Round Four Resurrection ReviewsWing Chun
(Yuen Woo-Ping, 1994)Won over Beat (verdict by Melvil)Won over Kagerô (verdict by smirnoff)Won over Supercop (verdict by Jared)Lost to Pickpocket (verdict by PeacefulAnarchy)
Only 15% of the films in this bracket have one-word titles, but Wing Chun
faced four of them. Sadly, that's just about the most substantive thing I have to say about this movie, having lost the review I wrote a month ago. I can say that I enjoyed the film, albeit with reservations. The set-pieces are decently fun but the interstitial shenanigans are lackluster and occasionally frustrating. The film peaked early ("If you can smash this piece of tofu, you win") and late ("If you can extract the spear in three moves, I'll let them go"), with the second act mostly making me want to watch Fong sai yuk
or its sequel again. Wing Chun
is a decent time at the movies, largely thanks to Michelle Yeoh — and in spite of the fact that there's nothing at all mannish about her (to echo a common complaint in the verdicts).
(John Woo, 1992)Won over The Mission (verdict by mañana)Won over White Badge (verdict by michael x)Won over Too Many Ways to Be No. 1 (verdict by BlueVoid)Lost to After the Rain (verdict by smirnoff)
Man oh man. There are so many good moments but it's all ultimately so stupid. matt didn't bother to recap the plot in round one, thinking that everyone had seen this already. I hadn't, and my response
from then makes me chuckle now: "I have no idea what it's about. My guess is it has something do with guys flying in slow motion through the air firing sideways guns in both hands." I was more right than I knew. What's the point of the undercover story? The key info on the triad comes from a completely different character, so all the bloodshed related to the undercover operation seems pointless. And what's the point of the bad guys killing all the hospital patients? A hostage situation never materializes, so it's just cruelty for its own sake. All the death seems irrelevant, so long as it's not that of a main character or one of the damn babies in Labor and Delivery. Frustrating. It's also one of those films where bullets fired at extras always hit their marks but it takes two thousand shots to hit a principal. Fat and Leung are cool, though, and there is plenty of sporadic awesomeness, highlighted by the long take through two floors of the hospital. A dramatic surprise happens there, and it's one that all the senseless mayhem had me rooting for ahead of time. It was extra gratifying that the granting of my wish precipitated such a cool shot. Everything involving Mad Dog is also highlight (except his exit; and his out-of-character disappearance from the first showdown between Fat and Leung), along with all the randomly cool shots, like the blood on a floured face near the start of the film. But there is an equal number of dumb things, like electrocuting yourself on a million-in-one chance it'll open a locked door; or using cables to swing down safely from an exploding building, even though the cables remain slack the whole way down and do nothing to lessen the impact of the fall (that job falls to invisible wire work). The editing annoyed me in the first act — I entertained myself by counting off "one one thousand, two one thousand, three--" and laughed at how consistently the cut came on that same beat. But the editing in the last fifteen minutes comes much closer to the "masterful" art I was told to anticipate. I expected to like this way more than Bullet in the Head
, but they're actually very close for me. Glad to have now seen both, though.
(Nakata Hideo, 1998)Won over Fudoh: The New Generation (verdict by Clovis8)Won over License to Live (verdict by Bondo)Won over Maborosi (verdict by BlueVoid)Lost to Cure (verdict by ProperCharlie)
It's rare to see a script this bad result in a film that's so close to being good. Ringu
might set the modern-day record for expository dialogue in a horror film. The show-don't-tell moments are no better, relying as they sometimes do on the protagonist's ex-husband randomly demonstrating psychic abilities (what?!). The real horror here is VHS technology and all the standard definition televisions. Terrifying. If the girl behind the cursed videotape had been a better seer, she would have damned a DVD instead. The whole premise teeters on the brink of silliness throughout, but there are enough nice, atmospheric touches to almost sell it all. The examination of the tape was a missed opportunity for a longer sequence in the style of Blowup
, but I was always happy when images from the video reasserted themselves in the visuals. I liked the end, too, even though it's only earned by the script's title page and not the hundred subsequent pages. The photography certainly helps, too, and I hope the kid is in one of the sequels, because he's maybe the best part of this movie. Innocent victimhood has never been so creepy.
(Takahata Isao, 1994)Won over Tenchi: The Movie (verdict by FLYmeatwad)Won over Talking Head (verdict by Beavermoose)Won over Dang Bireley and the Young Gangsters (verdict by Jared)Lost to Perfect Blue (verdict by BlueVoid)
I wanted the screenshot above to be the gathering-of-forest-creatures moment that struck me as a deliberate reference to Bambi
, but I couldn't quickly find it again when scanning back through the DVD. I went with this other image instead because I think Pom Poko
appealed to me the most when it operated at the ends of the realism spectrum — either going for a wholly natural representation of raccoons, as above, or venturing into the surreal, like in the wonderful parade of goblins. I was reminded quite often of Spring and Chaos
, a film I liked but failed to resurrect after round one; but also of a pothead's fan edit of The Gummi Bears
(though the male-to-female ratio of the raccoons is more in line with The Smurfs
). There's a lot of wonderful animation in Pom Poko
, but it's all at the mercy of a really muddled script with a distracting obsession with testicles (what?!). The reliance on a narrator is very distancing, and the absence of a clear protagonist becomes a barrier to engagement. The terrorist killing of humans made me uncomfortable, from an ethical standpoint, and the limits of the raccoon's shape-shifting powers confused me, from a logic standpoint. (I wonder if "shape-shifting" is poor translation, because the powers seem to extend well beyond that.) I love the imagination on display here, and I agree with the previous verdicts that the various animation styles applied to the raccoons in different contexts is a major highlight, but the two-hour running time felt a lot closer to three. If I watch Pom Poko
again, it'll be projected onto a wall with no sound at someone's drunken rooftop party. That'd be the ideal way to view the film, I think.
(Miike Takashi, 1999)Won over Yellow Fangs (verdict by Bill Thompson)Won over Don't Cry, Nanking (verdict by BlueVoid)Won over Charisma (verdict by Beavermoose)Lost to Rice People (verdict by Teproc)
I'd seen this before, but almost all I remembered about it was that it was a Kurosawa Kiyoshi film starring Yakusho Kôji — neither of which is true. There are enough similarities here that I can understand my confusion. The textures of Audition
's first half aren't quite at Kurosawa's level, though, and a few scenes show flashes of the occasional imprecision that I've come to expect from Miike. But it's still a exquisitely paced slow-burn thriller that masquerades at times as a possible romantic comedy — right until the first shot of girl waiting by her phone, which is one of the great shots of this bracket. The film peaks at that point, for me. Things get less interesting as the thriller takes full hold, occasionally in cartoonish fashion, and with a muddled mix of dream, memory, and fantasy. The final sequence rights the ship, thanks to Miike's patient direction and the Shiina Eihi's terrific, gleeful performance. Audition
definitely would have been resurrected after the third round. I suspect it'll fall just short this time around, but we'll see.Resurrection Standings (the top three films will earn resurrection)
- Hard Boiled
- Wing Chun
- Pom Poko
Up next: To Live