Tagged: Tian Jing

Pacific Rim Uprising

Universal Pictures has just released the trailer for the eagerly-anticipated Pacific Rim: Uprising. Starring Scott Eastwood (Gran Turino, Fury), Tian Jing (The Great Wall, Kong: Skull Island), Charlie Day (Pacific Rim, Horrible Bosses) and John Boyega (Attack The Block, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) the film will be released in cinemas soon.

Summary: After the Vietnam war, a team of scientists explores an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

Year: 2017

Australian Cinema Release Date: 10th March 2017

Australian DVD Release Date: 19th July 2017

Country: United States, China

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Screenwriter: Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly, Dan Gilroy, John Gatins (story), Merian C. Cooper (characters), Edgar Wallace (characters)

Cast: Will Brittain (Young Marlow/Marlow’s Son), James Michael Connor (General Ward (voice), Eugene Cordero (Reles), James Edward Flynn (Sgt. Dren), John Goodman (Bill Randa), Corey Hawkins (Houston Brooks), Tom Hiddleston (James Conrad), Mark Evan Jackson (Landsat Steve), Samuel L. Jackson (Preston Packard), Richard Jenkins (Senator Willis), Tian Jing (San), Rachel Joseph (Iwi), Toby Kebbell (Jack Chapman/Kong), Brie Larson (Mason Weaver), Thomas Mann (Slivko), Thomas Middleditch (Jerry (voice)), Jason Mitchell (Mills), Miyavi (Gunpei Ikari), Terry Notary (Kong), John Oritz (Victor Nieves), Allen Rachel (Secretary O’Brien), John C. Reilly (Hank Marlow), Shea Whigham (Cole)

Runtime: 118 mins

Classification: PG

 

OUR KONG: SKULL ISLAND REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

Kyle McGrath’s Kong: Skull Island Review:

The second film in Legendary Pictures “MonsterVerse” Kong: Skull Island is the story of a team of soldiers, scientists and explorers who at the end of the Vietnam war set off to an uncharted island in the Pacific. Almost immediately they encounter the wrath of the mighty King Kong who destroying their military helicopters leave them stranded on Skull Island. The survivors must traverse this unknown land to reach their originally planned evacuation point completely unaware that there are things on this island much worse than a 100 foot tall monkey.
I thoroughly enjoyed 2014’s Godzilla. While I thought the movie had some issues I feel it captured the perfect tone and representation of the titular King of the Monsters. I had heard about Kong: Skull Island from one source that it didn’t take itself too seriously and then from another that it took itself too seriously. After seeing the film I think it’s a mixture of both and it isn’t alway pretty.
From the beginning the filmmakers attempts to make “Apocalypse Now but with monsters” comes off as comedic. The opening scene which itself is set at the height of WW2 as both a US and Japanese soldier crash land on the island and duke it out before being interrupted by Kong feels more like a parody than anything. I was seriously expecting it to turn out to be “golden age of Hollywood” crew making some schlocky movie as a reference to the storylines of other “King Kong” films before being attacked. But no, this is the tone of the movie, rather than awe or drama I’m expecting a punchline and usually getting one from one of the movie’s many comedy relief moments. At a moment of high tension as Kong is about to eat some unfortunate soldier it jump cuts to a man biting into a sandwich. This is comedy stuff and drives a steamroller through any tension the film has built up and turns it into a joke.
The other serious moments, or attempts at serious moments come from the characters mostly, all of whom are non entities. There are simply way too many characters in this movie and not enough plot to go around to flesh them all out in 2 hours. One of the shortcomings of Peter Jackson’s King Kong (2005) was the amount of time early on spent on supporting characters who either weren’t going to make it or weren’t going to be relevant at all by the halfway point.
Their stories felt genuine at least however. Here every other character has some monologue about their past. They talk about writing letters to their mama back home, or their newborn son they’ve never seen or they reminisce about some village they obliterated in ‘nam. All of it feels so melodramatic and ridiculous, again like it came from a parody film such as Black Dynamite and it comes from characters who probably shouldn’t be in the movie at all as their only purpose is to be fodder for some beastie or in some cases not even that. I know it’s complaining about “forced diversity” or “trying to appeal to the Chinese audience” in movies is low hanging fruit but it helps if in a movie your writers give a black guy and a Chinese girl something more substantial to do than just exist, follow the main characters around and talk to each other every now and then to remind us they’re there.
All of this damages the movie. I don’t care about the plot or Samuel L Jackson’s Colonel Kurtz-surrogate insane military commander because so much screen time is dedicated to redundancies. I would say it feels like a movie that has had 30 minutes of story cut out of it if it wasn’t for the low quality of what IS in the movie telling me otherwise.
Now while the actual monster on monster action fares much better and let’s be honest that’s what people came to see even that I found to be harmed by the need at comedy relief. We’re told about “Skull Crawlers”, the REAL threat on the island and what our hero Kong is up against, in a scene which needs to be interrupted for some jokes from long marooned soldier John C. Reilly told in exactly such a fashion that you’d expect from him. The result is on par with a Bond villain slipping on a banana peel in the middle of his master plan speech to James.
That said fans of the genre may get more out of this movie than out of Godzilla 2014. Purely from the fact that while in that film the filmmakers wished to hide the monsters from us as much as possible, here they can’t seem to wait to show it to us.
The film is what it is, a monster themed popcorn movie with cheesy comedy, wafer thin characters and story and 100 foot ape. I do believe that much more could have been done with it however if the filmmakers just knew more what tone they wished to take and story they wanted to tell. The film is tries to mix serious moments with comedy but comes off more like Hot Shots 2 than Mash.

 

 

Average Subculture Rating:  

 

 

IMDB Rating:  Kong: Skull Island (2017) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Kong: Skull Island Reviews: N/A

 

Trailer:

The Great Wall

One of the most surprising films in cinemas at the moment has to be The Great Wall. When you consider that a studio took amazing director Yimou Zhang, who brought the world films like House Of Flying Daggers and Curse Of The Golden Flowers and then gave the reigns to direct what is pretty much a big action monster film with a cast featuring Oscar winner Matt Damon, the Oscar-nominated Willem Dafoe and Asian actress Tian Jing who has recently made the cross into Hollywood films like Pacific Rim: Uprising and Kong: Skull Island.

With so many haters on the Internet asking how Western characters get caught up in a world of Asian battles Matt Damon is quick to explain. “We have heard about gunpowder, so we go in to try and steal it, but suddenly we arrive, and we see that there is this incredible army. We see that is extraordinary disciplined and they fight in a way that we have never seen before and we get swept up in the defence of the wall. My character was captured and raised in the Army at a very early age, and he knows nothing but war. He has fought for everybody, he doesn’t really fight for a flag he will fight for anybody that pays him, and he has a very cynical view of the world. He is an extremely capable fighter, as is his best friend Tovar (Pedro Pascal). Together they are a two-man wrecking crew. He and Tovar are pretty comfortable using any type of weapon. They have been in thousands of battles together, but William does prefer the bow. He has a bow that he uses, and he is a speed archer so he can fire multiple arrows very quickly basically from anywhere. So he is most comfortable with a bow in his hand. Tovar, his best friend, has two swords that he has collected in his travels and he is most comfortable fighting with a weapon in each hand, so they are pretty versatile fighters, that is what their deal is. When they get to the Wall, they’ve heard of it but never seen it before, but they see that it is above any feat of engineering that they could ever have imagined  and on top of the Wall and protecting the Wall is this army called The Nameless Order, this mythical Chinese Army that essentially lives and dies to defend the Wall. Eventually as they start to see the defence of the wall and they start to understand what is happening and why Tovar remains committed to our original plot to steal the black powder he thinks these people are crazy and they are all going to die so let’s take the gun powder, whereas William  for the first time sees that they may be something bigger than his own personal gain to fight for and he admires them in a way that he can’t even articulate.”

With the hater’s comments put to bed with that explanation, Damon turns to talking about just how impressed he was with the film’s director. “Yimou Zhang is one of the greatest filmmakers on the planet, and I have wanted to work with him for a long time and everything aligned. The stars aligned this time and I finally got a chance to work with him. It has been a real privilege for me and for all the actors, we all talk about that and even the crew members… we were all there for him. He paints on this extremely large canvas, and he does it in such a way that nobody ever has before or can. He uses cover and this sweeping scale of what he does. There are very few people who can do it and do do it.”

Appearing in the movie as Damon’s love interest is Tian Jing who plays Commander Lin Mae, and she is very quick, to sum up, her character. “ She is the Commander of the Army, and she is a woman of many virtues,” Jing explains. “She is strong, brave, reliable, determined and very daring. She has all the talent and wisdom needed to lead the entire Army. As the female General, she is the girl-power in the film which is dominated by male characters – she is the balance in this film. Lin Mae is part of this secret organisation that nobody knows about except for the Emperor. The duty of every soldier is to protect country’s people and to defend the Wall.”

Jing spends part of the movie hanging off the wall as director Yimou Zhang introduces a new form of acrobatic fighting to Hollywood so how hard was it for Jing to prepare for the role? “When I got the call to do this role production sent me to L.A. for training. I spent half a year training and studying including dialogue classes, stunt training, horse riding and physical training. It was a tough but memorable experience to prepare for this role. And then every day on set was like taking more acting classes, so I learned so much working with the director. He is a director that I ahve wanted to work with for so long, so it has been like a dream come true. I think that he is the pride of the Chinese film industry.”

Directors aside what was it like to work with such a talented cast? “It has been a pleasure to work with this cast,” she says. “It was great to work with Matt, Pedro and Willem, but especially Matt because we have a lot of scenes opposite each other. Over the months I learnt so much from him as we worked side-by-side. He is a true professional and a dedicated actor.”

The last piece of the puzzle is award winning actor Willem Dafoe who also loved working on the film. “Ballard is a character who has found himself trapped,” he says explaining his character. “He has been trapped with this military group in China on the Great Wall for twenty-five years. He arrived there with a caravan pretty much to do business, things didn’t work out, and he got stranded there. His colleagues didn’t make themselves as useful as he made himself, he made himself because he is a clever guy. So he’s found a way to survive among this Chinese cultural… this military culture.”

Despite working on big blockbusters previously, films like Spider-Man, Dafoe says he was blown way by the scale of The Great Wall. “They actually rebuilt a part of the wall,” he says wide-eyed. “To scale and study enough to hold a thousand people plus horses. It really was an amazing site to work on. I don’t think I have ever been on a production this grand before… the scale is enormous. The degree of detail is just fantastic and I think what’s nice about that is that it gives you the opportunity to… I guess it frees you up because it is a complete world. SO when you get on the set, there is none of this ‘oh you can’t go over there because that’s not really dressed properly.” You would go into a huge room to knock out a scene, and you could go anywhere. Ultimately it is a beautiful match of Chinese sensibility and Western sensibility, and that was the other really important thing about this film, that we made it in China, it’s a Chinese production with Westerners, and that is very exciting to me.”

 

The Great Wall is currently showing in cinemas