TILL THE END OF THE WORLD (2018) review

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Bearing the distinction of being the first film shot – at least partly – in Antarctica, Wu You Yin’s Till the End of the World follows Wu Fuchun (Mark Chao), a successful businessman on his way to Antarctica for a bold publicity stunt. On the small plane he chartered is Jing Ruyi (Yang Zishan), a scientist on her way to a polar station to study auroras. But when a snow storm leads the the crash of their plane, Fuchun and Ruyi survive but are left stranded in the immensity of the south pole, with almost no hope of rescue. Though they find shelter in a small cabin with a few supplies, their only hope of salvation is to locate the station to which Ruyi, now immobilized by a leg injury, was headed. With no idea of their location, they decide that Fuchun will venture in all four directions for a few days at a time (at a time of the year when there’s no night), but soon love blossoms between the two survivors.

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THE WARRIORS GATE (aka ENTER THE WARRIORS GATE) (2016) review

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A major co-production between China and France, The Warriors Gate is the brainchild of Luc Besson, who in addition to producing it, co-wrote it with his The Fifth Element/Kiss of the Dragon/Taken/The Transporter partner Robert Mark Kamen. It follows Jack (Uriah Shelton), a stereotypical American geek who shares his time between video games, biking and being bullied by the jocks in his class. His father is out of the picture and his sweet mother (Sienna Guillory) can’t quite make ends meet, so they might have to move out of their house if she can’t make a payment soon. His only friends are an obese fellow geek who calls himself the “octoman” and Chang, a Chinese shopkeeper who employs him from time to time. One day, the latter gives an ancient Chinese box to Jack, who starts using it as a container for his dirty laundry. But one night, a princess named Su Lin (Ni Ni) and her bodyguard Zhao (Mark Chao) emerge from that box, right into his bedroom. They come from Ancient China and are looking for the Black Knight, a fearless hero who is none other than Jack’s video game avatar. Despite the mix-up, Zhao leaves Su Lin in the custody of this scrawny teenager, until a few days later barbarians barge into the house through the same box and kidnap Su Lin. Jack is transported into Ancient China, where he’s welcomed by a zany wizard (Francis Ng) and reluctantly embarks on a quest with Zhao to rescue the princess from the hands of the barbarian king Arun (Dave Bautista).

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CHRONICLES OF THE GHOSTLY TRIBE (2015) review

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In an unexpected move, director Lu Chuan has made his fifth film an effects-heavy blockbuster far-removed from the arty and often demanding works that made him a justly celebrated auteur and festival darling. His previous film, the long-delayed epic The Last Supper (2012), had suffered commercially both from its stone-cold arthouse leanings, and from being released months after a much more appealing film on the same topic, Daniel Lee’s White Vengeance (2012). And once again, with Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe, Lu Chuan found himself directing one of two competing films, both based on Tianxia Bachang’s 2006 best-selling novel Ghost Blows Out the Light, the other being Wuershan’s Mojin: The Lost Legend. This time however, Lu got his film out of the gate first, and by the same token his first major commercial hit. Though set earlier than the Wuershan film in the book’s chronology, Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe isn’t a prequel: it’s a rival adaptation with an entirely different backing, creative team and cast, as well as a wildly different approach to the source material.

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