(Hong Kong/China) Action/Biography/Drama. Directed by Wong Kar-wai. Starring Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Chen Chang, Cung Le. Category IIA. 130 minutes. Opened Jan 10.
Category IIB. For those unfamiliar with “Red Cliff,” here’s a recap. The Red Cliff series is the first Chinese film production John Woo has directed in 16 years. It has a star-studded cast and it’s the biggest-ever Asian-financed film, with a US$80 million budget. The story itself is about one of the best-known and important wars in ancient Chinese history.
Category IIB. In an ideal world, this film would spell the end of the big-budget Chinese historical war epic. Armed with an unprecedented US$80 million, John Woo has done the best that can be done for this unwieldy genre. Which is to say, he’s given it a single somewhat passable film, after a long line of lumbering catastrophes that have dragged the genre’s name through the mud like a horse pulling a fallen warrior by the neck.
(Hong Kong). Tsui Hark’s (Seven Swords) latest film is receiving a lot of pre-release buzz because of the groundbreaking underwater filming technology employed, as well as the location where the movie is filmed (at Japan’s Yonaguni Island where mysterious megalithic structures were found in 1986). But that’s all there is to this disappointing outing by one of Hong Kong’s more illustrious film-makers.
(Korea) Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Kim Ki-Duk, if you haven’t stepped in already. Like the other great Malaysian auteur Tsai Ming-Liang (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, Goodbye Dragon Inn), whose films are austere, quirky and affective, Korean Kim’s films are equally surreal, and are landmarks in the Asian arthouse film genre. Never mind the silly plot.
“Silk” begins with a brilliant premise. A group of scientists have captured the energy of a ghost in the form of a young boy. Naturally, they want to find out why he acts the way he does, and why he’s there, and a zillion other things one would want to know after getting hold of a ghost. Unfortunately, barring some clever sequences, much of the film ends up being more “Bah” than “Boo.”