2 Best Movies to Watch by Donnie Yen

Staff & contributors

A classic text of English literature classes is handsomely brought to life in this screen translation of the still-radical play An Inspector Calls. The Birlings, a wealthy industrialist family thriving in 1912 England, have a cozy family celebration shattered by the arrival of a police inspector investigating the suicide of a young working-class woman. But that’s not the only bubble that’s burst: as Inspector Goole (David Thewlis) interviews the family — gradually revealing the part each played in forcing the woman to such a desperate state — he holds a mirror up to the casual cruelty and entitlement with which the Birlings move through the world. Part of what makes JB Priestley’s original play so enduring is how these characters are used as a wider metaphor for their social classes, and that translates with delicate but undeniable force here. A damning indictment of individualism and blind privilege on original publication in 1945, this is a story that retains the same relevance and power today.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller, TV Movie

Actor: Chloe Pirrie, Chrissie Chow, David Thewlis, Donnie Yen, Eric Tsang, Finn Cole, Flora Nicholson, Hans Zhang, Herman Yau, Karena Ng, Ken Stott, Kyle Soller, Lam Ka-tung, Liu Yan, Louis Koo, Lucy Chappell, Miranda Richardson, Raymond Wong, Sophie Rundle, Teresa Mo, Wanda Opalinska

Director: Aisling Walsh, Herman Yau, Raymond Wong

Rating: TV-PG

, 2011

Being named after the genre, Wu xia, the title replaced in English as Dragon, would understandably follow its conventions with dramatic action in ancient China. The plot roughly follows a typical wuxia thread, where a hidden master is revealed, leading to plenty of exciting adventures, and they seek justice in order to return to a state of peace. But the way Dragon approaches this plot is exciting, as the film mixes in the investigation of a murder mystery, with a determined detective suspecting the master through his knowledge of the body, through an eclectic mix of forensics, medicine, and Qi acupuncture. And as the detective is consistently challenged by the former fighter, it’s clear how difficult it can be to master the body, especially after going through trauma and violence and self-doubt. The threads in the film are familiar, but Dragon understands what makes these threads work, and the way these are woven together makes for a good movie to watch.

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Donnie Yen, Ethan Juan, Jiang Wu, Jimmy Wang Yu, Kara Wai Ying-Hung, Kenji Tanigaki, Li Jia-Min, Li Xiaoran, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tang Wei, Wang Chunyuan, Yin Zhusheng, Yu Kang, Zhou Bo

Director: Peter Chan

Rating: R