Crazy Rich Asians: There’s A Lot to Chu Over

“Crazy Rich Asians”, has made a huge impact in the short time since its release, not only because it’s based on an international bestseller by an East-Asian author, Kevin Kwan, but because it features an almost entirely Asian cast, (with only five white guys even getting a speaking part). In a U.S.-originated movie, it’s a rare thing for East-Asians to take centre-stage.

With screenplay by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim, this is the story of quintessentially American Chinese Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), who embarks on a trip with her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) to visit his home, Singapore. It turns out to be the trip of a lifetime. Rachel discovers that her laid-back, low-profile boyfriend is a billionaire whose family built half of Singapore. Between head-on cultural clashes, and the brutal matrimonial realities within Asian family clans, Rachel is way out of her depth, and must sink or swim.


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Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings

As one of the major directors in Chinese cinema, any new work of Tsui Hark’s is exciting news, let alone any work released outside China and Chinese-speaking regions. As relatively more Chinese films make their way to Western cinemas, some top-bill Wuxia titles are now sharing the summer slot with Hollywood Blockbusters. This summer sees the global release of “Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings”, the third film in Judge Dee series (after “Mystery of the Phantom Flame” and “Rise of the Sea Dragon”), produced by renown and award-winning producer Nansun Shi (Infernal Affairs, Seven Swords, Chinese Ghost Story). Five years would have given this film considerable build-up, especially after the second one, which, despite the bold steps it took, was by far the weaker of the two.


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Bao: A Review

After the delays due to the World Cup, I am very happy to see “Incredibles 2” released at last. The major reason for my anticipation for seeing this film in the cinema, is the short preceding the main feature, “Bao”, the first Pixar production with a female director, and one of Chinese heritage, no less. Needless to say, my expectations were high, and this adorable work has met them.


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A Brief History of Dong Hua: Taster

It all began in 1922. Between 1922 and 45 was a period when China discovered and explored animation for itself. The main force behind early Chinese animation were three classically trained art students from Shanghai, the Wan brothers, who taught themselves the techniques of animation from studying 20s American cartoons such as Out of the Ink Well, Popeye and Betty Boop. The very first Dong Hua movie, “Uproar In the Studio”, was born in 1926 in a 7 square metre room in Zha Bei district of Shanghai.


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The March of China’s Female Filmmakers

Today is International Women’s Day, or more precisely International Working Women’s Day or The United Nations Women’s Rights and International Peace Day. In China, this has been major celebration of women in all fields since 1924, when the working women of Guangzhou, influenced by the international movement, started one in China, where women united and stood up for their rights across the National and Communist divide. Feminism, however has been problematic in China, after the fall of the thousand-year-old imperial patriarchy, it has taken up as the mantra of male-dominated for most of the twentieth centuries. This year, I’m going to discuss women in the driving seat in cinema, a vital medium because it’s one of the faces of China that within everyone is familiar, to a lesser or greater extent, and a very influential art form that is flourishing and evolving rapidly within China.


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30 Years of Big Trouble

Last weekend I went to watch John Carpenter’s “Big Trouble in Little China” on the big screen, on the film’s 30th anniversary. The film, packed with great soundtrack composed by the director himself, punchy script and adventurous plot, has aged well with time. As an academic writer who focuses on Chinese pop culture, I often find myself dealing with subject matter my peers wouldn’t touch with a ten foot barge pole. John Carpenter’s “Big Trouble in Little China” is one such piece. Having just had a chance to see the 1986 film from a 70mm print, for its anniversary, I thought it was worth talking about, considering the impact this film has had on a whole generation of Western cinema goers, many of whom may have never seen the action adventures of the Chinese film industry which inspired this movie.


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Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal

The Chinese Lunar calendar doesn’t always match up with ours, and our festivals hardly ever overlap. Whilst the West gets all its gruesome ghosts and ghouls taking centre stage at the end of October, the biggest festival of the dead in China takes place half way through the seventh lunar month. This friday saw the end of Zhong Yuan (or Ghost Month http://snowpavilion.co.uk/zhong-yuan-ghost-month/), and to celebrate, here’s a review of 2015’s big fantasy monster movie, released internationally (but not in the UK yet) in August.


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Hero of Shaolin: A Review

It’s been a big autumn for Shaolin in Britain, what with the European Shaolin Festival in October, followed by the re-release of 1984 kungfu classic Hero of Shaolin by Terracotta Distributions on the 10th of November.


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On Chinese Horror Part IV: Mainland Classics

Happy Halloween. To celebrate, I’m going to tell you about the history of horror films in mainland China. It’s true that there haven’t been as many horror classics produced in the People’s Republic, as in Hong Kong, due to closer control of more “sensationalist” content, but we should remember that it was the film talent from Shanghai, who migrated to Hong Kong in the early twentieth century that helped Hong Kong’s legendary cinema industry flourish.


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On Chinese Horror Part II: the Ancient Jiang Shi

In honour of World Zombie Day, this week I am writing about Chinese zombies, which had existed for 900 years before the movies.


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