case. Even the action sequences, choreographed by Jacky Yeung, bring in a nice flavor that can only define the wuxia pian genre.

Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal is not the best of the best when it comes to wuxia pian, but it is an entertaining film that is driven by Chen Kun and Li Bingbing, and their love story-turned-rivalry. While some of the visual effects aren’t totally impressive, they ultimately make their impact and help makes this a watchable film.

WFG RATING: B-

A Desen International Media/Beijing Enlight Film/Wanda Media/China Film Co. Ltd. Production. Directors: Peter Pau and Zhao Tianyu. Producers: Ann An and Peter Pau. Writers: Zhao Tianyu, Qin Zhen, Shen Shiqi, Li Jie, Raymond Lei Jin, and Eric Zhang. Cinematography: Peter Pau. Editing: David Wu.

Cast: Chen Kun, Li Bingbing, Winston Chao, Yang Zishan, Bao Baier