# 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
Page 01 | Page 02 | Page 03 | Page 04 | Page 05 | Page 06 | Page 07 | Page 08 | Page 09 | Page 10 | Page 11 | Page 12 | Page 13 | Page 14
Dirty Ho (1979) Directed by: Lau Kar Leung

Part of what can be perceived as a comedy stretch of films (among those Mad Monkey Kung Fu, Return To The 36th Chamber and My Young Auntie), Lau Kar Leung and Shaw Brother's probably unknowingly made sure that a lot of units were shipped overseas thanks to the English title Dirty Ho. However translating the Chinese title reveals the film as Rotten Head Ho, something that will makes much more sense as you follow Wong Yue and Gordon Lau's adventure together.

While I'm sure countless fans can name 3-4 other movies of Lau's that rank higher than Dirty Ho, it deserves praise and remains very enduring thanks to a sly sense of humour that also carries over to the highlight choreography of the film. Gordon Lau (in one of his coolest roles) takes on Johnny Wang and Wilson Tong in fights concerning civil manners on the top surface but deadly, sneaky confrontation underneath and there's as much meticulous detail in here as in any other great fight in Lau Kar Leung's career. Even the finale, not the most memorable one among Lau's films though, can't overpower these set pieces. Weaknesses exist, tracking back to Wong Yue who is on his own a grating comedy presence but thankfully comes off much better when bouncing off Gordon. Another concept that doesn't flourish is one concerning crippled fighters and a confrontation with a team of fighters either summed up as masochistic or cartoonish goes nowhere. Lo Lieh, Kara Hui, Hsiao Hou and Peter Chan also appear.

Buy the DVD at:

Dirty Trick (1982) Directed by: Tse Kwong-Lam

You could blame the fully impenetrable nature of Dirty Trick on the old VHS print but in all honesty, the mix of prison, conman, gambling and action movie with an end reel twist would be abstract even in fully visible form. A cast of notables, some with only a few minutes of screentime includes Lo Lieh, Norman Tsui, Wilson Tong, Chen Kuan-Tai while Wong Goon-Hung and assistant takes on the gambling syndicate. Maybe. No distraction in the form of gritty, bloody action either makes Dirty Trick a thorough dud.

The Discharged (1977, Alan Tang & Stanley Siu)

Standard and ultimately below average rags to riches story in the gangster world with co-director Alan Tang at center, a deadly sign of this not attempting much of an impact can be found in the voice over narration talking up the fun and cool of Tang's character to a degree. Then the dual directing team rushes through his rise as we get glimpses of incarceration, prison-riot and conflicts with other gangsters when at the top. With no violent edge or real passion for the genre, Tang's evolving visual image is entirely forced and actual effective grit and darkness towards the end does nothing for the mood of the movie. It seals its fate way before.

Disciples Of Shao Lin (1975) Directed by: Chang Cheh

Despite the opening with star Alexander Fu Sheng doing martial arts in front of one-tone backgrounds and the English title being rather generic, here's a late, thoroughly engrossing and dramatic effort from a Chang Cheh I always thought left those skills behind earlier in the 70s before embarking on a journey to make movies with plastic heroes (i.e. his Venoms flicks). Disciples Of Shao Lin is something to treasure then, featuring the age old tale of innocence abused by corrupt forces. There's a better take on the theme in Chor Yuen's The Bastard but the story of orphan Guan Feng Yi's (Fu Sheng) rise through the ranks of society only to face deception, brotherly abandonment and redemption the gory way is admirable because of its lack of hurry into martial arts esthetics. In fact, it could've worked sans it as well. Chang Cheh remains fairly subtle and has the characters talking a whole lot in order for the hard edged drama to become really painful come ending time. But we're not talking overdone melodrama here, just a fairly hefty running time for the genre allowed to reach a sensible boiling point. In between there's even an unexpected amount of well honed symbolism, particularly well represented by the higher division possession in the form of a pocket watch and its melody. For anyone who's had a problem with the antics of Alexander Fu Sheng, here's a reference performance that's tailor made for the late star. A country bumpkin without any knowledge of the city he's heading into but with a martial arts knowledge that has him being playful in the beginning and being forbidden to fight by his brother, played with the correct amount of stern that actually is torment by Chi Kuan-Chun. Treated as a savior and treated to the good things in life this universe has to offer, including the clock, Fu Sheng switches effortlessly between the light, being a ferocious fighter and the transformation in progress where the character of Guan only catches a glimpse of himself when it's far too late. An eclectic mix of jazzed up, modern music score feels out of place at times but the main melody enhances the often quiet atmosphere of the film very nicely.

Lau Kar-Leung's action blossoms the most when channeled through its lead, being very fluent and to the point. Lau would return in the same capacity for the 1993 remake The Barefoot Kid (directed by Johnnie To). Starring Aaron Kwok, Ti Lung and Maggie Cheung, pre-Milkyway master To injects way too much melodrama into his take on the story that does have the upper hand via a new development Chang Cheh's version didn't take: the understated romance between Ti Lung and Maggie Cheung's characters.

Buy the DVD at:

Disciples Of Shaolin Temple (1984) Directed by: Hua Shan

Mainland set martial arts production and more Mainland in feel, Inframan director Hua Shan mounts an impressive looking production and playing genre cards but quite tedious ones that negates any high production values despite impressive action. Largely a light romp making this akin to a 'Shaolin Temple Academy', there's no distinction in the group portrayed or the conflict involving a fighter challenging Shaolin and it's honor. Despite the incredible setting and the action working both when employing comedy but in particular weapons and gritty intensity, Disciples Of Shaolin Temple is far from another Shaolin Temple touchdown for the Mainland.

Disciples Of The 36th Chamber (1985, Lau Kar-Leung)

With this finale to the '36th Chamber' trilogy, Lau Kar-Leung returns the role of San Te to Gordon Liu (in Return To The 36th Chamber he played a conman impersonating the monk in a clever twist). Sharing the screen with Hsiao Ho's Fong Sai Yuk who manages to upset both the ruling Manchurians and also his teacher at the Shaolin temple, it may be Fong's quirky way of standing up for the Han People. Definitely the weakest out of the three movies but not weak overall, Lau Kar-Leung still has trouble nailing the mix of characteristics within Hsiao Ho's character. Granted, it has a purpose and it really does seem like a match made in heaven for the acrobatic actor to tackle this role. It just doesn't fully get to endearing and heroic places. But within a basic framestory of mentioned conflicts, a few wonderfully depicted training chambers at the Shaolin temple (the steep wall in particular that even includes fight choreography) and an intense finale involving dozens of fighters for Hsiao, Lau and Lily Li (as Fong's mother and possibly the performer who gets the most outstanding pieces of fight choreography here), basic martial arts movie quality from a filmmaker like Lau Kar-Leung is still high quality. Also with Jason Pai and director Lau himself in a supporting role.

Disco Sex Fever (1980) Directed by: John Chan

The brainchild of John Chan who's the director, writer, producer and heck, could even be the star as cast info is sparse for Disco Sex Fever. But there's no muddled cloud hovering over Chan's intentions. Oh no. Essentially the story of rich boy George coming to Hong Kong and he has his assistant set up various encounters who in themselves should setup various SEXUAL encounters, the disco in the title actually takes a backseat although its inclusion is classic film that sets up Chan's adult intentions. The long, boring shots of sunny Hong Kong either in streets or on beaches leads to long, boring shots of nightlife. That is until the dancing women take their clothes off and the ride is only starting. Done on the cheap but with a sense of shameless fun, George's type of sightseeing leads him to wanting celebrities, visiting a French artist using naked women as models, picking up girls on planes, on boats etc. All of this shameless and sometimes rude behaviour is never justified as such but it's amusing to hear males talk of women like difficult roads to navigate with Chan cutting to twisty, turny roads to symbolize this. An arty touch made even more so since certain sex scenes are shot on very sparse sets meant to represent a beach for instance. Puzzling, very entertaining and despite the lack of intention with his intention, John Chan's film ultimately has a light spirit about it that doesn't bore and is very funny thanks to George's adventures with everyone he can think of (and some he couldn't think of).

Doctor's Heart (1990) Directed by: David Lam

David Lam (Women's Prison) directs with his intentions fully on his sleeve but since they are good-hearted intentions, one can't feel very offended by Doctor's Heart. A story of what it takes to be a good doctor, the balance is between the obviously righteous (Mark Cheng's character) and the thoroughly evil (Simon Yam). So it's structurally very evident, convenient but at times overwrought in a way that speaks more to the shallowness of the production in general. But a social awareness about the state of medical welfare is not a bad thing to possess. Lam's problem is a lack of capability to vent in affecting ways which in itself places Doctor's Heart far off the acclaimed radar. Also starring Bill Tung, Michelle Reis, Lowell Lo, Amy Yip, Clifton Ko, Ni Kuang and Liu Fan.

Doctor Vampire (1990) Directed by: Jamie Luk

Bowie Lam plays Tsung, a doctor that gets seduced and bitten by a vampire (the lovely Ellen Chan) during a trip to England. As he goes through his transformation, she turns up in Hong Kong under orders by the mighty count to bring back Tsung and his delicious blood but her desire is to break free from the grip the count holds on her. They both fight back, with the help of dopey male and female sidekicks...

The movie making climate of the 80s allowed fast paced insanity like Doctor Vampire to be made, which is a very good thing despite the low-brow places Jamie Luk takes the film to (copious gays and AIDS jokes for instance). However there is genuine fun in here (in particular a scene where the friends gather up blood for Tsung) and the extended climax is a fine example of the high gear Hong Kong filmmakers can put a movie in. Also with famed writer Ngai Fong, Sheila Chan, Crystal Kwok, Shing Fui On (another scene stealing performance), James Wong, David Wu and Helena Law.

Don't Cry, Nanking (1995) Directed by: Wu Zi-Nu

KENNETH'S REVIEW: A little trip to Wikipedia to read up on the Nanking Massacre, both for personal information purposes and in prep for this John Woo produced production helps. Partially due to the fact that various text cards in the movie lack English translation and certain other aspects documented about the atrocities committed by the Japanese forces can be picked up upon. As a portrait of the time, it's always important to highlight, be it in grim manner by Mou Tun-Fei in Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre or in this well-made production that doesn't push the envelope but still manages to horrify enough. Problem is, so does a read on Wikipedia but the subject matter is always valid to bring up. Focusing of course on the occupation by the Japanese army of Nanjing in December 1937, amidst all this we have fictional elements that concerns a Chinese/Japanese family (husband is played by Chin Han), a teacher (Rene Liu) and a solider trying to stay alive, even within the Nanking Safety Zone. Obvious drama intentions such as Chin Han's Cheng-Xian having a Japanese family, the advantage of that, the grave disadvantage of that and if you could carry a glimmer of hope during this time, are in place but there's nothing truly gripping about director Wu Zi-Nu's (Sino Dutch War 1661) portrait. What is gripping is the reality of it, taking place amidst them and around them in large set pieces covered in blood and destruction. Wu pushes fairly mildly yet still hard enough for an audience to react but overall Don't Cry, Nanking isn't revolutionary for this real life matter. But it is allowed to occupy a place in history and cinema history. Even Mou Tun-Fei's film is.

Page 01 | Page 02 | Page 03 | Page 04 | Page 05 | Page 06 | Page 07 | Page 08 | Page 09 | Page 10 | Page 11 | Page 12 | Page 13 | Page 14