REVIEW: THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR

CAST

Brendan Fraser (Bedazzled)
Jet Li (The One)
Maria Bello (The Cooler)
John Hannah (Spartacus)
Luke Ford (Animal Kingdom)
Michelle Yeoh (Memoirs of a Geisha)
Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones)
Isabella Leong (Spider Lilies)
Anthony Wong (The Mad Monk)
Russell Wong (Romeo Must Die)

In ancient China, a brutal and tyrannical warlord unites the country’s kingdoms into an empire and becomes the Dragon Emperor. He orders the construction of the Great Wall of China to bury and curse his dead enemies, eventually learning power over the classical elements fire, water, earth, wood and metal. The Emperor soon grows fearful that his death will end all he has accomplished and summons Zi Yuan, a sorceress who is said to know the secret of immortality. She seemingly casts a spell on the Emperor in Sanskrit, before he executes General Ming, his trusted friend and Zi Yuan’s secret lover. He impales Zi Yuan, but having foreseen such events, she immolates and detains the Emperor, transforming his army into the Terracotta Army, and flees.In 1946, Alex O’Connell, Rick and Evelyn O’Connell’s son, and his archaeology professor Roger Wilson locates the Emperor’s tomb. Though attacked by a mysterious woman, they succeed in bringing the coffin to Shanghai. Meanwhile, the British government entrusts the O’Connells to take the Eye of Shangri-La back to China. However, they learn that Wilson works for a rogue military faction led by General Yang, who had provided the financial backing of Alex’s expedition. Yang believes that the Emperor is the one who can lead China out of the chaos following WWII and plans to resurrect the Emperor using the Eye, which contains the Elixir of Life. They open it, but it accidentally lands on the statue of the carriage driver, which is revealed to actually be the Emperor’s mummified body. He accepts Yang’s service but kills Wilson and escapes.Along with Evelyn’s brother Jonathan Carnahan, the O’Connells and the mysterious woman, Lin, travel to a stupa in the Himalayas that will reveal the path to Shangri-La when the Eye is placed on top of it. With the help of Yetis summoned by Lin, the group hold off Yang’s soldiers but the Emperor discovers Shangri-La’s location. Alex attempts to trigger an avalanche. The Emperor throws a dagger at him, but Rick shoves Alex and is stabbed instead. Lin takes the group to Shangri-La, where Zi Yuan still lives and heals Rick’s wound. The group discovers that Lin is Zi Yuan’s daughter, both rendered immortal due to the power of Shangri-La’s waters. As Rick heals, Alex and Lin have grown attached to each other, but Lin refuses due to her immortality; unable to bear falling in love with Alex only to watch him grow old and die, just as Zi Yuan mourned for General Ming.The Emperor and General Yang eventually arrive and attack them in Shangri-La, and the Emperor bathes in the mystical waters, which restores his human form and youth, and gives him the ability to shapeshift. Transforming into a dragon, the Emperor kidnaps Lin and flies back to the tomb, raising his Terracota Army, planning to cross the Great Wall, where they will be invincible. The O’Connells and Zi Yuan pursue the Emperor to the Great Wall where she sacrifices her and Lin’s immortality to create an undead army from beneath The Great Wall, led by a revived General Ming. As Alex rescues Lin, Zi Yuan fights the Emperor and is mortally wounded, but secures the dagger. Zi Yuan gives the dagger to the group before dying. Meanwhile, the Emperor goes into the Great Wall to use his elemental powers to negate the undead spell. Rick and Alex fight off the Emperor while Evelyn and Lin fight and kill Yang. The Emperor gains the upper hand over Rick, but Rick and Alex manage to stab the Emperor in his heart with the dagger, killing him and defeating the Terracotta Army. Ming’s army briefly celebrates before finally moving on to a peaceful afterlife.The O’Connells return to Shanghai while Jonathan decides to move to Peru with the Eye of Shangri-La, as he wants to go somewhere with no mummies. However, in postscript, it is revealed that upon his arrival, mummies were discovered in Peru.The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor has a lot of physical comedy and computer-generated creatures as the previous two movies did. Fans of the Mummy films will be entertained as long as their expectations are checked at the door. I, for one, still enjoyed the mindless entertainment.

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REVIEW: THE FOUNDING OF A REPUBLIC

CAST

Jet Li (The One)
Jackie Chan (Dragonm Blade)
Donnie Yen (Rogue One)
Zhang Guoli (Back to 1942)
Tang Guoqiang (Cairo Declaration)
Zhang Ziyi (House of Flying Daggers)
Vivian Wu (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Xu Qing (Life on A String)
Andy Lau (Shanghai 13)

In 1945 after the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Mao Zedong and members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) travel to Chongqing for a meeting with Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang (KMT). With help from the China Democratic League, the Double Tenth Agreement is signed between the KMT and CPC, with both sides agreeing to stop the civil war and to establish a multi-party government in China.
111The following year, Chiang Kai-shek calls for a National Assembly in Nanjing and is elected as President of the Republic of China (ROC). At the same time, the peace negotiations between the CPC and KMT fail and the civil war continues. Other political figures such as Zhang Lan, Soong Ching-ling and Li Jishen, support the CPC because they oppose Chiang’s government, even though they are in non-battleground areas such as Shanghai and Hong Kong.
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In May 1948, the CPC declares the opening of a “War of Liberation” against Chiang’s ROC government, with many other political parties responding to the call and taking the CPC’s side. The Red Army scores victories against the NRA in subsequent battles and eventually Chiang’s forces retreat to Taiwan in December 1949. On 1 October 1949, Mao Zedong proclaims the People’s Republic of China with its capital at Beijing, marking the start of a new era for China.firestarterApart from the fact the cover makes you think that Jackie Chan and co are the stars, it is a fantastic historic film… about the battle for leadership of china after WW2…the Acting is brilliant so are the effects…well worth watching.

 

REVIEW: HERO

CAST

Jet Li (The One)
Tony Leung (Hard Boiled)
Maggie Cheung (2046)
Chen Daoming (Coming Home)
Donnie Yen (Highlander: Endgame)
Zhang Ziyi (House of Flying Daggers)

In ancient China during the Warring States period, Nameless, a Qin prefect, arrives at the Qin capital city to meet the king of Qin, who had survived an attempt on his life by the assassins Long Sky, Flying Snow, and Broken Sword. As a result, the king has implemented extreme security measures: no visitors are to approach the king within 100 paces. Nameless claims that he has slain the three assassins and he displays their weapons before the king, who allows the former to approach and tell him his story. Nameless recounts first killing Long Sky, before traveling to meet Flying Snow and Broken Sword, who had taken refuge at a calligraphy school in the Zhao state. He tells Sword that he is there to commission a calligraphy scroll with the character for “Sword” (劍), secretly seeking to learn Sword’s skill through his calligraphy. Nameless also learns that Snow and Sword, who are lovers, had gradually grown distant. Once the scroll is complete, Nameless reveals his identity and challenges both Snow and Sword to a duel the next day. Sword, who knows that the scroll has revealed his weaknesses to Nameless, makes love to his pupil Moon, but is seen by Snow. In revenge, Snow kills Sword, followed by Moon when she attempted to seek revenge for her master. The next day, Nameless kills the emotionally unstable Snow before the Qin army, and claims her sword. As the tale concludes, the king expresses disbelief and accuses Nameless of staging the duels with the assassins, as in the previous assassination attempt he had perceived Sword as an honourable man who would not stoop so low as to cheat on Snow. The king then suggests that what really happened was that the assassins volunteered their lives so that Nameless could gain the king’s trust, which would allow Nameless to get close enough to the king to kill him. He then narrates his guess at what really happened.
In the king’s hypothetical version of the story Nameless had sought out Snow and Sword after staging the battle with Sky, telling them that he had acquired a special technique that would allow him to kill any target that is within 10 paces. Nameless explains that he can use this technique to kill the king, but to get close enough he must present Snow’s and Sword’s weapons to the king. He further explains that he only needs to kill one of them in public to “prove” that he has killed both of them. Snow and Sword argue over who should be the one to die, which results in a short fight in which Snow is quicker and manages to injure Sword. Snow then proceeds to meet Nameless before the Qin army while Sword, still recovering from his wound, watches helplessly as Snow is defeated. Moon then gives Nameless her master’s sword, telling him that the swords of Snow and Sword should remain together in death as they had in life.
Nameless admits that he does indeed possess the special technique the king alluded to. However he states that the King had underestimated Sword, and tells the true story. Nameless says that the special technique, while deadly, can also be used to deal a seemingly-fatal blow that nonetheless misses all the victim’s vital organs. He had used this technique on Sky, and now asked Snow and Sword to cooperate by faking a duel with him as well. He demonstrates the technique by showing that it is highly accurate as well as deadly. Snow agrees to the plan, but Sword refuses. Snow angrily accuses Sword of ruining the opportunity they had three years ago, when they had broken into the Qin palace yet Sword had refused to kill the king. She then attacks Sword, and manages to wound him with Nameless’s help. The next day, Nameless “kills” Snow in front of the Qin army. Sword sends Nameless off to the Qin capital, writing the words Tianxia in the sand before leaving. Sword had not killed the king 3 years ago because he desired a unified, peaceful state, and only the king of Qin could achieve that vision.
The king, touched by the tale and by Sword’s understanding of his dream to unify China, ceases to fear Nameless. He tosses his sword to Nameless and examines the scroll drawn by Sword. The king understands that it describes the ideal warrior, who, paradoxically, should have no desire to kill. When Nameless realizes the wisdom of these words, he abandons his mission and spares the king. When Snow learns that Sword had convinced Nameless to forgo the assassination, she furiously attacks Sword and unintentionally kills him when he chooses not to defend himself so that she would understand his feelings for her. Overwhelmed with sorrow, Snow commits suicide. Urged by his court, the king reluctantly orders Nameless to be executed at the Qin palace for his assassination attempt. He understands that in order to unify the nation, he must enforce the law and use Nameless as an example. As the film ends, Nameless receives a hero’s funeral and a closing text identifies the king as Qin Shi Huang.

Hero is undoubtedly a most beautiful and awe inspiring film. What it lacks in plot substance, it makes up for with structure and script. It elaborates on the ground work created by ‘Crouching Tiger’ and is an experience that I would encourage you to seek out, as long as you are willing to submit to the film and let it guide you through its world on its own terms.

REVIEW: WAR

CAST
Jet Li (The Mummy 3)
Jason Statham (Spy)
John Lone (The Shadow)
Devon Aoki (Sin City)
Luis Guzmán (Traffic)
Saul Rubinek (Memory Run)
Ryo Ishibashi (The Grduge)
Sung Kang (Fast & Furious)
Nadine Velazquez (My Name Is Earl)
Andrea Roth (Ringer)
Kane Kosugi (Ninja Sentai Kakuranger)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3)
Peter Shinkoda (Masked Rider)
During a shootout against Chinese Triads at a San Francisco dock warehouse, FBI agents John Crawford (Jason Statham) and Tom Lone (Terry Chen) stumble across the notorious assassin Rogue (Jet Li), a former CIA assassin who now works for the Japanese Yakuza. Rogue ambushes Crawford and is about to execute him when Lone appears and shoots Rogue in the face, causing him to fall into the water. Rogue’s body was never found and he is presumed dead. However, Rogue survives and retaliates against Lone, his wife and his daughter. He kills them, burns down the house, and leaves their three corpses in the ashes of their home.
Three years later, Rogue re-appears, working under Chinese Triad boss Li Chang (John Lone). Rogue is assisting Chang against Chang’s arch-enemy and Rogue’s former employer, the leader of the Japanese Yakuza, Shiro Yanagawa (Ryo Ishibashi). Rogue first attacks a club run by the Yakuza by killing the gangsters and later on the runners in order to recover a pair of antique gold horses, family heirlooms of Chang. However, Rogue is secretly setting the Yakuza and the Triads against each other, in order to push the two factions toward all-out war.
Now the head agent of the FBI’s Asian Crime Task Force, Crawford is determined to hunt Rogue down and exact revenge for Lone’s death. Crawford’s obsessive pursuit of Rogue has taken a toll on his personal life causing him to be estranged from his family. Crawford comes close to catching Rogue in the wake of Rogue’s various killing sprees against the Triads and Yakuza, but Rogue always manages to stay one step ahead.
Ultimately, Rogue’s actions have gained the trust of both Chang and Yanagawa. Rogue succeeds in betraying Chang, but spares Chang’s wife and child, turning on the Yakuza. With Chang dead, Yanagawa is finally ready to come to America, where he intends to take over and expand Yakuza business operations. However, he is confronted by Crawford and the FBI; Crawford presents Yanagawa with proof that Rogue has betrayed him and spared Chang’s family, but Yanagawa refuses to assist Crawford in locating Rogue.
Later, Rogue delivers the horses to Yanagawa personally. Knowing of Rogue’s betrayal, Yanagawa captures Rogue and demands the location of Chang’s family. Rogue turns the tables on Yanagawa’s men and kills them all, and engages in a sword fight against Yanagawa himself. Yanagawa discovers that Rogue is actually FBI agent Tom Lone (who, after undergoing plastic surgery, changed his voice to obtain a Japanese accent); and killed the real Rogue, assuming the assassin’s identity. Rogue/Lone reveals that his actions have all been designed to bring him face-to-face with Yanagawa, so he could kill the man who ordered the death of his family. Yanagawa reveals that Crawford was in his pocket that whole time and responsible for leaking Tom Lone’s identity and home address to the real Rogue. Angered, Rogue/Lone disarms and decapitates Yanagawa.
Meanwhile, Chang’s wife receives a package from Rogue/Lone, containing one of the two golden horses that belongs to Chang’s family and a message reading, “Make a new life”. Yanagawa’s daughter also receives a package with the same message and inside the box is her father’s head. Rogue/Lone then calls Crawford as he is packing up his office, asking him to meet him at the dock warehouse where they last made their investigation. Before going to the warehouse, Crawford enlists the help of Goi (Sung Kang), an FBI sniper that aided Crawford throughout the investigation. At the warehouse, Crawford and Rogue/Lone battle each other in an intense hand-to-hand fight in which Rogue/Lone reveals who he really is to Crawford. When Rogue/Lone reveals his true identity, a devastated Crawford reveals that it was true that he was working for Yanagawa at the time but had no idea that Rogue was still alive. He was then blackmailed and gave Yanagawa Lone’s address thinking that Yanagawa’s men were only going there to “rough him up a bit”. Ever since, Crawford was angry at himself and wanted revenge against Rogue and everyone else involved in what he thought was his partner’s death.
However, Crawford begs Lone for forgiveness, but Lone denies him, coldly replying “Tom Lone is dead, my name is Rogue”. As Rogue takes out a gun to shoot Crawford, Goi takes aim at him. Crawford jumps in Goi’s line of fire, and allowing Rogue the opportunity to shoot him in the back, killing him. The next day, Rogue/Lone later drives out of town to start a new life.
Very good movie overall and I would definitely recommend it for those who are and aren’t familiar with past roles of Statham and Li.

REVIEW: THE ONE

CAST

Jet Li (The Mummy 3)
Carla Gugino (Watchmen)
Delroy Lindo (Gone In 60 Seconds)
Jason Statham (Spy)
James Morrison (24)
Dylan Bruno (Numbers)

A high concept film that offers the possibility of the existence of a number of parallel universes wherein a person actually exists in each as an individual entity, yet is linked to the others by a life force that enables one to draw power and strength from another, `The One,’ directed by James Wong, is ultimately a showcase for the martial arts prowess of Jet Li. Li plays the dual role of Yulaw, a former policeman of the `Multiverse,’ who at some point happened onto the fact that if his own counterpart in one universe dies, his strength is increased; and Gabriel, a member of the L.A.P.D., who knows nothing of the existence of Yulaw or the parallel universes until he finds himself suddenly and inexplicably being hunted down by an unknown predator. Gabriel, it seems, is the last of Yulaw’s counterparts; and he has thus far disposed of one hundred, twenty-three others already. And, if the theory of the Multiverse proves to be true, with Gabriel’s demise Yulaw will become a kind of god, invincible and unstoppable. But there is another theory that states that if such a thing in fact occurs, it will mean the destruction of the universe in which it transpires. So there is a lot on the line, with only two policemen from the Multiverse, Roedecker (Delroy Lindo) and Funsch (Jason Statham) on Yulaw’s trail, hoping to stop him before it’s too late.
Wong has crafted a clever and fast-paced, action-packed adventure in which his star, Li, proves more than capable of maintaining the excitement, especially in the scenes in which he squares off with himself (with a nod of thanks to the F/X wizards-at-large). In this case, more is better, and `two’ Li’s equals twice the action, which is the name of the game in this movie. But though the action is plentiful– and extremely well done and choreographed– the story, even with it’s interesting premise, never seems to be fully realized, or at least not up to it’s potential.

On the acting front, Carla Gugino gives a solid performance as T.K., Gabriel’s wife, and though her supporting role is little more than a diversion between the action sequences, she is a welcome presence to the proceedings and makes the most of the screen time she is allotted. Most importantly, she makes T.K. believable, which adds some needed strength and emotional involvement to the story. Lindo does a good job, as well, but his character, Roedecker, lacks the development that would’ve made him a more integral part of the story. The same can be said of Statham, also, and Funsch seems to be little more than a means by which to move the story along. Not a bad device, but it adds so much more to a film when the characters involved have some real life of their own in them.

The supporting cast includes Brandon Molale (Stygian Prisoner), Scott L. Schwartz (Prisoner) and Kim McKamy (Doctor). A film that seems to fly by as fast as Jet Li’s feet and fists, `The One’ is definitely an exciting experience and makes for some satisfying entertainment. It’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of a movie, and the chances are pretty good that you’re going to get exactly what you expected going in.