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Bloody Hero (1990) Directed by: Addy Sung

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Mainland refugees take advantage of Hong Kong brothers offering hospitality as some of them rape the maid of the house and then it's off to the Philippines to do what these characters apparently only can do. To be kings of the gangster world. Not the lowest of the low but certainly down there and definitely a candidate for the best incomprehensible "storytelling" award. Nothing is going on but a lot of characters occasionally doing what's supposed to be done in the gangster movie but you've got about 2 worthy minutes of that stock content. A decent street brawl, an average stream of excessive finale gunplay and stunts through glass, those are highlights but well worth skipping as well. IF... somehow we'd been offered hard action, brutality and fluidity, it would've meant someone actually talented had taken over from director Addy Sung. The otherwise reliable Miu Kiu-Wai looks deadly uncomfortable here while Alex Man and Emily Chu are inserted at random points without pay off.

Bloody Mary Killer (1993) Directed by: Hoh Chi-Mau

No use hiding behind Ho Chi-Mau, we know it's you Godfrey Ho! His American B-movie/martial arts actioner merged with macabre serial killer plot was actually shot in two versions according to reports. One under the name of Undefeatable and the other for the Asian market with the goofier title Bloody Mary Killer. The Asian version is said to contain scenes with Robin Shou and Yukari Oshima but only the former take part in a separate plotline that doesn't go anywhere. Although a full movie, Godfrey Ho does indeed evoke feelings of cut & paste efforts of the past. Anyway, Cynthia Rothrock plays a street fighter whose dirty, criminal ways doesn't go unnoticed by the police force but attention is instead shifted to Devil Fish (or Stingray in Undefeatable, played with an extra crispy, atrocious flavour by mullet-clad Don Niam). He's a boxer, turned rapist, turned eye gouger of women...

Wonderfully badly dubbed into Cantonese, stale, poorly choreographed and acted, yet Bloody Mary Killer delivers fun goods to laugh at and with. Especially so when it goes all out macabre on us which makes for fun inclusions of Don Niam overacting to the max, women in chains, without eyeballs and two rather memorable finale fights. One is an oddly fun and stylized Cynthia Rothrock/Don Niam scrap but the best cheese is saved for last as our hero cop and Devil Fish go toe to toe without shirts on and oily bodies. The gory, goofy comeuppance to cap all this is quite something too and for sure, Godfrey Ho proved his touch is still there and that he can strike a chord with movie fans for real. That isn't even a joke. The man himself appears in a supporting role, possibly in the footage exclusive to the Bloody Mary Killer edit.

Bloody Mask (1969) Directed by: Patrick Kong

The state of Yun is trapped between fractions of the Ming and the Ching and has to decide which side to swear loyalty towards. Rebel or stay with the current rulers essentially. Although opening and throughout showcasing an admirable intensity in the fight department (and the appearance of a flying guillotine helps), Bloody Mask holds little to no tension otherwise as the power struggles play out. Add onto that indistinct characters, an invisible love triangle the filmmakers very much WANT visible and you have yourself a snore-fest of a Wuxia entry.

Bloody Money (1983) Directed by: Wong Shu-Tong

Alfred Cheung received the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Screenplay for The Story of Woo Viet, Chow Yun-Fat's first great performance but having those forces together again for Bloody Money results in what is certainly not the worst of Chow's movies pre-fame (Pursuit probably ranks the highest in terms of that) but pretty terrible nonetheless. Taking an awful lot of time revealing its true intentions and colours, the film eventually focuses on the misfortunes of a moviemaking family (where Lam Kau plays the father). Before there's any true hint of tragedy, certain characters die one by one while the atmos still registers as light. The latter being the sign of the lack of focus in this production that dabbles in plot tangents such as immigrant romance and characters being in debt to the triads as well. When it all turns out to be a poor melodrama anyway and Chow has the fortune to barely be included during the last half hour, Bloody Money takes every chance to squander its chances to mean something for the career of anyone involved, including our superstar in the making.

Bloody Sorcery (1986) Directed by: Do Gong-Yue

Not the greatest of vibes manifests themselves early on in Bloody Sorcery and even though an early sex scene is nice to have, you realize director Do Gong-Yue (The Devil Sorcery) haven't started directing the "script" yet! When the story does kick in, surrounding a black magic curse placed on Jason Pai's character, the film bears so many cheap traits it's downright unbearable to watch. The actor direction is at times so horribly stilted and mistimed that the veterans Ku Feng, Kwan Hoi-San and Han Ying-Chih's unconvincing acts suddenly turn award-worthy! A short running time and distinctly gruesome sights when dealing with the effects of the curse manage to liven up proceedings and Bloody Sorcery lands on watchable turkey status therefore.

The Blue Jean Monster (1991) Directed by: Ivan Lai

Cop Tsu (Shing Fui-On) dies in a battle with a gang of robbers but a cat transfers life back into him in order for him to complete his life's wishes; to see his wife (Pauline Wong) give birth to their child and to punish the people who killed him...

The Blue Jean Monster represents a rare chance to see Shing Fui-On in a lead role and a rare good guy act for that matter. Shing has dabbled in comedic- and dramatic support before but his rough looks understandably never was in demand for starring or the role as Mr. Nice Guy. Ivan Lai, helming his second feature after the serious Thank You, Sir, not only utilizes Shing well but lives up to the ever so constant Hong Kong cinema tradition of putting every kind of mood into 90 minutes of film. Lots of mugging, toilet humour and sex jokes are the detraction but Lai also offers up car stunts, gunplay, a creative take on the supernatural plot, making both the audiences squirm at the fairly well-done make-up effects, laugh at the excess and even being on board for an emotional ride. There's something so real and heartbreaking in Tsu's resigned face when he again and again expresses his desire to at least witness his wfe's birth. It once and for all proves Shing Fui-On's chops as an actor despite it being showcased in "just" a fairly competent b-movie. Gloria Yip also appears and Amy Yip logs a memorable cameo, much having to do with the cap of her scene.

Buy the DVD at:
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The Blue Kite (1993) Directed by: Tian Zhuangzhuang

"What worries me is that it is precisely a fear of reality and sincerity that has led to the ban on such stories being told." - The Blue Kite director Tian Zhuangzhuang

It suitably sums up a work that ended up winning worldwide acclaim despite a ban on home grounds in Mainland China. A tragic story centering on a Beijing family wanting to live through but not thoroughly with the heavy political times of the 1950s and 60s, in the center we find little Tietou (portrayed by three different child actors). Looking for a voice and trying to make sense of his place in the world, his own definition becomes a bumpy one as he's not aware of the problematic scope of the world around him, invading his small space. Loss dominate the family fate as one by one, the politics of the time suffocates free will.

Not communicated with a praise of communism but with a neutral stance on some of the people caught up in it, director Tian (part of the fifth generation of Chinese filmmakers, which also includes Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige) puts forth a bold statement where it's the most assuring that it reaches people far, far away from the land and the eras. Sure a little homework on the distinct events of the time helps put the film into perspective but The Blue Kite manages to center powerful images meaning more to the Chinese yet globally triumph in its portrayal of one family. It's quiet, distanced, non-manipulative and the more poignant film because of it. It's truly amazing how cinema can travel even when one isn't grasping a full 100% of it. Maybe the turmoil behind The Blue Kite wasn't worth it but director Tian Zhuangzhuang emerged by simply being bold to get the film out there, to a variety of minds.

Blue Lightning (1991) Directed by: Raymond Lee

A redemption tale and a pedestrian cop thriller and as with most of Raymond Lee's output, nothing remarkable goes on in Blue Lightning. However, a competent put together package it is, starting with a solid, warm performance by Danny Lee as an alcoholic ex-cop saddled with taking care of his neglected son (Wong Kwan-Yuen - All About Ah Long) after the mother is brutally murdered. Danny works with beats scripted many times before and since but has an undeniably appealing warmth to go along with his choices. Melodrama becomes well-handled when Lee flashes these and director Raymond Lee certainly looks like he brings confidence from this part of the direction when then collaborating with action director Tony Leung on the violence. Tension is overall very consistently fine, violence gory but you do wish it belonged in a movie that didn't stop trying in certain other areas. Also starring Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Olivia Cheng, Lau Siu-Ming and Lee Siu-Kei.

The Bodyguard (2016, Sammo Hung)

Sammo Hung's first movie as director since 1997's Mr. Nice Guy sees the big man adapt to his age in terms of action and channel past, sound ideas of how to perform drama. Playing a retired Chinese army officer with dementia who's unlikely friendship with little Cherry (Jacqueline Chan) is in peril since her deadbeat father (Andy Lau) is mixed up with Chinese and Russian gangsters, some problems do occur when mood strays. Playful through exposition using crayon drawings is fine but Hung's next door neighbour turns a key, supporting character into a way too quirky one. However when merging the standard gangster tale with the low-key and underplayed one of a man looking to redeem himself before he fades works well, because in reality Hung's film isn't action-tinted. In total two scenes of choreography take place, both tailored to an older Hung who echoes Wing Chun plus hard and bone breaking take-downs for a 2016 showcase that is suitable and well thought out. It may only linger a fair amount as a drama but the overall package is reassurance that filmmaking instincts of the reeled in kind still reside in Hung. And as a performer.

Body Lover (1993) Directed by: Cheng Kin-Ping

Dreadful and piss poor Category III erotica/action where thankfully nothing was wasted in terms of budget as there barely is any. The opening action choreography is poorly timed and it's downhill from there. Any hope of a full on sleazefest seeing as Julie Lee co-stars will come as an disappointment to fans as her first sex scene really is the best one in Body Lover and it ends on a suitable gory note. While it can't help to rise the film to watchable on a ludicrous level, the awful score for the various sex scenes must be considered a classic. Body Lover came during the heyday and is no classic. Just another one, which is this case is not enough by a longshot.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

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