Yes, Madam!

Inspector Ng with gun

Yes, Madam! isn’t in any way like a fine wine. It has not aged well and looks far worse now than it did when it came out in 1985. A Hong Kong comedy actioner that knows its audience and its times, it was made quickly for a market that wanted it. Posterity could sort itself out. This is the bit where I outline the plot and it’s actually quite hard to do that, since so much of Yes, Madam! makes no sense and it feels at times like it’s been cobbled together from offcuts of other action movies. After a whipcrack opener involving a flasher, a heist, some gunplay and a car stunt, … Read more

The Heroic Trio

Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman and Thief Catcher

Too fast and furious, maybe, Johnnie To’s 1993 superhero actioner The Heroic Trio nevertheless has energy and style to spare, and as much of that strange Hong Kong martial-arts weirdness – all leaping and spinning but no contact – as you could want. The plot gets kind of lost in the excess but it’s about a mad scheme to ensure that China has a new emperor by kidnapping a whole series of babies who are born on auspicious days. Eighteen have disappeared so far but it’s when the chief of police’s newborn becomes the 19th that a line is crossed. Behind the kidnappings is a mad cackling supervillain called Evil Master (Yen Shi-Kwan) … Read more

A Haunting in Venice

Poirot in the dark with a crucifix in the background

A change of gear for Kenneth Branagh’s third Agatha Christie adaptation. A Haunting in Venice isn’t as starry as Murder on the Orient Express or Death on the Nile, doesn’t start out with a captive roster of possible murderers and murderees and, to an extent, abandons the strict rationality of previous Hercule Poirot adventures for something a bit more supernatural. All three turn out to be changes for the better. This is probably the best of the bunch so far, though, full disclosure, I’m not really a fan of these things. Whether it’s Peter Ustinov, John Malkovich, Albert Finney, Ian Holm, David Suchet, Tony Randall, Alfred Molina or even Austin Trevor (first of … Read more

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Michelle Yeoh in kung fu action

Starting with its title and ending at infinity, Everything Everywhere All at Once is a “more is more” kind of movie that looks as if it was designed to be the last word in multiverse sci-fi. The plot is Matrix-shaped – nobody becomes somebody – but instead of a young dumb male as its protagonist, it’s a middle aged smart female, in the shape of Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), a drudge of a wife, mother, carer for her elderly father who’s just been served with divorce papers by her fairly useless husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). And instead of being hunted by a sleek, black-clad, sunglasses-wearing Agent Smith, Evelyn and family are being … Read more

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Xialing, Shang-Chi and Katy

Self-important, windy, drowning in lore, full of flat characters and just plain old dull, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is everything it shouldn’t be, a spectacular own goal from Marvel. It looked like an open goal, too. Moving the Marvel Cinematic Universe to China is a great idea – a civilisation with millenia of history, superheroes aplenty and enough dragons and lion-headed creatures to stock a whole other pantheon of characters and an entire alternative bestiary. Plus, not to be forgotten, a massive population waiting to be sold stuff. The film is based on Marvel’s 1973 creation Shang-Chi, who was originally the virtuous son of the villainous Fu Manchu (Marvel … Read more


Cillian Murphy in Sunshine

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 15 February Galileo Galilei born, 1564 On this day in 1564, the astronomer, mathematician and physicist Galileo Galilei was born. He was most famous for advocating the Copernican view of the solar system, which put the sun at the centre and had the planets orbiting about. This was in stark contradiction of the Church view, which had the earth at the centre, and also the Tychonic system (earth at centre, sun orbiting earth, other planets orbiting the sun). Galileo was an accomplished lutenist, like his father, and also considered the priesthood before choosing the life scientific. He had studied medicine before … Read more

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Zhang Ziyi in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

He (Chow Yun-Fat) loves her (Michelle Yeoh); she loves him, but they cannot be together until the fabled jade sword has been returned to its rightful owner. This they seek to do, hindered by an assassin and a mystery figure whose martial arts abilities rival their own. All that plot business is entirely secondary to the working of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon though. It has just enough connective tissue to lead from one breathtaking display of martial arts magic to the next. It was the film of 2000, taking the most autistically male of movie genres, the martial arts epic, and broadening its appeal by adding a balletic twist. By a similar sleight … Read more