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The Assassin’s Blade (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

dragon

“The Assassin’s Blade” is a film that may seem a bit disjointed at times, but manages to retain that Jingle Ma style of action and romantic comedy but also incorporating a tragic side as well.  Featuring cool sword fight choreography, “The Assassin’s Blade” is a film worth recommending!

Images courtesy of © 2008 Mei Ah Entertainment Group Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Assassin’s Blade (Mo hup leung juk)

FILM RELEASE: 2008

DURATION: 103 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9 widescreen, Cantonese Chinese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

Release Date: May 7, 2013

Directed by Jingle Ma

Screenplay by Po Chun Chan, Jingle Ma, Ka-Keung Ng, Sin Ling Yeung

Produced by Catherine Hun

Music by Tsang-Hei Chiu

Cinematography by Chi Ying Chan, Jingle Ma

Edited by Chi-Leung Kwong

Art Direction by Tony Yu

Costume Design by Bruce Yu

Starring:

Charlene Choi as Zhu Yanzhi

Chun Wu as Liang

Ge Hu as Ma

Li Qinqin as Zhu Yanzhi’s mother

Shao Bing as General Tie

Shaun Tam as Axe gang boss

Lung Ti as Zhu Gongyuan

Seli Xian as Yinxin

Xin Xin Xiong

Harlem Yu as Uncle Caotou

Zhu Yanzhi (Charlene Choi) is the daughter of a wealthy wine merchant (Ti Lung), sent into the mountains disguised as a man to learn martial arts with an elite clan.Once she begins her intense training, Zhu finds herself at odds with her trainer and superior, Liang (Chun Wu). But soon, a stronger connection is revealed between the two, and as their attraction grows, so does the danger of Liang discovering Zhu s real identity, Could it be that they’re destined to be together?As the two lovers dare voice their feelings, Zhu learns that her parents are in danger and she must return home immediately, in the company of a childhood friend who also happens to be an aspiring court politician. Could there be more to his intentions than she knows? From the action director of HERO and HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, this comedy romance crackles with action, danger, hidden identities and unrequited love.

Filmmaker Jingle Ma is known for his many hit films in Hong Kong.  From “Fly Me to Polaris”, “Tokyo Raiders”, “Summer Holiday”, “Seoul Raiders” to name a few, Ma is known for being able to direct films that utilize characters for action but also romantic comedies and tragic dramas.

In 2008, Jingle Ma directed “Mo hup leung juk” (“The Assassin’s Blade” and also known as “The Butterfly Lovers”) starring Charlene Choi (“Vampire Effect”, “Robin B-Hood”, “The Sorcerer and the White Snake”), Fahrenheit boy band artist now full-time actor, Wu Chun “14 Blades”, “Magic to Win”, “My Kingdom”) and Hu Ge (“1911″, “Diva”).

The film begins with an introduction of how two virgin’s (known as the Butterfly Lovers) from heaven, a man and a woman who had fallen in love, were banished to the mortal world with their punishment to last for 10 generations (each time they are reincarnated).

The film then begins with Zhu Yanzhi (portrayed by Charlene Choi) being dressed as a man and sent to the Soul Ease Clan, so she can learn how to fight and protect her family.  While leaving, many clans try to attempt and attack her but she is saved by Liang Zhongshan (portrayed by Wu Chun) and later helped by her Brother Ma (portrayed by Hu Ge), a family friend who has been supportive of the family for years.

While at the Soul Ease Clan, it is evident that Zhu Yanzhi is not much of a fighter and appears to her other new brothers as quite feminine.  But keeping her secret and supporting her behind the scenes is the health medic, Uncle Caoutou (portrayed by Harlem Yu).

Responsible for taking care of her is Brother Liang and because it is his responsibility to watch over her, he tries to have fun with Yanzhi by initiating her to the group (not knowing she is a female) by having the brothers throw her in the lake (because she was covered with dirt).  But Yanzhi got sick and cold and Brother Liang knows he would get in deep trouble if he didn’t not take care of his new little brother.

And while he takes care of Yanzhi, she starts to become smitten with him to the point that she starts putting butterflies on his sword.  Meanwhile, he tries to help Yanzhi with martial arts training.

One day, the medical healer comes up with a new experimental medicine that will make a person seem dead for three days but they will need to be fed a certain type of grass on the hills to revive them and the healer puts his trust into Yanzhi to revive him, as he will experiment on the new medicine he created on himself.

Frantic about not knowing what the healing grass is, she goes out to look for it immediately but gets hurt and sprains her ankle.  Brother Liang eventually finds her and when he finds her, unresponsive, he goes to put pressure on her chest and finds out that she is actually a woman.  While he manages to revive her, her secret is now known by Liang and both become attracted towards each other.

But while she hopes to spend more time with Liang, her Brother Ma comes with news that her parents were in trouble and now Yanzhi needs to come back home.  But what Brother Ma sees is a Yanzhi attracted to Liang and he becomes jealous.

Liang requests for Yanzhi to accompany him real quick to a place that he had wanted to show her and what they find is a butterfly garden and both confess they have similar dreams of finding each other.  Not knowing why they feel they are destined to be with each other.

While Yanzhi returns home, her mother tells her that she will be married.  Thinking that she is to marry Liang, she finds out that her father has her arranged to marry Brother Ma, which she refuses.  But her father is adamant that she must do what her parents say and has her locked up with a chain in her room.

So, with a marriage between Yanzhi and Brother Ma to take place, Brother Liang heads to her village, in order to meet with her.  But what happens when he makes contact with Yanzhi?

VIDEO:

“The Assassin’s Blade” is presented in 16:9 widescreen.  While made in 2008, the film features wonderful detail and costume design.  There are some stylistic and artistic directions that Jingle Ma utilizes in the film, for example, the butterfly garden which uses pastels and a colorful palette.  One of the better scenes in the film features a sword fight between Liang and an army of men, but the red lanterns really look stylish and for the most part, the film looks visually stunning.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Assassin’s Blade” is presented in Cantonese DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio.  I have to admit that I was expecting good use of the surround channels for the film.  But the main moments I recognized the lossless track being more vibrant was during the opening music sequence and Charlene Choi’s main music segment in the film.  For the most part, the audio is crystal clear but is driven by a center and front channel lossless track.  Not too immersive as I would hope but the overall film sounds fantastic!

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Assassin’s Blade” comes with a trailer.

A Romeo and Juliet style of storyline that visually looks impressive but the film’s pacing from comedy to a serious drama seems out of place, especially from predictable plots and uneven acting at times.

I have had the opportunity to watch many of the films directed by Jingle Ma and also films starring Charlene Choi and he has directed some of Hong Kong’s biggest hits.  From the ultimate sad storyline of “Fly Me to Polaris”, the enjoyable action film “Tokyo Raiders”, the fantastic romantic comedy “Summer Holiday” and the dance film “Para Para Sakura”, one can call Jingle Ma a filmmaker who is able to take on a variety of genres.

While Charlene Choi has been the idol pop star formerly of the Twins, who had taken on roles that were primarily romantic comedies or action films with a pop twist, may it be “The Twins Effect” films, “House of Fury” or other related films.

Fortunately, being a popular actress and still a bankable star in HK does allow for better roles and since 2009 with “Storm Warriors”, “Treasure Inn”, “The Jade and Pearl” and most notably, for the 2011 film “The Emperor and the White Snake”, Choi has established herself as one of the go to girls for martial arts films.  Maybe not so much as a martial arts fighter but to utilize her comedy/drama skills and bring it to the big screen.

And this is the case with “The Assassin’s Blade”.  While one who may have seen the trailer, may get a different idea that this film is about a hunter being the hunted or something deeper, “The Assassin’s Blade” is more of a romantic comedy for its first half and suddenly becomes a serious martial arts film by its second half and becomes a “Romeo and Juliet” type of storyline.

And unfortunately, just the mere mention of that will give people an idea of what to expect of this film.

While the film has wonderful visual scenes and fight choreography, one can wonder how a Charlene Choi is able to play a man, while still looking very beautiful as a young woman with makeup.  Some may question, it’s quick transition from romantic comedy to a serious action film by its second half.  But this is how Hong Kong cinema has always been, keeping audiences interested before delivering with action sequences for its second half.

The plot is also muddled with questionable plotlines, as the storyline involving Brother Ma as an antagonist doesn’t seem too plausible and the bad things that he does, is not strong enough for one to even dislike him.

If anything, the first half of the film is fun because we see Liang and Yanzhi getting closer, but both not knowing why they are attracted to each other and for Liang, having this unexpected feeling that he may be falling for his feminine younger brother.    But by the second half, when we get to see the action take place and how Liang and Yanzhi will do whatever they can to be together, that’s when the film really begins to catch on and become more exciting.

But the film is fun for the most part, but it feels you are getting two different of stories.  One created for the first half to establish the characters, while a second half becomes more serious and tragic.

As for the Blu-ray release of “The Assassin’s Blade”, the visual presentation for this 2008 film looks very good in HD but the lossless track could have been more immersive.  And as for special features, I expected to see a featurette but all you get is a trailer that really tries to make the film seem like it’s something different.

While I feel this is not Jingle Ma’s best films that he has directed, I will say that this film is quite enjoyable for it’s storyline and fight scenes.  Charlene Choi has always been an actress that I enjoyed for her comedy and emotion, while Wu Chun really gets the opportunity to shed his boy band image and for people to look at him as a young up-and-coming actor.  Both do a very good job in this film!

Overall, “The Assassin’s Blade” is a film that may seem a bit disjointed at times, but manages to retain that Jingle Ma style of action and romantic comedy but also incorporating a tragic side as well.  Featuring cool sword fight choreography, “The Assassin’s Blade” is a film worth recommending!

Kung Fu Dunk (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Unless you are a big fan of the various pop stars in “Kung Fu Dunk”, the film suffers from a weak plot and bad utilization of its characters.

Image © 2008 Emperor Motion Picture (International Ltd).  2009 Showbox Media Group Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Kung Fu Dunk

DURATION: 99 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Dolby Digital Chinese 2.0 Mandarin, Chinese 5.1 Mandarin & English 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Showbox/Cine Asia

RATED: Suitable only for people 15 years and over (Contains moderate martial arts violence and bloody injury)

RELEASE DATE: July 13, 2008

Directed by Kevin Chu

Action Director: Tony Ching Siu-Tung

Written by Kevin Chu, Lam Chu-Wing, Anne Wang

Executive Producer: Albert Yeung, Wu Tun, Ren Zhonglun

Producers: Albert Lee, Xu Pengle, Fargo Pi

Associate Producers: Wang Tianyun, Wade C. Yaho, Jennifer Chang, Catherine Fu

Director of Photography: Zhao Xiaoding

Edited by Chen Po-Wen

Music by Ko Ishikawa

Costume Designer: Shirley Chan

Production Designer: Yee Chung-Man

Starring:

Jay Chou as Fang Shijie

Eric Tsang as Zhen Li (Uncle)

Gang Wang

Charlene Choi as Lily

Wilson Chen as Ting Wei

Baron Chen as Xiao Lan

Wang Gang as Wang Biao

Will Liu as Li Tian

Ng Man Tat as Master Wu

Bryan Leung as Master Fei

Eddy Ko as Shi Jie’s Master

Kenneth Tsang as Wang Yi Wan

Yen-ping Chu

Orphaned from birth, Jay is raised in a martial arts school, and becomes a prodigious master in the ancient art of Kung Fu. When he is expelled for overshadowing his teachers in an epic showdown, he quickly learns that lightning fast reflexes are good for more than just fighting, and agrees to play for the college basketball team in exchange for information on his long-lost family. After a dazzling display of backboard-breaking slam-dunks, alley-oops and gravity-defying circus-shots, he emerges triumphant as the team’s new star-player. However, when faced with a headlong race to the finals against a team of legendary brutality, he soon discovers that skill alone will not bring home the gold… Showcasing the breathtaking talents of one of action-cinema’s brightest new stars, Kung Fu Dunk delivers a high-velocity, hoop-tastic thrill-ride that will have you cheering for overtime!

I can easily remember the hype that was built around “Kung Fu Dunk”.

First the announcement of pop star Jay Chou playing the lead character and then word that the film would be based on the Japanese manga/anime series “Slam Dunk” caught  the attention of many who were familiar with the series.

But then things changed and the next thing we heard is that the film would be like a “Shaolin Soccer” and feature Kung Fu with basketball.  Needless to say, it sounds unusual but “Shaolin Soccer” was an enjoyable film that you just have to sit back and see what Director Kevin Chu and writers Kevin Wu, Lam Chiu-Wing and Anne Wang had put together.    And the collaboration of Taiwan, Hong Kong and even mainland Chinese talent definitely raised the curiosity of fans of the various talent in the film.

“Kung Fu Dunk” is about an orphaned boy named Fang Shi Jie (played by Jay Chou).  When he was a baby, someone left him with a homeless man.  The homeless man gave the baby to a Kung Fu instructor and at this school is where Fang would be raised.

But one day, his instructor/master was experimenting with a technique and somehow ended up freezing himself to death.  With his master gone, Fang would grow up to become the punching bag by the principal of the school.  And one day when he was to be the punching bag by the principal, Fang played the part right but because he wore a Shaolin iron vest, the principal was upset and kicked Fang out of the school for the night without dinner.

Depressed about not eating, Fang hung out in the city and started throwing cans from a long distance right into a garbage can.  This catches the eye of the down-and-out street hustler Wang Li (played by Eric Tsang).  Wang challenges Fang to throw a coin in his throat from a long distance and if he can, Wang would take him out for dinner.   And Fang does just that and thus, gets a free dinner for the night.

Because of his skill, Wang comes up with an idea to use Fang to win some money at a local gambling club via bet of darts.  Fang keeps winning by throwing the darts directly at the center of the target and because he had won so much money, the local triad boss, Brother Hu has his men try to take back the money from Wang.  But Fang, being raised from a Kung Fu school ends up defeating every gangster at the club (and also destroying it).

What Fang doesn’t know is that the Kung Fu school’s owners are working for Brother Hu and are being paid by him.  Because one of their students has caused considerable damage at the triad boss club, Fang is punished and beaten by his teachers and is expelled from the school.

With nowhere to go, Wang takes him in and decides to use his talent by having him join the First University basketball team.  Fang meets the girl of his dreams, manager Lily (played by pop star/actress Charlene Choi) and her brother Ting Wei (played by Bo-Lin Chen), the captain of the team.  Fang learned that the Captain hasn’t been the same after losing an important championship match against a former teammate and has now become an alcoholic. But Fang learns that although he has talent because of his shooting technique and martial arts training, he doesn’t have the basketball discipline.

So, the Captain Ting Wei and their slam dunk expert Xiao Lan (played by Baron Chen) teach him the value of teamwork and how to improve his game and hope they can make it to the basketball championships and get revenge against their former teammate and now rival Li Tian (played by Will Liu) who leads a team of martial arts brutes.

VIDEO:

“Kung Fu Dunk” is presented in 1080p.  For the most part, the picture quality looks very good on Blu-ray and much better than its DVD counterpart.  Blacks are nice and deep, I didn’t notice any aliasing or compression artifacts but for the most part, the PQ was very solid for this release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Where the Blu-ray shines in PQ, unfortunately this 2008 Blu-ray release is missing a lossless soundtrack.  Not sure why but “Kung Fu Dunk” is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Mandrarin and English Dolby Digital 5.1.  The audio quality is fine, but the fact that the audio is not lossless is a bit of a letdown, especially since the film has its share of action sequences.   The Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 track is good but the English dub is on par with a lot of the English dubs for Asian films these days.  It’s not my preference but I did re-watch the film in English and for the most part, it works.

As for subtitles, subtitles are presented in English and the good news is that I didn’t notice any bad subtitling errors or anything problematic.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kung Fu Dunk” comes with the following special features:

Please note: This is an all-region Blu-ray but there are times with European Blu-ray special features will not work on American Region A players.  For “Kung Fu Dunk”, I was able to play the special features with no problems.

  • Original Theatrical Trailer – (1:36) The original theatrical trailer.
  • Interview Gallery – Featuring interviews with Jay Chou (11:49), Charlene Choi (7:31), Kevin Chu (5:26), Zhao Xiaoding (1:32), Lichun Lee (2:47), Ni Yan (2:03), Ka-Yan Leung (1:02), Gang Wang (1:41), Chen Bo-lin (3:14), Eric Tsang (4:34), Wu Tun (4:22), Baron Chen (4:01), Shaun Tam (1:33), Bo Huang (:52), Man Tat Ng (2:21) and Jacky Wu (2:51).   Subtitles are in English for the interviews.
  • Behind-the-Scenes – The following behind-the-scene features are in five parts: The Action (7:05), The Stunts (2:52), Training with the Bus (1:03), Shooting on the Streets (2:16) and Shooting Hoops (3:13).
  • Storyboard – (:51) Featuring the hand drawn, digital and printed storyboards.
  • Lost Scenes – Featuring two behind-the-scenes footage not used in the final cut: Cheerleaders (:39) and Punishment (:44).
  • Just For Fun – (3:00) Featuring Jay Chou playing the piano and having fun on the set.

First, let me just say that I was really looking forward to this film.  As a big fan of music from Jay Chou and even TWINS member Charlene Choi, I felt that their pairing would be something unique and enjoyable.  And as a fan of Eric Tsang and seeing how he was there for HK actor Nicholas Tse when he first started out on film, I figured that Tsang would be a wonderful father-like figure for Jay Chou’s character in “Slam Dunk”.

But when I heard that the film was going to be more like “Shaolin Soccer”, my skepticism for the film reached it’s peak.  I couldn’t fathom it.  If anything, memories of the video game “NBA Jam” came to mind and I imagined there would be high flying, crazy looking slam dunks and after watching this film, I was right.

The good news is that some action sequences were quite entertaining and the cameo by a few of the stars from “Shaolin Soccer” making their appearance on “Kung Fu Dunk” was pretty cool.  But unfortunately, the plot of the film is extremely kitschy.  After seeing Chou in “Initial D”, I figured that this film would bring him more emotional depth but he’s playing a stoic character and if anything, putting the talent in a martial arts position.  Nothing wrong with that, since it’s common to see this in films, especially HK films.

But the build-up to the battle against the rivals wasn’t as impressive as “Shaolin Soccer”.  You felt the emotion of when the team was beaten by their rivals.  In “Kung Fu Dunk”, everything was all over the place and to make things worse was the inclusion of “time travel” via martial arts.

Unfortunately, unless you are a hardcore fan of Jay Chou, Charlene Choi or any of the talent…”Kung Fu Dunk” is a film that has its few enjoyable moments but mostly moments because of a badly written screenplay that the characters are not well-utilized, too many variables thrown in and as mentioned, everything looked like it was all over the place.

Where “Shaolin Soccer” focused on team dynamics, taking on a bad team and a relationship angle for the protagonist, in “Kung Fu Dunk”, the viewer has to deal with not just those elements but also a relationship between Fang and Wang, Fang looking for his real parents, the inclusion of his martial arts teachers in a basketball match (which was not done well at all) and did I mention “time travel”.  “Shaolin Soccer” kept things simple and utilized its characters effectively, director Kevin Chu may have been the action director of “Shaolin Soccer” but somehow his directorial effort in this film was poorly executed and part of it has to do with its ambitious screenplay of trying to have so many characters with too many variables.

As for the Blu-ray, you do get a lot of special features and a good looking film but unfortunately no lossless track.  Granted, I can chalk that up to this being a 2008 release (and its Hollywood counterparts doing the same thing for their older Blu-ray releases).

Overall, “Kung Fu Dunk” is a film that I was longing to see and in the end, I felt disappointed.  I’ve read that there will be a sequel and I can only hope that the writing for the film is much better than the first.

Hong Kong pop duo TWINS to reunite

February 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Hong Kong Singing Group Twins Promote New Album In Nanjing

They were the media darlings in the early 2000’s and pop duo TWINS feat. Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi were hot on the music charts and also on the big screen. But in 2007, scandal hit Gillian Chung after Edison Chen’s computer revealed nude photos of the starlet (and other starlets). With the 10th Anniversary of the TWINS coming up, the duo are once again reuniting.

CRIEnglish.com has reported Gillian Chung telling the press about the happier theme of their return, “There are many different obstacles in life; I have already seen through these and will not think about unhappy things. Through our actions, we hope to prove that humans are not only capable of rising from their downfalls, but are able to bounce back even higher than before.”

Leave Me Alone (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 22, 2004 by · Leave a Comment 

Easily one of my favorite HK films of 2004!  Ekin Cheng shows us once again why he’s one of Hong Kong cinema’s top stars!

Leave Me Alone (2004)

CAST: Ekin Cheng, Charlene Choi, Kenny Bee, Lawrence Chou, Jan Lamb, Chi Wah Wong

Directed by Danny Pang

DURATION: 97 minutes

COMPANY:  Tai Seng Entertainment


2004 had several cool movies come out of Hong Kong and among my top 5 movies was “Leave Me Alone”.

The story is about two twin brothers (both played by Ekin Cheng). Yiu Chun-Man is a gay fashion designer who has problems with holding any relationships because of his fast paced work life. He is visited by his twin brother Yiu Chun-Kit, who came from Thailand to visit his brother in Hong Kong.

Both were separated when their parents divorced, so both brothers wanted to catch up on how their lives have been in the last ten years. Yiu Chun-Kit is not aware that his brother is gay but he makes the trip to Hong Kong with more than just a reason just to meet his brother and catch up on old times.

One morning, Yiu Chun-Kit borrows his brotherʼs car and runs into a woman and gets into an accident. Since he doesnʼt have his license, it is assumed that Yiu Chun-Man is the person who got into an accident. As Yiu Chun-Man awaits in the hospital while his brother is in a coma, his brotherʼs phone rings and it appears that Yiu Chun-Kitʼs girlfriend, Jane (played by Charlene Choi) needs her boyfriend back in Thailand to sign papers for a loan. Since his brother is in a coma and due to the accident, it is assumed that Yiu Chun-Man is in a coma, he goes to Thailand in his brotherʼs place. It is there that you learn that the life that Yiu Chun-Kit has lived has been borrowing money from loan sharks who are expecting payment within the next few days and if they donʼt receive the loan money from the bank, Yiu Chun-Kit and Jane will pay with their lives.

They donʼt get the loan and Jane and Yiu Chun-Man (using his twinʼs identity) are on the run, trying to find ways to get money to pay off the debt. Unfortunately, Jane tends to do what she wants and it tends to get her into trouble and leads to both she and Yiu Chun-Man taking on triad bosses. “Leave Me Alone” is actually very entertaining and the camera work is very well done.

Ekin Cheng does a fantastic job playing two different roles. Yiu Chun- Man has frilly hair, gay and is passive and Yiu Chun-Kit is Mr. Cool, he dresses well but very pro-active. Eking Cheng did a great job that you reallyndonʼt question him playing two roles at all.

As for Charlene Choi (member of the music duo, TWINS), I actually found it very entertaining to see her play another different type of role. I also found her much more mature and sexy in this role.  This time around, the chemistry between Ekin and Charlene works a lot better this time around compared to their first pairing in “My Wife is 18” due to their different types of roles played and frankly, their age difference. Charlene Choi is quite sexy in this film but what may be a long stretch for many HK viewers is to see Charlene play an active role as a gun-toting, action heroine and Ekin Cheng standing back in his role as Yiu Chun-Man (Well, Yiu Chun-Man is a fashion designer) and to see these two work with each otherʼs characters, definitely works.

The action scenes are typical HK fun with guns ablazing, unimaginable ammo coming from one clip, car chase segments and much more. The computer generated graphics are good and not as fake looking. Although an action movie, the film offers another story about relationships. Since both brothers have to assume the otherʼs identities, they get to learn more about how each brother has lived, their faults and why they both have problems with their relationships and the people they love. As for the DVD, I found the video quality very good, presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen and the audio quality is served in DTS or Digital 5.1 and sounded sweet during the action segments on my home theater system.

The DVD offers several special features such as a making of featurette, teaser, trailer, production notes and other extras or usual offerings on HK DVDʼs. If there was one negative that I found, itʼs not more of a negative but more nitpicking is that if you select the title menu button on your remote, it will take you directly to the movie and not the title screen. Thus you need to select the DTS or Digital 5.1 sound first after the copyright screen to access the title menu and not by remote.

“Leave Me Alone” is a fun film that was among my top 5 for 2004. Ekin Cheng does a wonderful job of playing two different characters, Charlene Choi showing us that she can play something new and to find an actionfilm that a good balance of humor and not so much seriousness was nice to have and I recommend people to check this DVD out.

6 AM (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 19, 2004 by · Leave a Comment 

Pop duo, the BOY’Z – Kenny Kwan and Steven Cheung in their first major film along with the TWINS.  Unfortunately, this film fails in so many levels.

TITLE: 6 AM

CAST: Kenny Kwan, Steven Cheung, Charlene Choi, Gillian Cheung, Ray Lui, Cheung Tat Ming

DIRECTED BY: Adrian Kwan

DURATION: 88 minutes

COMPANY: Tai Seng, Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1, Mandarin Stereo 2.0, Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese

Since the film “Papa Loves You” debuted and featured TWINS vocalist and actress Charlene Choi and the film debut of BOY’Z members Kenny Kwan and Steven Cheung, it was
inevitable that there soon would be a film starring the music pop duo.

“6 AM” is a story about Bowl (Kenny) and Noodles (Steven) who are your normal teenage guys who love TWINS and in one unfortunate day, has a run-in with restaurant workers (and wannabe gangsters) led by Razor (played by Cheung Tat Ming). Upon trying to run away from Razor and his goons, the duo happen to be
in the wrong place, in the wrong time.

The triad mini-boss has to meet with the big boss and needs to look for more members temporarily for the day so that it appears he has many young gangsters under him. Unfortunately, for the BOY’Z the get recruited.

At the meeting with the big boss (played by Ray Lui), due to a situation where he needs to stay calm in order to protect his family, he asks for each of the triad members to take part in a lottery and take part in a “Glory Mission”. And who wins the lottery? Itʼs our unlucky duo.

Their mission is to kill a rival gang member who is usually by himself after leaving the gym at 6:00 a.m. and to do it within 30 seconds after the clock strikes 6. With taking this glory mission, the duo are given $300,000HK and there is no way out. You either get killed or you end up in prison.  And thus the storyline of “6 AM” with the duo trying to find ways to spend their money and reflecting on their lives on a day that may very well be their last.

Written by Tsang Kan-Cheong (Coscreenwriter of popular Stephen Chow films “Shaolin Soccer” and “Kung Fu Hustle”) and directed by Adrian Kwan (“Miracle Box” and “If U Care”), 6 AM definitely has a problem within its storyline and pacing.

Itʼs not because it is a movie to promote a pop music idol duo but the problem is trying to make two clean cut music stars as triad members. From watching them nearly spend
all their money on gambling to paying to be part in a scene in a film starring the TWINS. Watching them in a variety of ways to how they will spend their money became very boring and irritating.

Granted, some parts of the film were enjoyable but itʼs very difficult to sit back and watch this film comfortably. A “Young and Dangerous” film, this is not. This movie is about reflection about oneʼs life an what has been taken for granted. Unfortunately, by the time you get to the “reflection” part of the film, you had to sit back an watch how the duo will spend their money.

A third character, Bowlʼs sister (played by Katie Kwok) has several scenes which serves as a break after a BOY’Z scene.

Although serving as a break after long BOY’Z scenes, the scenes just show her as an unfavorable character as she shows off how tough she is and how she is a girl who caught her boyfriend cheating with another girl. I felt that this film shouldnʼt even wasted so much of unnecessary
scenes on her.

My favorite part of the film? Of course, I mentioned the TWINS and this is possibly one of my few favorite parts of the movie as Bowl and Noodles spend a lot of money to be part of a scene with Charlene and Gillian (playing themselves). But there are not many scenes that I enjoyed and the scene with the BOY’Z and TWINS could be seen as cute or very irritating.

As for the DVD, I have the Tai Seng US release which doesnʼt feature any special features but a trailer for the film. This film joins many other Asian films that feature popular music stars. Mainly showcasing the talent and not having much of a storyline.

Where TWINZ members Charlene Choi and Gillian Cheung fortunately have had the opportunity to be part of really good films as individuals, not sure if the BOY’Z will ever be parted and be featured individually in their own films anytime soon because “6 AM” is a disappointment.  This film joins many other Asian films that feature popular music stars. Mainly showcasing the talent and not having much of a storyline. “6 AM” is a disappointment.

I will say that BOY’Z duo, Kenny Kwan and Steven Cheung have potential and we will see more of them in the future, unfortunately for the present, their major debut in “6 AM” is unfortunately disappointing.

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