Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

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The story of Marco Polo has been brought to the screen before and will probably be adapted many times in the future. The next film about the explorer could be directed by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) as Warner Bros. has attached the director to a project based on a pitch by Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, who will write a script based on Polo’s adventures. Read More »

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The RZA‘s career in the movies reportedly started with a call from Harvey Weinstein. Here’s how he tells it, in an impersonation of the big man. The phone went, he picked it up, there was a raspy voice and it said:

Hey RZA, it’s Harvey. I want you to be in my movie. You got a new career now.

Such a smooth talker, the big man.

That movie was Derailed, Mikael Halfstrom’s thriller with Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen. Since then, a series of supporting roles and scoring gigs have seen RZA keep his side careers spinning nicely but all of his notable achievements were still on wax, courtesy of the music made through his membership of the Wu Tang Clan. However, that may be about to change with his next step up the cinematic ladder and the advent of his debut as a writer-director. Fingers crossed that The Man With the Iron Fist is a movie as good as his hip hop.

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It doesn’t look like John Woo will be returning to Hollywood anytime soon. After a string of not-so-great Western films, Woo returned to China and delivered the massive two-part epic Red Cliff. I’ve only seen the first film of the Chinese release (haven’t yet seen the condensed most other countries got), and while it certainly isn’t perfect, it towers above anything Woo delivered while in Hollywood. Now we have a first look at his next project, Jianyu Jianghu (also known for now as Rain of Swords In The Pugilistic World), which stars Michelle Yeoh.

Woo will be co-directing the film with Su Chao-Bin (Silk, Better Than Sex). They’ll be joined by longtime producer bud Terrence Chang. The cast also includes Chang Chen, Kelly Lin, and Barbie Hsu.

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I’m in the middle of watching Red Cliff and I’m amazed that, for the first time in at least a decade, I’m excited by a John Woo movie. (Import DVDs for the win, and I’ll probably still go see the half-length US edit out of curiosity.) So I’m happy to see that his next Chinese production seems to be going forward. Given that Woo has a habit of developing and announcing films that would never happen, there was good reason to be skeptical that we’d ever see Rain of Swords in a Pugilistic World, which would be an all-out wuxia film with Michelle Yeoh.

But now there’s a sales poster and we have the synopsis as well. After the break, we’ve also got a short teaser for Little Big Soldier, Jackie Chan‘s latest Chinese film. His Chinese stuff hasn’t been great — it’s no match for his classic output — but it’s miles better than the garbage he’s been in stateside for the past many years. Read More »

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John Woo hasn’t made an English-language film since 2003′s Paycheck. Arguably he’s made only one good (or only one truly entertaining) film in America, Face/Off, though the Nic Cage war film Windtalkers does have defenders. Leaving the studio system seems like it was the best option for Woo, and in addition to his completed film opus Red Cliff he’s got Jianyu Jianghu (The Swordsman’s World) going now with Michelle Yeoh. But Woo continues to flirt with the idea of making another movie in America, as his lengthy list of attachments shown on IMDB can attest. Now he says there are really two projects he’s interested in making here, and they’re after the jump. Read More »

John Woo’s Red Cliff U.S. Movie Trailer

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It seems like it’s taken forever for the U.S. release of John Woo’s epic Red Cliff, but now it’s finally scheduled for a November release — and we have the U.S. trailer to prove it. Even though it’s taken us so long to get the film domestically, we’re still getting screwed over since we’re receiving the condensed version of Woo’s original vision. Red Cliff was originally released in China (and other Asian markets) as two films totaling 4 hours. Outside of Asia, the film was edited down to 2 1/2 hours.
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A press conference has been held in China to announce the production of John Woo‘s next film, claimed to be the most expensive Chinese production to date. Half of the £100 million funds will allegedly be coming from the US, however, though I haven’t actually seen it confirmed who the American backers are. The film will unsurprisingly feature a mix of ‘Hollywood’ and Chinese movie stars.

The Flying Tigers, more officially known as The 1st American Volunteer Group, flew missions against the Japanese in World War 2. They apparently destroyed 300 enemy aircraft while suffering only 14 casualties, for which they were paid a bonus which might, technically, make them mercenaries.

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