# 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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Code Name Flash (1987) Directed by: Leung Chi-Keung & Jeu Aau

KENNETH'S REVIEW: "Let's hear it for the boys in red!" Yep, it's war times with Chinese against those pesky Vietnamese, set to your age old upbeat score and propaganda can be smelled miles away indeed. Directors Leung Chi-Keung and Jeu Aau got their mission clear, to portray a select crew of bloodied heroes fighting for their families and country on the battlefield but don't think for a second outside viewers (me being waaaay outside) can engage much emotionally. No, spectacle is the name of the game, which the dual directors manages to find out in their quest to celebrate the nation too. So a healthy dose of war-gore, LOUD war-mayhem (archival footage doesn't detract as such as a matter of fact) passes the time adequately and the English dub feels suitably IFD-ish (but Joseph Lai has nothing to do with the flick) with character names such as Carol, Ronny and Larry.

Cohabitation (1993) Directed by: Roman Cheung

Not enough quality material, charisma but steam accompanies this Clifton Ko production. Director Roman Cheung has many facets to portray when relationships go the living together-route (instead of straight to marriage as any family elder would like to see be the choice). Enter a difficult transition as characters make up house rules, have sex quite a lot and develop an uncertainty after jealousy has done its part. Cheung does not have not the skills to develop further and the attractive acting quartet of Kenneth Chan, Anita Lee, David Wu and Jacqueline Law are even combined, average screen presences. So Cheung resorts to an age old attention grabber via the multiple Category II rated sex scenes and that should tell you a lot where Cohabitation ends up in terms of critical respect. Also with Michael Tong and Chan Suk-Yee (as the male character Mrs. Gay. Wong Jing subtlety on display here).

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Combat At Heaven Gate (1993) Directed by: Yu Chik-Lim

Channeling Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade and grand adventures in general, this Mainland production does have certain chops to appear grand as it's certainly well-costumed, set designed and the action directing very much its own. Problem is, as we follow Sibelle Hu (who also appears in the period prologue) and crew chasing (along with the Japanese) a famous medicine book hidden behind the Heave Gate, there's not enough eye popping grandeur and mixture of adventurous set pieces for the experience to drive neatly forward. Looking rather flat at points and the steady stream of grounded and wire-enhanced action vary in quality, it's only towards the end where the budget shows up and the danger becomes a little more immediate. It's a valiant but spotty effort. Kenneth Tsang and Jimmy Lung also appear.

Combo Cops (1996) Directed by: Wong Siu-Ming & Yiu Man-Kei

Mainland supercop and kung-fu specialist (Yu Rong-Guang), Scotland Yard trained Westerner (Michael Wong) and their methods collide as they both become in charge of SDU trainees. You sense we're first into antagonistic territory, turned somewhat buddy-cop comedy-ish with an added robbers plot to give the impression a plot is present? You sense correctly but what you won't be able to sense is that Combo Cops not only goes for the laughs but for the low budget, surrealistic insanity too. It's random insanity aiming to confuse the viewer really as we see Yu Rong-Guang suffering a tragedy that means an infant child is injured. Thankfully the child is ok and wants to be agent 007 when he grows up. Meanwhile, Michael Wong takes center stage in the classic James Bond intro, goes into a cell with a deranged cannibal, rat eater which suits Wong as he has some rat issues in the past. On it goes, with unexpected momentum gained by the dual directors as they manage to greatly entertain with their deep well of silly ideas. Of course the momentum comes and goes, in particular after Law Kar-Ying as the villain is introduced but there's no shortage of off the wall highlights before and sporadically after Law's introduction. Also with Christine Ng as Wong's love interest who shares scenes with him that turns romantic conventions on its head. Kingdom Yuen, Jerry Lam and Manfred Wong, who has a love for umbrellas, also appear.

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Come Drink With Me (1966) Directed by: King Hu

Its action may appear quite soft, stagy and even crude in some respects but the impression is still that King Hu's Come Drink With Me raised the bar for filmmaking at Shaw Brothers and the Wuxia pian genre. Depicting iconic moments throughout the movie starting with Cheng Pei-Pei's immortal depiction of the swordswoman Golden Swallow, King Hu really seems inspired working with her as the grace, charisma and beauty really elevates the whole picture. That grace, soft movements, something Cheng was apt at due to being a ballet dancer, works in tandem with the movie. For instance in the famous inn confrontation (a setting that would be iconic in itself for several of King Hu's films) he draws us in through silences, sharp camera moves, tense stand off's and bursts of action reminiscent of the Japanese samurai movies of the the time. Even character- and production design receives the same attention, all captured with King Hu's flowing camera and again, eye for iconic imagery. Even when you think you disconnect from how action choreography of the time was and could be made, there's a rich, visual, stylish experience at hand here that even turns quite violent on a primal level come ending time as Yueh Hua's drunken beggar has taken center stage. Also with Chen Hung-Lieh.

Come Fly the Dragon (1993) Directed by: Eric Tsang

Minute amusement comes out of Eric Tsang's action-comedy that sees Andy Lau and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as part of a training squad for the special branch of the police. Acting generally silly and exactly like they want to, it's a wonder they're even kept in the team but Tsang is more interested in the sophomoric humour during this training part of the narrative. At least it is funny in parts, proving that Tsang is more adept at this than Wong Jing is but when the film switches to Lau going undercover to catch a triad boss (Frankie Chan), the film stops dead. Some minute audience investment here comes during the small forays into action but Come Fly The Dragon ultimately is a poor showcase for the great stars Lau and Leung. Also with Fennie Yuen, Miu Kiu Wai, Shing Fui On, Ben Lam and Norman Chu, who is simply born to play a hard ass drill sergeant.

Come On Girls (1993) Directed by: Chow Bun

Hos/ed by Cindy Yip and structuring itself as a documentary, she gathers up a couple of gigolos and women in an apartment and they take turn telling stories of their rise in their profession, weird sexual encounters and actual erotic ones too. Very threadbare and certainly only produced to satisfy the sex-craving market in the wonderland of Category III movies of 1993, there is some well shot interiors and outrageous inclusions like the rigorous testing for men wishing to get into the gigolo profession, a male strip-o-gram with a duck hat and a plethora of unintelligible subtitles to actually laugh with. No high art, just the occasional hilarity and ticking of the naughty boxes. Which it does well.

The Comet Strikes (1971) Directed by: Lo Wei

Lo Wei clearly had it in him to become a horror director as by this and even darker moments in The Big Boss were rich on atmosphere. While not paid off very clearly, The Comet Strikes has an admirable buildup and aura of mystery surrounding a possibly haunted mansion and mixing Wuxia pian tactics with grounded sword brawls (Nora Miao is impressively physical) makes it a very interesting if not totally fulfilling watch. Also with Patrick Tse, Lo Wei, Sek Kin and Lee Kwan.

The Condemned (1976) Directed by: David Chiang

David Chiang's third and last directorial outing at Shaw Brothers is his most solid but mostly thanks to a pronounced action-side that takes the movie places the in between story and drama doesn't. Quite a simple setup with Feng Dagang (Tsai Hung) being jailed for a massacre he didn't commit and put into a cell with jolly pickpocket Yang Lin (Chiang), a brotherhood is formed and the high ranking members of society that wronged them are targeted. Showcasing through Tong Gai's and Wong Pau-Gei's action choreography a grittier, violent side right from the getgo, The Condemned also shows promise by having Tsai Hung be a giant, brutal force as our lead. Backing his size up with skill as well, the banter and story drive is lacking however. Chiang is trying to find his voice and comfort as a storyteller but it isn't happening here. However he heads a close to rather splendid (and LONG) fight finale which is again a sign of his behind the scenes personnel and lead Tsai Hung responding. Going head to head in gritty and quite epic fight scenes with him versus a dozen henchmen as well as brawls with Ku Feng and Pai Ying, The Condemned feels effective overall when you tally it up. Even though it truly is spotty and average. Also with Lily Li, Chan Shen and Hu Chin.

The Contract (2005) Directed by: Lu Xuechang

Completed in 2004 but not released until the year after when director Lu Xuechang (Cala, My Dog!) reportedly finally found a distributor for his low-budget movie, this is turning out to be a director more destined for overseas love despite his focus continuing to be on characters on the lower end of the scale of Chinese society. Guo Jia Ju (Pan Yue-Ming) is living life in the big city of Beijing. Being a slight introvert, having a failed business under wraps and in debt to loan sharks, he now has to face up to tradition by going back to his home village with a fiancee. Especially so since his father has had a stroke and always expressed his deepest wish to see his son married. By coincidence, Guo meets hooker Lili (Li Jian-Xuan) and strikes a deal with her to act as his future wife...

If it sounds like Can't Buy Me Love Chinese style, you wouldn't be off but Lu Xuechang (who also co-wrote and cast actors from his prior A Lingering Face) basically flirts with a lot, including the on paper, conventional premise. Farce-like in nature, threatening to turn violent but also playing out low-key drama in the beautiful village vistas, main theme concerns synching and connecting to your traditions again or for the first time. Lili is definitely an example of poor choice and planning then as she hasn't got the hang of traditional wedding ceremonies even. But the break from noise provides these characters with a breakdown. In the case of Guo, his bow of respect towards his parents may be fake but they're still the utmost crucial thing in his life at this point. Without that, he's empty. Lili, while not seemingly uncomfortable in her line of profession, dreams of opening a beauty salon but it's again the break from city people that has these characters crash together. Serious concerns all round really but Lu stays suitably observational, low-key and even fragmented narrative-wise. A cool and welcome choice. The Contract isn't as biting as Cala, My Dog! but is definitely on par with The Making Of Steel. Lu immerses us via actors, scenery, themes and continues an interesting path as a Mainland filmmaker.

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