Author Topic: Johnnie To Marathon  (Read 5198 times)

worm@work

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Re: Johnnie To Marathon
« Reply #30 on: June 27, 2011, 01:10:45 PM »
Yeah, I feel kind of bad about making them all sound like torturous experiences because they really aren't that. It's kind of fun watching To and these actors before they totally came into their own sort of figuring things out. Almost like watching something made by my friends before I got to know them.

And every one of these movies has at least one set-piece that makes me smile and foreshadows the awesomeness of the set pieces from To's latter films. Even the melodramatic All About Ah-Long has an insane motorcycle grand prix sequence with a bunch of motorcycles crashing sequentially that made my jaw drop!

That being said, I am definitely eager to get to the better films. Apparently I have a remake of Coming to America coming up next ::).
« Last Edit: June 27, 2011, 01:28:18 PM by worm@work »

sdedalus

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Re: Johnnie To Marathon
« Reply #31 on: June 27, 2011, 01:19:27 PM »
HK directors seem to have an apprenticeship period that American directors haven't had since the studio era.  A time when they make a whole bunch of films in a variety of styles while they're learning the craft.  I imagine that Bollywood runs along similar lines.  Any nation with a strong studio system.

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worm@work

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Re: Johnnie To Marathon
« Reply #32 on: July 01, 2011, 08:44:11 AM »

Don't Go Breaking My Heart (Johnnie To & Wai Ka-Fai, 2011)

A fluffy romantic comedy that feels a little hastily slapped together in that it lacks the magic that I've come to expect from these two. It's a love triangle with two uber-talented and super-wealthy men vying for the affections of a girl who spends the entire film vacillating between the two.

The film has a sense of whimsy that's pretty charming. One of the romantic pairs communicate almost entirely across the window panes of glitzy office buildings using smiley faces made out of post-its and performing magic tricks for each other. To's attitude towards romance seems unchanged since the 80s in that yet again he tries to justify infidelity amongst men as natural and inevitable. As always, instead of seeming annoying, it's all just amusing and boyish.

I think the whole thing would be a lot more interesting if the girl seemed like someone worth fighting for. She's pretty alright but other than that, we learn nothing about her. The two guys otoh seem blessed with every trait a girl could wish for in a man (the little issue of one of them being a skirt-chaser notwithstanding). I also kept thinking how much better the film would have been if I could switch two of the leads with Faye Wong and Takeshi Kaneshiro instead.

Not a masterpiece or anything and I think I just prefer To's action films but it's still a fun rom-com. Plus, I almost forgot to mention that a frog gets it's own full-fledged story arc which is probably the most touching plot thread in the film.

worm@work

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Re: Johnnie To Marathon
« Reply #33 on: July 17, 2011, 06:06:12 PM »

The Fun, the Luck and the Tycoon (Johnnie To, 1989)

To teams up once again with Chow Yun-Fat and Sylvia Chang, this time for a remake of Coming to America. After the debacle that was All About Ah-Long, I was pretty worried going into this one. Like his other early comedies, this one is silly and contrived as well. But like those others, the cast pretty much sells the whole thing. Chow Yun-Fat just seems like he can't help but ooze charm no matter what he's doing. He even makes killing a rat seem like a fun time! Sylvia Chang's appeal is still lost on me but she doesn't have much to do here and it really doesn't mater.

Like all these other To films from the 80s, here again there's specific scenes that seem like signature To to me. An opening scene where CWF is practicing fencing while running down a circular staircase is pretty amazing. There's an odd romance sideplot involving a couple of kids who seem way too young to be involved in any such thing. It's weird and disconcerting but still ultimately funny (or maybe I just don't mind the inappropriateness).

Everyone gives it their all and maybe because I was in a pretty good mood to begin with, I enjoyed it all.

worm@work

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Re: Johnnie To Marathon
« Reply #34 on: July 31, 2011, 08:08:27 PM »

The Story of My Son (To, 1990)
Another one of To's early family drama remakes. This one has a chap in dire financial circumstances owing to his sick wife's hospital bills trying to take care of his two young sons. Things take a turn for the worse when he loses a bet at the races and ends up owing money to the mafia. The rest of the film focuses pretty much on the two kids trying to look out for each other and their father as one terrible circumstance after another befalls them.
The film is terribly melodramatic and rather disturbingly violent especially with the kind of things the little kids go through. But the two kids are adorable and I was completely invested in their well-being and teary-eyed by the end.

worm@work

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Re: Johnnie To Marathon
« Reply #35 on: November 06, 2011, 10:44:04 AM »

The Royal Scoundrel (Johnnie To, 1990)

Wow. This one makes those Hollywood remakes that I was so lukewarm on feel like masterpieces. At least those had some semblance of a plot that was at least mildly engaging. This one is just a complete mess.

We have Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (who is possibly my favorite actor of all time) and Ng Man-Tat playing bumbling buddy cops investigating something (it's never quite clear what exactly). Mostly they seem to be hiding inside a fake mailbox and reading other people's mail. Around the 1/3rd mark the plot starts to develop a little bit once Waise Lee makes an appearance as their young, dashing boss who has no patience for their ineptitude.

There's also the usual gratuitous violence, mistreatment of women and superfluous cute Asian kids.

Usually, these films are at least mildly endearing because everyone involved seems to be completely invested and having fun at the same time. Sadly, this one just feels completely phoned in.

Definitely the worst of the To films I've seen.