LOST, FOUND (2018) review

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Lv Yue’s Lost, Found is a Chinese take on Hong Eun-mi’s script to the 2016 thriller Missing Woman, directed by Lee Eon-hie. As explained in Derek Elley’s review of the film, the rights to the script were bought before the South-Korean version was even shot – and thus it is not a remake per se. It follows Li Jie (Yao Chen), a ruthless lawyer who has little time for her two-year-old daughter Duo Duo, but is nevertheless fighting for her custody in the aftermath of a divorce from Tian Ning (Yuan Wenkuang). But one day, Duo Duo goes missing, and Li Jie is convinced that she’s been kidnapped by her nanny Sun Fang (Ma Yili), a self-effacing country girl. Increasingly desperate as the police’s chances to find her daughter dwindle by the hour, Li Jie goes on a frantic search for clues as to Sun Fang’s whereabouts, discovering her painful, storied past in the process.

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EVERYBODY’S FINE (2016) review

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Giuseppe Tornatore’s Stanno Tutti Bene, released to a mostly rapturous reception in 1990 but a bit forgotten nowadays, had already been remade and transposed from Italy to the United States in Kirk Jones’s Everybody’s Fine (2009), and now comes the Chinese remake. But rather than denote a lack of originality, this new version speaks to the universality and strength of the concept: take a revered older actor (here Zhang Guoli taking over from Marcello Mastroianni and Robert De Niro) as a former absentee father who’s now a widower leaving alone in the family house, his four children having scattered across the country and all supposedly thriving in their professional and private lives. When they all cancel their visit for a planned family reunion, the father decides to pack up and go visit each one of them.

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CHRONICLES OF THE GHOSTLY TRIBE (2015) review

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In an unexpected move, director Lu Chuan has made his fifth film an effects-heavy blockbuster far-removed from the arty and often demanding works that made him a justly celebrated auteur and festival darling. His previous film, the long-delayed epic The Last Supper (2012), had suffered commercially both from its stone-cold arthouse leanings, and from being released months after a much more appealing film on the same topic, Daniel Lee’s White Vengeance (2012). And once again, with Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe, Lu Chuan found himself directing one of two competing films, both based on Tianxia Bachang’s 2006 best-selling novel Ghost Blows Out the Light, the other being Wuershan’s Mojin: The Lost Legend. This time however, Lu got his film out of the gate first, and by the same token his first major commercial hit. Though set earlier than the Wuershan film in the book’s chronology, Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe isn’t a prequel: it’s a rival adaptation with an entirely different backing, creative team and cast, as well as a wildly different approach to the source material.

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CONTROL (2013) short review

control-2013.19916 In an unnamed metropolis of the future, Mark (Daniel Wu) is a modest insurance broker who toils away to save enough money to put his mentally ill mother (Kara Hui) in a luxury retirement home. One day, in exchange for a promotion, he agrees to lie in court to cover his superiors. Soon afterwards, he finds out his bank account has been emptied, and a mysterious caller with proof of his court perjury blackmails him into a escalating of robberies and risky transactions, during which he meets an old flame (Yao Chen) and a thug (Shao Bing), who are both being blackmailed by the same caller, and finds himself on the wrong side of two mobsters (Simon Yam and Leon Dai). Elements of various infinitely more successful films find their way into Kenneth Bi’s Control : shades of The Matrix, Cellular, Die Hard With a Vengeance and a few others are hard to ignore. Equally distracting is the fact that the film is set in the future for no discernible reason : it doesn’t carry a message about surveillance as the marketing might lead you to believe, and its vision of forthcoming times is muddled and half-baked, serving no dramatic purpose. Still, Control is serviceable as a straightforward, undemanding thriller, and while Yao Chen is once again underused, Simon Yam and Leon Dai make an enjoyable double-act of slimy criminals, while Kara Hui seems to be acting in a different, much more affecting film. **1/2