Shaolin (2011) – Movie Review

Shaolin is a remake of 1982′s Shaolin Temple which starred Jet Li.

SPOILER WARNING: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Andy Lau in "Shaolin"
Andy Lau in "Shaolin"

Hou Jie (Andy Lau) is a ruthless warlord who would stop at nothing to gain what he wants including intruding Shaolin Temple.

When Hou Jie’s enemy Huo Long hides in Shaolin Temple, Hou Jie and his infantry of armies intrudes Shaolin Temple and despite the Shaolin monks words, Hou Jie kills Huo Long and ridicules the Shaolin Temple.

As Hou Jie gains control of Dengfeng, he doesn’t feel safe with the existence of his sworn brother Song Hu (Shi Xiaohong) and plots to have him killed in a restaurant under the guise agreeing to his daughter’s engagement to Song’s son.

Meanwhile, Hou’s deputy, Cao Man (Nicholas Tse) feels used and betrays Hou Jie by sending assassins to murder Hou and his family. In the process, Hou Jie kills Song Hu but is saved by Song when the hired assassins try to kill Hou. Hou’s daughter is critically injured during the fight. Hou sends her daughter to Shaolin Temple but the monks fail to save her and Hou’s wife (played by Fan Bing Bing) leaves him blaming him for their daughter’s death.

Hou meets cook monk Wudao (Jackie Chan) who provides him shelter and food and decides to become a monk, feeling atonement for the sins he has done in his life. The story continues with Cao discovering Hou is still alive and sends his armies to the temple to kill Hou but Hou is resilient and sacrifices his life in order to help Cao overcomes the dark side.

Unlike the 1982′s Shaolin Temple, Shaolin focuses on emotions, guns and cannons and less on Kung Fu. In fact, the entire storyline is different altogether with the 2011′s film a lot darker and bolder but it somehow lacks the greatness the former has.

Overall, Shaolin is just like Season of the Witch, with outstanding cinematography and even a "Shaolin Temple" which cost 10 million yuan (US$1.47 million) was purposely built to avoid damage to the actual temple, the movie fails as a whole lacking many elements.

My ratings: 5 out of 10.

Shinjuku Incident (2009) – Movie Review

Shinjuku Incident is a Jackie Chan’s movie that is full of action and drama. The movie also stars Daniel Wu, Xu Jinglei, Fan Bingbing and Jaycee Chan, Jackie’s son.

SPOILER WARNING: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Jackie Chan in "Shinjuku Incident"
Jackie Chan in "Shinjuku Incident"

Jackie plays a tractor mechanic nicknamed Steelhead and enters Japan illegally like many others in the 1990′s. There he meets Jie (Daniel Wu), his friend and they do laboring jobs to make a living. Most of the time, Steelhead, Jie and the Chinese immigrants spend their time running away from cops. At one time, Steelhead even manages to save Inspector Kitano (Naoto Takenaka) from drowning in the sewer.

When Lily (Fan Bingbing), a beautiful young lady, also from Mainland China sees Steelhead doing the dishes, she generously offers him some money. Steelhead inadvertently saves Lily’s customer from some gangsters and thus become closer with Lily.

Before long, Steelhead finds out that Xiu Xiu has married a Japanese Yakuza boss called Eguchi (Kato Masaya), therefore he decides to remain in Japan and obtain citizenship. When life gets tougher, Steelhead decides to earn a living by doing illegal activities, including selling phony phone cards and cheating at slot machines by tampering with the microchips. As Jie is too cowardly to continue doing illegal work, Steelhead and the rest pull together some money to buy Jie a chestnut cart.

However, one unfortunate day, Jie temporarily replaces his housemate in a slot machine game when the Taiwanese mafia already suspects tampering of the microchips. Jie becomes a victim and the Taiwanese gangsters beat him up and violently chop off his left hand using his chestnut wok and steel turner.

After saving Jie from the Taiwanese gangster, Steelhead seeks retaliation and secretly walk into the Taiwanese establishment. By chance, Steelhead finds out that one of the Japanese Yakuzas plans to lure Eguchi to the establishment and have him assassinated. When the Taiwanese mob leader attempts to thrust a knife into Eguchi, Steelhead appears from underneath a table and slices the mob leader’s hand. They manage to escape and Eguchi even brings Steelhead to his house and greets his wife, Yuko Eguchi where her real name is Xiu Xiu. Initially Steelhead refuses to work with Eguchi but when the both of them meet again together with Lily, Steelhead accepts Eguchi’s offer of assassinating two Japanese Yakuza leaders in exchange with legal documents and the territory where the Taiwanese is currently occupying.

Soon, Steelhead has made a name for himself by becoming the largest foreign gangster in Japan as his cronies are controlling most parts of Shinjuku. As Inspector Kitano owes Steelhead his life, he has many times let Steelhead off with a warning instead of arresting him. While Steelhead makes money the legal way, he has little idea that his other members are selling drugs and the likes. Steelhead confesses his wrongdoings to Inspector Kitano and brings him to his establishment to arrest Eguchi. At the same time, the elders of the Yakuza has decided it’s time to wipe out the Chinese immigrants as their power has become too dominant. Nakajima (Kenya Sawada) and the Taiwanese mafia all march towards Steelhead’s establishment with their samurai swords.

Brutality and gang fights take place. Many of the Chinese immigrants whom are now legal residence of Japan are killed in the battle. Even Eguchi is shot to death. Steelhead manages to escape but in the end, he bleeds to death and he returns the inspector a favor by giving him the flash drive belonging to Eguichi, which contains vital information about the Yakuza’s dealing.

Overall, the movie is brutal, dramatic and is full of action. Jackie Chan shows a different side of himself besides being a comedian and a kung fu expert. A must-watch film of 2009!

My ratings: 8 out of 10.

The Shinjuku Incident (2009) Trailer

The Shinjuku Incident is an action packed movie about a tractor mechanic from China nicknamed Steelhead (Jackie Chan) who enters illegally into Japan to search for his girlfriend Xiu Xiu (Jinglei Xu). To make ends meet, he joins his friend, Jie (Daniel Wu), in Shinjuku in doing menial labor. Steelhead finds out that Xiu Xiu has married Eguchi, a Japanese Yakuza leader. Steelhead decides to stay on in Japan and to obtain citizenship, he agrees to work for Eguchi as a killer. And there is no turning back. The Shinjuku Incident will be released on April 2, 2009.

Kung Fu Hip Hop (2008) – Movie Review

Kung Fu Hip Hop as the name has suggested, is a movie about hip hop dancing with some kung fu in it, starring Jordan Chan, Fan Bing Bing and Korean Poppin Hyun Joon. Originally titled as Kung Fu Pop in China — but possibly re-titled for Hong Kong because the China name sounds like a soft drink.

SPOILER WARNING: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Kung Fu Hip Hop Poster
Kung Fu Hip Hop Poster

This is a story about Chu Dong (Jordan Chan) who has to look after his partially-blind sister, Ya Ya (Wang Yue). In order to collect enough money for an operation to save her sight and to make ends meet, he sells trinkets and works as a mechanic during daytime.

His talent for dancing is discovered one night when his nifty moves outside a club is caught on camera by accident. The club’s deejay, Tina (Fan Bing Bing) is impressed as Chu Dong’s gyrations makes her fingers feel “resurrected”.

The club’s resident dance king and everybody’s darling, Shaoxiong (Poppin Hyun Joon, who is Korean superstar Rain’s choreographer and the holder of the Asian Dance King title) feels threatened when he learns about Chu Dong’s dancing skills.

Tina persuades Chu Dong to enter a dancing competition in order to pay her back the money that was taken from her handbag. Chu Dong decides to give it a try since he needs the money for his sister’s crucial operation. To enter the competition, he ropes in his garage pals (played by China dance group Kung Fu Pop) at the car workshop he works at to form his dance team, and call his group, "Kung Fu Kids". Chu Dong does not take too much time in training his group members to learn how to dance from the basic since all of them have kung fu backgrounds.

Shaoxiong also enters the contest as his boss has threatened him to enter the contest or else…

Jordan Chan does not disappoint but his performance lacks behind when compared to that of Poppin’s.

Only watch this movie if you are a dance enthusiast, otherwise, you will feel the nonsensical of disco lights and noise constantly flashing and banging at your face as the entire movie is about dancing.

Overall, it is another movie which tries to incorporate kung fu in something else but fails miserably. It also has poor product placement of Pepsi soft drink.

My ratings: 6 out of 10.