Thursday, July 2, 2009

New York Asian Film Festival 2009 - Part III

These three movies were my favorites at this year's festival. Eye in the Sky was my favorite then Tactical Unit: Comrades in Arms with Plastic City a long third.

Eye in the Sky. 2007. Hong Kong. Directed by: Yau Nai-hoi. Starring: Simon Yam, Tony Leung Kar-fai, Kate Tsui, Maggie Siu, Lam Suet. The movie begins with a lengthy wordless who is following who scene with a dapper Tony Leung Kar-fai, a dumpy middle aged Simon Yam and Kate Tsui. Yam and Tsui are part of the Hong Kong Police Surveillance Unit and Leung heads a ring of jewelry thieves. The police look at survelliance tapes from cameras placed around the city trying to locate the thieves. They also drive and walk around the Jordan area of the city. The police find some members, lose them, then find them again. The actors work well together (they should they’ve made many movies together) . The soundtrack instrumentally mimics the sounds of Hong Kong. I liked the musical version of the distinctive sound made when it’s okay for pedrestrains to cross the street.

Plastic City. 2008. Hong Kong/Brazil. Directed by: Yu Lik-wai. Starring: Anthony Wong and Joe Odagiri. Two very good actors in a movie which loses its way. Wong and his adopted son Odagiri are involved in the knock off designer goods business in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Troubles ensue with other Asian gangsters. There are too many plots and subplots and the movie becomes confusing. Wong has flashbacks and runs around with a machete. Odagiri and a group of street kids engage in a preposterous fight with an older gang. However the film is visually beautiful and I enjoyed all the colors, the streets scenes, the city life and the jungle. Joe Odagiri is very good looking but didn’t get the cheers from the festival audience Takeshi Kaneshiro received when he appeared on screen in K-20.

Tactical Unit: Comrades in Arms
. 2009. Hong Kong. Directed by: Law Wing Cheong. Starring: Simon Yam, Maggie Siu and Lam Suet. A continuation of PTU with the same characters. Maggie Siu now has a higher rank than Simon Yam and this causes tension. Lam Suet never found his gun so has been demoted to a driver. The action takes place in the countryside. At one point the unit chases the Mainland gang in the underground tunnels of Shing Mun Redoubt. I was happy to find out a friend has hiked the area and written about it on her blog. Though the movie doesn't have the creativity of Eye in the Sky or the visual beauty of Plastic City it's a solid police procedural which I thoroughly enjoyed.

This year's New York Asian Film Festival was great. Watching this many movies in two days (except for one movie I sat in the same seat) can be 'too much' but this year I was so absorbed in the movies not once did I think when or will this movie end. However I did wonder after watching four movies in a row if I could stand up and walk out of the theater. But that's part of the fun of going to the festival.


YTSL said...

Hi sbk --

Wow, it seems like you like all these movies far more than me.

Re "Eye in the Sky": I think I should revisit it since the one and only time I've seen it thus far, it was in a corporate meeting room -- not the best place to watch a movie, even if it was one produced by the corporation!

Re "Plastic City": it's the first movie I've seen people walk out of a regular screening of here in Hong Kong since "The Legend of Zu"! And while "The Legend of Zu" just bored (me to sleep), "Plastic City" actually left me thinking WTF?! Something I texted to a friend immediately after exiting the cinema... :S

sbk said...

hi ytsl,

I think part of my liking these films wasn't based on their merits. It was the idea of seeing this many Hong Kong films together in a weekend, seeing them on the 'big screen' with an audience who also came to see the films by choice and not watching them on DVD at home.

I think Anthony Wong and Joe Adagiri are good actors so I mentally told myself not to be critical as the movie went 'off the tracks' and just enjoy watching them.

The Milkyway ensemble actors are good actors too and I enjoyed seeing some of them in different roles in "Eye in the Sky" and "Tactical Unit: Comrades In Arms". Lam Suet was very good in both movies.

I'd watched "Eye in the Sky" on DVD and liked it but didn't think it was anything special until I saw it at the festival. There's a lot more going on than I saw first time around. The long opening scene and the music really caught my attention this time. And M's living in that part of Jordan where I walked around very early a few mornings when jet lagged also contributed to my enjoyment of the movie. hehe...I missed seeing Lam Suet on my walks..guess I'm not very observant.....