Festivals: HKIFF Reviews

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Hong Kong 2015 Review: TWO THUMBS UP, A Delightfully Gonzo Heist Flick

Long-time screenwriter Lau Ho Leung (Painted Skin, Kung Fu Jungle) makes his directorial debut in this energetic action comedy following a gang of thieves who masquerade as cops to pull off a heist, only to encounter a rival posse with...

Hong Kong 2014 Review: THAT DEMON WITHIN Has Problems Throughout

Hong Kong's reigning champion of pyrotechnic mayhem continues to move outside of his comfort zone with the psychological crime drama That Demon Within, but the results fail to hit the mark as poor plotting, loose direction and an increasingly preposterous...

Hong Kong 2014 Review: ABERDEEN Is Pang Ho Cheung's Most Mature Work Yet

Pang Ho Cheung delivers a beautifully observed portrait of a modern Hong Kong family that fuses social commentary with fantastical imagery and his trademark cheeky humour to wonderful effect.In a notable shift in tone from his recent successes, Hong Kong...

HKIFF 2013 Review: WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW? is a Delight

Arvin Chen follows up his excellent debut Au Revoir Taipei with this delightful story of Taipei thirtysomethings reassessing their relationships and sexuality, as the weight of familial responsibility looms. Continuing in a similar vein of light-hearted yet keenly observed romantic comedy...

HKIFF 2013 Review: IP MAN - THE FINAL FIGHT Displays Both Humility and Strength

Herman Yau directs Anthony Wong in this low-key but enjoyable drama focusing on the twilight years of Ip Man's life. Less an action movie than a love letter to 1950s Hong Kong, the film nevertheless cements the man's position as...

Review: Sherad Sanchez's JUNGLE LOVE Is An Erotic Ride To The Pleasurable Unknown

At first glance, Sherad Sanchez's Jungle Love seems needlessly indulgent. Rebelling against traditional concepts of what is deemed to be acceptable and tasteful in cinema, the film is littered with exposed flesh, dark, wrinkled, blonzed or tattooed, interacting with each...

Review: Meaningful Stillness in Jang Kun-jae's SLEEPLESS NIGHT

Of late, Korean Cinema has made for rather bleak viewing. Hushed up sexual violence has been very prevalent but politics, torture and much else besides have also found their way into these recent narratives. For this reason, among many others,...

Review: THE BERLIN FILE Delivers Stellar Action, But Ultimately Disappoints

From North By Northwest (1959) all the way to Tinker Railor Soldier Spy (2011), spy thrillers have long captured the imagination of filmgoers. Over time they have become more elaborate and their appeal has led to a number of blockbuster...

IFFR 2013 Review: Johnnie To's DRUG WAR Is Here To Wake Us All Up

(Johnnie To is the drug for me...) The International Film Festival Rotterdam has a great reputation for including loads of Asian content in its catalogue each year. The modified line-ups of recent years have not changed this, although the big...

Review: THE GRANDMASTER Brings Class to the Ip Man Legend

Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong Cinema's most prestigious auteur, finally delivers his long-gestating biopic of Wing Chun pioneer Ip Man, and it proves an action-packed visual feast. Light on narrative, but oozing Wong's trademark elegance, the film weaves the director's...

Counterpoint Review: COLD WAR Brings a Spark to the Boardroom

After its world premiere in Korea at last month's Busan International Film Festival, Longman Leung and Sunny Luk's much-touted directorial debut Cold War finally opens on home turf. Originally slated for a summer release, before being pushed back to mid-October...

NYFF 2012 Review: LEVIATHAN Explores Depth of Audio/Visual Experience

It's dark. First, you hear the eerie clanking of metal and waves: sound of something heavy, something industrial getting pulled out of the bubbling sea. It's all abstract: saturated colors- iridescent blue, yellow, red and green all mixed in. It...

BIFF 2012 Review: COLD WAR Proves a Disappointing Opener

If Cold War, the opening film of this year's Busan International Film Festival, is heralding a new paradigm for commercial Hong Kong Cinema, then I can't say that it's something I'm very excited about.  Over-produced and austere, it features strong...

Review: THE SAPPHIRES Sings and Dances Its Way Through War and Racial Tension

The Sapphires tells the true story of an all-Aborigine girl group -- known in some quarters as Australia's answer to The Supremes --  who toured Vietnam to entertain troops during the war under the management of a washed-out, Irish would-be...

Cinemalaya 2012 Review: Jun Lana's BWAKAW

Jun Lana started his career in film writing screenplays for directors Marilou Diaz-Abaya and Maryo J. de los Reyes, among others. In the several years where the country was starving for quality films, he penned films like Diaz-Abaya's Sa Pusod...

Review: MOTORWAY Feels The Need For Speed, But Not For Plot

[Giving my review a bump as the film finally opens in Hong Kong today.]It was way back in September 2009 when we first reported that director Soi Cheang would be following up his award-winning film Accident with a car chase...

Sydney 2012 Review: CAESAR MUST DIE

Despite the obvious similarities in the titles, Caesar Must Die is not the long awaited (for some people anyway) sequel to Jet Li's action flick Romeo Must Die. It is actually the latest film from veteran Italian directors Paolo and...

Cannes 2012 Review: RUST AND BONE Stays too Grounded for its Own Good

Rust and Bone's narrative reminded me of an old-school pulpy melodrama from the 50's or 60's, the type of film where most of the narrative momentum comes not so much from cause and effect, but from traumatic stuff happening every...

HKIFF 2012: Day 13 Dim Sum Reviews: Headshot, Coriolanus & more

My last day at the 36th Hong Kong International Film Festival gave me the opportunity to finally catch up with yet another of 2011's most praised and talked about dramas with Shame, as well as new works from other British...

HKIFF 2012: Day 12 Dim Sum Reviews: Jafar Panahi, Modest Reception & more

My penulitmate day at HKIFF 2012 saw lots of frantic reshuffling as I struggled to see the films I really wanted to, while also dealing with the tricky logistics of negotiating the city at high speed. It resulted in a...