Archive for Victor Wong

The Golden Child

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In a temple in an unknown location in northeastern Tibet, a young boy with mystical abilities — the Golden Child — receives badges of station and demonstrates his power to the monks of the temple by reviving a dead bird, which becomes a constant companion. However, a band of villains led by a mysterious man, Sardo Numspa (Charles Dance), breaks into the hidden temple, slaughters the monks and abducts the boy.

Some time afterwards, a young woman named Kee Nang (Charlotte Lewis) watches a Los Angeles TV show in which social worker Chandler Jarrell (Eddie Murphy) talks about his latest case, a missing girl named Cheryll Mosley. She seeks him out the next day and informs him of the kidnapping of the Golden Child and that he is the ‘Chosen One’ who would save the Child. Chandler does not take this seriously, even after the astral form of the Child and his bird familiar begin following him.

Soon Cheryll Mosley is found, dead from blood loss, near an abandoned house smeared with Tibetan graffiti and a pot full of blood-soaked oatmeal. Kee Nang reveals to him that this house was a holding place for the Child and introduces Chandler to Doctor Hong, a mystic expert, and Kala (a creature half dragon, half woman, who remains hidden behind a screen). The three track down a motorcycle gang, the Yellow Dragons, which Cheryll had joined, and Chinese restaurant owner Tommy Tong, a henchman of Numspa, to whom Cheryll had been ‘sold’ for her blood, used to make the Child vulnerable to earthly harm. Tong, however, is killed by Numspa as a potential traitor. Still not taking the case too seriously, Chandler is drawn by Numspa—whom Chandler begins to continuously call “Numsy”—into a controlled dream, where he receives a burn mark on his arm. Numspa also presents his demands: the Ajanti Dagger (a mystic weapon which is capable of killing the Golden Child) in exchange for the boy. Chandler finally agrees to help, and he and Kee Nang spend the night together.

Chandler and Kee travel to Tibet, where Chandler is apparently swindled by an old amulet seller, who is revealed as the High Priest of the temple where the dagger is kept hidden and, subsequently, Kee’s father (Chandler calls him “Monty Hall” or “Monty”). In order to obtain the blade, Chandler has to pass a test: an obstacle course in a bottomless cavern whilst carrying a glass of water without spilling a drop. With luck and wits, Chandler recovers the blade and even manages to bring it past customs into the United States.

Numspa and his henchmen attack Chandler and Kee. The Ajanti Dagger is lost to the villains, and Kee takes a crossbow bolt meant for Chandler, and dies in his arms confessing her love for him. Doctor Hong and Kala offers him hope, for as long as the sun shines upon Kee, the Child might be able to save her. Driven now by a personal motive, Chandler — with the help of the Child’s familiar — locates Numspa’s hideout, and retrieves the dagger with the help of Til, one of Numspa’s men converted to good by the Child, and frees the boy. But when Chandler attempts to confront Numspa, the latter reveals his true face as a demon from hell. Chandler and the Child escape the hideout, only to be tracked down by the demon in a warehouse. Chandler loses the dagger when the warehouse collapses, but Sardo is buried under a chunk of falling masonry. Chandler and the Child escape and head to Doctor Hong’s shop where Kee is being kept.

As the two approach Kee’s body, a badly injured but berserk Numspa attacks Chandler but the amulet the Old Man sold Chandler blasts the dagger from Numspa’s hand. The Child uses his magic to place the dagger back into Chandler’s hands, and Chandler pierces Numspa through the heart with it, destroying him. The Child then uses the last ray of sunlight and his powers to bring Kee back from the dead. As the movie ends, the three take a walk discussing the Child’s return to Tibet and (as Chandler jokingly suggests) the boy’s prospective fame as a stage magician.

REVIEW:

There seemed to be a point where action films could not be successful without an Asian child in the cast. Following in that tradition, we have The Golden Child, a forgotten Eddie Murphy flick that many assume it part of the Beverly Hills Cop franchise.

What is this about?

A fast-talking L.A. social worker goes through a series of traps and terrors to find a kidnapped Tibetan child with mystical powers.

What did I like?

Melting pot. They say that America is a melting pot of all races, creeds, colors, and religions (despite the fact that if you are something different from “the norm” you live in fear of the out of control cops). In a way, this film mirrors that mixture. It has elements of action, romance, drama, sci-fi, comedy, and fantasy. Not only that, but it mixes them in such a way that all are given ample screen to make them effective in the long term and not give the short end of the stick to the other genres. That, my friends, is good writing.

Charlotte’s web. There have been some truly beautiful women to grace the Silver Screen. Many have gone to be recognized as the total goddesses they are, and others have appeared in a film or two, only to then fade into obscurity. In this film, we have Charlotte Lewis, a total vision of beauty, who I think did stick around for a while, but this was her biggest project. Not only does she command the audience’s attention with her looks, but her character is intriguing. Not exactly one of those characters that dwells in the gray areas, we still wonder what her intentions are and what her relationship with Eddie Murphy’s character will ultimately turn into.

A Lannister always repays his debts. Any Game of Thrones fans out there? For many of the “older” actors and actresses on that show, we can be certain that they had a career, albeit not exactly the most stellar, before joining the cast. I was surprised to see Charles Dance, perhaps better known as Tywin Lannister, appear in this film. Again he is playing a diabolical villain, and he does it so well. Thing is, much like many of our favorite villains from the 80s, there is a higher power pulling his strings that we never see, but that doesn’t make him any less evil. Whilst keeping his cool, he manages to get into Murphy’s head and play mind games as he sleeps, as well as leave a mark on his arm. It isn’t until the climax that the guy loses it and shows his true colors. Personally, I would have liked for him to show more evil power, but you can’t deny this guy has a talent for bringing bad guys to life on the screen.

What didn’t I like?

Cop or not. The whole time I’m watching this film, I can’t help but wonder if this was originally meant to be Beverly Hills Cop II, the next 48 Hours, or something along those lines. I say this because of Eddie Murphy. Look, we all know this was the time when Murphy was at his best, but looking back at his films, he seems to be very one-dimensional. His characters all seems to be carbon copies of each other, at least the cops do. The same goes for this detective-type person he in this film. The only different between him and Axel Foley is that he seems to be more mature, but they still both crack jokes at every opportunity. I would have just liked to have seen more of a line a delineation between this guy and other in the similar field which Murphy has played.

Blue herring. The Golden Child is such a non-character in this film, he might as well have been a red herring, except that we actually see him, so let’s call him a blue herring, shall we? Nothing against the kid, he did what he had to do and I’m just fine with that, but to make such a fuss over him and then to not use him for anything more than some parlor tricks? What fun was that? Honestly, its like Murphy’s character say in the last scenes, maybe he should be a magician. They way they treat him in this film, he might as well have been. If he was the one meant to save the world, or whatever, I hardly believe they wouldn’t send more than just some random private dick to fetch him.

Behind the screen. A mysterious mystical woman behind a screen, and because this is some Asian stuff, surely she’s either old or not human. Well, she is revealed, but I won’t spoil what she is. I will take a couple of moments to say that for someone as wise and, I’m assuming, powerful, she sure was forgotten quickly after the reveal. I mean, as soon as the screen is removed, we see her for a couple of seconds, and that’s it. She’s never heard from again. Seems to me she would have at least had a few words to say about being revealed, but I guess I’m wrong.

The Golden Child is one of those pictures that Netflix just won’t stop bugging me about. I finally took the time to give it a go this afternoon and must say that I wasn’t disappointed in the outcome. Now, that is not to say that this is a cinematic masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a fun little watch. Try pairing it with Big Trouble in Little China, which coincidentally, was directed by the man who was set to direct this picture. Do I recommend it? Yes, what harm can it do to watch a fun film? Just don’t expect anything life changing.

3 1/2 out of stars

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Big Trouble in Little China

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) and his friend, restaurant owner Wang Chi (Dennis Dun), go to the airport to pick up Wang’s fiancee Miao Yin (Suzee Pai), who is arriving from China. A Chinese street gang, the Lords of Death, tries to kidnap another Chinese girl at the airport who is being met by her friend Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall), intending to sell her as a sex slave. After Jack intervenes, they take Miao Yin instead. In Jack’s big-rig truck, he and Wang track the Lords of Death to the back alleys of Chinatown, where they find a funeral procession that quickly erupts into a street fight between the Chang Sing and Wing Kong, two ancient Chinese societies. When “The Three Storms” (Thunder, Rain, and Lightning) appear, slaughtering the Chang Sing, Jack tries to escape but runs over Lo Pan (James Hong), a powerful and legendary sorcerer, as well as the leader of the Wing Kong. Horrified, Jack exits his truck, only to find Lo Pan, who is merely annoyed. Wang hurriedly guides Jack through the alleys, escaping the carnage and mayhem, but Jack’s truck is stolen.

Wang takes Jack to his restaurant, where they meet up with Gracie, Wang’s friend Eddie Lee (Donald Li), and magician Egg Shen (Victor Wong), a local authority on Lo Pan. They try to explain to an incredulous Jack some of the ancient knowledge and sorcery the Chinese brought with them to America, eventually devising a plan to infiltrate a brothel, where they think Miao Yin is being held. However, the Storms make off with Miao Yin, bringing her to a front owned by Lo Pan. Trying to rescue her, Jack and Wang are quickly subdued by Rain and taken to see Lo Pan, now in the form of a crippled, old man. Wang tells Jack that Lo Pan needs a special green-eyed girl to break an ancient curse, and he intends to sacrifice Miao Yin. When Jack and Wang’s friends attempt to save them, they are also captured, and Lo Pan notes that Gracie has green eyes, too. Lo Pan decides to sacrifice Gracie, while making Miao Yin his unwilling wife.

After getting the drop on Thunder, Jack and Wang escape, also freeing many women kept in holding cells. Wang and Jack go to see Egg Shen, and, with the help of the Chang Sing, they enter an underground cavern to return to Lo Pan’s headquarters. Egg pours each of the group a potent potion that Jack says makes him feel “kind of invincible.” During the wedding ceremony, a huge fight ensues, which Jack misses, due to accidentally knocking himself out. Wang kills Rain in a sword duel, while Jack and Gracie try to catch Lo Pan. Wang joins them, and, just when all seems lost, Jack kills Lo Pan, with a skillful knife throw. Thunder, enraged and dishonored at his failure to protect his master, starts to inflate to an enormous size, exploding and killing himself. Jack, Wang, Gracie, and Miao Yin are cornered by Lightning in a corridor, which he makes collapse. Egg rescues them with a rope and kills Lightning, when he tries to follow. After finding Jack’s truck, they escape back to Wang’s restaurant.

Lo Pan having been defeated, the group celebrates in a warm and family-like way: Wang and Miao are obviously about to marry; Margo, Gracie’s journalist friend, seems to be about to pair-up with Eddie; and Egg decides to go on a prolonged vacation, saying China is in the heart. Jack, instead of starting up a new life with Gracie, (as everyone was expecting up to that point), bids farewell to the group and hits the open road, with an unknown-to-him stowaway – one of the remaining monsters from Lo Pan’s labyrinth

REVIEW:

A couple of movie review podcasts that I frequently listen to are constantly referring to Big Trouble in Little China as one of the greatest cult 80s action films out there. I remember seeing this in the video store as a kid and always passing it up, but being curious. The same has held true when I see it on Netflix. Sure, it has an interesting cover, but sometimes the artwork can be deceiving. Still, I wonder if this is worth all the hype.

What is this about?

When an ancient magician kidnaps his friend’s fiancée, a two-fisted trucker and a sexy attorney must navigate a shadowy realm to capture the culprit.

What did I like?

Supernatural. I woke up this morning with an urge to watch something supernatural. Don’t ask me why because I really can’t give you an answer. Having said that, though, I wonder if it is because my best friend has recently started watching Supernatural on Netflix and makes sure I know that is what she’s doing. All that aside, perhaps it is because I was in the mood for it, but the supernatural element of this film really struck a chord with me and made me wish for more. Chinese deities, creatures in a labyrinth, etc. keep the audience’s attention.

Wong fu. A somewhat smaller role, or so we are led to believe, is Victor Wong’s Egg Shen. Introduced as some guy driving a tour bus, we learn that he is quite the capable sorcerer in his own right. Much wiser than he looks, Wong’s character is also powerful enough to go toe to toe with the villainous Lo Pan. While Kurt Russell is the big star of this film, it is Wong that can be truly considered the hero.

Rapid fire. As someone who has spent quite some time watching old films, I notice the rhythm of how people talk. In this film, I happened to notice in some spots that the dialogue, not counting the cheesy one-liners, is as rapid fire as a 30s film noir. I was digging the retro vibe to the way these lines were delivered. It gave me the mindset of those old serials from that era, which I kind of feel this film would have worked better as, but I may touch on that a little later.

What didn’t I like?

Getting ready for her next role. Some people think Kim Cattrall is a fine actress. I am not one of those people. To me, she is nothing more than the token hot chick in the 80s who disappeared in the 90s and resurfaced as a deformed version of herself when Sex and the City started. Watching her “act” in the few scenes she has was painful. I think it would be more fun to watch mushrooms grow out in the yard. Cattrall is so wooden, it made me wonder if she was just getting ready for her next role, Mannequin. Maybe I should rephrase that as Cattrall is so plastic. Ha!

Weak storms. There are these three powerful warriors that appear out of nowhere and start wiping out the warring gangs. When it comes to the final showdown, they are taken out quite easily. Why is it such powerful henchmen, for lack of a better term, go down so easily? Shouldn’t these storms have shown the true power they have and merge together as one giant, all-powerful storm? Or would that have been too over the top for a film that is already there. While I’m thinking about it, is it me, or did anyone else think of Raiden from Mortal Kombat when the lightning storm guy showed up. Also, was he really using lightning as a fireman’s pole, of sorts?!?

Genre bending. The original concept for this film was for it to be a western, but some bigwig at the studio decided it needed to be a modern-day tale. Don’t you just love it when they do that? I’m a little biased, being a fan of westerns and all, but I think this would have been more interesting as a western, perhaps even better. Mixing the American West with Oriental mysticism was sure to make for some intriguing situations.

Upon its initial release, Big Trouble in Little China did not fare so well. Director John Carpenter took its failure so hard that he left Hollywood and went into independent filmmaking. However, it has gained a cult following over the years and is listed on many “Best of…” lists. Perhaps it was just ahead of its time or audiences at that time didn’t fully appreciate what they were seeing. Make no mistake, this is not a great film, but it falls into that category where you can overlook its flaws and just enjoy the film for what it is. As such, I say this worth a viewing whenever you’re in the mood for some 80s action. Give it a shot sometime, why don’t you?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars