# 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
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A Book Of Heroes (1986) Directed by: Chu Yen-Ping

Meaningless nonsense in the best possible way, Chu Yen-Ping (Golden Queen's Commando, Island Of Fire) unleashes cops, conmen, children, Japanese gangsters, kids, Yukari Oshima and game stuntmen who all combine in the hunt for a treasure map with gold at the end of the rainbow. Decidedly different in feel compared to a broad Hong Kong product (this is a Taiwanese production and with the director's cartoony stamp on the proceedings), Chu Yen-Ping may not bring the bellylaughs but he keeps annoyance far away from A Book Of Heroes. So decidedly funny in bursts but more so when the terrific action kicks in. With an array of stuntmen taking falls, going through walls and being on board with intricate exchanges, adding a slapstick element within the expertly choreographed fights pay off beautifully. Especially in Laam Sam-Mei's terrific bar fight at the start but it's Yukari Oshima in her debut movie that brings the jaw dropping (despite being doubled) as Yasuaki Kurata's henchwoman. Also with Elsa Yeung, David Tao and Eugene Thomas.

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Border Line Story (1988) Directed by: Lau Hung-Chuen

A former cinematographer and the director of Devil Fetus, Lau Hung-Chuen still infuses his immigrant drama with natural grit and not over the top style. Which is suitable and not due to cheap and bad filmmaking. For sure his story about immigrant girls falling into the world of prostitution and catching the eye of the wrong people (mainly Shum Wai's violent robber) and ultimately drifting apart as sword sisters is familiar. However some emotional beats in particular towards the end are effective but combining look (which is really style) and heavy duty heroic GOREshed and violence once there's no turning back for characters makes Border Line Story a minor winner. With Jo Jo Ngan, Peter Yang Kwan, Johnny Wang in a fighting cameo and Tin Ching.

Born To Gamble (1987) Directed by: Wong Jing

KENNETH'S REVIEW: It's hard to admit it but somehow Wong Jing delivers a pleasant time with Born To Gamble. Nat Chan is Lolanto, confident and king of every gambling and betting you can think of. Trying to woo Hung (Joyce Godenzi) proves to be difficult though as she demands him to stop gambling. Friend Ah Fan (Stanley Fung) is also fooled by his wife so he goes off to the Philippines to get a maid that thinks she's a wife...

It's all very much based on tangents and incoherent plotting, which doesn't make the flick an abnormality in Wong Jing's filmography. First half doesn't shape up very well, with everything being cheap, fast and generally unfunny. Somehow when adding up this anti-social behaviour that's supposed to be comedy, we flow with it in the second half and laugh unwillingly. Witness for instance Wong Jing do the famous sperm joke in the vein of the subsequent Kingpin, treat Maria Isabel Lopei like a native monkey by having her eat bananas while waiting, have characters teach her naughty Cantonese but the top award goes to an AIDS joke that is so dumb, it's kind of genius. It's hard to admit it indeed. A cast of familiars include Chor Yuen, Wong Jing, Ken Boyle, Charlie Cho and the dad of our director, Wong Tin-Lam. Try and spot Elvis Tsui if you can too.

Boss Noballs (1989) Directed by: Hsu Chin-Liang

Now here's a story you don't see everyday, portrayed like this. A Taiwanese fishing village is struck with a disease that makes the men's testicles grow bigger and bigger and bigger (women and their breasts are inflicted too to some degree). Theories are thrown out, such as that it's the anger of the gods due to all the sex going on or that the village has a sanitation problem of sorts. While the medical community continues to ponder, the village quickly loses its fishing status as the men can't physically go out and do the work. Solutions may be on the horizon but since the disease has progressed this far, castration is the only option for those who wishes for the village to prosper again...

A crazy setup with many wacky interludes as well as dark and highly melodramatic ones, director Hsu Chin-Liang indeed juggles many balls in the air but keeps splendid track of each mood the movie employs. Possessing no fear in letting this story go into serious territory, when eventually there, it's not a mockery of drama. Instead it's a full on sincerity attack that talks of how the medical community ultimately uses the little people in this case and the villagers are also drawn apart when faced with the decision of castration. The movie is barely done at this point as it goes deeper and deeper into its examination of the effect this disease will have on life in a larger perspective while also having no problem bouncing into comedic elements on occasion. It's all perfectly pitched humour, used suitably, with subtlety and one shouldn't resist saying that Boss Noballs has balls because such an unexpected, unpredictable gem deserves the pun. With Ma Yue-Fung, Luk Siu-Fan and Chan Chung-Yung.

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The Boss Up There (1999) Directed by: Hang-Lei Poon

Produced by the company The Media Evangelism Limited, The Boss Up There indeed injects a religious message. What could've been the more intrusive parts of this shot on video feature actually turns out to be the most noble and the TV-soap melodrama instead is what drags the film down. Tung (Athena Chu) and friend Cat (Wong Mei-Man) start to hang with the wrong crowd and are soon on a path towards drug addiction and prostitution. As Tung finds love in triad hoodlum Fung (Paul Wong), here's a kid who actually confesses his love and means it but is on a downwards spiral anyway...

The storybeats right out of TV melodrama (set to Canto-pop... in montages) greatly detracts from the noble message as mentioned. As Athena Chu's Tung goes through hell in a juvenile home, being homeless and drug addicted, saints are out there for her but there's only one time and place where this character is receptive to the word of Jesus. Remarkably unforced by the filmmakers despite being a message shoved down Tung's throat eventually, this message is balanced as sometimes saving a soul isn't about forcing beliefs on them. It is suitably mentioned that Tung doesn't walk alone but it's her that have to take control of her life. A helping hand and off you go. Via Athena Chu's dedication, the above remains a little less cheesy as well and we hope for her character to get above the surface again. Otherwise, matters are too on the nose, lacking engagement and amateurish. It does indeed look like TV.

The Boxer From Shantung (1972) Directed by: Chang Cheh & Pao Hsueh-Li

Detailing Ma Yung Chen's (Chen Kuan-Tai) rise to power and the bloody turf war that follows, together with Ni Kuang Chang Cheh has crafted the familiar in a very cinematic way but also with attention to character. Ma doesn't fall into the trap of wealth and subsequently corruption but instead favours his fellow man and their well being (physically, financially). It's a confident portrayal, from the makers down to the direction of lead Chen. Walking his own path but looking up to Boss San Ti (David Chiang), despite buying a cigarette holder, it's out of respect rather than shallow worshipping. All's very sharp as directed (the Ching Li singer subplot with her emotional reaction about Ma's rise in the gangster world is woefully underdeveloped though) and surprisingly free from action aside from a few bursts throughout. But capping it with a primal ending that delivers extensive blood but also surprising psychological twists as Ma is amidst so much violence, The Boxer From Shantung is honed stuff from the confident bunch hovering around Chang Cheh. Also with Ku Feng and Cheng Hong-Yip. Corey Yuen remade the film as Hero in 1997, starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Yuen Biao.

The Boxer's Omen (1983) Directed by: Kuei Chih-Hung

Shaw Brothers might've been close to shutting its doors but the 80s saw them turn up the heat on horror and special effects for a couple of movies. Making the likes of Seeding Of A Ghost and The Boxer's Omen (both starring Phillip Ko) cult movies in the process. Kuei Chih-Hung (The Killer Snakes, Hex) helms this story focusing partly on Chan Hung's (Phillip Ko) revenge on the kickboxer (Bolo Yeung) who crippled his brother (Johnny Wang) but mainly on him battling black magic! Visions of monk Qing Zhao (Elvis Tsui) takes him to Thailand where he finds out the monk and himself where twins in a previous life. Thus begins his training to become one himself in order to battle an evil priest stopping Qing Zhao from obtaining immorality. Seemingly shot in both Hong Kong, Thailand and Nepal and featuring a desire to both stir viewers special effects-wise but also to show the intricacies of the rituals involved, The Boxer's Omen scores a little less in the latter but highly in the former. Kuei Chih-Hung has the special effects team on full alert, making this a thoroughly fun, visual and disgusting ride. A lot of the spells involve crude puppetry so the bats, spiders etc are not particularly scary but the eagerness to please and ABILITY to remain unpredictable is a strength throughout the fairly meaty running time. There's creative special effects involving detached heads, snakes crawling out of mouths (therefore clever uses of close up puppet-heads are involved), maggots, regurgitated animal innards being passed from priest to priest (the production clearly scored some game actors or performance artists) and it's all executed with admirable energy. Again, may only make you lose your lunch rather than creep you out but the sheer amount of imagination and game performers makes this one earn its rep.

Boys Are Easy (1993) Directed by: Wong Jing

This....is criminal. You shouldn't be able to get away with this but creating so much of his patented wacky Hong Kong cinema trying to disguise itself as feature filmmaking, sometimes Wong Jing just has to succeed. Boys Are Easy is the flick and it's not even due to gathering up a terrific cast but simply managing to time his often tired and silly gags well. Making light genres collide head on with a gunplay opening and a gunplay ending, in the middle is an unscripted mess about the daughters (Brigitte Lin, Maggie Cheung and Chingmy Yau) of Richard Ng's character finding their respective men. Against all odds, Lin manages to find the bad man she wants in Tony Leung Ka-Fai's gigolo (bad meaning she is touched by the thought of being beaten and raped. Thank you, Wong Jing), Cheung goes after a low-life triad (Jacky Cheung) that does awfully well during the annual (?) Triad Olympics (close to brilliantly staged, the highlight of the film) while Chingmy Yau tricks Ekin Cheng's virgin character that she's a prostitute so all matter of complications are jammed in there. Naming a character after action director Ching Siu-Tung and inserting a parody of A Better Tomorrow represents Wong Jing's usual tired routines but mostly hitting his mark otherwise, all cast is for Wong. Especially Tony Leung who at one point hypnotizes himself into becoming a bad man (the Lunar New Year greeting "Kung Hei Fat Choy" makes him go normal again), take part in a bowling alley dance number and turns into Bruce Lee towards the end. Screwy. Also with Jimmy Lin, Wo Fung, Shing Fui-On, Helena Law and Sandra Ng.

Approximately 12 minutes of footage went missing on Mei Ah's vcd and dvd releases. Despite the running time suggesting otherwise, Tai Seng's dvd is uncut.

The Brain-Stealers (1969) Directed by: Inoue Umetsugu

Groovy and colourful sci-fi/spy times by Inoue Umetsugu (Hong Kong Nocturne) as Professor Zero switches brains between one of his henchmen and the brother (Chin Feng) of a scientist working on a formula designed to grow organic material rapidly. Lily Ho does judo, the mix of high concept sci-fi (Professor Zero's underground lair looks more Flash Gordon than James Bond and has an acid bath) and the modern spy movie (gadgets such as stun spray and mini blow torches make their way into the story), an aggressive visual style in general makes for a fast paced and entertaining time. Aiming for excitement but also easily digested genre fodder, The Brain-Stealers is well aware of what it's doing and focuses successfully on doing it efficiently.

The Brave And The Evil (1971) Directed by: Jimmy Wang Yu

A sedated revenge story considering it's from the mind of Jimmy Wang Yu post-Shaw Brother's. He does let his imagination run fairly wild eventually but it's a slightly tedious wait for fans who took to heart The Chinese Boxer and The One Armed Boxer. Jimmy's action directing overall leans more towards the trend of its time with the swinging arms and legs combat but he does amp the weapons tactics during the long climax. The Brave And The Evil here takes on a very watchable ferocious aura but it's not thoroughly easy to forget that the film is not as distinguishable as one has come to expect coming from Jimmy. Fans certainly should tune in and you always easily see why Jimmy turned into such a big star prior to Bruce Lee's entrance onto the scene. Also with Polly Shan Kwan.

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