The Bullet Vanishes (消失的子彈)
Hong Kong take on Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies, with director Law Chi-leung (羅志良) indulging in all kinds of cinematic trickery to give the film a roller-coaster feel as it wends its way through a complicated tale of death and betrayal. Detectives Song (played by Lau Ching-wan, 劉青雲) and Guo (played by Nicolas Tse, 謝霆鋒) are the Holmes and Watson duo, and they must deal with a series of execution style shootings. The mystery turns out to be that the bullets in all these incidents cannot be found. Is something supernatural at work? Is there a conspiracy? Law is so caught up in making sure that there is not a single dull moment on screen, that he over eggs the pudding with all kinds of action sequences, tense stand offs and technical CSI-type exposition that there is no time for the characters to establish themselves.
When a Wolf Falls in Love with a Sheep (南方小羊牧場)
Light-hearted romance set in Taipei’s cram-school street — Nanyang Street (南陽街) — near Taipei Railway Station, by director Hou Chi-jan (侯季然). It stars a list of well-known celebrities including the infamously buxom Kuo Shu-yao (郭書瑤), aka Yao Yao (瑤瑤), and veteran of stage and screen Tsai Chen-nan (蔡振南) doing his usual world-weary avuncular role. The central romance stars Kai Ko (柯震東), who made his musical and acting debut with last year’s hit You Are the Apple of My Eye (那些年，我們一起追的女孩), and new talent Jian Man-shu (簡嫚書). They are slotted into a storyline about young love and broken hearts that is as cliched as it is implausible.
Due West: Our Sex Journey (一路向西)
Following on from a string of dubious Hong Kong softcore movies such as the Sex and Zen franchise, Due West: Our Sex Journey offers not much that is new. Director Mark Wu (胡耀輝) wrote and starred in last year’s 3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy, and his efforts to up the ante do not really come off. The film tells the story of Frankie (played by Justin, 張建聲), a young man looking for love, and good sex, after escaping from a domineering mother. His journey has a few laughs, plenty of crude jokes, but enjoyment relies heavily on one’s ability to stomach a crass objectification of women portrayed in a variety of outdated sex-doll stereotypes.
Steven Soderbergh may well have his tongue in his cheek with Magic Mike, a film about a male stripper (Channing Tatum) who takes a young performer (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing and shows him how to party and make easy money. This is a movie for which there is a template, so it comes as no surprise that Magic Mike wants more; he wants something real (yawn!). He has an artistic bent, he finds a girl who is serious and doesn’t appreciate his lifestyle. Amid the acres of well-muscled and oiled bodies, there is a story about friendship, loyalty and self-realization. And then again, you can just enjoy the beefcake.
Trouble with the Curve
An amiable film with an amiable cast starring Clint Eastwood in a role of grouchy old man that he has made as much his own as he did Dirty Harry in his younger days. Trouble with the Curve is set against the background of baseball, but wants to be about father-daughter relationships, and to this end the ever likeable Amy Adams does her best. Perhaps it is just that she is a bit too nice, and there is none of the bitterness that might have given the film a bit of depth. That said, there is enough intelligent dialogue and an understated humor to make this above average entertainment.