# 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 | Page 14
Beyond The Copline (1993) Directed by: Alan Chan

Somewhat sleazy undercover cop actioner with Carol Lee infiltrating a criminal organization. After the sexually abusive leader played by Anthony Wong gets killed, she beds the new leader (Alex Fong) and gets under the skin of Michael Chan's as well. Low budget but usually doing its thing adequately as a gangster piece, director Alan Chan (also actor here and in Devil's Curse, The Devil Sorcery etc) injects some large squibs during the all too few action scenes, Anthony Wong using butter and cucumbers while playing with Lee Yuet-Sin, perverts and himself as a cop more pre-occupied by porn than duty. Surprisingly callous at points too, it's neither A-grade or A-grade thrash but the sprinkles by Chan plus a decent pace makes it ok crap for those glad to be hovering around this type of Hong Kong cinema of the 90s. Alan Chui plays to his strengths as always and gets off a few manic cackles as über-evil Kwan.

Beyond The Sunset (1989) Directed by: Jacob Cheung

Jacob Cheung portrays the importance of mending broken relationships while also celebrating the life spirit, all through the eyes of a older mother (Fung Bo Bo). First, she has to come to terms with her daughter (Cecilia Yip) who has run off abroad and into a marriage lacking of blessing from the mother's side. Director Cheung surprises us by dealing and clearing out this matter quickly and instead Beyond The Sunset becomes a sweet, good old romance, with the emphasis on old as Fung Bo Bo and Richard Ng's characters begin to bond. Much of the material and its themes are bashed over the viewer's head but not only is it affecting, Cheung still actually manages to make the proceedings retain a subtlety. There are valid complaints to be directed towards the young actor playing Cecilia Yip's kid but the overall effect of the film is pleasing thanks to down to earth and warm performances with a suitably static direction. Lowell Lo co-stars in a part dopey, part dramatic performance, an oddity coming from this walking visual gag of an actor/composer.

Beyond The Sunset ended up taking home the Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Actress (Cecilia Yip) statuettes at the Hong Kong Film Awards.

The Big Boss (1971, Lo Wei)

Child- and young adult movie experience had been ticked off for Bruce Lee and now in adulthood he had priorities within martial arts filmmaking. Living in America in the 60s, there were signs of traction as Lee got a spotlight shone on him via the role as Kato alongside Van Villiams in the TV series The Green Hornet . Lasting only a season, various guest appearances followed as well as trying to get the project The Silent Flute off the ground along with screenwriter Stirling Silliphant and actor James Coburn (both martial arts students of Lee’s). Working behind the scenes supervising fight choreography for The Wrecking Crew with Dean Martin and Chuck Norris making his first movie appearance, catalysts and forces surrounding Lee certainly believed in his philosophy and style (including mentioned writer who allowed Lee’s own stance on martial arts philosophy to be worked into the TV-series Longstreet where Lee guested on four episodes). Even pitching his own TV-series with a preliminary title of The Warrior that eventually was reworked into KUNG FU without credit given to Bruce, a level headed Lee expressed understanding for the business concern of casting an unknown actor in the role (David Carradine eventually got the role) but when all was said and done, Lee had not been able crack the market. Reportedly advised by either producer Fred Weintraub or James Coburn to head back to Hong Kong and put together a credit or two in order to showcase he could be a martial arts lead and that he would travel, Lee met with Shaw Brothers but ultimately signed a two picture deal with Golden Harvest and made The Big Boss for director Lo Wei on location in Thailand. It would be the break commercially for Bruce Lee and the movie that effectively outdid the kung fu competition (and made Golden Harvest a global player despite not being able to compete budget-wise or with the production facilities with the mentioned Shaw Brothers). The first step towards iconic status was in the books. 

Keeping Bruce’s character out of fight scenes for initially is in retrospect a structural stroke of genius and if one wasn’t there to personally witness kung fu movies change through this choice, you can still imagine that Bruce’s precision and bursts of unique action came off as vastly different from any other performer on the screen at the time. Hong Kong movies taking their act on the road was and always will be a compelling notion too especially between the 70s and 90s but that doesn’t mean Lo Wei’s frame is vibrant. No, rural Thailand isn’t destined to be cinematic but on the flipside the darkness inherited within the story equals a grittier frame so the choice of location certainly doesn’t backfire when its depiction connects to this. The lack of vibrancy comes more from Lo Wei’s stiff direction and staging of dialogue and before any of Brue’s fight scenes, the choreography of the time doesn’t exactly shine either. Stripped of style and leaning more towards loud, swingy arms and legs type of brawls, Han Ying-Chih’s choreography is more compelling when characters meet their deaths in a darker manner and this is where Lo Wei as a filmmaker fares a little bit better as well. The small town gloom, its greed, its allure such as gambling and prostitution is an unexpected, enduring part of the atmosphere of THE BIG BOSS. Saying a Lo Wei movie has an edge is both valid but very unusual considering the filmmaker and he IS pulling some of the load in terms of impact even if Bruce’s efforts is head and shoulders above Lo Wei’s vision. 

His character Cheng Chao-An is often a quiet observer that tries to pick the right time to talk even if he is ultimately seduced and corrupted through his naivety. When his meaningful jade necklace is broken and enough’s enough, Lee bursts onto our screens and heads the now classic ice house sequence through a few precise strikes of power far removed and above any recognizable choreography of the time. None better illustrated than when Peter Chan approaches Lee and the take down is done in a split second, two kick combo. With his non-verbal reaction to both this and later observing the destroyed mental and physical promise not to fight represented by the jade, Lee shows he’s got a good read on the character. That continues to come through via select, very well staged narrative beats as the physically strong man falls for manipulation and that makes us infuriated as viewers (directed towards manipulative forces). Kung fu cinema isn’t constantly throwing punches and kicks at us in this one and yet we shout at the screen anyway. Much is lost and unfair towards the end of The Big Boss and the inexperienced man who witnesses everything go down around him turns into a violent animal. A literal fist of fury and for this to be felt you would need charisma, magnetism and a rare physical presence. That new fist of fury arrives here in The Big Boss.

Big Boss Of Shanghai (1979) Directed by: Chen Kuan-Tai

Two loyal, lowly brothers (Wong played by Chen Kuan-Tai and Cheung, Jimmy Lung billed here as Jimmy Lee and playing it only mildly psychotic compared to later roles) start from the bottom but after committing a murder they are forced to flee to Shanghai where their brief trek onto the gangster path prior, takes full flight. It also draws the brothers apart...

Nothing too surprising about Chen Kuan-Tai's story here as the two country bumpkins become part of the high class, early 1900s Shanghai. Wong remains loyal to his Chinese side as much as he can while Cheung looks for the riches and glamour the Western side of the city offer up. Although touching upon France and England leasing territories as well as opium- and ammo smuggling, these are only elements that in a highly basic way carry Chen Kuan-Tai's direction to each respective fight scene. Because nothing of the affecting kind can be found in Wong and Cheung's story. The bashing and fair intricacy in the various fights has its fair amount of standout moments though and the brutal finale involving acid is well worth the trip you have to take with Big Boss Of Shanghai. Also with Chan Sing and Cheng Hong-Yip.

Big Boss Untouchable (2002) Directed by: Kant Leung

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Also known as Dragon The Master 2, when you're exploiting, exploit from the beginning. Joseph Lai however continues to "develop" his idea of Bruceploitation for the new millennium, by going shot on video on us. Dragon Sek returns as our copy of the piece, showcasing a decent knack for charisma and the requisite Bruce Lee-moves but unlike Dragon The Master that scored hokey points in a boring frame, director Kant Leung (the hack behind Chinese Midnight Express II) delivers a fairly slick, yet inept and boring frame. Although minute basic storytelling was never something you could count on getting out of a flick with Joseph Lai's name on it, Big Boss Untouchable, with some minor hints at being a remake of The Big Boss, struggles to make any identity for itself. Once you get used to the fight action in this particular format, you also quickly realize it wanders between seeming like a fight exhibition to downright poor with zero impact. Former Category III baddies Ben Ng, Karel Wong appears as well as Karen Cheung (Dragon Sek's co-star in Dragon The Master).

Big Brother (1990) Directed by: Clifford Choi

Triad boss Way (Alex Man) has served his prison sentence but demoted in the ranks and trying to live life redeeming his crimes obviously isn't going to be easy. Especially not with a hateful brother (Hugo Ng), a vengeful cop (Lam Chung) and a power hungry new big brother (Kirk Wong) to deal with...

Clifford Choi (Naughty Couple) may not bring anything new to the table as he walks through the character types (including the often used stupid ass triads and Carrie Ng cast as a cop doesn't ring true of believability one bit either). Alex Man certainly isn't doing anything different either, in a genre he found himself in often. There is a section however, showing Way's degradation, that holds a raw emotional power that lifts Big Brother ever so slightly and within the cheap frame there continues to be some minor things done right thanks to the quality initially showed a few reels in. Kirk Wong co-stars in a typical, over the top turn while Phillip Chan and Phillip Ko appear briefly.

Buy the VCD at:

The Big Deal (1992) Directed by: Wong Jan-Yeung

KENNETH'S REVIEW: The beach has people sitting on the toilet, their living rooms planted there, tables of mahjong with birds and short people are officially deemed tall so what kind of surreal nonsense is going on pre-credits in The Big Deal? Well, director Wong Jan-Yeung (Dreaming The Reality) seems very little interested in any reality or sense of giving the world another girls with guns flick. No, he lets a bomb of pure silliness and nonsense far removed from Wong Jing (meaning better) and Stephen Chow (meaning not as good) explode, that has to be seen to be believed. Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima are modern Robin Hood's of sorts, called Saint Heroes. Never hesitating to wield guns, cop Super Canon (Sibelle Hu) and Lethal Weapon (Tommy Wong, whose character they employ instead of the Ghostbusters, Bruce Lee and Mel Gibson....yep, he's low on the list) are the cops on their trail while also the leader of a gang within the Thief Tribe played by Yuen Wah in a number of creative costumes, raises hell. Sounds straight but with almost a full feature of laugh out loud, inappropriate and wild humour, The Big Deal is for a fan with no sensitivity, that's for sure. The fast action plays well into the structure and amongst several highlights you'll also find Saint Heroes master (Yuen Cheung-Yan, also action director) trying out bullet proof vests with a rocket launcher, hopping vampires hopping about like it's an everyday occurrence, master fighters engaging in silly wrestling tactics, banana peel jokes, a dildo walkie talkie and Tommy Wong encountering countless look-alike's of his, on the other side of the law. And everybody is so on board to lampoon themselves, it all makes The Big Deal a fine curiosity for fans of our action players. Wong Fung (crazy in just about every scene) also appears.

The Big Score (1990) Directed by: Wong Jing

This action/comedy/gambling brew from Wong Jing is definitely on the broader side of the genre spectrum as expected but he manages to put the contrasts suitably close to each other by the end. In the opening we see Ma Qun (Anthony Wong) succeed at an undercover mission to bring down Panther Wong (Jimmy Lung Fong, not the nastiest bad guy in the film believe it or not). Despite succeeding, Panther has two assassins to go after Ma Qun and his wife, resulting in acid down the throat, shot kneecaps, blindness and a raped, dead wife. Fellow cop Kung Ching (Danny Lee) won't stand for this and gets suspended after beating up a superior. But the crippled Ma Qun wants revenge and Kung Ching teams up with Soft (Wong Jing), a master gambler with an ace up his sleeve in many, many situations. Going undercover as an American triad, Kung Ching first decides to piss off Panther by going after his desired flesh in the form of Penny (Joey Wong)...

As you can tell, it's equal nastiness, comedy, card- and mahjong playing with a twist of action mayhem Danny Lee often participates in so it's Wong Jing utilizing each talent if you will. While the odd couple pairing and plot coherency doesn't register particularly high, Wong Jing manages to keep his lighter matters unforced for once, even scoring high on at least two gags (often involving the resourceful character he plays). The 90s heroic bloodshed in the wake of more successful effort of its kind isn't high division stuff but we're awake when Wong takes dark and gory turns with his violence. Aspects that doesn't fit as well with the tone changes but when much of the expected aggravation doesn't happen, something is up in a Wong Jing movie. Word of the moment being up. Sheren Tang appears in support as the blind sister of Danny Lee's character.

A Bite Of Love (1990) Directed by: Stephen Shin

The technical ambition on behalf of D&B and director Stephen Shin is admirable but closing in on the disaster that was Black Cat (and what ultimately sank the company), A Bite Of Love shooting in synch sound, in the UK and mixed in Dolby signals sad things, to come. It would be slightly different if the final film had transcended its genre much more of course. Hong Kong cinema plank George Lam plays Duke Lee, a rather kind hearted vampire that lives his life at night, with certain folks thinking he's a magician, including Anna (Rosamund Kwan) that he falls in love with. On the horizon is her brother (Norman Tsui), a heroin dealer sick to the degree that he needs constant blood transfusions...

Ticking of the lightheartedness (represented by little Jeng Paak-Lam who I'm not sure has a reason to be in this film and Hui Siu-Hung as Duke's servant), the supposed felt and tragic romance combined with tension, technical merits are fair and with a more pronounced horror mode dominating the second half, A Bite Of Love flows better. Special it ain't though, even though Norman Tsui is memorable in a bad guy role he can literally sink his teeth into.

The Black Butterfly (1968) Directed by: Lo Wei

Moving Chor Yuen's The Black Rose (1965) into period territory and into Lo Wei's hands, now the story of a masked female warrior (Chiao Chiao - One Armed Swordsman) acting in the interest of the poor people is a snoozefest. And I'm not surprised it's Lo Wei managed to evoke that. Simple enough yet still not coming through most of the time with even basic storytelling, it's not easy to turn off and just enjoy basic conflict either when the action is slow and even embarrassingly sloppy at points. Not a good trademark coming from Shaw Brothers and although the look and design is as gorgeous as ever, The Black Butterfly is an all round failure. Lo Wei himself appear in support. As does Yueh Hua, Tien Feng (the standout performer here), Ku Feng, Chen Hung-Lieh and Yeung Chi-Hing as the drunken beggar with a secret.

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 | Page 14