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The Ying Yang Master Review

Ying Yang Master (侍神令) is a Chinese movie that was released on 12th February 2021 playing on and commissioned by Netflix.

About

Part of the official summary of the movie:

“Captain of the City Guard Yuan Boya is stripped of rank after the imperial tribute he was guarding is stolen. Unwilling to let things lie, he searches for the thieves, only to end up entering a mystical world of demons.”

There is a sequel called “The Ying Yang Master: Dream of Eternity” but not really related to the first and has a different cast.

Cast

Chen Kun (陳坤) as Qin Ming
I immediately recognized him as he played Ning Yi on The Rise of Phoenixes, also commissioned by Netflix. A popular actor with a long string of TV shows and Movies.
Instagram

Zhou Xun (周迅) as BaiNi
Don’t think we have seen her in anything else but she is also a singer as well as an actor, and internationally recognized.

Qu Chu Xiao (屈楚萧) as Yuan Bo Ya
Started his acting career in 2016 and appears to be gaining in popularity.
Instagram

Review

This movie generally receives very good reviews, from reading comments Chen Kun was one of the main attractions with a huge fan base.

I will sum up my thoughts; this movie is about special effects and not really about the story.

The special effects were very well done and it must have been quite a task to put this movie together. However, there was really too much going on-screen throughout and I diverted my eyes through quite a few moments. At one point I almost fell asleep.

It’s great that they are so advanced now with CGI but the story has to be the main focus which this movie severely lacked. So, unfortunately, I will rate it as 2 out of 5. If action and special effects are your things then this is the movie for you.

Where To See It

Seems that this movie is only available on Netflix given that it was commissioned by them.

Trailer

2022-08-08T17:04:06+00:008 August 2022|Review China|

Kamome Restaurant

While visiting the Tsawwassn Mills Shopping Centre we found a great Japanese Restaurant called Kamome Sushi.

Kamome QR CodeWe didn’t know what the restaurant was like but really enjoyed it, an unexpected find. Great ambience, modern in design. Food was awesome, in fact a Japanese/Korean fusion, both types of dishes on the menu. We noticed that the chicken was a mix between Japanese and Korean. The mustard sauce that came with the chicken was awesome, I’m pleased they gave us some more to go with our leftovers. The restaurant is kind of expensive but the portions were huge which gave us more to take out, from that perspective it was a justified cost. Scan the QR Code on the right for a link to the restaurant.

2022-08-07T17:15:39+00:007 August 2022|Photos|

The Outlaws Movie Review

The Outlaws (범죄도시) is a Korean action movie that was released on 3rd October 2017.

About

The movie is based on real events in 2007 named the “Heuksapa Incident”. For a summary of this event please go to Korea JoongAng Daily.

The story is about a turf war between a local gang that runs Garibong-dong in Guro District, Seoul, and the Heuksapa gang from Yanbian, China. The Chinese gang use brutal methods and make a move to take over.

Cast

Ma Dong Seok (마동석) plays Ma Suk Do
He is the central character and adds much-needed comedy to the film. He is also one of the most popular actors in Korea. Known also by Don Lee, his nationality is American; before acting he was a personal trainer, he lived in Ohio, attended the Columbus State Community College then moved back to Korea. He made his Hollywood debut in Marvel’s Eternals.
Instagram

Yoon Kye Sang (윤계상) plays Jang Chen
He is an actor and singer, he started his career in 1999 with the K-pop band g.o.d. He won the Best New Actor Award in 2005.
Instagram

Review

The movie appeared to be very popular as they have released a sequel, called The Roundup, and planning a third movie.

If it hadn’t been for the entertaining Don Lee I might have given up on this movie before the halfway point.

The violence in the movie was continuous and relentless, in fact, after a while, it became a little tedious. Even the police were violent with each other at some points. The light relief came from Don Lee, very dry sense of humour, which broke up the monotony.

The story was kind of typical for a gangster movie. Lots of fights and smashing up people and places. Evidently, it was filmed in Seoul, maybe all the seedy areas that you wouldn’t see in soap operas.

The film won 12 out of 14 awards which is amazing. I notice the awards were mainly “Best Actor”, “Best New Director”, and “Best Supporting Actor”.

So, what did I think of it? It was ok. Not really my thing. More on violence than story, I would prefer the other way round. I will give it a generous 3 out of 5.

Where To See It

Prime Video (not in Canada by the looks of it). Viki and Tubi.

Trailer

2022-08-06T05:05:26+00:006 August 2022|Review South Korea|

Neptune Wonton Noodle

Today we went to Neptune Wonton Noodle House, a Chinese restaurant based inside the Central City Mall in Surrey, British Columbia.

This other week we went to the Neptune Palace Restaurant, see my review. The Noodle House is inside the restaurant premises but just closed off and has its own kitchen facilities. You can see them cooking through a window inside the restaurant.

Like the Palace, the Noodle House also looks fairly posh and has some posh prices to match. The food, at least what we had, was excellent. We had Sliced Beef in Noodle Soup and Beef Brisket with Noodles. With the brisket came a Chicken Soup side, just a clear broth, that was the best, it actually tasted like Roast Chicken although it probably wasn’t. The beef in both dishes were very tender. Each of the main dishes were no greater than CAD$15.00 which might be a little bit more than we would pay but the quality was good and have plenty for another lunch or dinner.

2022-07-28T22:54:23+00:0028 July 2022|Photos|

The Ark of Mr Chow Reivew

This is a review of the Chinese movie The Ark of Mr Chow (少年班) which was released on 19th June 2015.

About

Xi’an Jiaotong University has a gifted student program. Its director takes on students, who are geniuses but are also misfits. How will the students get along there? Will they be ready to take part in the international competition to solve tough maths questions?

Cast

The following are actors of note, to me:

Honglei Sun (孙红雷) plays Zhou Zhi Yong
Always wanted to be in acting, started break dancing, gave up studies to pursue dancing, then got into acting with many TV and Movies under his belt.

Wang Lixin (王栎鑫) plays Mai Ke
He looks awfully familiar but I don’t think we’ve seen him in anything. He is a pop singer and actor. The YouTube video below show’s his singing abilities.

Liu Xi Long (柳希龙) plays Wang Da Fa
He seemed to play the oddest of the oddballs in the film. I can’t find much about this actor, The Ark of Mr Chow may have been his first performance on screen.  He has also done a TV series called Tientsin Mystic, seasons 1 and 2.

Review

Ark of Mr ChowI thought this was quite gritty and open for a Chinese film. it felt like the antics I might see in a US film but with clearly Chinese themes.

None of the students fit in, they were completely out of place in that environment, and emotionally not quite with it. They were definitely like geniuses without direction.

The actors were very good in their roles. Each of the students had distinct personalities that the actors could get their teeth into. The role that stood out among all of them was the child actor, he got all the love. Wang Li Xin’s role stood out for me.

There was a lot of laughs, many dramatic scenes, some CGI and fairly good cinematography. I don’t think the camera work stood out, I don’t think that was the vocal point in the film.

The film is categorized as a comedy/drama, but I don’t think I would use the word comedy at all, I would just say there were some amusing moments.

This is another film that is under-rated, I would personally give it a 4.5/5.

Links

Awards

Yang Xiao was nominated, but didn’t win, the Huading Award for Best New Director for a Motion Picture

Honglei Sun won the International Chinese Film Festival award for Best Actor

Where to Watch

The film can be viewed on AsianCrush and TubiTV, and in some regions on AppleTV.

Trailer

2022-07-26T22:26:19+00:0026 July 2022|Review China|

Neptune Palace Restaurant Review

Neptune Palace Restaurant is based here in Surrey, British Columbia, and is based inside the Surrey City Central Mall.

Neptune is a more high-class Chinese restaurant with inside decor to match. There are two parts to the restaurant, we’ve only been in the main section, the other one is a Wonton Noodle place.

The items on the menu are generally dishes you would not find in a day-to-day Chinese restaurant most people would go into. The prices are high but they do serve generous portions, enough for us for 3 more dinners. So, kind of value for money.

We had 3 dishes in all and my favourite was the Ho Fun, it’s always my go-to dish but I was interested in seeing what this one was like. It was exceptional. All dishes were good. Instead of an orange, they served us with a Mango Jelly dessert, it was refreshing.

At first, the customer service was a bit gruff. There was no one to greet us when we first arrived. There was only really one member of staff that was friendly to us. Also, the menu was on a tablet and it timed out, couldn’t access it as it was passworded, then the staff member wasn’t happy she had to re-enter the password for us.

I will give the restaurant 4 out of 5, marked down due to customer service rather than the food.

2022-07-20T17:51:05+00:0020 July 2022|Food, Photos|

Midnight Diner China Review

This is my review of Chinese movie called Midnight Diner (深夜食堂) which was released on 30 August 2019.

About

Midnight Diner originally started as a highly successful TV series in Japan. Other countries bought the rights to it including China, Korea and Taiwan, and each has had its own series or film.

The Chinese film adaptation is based in Shanghai and we saw the stories of those people who ate there, such as a taxi driver meeting a receptionist who wants to be a model, a singer who hasn’t long to live, a boxer struggling in his career and so on.

Cast

I didn’t recognize any of the cast except the main actor.

Tony Leung (梁家辉) plays the owner of the diner
He is from Hong Kong with a very long resume of films.

Review

I can’t help but compare it against the original Japanese version, and it did do a very good job to keep to the original story. The restaurant looked very similar, however, much cleaner than the one in Tokyo.

In the Japanese version, the characters were more diverse, not so much in this Chinese film. China is generally more conservative in its views on diversity.

The stories were very good, generally, most of them were short with the exception of the last one. The first story had more focus on the diner, which is similar to the Japanese version, however, the last story went on for too long and kind of forgot about the restaurant altogether. The scene with the revolving table was annoying and made me feel sick watching it.

Fat shaming can be an issue in Chinese TV shows and films but this was addressed brilliantly in the movie.

Like the Japanese version, there was a good mix of humour in the movie and that was also done very well.

I would give it a 4/5 and would recommend it. If nothing else, we got some good cooking tips from it!! Do you all have a favourite “Midnight Diner” in your city?

Trailer

2022-07-20T17:14:35+00:0020 July 2022|Review China|

Downtown Vancouver Photos

We dropped off some visiting friends at their Downtown Vancouver hotel prior to their Alaska cruise. Here are some photos of interest relating to that little car trip.

The first couple of pictures just show some interesting skyline shots. The third picture shows the Victory Square Cenotaph, a war memorial.

The 4th, and last, picture shows a real estate’s (estate agent) advert on a side of a bus. I think he has a sense of humour as he makes his name into a double entendres, certainly memorable and a good marketing ploy.

2022-07-15T21:23:48+00:0015 July 2022|Photos|

Chasing The Dragon Movie Review

This is my review of Chasing The Dragon (追龍), a Hong Kong movie that was released on 30 September 2017.

About

An illegal immigrant from China sneaks into the underworld part of Hong Kong, currently under British rule, in 1963.  He transforms himself into a ruthless drug lord.

Evidently, this is based on a true story.

This is the second film based on this story, although not a follow-on from the original. The original was called “To Be Number One”, made in 1991. Kent Cheng starred in both the original and this version. More about this trilogy.

There is also a sequel to Chasing The Dragon, called Chasing The Dragon 2, with different cases playing different characters.

Cast

This had two of the biggest names in Hong Kong cinema.

Donnie Yen (甄子丹) as Crippled Ho
The actor is of course huge in Hong Kong playing in many action films. He has made more films than I’ve had hot dinners.
Instagram

Andy Yau (劉德華) as Lee Rock
He also produced as well as starred in this film. Andy has a huge portfolio of films but is also known for directing, producing and in one movie was even the cinematographer.

Review

The film was better than some I had seen but it wasn’t great. They tried to make it look epic.

The story wasn’t great and this didn’t appear to be central to the film, I would go far as to say it was a bit of a mess. It feels they went for gangster violence shock value. More of an action movie but where Donnie Yen doesn’t really do too much of that, which is unusual for films he’s in. It felt as though a lot of people get hurt badly and die horribly. There was some humour, mainly in Kent Cheng’s character, but it did feel all kind of grim. I don’t think there was anybody in the film that was near likeable.

The “look and feel” of the movie was dark and a lot of urban degeneration, I guess that worked given the subject matter of the film. There were some, what appeared to be, filmed in plusher surroundings, like the small sequence in Thailand.

The film portrayed a dislike of the British in Hong Kong, well, perhaps more than a dislike. Every British person portrayed in the movie was corrupt. Not sure who the alleged British actors were, the ones I did recognize weren’t and had been voiced over and it was so poorly done I cringed every moment of it. They probably could have hired some real British actors just to be more authentic.

My summary would be 1) lots of violence, 2) virtually everyone died horribly, and 3) some other bits in between. Not like the Hong Kong movies of yesteryear. I will give it 2 out of 5.

Links

Where Can I See It

It’s available on TubiTV, and I understand on Netflix in certain countries.

Trailer

2022-07-12T22:23:55+00:0012 July 2022|Review Hong Kong|

The Wind Blows From Longxi Review

This is my review of Chinese TV Show The Wind Blows From Longxi (风起陇西), which aired between 27 April to 7 May 2022 on CCTV/iQiyi.

About

The Shu defeated the Wei using their specific crossbow design. Wei sent numerous spies into the Shu kingdom to steal the plans. Chen Gong and Xun Xu are Shu spies who go their separate ways to stop the plan.

Actually, there is more to the story than this, it’s quite complex, but I would just watch the series.

Cast

Chen Kun (陳坤) plays Chen Gong
I didn’t realise until after the show had finished but he played Ning Yi in Netflix’s The Rise of Phoenixes.
He is an actor, singer and also a very successful writer. He has won numerous awards for his acting. He is also on China’s Writers Rich List. He has one child, he isn’t married and hasn’t revealed the name of the Mother.
Instagram

Bai Yu (白宇) plays Xun Xu
A very popular actor who we’ve seen in a number of productions. He has won multiple awards, be voted the most handsome guy in China, and so on.

I recognized a couple of other cast members who had support roles in other dramas we’ve watched.

Review

The series was 24 episodes long, if it was something like 70 it would have been too tough to watch it all.

The storyline was quite complex and parts of the show, the text that appeared on the screen, weren’t translated by the production company, so parts of it were completely lost on me at first. I started to understand what was going on after the 5th episode. The final few episodes were the best, not just because it was coming to an end, but I had started to appreciate the story.

I would say this drama had a more realistic “look and feel” than many Chinese dramas we’ve seen. The sets were basic, with no fancy decor, just basic wooden houses or shacks may be to reflect the hard time they were going through. Even the short scene of the Emperor showed how un-fancy they were. No fancy tea or dinner service. The homes were dark with very little lighting. The costumes were the same way, very basic cloth and not posh at all. It was kind of refreshing to see this.

The drama had a serious tone, there wasn’t a lot of humour at all. There was romance and this shaped what one of the characters had become about halfway through the show. This isn’t necessarily an action-orientated show, although it did have some. I took it as a focus on the politics and relationships of war.

The acting was good. Much of what was said was done in whispers, very quietly spoken roles. This was the first show I’ve seen where Bai Yu hasn’t joked around or hardly smiled come to that, although there were times when that cheeky smile came across.

In the first few episodes there was this humorous person at the end, about 30 seconds, the summarize what had just happened. This, sadly, didn’t continue throughout the series. Maybe the production company realized what a complex story it was and decided to throw that in to help people like me out.

There wasn’t a lot of incidental music but the opening theme, with the drums, was awesome. The closing theme didn’t fit in with the drama at all but it wasn’t too bad.

The downsides of this show were the lack of female characters and the screenwriting should have been adapted to pull me into the show more, at least a the beginning.

Links

Where Can I Watch

The show is available on YouTube, with great subtitles, and Viki.

Making Of…

2022-07-10T23:31:45+00:0010 July 2022|Review China|