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!

 

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August 13, 2014

The Expendables 3

Sylvester Stallone and his band of arthritic action heroes return for a surprisingly decent third instalment in this underwhelming franchise.

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Barney Ross (Stallone) and his mercenary crew; Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews; use a helicopter to rescue long-imprisoned Expendable Doc (Wesley Snipes) from a prison train. Their CIA contact Drummer (Harrison Ford) then dispatches the team to Somalia to capture an arms-dealer, but faulty intelligence fails to identify the target as another former Expendable: the extremely dangerous Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). A broken Stallone recruits a new, much younger team – a tech specialist; Thorn (Glen Powell); some muscle; Mars (Victor Ortiz), Luna (Ronda Rousey); and a tactician Smilee (Kellan Lutz). They go up against Stonebanks in Eastern Europe with a foolproof plan. And then a shattered Stallone recruits demented Spaniard Galgo (Antonio Banderas) for another go round at Stonebanks… At this rate he may well need Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Yin (Jet Li) to selflessly help him out.

The Expendables franchise isn’t nearly as funny and knowing as it thinks it is. Its idea of meta-comedy is for actors to make obvious references to their lives and quote past roles without any jokes attached. Indeed its funniest meta-moments are unintentional, the obvious cutaways and wide-angles disguising creaking bones in fight scenes. As a PG-13 movie the CGI blood that bedevilled the last movie is mercifully absent, but instead we have the hilarity of people not being bisected by a steel wire on a fast-moving train in the opening sequence; whose cartoonish climax flags a problem for the whole film – outrageously bad CGI. If, per Nolan and Pfister, cinema is about capturing live-action on film, it makes no sense at all for an action film to stage an elaborate live-action build-up only for the pay-off to be a screensaver.

The outsize cast barely fits on the poster, so predictably most make no impression whatsoever; except MMA fighter Ronda Rousey whose face registers amusement or annoyance – and nothing else… Stallone’s screenplay has been worked over by Olympus Has Fallen scribes Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, but they only manage to make Banderas a live-action Puss in Boots while failing to deliver any good quips. Kelsey Grammer as a fixer gives the impression of ad-libbing the funniest moments of his ‘putting the heist together’ scenes, as does Gibson whose charisma veritably leaps off the screen in this company. There is a quantum leap in directorial competence as Patrick Hughes (the brutal and atmospheric Red Hill) showily stages the extraction at an art gallery with some panache, but even he can’t save the over-extended warzone finale and its ludicrously motivated boss fight.

The Expendables 3 isn’t a genuinely good movie, but as the best instalment so far it legitimately makes this question seriously tantalising – what could this franchise be with Robert Rodriguez or Roland Emmerich onboard?

2.5/5

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