Tag Archives: Emperor Motion Pictures

Police Story: Lockdown (2013, Ding Sheng)

If it didn’t star Jackie Chan–and if it wasn’t released in 2013–Police Story: Lockdown might seem like a late eighties cheap Die Hard knock-off. Chan’s a gritty bad dad, super cop who finds himself held hostage by his daughter’s new boyfriend (Liu Ye). Of course, the daughter didn’t know her boyfriend was a supervillain, she just invited her dad there to a party and to introduce the boyfriend.

There is a mega-bar, converted from a factory. Oh, and it’s Christmas. Because, you know, it’s Die Hard.

Director Ding’s script goes on and on before it gets anywhere; so does his direction. He cuts back to previous action scenes, purportedly to show Chan’s thoughts, but really it just kills time. Because if he weren’t able to kill time, Ding might actually have to write something for the actors to perform.

What’s so frustrating about the inept script–along with the inept direction–is it doesn’t give the actors anything to do. Chan’s obviously a charismatic performer, even if one’s unfamiliar with his work, because he always seems ready to connect with the viewer. Then Ding stops it, either through lame dialogue, lame flashback or strange cuts and camera movement. Even though the club is a factory and large, it’s a confined space. Ding has no idea how to shoot it.

The action scenes are even worse.

Lockdown doesn’t seem like a good idea for a movie, but it shouldn’t have been this bad. It should’ve been tolerable.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Written and directed by Ding Sheng; director of photography, Ding Yu; edited by Ismael Gomez III; music by Lao Zai; produced by Du Yang; released by Emperor Motion Pictures.

Starring Jackie Chan (Zhong Wen), Liu Ye (Wu Jiang), Jing Tian (Miao Miao), Yin Tao (Lan Lan), Liu Yiwei (Chief Niu), Na Wei (Na Na), Zhou Xiaoou (Wei Xiaofu) and Yu Rongguang (Captain Wu).


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The Great Magician (2011, Yee Tung-Shing)

The Great Magician is a madcap romp through rural early twentieth century China. It never says rural–Peking is mentioned a couple times–but it feels rural, where a somewhat dimwitted warlord (Lau Ching-wan) can still be powerful. The time period’s a little confusing too. Moviemaking plays a significant part in Magician and all the example films are silents, but when people are making movies, they’re making talkies.

But those confusing parts are nothing compared to the rest. Magician is a political comedy thriller with a lot of magic, some quests, a love triangle, probably some of things too. Oh, right, it’s occasionally narrated by two townspeople who break the third wall to directly address the audience.

Even though director Yee’s not much for composition–Magician’s shots are adequate, but far too reliant on CG, something Kita Nobuyasu can’t seem to shoot–he does keep the circus together. Especially after Tony Leung Chiu-Wai shows up. Until he arrives, it seems like Magician could go anywhere (and even for a little while after he does). Once the film focuses on its tone, it gets to be a lot of fun to watch.

Leung and Lau are great together. Xun Zhou’s excellent as warlord Lau’s seventh wife who he decides is the one he really wants. Paul Chun’s funny as Lau’s scheming subordinate.

There are some great comedy interchanges; most end up being completely unpredictable.

Leon Ko’s excellent music is another big plus.

Magician is a strange, fun picture.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Yee Tung-Shing; screenplay by Chun Tin Nam, Lau Ho Leung and Yee, based on the novel by Zhang Haifan; director of photography, Kita Nobuyasu; edited by Kwong Chi-Leung; music by Leon Ko; production designer, Yee Chung Man; produced by Peggy Lee and Mandy Law-Huang; released by Emperor Motion Pictures.

Starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai (Chang Hsien), Lau Ching-wan (Bully Lei), Zhou Xun (Liu Yin), Yan Ni (Lei’s third wife), Paul Chun (Liu Wan-Yao), Alex Fung (Chen Kuo), Lam Suet (Li Fengjen), Daniel Wu (Captain Tasi) and Kenya Sawada (Mitearai).


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