Author Topic: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts  (Read 292437 times)

Bondo

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2070 on: May 30, 2016, 07:08:35 AM »
But Peppermint Candy did leave me puzzled. :o

pixote

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2071 on: May 30, 2016, 02:19:44 PM »
Round Three Resurrection Review


Supercop (Stanley Tong, 1992)
Won over The Blade (verdict by smirnoff)
Won over All's Well, Ends Well (verdict by maana)
Lost to Wing Chun (verdict by Jared)

Supercop (ne Police Story 3) is reportedly the first Hong Kong action film shot with synchronized sound ... so of course I watched an English-dubbed version. Sigh. That same version (the one streaming on Netflix) is also missing a few scenes from the original Hong Kong release. I wonder how many years away we are (if at all) from being able to go onto a service like Amazon Video and being able to choose between the various releases of a film like this. It's so frustrating that we're not there yet. I naively thought, after the VHS era, that the days of struggling with pan-and-scan-like modifications to movies were nearing an end. Silly me.

As for the movie itself, it's more or less what you'd expect, really: some good action, amazing (and nerve-wracking) stunt work, and scattered humorous moments all serving a very silly story. This plot involves pretty much the worse undercover operation ever annoyingly so. In the first half, Jackie Chan's biggest antagonists are other cops. The plot is repeatedly driven by an apparent lack of communication between laws enforcement agencies. These circumstances can all be rationalized away, but really it comes down to lazy and indifferent screenwriting. The bad guys' plan in the second half is equally as silly. Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh make for really appealing leads here, and Maggie Cheung brightens up her brief scenes. I agree with smirnoff that Supercop is better than The Blade (I haven't seen the other two films it faced), but if I had a choice between watching Supercop or a full-length behind-the-scenes documentary on its production, I'd choose the latter.


Resurrection Standings (the top six films may earn resurrection)

Up next: Charisma.

pixote
« Last Edit: May 30, 2016, 02:33:35 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

DarkeningHumour

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2072 on: May 30, 2016, 08:20:59 PM »
I am not sure I understand. All these recently viewed movies are being resurrected ? Some of the reviews are mostly negative.
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Bondo

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2073 on: May 30, 2016, 08:46:02 PM »
Pixote will watch many, save few. He is our authoritarian leader.

DarkeningHumour

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2074 on: May 30, 2016, 08:47:17 PM »
Praise pixote, the Non-Capitalised One.
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Jared

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2075 on: May 31, 2016, 11:17:49 AM »
Eager to see where Raise the Red Lantern falls in these resurrection standings. It's easily my favorite eliminated movie in the whole bracket.

smirnoff

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2076 on: June 01, 2016, 11:33:54 PM »
*cringes*

I think that was me that booted out Raise the Red Lantern.

*checks*



Damn... I really liked it too. I hope it claws its way back in!



These resurrection reviews make me all weepy and nostalgic.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2016, 11:38:04 PM by smirnoff »

smirnoff

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2077 on: June 04, 2016, 12:17:51 AM »

Shanghai Triad
(Zhang Yimou, 1995)
Round 1 review by Colleen
Round 2 review by Beavermooose

                    VS                   

Sleeping Man
(Khei Oguri, 1996)
Round 1 review by Edgar
Round 2 review by Bondo




Shanghai Triad

Oh god, it's another child protagonist! I should steer clear of these movies next round. They're either awkward perverts or witless knobs. This time it's a witless knob.

I was disengaging from this one pretty quickly. Unlike all of Zhang Yimou's dramas I've seen up till now, this one was absent a character I felt compelled to root for. And it's an ugly looking film too, by this director's standards. I didn't dig into it very deeply... I didn't see much I wanted to explore. A shrill cabaret singer who's on the arm of an aging gangster. Some lady and her daughter on a podunk island. And an annoying kid who's caught in the middle of it all, wide-eyed, and seemingly without a will of his own. I think they just mounted him on a tripod and pointed him at the other actors.



Sleeping Man

Do you recall the scene in Amadeus when the Emperor makes a surprise appearance at the rehearsal for Mozarts upcoming opera? A hush falls over the entire theater. It's a completely unprecedented occurrence! As chance would have it, his arrival just happens to coincide with a part of the opera which contains ballet. Except there is no music accompanying the dancers on stage. What he witnesses is a bunch of performers leaping up and down and spinning all around... in silence.



Of course what he comes to understand is that it's his own regulations which forbid ballet being performed in operas. Thus the ochestra sits idle, while the dancers dance.

Now I think you have to give the emperor credit in this scene... he doesn't camouflage his confusion, which is so often the way with supreme rulers. He is quite humble. Willing to accept what he sees as a potentially new form of something old. It isn't, of course, it's just the consequence of censorship, but he didn't know that. Eventually, after he comes to understand the reason for this strange performance, and finding it not at all to his liking (in it's current form), he requests to see the scene with the music back in.

"But sire!", protests the perpetually perturbed prude over his left shoulder.
"Oblige me", demands the emperor.

And all is set right.

What I think is interesting to consider is how history might have changed had the emperor happened to enjoy what he had seen. A new trend may have been sparked! Mozart and Sallieri may both have found themselves suddenly out of favour, as everyone, looking to show off their emperor-like taste in art, flocked to the silent ballet! Don Giovanni? More like Gone Giovanni.

So it is with a touch of empathy that I admit, when I first sat down with Sleeping Man it had me looking around a bit. I turned to Bondo and Edgar's reviews hoping they could answer my question.



No... it's not modern you silly man. It's 90's Japanese drama!

I'm being a bit hyperbolic when I say that of course, but it does seem that the tendency of Japanese filmmakers of that era (and perhaps other eras I don't know about) was to favour static cameras and little to no scoring. If there's a one word to describe the effect this creates, for me it would be bleak. What a cold and lonely place Japan so often looks in these films.



And it's not just in the way the camera stays put that creates this feeling, it's how far away they put it. It is quite typical for an entire scene of dialogue (like the one above) to occur while the camera is far, far away, and the characters are specs in the frame. I cannot see their eyes, or the expressions on their faces. What's happening over there?

This style of filmmaking, and how often it comes up in such a small sample of movies, makes me wonder if it was appealing, in a larger way, to the Japanese experience during that decade. Or was is just another trend sweeping through an art form which has seen many such trends come and go. Where did it originate I wonder.

It is not a style that resonates much with me. It could be said it does everything in the opposite way to what I enjoy. It keeps you at a distance... I like to be engaged and involved. It keeps music out of most scenes... I like the atmosphere a score can create. It is content to be still, I find stillness to that extent distracting.

That said, it is, as far as I can recall, one of the more enjoyable experiences with Japanese bleakism I've had in this bracket. Enjoyable in this context means I finished it in one sitting. It means I didn't become so bored by the end I hated the film for wasting my time. It means I was genuinely impressed with a small handful of shots. That's what I mean when I say enjoyable here, just to be clear.

But at the end of the day I wish I could have been like the Emperor and simply said, "oblige me".



Sleeping Man wins! Boo.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2016, 02:01:10 AM by smirnoff »

BlueVoid

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2078 on: June 04, 2016, 12:58:02 AM »
Great writeup smirnoff! Too bad you didn't enjoy them more. Funny you should mention the far off static shot. It features prominently in one of my pairings as well.
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smirnoff

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2079 on: June 04, 2016, 10:05:17 PM »
Thanks BV. Does the far off static shot work for you in your film? As a technique, used here and there, I can get behind it. Sometimes for the context of the scene it makes perfect sense. R2D2 & C3P0 marooned in the desert and bickering, for instance... it communicates their situation very efficiently. But even then it's what, a 5 or 10 second shot? It doesn't need to be any longer to get the point across. To try and sustain a scene of dialogue with the same unmoving frame for 2 minutes, maybe more... you're asking a lot of your audience.