• The Vengeful Beauty

    The Vengeful Beauty

    ★★★½

    Aside from a twisty revenge story filled with collusion, a borderline love triangle, treachery, and ample action, The Vengeful Beauty is one of the “smartest” wuxia flicks this wuxia-enthusiast has ever seen thanks to the clever, revenge-seeking heroine the narrative centers.

    The character of Rong Qui-yan (Chen Ping) is a determined and deadly badass who's also feminine and vulnerable. Perhaps more than anything else, she’s sharp-witted and wields her keen deductive skills as much as her blood-stained blade, something I…

  • Temptress Moon

    Temptress Moon

    ★★★½

    Love conceptualized as poison. Not intoxicating, not tender. Just toxic. Only pain.

    Temptress Moon is a bleak poetic tragedy framed by trauma. Although a truism, this expression aptly summarizes this film: "Hurt people hurt people." This is a tale of a multiplicity of shattered hearts and dashed desires. This is a world engulfed by pining, wrath, duplicity, jealous, unrequited affections, and regret.

    Zhongliang (Leslie Cheung) is the living embodiment of the term “emotional cripple.” He’s profoundly damaged emotionally and psychologically…

  • Friendly Beast

    Friendly Beast

    ★★★½

    I love being rewarded for going into a movie blind!

    If you were to cross-pollinate the sentiment behind the terms “What a twist!” and “That escalated quickly!” and then amplify it to a grotesque degree with tainted steroids and distill it into cinematic form, you’d get Friendly Beast

    This movie is bizarrely deranged and capitalizes on a simple set up and a single location (a restaurant) to pull off what kinda feels like a claustrophobic interrogation of the human animal.…

  • Mulan: Rise of a Warrior

    Mulan: Rise of a Warrior

    ★★★

    Mulan: Rise of a Warrior is a decent but ultimately unremarkable war drama with barebones storytelling.

    This movie's a bit too muddled, too undercooked character-wise, and too rushed in certain areas for my personal taste. Also, it's plagued by some wonky editing that feels amateurish.

    I suspect the fairly positive rating is largely due to backlash thanks to Disney's live action Mulan because, while it's fine, it just isn't that good.

    ✨Comparison with Disney's live action Mulan✨

    In general, this…

  • Mulan

    Mulan

    ★★½

    Glaring problematic issues aside, Mulan is more decent than awful to me. I have little doubt that I'd think more unfavorably about it if I had the same strong emotional connection so many clearly have to the Disney 90s cartoon that I never watched...

    The creators tried: It's well-made and has some cool visuals. Outside those things, much of this is aggressively mediocre. I don't have much to say about this one, so here's 5 quick points:

    1️⃣ I hate…

  • Dear Ex

    Dear Ex

    ★★★★

    There's entirely too much sociohistorical baggage rooted in the patriarchal oppression of women surrounding the idea that "women are crazy" to parse it all here, but what can be said is that it's virtually always bullshit for men to dismiss the behavior of women as simply being "crazy."

    Many view Liu Sanlian as crazy. She isn't, of course. Despite her "madness" being well-meaning (albeit a bit overbearing), justifiable, and even righteous, her passion for doing what she believes is best…

  • Flirting Scholar

    Flirting Scholar

    ★★★★

    Flirting Scholar feels as if it's both the definition and pinnacle of madcap comedy.

    As far as I'm concerned, Stephen Chow is the undisputed king of kung fu comedies. Fans of Chow's hilarious mainstream films Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer will likely get a kick out of the kung fu hijinks in Flirting Scholar.

    All of the performances are great, but Stephen Chow and Cheng Pei-Pei are the standouts given their outstanding comedic and kung fu prowesses. My super…

  • Firestarter

    Firestarter

    ★★★

    Firestarter is a decent sci-fi horror flick that leaves more of a positive impression on me than the mediocre original. Yeah, I said it! 🔥

    Solidly acted. It admittedly skimps too much on character development and story depth, but it gets the job done. I really dug the score. I generally appreciate all of the tweaks and modernizing reinterpretations made to the original narrative that allows this to truly be its own distinct thing.

    Among other things, I'm happy that…

  • Three Women of the North

    Three Women of the North

    ★★★

    Yeaaaaah, all of the state-centered "duty" and "sacrifice" messaging is laid on thick. Propaganda aside, this is an interesting slice of wartime cinema.

    I appreciate its focus on the perspective and empowerment of women, the latter very much laced with a "we can do it!" spirit. Unsurprsingly, there's a patronizing attitude oozing from this work thanks to men "complimenting" or otherwise considering the abilities of women in a way that's casually sexist.

    Though minor, the scene between Sumiko (a young…

  • A Wife's Heart

    A Wife's Heart

    ★★★★

    More cinematic homecooking from the maestro of "simple" yet thorny and compelling family dramas.

    The way Naruse couples blocking and "distance" with the visual power of unspoken thoughts and unuttered desires makes for such an effectively engaging film.

    Naruse blesses the viewer with enough context as well as exploration of multidimensional characters and complicated relationship dynamics that silent avoidance, pregnant pauses, shared gazes, and muted moments of contemplation communicate o c e a n s of meaning.

    At this point,…

  • Obsessed

    Obsessed

    ★★★½

    The exquisite delectability of lust, love, and longing.

    The scintillizing eroticism part and parcel of lingering looks, pining, and sexual tension. Irresponsible irresistibility, compulsions snowballing into locked lips and bodies colliding, enveloping, and exploding, consummating an illicit liaison.

    The pageantry, pretense, and politics of coworkers and housewives competing for elevated esteem and position.

    The inevitability and crushing suffocation of an affair in tailspin...the crushing suffocation of suppressed love between lovelorn lovers succumbing to the impossibility of circumstance.

    Obsessed is unmistakably…

  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

    Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

    ★★★★

    This movie is fucking awesometacular!

    I grew up being big into comic books (especially Marvel), so of course I'm primed to enjoy these films. It obviously helps that the MCU films are all well-made and helmed under a unified vision. This movie had me yet again simply marveling at how amazing it is to witness these characters and their worlds translated into grand, cinematic art.

    Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is wildly creative, spellbinding, visually magically delicious, darkly…