HKMDB Daily News

January 4, 2013

The Last Tycoon (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 10:58 am

The Last Tycoon
1/2/2013 by Elizabeth Kerr

Multihyphenate Wong Jing, China’s answer to Roger Corman and Russ Meyer, releases his latest film about a man from humble beginnings who rises to become a powerful gangster.

The latest surefire moneymaker from the prolific and profitable Wong Jing, Hong Kong’s answer to Roger Corman and Russ Meyer in one glorious, exploitive package, is a bit of a surprise entry for the multi-hyphenate in that the iron grip it maintains on the hoariest of H.K. cinema traditions works to its favor. The Last Tycoon is the kind of demi-epic the industry cranked out by the dozen in the 1980s and early ’90s and it would appear Wong has found a way to marry the bombastic, sometimes underhanded heroism of that era with the 21st century Mainland-ready version of it. It also appears that Wong actually made an effort for producer Andrew Lau (The Guillotines, Infernal Affairs), and so Tycoon is probably his most polished and entertaining directorial outing in years.

Writer-producer-director-actor Wong’s occasionally inflammatory career dates back to the mid-1970s, and for every goofily titillating romp (the original, less misogynistic Sex and Zen), allegedly triad-glorifying action series (Young and Dangerous) or out-and-out gorefest (Ebola Syndrome) he’s managed a God of Gamblers, Lee Rock and Naked Killer. The Last Tycoon belongs in the latter group, and stocked as it is with major talent — chiefly superstar Chow Yun-fat — that still gets attention regionally, the film should have a decent run in Asia-Pacific. Hardcore Hong Kong/Asia movie buffs will be drawn by both the old-school storytelling and talent, which could help the film gain traction in niche markets and on the genre festival circuit. A healthy DVD life is also not out of the question.

Chow plays Cheng Daqi, a man of humble beginnings that rises in the ranks of pre-WWII era underworld Shanghai to become a powerful gangster — or a more Mainland-friendly “tycoon.” Take your pick. Just as his power peaks, the war breaks out and Cheng feels compelled to use his influence to beat back the Japanese. The story starts during Daqi’s youthful days in Jiangsu (where he’s played by Huang Xiaoming) with his budding opera singer beloved Ye Zhiqiu (Joyce Feng), moves on to his involvement with Shanghai mob boss Hong Shouting (Sammo Hung) and ongoing thorny relationship with a dodgy army officer Mao Zai (always welcome Francis Ng). Years later Daqi meets up with Zhiqiu (now played by Yolanda Yuan) again, kick-starting a love triangle that proves to be the film’s weakest link.

Nonetheless, and against all logic and better judgment, the film functions perfectly as an entertainment. Wong and co-writers Philip Lui and Manfred Wong take something of a kitchen sink stance toward the script: it’s one part historical gangster actioner, one part love story and one part spy thriller (Zhiqiu’s husband is part of the resistance). No single element is fleshed out enough to really make a point but somehow Wong keeps the over packed narrative on track just enough to make it work as a whole. A great deal of credit needs to go to the holy trinity of Chow, Hung and Ng. Chow is thrust into countless deliberate mythmaking and/or myth-affirming action sequences, the least of which is a shootout in a church (including doves) and some honorable thief posturing that recalls an early Chow television series. Hung makes an entrance that could have been ripped from any of his best martial epics. Ng is Ng, holding onto his crown as Hong Kong’s most blissfully menacing actor.

Technically The Last Tycoon is one of Wong’s more accomplished offerings, even with the film’s dire need for a new sound mix to combat the ear-splitting explosions (of which there are scores). The film looks impeccable: the production design, set decoration and costumes are pitch perfect and the Shanghai of the 1930s is convincing. As expected of a period epic there is no shortage of vivid set pieces — a rain-drenched assassination attempt, a brilliantly choreographed theater assassination and the aforementioned church gun fight. Wong manages to recall The Killer, The Godfather, Casablanca and Bonnie and Clyde so shamelessly that what comes out on the other side is a bizarrely comforting bit of nostalgia filmmaking. Box office success in China relies on Daqi’s anti-hero being more “hero” than “anti-” (Daqi becomes a banker a one point, somehow considered less shady than organized crime lord), but regardless The Last Tycoon ends up a diverting romp that makes no apologies for its entertainment for entertainment’s sake attitude.

Production companies: Mega Vision Pictures, Bona Film Group
Sales: Distribution Workshop
Producer: Andrew Lau
Director: Wong Jing
Cast: Chow Yun-fat, Gao Hu, Francis Ng, Huang Xiaoming, Sammo Hung, Yolanda Yuan, Monica Mok, Xie Baoqing
Screenwriter: Philip Lui, Manfred Wong, Wong Jing
Executive producer: Yu Dong, Jeffrey Cheng
Director of photography: Jason Kwan, Andrew Lau
Production designer: Chung Man-yee
Music: Kwong Wing-chan
Costume designer: Ivy Chan, Jessie Dai
Editor: Wai Chiu Chung
No rating, 115 minutes

July 31, 2012

July 31, 2012 [HKMDB Daily News]

FBA: Vulgaria review

Rough-and-ready satire of low-end Hong Kong filmmaking is what it is, and no more.

FBA: Fairy Tale Killer review

Scrappy serial-killer tale that fails to make a case for Danny Pang as a solo director.

Review:Not So Awesome Foursome

The Four has so far raked in 150 million yuan ($23.5 million), leapfrogging domestic blockbuster Painted Skin: The Resurrection for top spot last week. But not all viewers of the film have given it the thumbs up, hinting at growing fatigue among Chinese audiences for kung fu productions.

GuardianUK: Why Painted Skin 2 has taken China by storm

GlobalTimes: China’s 1st Microfilm Competition launches alongside film festival

GlobalTimes: ”Human flesh search” film renews discussion of Internet vigilantism

Chen Kaige’s latest film “Caught in the Web” has drawn fresh attention to issues regarding privacy infringement and Internet-based vigilantism.

FBA: Kirk Wong rolls a Six

Hong Kong’s Kirk WONG will shoot his first film in more than a decade when his upcoming Six cranks up in November in China and Louisiana, US.

SGYahoo: Lee Lik-Chi to film “Hua Xiao Hero”Hong Kong comedy director Lee Lik-Chi has confirmed that he will be making a Malaysian film titled “Hua Xiao Hero” soon, with local veteran artist Auguste Kwan to star as the male lead in the film

CF: ”The Silent War” Premiers in Beijing

The production company of “The Silent War” announced at the ceremony that the release date of the film was moved up to August 7, three days earlier than the previously scheduled screening time.

Poster for “Dangerous Liaisons, to be released Sept. 27

CF: Kimi Qiao and Shi Yanfei “Kiss” at “Good-For-Nothing Heroes” Premiere Ceremony

Director Fu Yong, accompanied by actors Suet Lam, Kimi Qiao, Kent Cheng, Christy Chung, Terri Kwan, Shi Yanfei and Leni Yan, attended a premiere ceremony for the romance comedy “Good-For-Nothing Heroes” yesterday in Beijing.

“Justin” Lam Suet

Kent Cheng

Lam Suet, Christy Chung

Leni Lan/Lan Yan (Sina-gallery)

CF: A Serious Chow Yun-Fat in the First Trailer of “The Last Tycoon”

Chow Yun-Fat

Huang Xiaoming (Sina)

CF: Zhou Xun’s 20 Years from an Actress to a BO Revenue Guarantee

Zhou Xun in 1999 TV series

CF: Chinese Films to Enter American Homes, the China Movie Channel website, and Jiaflix, an American based enterprise, have teamed together to stream Chinese movies through set-top boxes. It will bring thousands of Chinese flicks into North American families’ homes.

SGYahoo: Comedian Ng Mang Tat also sings?

Plays a karaoke champion in “Kara King”

SGYaoo: Chapman To joins “Wedding Diary 2″

Four years after ’singing’ in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Lin Miaoke co-stars in the thriller “Insistence”

Lin Miaoke, Ken Lok

“Insistence” poster (Sina)

A1: Zhang Ziyi ends her scandals with a ring

Zhang Ziyi’s romance with CCTV host Sa Beining has been blown wide open with loads of consequences-China’s news hounds are filling pages with wedding talk, Internet bloggers are chatting about Ziyi’s motives, and businessmen are baiting fashion watchers with copies of the lovers’ sandals!

In Hong Kong director Gordon Chan’s latest wuxia flick The Four, she plays a woman named Emotionless, who has telepathic and telekinetic powers.

MSN: Eason Chan’s wife slammed for “ill-mannered Chinese” comment

SGYahoo: Mad dash for In-N-Out burgers at Circular Road

Tuesday’s pop-up store was a test case for In-N-Out — a family-run chain famous in the US West Coast — to see if it’s worth setting up a permanent store in Singapore.

July 15, 2012

July 15, 2012 [HKMDB Daily News]

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — dleedlee @ 3:16 pm

FBA: The Allure of Tears review

Embarrassingly arch collection of love stories that slightly improves later on.

FBA: On My Way review

Generic but excellently packaged kid’s movie is smoothly entertaining.

ChinaPost: Painted Skin: The Resurrection review

CF: Jackie Chan Takes “CZ 12″ to San Deigo Comic-Con

ChinaDaily: The pig that dares to dream

The best-loved pig in Hong Kong is called McDull. His mom makes a wish that he will look likeChow Yun-fat or Tony Leung, two movie heartthrobs, but he is distinguished only by abirthmark around his right eye.

CF: ”Good-for-Nothing Heros” Releases New Poster

CF: Peter Chan Takes Inspiration from New Oriental

Director Peter Chan is taking to the big screen with the story behind the New Oriental company, the first Chinese educational institution to enter the New York Stock Exchange.

A selling point for the film has largely been the cooperation between Chow Yun-fat and Huang Xiaoming. Chow made his name in 1980 for his role in the hit TV series “The Bund”, and Huang took over the role in a 2007 remake.

MSN: Andy Lau wants the best for his daughter

Andy has also decided on an English name for Xing Hui, choosing ‘Hanna’ as it means “elegant and joyful goddess” in old English.

MSN: Gillian Chung spotted having dinner with Kenji Wu

The Hong Kong singer denied dating rumours and speculations of her venturing into the Taiwanese music scene

The mother of two hints on her micro-blog that she may not be expecting twins after all

MSN: Stephen Chow under fire for keeping mum over Jacqueline Law’s passing

The actor, who had reportedly dated the late actress, has maintained his silence ever since she died of cancer

Liu Chee Ming, her husband, has shared that Jacqueline’s final resting place has not been finalised. He has expressed that he is considering converting her ashes into a diamond pendant so as to be able to keep her by his side.

MSN: Nicky Wu’s drama extras rumoured to have been brutally murdered

Heng Dian World Studios in China is a hotspot for the production of period dramas, with Nicky Wu currently working on Legend of the White-Haired Maiden at the location. In recent days, shocking rumours about alleged murders near the vicinity have surfaced.

SGYahoo: ”You Are the Apple of My Eye” star criticised for praising Japan

Taiwanese star Ko Chen-Tung has outraged Chinese Netizens for posting what the Netizens claim to be a supportive post towards Japan.

Powered by WordPress