Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

A language advantage film review by Sarah Maddocks

Set in the 1940’s in a pre-revolutionary China, Kung Fu Hustle is a film about gangs. In particular the story of a small time thief called Sing (Stephen Chow) who wants to become a member of the ruthless Axe Gang, led by Brother Sum (Kwok-Kwan Chan). A slum called Pig Sty Alley is the only safe area from the gang as it is so poor there is nothing that the gang could take. Sing attempts to extort money from one of the locals but the slum holds a secret and the locals are not all that they appear to be.

Sing attracts the gang to Pig StyAlley which in turn leads to the inhabitants fighting for their lives. The fight between the gang and the neighbourhood unearths some legendary martial arts Masters. Sing must make the decision  between becoming a killer and joining the Axes  and helping the slum and saving the day.

This film is everything rolled into one: action, adventure, comedy, crime and fantasy.Stephen Chow is fantastic and the slapstick comedy is some of the funniest I have seen in a long time. Thoroughly enjoyable, and you can brush up on your Mandarin!

In Chinese Mandarin with English subtitles.

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House of Flying Daggers (2004)

A language advantage film review by Sarah Maddocks

Directed by Yimou Zhang, House of Flying Daggers is set during the reign of the Tang dynasty in China.  A secret organisation,’The House of Flying Daggers’ opposes the government. Leo (Andy Lau), a police officer sends officer Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) to investigate Mei (Ziyi Zhang), a young dancer whom he believes is part of this secret organisation. Leo arrests Mei and Jin breaks her out in order to gain her trust and lead him and the government to the mysterious new leader of the secret organisation. What consequently happens is a tale of romance and intrigue, of action and adventure.

Before I sat down and watched this film I thought I would hate it. I am not one for martial arts movies but House of Flying Daggers is so much more and has managed to change my view on the martial arts genre. It combines action, adventure, fantasy and romance which in my opinion is a fantastic combination which produces a fantastic film.

Language is Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles.

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2002)

A language advantage film review by Sarah Carroll

A beautiful film from start to finish, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is really absorbing. It is a tribute to amazing martial arts displays as well as a beautifully shot film.

You can see why this film has won so many awards with its combination of language, love, action and adventure. It has won over 40 awards including the Best Foreign Language Film Music at the Oscars and four BAFTAs.

Wonderful as it is, it is best to see it in its original language version, you have to concentrate on the English subtitles unless your Mandarin is fluent, but it is well worth it!

The director of the film is Ang Lee. In Chinese with English subtitles. Rated 12 in the UK.

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Hero (2002)

A language advantage film review by Sarah Maddocks

It is hard for anyone to say that this film is not fantastic. Directed by Zhang Yimou (who also directed House of Flying Daggers) and produced by Quentin Tarantino, it already has two of the biggest names involved from both the Chinese and American film industries. Jet Li stars in this movie.

Hero takes place in feudal China before the warring kingdoms were united into a single country. The Nameless warrior (Jet Li) has been brought before Qin (Chen Daoming) the King of the northern province to receive a reward for killing three assassins who threatened Qin’s life. The Nameless warrior tells the King how he killed Long Sky (Donnie Yen), Broken Sword (Tony Leung), and Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung). The King challenges his story and tells a completely different version full of conspiracy and mistrust.

The visuals of this film are stunning and contribute largely to what Yimou is trying to achieve through the characters and script. The fight scenes are amazing: the use of colour really adds to the film’s intensity. The only thing to remember when watching this film is to watch it in its original format with subtitles rather than the dubbed English version in order to add authenticity.

The film is in Chinese Mandarin with English subtitles.

To buy  Hero  and other  Chinese language films>>

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