Hong Kong

Yue Lu – Zhao xiansheng AKA Mr. Zhao (1998)

From the Chicago Reader
A watershed in the history of Chinese cinema, this first feature (1998) directed by Lu Yue–the remarkable cinematographer of Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl and several recent features of Zhang Yimou, including Shanghai Triad–is an eye-opening comedy about adultery in contemporary Shanghai. Much of the dialogue is improvised by the talented actors–Shi Jingming as the husband, a professor of traditional Chinese medicine; Zhang Zhihua as his factory-worker wife; and Chen Yinan as his mistress and former student–and both the shooting style and the emotional directness of the performances suggest the filmmaking of John Cassavetes. Read More »

Kar-Wai Wong – Dung che sai duk AKA Ashes of Time Redux (1994)

Two years after forming his own production company, Jet Tone, Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai released ASHES OF TIME, a martial-arts epic based on THE EAGLE-SHOOTING HEROES, a series of novels by Louis Cha writing under the pseudonym Jin Yong. The film was set in jianghu, an imaginary world with its own views of good and evil. In 2008, unhappy with the many alternate versions of ASHES OF TIME available, Wong reedited and restored the film, working with the original negative and soundtrack, which were in severe disrepair. The new version, called ASHES OF TIME REDUX, which screened at such prestigious international gatherings as the Cannes, Toronto, and New York Film Festivals, is a breathtaking example of Wong’s masterly storytelling technique, combined with the stunning cinematography of Christopher Doyle and gorgeous new cello solos recorded by Yo-Yo Ma. Read More »

Herman Yau – Zhong Huan ying xiong AKA Don’t Fool Me (1991)

Plot / Synopsis
Two friends, Hero Hwa and Chiang Ho-Chie star are two old friends who meet up in later life. Hwa is a triad gang member and Ho-Chie is an insurance salesman, Hero is looking for a career change and Ho-Chie has become disillusioned with life after discovering he has a “bubble” in his brain that could burst at any time killing him. The two decide to switch lives for a bit with the Triad going respectable and the Insurance Salesman taking on the world of the Triads. Read More »

Wei Lo – Bing tian xia nu AKA Vengeance of a Snowgirl (1971)

Synopsis:
The head-slicing Snow Maid heroine is enraged after she learns that her mother has been raped by a gang of thugs. The vengeful woman picks up her sword and seeks out the notorious Golden Hair Mouse for high-flying, hard-hitting revenge. Read More »

Kar-Wai Wong – Hua yang de nian hua (2000)

HUA YANG DE NIAN HUA, a fascinating 2m 28s montage of images Wong kar-wai pulled from a number of vintage Chinese features, most of which were considered lost until some nitrate prints were discovered in a California warehouse during the 1990s. Focusing on the popular actresses of the time, the short’s lovely vintage costumes and imagery perfectly compliment the look and feel of the main feature. Unfortunately, the transfer (provided to Criterion by Wong’s company, Block 2 Pictures) is framed too tightly on top, bisecting a number of heads. Read More »

Ann Hui – Ji dao zhui zong AKA Zodiac Killers (1991)

PLOT SUMMARY
A group of idealistic Chinese students move into Toyko’s Shinjuku district to attend school in a more relaxed, less competitive setting. However, they soon find themselves inextricably embroiled in the Yakuza underworld with little hope of survival. Read More »

Yuen Chor – Chat sup yee ga fong hak AKA The House of 72 Tenants [+Extras] (1973)

Synopsis:
A group of people are crowded together in a crappy tenement slum. The place is ruled with an iron fist by its strict landlady, who along with her sleazy husband, tries to exploit their tenants in whatever way they see fit. Read More »