Monday, 8 November 2010

Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival 2010 Preview: Au Revoir Taipei & IP Man 2

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The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival 2010 branches out and up this year with screenings not only around town but also branching out to Richmond Hill with a prescreening of Ip Man 2 back in October as well as an encores screening of closing night gala film Au Revoir Taipei on Monday November 15, 2010 at 7pm at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. As I rarely get north of Bloor, I catch up with two glorious films that are playing this year and they showcase the diversity and wonderful spirit of the festival.

Au Revoir Taipei / 一頁台北
Dir: Arvin Chen
Cast: Jack Yao, Amber Kuo, Joseph Chang, Lawrence Ko

Au Revoir Taipei is a beautiful film that pairs a whimsical romantic tone with an air of a crime film. It seems like an odd mix, but the fact that it can bridge the two while capturing the spirit of whimsy is what makes it such a joy to watch. We folow Kai, played by Jack Yao who is learning French and hopes one day to go to Paris where his girlfriend is, whom he cutely leaves messages in French for. Although this goal always as his focus, he ends up in caper-like activities along the way to get closer and closer to this goal.

One of the things I loved about Au Revoir Taipei was that all of the characters shine and we have beautiful performances from the unique cast. A true stand out was the brilliant performance by Lawrence Ko as Hong, the rather effeminate but still menacing leader of the band of orange-suit clad guys that almost, but not necessarily want to be more like bad guys. I also loved the performance by Paul Chiang as the understand tall guy Gao, whose seems very comfortable with himself but maintains a quiet shyness. It's spectacular.

Au Revoir Taipei is a perfect choice for a closing night film of the festival with it's beautiful visual style, quirky story and characters and it truly feel-good nature. I was beaming while watching it and I'm sure you will too. I highly recommend checking it out, you'll have a smile on your face and wonder in your eyes.

Au Revoir Taipei is the closing night gala film of the festival and screens Sunday November 14, 2010 at 8pm at The Royal and has an encore screening on Monday November 15, 2010 at 7pm at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts with director Arvin Chen in attendance.

Arvin Chen will also be speaking at the Love and Daydreaming in Taipei: Artist Talk on Saturday November 13, 2010 at 4pm at Innis College Room 312.


Ip Man 2 / 葉問 2
Dir: Wilson Yip Wai-Shun (SPL: Sha Po Lang, Flash Point / Dao huo xian)
Cast: Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, Simon Yam, Lynn Hung, Xiaoming Huang, Darren Shahlavi, Kent Cheng, Siu-Wong Fan
Hong Kong

Ever since I saw the martial arts action explosion film SPL: Sha Po Lang (also directed by Wilson Yip, and also starring Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung and Simon Yam) I became an instant fan of each and every one of these guys and I knew I would see as much as their work as I possible could. Seeing that they were working together again in Ip Man 2, I couldn't wait to see the film.

Ip Man 2 picks up where Ip Man left off, following Wing Chun martial arts master Ip Man in his time in Hong Kong in the early 1950s looking to spread the work on Wing Chun and teach martial arts. A few notes for the uninitiated: One, you can go straight into the goodness of Ip Man 2 without seeing Ip Man if you like - it stands up on it's own well. Two, Ip Man is known for being the mentor to beloved martial artist Bruce Lee. Okay, history lesson over and back to the film.

We see the struggles of Ip Man setting up shop in a new place and the conflict between different martial arts schools but the beauty of the film is that this element brings you into a familiar world we see in martial arts films so you feel all comfortable and such, but it actually showcases a much larger issues including cultural identity, pride and respect for the martial arts. I really didn't expect this angle to the film, and I found it surprizingly touching as I'm always going to root for people standing up for and embracing their values.

The story, acting and message of the film are great and I almost consider that an 'added bonus' to a martial arts film, as it feels like we are really there to see the fighting. And the fighting in the film is fan-freaking-tastic. Dynamic, interesting, explosive, innovate only begin to describe the wild ride you take while watching these fight sequences. What's even better is that not only do we see amazing physical feats, but the visual style, camera angles and actions are completely incorporated into the fights themselves and at times mimic the movements you see on screen. Add to that that we are seeing Donnie Yen & Sammo Hung do their thing, and it's a beautiful, breathtaking thing.

Ip Man 2 screened on Monday October 18, 2010 at 7pm at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts and on Friday October 22, 201 at the Toronto Underground as a part of Son of Kung Fu Fridays.

The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival 2010 runs from November 9 - 15, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Suzie Ridler said...

We just watched Ip Man and LOVED it! I was so happy to see here on your blog that there is a part two! Can't wait to see that come to Netflix. From your review it sounds like the second movie is just as fabulous as the first.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Thrilled to hear you enjoyed IP Man! Guess what? IP Man 2 is *even* better! Gotta love Donnie Yen, and the story is so on my wavelength. Loved it.

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