Tag Archives: Film Review

Film Review: RRR

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


1920 India. The British are very much in control and freedom is but a dream for most people. During the arrival of the newly appointed Governor Buxton (Ray Stevenson), he and his wife are serenaded by a young Gond girl, Malli (Twinkle Sharma). When the governor’s wife (Alison Doody) tosses the girl’s mother a couple of coins, she naively thinks it is for the song, but the real reason is far more sinister as Malli is taken away.

In Delhi, a situation has arisen, in which the government is being threated. One man is targeted as the ringleader and the soldiers are ordered to arrest him. But they seem rather helpless against the hordes that threaten to break through the fencing surrounding the building. One man, Ram Charan (Ram Charan Teja) does not hesitate to do what is necessary. He launches himself into the crowd, kicking ass and taking numbers.

A rumor quickly arises that someone is coming to rescue the young girl who was taken by the governor

and his wife. Without hesitation, Ram asks if he should be taken dead or alive. Catherine Buxton replies that if he is brought in alive, Ram will be promoted to Special Officer. The problem is that there are no clues to this person’s identity whatsoever. How are they to look for him? In the course of his investigation, Ram is at the scene of a freak accident that has left a little boy in a perilous position in the river. Time is of the essence. Catching the eye of a man on the shore, Ram and the stranger coordinate the rescue of the child. And that is how Ram and Bheem (NT Rama Rao Jr) meet, quickly becoming best friends.

Little do they know…

RRR is the fictional story of two legendary heroes and their fight for Indian freedom from their English oppressors during the time of the Raj. Seeming opposite, they are more alike than they realize, and their bromance is a joy to behold. Each man as seeming super powers that put him above the rest, so it is only fitting and natural that they become best friends.

This film is wonderful, filled with energy. I laughed, I cried, I sat on the edge of my seat and wondered how anything could possibly be resolved in a good way, and I cheered for these two men. The musical number is a sheer delight as they put the puny British officer in his place. The budding romance between Bheem and Jenny, despite the language barrier, is soooooo cute. The plight of Malli is heartbreaking. Although the movie is 3 hours long, it doesn’t feel that way. I don’t know what else you could ask for in a film, RRR has it all. I would gladly watch it again. I’ll give this film 5 Stars. I highly recommend it. Right now, it is streaming on Netflix.

Film Review: Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy

Having been defeated behind closed doors by Ip Man, Cheung Tin Chi (Jin Zhang) leaves the martial arts world behind for a simpler life. He ekes out a living in his small grocery and takes care of his son Fung (Henry Zhang). Fate throws him into the path of two young women in trouble. Nana (Chrissie Chau) is a drug addict who is trying to quit but owes her dealer, and Julia (Yan Liu) is her best friend, who is also engaged to her brother.  When the dealer has Nana beat up for non-payment, Julia defends her, but they are badly outnumbered until they literally run into Cheung, who comes to the rescue. The drug dealer, Tso Sai Kit (Kevin Cheng) is very upset at what has happened, and he has his men set fire to Cheung’s store, intending to kill him. But Cheung manages to escape with his son.

They run into Julia, who offers to take them in, and takes them to her brother Chiu Kam Fu (Xing Yu),

who owns the Gold Bar. Julia gives them a place to live and Fu gives him a job. When Tin Chi earns some money, he treats his new friends to a birthday dinner for Fung at a local steakhouse owned by American businessman Davidson (Dave Bautista). Meanwhile, Kit’s sister Tso Ngan Kwan (Michelle Yeoh) as head of her family business, decides they need to go legitimate. Kit is none too pleased at this news. And he is also determined to kill Cheung.

Going straight is not as easy as it sounds. Hong Kong is still under British rule, and the local police are corrupt, working hand in hand with the drug dealers. Innocent people don’t stand a chance.  But there comes a time when you can’t pretend you don’t see, and you have to stand up for what is right.

Master Z is part of the Ip Man series, continuing from the third movie, after Cheung’s defeat by Ip Man.  However, as all good movies do, Cheung’s character grows from his adversities, and is a very fitting protagonist for this film. Dave Bautista is great as the villain, and I have to say I think he was a good choice for this, a better choice than Mike Tyson was. There is a lot of action and fighting in this film, and everything is beautifully choreographed, including Michelle Yeoh’s scenes. She was a great character, caught between her love for her wayward brother and her desire to run a business untainted by illegalities.

I enjoyed this film very much, and found it to be a fitting entry in the Ip Man series. I read there may be a sequel. I would love to see that. I’ll give this film 4 Stars

Film Review: Jab We Met

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Jab We Met

Aditya Kashyap (Shahid Kapoor) is at the end of his rope. His father’s death has left him in charge of his very successful business, but there is the matter of his mother, who was also a part of the business but left the family to run off with another man. Feeling stressed, Aditya simply runs and finds himself on a train going who knows where. But his life is about to change when he encounters a very talkative young woman named Geet (Kareena Kapoor), who first chases him out of her seat on the train and then won’t stop talking.

When the train stops, Aditya gets off. Geet notices him walking along the platform as the train begins to pull away. Frantic, she calls him but he does not respond, so she jumps off the train to get him back on. Unfortunately, her Good Samaritan intentions cause her to miss the train herself, to her dismay. She berates him for what she sees as his fault, and tells him he has to make sure she gets home. She has a fiancè, even if her family doesn’t approve. Well, they don’t even really know yet. But she knows they won’t approve, so he has to take her there, no mater what he says.

And so their journey begins….

Jab We Met is a fabulous Bollywood rom-com that I watched for the second time, and I still cried, even though I knew what would happen. It is funny and romantic (as a good rom-com should be!), but throw in some great music and dancing, and you have a very wonderful film. The main characters have wonderful chemistry, and watching the evolution of their relationship from complete strangers to two people in love is wonderful. Bollywood musicals are so upbeat, I love them! Geet’s family are wonderful and very colorful. But of course there has to be a complication, both with her family and with the man she thinks she loves!

This is a wonderful film, and I highly recommend it!  I’ll give this film 4.5 Stars!

Film Review: Ip Man 4: The Finale

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ip Man 4: The Finale

Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is having troubles with his moody son Ching (He Ye). He doesn’t want to do anything his father tells him and gets into fights at school. Ip decides to travel to San Francisco, to see about getting his son into a school there. Time is of the essence, as he has just been diagnosed with cancer. A former student, Bruce Lee (Danny Kwok-Kwan Chan) invites Ip to witness a martial arts demonstration when he is there.  In order to get his son into the school, Ip needs a letter of recommendation from the Chinese Benevolent Assocation, located in Chinatown. However, the head of the association, Wan Zong Hua (Yue Wu) is dismissive of Bruce Lee’s desire to teach Chinese martial arts to other people, and refuses to give Ip the letter.

Ip receives a letter from another source and takes it to the school, but he is told he still needs the letter

from the CBA. While there, he witnesses a Chinese girl being bullied by a jealous classmate, and leaps to her defense. She turns out to be the daughter of Mr. Wan. However, when Ip returns Yonah (Vanda Margraf) to her home, her father is still not impressed. To complicate matters, Yonah’s bully is the daughter of a racist Marine who advocates karate and has no use for kung fu or Chinese people. He is determined to close down the CBA and teach the Chinese their place. Something  has to give!


Sorry to say this is the last film in the series, and we have to say good-bye to Mr. Ip, but this film does not disappoint. The racist sergeant will make your blood boil, and I am angry that his bully daughter never faces any real consequences. The actor playing Bruce Lee did a good job, and all the fight scenes are well choreographed and very interesting. Although this is the last Ip Man, I plan to watch more Donnie Yen films. I’ll give this film 4.5 Stars.

Film Review: Ip Man 3

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ip Man 3

In 1959 British Hong Kong, Ip Man (Donnie Yen) lives a quiet life with his wife Cheung Wing-sing (Lynn Xiong) and his younger son Ah Ching (Xiao Long Li). Ah Ching gets into trouble with another boy in his class and both parents are called to the school. There Ip Man meets Cheung Tin-Chi (Jin Zhang), who also practices the Wing Chun style of kung Fu. He is struggling as a single parent, and makes a living pulling a rickshaw, but his dream is to have his own martial arts school. However, he can’t afford the rent. The boys reconcile and the fathers become friends.

Trouble comes in the form of a rich businessman, Frank (Mike Tyson) who desires to own the property the

school sits on and is willing to do whatever he can to get it, including the use of force. He uses his thugs to terrorize the school, forcing Ip Man and his students to step in. While his wife understands what he is doing, she wishes he were at home more. And she hasn’t told him, but she isn’t feeling well, and fears something may be wrong.

Complicating matters, a jealous Tin-Chi has decided to make a name for himself by battling the other kung fu masters. He then challenges Ip Man to a fight… for the title of Grandmaster of Wing Chun. When Ip Man does not show up for the scheduled match, Tin-Chi declares himself Grandmaster. Meanwhile, matters at the school escalate, and some children are kidnapped in order to force a showdown with Ip Man

The third installment of the Ip Man series is just as good as the others. He and his family don’t live the opulent lifestyle they once did before the Japanese invasion, but they have a good life. Ip Man is well known and respected in the community. The film deals with respect, and family, and standing up for right is right. Tin-Chi is not a bad man, and he means well, and has to make choices between getting ahead and doing the right thing. I have to say that I found the addition of Mike Tyson jarring. First, he is no actor, and he speaks mostly in English with a few Mandarin phrases thrown in for good measure, but his slight lisp doesn’t help with the Mandarin. Secondly, he’s a boxer and his movements are powerful and seem rough when seen in juxtaposition with the graceful moves of Ip Man. The fight between Ip Man and Frank is inevitable, as is the outcome. Side note: Donnie Yen broke Tyson’s finger in that scene. The best fight in the film, among many good fights, is between Ip Man and Tin-chi. Also, there is a scene in an elevator between Ip Man and a Thai fighter  with poor Mrs IP trapped in the corner that is pretty good.

There is one more film in the series and I look forward to that. Also, there is another one with Tin-Chi called Master Z, and I’ll watch that too. I’ll give this film 4.5 Stars.

Film Review: Ip Man 2

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ip Man 2

Having fled the village of Fo Shan, Ip Man (Donnie Yen) and his family end up in British Hong Kong, where the master plans to open a school to train students. He gets a good deal on a rooftop studio and sets up shop. But no one is coming, and he is finding it hard to make ends meet. To complicate matters, his wife Wing-sing (Lynn Xiong) is pregnant with their second child. Just when things seem bleak indeed, Ip Man begins to acquire students, although they aren’t always able to pay the school fees. But at least it’s a start.

Trouble soon arrives in the form of the other martial arts masters in Hong Kong, led by Master Hung (Sammo Kam-Bo Hung). They summon Ip Man and lay down their rules. First, he needs to prove himself to them through battle. He has to stand on a table and fight all comers until the incense burns down or until he loses. He accepts the challenge and proves himself.

At this time, the Chinese are very much under the thumb of their imperial masters, the British. Some of

them are less than respectful… or honorable. A British boxer known as the Twister (Darren Shahlavi) comes to town to participate in an exhibition of Western-style boxing. But the cocky fighter wants to show the Chinese how superior he is to them, and interrupts the display of the various schools to challenge them. It’s on! But can the Chinese win, with the odds stacked against them, and the crooked police supporting the British masters?

The second film in the series sees Ip Man and his family relocated to Hong Kong and in much more desperate conditions than the first film. Still, he is determined to provide for his family, at the same time maintaining his principles. There is a casualty from the first film, Ip Man’s friend Quan, who was shot in the head by the Japanese and is not the same man. I liked this one as much as the first, great fight scenes, and I love Ip Man’s wife, who doesn’t want to disturb his focus on this very important match just to let him know she has gone into labor. Look at the end for a small cameo by a little guy who will become the real Ip Man’s most famous student! Looking forward to the next film. I’ll give this one 4.5 Stars.

Film Review: Curse of the Golden Flower

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Curse of the Golden Flower

All is not well in the Imperial Palace. The Emperor’s second wife (Gong Li) is ill with what the Emperor (Chow Yun-Fat) has diagnosed as anemia. For the past ten years, she has been taking prescribed medicine every two hours. But recently, another ingredient has been introduced to her medicine, one that may do her irreparable harm if continued.

Crown Prince Wan (Ye Liu) was born of the Emperor’s late first wife. The new Empress has born two sons of her own, Jai (Jay Chou) and Yu (Junjie Qin). However, Wan has been having an affair with the Empress. He is also interested in Chan (Man Li), the daughter of the Imperial Doctor. The Emperor intends to remove Wan as Crown Prince in favor of Jai, little suspecting that his second son wishes to avenge the wrong being done to his mother. But these secrets are just the tip of the iceberg for these imperial family.


This opulent film is set during the Tang Dynasty, a very ostentatious time in Chinese history. A time in which male domination was complete, as can be seen in the way the women in the story are treated, even the Empress. So much deceit, so many lies. This story is a veritable historic soap opera, based on a played called “Thunderstorm”. The sets are incredibly beautiful, with a fantastic eye for detail, including but not limited to the sets and costumes. The action is exciting and well choreographed. Altogether a gripping film. I especdially enjoyed seeing Ye Liu as Crown Prince Wan, as I loved him The Chef, the Actor, and the Scoundrel.  I give this film 4.5 Stars.

Film Review: Ip Man

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ip Man

Fo Shan is a Chinese city renowed for its kung fu masters and their schools. The strongest kung fu master is Ip Man (Donnie Yen), who leads a quiet life with his wife and son and is much respected by the city. Possessing a strong sense of honor, he isn’t one to stand aside when some punks from up north come to town intent on starting their own school and beating up the other kung fu masters. Ip Man quickly teaches the bullies a lesson.


But the peace of Fo Shan is destroyed when the Japanese occupy the city, and much of the city’s population is decimated. Those who are left struggle to survive, including Ip Man, whose beautiful home has been confiscated. Having a family to feed, Ip Man goes to work shoveling coal. One day the Japanese arrive with a proposal, their interpreter being Ip Man’s friend Li (Ka-Tung Lam). Those who are willing to fight the Japanese in bouts of kung fu will receive a bag of rice if they win. These fights are for the Japanese general, Miua (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi), whose second-in-command, Colonel Sato (Tenma Shibuya) is a sadistic, bloodthirsty man with no regard for human life. When one of Ip Man’s friends, Lin (Xing Yu) suddenly disappears, Ip Man realizes he has been killed by the Japanese. He requests to fight ten men. But when he wins, he doesn’t take the rice, as that was never the reason for him to fight.


General Miura wishes Ip Man to fight again, but he is nowhere to be found. And Li says he doesn’t 

know where he is, no matter how much they hurt him. But things come to a head, when Ip Man realizes he has to take a stand. He begins by teaching the factory workers at his friend Quan’s (Simon Yam) cotton mill how to defend themselves. And then he agrees to fight General Miura, although Li warns him that if he should win, Sato will kill him.

This film was recommended to me by a co-worker and I loved it! Everything about the film is good, from acting to story to direction to cinematography. I love the fight scenes! Ip Man is loosely based on an actual kung fu master, one of whose disciples was actor Bruce Lee. There are three more films in this series and I intend to watch and review them all. Ip Man is a great character. I love the scenes with his family, showing that he isn’t necessarily perfect and has room to improve, which of course he does. I highly recommend this film and give it 4.5 Stars.

Film Review: Detective Dee: Four Heavenly Kings

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Detective Dee: Four Heavenly Kings

Empress Wu (Carina Lau) has been mistrustful of Detective Dee (Mark Chao) ever since the emperor (Chien Sheng) bestowed the Dragon Mace upon the loyal detective. The empress approaches the head of her royal guard, Yuchi Zhenjin (Shaofeng Feng), relying on his loyalty despite knowing how close he is to Dee. She questions whether should she request him to take the Mace from Dee would he do it?  He replies that should he do that, Dee would be subject to execution, his family ruined. She swears she will protect them all.

The Empress lies…

Empress Wu has brought some newcomers to court to replace Dee, claiming they have greater powers. Huan Tian (Aoyue Zhang) and his group demonstrate their abilities before the royal couple. Wu sends them to retrieve the Mace, but that is easier said than done as Dee is wily and no man’s fool. In the meantime, he has been sent on a fool’s errands, but he sees through this and hurries back to the Bureau when someone trips the alarm.


Yuchi is torn between his loyalty to the empress and his friendship for Dee, but Dee’s faith in his friend 

never wavers. It is imperative that he figure out what is going on before something terrible happens – namely, the destruction of the Tang dynasty! And what exactly is on the Empress’s agenda?

This was a really good movie, action-packed and full of intrigue and mystery, as well as magic, and a little comedy. It’s easy to accept how evil the Empress is from earlier acquaintance with her. She is a very power hungry woman. But she is also human and fallible, as we discover.  I liked the interplay between the female assassin (Sichuan Ma) and Dee’s right hand man Shatuo Zhong (Kenny Lin). I have to admit I missed the doctor from the last installment, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of this film..

Ancient grudges, sinister magic, spirituality, intrigue… this film has it all and then some.  I’m sad that there are no more movies with this same cast, although there appear to be others utilizing the same character.  I think I’ll give those a pass. Although there may be, if the glimpses in the ending credits are any indication. If you are interested, check out the Judge Dee stories, the original inspiration for Detective Dee. I reviewed the first book on this blog already.

I’ll give this film a strong 4.5 Stars

Film Review: Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon

Dee Renjie (Mark Chao) is newly arrived in the Imperial Capital with the intention of joining the Court of Judicature and Revision. There is tension in the city due to the attack of a mysterious sea monster which destroyed many ships. Empress Wu Zetian (Carina Lau) has charged Yuchi (Feng Shaofeng) with solving the problem within ten days. A courtesan is also arriving in the city, Yin Ruiji (Angelababy), who is to be a sacrifice to the creature. Dee overhears a plot to kidnap her. As he fights the kidnappers, Yin is kidnapped another sea creature who is more humanoid than the one she is meant to be sacrificed to. Dee rescues her and the creature escapes. Yuchi has Dee arrested and Yin put into protective custody, but Dee is able to escape with the aid of a friendly medical assistant Shatuo (Lin Gengxin).

Yin is visited by the sea creature again, which is when she realizes who he is – her missing lover, Yuan Zhen (Kim Bum). Masked thugs attack the house, but luckily, Dee, Yuchi, and Shatuo arrive to save the day and Dee is able to rescue Yuchi. Yin covers for Yuan so he can escape, then tells Dee the truth abut her lover. Dee, using his remarkable powers of deduction, deduces that the culprits come from the small war-ridden nation of Dondo, who plan to use Yuan to poison the imperial tea and kill the emperor. They find Yuan and take him to the Imperial Doctor Wang Pu (Kun Chen), who uncovers the cause of Yuan’s transformation and is able to cure him.


But how to deal with the enormous sea dragon that is still menacing the kingdom?

This film takes place before Detective Dee: The Mystery of the Phantom Flame. This is Dee’s first case and Mark Chao’s first appearance as the detective. I loved this film from the beginning. I thoroughly enjoyed the first film and was not disappointed with this one. The action is fast-paced, young Dee is as delightful as his older self, and just as clever. Watching him square off against the Empress is a delight. Keep a special eye out for the appearance of Kun Chen as Doctor Wang Pu. He is just delightful (and he has a monkey arm. You’ll have to watch to find out why).


There is a third movie in the series, and hopefully will be others, and I will watch it, for sure. In the meantime, I’ll give this film a strong 4 Stars.