Tag Archives: Chinese

The Shadow You Are & Deep Within, the Shadow You Aren’t

16 Aug

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Released Aug 13, 2019
Well GO USA

Zhang Yimou’s Shadow is a kind of wuxia film to be best watched on the big screen for its details and colour contrasts. After being enthralled, it should be viewed again on home video to understand its complex narrative. I certainly needed it especially since it last played theatrically at Fantasia Fest 2019.

This tragic tale of court drama is the type I feel Shakespeare will love, and if there is a person whom I feel is damned, that would be the king’s Commander Ziyu (Deng Chao). He challenged General Yang (Hu Jun) from a nearby settlement to a duel without royal authorization and this battle complicates things.

King Peiliang (Zhang Kai) wants that city back under his rule. He goes as far as offering his sister Princess Qingping (Guan Xiaotong) as a wife for Yang’s son, and she doesn’t like the idea at all. To make matters worse, the shadow (to which this movie gets its name) is a doppelgänger masquerading as Ziyu while the real one is recovering. Only his wife Madam (Sun Li) knows and if things are not bad enough, she has feelings for the lookalike.

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How to Celebrate Hungry Ghost Festival Aug 15th

14 Aug

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Ghost Month will reach its perigee on August 15th. At the Hungry Ghost Festival (盂兰盆节), these once human souls are permitted to visit the living world and some may visit their descendents to see how they are doing. On this day, we venerate them with happiness and acknowledge their existence. We save the first row in any performance venue for them to sit there. Anyone who tries may well feel a chill!

This time of the year is a different sort of Halloween. As for what believers can do in preparation is to beware of certain practices lest the spirit attaches itself. This can range from avoiding wearing clothing that is red or black to not killing insects crawling around–they may be someone’s grandparents reincarnated. The best thing to do with the latter is to catch and release the critter outside.

Superstitions aside, some fans of horror cinema may opt to get into the mood. Instead of scaring ourselves silly, we may opt to look at supernatural comedies. My choices have to fit the criteria of how the spirit world interacts with reality. Instead of a top five, I have six on my list. In my culture, we consider this number lucky. Amongst my favourites that are distinctly Asian and PG-13 in tone are:

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[Fantasia 2019] It’s Not Quite Endless Love w/ White Snake

27 Jul

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Distributed by GKIDS

The latest animated film from China about the Legend of the White Snake is making its rounds at film festivals, like Fantasia 2019. As a prequel, the setup is simplified. White Snake (白蛇) defines Xiao Bai as the main character. Her story is familiar, and is no different in scope when compared to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or even Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge.

This computer animated work is very Disney-esque–complete with the prerequisite sidekick comic relief. When a medicine-man (not wanting to be a snake catcher) Xuan (Tianxiang Yang) rescues Bai (Zhang Zhe), her anmesia results in her having to figure out who she is. The story begins with us knowing that she is a spirit from the mountains–a white snake–attempting to attain that higher level of harmony (immortality, according to the subtitles–which makes little sense when spirits are technically very long-lived). However, a memory is holding her back and what she learns which makes up the film is one of sorrow and sacrifice.

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Donnie Yen is Big Brother!

20 May

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Release Date: May 21, 2019
Well Go USA Entertainment

  • Spoiler Alert

Donnie Yen is more than an action hero, he’s a role model more than ever not only to his fans but also to those he’s trying to inspire in Big Brother (大師兄). He plays Henry Chen, a well-meaning ex-soldier turned teacher who believes in second chances. He shows life is not necessarily over to those kids who feel like they have been cast aside. The class he is assigned to handle are all considered delinquents and the problems they have are not necessarily their fault.

While viewers do not understand why Chen is trying to play hero, the story unfolds quickly enough to elevate this character to a superstar. Not even the kids he’s supposed to teach get it. Alice Cooper can sing the praises of school’s out forever, but a lingering question should be asked: what kind of impact does middle school make to anyone who is unsure in what to do next after graduation?

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