Welcome back to the next double feature! Its been a while, right? I’ll try to be better…I guess I was more burnt out from writing reviews that even I could imagine. Overall, I’m just feeling mostly burned out and not in the mood for writing lately but I’m slowly getting back on track.
With that said, no specific reason when I first chose these two together but the banners are looking like there is a versus vibe to it. 😉 This double feature is 2017 Hong Kong film Chasing the Dragon starring Donnie Yen and Andy Lau, which had its wave of popularity when it was announced and released in Hong Kong (judging from Facebook activity) and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, a DC film that I honestly didn’t care too much about to begin with but it was going to leave Netflix and I just went for it, hoping that low expectations might make it a little more entertaining. One high hopes and one low expectations, lets see how they truly fare, right?
Chasing the Dragon (2017)
Director: Jason Kwan, Jing Wong, Aman Chang
Cast: Donnie Yen, Andy Lau, Philip Keung, Wilfred Lau, Kang Yu, Kent Cheng, Bryan Larkin, Ben Ng, Ken Tong, Dongdong Xu
An illegal immigrant from Mainland China sneaks into corrupt British-colonized Hong Kong in 1963, transforming himself into a ruthless and emerging drug lord. – IMDB
Chasing the Dragon is said to be based on a true story of real life gangster, Ng Sek-ho and also a remake of the 1991 film, To Be Number One. I don’t know much about the history and I don’t think I’ve seen that movie before so I have no idea how it compares. However, Chasing the Dragon is a good one. Its a bit different from how you would normally perceive in a movie solely focused in Donnie Yen’s fighting abilties.
In this one, he plays the gangster Crippled Ho who while has one or two really good fight scenes, he spends most of it being a triad leader. For audience who don’t speak Chinese, it is a pity because the achievement here is how Donnie Yen takes over the character and nails this really fantastic accent while not making it sound goofy but still manage to feel threatening especially since the movie is set in characters sitting in grey areas. On one hand, there’s a lot of bad that has happened and it feels like Crippled Ho was pushed into the situation and we can’t help but to fight for his escape and Andy Lau (the awesome actor that he is) plays Lee Rock, a corrupted cop who will do anything to be number one and finds his support with Lee Rock. You can see where his grey area is because he becomes fairly ruthless. Their appearances are aided a lot by an even more evil cast by Bryan Larkin as Hunt, an arrogant and even more ruthless British cop who is the top dog and feels threatened by Lee Rock’s promotion. This guy is scripted in such a way that makes him so hard to like, and it was the intent.
Chasing the Dragon is very much a Hong Kong film and rather meant for a Chinese speaking audience. Be it the way the movie is and how the language, especially the slang nature of Cantonese can get lost in translation easy. The successes of the film also rely on various elements that rely on understanding why Donnie Yen is so convincing in his role. I’m not sure that if I was just reading subtitles and not totally understanding some of the history (the little bit that I know), how it would changed my enjoyment for it. There are some pacing issues and some rather forced bits possibly over-dramatized. While its a pretty good film, its definitely not the best. It met my expectations but I have to say that might have to do with my respect for both of these actors as well as the great supporting cast that was on screen.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot
Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. – IMDB
Let’s make it really clear that I haven’t seen Man of Steel so I don’t know what happened to make Batman so angry except for the little recap snippet in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As I said before, my expectations for this one wasn’t high. My difference here is just that I didn’t feel convinced about this film from the trailer. I have no issue with Ben Affleck as Batman, maybe a tiny issue with Henry Cavill as Superman, mostly because I haven’t seen a movie he has done that I like. The issue with the film might not exactly be the cast because they are all great actors and do a pretty good job. Where this film falls apart is its length which made the pacing so horrible. The story itself falls apart and is flat out boring. It never feels like much happens. There’s some stealthy useless stealing scene, Wonder Woman gets in the way, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor does his crazy act and then takes them down a notch from their high superhero ways and they put aside from issues and team up to fight him. Not exactly a riveting story in my mind but some basic stuff with a lot of padding in between. I wonder if its because I haven’t seen Man of Steel that I don’t have that connection with Superman so I don’t have any stake in how much I care about his making it out of this or not. But the movie itself just wasn’t good because it was boring and at times, felt so pointless.
Either way, not one that I’ll go visit. So far, the top DC film out of the two (and a tenth of Man of Steel) that I’ve seen is definitely Wonder Woman (review). Not in a hurry to catch up with the DC films just yet. I had low expectations and this one possibly even went a bit lower than that.