THE BOLD, THE CORRUPT, AND THE BEAUTIFUL (2017) review

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Madame Tang (Kara Hui) is the head of a shady syndicate colluding with the government and private interests to speculate on real estate. She is also the matron of a family of three women, which also includes her daughter Tang Ning (Wu Ke Xi), damaged from being instrumentalized in her mother’s dealings and attempting faint rebellion against her while drowning her sorrow in sex and drugs; and Tang Chen (Vicky Chen), still a teenager, observing quietly the corruption around her, pining for Marco (Wu Shu Wei), the lover of her friend Pian-Pian (Wen Chen Ling), while being groomed by Madame Tang as her new accessory of charm. But when the family of one of Madame Tang’s government associates is massacred (with the daughter, Pian-Pian, the only survivor, though in a coma), the matriarch comes under scrutiny of a police investigation and must claw, threaten and back-stab her way out of trouble, while Marco becomes a scapegoat, Tang Ning starts a fling with the policeman in charge of the investigation, and Tang Chen gets thrust even more deeply into her mother’s immoral world.

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BUTTERFLY CEMETERY (aka ON FALLEN WINGS) (2017) review

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Joe Ma’s Butterfly Cemetery, based on a novel by Cai Jun (whose works also “inspired” Law Chi Leung’s Curse of the Deserted, Fruit Chan’s Kill Time or Joe Chien’s The House that Never Dies II) follows Shang Xiaodie (Zhang Li), a ballet dancer still reeling from the mysterious disappearance of her lover Ming Ye (Vivian Dawson), with a vague newspaper obituary her only element of closure. When she receives an offer to spend one month in Budapest to train a Chinese ballet company founded by the wealthy Zhuang family, she takes it as an opportunity to clear her mind. But once in Hungary, she realizes her lost lover is still alive and is none other than the eldest son of the Zhuang family, that his fate is linked to a mysterious mausoleum on the Zhuang’s property, and that their first encounter in the past was far from random.

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WINE WAR (2017) review

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Leon Lai’s second film as a director, Wine War follows two friends who grew up together in an orphanage, Wei Li (Leon Lai) and Zhang Shui (Zhang Hanyu). While the former was adopted by a wealthy Frenchman and now lives an opulent and carefree life as a wine expert in France, the latter stayed in China where he’s now a cop. One day, out of the blue after they’ve lost contact for a while, Zhang Shui calls Wei Li and tells him he’s coming to France and needs his help bidding at the auction of a priceless bottle of wine from the 19th century, made from a secret recipe brought to Europe by a Chinese wine-maker of the Yuan dynasty. The auction is organized by LK (Nan Fulong) and his half-sister Li Fang (Du Juan), the last in a Mongol-Chinese lineage established in France, at their chateau in the Pays de la Loire. But as Zhang Shui arrives in France and is reunited with his childhood friend, it soon appears that there are hidden agendas, and that no one is who they say they are, especially not Fang Changfang (David Wang), one of the other potential buyers.

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