films seen
average score
Alive and kicking
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Lamb Game

Gao Yang You Xi
2023 / 88m - China
Crime, Action
Lamb Game poster

They finally succeeded. Lamb Game is the first Chinese streamer flick I watched that rises above its roots and delivers something with more lasting appeal. It feels like a classic Hong Kong crime flick, only with a strong Chinese streamer aesthetic. That means extremely bold colors, flashy camerawork, and snappy editing. The film feels slightly less rushed compared to its peers (it's 15 minutes longer than most), it commits to a single genre and there's little to no CG to ruin the film. It's pure genre delight, a small-scale Die Hard with some kick-ass martial arts scenes, a nasty villain, and a beautifully lit setting. It's a simple film, but that never hurt a good genre effort. Fingers crossed that others will follow in Yi Huang's footsteps.

Infernal Storm

2021 / 88m - China
Crime, Action
Infernal Storm poster

Tagging along on the popularity of Z Storm and Infernal Affairs. Infernal Storm is a very typical Hong Kong crime flick (though backed with Chinese money) that doesn't really attempt to do anything different. Instead, it revives a genre that's been slowly bleeding to death this past couple of years. Its biggest problem is that it can't quite match the quality of the original Hong Kong films.

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This is yet another tale of a mole who has infiltrated a Triad organization. He is one of two guys who are up for promotion, but the organization is aware there's a mole in their midst. And so the usual cat and mouse game starts, including the added trouble that his contact at the police is facing some problems of his own.

With guys like Jordan Chan and Lam Suet, you have some real veterans. The cinematography is also pretty slick, even the soundtrack has some stand-out moments. But when putting everything together, it never quite gels. Something in the editing throws off the pacing of the action and makes it look cheaper than it should. It's certainly not a bad attempt, but not the return to form I hoped this would be.

Buddha Palm Technique

2020 / 87m - China
Action, Fantasy
Buddha Palm Technique poster

A neat surprise. With a title sporting the words Buddha Palm, I'd expected some pretty traditional martial arts streamer filler. Instead, I got a fancy urban fantasy flick that transports the classic martial arts elements to a more futuristic/fantastical setting. It's a level of creativity and boldness rarely seen in Chinese streamer land, but I sure welcome the diversification.

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Jian Bei, a debt collector, works hard to support himself and his sister. She is terminally ill, but there is a chance she might survive. She can be given an experimental treatment, but in order to get it, Bei will need to pitch in. He'll be given the Buddha Palm skill, which he'll need to complete three arduous tasks. If he can manage that, his sister will be saved.

The setting is cool and the fantastical elements feel pretty novel. The CG can still be a little iffy, but it is mostly functional and the film does a good job of bringing its fantastical sci-fi world to life. Other than that it's a slick but relatively generic action flick. We already know China can crank these out with the dozens, so to see some new elements introduced is definitely a big plus. Good fun.