Monday, September 20, 2010


After yesterday's furnace-like heat, there was a brief respite today when the rains came.

Not really. When it rains in Hong Kong, it remains hot, but there's an increased chance of somebody taking your eye out with an errant umbrella.

Still, I don't want to complain too much about my lot; I mean, imagine if I'd been in Shanghai 70 years ago. There was a lot more to worry about back then, like rogue John Cusacks running around the foreign concessions. As you might imagine from my deep and meaningful reference to historical events, last night I went to watch the Weinsteins' Chinese epic, Shanghai.

There's not much of a plot; Mr Cusack wanders around looking a bit surprised to have left the safe confines of Say Anything, but turns out to be remarkably proficient at disarming and killing Japanese soldiers. The Japanese soldiers are all evil robotic killing machines, whilst the plucky Chinese resistance get to wear high-collared jackets and then get shot/bayoneted/decapitated by the evil insect-like Japanese. A bit like an out-take from Starship Troopers, with more green serge uniforms.

Of course, despite the high hopes of propaganda ministries here and there, nobody is really going to spend two hours watching The Japanese Are All Evil And Always Will Be, Don't Forget*. So on top of all this there's Chow Yun Fat, now too old to slide backward down stairs firing two .45 automatics while a flock of doves flies past, so he skulks around and gets paranoid about his wife, Gong Qi, who Cusack fancies.
Although maybe he's got a short attention span, because he cops off with a German's wife, in between spying on naval engineers. A bit like an American James Bond in a grimier location. The guy from Inception turns up, to be evil like all other Japanese people (except that bloke who was in Heroes), and then be a bit less evil.

And then the Japanese bomb Shanghai.

Sorry to spoil the ending, but (a) this you should know from your history books and (b) it's kind of unlikely you're going to watch Shanghai. Nobody else is; sitting in a cinema with nine other people, I realised that perhaps this latest slew of historical epics has oversaturated the market and what they really needed was some vampires. Or werewolves. Or perhaps some of the modern, non-evil Japanese. (Although given the spat that's developing over fishing boats being where they perhaps ought not to be, I'm half expecting a historical epic set on a fishing trawler beset by evil, robotic Japanese, set in September 2010, to be released by spring by an enterprising individual in Shenzhen. Hell, they could shoot it on Minskworld...)

* although if you consider what the Japanese got up to in China, you tend to think there's not much exaggeration here. It feels a bit like complaining that films about the Eastern Front show Germans in a bad light.


Post a Comment