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A Simple Life,The Sword of Doom,Cul-de-sac Reviews

14 March 2012 | Chinese Films | by David Zou

This month really goes well for me since I already watched 11 films in 13 days.After the double comedy I wrote last week,I’ve collected another 5 first time viewing films to  express some opinions.3 Reviews comes first and another 2 on Friday.

 

A Simple Life  8/10

a simple life pic

As a Chinese,I’m not expecting any upcoming Chinese films in theater since they always disappointed me,but this HK made film was an exception.The leading actress won Best Actress Award in the 68th Venice International Film Festival,and this film was a bigger winner in 2011 Golden Horse Film Festival,winning 3 major awards including Best Director,Best Actor and Best Actress.

Ann Hui is probably the most famous female director in China,and this is only her first Best Director award for a career spanning over 30 years.Her last hit was Summer Snow(nv ren si shi),which won Best Film in Golden Horse Film Festival that year.As I have seen both of her major works,I must say this time she did an even better job.

Being 65 this year,Ann said she made what she felt in her late years,no wonder every scene in this films seems so real to everyone who has seen it.Caring of the old is an issue she had already concerned and expressed in Summer Snow,only this time it’s a young male master took care of his old female servant instead of a daughter took care of her father-in-law. The reason I said Ann improved his artistry in this film is that she made a more insightful observation on the place where the old live and focused more attention on the details of behavior and psycho status of aged people.Also,she injected her own meditation of life and death into it,that’s why the ending looked so surprisingly  peaceful.The subplot of mutual caring of the two major characters reminded me of Ozu’s Late Spring,and there were many Ozu touched in this film which looked so familiar to me.

Another element made this film outstanding  is the performances,Andy Lau and his godmother in real life Deannie Yip worked together as son and mother since 1980s,and the chemistry was still there.Deannie Yip is of the same age as the director,she had her own understandings of the people at her age,she understood the character and Ann’s philosophy pretty well and she could not be more familiar with the mother role,that were all the reasons her portrait of Sister Tao was so convincing.

 

The Sword of Doom  6/10

sword of doom

Since this film is about a swordsman,first I’m gonna share the interesting difference between swordsman and samurai I found in yahoo answers.The samurai,they have honor, they like wake up sumon be4 they kill em and they dont attack people whos not looking, they go like im gonna kill u when there like 10 feet away.Samarai can use lances, bows, and katanas, they fight on both foot and horsemen.Swordsman-normally heavy armor, uses broad sword,bastard sword, scimitar, cutless, basically any european sword, they dont specialize in any other weaponary, they are mainly foot men not horsemen.

Me and my wife watched this film simply because her idol Toshirô Mifune and my hero Tatsuya Nakadai are both in it,and we were both happy watching it since Tatsuya Nakadai’s intense performance was brilliant,and though Toshirô Mifune didn’t appear on the screen for much time,he appeared to be the one who could defeat Nakadai’s character one-on-one.I liked the philosophy of mind controlling the sword,and this film was a good examination on the mentality of a swordman,the ending is outstanding for its shadow effects,but the story-telling sucked to me.The director was trying to tell the story in multi-line narrative fashion,but failed to  wrap them up beautifully.Sometimes the stories really dragged and sometimes I could not connect the scene with the last scene in logical senses.

I could have give it a rating of 7 for the actors and the theme,but no supplements in the CC package made me feel real bad.

 

Cul-de-sac  6/10

cul-de-sac

I’m not that kind of guy who always hates weird story and characters,but this one really did not work out for me.Polanski’s debut Knife in the Water,which deals with similar topic as this one,is a much better version from my point of view.

The cast,the story,the dark humor,all things people praised this film for,I didn’t get them.

 

 

 


   

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  • Billy Bones via Facebook

    I saw A Simple Life at TIFF last September. One of the best of the year.

  • Dan Morgan via Facebook

    It has been two years since I last watched Sword of Doom. I don’t have a fresh impression, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • I respectfully disagree sir, as i think Johnnie To’s Life Without Principle is actually the best HK film of 2011, hehe

  • I love The Sword of Doom. It’s one of the best samurai action films I have ever seen. I found Tatsuya Nakadai to be absolute terrifying as the main lead, and the action directing is flawless. The final fight made my jaw drop, I had never seen so much bloodshed in a film from the 60’s before. I also enjoy how his pursuit of evil drives him actually insane.

  • Thanks for the Simple Life review. I somehow hadn’t yet heard of it even though I really like Ann Hui. In addition to Summer Snow, I also really loved Ordinary Heroes (which might have my favorite Anthony Wong performance).
    Speaking of HK films, I just saw Life Without Principle and was BLOWN AWAY. Full review forthcoming on my blog.

    • Oh,someone over facebook also talked about it and argued that might be the best of HK films in 2011,I’m looking forward to both the film and your review

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