# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Page 01 | Page 02 | Page 03 | Page 04 | Page 05 | Page 06 | Page 07 | Page 08 | Page 09 | Page 10 | Page 11 | Page 12 | Page 13
Back Alley Princess (1973) Directed by: Lo Wei

Overlong and unbearable, Lo Wei (The Big Boss) directs the story of homeless swindlers played by Polly Kuan (as a character posing as a boy) and Sam Hui. After an endless array of scenarios where they squeeze a little money out of various sources, they hook up with a poor family of martial arts performers and use their crafty skills to help them out a little. Kuan's Chilli Boy even manages to befriend a lawyer who takes her out of the gutter and into the high standards. And there's a Hang Ying-Chieh subplot about his whip, his prostitutes and seeing as Angela Mao is there, some fury in the fighting stakes is injected as well. Still, at 2+ hours, Lo Wei displays no sense of knowing when to stop. It's hard to see him being in love with this dull material (with several strand of opportunities sure) and hard to figure out why you would want to kidnap an audience for 2 hours just to give them scattered commercial content. Carter Wong and Tien Feng also appear.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com
Yesasia.com

Bamboo House Of Dolls (1973) Directed by: Kuei Chieh-Hung

Predating one of the Women in Prison-genre's more famous, if not THE most famous entry, Ilsa, She Wolf Of The SS, Kuei Chieh-Hung's Bamboo House of Dolls was produced by Shaw Brother's and lensed by Yu Chi. Professionalism is a dependable factor here therefore, even beforehand! You certainly shouldn't expect great depth from an exploitation vehicle though so going into the film, I had my expectations in balance but came out disappointed.

After the grim opening reel, featuring various forms of torture and rape, an actual plot sets in and our female prisoners goes on the run for a gold treasure. What becomes an examination of patriotism and the film's characters is in reality very slight but more or less serviceable. The biggest flaw in the great looking framework is that of pace and length though. Which is ironic since prior to the IVL dvd, an edited down, English dubbed version was the only viewing option available. While I can't vouch for how that edit in particular plays, I can easily see where material could've been excised, based on the Hong Kong version. Kuei isn't furthering any themes or characters during the hunt that takes up much of the second half and it lacks spark.

Exploitation elements do come off in a fairly strong way however and despite the Cat IIb-rating, unless it's another misprint which was the case of The Killer Snakes dvd, there's much flesh and gritty violence on display. Certainly destined to grow into even more of a cult classic, Kuei Chieh-Hung thankfully rebounded the year after with the bleak The Killer Snakes. Bamboo House Of Dolls does pale in comparison, in many ways...

Lau Wai Yue, reportedly in her feature debut, is memorable as the lesbian warden and Lo Lieh offers up some fine screen presence (was there anyone more dependable?). Danish starlet Birte Nove, sharing main billing here with Lo Lieh, also appeared in Lui Kei's Sexy Girls Of Denmark, also at Shaw's. Chan Sen and Fan Mei Sheng can also be spotted amongst the supporting players.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com
Yesasia.com

Banana Club (1996) Directed by: Sin Chi-Wai

Just like Anthony Wong's weird Top Banana Club released just a few months earlier was inspired by a local radio show, Sin Chi-Wai's romantic comedy features a similar plot framework. Although much more concrete and standard, this is an occasionally funny rom/com that may have its odd behaviour (Alvina Kong's multiple personalities as Banana Queen is in fact an in-joke. See if you get it), but remains fairly endearing despite. Michael Chow, Simon Loui and Edmond Leung turn their poor "Love Studio" radio show around by being abusive and proclaiming themselves as experts in love. In reality, neither are and respectively they work through issues of letting go of the past, committing and finding someone as sexually active. Best interaction comes in Michael Chow and Pauline Suen's scenes with Chow clearly being an unconventional choice for a romantic lead but strikes a fine note in his role. In a basic way and that's more than enough. Some trademark silliness courtesy of him will make fans of the underrated comedic actor crack a smile as well. Director Sin Chi-Wai also delivers one of those expected endings that you feel so much more comfortable with because you know concentration is put forth to deliver a basic formula well. That's the case here. Amanda Lee, Halina Tam, Cheung Tat-Ming, Ben Lam, Tats Lau, Emily Kwan and Julian Cheung also appear.

Buy the VCD at:
Yesasia.com

Banana Cop (1984) Directed by: Leung Po-Chi

Leung Po-Chi choose not to go down as ambitious roads with his next movie after the award winning Hong Kong 1941. Instead, he took on this Cinema City comedy starring George Lam and Teddy Robin as cop and informer respectively, trying to catch a killer on the loose in London...

It's been widely acknowledged that George Lam is a bit of a plank but his pairings with Teddy Robin has generated amusement and it's happening again in Banana Cop. There's ample opportunity for Teddy to toy around with Lam's character while he is also not afraid to have the requisite jokes tossed at him about his height. Surprisingly though, neither this lighthearted nature or the violent aspects to the film is played broad in any way, creating a welcome balance that Hong Kong cinema more than often seems to be scared off trying to achieve. Leung Po-Chi proves adept at both moods and while proceedings stall in an intrusive way during the middle section in favour of taking the duo to various colourful London locations, Po's level headed direction to each mood attempted is admirable. Add on to that a bittersweet romantic subplot between a blind girl (the sorely missed Cherie Chung) and Teddy's character and Banana Cop becomes a pleasant time with 80s Hong Kong cinema.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com
Yesasia.com

Banana Spirit (1992) Directed by: Lo Gin

Produced by Sammo Hung and quite heavily ambitious, Banana Spirit can claim itself to be unpredictable but also a product where story-flow isn't exactly up to snuff. Chic (Francis Ng) cleans and does make-up for the diseased while friend Che (Ngai Sing) is a spiritual boxer. Hired occasionally to deal with spirits, the team of Chic and Che usually have some fun with it in order to gain a little something. More often than not it's a telephone. Chen Sheng (Lam Ching-Ying) is the master of Che and today is more adept at blocking rather than fighting so he can do little when the younger duo summons a banana spirit (in the form of Chic's dream woman, played by Josephine Foo) to win a bet. Che leaves for an extended period of time and Chic is left trying to overcome fear and just adept now that this spirit is now part of the human world up to a certain point. Using her skills to his advantage at the gambling table has Chic learning it comes with backlashes and it mainly creates a conflict with gangster Hsiung (Tommy Wong)...

Going from early scenes POSSIBLY showing Francis Ng's character being good at what he does at the morgue AND a sicko to boot, we cut to him and Ngai Sing having a jolly good, supernatural time and ends with serious emotions as Chic falls in love with the summoned spirit. It's a full plate that doesn't necessarily derails thanks to its moods but it can't juggle everything at once either (including some sitcom situations based on the spirit's presence). The special effects team gets a credit right before the director and it's quite well deserved as dedication is evident based on the energy present and make-up effects remain high standard for a Hong Kong movie. It's especially heightened in the final, out of nowhere reel where Tommy Wong's Hsiung returns as a fire breathing ghost. Also with Teddy Yip and Richard Ng.

Bandits From Shantung (1972) Directed by: Wong Fung

Admirable simplicity from Golden Harvest that doesn't quite pan out but doesn't offend at below 80 minutes. Bandits are roaming the land and that includes a village where there's also treasure (most of the movie is set in this location). A lonely wanderer (Chang Yi) packing a mean sword stands up to the bandits (including Sammo Hung) and there you have it. Veteran GH director Wong Fung (Hap Ki Do) is no King Hu, nor is he a Sergio Leone when it comes to building tension through silences and static camera language. But eventually when the movie mixes the silence and the handful of various action set pieces, you have a tolerable to even classic mix as the action is outrageously furious and gory at points. Mixing styles evident in bashers and Wuxia movie trickery (Chang Yi literally pushes Sammo Hung into the ground at one point where vertically in the air himself), here's where the simplistic idea truly flourishes and Chang Yi and Pai Ying is effective, cool casting. Especially the more Wong Fung paints the frame in more and more blood (culminating in a bloodspurt that would equal a total of maybe 2 or 3 movies from the time).

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

The Barefoot Kid (1993) Directed by: Johnnie To

image stolen with permission from Dragon's Den UK

Johnnie To directed this remake of Chang Cheh's 1975 Shaw Brother's movie Disciples Of Shaolin with Aaron Kwok now in the Fu Sheng role. The story of the corruption and evil within wealth with innocence as the pawn is familiar and that's something Johnnie To can't escape. The developments of Kwok's character is expected but would've felt less so I think if To hadn't attacked the material so ferociously. Simply put, a little melodramatic restraint would've done the trick. No doubt, the film is fairly powerful despite and boasts terrific production values as this was a co-production with Shaw Brother's. However where Johnnie absolutely succeeds in implying rather than stating is in the growing romantic bond between Ti Lung and Maggie Cheung's characters. It's two performers and performances that instantly gels and even overpowers the main story, which is perhaps not the result you'd want to go for as a filmmaker though.

Lau Kar Leung directed the action back in the 1975 film and in a pleasant surprise is back on board once again in the same capacity. By this time, the new wave of martial arts cinema had hit and the heavily wire-assisted martial arts was definitely more the in thing rather than traditional styles. The latter being Lau's forté and he's one that has often spoken out against the extensive use of wires. He's given much free reign to keep things grounded here thankfully. With Aaron Kwok's dance background, Lau also is able to use less doubling than usual compared to martial arts vehicles for bigger stars. The choreography is intricate and entertaining, albeit a bit short overall (all those old Shaw Brother's movies by Lau definitely spoils you). Wires are mainly used for specific moments not so much related to the fights but when they are, its usage feels warranted.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com
Yesasia.com

Battle In Hell (1992) Directed by: Fan Dan

Low budget fantasy-ghost story that admittedly registers as coherent on the lower end of the scale (much thanks to a very bad VHS version available for screening) but never truly bores. Phillip Ko Fei and women (daughters, wifes?) commit suicide in one dynasty after their army is defeated and in modern day, they're residents on the evil scale of things looking to marry off one of the girls to a ghost (Mark Cheng) but she is connecting to her past love that has reincarnated as a cop. Relatively little dopey comedy turns up and instead the focus is on ghostly atmosphere that works to fairly decent degree. Not as energetic as one would've hoped but Battle In Hell keeps its chin up mostly throughout and isn't close to as embarrassing as many of its fellow low budget 1992 efforts were. Also with Alex Fong.

A Battle Of Wits (2006) Directed by: Jacob Cheung

Although I'm the last person you'd want to show a modern period epic out of Hong Kong or Mainland China, Jacob Cheung's A Battle Of Wits holds basic interest through the story of Andy Lau's Mozi tribesman coming to the aid of the small city-state of Liang that's under attack by the Zhao. Using his wits literally and clever techniques to make the small town hold back a bigger force, the Mozi are also a peace loving people preaching that and love, leading to some decent human themes, issues of doubt etc put forth by otherwise small scale drama director Jacob Cheung (Cageman). Also quite earthy and grounded in look and feel, there's no supernatural feats here and the battle sequences are generally exciting. Ultimately the movie loses interest in several talky sections overall (the love interest of Lau's included, played by Fan Bing-Bing) but it's easy to latch on to the unusually honed train of thoughts that drives the movie in addition to being engaging as a commercial, loud experience every now and again. Also with Chin Siu-Ho, Wu Ma and Korean actor Ahn Sung-Ki (Nowhere To Hide).

Page 01 | Page 02 | Page 03 | Page 04 | Page 05 | Page 06 | Page 07 | Page 08 | Page 09 | Page 10 | Page 11 | Page 12 | Page 13
BACK TO TOP