Tag Archives: new york asian film festival

MERANTAU: Film screening at NYAFF 2010

merantau

The screening of Merantau at the 2010 New York Asian Film Festival was much anticipated by…me! For one, it was the last day of the festival and secondly, I was yearning for a good old thrashing & bashing of a martial arts movie after watching a few dramatic films like Golden Slumber & Castaway on the Moon! This would of counter balanced or perhaps teetered me towards the scale of action packed goodness that I usually crave for. However, I was severely let down at first glance, but the movie slowly warmed up to to the task at hand when the fists started to fly! I think I was expecting way too much from this film as flashes of Tony Jaa & “Ong Bak”, the Thai warrior crossed my mind. The story was much in the line of Ong Bak, a young country boy who goes out in the big bad city to experience life, but unfortunately learns that a cruel & harsh world in the urban jungle would exist. Merantau was an Indonesian poormans version of Ong Bak & a homeless mans version of “Kiss of the Dragon” from Jet li. The story & plot was purely one dimensional and the acting was suspect in my opinion. The story & cast however, did have an innocent charm & appeal to them, though. Merantau was about a teenage boy played by Iko Uwais from the rural area of Indonesia who takes a journey or Merantau into the city life of Jakarta to teach his martial art style of Silat ,but runs into misfortunes with local pimps, eurotrash, slaves destined for prostitution, & being homeless. The most refreshing part of this film lies in the raw action & fighting choreography! Some of the stunts & fight sequences displayed in this movie ranged from being downright furious to outright amazing! The stunts & raw footage of Merantau got me real excited which reminded me of some of the early works of Hong Kong action when actors & stuntmen/women would perform amazing acts of physical glory to make the scenes look realistic! The fight scene in the elevator, action sequences with the gang in the club, the sequence on the pedestrian bridge, & the fight with the Harry Potter lookalikes at the end where pretty enthralling! The cinematography was also something to behold! It was also a privilege for me to see the Indonesian fighting art of Pencak Silat onscreen for the 1st time! That alone was worth the price of admission in my mind! Silat movements seemed to involve low center of gravity stances & movements often involving claw like strikes, grabs, elbows, & throws! Moving side to side to parry & deflect blows seem to be a trademark of their art. Handling & defending against knives looks to be another specialialty in Silat as well! Overall, I wasn’t too thrilled with the vanilla story & acting in the film, but the stunts, fight sequences, & the display of Pencak Silat was refreshing. This was only the 2nd martial art movie from Indonesia in quite a number of years so this is promising start! The main actor of the film didn’t look too convincing as an academy award winner, but his unique fighting skills onscreen were something to behold! Acting can be learned right? From the looks of the conclusion of the film, Merantau 2 wouldn’t be too far fetched!

–Mr. C

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GALLANTS

bruce leung at NYAFF - Gallants screening pics by Mr. C
mc jin at Gallants screening. Pics by MR. C
MC Jin at the Gallants screening on 7/8 (pics by Mr. c)

The screening of Gallants at the New York Asian Film festival on 7/8, the 2nd to last film of the event brought me tremendous happiness & sadness at the same time because we all knew it was near the end of the festival. The attendance of Bruce Leung & MC Jin at the Gallants showing was fun,fun,fun! Bruce Leung signed my program & I got a photo taken with him as well! I also spoke briefly with MC Jin to congratulate him on a job well done acting in his 1st HK movie & to give him props for his new mix tape called “Say Something”! MC Jin played in a role in “2 Fast 2 Furious” some years ago as well.

After reading a brief synopsis of the movie before watching it that night, I kept on hearing a reoccurring theme of old school & throwback being used to describe this film. I’m not quite sure if that description gives the movie it’s due justice,though. The fighting choreography was not akin to old school or shaw brother studio-esq nor did the plot of the movie take me back to memory lane of the movies from the 70’s or 80’s. In my estimation, the only thing old school were the gem of veteran actors that were served on a platter for our viewing pleasures! The overall theme for this movie was not about fighting,martial arts, or stunts. The message of the film was about BROTHERHOOD & the undying LOVE for their master & the 30 years of hardship that they endured while waiting for their teacher to awake from his coma. Shaw Brother great, Chan Koon Tai, Bruce Leung, Law Mong (Shaw Brother fixture), Teddy Robin, & Chan Wai Man round out the proven all stars selected to tell us about this wonderful tale. I got goosebumps & chills when they introduced the characters in the film with a millisecond freeze frame & caption with the name of the actor & the role that they played! The theater roared & clapped their hands when all the veteran actors of yesteryear were introduced to us in one by one fashion! I know I did my part in hootin’ & hollerin’! I doubt that this film got this same type of attention & love in their home city of Hong Kong! Nobody in Hong Kong seems to notice or care about these seasoned kick ass(literally) actors & actresses anymore. Proof? I asked my family who acknowledged these names from the depths of the wonder years, but they all asked me why do you watch these geriatric folks that are not current anymore? Why? Because they influenced & paved the path for these new young guns. To be honest, I enjoy & relate to most of these old time actors more than I do the current ones. An ounce of passion from these veteran stars would deflect a thousand pounds of Hong Kong canto-pop ,anyday! Original gangster actors & their skills in martial arts are lost at sea to the new generation of acting droids. I’m real proud of us fans in the USA for showing love & appreciating the skills of acting & fighting on screen from these studded all stars from the 70’s & 80’s! For me, seeing these great actors again is similiar to fantasizing about your favorite retired boxer like Joe Frazier,Muhammad Ali,Larry Holmes, & Mike Tyson step back in the ring again. You know they can never step in the ring again to duplicate their moves like they once did, but you still highly respect them for being the old tigers they are! Enough with talking around the movie! Let’s talk about the movie! Forget the nostalgia! This film was a hilarious feel good story with a comic book style way of telling it! In a nutshell, this film is about an officespace worker who gets shitted on by all his co-workers & boss. He gets assigned the crap duty in the boondocks of Hong Kong to help real estate management evict a tea house tenant leased by Master Law(teddy robin) & managed by 2 of his best kung fu students, Tiger(Bruce leung) & Dragon(Chan Koon Tai). The Tea house was formerly a martial art temple, but was converted to a restaurant while master law remained in a 30 year old coma from an epic battle with the big bad foes. It’s a classic tale between the forces of good & evil when “The gates of Law” martial arts defend their tea house against the evil of Law Mong & MC Jin. MC Jin, a real life hip hop artist from Queens,NY did a great job in his 1st ever movie role produced in Hong Kong. It was seriously hilarious when Master Law awakes from his coma & goes about his life like it was 30 years ago. He instantly asks for his smelly aged,dry duck, inquires about his deceased wife, & his 2 young studded students, Dragon & Tiger who are now fighting the clutches of father time! Dragon & Tiger show glimpses of their fighting glory ,but their skills are definitely a corpse of what they once were. Teddy Robin does a tremendous job playing the role of Master Law! He is a kung fu master full of shits & giggles,all 4 ft tall of him! Times get tough when Master Law suddenly dies. Law passes the seed to his students with the message of “If you want to win, then don’t fight, but if you fight, you MUST win!” This message will come in play when they enter a martial arts tournament. Tiger takes this message to heart when he battles a younger foe in honor of his teacher & the “gates of law” kung fu! the old lions in this movie really show that they still have the moves! The real message of the movie is not about winning or losing, but to always try your best with the utmost passion till the very end! Law Mong, Bruce Leung, Chan Koon Tai, & Chan Wai Man are my Joe Frazier’s,Mike Tyson’s, & Larry Holmes of the kung fu movie world! Thumbs up to this movie for the comedic relief, nostalgic actors, & flashes of kung fu glory! The soundtrack for the film was dope as all hell, too! It made me want to train & sit in a horse stance for quite some time till my legs started to quiver! Something of note, Chan Koon Tai plays the role of Dragon who manages the Tea House. In 1974, Chan Koon Tai starred in the “The Tea House” that he also managed in. In the 1970’s, Chan Koon Tai took no prisoners because he was a real martial arts champion in the ring before jumping into films!

Bruce Leung & MC Jin were in attendance at the screening of Gallants & they were touched by the standing ovation that we gave them! Gallants’ movie theme & casting screamed “underdog” & we love to root for underdogs! Subway cinema announced that Gallants & Castaway on the Moon were winners for the audience favorite awards from the festival! It’s no surprise to me because I really enjoyed both of those movies!

–Mr. C (Pics & video courtesy of Planetchocko & mr. c)

GOLDEN SLUMBER

Golden Slumber, a mystery-thriller movie with hints of comedy & action was a nice introduction back into Japanese cinema for this neophyte! I thoroughly enjoyed the film with the few twists & turns offered into the plot even if it was mere fantasy than believable! I can’t wait to watch Yoshihiro Nakamura’s(Director of the movie) previous film, FISH STORY! Golden Slumber shares its name with one of the Beatles’ famous songs from the 1969 album “Abbey Road”. There were quite a few references to the Beatles in the film with the common theme of finding a way back home for the main character! The skinny of the movie is about a 30 year old delivery man who is framed for the assassination of the Prime Minister of Japan, & his elusive tribulations in disappearing into the Sendai community with the help of old friends from school, a fireworks maven, his supportive parents, & an old school original gangsta boss recovering or falsely recovering in a hospital?! The film starts off with a scene that is really the finale of the movie ala Quentin Tarantino style. Aoyagi, the main protaganist in the movie is a delivery boy who is publicly known because he thwarted a robbery attempt of a famous pop songstress! He went from being zero to hero in a quick whim of a judo leg takedown! The meat of the story begins with the reunion of Aoyagi’s old buddy, Morita going on a supposed fishing trip together. Aoyagi & Morita end up having lunch in their car parked close to the parade that the Japanese Prime Minister will march in & end up losing his life at. A primary bomb is setoff by a remote control helicopter which takes the life of the Prime minister. A second bomb would go off in Morita’s car with Aoyagi escaping the grasp of death that would link the 2 stories together. So, begins the tale of an innocent 30 year old happy go lucky japanese man who is framed by the CIA for the assassination of their prime minister. Stories of remote control helicopters, Aoyogi’s friends who are coerced by law enforcement to set him up, a plastic surgeon who performs surgery on the imposter that shows up on the video evidence, & a young killer in a hood who helps aoyogi, starts to surface! The movie had their fair share of quirky characters in the movie like the cold stoned killer with the shotgun at hand with his sensitive ears, the old man river gangster in a wheelchair, the death note like killer in a hoody, the father who beat up men that groped children on the train, & the ex-girlfriend who buys a battery for Aoyogi’s Toyota Corolla & manages to elude law enforcement with her young daughter by her side as an accomplice in order for her to install the car battery. More peculiar, but entertaining nooks & crannies develop when Aoyogi goes underground in the sewer system to hide like the Ninja Turtles without the special martial art powers with the help of the old gangster navigating the underground. The live TV broadcast of Aoyogi’s plea for innocence & the help of Aoyogi’s IPOD would soon come into play! A smattering of fireworks would be setup in a professional pyrotechnic manner that would aid in the escape of the young delivery boy! Aoyogi’s, Golden Slumber in the Beatles variety would soon be realized, but the question remains to Aoyogi, SO DID YOU DO IT? Did you sex up the pop star when you saved her life from the clutches of the robber? Film goers of GOLDEN SLUMBER will chuckle at this question!

–Mr. C

CASTAWAY ON THE MOON

I was stoked as all hell to check out “Castaway on the Moon” at the New York Asian Film festival on the 4th of July partly because I wanted to get a tasting of Korean cinema,partly because the synopsis of the movie sounded promising, & the rest of the the remaining “partly pie” was because I wanted to get out of the heat in the concrete jungle of NYC into the cool arms of Walter Reade Theatre! Up till this point, I’ve been getting plump on Hong Kong film madness & I was truly salivating for some bulgogi, bibimbap, or the ultimate…noodles with black bean sauce, korean style! I’ll get to the explanation of this metaphor in a bit!

Castaway on the Moon is a lighthearted hybrid drama of the comedy & romance variety. I really,really wanted to like this film especially when the director, Lee Hey-Jun came out to introduce the movie before the screening. He seemed like a real down to earth,honest, & charming director. He also mentioned that this movie bombed at the box office in Korea! Wow! Talk about being funny & honest! (Check out the video that I took of the director introducing his film before the screening above). After watching the movie, I really,really did like it! It was entertaining & offered up a slice of normalcy for the agoraphobiacs of the world! The movie starts off with Mr. Lee, a man who cannot stand the pressures of his everyday corporate life which results in him jumping off a bridge into the Han River in Seoul, Korea in a feeble attempt to erradicate himself & his financial woes. Unfortunately/fortunately for him, he somehow survives the ordeal & ends up on a deserted island not too far away from the city, but far enough so that he cannot swim to reach civilization. He curses at himself for not doing anything right including committing suicide & steadily curses at society & Building 63(his workplace) for his misfortunes with his pants pulled down to his knees! Mr. Lee flashes back to his childhood in the pool when his father forces him to learn how to swim, but he fails to keep afloat. In the same flashback scene, he suddenly is an adult in the pool & he struggles to keep afloat when his girlfriend decides to end their relationship. Thoughts of suicide still lingered in his mind, but he fights the temptation when he suddenly realizes that living on this deserted island can be a blessing in disguise. He is living in his own world & controlling his own destiny. He even has a place to call his own when he finds a Duck boat to inhabit in unlike the 7 years that he’s been trying to save to buy a home located across the river in the “real world”. His calls for H.E.L.P inscribed in sand is turned into the words H.E.L.L.O. He manages to teach himself how to catch fish by killing them inadvertently by washing himself with detergent in the han river. He then discovers how to catch birds by having the birds eat his poisoned fish resulting in their death. Mr. Lee finds an old wrapper of noodles with black bean sauce with just the sauce contents left behind. He begins to fantasize what noodles with black bean sauce tasted like as he remembers his past of rejecting this dish! His quest in his new life now is to find a way how to make fresh noodles to fulfill his dream of tasting this dish. Making pasta from plants ends in failure until his concoction of farming bird droppings will result in harvesting corn! The symbolism of finding a way to make this fresh pasta on the island is akin to him finding his own soul & purpose in life.

Meanwhile in Seoul, there is a parallel story about a young lady who lives inside her bubble. She suffers from agoraphobia & cannot deal with society. She cannot be seen & literally lives inside her room. Her only solace is taking photos of the moon & literally floats in air when she is in her zone of solitude! She happens on Mr. Lee one day on that deserted island when viewing through her telephoto lens. This young lady begins to take notice of his actions & basically begins to fall in love with him because of his passion to LIVE & his LOVE of trying to farm a crop to make fresh noodles for his instant black bean sauce. She begins to break out of her shell when she communicates with him with messages in a bottle tossed into the han river! Mr. Lee begins to communicate with her by inscribing messages on the sand as well. They both seem to be intrigued with each other until the young lady decides to have fresh noodles with black bean sauce delivered to the island for him as a gift which he takes as an insult. Making fresh noodles from scratch with his own ingenuity in this new world of his was a symbol of hope & self discovery of himself. He realizes that you cannot “buy” hope or self dignity. Mr. Lee soon realizes his dream as he makes his “Noodles with black bean sauce” from kernels of goodness with his harvested corn. The young lady sees all this from her viewfinder. She also sees Mr. Lee’s life on this deserted island come to a quick end when he gets deported back to the city by the local conservation group. In a whim, she desperately leaves the comforts of her bubble wrap to meet the man she honestly adores. Will they live out their fantasy together in the solitude of their own bubble wrap & styrofoam?!

Castaway on the Moon was an entertaining, cute, & insightful look into our own minds when stripping down the insecurities of oneself & analyzing the basics of understanding who you really are as a person in order to become comfortable in your own shell!

I think Lee Hey Jun, the director should of gotten praise for this movie but instead, box office sales slated this as a failure. In the eyes of the beholder of this movie, many of us ‘switchbladed’ this unique gem as a success to entertain the soul or should I say Seoul?!

Check out the Question/Answer session with the director of Castaway on the Moon, Lee Hey Jun that I captured on video below & his introduction of the film at the top of this aricle!

–Mr. C (7out 10 jajiang miens or noodles in black bean sauce for Castaway on the Moon)
(article, & video courtesy of Mr. C @planetchocko.com)

EASTERN CONDORS

eastern condors2

It’s been a hot minute since the last time I watched Eastern Condors in the late 1980’s! This goes back to the time when Eric B & Rakim, Boogie Down Productions, Big Daddy Kane, & EPMD where called to order and when this skinny asian cat(Heathcliff now) held up a boom box to his shoulder with a tight t-shirt in a big badass suburban mall! VHS copies or if you had pocket change left from buying wonton noodle soup from NY Noodletown, a 2 disc VCD were called to order in Chinatown-NYC when buying my favorite Hong Kong digs! The 43rd Chamber Kung fu video shop on 43rd street in Times Square would be a backdrop just in case Chinatown rejected my offers to solicit Kung Fu action porn. Fast forwarding 20 years later, screening this film at the New York Asian Film festival in a cold & comfortable Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center on a hot & muggy summer day was clearly a treat! This Vietnam war movie directed & starred by Sammo Hung in 1987 is best seen on the big screen with the pornographic sound blazin’ in your ear! The cast is pure all stars including Sammo’s kung fu classmates Yuen Biao & Yuen Wah,wife Joyce Godenzi,Yuen Woo Ping, Cory Yuen Kwai, Kung fu great(RIP)-Lam Ching Ying,Billy Chow, & Shaw Brother great(often villain) Dick Wei! There are many others in the cast that I’m leaving out but the great fighters have been called to the stage! This movie is about a Chinese military commander played by Lam Ching Ying who is hired by the US to go on a mission to Vietnam to find & destroy ammunition & weapons of mass destruction left behind by the US Military. Lam Ching Ying is ordered to bring 12 convicts with him to help him complete this mission. This chinese dirty dozen includes Sammo & 10 other slapstick boys that can barely walk straight, & one ladies man who is like face from the A-Team! Joyce Godenzi (Sammo’s real wife) plays a Cambodian rebel that helps the chinese dirty dozen to locate the weapons of mass destruction. These 12 convicts collaborate with Vietnam outlaw played by Yuen Biao to rival against the vietcong. Eastern Condors is a classic template of modern hong kong action in it’s best birthday suit. Explosions,endless great fighting choreography between highly skilled combatants,acrobatic sequences,guns & guns, & did I mention explosions?! If you were limited to watching just one groundbreaking HK film to get a taste of 1980’s Hong Kong cinema, you might be advised to watch Eastern Condors! Sammo did a ‘boombostic’ job directing this film & it’s a shame he lost this particular flavor to his movie making fever because he never seemed to rival anything like this in his repotoire again. We would of loved to see Sammo do more military style movies with Hong Kong flare! The fighting sequences involving Yuen Biao vs Dick Wei & Billy Chow vs Sammo were spectacular! The “Fatty Dragon” was also the slimmest we’ve ever seen on screen so you know his monkey acrobatic techniques were in full effect! Sammo’s real life kung fu brothers, Yuen Biao & Yuen Wah have got to be the most martially skilled out of the “7 Little fortunes” in my opinion! Yuen Wah almost always plays a quirky-almost gay type of sinister character that can truly kick some balls! The finale fight between Yuen Wah vs Yuen Biao & then Sammo Hung vs Yuen Wah was off the meat rack, live & direct! Sammo moved like a brisk tornado sweeping all mofo’s away who were in his path! I know all you mofo’s have got this on your netflix queue by now or for you real HK film fans get your copy at your nearest Chinatown,Yesasia, or HKFlix intergalactic internet stores, you suckas! See Sammo finish off Yuen Wah with a double kick below! You didn’t think a plump Heathcliff can do that did you?!

–Mr. C (9 out of 10 ‘Nam-wiches aka Bahn Mi)

sammo yuen wah 1
sammo yuen 2
sammo yuen 3

STORM WARRIORS

Storm Warriors

I thought I would of raised my martian snausage nose up to such a film as Storm Warriors with all it’s magic,mystic, & wire-fu acts of self inflicting honor, but to be honest I actually enjoyed the freak show! The film was like a done up whore complete with fake boobs, long legs,pretty face, & a sweet rump injected with CGI & filled with Hong Kong pretty boy pop stars like Ekin Cheng,Aaron Kwok, & Nicholas Tse. I mean this in the most complimentary of ways, folks! The evil empire strikes back with Simon Yam gracing us with his role of a Darth Vader like Japanese Warlord named Lord Godless. When I hear or see Ekin Cheng & Nicholas Tse, I instantly think about the gangster roles they played from the “Young And the Dangerous” series. It’s hard to picture them in period piece roles but, Ekin Cheng & Aaron Kwok both did a good job in portraying the characters of Wind & Cloud. Storm Warriors or aka Storm Riders 2 is based on a Hong Kong comic book. This is part of the reason that I lifted my wire-fu ban on this movie because it’s a comic book character, ladies & neanderthals! Superhero characters=superhuman feats so I’m OK with the walking on water, moving mountains on your shoulder, & shooting erronious energy from your fingertips! The CGI work on Storm Warriors was amazing! Think Frank Miller’s “300”! I worried that these Hong Kong pop stars would fail on recreating fight scenes with much passion & accuracy, but they did a decent job! Simon Yam being a drama man himself represented Lord Godless in convincing fashion filled with ruthlessness & evil. Storm Warriors opens up with Cloud(Aaron Kwok),Chu Chu,Piggy King,2nd Dream, & their master “Nameless” already in the paws of Lord Godless awaiting execution. The Lord (Simon Yam) & his son (Nicholas Tse) want to take control of the galaxy & rule the martial art world!(muhahaha). But to everybodies surprise, Wind(Ekin Cheng) appears & saves the bunch from the clutches of Lord Godless, but not before Master Nameless gets seriously injured. The three go on a refuge & must power up before they meet Godless again. Master Nameless is injured & cannot pass on enough power or knowledge to Wind or Cloud so Lord Wicked was recommend as the only savior. Ekin Cheng(Wind) was then chosen to train in the powers of the evil in order to gain enough strength to defeat Lord Godless, but in turn Wind might get possessed by the darkside & would probably not make it back to the Jedi side. Cloud would continue training with Master Nameless & eventually reach another level that would embellish new knowledge in creating his own sword technique. Cloud & Wind meet up to ignite a Storm from Lord Godless, & the Dragon bones is the prize that will win immortality!(muhahaha). Storm Warriors is definitely one big eye candy that I should watch over again to pickup little nuances I might have missed! 2nd on my list is to checkout the “Storm Riders” comic book to get a better understanding of these 2 characters! And lastly, I should watch Storm Riders the first movie with Ekin Cheng,Aaron Kwok, & Sonny Chiba that was released about a decade ago!

–Mr. C (7 out of 10 chances for a Storm when Wind & Cloud collide)

KUNG FU CHEFS

kung fu chefs

The Kung Fu Chef’s screening at the New York Asian film festival in Walter Reade Theatre on June 26th turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise! This film was quite wacky,quacky,quirky, & a complete train wreck filled with action! I loved it! I left the theatre quenching for more…cabbage in clear broth…um..I mean kung fu action! Don’t get me wrong, this movie was no academy award winner, but the over the top story of a comic book style story based on a kung fu fighting master chef that yields a dragon heads butcher knife was quite hilarious. The dialogue and so called english subtitle translation would win no awards for best script, but this is Hong Kong comedy at it’s best.

Let’s get to the nitty gritty of the movie. The cast would contain a core of grisly veterans of kung fu proportions like Sammo Hung, Bruce Leung, & Louis Fan Siu Wong. Taiwanese pop star Vaness Wu who played the young arrogant chef, & the two ladies worthy of eye candy added silly slapstick to the equation. The fight sequences teetered me over to the Jedi side as opposed to the dark side of sheer silliness. Sammo vs Bruce Leung, Sammo vs Louis Fan Siu Wong, Sammo vs Chef Ken, Sammo vs the sashimi, Sammo vs pig…had won me over to no end! Oh, did I also tell you Sammo’s son, Timmy Hung is in the movie? Timmy gets a severe beat down from papa Hung in full chinese banquet glory! The film is about Master Chef, Wong Ping Yee played by Sammo who saves a chinese banquet because one of his sous chefs burns a hunk of pork meat. Sammo proceeds to butcher a whole swine with one big swoop of the magical Dragon Head’s butcher cleaver!(Great scene by the way). The pork is then tenderly cooked & the banquet, subsequently has been saved! Little did the master chef know but his Chef nephew played by Louis Fan Siu Wong had poisoned the pork meat in order to frame his Uncle. The nephew still harbors disgust for his uncle because of an injury that was sustained to his dad’s arm from a cooking competition with the Uncle which promptly forced his dad to give up the Executive Chef title in his village. Sammo Hung is then ousted from the village as head chef due to being framed by his nephew. Chef Wong Ping Yee’s new life begins when he enters the two young ladies restaurant for lunch. Chef Wong is not impressed after trying a simple Sichuan dish called cabbage in clear broth. He also meets the arrogant Chef Ken while dining who he will mentor in the times to come. The first chef battle begins with Master Wong pitted against the Executive Chef of the young ladies restaurant. Wong masterfully sweeps the other chef to the side prompting the chef to lose face & jump ship. The chef games begin when Master Wong Ping Yee takes the reigns of this new restaurant along with his new prodigy, Chef Ken! Ken-San & Sammo soon have a blade off, comparing fresh sashimi cuts. However,Ken is no match for Sammo’s, cold blade ginsu cuts of fresh fish! School is now officially in session when the “Plump one” trains the young Jedi! Soon thereafter, fist a cuffs are in order with Sammo vs Louis Fan Siu Wong & the choreography was sheer amazing with a Birdseye camera shot of sweeps,roundhouse,front heel kicks, & Sammo’s classic reverse sidekick till no end! The rest of the fight scenes involving Sammo vs Bruce Leung, Fan Siu Wong vs Chef Ken are additional butter added to the ‘au ju’ gravy! The fight scenes in this movie were raw & dynamic! Exactly what the Kung Fu Doctor called for! There is a cooking finale that will involve one dish from the jungles of Sichuan province,China, yes you guessed it…Cabbage in clear broth! And yes, the Dragon Head’s butcher knife will reveal itself again!

Listen folks, I’m not saying this is a great movie & probably to the contrary, but it surely was entertaining at that especially seeing it on the big screen with surround sound! I’m also not saying that you should shell out big bucks to watch this at Sony Imax but, if you want to be entertained with food & some heavy duty fight scenes between 2 great onscreen fighters like Sammo Hung & Louis Fan Siu Wong, you can’t do any better! It is definitely worthy of a Yesasia.com or hkflix.com purchase especially if you are a Sammo Hung Gum Bo & Louis Fan Siu Wong fan!

–Mr. C (5 out of 10 cabbage in clear broths,sichuan style!)

IP MAN 2

ip man 2
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The anticipation of the screening of Ip Man 2 on opening night of the New York Asian Film Festival on June 25th created palpitations that only job interviews & colonoscopies can rival, but in a good way! Ip Man, the 1st movie told us about a story of the man himself who lived an aristocratic lifestyle & loved his art of Wing Chun in Foshan, China. The occupancy of the japanese created a rougher grit of sandpaper being added to the daily life of the chinese so many families escaped into the arms of Hong Kong under British rule. Enter, Ip Man 2. Ip Man 2 shows us the humble Ip Man, his pregnant wife, & his son struggling to pay the rent. Finding Wing Chun students to teach on the rooftops of Hong Kong proves to be difficult when other martial art schools take this as competition for business. This all comes to a head when Donnie Yen who plays the Wing Chun master, Yip Man is challenged by the “Kung Fu federation” to see if he is worthy to teach his art. After Yip Man’s fierce martial battle with the organization , the chinese martial art schools have other issues to deal with like the big bad British authorities & their big bad western boxer named “Twister”. I’ll spare you the details of the movie, but I’m sure you aliens can predict the outcome! What I can tell you is that at the end of the movie surfaces a young brat who wishes to learn wing chun from Yip Man with his hair slicked back, flicking his nose with his thumb, wearing jeans, & professes his desire to learn how to fight! His name is Lee, the “little dragon”, otherwise known as Bruce Lee to all the “Gwei Lo’s” & martians like myself. Can you say IP MAN 3? Gwei Lo roughly translates to “Foreign devil” or “western ghost”. Many chinese use the gwei lo term to identify westerners. I wonder what the chinese character for Martians or Aliens is?

Seriously speaking, Ip man 2 was chock full of refreshing energy on a real life character that many martial artists in the asian & western world can directly point their kung fu lineage to. Yip Man was a humble person practicing his art of peacefulness & destruction while not appearing to walk on water like other characters being portrayed on the screen like Wong Fei Hong. Wilson Yip did a great job directing the film in my opinion. The consultation with the real life son of Ip Man, Ip Chun on the movie in respects to the martial art & history is priceless. The additions of some well known Shaw Brother actors from the 1970’s like Lo Meng & the character that played the “Ba Gua” master in the film were fantastic. I wished these 2 great shaw brother actors of yesteryear would of gotten better choreography in the film instead of the quirky styles & characters that they portrayed, but I might be getting too technical here. Overall, the film housed some real badass old school kung fu choreography, but there were some flashes of wire “FU” work that I wasn’t too keen on. Why do you need wire fu when you’ve got the horses in your film that can display real kung fu? This crap still boggles my mind, but I guess the concensus of the chinese market is that they like the walk on water & fantasy crapola. In my mindless thinking, Wing Chun is the most direct & non-flashy of all the Chinese martial arts. We definitely don’t need any artificial enhancements to this fighting system. Come to think of it, none of the martial arts needs any performing enhancing attributes. A skilled martial artist provides his own stroke to create a painting with no help from technology. With Sammo Hung, Donnie Yen, & a world of real practictioners on your movie set, you would think there would be no need for any instances of “The Matrix”. Let me not digress to this Wire Fu stress because I’m about to blow an artery. Back to the man himself, let’s not forget that IP Man was a very important figure in the chinese martial arts world. Yip Man was a simpleton at heart with a complex mind. Yip Man went on to train relevant kung fu practictioners that would propagate the art of Chinese Kung Fu to all parts of the galaxy. With the likes of Bruce Lee, Leung Ting,William Cheung, Ip Chun(son), & Moy Yat(NYC) to name just a few accomplished students of the MAN! Many martians forget that Chinese Kung Fu is not just about the technical aspects of punching, kicking, & whoopass. Don’t get me wrong, Chinese Martial Arts was created to defend thyself from offensive neighbors, galaxies, & circumstances. However, the deep roots of Chinese Kung Fu also circles back to the cultural aspects of the art that many martians will never understand & grasp for those just wanting to learn how to kick & punch.

Fellow monchichis, do yourselves a favor & watch this film at your nearest Independent movie theatre! At the very least, catch it on netflix or buy it on DVD when it becomes available! I guarantee that there will be an increase in signups at your nearest Wing Chun school after a viewing of this movie! Wha..bisch…Wha..bisch..awe..awe..Suecky..Suecky!

–Mr. C (Ip Man 2 is 7 out of 10 stinky tofus!)
(pics,article,& video courtesy of Mr. C @planetchocko.com)

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SAMMO HUNG GUM BO,SIMON YAM, & HUANG BO at Star Asia Awards-NYAFF 2010

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huang bo being presented with award by fellow actor in movie, the Cow!

This Planet Chocko martian had a privilege to attend the smattering of asteroids & awards being handed out to honor Hong Kong cinema legends Sammo Hung Kum Bo, Simon Yam, & to recognize a new/upcoming actor Huang Bo at the Star Asia Awards Ceremony on June 25th in conjuction with the New York Asian Film Festival hosted by Subway Cinema! Sammo, known as “Dai Goi Dai” to his close friends which translates to Big Brother big shows that his circle of friends & peers give him the utmost of respect when greeting him with this title. Dai Goi Dai is usually reserved for a person with high authority like a crime boss or someone with a tremendous amount of influence in his circle of business. Deservingly so because Sammo was the eldest training brother of the “7 little fortunes” including Jackie Chan,Yuen Biao, & Yuen Wah under the tutelage of Jimmy Yuen’s Peking Opera Academy in Hong Kong. Sammo Hung was the leader of the seven little fortunes and soon thereafter, began to blaze a trail in the Hong Kong film industry that his classmates would eventually take a walk on. Shaw Brother directors such as Chang Cheh & King Hu began to notice Sammo’s skill in fight choregraphy & so…the first domino started to fall as the “Fatty Dragon” began making a name for himself. Even Bruce Lee took a notice to the ‘plump one’ & Jackie Chan as well when casting them in fight scenes. From Wuxia genres like “Come Drink with Me” & the “Fate of Lee Khan” to Kung Fu slapstick like “Meals on Wheels” to “Enter the Fat Dragon”, to Wing Chun inspired movies like “Prodigal Son”,”Warriors Two”, & “Ip Man”, Sammo has had his hands in the cookie jar in all aspects of the phrase! The ‘fatty dragon’ reigns supreme, the cookie monster said so! It’s really an honor to be able to hear & see one of Hong Kong’s legends in person!

Simon Yam has easily been one of my favorite actors in the cop & gangster themed Hong Kong movies since the early 80’s. Even the casual HK cinema film fan would recognize Simon based on the sheer number of movies he has acted in. From John Woo’s, “Bullet in head” to “Full Contact” to the famous “Young & the Dangerous” series, I can always picture Simon in a Hong Kong Police uniform and people calling him “a sir”. If Tony Leung or Chow Yun Fat is in the movie, I expect to see Simon as well! I went to a screening of “Echoes of the Rainbow” last night at the New York Asian Film festival in the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center & I can see why Simon was finally nominated as being actor of the year with this film. Simon Yam made a brief appearance before the screening of Echoes of the Rainbow & he mentioned that this movie was very close to his heart. Echoes of the Rainbow tells a story about a family living in 1960’s Hong Kong. The movie was narrated by the youngest son in the movie & it was touching indeed. This film hit home with me because the town they were portraying was also the town were my family lived in the 1960’s. The area was called “Tsam Tsui Bo”. It’s to no surprise that Simon was recognized by the Hong Kong film industry & the New York Asian Film Festival for his excellency & persistence in keeping us martians entertained in our spaceships! The question is, why did it take so long?

A rising star award was also handed out to China’s actor, Huang Bo. He’s a newcomer & I’m looking forward to watching some of his movies on display at the festival!

Oh, my Lord Godless(taken from “Storm Warriors”), I forgot to mention that Angela Mao Ying came out to present Sammo Hung with his lifetime achievement award! What a great surprise! She disappeared from the film industry about 30 years ago when she decided her family was more important than the non lucrative sport of acting & traveling to make films. Rumors had it that Angela owned a Chinese restaurant somewhere in Flushing,Queens. Angela Mao Ying was my favorite Hong Kong actress because she exuded mojo,the look, & her kick ass skills to the screen when women weren’t supposed to be strong like a tigress! Angela parallels another strong actress of a different spectrum of the rainbow named Pam Grier without the breastesses & hairdo! I must say Angela Mao looked dynomite even 30 years later! Pam Grier still looks hot as well! Maybe we should honor Angela, too! Hint Hint…Subway Cinema & New York Asian Film Festival! Fate of Lee Khan, When Tae Kwan Do strikes, Lady Kung fu, whatcha’ sayin’?!
–Mr. C (pics,article,& video courtesy of Mr. C @planetchocko.com)
sammo & angela mao ying
Angela Mao

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