TWO TIGERS (2019) review

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In Li Fei’s Two Tigers, Ge You plays Zhang Chenggong, a rich, lonely businessman who gets kidnapped by hapless loser Yu Kaixuan (Qiao Shan): acting alone, Yu asks for a one million RMB ransom, under threat of death. But Zhang quickly realizes that his abductor is rather harmless and out of his depth, and he strikes a deal with him: if Yu completes three tasks for him, he will give him double the expected ransom. The first task is to deliver a message to his ex-girlfriend Zhou Yuan (Zhao Wei), an actress whose career is declining. The second one is to help him make amends to Master Fan (Fan Wei), an old comrade from his army days, who went blind when he refused to lend him money for eye surgery. And the final task is to deliver a letter to his father, with the help of an old flame, Caixia (Yan Ni). Along the way, the prisoner and his abductor form an unlikely bond.

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THE WASTED TIMES (2016) review

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Delayed for more than a year for reasons unclear (censorship issues or belabored editing?), Cheng Er’s third film takes place in Shanghai in the thirties and forties -before, during and after the battle and subsequent capture of the city by the Japanese. It follows various characters all connected to Mister Lu (Ge You), a crime boss: there’s his housekeeper (Ni Yan), his superior (Ni Dahong), the prostitute he occasionally visits (Gillian Chung), an actress he admires and helps (Yuan Quan), another actress (Zhang Ziyi) unfaithfully married to his superior, her lover (Wallace Chung), her other lover (Hang Geng), and more importantly Watabe (Tadanobu Asano), a Japanese man who got married and made his life in Shanghai, and claims he will fight for his city rather than side with his countrymen. When Japanese businessmen approach Mister Lu with plans for a lucrative partnership, he refuses ; death ensues.

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MURAL (2011) review

After the huge success that was Painted Skin in 2008, Gordon Chan was back in 2011 with another fantasy film, which was financially almost as successful as his 2008 effort, though critically much less lauded. Deng Chao stars as Zhu, a scholar on his way to the capital with his servant Hou Xia (Bao Bei’er), to pass an exam. After an altercation with a robber, Meng Longtan (Collin Chou), they end up in a Taoist temple where they are welcomed by an affable monk (Eric Tsang). There, Zhu notices a mural depicting beautiful women in a heavenly landscape. When one of the beauties (Zheng Shuang) materializes in front of him, he follows her through a portal that leads to the heavenly landscape of the mural, which is peopled only with beautiful women, and ruled by a ruthless queen (Ni Yan), her trusted second-in-command Shaoyao (Betty Sun) and a mysterious golden warrior (Andy On). Soon, Hou Xia and Meng Longtan and dragged into this world as well, but Zhu has only one goal: to rescue Mudan, the woman who led him to this world and who has been cast to hell by the queen for it.

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