Romancing in Thin Air (高海拔之戀II)
After last year’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (單身男女), a blockbuster aimed at China, Hong Kong director Johnnie To (杜琪?) returns to the big screen with yet another romance. This time, Louis Koo (古天樂) and Sammi Cheng (鄭秀文), who makes a handsome comeback to the silver screen with this finely executed flick after a three-year hiatus, head the cast. Set in the Himalayas in China’s Yunnan Province, where Shangri-la is supposedly located, the film begins with Hong Kong superstar Michael (Koo) escaping to the mythical place to heal his wounded heart after his bride runs away on their wedding day. There he meets hotel proprietor Sue (Cheng), who has been in mourning since her husband disappeared into the nearby forest seven years previously. Friendship and then love bud between the two heartbroken souls. Though the film has its fair share of overwrought plot devices and contrived characters, director To and writer Wai Ka-fai (韋家輝) show their ingenuity by creating a film within a film that blurs the boundary between art and life.
The Lucky One
Based on a work by best-selling author Nicholas Sparks, the tone and direction of The Lucky One will be familiar to people who have enjoyed other adaptations from his books, such as Nights in Rodanthe, The Notebook, and Message in a Bottle. If those films did it for you, The Lucky One, directed by Scott Hicks, who made Shine, and starring Zac Efron, is likely to prove just as effective. Efron is an appealing screen presence, and if the predictability of the story and the sweetness of the romance don’t make you feel ill, then you are likely to slip into the warm, cozy and bitter-sweet world of romantic love that Sparks is such an expert at conjuring up.
Action movie fans are in for a treat with The Raid, a no-holds-barred slugfest featuring extensive use of the Indonesian martial arts technique called pencak silat. The story is simple: a SWAT team is tasked with taking out a ruthless mobster who is ensconced at the top of a tower block. They fight their way up floor by floor, and once the violence begins, it is unremitting. There is some suggestion that relations within the SWAT team are not as simple as they might seem at first, but this is really a relatively insignificant digression from the action. Directed by Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans with a mostly Indonesian cast. Although the film is spoken in Indonesian, the dialogue is limited and mostly self-explanatory.
Goodbye First Love (Un amour de jeunesse)
Romantic drama by Mia Hansen-Love, whose Father of My Children was released here last year. That film dealt with a family trying to come to terms with a suicide. In Goodbye First Love, Hansen-Love turns her lens on the development of young love, telling the story of Camille (Lola Creton), who falls head over heels in lust for Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky), a slightly older boy. When Sullivan drops her to travel the world, Camille discovers another kind of relationship with a much older man, which promises intellectual fulfillment and material stability. Of course, when Sullivan returns, the old fire is once again ignited.
South Korean/Thai coproduction about a family of taekwondo experts who relocate to Thailand to set up a gym. They only become an accepted part of the martial arts community in their new home after they help foil a bunch of bank robbers. Needless to say, this scenario provides plenty of opportunities for martial arts action. The fact that one member of the family has ambitions to be a pop star provides an opening for a nice soundtrack as well.