The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

Starring Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Michael Angarano, Collin Chou, Liu Yi-Fei, Li Bing-Bing, Ye Xiao-Keng, Wang De-Shun, Morgan Benoit

Directed by Rob Minkoff

Expectations: Curious. I don’t remember it being very good.


The Forbidden Kingdom is far from great, but it is worthy of respect and attention. It is an American-produced fantasy wuxia, and I’m having a hard time thinking of any other film that fits that bill. For that alone it is interesting, but it’s also the first (and so far only) film that stars both Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Martial arts fans will no doubt want to see that, especially since the film contains a great fight between the two Hong Kong legends. Jet Li even plays the Monkey King during the film’s intro and finale! There’s so much I enjoy about this movie, but no matter how much I want to love this film for what it is, its missteps are hard to overlook.

The major problem is that while it features Jackie and Jet, neither of them are the lead. That honor goes to Jason Tripitikas (Michael Angarano), an American teenager obsessed with Hong Kong movies. His room is adorned with posters of Shaw Brothers films and Bruce Lee, The Monkey Goes West plays on his TV, and he even has a Sega Dreamcast. It’s almost like the character was based on my own teenage years! I wouldn’t ask the shopkeeper for an “early Shaw Brothers movie featuring a guy doing leopard style,” though. I’ve also never said, “Sick! Ten Tigers of Kwantung,” although if I did find a copy of the Shaw classic in a secondhand store, I would say something like “Oh shit! Ten Tigers of Kwantung!” so perhaps they weren’t too far off the mark. 🙂

Continue reading The Forbidden Kingdom (2008) →

The Silver Emulsion Podcast: Ep. 45 – Kung Fu Cult Master

Episode 45! This week we’re flying into battle with Wong Jing’s 1993 wuxia classic Kung Fu Cult Master, starring Jet Li, Chingmy Yau, Sharla Cheung and Sammo Hung! If you’re not watching Hong Kong movies, you’re missing out! Listen and enjoy! 🙂

Music Notes

Intro:

  • Silicon Teens – Red River Rock
    • Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (iTunes, Amazon)

Outro:

If you’ve got feedback, throw it into the comments below or email it to me via the contact page! We’ll include it in a future show!

The podcast is embedded directly below this, or you can go directly to Podbean (or use their app) to listen. If you want to subscribe, paste http://silveremulsion.podbean.com/feed/ into whatever reader you’re using, such as iTunes.

The Expendables 3 (2014)

the-expendables-3-posterStarring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer, Antonio Banderas, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Ronda Rousey, Kellan Lutz, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Ivan Kostadinov, Robert Davi

Directed by Patrick Hughes

Expectations: Low, but hopeful.

threestar


There’s no doubt that Expendables 3 received the worst critical reception of the franchise, and the general Internet scuttlebutt seemed to agree that Expendables 3 was bad. I let this influence me, and I pushed back seeing the film into the dreaded “sometime.” But now I have seen Expendables 3 and I can say without a hint of sarcasm or hyperbole that it is a great entry into the series. I love JCVD too much for it to surpass the 2nd film, but I definitely prefer it to the original. I’m curious what people didn’t like about it, actually. It’s basically just like the other two, only with even more people. And this one actually has some heart, too! [Note: The original two may have heart of their own, but I haven’t seen them in three years and all I remember are the cameos and the explosions.]

Storywise, this one is a bit convoluted to explain quickly due to its structure. It’s not actually convoluted, it’s just one of those movies with a slowly unfolding story that is easy to spoil if you break it down into a synopsis. So suffice it to say: there’s a bad guy that has done some evil shit, and Stallone and a varied cast of his Expendable buddies will be along for the ride to take him down. Besides, if you’re even remotely interested in this movie, that’s all you need to know. Are there explosions? Yes. Does Stallone & crew kick ass? Yes. Ticket sold. If you’re not that person and you’re still watching these movies, you might want to re-think your life because you’re clearly unable to learn from past mistakes.

Continue reading The Expendables 3 (2014) →

The Expendables 2 (2012)

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, Nan Yu, Amanda Ooms, Charisma Carpenter, Nikolette Noel

Directed by Simon West

Expectations: Pretty high. JCVD, man!


You want some action? WELL THEN WE HAVE SOME INCREDIBLE, JAW DROPPING, EXPLOSIVE, MEN WITH MUSCLES ACTION FOR YOU! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! BOOM! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! BOOM! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! BOOM! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! KABOOM!

This approximates the opening scene of The Expendables 2, and for my money it was worth the price of admission. I had to restrain myself from literally leaping up and making the most primal noise my thin, feeble frame could muster. Nevermind that we later get Arnold, JCVD, Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris showing up in varying degrees, this immediately explosive opening is something to be reckoned with. While it played out, I imagined writing a four-star review for the film and how I’d buy it on Blu-ray and watch it any time I felt less than a man. So when the dust finally settled (the scene is quite long and full of cascading “Oh shit!” moments), I was disappointed to find that it would be a long time until the next legitimate action scene, and that nothing in the film would live up to its opening. But that’s OK, because even if the opening completely blows the film’s wad, the rest of the film is quite entertaining.

Continue reading The Expendables 2 (2012) →

Stephen reviews: The Expendables 2 (2012)

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, Nan Yu, Amanda Ooms, Charisma Carpenter, Nikolette Noel

Directed by Simon West


Expendables was a huge riot of nonstop action without much purpose beyond reveling in its own masculinity. So the only thing you can do with the sequel is make it bigger, badder, and bolder. That’s just what Expendables 2 tries to do, but it’s honestly hard to top the intensity of the first one. It does manage to succeed at this lofty goal, but by how much? Well, not a whole lot. Expendables 2 is a better movie, but your opinion of the first one will probably be the same the second time around.

One major improvement I do have to mention is the FX. The first film had some of the ugliest CG to ever ruin a bloody killing spree. Thankfully, those ridiculous looking exploding bodies, that laughable man on fire, and the worst, to me at least, that wince inducing scene where Stallone stabbed a dude in the neck were not used this time around. I apologize for dredging up bad memories, but I want you to realize just how much easier it is to watch the film because of the improved FX work. I spent the first film waiting for the next terrible CG effect to pop up, but in this film I forgot to think about the FX after the first ten minutes. That alone makes this movie superior to the original.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: The Expendables 2 (2012) →

Once Upon a Time in China III (1993)

Once Upon a Time in China III [黃飛鴻三之獅王爭霸] (1993)

Starring Jet Li, Rosamund Kwan, Max Mok, Xiong Xin-Xin, Lau Shun, John Wakefield, Chiu Chin, Ge Cuen-Zhuang, Meng Chin, Wong Tak-Yan, Zhang Chun-Zhong

Directed by Tsui Hark

Expectations: Low. I don’t remember liking this one much.


At long last I finally got around to watching this one! Hope no one was holding their breath for the last fifteen months! All kidding aside, I had a hankering for some Jet Li after reading a few blogs about his work over at Dangerous Meredith’s blog and a review of OAUTIC IV at Varied Celluloid. The film definitely exceeded my expectations in many ways, while also reminding me why I had not embraced this one in my youth. I’ve probably only seen this one a couple of times, the last time being around ten years ago. The only thing I remembered about it was that there was a lot of lion dancing, and boy is there a lot of lion dancing!

Once Upon a Time in China III (OUATIC3) opens with the Chinese Empress declaring that there will be a lion dance competition to prove the power of Chinese martial arts to the ever encroaching foreigners. We then connect with Wong Fei-Hung (Jet Li), 13th Aunt (Rosamund Kwan) and Wong’s disciple Foon (Max Mok) arriving in Peking to visit Wong’s father, Won Kei-Ying. The lion dance competition is sending every martial club into a frenzy trying their best to outdo the others. One group in particular, the oil factory team, is run by an evil man who will stop at nothing to get to the top, including bullying and physically taking people out of the competition. This leads to the main struggle of the film between Wong and Chiu, the leader of the oil factory team.

Continue reading Once Upon a Time in China III (1993) →

Tai Chi Master (1993)

Tai Chi Master [太極張三豐] (1993)

Starring Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, Chin Siu Ho, Fennie Yuen, Yuen Cheung Yan, Lau Shun, Yu Hai, Sun Jian Kui

Directed by Yuen Woo Ping

Expectations: High. Haven’t seen this one in years and remember really liking it.


We’re doing something different with this review. I won JP’s DVD comment contest and he let me pick any DVD or Blu-Ray I wanted. Oh, the possibilities! I ended up deciding on this film and I’m glad I did. In honor of this awesome gesture, my review will be featured exclusively on JP’s website, complete with neato video clips from the film selected by yours truly. So what are you waiting for?

Head over there now and check out the review!

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