Hong Kong films at BAMCinĂ©matek

August 16, 2007

In its heyday, the Hong Kong film industry turned out over two hundred feature films a year, comedies, romances, musicals, and dramas as well as martial arts pictures. Last year, that number dropped below fifty. Former linchpins –stars like Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Maggie Cheung, as well as writers and directors like Wong Kar-wai and John Woo–have either moved to other countries for work or retired outright. The industry has been in a free-fall since the handover in 1997, in part due to doubts about mainland China’s demands. But even before the handover, triads infiltrated production companies, siphoning off profits while releasing inferior movies that infuriated audiences. Piracy was simply the last straw. Movies are routinely available for download or on bootleg DVDs before they open. Even the pornographic film market has suffered.

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Review: Rush Hour 3

August 10, 2007

Mismatched cops Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker travel to Paris to stop a triad threat. Listless sequel marked by flat slapstick and senseless mayhem.

Back in 1998, the first Rush Hour established a simple formula: let Jackie Chan repeat some of his best stunts from his Hong Kong films, and give the jokes to Chris Tucker. The six-year gap between Rush Hour 2 and Rush Hour 3 has been attributed by some to salary negotiations between Tucker and New Line, which ended up paying the actor at least $20 million, depending on box-office receipts. That amount, for what is only Tucker’s seventh starring role, says a lot about the studio’s expectations for the franchise. Sadly, Rush Hour 3 is by far the worst film in the series, and marks career low points for just about everyone involved. Even the normally hardworking Chan seems detached from the proceedings.

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Review: Stardust

August 10, 2007

Shop clerk enters fantasy world to retrieve a fallen star. Solid fantasy is marred by intrusive star turns.

Based on a popular novel by Neil Gaiman, Stardust is for the most part a lighthearted, entertaining adventure that works best when it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Directed with real flair and opulently packaged, the film stays relatively true to the novel while gently tweaking the fantasy genre. Its cast and plot clearly aim Stardust at older viewers rather than youngsters.

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