All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…
Come Drink with Me
Cheng Pei-pei plays Golden Swallow, a fighter-for-hire who has been contracted by the local government to retrieve the governor's kidnapped son. Holding him is a group of rebels who are demanding that their leader be released from prison in return for the captured son. After a brief encounter with the gang at a local restaurant, Golden Swallow is joined by an inebriated wanderer Drunken Cat (Yueh Hua) who aids her in her mission.
The action staging is to die for. The whole universe zings and hums in the long takes as they clank by in incendiary bursts. The feel of it is perfect: graceful slashes of motion, perfect pure flashes of cinema/music/poetry.
Golden Swallow is incredible. Not only does King Hu grant us a iron tough female warrior with a scowl that could peel the flesh off faces, but he grants us a small army of woman warriors. I find this so incredible. We've seen such a push for diverse representation in media in recent years, it's stunning and a bit of a cuff to the collective ear to beam Cheng Pei Pei from '66 into now. THIS.…
classic kung fu movies are a huge blind spot for me, so watching this was kind of like dorothy stepping into oz for the first time.
The best wuxia pic from King Hu. Those of you looking for blood won't be disappointed. This is one tough and ruthless film. But it also contains a certain kind of grace, thanks to Hu's mastery of spacial dynamics during the action sequences. Hu's said that he deliberately chose a ballet dancer (Cheng Pei Pei) for the lead role and it's easy to see why. Thankfully, Hu's doesn't undermine her skills with rapid-fire editing like a novice would. Many of the action shots are longer than what we've become accustomed to watching and contain much more beautifully choreographed movements. And unlike some of his other films such as Touch of Zen, Hu doesn't burden the narrative. Everything is crisp and there's no extra fat. A masterpiece!
I can't say it better than Claire did (where are you come back), but I would add my voice to hers (and so many others). It has what I want from action films (clear, graceful action), and it has what I want from films (beautiful visuals, bright scenery, long takes, dynamics). It has bags of style (look at how Sparrow and her companions dress, holy shit I am jealous). It feels epic despite being a normal length film (the classic 90ish minutes), because everything that happens has grandeur to it, drawn out in costumes, landscapes, and extended shots.
It's a simple tale but not a bad one; characters have their own stories and these weave into one tight little narrative.…
Another great wuxia flick from Hu. It seems pretty obvious to say that the best action directors are the ones that have a real sense of spatial dynamics, but it ought to be emphasised in Hu's case. It's noticeable, especially in the inn scenes towards the start, that he had 'deliberately chosen a ballet dancer for the lead female role', Cheng Pei-pei is brilliant, such bold yet graceful movements met with the rapid-fire editing cutting to and from faces and swords clashing in an almost ruthless dance of metal. Narratively, this hardly flows as smoothly as Touch of Zen but that has nearly three hours to sort everything out; this manages to set-up a story of politics, kidnapping, and Kung Fu in about half the time and does so pretty nicely too. One or two false endings make the real finale seem all the more claustrophobic and bloody, I mean, really bloody. Ruthless, indeed.
There's the ending, and then the ending after the ending. And then there's the ending after the ending that undermines the other two endings by trying to play the moral of the film both ways by espousing the rejection of bloody vengeance, but giving the audience the violent thrill anyway. This is the central theme of the era of the genre this film initiated: the conflict between the moral imperative for forgiveness and the just demand for revenge, oft-dramatized as a conflict between Confucian filial piety (respect for one's father/master/family demands vengeance on their behalf) and the Buddhist and Taoist belief in the cyclical nature of violence, that only by withdrawing from worldly concerns can the circle be broken. The moral and the bloody, the spiritual and the earthly, the desire to enlighten and the need to entertain.
Come Drink With Me is one of those films that is both prototypical and archetypal, and has great continuing interest for true fans of the genre, but one that will probably strike most casual viewers as somewhat boring and dated. So many films took elements of this one, and in some cases improved upon them, and worked out various production kinks, that this movie might initially seem like nothing special.
For example, while this film does feature many spectacularly staged fights, the producers hadn't yet developed the technique of inserting sound effects when blows connect, so to a modern audience, the blows don't come across as powerful, lacking that "wham!" sound. This is a subtle, but meaningful trick that has…
Dear Programmers of the East Coast*,
Can someone please put together a Demy-Hu retrospective? The two greatest colorists of their generation, who also happened to specialize in avant garde musicals! They deserve to be seen together, right? You already delivered something as suggestive, albeit tenuous, as a Rivette-Lynch festival. Surely y'all could work this out?
Hey, Film Center/Metrograph/MoMI/MoMA/Film Forum/BAM/whoever, you interested in guaranteed cash money? Mhm. Don't even play. Five words: Kiss Kiss Clang Clang, baby.
P.S. Sometimes I think that the tradition of handscroll painting in Chinese art gives their cinema an hopelessly unfair advantage, especially when it comes to kinetic stillness and multiple perspective/magic edits. (Enlarge and scroll to the crowded bridge; check out the deliberately…
A fun martial arts film from the Shaw Brothers.
A general's son is taken hostage and it's up to the legendary Golden Swallow to save him! She quickly tracks down the bandit gang responsible and with the help of a beggar named Drunken Cat, discovers they're hiding out at a local temple. But taking the general's son (Who also happens to be her brother!) back won't be easy without aid.
Fortunately, Drunken Cat is more than he seems...
I've seen my fair share of Shaw Brothers films. But this is the first flick I've seen by King Hu. I know of him by reputation. Janus films, after all, restored two of his bigger films earlier this year. But finally seeing one of his films, I'm blown away. It's clear…
The pacing is super weird and the fights are definitely a step down from where the Shaw Brothers would be in the next ten years, but still a ton of fun.
I never felt particularly engaged with story, despite King Hu's immaculate technique. The compositions and camera movements in this movie are so good that I almost feel bad for not liking it more.
Part of the Fantastic Fest series.
Dubbed in English.
Celebrated as a classic and a defining point in martial arts cinema, it's impossible to gauge the originality or freshness of the film when so many have borrowed its tropes. While I was eager to see a female leading role in a Hong Kong production from 1964, my expectations crumbled when Golden Swallow was relinquished to a side character upon the introduction of Drunken Cat, who gets a majority of the action sequences and backstory. In fact, the conclusion and climax of the film excludes Golden Swallow entirely. This was my introduction to wuxia as produced by Shaw Brothers Studios, having only seen their work in the Southeast Asian Black Magic…
This movie is an interesting first look at a genre I don't watch much, Martial Arts movies. More specifically in this case Chinese Martial Arts/Wushu. Chinese cinema as a whole is completely foreign to me(No pun intended). I have seen a few martial arts movies and can confidently say that this movie is lacking something that 'Lady Snow Blood' has. I think it just might be edge, not that every martial arts movie has to be as dark as a demon seeking revenge, but this movie was mostly fluff with the exception of an execution early in the film.
The action is for the most part fine and fun. I do think the weapons were flimsy and really seemed out…
Doesn't really work at all, but nonetheless ranks among the most head-pulverizingly strange films I've ever seen— one that might blossom once I figure out just what the hell is going on. Anyway, Hu is the real deal. Has me very excited for Dragon Inn, which is coming into town on Friday.
Also, expect a write up, but like not for a week or two.
Just a list of Asian films I've seen so far. As complete as I can remember them/have them logged on…
Movies with either a feminist message, feminist elements, or what I will call relative feminism, which is to say, given…