RSS

Tag Archives: Lucy Liu

Here is an another She said-He said format about Quentin Tarantino’s Kill films (2003). Here is the Bonnie’s “review” of Kill Bill 1.

Here is an another She said-He said format about Quentin Tarantino’s Kill films (2003).  Here is the Bonnie’s “review” of Kill Bill 1.

Okay, first the disclaimer: me reviewing Kill Bill is sort of like JPFmovies reviewing Mary Poppins.  This is not my kind of movie.  It’s too much of a bloodbath (did I say one bloodbath? better make that plural) and even director Quentin Tarantino admits that the movie has NO moral.

On the other hand, as JPFmovies keeps pointing out, this film does belong in the genre of “girl power.”  Well, that’s nice.

Here are all the things I hate about Kill Bill:

  • the violence
  • David Carradine playing a jerk, instead of someone who has learned something from the meditative side of his art (as he did in the original Kung Fu series)
  • The portrayal of martial arts as being all about violence (okay, plus determination, but I’m still not seeing any ethics or values here)
  • Um, did I mention how much violence there is in this movie?  Kill Bill is so violent that the word “violent” is really sort of tame to describe it.  NOT ONLY THAT, but the violence in Kill Bill is almost all the fake cartoon “let’s scatter blood all over the place and call it art” violence that I’ve come to expect from Quentin Tarantino.  Even the anime violence in this film (and JPFmovies, if you want to use the anime scene or any other horrific violence, you can find that clip yourself, thank you!) is way way way too much for me.

And yet I do appreciate Kill Bill v 1 for some of what it does:

  • Uma Thurman’s portrayal of one woman’s ability to use sheer grit and determination to pull herself out of a coma and to keep going no matter how badly the odds are stacked against her
  • The Hittori Hanzo scene with Sonny Chiba (might as well just include that as a clip – see below)
  • The scene with Lucy Liu, for several reasons.  First, as I mentioned in the Hero review, I like the cinematography of this scene.  The snow, the blue light, the starting/stopping of the sound track to match the action, the wood fountain piece that keeps filling up and emptying itself out prosaically as if there were no swordfight going on right next to it.  Second, I like the moment when Uma has been injured and says to Lucy Liu, “Come at me with everything you’ve got.”  Why?  At that moment, it’s not her grit and determination I admire.  It’s her character’s ability to see her one chance and simply go for it.  Because the fact is that her one chance to get out of that swordfight alive is precisely for her opponent to come at her with everything she’s got.  Uma (I refuse to call her character The Bride just because she begins the movie in a wedding dress) at that point is supposed to be exhausted from the fight with Liu’s Crazy 88 bodyguards, and she’s just been injured.  Does she have the energy to even bridge the gap to reach Liu and attack her?  No.  So she marshals the energy she does have, instructs Liu to do the work of bridging the gap, and watches for the opening that must be there if she can spot it fast enough to use her last reservoir of strength to exploit it.  There’s something about that moment.  It’s that “all you have to do is do this right just this one time, and by the way, this one chance is all you get” feeling.  Doesn’t that give you chills?  Am I the only one who finds that not only is this scene, in its cinematography, reminiscent of many of the scenes of Hero, but it also exactly parallels Miyamoto Musashi’s response to his injury in his fight with Inshon in the Japanese television series recreation of Musashi’s life.
  • Finally, I respect Tarantino’s desire to pay homage to the Hong Kong action films that shaped him as a filmmaker.  I just wish he could have found a less bloody way to do so.  After all, they did.

There’s Kill Bill Vol. 1 for you, JPFmovies – I dare you to review Kill Bill Vol. 2 and find a bit more redemption of Tarantino in it for me.  Uma doesn’t need to redeem herself – training for and filming a martial arts movie three months after having a baby, while still nursing and trying to lose her pregnancy weight, is enough to leave me in awe of her for all time.  Tarantino, on the other hand, still has some explaining to do!!

 
12 Comments

Posted by on December 28, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Yes only 6-8 months late we finally get the Hero review written by none other than Bonnie! Savor this review we had to file suit to get this review done.

Hero is a movie so rich in content that I almost can’t bear to watch it.  In my opinion, nobody should sit down and watch Hero from beginning to end in one sitting.  What you should do is get the DVD of Hero and watch a section at a time.  Better yet, watch each section several times.  This isn’t the kind of movie in which the plot slowly unfolds.  Though yes, it is one of those movies where the plot line is gradually revealed to be radically different than the way in which it was previously presented, even that isn’t the point of Hero.  What is the point?  Visual art painted in motion, the artful juxtaposition of cinematography with not only martial art but also the art of etiquette, ritual and ceremony.

Here is the story.

As the movie opens, we meet Nameless, a Prefect (the lowest rank in the kingdom of Qin).  He has come to let the Qin Emperor know that he has defeated, and killed, the emperor’s three legendary assassins, Sky, Broken Sword, and Flying Snow.  The Emperor, naturally, wants to know how Nameless managed to defeat such peerless warriors.  As Nameless tells the story, we see it unfold — first his telling, then the version told by the Emperor, who is shrewd enough to read between the lines, and then Nameless’ correction of the details overlooked by the Emperor.  The question is, did Nameless truly defeat Sky, Broken Sword, and Flying Snow — or did he conspire with them, convincing them to lay down their lives in order to give him the opportunity to get close enough to the Emperor to have a chance at slaying him?  Or was there a conspiracy, but one in which there was dissension in the ranks?

The answer to all these questions, the real crux of the matter, lies in the question of whether or not it was possible for Sky and Flying Snow to throw their matches with Nameless so skillfully that the Emperor’s own troops could be made eyewitnesses to testify on Nameless’ behalf.  Likewise, was Nameless skillful enough to defeat Sky and Flying Snow by apparently, but not actually, killing them — with a sword stroke so precise that it appears to kill, but allows one’s opponent, later, to be revived?

I’m not going to tell you the rest of the plot, because it is so convoluted that, frankly, you should just watch the movie and see it unfold for yourself.  Let’s move on to the actors, who are incredibly awesome.  This is a star-studded cast.  We have Jet Li (five time Wushu gold medalist) as Nameless.  Donnie Yen, who often stars in films with Jet Li, plays Sky – and these two incomparable martial artists deliver what I consider to be the best scene in the film, the duel between Nameless and Sky.  Broken Sword is played by Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, who you should recognize if you have seen Red Cliff, in which he played Zhou.  (If you have not seen Red Cliff, you are excused from the rest of this review – please take four hours RIGHT NOW to go watch Red Cliff.)  Maggie Cheung, an actress who from the age of 18 has been handed role after role in Hong Kong films without even having to audition, plays Flying Snow.  Because Hero unfolds several different plots for your consideration (and the Qin Emperor’s), each of these actors essentially played at least three different roles.

I can’t speak in any kind of an educated way about the cinematography of this film – I’m not an artist – but I have to bring it up, because it literally makes the film.  Hero’s director, Yimou Zhang, should join the ranks of Kurosawa in film history.  Each scene is Hero is up to Kurosawa’s standards – and that is saying a lot.  These scenes also bring to mind the duel between Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu in Kill Bill (another Quentin Tarantino film, though I am puzzled about Tarantino’s role in Hero – the credits mention him somewhat ambiguously).

Each scene has a color theme, and the actors wear different colors depending on the plot variation that is being acted out.  The use of color in Hero can only be described as exquisite, and it is something that you almost never see in American films.  (Or rather, I have almost never seen it – but I don’t watch as many movies as the rest of you JPFMovies fans.)

And then there are the truly sweet parts of the film.  Nameless and Sky stopping their fight to give coins to the blind Biwa player, asking him to play on as they duel.  The calligraphy teacher telling his students to keep practicing even as arrows rain down through the school’s roof and walls.  Broken Sword’s decision not to block Snow’s fatal sword thrust, just because he needs to make a point.  The lesson being taught again and again here – let’s not miss it, please – is that it’s not about WHETHER you live or die.  It’s about HOW you live or die.  That’s the point of all the etiquette.  It’s not some cute cultural reference or cinematic device – not ultimately – what it’s about, is dignity.  

Some movies are all plot. Some are all about the character development – and/or the cast. Some movies focus purely on cinematography.  Some movies push a strong moral. This movie does it all.

Finally, I know JPFmovies has been waiting a long time (probably more than six months) for this review.  But now do you see why?  Any sort of proper consideration of this movie takes a person in a million different directions.  How can it even fit in a blog post?  In 800 words or so all I have done is to sketch the outlines of Hero for you.  Can you blame me for taking so long to write this?  (JPFmovies can!)

Go forth and watch this rose of a movie, but just a little at a time, as if you were eating a box of chocolates – I know it’s Christmas, but that’s no reason to stuff yourself.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 25, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: