“DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART” tries, unashamedly to extol all virtues of what a true love should be. It does work, to a point.
It also brandishes an emotive title that’s typically “old school”.
This is the film’s positioning.
We are led to believe that love is often precariously sweet, yet saccharine baffling.
The path of true love does not run smooth.
Enter-as-you-dare and as everyone would surely do at some point in life, love is addictive, liken to fornicative sex where each participant shares his pleasurable form of connecting.
See, you now have your cake and eat it.
This long-anticipated Mandarin feature bills Hong Kong heart throbs DANIEL WU, LOUIS KOO and introduces unknown doe-eyed mainland actress GAO YUAN YUAN to the rest of Asia.
JOHNNIE TO and WAI KA-FAI grills this loving piece on the BBQ pit with such tender care that’s bound to leave you with a thin coat of tangy aftertaste, long when the credits are rolling and the lights are up.
So is it any good?
Come on, it’s time to move in with the flow.
Let’s start with love is “fizzy”. Daniel Wu is Fang, a disillusioned architect who hits the fizzy bottle once too often to free himself from reality. He sports a disheveled demeanor, is bearded and shaggy.
He saves Zixin (Gao Yuan Yuan) from being run down by an oncoming vehicle and they become fast friends. With the utmost gratitude, Zixin presents Fang with an ugly pet frog, courtesy of her ex boy friend who had dumped her.
So love is “froggy” here. The puffy pet frog becomes their “symbol” of a growing bond.
Zixin has her dreamy moods, on days when she cannot focus on her work. She “interacts” with her “opposite” neighbor Cheng (Louis Koo) from across the opposite building on the same level , using colourful Post-it notes affixed on their respective windows.
The gentle art of window communication, a la ‘seduction’ goes on … and on.
Cheng is a financial whiz kid, a cad, a dandy, a playboy who’s attracted to the ever-silly Zixin, simply because she’s “different” from the regular brood of gals he brings easily to his bed.
He’s rich and he stashes a colorful assortment of condoms in his car "just-in-case".
One fine day the entire global market crashes and things take a different toll.
Cheng moves out of the opposite building and Fang quietly disappears from the scene, and with everybody gone, life for Zixin hits a rut.
Fast zoom to three years later when Cheng returns abruptly to become Zixin’s boss and Fang also does a popping up exercise. This is at the convenience of the scriptwriter.
Our lovey-go-round commences once more, this time on a more heated plateau.
The plot tarries back and forth expanding on this exasperating love triangle with both Cheng and Fang each trying to convince Zixin of their undying devotion.
Which guy bags the gal in the end?
Zixin starts as a loser in love and ends up ensnaring two rich and successful suitors. Her star shines.
Cheng is a bad boy who’s self-assured, conceited and has the perpetual roving eye. He’s a wolf and will alway be one.
Fang is down-to-earth, wears his heart on his sleeve, has a steely presence, and would be the type every gal would love to bring back to mama.
Let’s say it’s simple to put someone on a weighing scale and measure him.
But it is impossible to measure this human quality we call the heart.
Metaphorically speaking, it’s not just the size of the man in any fight. It is the size of the fight in the man.
The one lesson this film tells us is that being in love doesn’t mean that everything in that person has to be perfect. It means you have to look beyond his imperfections.
Having drawled on this, it’s easy to deduce who’s the eventual guy who will win the fair lady’s heart.
To sum up this building-to-building office romance, it will be apt to use this line:
“The most beautiful view is the one I share with you.”
“THE BUTCHER, THE CHEF AND THE SWORDSMAN”《刀見笑》 PRESS PREVIEW
Preambling on “THE BUTCHER, THE CHEF AND THE SWORDSMAN” is like conjuring a vessel …..
and then charting it into the high seas without a proper navigation.
Catch the drift?
We’re hopelessly clueless about the direction in which it is heading.
One hell of a mumbo-jumbo experience, eh?
Kindly roll out the plot, director.
We are agape with wonder that a mystical blade (iron cleaver actually) with such amazing allure can find itself in the hands of three unlikely wacky men whose “passing through encounters” are told in three separate installments, all intertwined to complete a whole.
We should name the series of three “Desire”, “Vengeance” and “Greed”.
Take note that this magical cleaver possesses the ability to alter the fate of each of its owners. No explanations though.
The Butcher (Liu Xiaoye) is a ugly simpleton who’s besotted with a beautiful courtesan.
Naturally he is spurned.
The Chef (Masanobu Ando) may be a good looking lonely mute, but deep inside, he is obsessed with wreaking vengeance on the killers who had plundered his entire family.
The Swordsman (Swanson Han) is the son of a legendary warrior.
He selfishly aims to defeat his father and claim both power and fame.
As each man takes possession of the mystical cleaver at his particular time, that piece of story unravels.
Each discovers that the sword has a double edge, a frightening power that brings with it a great sense of doom.
An otherwise ambitious parable marred by a wayward execution.
Now, let’s tarry a bit.
The film director is Wuershan, a Mongolian born director from a rich advertising background.
He eats, breathes and creates art.
“A good film should be all-rounded, with a good mix and match.” – Wuershan.
“THE BUTCHER, THE CHEF AND THE SWORDSMAN” is his latent piece of art.
He was an ex- TVC veteran imploring us to sit through his debut art-house feature.
He assails us with a generous plethora of dreamlike visuals to startle the eyes and bedazzle the mind, all in a continuous stream.
It’s art-house and art-house flicks offer no explanations.
We have a full contortion of traditional Chinese opera, black-and-white primitive animation, hip-hop music videos, video games and more.
In true MALAYSIAN and SINGAPORE sense, this is what we term creative “rojak”.
You name it and it’s all here in this atrocious gas-bag potpourri mix,
courtesy of the film-director’s foray into his baffling self-indulging art of entertainment.
More fluff than buff?
It’s more like an elongated television commercial.
What’s sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander, mind you.
“The BUTCHER, the CHEF and the SWORDSMAN” is clearly a fine example of a “too-much-of-a-good thing” may not bring forth the required results.
The script is hackneyed and the editing a tad confusing, to say the least.
In the capable hands of a competent commercial story telling director, things could have fared better.
Alas, this is not meant to be so.
What we are left are the undesirable remnants of a weird film that tries to be everything
The name “SUCKER PUNCH” has utmost grit and some style.
It connotes a setback, an unexpected attack.
Yet it rhymes like a sexy oxymoron.
And reeks of a magical drink concocted in any plush club that you must lay your hands on.
Take note, for those who enjoy ogling at “nubile bodies and nice tits”, this one is a must-watch.
It’s every straight man’s titillating cup of tea.
The film director cleverly conjures a seductive line-up of eye candies spread lavishly before you, to melt your heart and “stir” your loins.
Hot chicks, yah.
You’ll be treated with well calculated zooms, rapid slow motion of bodies leaping in the air and boobs jiggling as shells bounce off the pavement.
But there’s more than meet the eye.
Why are these belles styled like “tarts” in the movie?
They are disobedient gals who are being stowed away in a mental institution for whatever devious reasons.
Everybody has a tale to tell.
“SUCKER PUNCH” is adventure-packed all the way, laced with a potpourri of action, mystery, suspense, science fiction and fantasy.
All these ingredients, in one huge melting pot.
The ad headline invites you to savor “a mind-bending vision of reality”.
Just sit back and enjoy as the fantastical times roll, transporting your vivid imagination to the realm of netherland.
What’s REAL? And what’s NOT?
“SUCKER PUNCH” the movie explores the mind of a troubled girl whose dream world forms the ultimate escape from her confused reality.
Unrestrained by the boundaries of time and place, she feeds on her imagainaton and roams wherever her mind takes her.
Her incredulous adventures blur the fine line between the real and the imaginary.
She has been imprisoned against her will, but Babydoll (Emily Browning) is not accepting things lying down.
She will not accept her fate and wants out.
So she urges four female comrades- the outspoken Rocket (Jena Malone), the street-smart Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), the fiercely loyal Amber (Jamie Chung) and the reluctant Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish)- to band together to escape their terrible fate at the hands of their captors, Blue (Oscar Isaac), Madam Gorski (Carla Gugino) and the High Roller (Jon Hamm).
Led by Babydoll, the girls set out to fight a fantastical warfare against everything from samurais to serpents, with a virtual arsenal at their disposal.
Together, they will do anything and everything to stay alive as they go on a journey full of perils with the help of a Wise Man (Scott Glenn).
The cinematography is absolutely breathtakingly and emotively stunning.
Larry Fong the director-of-photography succeeds in accomplishing a magical job.
He is able to cajole the viewer to enter a surrealistic terrain that draws a fine line between stark reality and vivid imagination.
He uses sombre tones and gray skies throughout the film and succeeds in creating a visual art of searing desolation and stark desperation.
There’s no sunshine in the movie, no smiles.
It’s as though we are swimming in a long and winding tunnel of sadness and gloom seeking for the blinding light that seems to elude us.
“SUCKER PUNCH” is a pure action entertainment with stunning visual effects that can do no wrong.
Not surprising that there will be the usual armchair gripers who’d want to sit in the film director’s chair and helm his job.
Zack Snyder directs “SUCKER PUNCH” with so much relish, as if it’s a big screen video game, letting the visual aesthetic runs amok in a wonderland where there’re no rules.
This is a remarkable film that is immensely enjoyable if you do not attach any real meaning to it.
Just let it be an artsy treat that teases and seduces you