Posts Tagged ‘china’

Director: Harald Zwart

Cast: Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith and Taraji P. Henson

Rating: 3 out of 5

A remake of the 1984 classic of the same name, ‘The Karate Kid’ is faithful to the original film in terms of aesthetics. This film plays by the same basic rules as the 1984 original.  Despite a strikingly similar screenplay, it manages to feel distinct through its subtle updates in plot, protagonist, and setting. This is director Harald Zwart’s shot at redemption after making the excuse-for-a-movie ‘Pink Panther 2’ last year.

Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) and his mom (Taraji P. Henson) travel to China, where she has been transferred by her car-maker employer. Dre isn’t happy to be trading Detroit for Beijing, but he soon falls for Meiying, a student at his school. This doesn’t sit well with the local band of bullies, all of them experts at the ancient martial art of Kung Fu. (Yes, that is when you question the title of the film.) Mr. Han – the handyman (Jackie Chan) reluctantly agrees to teach Dre how to fight, after almost accidentally signing him up to battle his enemies in an upcoming kung fu tournament.

Jaden Smith impresses here as the film’s star, handling the action and emotional scenes in a very effective way. His character arc from a rash rebel to a calm and composed martial artiste is handled very well. Chan for once has ‘acted’ in a film. He is still at his athletic best at the age of 56! Chan portrays a few emotions in the film which I didn’t know he was capable of doing. A pleasant change from his usual comic antics.

The cinematography of the film is beautiful. Every shot of China including the ones of the great wall, the Forbidden City and the mountain temple is picture perfect. Roger Pratt who has shot two Potter films and Troy has done a fabulous job of bringing the busy streets of Beijing to life in the film.

And although the film does get unnecessarily draggy at times, with quite a number of subplots that are slightly unevenly played out, the training scenes and final battle accomplishes its job in engaging the viewer. When I went for the film in the theatres, people clapped and cheered during the climax. I guess that is a huge compliment to the film.

To me, the original will always be special. Mr. Miyagi is a legend in my mind. But, this remake is very well made and engaging. It is one of the very few remakes that stand on its own feet. Watch it.

Director: John Woo

Cast: Fengyi Zhang, Wang Ning, Yong You, Chang Chen, Tony Leung and Takeshi Kaneshiro

Action maestro John Woo returns with Red Cliff, a spectacular recreation of the legendary Battle of Red Cliff. This is the most expensive Chinese language film ever made and packs some outstanding action sequences, which will be etched your minds for some time to come.

The film opens in 208 AD at a time when China was divided into three warring states. Ambitious Prime Minister Cao Cao (Zhang) seeks permission from Han dynasty Emperor Xian (Ning) to take on Liu Bei (You) and Sun Quan (Chen) in the south and west of the country, sending 800,000 soldiers for the task. In retaliation, Liu’s strategist Zhuge Liang (Kaneshiro) proposes a diplomatic mission to negotiate an alliance with Sun Quan, the young ruler of Wu. The Commander in charge of Wu’s army is none other than Zhou Yu (Leung). Together, the two alliances come to an agreement to fight off Cao Cao who is in the meantime on his way with his naval and land troops to kick off the Battle of Red Cliff.

Leung’s performance is the strongest in the film; he is an expert martial artist and a good actor. The complexity of the character and intelligence of Zhou Yu portrayed by him is remarkable. Kaneshiro is brilliant as Liang as he appears calm and cool at all times, just like the characteristics of his character.

Woo has balanced action and drama very well in this film. The dramatic scenes and character developments are brilliant. During action the film goes into full throttle. Cleverly building the battle and action, the scenes are memorable. The journey from the introduction of characters each revealing them in detail, to the forming of strategies to stop the invasion is like a roller coaster ride. The concluding Battle of Red Cliff – with shots of 1000-strong invading ships will blow you away. This nail-biting climatic battle scene is like a movie in itself.

With the epic Red Cliff, Woo has incorporated art into war. Watch it for its elaborate battle scenes. Ending with all guns blazing, it is easily one of the best action films out there in recent times. Red Cliff is a thorough entertainer that is not to be missed!