Are Jean-Claude’s muscles from Brussels up to EC regulation standard? Find out as The List reviews all the new ﬁlms opening in Scotland over the next fortnight.
I A Brighter Summer Day (15) Three minutes short of four hours, this full- length version of Taiwanese director Edward Yang‘s story of 60s street gangs offers a vast panorama of a society in a state of ﬂux. The title comes from Elvis’s ’Are You Lonesome Tonight?', an indication of the shift in values then affecting a rebellious younger generation of high school kids who hadn’t suffered through the war or the tyranny of the Chinese like their parents. Yang shows them coming of age: working their way through intemecine conﬂicts, sexual turmoil, loss of faith in the system and, finally, the death of innocence. His directorial style is to hang back and let the action unfold, a problem sometimes when the lack of close-ups makes it tough distinguishing between the myriad youthful characters, but sit through this one and you'll know you‘ve really seen a movie. (Tl)
I Nowhere To liun (15) Not really the best movie for Jean-Claude Van Damme to shrug off that ‘video star' tag for good. He’s a prisoner on the run, who comes to the aid of a widow battling to save her home from land developers. As he strikes up a relationship with her kids, it all begins to fall more into the traditional Hollywood screen hero category - a similar formula shaped Shane - than typical slam-bam action fare. See feature. I TIM lift]! Kids (U) At least in Home Alone there was only one of them; here there are, as you
a trio of tots high-kicking and karate-chopping the bad guys. Having learned their skills from an On'ental grandparent, they go out to help FBI agent dad track down and arrest the evil Snyder, who in turn tries to use his armies of ineffectuals to kidnap our diminutive heroes. No doubt the younger members of the audience will love it, identifying with the kids on-screen as they gain the upper hand against an inept adult world. This bunch don’t have the polished ‘charisma' (for want of a better word) of Macaulay Culkin. but, hey, Tom and Jerry weren’t exactly products of the Method School either. As for parents and other grown- up unfortunates . . . don't you wish these Hollywood brats would just go to bed when they’re told — after all, as mini-martial artists. they‘re kitted out in their pyjamas already. I Wild West (15) Life in Southall, West London, isn‘t exactly paradise on earth, so Zaf and his brothers have packaged up their dreams in a country and western band. Nothing too unusual in that, except their family, the record industry and the world at large aren’t ready yet for a group of Asians singing about love 'n‘ heartache with a Nashville slant. A real shoot-from-the-hip movie, Wild West is about how life becomes bearable if you hold on to your dreams — a notion that would be far too saccharine if it wasn't for the salty humour. terriﬁc soundtrack and tremendously upbeat feel of the whole. This year‘s
Lmight guess from the title. Commitments. (AM)
_ rm: sronv or am Jil
Well, this is a surprise. Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s previous films, among them lied Sorghum and the ravishing liaise The Bed lantern, have been lusth stylised affairs that used their historical settings to sneak through pointed criticism of today’s authoritarian Beijing regime. Yet his latest offering could hardly be more different: a grimy, realist, contemporary drama which, if it doesn’t entirely bend over backwards to present all government officials in a flattering light, certainly suggests that there’s a high proportion of rather good apples in the administrative barrel.
Zhang’s regular leading lady Cong Li, virtually unrecognisable in everyday shabby clothes, is niu Ju, the wife of a humble farmer who steps in to protest when the village chief assaults her man in the midst of an argument. Taking her grievance to the local police officer, she wins compensation from the errant chief, but when he refuses to offer any apology for his actions, so begins a quest for appropriate redress that will take the indomitable (and pregnant) heroine to the highest court in the land in her search for Justice.
follow because it’s a side of ordinary Chinese life we’ve hardly had access to before, while the treatment, sometimes affectionate, sometimes gritty - shades of Frank Capra and lien loach - never loses sight of who we’re meant to be rooting for until the very last scene. It’s compelling viewing, to be sure, but, for Western eyes the obvious political compromises on display can seem slightly disappointing even when we have sympathy for the pragmatic impulses surely behind them. (Trevor Johnston) The Story of (flu Ju (12) (Zhang Yimou, China, 1992) Cong li, Lei Lao Sheng, Ce Zhl Jun. 100 mins. From Fri 21: Edinburgh Cameo. From Sun 30: Glasgow CFT.
Known in intelligence circles as “The Bane of Terror’, highly successful chaosmonger Charles Bane (Bruce Payne) specialises in airline hilacklngs, a fact which makes it pretty dumb of the FBI - having managed to track him down at long last - to transport him across country by air so he can stand trial in los Angeles. Once installed on a regular domestic flight, liane may be securely handcuffed, but his gun-toting cohorts have already sumptitlously lnvelgled their way on board too, and soon after take-off they manage to take control of the aircraft. However, before you’ve time to mutter at the sheer contrivance of it all, up pops world numero uno airline security expert John Cutter (Wesley Snipes) - who just happens, mind, to be on the same flight - to have a darned good bash at beating the Bad People singlehandedly.
Although dubbed ‘Fly liard’ by
Wesley Snipes tries to stop the terrorists
stateside pundits because it virtually reprises the Bruce Willis movie in mid- air, there aren’t quite the same production resources or storytelling abilities on display here, with the material both slightly stretched at just over eighty minutes and rather awkwardly structured. After forty minutes or so, it seems as if the filmmakers suddenly realise actually there’s not much room for manoeuvre on a plane, so they’re forced, rather awkwardly, into finding a way of landing it, getting the sundry characters out and about and running round a fun fair for a bit, then putting the whole lot back in flight again.
Still, who cares about plot when you’ve got superfit Wes to strut his highly impressive martial arts stuff, and a wonderfully po-faced English villain in sometime Berkoff associate Bruce Payne in terminal wig-out mode? “Don’t mention my childhood,’ he snarls at one point, and you simply have to smile. (Trevor Johnston) Passenger 57 (15) (Kevin llooks, US, 1992) Wesley Snipes, Bruce Payne, Alex Catcher, Tom Sizemore. 82 mins. From Fri 21. General release.
it‘s World War Two, and a reluctant ragbag of ltalian sailors are diffidently invading a remote Greek island. After shooting a few chickens (as well as their own pet donkey) they quickly discover that this Mediterranean idyll is apparently abandoned by its inhabitants; and when , their ship is sunk by the British, they settle down to a life of repose only augmented when the locals eventually emerge from their hiding places. Mediterraneo is, in effect, a tribute to the kinship of Mediterranean peoples, as Greeks and ltalians overcome the nominal hostilities (pursued much more vehemently elsewhere by Germans and Brits) and smother each other in a glowing friendliness with cries of ‘one face . . . one race'. Among the stranded men are little Farina (who falls in love with the town whore), donkey-loving Strazzabosco (who finds a perfect soulmate), and Lieutenant Montini (whose true vocation turns out to be a fresco painter). Drenched in the kind of sentimentality that guarantees Oscars, Mediterraneo is typical of the whimsical strain of ltalian cinema that produced Cinema Paradiso and The Icicle Thief. Lots and lots of laughs, with politics firmly shoved into the back seat, make for any number of priceless sequences. What’s so refreshing about Mediterraneo is not so much its gloopy morals, but the sharpness and wit with which the Italian production team send up their own national stereotypes. Great fun. (Andrew Pulver) Mediterraneo ( l5) (Gabariele Sal vatores, Italy, 1992) Diego Abatantuono, Claudio Bigagli, Guiseppe Cedema. 90 mins. From Sun 23: Glasgow Film Theatre. F rom Fri 4: Edinburgh Cameo.
16 The List 21 May—3 June 1993