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10:00 AM on 09.03.2013

Chinese PLA officer claims Pacific Rim is propaganda

According to a statement in People's Liberation Army Daily, Zhang Jieli (a PLA officer), wrote that Hollywood uses movies as a way to convey American propaganda to the world. Sure big Hollywood films could have big 'Meri...

Nick Valdez



Review: The Grandmaster photo
Review: The Grandmaster
by Hubert Vigilla

While Donnie Yen kicked off the Ip Man craze back in 2008, you could argue that Wong Kar Wai was partially responsible. Wong had announced his own Ip Man film prior to the Yen picture even being conceived, but it took ages to finally complete it. That years-long production was arduous. Wong's go-to actor Tony Leung, who doesn't have a martial arts background, had to learn Wing Chun in order to play Ip Man; he broke his arm twice, once during training and another time while filming. Actress Zhang Ziyi spent six grueling months, 12 hours a day, learning Bagua-style (Baguazhang) so she could fight like a true master.

In the interim, Donnie Yen put out two Ip Man films (with a 3D sequel still in the works), Herman Yau did two of his own (The Legend is Born: Ip Man and Ip Man: The Final Fight), and there was also an Ip Man television series.

Each Ip Man project presents an aspect of the real-life Ip Man. The Yen films offered Ip Man as a badass, and The Final Fight presented the human side of Ip Man via Anthony Wong's performance. I think The Grandmaster presents the mythic, poetic, and metaphorical version of Ip Man. Wong's created a glorious vision of the philosophy of the martial arts, but it's a vision that seems to have been obscured by the 22 minutes of cuts in The Weinstein Company's US release of the film.

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Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster cut by 20 mins for US photo
Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster cut by 20 mins for US
by Hubert Vigilla

Wong Kar Wai's long-in-the-making Ip Man film The Grandmaster finally hits the US next week, and it will be about 20 minutes shorter than the Hong Kong version of the film. Wong was in attendance at a special screening of The Grandmaster at The Museum of the Moving Image over the weekend. In the discussion after the film, he confirmed that the movie had been cut from its original 130 minutes to roughly 108 minutes. (There's another international cut of The Grandmaster that clocks in around 115 minutes; if old reports hold true, the original 130-minute version is considered the director's cut.)

Wong said that for the US release, he was obligated to deliver a version of the film that was under two hours. He restructured the shortened movie a bit in order to improve its flow. The Grandmaster is being distributed by the Weinstein Company, which has a long history of cutting and changing Asian movies for their domestic releases. Most recently it was revealed that Weinstein will cut Bong Joon-Ho's Snowpiercer by 20 minutes.

So what's missing from this US cut? I talked to Jared of Bullets Over Chinatown briefly after the screening, who's also seen the Hong Kong version of the film. He said that the US cut is more action oriented and that a number of dramatic moments in the Hong Kong cut were missing.

The Grandmaster comes out August 23rd. Look for our review next week.

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9:00 AM on 08.01.2013

Pacific Rim opens well in China, sequel more likely

While Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim has been a bit of a bust at the box office domestically, it's been doing quite well overseas. In fact, Pacific Rim had a record-setting opening day in China on Wednesday, grossing $...

Hubert Vigilla



Brutal, badass first trailer for Donnie Yen's Special ID photo
Brutal, badass first trailer for Donnie Yen's Special ID
by Hubert Vigilla

Martial arts superstar Donnie Yen has been keeping busy. He's got The Monkey King and Iceman 3D coming out soonish, there's the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel shooting next year, and there's still talk about Ip Man 3D. On top of all that, there's Special ID, a gritty crime thriller that looks absolutely badass.

Just feast your eyes on this first trailer for Special ID. Rather than rely on cheesy effects shots, thumping music, and too much BWAAAM, Special ID makes an impact through crazy-ass stuntwork and a nice mix of silence and sound. The film will feature fights with Ken Lo (Drunken Master II) and Andy On (The Lost Bladesman, New Police Story), but the highlight will be a battle between Yen and Colin Chou. Yen and Chou's previous one-on-one in Flash Point is easily one of Donnie Yen's best fights.

A teaser poster for Special ID is in the gallery. Special ID will open in China in October. We'll keep you posted on any international release plans.

[via Twitch]

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Flixist Discusses Review: Double Xposure photo
Flixist Discusses Review: Double Xposure
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Whenever News Editor Hubert Vigilla and I see a film together, we follow it up with a discussion about what we just saw, what we thought, what it means, whatever. Sometimes, those discussions play out in miniature with our system of reviews and second opinions, as each of us attempts to identify our own feelings with the added context of the other's.

But for Double Xposure, Hubert and I agreed that it was time to bring back what was a nearly two-year-old concept: the discussion review. When Samuel Jamier, the co-director of NYAFF and programmer for Japan Cuts, came out and introduced the film, he told us that about halfway through it would dramatically change. It would be like watching two movies in one.

He was right, so it's only fitting that we review the film this way: It's like getting two reviews in one.

[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival and the 2013 Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF 2013 coverage, click here. For Japan Cuts 2013 coverage, click here.]

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NYAFF Review: The Bullet Vanishes photo
NYAFF Review: The Bullet Vanishes
by Hubert Vigilla

There's an observation in This Is Spinal Tap that sums up the dilemma of many detective stories: there's a fine line between clever and stupid.

Successful detective stories provide satisfying solutions to mysteries, no matter how improbable. Given, most of these stories don't give a reader or viewer a chance to guess the solution on their own, but if the story can be told with enough intrigue, the resolution winds up satisfying so long as it avoids impossibility.

The Bullet Vanishes is clever for the vast majority of its runtime. While it never becomes completely stupid, the film borders on stupidity because it tries to be too clever one time too many. It's like in cartoons where a comically large load on someone's back is perfectly fine, but then a feather lightly falls on top and makes everything too heavy.

[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival and the 2013 Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF 2013 coverage, click here. For Japan Cuts 2013 coverage, click here.]

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NYAFF Review: Tales from the Dark Part 1 photo
NYAFF Review: Tales from the Dark Part 1
by Hubert Vigilla

Tales from the Dark Part 1 had its world premiere last Friday at the New York Asian Film Festival. It's an anthology horror movie containing three shorts films, all of which are adaptations of stories by Lilian Lee. Think less The ABCs of Death and more Three... Extremes and Doomsday Book.

Tales from the Dark Part 1 features the work of Simon Yam (in his directorial debut), Lee Chi-Ngai, and Fruit Chan (who also adapted Lilian Lee's book Dumplings in Three... Extremes). It would have been a long night, but there's a masochistic part of me that wishes they did a double bill with Tales from the Dark Part 2, the last half of this Lilian Lee anthology which features films by Lawrence Lau, Teddy Robin, and Gordon Chan.

I don't know how the two parts would all play as a piece, though like any anthology, there would be ups and downs and odd tonal shifts.

[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival and the 2013 Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF 2013 coverage, click here. For Japan Cuts 2013 coverage, click here.]

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NYAFF Review: The Legend Is Born: Ip Man photo
NYAFF Review: The Legend Is Born: Ip Man
by Hubert Vigilla

Ip Man starring Donnie Yen and directed by Wilson Yip is one of the best martial arts films of the last 10 years. It cemented Yen's reputation as a major star, and it began a craze for Yip Man films. Wong Kar-Wai has been trying to make his own Yip Man film, The Grandmaster, for years. (Pre-production on that had technically begun before Ip Man got off the ground.) A recent mini-series about Yip Man aired on Chinese TV. Yen and Yip have also talked about a second sequel to Ip Man -- Ip Man 3D.

Amid all this came director Herman Yau's 2010 film The Legend Is Born: Ip Man. The movie is a heavily fictionalized version of Yip Man's early life starring Dennis To as the title character. In a lot of ways it plays out like an old-fashioned martial arts movie, an old-fashioned biopic, and mostly like an old-fashioned melodrama. 

[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival and the 2013 Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF 2013 coverage, click here. For Japan Cuts 2013 coverage, click here.]

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Review: High Tech, Low Life photo
Review: High Tech, Low Life
by Hubert Vigilla

The semantic distinction some people make between "journalist" and "blogger" is pretty amusing. Many cling to one term or the other to describe themselves, as if there's no crossover between the two, or as if the functions of the journalist and the blogger are completely different. I feel like separating the terms creates too narrow a definition of what journalists and bloggers are when they shouldn't be so exclusive.

I bring up that distinction because it's one of the things that's present in High Tech, Low Life, a documentary ostensibly about citizen journalists in China who use the internet to report stories that official media outlets aren't covering. The film follows two citizen journalists in particular: a young and narcissistic blogger named Zola, and a much older and more socially aware blogger named Tiger Temple.

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3:00 PM on 05.22.2013

Trailer: Iceman 3D

Donnie Yen is going to have a crowded 2013, with three films coming out this year: the big-budget fantasy movie The Monkey King, the crime/martial arts yarn Special Identity, and Iceman 3D, a remake of the enjoyable 1989 fil...

Hubert Vigilla





4:00 PM on 05.21.2013

Check out new photos for Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster

Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster has had a long and bumpy road to production, but it's finally coming to US theaters this summer. While opinions have been relatively lackluster about the film since it's international debut at t...

Liz Rugg

5:00 PM on 05.10.2013

Chinese actors cut from Iron Man 3 to be in short film

Small potential spoilers depending on how picky you are. So have a small warning of caution people. For those who didn’t like that Wang Xueqi (Dr. Wu) had a small performance in Iron Man 3, don’t worry! He and oth...

Logan Otremba

6:00 PM on 04.23.2013

Trailer: The Grandmaster

Wong Kar-Wai's The Grandmaster has been stuck in production and post-production h-e-double-hockey-sticks for about three years now. While we can hardly say at this point whether or not the movie will be worth the wait, we ca...

Liz Rugg

1:00 PM on 04.18.2013

Transformers 4 to have a reality show in China

Hollywood so wants China to love it, but China isn't sure if Hollywood is really cool yet. Hot off the heels of announcing that Transformers 4 would be a co-production with China, Paramount Pictures has revealed that the...

Matthew Razak



NYC: Old School Kung Fu Fest, April 19-21 photo
NYC: Old School Kung Fu Fest, April 19-21
by Hubert Vigilla

If you live in New York and are a fan of old school kung fu movies, you need to head to Anthology Film Archives next weekend. From April 19-21, the team behind the New York Asian Film Festival is putting on the Old School Kung Fu Fest.

The films will feature some major old school martial arts stars (e.g., Gordon "Shaolin Master Killer" Liu) in their rarest films. It also includes a whacked-out movie that supposedly makes Boxer's Omen look like a Disney film, and a super-secret screening described like so:

In the early 80s, big studios were trying anything to attract audiences, so this flick mixes three genres and then adds plenty of crack: you've got your wandering swordsman movie, your gore film, and a sexploitation shocker. The result is a whacked-out, hyper-gothic version of The Monkey's Paw, full of occult dungeons, human face frisbees, wild plot twists, swinging swordplay, and naked demon ladies having kung fu freak-outs.

I'm definitely going to do my best to be there for the mayhem on Saturday night.

For tickets and more information, click here or visit subwaycinema.com/oldschool13. We've included information on the films and their screening times after the cut.

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10:00 AM on 04.02.2013

World War Z being changed to appease Chinese censors

Our report yesterday about the PG-13 World War Z barely having blood in it was not a joke. And neither is this: The Wrap reports that Paramount will be changing some story elements in World War Z in order to get past the Chin...

Hubert Vigilla



China to get its own version of Iron Man 3
by Matthew Razak

China is big effing business to the movie industry right now, so it should come as little surprise that Iron Man 3 will be getting its own, Chinese-friendly version to play in the country. The Chinese version will feature all the Chinese action present in the U.S. release (they shot in Beijing), but throw in a lot of Chinese friendly extras like "specially prepared bonus footage made exclusively for the Chinese audience" and famous Chinese actress Fan Bingbing. It will also become an instant collectible and eventually retail for bajillions of U.S. dollars while copies sit in trash dumps in China.

But that's in the far future, for now we can only surmise what kind of changes will appeal to our Chinese brethren. Will The Manderin actually be the good guy and Tony be a representation of our failed capitalist western ways? Maybe it will turn out that Stark didn't design the Iron Man suit, but instead a team of Chinese government scientist did. Maybe it'll just be a few more shots of Beijing and a cameo from a famous actress. Who knows!

Read the full release below. 

[via Deadline]

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SXSW Review: Xmas Without China photo
SXSW Review: Xmas Without China
by Hubert Vigilla

[From March 9th - 17th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2013 in Austin, TX. Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]

I remember seeing an MTV news segment back in the early 1990s about the difficulties of avoiding products made in China, back when the Free Tibet was the pop culture cause du jour. The difficulty is now a near impossibility today. Just check the tags on the products around you, and just remember that most of the electronics you're using at least have components made in China.

Manufacturing in China is kind of a hub for any discussion about the nature of globalization. You can approach the matter from different directions: ecological impact (e.g., pollution, particularly from coal), ethical concerns (e.g., the Apple/Foxconn factory issue), and economic realities of the 21st century (e.g., the rise of the Chinese middle class).

What Alicia Dwyer does in Xmas Without China provides other unique ways to approach the matter, though at a micro level and through the interaction between strangers who get ot know each other through odd circumstances. It all starts with a challenge: go the month of December (including Christmas) without buying or using any products made in China.

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Hong Kong Disneyland to open Marvel superhero area photo
Hong Kong Disneyland to open Marvel superhero area
by Hubert Vigilla

The Marvel/Disney partnership is taking it to the next level and moving in together overseas. Hong Kong Disneyland will create an area of their park dedicated to Marvel superheroes. During his 2013-2014 budget speech, Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang revealed the following:

In the coming few years, Hong Kong Disneyland will launch a new night-time parade and put in place a themed area featuring 'Marvel heroes', the first of its kind in the world.

Technically it won't be the first. Universal Studios Florida/Islands of Adventure has Marvel Super Hero Island, which has been around since 1999; and there was also a short-lived superhero restaurant at Universal Studios Hollywood called Marvel Mania. Somewhere in a family photo album is a picture of my brother and me eating spaghetti with a guy in a Captain America costume. This has nothing to do with Universal Studios, mind you, my family's just f**king bizarre.

Inside the Magic points out that when Disney was acquiring Marvel, Disney made an agreement with Universal that they could not feature any Marvel characters at the Walt Disney World theme parks in Orlando. Given this news, it seems like Marvel characters at Disney parks outside of Florida are okay.

How do you feel about Marvel Comics Land at Disney?

[The Wall Street Journal & Inside the Magic via /Film]

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Film Comment Selects Review: Motorway photo
Film Comment Selects Review: Motorway
by Hubert Vigilla

[For the next week we'll be looking at some of the movies playing at the Film Comment Selects series, featuring films hand selected by the editors of Film Comment magazine. For tickets and more information on the series, go here or visit FilmLinc.com.]

You can spot cop movie cliches a mile away. When someone says they're retiring from the force, you know there's danger ahead. When the veteran and the fiery rookie are paired together, you already know what their character arcs are going to be. When the older cop seems too cautious, you know it communicates a recklessness or brashness in the past.

And yet knowing all these things, some movies can transcend the cliches by doing creative things around them.

In Motorway, the cliches are a pretext for car chases, and it's here that the movie shows off its originality. It's not action overdrive like the Fast and Furious series. Rather than theatrics and special effects, Motorway is all about actual driving and stunt drivers, and how chases can be presented in different ways than we're used to. Think Bullitt mixed with zen.

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9:00 AM on 02.05.2013

Wong Kar-wai may do sequel to The Grandmasters

After two years of development, three years in production, and some release delays, Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmasters finally opened in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore last month. It's the director's biggest hit by far ...

Hubert Vigilla