If your weekends are anything like mine, most times they are filled with movie and drama marathons. While I do enjoy the occasional interaction with other human units, I mostly prefer to shed the stress of the previous work week by relaxing at home.
However, when watching movies is your go-to activity, selections can quickly become depleted. Luckily for me, I have become quite good at finding hidden gems throughout various technology sources. They usually feel like a sweet reward during droughts of fresh material. One source that has been quite rich with great finds is Google Play. I found the following two-day movie rentals on Google Play for just a few bucks.
Monk Comes Down the Mountain
The first treasure is a star-studded martial arts action film directed by Chen Kaige. Monk Comes Down the Mountain is a story about a monk who finds himself unexpectedly forced out of the monastery and into the outside world. As he faces life as a commoner, he is tested in lessons of humility, loyalty and vengeance. The cast is impressive with Aaron Kwok, Chang Chen and Wang Baoqiang. As expected, they delivered excellently. I dare say that were they not so strong I don’t think this would recommend this movie. Although somewhat lacking with the special effects and stunts, the hand-to-hand combat choreography more than made up for it with intensity and by being cool to watch. Even though there was a familiarity to the style of the movie, the fighting itself was uniquely done. The arrangement of props and the set with special effects in the fight scenes was different from the usual fantasy action film. In fact, this is what made it so interesting. Additionally, the character weren’t cliché or shallow. Their unexpected natures made a huge contribution to my approval of this film. What really makes this movie a hidden gem is that it’s perfect as a filler piece. If you haven’t figured out your weekend list just yet, be sure to add this one to it. At a whopping $3.99 to rent on Google Play, it’s certainly a better deal than going out to a brick and mortar theater.
The next recommendation is Storm Warriors. This 2011 fantasy-martial arts film is set in a fictional period where China is at the brink of invasion by a Japanese warlord with overwhelming power. Visually, the movie is quite striking. Parts of Storm Warriors utilized cartoon like graphics to move quickly through time while still fulfilling the excitement of bloody battles. Since this movie is based off of a Wuxia fiction comic book, this technique was an excellent way of connecting the two. The 3D effects naturally woven into close-up sword fight scenes and brutal combat choreography lent credibility to the ethereal techniques and supernatural abilities. Storm Warriors combines a well written story with exceptional special effects. All in all, it’s an interesting movie. Most notably was the way the cast carried the characters emotions and strengths quite well making the limited dialogue an attribute rather than impairment. With an ensemble like Simon Yam, Aaron Kwok, and Nicholas Tse, that’s to be expected. If there is one thing the film lacked, it was a strong female role. While Tiffany Tang and Charlene Choi both did a great job, their character stories didn’t have much of an impact in my opinion. Still, it was such a great movie that I watched it twice before the rental ended.
That’s all for now. I will continue my search for great Asian movies. Be sure to check out these two hidden gems when you’re ready to spend a relaxing, movie-watching weekend.
If you’re looking for something a bit more modern, Ktown Cowboys is a game changer for Asian-American cinema.