India

“Infernal” to Get the Bollywood Treatment

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It looks like another remake of the hit 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs is coming.

The hit film, which revolved around a cop undercover as a gangster crossing paths with a gangster undercover in the police force, is getting a Bollywood remake, which will be set up at Azure Entertainment and Warner Bros. India. Azure was responsible for Rocky Handsome, the Bollywood remake of Korean hit film The Man from Nowhere.

In 2006, Martin Scorsese remade Infernal Affairs as The Departed, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

More as this develops.

H/T: Variety

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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.

TRAILER: Commando 2 – The Black Money Trail

Before you ask, no this is NOT a sequel to the 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger classic actioner, but this is the official trailer to a sequel to Bollywood action thriller Commando: A One-Man Army.

Actor and martial artist Vidyut Jammwal, who starred in the original 2015 film, returns as hero Karan, the former Para Commando who now is hired to take on a money laundering ring along with a team of three partners. The film co-stars Esha Gupta, Adil Hussein, and Adah Sharma. The film was directed by Deven Bhojani and features exhilarating action likes its predecessor.

Commando 2: The Black Money Trail will be released in India on March 3.

H/T: Film Combat Syndicate

The Monkey King 2 (2016)

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Aaron Kwok goes from the original film’s villain to playing the titular character himself in this superior sequel to the 2014 story of one of China’s greatest legends.

It has been 500 years since Sun Wukong was banished to Five Finger Mountain, where he is imprisoned. When the monk Tang Seng goes on a quest to India to collect the scriptures of Buddha. En route, a tiger forces Tang into the mountain where Wukong convinces him to take the imprisonment charm off. Reluctantly, Tang does so and Wukong is once again freed. However, it comes with a price as Wukong must become Tang’s protector and to ensure he makes no mistakes, Wukong is bound by a golden crown. Along the way, they meet and befriend Zhu Bajie, a pig demon; and Sha Wujing, a sand demon and the group heads to India.

However, the group soon finds trouble in the form of the White-Boned Demon, who has an interest in taking the soul of Tang Seng to gain immortality. When Wukong is able to stop the demon due to his power of seeing demons, Tang thinks Wukong acts recklessly. As for the demon herself, she finds trouble in someone who has been kidnapping children and framing her for the crimes, causing more chaos. Will Tang Seng be able to lead the charge and make things right as they seem to be pre-destined? Or will the unlikeliest of heroes be able to save the day and at what cost?

When 2014’s The Monkey King was released, the film was a box office hit with Donnie Yen in the titular role. However, there had been complaints that there was no ample story and was nothing more than a visual effects show. When a sequel was announced, Yen decided not to return due to the physical demands of the role. Enter Aaron Kwok, who played the villain Bull Demon King in the original, who makes for a worthy replacement. The physical demands for the role was helped by Kwok’s background in not only martial arts, but his original dance background as well.

The film does have a story that drives the film, one in which introduced the character of Tang Seng, played really well by William Feng. Feng brings a little humor at times and works well with Kwok as well as Xiao Shengyang and Him Law as fellow good demons Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing. For Law, notably a TV actor, the role of Sha brings massive redemption points after his abysmal portrayal of the iconic Chan Ho-Nam in the awful reboot Young and Dangerous Reloaded. Kelly Chen makes the most of her extended cameo as the Goddess of Mercy, a return for her from the original film. She would be the only one from the original film to reprise the same role.

There are not one but two major villains of the film. Gong Li once again shines in terms of acting as the deadly White-Boned Demon, who sees Tang as the key to her being immortal. Accompanied by fellow animal demons, Gong goes to great lengths to make sure she gets what she wants despite having reservations about reincarnation to some aspect. Taiwanese-American singer and actor Kris Phillips makes a surprisingly good villain himself as the King of Persia, who holds a very deadly secret and does the unthinkable to not only hide his secret but like Gong Li’s demon, seeks to find himself somewhat of an immortal, thus crossing not only our heroes, but the White-Boned Demon as well. While Phillips has not made many films, this is one where he really showcases some talent.

Sammo Hung choreographed the action and yes, this a fantasy film so there are plenty of visual effects and wirework, but they look so good here. Kwok does well when using the signature Golden Staff along with Xiao and Law performing their action scenes really well. Law and Xiao have a pretty nice fight scene against a skeletal army in a pivotal scene of the film. Overall, the film’s action for this genre is quite a delight to watch even if at times, it may look a bit crazy.

The Monkey King 2 is an improvement over the original with Aaron Kwok making a worthy titular character and Gong Li making for a great villainess. William Feng, Xiao Shengyang, and Him Law provide excellent support and it is safe to say that Kwok and company will return in 2018 for The Monkey King 3: Kingdom of Women.

WFG RATING: A-

Well Go USA Entertainment presents a Filmko Pictures production. Director: Soi Cheang.  Producers: Agan and Wong Hoifung. Writers: Elvis Man, Ning Wen, and Ran Ping; based on the novel “Journey to the West” by Wu Cheng’en. Cinematography: Yang Tao and  Cheung Man-Po. Editing: Angie Lam.

Cast: Aaron Kwok, Gong Li, William Feng, Xiao Shengyang, Him Law, Kris Phillips, Kelly Chen, Giselle Chia.

 

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.

REVIEW: After the Wedding (2006)

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2006, Zentropa Entertainment/Sigma Films/Sveriges Televisions/Det Danske Filminstitut/Nordisk Film/Invicta Capital

Director:
Susanna Bier
Producer:
Sisse Graum Jørgensen
Writers:
Anders Thomas Jensen (story & screenplay)
Susanna Bier (story)
Cinematography:
Morten Søborg
Editing:
Pernille Bech Christensen
Morten Højbjerg

Cast:
Mads Mikkelsen (Jacob Petersen)
Rolf Lassgård (Jørgen Lennart Hannson)
Sidse Babett Knudsen (Helene Hannson)
Stine Fischer Christensen (Anna Hannson)
Christian Tafdrup (Christian)
Meenal Patel (Mrs. Shaw)
Neeral Mulchandani (Pramod)

What was supposed to be a momentous occasion for a family soon becomes a life-changing journey for a man who comes into the family’s life in this film from world-renowned Danish auteur Susanna Bier.

Danish-born Jacob Petersen is the manager of a run-down orphanage in Mumbai, India. He has grown close to the kids there, especially acting as a father figure of sorts to eight-year old Pramod. When the orphanage is on the brink of bankruptcy, a major corporation in Denmark, run by CEO Jørgen Lennart Hannson, offers to make a donation to help the orphanage upon the condition that Jacob goes there to collect the funds. While Pramod is upset, Jacob makes a promise to return for the boy’s birthday in eight days.

When Jørgen meets Jacob, the CEO invites the man to his daughter Anna’s wedding to a young man named Christian. At the wedding, Jacob is in for a shock when he sees Helene, who was his long lost love. Helene is Jørgen’s wife. Jacob’s world is turned upside down from secrets that may change his life forever.

This Danish drama is very intriguing and very enjoyable thanks in part to the screenplay by Anders Thomas Jensen, who came up with the story alongside auteur Bier. The film couldn’t be more appropriately titled as it involves some secrets but not done in a way that is dark, but still has a bit of shock value. It is truly done in the dramatic sense that only can be done in an art house-type of manner.

The film is driven by Mads Mikkelsen, perhaps the most popular Danish actor today thanks in part to his turn for three seasons as Hannibal Lecter in the prequel series Hannibal. Mikkelsen is great to watch as our protagonist Jacob, who goes from being an orphanage manager to someone whose life takes a turn for either the better or worst depending on how the viewer sees the film. All because someone from his past unexpectedly is back in his life when he learns that the wife of the man who is willing to donate money to him is in fact an old flame. Interestingly enough, what one would expect in this case, goes more alongside the opposite direction for the most part.

Rolf Lassgård is also great to watch as Jørgen, who one can look as a mastermind with ulterior motives when it comes to Jacob. Does he really want to help him? Does he know that his wife was once Jacob’s girlfriend? As the film progresses, once Jørgen’s intentions are clear, it goes to show that even with power, a person with power is actually human. As for Sidse Babett Knudsen as the woman who Jacob once loved and now shows love for Jørgen. She doesn’t really need dialogue to show her feelings as her expressions are good enough to show her feelings in this entire situation. The other breakout star is young Stine Fischer Christensen as Anna, the bridge of the wedding whose life, much like Jacob’s, takes some twists and turns that change the course of her life as well.

Definitely character-driven as well as a very good storyline with some intricate twisting that changes the course of the characters’ lives, After the Wedding is a very good foreign drama. It is clear why this was Denmark’s first nominated film for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars in 2007. While it ultimately didn’t win, the performances by the cast are great enough to check this film out.

WFG RATING: A

DVD

REVIEW: Lahore (2010)

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2010, Warner Brothers Pictures India/Sai Om Films Pvt. Ltd.

Director:
Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan
Producer:
Vivek Khatkar
Writers:
Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan
Piyush Mishra
Cinematography:
Neelaabh Kaul
Editing:
Sandeep Singh Baljeli

Cast:
Farooque Shaikh (Coach S.K. Rao)
Nafisa Ali (Amma Singh)
Aanaahad (Veerender “Veeru” Singh)
Sabyasachi Chakraborty (Coach Sikander Hayaat Khan)
Shradha Das (Ida)
K. Jeeva (Kunjal Bhaskar Reddy)
Sushant Singh (Dheerender “Dheeru” Singh)
Kelly Dorji (Gajanan Dinan)
Jaswant (Jasbir Singh)
Jagdish Kansara (Singhania)
Mukesh Rishi (Noor Mohammad)
Ashish Vidyarthi (Mohammad Akhtar)
Ram Awana (Iqbal Khan)
Syoh Lal Chaudhary (Kasim Ali)
Avnesh Devichand (Masoom Malik)
Pramod Muthu (Shahnawaz Qureshi)

“An eye for an eye makes the world go blind”. This quote from the late Mahatma Gandhi defines this Bollywood action-drama that emphasizes on the political tension between two rival countries and their attempt to improve relations. The climax truly pays homage to one of the most underrated American martial arts films made.

For decades, India and Pakistan have engaged in three wars as rivals. Now has come the time to make an improvement on relations between the countries. In an effort for this to occur, Indian minister cabinet Kunjal Bhaskar Reddy and Pakistani minister cabinet Mohammed Akhtar recommend a goodwill tournament between the two countries in 17 months’ time in the Islamic region of Lahore, Pakistan.

The majority of the film focuses on the events that lead up to the tournament. Two brothers have excelled in their sports of choice. Younger brother Veerender “Veeru” Singh is a renowned cricket player while elder brother Dhareender “Dheeru” Singh is an up-and-coming kickboxer. When Dheeru defeats five-time national champion Gajanan Dinan, Indian coach S.K. Rao is determined to make the newcomer India’s representative at the 14th Asian Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, much to the chagrin of Minister Reddy, who is also the president of the Indian Kick Boxing Federation.

Pakistan’s kick boxing team is captained by the ferocious Noor Mohammed. Noor is the type of fighter who only cares about winning and losing only and this all comes from the arrogance of Pakistani coach Sikander Hayaat. Despite health issues and good advice from intern psychiatrist Ida, Noor is determined to represent Pakistan in Malaysia.

In Malaysia, the competition is fierce. Meanwhile, in India, Veeru is training for one of the biggest competitions in the cricket circuit. The finals of the Asian Championships pit Noor and Dheeru. Dheeru seems to get the upper hand and after the final round, Dheeru is convinced he has won. However, Noor comes up with a cheap shot, kicking Dheeru in the neck, instantly killing him. When Veeru learns of his brother’s demise, he reels and grieves only to come up with a solution. He goes to S.K. Rao and asks him to train him in kick boxing and represent India in the upcoming goodwill tournament.

Co-writer/director Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan had developed an interesting tale depicting the political strife between Indian and Pakistan. At the same time, he devised a means to perhaps show a possible way how the countries can improve their relations and without a doubt used the American martial arts film Best of the Best (1989) as a major influence and perhaps, inspiration in making this film.

What makes this film astounding in terms of the political tension of the film is that in one particular scene, Indians are seen protesting against Pakistan after Noor kills Dheeru in the Asian Championships. This is a reflection of how people assume that one man’s actions especially that of a non-government official, represent the views of a country. However, this film is truly proof that there is no anti-Pakistani propaganda involved. The reason comes in the fact that certain characters from both sides attempt to quell the tensions. This comes especially from the characters of Pakistani intern Ida and Indian cabinet minister Reddy. Reddy is still determined to hold the tournament despite all the objections and what is even more interesting is that Dheeru is given a hero’s return during the elaborate funeral sequence. There is even internal strife between Coach Rao and Minister Reddy from all fronts. It is clear that Reddy only cares about the politics, while Rao cares that someone’s life and family has been dealt a major blow.

The film soon delves into a generic revenge theme as Veeru, reeling from the death of his brother, asks to join India’s kick boxing team for the goodwill tournament. However, he only has one thing on his mind: revenge. Male model turned actor Aanadhaa makes his film debut as the young Veeru, who plays the role as the opposite of Phillip Rhee’s Tommy Lee in Best of the Best. While Tommy has fear in his mind when he is chosen to face his brother’s killer, Veeru seethes with revenge and it is this mindset that ultimately ends his relationship with Ida.

Shades of Veeru’s fighting skills is depicted in an earlier scene when he takes on volunteers of a pilgrimage after they block the main road for him and his sister-in-law to head home and it is played on the news. In an ironic twist, Coach Rao sees Veeru and asks why he isn’t a kick boxer. However, when Veeru does ask to join the team, Rao is unsure about letting him join.

The kick boxing sequences themselves are enjoyable and yes, there is a bit of wirework involved. This comes from a collaboration between stunt co-ordinator Mohammed Aslam, sports consultant Robert Miller, and Hong Kong legend Tony Leung Siu-Hung, who was flown in to serve as the film’s action choreographer. Despite the wirework, the fights bring a bit of authenticism in kick boxing. The last two bouts of the film truly emulate that of Best of the Best and they involve Kelly Dorji, who plays former champion Gajanan, and of course, Aanadhaa, who faces the towering Mukesh Rishi (Asambhav) as the Pakistani kick boxer Noor Mohammed.

Lahore is definitely unlike a typical Bollywood action film. With a combination of depicting political strife and using kick boxing to improve relations between two rival countries, it is clear that this film is India’s answer to Best of the Best. This is truly a great modern martial arts drama that should be seen by fans of the genre, especially if you liked Best of the Best.

WFG RATING: B+

DVD

Boss (2013)

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Indian action star Akshay Kumar shows a flair for both action and comedy in this thrill-a-ride film about a hot shot gangster who will do what it takes to protect his brother from the most corrupt cop in the land.

Shiv Shastri is a young man who has remembered and reunited with his long lost live, Ankita Thakur. However, she is to be engaged to Vishal Pradhan, the son of corrupt Home Minister Vishwas Pradhan. When an altercation leads to Shiv beating the tar out of Vishal and his goons at a local movie theater, Shiv finds himself arrested and humiliated by Ankari’s brother Ayushman, the dirtiest and most dangerous officer in the area.

When Shiv’s father unsuccessfully gets Shiv out and even goes as far as getting humiliated by Ayushman, he decides there is only one person who can help stop the dirty cop. He is the one known as Boss. While Shiv’s father thinks Boss is referred to high level likable gangster Tauji, “Boss” is revealed to be Shiv’s brother Surya, who has been estranged from the family for fifteen years after an incident to protect his family left Surya responsible for a classmate’s accidental death. Tauji was saved by Surya fifteen years ago and was raised by him with Tauji becoming the Big Boss and Surya becoming Boss. However, what will happen when Home Minister Pradhan sets out a contract for Boss to assassinate Shiv for the name of his son?

I’ve been a fan of Akshay Kumar for a few years. Kumar, one of the most versatile actors in Bollywood with his range of roles, is also known for his action roles due to the fact that he has a martial arts background. For his titular role of Boss, Kumar combines goofball comedy and his fighting skills quite well. Those who are excited to see Kumar will have to wait about thirty minutes as the film begins with the flashback from fifteen years ago when Tauji meets with Surya and then it focuses on the characters of Shiv and Ankita along with the introduction of our lead villain, Ayushman Thakur. However, Kumar’s introduction scene is quite a hoot with its comic relief and exaggerated action.

Rohit Roy plays the villain character exactly how a dirty cop should be played. He is introduced dispatching some victims for the wrong reasons. He uses extreme measures to do away with those who oppose him because of his allegiance to Home Minister Pradhan, who is not too far a dirty politician as Ayushman is a dirty cop. The minister’s son is an expected bumbling fool while Boss has some funny allies in goofball cop Singh, played by the “Indian George Lopez”, Johnny Lever and Trikol, played by Sanjay Mishra, who always tends to hiccup, cough, and sneeze at the most inopportune moments.

In Bollywood films, action scenes tend to be a little exaggerated, perhaps today’s films being influenced by the wuxia pian genre of Hong Kong action cinema with its use of wirework. Kumar’s character Boss is an exaggerated character and thus, results in using exaggerated action when he tends to grab and throw opponents. This is truly notable in the introduction scene. However, as mentioned, Kumar is a martial artist himself and does have some grounded techniques and nice kicks. Some may complain about the slow motion used in these action scenes, but they are not too overly done. The final fight scene between Boss and Ayushman is quite interestingly done but it is executed quite well and helps make this an overall fun Bollywood film.

Boss is truly one of Akshay Kumar’s most fun films in the world of Bollywood. After many scenes of acting like a goofball and kicking major tail, in the words of one of the film’s musical songs, it could be the time of “party all night” after seeing this!

WFG RATING: B+

An Ashwin Varde Productions/Cape of Good Films/Hari Om Entertainment Production in association with Viacom18 Productions. Director: Anthony D’Souza. Producer: Ashwin Varde. Writers: Farhid and Sajid; story by Siby K. Thomas and Udaykrishnan. Cinematography: Laxman Utekar. Editing: Rameshwar S. Bhagat.

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Shiv Pandit, Mithun Chakraborty, Ronit Roy, Aditi Rao Hydari, Johnny Lever, Parikshat Sahni, Govind Namdeo, Aakash Dabhade, Danny Denzongpan.