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Iron Monkey (1993)

Iron Monkey (1993)

I guess the Wong Fei-Hung legend started right here. :) Even if he's all too young to be the main character. Instead it's Wong Fei-Hong, and the infamous Iron Monkey, robbing officials of their goods and giving the gold to the poor - an oldskool Robin Hood with Kung-Fu know-how.

There's fights, there are colorful personalities, and a charming set of main characters in particular not least thanks to Jean Wang as Miss Orchid. Wong Fei-Hung was also voiced by Brianne Brozey! Who knew they had such an international cast already with this one...

In the fights some moves are a little over the top, sometimes you can sense the wires by how they float/move, but overall this definitely feels like one of the most polished Kung-Fu movies of the time; a bit like a precursor to more iconic modern titles like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon what with the style and all.

It's not the most authentic but it's flashy in a good kind of way, and traditional too. I'm not a huge fan of the new ones but I love this. Movies like this. That start well, and end well, and star both an all-star cast and choreography and have a more traditional milieu that takes you away a while. Feels like you learn something each time you see one and it leaves you (or me at least) somewhat emotional. Even if real men don't shed tears. They shed blood..

 rated 4.5/5: almost awesome

Drunken Tai Chi (1984)

Drunken Tai Chi (1984)

They really should've worked on timing the endings better with these, but up till the final moment at least this was a top-notch flick. Donnie Yen in his prime. Tai Chi boxing. Old master Cheung-Yan Yuen. Shun-Yee Yuen as the villainous Killer Bird. Best fireworks fight I've seen so far, a bike fight that rivals the Jackie Chan stuff in Project A, some bad-ass puppetry and mime-type breakdancing ahead of its time, and whatever happened to the fat Tai Chi lady? She was really good too. Played by Lydia Shum for reference.

Unfortunately there are loose ends, but the pacing's great, the tale of family and vengeance doesn't feel as cliche here as it does in some of these movies, and uplifting and more serious moments take turns throughout. Good balance. It might seem a little unnaturally crude and finite sometimes, but such is life right? In a way it feels like we've been distanced from the essentials.

Drunken Boxing might be the one people will remember of these two, but this one's definitely worth coming back to too. Another Kung Fu classic. Only here it's: Tai Chi.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

The Lost Bladesman (2011)

The Lost Bladesman (2011)

Donnie Yen's the Bladesman. The kind sheep in a land of wolves, in a time of war and slaughter.

The story's that of the legendary Guan Yu, as he travels to reunite with Lieu Bei, slaying generals along the way.

He apparently played a major role in the civil war that led to the collapse of Han Dynasty and the establishment of Shu Han of the 3 Kingdoms, making Liu Bei its first emperor... though going by this movie it seems more like Cao Cao would've been the one. Or for a while not been one at all - betrayed by those who serve him as he was.

Wen Jiang's great as the latter though, and so is Donnie Yen, and the girl too. Everyone's great really. There's just a little too much intrigue for me to follow, or maybe a bad translation, since I can't seem to keep up with all the events that transpire throughout the film.

It looks great though, and is enacted ditto. It plays great. The fights are great. And of course - being the type of movie it is - it's not without those sadder moments, and they are sad.

It's a great movie in all regards, in that it's somewhat historical too, I'm just a little disappointed I didn't follow the plot entirely through the movie itself. Had to read up after.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Legend Of The Wolf (1997)

Legend Of The Wolf (1997)

If you thought this had anything to do with wolves you've been duped! But it does have to do with Donnie Yen, who as Fung Man-Hin has lost his memory, and tells a tale of his past through his present self, with the help of an old friend - of a time of love and tragedy and a fight he could never win...

Getting poetic watching all these old martial art movies am I? The fights are a little repetitive, the wolf howl came on late and the choreography's not perfect, but it's not bad. The end... it almost redeems it.

If you thought Ballistic Kiss was emotional you might want to have a look at this one too. Though the times are different the new generations are all the same. They all want more than they need to have. Wise quote with the old making way for the new, but the new becoming old too, and people always want to tear down what's been built already. Sad truths that break the world we've made our world...

I like how this movie makes you see, but it's a little messy too, not just with the shift in time but with the overall progression in each, and the jumps between notable scenes. Sometimes they seem to focus on things that don't really matter. Sometimes they skip something that maybe did. Donnie with the Bruce Lee style shouts too. Been a while since I heard those, didn't remember he did those. They stand out a bit.

 rated 3.5/5: not bad at all

SARS-29 (2020)

SARS-29 (2020)

I do applaud a creative way to bring both current problems of the world and potential future ones to light here, and as they say: There comes a time when you grow tired of just sitting around and waiting to die. Somehow you need to live again.

The floating intro effects were cool too. And Morgan Freeman narrative. Almost!

Overall this all feels a bit similar to 5G Zombies though, with a slightly new direction, but though visuals are somewhat better and there is certain footage between interviews... it's basically still the run-time of a regular movie filled with audition tapes.

TLDW: Take back the world from all these big banks and corporations, and only an idiot doesn't see now that the pandemic was initially engineered as a bioweapon. Some informational gems, some charming people, but overall.... pretty crap as far as movies go..

 rated 2/5: decent

Ablaze (2001)

Ablaze (2001)

It starts under a bridge. A cop and a firemen on a stakeout, getting ready to arrest a pyromaniac, and I wonder if I haven't seen that particular underpass in some other movie before...

Ice T plays the cop with too many one-liners, Michael Dudikoff the hero, there's a creative first car chase (that's one you'll remember at least), a lot of close-up shots. Then a refinery blows up, the fire spreads via an oil leak in the sewers, and a firestorm gets ready to consume the city.

The movie focuses on a hospital, a woman giving birth, a not very forthcoming mayor and a crew of firefighters we see surprisingly little of considering they seemed to be the main cast. The special effects haven't aged well either, the boy in the house scene seemed a bit too old to do something as stupid as light a plane on fire and throw it on a carpet, and the in-crew bickering in regard to the captain's heroic house stay seems like a loose end when it's all over.

They made the shortcomings of our society so apparent in this movie too. With greed, and bureaucracy, and all those who'd do anything for money... yet as the movie ends we're left with a note that 'every year, accidental fires take the lives of over 500 people and destroy property totaling nearly 25 billion dollars'.

Hypocrisy much? What's the value of a human life? And is the number really just 500 per year? US citizens only?

This doesn't seem like the type of movie to reach far beyond the US though, so I suppose it is US only.

I would've liked this to be better. They started with such a good chase. They had some real fire and water and all going on too - the oil leak was pretty intense, but for the most part the intensity's just not there. You see the strings sometimes. You see the window green screens. You see a little smoke machine haze seeping out through a door. I guess they might've run a bit short on budget after crashing all those cars...

 rated 2.5/5: almost not bad

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