March 10, 2006


While we previously reported that Yoji Yamada's HIDDEN BLADE DVD would have a March release, I've since learned that the release date hasn't been set yet but it looks to be summer 2006.

Also, Hou Hsiao-hsien's THREE TIMES, which will be released by IFC on cable and theatrically simultaneously looks set for an April 26 release.

We had previously reported that Li Shaohong, the director of the stunning and largely unseen BAOBER IN LOVE, was shooting a film about General Kwan starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Zhang Ziyi. Oops. Turns out that the press has amended their earlier reports, THE BLADE OF THE GREEN DRAGON is not cast. Zhang and Kaneshiro have been contacted by the director, but they haven't yet responded. (Thanks to MonkeyPeaches for this tidbit)

And, finally, in an "I told you so" moment of juvenile vindication...the ultimate Johnnie To epiphany for me came when I saw THROWDOWN, his Akira Kurosawa-inspired ode to judo. This was the first time I saw one of his movies and thought, "This guy isn't just a good director, he's a great director." It was the first movie of To's that I thought really showed he was more than a top notch genre director and much more of a world class talent like Akira Kurosawa himself or Zhang Yimou. This was a guy who wasn't just making great action films, he was making great films period. This isn't a popular opinion, and I rarely get to talk about how much I love THROWDOWN without being ridiculed by people who hate it. But, at a press conference for the upcoming HKIFF, Johnnie To was asked which of Milkyway's movies were his favorite. His answer? THROWDOWN.

March 10, 2006 at 11:30 AM in News | Permalink


Grady, I am truly sorry you're hemmed in by THROWDOWN haters. I had a very similar epiphany to yours when I saw it, and was sufficiently moved to program it for thousands of people (who didn't show up) during it's week-long run in New York. A few viewers shameless enough to cross the invisible picket line and report back to me, however, seemed to see the same thing I did.
I think this film is so great in part because it falls between the categories normally forced on To; if it is "generic" it is only because it hyperactively combines all genres at once (action, romance, comedy, tragedy, musical, remake, art film, etc.) It's a film constructed almost entirely of gestures, some of which are so ridiculously accomplished that they are far more moving than should be. This gestural aspect is what some people I've spoken to find empty about his films, and what I find to be their "fullness".
So this is just a vote of confidence, and I've got friends behind me on this: Johnnie To is indeed great, and is one of the directors I care most about in current cinema. And much of this interest was generated and supported by your good works, so thanks.

Posted by: travis | Mar 10, 2006 12:31:37 PM

Grady, have you ever written a review for this movie?
I'm curious why you would rank it so highly.
Although I liked the film (but then again, I liked nearly everything Johnnie To puts out), I didnt think it was one of his best. There were definitely some brilliant moments in it, such as the scene where multiple characters were talking at the same time in separate conversations. However, I found the movie a bit opaque, and I had difficulty liking the characters.
Perhaps this is one of those movies that demand multiple viewings for full appreciation.

Posted by: Buma | Mar 10, 2006 1:33:45 PM

Lover/hater distinction is so black-or-white! For me, Throwdown has (limited) greatness in reaching in the nether regions of To's memories of his formative years, those evoked by 50s, 60s formalist-humanist Kurosawa's ilk. The final sequence is moving especially if you love and know those films are forever a thing of the past. It's an innocence, like Sugata Sanshiro's, never regained. To's seldom this straight with viewers about his own immediate experiences outside having fun with genres, so it sticks for "the favorite" claim. But really, Throwdown's style and storytelling are part of the continual refinement and evolution of his career, not exactly breakthrough of Mission, culmination of PTU, and the Fukasaku-esque in Election. But the old masters should be so proud. They were certainly never this cheeky and fun with their maverick slegehammers.

Posted by: edamame | Mar 10, 2006 3:40:18 PM

DUDE! THROWDOWN! I show my region 3 platter to anyone who'll pay attention. It is my FAVORITE Johnny To picture, and almost inexplicably moving. I reviewed it last April on my friend Isaac's arts and culture blog, Parabasis.


I wrote the damn thing a while back, before I started writing on Asian film in earnest, so it may be riddled with inaccuracies, but Throwdown is one of the most peculiar, beautiful films I can recall. Koo, Kwok and Ying have never been better. I nerd the HELL out about this picture. Its meaning and dark beauty have only deepened for me since I first saw it. Thanks for giving it some love, Grady.

Posted by: Abe Goldfarb | Mar 10, 2006 5:48:47 PM

This film didn't speak to me as it did to you guys. It certainly is a decent film with some very good scenes but overall I find it forgettable. Also I thought it was a bit hurt by the average performances of the main duo. The "joy of judo" scenes brought the wrong kind of smile.

Glad that there seem to be people who enjoyed it this much though, isn't it such a thrill when one likes a film in that special way?

Posted by: eliza bennet | Mar 11, 2006 11:27:03 AM

I decided to like Throwdown during the scene where Szeto and Mona have just stolen all the money from the gambling joint and are trying to run away with it. It's like a little character study in how they interact with one another while the bills are flying around in the air. I especially love the seemingly interminable delay before she decides to go back for his shoe. And all with no dialogue. Brilliant. Big silly grin on my face every time.

Posted by: automaton | Mar 11, 2006 10:41:34 PM

LOL aaron & koo-jai - but does it beat tony leung KF & aaron? Lum Suet & Wong Jing's dad...now that'd be something!
(for cheesecake cherrie ying, Itchy Heart is best.)

did anyone think louis koo is doing a poor man's ben gazzara from KILLING OF CHINESE BOOKIE?

Posted by: edamame | Mar 14, 2006 7:09:51 PM

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