Time to Get Ill

Afflicted Zombies and Zen Acrobats

Moral objectivity is the mode's ruling guideline, so codes of honor and loyalty are routinely violated. Zhang Che's zoom-amok Blood Brothers (1973) and John Woo's uproariously lead-footed Last Hurrah for Chivalry (1979) both hinge on the personal desolation created by betrayal, but neither as maniacally as Chu's Killer Clans (1976), whose story unfurls sequential conspiracies of bloodlust and revenge so deep-dish that the eponymous "societies" unknowingly harbor sleeper assassins "going back three generations!" Intensely melodramatic, Chu's crowning trope is the royal court face-off, in which multiple cross-currents of eye contact gradually reveal secret alliances and missions.

The original UCLA program ended with Lau Kar-leung's Return to the 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1980); the Walter Reade has tossed in Crouching Tiger and, as a kind of antidote, Wong Kar-wai's Ashes of Time (1994). Not exhibited nearly enough in this city, Wong's masterfully moony desert ballade, smearing its own action scenes into a gauzy semi-consciousness, gives the whole genre a self-reflexive kidney beating that it never fully recovered from. And it has Brigitte Lin.

Return of the living dread: Murphy in 28 Days Later
photo: Peter Mountain
Return of the living dread: Murphy in 28 Days Later


28 Days Later
Directed by Danny Boyle
Written by Alex Garland
Fox Searchlight
Opens June 27

Heroic Grace: The Chinese Martial Arts Film
June 27 through July 10, at the Walter Reade

Related Article:
"Unchained Malady: With '28 Days Later,' Danny Boyle and Alex Garland Step Into the Hot Zone" by Dennis Lim

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