The Bodyguard

The Bodyguard

Hong Kong/China, 2016

Cantonese and Mandarin, English and Czech subtitles

Director: Sammo Hung

Starring: Sammo Hung, Andy Lau, Zhu Yuchen

Distributor: Edko Films

Sammo Hung, an icon of Hong Kong action films, plays an ageing bodyguard who is drawn into a conflict with the mafia by his neighbour. To protect a little girl, he has to make use of his tired fists yet again, as well as brush up his legendary kung fu skills.

Hung was the director and actor in this film, but, most of all, the choreographer. He invited a large number of key figures of Cantonese action cinema to collaborate, and the supporting roles featured such personalities as Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah and director Tsui Hark. Even superstar Andy Lau took part as a subversive variation of a character from God of Gamblers (1989). Soaked in nostalgia, The Bodyguard is not merely a wistful reminiscing. Instead, it is a conscious and elaborate love letter to The Golden era of martial arts films. Who else should be its author but Sammo Hung?

Once Upon a Time in China

Wong Fei Hung

Hong Kong/China, 1991

Cantonese and Mandarin, English and Czech subtitles

Director: Tsui Hark

Starring: Jet Li, Yuen Biao, Jacky Cheung

Distributor: Fortune Star Media

The magnitude of Once Upon a Time in China is nearly impossible to describe in words. A unique constellation of powerful theme and the creative team that had brought together many legendary representatives of the genre resulted in the making of one of the best action films of all time.

The King of Hong Kong’s New Wave, Tsui Hark, adapted the story of a martial arts legend, Wong Fei-hung. The choreography was provided by equally renowned Yuen Woo-ping and the lead role played by one of the most skilled acrobats in the world, Jet Li. This star team created an intelligent historical drama combined with brilliant comedy, but could also serve as a manual of the genre. Unmatched action scenes deliberately include lots of props and longer shots of body action alternate with aggressively rapid montage. Once Upon a Time in China launched a six-part series and, above all, has become a compelling argument of the power of Hong Kong martial arts films.

SPL II: A Time for Consequences

Saat po long 2

Hong Kong/China, 2015

Cantonese and Mandarin, English and Czech subtitles

Director: Cheang Pou-soi

Starring: Tony Jaa, Wu Jing, Simon Yam, Louis Koo

Distributor: Bravos Pictures

A Time for Consequences proves that a movie with plenty of intense martial arts action does not necessarily have to place less emphasis on the plot. The narrative combines several perspectives which build an increasingly complex picture of the police fighting against crime.

Before becoming one of the most famous directors of Chinese blockbusters, Cheang Pou-soi had become well-known for writing brilliant action stories. And it is SPL2 that exemplifies this reputation. The film follows a straightforward path to its grand finale with no hit missing its target. Equally important is the organic connection between two different traditions of martial arts. Chinese fistfights are perfected by globally renowned star, Wu Jing, while invincible miracle Tony Jaa’s specialty are knee strikes aiming for the opponent’s head. The Sisyphean task of the police is complemented by excellent choreography and the result is a multi-layered crime story that will keep you entertained.

Project A

‘A’ gai wak

Hong Kong, 1983

Cantonese, English and Czech subtitles

Director: Jackie Chan

Starring: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao

Distributor: Fortune Star Media

Not many things in popular movies can compare to the escapades of Hong Kong star duo, Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan. Project A is their collaboration and a somewhat forgotten masterpiece which remains overshadowed by their more popular work. They are both in the best physical shape and at the peak of creativity, and fearlessly pull the most incredible and heart-stopping stunts. This historical tale from the 19th century is a fantastic comedy and shows close-to-perfect staging of action scenes.

Project A is like browsing an encyclopaedia that displays many sophisticated ways of using scenes and human bodies for viewers’ entertainment. Chan’s and Hung’s acting and directing collaboration is at the very top of action cinematography that even Buster Keaton could be proud of.

212: Warrior

Wiro Sableng 212

Indonesia, 2018

Indonesian, English and Czech subtitles

Director: Angga Dwimas Sasongko

Starring: Vino G. Bastian, Yayan Ruhiyan, Sherina Munaf

Distributor: 20th Century Fox, LifeLike Pictures

Indonesia has enjoyed the attention of fans of martial arts movies ever since the release of the first part of The Raid (2011) and the success continued with the sequel. But the choreographer and actor Iko Uwais is certainly not the only noteworthy figure when speaking about this genre in Indonesia.

For example, this country recently produced an adaptation of Bastian Tito’s books about a warrior of the name Wiro Sableng. 212 Warrior – which comes from easily recognizable ’212’ tattoo on his chest and the equally famous one-handed axe – is one of the most expensive domestic productions and combines local martial arts with historical spectacle and absurd humour. This crazy trip to the sixteenth century does not hesitate to mingle perspectives so different that even comedian Stephen Chow would be shocked. And in some ways 212 Warrior reminds us of Chow’ s films, except this one is spiced up with exceptionally brutal choreography and inspired by Chinese wuxia stories. Mythical heroes, legendary weapons, indestructible fists and, occasionally, fart jokes: This Indonesian carnage has it all!

Furie

Hai Phuong

Vietnam, 2019

Vietnamese, English and Czech subtitles

Director: Le Van Kiet

Starring: Veronica Ngo, Cat Vy

Distributor: Netflix, Studio68

The Raid (2011) seemed to have fired energy impulses across all Asia eight years ago by openly following Hong Kong and, later on, Thai tradition of action films. Genre filmmaker Le-Van Kiet became inspired and his Furie has pushed Vietnam into the spotlight.

Hai Phuong has tried to suppress her violent past, but the kidnapping of her little daughter forces her to bring back bloody memories. In stunning action scenes, Veronica Ngo proves that she has it all to star alongside such fighters as JeeJa Yanin (Ong-Bak 2, 2008) or Julie Estelle (The Raid 2, 2014). Her neat destruction of dozens of gangsters is set off by a simple story of revenge, but a smart camera work, dramatic cuts and surgical precision of choreography make for an unforgettable experience. Furie shows that Vietnam does not stay behind in the action genre!

The Scoundrels

Kuang tu

Taiwan, 2018

Mandarin, English and Czech subtitles

DIrector: Tzu-Hsuan Hung

Starring: Kang-Ren Wu, JC Lin, Nana Lee

Distributor: Ablaze Image

Taiwanese cinema has released a lot of action films, but has been overshadowed by great figures from Hong Kong, Thailand or Indonesia. Debuting director Hung Tzu-Hsuan has brought a 105-minute proof that the region still has much to contribute to the genre. The main hero, an ex-basketball player Rui, is accused of robbing a bank and so he embarks on a bloody journey to be exonerated.

The adrenaline ride may be reminiscent of Cantonese police thrillers or American revenge stories. Sarcastic humour, brutal action and dynamic style add up to this interesting mix. The choreography and stunt performances in The Scoundrels represent the very best around the world and have brought fresh blood into the action genre.

Relentess Melt: Hong Kong Abstractions

Relentless Melt No. 15: Hong Kong Abstractions

Hong Kong

No words

Curated by: Max Hattler

Relentless Melt presents contemporary abstract and experimental animation from Hong Kong, curated by Hong Kong-based German video artist Max Hattler. The screening includes award-winning films by Huang Xiaowen, Ho Tsz Wing, Ray Mok & Red Wong, Hattler and others, and a range of experimental works from current students and recent graduates of the School of Creative Media at City University of Hong Kong.

Relentless Melt is a Hong Kong society for the production, dissemination and appreciation of abstract and experimental moving image. It holds regular international screenings, most recently in Taiwan and at Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film.

Catgot | Ho Tsz Wing | 2019

Digital Ocean | Marvin Hauck, Wong Hoi Lam, Kimberly Ann Pineda, Aurelia Giovanni Laksmana | 2019

My Mother Told Me | Yasmin Rai | 2018

Divisional Articulations | Max Hattler | 2017

Vitis | Wong Hoi Lam, Marvin Hauck, Kimberly Ann Pineda, Aurelia Giovanni Laksmana | 2019

Darwin | Jiaming Liao, Riwen Zhang | 2017

Glass Bird | Dan Wang, Shuoyu Chen, Lexuan Song, Yunqian Xu | 2019

Lighting Object | Chen Lai Yu Anastasia, Poo Ching Yan, Tang Sin Yee | 2019

Dream | Csasewfara Charlotte, Hillary Shih, Mukeh Kanagabo, Liu Chang, Luna Huang, Yajie Jane | 2018

Millenium Journey | Chen Peiran, Chen Yuheng, Lai Qianqian, Zhao Yufan | 2018

Serial Parallels | Max Hattler | 2019

growING | Chen Lai Yu Anastasia, Poo Ching Yan, Tang Sin Yee | 2019

Orange | Gong Chunxi | 2018

Split | Qiao Qing, Huang Xiaowen, Li Yuanlu, Liu Da | 2018

Tangram School | Emma Mei | 2019

Parley Glove | Osmond Chan, Mui Cheuk Lam, Teo Qi Yu | 2017

ImEdge | Huang Xiaowen | 2018

Iam Twisq | Red Wong & Ray Mok | music: Isan | 2018

Zikmund and Hanzelka’s Films from Japan in 1963

Japonsko kamerou Miroslava Zikmunda a Jiřího Hanzelky v roce 1963

Czech only

Curated by: Zdeněk Thoma

Hardly anyone knows that in 1963 the legendary Czech travelling duo spent seven months in Japan. They found this country to be the most interesting of all seventy-six they had been to. As in all other locations, they shot documentary films. These show images of Japan before it stunned the world with its rapid technological development: the Tokyo Olympic games were in full preparation, highways under construction, and Shinkansen bullet trains were still in trial operation. A year later, the world had to admit that this war-ravaged country had turned into a superpower.

In the end, Zikmund and Hanzelka were not allowed to distribute their films. Their openly expressed opinions made them fall into disfavour of the communist regime and they could not publish their books for another quarter of a century. Some thirty films remained in the archives and had not been publicly screened until this year. The audience in Ponrepo cinema will have the chance to see several of the most interesting pieces.

After screening there will be a short discussion in Czech.

The screening and discussion will be moderated by Haruna Honcoop, an Asian film expert, and Zdeněk Thoma, a photographer and traveller.