MEOW (2017) review

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Cats are actually aliens. They come from planet Meow, and those of them that exist on earth are actually there to colonize the planet, but they have been lulled into inaction by human love and food. And so a Meowian warrior, Pudding, is sent to earth with a magical weapon, to galvanize the troops and initiate a global takeover. Except that upon landing, Pudding loses the weapon and undergoes a transformation, due to the earth’s atmosphere, from alpha-feline warrior to chubby, oversized cat, while a mix-up leads to him being adopted by a family. The father (Louis Koo), is a well-meaning but hopelessly childish ex-football star, the mother (Ma Li) an highly-strung aspiring actress, the son (Andy Huang) a wannabe-film director who for know mainly collaborates with his pets, and the daughter (Liu Chutian) suffers from a bad leg which keeps her away from the sporting activity she would like to join in. At first, Pudding – now renamed Xixili – plans to break up the family, but soon he is won over by their kindness.

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CALL OF HEROES (2016) review

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One of our most anticipated films of 2016, Call of Heroes is a neo-western set in China during the Warlords era (beginning of the 20th century). Blood-thirsty, demented Commander Cao (Louis Koo), son of Warlord Cao (Sammo Hung) rides into the village of Pucheng, where he kills three people at random. He’s arrested by sheriff Yang (Lau Chin Wan) and sentenced to death, but his second-in-command Zhang (Wu Jing) soon arrives, issuing an ultimatum to the people of Pucheng: to release Cao or to be massacred. But Sheriff Yang stands by his verdict, helped in the face of growing adversity by a wandering swordsman (Eddie Peng), who once was Zhang’s comrade-in-arms.

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An Interview with Composer Wong Kin Wai

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Breaking into the film music business in China and Hong Kong isn’t easy. The A-list of Chinese film composers is a short and exclusive one that gets most of the high-profile assignments, with the rest often going to seasoned foreign composers. And yet in just a few years, Wong Kin Wai has managed to go from composing TV jingles to creating his own company, Fun Track Music ltd, and scoring one the biggest Chinese films of the 2016 summer: Benny Chan’s Call of Heroes. No wonder, he’s a versatile and ambitious new musical voice, one that will most probably be heard more and more in the coming years in the fast-expanding Chinese film industry.

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An Interview with Composer Anthony Chue

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A three-time Golden Horse Film Awards nominee, composer Anthony Chue has worked with some of the biggest names in the Hong Kong film industry, including Derek Yee, Wilson Yip, Law Chi Leung, Ivy Ho, Herman Yau, Jeff Lau, Benny Chan, Patrick Leung and Ann Hui. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, he’s also made a name for himself as one of the most sought-after arrangers and keyboardists in Cantopop, becoming a regular collaborator of Aaron Kwok, Vivian Chow, Sammi Cheng and Jacky Cheung among others with whom he’s been touring the world for over a decade.

You can sample his work for films, Cantopop and concert halls on his website, and here are a few questions he graciously agreed to answer.

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MAN WANTED (1995) short review

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Lok (Simon Yam) has been working for two years as an undercover cop, gaining the trust and friendship of drug lord Feng (Yu Rongguang). When the time comes to arrest him, Lok reluctantly reveals his true identity to him, but the arrest goes awry and Feng is presumed dead after his flaming car falls into the sea. Shaken by conflicting feelings of duty and remorse, Lok decides to support Feng’s girlfriend Yung (Christy Chung), but slowly falls in love with her. A year later Feng reappears, asking for Lok’s help on one more job, for old times’ sake. But his real intention is to get revenge… A relatively small film by Benny Chan’s standards, Man Wanted nevertheless benefits from the director’s usual impressive flair for action, and while the story is really nothing new, the chemistry shared by Simon Yam and Yu Rongguang (the latter being particularly excellent here) ensures the film never bores. It is however frequently weighed down by the heavy-handed romantic subplot, despite Christy Chung’s good performance, miles away from her overacting in Red Wolf the same year. ***

 

BIG BULLET (1996) review

Bill Chu (Lau Ching Wan), a dedicated but headstrong Hong Kong cop, is demoted to the Emergency Unit for having punched his incompetent commanding officer during a police raid gone awry. There, he butts heads with by-the-book cop Jeff Chiu (Jordan Chan), and keeps trying to stop a gang of international criminals headed by Anthony Wong Chau-Sang and Yu Rongguang. There’s nothing new in this plotline, but there’s Benny Chan behind the camera, a superb cast in front, and a better-than-average script to tie it all in. Today Benny Chan is one of the top directors in Hong Kong and China, but in the middle of the nineties, having been revealed by the A Moment of Romance films, he was only starting to get to really shine, with main HK luminaries such as John Woo, Ringo Lam, Kirk Wong and Tsui Hark off to the United States. Although Big Bullet was a hit in Hong Kong at the time, it is strangely forgotten today, and never crossed over to the West as other HK action films have.

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DIVERGENCE (2005) review

Benny Chan’s DIVERGENCE proceeds directly from the overwhelming and international success of the INFERNAL AFFAIRS trilogy. It is not a cash-in, mind you : the kinship here is mainly to be seen in the tight storytelling refusing to be overly explanatory, the cold urban aesthetics and the stellar cast. The Hong-Kong superstar Aaron Kwok plays Suen, a cop whose girlfriend disappeared 10 years ago, and who’s never stopped looking for her, including at the morgue. He has been assigned to the protection of a key witness in the high-stakes trial of a corrupt businessman. The businessman’s lawyer (portrayed by Ekin Cheng) happens to be married to a woman looking remarkably like his long-lost girlfriend. That, coupled with the fact that the witness gets killed by a hitman called Coke (played by Daniel Wu), triggers a chain of events that put Suen’s mental and physical health to the test.

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