As many great coming-of-age films are, House of Hummingbird draws inspiration from the childhood of its filmmaker. This element of realism adds a layer of melancholy to the proceeding, often feeling as though we are spying on someone’s intimate memories, and not always the ones that we might fill a photo album with. It is a film filled with universal experiences of growing up, but framed within a specific cultural moment in Seoul, South Korea.
With the worldwide success of Hollywood’s superhero franchises, not to mention the recent popularity of “cinematic universes,” it was inevitable that the genre would expand beyond the United States. As Indonesian action films have thrived in the past decade, it is unsurprising that they are the next to enter into the world of superhero cinema. Adapting a comic book character from the late 1960s to modern times for the first installment in Indonesia’s cinematic shared universe for superheroes, Gundala is a step in the right direction, even if there are still miles to go before achieving the scope and quality expected from the genre.
Samurai Marathon doesn’t resemble some of the samurai films that have been coming out of Japan in recent years, such as the Rurouni Kenshin franchise. These popular movies are jam-packed with action, stylized to the point of almost resembling superhero films (not unlike some wire-fu films in the kung-fu genre), and feature popular young stars in key roles. Because some of the cast from the Rurouni Kenshin films are also in Samurai Marathon, it is not surprising that some fans have noticed the shift in style. Samurai Marathon actually resembles a style from the recent past, most notably the films of Yôji Yamada (The Twilight Samurai, The Hidden Blade), which utilize a slice-of-life realism that is more concerned with character development that flashy action scenes.
When people are at the top of their game, that is usually when they have the urge to expand their range. This is clear in all fields, explaining Michael Jordan’s decision to play baseball, any number of actors who have transitioned into the world of music, musicians transitioning into the world of acting, or Kanye West’s apparent plans to try his hand at politics. It also explains why comedic actors inevitably try dramatic work at one point or another. While Enter the Dragon is a martial arts film like many others that Donnie Yen has made, the addition of slapstick comedy makes it the type of film one might expect to see Jackie Chan starring in. And though Yen is capable of the added element, this doesn’t save the film from being a bit derivative and tonally uneven.