Movie Review: Crazy Rich Asian

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Crazy Rich Asians is one of the the Asian-led romantic comedy topping box offices in the USA in 2018.

With a huge cast of veteran actors and newcomers alike, Crazy Rich Asians has been lauded as a first important step in representation on screen.

Gallant Nick Young (British-Malaysian TV host Henry Golding) and NYU Economics Professor, Rachel Chu (“Fresh Off the Boat’s” Constance Wu), are two lovebirds setting out to meet his family in the thriving city-state of Singapore on the occasion of his best friend Colin’s (Australia’s Chris Pang) wedding.

Crazy Rich Asians has focused on the unlikelihood of a big-budget Hollywood production being built around an all-Asian cast, directed by an Asian filmmaker (Jon M. Chu), based on a hit novel by an Asian writer (Kevin Kwan), and aimed largely at Asian audiences, who’ve been served by so many rich global film traditions but far less so in the U.S. over the years. It won’t be long, however, until the story becomes one of how many stars wind up emerging from this film. For one, Wu has been doing solid work for some time now, but here she delivers the kind of radiant, charismatic turn that creates movie stars overnight. Rachel is very much an audience proxy for Chu’s foray into Singapore’s luxurious day and nightlife scenes, and her wonder is quickly replaced by the terror of being thrust into a situation she was left completely unprepared to handle. A lot is asked of Wu throughout the film, and she responds with the kind of genuine magnetism that can’t be feigned by a lesser performer.

“Crazy Rich Asians” gives us a smooth, polished take on Cinderella in a context looking at cultural clashes that reach beyond ethnic similarities. Rachel, a first-generation Chinese-American, speaks Cantonese as well as anyone in Nick’s family, and most of the all-Asian cast speaks a plummy Queen’s English from their days in elite British boarding schools.

But the film’s strongest selling point isn’t that, or its dressed-to-kill costuming or its use of chic locations and appetite-exciting food porn. Its benefit is filtering all those elements through an old Capulets-and-Montagues story line and creating a deft, intelligent charmer as irresistibly fizzy as the champagne its characters quaff round-the-clock. It gives romance the royal treatment.

Main cast in Crazy Rich Asian:
  • Constance Wu as Rachel Chu, Nick’s girlfriend and Kerry’s daughter
  • Henry Golding as Nick Young, Rachel’s boyfriend and Phillip and Eleanor’s son
  • Michelle Yeoh as Eleanor Sung-Young, Nick’s domineering mother and Phillip’s wife

I need to get the novel and  find out how does it go…

crazy rich asian novel

Movie Review: Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is the sequel to “Jurassic World,” Colin Trevorrow’s 2015 reboot of the “Jurassic Park” franchise. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reprise their roles as Owen and Claire, and Jeff Goldblum’s return as Ian Malcolm from the original film.

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“These creatures were here before us,” Goldblum says in the new footage. “And if we’re not careful, they’re gonna be here after us.”

Three years after all hell broke loose on little Isla Nublar, a newly active volcano is threatening to consume the surviving dinosaurs there. In America, activists push for a rescue mission: Having brought these species back to life, they argue, mankind owes them some kind of debt. A committee of lawmakers hears from an expert witness, whose advice boils down to “the genie’s out of the bottle, folks,” or, perhaps, “life will find a way.” Yep, that would be Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm, whose involvement in the film is limited to just this one bit of testimony — but whose lines may be teasing a bigger role next time around.

The ringleader of the save-the-dinos campaign is someone with plenty of reason to see them re-extincted: Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire Dearing, who nearly died every five minutes or so during the final hours of the park she used to run. Introducing her character with a shot that begins on her footwear and inches up, Bayona gets a laugh out of Jurassic World’s biggest idiocy: This time around, Claire will leave the high heels in the office and wear sturdy knee boots when it’s time to run through the jungle.

Claire is summoned by gazillionaire Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), who we learn was John Hammond’s partner in reviving extinct species before the latter split off and started the first Jurassic Park. Near death, Lockwood wants to set things right for the animals he helped create: He has located a pristine island that will be suitable as a tourist-free refuge, and wants Claire’s help getting as many animals as possible relocated there before Isla Nublar goes kablooey. Naturally, the mission will need the special talents of Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady, who has been off hand-building a cabin in the mountains since his affair with Claire ran out of steam.

Pratt downplays the cowboy charisma that helped make the human side of Jurassic World tolerable, but Owen remains cocksure enough to set the tone for developments to come: When, after arriving on Isla Nublar, the two realize there’s a plan afoot to steal dinosaurs and sell them for all sorts of nefarious purposes, Claire and Owen must sneak into and sabotage the effort much like Indy did with those Nazi submarines in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The mass evacuation leads them to a secret dino zoo on the American mainland, where mad scientists are holding that smaller-meaner beastie hinted at in Jurassic World: The Indoraptor, which gets genes from both that film’s Indominus Rex and the nightmare-maker who starred in the series’ first outing and most of its best moments since: the Velociraptor.

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Clare and Owen meet Lockwood’s granddaughter Maisie (newcomer Isabella Sermon), a very bright and curious kid who has just learned of all the nefarious stuff being planned here. With Clare’s sidekicks Zia — Daniella Pineda, as a paleo-veterinarian who may owe the distracting chip on her shoulder to constant questioning about how one finds work as a paleo-veterinarian — and Franklin — Justice Smith’s tech nerd, whose shrieks of terror rival Howard’s — the group must keep these dangerous creatures out of the clutches of arms dealers, Russian oligarchs and the handlebar-mustachioed dudes who apparently just want to hunt them for sport.

(About that auction: The screenwriters don’t seem to grasp the economics of a world ruled by the megarich. When a stainless-steel tchotchke by Jeff Koons can sell for almost $60 million, no auctioneer worth his haughty accent would allow a last-of-its-kind prehistoric monster to go for less than half that. As one baddie brags early on about being able to sell a specimen for $4 million, we snicker and recall Dr. Evil’s underwhelming “one million dollars!” ultimatum. Does he think that’s a lot of money for a dinosaur?)

Working with his usual DP, Oscar Faura, Bayona finds many opportunities to transform action beats into memorably beautiful visions. Trapped on the edge of the dying Isla Nublar, for instance, a magnificent lone animal — what are we supposed to call Brontosauruses these days? — rears on its hind legs as it’s engulfed in smoke and flame. In his many decades onscreen, Godzilla has rarely had such an operatic showcase. And reteaming with editor Bernat Vilaplana (who has worked often with both Bayona and Guillermo del Toro), the director ensures that the enchanting images don’t derail the picture’s intensifying action pace.

While the movie courses seamlessly through different modes, it remains old-fashioned in its treatment of Howard’s character, who mostly screams and runs while Owen gets things done. Claire has grown up a lot since her debut as Jurassic World’s soulless corporate climber, but she remains a damsel in distress who (this time, as last) gets to perform a single far-fetched heroic feat when things are at their most dire.

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Fallen Kingdom ends with an act that is just about impossible to believe outside the context of a fiction that, like DNA, is driven solely by the need to replicate itself. This is said to be the second film in a trilogy. But Fallen Kingdom’s closing scenes seem intent on something far bigger, like a Planet of the Apes-style saga that has barely begun. You don’t remake reality in a film’s final frames without intending to milk things for as long as the public will keep buying tickets. If future instalments are this rich and exciting, that’s probably going to be a while.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of all is the way the film ends, by clearly telegraphing the setup for the third Jurassic World, which already has a 2021 release date. But this movie crosses certain boundaries in a way that can’t be undone, and if audiences don’t like where things are headed at the end of this film, they aren’t likely to have those concerns addressed in the next instalment.

Production companies: Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment
Distributor: Universal
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Isabella Sermon, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B.D. Wong, Geraldine Chaplin, Jeff Goldblum
Director: J.A. Bayona
Screenwriters: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Producers: Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley, Belen Atienza
Executive producers: Steven Spielberg, Colin Trevorrow
Director of photography: Oscar Faura
Production designer: Andy Nicholson
Costume designer: Sammy Sheldon
Editor: Bernat Vilaplana
Composer: Michael Giacchino
Casting: Nina Gold

Movie Review: Chasing The Dragon

Genre : Action Crime
Language : Cantonese
Director : Jason Kwan, Wong Jing
Casts : Donnie Yen, Andy Lau
Release date : 28 September 2017

Ho (Donnie Yen) slipped into Hong Kong from Mainland China in the 60s’. At that time, Hong Kong Police Force partnered with the triads under British colonial rule. Corruption was as rampant as ever. Chief Detective Lee Rock (Andy Lau) appreciated Ho’s exceptional fighting skills and guts, thus helped him escape further torture by British Police. Ho was grateful to Rock for his help. During one of the gang fights, in order to save Rock, he even sacrificed his right leg, hence becoming “Crippled Ho”. The two had since developed a close brotherly love. And Rock helped Ho to become the No.1 leader of the drug empire. Rock and Ho became extremely powerful and separately ruled the upper-world and the underworld of Hong Kong. However, at the same time, they checked and wrestled with each other secretly to ensure the balance of power between them. Until 1974, the establishment of ICAC forced Rock to have a premature retirement. However, Ho did not want to quit, and was determined to become the sole dictator of the drug empire…