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Flash Movie Review: IP Man

HE WAS SUCH AN UNASSUMING INDIVIDUAL that I did not know he was the owner of the company. A fellow employee pointed him out to me one day; I thought they were playing a joke on me because I did not believe it. The owner was casually dressed in nondescript clothing. In other words, there were no fancy labels or names on anything, nor did he wear anything around his neck or wrist like a gold chain or expensive watch. Basically, there was nothing about this man’s appearance that defined his achievements. The product the company was selling was something he had invented. I thought that alone would have been enough reason for him to put on airs or display a sense of importance around the offices, but it was not. He acted like one of the employees of the company. When I think about it, the only time one would wonder what his position was in the company was during the holidays. He would receive a variety of thank you gifts from vendors; things like boxes of fruit, assorted cookies or other food-based products. Instead of keeping them for himself he was always opening the packages and placing them in the company kitchen for people to take for themselves.     AS MUCH AS THE OWNER WAS humble, there was one company salesman who had ego for days. Every day he was dressed in a suit, whether he had customer appointments of not. That alone would not have been a big deal; but he wore quite a few expensive accessories. I had counted at least 6 expensive watches he switched up every day, besides thick gold jewelry pieces on his other wrist. Whether you asked him for his opinion or not, he was the type of person who would always tell you what you should do. Even things that were just common sense, he had to make a point of telling you what was the “right” way to do it; at least right according to him. If a customer came into the offices, they usually assumed he was the owner based on his mannerisms and speech. He was full of himself as they say; I did my best to have only minimal interaction with him. From that job to all the others I have had I have learned those who “crow” the loudest usually know the least. Those who do not brag, or showoff tend to be the most knowledgeable. This certainly applies to the main character in this biographical film festival winning movie.      HAVING PRACTICED A LIFESTYLE OF NON-CONFRONTATION became a conflict for Ip Man, played by Donnie Yen (Rouge One: A Star Wars Story, Seven Swords) when Japanese forces invaded and took over his town. With resources scarce, he would have to find a way to survive. With Simon Yam (Election, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life) as Quan, Lynn Xiong (Hotel Deluxe, My Sassy Girl 2) as Cheung, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi (The Handsome Suit, Railroad Tigers) as Miura and Siu-Wong Fan (Future X-Cops, Flying Swords of Dragon) as Jin; this action drama surprised me. For the genre it is in, this film’s focus was on the story and I found it interesting. It felt to me like a partial history lesson with its inclusion of the Japanese invasion of China back in the 1930s. The action scenes were beautifully choreographed, even when a bit of humor was interjected in some of them. It was unexpected to see a martial arts movie that was so story driven; I was drawn into the plight of Ip Man and his family. Also, the fact that this character was based on a true person (who in real life had Bruce Lee as a student) made this picture that more enjoyable. Seeing photos of the actual man at the end was an added treat. Cantonese, Mandarin and Japanese was spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 ¼ stars       

Flash Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda 3

I was told there are beings who walk the planet robbing people of their energy; they are referred to as “Energy Vampires.” This is what I heard at a convention I attended some time ago. At first I did not quite understand what the presenter was talking about; but after a few examples were given and I later experienced it for myself, it made perfect sense. Let me see if I can explain it to you. Have you ever been at a party where one person dominates the conversations? They may be humorous, crack jokes or do some physical antics to provoke a response from people; however, the underlying current to all of their manipulations is to be the center of attention. This explained why I had such an uncomfortable time being around my friend’s boyfriend. Anytime we would get together he would dominate the conversations; no matter the topic he would bring it back to talk about himself. You may have experienced something similar, where the person throws out a question to you but they really are not interested in your answer. They just want to use the query to talk about themselves. If we played cards or a board game he was merciless; he had to always win. It was exhausting, I always felt tired after being around him. I did not realize it at the time but this guy was sucking the energy out of me and frankly out of the entire room. It came to the point where I had to limit my time around my friend and curtail the times we would play games. Luckily I had the option available to not be around them; but sometimes there is not an option and one has to face up to the challenge.    WHEN the evil Kai, voiced by J.K. Simmons (Whiplash, Juno), began eliminating the kung fu masters from across the land Po, voiced by Jack Black (Goosebumps, Bernie), could not walk away. He would have to confront the evil force and need help to do it. This animated action film had wonderful sharp animation. Visually I was impressed with the look of this adventure picture. With Bryan Cranston (Argo, Trumbo) as Li, Angelina Jolie (Malefiecent, Salt) as Tigress and Dustin Hoffman (Meet the Fockers franchise, Wag the Dog) as Shifu; the story was well thought out and made this sequel quite enjoyable to view. The humor was age appropriate and the writers took care not to make the subject matter too dark for younger viewers. Though I have seen the previous 2 films I do not think it is necessary to see them before seeing this movie. As a matter of fact I liked this one the best out of the three. The audience from what I could tell was into this film, both adults and children. This film was a good reminder that one cannot always run away.

 

3 stars 

 

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Grandmaster

I had no idea when I entered the intensive teacher training program, I would be part of the last class that would be taught by a yoga master. On the first day of class we were introduced to two yoga teachers and their assistants. They would be with us through the entire program, adjusting us into positions we did not realize we were capable of doing. As all of us blended into one cohesive body of students, I began to notice one of the instructors was the “go to” person to demonstrate the poses. He was amazing to watch as his body would willingly move into positions that looked to me like they would break him in two. I had a new appreciation for the strength of the human body because of him. When he told the class we were going to be his final graduating class I could see the sadness in the assistants, besides all the students. I will never forget his words to us about our future with yoga: Let your body remain in a fluid state, only displaying a muscle when it is needed for a pose. His genius with yoga was only matched by the artistry of the martial art skills of Ip Man, played by Tony Leung (Internal Affairs, Hero), in this dramatic biography. Inspired by a true story, the movie was about the life of Ip Man; the man who trained Bruce Lee. From writer and director Kar Wai Wong (2046, In the Mood for Love), this was one of the most exquisite martial art films I have ever seen. Ten years in the making, the editing and fight scenes in this movie were immaculate. Playing the daughter of a martial art master, Ziyi Zhang (Hero; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) was nothing short of breathtaking as Gong Er; I could not take my eyes off of her. She had such a screen presence, with believable martial art skills; I loved the character she played. Tony was an interesting choice to play the famous master; he had a quiet calmness that demanded respect. There was so much detail given to every visual aspect in this action film that I only wished the convoluted story would have been clearer. The movie went from Ip Man’s story to the Japanese occupation of China to Gong Er’s revenge to the division between the southern and northern martial art families; I found it bogged down the picture. If this beautiful movie had a stronger script it would have truly been a wonderful tribute to a gifted master; instead, I do not feel it did justice to Bruce Lee’s master teacher. Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese with English subtitles.

 

2 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Man with the Iron Fists

Ladies and gentlemen for tonight’s main attraction; oh wait, that is not right. There were very few women in the audience for this blood fest. For the couple of women seated near me I am guessing they lost a bet; one seemed more interested in her fingernails than what was on the screen. I haven’t seen so much slicing and dicing since I had to wait in line at the neighborhood delicatessen during their cold cuts holiday sale. With Quentin Tarantino as a producer, one has to know there is going to be a spirited blood bath. It was 19th century China and Jungle Village was the home to several rival clans. When word got out that a shipment of gold was to be transported through the village; mysterious individuals, mobs and assassins plotted a way to steal the gold and seize power. Rza (Repo Men, American Gangster) wrote the screenplay, directed the movie and starred as the blacksmith who was forced to make elaborate weapons for rival gangs. Russell Crowe (Robin Hood, A Beautiful Mind) was the curious Jack Knife, a man who was as comfortable with his knife as he was with his opium. And to interject a shot of estrogen into this dominant men’s club, Lucy Liu (Kill Bill Vol. 1, Charlie’s Angels) was the lethal Madam Blossom, with her bevy of poisonous beauties. The action drove the majority of this story and that was a good thing. With only Russell and Lucy doing any acting worth noting, the other characters were left portraying poor caricatures. There was a comic book flavor to this kung fu film with unsophisticated humor and sight gags. I will say some of the fight scenes were decent, but it lacked the finesse of a true martial arts master. If one is looking to see people getting the crap beat out of them in a somewhat creative way, this would be a cheap choice. Scenes with graphic violence and blood, including the movie trailer.

 

2 1/4 stars

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