Tag Archives: stephen chow

Heroes of the East- Stephen Chow

Stephen Chow has been doing his ‘nonsense’ comedy for quite some time now. Please don’t think I’m being disrespectful by calling his brand of humour ‘nonsense’, since his style is actually refered to as ‘Mo lei tau’ in China, which literally means ‘with no source’ or in other words ‘makes no sense’. Of course this has made it pretty hard for his early films to make an impact outside of Asia. With cultural gags, random obsurdities and ridiculous pratfalls that would be at home in a Benny Hill sketch, a lot of his comedy is hugely popular in HK, but not so much internationally. Things like From Beijing With Love and Sixty Million Dollar Man, while obviously spoofing American pop culture are so crazy, they defy belief and are certainly not for everyone’s taste (for instance I don’t remember Steve Austin ever transforming into a toilet!).

Stephen Chow

However with Shaolin Soccer, Chow quickly became a worldwide sensation. This film still contains plenty of nonsense, but it’s certainly more accessible than some of his previous movies (though the use of the ‘hilarious’ song ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ in the Miramax cut is a little too much!). And now that his profile is bigger than ever, he actually appears to be slowing down a little bit. For instance, in 1992 he acted in all five of the top grossing films in HK (according to trusted source Wikipedia), though Shaolin Soccer came out in 2001, Kung Fu Hustle in 2004 and CJ7 in 2008. Of course I can’t begrudge the man a break, though it is a shame that we’re not seeing enough of his comedies in this decade!

TOP 3 STEPHEN CHOW MOVIES

1- Kung Fu Hustle- This film is probably Stephen Chow’s most accessible movies in terms of limiting the ‘Mo lei tau’ and increasing the crowd pleasing action, however it is simply sublime. The cartoonish style mixed with the wuxia parody plot is wonderfully executed, mainly because it is evident that Chow is a huge fan of the genre. In some of his past films such as King of Beggars and Legend of the Dragon, he has exhibited some nice martial arts skills, but this is where his talents truly shine. What is also interesting about this movie, is the fact that Stephen Chow is absent for quite a bit of the run-time. It’s a shame, but at the same time shows a generosity towards his supporting actors (Yuen Wah and Yuen Qiu in particular are awesome). Of course he might have just been lazy, but I highly doubt that. So yeah, I can’t recommend this movie enough! (Trailer)

2- God Of Cookery- I’d say this film is a pretty good introduction to ‘classic’ Stephen Chow flicks. It’s wacky, nonsensical and completely insane, though the movie is consistantly funny! Some jokes fly over my head and Karen Mok’s make-up makes me feel ill, but there is rarely a moment where it’s not doing something to make you laugh. The whole thing culminates in a parody of Iron Chef, which makes me chuckle just thinking about it. Also to note, is that it stars Ng Man Tat who is in a lot of Stephen Chow comedies. These two have such great chemistry, which makes it a big shame that they didn’t work together on Kung Fu Hustle. (Trailer)

3- Tricky Brains- I might regret later that I placed this in the Top 3 instead of Shaolin Soccer. But my reasoning is while Tricky Brains is a stupid movie, it is also one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life. Now I admit that I have a fairly weird sense of humour which might not gel with others, however this film is so relentless in its goofiness that I’m sure it’d make anyone burst (or on the other hand give them a headache). The plot is all over the place and the characters are obscenely mean spirited that you kinda dislike them, but I highly recommend that you give it a go. The gags are non-stop, so there is bound to be something you like (though if you dislike  the idea of Stephen Chow playing a character called ‘The Handsome Tricky Expert’ who constantly plays practical jokes on people, then stay away as that’s pretty much the entire movie). (Clip)

Rogen Talking Green Hornet

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The Green Hornet has become something of a buzzed-about project since the addition of Michel Gondry as director, adding his talents to those of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg in the writing department, the former also starring. For all the excitment building around the film however, it seems even Rogen is a little unsure as to how things will pan out when it comes to fruition.

Speaking in an interview with Collider, Rogen said he and Goldberg had been given a rejection by Gondry after coming to him with ideas which involved incorporating some of his own style, “weird people made out of string and shit like that” as Rogen puts it. “He’s like, ‘No, I don’t want to (do) any of that’,” Rogen says of Gondry’s reaction, adding that he hates to be “predictable and repetitive”.

The other question Rogen is fielding is over the involvement of Hong Kong action star, and the creator of Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer, Stephen Chow. The latter had been tapped to play both Kato and direct at one point, although this then devolved into him only playing Kato and on to further speculation that he is not involved at all.

On the issue, Rogen : “He may be Kato. I’m not 100 per cent sure if that’s the case, but it’s a very likely possibility”, adding the movie is in the very early stages and that he honestly knows nothing else.

On the subject of the actual story however, Rogen indicated that he and Goldberg were edging towards doing an origin piece. He said the two had resisted such an option to begin with, “but then we realized if we kind of embraced it and played with that idea it could be a lot better so that’s something we’ve added”.

The whole project still sounds pretty decent, especially with the visual style and imagination of Gondry on board. I would also like to see Chow take on the role of Kato, mostly to provide him with a way into Hollywood and an opportunity to start competing for those Jackie Chan comic-kung fu roles he so richly deserves.

Movie News Round-Up

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Michel Gondry has been signed up to direct The Green Hornet, the crime-fighting comic book adaptation starring Seth Rogen and Stephen Chow. Chow had been signed up to direct but later dropped out over what were described as ‘creative differences’. Gondry’s presence makes this easily the most interesting comic movie on its way at present. I may not have fully loved Be Kind Rewind, but Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of the best films of the past ten years while Science of Sleep is an endless well of whimsy and imagination. Notably, the news was first reported on the Twitter feed of Production Weekly. Also, the trailer for Rogen’s new movie, Observe and Report, has emerged and looks like something of a departure for him into a slightly darker area.

Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Drew Barrymore, she of the adorable poppet-ness, is among the candidates being considered for Eclipse, the third movie in the Twilight series which will follow up the next instalment, New Moon, in 2010. Barrymore has recently signed off on her debut in the chair, Whip It, starring Ellen Page.

Eddie Murphy has apparently signed on to play Richard Pryor in ‘Richard Pryor: Was It Something I Said’ for director Bill Condon. It will reunite the pair who worked together previously on Dreamgirls, the film which garnered so much buzz for Murphy and won him an Academy Award nomination. Seems like a strong part for him given the placement of Murphy as the next in line in succession in the evolution of black comedians after Pryor and preceding Chris Rock.

Cate Blanchett has signed on the dotted line to play Maid Marian in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. This news follows that from last week that Scott has changed the name and vision behind the project to a more straight-forward retelling.

Samuel L Jackson is to play Nick Fury in Iron Man 2, Captain America, Thor, The Avengers and, possibly, in a Nick Fury movie should Marvel decide to do this too. There had been issues over Jackson joining in the past but now it seems such things have been pushed aside for the sake of continuity.

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are to team for The B Team, a comedy from Adam McKay which will follow the misadventures of two mismatched cops. Sounds like it be in a similar vein to all other Ferrell/McKay projects and have around four very funny Ferrell moments, almost no story and an effort to make up for any shortcomings through shouting.

Sean Penn and Naomi Watts are involved in talks for Fair Game, not a remake of the Cindy Crawford-starrer from the mid90s, but a drama about the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson. It would reunite Penn and Watts from when they starred together in the Innaritu/Arriaga piece 21 Grams, a role which won Watts a Best Actress nod at the Oscars. Fair Game will be directed by Doug Liman.

Joss Whedon has spoken out during an interview with Maxim on why many DC comics adaptations are having difficulty in getting to the big screen, including Wonder Woman, which he was often linked with in the past. Whedon said the difference in the era in which the DC comics were made meant that the heroes were not being created as people, but as gods. ‘DC’s characters, like Wonder Woman and Superman and Green Lantern, were all very much removed from humanity. Batman was the only character they had who was so rooted in pain, that had that same gift that the Marvel characters had, which was that gift of humanity that we can relate to.’ Whedon has long been working on getting Wonder Woman off the ground with Eliza Dushku in the lead. Personally, I’m not a big fan of Dushku’s acting so I’d put forward Morena Baccarin of Firefly and Serenity fame instead. Probably wouldn’t get made either way though.

Francis Ford Coppola has given out some new information on Tetro, his new film following the life, loves and troubles of an Italian family of artists. It stars Vincent Gallo and is, according to Coppola, his first ‘original screenplay’ since his The Conversation. A film from Coppola about an Italian family of artists, autobiography much?

Also in the news: Emily Blunt will definitely not be in Iron Man 2, instead she’ll have to star alongside Jack Black in Gulliver’s Travels; Mel Gibson’s The Colonel has a trailer; Jim Carrey and Jake Gyllenhaal are to star in a remake of Damn Yankees; Naomi Watts and Freida Pinto have joined Woody Allen’s next movie; Warner Bros has picked up the rights to adapt comic series Suicide Squad; The Coens have directed a 30-second commercial mocking the claim of clean coal; Gore Verbinski is to bring Clue/Cluedo to screens; Seth Green will star in animated caper Mars Needs Moms!; Ed Helms is to write and star in a Civil War-themed comedy; Danny Boyle and Dev Patel may take part in the real-life Who Wants to be a Millionaire; Peter Baynham, a collaborator of Sasha Baron Cohen on Borat, will write the Arthur remake for Russell Brand;