Running Out Of Time

Cheung played by Andy Lau (House of Flying Daggers, Infernal Affairs, Fulltime Killer), is a man whose cancer is in the advanced stages, with a maximum of 4 weeks to live. Cheung however has a few scores left to settle and does not intend to sit around and pass into death quietly. He sets about executing an elaborate plan to see his scores settled. This starts a 78 hour game of cat and mouse between him and hard boiled cop Inspector Ho played by Ching Wan Lau (Colour of the Truth, Full Alert, Return to a Better Tomorrow).

Running Out Of Time was written by French writing team Julien Carbon and Lauraunt Courtiaud and then further adapted into the Chinese screenplay by Nai-Hoi Yau whose writing credits include PTU and The Bare-Footed Kid. Although French the writers are long time fans of Hong Kong cinema and have created a great plot with plenty of twists and turns and that all essential male bonding that proliferates much of Hong Kong's cinema. Directed by Johnny To whose film credits include PTU, The Mission, Heroic Trio 2: Executioners.

Hong Kong cinema and particularly the "cops and robbers" sub genre is enjoying a renascence, while this new wave of movies do not match the Heroic bloodshed genre of the 80’s for ballistic violence, they do offer a great deal of style and arguably better plots. In the twisty plot department Running out of time does not disappoint, if you enjoyed, Colour of the truth, Infernal affairs, Cop on a mission etc. then this is another film your going to love.

Andy lau is excellent as ever proving again why he is one of Hong Kong cinemas hot properties and a firm fan favourite. In fact Andy Lau won the “best Actor” accolade at the 2000 Hong Kong film awards for his performance. .Lau Ching Wan as inspector Po holds his own well on screen with Lau giving a great deadpan performance to match Lau’s enigmatic Cheung.

After Cheung robs an insurance company, he takes a hostage on the roof and Inspector Ho a master police negotiator is called in. Ho asks Cheung what he wants offering idea's such as a helicopter, a fast car and even a chance to call a girlfriend or wife. Cheung shoots the hostage and say's “I don’t want any of those things; I just want to play a game with you for 78 hours”. Confused and intrigued by Cheung’s statement Ho finds himself becoming obsessed with taking him down before the time runs out. As the plot develops and the two try and outwit each other they develop a strong unspoken bond and a growing respect.

Director Johnny To gives the film a very stylised feel that is almost noir in its tone, with haunting sad music throughout that serves to reminds you that Cheung is a tragic character. To further the tragic feel there is a very effective sub plot in which Cheung's character forms an almost romantic relationship with a beautiful girl he meets on a bus while avoiding the police who are hunting him. They only meet twice onscreen, but the character interplay is done beautifully, in their second meeting they have dinner in a restaurant with Chan telling her “If only I had more time”, she does not understand until a coffing fit makes him spit blood into his drink and his ill health becomes apparent to her.

The great thing about Running out of time is that it manages to skilfully combine the stylish look seen recently in Johnny To’s PTU with some great action sequences including gun battles and car chases that remind you, should you have forgotten just why you love Hong Kong cinema so much.

Running out of time is a great blend of modern noir-esque visuals, haunting background melodies, twisty plot, great acting and explosive action. A great addition to the genre and other piece of must own Hong Kong cinema.

Buy It: amazon.co.uk 


Trailer for Ip Man which isdirected by Wilson Yip (Flash Point; Dragon Tiger Gate; SPL) and starring Donnie Yen (An Empress And The Warriors) in the title role. The film co-stars the legendary Simon Yam. The award-winning wartime period action-drama Ip Man brings to the screen the fascinating life of the celebrated Chinese martial artist who famously became martial arts master to Bruce Lee and was the first person to teach the close range combat techniques of Wing Chun openly.

Ip Man is released in the UK by Showbox Entertainment on 26th October 2009


Last Hurrah for Chivalry

On the day of his wedding local noble Kao is visited by uninvited guests. A deadly kung fu master named Pai and his men. Pai had previously lost much of his land to Koa's father and sensing that the son is weaker than his father he decides now is an opportune moment to strike back. A fight ensues and Koa is badly wounded and his clan devastated. Koa Bitter that he was not able to defend his family and was unable to defeat the deadly Pai, Koa sets about looking for a way to get revenge at any cost. In the town their are two great swordsmen, one the hot tempered Chang has renounced the sword and works with horses, the other Green spends his day's drunk when not taking on jobs as an assassin. It does not take Koa long to figure out there must be a way he can use them to take down Pai.

1978's Last Hurrah for Chivalry was produced by Raymond Chow's Golden Harvest and written and directed by none other than legendary action director John Woo. Woo spent most of the seventies working on Martial arts films and the early 80's working in comedy. It was not until 1986's A better Tomorrow that he would hit on the style that would make him a legend in his own lifetime, though his other 1986 action outing Heroes Shed No Tears should not be overlooked in terms of enjoyment. 1976's Hand Of Death was competent outing for the young Woo, but Last Hurrah for Chivalry takes things to another level and is much more than just a curiosity piece for those looking into Woo's early career. In fact Last Hurrah for Chivalry is a very, very good old school swordplay movie. Where Hand Of Death hinted at what was to come later in Woo's career, Last Hurrah for Chivalry is very clearly a Woo film hand guns aside. The classic Woo themes are now firmly in place with honour, loyalty and male bonding top of the menu.

The other thing that marks this out as a John Woo film is the action. There are no birdcages being broken or slow motion white doves yet, but the action is played at a breakneck pace. In the second half of the movie you hardly get time to draw breath so constant is the fighting. Though you can't describe the film as gory it's certainly very bloody as the various characters hack and slash their way through opponents. The plot follows the revenge theme as does most of the genre, but Woo manages to throw in some brilliant twists.

Wei Pai (Five Deadly Venoms) Damian Lau (Duel to the Death, What Price Survival) are great in the lead roles as Chang and Green respectively. Lau Kong is great as Kao and shows off some pretty mean fight skills as does Lee Hoi San (Magnificent Butcher) as bad guy Pai.

Chang and Green storming Pai's home and taking on his various guards make for classic old school kung fu stuff especially when they take on the deadly but narcoleptic "sleeping Buddha". Fans of both John Woo's work and Old School Kung Fu flicks should seek this one out.

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Heroes Shed No Tears

The government of Thailand hires a squad of immigrant Chinese mercenaries to infiltrate the notorious golden triangle and capture a drug baron. If they can achieve this mission the squad will receive a nice fat pay check and green cards to emigrate to the US. How ever the Drug lord in question General Samton has a tight grip on the area and a large force of armed troops to back him up. Can a five man team really get in, capture the general and make it back alive to claim the reward?

After trying his hand at several genres’ including comedy, drama and classic Martial arts director John Woo hit open the sub-genre that would make him famous in 1986. The year would see the release of Heroes Shed no tears (maybe a reissue from '83 I'm not sure) and A better tomorrow. It was these two films that would set John Woo on a path that would make him a legend in his own lifetime and bring a new term to the lips of western film fans. In 1986 Woo put Heroic bloodshed on the map and his influence reverberated through the world of action cinema and is still being felt today in films like DVD hits A bittersweet life and S.P.L. For many the eighties where the heyday for action cinema. Rambo, Red Scorpion, Scarface, Die Hard, Platoon, RoboCop, Commando and maybe the most macho movie of them all Predator where born in the eighties. And in that climate on the other side of the world John Woo unleashed his own action classic Heroes Shed No Tears. The film is pitched somewhere between a Vietnam War movie and a one man army movie like Commando. Tough desperate men with shady backgrounds, Special Forces training taking down a drug lord, you might have heard the plot before but you won't have seen it done by Woo (Unless you have seen this film already).

What ever happened to the subgenre of desperate men on one last deadly mission movies? If you miss it, then this new release of Heroes shed no tears lets you travel back in cinematic history to a time when men where men. A time before everything had to be PG-13 and men became all metorsexaul and started wearing make up and buying Joop Jump for men. Back when if you wanted to smell "nice" you bought something Manly with a name like Brut or Old Spice. Heroes Shed No Tears follows the desperate flight through the Golden triangle of Chan Chung and his men as they try and make a better life for themselves by completing one last desperate mercenary mission. Joined on the way by Chung’s sister in law and son, as well as a French tourist they save from an attempted rape at the hands of a Vietnamese officer and a recluse white former US soldier from Vietnam who was once saved by Chung. In hot pursuit how ever are the men of the drug lord they captured. These are soon joined by those of the officer whose eye Chung shoots out of his head while saving the tourist. He in turn enlists the help of a Vietnamese jungle tribe with deadly tracking skills. As the odds mount up against Chung the flight through Vietnam becomes desperate and things get very bloody indeed.

Starring Eddy Ko (Hitman in the Hand of Buddha, Peacock King, PTU) as Chan Chung leader of the Chinese hit squad who gives a great performance as the grizzled hero. Featuring sadly deceased Hong Kong Legend Lam Ching-Ying(Close Encounters of the Spooky Kind,  Mr. Vampire). As well as a great supporting cast. I personally love this type of film and most of Woo's eighties work in general. While not packed with the "Bullet Ballet" style action scenes Woo was to make famous, it is filled with old school shoot em up style scenes and packs in a good amount of gore. When someone dies in this movie it’s messy and harsh, just the way it should be. It even has an irritating kid in the form of Chung’s son; you know the kind that gets people killed trying to save him. At first he annoyed me, but then I realised being annoyed at the kid is part of the fun, you can sit munching on your snack and drinking a beer while shouting at the TV screen "For god sake will someone just kill that fucking kid already". And Lam Ching-Ying's character does indeed have a good try at killing the kid by putting him in the middle of a ring of burning crops ... YAY! The great thing about this film and many of the Hong Kong films of the time is there is no guarantee who will live and who will die, in Heroic bloodshed movies being the hero does not automatically make you safe.

Buy Heroes Shed No Tears and reclaim your *Manhood

*I am in no way saying woman will not love this slice of macho fun too.

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Love me Love my money

Tony Leung (Hero, Hard Boiled, Chungking Express, Fighting for love) is Richard Ma, an extremely wealthy businessman who is unpleasantly tight fisted and stingy. After his ex-girlfriend cancels his credit cards and sells off the contents of his house, Richard is left temporarily penniless for a weekend. A chance meeting with a beautiful stock broker named Ah Choi, played by Shu Qi (The Eye 2, The Transporter) sets off a chain of events that will hopefully see the Richard change his selfish ways.

Love Me Love My Money see’s Hong Kong cinema’s Mr.Suave, Tony Leung in a fun if a little lightweight romantic comedy with the very cute Shui Qi, best known in the west for her role in The Transporter,as his leading lady. This is one of those films that’s all about being popcorn light-hearted fun, with the common theme of love conquers all and can tame the beast, etc. There are shades of Pretty Woman here, but don’t let that put you off, the emphasis is far more on fun than slushy romance, other than the sugar-sweet ending. Tony Leung seems to be able to turn his hand to pretty much any genre he pleases with ease; he looks equally comfortable in this some what comedic role as he does in dramas, action flicks and martial arts epics. The supporting cast all give great fun turns with the very attractive Teresa Mak (Erotic Ghost Story, Sexy and Dangerous) on top form as Chloroform (she knocks men out with her beauty … what is it with HK film and these characters' nicknames?). The equally lovely Angie Cheung plays Richards ex-girlfriend who, although sets out to teach him a lesson for his stinginess, is a pretty self-centred character herself.

The film has some elements in common with Escape from Hong Kong Island, also released in the UK by Tai Seng, with similar themes about the corrupting effect money can have on the soul and the lessons that can be learned when access to that money is removed. Hong Kong is a place with a lot people who fall into the bracket of 'super rich', a place where luxury apartments are built, never lived in and then torn down and the land sold because its value has increased so much. So its seems only natural that its native filmmakers have turned to satirizing much of the materialism they see around them.

The basic premise of the movie is very much a moral tale merged with a romance, with the beautiful Ah Choi showing the stingy Richard that there is a lot more to life than money and as she explains, money itself does not bring joy, it’s the spending of money which is fun. While I wasn’t in fits of laughter much, of the film is very amusing with some nice little comedy set pieces and a very enjoyable song from the leading characters fathers. The men are handsome, the ladies beautiful and the lifestyle they live is one you want for yourself. There’s never any question that there’s a happy ending on its way but then that’s the point of 'feel good' films. And although the demographic for this type of film is slightly more female, I would feel pretty good if I was a billionaire that ended up with Shu Qi. The balance of fun to romance means this doesn’t stray too far into the feared realms of 'The Chick Flick,' instead remaining as a romantic look at friendship, love, life and having fun.

A nice happy slice of light-hearted fun from director Jing Wong; switch your brain off and fall in love with Tony Leung and Shu Qi.


Johnnie To's Vengeance - Poster

New poster for Johnnie To's Vengeance which is about to play in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Simon Yam, Anthony Wong and Suet Lam star alongside Johnny Hallyday.

Johnnie To's Vengeance - Trailer 1

Johnnie To's Vengeance - Trailer 2

vengeance-lefilm.com


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New trailer for Vengeance directed by Johnnie To the "King Midas" of crime cinema. To regulars Simon Yam, Anthony Wong and Suet Lam star alongside Johnny Hallyday. Wai Ka Fai who co-wrote To's excellent Mad Detective (Sun taam) penned the script, which sees an incomplete hit inspire bloody revenge.

Trailer via WildGrounds

Via: TwitchFilm


Divergence

The lives of three men with troubled lives converge leading to bloodshed, mayhem and maybe some dark answers to questions the past.

Directed by Benny Chan (Fist of Fury: Sworn Revenge, Gen-X Cops, New Police Story) Divergence features and all star cast: Aaron Kwok (Bare Foot Kid, The Storm Riders), Ekin Cheng (The Storm Riders, A Man Called Hero, The Duel) and Daniel Wu (Cop on a Mission, One Night in Mongkok) star as the tree main leads. Joining them in this ensemble cast of Hong Kong stars are Eric Tsang (Cop on a Mission, Infernal Affairs), Angelica Lee (Re-cycle, The Eye, Koma).

Suen (Aaron Kwok) is a cop who used to be in a police reality TV show, these days he's obsessed only with the girlfriend who disappeared mysteriously 10 years earlier. To (Ekin Cheng) is a successful barrister (lawyer) who wins his cases, but feels guilty that his clients are nearly always guilty. Coke (Daniel Wu) is a professional hit man who lives life just that bit too close to the edge.

Although they don't know it at the start of the film the three men’s lives are linked both in the near future and by the distant past. Each holds a key to a peace of the puzzle and each in their own way is a very dangerous man.

Divergence is one of those rare films where even though there are three main characters none are really likable, heroic or even particularly good. Each is psychologically damaged in some one and seemingly each has ended up on a path to self destruction.

Considering the first rate Hong Kong cast and the basic premise you would expect great things. Sadly though Divergence is a mess, a film that does not really know where it's going and that doesn’t have a strong enough plot to take it there. As a long time fan of Hong Kong film, I am used to genre skipping, abrupt mood changes, Random attempts at comedy, multi layered plots and large numbers of main characters. Where a Hollywood film would fall down if it tried many of those rule breakers, the films of Hong Kong thrive on them. How ever Divergence does not thrive, it merely subsists. It’s a case of the finished product actually being lesser than its parts. There are some quality performances, great action set pieces, nice shots, good fights and even some good ideas in the film; the problem is the plot is way to thin to hold them all together. The film just does not gel at all, in fact its many elements seem to separate and curdle when mixed together.

How ever while the film as a whole is a let down, there are still some pretty good elements. Firstly a black gloved Giallo style killer (Everyone likes them), a great contract hit is pulled off at the begging of the movie (Most people like to see that) and, Aaron Kwok fights both Daniel Wu and Ekin Cheng at different points during the movie (Hong Kong action fans will enjoy). The film also has one of the best "on foot" chase sequences you will see as Kwok chases Wu through the streets culminating in one of the films two big fight scenes.

Divergence ends up being a disappointing film. Not because it's terrible, it is OK, but because poor plotting and a fairly lame ending, don't do justice to some of the ideas and set pieces and certainly not to it's cast. Worth checking out sure, but you won't be hurrying to watch it again. 6/10

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Buy It: amazon.co.uk | amazon.com


Colour Of The Truth

A twisty tale of truth, honor and justice in which legendary Hong Kong actor, Anthony Wong (Infernal Affairs, Beast Cops, The Untold Story, Hard-Boiled) plays a cop who was forced to make a decision that will haunt him forever. In a bust gone bad he was forced to shoot not only the intended Triad boss target, but also a close friend and fellow cop. Ten years later his career is going well, but now the son of his dead friend is on his team and he wants the truth about his father’s death and maybe even revenge.

Twisty tales of HK police infiltrating and taking on the Triad organizations are enjoying a popular time at the moment with films such as Cop on a Mission and the very successful Infernal Affairs series proving hits at home and with genre fans around the world. Colour of the Truth ,directed by Marco Mak (Cop on a Mission) and Jing Wong (Naked Weapon) is a twisty tale of the shades of black and white (grey area) that Hong Kong police have to work in when dealing with these powerful organisations.

After the death of his dad whose nickname was '7-Up,' his son, who has taken on the moniker 'Cola,' wants nothing more than to follow his father into the Hong Kong Police force. As he grows up, Cola finds himself visited once or twice a year by a mysterious man who gives him money and helps him out of tight spots, including a football pitch beat down (an obvious homage to hit movie Young and Dangerous). After a drug bust he is working on becomes intertwined with a raid organized by the serious crime squad led by Huang (the man who is responsible for 7-UP's death,) Cola finds himself transferred to the serious crime squad and working under the man who shot his father. Cola finds himself torn between feelings of hatred and lust for revenge and begrudging admiration for the humble and very good at his job Huang. Huang, Cola finds, does not live the lavish lifestyle of a high level corrupt cop but instead in humble surroundings caring tenderly for his British father who has had a stroke and is unable to speak (Anthony Wong dropping in an out of a cockney-style accent while speaking English to his father is a great touch.)

As the two cops investigate a seemingly straightforward disagreement in gangland between supposedly retired crime figure Kwan and deadly Vietnamese gun runner Cyclops, things don’t seem to be adding up; how are these guys able to be one step ahead of them all the time and where does the man from the football pitch fit into it all? And just what did happen on the rooftop the night 7-UP and the crime lord were shot dead by Haung, are things really as black and white (Hak bak sam lam the original title literally translates as Black and White Forrest) as Cola grew up believing they were?

Now in his mid 40's, mixed race Hong Kong star Anthony Wong seems to be enjoying somewhat of a renaissance. While others from his generation have faded, moved away from genre film or are trying there luck abroad, he has been working away at a furious rate appearing in a staggering 40 plus films from the start of the new millennium. These days his name has become one of the main draws for foreign fans of Hong Kong cinema and with Colour of the Truth he does not disappoint. The film also stars Ho-Yin Wong (PTU, Koma) and the instantly recognisable from his performance as "Chicken" in the Young and Dangerous movies, Jordan Chan (Bio Zombie, Initial D.) The three stars and all the supporting cast give great performances with Yin Tse (Shaolin Soccer), looking and acting suitably sleazy as crime lord in retirement, Kwan.

If you liked Infernal Affairs and its sequels, Cop on a Mission and similar Hong Kong based cops and triads movies, and crave more, The Colour of Truth is going to be just what you’re looking for, this is a thoroughly enjoyable movie from start to finish. The film balances its twisty plot well with strong action sequences which, while very hyper at time, are a little more real and subdued than the late 80’s Bullet Ballet style that John Woo made so brilliantly before he left for America and mediocrity. They are still flamboyant enough, however, to get your heart beating and bring a smile to the face of any fan of gunplay sequences.

With some great action set pieces, a suitably twisty plot to keep you guessing and some top notch performances, The colour of the Truth is a must-see for fans of cops and triads cinema, Gangster movies, crime thrillers and just Hong Kong film in general.

Cops, robbers, honour, betrayal and revenge Hong Kong style … 8/10


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