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    Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Wed Apr 27, 2011 3:46 pm

    I've been wanting to do this for awhile. I might abstract elsewhere, but I've been putting generic Hong Kong items here. Not sure how valuable it is, but it will make it easier for me to look up some reviews and data. Feel free to tell me if I miss anything. He uses a four-star system. Debating on putting in the Cannonball Run films which he reviewed, though he really hated them.

    Roger Ebert's Reviews of Hong Kong Including Co-production Movies

    2046 **½
    Ashes of Time Redux **
    A Simple Life ****
    Chungking Express ***
    Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (US/Hong Kong) **
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Taiwan/Hong Kong/China) ****
    Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (Hong Kong/China) ***½
    Eros (segment The Hand) ****
    Exiled **½
    The Eye (Hong Kong/Thailand) **½
    Fallen Angels ***
    Farewell my Concubine (China/Hong Kong) ****
    Hero ***½
    House of Flying Daggers (China/Hong Kong) ****
    Infernal Affairs ***
    Infra-Man ***
    In The Mood For Love ***
    Ip Man 2 ***
    Iron Monkey ***
    Jackie Chan's First Strike ***
    Kung Fu Hustle ***
    The Legend of the Drunken Master (aka Drunken Master II) ***½
    Lust, Caution (Taiwan/Hong Kong/US) ***
    Mighty Peking Man ***
    Mr. Nice Guy ***
    Operation Condor (aka Armour of God II) ***
    Red Trousers: The Life of the Hong Kong Stuntmen **
    Return of the Dragon **
    Rumble in the Bronx ***
    Sex and Zen ***
    Shaolin Soccer ***
    Temptress Moon **
    Three... Extremes (Hong Kong/Korea/Japan) ***½
    Time and Tide ***
    Vengeance ***½


    Last edited by Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:09 am; edited 7 times in total (Reason for editing : Added A Simple Life)
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    Brian T

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    Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

    Post  Brian T on Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:56 pm

    Great idea. Clearly Ebert's not a go-to guy for context, having taken such a small sampling over the years (and largely sticking to Hong Kong pictures that garnered fest buzz and/or U.S. theatrical releases), but I've always enjoyed his writing style, so it's good to have his "collected Hong Kong studies" gathered together in one place. Smile
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:02 am

    Brian T wrote:Great idea. Clearly Ebert's not a go-to guy for context, having taken such a small sampling over the years (and largely sticking to Hong Kong pictures that garnered fest buzz and/or U.S. theatrical releases), but I've always enjoyed his writing style, so it's good to have his "collected Hong Kong studies" gathered together in one place. Smile

    Thank you Brian. I added Farewell my Concubine above (China/HK), I forgot about that. I did some more searching but could not find other HK films.
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    Cash

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    Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

    Post  Cash on Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:46 pm

    I've always enjoyed Roger Ebert as a writer but often find his rationale frustrating and those same arguments occasionally lacking validity. He's criticized a number of films over the years for misogyny perhaps most notably David Lynch's great contemporary film noir "Blue Velvet" which he [Ebert], 25 years later, still maintains is one of the worst films ever made and yet awarded the simulated snuff film "Last House on the Left" (1972) a ***1/2 review? He's since said it's all about the context and noted during his **1/2 review of the later film's attenuated 2009 remake he doubts he'd enjoy the Wes Craven original nearly as much today but still...

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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:30 am

    Cash wrote:I've always enjoyed Roger Ebert as a writer but often find his rationale frustrating and those same arguments occasionally lacking validity. He's criticized a number of films over the years for misogyny perhaps most notably David Lynch's great contemporary film noir "Blue Velvet" which he [Ebert], 25 years later, still maintains is one of the worst films ever made and yet awarded the simulated snuff film "Last House on the Left" (1972) a ***1/2 review? He's since said it's all about the context and noted during his **1/2 review of the later film's attenuated 2009 remake he doubts he'd enjoy the Wes Craven original nearly as much today but still...


    While he has been quite harsh on BLUE VELVET I don't remember him stating it is one of the worst films ever made. Do you have a quote for that? He had it one-star and he has hundreds of films at a half-star or no stars.

    He is correct about the misogyny in Lynch's films and especially the treatment of Rossellini in that film, but yes he is inconsistent about this topic as well (though all of us would be with that amount of reviews).

    To be fair to Ebert he has backtracked on a lot of his 1970s reviews. Remember he was quite young then and he learned a lot more since then. Also to be fair sometimes we miss something on a first viewing (though I think if you consistently do this then there is something wrong with the reviewer/critic).

    Here are some interesting reads:
    Roger Ebert's Original
    My Problem With Blue Velvet

    Rossellini book explains haunting nude scene
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    Cash

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    Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

    Post  Cash on Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:23 pm

    While he has been quite harsh on BLUE VELVET I don't remember him stating it is one of the worst films ever made. Do you have a quote for that? He had it one-star and he has hundreds of films at a half-star or no stars.

    Roger Ebert included "Blue Velvet" in his 2000 book I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie a compilation of reviews for films he found so deplorable that in the preface he ignorantly claims they "have few defenders." To see a complete list of skewered films:

    Index

    He is correct about the misogyny in Lynch's films and especially the treatment of Rossellini in that film, but yes he is inconsistent about this topic as well (though all of us would be with that amount of reviews).


    I don't think David Lynch hates women. Then again, what does one consider hateful? Is pornography misogynistic? Some feminists say yes; some say no; some say depends on the pornography. I've met all three in my travels through academia.

    "Blue Velvet" is macabre and the sequences in question are indeed unnerving today as they were 25 years ago but I have never been left with the stigma that Lynch was amused by the writing, directing, and exhibition of these sequences.

    I have had the nagging feeling for years now that film criticism is prone to a lot of contradiction particularly in terms of what does or does not deeply offend and why. Perhaps Ebert's assertion that it's less about sight and sound and more about the context it's placed in is his most astute argument yet.

    To be fair to Ebert he has backtracked on a lot of his 1970s reviews. Remember he was quite young then and he learned a lot more since then. Also to be fair sometimes we miss something on a first viewing (though I think if you consistently do this then there is something wrong with the reviewer/critic).

    I was only aware of Ebert's concession that he doubts he would enjoy the original "Last House on the Left" as much as he once did. Then again, once I discovered Pauline Kael, Joe Morganstern, and a vibrant number of new wave meta critics I kind of got bored with Ebert.



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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:45 pm

    Cash wrote:...Roger Ebert included "Blue Velvet" in his 2000 book I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie a compilation of reviews for films he found so deplorable that in the preface he ignorantly claims they "have few defenders." To see a complete list of skewered films:

    Index

    He is correct about the misogyny in Lynch's films and especially the treatment of Rossellini in that film, but yes he is inconsistent about this topic as well (though all of us would be with that amount of reviews).


    I don't think David Lynch hates women. Then again, what does one consider hateful? Is pornography misogynistic? Some feminists say yes; some say no; some say depends on the pornography. I've met all three in my travels through academia.

    "Blue Velvet" is macabre and the sequences in question are indeed unnerving today as they were 25 years ago but I have never been left with the stigma that Lynch was amused by the writing, directing, and exhibition of these sequences.

    I have had the nagging feeling for years now that film criticism is prone to a lot of contradiction particularly in terms of what does or does not deeply offend and why. Perhaps Ebert's assertion that it's less about sight and sound and more about the context it's placed in is his most astute argument yet.

    To be fair to Ebert he has backtracked on a lot of his 1970s reviews. Remember he was quite young then and he learned a lot more since then. Also to be fair sometimes we miss something on a first viewing (though I think if you consistently do this then there is something wrong with the reviewer/critic).

    I was only aware of Ebert's concession that he doubts he would enjoy the original "Last House on the Left" as much as he once did. Then again, once I discovered Pauline Kael, Joe Morganstern, and a vibrant number of new wave meta critics I kind of got bored with Ebert.


    But he may have hated it (I have that book as well) but it doesn't mean he thinks it is one of the worst movies. There are lots of movies that he doesn't like but can admire the technical aspects of it. He hates the spirit of the film, but I have never heard him say nor write that it is one of the worst films. That was my initial point.

    Also you do not have to hate women to have scenes of misogyny. Sometimes it is just ignorance, sometimes it is planned. That is why I included the link discussing what Rossellini thought on her nude walk scene which upset her very much. I think that is a scene of humilitation.

    I think the worst offender I have seen lately has been Takashi Miike, but I haven't watched all the newer horror films.

    Of course "have few defenders." is quite wrong. Let's pick The Tin Drum (this might be in Your Movie Sucks; I don't have them near me now) which he also hated because of the child's performance (I agree with him on that). But that film has many, many supporters. I think most films have at least some defenders.

    Ebert has done some backtracking or changing from everyting from Blade Runner (going from *** stars to inclusion in Great Movies), stating he was completely wrong with his initial Once Upon a Time in the West review, putting Godfather II into Great Movies after initial *** review and more.

    I enjoy reading Pauline Kael, but I really don't her seriously as a critic. Her statement that she only would watch a film once annoyed me a bit. Sometimes she takes favorite or does the opposite and it becomes personal with her like when she would pan anything Clint Eastwood would do or praise anything from Peckinpah. Ebert does quote Kael a lot though.
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    Brian T

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    Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

    Post  Brian T on Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:17 pm

    Cash wrote:Perhaps Ebert's assertion that it's less about sight and sound and more about the context it's placed in is his most astute argument yet.
    This is a problem with for me with a lot of reviews on the web, mainly those written by Regular-Joe users who can't -- or won't -- contemplate the real-world and industry culture informing almost any film they review. It's all too often about what can be seen on the surface, the quality of the cinematography, the performances, the action choreography, special effects, etc. As a Hong Kong movie fan, it's particularly disheartening to read stuff that continually betrays a lack of cultural understanding (which can inevitably change one's perception of a film, though some choose to wait years to discover this fact, it seems) and a dearth of research. I've long favoured Variety's Asian cinema reviews because they generally avoid these pitfalls. I don't always agree with their assessments, but I find the contemporary real-world and industry context their writers include in their reviews to be largely trustworthy and enlightening. There are a few reviewers out there who bring the same level of discipline to reviews of new releases of older titles, such as Glenn Erickson at DVD Savant. Unfortunately, a lot of the uninformed dreck tends to clog up Google searches, which doesn't always help the hunt . . .

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    Cash

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    Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

    Post  Cash on Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:54 pm

    But he may have hated it (I have that book as well) but it doesn't mean he thinks it is one of the worst movies. There are lots of movies that he doesn't like but can admire the technical aspects of it. He hates the spirit of the film, but I have never heard him say nor write that it is one of the worst films. That was my initial point.

    You are correct I am culpable for erroneously claiming Ebert still maintains "Blue Velvet" is one of the worst films ever made as I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie is now over a decade old and Ebert has admitted he's found merit in Lynch's film since its 1986 debut though one doesn't get the sense he will ever surrender his One Star Rating. I thought it stood to reason that since Ebert's omnibus included "I Spit on Your Grave" (1978) -- which he dubiously labeled the worst film ever made -- that the purpose of the book as outlined in the introduction was to supply his audience with a collection of films that offended him on multiple levels and could hardly be defended. In essence: the worst films ever made. Example: In 1984, Ebert gave "Police Academy" a Zero Star Rating but it nor any of its sequels for that matter can be found in I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie. I initially felt their inclusion would be a bit cheap until I discovered a review of "Friday the 13th Part 2."


    Also you do not have to hate women to have scenes of misogyny. Sometimes it is just ignorance, sometimes it is planned. That is why I included the link discussing what Rossellini thought on her nude walk scene which upset her very much. I think that is a scene of humilitation.

    The definition of misogyny is the hatred of women (i.e. I don't believe Lynch hates women though I think we can agree it is beyond reproach that he purposely humiliated Rossellini).

    I think the worst offender I have seen lately has been Takashi Miike, but I haven't watched all the newer horror films.

    Though Miike is prone to revisiting the same half-a-dozen or so themes in the bulk of filmography he's eclectic enough to often avoid the labels audiences with very limited knowledge of his work try to place on him. Some have gone so far as to label him a misanthrope while others mistakenly hail "Audition" as the work of a feminist.

    Ebert has done some backtracking or changing from everyting from Blade Runner (going from *** stars to inclusion in Great Movies), stating he was completely wrong with his initial Once Upon a Time in the West review, putting Godfather II into Great Movies after initial *** review and more.

    Right and with the exception of his negative review of "Once Upon a Time in the West" I was aware of these examples. I suppose what I meant apropo of "Last House on the Left" were films he once enjoyed quite a great deal but can no longer defend. I do know in the last decade or so he's promised to take another look at "Fight Club," "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut," and "Napoleon Dynamite" after panning all three comedies in the face of cult popularity.

    I enjoy reading Pauline Kael, but I really don't her seriously as a critic. Her statement that she only would watch a film once annoyed me a bit. Sometimes she takes favorite or does the opposite and it becomes personal with her like when she would pan anything Clint Eastwood would do or praise anything from Peckinpah. Ebert does quote Kael a lot though.

    Pauline Kael understood the psychology and sociology of film perhaps more than any other critic I've ever read. Her detractors inside and outside of the industry were often outraged when she caustically slit the throats of sacred cows but I found she made me do something few if any of her peers were capable of: reconsider my position based on her critique. Frustratingly, she's often rejected by the kids on the newsgroups for giving "Star Wars" (1977) a mediocre review -- which a good 25% of critics did when it was released -- slapping her with an A for adultery as the bitch who dared step out on Generation X's "Citizen Kane."
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:04 am

    Added Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (Hong Kong/China) ***½
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:06 am

    Added Ann Hui's A Simple Life (Hong Kong) ****/****

    Surprised that Ebert reviewed this actually. He doesn't do many Hong Kong films as we can tell by this list. I wonder if he will be interested and look at older Ann Hui movies. It kind of sucks that critics get to see films many times before fans do. Smile.
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:15 am

    RE: Ann Hui: I noticed he reviewed Shadow Magic but I don't think this can be considered a Hong Kong film or even coproduction.
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    Brian T

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    Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

    Post  Brian T on Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:57 am

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Added Ann Hui's A Simple Life (Hong Kong) ****/****

    Surprised that Ebert reviewed this actually. He doesn't do many Hong Kong films as we can tell by this list. I wonder if he will be interested and look at older Ann Hui movies. It kind of sucks that critics get to see films many times before fans do. Smile

    Thanks for the link. Nice review.

    In fairness, some fans were able to see this before the Critics, or at least with them, as it premiered at TIFF last September, but obviously film fests are limited-availability affairs. Most mainstream critics (including Ebert) see a ton of movies at these festivals and then bank the reviews until an official release rolls around. Maybe Ebert caught this one in Toronto as well? I saw it here and agree wholeheartedly with his review. While he doesn't bring a lot of context related to copious Hong Kong cinema viewing to the table, he clearly enjoyed the film on the emotion level intended by Hui, and rightly noticed some of the social subtext it carries about modern Chinese families (spread around the globe) and Hong Kong's elder care system (which, like he says, is neither depicted as dire nor wonderful, just somewhere in between). I think a movie like this will resonate most powerfully with those who are elderly themselves (such as Roger Ebert) of those who have elderly parents (such as most of us here, I suspect), even though the film's central relationship is that of caregiver and charge.

    One of my bigger disappointments at TIFF last year was the HUGE delay in starting A SIMPLE LIFE caused by some brilliant sluggo loading a different Hong Kong picture into the projector (one I'd seen only the day before). The resulting 30+ minute delay (!) while they swapped films — presumably with another cinema somewhere in the city (yay!) — forced the Q&A with Ann Hui to be held in the crowded, unbearably noisy lobby of the TIFF Bell Lightbox, where it amounted to little more than a receiving line of people shaking her hand and telling her what a great movie it was, but no real Q&A. This was especially frustrating because she's known for being quite generous and open during her sessions at film festivals. I almost hope she has something at this year's event, but so far only one film with Hong Kong connections has been announced, Soi Cheang's, MOTORWAY.

    I'm surely repeating myself, but I still wish more supposed "fans" of Hong Kong cinema would make the effort to buy/see the films like A SIMPLE LIFE rather than just blindly cherry-picking (and reviewing) only the action movies and martial arts films that have come to all but define Hong Kong cinema in the west, largely thanks to their efforts and the narrow tastes of American distributors (talk about a vicious circle!). Maybe if they did, we'd see fewer of these bogus reports that Hong Kong cinema is in its death throes (after, what, a decade now? - that's a long throe, man) and more realization at just how varied their output — though smaller than it's northern neighbour — still is.



    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:RE: Ann Hui: I noticed he reviewed Shadow Magic but I don't think this can be considered a Hong Kong film or even coproduction.

    That movie's by a different Ann, actually: Ann Hu, who seems to have vaporized after her second film in 2005. IMDB lists it as a China-Germany-Taiwan-USA co-production. Not sure that's accurate, but is certainly seems more reliable than HKMDB, which just says China, because at that site, a film can only be produced by a single country. Wink

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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Roger Ebert's Hong Kong Movie Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:21 am

    [quote="Brian T"]
    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Added Ann Hui's ...
    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:RE: Ann Hui: I noticed he reviewed Shadow Magic but I don't think this can be considered a Hong Kong film or even coproduction.

    That movie's by a different Ann, actually: Ann Hu, who seems to have vaporized after her second film in 2005. IMDB lists it as a China-Germany-Taiwan-USA co-production. Not sure that's accurate, but is certainly seems more reliable than HKMDB, which just says China, because at that site, a film can only be produced by a single country. Wink


    What was funny was that I self corrected myself on this, forgetting that you wrote that. Actually that is correct to the states as Ann Hu states that on the commentary. She stated it was the first China-Taiwan coproduction.

    Now let me edit myself again: the film reminded me of Hugo (which Ebert loved). I am curious to anyone's opinion on this film. I ended up liking it quite a bit.

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