13th Feb2018

Review Round-Up: ‘Chasing the Dragon’ & ‘Skybound’

by Phil Wheat



Stars: Donnie Yen, Andy Lau, Philip Keung, Wilfred Lau, Wilfred Lau, Kent Cheng, Bryan Larkin, Ben Ng, Ken Tong, Niki Chow, Michelle Hu, Wai-Man Chan, Lawrence Chou, Wong Chun, Jai Day | Written and Directed by Wong Jing

Crippled Ho, an illegal immigrant from mainland China sneaks into British-colonized Hong Kong in 1963, a den of corruption, drugs and violence. Working as a thug for a local gang, Ho comes to the attention of corrupt cop Lee Rock. The unlikely duo team up and set about taking over the city’s thriving, dangerous underworld.

Directed by Hong Kong film veteran Wong Jing (God of Gamblers), Chasing the Dragon has been described as a Chinse version of Scarface – and its easy to see why. Both films are something of a period piece: Scarface was set in the opulent 80s when drug dealers became rock stars, whereas Chasing the Dragon is set in the corrupt, seedy 60s/70s in Hong Kong, when the Chinese turned their back on colonialism and, knowing that British rule was on its way out, it became every man for himself – be they cops, crooks, whomever. However unlike Scarface this film is, apparently, based on real people: a notorious drug trafficker Ng Sik Ho and police officer Lui Lok; both of whom were the subject of their own movies in the past (To Be Number One and Lee Rock – which also starred Andy Lau as the titular character).

Here writer/director Wong Jing brings the two renown characters together in a film that echoes the likes of superior crime dramas such as Infernal Affairs and the aforementioned God of Gamblers. It’s also a movie that alows Donnie Yen to stretch his acting muscles rather than his physical ones (though Yen does get to fight); his character Crippled Ho really being put through the ringer throughout the film and Yen manages to superbly capture the emotional and physical journey of the man – whioch is good job given he’s acting against Andy Lau who brings his usual gravitas to his role!

If you’re a fan of Hong Kong crime dramas then you’lll find a lot to love about Chasing the Dragon. The film is out now on DVD and Digital from WellGo USA.



Stars: Rick Cosnett, Scarlett Byrne, Gavin Stenhouse, Morten Suurballe, Tyler Fayose, Carla Carolina Pimentel, Brigitte Knott-Wolf, Sami Omar | Written and Directed by Alex Tavakoli

Flight Plan meets Altitude in director Alex Tavakolis’ airborne sci-fi action-thriller which sees five plane passengers are unable to land after a mysterious disaster happens on the ground, but they may be in worse danger than they thought when a stowaway is discovered on board carrying a dangerous secret…

A bunch of obnoxious part people on a plane. Check. A dangerous stowaway. Check. So far two cliches for two. But what’s that? A massive plot twist part way through the film? Yes, belying what looks like a cliched, stereotypical plane disaster movie, Skybound – from first time writer/director Alex Tavakoli – turns out to be a much, MUCH, bigger story than the small confines of the luxury jet in which it takes place. Something of a “what if” story, Skybound turns out to be an Asylum-like, feature-length version of a Twilight Zone tale – one that touches on religious cults, nuclear war and, surprisingly the apocalypse.

And whilst the story is downright ridiculous (if frighteningly apt given the current political climate), even if this WAS a film made by The Asylum, director Tavakoli throws in some stunning imagery that really sells the end of the world idea that Skybound posits – a nuclear mushroom cloud, a field of bison on fire running across the plains, aeroplanes flying in a crowded sky. But amazing visual effetcs can’t sell a film alone, no matter how stunning – which is a shame, as given a better script and a more experienced cast and crew this film could’ve been something special.

Skybound is out now from High Octane Pictures.


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