Donnie Yen and director Wilson Yip reunite for a third round of wing chun-related action, this time detailing the grandmaster Ip Man’s clash with a corrupt American property tycoon played by Mike Tyson, alongside a title challenge from a rival master (Max Zhang Jin). Veering away from the series’ breast-beating jingoism, Ip Man 3 trades the crowd-pleasing intensity of its predecessors for a more introspective portrait of its central character.
While remaining committed to the horror genre, Nick Cheung’s second outing as director is a huge improvement on 2013’s Hungry Ghost Ritual. Again casting himself in the lead, Cheung this time leaves writing duties to Yeung Sin Ling (Inner Senses, The Bullet Vanishes) to tell the story of an exorcist, whose unconventional methods attract the attentions of a spunky young journalist and a murderous demon. Complemented by rich production values, lively performances and an inventive screenplay, Keeper Of Darkness succeeds as detective story, spectral romance and even streetwise comedy, while resuscitating our confidence in Cheung as the new renaissance man of Hong Kong Cinema.
This week on Radio 3’s Morning Brew I review the remake of Point Break, set in the world of extreme sports, as well as Ron Howard’s In The Heart Of The Sea, recounting the story that inspired Moby Dick, and local crime thriller Port Of Call, starring Aaron Kwok.
In a wild change of pace, Hong Kong director Johnnie To delivers an all-singing, occasionally-dancing adaptation of Sylvia Chang’s successful stage play, Design for Living. While the script has undergone numerous changes along the way, and boasts brand new musical numbers from Dayo Lu and Lin Xi, Office still charts the in-house dealings of billion-dollar company Jones & Sunn as they prepare to go public on the eve of the 2008 financial crisis. To covered similar territory previously – and better – in 2011’s Life Without Principle, but his film does display a keen understanding of Hong Kong’s workplace environment and rituals.
This week, three big directors have new films out. I talk to Phil about Ridley Scott’s adaptation of The Martian, starring Matt Damon, Woody Allen’s Irrational Man with Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone, and finally I say a few words about Johnnie To’s new musical, Office.