Ozu is definitely a film director with a tremendous filmography; he managed to preserve his same filmmaking style throughout his whole career as a film director. Not only was he able to do that, but also all his themes were always surprisingly portrayed with his characteristic simplicity, even though sometimes he recurred to older methods and scenarios (having had the opportunity myself to watch many of his films chronologically in a short-term period, I was able to notice that at times some places used in former films were reused in later ones, though ornamented differently). Regardless of the aforementioned statements, Ozu never once disappointed me, even though, as I’ve just mentioned, he constantly repeated former ideas.
Shubei Hirayama is a widower who lives with his 24 years old daughter and his son. Feeling himself too old and worn-out, he realizes that it is now time for his daughter to make a life of her own and to abandon the obligation of taking care of him and his home, so he decides to have her get married. Despite resisting herself from leaving his father at first, she would eventually change her mind and get married. This would make his father fall into solitude, and he would find refuge and consolation in liquor.
Ozu explores yet again the subjects represented in some of his former films, like, for instance, revisiting those of his masterpiece Late Spring, although with more innovative and modern ideologies (you can notice the drastic changes there have been as to the Japanese way of thinking; the father has a more open minded thought towards marriage, as he lets his daughter make her own decisions). Ozu was clearly good at depicting Japanese society, and through his films we are able to see how it changed over the years and how it was highly influenced by western culture and customs. There’s and scene in which one of Shibu’s friends asks him: what would have happened had Japan not lost the war? That’s a really interesting and contrived question that Ozu had the ingenuity to include within the film, as it probably was a casual question that many Japanese asked themselves back in the day.
Concerning the acting, I almost always repeat myself when reviewing Japanese films, mainly because most of the time it is very natural and credible; moreover, when it comes to Ozu’s films, and if you’ve been acquainted with them for some time, you actually feel closer to the characters (it also helps that many of them tend to be impersonated by the same actors). To conclude my review on this film, I would just like to remark that watching Ozu’s films has been one of the greatest privileges I’ve ever had in cinema; his simple but yet masterful filmmaking cannot be compared with any other film director’s way of filmmaking.
Watching this film the other day, I was amazed that it was made just four years after the end of World War Two – the most destructive and devastating war in history. Many veterans of the conflict, especially those who were lucky enough to have survived the Battle of Iwo Jima, would have seen this in the theatre when it was released. I wonder what they would have thought of it? Obviously, given the year that it was made, the film couldn’t portray the horrors of war with realistic intensity like many modern day films do, or even portray the real attitudes of the men who fought in this theatre (Just watch how the men talk and act in this, and then watch the same men in Tom Hank’s “The Pacific”). “Sands of Iwo Jima” stars John Wayne in a typical stereotypical role as the tough-as-nails sergeant John Stryker, who has a drinking problem. He receives a batch of new recruits to train in the Pacific, before they head off to Tarawa and later, to the infamous and iconic battle of Iwo Jima, in which over 5,000 Americans lost their lives for a small volcanic island.
One thing I’ll praise this film for is how it handles it’s romantic subplot. Usually, war films from this period in history deliver soppy, unrealistic and distracting love subplots. But the romance here, which happens when Stryker and his men are on R&R in either Australia or New Zealand, is handled well and doesn’t burden the rest of the movie. The romance in question is between Conway (John Agar) and Allison (Adele Mara).
The fighting on Tarawa is done very well, thanks to some real footage that was edited in really well. In takes almost an hour for battles to start, and Iwo Jima is only during the last twenty minutes or so. I give “Sands of Iwo Jima” a high rating because I consider it to be a fine war film considering how the WW2 was only over about five years when it was released, and it did manage to deliver some realistic war scenes and most of the characters were realistic enough. Their attitudes and actions may be a bit fake, but come on, it was the 1940’s. The American people couldn’t see how their men really felt while fighting the war (“The Pacific” portrays the real attitudes and actions, I believe), but instead a gung-ho and extremely patriotic movie headed by John Wayne was what was needed to add to the glory of the Allies triumph in the war. The last line of the film, delivered by the most unlikeliest Private, certainly got emotions and patriotic emotions flowing back in the day – “Let’s get back in the war!”
Something of a touch from random that allowed to take this single picture, almost without any previous preparation as improvised it was the feeling on it with a leaned flag, observed by an infinite stand on the land of the battle with the corpses and the wounded imposing the framework of the composition, inspiring plenitude and the strength of tired muscles after great losses of human beings there in that war. It became one of the few most popular photographs of the WWII, the moment of high intensity and dramatic tension also on this movie and too a great chance for the almost anonymous survivors in it, as though in statuesque kind of stressing immobility for a second by a single imperfect shot and quite dark on the bottom of the slope, because the mental foolish of the death toll in it but bypassed by a few men up and down as mere working boundary of living.
Born in Malmo, Sweden, Z.Woods was raised in a small town where musical diversity was hard to come by. The singer/songwriter’s sultry sound stems from his compassion for R&B music. He caught my ear the other week with his new EP and I knew I just had to add his talent to the Creative Spotlight. It’s an infectious mix of R&B, Soul and a splash of Hip-Hop style and the best part is — it was written, produced and mixed by Z.Woods himself and it ranges from vocally driven songs like “Sunday’s Best” to soulful head-rockers like “You” and “Undo.” Songs About You is his first original studio-recorded project. We sat down and discussed his musical impact on the world, his career choices, films and more! Read below for the full Q&A…
Most Asian musicians have a hard time just breaking into the industry let alone trying to become a sex symbol. What particular challenges have you had being a crooning R&B vocalist?
On a superficial level, I may not look like your typical R&B artist. One of the bigger challenges I’ve had has been getting people to look past the ethnicity aspect and give my music, my art, the same consideration without any pre-concieved notions or un-justified scrutiny. I believe that music transcends boundaries of all kinds, including ethnical/racial.
Your new video, of course can be compared to D’Angelo’s infamous video. What was the creative mindset behind the lyrics and how did this idea come to fruition?
The song ‘Undo’ was one of the first songs I wrote for my debut EP ‘Songs About You’. The song revolves around a situation that happened where my actions lead to the downfall of a relationship. It was written with an apologetic spirit, regretting and wishing that I could just undo my actions that lead to the heartbreak in the first place. The idea for the video I came up with from random experiences I’ve had with people expecting me to be/look one way as an R&B artist, but instead I’m quite contrary to what they might expect. This video doubles as an homage to D’Angelo but also as a commentary on some people’s expectations.
As someone who is in a position to carve out a fresh niche for himself, how will you ensure you music doesn’t get lost in the highly disposable mainstream r&b that is on radio? What will set you apart?
I’m big on the concept of being genuine and true to who you are. I am a lover of music and I highly respect and appreciate all the current artists that are out there, and even if I were to attempt to re-create the trending sounds, it will always carry a stamp that is unique to me only because my past experiences and influences have naturally shaped me to be creatively different. That’s whats so magical about music, all of our individual backgrounds shapes our creativity. When I create music, I put a lot of emphasis on communicating emotion. I believe that music has the ability to touch people in places that no other art forms can. I also prefer to work either in smaller team settings or by myself, this helps maintain the heart behind whatever it is that is being created.
I’m an 80s baby, so I grew up with Jodeci, Usher, and the like. Your music really brings me back to that time period. Are you trying to find a way to bridge the gap between what was and what is?
Not intentionally. Those artists (and music from that era) are some of my biggest influences so naturally my music may contain elements that remind people of that older style of R&B. I’m not ashamed of that though, that was probably some of the best music to have ever been made. I always take that comparison as a compliment.
What are some of your favorite Asian films?
‘Ip Man’, ‘Old Boy’ and pretty much Jackie Chan’s entire body of work. Love that guy.
Is there a place for R&B in a singles-driven music industry and a society that has been hypnotized by EDM music, trap and ratchet music?
Absolutely. I believe so. Just because their might be a particular genre or style of music that is trending doesn’t deter people away from music that they like or can connect with. Now, getting the industry on board is a different question…
How does ‘Songs About You EP’ fit into the overall puzzle? After this, do you intend on putting out a full record? Any timeline for that?
This is just the beginning. ‘Songs About You’ was an opportunity for me to share my true musical identity with my current fans as well as new audiences. This was an opportunity to share my heart and soul, anchor my presence and pave way for the future. I am currently working on both English and Swedish projects that are scheduled for the not too distant future.
You lent your vocals to MC Jin’s new album. It seems to be a comeback of sorts. What was it like hitting the studio and stage with what some might consider a pioneer for Asian artists?
That was a great experience. I only knew of Jin for his BET Freestyle Friday success prior to this, but after this project it feels like I’ve known him for decades. He is one of the most humble and loving people I know and seeing the success of his latest 14:59 album brings me a lot of joy.
What advice do you have for anyone trying to get into the music game?
Hang in there and be strong. The road is dark and filled with holes, but maintain your focus and identity and you’ll make it out just fine.
You’ve also posted up a few covers. What is the thought process that goes into covering a song and how do you keep the integrity of the original source material while putting your own unique spin on it?
Similar to how you slowed down the melody on ‘Get Lucky’…I thought that was genius. – Hehe thanks! I always want to explore the songs that I intend to re-arrange and find areas where my interpretation would and could make sense. I’d hate to ‘just cover’ a song as that process seems pretty arbitrary. I feel like doing regular covers would not challenge me artistically enough and re-working songs from the ground-up would be the only logical way for me to go about it. That’s why I don’t refer to my renditions as ‘covers’ but instead as remixes. I seek to give my audience a new experience with songs they might already be familiar with.
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Photography provided by Anne Park:
When an injured guy is brought to the hospital at one night, young doctor Tae-joon (Lee Jin-wook) senses that there is something suspicious about his new patient. There is a gun wound on his unconscious body, and then he happens to witness an attempt to kill his patient. Although he does not see a perpetrator well at that point, he manages to save his patient’s life right after that, and then he happily returns to his home when his shift is over. In the next morning, somebody breaks into their home when he and his loving wife Hee-joo (Jo Yeo-Jeong), a psychiatrist currently taking maternity leave, are about to have a nice breakfast together. The intruder knocks out Tae-joon on the head and kidnaps Hee-joo, and Tae-joon finds himself in a very serious situation when he wakes up later. The intruder is holding his wife as a hostage somewhere, and he demands to Tae-joo that he should get his patient out of the hospital as soon as possible.
With Ryoo’s forceful acting and its nice action scenes, the movie injects considerable amount of intensity into the plot, but that does not hide its number of glaring weaknesses. While Kim Seong-ryeong and Jo Eun-ji are feisty as two tough female cops chasing after their prime suspect, Yoo Joon-sang feels like overacting at time as another crucial police character, and Jin Goo is not very believable as a mentally unstable supporting character. I witnessed several audiences giggling when his character went through his another fit during one scene, and I must confess that he somehow looked like having hiccups to me.
As expected, the climactic action sequence of the film is decorated with lots of bangs to excite audiences, but it feels dragged in the end, and it only magnifies the implausible aspects of the plot. It is rather hard to believe that a certain building in the movie can be so easily emptied like that before the showdown to be unfolded, and I personally think there is a far less damaging(and far more effective) way for its main characters to outwit their opponents – but then the movie would end too soon without much noise if it headed toward that direction.
“Point Blank” was a run-of-the-mill action thriller film to be watched and then forgotten, but the people behind it handled its story and action with commendable efficiency, and I still could enjoy it when I revisited the film before watching the remake version. “The Target” has a few good things including Ryoo Seung-ryong’s strong performance, and I was not that bored during the screening at last night, but the movie is weaker than the original version mainly due to its unbalanced characterization and other flaws in the adapted screenplay. The movie is not a total failure, but I cannot think of any reason to recommend it to you for now considering that there is a little better version.
When I heard the news about a new Crows movie I was excited. Even more so when it was clear that Toshiaki Toyoda will be in the director’s chair. I really enjoyed the previous Crows movies and Toyoda’s “Blue Spring”. They show a very unique, if stylized, filmic portrayal of the high school delinquent topic. The combination of Toyoda and Crows works perfectly and results in a Crows movie that really feels like a fresh take the material. Compared to its predecessors “Crows Explode” sticks more to the manga source material and presents a wider array of characters. Admittedly none of them sticks out the way Genji Takiya did but they don’t need to. The story works even if the characters aren’t as defined as in the previous Crows movies. Aside from that the story follows the same formula as before – nothing special here. The way the characters and locations are designed & presented feels even more stylized and over the top than before.
First of all we have to deal with the absence of its original star casts like Shun Oguri as Takiya Genji and Takayuki Yamada as Serizawa Tamao. They had immortalized their characters and the entire franchise with their power packed fists and acting. The new release on the other hand does not have an impressive star cast. The franchise which is known for its action is what is lacking in this movie primarily. If I am watching a movie from the crows series, I need to see some action but sadly the only action in this movie is right about at the beginning and at the very end and that too for a very brief second and long gone before you can even feast your eyes. But what I liked best were all these homages (small & big ones) to the first two crows movies and even “Blue Spring”. From the soundtrack to the set design this film is overflowing with elements reminiscent of the franchise’s history. Although I gotta say that I would’ve liked the soundtrack to be more extensive.
Masahiro Higashide as Kaburagi Kazeo is good with acting but bad with action. He does not impress with his action skills but Yuya Yagira as Goura Toru was still impressive and so was the character black dynamite (only for action). Kento Nagayama as Fujiwara Hajime has a meaty role in the movie but that is what is bothering me. It felt as if the whole plot deviation just took out the essence of the basic movie. The movie franchise which entirely sprouted from its action sequences forgot that basic element in its new movie and instead diverted with a somewhat lukewarm performances and plot, totally disappointing the fans who have been dying for the sequel for a really long time.
The cinematography was trying to be the same as the two Crows Zero but it didn’t come out that way, I believe the yellowish atmosphere is the film’s way of distinguishing itself from the others. The directing style and the setting of fighting sequences are debatable but Toyoda made sure to leave his mark which is more than enough to respect a director. Crows Explode had its own touch of filmmaking but the serious realistic depiction that Toyoda decided to use didn’t come out entirely right, just like it wasn’t entirely wrong. Due to its entirely different pattern, this sequel should be viewed for its own merits, comparing it to Miike’s Crows will only make it harder to watch and judge.
Raised In New York City’s Chinatown, AnRong Xu is an early 20’s documentary photographer, and filmmaker. His projects have garnered much attention including a successful Kickstarter and an ongoing photography project, which documents Chinese-American life, which was a way for him to process his dual identity. While attending the School of Visual Arts, he really found himself and his projects kept getting better and better. I wanted to learn more about this artist so for episode 370, we talk about said projects, Chinatown in the 90’s, documentary photography, and more. Read below for the full Q&A…
For those unfamiliar, do documentary photographers use different or uniquely particular gear then say, a normal photographer would use?
Every photographer is different, it really depends on the photographer what kind of gear they prefer. From my experience, documentary photographers prefer lightweight and more easily transportable cameras that are ergonomically built and get amazing image quality.
I myself shoot with a Leica M4, a Mamiya 7, and a Canon 5d Mark II.
I was mostly struck by the Miss Model Angel event. The event itself has an underlying statement where they believe Asian immigrants’ talents get buried without a proper platform and support from the community. As a result they are obliged to take 9-5 jobs and give up on pursuing their dreams. Is the problem really this bad? Any insight?
I think as many immigrant children and immigrants themselves realize, in America the possibilities are endless, you just have to be afforded the right opportunity, and at the right time, which often doesn’t happen within the first generation, and many sacrifices need to be made in order to achieve dreams.
Moving along to another theme you have captured, ‘Grandpa’, obviously taken beautifully and well-composed, its evident that the elderly conduct themselves in a different way then then Generation Y. What about this era makes for an interesting theme for photography?
Right now, my generation is at a point where it’s actually cool to be Asian now. All the past previous generations have dealt with heightened levels of racism, tokenism, and prejudice for being Asian. We currently have more Asians in the media, and more of a physical presence. With the advent of Youtube, it’s really streamlined a Asian American subculture that pushes a play for a bigger presence of Asians in the media.
In terms of photography, it provides subjects to be that previously I wouldn’t have heard of so easily. Also, it allows for other Asian Americans to connects to each other. To be able to be like oh yea, I saw that video too by the Fung Bros, and I liked it and totally made sense, is a really cool thing to be able to do. Youtube also introduced me to poets like Ishle Yi Park, Beau Sia, Giles Li, Bao Phi, Denizen Kane, and many others who made me more conscious of my identity, and helped push my conscious into a better place to make my work.
Did Manhattan’s Chinatown in the late 80s and early 90’s have anything to do with this as well?
I’ve only spent the 90s in Chinatown, but in my upbringing, influenced me in understanding the immigrant struggle. I often would go to school, get picked up by my grandpa, and then go to the park till it was dark, go home, and wait for my mother to come home from the sweatshops. And sometimes I spent after school in the sweatshops next to my mother, as she sewed for our future, and I worked on my homework for mine. The 90s was a changing time for Chinatown with constant flux of new Chinese immigrants into the neighborhood, it really changed the social dynamics and created political tensions between the old KMT backed Chinatown and this new group of Mainland population.
What are some of your favorite Hong Kong gangster flicks?
My favorite Hong Kong gangster flick would have to be, Young and Dangerous, and also Young and Dangerous 2. Other notable ones would be, Fallen Angels, Infernal Affairs, and Election.
Asian Americans have emerged as the nation’s fastest growing racial group, and yet we still have a hard time understanding the Chinese-American. What specifically can your photographs do that cement your legacy to your kids and grandkids? How can you relate your culture to them through film?
I think through films and photography, and through just telling our stories, we can really preserve our stories and our legacies. How do white kids learn about their cultures and histories? Through books, movies, pop culture. We have to do as we always have, tell our stories, and now that we have more available platforms to tell them on, we can share them, and have future generations still be able to see them, and learn about the story of our people.
David Choe kind of touched on it a bit where he said like Jackie Chan or Jet Li never get the girl in the movies. Going back to your fashion show shoot — it speaks to the way fashion doesn’t concern themselves with social issues these days. Have you used your work to at all combat the pervasive stereotypes that continue to shape how many people perceive Asian Americans, and how Asian Americans often view themselves?
I think my work is statement of existence. A proof that we exist. Now in terms of combating stereotypes, I photograph that which draws my attention in Chinese Americans, which is often individuals who go against the stereotype of what mainstream media has painted of Asians. I hope my work allows Asian Americans to look at themselves, and further reflect on who they are in this racial spectrum of America, and also give them a stronger sense of identity.
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“The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom” is based on “Baifa Monü Zhuan”, a novel by Liang Yusheng. The story resulted in several previous films, but I have not seen any of them, so I cannot compare this new version with the old. However, I assume that these earlier films are more watchable, as they wouldn’t have relied so heavily on CGI and wire stunt work–something which actually seemed to detract from my enjoying the movie. In other words, there were so many crazy stunts and magical happenings that the story itself seemed secondary–especially the crucial romance between the two main characters.
The story begins in the late Ming Dynasty in China. The country is beset by foreign invaders as well as disloyal schemers within the government. However, to hide their scheming, the plotters have implicated Jade in the assassination of a governor. This is complicated because the witch, Jade, has fallen in love with Zhuo Yihang–the man who is the governor’s grandson! So, Zhuo is torn between his love for her and his loyalty to the emperor– and, for a while, he pretends to believe that Jade is responsible for the killing and no longer loves her. What is to become of the pair? See the film…though I wouldn’t rush to do so.
The version we are all familiar with is Ronny Yu’s 1993 movie The Bride With White Hair, starring Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia and the late Leslie Cheung, which is widely considered a classic of the genre. Here, it is an ironically too messy and overstuffed piece of work that lost our interest 30 minutes or so into the movie.
There’s MUCH more to the story than this…but frankly I had a hard time following the film. Much of this is because I found my attention span drifting often through the course of the movie. Why did I find myself so uninvolved with the film? Well, it all goes back to the CGI. Too often, the director focused on stunts instead of the story. The important romance seemed to take a back seat to cool slow-motion arrows, ‘wire fu’ stunts (where the various characters fly about as if by magic–much like you saw in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) and an overly complicated story. The bottom line is that I have seen many Chinese epics that were satisfying and enjoyable from start to finish. This one, in contrast, left me feeling a bit disappointed and confused.
Shark Toof ranks among street art’s most recognizable artists. Known for his murals, stencils and wheat pastes on streets across the US from NY to Miami to LA, Shark Toof is one of the rising stars in contemporary street art. Shark Toof possesses the technical skills of an Old Master and the spirit of an art-minded vandal, granting him the ability to move seamlessly between styles. Most recently he is trying to preserve his 100ft. mural in the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District. Due to natural deterioration, spray paint, bucket paint and other materials are needed in order to maintain this mural for future generations to enjoy. We sat down and talked to him about this project, his work, and films! Read below for the full Q&A…
Four years ago you had your first solo show. As you’ve grown since then, how do you approach publicly displaying your work? If the subjects haven’t change, have your techniques?
I have two bodies of public work, large scale murals and my other work which still remains true to my definition of street art and graffiti. For the murals it is all about environment: the culture, the people, and the history. For my street art and graffiti it is all about placement. My techniques fluctuate. I like to span the cache of techniques, Art Center traditional to street, so my work is never static.
It is my first mural in Downtown Los Angeles and my largest on the west coast. Being born and raised in Los Angeles, I’ve always been apart of Los Angeles’ transformation, and I want to remain in its art conversation. It is important to be represented in the city where you have a rich history and are connected to the changes. Los Angeles is my home town and I love it.
This piece also has strong ties within the art community of Los Angeles. Is there a decline in activity or interest in the Los Angeles Arts District that you want to focus on specifically?
I think there is an increased interest in its popularity, but I think it needs a balance. In the genre of mural making, there appears to be an uneven interest in L.A. native artists being represented, and it is vital for us to be a part of L.A.’s art history.
You are mostly known for a particular signature street aesthetic but you can also maintain a refined fine art aesthetic as well. What challenges present themselves when you blend the two together?
People are drawn towards repetition to the point where an image becomes so familiar it is likable. When you deviate, it becomes challenging and sometimes confusing for collectors and fans. The biggest challenge is to convince people to accept the changes, progression, and deviation from a specific image or style.
What are some of your favorite Asian films or Anime?
Bruce Lee and Godzilla.
Similar to Angry Woebots where the majority of his subjects are panda’s, do you think you will ever tire of your subject matter or is there so much more about Sharks that can be discovered/explored?
There is so much more to be explored and discovered. Each of my sharks has its own character, and each viewer sees their reflection when they look at them. The sharks make us address our own fears and stereotypes.
If you were to be involved in a Shark Attack how would you escape?
Shark attacks are rarer than winning the lotto. If that happened, it would would be like winning the lottery.
In your own words what is the purpose of graffiti art and its purpose. Does it resemble your own conquest for what your art stands for given the fearsome reputation you sometimes carry?
Graffiti in its truest form is screaming out to the community that you exist. The spirit of graffiti is something you grow up with. It is part of your personality. It is a culture, and a language that only those who know, really know. These are the people who truly see rebellion, love, whimsy, aggression, competitiveness, insatiability, joking, etc. just by looking at the line quality of a graffiti piece. That spirit is definitely in my work.
L.A. banned shark fin soup in 2011. Did you quit eating this dish before then?
Yes. Being of Chinese heritage I was brought up on shark fin soup, but after learning of its appalling killing practices at a young age, I quit. I work closely with a non profit organization Pangeaseed to help conserve shark and ocean environments.
In addition to multiple group shows, you also honor commission pieces. How does this process lend itself to the evolution of an artist and how you deal with clients and come to the final agreement?
No matter what, when the commission is presented, that is where you are at in your artistic career, so it is innate to put your best foot forward. I have two bodies of work, my fine art and my sharks, the client always knows which one they want.
Lastly, what advice do you have for the budding creative?
Work your ass off.
Lundgrun is an American who was raised in Japan while Lee is a Japanese raised in America. This actually makes an interesting mix as Lundgrun expects Lee to have a lot of traditional Japanese traits, where the only traits he has is fast food and fast cars and Lee sees Lundgrun as somebody who is caught up in pointless tradition that should be thrown away in exchange for fun. Lundgrun is also the cop that can’t keep partners, and we expect Lee to be the naive new cop on the beat, and then we find out that he is actually a lot like Lundgrun, a cop that can’t keep partners. As such they get on really well, and the dialogue that jumps between them in this movie is very well done. It is a shame that Brandon Lee’s career was cut so short by the accident in the Crow because Lee is actually quite a good actor. As I said in Legacy of Rage, if it wasn’t for the stupid action sequences at the end, the movie would have been quite good. From what I remember of the Crow, he acting ability was actually very good.
This enforced the funny tongue and cheek dialog between them which makes it enjoyable to watch. That particular element, the writing, I found to be written well. Together, these two “officers” of the law are trying to rid L.A. of the vicious Yakuza of Japan led by Yoshida (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa). Tagawa was a great choice as the leader, he has a truly menacing presence when he’s on screen. It’s also appropriate that he plays that role because Tagawa is Japanese. Though it is funny how this isn’t the first time Lundgren has fought the Yakuza either. He also did it in The Punisher (1989),…do they have something against him?
Like any Dolph Lundgren movie though, there’s bound to be plenty of fist and gunfights. What may surprise people even more is how heavy some of the action scenes are. Apparently the 79 minutes of running time was the cut version, meaning the uncut version was much heavier (lengthier too). It actually stunned me a little to see such a lighthearted duo face off against such a brutal enemy. Tango & Cash (1989) was rated R but even the violence there was light compared to this. That’s not to say it wasn’t entertaining – far from it. I also liked David Michael Frank’s score to the film. It’s definitely no orchestra but he creates a main theme for the film and even it gives it a Japanese like feel to it, which was much appreciated.
Going back to the running time though, this movie should’ve been left uncut for release. The movie plays out very well yet the story feels so rushed like there were parts that were supposed to be included in the story (which their were, but were cut). This film could have had that and its frustrating when a good film is lowered in quality when the important parts are cut. Perhaps audiences could have seen even more development between Lee and Lundgren, that way this duo would be just as memorable as any other buddy cop duo. It’s not to say they acted badly but there’s always room to grow.