So I figured for this one I would EASE everybody in to Asian cinema with something a little less threatening, the least compelling Ip Man movie. Yes the editing is shoddy, mostly because I was trying to use clips from JUST the trailer so I wouldn’t give too much of the movie away, I am currently looking in to options for getting better quality video to use for my reviews.
Archive for Martial Arts
This is a somewhat short video I made using some of my favorite scenes from some of my favorite Martial Arts movies. The clips here are Flashpoint, Ip Man 1 and 2, Fist Of Legend, Gorgeous and Drunken Master. Once again please forgive my video quality, unless you want to donate to the “I am too poor to afford decent editing equipment” fund.
The honor of October’s pic of the month was never really meant to go to a martial arts film and given my recent reviews on mostly Asian cinema this month I was a little hesitant to even consider this for the honor. I was originally planning on doing Death At A Funeral (the original british version) but after watching this movie my selection was instantly changed and I knew I had to pick this movie. Legend Of The Black Scorpion is a Chinese adaptation of the famous Shakespeare play Hamlet and boy do the word ADAPTATION really fit with this story. The story follows Wu Luan the Chinese prince of the emperor who has left his kingdom to become an actor and musician because his father the emperor married his childhood friend and betrothed Wu Luan to another, Qing who is the daughter of a good family friend and has always loved Wu Luan. Soon word comes to his acting school that his father has died but with that word follows a band of assasins sent from the emperor’s brother who has now taken the throne in the Wu Luan’s absence but the plan is foiled and Wu Luan returns to the palace with no intention of becoming the emperor. He comes back only to seek out the truth of his father’s death and to get his revenge against his uncle but finds that his step mother and childhood friend has now latched on to the emperor and become the empress of the kingdom.
As you can tell the movie follows rather closely to the central plot of the play but don’t be fooled by my synopsis of the storyline into thinking that this is simply a chinese adaptation of the play and nothing more as a matter of fact it is that but SOOO much more. This movie offers both style and substance to the storyline that I have not seen in any adaptation of the story on film. I was thoroughly surprised at just how much more depth was added to each character and how much more developed and complex the characters are as opposed to the other adaptations and even the original story itself. This story is not just all about Wu Luan (Hamlet essentially) it follows the motivations and thoughts of all the characters and follows them quite well.
One thing that really stands out for me in this movie more than any other was just how involved you are with the characters. Because they are so well developed the actions of each character seems that much more horrifying for instance when Little Wan decides to become the Empress alongside her then brother-in-law you see it much more through Wu Luans eyes and her actions seem that much more vile and disgusting. The scenes in which she woos the new emperor are absolutely grotesque in that they make you look at the character in a far more unclean light than what she first appears. This character played by the always gorgeous Ziyi Zhang is by far the most diverse of them all because her actions are so abominable and her motivations are so sickening yet at the same time she goes out of her way to protect Wu Luan at every turn and seems to even have more than just a passing affection for him and vice versa. You really get that feeling of intensity between Wu Luan and Little Wan as they speak. The emperor is also a far more complex character than in the previous adaptations and in the story. The emperor, once motivated by greed and power soon actually falls in love with Little Wan but at the same time he is trying to keep a handle on the situation given that he is the emperor and EVERYONE wants him dead. So he has that sense of paranoia and he still wants to retain power but at the same time he loves Little Wan deeply which adds more complexity to him than just “I am the new king and this is my wife but I will do anything to stay in power” . These characters while having their own motivation also have pure motives as well. The original Hamlet seems to be geared more towards the theme of revenge and how it affects everyone. This story seems to focus on the revenge but that is more like a backdrop with all of these other elements added on to it.
This movie is not a 100% interpretation of the play but what it does it does extremely well. What really put the final nail in the coffin of doubt for me more than anything else about this movie is that the themes and the emotions in the original play seem to be amplified ten fold here by an amazing cast. Every emotion that should be involved with the acts of the characters is shown and done with simply nothing short of astounding acting. Much like the new Dorian Gray film there are a few things it strays from and changes BUT it conveys the over all atmosphere of what Oscar Wilde was attempting to get across, the same thing for Shakespeare is evident in this movie.
This movie is not book tested but it doesn’t have to be, it stands alone as a Chinese interpretation of a western classic. It’s got both sensibillities and one never betrays the other,they work together in perfect harmony. It molds the traditional western story of Hamlet but it adds in Chinese style and story which makes for a wonderfuly unique viewing experience for anyone familiar with the play or the movies based on it. By far the best film adaptation for Hamlet I have ever seen.