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Monday, August 24, 2009

[11/10] House of Flying Daggers/Shi Mian Mai Fu (2004)

House of Flying Daggers (2004)

Short review: "HoFD" is a wonderfully constructed tale of love and betrayal. Beautifully shot against the backdrop of the Tang Dynasty, "HOFD" reaches dizzying heights of technical brilliance. From the opulently clothed, sharp, and delicately colored palace interiors of the opening, to the misty forests and plains which see most of the action, Zhang has created a series of Chinese paintings, each a masterpiece of color and composition with the balletically weightless protagonists soaring through. Without a doubt one of the most visually-spectacular movies ever made!

[10/10] The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (2001-2003)

The Lord of the Rings:
The Motion Picture Trilogy (2001-2003)


The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)


The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)


The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

"Return of the King" was one of the best films that I have seen in a long while, and it has helped to fill a void and get audiences more interested in fantasy films. Like the previous two films in the trilogy, the photography and use of scenery is amazing. The cast of characters and the battle scenes were also done extremely well and set to an equally-beautiful soundtrack. This is one of the best films in film history and the best of LOTR trilogy. It has a good mix of action, adventure, and character development. It's also the most emotional of the films. The cast comes through once more. The musical score retains its beauty, elegance and power. The special effects, notably Gollum again, are nothing less than breathtaking, and simply move the story along. The battles are monumentally huge and exciting. There are some liberties taken with the story, especially during the end with the homecoming, and yet, everything that needed to be covered regarding the main characters was handled. After the greatest moment of the series resolves itself, the story provided a breather. And gives a good-bye to friends seen on screen for the last three years. All in all, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" is one the most fine-tuned, cinematically perfect films ever made, it's absolutely flawless in every aspect. The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a whole is a spectacular achievement in film making history, and all three movies are together, without a doubt, the greatest epic ever made.


Friday, August 21, 2009

[10/10] The Matrix Trilogy (1999-2003)

The Matrix Trilogy (1999-2003)

The Matrix (1999)

Quickrating: The magnitude of philosophy in sync with special effects make "The Matrix" a one-of-a-kind movie masterpiece. College classes show this movie in their philosophy class, and at the same time can prove to be one of the best special effects movies ever. Supplementally, "The Matrix" also provides endless action and a pretty solid storyline that influences the philosophical ideas in the movie.

The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

A more-than-worthy sequel with spectacular effects, thrilling chases, masterful martial arts fighting, and engrossing story.

    The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

    The conclusion may be the weakest of the three films, but it still delivers some amazing action and out-of-this-world visuals.


    Thursday, August 20, 2009

    [11/10] Kill Bill vol. 1 & 2 (2003-2004)

    Kill Bill vol.1 (2003)

    "Kill Bill Vol.1" is the most enjoyable and visually stunning action film I have ever seen. Quentin Tarantino's visual craftsmanship transcends perfection. From the first seconds of the opening scene to the credits it's a 111 minute hold-your-breath, armrest-clenching, roller coaster ride. Tarantino's first movie of the new millennium is nothing short of a classic masterpiece, like all of his movies of course! This one in particular is filled to the brim with tributes to old Kung-fu chop-socky films, Japanese movies, and anime, and of course the usual pop-culture references, a staple to every Tarantino film. The characters themselves are given enough depth to them and the acting is fine, Uma Thurman delivers a great and belivable performance. The cinematography is beautiful and amazingly done, the music its a league in itself, Tarantino perfectly knows how to use music in his films effectively, but best of all this is a highly entertaining movie. The action scenes, choreographed by Yuen Wo-Ping, are nothing short of spectacular! "Kill Bill" deserves all of the accolades it gets. Although it may seem to be a hackfest on the surface, there is true talent at work here. Uma Thurman and Lucy Lui give inspiring performances; the story, however linear it may be, it instantly grabbing; and Tarantino's masterful direction is as inspiringly as it is slightly disturbing. A true masterpiece!!!


      Kill Bill vol.2 (2004)

      "Kill Bill vol.1" was a real masterpiece and so is vol.2! It is not as bloody, not as action packed, not as insane or not as Eastern inspired, but it's just as good and it's more emotional, deep and satisfying! The Direction is once again practically flawless!. Quentin Tarantino does a perfect job here with amazing camera work, wonderful angles, good use of colors and lots of other stylish and cool shots as well, plus he kept the film at an extremely fast pace!.All the character were simply amazing.The coolest character in the Kill Bill saga,in my opinion was Pai Mei. His scenes of 'cruel tutelage' shot in a 70's kung Fu movie style really demonstrate Gordon Liu's martial art mastery. Daryl Hannah is smart, sexy, deadly, and totally hot. She is perfect as Elle. Uma Thurman shines brilliantly in every emotion charged scene and lends true acting gravitas to a role that had pitfalls aplenty. She is one of the best. David Carradine also deserves a mention for his part as the vile 'Bill' and manages just enough humanity to make the brides final sympathetic act towards him believable. "Kill Bill" is smart, spectacular, visually stunning, exciting and the best movie in Tarantino's career as a director!

      Wednesday, August 19, 2009

      [11/10] Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

      Crouching Tiger,
      Hidden Dragon (2000)

      Watching "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is almost like watching your own dream evolve on the screen. Ang Lee has created a visually stunning, lyrical, poetic film that is engaging on a number of levels: The brilliant choreography ,by master Yuen Woo-Ping, especially in the sword fighting scenes, is absolutely beautiful and mesmerizing, as is the ability of the characters to defy gravity and literally soar up the sides of walls, across rooftops and into the tops of trees; there are sequences in this film that will literally take your breath away. And then there's the story itself, which is nothing less than a meditation on life and the quest for that often elusive butterfly of inner peace and the resolution and acceptance of one's own destiny. Blended seamlessly together by Lee, it becomes an artistic triumph of the silver screen that is truly magical; Peter Pau's cinematography is lush and exotic, with vivid hues and immense backgrounds. The sheer poetic nature of the film is unforgettable, the images of which will remain in your mind's eye forever. The charismatic Chow Yun-Fat is perfectly cast as Li Mu Bai; there is a subtle, introspective quality he brings to the character that is sublime in it's sensitivity-- that of a man of strength and integrity, worthy of the legendary status accorded him as a warrior, and the respect bestowed upon him as a man of principle. It's an honest portrayal that rings of truth, which Yun-Fat conveys so succinctly and credibly. Michelle Yeoh is outstanding as well, exhibiting adroit physical abilities in the action sequences, while also demonstrating her gift as a dramatic actress. Most importantly, she makes Shu Lien real, and there is a definite chemistry between her and Chow Yun-Fat that brings the story even more vividly to life. But the most exciting discovery of the film is the young Zhang Ziyi, who is absolutely magnificent in the role of Jen Yu, the Governor's daughter. It's an extraordinary performance, energetic and charming, and Ziyi has a screen presence that is riveting and commanding of attention. She has a tremendous physical dexterity, and her martial arts engagements with Yeoh and Yun-Fat are melodious and utterly captivating, as is her skill with a sword. The supporting cast includes Chang Chen (Lo), Gao Xian (Bo), Hai Yan (Madame Yu), Wang Deming (Tsai) and Li Li (May). They all did a great job. Tan Dun's music is moody and dream-like, adding to the impression that you are almost watching someone's dream unfold before you. Through the combined efforts of Lee's direction, the exemplary performances of his actors and the expertise of a number of technicians, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is a film of ethereal magnitude that transports the audience to another time and another place. Rarely has the screen been graced with with a film of such grace and beauty, and seeing it is a truly memorable experience. "Wo Hu Cang Long" is Ang Lee's masterpiece!

      Thursday, August 13, 2009

      [11/10] Hero (2004) / Ying Xiong (2002)

      Ying Xiong


      Hero (2002)

      (2004 - wide release)

      A splendid magical work of cinematic calligraphy, beautifully authentic watermarks, and a dream of thoroughly spellbinding cinematography, thanks to Christopher Doyle, "Ying Xiong" is a movie soaked in a captivating Chinese spirit that never fails the viewer at any time, the story of an ambiguous warrior and his memories in defeating three infamous assassins, but it doesn't stop there and will surely take you far beyond your boundaries and will emotionally sway at many major points, and will arouse imminent feelings of passion, grieve and glory. The directing is superb, succeeded in carrying out the visuals intact with the storyline and the acting is superb. Jet Li is not known as a great thespian and it was essential that, being primarily a martial arts star, aside from the ass kickery, he had to hold his own against some great actors, such as Tony Lueng. Li's understated performance is excellent. It's a very stoic role but it requires a performance to come from within. He is almost a narrator in the story and is the centre piece and Li was not the initial choice for the film. A more respected actor was wanted for the part, like Yun-Fat, but Li thoroughly rules his role and makes this part his own.

      Tony Leung steals the movie though. Leung is fantastic a really great performance adding the gravitas that Chow did in "Crouching Tiger". He is a great actor, right up there with Chow and deservedly was recognised in the HK film awards. Cheung is fantastic as well and unbelievably gorgeous to look at. She made me want to break down and cry at the glorious creation of womanhood, and simultaneously go at it with myself in the cinema screen, but the threat of arrest was just about enough of a deterrent. You can sit and merely marvel at her gorgeousness with the sound turned down. Not far behind in the yummy stakes is Zhang Ziyi who also starred in "Crouching Tiger", she is also superb in this.

      The action scenes, choregoraphed by Ching Siu-Tung, are flawlessly smooth and textured both in the movements of the actors and their surroundings. The various settings of each fight set the tone of the actors movements, as well as the movement and subjectivity of the camera. When not fighting, the camera presents us with shot after shot that would each unto themselves qualify as a work of art. When meshed together, they create a seamless continuity into which the fight scenes mesh perfectly. Tan Dun's music is incredible with heartwrenching violin solos, angelic harmonies, and a little throwback to the Peking Opera. It elevates so many of the scenes to levels that cannot be achieved otherwise. Beautiful from start to finish, "Ying Xiong" is a masterpiece in its own right. Shot perfectly and vividly, it never ceases to impress and is a joy to watch. It's not only the most beautiful wuxia film of all time, but also one of the best movies ever made, if not THE BEST!