# 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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City Hero (1985) Directed by: Dennis Yu

With Dennis Yu (The Beasts, The Imp) mellowed out a bit, Cinema City took him on board, City Hero being the second production he made for the studio. Still, the antics of Dean Shek takes center stage, playing an arguably deranged instructor of special police unit cadets and even though he takes his role seriously at points, he knows no other gear but maximum. He can't win. As for Yu's work, he shows great disinterest when echoing this Police Academy formula (only slight more darkness enters) and offers up no points of interest along the way. When killing off a main character, it's simple attention seeking that works against him greatly.

Even when subsequently ejecting most of the guys from this premise in favour of women, The Inspectors Wears Skirts by Wellson Chin didn't exactly intend to improve on the lame formula. Heck, one might even think the idea for that series came through the casting of Billy Lau in City Hero. A scary thought. Mark Cheng, Michael Wong, Pat Ha and Ku Feng also stars.

City Kids 1989 (1989) Directed by: Poon Man-Kit

Before Poon Man-Kit went big, historical and tedious with epics such as To Be Number One and Lord Of East China Sea, small stories about small time gangsters infused with loyalty, brotherhood etc was part of his initial streak of films. Hero Of Tomorrow remains a memorable one with high caliber firepower and brutality while City Kids 1989 only fares well for a little while. Third's (Max Mok) family emigrates to Hong Kong and the turbulence of the times eventually sets him on a downwards spiral. Flirts with the gangster world is the step that permanently plants him there, along with childhood friend Sas (Andy Lau). Short and to the point, there's nothing wrong with important pieces of the story only being highlighted briefly but with this brevity comes pretty distant characters that are also part of a pretty ordinary tale. The polished look, a workable double team between the leads and veterans Wong Chung, Shing Fui-On and Pau Hei-Ching lending weight to their characters still can't make City Kids 1989 say anything out of the ordinary. Some ending poignancy and restrained melodramatic acting from Andy Lau is worthy of note. Co-starring May Lo.

Buy the DVD at:
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City Ninja (1985, Yeung Chun-Bong)

A patch work type of movie so bad or so good that it's not thoroughly easy to confirm exactly what was put together by who. What we do know is that City Ninja (aka Rocky's Love Affairs and Ninja Holocaust) merges footage from the South Korean actioner Hwa Ja (aka 108 Golden Killers) starring Casanova Wong (and also credited to either the star as director or Choi Yeong-Cheol) and the Hong Kong version pads it with Michael Chan's storyline about a championship boxer involved in finding a valuable medal connected to ninjas. The two appear in scenes together, suggesting this was co-produced and there's alternate end fight-outcomes depending on the edit you watch. It's a product reeking of business and is rather random with its content as we get said boxing champion, infidelity, sexual frustration, sex-scenes on gym-equipment that can quickly be followed by fights involving ninjas and Japanese samurai. No worth really as a storytelling- exercise, surprisingly City Ninja does not frustrate. Mainly because the crowded package is very amusing because of the fact that it IS crowded and the action is rather impressive throughout. The fast, hard hitting energy of both scenes featuring ninjas and primal bouts (mainly the end with Chan and Wong) is easy to like and attach to, making the movie a bit of a success that probably knew it was going to come with flaws after being assembled. As long as the sellable element is STRONG, a lot can be and is forgiven. Thank you to Jesús Manuel Pérez Molina for information used in this review.

City Of Life And Death (2009) Directed by: Lu Chuan

Depicting the rampage of murder and rape the Japanese army went on after Nanking had fallen, Lu Chuan (Kekexili: Mountain Patrol) takes a fairly unplotted approach where we get nightmarish glimpses from the side of various Chinese AND Japanese. Making City Of Life And Death in black and white but establishing characters on each respective side, Lu Chuan's script covers the last efforts of the Chinese army (involving Liu Ye's character), real life German Nazi party member John Rabe's (John Paisley) attempt to protect soldiers and women in the Nanking Safety Zone, the systematic and cruel rape and murder by the Japanese etc. With the main focus ultimately landing on the conscience ridden soldier Kadokawa (an excellent Hideo Nakaizumi), through his eyes Lu Chuan also establishes a pull no punches attitude as the very realistically tinted (amidst expertly designed sets) violence will turn your stomach. All without resorting to cheap exploitation tactics and during long stretches of non-verbal narrative and random callousness, the historical depiction becomes even more terrifying.

City War (1988) Directed by: Sun Chung

Despite not having a whole lot of originality going for it with its plot content being personal revenge, vigilante acts, choices equaling a journey towards hell and cops in commanding posts being as usual pretty tough to deal with, Sun Chung's (Human Lanterns) re-teaming of Chow Yun-Fat and Ti Lung (both in A Better Tomorrow) is hellish cinema so it's therefore for those who can take it. Sun Chung lights a fuse early on that slowly burns towards ignition, symbolized via Chow's steamy relationship with gangster Ted's (Norman Tsui) girlfriend (a character inflicting doom, played by Tien Niu who shares some quite smoking scenes with lead Chow, especially one on a dance floor) or when just about every innocent soul gets it! It's not John Woo weight to the proceedings and some light detours obviously make a dent in the otherwise excellent, dark impact the film has. Lo Lieh, Michael Chow (as a gay henchman) and Ricky Yi also appear.

City Warriors (1988) Directed by: Johnny Wang

Dick Wei is Lok Han, a Mainlander arriving Hong Kong to look up his sister who's rebelled against him and left with boyfriend Tsai (Ken Lo). She's been forced into prostitution however and Lok Han quickly makes enemies with the underworld in his attempts to get her out...

Johnny Wang, a familiar face from Lau Kar Leung's films but also a director of brutal fare such as Angry Ranger and Escape From Brothel. While there is probably some true commentary about the different train of thoughts between Mainland Chinese people and Hong Kong people, City Warriors first and foremost relies on the action (also directed by Wang). Very few are spared, including women, but it's well-executed gory and intense brutality. It ain't pretty but Wang never set out to make it that and City Warriors succeeds where it aims. Also with Carina Lau, O Chun Hung, Chor Yuen and Phillip Chan.

CJ7 (2008, Stephen Chow)

Stephen Chow continues to revert into a supporting character in his films and strips CJ7 of a lot of his slapstick and visual comedy in favour of a simple narrative for all ages. The result is therefore a tale that's hard to argue against but it's also hard to argue that this furthers his work as a director. He plays Ti Chow and you have no trouble understanding he's a poor, judging by the stitched together shoes, and his son Dicky (Xu Jiao, who's actually a girl and makes her acting debut here) is walking around generally unclean at school. Not actually revered by teachers or his fellow students, things might take a turn socially and academically with the arrival of a cute space dog Dicky dubs CJ7. While Stephen gets a few dry and cartoony gags in there, all of which remain on point, he also repeats imagery from Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle to a degree that seems a bit lazy. The core of sticking to your values, no matter your social status, is communicated up front, certainly is valid but there is a sense here Chow isn't challenging himself or his audience particularly greatly. That we understand the fun, the cartoon and message is not a bad thing but it seems simplified for a filmmaker that's been very creative throughout the years. Middling isn't bad for a Stephen Chow-movie but he does work here that is a bit ordinary and watered down. Kitty Zhang co-stars.

Clan Of The White Lotus (1980) Directed by: Lo Lieh

Lo Lieh directs this sequel/remake of Lau Kar Leung's Executioners From Shaolin, the movie that gave us one of Lo's standout roles of the white haired priest Pai Mei (later portrayed by Gordon Lau in Kill Bill: Volume 2). Well, Pai Mei is dead and Lo instead takes on the very similar role of The White Lotus that's is constantly being challenged by anti-Ching fighter Man Ting (Gordon Lau). What it takes to defeat The White Lotus is perhaps a little female contribution. That's where Kara Hui comes in...

Director Lo takes certain beats of Lau Kar Leung's original but mostly ejects any notion of a serious narrative to make room for comedic strokes instead. Both broad ones as seen through Lam Fai Wong's endearing and funny performance but several doses of welcome quirkiness rears its head, which is a style of comedy not usually associated with martial arts, at least not in my experience. Clan Of The White Lotus could've taken all its cues from the established kung fu comedy staples of the time but feels very much its own thanks to Lo Lieh's clever direction and the marvelous contribution by none other than Lau Kar Leung, this time acting "only" as action director.

Don't think for a second that he's going in half-assed though. No, Lau's set pieces are as fast and furious as ever with constant high quality and complicated bouts, making Clan Of The White Lotus very much resemble a Lau Kar Leung movie after all, but with a twist, which is Lo Lieh's great compliment as head of this Shaw Brother's production. Johnny Wang, Hsaio Huo and Yeung Jing Jing also appear.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Clash Of The Professionals (1985) Directed by: Yeung Jing-Chan

Jimmy Wang Yu fancies himself being way younger, way cooler and just like James Bond and it feels like a forced image for the undeniable talent at brawls in Taiwan and Hong Kong action cinema. Simple story about him being a private detective after a Japanese drug lord for personal reasons, it's no achievement but doesn't bore plus second half offers better set pieces such as Wang Yu having to deal with somewhat threatening hockey players, hanging off a bus and fighting underwater. Set to Goblin's score from Dawn Of The Dead mostly. Chen Hung-Lieh (Come Drink With Me) also appear.

The Clones Of Bruce Lee (1977) Directed by: Joseph Kong

Never claiming it's presenting an alternate truth behind the death of Bruce Lee, we nonetheless have our plot starting once he has passed away at the hospital. There the Special Bureau Of Investigations (SBI) and a professor (John Benn - The Way Of The Dragon) sets in motion their plan to...clone Bruce Lee! Or rather make Bruce Lee copies that take shape in the form of Bruce Le, Dragon Lee and Bruce Lai. Following every command of their papa professor after being hatched in his groovy lab (disco lights seems to be his sole light source), they are sent out on undercover assassination missions so it was a crackin' idea to clone Lee into copies then! As you can understand, this hokey exercise attempts little class and is obviously a disrespectful attempt at respecting the legend but having said that, parts of The Clones Of Bruce Lee are a hoot (and it's possibly the best concept hatched out of any Bruceploitation effort). Although less so as we move along but the Thailand adventure gives us gratuitous nudity in spades, gold warriors manufactured by yet another mad professor but poisonous plants become the Bruce's weapons against these and finally, the clones square off against each other! Bolo Yeung also appears.

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