Author Topic: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts  (Read 294358 times)

Sam the Cinema Snob

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 23970
  • A Monkey with a Gun
    • Creative Criticism
Re: 1990s Far East Bracket - Verdicts
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2008, 08:03:26 AM »
Through some divine fluke of heaven or some off chance after making one of the most controversial choices in the U. S. Brackets I am allowed to enter the Far East. Or maybe it's just you want to distract me from offing even more beloved 90's American films. DIE INFIDEL FILMS! (Sorry for my Achmed the Dead Terrorist moment) Is the samster about to receive the scorn from filmspotters once again? Can he seek redemption? Or is he out once again to tear down a beloved film? But most importantly what the hell is Rainy Dog about anyway and does it even hold a pineapple candle to the beloved Chungking Express? Read on, if you dare…

Rainy Dog


So here you got your typical urban hitman film. Cold as ice hitman Yuuji taking to the streets of Taipei shooting up some bad, and not so bad dudes all in the name of some cold cash so he can have a glamorous life of snorting drugs in some dump apartment and hit up some prostitutes in backwater building. So Nick Cage he ain't but at least he's tough as nails.

Then we get the twist (because every hitman movie is naked without one). Some old girlfriend drops some baggage from their relationship in the form of a young dumb boy. And from that point on it all goes down predictable lane. I don't think I'm spoiling anything (and even if I am this is the spoilers thread) when I say he eventually warms up to the boy in the end…aww, Disney ending! Lame, lame, lame, lame, LAME!

However, it takes a couple of twists and goes into some really dark places. First of all until the end Yuuji treats the boy like a dog. He leaves him out in the rain while he's snorting drugs and banging a prostitute. He even performs assassinations in front of the kid (which is whacked, but also morbidly funny in my demented mind).

But as dark as this film is it is also ridiculously silly. One early scene has a cop chasing Yuuji peeing of the roof while holding his *ahem* accessory and swiveling his hips. And it's not like for a few seconds but a whole half minute. Furthermore, it censors his naughty bit with what looks like crayon drawn on the negative…no I'm not joking. The punching sound effects sound cartoonish, except even Saturday morning cartoons have better sound effects and the climax as well strikes me as hilariously contrived and goofy.

All I can really say good about the film is that it's got some strong cinematography and the lead performer is great at looking really, really macho.

In the end this strikes me as a very pedestrian film. It's cliché, average, run of the mill, all those good words and catchphrases. Yet it's actually worse because it's just a really unpleasant experience overall. The action scenes even aren't that good, it’s ridiculously goofy (in a bad way) and fails to really do anything you weren’t expecting the moment the movie started.

VS.

Chungking Express


If I could put into words why I liked--no loved--this film I might consider myself a decent writer. Director Wong's Kar Wai’s off beat story about two unlikely couples that meet speaks of the deeper effects of loneness and isolation. Yet while it sound like the thematic premise of every Krystoz Kieslowski film ever made it's more light-hearted in approach.
Chungking Express kicks plot off at the first bus stop, creating a more idyllic and meandering sense of pace (like a Malick Film (shameless Malick plug, I know), but without all the trees :( ). And you know what, it works! From scene one I was in this film for the long haul. Never did my interest fall off or wane.

What this film lacks in plot it makes over twofold with interesting characters. Granted they aren't particularly deep or fully developed, in fact they are rather shallow at times, but they are interesting. The investigator was probably my favorite as he attempted to find a girl, any girl, to go out with (as long as they have long hair). And the pineapples. Probably my favorite scene is when he offers the homeless lady the expired can. Just brilliant. Then he meets this mysterious American chick in a bar who just had a bunch of drug runners (ironically) run out on her with all her dope. He tries to strike up a conversation with her but she sees intent on not speaking. The air of mystery and the sense of fem fatal oozes from every part of her trench coat covered body. And then he gets her to a hotel…where nothing happens.

Cut to…the girl working the food stand. She secretly falls for a police officer who is pretty much oblivious to her existence. He's too caught up in the girl he just lost and for the most part just wishes to be left alone. Bit by bit she forces herself into his awareness. She begins creepily and humorously sneaking into his apartment and redecorating. And in typical male fashion he doesn't notice a single thing, although he goes on having hilariously funny conversations with his bar of soap, dish rag and giant stuffed animal. I'll say that I enjoyed the first half much more but I still really liked this section as well.

If I've got a criticism it's that Wong Kar Wai doesn't seem to realize that there are more than two American songs as he keeps playing them over and over and over and over again. If you have even a slight dislike of "What a Difference a Day Makes" or "California Dreamin'" you should probably not watch this film. I mean once is good, twice, maybe, but by the fifth time we hear "California Dreamin'" it gets stale. But it’s a minor complaint. If it was "La Vie en Rose" and "Hotel California" I wouldn't be complaining at all. But as it stands it's a minor complaint and didn’t taint the experience for me at all. I imagine that soundtrack labels were more up in arms about it (What! Only 6 songs! How can we sell a soundtrack with 6 tracks!? ).

Verdict

If you just skipped down to the verdict you are probably biting your nails in nervous anticipation. Shame on you, I had to write this crappy thing so you better read it. :P If you read it all ignore this. And if you haven’t don’t worry.

So I gotta say I’m gonna go with Rainy D—yea right! Seriously, did anyone think I wouldn’t be picking Chungking Express to move on? And has anyone even seen Rainy Dog? So there you go. Chungking keeps chugging along while Rainy Dog gets left out in the cold.

smirnoff

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 24105
    • smirnoff's Top 100
Re: 1990s Far East Bracket - Verdicts
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2008, 09:05:54 AM »
Great write up worm!  I can't say on whether you made the right choice, but you made me want to see both of them. 
Yes, great reviews worm. I too look forward to seeing these. Mahjong sounds particularly worthwhile. Perhaps I'll wait until I watch both CC and Mahjong before I get to Yi Yi.

Thor

  • Godfather
  • ******
  • Posts: 6536
    • KTQ
Re: 1990s Far East Bracket - Verdicts
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2008, 09:08:43 AM »
Hotel California?! I hate the -ing Eagles, man!

But nice write-up. You reminded that I have actually seen Rainy Dog and completely forgotten about its existence until now. Which means you must have done the right thing putting Chungking Express through. But then, you knew that already.
Wanting for Thor what Thor wants for Thor.

worm@work

  • Godfather
  • ******
  • Posts: 7504
Re: 1990s Far East Bracket - Verdicts
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2008, 09:21:42 AM »
Thanks ses & smirnoff :D. Yi Yi is one of my favorite films and while these are both really great films, I think Yi Yi may be a great place to start if you haven't watched anything by him already.


smirnoff

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 24105
    • smirnoff's Top 100
Re: 1990s Far East Bracket - Verdicts
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2008, 09:22:25 AM »
I'm happy to see Chung-king move on. Anything can happen in these brackets.

Sam it's funny, what I liked most about Chungking was the second half and the repetitive use of California Dreamin' yet we both seem to like the this film a great deal. Something for everyone I guess. I was pretty cold on the first half by comparison.

worm@work

  • Godfather
  • ******
  • Posts: 7504
Re: 1990s Far East Bracket - Verdicts
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2008, 09:26:54 AM »
And how cool is this bracket! It's already got 2 Yangs, 2 Wais, 1 John Woo and 1 Miike film and we have barely even begun  ;D.

Nice writeups sam and  somehow I don't mind the repetition of California Dreamin (this repetitive use of a popular American song seems to be a trend in more than one of my favorite Asian films). I used to think the second half of Chungking is my favorite (no Tony Leung vs. with Tony Leung is an easy choice) but after several viewings, I now really love the first part a lot too.

jbissell

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 10876
  • What's up, hot dog?
Re: 1990s Far East Bracket - Verdicts
« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2008, 10:54:20 AM »
Hotel California?! I hate the -ing Eagles, man!

Yeah, I've certainly heard that song about 500 times more than I would've liked.

As far as the repetitive songs go, Dennis Brown's "Things in Life" is GREAT (that's the reggae-ish song that often plays in the bar).

Glad you enjoyed it, I think it's about time I watched it again.

edgar00

  • 00 Agent
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *
  • Posts: 12131
  • corndogs are better than Die Another Day
    • Between The Seats
Re: 1990s Far East Bracket - Verdicts
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2008, 11:19:20 AM »
The California Dreaming song didn't bother me so much in Chungking Express. Wong's character is sort of off beat most of the times, so she's entitled to her own particularities.
-Le Chiffre: You changed your shirt, Mr Bond. I hope our little game isn't causing you to perspire.

-James Bond: A little. But I won't consider myself to be in trouble until I start weeping blood.

https://twitter.com/Betweentheseats
http://crabkeyheadquarters.wordpress.com/

1SO

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 29450
  • Marathon Man
Re: 1990s Far East Bracket - Verdicts
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2008, 11:22:33 AM »
Rainy Dog VS. Chungking Express

Great write up even if it's kind of obvious which film's gonna win.  I will say that I liked Rainy Dog, but I think it's because I see the really great film that it could become.  You were very focused on the plot which is agreeably pedestrian, but I think the potential of the film lies in its mood and the mindset of the lead character, who I think is a very interesting version of the lonely hitman.  I think if you drop some of the quirky Miike-ness and deepen the characters it could be a much better film.

Colleen

  • Hot Fuzz
  • Godfather
  • *
  • Posts: 5907
  • Let's be careful out there!
Re: 1990s Far East Bracket - Verdicts
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2008, 11:26:51 AM »
Love all the writeups so far.  Several movies added to my "wanna see" list and not just the ones that got passed onto the next round.