Hong Kong


A proactive Chinese emperor develops his own secret service protection unit in the form of street orphans trained to be elite martial artists. The Jinyiwei are the best of the best which makes their team leader, Qinglong (Donnie Yen), the best of the best of the best. Which is pretty damn good. As leader of the guard, his weapons of choice are the fourteen titular blades he wears on his back. Why fourteen? Glad you asked… eight of them are to be used for interrogation and persuasion, while the remaining six are reserved for killing. The team answers to no one but the emperor himself until an evil eunuch (can you blame the guy?) secretly takes control of the court. Qinglong soon stands as the only member of the Jinyiwei remaining loyal to the emperor, and in an effort to restore him to power Qinglong will have to fight his way through the evil eunuch (seriously, can you blame him?), an outside prince (Sammo Hung) hoping to take the throne and the most feared fighters in the kingdom… the other members of the Jinyiwei.


NYAFF 2014

NYAFF 2014 runs June 27-July 14 in New York City. Follow all of our coverage here. It’s hard out there for a teenager. (By “out there” I mean Hong Kong, and by “teenager” I mean teenagers, obviously.) Present day Hong Kong is no different in that regard from any other big city. Teens of all stripes run rampant through the urban streets getting into trouble the way kids are prone to do, but today’s world offers tribulations well beyond the ones faced by their street-walking predecessors. Relationships are born, experienced and ended through technology for its convenience but also for the distance it creates. Kids who feel marginalized by society or ignored by parents find new value and meaning in minor rebellions and ignoble acts of protest, all the while unaware of the the damage they’re doing to themselves and those around them. May We Chat is really two films, two halves at least that don’t truly gel together in any meaningful fashion. One offers a vivisection on the modern teen world, warts and all, not in an effort to explain but instead simply to identify. The other attempts to place those exposed characters into a dangerously violent plot highlighting the new reality. Garishness replaces understanding, and we’re left with little more than amateur exploitation.



As a British colony until 1997 and Special Administrative Region of China, Hong Kong has created a popular culture completely unique to East Asian metropolitan living. This is demonstrated, in part, by the rich cinema tradition that has been continually exported from Hong Kong since the late 1970s, which bore films that distinctively combined East and West. While the region has produced some of the most memorable martial arts and action films of the late 20th century, the “Hong Kong New Wave” also witnessed the emergence of several great dramatists including Stanley Kwan, Yim Ho, Ann Hui and, of course, Wong Kar-Wai. For someone unfamiliar with Hong Kong firsthand, Wong’s films provide a resonant, bewitching, perhaps even definitive portrait of the city. In his international breakthrough Chunking Express, the densely populated metropolis’s kinetic movement and globalized circuits are accentuated by the film’s restless camera and Cranberries-infused soundtrack. In the Mood for Love stages several intimate meetings of traditional and contemporary life in the claustrophobic corners in an exponentially vertical Hong Kong. The dizzying 2046 presents a Hong Kong ever at the concurrent precipice of the past and the future. With The Grandmaster opening wide this weekend, Wong’s dramas now meet with that other signature Hong Kong genre, the martial arts film, providing as good of an opportunity as any to explore what makes his work so distinctive. So here’s some free advice (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the director who somehow convinced us that beauty lies in a slow […]



Editor’s note: This review originally ran as part of our coverage of the 11th Annual New York Asian Film Festival, but seeing as the film is also playing Fantastic Fest, we’ve decided to bring it back. Movie producers are a misunderstood cog in the film-making wheel, or at least that’s what To Wai-cheung (Chapman To) would like us to believe. He’s invited to talk to a group of film students who see producers purely as the money men of cinema, and he goes hoping to prove that they’re actually the hardest working people in show business. Producers are like pubes, he tells them, because their main purpose is to reduce friction between bodies. One of the students asks if he’s ever really had to sacrifice for the sake of his art, and To relates the hilarious, sad, sexy and disgusting story behind the making of his latest film. From story conception, casting and financing to production, editing and premiere, making a movie requires smarts, luck, persistence and flexibility. Oh, and sometimes, just sometimes, it might require sex with a mule. Maybe.



It’s not often that you find cinematic art in a prison shower scene. Well, let’s rephrase. Non-exploitative prison shower scenes are rarely things of beauty. (Much better.) This film’s opening is an exception though as a single man fends off multiple attackers in an absolutely brutal and bloody brawl. The violent action is captured through painful-looking fight choreography and camerawork that utilizes slow motion to great effect. Bones are broken, blood is spilled and the scene ends leaving viewers as drained as the only man left standing. That man, Eugene Wang (Nick Cheung), is released from prison after a twenty year sentence for the rape and murder of a young woman, and his first stop is to grab some ice cream and eyeball some cute women at a busy intersection. He spots a teenager named Zoe (Janice Man) at a music university who looks almost identical to the woman he was convicted of killing, and soon he’s living in a small shack near her home, watching her through a telescope and plastering his wall with her picture. When a burned, beaten and disfigured corpse is discovered nearby Inspector Lam (Simon Yam) is tasked with the case. He has his own issues including an emotionally distant daughter and a wife who reportedly killed herself a few years prior, and as he focuses in on the dead body he discovers a link to the other killing two decades earlier.



Genre buddy and fellow root canal survivor Rob Hunter came to my aid this week when it was time for title selection. I was stupidly about to put in The Wild Hunt, which has something to do with LARPing and virgins or something, when the Foreign Objects author suggested I try something a little more sub-titled. Dream Home is the story about the American dream taking place in Hong Kong. Young Cheng Lai-sheung (Josie Ho) is a phone representative for a bank in Hong Kong and all she wants out of life is a nice flat with a view of the ocean for her ailing grandfather to live in. She’ll stop at nothing to get that home, from scraping together every penny and working two extra jobs. After raising enough capital to buy into the flat, the sellers decide to ask for more money and Cheng reacts completely reasonably. For a psychopath.


ff_revenge love story

Police in a small town outside of Hong Kong are called to the scene of a brutal crime. A pregnant woman has been gutted, her dead fetus left laying atop her deflated belly. It’s quickly followed by another attack and a similarly butchered victim. The detectives arrest the killer, but his capture is just a part of the tale as we jump back several months to see everything that preceded this onslaught of bloody violence. Cause and effect, love and rage, before and after…this is a brutal, surprising, and ultimately redemptive film. That also happens to feature the sexiest retarded girl since Elizabeth Shue stepped into the shoes of Molly.


tonyjaa_pre nutso

This isn’t the kind of news we normally like to report here at FSR, namely because it’s almost entirely lacking in details. But it’s good news, so I’m bucking the system and saying the hell with the rules. Per the sexy folks over at Twitch, the word on the street is that Tony Jaa is prepping to return to the screen with a non-Thai production. The rumors contain no mention of the film, the role, or anything else aside from two very enticing details. It will be a Hong Kong production, and Sammo Hung will be handling the fight choreography. Hung is well known as an actor and director in his own right, but recent years have seen his work as an action director and fight choreographer take center stage. Donnie Yen’s excellent Ip Man films and Andy Lau’s fantastic Detective Dee & the Mystery Of the Phantom Flame are the most recent examples, and they bode well for anything he touches going forward. Jaa burst onto the scene in 2003 with Ong-bak, but over the course of six years and only three other lead roles he managed to lose almost as many fans as he gained thanks to odd outbursts, self-imposed isolation, and other behaviors that fall under the umbrella of ‘hissy fit meltdown.’ There’s no denying the man’s athleticism and fighting skill, but he’s at his best when those are his only concerns. (Well, he might want to dedicate a little bit of time to an acting class […]



Movies and television have a long history of strong, likable anti-heroes who bend and break the law, cross morally questionable boundaries, and generally behave in a highly inappropriate manner. Falling Down‘s D-Fens, Escape From NY‘s Snake Plissken, Taxi Driver‘s Travis Bickle, Dirty Harry‘s Harry Callahan… these are characters at odds with the world around them who take matters into their own hands and do terrible things, and yet we love them until the very end. But can an anti-hero go too far? Can an otherwise likable, sympathetic, and cheer-worthy character cross an irreversible line? Cheng Lai Sheung (Josie Ho) has had a singular dream since she was a young girl living in Hong Kong. One day she’s going to buy a condo overlooking the harbor, and it will be big enough to share with her family without anyone having to share a room. As an adult she’s inching closer to achieving the dream with a healthy savings account and an apartment already picked out at the luxurious Victoria Bay high-rise. But then her father gets sick, and the insurance won’t cover his medical bills, and prices in the real estate market continue to blossom, and she can’t quite get a mortgage loan even from the bank where she works… and soon Sheung’s dream is slipping further and further away from reality. So she takes matters into her own hands in an effort to reduce the cost of her dream home. And if that means reducing the number of neighbors in […]



You’d think being an informant for the police would be a fantastic career choice. Constantly playing both sides of the law, living the glamorous snitchy lifestyle in seedy locales, always wondering if your criminal friends are going to discover what you’re up to and silence your squealing ways… but you’d be wrong. And clearly not someone who’s ever watched a movie involving a police informant. (Starsky & Hutch‘s Huggy Bear notwithstanding.) Detective Don Lee (Nick Cheung) is working a case with the help of an informant whose safety he’s guaranteed, but when the sting goes bad the snitch is attacked and left clinging to life. Time moves on and new cases roll in, and soon Lee is looking for a new inside man. He finds that man in Ghost (Nicholas Tse), a recently paroled street racer desperate to free his sister from her life of forced prostitution. Ghost has no interest in the job, but the promise of cash means little sis can stop working on her back. Lee helps Ghost work his way into a gang of brutal jewel thieves, and perhaps not so surprisingly, things don’t go as planned.



If movies have taught us anything it’s that not enough filmmakers title their work as an homage to the venerable and beloved Police Academy film series. But they’ve also taught us that it’s never a good thing when military types and scientists collaborate. Yes, even Asian ones. City Under Siege opens in an underground bunker during WWII as a group of frightened men are led into an observation room. Also in the room? A mutated and muscle-laden man who proceeds to kill each and every one of them. Cut to the present day and we’re introduced to Sunny (Aaron Kwok), a clown at the local circus who imagines himself as a legendary knife thrower. But Zhang (Collin Chou) and his cronies are the circus’ real stars, and they treat Sunny like a second-class citizen. Which is still better than clowns deserve to be treated. The group goes treasure hunting in the hills and accidentally get spritzed by a chemical which begins to mutate them all in painful ways but which also gives them superhuman powers. Imbued with abilities to match their attitudes they leave Sunny for dead and head into the city to wreak havoc, rob armored trucks, and cause mayhem wherever possible. Sunny’s alive of course, and as the only mutant with a sense of right and wrong he heads into town to square off against his former c0-workers. Toss in an engaged couple brought in to investigate supernatural crimes (the extremely talented Wu Jing and Zhang Jingchu), a […]



The seventh annual Another Hole In the Head Film Festival is currently running in San Francisco from July 8th through the 29th. It’s a genre fest featuring domestic and international horror, sci-fi, and exploitation films, and it just may be the first and last chance to see some of these on the big-screen. There are thirty-two films at the fest this year, and we’re trying to see and cover as many as possible. (And by we I mean me…) Future X-Cops – directed by Jing Wong, Hong Kong; upcoming screenings 7/21 9pm, 7/29 9pm Synopsis: It’s the future! And mankind no longer has energy concerns thanks to a brilliant scientist who developed a genius method of harnessing the sun’s rays to provide power to the world. That doesn’t sit well with BP and other energy giants though, so they decide to send a gang of killer cyborgs back in time to 2010 to kill the scientist before he finishes his discovery. The future of mankind and cheap energy bills rests in the hands of a policeman named Andy played by superstar Andy Lau. But to fight cybernetic assassins Andy may need to become one of them. Or something. Check out our review after the jump…



Some of the best revenge films manage to mess with that formula in creative and startling ways, but originality isn’t always a necessity. Sometimes you just need a grieving, cat-eyed father who knows how to handle a gun and cook a mean plate of pasta. Welcome to Johnnie To’s Vengeance.



Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week to look for films worth visiting. So renew your passport, get your shots, and brush up on the local age of legal consent, this week we’re heading to… Hong Kong!



Last week Foreign Objects covered a serious and sobering film about torture and the limits of the human spirit. This week we review a movie featuring penis push-ups. [Warning: Mildly NSFW]



I’m not sure this is what Jeffrey Katzenberg’s was referring to when he said the 3-D revolution was coming fast and hard (paraphrasing slightly). A Hong Kong filmmaker has announced plans for 3-D Sex & Zen, a film he claims is the world’s first 3-D erotic movie.

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published: 01.25.2015
published: 01.25.2015
published: 01.25.2015

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