Thanks for providing an excellent product/service. We just started using the streaming service in our house in 2014 and thanks to you I was able to catch up on a lot of Asian action films that I had never watched before. By far my favorites were the pair of films “Tai Chi Zero” and Tai Chi Hero”. The action was good but the story telling is zany and fun — the film-makers have a blast with Chinese action-film conventions (stuff like title-cards popping up in the middle of the movie telling you what famous actor is playing which role, wacky graphics to illustrate a point, etc.) The story is coherent (if implausible) but I have to admit the melodrama actually got to me (there is a great father/son sub-plot that was emotional and brought a tear to my eye upon resolution).
I also can’t recommend the Korean film “The Thieves” highly enough — it also had Chinese actors (a lot of action takes place in Hong Kong) and they all did a great job. The story has all sorts of double-crossing and plot twists and the action is fantastic. Well made and slick (the Koreans have been making good movies for awhile now — that’s why Hollywood has been calling, i.e. “Oldboy” and the director of “Snowpiercer”.) Just great entertainment.
Speaking of Hong Kong, the famous producer/director Hark Tsui made two different “Detective Dee” films — both feature awesome special effects and lots of fun action. I could watch another ten Detective Dee films — he is a great character — basically a Chinese Sherlock Holmes!!!
Sticking with Hong Kong, there is also the wonderful Stephen Chow, who’s “Journey to the West” may actually have been released in the U.S. last year (it is only a year old). I can’t recommend the film enough — like the Tai Chi films it is full of humor and great action and also has Chow’s trademark zany special effects and inventive fight scenes. Plus, Qi Shu is easy on the eyes!!!
Finally, in a more serious vein, I saw John Woo’s two part epic of Chinese history called “Red Cliff” focused on the famous Han dynasty Prime Minister Cao Cao. Great battle scenes — maybe even better battles than Peter Jackson’s orcs fighting the dwarves, elves, and men!!!
There were a couple of additional not so great kung-fu movies — the ones above were the best of the bunch.
As for 2014 movie releases I saw in the theater — I thought both Marvel movies were great (I’m a big fan of their stuff and loved “The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”). Marvel’s property the X-Men also had a nice showing with “Days of Future Past” — Fassbender is great as Magneto.
I thought “Transformers 4″ was a mess, but as usual, my city (Chicago) looked great in the movie!!! I’ll probably do a post on some great “Transformers 3” and “4” shots of Chicago.
My favorite film of 2014 by far was “Interstellar” — Nolan at his best and given that I’m a science fiction geek and the father of two girls the movies was like crack cocaine for me.
I liked “Locke” very much — who knew ‘Bane’ could be so entertaining talking in a car for over one hour?
“300: Rise of An Empire” was better than I expected (and Eva Green!) — also very good battle scenes in that film and despite all the historical nonsense, I think the movie conveyed what a trireme naval battle might have been like (in a stylized sort of way).
By far the biggest surprise was Tom Cruise in “Edge of Tomorrow” — I wish that movie made more money as it was just fantastic from beginning to end. Special effects were top notch, the action was amazing, the story was great and Tom’s acting was superb — yes, superb. The key was his character — he had to play a jerk who learns how to become a hero and he did a great job in the first half of the film as “jerk Tom Cruise”. It was nice to see him play against type.
“The Raid 2″ was the biggest non-surprise — movie geeks like me were hoping it would be just as amazing as the first film and we weren’t disappointed. The sequel is even more insane and intense than the first film!!!
The final “Hobbit” was movie was O.K. — nothing special but I didn’t hate it the way some Tolkien fan boys did.
Cartoons — with my kids I got to see “The Lego Movie” which was absolutely delightful. I’ve now watched it again on DVD and loved it just as much on the second viewing. “Big Hero 6″ was fun (good, not great) and “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ was good, not great.
So that’s a quick run-down of my movie-watching for 2014. I’m obviously excited about Marvel films coming out in 2015 as well as a little film having something to do with a galaxy far, far away. Also, the new “Mad Max” movie looks mental.