Review China

Review of Chinese Movies and TV Shows

Super Villain

Super Villain [aka Solitary Man or 大“反”派] is a Chinese comedy drama movie that was released on 4th April 2024.

Plot

Bi Chao has been desperately trying to get into the movie business when an upcoming role turns into a nightmare. In an accident he loses his memory and thinks he really is the character that he is playing in the movie; he thinks he is a murderer, in love with someone else other than his wife and is chased by three gangsters.

Cast

Bao Bei Er [包贝尔] as Bi Chao
He is a Chinese actor and singer. He is very popular and lined up to appear in many films and TV shows, I’m surprised he has time to see his wife and child. We recently saw him in Follow Bear to Adventure and 1921.

Wei Xiang [魏翔] as Fang Zi Hua
As I’ve said before this actor should be in more main roles, I think he is gradually being recognized for his talent. We’ve seen him in many films including Too Cool To Kill.

Review

This movie was definitely very comedic but at times it had lost it’s way. I’m just wondering if they rush through these movies as the actors have so many other films they are making.

Centered around the movie making industry in China but there were still references to Hollywood but they showed quite a few sound stages. I doubt if they had made those sets just for “Super Villain”, maybe borrowed from other ongoing film productions.

The story was basically good but not new. Someone gets hit on his head and thinks he’s someone else. The difference was it centered around the movie industry, a rocky relationship, and being chased by the fish salesmen/gangsters.

I was surprised to see a somewhat gay related scene when an actor appeared to have slept with a movie executive to get a part. This is something you don’t often see in Chinese films and I thought these references had been banned.

There were two scenes that might not have gone down well in the west including the one at the pharmacy taking many pills. A “do not try this at home” moment. If I was a screenwriter I wouldn’t have included that.

The bloopers at the end were cute, it seems that all the actors were having a great time with this movie.

Summary

I haven’t seen many reviews of it yet but Douban give it a 4.5. I normally mark it out of five but I would give it a higher score, around a 7/10. I think its worth seeing just for the slapstick comedy sequences.

2024-05-06T21:58:55+00:006 May 2024|Review China|

Kung Fu Traveler

Kung Fu Traveler [aka Kung Fu Cyborg / 功夫机器侠] is a Chinese action and sci-fi drama that was released on 1st February 2017.

Plot

In the future, aliens have taken over the planet earth with the fate resting on China’s hands. Kung Fu is the only hope of defeating the invaders but in that time period it is no longer used and people have lost that skill.  The only hope is to send a robot back into the past to relearn the skills in order to program the mechanical soldiers of the future. A human accompanies the time traveling robot to ensure it completes its task.

Cast

Tiger Chen [陈虎] as Chen Hu / Ah Jie
He is an actor and martial artist who starred in western movies such as Matrix Reloaded and John Wick 3.

Wang Zhi [王智] as Xu Zi Ying
Kung Fu Traveler was one of her earlier films but is popular appearing in many other plus drama series.

Review

There was something of a story there but unfortunately it wasn’t very well executed. The robot played by Tiger Hu Chen was the only character that developed somewhat by increasing the level of his programming according the situation.

There were similar sci-fi that had been pinched from western books and shows, such as “Asimov’s rules of robotics”, “don’t mess with the timeline”, and “if you leave an object in a hiding place it will still be there 200 years into the future”.

I’ve not seen Tiger Chen in any other productions, not even in the west, but his acting was as plastic and robotic. However, this was the case for every other character too, so maybe it had something to do with the direction rather than poor actors who had been given a bum script.

A couple of baddies appeared on the scene and they looked like rejects from a 1960s hippie movie with hair styles similar to The Monkees, it was hilarious but I don’t think it was meant to be funny.

Either the special effects were done on a very slim budget or they just didn’t execute there very well. The transparent computer screens were the only thing that I liked, but that is similar to any other sci-fi around these days. The aliens fights the humans at the beginning looked even worse than the old TV Show “Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future”, see clip below.

The time machine looked like a rip off from the US TV show Quantum Leap.

KungFu Traveler

Summary

It was bad. Very bad. I managed to watch the whole movie so you all wouldn’t have to. I will give it a 0.25/5. It’s hard to believe they actually made a sequel to the movie.

Where To Watch

The movie can be found on Tubi. Kung Fu Traveler the sequel cannot be found there.

2024-04-29T21:52:41+00:0029 April 2024|Review China|

Eye For An Eye

Eye for an Eye [目中无人] is a series of two exciting Chinese action/drama films from 2022 and 2024.

About

Cheng Xia Zi is a blind martial artist and bounty hunter, like an ancient Daredevil superhero from Marvel comics group.

In the first film, he gets involved with a lady from a restaurant who is brutally murdered. Initially he didn’t want to intervene but gradually becomes involved getting justice.

In the second film, Zhang Xiao Yu suffers greatly at the loss of her family and clings to Cheng Xia Zi. They then seek revenge for what the murderers did.

Cast

Xie Miao [谢苗] plays Cheng Xia Zi, the blind swordsman
He is an actor and martial artist who appears in Chinese and Hong Kong productions. We recently saw him in Hunt The Wicked.

Review

Although the films were very short in length they were both very exciting and action orientated. The first film was only 1 hour 14 minutes, and the second 1 hour 30 minutes; pretty short really.

The design of the films were quite interesting and reminded me of the cartoon series Samurai Jack. Both films had its share great scenery. The sets were very convincing.

The stories were good, there is more background to the main character in the second film than in the first. There is no hanging around in both films, they get straight into the story and action right from the beginning. Basically, both films are about justice and revenge, no other back story apart from that.

I seem to recall more comedy in the second film than in the first, I expect this was mostly due to when a child enters the main characters life and they wanted to show a loner martial artist taking on someone to look after.

The ending of the film was very good although a little disappointing.

Summary

Absolutely worth watching, I will give both films 5/5. Good story, excellent product quality and some humour.

Where To Watch

There are various platforms the first film can be watched including iQiyi, Tubi and Amazon. The second film, as far as I’m aware, is only on iQiyi.

2024-04-08T22:22:17+00:008 April 2024|Review China|

Hunt The Wicked

Hunt The Wicked [缉恶] is a Chinese action/crime movie that was released on iQiyi on 12th February 2024.

Hunt The Wicked

About

Police detective Huang Mingjin (Xie Miao) and criminal mastermind Wei Yunzhou (Andy On) have the same objective to confront the prospective Mayor of the city who controls a large drug ring.

Cast

Andy On [安志傑 ] as Wei Yunzhou
When you know Andy is appearing in a movie there is going to be a lot of action! We recently saw him in Once Upon a Time in Shanghai.

Xie Miao aka Miu Tse [谢苗] as Detective Huang Mingjin
He is an actor and martial artist starting his career as a child in 1993. We recently saw him in Eye For An Eye.

Review

This film is what one would call “kick ass” with lots of “edge of your seat” action. If action movies are your thing than this film is for you.

The story is not complex; good guy vs bad guy tries to get another bad guy. There are a couple of twists, which were good, but generally the story was simple. This is no romance really.

Both of the main actors did a brilliant job, they were both suitable to the roll.

The special effects and execution of the action were done really well. There were some CGI slip ups here and there that could have been fixed fairly easily.

It looks as though this was either filmed in The Philippines, Manila to be specific, or in Thailand; not really sure which. The police cars suggested it was in Manila. I can’t find any specific information on where exactly.

Summary

I really enjoyed it, didn’t have to use to many brain cells yet it was perfect action entertainment. I will give it 4.5/5, marked down for some minor errors.

Where to Watch

This can be found on iQiyi if you have VIP access, at least at the time of writing this.

2024-04-08T22:24:10+00:002 April 2024|Review China|

Judge Dee’s Mystery

Judge Dee’s Mystery [大唐狄公案] aka Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee is a Chinese detective series that aired in February 2024.

Cast

Zhou Yi Wei (周一围) aka Alex Zhou as Judge Dee
A very popular actor with numerous productions on the go. We have seen him in a number of productions but the one that stands out the most was in The Longest Day in Chang’an.

Wang Li Kun (王丽坤) aka Claudia Want as Cao An
Another popular actress but we’ve only seen her in productions where she is playing a supporting cast.

Zhang Ruo Yun (张若昀) as Diao Xiao Guan
Although not in the main cast, he was a notable guest star. Best known recently for his role in Joy of Life for which season 2 has waiting for release and of course many others including Snow Sword Stride.

Review

This was a really good drama, one of the better Judge Dee shows I’ve ever seen.

There was one overall story and then some individual sub-stories/mysteries which lasted 3 or more episodes.  The story telling was solid and in the typical style of a good detective series.

What I didn’t expect was Judge Dee to have a couple of helpers and a romance. I don’t ever recall seeing that in other Judge Dee’s films.

The story was broken up with some humour, mainly from Dee’s sidekicks, which made the show very watchable.

A lot of effort went into special effects and the fighting scenes. We were surprised to learn that the boat was not CGI but actually made from scratch, they went to a lot of effort for those few episodes.

There were some bits that didn’t go well:

  • Some of the CGI was badly done, you could tell it was green screen.
  • Like other Chinese dramas, characters riding horses we so badly done, they can’t seem to get it right. One could tell they were on a plastic horse with a green screen in the background.
  • Some scenes were dubbed. I understand that its expensive to film outside and get the audio right which is why the actors pretend to speak their lines and dub them on later by speaking into a microphone in the studio.

The last 2-3 episodes wrapped up the series well but they even had a few clips from season 2. Yes, you will be pleased to hear that there will be another season.

Summary

An all round great show, solid story and great actors. I will give it a 4.5/5. I dropped half a point for the negatives I pointed above.

Where Can I Watch

Netflix has picked up the series. However, we watched it elsewhere. I’m not keen watching Asian shows on Netflix as they make more mistakes on the translations than other companies.

2024-03-28T21:43:22+00:0028 March 2024|Review China|

Follow Bear to Adventure

Follow Bear to Adventure (动物园里有什么?) is a Chinese comedy film that was released on 12th January 2024.

About

An office worker gives up his job, with a not so kind boss, and invests in a failing Zoo only to realize it only has one animal in it. He comes up with a bizarre plan, along with the eccentric employees, to save the zoo.

Cast

Bao Bei Er (包贝尔) as Shi Tu
Popular actor and singer who is currently signed up to appear in 5 movies and 3 TV series, obviously a very busy guy.

Jia Bing (贾冰) as Wu Guang Hui
Another very popular actor who is lined up to do 8 different movies. He is supposedly know for “Top Funny Comedian Season Ⅳ” and “Looking For A Comedian”.

Wei Ziang (魏翔) as the Warehouse Manager
He really doesn’t have enough “main character” roles, one of my favourite Chinese actors, he is naturally funny, I was so pleased to see him in the show even though it was only for a few minutes. We saw him recently in Too Cool To Kill which I am yet to review.

Review

Actually translation of the movie title is a little bit awkward, I’m not sure where it came from. When I directly translate it the title is “What’s In The Zoo?” which actually sounds better.

Even though the reviews I’ve seen aren’t that great I actually enjoyed it very much.

The concept of saving the zoo and how so many visitors fell for it was a pretty hilarious construct. There was a mix of dry humour and slapstick. They had some CGI which was actually a surprise and it was done well.

The Panda was the cutest animal especially the chase and one of the end scenes in the forest.

I think the cast was laughing throughout the movie which was why there were so many outtakes at the end during the closing titles.

I should give an honourary mention to Xu Zhi Sheng (徐志胜) who did a pretty good job with his character. He has appear in three films and has a regular TV show lined up. He is a comedian and talk show host so maybe he is just expanding his horizons now.

Summary

I recommend the movie, I will give it a 4.5 out of 5. It’s great for a rainy day when you want something fluffy to watch.

2024-03-08T03:37:51+00:008 March 2024|Review China|

The Qin Empire

The Qin Empire (大秦帝国之裂变) is a Chinese television costume drama that aired in 2009.

The Qin Empire

About

This is the store of how the Qin Empire restored itself from former glory by hiring outsider Shang Yang to implement a series of reforms.

This show has three seasons, we just watched the first, a total of 51 episodes.

Cast

Hou Yong (侯勇) as Duke Xiao of Qin
Born in 1967 now 56 years old, his first television appearance was in the year 2000 and then movies in 2002.

Wang Zhi Fei (王志飞) as Shang Yang
Born in 1965 now 58 years old, his first television exposure came in 1993 and in movies from 2011.

Review

This was most likely an ambitious project for the writers, actors and film crew especially to convey the scale of Qin and its army.

The story seemed solid although some left feedback that this was not quite like how things really went down.

The acting was good as it was bad. I would say 75% of the acting was good. The other 25% was really bad due to scenes of over acting which really spoiled much of the drama.

There was one actor who had an extreme character shift a quarter of the way into the series then within one episode grew up a couple of years and replaced by another actor who looked nothing like the first one. Totally bizarre.

Did grown men really kneel down crying uncontrollably when their leaders were sad or unhappy about something? Maybe they did back then but it was pretty annoying and too false.

When a large crowd in the army were starting to sing they were replaced by stock singers dubbed over them. A song that they repeated throughout the series. It was most likely impossible to organise such a large crowd singing on an outside broadcast so it may have been easier just to replace them with stock audio.

There was something wrong with the audio on the Netflix version we saw, the voices were just a little out of sync. Maybe they were dubbed but still speaking in Mandarin.

The show was definitely slow in spots with the conversation being irrelevant and I kept dropping off during those parts.

Summary

Well, despite my negative comments quite a few people did enjoy the series and overall got reviewed positively elsewhere. However, I will only give it 2/5.

Where to Watch

All three seasons can be seen on Netflix Canada but not sure where else it will be available.

2024-02-19T00:27:31+00:0019 February 2024|Review China|

Journey to the West

Journey to the West (宇宙探索编辑部) is a Chinese comedy sci-fi movie that was released on 17 October 2021.

About

Tang Zhi Jun has believed in the existence of UFOs and aliens for years, however, he hasn’t had any sightings of such. He believes there is some interstellar meaning to the static in his teleivision. The newspaper he runs with some employees is not doing well and can’t afford the heating bill. Then a mysterious film emerges online, he along with a bunch of other misfits, go to investigate. Can the teenager with a cooking pot on his head bring him hope of an encounter?

Cast

Yang Hao Yu (杨皓宇) as Tang Zhi Jun
He graduated from the Performance Department at the Shanghai Theater Academy and is a very popular actor appearing in many films and TV shows. As I write this he is contracted for 7 new TV series and 2 new films.

Wang Yi Tong (王一通) as Sun Yi Tong
Not only did he star in the movie but he was also the co-screenwriter. He is also a director and editor. Pretty impressive.

Review

This movie was shot as a “fly on the wall” as though someone was doing a documentary on the UFO hunter and his team. That was quite an interesting perspective and may have been tough to do throughout a 2 hour movie.

The actors played there parts well, virtually everyone was quite off the wall. I think they employed extra’s in talking roles to appear in the movie, anyone in a village and some were very convincing.

The story was interesting and unique, very off the wall.

I feel the actors were really into their parts, especially the main character actor.

After an hour of watching the movie we were very bored, it was dragging so much. We then fast forwarded to the conclusion and it did have a surprising end. The movie was 1 hours 52 minutes in length, way too long for this story and they could have reduced it significantly to make it feel more punchy.

Ni Ni recommended this movie on her Instagram account, so it drew some attention because she is so popular. She said it wasn’t a science fiction movie but I guess only a small part of it was.

Summary

I will give this a 1/5, not a very good score I’m afraid but I was really bored. I did try to put a more positive spin on it.

2024-01-18T05:19:08+00:0018 January 2024|Review China|

Parallel World

Parallel World (西出玉门) is a 38 part Chinese sci-fi/fantasy drama that was broadcast on Tencent from 7 September 2023.

About

Ye Liu Xi is in this world selling melons with little of her memories in tact and needs to go somewhere. She connects with Chang Dong thinks he is the only survivor of a deadly sand storm, he wants to find out what happened to the others he went on a expedition with. Along with some others they travel into a parallel world where they encounter different people and creatures to find answers to what they are looking for.

Cast

Ni Ni (倪妮) as Ye Liu Xi
We say Ni Ni in Netflix’s “The Rise of Phoenixes”, it was her first television role. We have also seen her in a couple of films.  A very popular award winning actress who studied television broadcasting and hosting. She is also quite athletic.

Bai Yu (白宇) as Chang Dong
His English name is Johnny Bai which some in the west know him as. A very popular actor who we’ve seen in numerous TV shows and films, he is one of those actors that fans swoon at.

Review

Since it has Ni Ni and Bai Yu in it, I had good hopes for this show and it was ok.

It did start off slowly so the series could have been reduced in length taking stuff out or speeding it up. The story otherwise was pretty good.

At one point they introduced a senior and a teenager who were “outside of the story”, I thought it was a little bizarre and didn’t warm up to this idea at all. Maybe that was in the original book.

Most of the special effects were good but there was a couple that didn’t quite work out. The effects were just as good as those produced by the US.

I wondered how the car could travel so far without needing a refill. At one point they didn’t seem to mind their friend had been captured so maybe there was some continuity issues.

There was a final scene that was a cartoon and I thought they did this because maybe the special effect equivalent would have been too difficult to achieve.

The chickens were the stars of the show but were they real or CGI? I will let you all decide.

Chinese “SciFi” is more about mystical things and not technology, so this show fits in the fantasy character.

Ni Ni gave a great kick-ass performance, she was the best in it. A character called Fatty was the comical one, the fact they called him Fatty when he wasn’t was a little annoying, kind of demeaning. I think Bai Yu could have done a better job with his character or maybe in the book he was without some emotion.

Summary

We almost gave up on it after a few episodes but pleased we saw it to the end. I’ll give it a 4/5.

Where to Watch

We watched it on Viki but it’s also available on WeTV and TencentVideo.

2023-12-18T00:03:08+00:0018 December 2023|Review China|

Fist and Faith

Fist and Faith (青禾男高), aka Fist Faith, is a Chinese movie that was released on 13th July 2017.

About

From IMDB:
Set during the 1930s after the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, a teacher (Jing Tian) and a group of students establish a study club to preserve their language and culture as an act of protest against the foreign invaders.

Cast

Ou Hao (欧豪) as Jing Hao
He is a Chinese pop singer and film actor. His first TV roll was in 2014 and has many series lined up.

Jing Tian (景甜) as Liu He
She appears to be best known in recent years for being fined 7.2212 million Yuan for illegal advertising endorsements, however, she has a very decent portfolio of TV series and film.s

Hayashi Kento (林遣都) as Shibata Sokichi
A very popular Japanese actor whom we’ve seen in the Ossan’s Love TV series and film. We actually watched this film because he was starring in it.  We were surprised to see him in a Chinese film.

Review

Wherever I’ve seen this listed they don’t include the category of “comedy” and it partly was. The “design” of parts of the movie was done in an anime style.

I wasn’t really too impressed with the story. I suspect it was made for a more younger audience. Also, because this is a Chinese film one knew the Japanese would not come out the better, given historical events I guess this is the way it has to be.

I’m not sure who created Hayashi Kento’s hair but it was a little bizarre and agitated me throughout the movie.

The action was the best although I noticed some suggested there was too much violence.

Summary

I would find it difficult recommending this movie so maybe just give it a go. I would rate is 2.5/5. Sorry I can’t be more positive about it.

Where To See It

We saw it on Viki.

Trailer

2023-10-24T04:32:34+00:0024 October 2023|Review China|