Posts Tagged ‘Jet Li’

This week’s releases include: woolly vengeance; an old school action flick; an over-the-top family; a biopic; an amusing story of an unlucky guy; a sexy anthology; a memorable musical; revisiting a classic science fiction franchise; a multifaceted coming-of-age story; a flamboyant rock ‘n’ roll picture; and a life awakening. (more…)

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This week’s releases include: a blood-spattered massacre; a modern day film noir; a law-breaking legacy; an historical kangaroo court; the first appearance of Pai Mei; a tale about a dangerous friendship; an unsuccessful assassination; a little known comedy; the never-ending troubles of a motorcycle club; the second instalment of another vampire and werewolf tale; a traditional horror picture; and a moving drama about a pseudo-father/son relationship. (more…)

The Expendables at workThese guys have been individually kicking ass with razing explosions igniting the scenes behind them for 30 years – give or take. Who better to unite three generations of action heroes on screen than the original punching bag, Sylvester Stallone.

They are the Expendables: leader and mastermind Barney Ross (Stallone), former SAS blade expert Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), hand-to-hand combat specialist Yin Yang (Jet Li), long barrel weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), demolitions expert Toll Road (Randy Couture), and precision sniper Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren).  Living life in the fringes of the law, these hardened, highly skilled mercenaries take on what appears to be a routine assignment: a covert, CIA-funded operation to infiltrate the South American country of Vilena and overthrow its ruthless dictator General Garza (David Zayas).  But when their job is revealed to be a suicide mission, the men are faced with a deadly choice – one that might redeem their souls or destroy their brotherhood forever.

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Clash of the Titans blu-rayClash of the Titans (Blu-ray and DVD combo pack)
In Clash of the Titans, the ultimate struggle for power pits men against kings and kings against gods, but the war between the gods themselves could destroy the world. Born of a god but raised as a man, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is helpless to save his family from Hades (Ralph Fiennes), vengeful god of the underworld. With nothing to lose, Perseus volunteers to lead a dangerous mission to defeat Hades before he can seize power from Zeus (Liam Neeson) and unleash hell on earth.

Special features include: maximum movie mode by Worthington, Neeson, Fiennes and director Louis Leterrier with picture-in-picture, enhanced scene breakdowns, enhanced visual effects breakdowns, on-the-spot vignettes and close-up views of the monsters; “Sam Worthington: an action hero for the ages”; additional scenes; an alternate ending; and digital copy. (Warner Home Video) (more…)

Chinese legends are some of the best subjects of storytelling because they are intriguing and, like a Shakespearean tale, often end in tragedy.

General Pang Qingyun (Jet Li) is the sole survivor of a bloody battle that saw him lose all the men he commanded during the Qing Dynasty. However, he finds a new lease on life when he joins a group of bandits and finds two men (Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro) who accept him as a blood brother. Together, with Pang’s military training, the trio move up the ranks becoming one of the most effective and eventually merciless Chinese armies. However, as Pang’s ambitions become more evident, his oath to his brothers comes into question.

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Chinese legends are some of the best subjects of storytelling because they are intriguing and, like a Shakespearean tale, often end in tragedy.

General Pang Qingyun (Jet Li) is the sole survivor of a bloody battle that saw him lose all the men he commanded during the Qing Dynasty. However, he finds a new lease on life when he joins a group of bandits and finds two men (Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro) who accept him as a blood brother. Together, with Pang’s military training, the trio move up the ranks becoming one of the most effective and eventually merciless Chinese armies. However, as Pang’s ambitions become more evident, his oath to his brothers comes into question.

This is definitely not your typical Dragon Dynasty-style film. The story is epic and the battles are equally affecting, but they do not consist of the now common elegant wire work. The fights occur on the battlefield at close range with swords and they are loud and bloody. Nonetheless, Li still orchestrates a couple of awe-inspiring sequences in a battle that is assumed to be lost, including the destruction of an entire row of canons single-handedly.

The story is intricate with many facets contributing to the narrative path, including politics, history, status, and one’s own search for power. For those entirely unfamiliar with the era and its protocol, the story may be somewhat difficult to follow at points though it should not pose too much of a problem. On the other hand, the love story stitched into the tale is unnecessary and takes away from the overall tale; it feels like the inclusion of a token female character that adds little to the plot.

Li delivers an excellent performance, as does Asian stars Lau and Kaneshiro. At just under two hours, The Warlords follows the typical pace of an epic Chinese picture, which is a rollercoaster of personal drama and bloody battles.

When Jet Li completed filming Fearless, he announced to the world it would be his last picture featuring traditional Chinese martial arts (wushu). He said this film shared with the audience everything he ever hoped to convey. “Everything I believe, the physical part, the mental part, I put everything in the film. That’s why I say this is my last wushu movie.” Its theatrical release in East Asia surpassed Hero, House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

However, the Western release was cut by 40 minutes, excising important moments of character development and story. The latest DVD release brings the director’s cut to North America.

Fearless is based on the life of real martial arts legend Huo Yuanjia (Li). He was the son of a great fighter (Collin Chou) that pushed him towards academics rather than the arena. Nonetheless, Yuanjia trains secretly and eventually becomes undefeated in the region of Tianjin. His success makes him arrogant and self-indulgent, which ultimately has tragic consequences. He then travels to Southeast Asia and finds humility among rice farmers and a young blind woman (Betty Sun). Yuanjia returns a changed man and opens the Jingwu Sports Federation, an honourable martial arts school. Gaining renewed success, Yuanjia also attracts the attention of the Foreign Chamber of Commerce, who machinates a Shanghai tournament pitting Yuanjia against four fighters, each representing the major foreign powers in China (Britain, Spain, Belgium and Japan). The story concludes with Yuanjia’s match against Japanese martial artist Tanaka (Shido Nakamura) – a formidable opponent.

The theatrical version of Fearless was followed by an unrated version of the film on DVD; however, the only significant variant was the realistic sound of bones crushing under the fighters’ blows. This director’s cut embraces the true essence of the film and defends Li’s decision and reasoning, as it restores the scenes of training and philosophy that were initially removed. In comparison, the edited version appears “Westernized” – presenting audiences with the type of Chinese film they are accustom to seeing. All three versions of the film are included in the two-disc release.

The renowned Yuen Wo-Ping choreographs the action. He expertly utilizes Li’s talents, particularly in the final tournament during which Li displays equal skill in traditional weaponry and hand-to-hand combat. On the other hand, the occasional use of wires and stylized editing appears inconsistent and superfluous.

Li’s abilities as a thespian are slightly strained in the beginning as the gregariousness of his character comes off noticeably unnatural (as opposed to his usual reserve in films). This problem is minimalized by director Ronny Yu’s utilization of a gifted supporting cast.

By the way: the school Yuanjia established is the same school Bruce Lee attended in the 1972 classic Fists of Fury and Li was a member of in the 1994 remake, Fist of Legend.