Once you start getting serious about film you can't get around the influence a director has on the final product. Directors can make or break a film and I'm going to use this feature to put some of them into the spotlight. I'm not just going to list my favorite directors though, instead I'm going to single out the directors of whom I've seen at least 10 films, providing a little introduction into their work.

benny chan

May 03, 2013
Benny Chan

Benny Chan is the median of Hong Kong action cinema. He never really excels, but if you need quality genre filler he has some of the better films on offer. It's a small miracle that (like many of his peers) he never attempted to make the jump to Hollywood, then again that's probably for the best. The closest Chan ever got to Hollywood was when he directed Connected, a remake of Cellular.

Chan is somewhat of a film series man. He started the A Moment of Romance series (first two parts), made Gen-X and Gen-Y Cops and took over the Police Story series from Jacky Chan. He's worked with many of the greats of modern Hong Kong cinema (Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Jacky Chan, Nicolas Tse and Shawn Yue, to name a few) and considering the popularity of his films I don't think he's ever had to worry about working on a shoe-string budget. The mainstream character of his films also has a downside though. They never really differ from the norm and they tend to blend in with the millions of other Hong Kong action films out there.

Still, if you're yearning for a good action flick and you're running out of established masterpieces, Benny Chan's films are a pretty good option. Solid is the keyword here.

Best film: Bo Chi Tung Wah (Connected) (3.5*)
Worst film: Tian Ruo You Qing (A Moment of Romance) (2.0*)
Average rating: 2.79 (out of 5)

shinji aoyama

April 24, 2013
shinji aoyama

Shinji Aoyama is a director that is hard to capture in a few words. While his films feature a common style and approach, you're never quite certain what to expect when sitting down for a new Aoyama film. While Aoyama's stylistic choices are usually quite timid and he (usually) keeps his films firmly in the realm of the acceptable, the setting, tone and themes can vary wildly between separate entries in his oeuvre.

Aoyama's best-known film is without a doubt Eureka (nominated for a Palme d'Or and picked up by the prestigious Artificial Eye label), which forms an unofficial trilogy with Helpless and Sad Vacation. All three are definitely worth seeing. If you aim for a lighter/more commercial selection of Aoyama films, I can heartily recommend Lakeside Murder Case and Wild Life. Those of you craving more experimental films will get their fill seeking out Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani? and so far I've seen only one film that I wouldn't recommend to Aoyama first-timers, namely Shady Grove.

It's hard to go wrong with Aoyama. Even though I find most of his films a little too mundane to rate high enough "for review", there are always some interesting perspectives or nifty ideas that make his films worth a try.

Best film: Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani? (4.0*)
Worst film: Shady Grove (1.0*)
Average rating: 3.15 (out of 5)