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|1. Mad Detective (Directed by: Johnnie To & Wai Ka-Fai)|
|The reunion of key Milkyway players Johnnie To, Wai Ka-Fai and their premium actor Lau Ching-Wan turned out to be a rousing, cinematic success. Combining as much tragedy, warmth, noir-atmosphere, quirkiness and a tricky, violent narrative, Mad Detective is reliable, masterful stuff entirely worthy to take part in the sprint through the world it (and most other new Johnnie To movies) are taking.|
|2. Exodus (Directed by: Edmond Pang)|
As moody and slow as they come, despite the always off-beat Pang delivering a story of what kind of plotting goes on by women when they enter the restroom. And it's all absolutely wonderful, not for everyone and anyone. As always serious underneath with his intentions, it's hard to laugh during the film but it's one hell of an entertaining one when pondering it afterwards. All that is ok, intentional and it's a blackness that definitely creates the excellence of Exodus. Not an easy movie to describe or stop writing about.
|3. Sparrow (Directed by: Johnnie To)|
|What I do know is that it took a number of years before Johnnie To felt done with Sparrow. What I don't know is the cinema sensibilities it echoes. People say it's French. I wouldn't know but I still say the package is absolutely wonderful. Light, tongue in cheek and by all accounts truly uneventful. That's saying something about the cinema it pays respects too apparently. Johnnie To lite rarely is acceptable. Johnnie To light finally is.|
|4. The Goddess Of 1967 (Directed by: Clara Law)|
|In this case it's very much worth following a Hong Kong filmmaker abroad. But Clara Law wasn't invited by or stopped by Hollywood. No, she went to Australia and her second movie down under is a cinematic, complex, arty drama that does take that route (thankfully) of providing a clear picture of its complexities. Following a Japanese man and a blind girl on a road trip through various Australian landscapes, the journey has been a long time coming and the built up darkness surrounding the car and Rose Byrne's BG (blind girl) is engaging to follow through on.|
|5. The Pye-Dog (Directed by: Derek Kwok)|
|The surprise debut of Derek Kwok directs his template of three different characters coming together for an unlikely bond in a very basic way as it's not wise to get too complex for your first movie. He accepts and lives up to the challenge of putting forth poignancy within this basic story and further acting chops from undeniably talented Eason Chan comes included as well.|
|6. Rule #1 (Directed by: Kelvin Tong)|
Freely mixing genres as it dips into buddy cop/ghost/horror/serial killer hunt territory, this award winning (Ekin Cheng and Shawn Yue sharing the nod) entry from Singaporean director Kelvin Tong is a shallow but perfectly executed ride in that regard. A sleeper hit, technically accomplished and dark to the point that it goes (earned) nihilistic places.
|7. Boat People (Directed by: Ann Hui)|
|Ann Hui concludes her Vietnam-trilogy in grim, bleak and slow fashion. Which is a heads up anyone should get but the final product that has taken us through and planted us right smack in the middle of the plight of a group of refugees and the journalist that wants to help them, is superbly powerful stuff. One of the more welcome dvd releases in 2008.|
|8. Magic Boy (Directed by: Adam Wong)|
|Hong Kong has talents under the radar and the director of When Beckham Met Owen received a Best New Director nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards for his work on the charming Magic Boy. No need to complex about issues of finding your path (in this case a young magician is postponing his path and a slightly older plowing his), the substance is well injected and controlled by a highly confident filmmaker.|
|9. Nomad (Directed by: Patrick Tam)|
|Quite a frustrating but ultimately rewarding examination of youth disillusion, the non-immediacy to Patrick Tam's direction means it never was and never will be for all audiences. But seeing yet another early work from on- and off-screen talents from this exciting New Wave filmmaking of the 1980s excites enough and when Nomad hits you come ending time, it has found its place in your brain too. And it knocks you over a bit... in a good way.|
|10. Eight Taels Of Gold (Directed by: Mabel Cheung)|
|The second "sorely missed on dvd that actually came to dvd"-entry in this year's list and it's Mabel Cheung's second collaboration with big man Sammo Hung in a weighty role for dramatic reasons. Perhaps the film is going to throw fans of An Autumn's Tale and Painted Faces off guard as it's a more vague work but as soon as you realize the more strictly, uniquely Chinese angle to the drama, the two beginners (despite possessing different experiences in life) that Sammo's and Sylvia Chang's characters represents in terms of where they're at in life becomes part of a rewarding drama. Mabel did nothing wrong by going subtle on us and it's an acting showcase that goes in line with that underplayed notion as well.|
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