Drunken Master

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Pay? I’ve forgotten how! and my other favorite Robert Wong, I’ll fix you!


It makes sense within the context of the movie, I swear.

If you watched Fist of Legendand found it to have a jarring style, then I can only imagine how my cheap late 1990’s dubbed copy of Drunken Master would strike you. As annoying as the bad dubbing and over the top sound effects are, the pros outweigh the cons. Since the cons are readily evident from the first minute of the movie, I will not waste our time on them, so here are the pros:

  • Young Jackie Chan is amazing.
  • “Freddy” is the dubbed version of Fei-Hung. Because Jackie Chan plays young Wong Fei-Hung! The greatest Chinese martial arts hero ever. For other evidence see Once Upon a Time in China and Iron Monkey.
  • Drunken Master is called Jui kuen in the original, which I imagine sounds cool.
  • Traditional Chinese (not sure which region’s) food looks amazing.
  • The music playing during the punishment montage is phenomenal and hilarious. The training montages throughout showcase how amazing of an athlete Chan is.
  • BOLO!!!!! For more of him see Enter The Dragon and Bloodsport. Classic villain. No good google images of him from this movie though.
  • The Drunken Master himself, Sam Seed, aka Su Hua Chi by Siu Tin Yuen. And his stunt double, whose name I do not know.
  • Jackie Chan would have made an amazing pro wrestler because he can sell1 so well, which is best shown when Thunderleg (Jang Lee Hwang) kicks his ass.
  • Yuen Woo-Ping directed this. While he may not have been the best director, he is the greatest fight choreographer of all-time.
  • The alcohol shakes used for comedic purposes! This film is pretty damn insensitive.
  • Jackie Chan doing the eight drunk gods. Except Miss Ho, that one he refuses to take seriously.
  • Proto Jackie Chan shenanigans.
  • The end fight scene against Thunderleg.
  • AND the ending coming 15 seconds after the climax.

The term “selling” means to react as if actual damage has been inflicted.

Fist of Legend

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Men don’t have to tell women everything.
Hou Ting-An (Chin Siu Ho) and Chen Zhen (Jet Li) battle for mastery of Jingwu Martial Arts Academy, Fist of Legend, 1994.

Hou Ting-An (Chin Siu Ho) and Chen Zhen (Jet Li) battle for mastery of Jingwu Martial Arts Academy, Fist of Legend, 1994.

Watching this movie for the first time in over a decade I realize that my memory correctly identified this as one of the greatest kung fu films of all time. This singlehandedly reminded me why I loved Jet Li so much. It is difficult to express how awesome this movie was to me when I was 16. I rank this between The Shawshank Redemption and Clerks on my Best of 1994 list.  So, allow me to tell you why it is so great and what lessons one needs to help appreciate its greatness.
Everyone knows Jet Li, or at least recognize him on sight. When I mention Yuen Woo Ping I wonder how many people remember him.  Well this movie is from 1998 and one year later he was choreographing THE MATRIX. Put another way, the Wachowskis basically said, you’re welcome white people, for hiring him to do that. This is not Yuen’s most famous movie, but it ranks up there as one of his very best.
Even with Yuen’s American appreciation, the style of the movie will be jarring. In fact, it is probably much more so now, unless you like classic Kung Fu—as the 1970s are now four decades ago. The style is like a better acted version of Bruce Lee’s classics like The Chinese Connection and Fist of Fury. That is appropriate since this is…a remake of The Chinese Connection! The movie is set before World War II and the Japanese are mostly the villains, yet some of them are respected and loved. In particular the Karate master Funakoshi (Yasuaki Kurata) shows the honor that Japanese men can embody. Along with that sensei’s niece Mitsuko (Shinobu Nakayama) who loves Chen Zhen.  In fact, this might have the least propaganda of Jet Li’s Chinese movies, but it also serves to highlight how propaganda is just one form of art with a message.
Throughout my viewing there were so many times when I thought, “oh this is the best part”, because it has been so long since I watched a movie like this. This happened in the following scenes:
A. When the Chinese get portrayed as equally racist as the Japanese, in a Chinese movie.
B. When the movie jumps to tackle so many issues, from forbidden love to duty.
C. Blindfold fight scene/hay fight with Funakoshi.
D. Locals turning on the hero!
E. The demonstration of the antagonist’s (Billy Chow) strength.
F. And last, but not least, the music of Steve Edwards. I am pretty sure he must’ve done Police Academy.
So if this foreign film is foreign to you, do not let it remain so! If you love kung fu, this is the movie for you. If you do not like kung fu, then this is a great way to fall in love with it.

Big Night

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Give people what they want, then later you can give them what you want.

In 1996 Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott made a pretty depressing movie about Italian immigrants who own/run a restaurant in New York City in the 1950s. I do not know why they made this movie, maybe because Tucci knew Italian and wanted a vehicle to showcase this ability. He is very good in it, however it is Tony Shalhoub playing a convincing Italian chef, Tucci’s brother, Primo, who steals the show.

Primo and Secondo,  yes, their names are first and second, which ranks up there with George Foreman naming all of his boys George Foreman in the stupid names department, have a failing restaurant and upon the advice of a crazy Italian Ian Holm try to salvage everything with one more big night. Ladies and love (Minnie Driver gave the best performance among the actresses) get mixed up with the financial troubles and it is hard to root for anyone among these characters, but I guess that is Campbell Scott’s forte.

That's not the soup nazi, I swear!

Secondo and Primo (Tucci and Shalhoub) with Marc Anthony in the background.

The film lacks a true personified villain. Seemingly, Millsian utilitarianism and capitalism are the antagonists. I agree that they are ripe targets for conquest and for the unassailable forces of tragedy, but an amazing, yet unprofitable chef with a big mustache failed to maintain a truly compelling story. If this review strikes you as bland and haphazard, but entertaining and well crafted in parts, then I have succeeded in conveying the sensations from this film.

I’ll See You in My Dreams

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You ever going to light that thing?

Carol (Blythe Danner) and Lloyd (Martin Starr) enjoying some afternoon wine in "I'll See You in My Dreams," © 2015 Bleecker Street Media.

Carol (Blythe Danner) and Lloyd (Martin Starr) enjoying some afternoon wine in “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” © 2015 Bleecker Street Media.

It was nice to see Blythe Danner—Dina from Meet the Parents—in a starring role. Hollywood tends to discriminate very strongly against women who are not young and old people who are not men. I thought she was great as a senior citizen not looking for love who stumbles upon a couple of men she finds she cares about. They are Sam Elliott—narrator of The Big Lebowski and Ford spokesman—and Martin Starr—the real depressing guy from “Party Down”. She has a great collection of friends, like Rhea Pearlman, who provide laughs and help us hear what Danner is thinking. I also adore Malin Akerman—Silk Spectre II from Watchmen—so her appearance as Danner’s daughter was delightful.

This movie touched me by showing how fleeting life can be and how quickly we make connections and how slowly we lose them. Danner also shows off that she is a great singer. Best actress nomination to her with a best supporting actor nod to Martin Starr for playing a Martin Starr type, even if that’s not really a stretch.

Never Say Never Again

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IF I were to have live tweeted this movie, here are some of the things I would have tweeted:

M to Bond, “Eliminate all free radicals.” Ha! Ha! Get it? I hope you do, because this movie is nothing but lazy puns!

Edward Fox—General Horrocks in A Bridge Too Far—does have a good demeanor for playing M.


Did you know that this is a remake of Thunderball?

Did you know that the theme song to this is infinitely worse than Tom Jones’ Thunderball?

Tom Jones’ Thunderball would make a good name for a band.

Where is the Bond music? The fight scenes work less well without that, or some equally good theme.

Disconnecting the weights from a universal bench press decreases the weight, no the reverse. Oops.

Having the beefy henchman throw the janitor right when the janitor wakes up again is pretty funny.

Why is the beefy henchman dressed like an Australian karate chauffeur?

What just got thrown into the eyes of the Australian karate chauffeur?? And why did it kill him?

James Bond’s urine. From a sample. WHAT DOES HE CONSUME THAT MAKES IT HYDROCHLORIC (instead of uric) ACID!?

Also, the henchman crushed a bunch of glass into his own back post-urine splash.

The plan is to make this US airman betray his country by altering his eye into matching the President’s. Can’t believe it’s working!

In Thunderball they steal the plane, but in this they fire the nuclear missiles…even if they were “dummies” why would we practice this!?

Ha, the missiles went from 10 km away, to 4 km, to 5 km, to 3 km. Silly math!

Max Von Sydow is awesome as Blofeld. I could listen to him define S.P.E.C.T.R.E. all day.

The 00 section has been reinstated! Huzzah! I worried that the movie would become mostly Bond filing papers.

This dancing scene with Kim Basinger is pretty creepy. Why is her audio ADR-ed? I wonder if Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer–The Russia House) got ADR-ed too?

Wow, Goldeneye ripped off the whole “bureaucrats and computers” running MI-6 complaints from this movie. Tsk tsk.

Young Rowan Atkinson! He is pre-Mr. Bean!

I like how Fatima Blush’s boat looks like the disco volante!

The Disco Volante being Largo’s big ship, duh.

Is that a bomb she put on Bond’s scuba tank? Of course not! That would never work! It’s  shark homing device!

This shark is a good actor.

No! He trapped the shark! Its’ jut a movie, it’s just a movie, it’s just a movie.

Wow, James Bond reeled in by a woman wearing only overalls! Classic 1980s side boob.

And now Fatima has taken my advice and decided to use a bomb. #Learning

The original Black Felix Leiter! His name is Bernie Casey and he played Cal Hudson on Star Trek: DS9. I knew I recognized him from Star Trek.

Domino (Basinger) has the opposite reaction most people would have to learning that their masseuse was in fact some random stranger not employed by the facility.

The more she thought about it, the more aroused she seemed to get.

Does she have a random stranger touching her without her knowing it fetish?

Is that a fetish?

The video game! There is so much in the movie that I associate with the Bond movies that I did not realize!

“It’s called Domination.” Creeeeeper.

You get shocked when you’re losing. Makes me not want to play this game.

Okay, so why would Fatima be so pleased about killing someone other than James Bond?

Her mission was to kill James Bond.

The female French agent? Totally not James Bond.

Her plan to capture him has worked great though! #SpokeToSoon

Her outfit. Is. Amazing.


I wish I could find one with a good view of those pants.

“I’m doing this for two reasons…one I’m trying to provoke an answer…and two, because I always wanted to.”

Wow this just turned offensive in northern Africa. #Slavers

This clearly influenced The Living Daylights wih the AKs and horses and Muslims.

Missed an opportunity for a Wilhelm Scream there!

Jumping off that castle into the water on a horse was Fast 5 level insane.

Why would Domino (Basinger) care about Bond after knowing him for like two days? He’s just not that likable.

I can’t even…

It makes more sense if you realize they were fired from a submarine...

It makes more sense if you realize they were fired from a submarine…

James Bond with a Mac 10, aka an uzi? To quote James Bond in Goldfinger, “shocking.”

How do the henchmen get these jobs? I like how one of them really appreciates the beauty of his surroundings.

As much as I like seeing Kim Basinger in a tiger bathing suit, I do not want to have to see Sean Connery in thin white trunks.

“I always have a martini at five.” — Alcoholic or OCD?

*** or somehow ½ star less than Thunderball. I gave Thunderball 3 & ½ stars!? And Entertainment Weekly gave it an A-?!?

And that concludes the first and only time I will do this. I will never fake live tweet a movie again.



<Cue theme song “Never say never again”>


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Nothing kills me. I’m immune to 179 different types of poison. I know because I ingested them all at once when I was deep undercover in an underground poison-ingesting crime ring.

Rick Ford (Jason Statham) and Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarther) trying not to yell at each other in Spy.

Rick Ford (Jason Statham) and Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarther) trying not to yell at each other in Spy.

Sometimes a movie looks too good to be true. To whit…

  1. Paul Feig, the writer/director who is Melissa McCarthy’s muse, directing Melissa McCarthy.
  2. McCarthy playing a dumped upon woman who is fighting to break out of her shell even if it means cracking hilarious jokes every 45 seconds.
  3. The two male super spies played by Jason F’n Statham (as the badass) and Jude Law (as the James Bond).
  4. A James Bond movie.

Oh, how many times have I been disappointed by similar formulas? The Man Who Would Be King had John Huston (The Maltese Falcon) directing a buddy epic with Sean Connery (James Bond) and Michael Caine (Get Carter) in 1975! Cheesy and disappointing. The Ninth Gate came from a novel I have re-read (Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Club Dumas), was directed by Roman Polanski (Chinatown), and starred Johnny Depp (Cap’n Jack Sparrow) and Frank Langella (Nixon in Frost/Nixon)! I, along with most of the crowd, openly boo-laughed at the end credits.¹ Slither came from James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and starred Captain Malcolm “Castle” Reynolds himself, Nathan Fillion, and even had Michael Rooker (Mallrats) with Elizabeth Banks (Miri from Zack and Miri). I barely could make myself finish that one.

So when it came time to enjoy this surefire hit, I had no small sense of dread. But this movie was awesome and so was everyone in it! Now I love Rose Byrne (X-Men: First Class) and the guy who played Aldo (Peter Serafinowicz) too. As someone who has seen every James Bond movie, the satire is spot on: the gadgetry, the villains with henchmen, the condescending earpiece to boss around the field agent all mission long, the unnecessarily high stakes, and the sexism. Unlike most Bond movies, this tackles sexism head on. Certainly McCarthy’s Susan Cooper makes a few too many jokes at her own expense, particularly about her looks, but grading on the curve of mainstream cinema this is definitely a progressive movie. The hyper-masculine Rick Ford (Statham, voice of the above poison quotation) manages to maintain his parody-level machismo to such a degree that it becomes believable (or at least sustainably suspended disbelievable). And Ford’s in her face objections provide a nice foil, without actually portraying the antagonist. He had the subtlety of Agent Carter’s 1940s co-workers, but by being so self-assured and offensive, he seemed less forced. Contrasted with this blunt instrument is Jude Law, who, aside from accidentally killing a bad guy by sneezing, seems the picture of cool obliviousness. Instead of telling Cooper that she will assuredly fail, he highlights how good of a team they make, just with her staying at CIA headquarters and him in the field doing the actual field work. By managing to delineate our society’s obnoxious sexism it allows two women to antagonize each other for the central plot, which was a nice change. Speaking of female character, there is a pleasant surprise when the deputy director (Alison Janney) watches a video of Cooper from her academy days when she was like a ninja. Cooper is neither an idiot savant, nor instantaneously bad-ass, but seemingly an agent who has held herself back. Thankfully we now live in a society where David Wain can make Melissa McCarthy movies and have a budget that still has room for Jason Statham and Jude Law.


¹ Would this be blaughed? Looed? Labooed?


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Have you seen Chester? – said about 40 times.

Ah yes, a transgender prostitute (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez as Sin Dee) dragging her kidnappee/female prostitute (Mickey O'Hagan as Dinah) by the hair through the streets of L.A., © Duplass Bros. Prods. 2015.

Ah yes, a transgender prostitute (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez as Sin Dee) dragging her kidnappee/female prostitute (Mickey O’Hagan as Dinah) by the hair through the streets of L.A., © Duplass Bros. Prods. 2015.

What can I say that has not already been said about this smaller, subtler Crash? The lives of a few Los Angelinos intertwine as a transgender woman, named Sin Dee, gets out of jail to the news, from her best friend Alexandra, that her boyfriend has been cheating on her! Along the way we meet an Armenian(?) cabbie named Razmik who very humorously freaks out when he goes to perform oral sex on a woman and spazzes when she does not have a penis. Of course he is married to a woman and it is Christmas eve and he has a thing for Alexandra, who is singing at a club and only he shows up, and Sin Dee kidnaps the white female prostitute whom Chester, the boyfriend/pimp has been trucking with while our star was in the clink.

The lives of these somewhat hopeless people were tolerable only when they themselves could tolerate them. Whenever things got too bleak I stopped caring for the film. In reality, I am sure that transgender people in L.A. have had worse days and worse lives, but this was hard to swallow. There is no happy ending waiting behind the next bus, but instead the best they can hope for is companionship from people who can relate, even if they have already been betrayed by them.

Rodriguez, Ransome and Taylor in Tangerine.

Rodriguez, Ransome and Taylor in Tangerine.

The music seemed really modern and well chosen. If I had not heard that this was shot on an iPhone I would never have thought, “there is no way this was shot on an iPhone.” But as it was shot on an iPhone and I did hear that it was, I did have that thought 3-4 times during the movie. Lastly, the cast crushed it. My favorite was James Ransome as Chester, but that might be my “The Wire” bias showing. The above image encapsulates so much of the story. Sin Dee calmly looking sexy, Alexandra angry because Sin Dee has been out of control all day—see above kidnapping—and is being fake about it now in front of Chester, and Chester, the man surrounded by women, trying to keep them all in check and lining up to sleep with/for him. This is a fresh approach to the well tread path of a woman trying to win her man back only to realize that she deserves better. Does she learn that? Does she deserve better? Is there a better pronoun than “she” for transgendered people who self-identify as women? This sometimes frustrating crazy ride will answer all of those questions through one exciting day in L.A.

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