• Song of the Assassins

    Song of the Assassins


    Code of the Assassins was originally released in China last summer with the English title Song of the Assassins, but now WellGo has renamed it and brought it to the US, streaming and on disc. The title change doesn’t seem to make much of a difference: there isn’t really a Code in the film, nor is there a Song. But there are a lot of Assassins.

    Review at The Chinese Cinema.

  • Seven to One

    Seven to One


    Apparently the opening of the movie, presumably with a title and credit sequence and some bit of exposition, was lost, or at least not part of the print they used for this scan. It doesn’t really matter though: in fact, the inexplicability of it lends the film an avant-garde feel: this isn’t a movie about a plot (though eventually it will have one), it is, first and foremost, a movie about what it looks like when one person fights a group of people.

    Reviewed along with The Shaolin Invincibles for subscribers only at The Chinese Cinema.

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  • Shaolin Invincibles

    Shaolin Invincibles


    The Shaolin Invincibles opens with a lengthy expository title card, white text on red background, explaining the history behind the film’s plot. During the Qing Dynasty, Prince Yung Cheng makes himself Emperor. He’s cruel and punishes any opponents. The Imperial Examiner is “accused of blaspheming the Emperor for using words similar to the Emperor's name in the examination topic” (sic). The Emperor has the Examiner killed, along with his family, all his acquaintances, and their families as well. But a…

  • In the Line of Duty 4

    In the Line of Duty 4


    We’ve got Cynthia Khan and Donnie Yen tracking down international drug dealers in Rain City. Khan is there as a liaison for the Hong Kong police. Donnie is a “Seattle” cop. They’re staking out the port where a deal is about to go down, but get sidetracked by Yuen Yat-chor, a regular guy dock-worker who witnesses the murder of one of the cops on the team, but gets suspected of the crime himself because Donnie is too badass to stop…

  • In the Line of Duty 3

    In the Line of Duty 3


    The film begins with a cold open, where Khan is condescendingly being shown the ropes by a more experienced uniformed cop. She tickets a rich guy for illegal parking, and barely abides his insults. Then she has a thief run right into her and she beats up the crook in a spectacular bout of crowd-pleasing action. Before she can do that though, she has to rip a slit in her inefficiently-designed skirt. This wardrobe alteration allows her to run and…

  • John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

    John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum


    Much more variety in the choreography makes a huge difference, especially as the story gets lost in its own mythology. Mark Dacascos and Halle Berry’s dogs the co-MVPs.

  • John Wick: Chapter 2

    John Wick: Chapter 2


    Admirably expands what had been a fairly tight pseudo-DTV action movie into something like a nastier James Bond and then again into a modern version of a Louis Cha jianghu (complete with an actual beggar clan) while retaining the sense of pointlessness and doom that lies at its heart.

    Just wish the action itself, while shot extremely well in some really fun environments, was a bit more creative. A lot of moves recycled from the first film, and repeated throughout this one, without ever building or evolving at all.

  • John Wick

    John Wick


    I’d forgotten how big a role Liz Lemon’s terrible ex-boyfriend plays in this. 

    Were I the guy who just killed John Wick’s best friend, I would simply not call him and tell him about it until I had safely fled the country. 

    Of course that would run counter to the whole idea that this world of violence is simply something we can never escape from, no matter how many veneers of propriety, bureaucracy, or honor we invent for ourselves.

  • Peace Hotel

    Peace Hotel


    It should surprise no one to learn that I was wrong about Peace Hotel. It’s a terrific film, one that in my disappointment over the fact that it wasn’t the kind of movie I’d hoped it would be (a crazy violent Heroic Bloodshed Western), I’d failed to recognize it for what it was: a fascinating mishmash of silly romance and serious drama, suffused with Wai’s distinctly personal approach to the complicated ideal of personal redemption.

    Review for subscribers only at The Chinese Cinema.

  • Superbad



    Maybe I’m just old, but Dazed and Confused is much much better.

  • Dazed and Confused

    Dazed and Confused


    First time I watched this with my wife was at a debate camp 28 1/2 years ago. She fell off a couch. Tonight we drank a bunch of beer and watched it again. She didn’t fall off of anything.

  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

    The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants


    Family movie night. Preshow was the Simpsons episode where Marge busts the counterfeit jeans ring. 

    11 year old: 777/10. That’s her lucky number. She liked the movie, the pants, and the friend group. It reminded her of her and her ballet friends. She liked the 2000s style and their hair. She liked how they each had a different story and weren’t, you know, similar. It’s about how even if you don’t realize it, you’re always connected to everybody. 

    9 year…