If I expand this I will put it in the HK area:Wu Dang (2012: Patrick Leung) HK/China ** (maybe **½)/****
I am concentrating on more 2012 releases this month (and of course the next couple of months as the DVD releases trickle end for the movies I miss in the theater this month) and this pushes me to watch movies I might not give a chance for a long time otherwise. I tend to avoid reviews of films I have not seen, but I generally get a feeling of critical reception and popularity from a variety of online sources. I knew of one review from cityonfire (that I just read today), but not much else.
Tang Yunlong (Vincent Zhao) is an intellectual treasure hunter with a plucky daughter Ning (Xu Jiao). He happened upon a treasure map, while thwarting a conman that leads to seven treasures that could make him a lot of money. His daughter has been entered into a contest at the Wu Dang Mountain where Taoist monks train (the Wu Tang Clan got there name from characters there) and hold a contest every 500 years (this seems a little extreme; makes the World Cup gap seem quite tame). Meanwhile his daughter falls for a monk (Fan Siu-wong: Story of Ricky
) who is taking care of his invalid mother. The age difference (she was 14 when it was filmed) between the two is quite large making their scenes seem a bit awkward especially when marriage is talked about. At the same time another contestant Tian Xin (Yang Mi: Painted Skin: The Resurrection
), who obtained her invitation through force, is after a sword that belongs to her family. Of course she is going to end up with Yunlong.
Mainland’s censorship (even if it is a Hong Kong film) makes it impossible to have bad or even ambiguous characters so when someone is doing something like stealing treasures there had to be a “good-guy” reason for it. If you take this as a kid’s film it comes out better. Especially since the ending is very … sappy.
No real surprises for this one as the term middling seems to fit it appropriately. The fight choreography by Corey Yuen Kwai (All For the Winner
) was decent if you are into wire-work (I thought one scene with Zhao and Yang was quite good, it is partially shown in the trailer), especially when it involved Vincent Zhao who I really liked in True Legend
, but then it had too much focus on the two female leads Yang Mi and Xu Jiao (she played the boy in CJ7
). I noticed a lot of doubling for Xu Jiao. But when you compare this to his choreography in Above the Law
(1986) and My Father is a Hero
(1995) you might wonder what happened to him -- unless you have recently seen Blade of Kings
I really would not recommend this to anyone here, especially if you dislike wire-work fight choreography. There are enough plot holes (the whole stealing treasures under the Taoists), the tournament comes off shoddy and rushed and the relationships are boilerplate. But I do recommend this over Legendary Amazons
City on Fire Review Love HK Film Review
Wu Dang Chinese Box Office Performance
Box Office Mojo
An overly nice review.
Project X (2012
: Nima Nourizadeh) ***/****
It’s not a party until the midget drives the Benz into the pool. This is the ultimate teenage party fantasy movie mixed in with the “found footage” subgenre. A good lesson for this is always have the party at somebody else’s house, something I luckily learned years ago. It saves on cleaning, stress, paper work and asking questions like “how do you get blood stains out of the carpet?”
Three kids, plus cameraman Dax who does not drink and mysteriously lives alone, put together a party led by overly obnoxious Costa (Oliver Cooper) to celebrate Thomas’s (Thomas Mann) birthday. At first they hope to have a successful party to improve their social standing at school. They give out invitations to people that do not even know who they are.
I love the moment when everything is perfect. The party is successful. Then everything starts to go higgledy-piggledy. That’s when the real fun begins -- for the viewer. The arch of the plot is pretty much known from the beginning. The surprises are in what happens.
I found this quite funny in its anarchist mayhem. The dwarf in the oven, the overanxious security, the older party-goer (that reminded me of Lawrence), and the ultimate destruction of the party were inspired. I am a little weary of its overuse of casual teenage drug use. I do not buy the argument of realism since so much of this film is fantasy, but the “party film” homages are incomplete without them. Teenagers are annoying as well, so it is easy to handle them on film.
One of the biggest non-reality events is when the cops do not shot the flame-throwing addict trying to get his gnome back. I was a little suspect on the quick forgiveness of Thomas by his friend and future girlfriend Kirby. Makes nice for the movie, but he screwed up big time.