Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

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It’s 1970, and Rudy Ray Moore is ready for comedy stardom. There are just a few things standing in his way. He’s over 40, overweight and black. It’s the 70s, so these things pretty much prevent him from ever achieving mainstream success. But he’s determined. When he works out a particular routine, involving vulgar, rhyming stories about a character named Dolemite, he produces a comedy record in his own apartment. And when record stores refuse to carry his work, calling it “filthy,” he decides to put the albums out himself, actually selling them from the trunk of his car. Eventually, he builds up enough of a following that he decides to bring Dolemite to the screen. Unfortunately, no one will invest in him, believing that there isn’t a big enough audience and that he isn’t leading man material. Rudy doesn’t let that stop him, though. As he always does, he finds a way to do it himself, discovering an abandoned hotel where he can shoot the movie without permits, and assembling a motley crew of film students, amateur actors, and strippers to bring the thing together. Will they succeed in creating a classic for the ages? Watch the movie and find out. Continue reading

Everybody Is Kung Fu Fighting… But Should They Be?

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So if you’ve been paying attention to entertainment news recently, you probably saw that Marvel Studios has finally announced its first project with an Asian lead. The film, Shang-Chi & The Legend of The Ten Rings, will be released in 2021 and will star Awkwafina, Tony Leung and Simu Liu as the title character. This is a big deal. It’s what Asian American filmgoers have been demanding for years; a big Hollywood blockbuster with an Asian lead, an Asian director, and even an Asian screenwriter. It’s perfect. Or is it? See, I’m very happy that we, as Asian Americans, are getting a big superhero film of this nature. But the more I looked into the movie, the more confused, and concerned, I became. Continue reading

John Wick: Chapter 3 (2019)

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Picking up precisely where the last film left off, John Wick: Chapter 3 sees our stoic, dog-loving hit-man on the run from, well, everyone. He broke the rules of the assassins guild, and he now has a massive price on his head. But he’s not out of options. He does have some allies, including the director of a special ballet academy (Anjelica Huston), who grants him safe passage to Morocco. Once there, John seeks out the assistance of Sofia (Halle Berry), a woman whose daughter he saved years ago, and who knows the location of “The Elder,” the leader of the assassins guild who can hopefully remove the price from his head. But before he can get there, he’s going to have to shoot, stab, and even book, yes, book, hundreds of people to death. And, in the end, will it be worth it? Watch the movie to find out. Continue reading

Shadow (2019)

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Set during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history, Shadow tells the story of Ziyu, an ambitious but feeble lord who, in an attempt to conquer a walled city, hatches a scheme involving his wife, Xiao Ai, his body double, Jingzhou, and lots and lots of umbrellas. And if that sounds vague, it’s only because the actual plot is so convoluted that it’s not worth trying to explain. However, that does not mean that you shouldn’t seek out this film if it’s playing at a theater near you. Continue reading

House Of Flying Daggers (2004)

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The Tang Dynasty is in shambles. The government is both corrupt and weak, and, every day, it loses more ground to the House of Flying Daggers, a popular rebel group. So, in a desperate ploy to bring the insurgents down, the Tang give two detectives, Leo and Jin, ten days to find and kill the head of the cell. Believing that Mei, a blind dancer at a local brothel, might have connections to the rebels, they arrest and interrogate her. But when Leo decides that they might be able to use Mei to lead them to the group, Jin springs her out of jail, pretending to be sympathetic to the insurgent’s cause. As they travel north, towards the Daggers encampment, however, Jin finds himself growing closer to Mei. So much so that, when they finally find the Daggers, he might not want to bring them down after all. Continue reading

Hero (2002)

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In a period of Civil War, a ruthless king is poised to take over all of China. All that stands in his way are three assassins–Long Sky, Broken Sword, and Flying Snow. For 10 years, they have thwarted his efforts, and personally tormented him, to the point where he can neither sleep, nor remove his armor. Now, though, after more than a decade, a Nameless Warrior claims to have slain them all. To see if this is true, the King summons the swordsman to his palace, and ask to hear how he achieved such an impossible feat. As the Nameless Warrior talks, however, the King starts to suspect that he may not be who he says he is, and that he might have ulterior motives for being there. Continue reading

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

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Li Mu Bai has long led a warrior’s life. But now, after years of bloodshed, he’s determined to turn over a new leaf. So, to prove to everyone that he’s done killing, he gives his sword, the legendary Green Destiny, to Yu Shu Lien, a fellow warrior, and unrequited love interest. But when the Green Destiny is stolen, and Yu and Li’s investigation brings them to the home of a government official, they realize that there’s more to this story than meets the eye. Continue reading