THE BIG CALL (2017) review

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Ding Xiaotian (Cheney Chen) is a young cop who just witnessed his former teacher commit suicide after losing all his money to a phone scam. The case is thus personal, and soon Ding is recruited by Tan Sirong (Eddie Cheung) of the ATFC (Anti-Telecommunication Fraud Centre) to help expose two master fraudsters, Lin Ahai (Joseph Chang) and Liu Lifang (Gwei Lun Mei), who operate a vast fraud network across Southeast Asia, with headquarters and call center in Thailand. ATFC agent Xu Xiaotu (Jiang Mengjie), who’s also Ding’s ex-girlfriend, has infiltrated these headquarters, and as the noose tightens around the fraudsters, suspicion from Liu falls on her.

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SWORD MASTER (2016) review

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As an actor, Derek Yee had gotten his break playing handsome swordsmen in numerous Shaw Brothers film, including Chu Yuan’s Death Duel (1977). As a director however, he has mostly favored contemporary, urban and often gritty fare. Now in a full circle he offers Sword Master, a remake of Death Duel co-produced and co-written with Tsui Hark, whose early career had seen him help Hong Kong cinema move past the classicism of Shaw Brothers films, but whose recent films have tried to both recapture and update their narrative and technical tenets. This interesting pair-up has yielded a flawed but stimulating film.

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LOST IN THE PACIFIC (2016) review

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In 2014, Vincent Zhou directed the Chinese thriller Last Flight, starring Ed Westwick and Zhu Zhu, about a red-eye flight under attack from mutant cats. Made on a budget of $10 millions, the film garnered only $5.9 millions at the box-office and yet less than two years later, here comes Lost in the Pacific, made on roughly the same budget but this time a US-China coproduction, with a – very slightly – starrier cast, but mostly the same plot adorned with a few futuristic enhancements: it takes place in 2020 on the inaugural flight of a luxury aircraft, for which all the passengers are celebrities here to create buzz, with a journalist (Jiang Mengjie) in tow to publicize the whole thing. When a freak storm forces the captain (Zhang Yuqi) to make an emergency landing on a deserted island in the Pacific, the plane is attacked by a pack of mutant red-eyed cats, as well as two shady paramilitaries (Bernice Liu and Kaiwi Lyman) who quickly take command and redirect the flight towards a mysterious aircraft carrier. It’s left to the captain and the ex-special forces cook (Brandon Routh looking like an overgrown Jason Schwartzman playing Casey Ryback) to save the day.

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