ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA
WONG FEI HUNG
1991, Golden Harvest, 134 min, Hong Kong, Dir: Tsui Hark

In Tsui Hark’s epic re-imagining of a classical Chinese folk hero, Jet li portrays Wong Fei-hung, a 19th century herbal medicine doctor who also moonlights as the leader of his local militia, training them in traditional martial arts. When the militia protects their village from a brutal gang, Wong gets wrongly blamed for causing the fight. Politics, revolution, and romance all combine across elaborately choreographed fights in a restaurant, at the opera-house, and on a boat to kick off one of the most successful martial arts franchises of all time.


TWICE UPON A TIME
1983, Warner Bros., 75 min, USA, Dir: John Korty, Charles Swenson

In the city of Din, the Rushers work all day, the Figmen deliver sweet dreams all night, and the Murkworks try to muck up everyone’s fun by dropping nightmare bombs on the slumbering masses. When the leader of the Figmen is kidnapped, eternal screw-ups Ralph and Mumford can save the day and prove themselves unlikely heroes if they just shut down the Cosmic Clock and stop time long enough to rescue the hostage. Easy enough … now if they could just figure out how to get the Cosmic Clock started again! Executive produced by George Lucas, TWICE UPON A TIME is a radical collage of animation styles and live action footage unlike anything you’ve ever seen.


FLESH+BLOOD
1985, Park Circus/MGM, 126 min, Dir: Paul Verhoeven

It’s 1501, and the world is full of mercenaries, peasants and pestilence. True to its title, Paul Verhoeven presents the darkest of ages, a brutally realistic story of the struggle for life, complete with rape, murder, starvation and the Black Death. Rutger Hauer, in one of his finest roles, portrays the leader of a band of mercenaries, who seeks revenge for a nobleman’s (the excellent Jack Thompson) betrayal by kidnapping and brutalizing his son's (Tom Burlinson) bride to be. Jennifer Jason Leigh shines as the strong willed Agnes. Based in part on unused material for the Dutch TV series "Floris," which Gerard Soeteman, Paul Verhoeven and Rutger Hauer collaborated on in 1969. Watch for the amazing performance by Susan Tyrell as an onlooker to one of the films most brutal and controversial scenes. The late Basil Poledouris contributes perhaps his best score. Although Verhoeven later denied any connection, some critics at the time of release pointed out allegorical similarities to Patty Hearst’s abduction by the SLA.


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