Recent releases from Eureka/Masters of Cinema showcase a range of Chinese martial arts movies, from Sammo Hung’s traditional The Iron-Fisted Monk (1977) to Tsui Hark’s genre redefining Once Upon a Time in China trilogy (1991-92) to Ricky Lau’s horror-comedy Mr. Vampire (1985) and Ronny Yu’s visually ravishing fantasy The Bride With White Hair (1993).
Two recent two-disk sets released by Eureka in England provide two very different forms of popular entertainment. Two Films by John Woo contains a pair of top-notch martial arts movies from the first stage of Woo’s career, before he hit it big with the gangster films of the mid-’80s, while the three movies in their Bela Lugosi/Edgar Allen Poe set present some of the most deliriously perverse horrors of the pre-Code era. While the crown jewel is Edgar Ulmer’s expressionist masterpiece The Black Cat, the set’s revelation is the Easter egg inclusion of a “virtual director’s cut” of Robert Florey’s Murders in the Rue Morgue, which follows Tim Lucas’ suggestions, based on internal evidence, or what the film might have been before studio tampering made it a disjointed mess.
New restorations of movies from early and late in the career of King Hu reconfirm his influential position in Chinese cinema as a master of martial arts and swordplay films: action and poetry blend seamlessly in Come Drink With Me (1966), The Fate of Lee Khan (1973) and Raining in the Mountain (1979).
Genre, of course, is not limited to the fantastic — science fiction, fantasy, horror. Contemporary and historical dramas can also fall within genre boundaries. Prisoners (Denis Villeneuve) Denis Villeneuve’s thriller was much-praised by critics and audiences alike, and yet it struck me as a genre movie desperate to convince its viewers that it was actually […] Read More
Continuing my survey of one month’s movie viewing: Red Dawn (Dan Bradley, 2012): As dumb as John Milius’ original about small town American kids fighting against vicious invaders. Milius had Nicaragua(!) taking over the States; here it’s North Korea backed by, for some reason, the Russians (aware of how much U.S. debt is held by […] Read More