The Bodyguard (2016)

TheBodyguard_1The Bodyguard [特工爺爺] (2016)
AKA My Beloved Bodyguard

Starring Sammo Hung, Jacqueline Chan Pui-Yin, Andy Lau, Feng Jia-Yi, Zhu Yu-Chen, Li Qin-Qin, Tsui Hark, Karl Maka, Dean Shek Tin, Tomer Oz, Du Yi-Heng, James Lee Guy, Sergio Deieso, Maksim Manylov, Avetyan Karen, Hu Jun, Yuan Ting

Directed by Sammo Hung

Expectations: Very high! I’ve been stoked for Sammo’s directorial return since it was announced a couple of years ago.

threehalfstar


The Bodyguard marks the return to the director’s chair of one of Hong Kong’s greatest treasures: Sammo Hung. It’s been 19 years since he released his last two films (Mr. Nice Guy and Once Upon a Time in China and America) on consecutive days in 1997, so to call The Bodyguard “long-awaited” is an understatement. The last time Sammo Hung directed a movie I was in the 10th grade trading 5th generation bootleg VHS tapes to see Hong Kong movies! Times have certainly changed, and as a result The Bodyguard is as much a modern film as it is a product of Sammo’s incredible experience and skill.

Ding Hu (Sammo Hung) was a decorated policeman in his day, but now he’s known as Old Ding to his neighbors. His health is failing him, specifically some form of dementia that is heavily affecting his short-term memory. His neighbor’s daughter, Cherry Li (Jacqueline Chan Pui-Yin), is the only bright spot in his life, but even her upbeat presence is a reminder of Ding’s painful past. Some years before, Ding was babysitting his granddaughter and she got lost, never to be seen again. His daughter refused to speak to him again, so he moved back to his hometown on the border of China and Russia. He bides his time there, waiting to die, living life without joy and with the memory of his granddaughter ever-present in his thoughts.

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Let the Bullets Fly (2010)

Let the Bullets Fly [讓子彈飛吧] (2010)

Starring Jiang Wen, Chow Yun-Fat, Ge You, Shao Bing, Liao Fan, Du Yi-Heng, Li Jing, Zhang Mo, Wei Xiao, Carina Lau, Zhou Yun, Yao Lu, Jiang Wu

Directed by Jiang Wen

Expectations: Moderate. I’ve heard good and bad things.


Let the Bullets Fly is a very interesting multi-genre movie, but if you go in with expectations that Chow Yun-Fat will resurrect his past with John Woo by letting some heroic bullets fly, you might as well not watch it. It’s nothing like that at all. At its heart it’s a comedy, one which may or may not make it through the translation depending on your sense of humor, but it’s a comedy built on the framework of a town western with sprinkles of action mixed in very frugally. It’s also a drama, with some excellent back-and-forth dialogue scenes between the great actors. But none of these elements make the film great individually, it’s how they all work together to create a cohesive narrative that takes the film and makes it fly like the titular bullets.

A group of bandits led by Pocky Zhang (Jiang Wen, and also our director) hijacks a horse-drawn train transporting the new governor of Goose Town. He hopes to find a bounty of silver inside the cabin, but instead he only finds the snivelling governor and his wife. They tell Zhang that the money he seeks can be found in Goose Town, so the bandits, with the governor and his wife in tow, travel there and Zhang poses as the new governor. This raises the ire of local mob boss Huang (Chow Yun-Fat), and before we know it we’re locked into an intense, and hilarious, battle of wills between the two.

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