Talking Movies

September 8, 2015

DIFF PIX: Hong Kong Kicks

Dublin International Film Festival (DIFF) in partnership with the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office (HKETO) are hosting DIFF PIX: Hong Kong Kicks, an action packed season of the best of Hong Kong cinema at the Lighthouse Cinema.

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DIFF PIX:Hong Kong Kicks is the second presentation in DIFF PIX, the Festival initiative which creates innovative ways for Irish audiences to engage with cinema of the past. Tickets are €11 and available to purchase on www.diff.ie.

The season of six films is guest curated by Roger Garcia, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Film Festival, and a renowned author, producer and film critic. Garcia was born in Hong Kong and educated in England. He was director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival in the late 1970s, and subsequently served as programmer, consultant, and juror on film festivals in the US, Europe, and Asia. His critical writings have been published by the British Film Institute, Cahiers du Cinema, Film Comment, and Variety among others. His books include studies on Hollywood comedy, Asians in American Cinema, Asian comedies, and Asian musicals. His latest book is King Hu: In His Own Words (2013). Garcia has been executive director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society since 2010, and is responsible for the Asian Film Awards Academy and Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum project market among other activities.

For those who want to get up close and personal with the real action, there is a high octane martial arts demo in Smithfield Square on Friday 25th September at 16.30 with Sensei Scott Langley and Hombu Dojo Karate. Hombu Dojo teaches Traditional Shotokan Karate with full-time instructors have won at world championships, studied in Japan, and now at a purpose built dojo in D6. Scott Langley, 6th Dan (Hombu Dojo Chief Instructor), is the head of WTKO Ireland & GB (World Traditional Karate Organisation) and teaches throughout the world.

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“Building on the success of last year’s Dublin’s Favourite Film DIFF PIX screening we are thrilled to bring this very special season of the best of Hong Kong cinema to Dublin audiences. We are particularly honoured and excited to welcome our guest curator Roger Garcia, one of the industry’s leading experts in this particular genre of cinema which has such a huge impact worldwide. I hope cinema-goers will enjoy this early Autumn treat,” says Grainne Humphreys, DIFF Director. Melissa Pascala, HKETO in Brussels, adds “We are pleased to collaborate with DIFF to present Hong Kong’s martial arts films to Irish movie lovers.  Hong Kong is famous for its Kung Fu movies.  This season showcases a prime selection of classics produced in Hong Kong over the last few decades.

The line-up includes well-known masters; Bruce Lee in The Way of the Dragon, Jackie Chan in The Young Master, Jet Li for Once Upon a Time in China II; as well as gems like horror-comedy Spooky Encounters. Aficionados should book early for Duel to the Death which will take place at 15.00 on Saturday 26th followed by a discussion with Roger Garcia. A film that was received to high critical acclaim in the east, Duel to the Death‘s reputation in the west is less widely established, and this screening will prove a wonderful discovery for Dublin audiences.

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Friday 25th Sept

MARTIAL ARTS DEMONSTRATION – 16.30, Smithfield Square (Sensei Scott Langley & Hombu Dojo)

ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA 2 – 20.15, Lighthouse 1

Jet Li reprises his role as the legendary Wong Fei-hung. This time Fei-hung faces the government and the White Lotus cult intent on removing Western influence from China. who are opposed to anything western. Fei-hung continues a tentative romance with Aunt Yee (Rosamund Kwan) while director Tsui Hark stages some bravura action sequences, including a ‘wire-fu’ pitting Li against his double from the original.

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Saturday 26th Sept

DUEL TO THE DEATH – 15.00, Lighthouse 2 (Followed by Roger Garcia talk)

Duel To The Death is one of the final martial arts epics made by the Shaw Brothers during their golden age. Based on a familiar rivalry between martial arts of China and Japan,  Hashimoto, a Japanese fighter/swordsman, competes against young Chinese master, ‘Lord of the Sword’ Po Ching-wan. Hashimoto  must reconcile orders from his Shogun with his honour, all played out in frenetic action scenes.

SPOOKY ENCOUNTERS – 20.00, Lighthouse 2

Spooky Encounters is a blend of comedy, action, and horror starring Sammo Kam-Bo Hung. The plot is farcical in the best possible sense (mistresses, vampires, priests, nonsense), and the fight scenes grow increasingly outre culminating in an Evil Dead 2 anticipating scene where Sammo must fight his own possessed hand, before allowing the Monkey King to possess the rest of him in an effort to get to the bottom of things as it were.

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Sunday 27th Sept

RIGHTING WRONGS – 15.00, Lighthouse 3

Corey Yuen is a Hong Kong attorney, recently returned from the US, prosecuting two mob bosses for murder. When they get off scot-free after murdering the lone witness and his entire family, Yuen goes on a rampage. CID agent Cindy Jones (Cynthia Rothrock) tags Yuen as the perp and tails him, but then kid (Fan Siu-wong) witnesses the remaining boss’ murder and is targeted. But the plot plays second fiddle to a number of showdowns between Yuen Biao and Rothrock.

 

 

THE YOUNG MASTER – 17.00, Lighthouse 1

Ching Loong (Jackie Chan), is out of his depth when his Red School elder, Cheng Keung (Wei Pei), lands him with the job of representing the school at the annual Lion Dance competition in Guangzhou. Struggling against the rival Blue School things go from bad to worse as Ching discovers Cheng is in debt, and then somehow ends up framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Can Ching clear his name, Cheng’s name, and uphold the school’s name all at the same time? Can Jackie Chan fight?!

THE WAY OF THE DRAGON – 19.00, Sun 27th Sept, Lighthouse 1


Bruce is Tang Lung, a Hong Kong yokel adrift in Rome. Lee is on jocular form with this character, but that’s what people remember most – there’s a rather major fight: Bruce Lee. Chuck Norris. The Colosseum. AW YEAH!

 

August 15, 2012

The Expendables 2

66 year-old Sylvester Stallone regrettably returns for the second outing in this postmodern tongue-in-cheek action franchise made by people who don’t know what postmodernism means and don’t have their tongues-in-cheeks.

The Expendables 2 begins with Stallone’s soldiers of fortune rampaging around Nepal, saving a hostage or two, before making their covert getaway in the world’s most conspicuous plane. The film continues in this vein; thunderously loud, with much posturing like 1980s action heroes by the aged cast of 1980s action heroes. Groanworthy references are made from time to time as hundreds of enemies on various continents are dispatched with explosions of CGI blood so ridiculous that they resemble the zombies/water balloons of Planet Terror. But, when Bruce Willis sends Stallone and Jason Statham to Albania to retrieve a Maguffin with the help of Jet Li’s replacement Nan Yu, they (and their loyal crew of Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and Liam Hemsworth) meet their match in the villainous Jean-Claude Van Damme… But some familiar faces might balance the odds.

It’s hard not to wish that Robert Rodriguez at the top of his game was in charge of this franchise. You might think that losing Stallone as a director might improve this franchise but, aside from the script, the real shock of this movie is that Simon Con Air West doesn’t bring much visual panache to this nonsense. Instead it’s only slightly better directed than the lensing of Dolph Lundgren’s inert 2004 directorial debut The Defender, and the opening sequence in particular bafflingly shares Lundgren’s utter inability to convey basic action geography. The unrelenting autumnal colour palette employed by West quickly becomes quite dreary. The best moments are Jet Li fighting with pots and pans, the State using a censer as a mace, and Nan Yu letting rip on some goons; to wit the actors young enough for action movies.

Van Damme proved in JCVD that he’s still in shape and can actually act when pushed, but JCVD had a level of playfulness in its writing that is simply beyond The Expendables. Arnold Schwarzenegger saying “I’m back” before a couple of notes of his Terminator motif play isn’t that funny a touch. Chuck Norris delivering the punch-line of a Chuck Norris joke after Stallone feeds him the set-up might be hilarious, if he hadn’t delivered about 5 of them in a row on Jay Leno’s show a few years ago. These touches, which are few and far between, are meant to disguise the fact that this is a veritable computer-generated basic cable action script, worked on by many different writers, that could just as easily have been directed by Dolph Lundgren on a miniscule budget and gone straight to DVD.

For a genuine tongue-in-cheek see Robert Rodriguez or Alexandre Aja because this is just a bad movie shamelessly masquerading as a gleefully bad movie.

1/5

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