In between our 3 douches fracas a movie was going on. And Mr. Cho made his first screen appearance out of about a handful of brief moments. And boy let me tell you...I damn near cried with joy. I had a brief flash or nervous, panicky excitement and I whipped out my Iphone to capture Cha-lee's shining moment (The video is above). He's a bit more weathered and older, obviously. There is an accentuated sophistication actually. His portrayal of a put upon employee of the asshole character Anthony Wong plays is quite nuanced and even a touch heartbreaking. The films tone is decidedly serious and violent, but, the films sole LOL scene is put upon Charlie. It's a small, simple, wonderful performance and I really hope that it brings about a resurgence of sorts for Mr. Cho. His days of tapping fine and not so fine starlet backside may be well behind him but as an assured elder statesmen of HK cinema, I would just be overjoyed to see him in more local mainstream productions. Bit part or not. Bring on the Charlie Cho renaissance!
Sir Charles aside, I might be the wrong person to speak about PUNISHED. Being a Milkyway production it is, of course, competent and well made. It just isn't fresh. It is not the worst move by To and Co. and it's also certainly not near their best efforts from the late 90's. My penchant for HK genre films aside, just a little, when I watch films like PUNISHED, or other recent Milkyway films for that matter, I begin to think that HK cinema has actually regressed in the past 20 years. In the context of the other HK films on theNYAFF 2011 docket, ZU: WARRIORS FROM THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN, DRAGON INN, THE BLADE, and STORY OF RICKY, a movie like PUNISHED does not fit. Not in terms of the festival line-up but in the lexigon of Hong Kong Cinema. I understand times and tatses have changed (and other production elements that i'm not mentioning here to avoid a longer diatribe) and the HK cinema landscape is wholly different but the imagination once seen in HK cinema has really languished. Again, genre differences aside, but how could you pit the mind and energy present in THE BLADE or DRAGON INN to the slow,'thoughtful', and sometimes faux toughness (I once called it 'Arthouse Testosterone') artsiness in the contemporary PUNISHED? Hands down it's the former. This difference will not make me jump ship to other Asian cinemas as it has sadly done to most HK cinema fans. Before you lambaste me, i'm not saying it's ALL Milkyway's fault, but they are HK's forerunner for the globe. It's becoming a played out discussion, I know, but even with the played out Milkyway formula, I'm still on board. Just get your head out of your ass HK cinema. Think, gosh dang it! Think!
Kung Fu Fridays and Popcorn and Sticky Floors.