# 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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Cageman (1992) Directed by: Jacob Cheung

Jacob Cheung's Cageman was a multiple award winner at the 1993 Hong Kong Film Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (Liu Kai Chi), yet it's still hidden away on vcd! Cheung's prior film was Lover's Tear, an interesting opportunity given to regular action players to participate in drama but ultimately didn't produce any greater results. He does much, much better with this social drama, telling the story of the inhabitants of the Wah Ha Men hostel, run by Koo (Roy Chiao), and their struggle to prevent the hypocritical government to tear down their home (where they all sleep in cages).

Cheung is preaching. How could you not in a story like this and even if the outcome is rightly true to life, but unjust, it's a snapshot of occurrences for characters that goes on every day without us giving much thought to it. What Cheung has provided is one insight and thought provoker but he's not blaming us for not pondering it before. Focus needs to be put on certain social problems for them to truly be noticed and film is a great medium for that as proven here.

From his quiet opening, revealing a suitable hands-off style reminiscent of Mainland Chinese cinema, we're presented with a large gallery of sympathetic, and caged, characters that wouldn't have worked as well without the casting of so many veteran players. Cageman is clocking in at over 2 hours but obviously Cheung can't thoroughly develop each and every one of the people. Veteran actors are so good to have therefore because they can enhance those moments we do have with them in the film to a large degree, making Cheung's message, theme and intentions thoroughly satisfying, but heartbreaking, in the end.

In fact, Cageman probably did deserve an ensemble acting award for all these terrific performers that includes Shaw Brother's veteran Ku Feng, Michael Lee (playing one of the most memorable roles in the film, that of 7-11), Lau Shun, Teddy Robin Kwan, Dennis Chan and Victor Wong (Big Trouble In Little China). Herman Yau appears briefly as a television director.

Buy the VCD at:
Yesasia.com

Calamity (1976) Directed by: Chen Hung-Min

Success and popularity of Japanese monster movies of course led to other territories trying on the formula and one such was Taiwan. Rather than imitating in an obvious way, Calamity takes the character out of Chinese folk religion General Guan Yu (the god which both cops and triads worship for instance) and pits him against aliens from Mars! Part a bleak family drama and a comment on the use of nuclear power, the aliens are pissed about the nuclear testing having reached their orbit but one widowed husband who's carving the perfect Guan Yu statue for his dead wife manages to reach out to the God for help as society as we know it is falling apart under the destructive powers of the martians!

Despite this serious and goofy side, Calamity manages to strike a pitch perfect balance between the two. Oh no, it's not affecting to have a serious first half but it's not distracting. Hence perfect and when there's evidence of gravity vanishing, extreme heat and earthquakes, the movie starts launching into its main attraction: fights and destruction! Although the matte shots mixing live action and the giant characters are pretty poor, the men in suit action is very competent with a nice sense of destruction, scale and thankfully this rather extensive showcase (i.e. the main attraction again) never bores. Seeing weapon duels and kung-fu fighting between gods and aliens is simply awesome and this very obscure Taiwanese gems lives up to every awesome poster and production still of it that's out there.

Director Edmond Pang (Men Suddenly In Black, Dream Home) mentioned in the past a desire to restore and re-release Calamity but reports revealed he wasn't working with pristine elements. Time will tell if this pet project will happen.

Cala, My Dog! (2003) Directed by: Lu Xuechang

When the family dog Cala gets taken away by the authorities since the family don't own a dog permit, Lao Er (Ge You - To Live, Eighteen Springs), a lowly factory worker, struggling husband and father, works against a ticking clock to find ways outside of the law to regain his trusted companion...

Lu Xuechang's (The Making Of Steel) excellent little film mixes satire, droll comedy and drama seamlessly, starting out with a very hard white on black opening crawl about the dog permit law. Hard shadows in the defined cinematography suggests we're in a different genre but centering it around the "abduction" of the titular dog, Lu is in a very clever way setting up a ticking clock movie structure. But the setting and our main hero is not going to kill people and set off explosions during the course of the day but instead Lao Er takes a trip through urban Beijing while also having to confront his own family life. Cala is as it turns out something Lao Er can hide behind, his only real companion in a scarred family unit. Staying true to Mainland cinema-esque techniques, very little is shoved in our face and we're asked to grasp ourselves any low-key comedy and character weight. What a joyous task it is to do so! Ge You centers the film marvelously, being a pitch perfect image for the journey of Lao Er. A journey that director Lu isn't interested to fully follow through. There are certain tasks that are solved after 100 minutes but life doesn't get solved in that short amount of time. Despite the cheat that it may sound like, it's highly encouraging and enlightening cinema.

Cala, My Dog! was a 5 time winner at the 4th annual Chinese Media Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (Ge You).

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

Call Girl 92 (1992) Directed by: Andy Chin

The call girl or hostess movie was practically its own genre in Hong Kong cinema, offering up relatively little room for riveting stories but here Andy Chin (Changing Partner, Why Wild Girls) takes expected stories and injects character and life into them in an unexpectedly well-honed manner (plus synch sound adds much). Not dealing with whether or not the profession is bad for you but instead the men and issues in their lives proves to be an engaging choice, much more so in Cecilia Yip and Veronica Yip's cases. Carrie Ng and Cheung Man have less interesting beats to work from, even being subjected to a rather undeveloped lesbian subplot that seems to cater more to the exploitation crowd. A decision that doesn't feel at home in what turns out to be a respectful drama but as the Yip's take more center stage, the depth and emotions do as well to a very compelling degree. Definitely a neglected movie and one of Andy Chin's best. Vincent Wan brings excellent supporting acting chops while Kenneth Chan, Ha Ping, Jamie Luk and Jackie Lui also appear.

The movie playing in the cinema scene is Andy Chin's own Sisters In Law.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Call Me Dragon (1974) Directed by: Ng See-Yuen

Visionary producer and director, Ng See-Yuen got the main talent igniting the screen sporadically but this is one of his directorial duds despite. Call Me Dragon neatly showcases Bruce Leung's impactful kicking right out of the gate and his resourceful inspector carrying all manner of gadgets to get out of any situation is a cool, even unusual concept for the genre. Meeting the robbers turned assistants played by Mang Hoi and Hon Gwok-Choi means the movie is asking to be annoying to the point of making viewers tune out as this duo has no comedic flair, chemistry or even true purpose as Leung's Dragon cleans up the town he arrives at. With loud and grating English dubbing to go along with it as well, matters improve action-wise once Yasuaki Kurata's gets involved. Leung choreographs some quite epic, intense and aggressive action from this point but unfortunately it's hard for the movie to rebound after being so wrong-headed largely initially.

Candlelight's Woman (1995) Directed by: Yeung Kuen

The life of a few prostitutes and hostesses through the eyes of Yeung Kuen (Seeding of A Ghost, Bloody Beast). Actually, the downbeat and fairly overwrought nature of this drama can be applied to many directors handling of the subject and while Yeung isn't out to challenge genre notion, interest is maintained in an area or two here. Basically 3 stories in one, primarily Carrie Ng's one where she struggles to maintain a steady family life with a young child left in the dark about her activities and a gambling addict husband (Cheung Kwok-Keung). It's trying to live a daily life that makes Candlelight's Woman, through Carrie Ng's performance, take on a seemingly more real tone. Without any exploitation aspects to boot! Rain Lau (Queen Of Temple Street) as Mei, a heartbroken young lesbian, takes the main spotlight for a while only to be forgotten until the violent climax. A little focus is there, just not sufficient by quite a longshot. You also learn that these films, while boasting haunting endings at times, really pulls their conclusions out of the standard template book. No different here, even though action director Cho Wing's work is notable at times. Also starring Michael Lai, Shing Fui-On, Jay Lau, Wan Chi-Keung and Lee Ga-Sing.

The Cannibals (1972) Directed by: Kao Pao-Shu

Ordinary revenge template within indie kung-fu by female director Kao Pao-Shu (The Desperate Chase), Chang Yi goes undercover to find the robbers who killed his brother and there's your substance there. Not a huge worry here as The Cannibals rolls along fairly efficiently, especially when choreographing the gritty fights within the casino setting. Chang Yi pretty much sharing the amount of fighting with female actress Chen Chen makes The Cannibals take on a more distinctive aura as well.

Cantonen Iron Kung Fu (1979, Lee Chiu)

It carries with it traits that are tiring side effects of the kung fu-comedy and one serious misstep here is the casting of Leung Kar-Yan. When asked to perform comedy that is but as the movie rolls along, it doesn't fall into the trap of filling it ALL with comedy. Lee Chiu instead sees the edge and fury that present in a performer like Leung and uses the basic framework better in the latter half therefore. Especially so since much of the action choreography is well done, with many of the set pieces being quite intricate and intense (especially after Leung's training using steel wires and the dubbed in lion roars during his end fight is an amusing, aural inclusion). Ultimately Cantonen Iron Kung Fu is a case of the main elements delivering and the in-between stuff is disposable. It's also fairly rare to say that this is very much acceptable. Also with Philip Ko, Wong Chung and Wang Hsieh.

Can't Stop The War (1982) Directed by: Yu Kang-Ping

When the Japanese emperor officially announces Japan's surrender during World War II, the news tries its best but often fail to reach a band of Japanese and Chinese solider blowing the hell out of each other. They also have to worry about flesh-eating cannibals...

A big, big, explosive event presented by Cinema City and directed by Yu Kang-Ping, who grated excessively the year before in Spooky Kookies. His stars Suen Yuet and David Tao (as Miyamoto Simpleton and Cesspool Kozido respectively) return to a much more bearable and jolly war adventure romp that plans well ahead to feature a little bit of everything. Opening amusingly with an on-screen caption explaining that the filmmakers KNOW the Japanese characters are speaking Chinese (one of them being Eric Tsang in a cameo), recipe is manic pace and every element injected you can think of. So Yu rides the joke of the surrender news not being able to reach some of his troops in highly amusing, insane ways, possibly offends gravely but god damn, it's so likeable when you get tidbits such as the Japanese finding out their manufactured tanks are in the hands of the Chinese, the Blacky Ko lead cannibals often pondering if you can eat tanks and the likes, multiple catchy song numbers, the sight of a SEXY Red Cross unit (cue Teresa Tsui's yummy cameo) but ultimately a slightly poignant message can be found in this circus. "We're all alike" someone find out when they're all naked and then they burst into song again! Cinema City founders Karl Maka and Dean Shek appear in cameos as well.

Carry On Dancing (1988) Directed by: Leung Po-Chi & Kam Kwok-Leung

With the parade of stars and recognizable faces appearing in a montage during the opening credits (an unusual move from Hong Kong cinema), Carry On Dancing introduces a light vibe that surely won't demand much from you. Going almost completely impenetrable from this point, our basic plot about twin sisters played by Cora Miao sees them switch places. The one in the asylum goes out into the real world to claim alimony from her husband (James Wong) and the other introvert one finds love with a kind doctor (Richard Ng) within the hospital walls. Then other stuff happens that doesn't fall into place sense-wise. It's fun to see Cora Miao animated and a certain sweetness can be picked up from Richard Ng and Mang Hoi's performances but without any other points coming through, Carry On Dancing isn't even remotely amusing. Not gravely bad to the point that we instead want crass and low-brow akin to a Wong Jing experience but considering the work of Leung Po-Chi (Hong Kong 1941) and Kam Kwok-Leung (actor in Purple Storm), we're tempted. Sandy Lam, Eric Tsang, Meg Lam, Michael Chow, Rachel Lee, Stanley Fung and Charlie Chin also appear.

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