Review: Brotherhood of Blades II: The Infernal Battlefield

Promotional theme song: Deep love is as subdued as you by Zhou Shen (still on repeat in my playlist)

Aptly titled The Infernal Battlefield, the second instalment of the Brotherhood of Blades film series brings together a talented cast of actors in one of the best wuxia epics in recent years. The story formula hasn’t really changed since the first movie, but it’s worth watching for the cinematography and action choreography alone. Minor spoilers ahead.

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Brotherhood of Blades II gears up for premiere

Brotherhood of Blades II stars Chang Chen (Mr.Long) as Shen Lian, a member of the Ming Dynasty’s secret police (Jinyiwei) who becomes a scapegoat for a powerful and corrupt official. While on the run, he meets a mysterious painter with a painful past, played by Yang Mi (Reset).

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Zhang Ziyi, Huang Xiaoming, Chang Chen comes of age with a young nation

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Best Cinematography of the Year?

The second film from one of China’s best young directors, Li Fangfang (Heaven Eternal, Earth Everlasting),  Forever Young 无问西东 has finally released a trailer after over five years . It’s tentatively set for a late 2017 release.

Starring Zhang Ziyi, Huang Xiaoming, Chang Chen, Wang Leehom, and Chen Chusheng, the ode to Tsinghua University focuses on the coming-of-age of the school and the nation as depicted through five of its students.

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Creative posters for Brotherhood of Blades II

Brotherhood of Blades II 绣春刀修罗战场 has released new behind-the-scenes footage and character posters of the leads and extended cast. The first set of posters hints at the character relationships, and the second set are taken directly from costume designer Liang Tingting’s original sketches.

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First teaser and stills for period action Brotherhood of Blades II

Brotherhood of Blades II 绣春刀II:修罗战场 has released posters and a preview. Chang Chen (Mr. Long) reprises his role as Shen Lian, a member of the Ming Dynasty secret police (Jinyiwei). The second film features a brand new cast in Yang Mi (TLTWTMPB), Zhang Yi (Feather Flies To The Sky) and Lei Jiayin (White Deer Plain) among others.

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The Assassin prepares for release

Period picture collage done right

The Assassin, directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien and starring Shu Qi, Chang Chen, Ethan Ruan, and Satoshi Tsumabuki, keeps releasing pretty pictures and I’ve been dying for it to be released.  For once, I’m glad that there’s a production that can still focus on natural elements as opposed too much CGI, man-made elements like architecture, clothing styles, huge hair, etc.  With August 27th just around the corner, I thought we should celebrate with stills… and the short film they made introducing the general story.

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Shu Qi stars as female knight-errant in upcoming movie The Assassin

Upcoming film The Assassin (Nie Yingniang) 刺客聂隐娘 , starring Shu Qi and Chang Chen, has recently released a trailer. The film is directed by Hou Xiaoxian, and is based off a story from the Tang dynasty.
Nie Yingniang (literally, “Hidden Lady”) was the daughter of a great general, who was taken away by a Daoist nun when she was ten years old. She is trained to become a peerless assassin, and returns home thirteen years later – but this time, her master has instructed her to kill her (second) cousin Tian Ji’an (Chang Chen)… Continue reading

The Assassin releases stills

Just what we need.  Another English title that has the word “assassin.”

It seems like forever since Taiwan has made a period martial arts flick that has caught my attention.  The Assassin is a Taiwan-mainland co-production directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien and starring Shu Qi, Chang Chen, Ethan Ruan, and Satoshi Tsumabuki.  The film is set in the Tang dynasty and bagged Best Director and the Soundtrack Award at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.  Sneak peak clip of the film here.

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Republican-era coming of age film, Forever Young, releases stills

Is this really Sun Quan from Red Cliff? He looks younger, now that almost two millenium have passed..

Upcoming film Forever Young无问西东 doesn’t go easy on the star power. In the exact opposite of what usually happens during Photoshoot Fridays, Zhang Ziyi is outnumbered by males, aka Huang Xiaoming, Wang Leehom, Chang Chen, and Chen Chusheng in what appears to be a Republican era movie.

Here, four youths with different experiences and paths come to walk on the same path (surprise, surprise). Chen Chusheng’s character starts off principled and strong willed, but quickly becomes lost; Wang Leehom’s character carries heavy luggage, bearing the hopes of others with each step he takes. Meanwhile, Huang Xiaoming’s character’s steps are stopped by love, for there are people who must be taken care of. The more troubled Chang Chen’s character feels, the calmer he appears. All of them seek to find their ideal self, and on their journey, they experience love/hate/etc, life and death, numerous struggles…

All in all, Forever Young 无问西东 offers the promise of another coming-of-age story (but…a pretty one, woohoo!) The film is directed by Li Fangfang; more stills below the cut.

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