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.

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.

Shaolin Girl (2008) Trailer

Shaolin Girl is a movie about a young woman returning to Japan to promote Shaolin kung fu, starring Kitty Zhang Yuqi, Kou Shibasaki, Tôru Nakamura and Yosuke Eguchi.

Kung Fu Panda (2008) – Movie Review

Po (voice of Jack Black) is a fat and lazy panda. In fact, he is the laziest animal in ancient China. He works in his father’s noodle shop but dreams of being a kung fu warrior. Po studies kung fu history and idolizes the Furious Five, the country’s top martial arts masters — Master Monkey (Jackie Chan), Master Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Master Viper (Lucy Liu), Master Mantis (Seth Rogen) and Master Crane (David Cross). They are trained by Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) whose master is Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim).

SPOILER WARNING: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Master Oogway (a tortoise who knows kung fu) summons Shifu only to tell him his prophecy of Tai Lung (Ian McShane) will escape to become a treat to the civilians, therefore, Oogway must select a new Dragon Warrior to defend the town. The whole village gathers to find out which of the Furious Five will be the Dragon Warrior only to see Po accidentally being selected as the chosen one.

Po and Shifu in Kung Fu Panda
Po and Shifu in Kung Fu Panda

After learning the prophecy of Tai Lung’s escaping, Shifu sends Zeng (Dan Fogler), the messenger goose to send a message to Commander Vachir (Michael Clarke Duncan), a Javan Rhinoceros to beef up the security by as much as twice but Vachir arrogantly says no one can escape his prison, with 1,000 soldiers guarding 1 prisoner. Unfortunately, Zeng carelessly drops a feather which enables Tai Lung to escape and easily trashes all of Vachir’s soldiers who try to stop him.

When Shifu learns from Zeng that Tai Lung has escaped, Shifu consults Oogway only to have Oogway strongly tells Shifu to believe Po is the chosen one and slowly nurture him like the peach tree. Oogway then passes away like dust in the air. While Po is upset by his clumsiness and his failure in his earlier training, it is Shifu who convinces Po to stay when Po decides to leave. Shifu discovers that Po is able to climb up to the highest kitchen cabinet just to steal some cookies and therefore uses food as a whole new way of training Po. When Po is finally equipped with the kung fu to fight Tai Lung, Shifu brings down the dragon scroll to Po only for both of them to realize the scroll is totally empty.

Po, Master Monkey, Master Tigress, Master Viper, Master Mantis and Master Crane
Po, Master Monkey, Master Tigress, Master Viper, Master Mantis and Master Crane

Knowing that Tai Lung is on his way, Shifu asks his students including Po to help the villagers to evacuate the place, believing he will be able to at least, momentarily holds off Tai Lung. Po meets his father, Mr. Ping (James Hong) who finally reveals to Po his secret ingredient’s secret — nothing. Po finally understand the secret behind the blank scroll, which is nothing but to believe in oneself. He boldly goes back to the palace in order to face Tai Lung. The fight between both of them doesn’t last very long, but like the entire show, is nevertheless hilarious. Po, somehow, manages to defeat Tai Lung and earns the respect of the Furious Five as well as Shifu.

Overall, this is one of the best animated movie and definitely the best so far this year. Great voice acting by Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman, beautiful landscapes and background arts, what’s more, the dumplings and bowl of noodles look extremely real! Worth watching with the entire family.

My ratings: 9 out of 10.

Kung Fu Panda Was In Kuala Lumpur Last Week

Po, the lead character in Kung Fu Panda was in Mid Valley Megamall last week to promote the movie Kung Fu Panda. It coincided with the mid-year school holidays.

Kung Fu Panda was in Mid Valley Megamall on May 23, 2008
Kung Fu Panda was in Mid Valley Megamall on May 23, 2008

Kids love to take photographs with Po, the Kung Fu Panda
Kids love to take photographs with Po, the Kung Fu Panda

Po, the panda in the movie Kung Fu Panda
Po, the panda in the movie Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda opens on June 6, 2008. If you haven’t view the trailer, check out Kung Fu Panda trailer here.

Thanks to my friend, Sheryne for sending me these lovely photographs.