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Posts Tagged ‘Ip Man’

Ip Man 3 –  movie review
Over the weekend I had my first viewing of “Ip Man 3” (2015), starring Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung as Cheung Wing-sing (Ip Man’s wife), and with a feature role by Mike (“Iron Mike”) Tyson.  Ip Man is a historic Chinese Boxer / martial artist who practiced Wing Chun (a style of Kung Fu) and who achieved secondary fame in the West as being the Sifu (“teacher”) of Bruce Lee.  This movie is set in the late 1950’s.  Ip Man has become a very popular figure in Chinese martial arts movies of late and there are many movies about him which have been released in the last ten years.  I own four of the Ip Man DVDs and I borrowed this one from my brother to view it.
The movie has three main sub-plots: Ip Man protecting Hong Kong from an evil foreign developer (“Frank” played by Mike Tyson); Ip Man defending his status as the primary Sifu of Wing Chun; and, Ip Man’s wife dying from cancer.  Of course, the main point of the movie is that the greatest fighter (Ip Man) is always the one with the purest heart.  As always, the sub-plots are meant to drive the action in the movie – this is, after all, a martial arts film.  And, they more or less do and the action scenes work.  Of the three sub-plots, the only interesting one (for me) is the wife’s cancer and Ip Man’s reaction to it and his love for her as she is dying.  It is poignant and the process of seeing her fade slowly into death is treated with a rare kindness one almost never sees in a martial arts movie (Hollywood or Chinese).  In the end, this is the most memorable part of the movie.
The fight choreography is excellent, as usual, but seems pedestrian after so many versions in the series.  My favorite scene is the weakening wife telling Ip Man that she misses hearing him practice hitting the wooden dummy.  It is emotionally evocative of “this is what you do, and this is a part of what I love about you”, in a way that few movies ever reach.  Final recommendation: Highly recommended.
The Dark Knight Trilogy #3: The Dark Knight Rises  – movie review
This is one of several reviews of this movie I’ve made.  TDKR (2012) is an enjoyable movie which I have rated “Highly” in both of my prior reviews (1010, Catching Up).  This “review” is really more of an additional comment than it is a review – and it is being made post-“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and with the qualifications that I’ve only seen BvS once and that was at the theater.  Generally speaking, I prefer Christian Bale much more than Ben Affleck as an actor in any role.  Even understanding that the role of episode #3 is supposed to be eight years after episode #2 and Batman is supposed to have been gone the whole time, and in BvS is “probably” supposed to be somewhere in that time span, Bale absolutely looks like he could never be (or have been) Batman.  Affleck, on the other hand, perfectly suits an older Bruce Wayne and looks way better in the “normal” (as opposed to the Iron Man) Batman suit.  Particularly in the various shirtless scenes, Bale looks tone-less, not just “less” than super buffed / fit.  I didn’t notice it at the time, or in my prior reviews, but Bale makes Batman look skinny when in the suit.  He seems well proportioned when standing by himself, but next to other people, I kept thinking: “Wow.  He’s skinny.”  And I don’t think of Batman as skinny…  I also don’t think of him as tone-less.  At least I haven’t since the days of Adam West and that was supposed to be a parody (I hope).
Anyway, that’s my only new comment.  I still find the movie solid entertainment and still recommend it highly.
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On This Day In:
2015 Memorial Day – 2015
Content People Love To Share
2014 I Resemble That Remark
2013 Long Range Exploration
2012 UBI
2011 Opportunity

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I had a few days off last week, so I relaxed by watching a few films: Cash McCall, StarTrek Into Darkness, Fist of Legend, Interstellar, Annapolis and Atlas Shrugged 1, 2 and 3.  Because there are so many, I’ll apologize in advance for the length of this posting.  I hope some of you make it all the way through, though…
Cash McCall (1960)
Wealthy “youngish” industrialist Cash McCall (starring James Garner) makes his money by purchasing unsuccessful businesses, whipping them into shape and then selling them for a profit.  (Shades of Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman“.)  When Cash comes across a small corporation which manufactures plastics, he realizes it might be a gamble to buy the company, but the company’s owner, Grant Austin (played by Dean Jagger – better known as the General in the holiday favorite “White Christmas“), is the father of an old love interest, Lory Austin (played by a young Natalie Wood), he buys the business just to get a second chance at romance.
Well, that’s pretty much the “love story” aspects of the film.  Very predictable and, to be honest, not as funny / humorous as I thought it might be.  Be that as it may, there are a few interesting things about this movie.  First, Woods is absolutely gorgeous in this film.  She plays a “wealthy” daughter and nails the “acts very entitled” role.  The camera loves her.   Strangely, although Garner is only 10yrs older than Woods in this film – in real life that is – he “looks” much older.  Granted he’s still a sexy Hollywood male lead, but to me, the couple didn’t really gel because he “felt” so much older than her.
Perhaps the most interesting thing in the movie actually has very little to do with romantic comedy and everything to do with predicting economic reality.  Bear with me on this…  At the end of his second term as President of the U.S. Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the military / industrial complex.  There is a scene where Cash is explaining his view for the companies he’s consolidating (in the movie) – a plastics and an electronics firm.  The one he already owns is a financial conglomerate – which by the way owns a private security / detective agency and a credit / business checking business.  Anytime someone investigates him, Cash gets a report from both companies.  The second company is interesting because it’s a plastic firm.  If anyone knows anything about films from the mid to late 60’s, you almost certainly know the famous line “One word, son: Plastics”, from “The Graduate“.   Well, in this film, the star is saying (six years before “The Graduate”) you have patents on manufacturing plastics and the patents are worth more than your company because plastics are the future of manufacturing.  He then goes on to say, but that is only a bridge because the long term future is selling electronics (mounted on plastic) to the military and he doesn’t want the electronics company as much as he wants the retired general who is running the company, because he (Cash) wants an inside track with the officers in the Pentagon the retired general can provide access to (because he knows them all personally).  Who knew Hollywood could be so prescient about the future of industry in the U.S. (and the world).
Bottom line: a fairly typical rom-com with a very attractive couple.  If that’s all you’re looking for, this will be okay.  If you make the effort to look at the movie more deeply, there is a whole lot more going on…  Highly recommended!!  (By the way, I am a Jim Garner fan from his “Maverick” TV series days and I make no bones about my lack of objectivity.)
StarTrek Into Darkness (2013)
This is the sequel to the hit reboot of the movie franchise from 2009.  As with the second movie in the original StarTrek movies, this is about one of the series most popular villains: “Khan!!!” – or more accurately: Khan Noonien Singh.  Khan is a product of biological enhancement, essentially a superior man – physically stronger and a genius mentally.  The problem (well, one of them) is that Khan has little to no regard for “normal” humans.  Blah, blah, blah…  Long story, lots of special effects and a very good addition to the StarTrek legend.  This is a second review and you can read my original (and more detailed review) here.   This movie has “legs” and can definitely be re-watched again and again.  (Still) Highly recommended.
Fist of Legend (1994)
This movie is kind of a “classic” in the martial arts genre.  A Chinese martial arts student Chen Zhen (Jet Li) returns home to China to investigate the death of his Sifu.  Chen discovers his master was poisoned and goes about seeking revenge.  If you’ve spent any time watching movie fights on YouTube, you’ve probably seen at least one of the five (yes, count them 5!!) set piece fight scenes in this movie.  Hence my opinion that the film is a classic.  To be honest, although the movie is 20+ years old – and I’d never seen it before (!!!) – I felt as if I’d already seen the entire movie just based on the fights – which I have seen multiple times.  I would rate this movie right up with any of the early Bruce Lee movies (“The Big Boss”, “The Chinese Connection” or “Fist of Fury”) and definitely with any of the more recent Ip Man series.  Jet Li may not have the cinematic charisma of Bruce Lee, but he (Jet Li) certainly plays the part of acrobatic martial artist just as well.
Final recommendation:  Highly recommended!!  Come for the fights, stay for the interesting social commentary about national bigotry (from both the Chinese and the Japanese).
Interstellar (2014)
Now I never saw this movie at the theater, which is probably my loss, but I did not find the cinematic effects in this movie as awesome as everyone else seems to have found them.  Having said this, I feel the movie was a “real” attempt to bring some of modern science to the big screen.  So, kudos for that effort.
In Earth’s not to distant future, a global, unexplained, biological agent produces a crop blight and second Dust Bowl which together are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable – nitrogen is being released and oxygen is not.  A brilliant NASA physicist – Professor Brand (played by Michael Caine), is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole. First, Brand must send former NASA pilot Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers (one of which is his daughter Amelia Brand played by Anne Hathaway) through a recently discovered wormhole near Saturn and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home.  One of the movie’s tag-lines is: “Humanity was born on Earth.  It was never meant to die here.”
Of course there is a “conspiracy” and bad guys.  Hey this is Science Fiction, you know…  No, actually this is less a science fiction movie than it is a cinematic battle of ethics and morality.  In the end, time is malleable and family is everything, so the hero saves the day…  The movie works in a lot of different ways: as science, science fiction, special effects, acting.  The movie was nominated for multiple Oscars and deservedly so.  Final recommendation: highly recommended, but see it on as big a screen as you can find.
Annapolis (2006)
A cross between “An Officer And A Gentleman” and “Rocky“, this movie is about a fish out of water who goes to the U.S. Naval Military Academy at Annapolis.  (And, yes, that’s a bad pun.) The three main characters are:  Jake Huard (the “fish” – I mean star –  played well by James Franco),  Ali (the love interest played well by Jordana Brewster) and Cole (the antagonist played well by Tyrese Gibson).  Basically, Jake is only marginally qualified to be at the Academy and Cole is trying to force him to leave by quitting.  Ali agrees to help coach Jake in boxing for the brigade tournament and life ends happily ever after.
Just a few comments: I am not a big James Franco fan.  I thought he almost personally ruined a couple of the Spiderman movies.  Well, close anyway.  I have never heard of Jordana Brewster, but the camera loved her in this movie.  I had to check the Wiki-background on this actress because I could hardly believe she has done nothing I’ve seen in the eleven years since this movie came out.  She reminds me of a (Latin and younger) Jennifer Connelly.  Anyway, Brewster has worked, but I’ve just not seen any of it (TV or movies).  Finally, I like Tyrese Gibson!  I liked him in the Transformers movie series and I liked him in this role.  He and Brewster have both been in the Fast And Furious movie series, but I haven’t seen any of them so I can’t really comment on them in those roles.  Tyrese is multi-talented, but I wish he was able to focus more on acting.  I think he could be another Denzel Washington – and that’s saying quite a bit.
Final recommendation: better than most movies in this genre – moderate to strong recommendation.
Atlas Shrugged (1, 2 and 3) – (2011, 2012, 2013)
Back in 2012 I reviewed the first movie in this trilogy (see review here).  If anything, each movie in the series got worse.  I picked up I and II on sale for $5 each.  #1 was probably worth it.  #2 was not.  I saw #3 on YouTube.  The quality of the film was not high, but it was still better than anything else about the movie.   Terrible acting, terrible actors, terrible writing and absolutely no explanation of the reasons behind Ayn Rand’s popularity (objectivism or libertarianism).  Use the six hours of your life to do something productive and don’t watch these films.
Final recommendation:  not recommended movie(s).  You’ll get more from reading the book, than you’ll EVER get from watching these three movies.
Again, apologies for the length of this post but that’s four highly recommended, one moderate to strong recommendation and three not recommended.
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On This Day In:
2014 Get Wisdom
2013 Enjoying The View?
2012 Adam’s Rib
2011 I’m Sure I Remember That…
Memorial Day, 2011

 

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Book Review:
Last week I finished reading “Skin Game” (2014©), written by Jim Butcher.  This is the fifteenth book in the Dresden Files fantasy / horror / detective / adventure series.  The series traces the life of Harry Dresden, who is a practicing wizard, working in Chicago as a private detective / investigator.  In this volume, Harry joins up with a band of bad guys to try to steal some holy relics from a safe in Hades.
If you are not familiar with the series, it is quite formulaic: good guy (Harry) is placed in an awkward position and must overcome a series of bad guys in order to resolve the novel’s main story, while devoting about 10% of the book to furthering the main arc of the series – Harry’s continuing process of discovering the hero in himself while fighting to overcome evil.  Like all volumes in the series, it mostly stands on its own, but will be a lot more enjoyable if you’ve read all the preceding volumes.
Obviously, as I’ve now read fifteen of them, I’m a fan of the series and the author.  Are these “great” novels?  No.  Are they (is it) well written and enjoyable reads?  Yes!  So, highly recommended…  Again, as stated in reviews of the prior volumes, while the series is intended for the “young adult” reader, it (the series and this volume) contain graphically described violence and are probably not appropriate for most young teens and definitely not pre-teens.  This series is NOT Harry Potter for slightly older children.
As an additional mention, two things I learned from reading this book are: Hades is the name for the Greek god who rules “the underworld” and it has also come to be the name used for the “underworld” and precedes the Christian term “Hell”.  (I guess I already knew these things, but they never really settled into my conscious mind.)  The second thing I learned is that the Greek god Hades is not the equivalent of the Christian devil (“Satan”).  Hades is, in fact, more closer to a final judge of souls than a promoter of “evil” on Earth.
Movie Review:
Today I had my initial viewing of the movie (on DVD) “Ip Man: The Legend Is Born“.   Dennis To stars in the title role.  The movie came out in 2010 and is the third in the series of four, although it is fourth in my viewing order simply because that’s the order I was able to purchase them.  “Series” is a bit misleading, as the movies are not really chronological or meant to be viewed in any particular order.  They’ve simply been very popular and therefore additional portions of Mr. Ip’s life have been dramatized.  The movie comes with English language translation, so you don’t have to read sub-titles.
If the movies were an actual series, this movie would be the prequel to the first movie as this covers his life from childhood through early manhood, roughly up to the Sino-Japanese War.
So, is it any good and how does it rank vis-à-vis the others in the series?  I think it is number two, after only the original (Ip Man).  The fights are energetic, well choreographed and well filmed without too much wire-work, which is popular in China, but detracts from a movie’s realism (IMHO).
All in all, I rate this movie as highly recommended both as a movie and as a pure martial arts film.
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On This Day In:
2013 Real Honor
Catching Up
2012 Thoughts And Communications
2011 But How Does Peter Feel?
2010 Name That Regret

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Yesterday, I relaxed by watching a couple of movies: Ip Man 2 and Adam’s Rib. Ip Man 2 by myself and Adam’s Rib with Hil.  The former is another of the movies I picked up on Veteran’s Day.  The latter is from the Katharine Hepburn – Turner Classics Collection which I purchased for Hil for her birthday last month.
Movie reviews:
The first movie I watched was “Ip Man 2“, which is the 2010 sequel to “Ip Man” (see my review of the original here) and once again stars Donnie Yen in the title role of Master Ip.  While the first movie was supposed to be quasi-biographical, I don’t think the sequel is based on any historical event.  It is merely the glamorization of the main character who is (historically) a famous Chinese boxing master.  (He was Bruce Lee’s instructor.)  Anyway, the film surprisingly doesn’t add anything to either the “legend” of the man or the art of Kung Fu films.  It is not a re-tread of the original, but neither does it break new ground in film-making.  The fights sequences are mostly excellent choreography, but nothing that leaves you saying “Wow!“, which I must admit I thought several times during the first film.  The climactic boxing match is surprisingly “Rocky-esk”, but unconvincing.
My own opinion of a Kung Fu versus Western boxing match at the “professional” level is that if the Kung Fu fighter is allowed to kick below the waist or use killing blows, he will almost certainly win and win fairly quickly.  If he is restricted in the type of blows he can use and can only kick above the waistline, the advantage probably shifts to the Western style boxer.  My only other comment is the original I viewed was boot-legged in the Philippines and for some reason did not have English dubbing.  It did have English sub-titles, but they were distracting and detracted from the movie.  However, since I don’t speak Mandarin, the sub-titles are required to follow along.  The version of “2” I have was purchased legitimately and has both English dubbing and sub-titles (but for whatever reason I was not able to turn the sub-titles off).  Recommended viewing if you enjoy a well-done martial arts movie.
Incidentally, I also bought a copy of the original and intend to re-watch and re-review it later.  I may even view both and combine the reviews.
The second movie was “Adam’s Rib” starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.  The film is from 1949 and involves two married attorney’s on opposite sides of a vigilante case of a wife shooting at her husband when she catches him cheating on her.  The film works because of the obvious chemistry between the two main characters.  There is also an outstanding supporting role for David Wayne playing the scoundrel next door neighbor – Kip Lurie.  I must admit that while I love this film and it is definitely one of my favorites combining these two stars, the court / legal scenes are completely unbelievable – particularly the verdict.  It remains a classic in the battle of the sexes / battle of the spouses movie genres.  Highly recommended if you want to see two old-time Hollywood stars in one of their best roles together.
Hil said she enjoyed the movie (and especially Katharine Hepburn) but didn’t find it particularly comedic.  On reflection, I have to agree with her.  There were funny lines and humorous moments, but all in all, it wasn’t a particularly “funny” comedy.  Interesting…
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