LEGEND OF THE ANCIENT SWORD (2018) review

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It’s been a brutal year for Chinese fantasy on the big screen. Soi Cheang’s The Monkey King 3 underperformed compared to the previous installments in the franchise, Hasi Chaolu’s fantasy take on Genghis Khan went unnoticed despite a starry cast and Jean-Jacques Annaud’s artistic input, Zhang Peng’s Asura was retrieved from theaters a mere three days after opening to dismal box-office numbers, and now Renny Harlin’s Legend of the Ancient Sword has failed to even reach the 2 million-dollar mark, despite a prime launching date during Chinese national holidays. This puts extra pressure on Wuershan’s now-shooting fantasy trilogy Gods, a massive undertaking whose commercial potential isn’t being solidified at the moment.

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CHINA STRIKE FORCE (2000) short review

With a cast that is kind of interesting in its own warped way (Hong Kong heartthrob Aaron Kwok, American-born Taiwanese singer Wang Leehom, Miss Japan 1992 Norika Fujiwara, underrated Hawaiian cypher Mark Dacascos and American rapper/awful actor Coolio, no less), and an experienced action director at the helm (Jackie Chan’s main yes man Stanley Tong), China Strike Force is, at least, entertaining. The forgettable and trite plot involves two Chinese agents (Kwok and Wang) tracking drug smugglers (Dacascos and Coolio), and the possible double-agent (Fujiwara) stuck in between. Coolio is punishingly bad and drags the whole thing down, but most of the action scenes are impressive, especially the vertigo-inducing final fight on a pane of glass dangling from the top of a skyscraper. Stanley Tong proves yet again that he’s one of the best action directors around, and Ailen Sit’s choreography is superbly fluid and weirdly balletic. By now, you’ve guessed that China Strike Force only has its action going for it. **