Sunday, February 19, 2012

My favorite films of 2011

Each year I am later than I want to be in posting a top ten films of the year. Partly because I still haven't seen most of the films released in 2011 that I want to see. This year I picked 9 films and then a list of films that I am still waiting to see.

1. The Yellow Sea (Na Hong-Jin, South Korea)
The story of a North Korean man living in China who is sent to South Korea to assassinate a South Korean gangster. Lots of twists and plans being shot to hell. Good stunt and chases, the director's first film was The Chaser. Saw this at the Alamo under the title "The Yellow Sea" but it is listed on netflix as "The Murderer"

2. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, USA)
I didn't think that the director of the Pusher trilogy would make a better crime film, but he did.

3. Reign Of Assassins (Su Chao-Bin, China)
John Woo produced this martial arts film. Michelle Yeoh finally has made a good action film since breaking out in the West with Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. No US release scheduled.

4.The Unjust (Ryoo Seung-Wan. South Korea)
Cops and prosecutors search for a child murder. From the director of City Of Violence. Much more of a police procedural than an action film. If you liked Memories of Murder you'll probably like this. On Netflix streaming.

5. Wu Xia (Peter Chan, Hong Kong)
Donnie Yen and Takeshi Kaneshiro star in this period martial arts film with a touch of the CSI police series thrown in. Not action packed but the fight scenes are really good. Might get a US release this year but I wouldn't hold my breath.

6. 13 Assassins (Takeshi Miike, Japan)
Samurai action. On netflix streaming.

7. Haunters aka Psychic (Kim Min-Suk, South Korea)
One of the problems I have with most superhero films is that the villain never figures out how to use his powers that well. Most of the time the villain is bigger, stronger and faster and yet he will still loose to the hero because of poor script writing. Haunters is the story of a crippled villain who is able to freeze time and people. On one of his thefts he encounters someone who is able to resist the time freeze and from that point they are mortal enemies. Might get released as The Psychic.

8. I Saw The Devil (Kim Ji-Woon, South Korea)
Kim Ji Woon, Bong Joon-Ho, and Park Chan Wook battle it off in my mind as to who I think is the best Korean director. Kim Ji Woon is currently at the top as every movie he has made is completely different from the rest. I Saw The Devil is his revenge film and it pushes the limits (the Korean film ratings board asked for 7 cuts to the film). Kim's next film is Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback film "The Last Stand".

9. Man From Nowhere (Lee Jeong-Beom, South Korea)
Yet another South Korean crime film. Ex special agent tracking down a gang that specializes in children's organ trafficking.

Movies that I've yet to see from 2011. Ra.One, Punished, Don't Go Breaking My Heart, Flying Swords Of Dragon Inn, The Great Magician, Life Without Principle, Overheard 2.

Thanks for reading and watching the trailers.

Wheels On Meals (Hong Kong, 1984)

Sammo Hung directs himself, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao in Barcelona set martial arts comedy. The first hour has some short action scenes and some stunts that definitely hurt the performers, but the last 45 minutes of the film is one chase after another with lots of fights. The highlight is the final fight between Benny "The Jet" Urquidez. Features some good car stunt work. The netflix streaming has easy to read subtitles.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars (Hong Kong, 1985)

In the 1980's there were a series of Hong Kong movies with "Lucky Stars" in the title. They featured a core group of actors, Sammo Hung, Eric Tsang, Richard Ng, Michael Miu, and Stanley Fung. They would get up to Stooges level of slapstick hi-jinks with some painful physical comedy stunts fight over pretty girls. If your not a fan of over the top Hong Kong comedy the Lucky Stars movies can be hard to watch. Fortunately this one is packed to the gills with guest stars and tons of action, courtesy of director Sammo Hung and his stunt team. also lists Yuen Biao, Lam Ching Ying, Chin Kar Lok and Yuen Wah as co-action choreographers. Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao and Andy Lau show up frequently as cops after a group of assassins led by Richard Norton, Yatsura Kurata and Chung Faat. The action is more than enough to make me recommend the film. It is on netflix streaming. Here is part of the final fight sequence.

Sunday, February 12, 2012 's top films of the 80's

One of my favorite Hong Kong film sites is having a reader's poll of the top films of the 1980's, which was the heyday of Hong Kong cinema. There were tons of great movies released and it was tough to put together a top 20. On any given day I would probably change the order of these films, but they are all great movies and highly recommended.
1. The Killer
2. God Of Gamblers
3. Dragons Forever
4. Eastern Condors
5. Chinese Ghost Story
6. Peking Opera Blues
7. Police Story
8. Duel To The Death
9. Project A
10. A Better Tomorrow 3
11. A Better Tomorrow
12. Prodigal Son
13. Mr Vampire
14. Pedicab Driver
15. Iceman Cometh
16. Long Arm Of The Law 3
17. Long Arm Of The Law
18. City On Fire
19. We Are Going To Eat You
20. Tiger On Beat.

You can vote for your choices at

Another short film by Park Chan Wook

Here is another short film by Park Chan Wook called "If You Were Me (NEPAL)". It is the true story of a Nepalese woman who was locked up in a Korean insane asylum because nobody could understand her. She was there for 6 years before they found someone who could speak Nepalese.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Odd shark movies

I thought that the trailer for Two Headed Shark would be the weirdest shark movie I discovered today. But Gyo PV is an anime about farting cyborg sharks attacking people on land. Originally seen on

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Park Chan Wook's iphone film

In 2010 Park Chan Wook shot a 30 minute film using 8 iphones as the only cameras. He had a professional crew and so the film looks great. There are no subtitles but basically the movie breaks down to two stories. The first is about a fisherman who hooks a fish that turns out to be a woman. Then it switches to the fish/woman at a funeral for the fisherman.

iPhone Film Festival - Paranmanjang from iPhone Film Festival on Vimeo.