Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Beyond Period Epics and Martial Arts

Chinese movies that are popular here are almost always either period epics or martial art movies or, very often, a combination of both. Or at least the movies that I have seen have mostly been such. Hero, House of Flying Daggers, To Live (all Zhang Yimou), Farewell My Concubine, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon etc all belong to those genres. Yimou's Raise the Red Lantern about which I had made a post once, is different in the sense that calling it "period epic" doesnt seem quite right becasue it is more like a period drama. The only two movies that I have seen and remember right now which are more modern, present day movies are Infernal Affairs and Chunking Express.

Infernal Affairs is an edge-of-the-seat cop drama. Its extremely well made and is now being remade in Hollywood by none other than Martin Scorsese. It will be called The Departed. With such brilliant material and cast (Leonardo di Caprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson), I don't think he can go wrong. Even though it is not the sort of subject that can get him that elusive oscar, I am sure it will be his highest grossing movie by a big margin.

Chunking Express is the movie that inspired this post. I saw it two weeks ago, and really liked it. Its a romantic drama of sorts, but really different from most such movies that you might have seen. Probably the most artistic, the most stylish love story (stories actually... it has two separate love stories) I have ever seen. Its the story of two Hong Kong cops, who have both been recently dumped by their respective girlfriends and how they end up getting together with two new girls over a period of a few days ( a few hours in one case..). The second story is so..... I don't know.. I guess cute is the only word that comes to mind.. :) The girl in that story is played by Wong Faye, who won quite a few popular actress awards for this movie. She was already a popular singer in China when Wong Kar Wai gave her this part - her acting debut. She happens to be quite a celebrity there. Even though she herself isnt as good looking as, say, Zhang Ziyi, her character in this movie is absolutely refreshing... absolutely amazingly different. cute is the word again. :) Quentin Tarantino said that he doesn't know anyone who has seen this movie and doesn't have a crush on her. Right you are Quentin!

Wong Faye
(no idea about copyright!!)

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