# 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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Escape From Hong Kong Island (2004) Directed by: Simon Loui

Simon Loui can't have escaped your view as he seems to turn up almost everywhere (except the big budget vehicles) mostly playing odd ball characters with mildly amusing, harmless results. Which means that his impression on a film usually isn't very long lasting and same can be said for his directorial debut Escape From Hong Kong Island.

The moral of the story as presented by Loui is glaringly obvious as we follow stock broker and genuine a-hole Raymond Mak (Jordan Chan) and his struggles to get to a job interview across the harbor in Kowloon. After being robbed of all his money, it's soon apparent that he's made no friends in this world that are willing to help out...

Shot on the cheap and not a little self indulgent in visual style and presentation of comedy, Loui hopes and prays that the inclusion of blurry visuals, split screens, Jim Chin and Chapman To will produce amusing results. As hard as it is to admit as performers Chin and To are annoying and largely unfunny respectively, there is an aura to Escape From Hong Kong Island that is mildly amusing and harmless. Jordan Chan gets us easily through the running time, handling the cliché development of Raymond as competently as the familiar script will allow and Loui paces the movie well enough, not overstaying his and its welcome. Whether or not he's is welcome to dabble in directing again is questionable as this first foray equals what he usually does when in front of the camera. It certainly rarely cost anything to have him there but if Loui want to further himself, he really should venture into darkness next as he proved in Killing End that he can make a long lasting, even haunting impression. Escape From Hong Kong Island is almost forgotten by the time I write this and is not a fine addition to 2004's Hong Kong output but there are a few more worse ones and that is some kind of kudos to Loui I guess. A host of familiar faces turn up including Law Kar-Ying, Tats Lau, Vincent Kok, Emily Kwan, Wayne Lai, Cheung Tat-Ming and Barbara Wong.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Esprit D'amour (1983) Directed by: Ringo Lam

Reports are that Leung Po-Chi (He Lives By Night, Hong Kong 1941) started off as helm of this project before getting the boot after producer Karl Maka felt unsatisfied with his work. The assistant director Ringo Lam instead got upgrade to debuting director and helmed mostly a typical Cinema City production with the addition of a little of his own flavour.

No, it's really not a pre-cursor to anything that's now highly associated with Lam. I.e. gritty realism and pessimism (City On Fire, School On Fire) and largely Esprit D'amour certainly is a product of its time, featuring numerous silly bits in combination with the supernatural angle (man-ghost romance). The 80s cinema of Hong Kong often had its charms, combining a confidence in an actual uneven package and the film corresponds to that. Alan Tam fans probably walked home happy as their favourite star goes bare chested and engages in ghostly love with Joyce Ngai. The late Bill Tung's role becomes an in-joke as well as in real life he was devoting himself to the world of horse racing just like his character in this film. Phillip Chan is also allowed to be funny for once, a nice spark to the flow of the film. Cecilia Yip, Tien Feng and Lung Tin-Sang co-stars.

Then Ringo's dark demons surface and the film becomes another definition of a true Hong Kong product. Ejecting all notions of fun, Lam delivers a stylish tension-filled ending that makes you realize that Esprit D'amour actually holds some significance in regards to the future trajectory of his.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

The Eternal Evil Of Asia (1995) Directed by: Cash Chin

After a manslaughter act towards a powerful Thailand based wizard's (Ben Ng) sister, four Hong Kong natives now have the wizard hot on their heels and he's out for the strongest revenge possible.

Directed with a hyperactive visual style, this fairly straight up (if such thing can be applied to Cat III insanity such as this) supernatural horror effort proves to be a lot of fun. Leaving out most of the obnoxious comedy and even nudity in favor of decently executed gore and wild supernatural set pieces, director Cash Chin creates a definite "only in Hong Kong"-ride that only holds one sad flaw really. He doesn't choose to put Lily Chung's wizard character at the forefront and while Ellen Chan can stimulate the senses, she's not much of a heroine. On the other hand, we do get Ben Ng chewing scenery like no other can, even though this is not even 1/10 of the beast he was in Red To Kill. Kudos goes out to him and Ellen being game for the bizarre finale that must've felt totally ridiculous shooting.

The comedy that The Eternal Evil Of Asia does provide is well-timed and creative, the highlight being Elvis Tsui's dickhead character paying the price for being just that and a similar, though less elaborate, flying mating session a la A Chinese Torture Chamber Story turns up here as well. It's quite remarkable that director Chin could churn out this much fun and subsequently make the surprisingly boring Sex & Zen II the year after.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Eunuch Of The Western Palace (1979, Wu Ma)

Wu Ma's competence as a director is usually not to be questioned and in a way same applies to Eunuch Of The Western Palace. Making this martial universe fairly cinematic through style, characters defined through their skill, incoherency still creeps its way in. Almost a trope that you stack and stack characters and motivations on top of each other in this genre, by opting to immerse through exposition dumps we don't get a true sense of the thread that runs through the film. Latching onto who's the good and bad in this equation is possible however and the weapons- and martial arts-scenes are of high, very fluid quality. Wu Ma's film feels like one of many though. One that slightly more competent but doesn't feel all that different either. With Don Wong, Mang Fei, Lo Lieh, Chung Wah and Lung Fei.

Evening Liason (1996) Directed by: Chen Yi Fei

A late directorial talent, Chen Yi Fei was otherwise an acclaimed painter of Chinese landscapes for most of his life. Evening Liaison and The Music Box represented his sole directed films before his death in 2005. It comes as no surprise then that the film is expertly designed, shot and scored, aspects that evokes fine eerie atmosphere, atmosphere of dread and the atmosphere of the time in the 1930s. Within this we find the story of a seemingly lonely press photographer (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) who encounters and falls in love with a woman claiming to be a ghost (played by Mabel Zhang). It's the Mainland Chinese Ghost Story then and right on cue, dialogue concerning that man can't fall in love with ghost finds its place in the film. But it's clear our initial truth may not be THE truth and although the interest peters a little as we move along, director Chen involves with his combo of art and flashback structure with several potential areas the story can head to. Politics gets covered, parallels to depression and at the end of the day, Evening Liaison doesn't live up to its rather great beginning reels but has us reeled in to a decent degree throughout.

Based on a folklore of the pre-revolutionary era, the film was given technical awards at both the Taiwan Golden Horse and Golden Rooster Awards.

Even Mountain Meet (1993) Directed by: Lawrence Lau

Screwball comedy, local parodies, odd musical numbers often done in off-beat Chinese opera style and we've only scratched the surface of this head scratching effort from Lawrence Lau (Gangs, My Name Is Fame) but it's clear he had it in him to deviate totally from his otherwise set drama path. There's no street level realism here, just a series of oddities strung together that manages to cohere, entertain and suitably the weirdness on display builds. Centering around the movie industry, Ching Ching (Wong Wan-Si) is a longtime maid of has been actress Ting Ling-Ling (Dik Boh-Laai). They apparently interact more often than not by singing but when Ting one day doesn't get up, it turns out she's dead. As a spirit, she does ask Ching Ching to find Prince Charming for her. Into this comes prop man Kin (Dicky Cheung), his father Tsao (Ng Man-Tat), and the movie star (Winnie Lau) Kin is infatuated with. It seems to lean towards Tsao as the Prince Charming-choice but somehow this very ugly man is the object of desire for many, including Ching Ching...

Or something like that. First half of Even Mountain Meet is your biggest test. Not only is there no signs of coherence but every dip into comedy and singing puzzles to the point of frustration. It's possibly a bit too local for an outsider but by amping the sights, sounds, creating a sparkling piece of visual cinema in the process, Lawrence Lau slowly warrants attention. And soon there's delight to be found in every off-beat detour, whether it's the midnight snack song number, Dicky Cheung looking for every piece of gold he can find in Ting's apartment or the mad plot developments towards the end. Even Mountain Meet isn't a film. It's spontaneity, playfulness, an eagerness to stay very Hong Kong and it's kind of loveable.

The Everlasting Glory (1974) Directed by: Ding Sin-Saai

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Depicting war turmoil between China and Japan during the 1930s and 40s, this production knows it can provide big and loud images but aside from in the eyes of perhaps history buffs, The Everlasting Glory is a boring trek. Injecting basic personal drama at times and including O Chun Hung playing it dignified, tormented and heroic very competently, most of the piece is steered by need to celebrate the Chinese spirit. All well and good but it's more lazy propaganda on display than emotions reaching out. As O Chung-Hung's character goes from icon-status to being perceived as a traitor, director Ding Sin-Saai's injects some poignancy but returning to the big scale of it all has the reverse effect of boredom. Watch A Home Too Far instead, containing equal amounts of well-honed acting chops from our lead.

Evil Instinct (1996) Directed by: Chu Wai Kwong

Insurance for sex, fraud, death and snake serum all collide in Chu Wai Kwong's Cat III thriller, elements that add up to a product that is watchable thrash. Not because of any finely honed filmmaking skills or acting because Chu definitely churns out a rather stale thriller. If you're trying to thrill with a plot concerning insurance, you better be a filmmaker of note. Chu isn't. He does know where he draws his inspirations from (Basic Instinct being one) but despite being that "clever", Evil Instinct adds up to nothing. What makes one unexpectedly easily get through the 90 minutes is the sexy presence of Carrie Ng and Diana Pang Dan and as silly as the plot twists become, Chu's visual style keeps us involved during the final 20 minutes. Also with Bowie Lam and Stuart Ong.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Evil Seducers (1975) Directed by: Poon Lui

Fang Mengyin (Hong Hoi) would rather flirt and be picky about who he possibly marries rather than arranged marriage or a career as an official. He thinks he's scored when he meets the beautiful Qinglian (Ai Ti) but she and her servants turn out to be ferocious ghosts. Well designed but quite an intimate ghost story on the Shaw Brothers stages, director Poon Lui (The Sword, with Jimmy Wang Yu) creates plenty of spooky atmosphere, mystery and involvement. Despite also having a very unappealing, by design, main character who possibly won't learn anything even after receiving aid in battling the ghosts. Movie loses some appeal by the twist ending. Also with Chan Shen.

Excape From Kingdom (1988) Directed by: Addy Sung

Obviously meant to be Escape From Kingdom, this often forgettable but sometimes mildly entertaining diversion sees young, innocent Peggy hook up with Eddie who turns out to be Mr. Buttmunch in disguise and she is subsequently entered into a striptease/prostitute ring in Thailand. Back home her father (Lau Siu-Ming) enlists a private detective to find Peggy but it seems like they've got the poorest one in the agency. The dick played by Dai Sai-Aan may seem a bit dopey and disorganized but is a dedicated worker who is not afraid to throw punches and get into the thick of things...

Scenes initially showing what Peggy's kingdom turns out to be has the exploitation vibe to them that is able to draw in audiences but tone is switched to a slightly lighter (and welcome) one. In a rare appearance as a lead, Dai Sai-Aan equips himself well, being an off-beat and also fighting P.I. The filmmakers don't have much else to say here so a few scattered elements are what's entertaining about Excape From Kingdom. Michael Chan, Phillip Ko and Shum Wai also appear.

Excelsior (1974) Directed by: Mo Man-Hung

Two childhood friends (Chang Yi, Raymond Lui) decides to not only share fortune, misfortune but also infections via self-made gambling tattoos and when they meet as adults, they're on opposite sides of the law. Bashing ensues. The classic story of innocence abused by the powerful is given no resonance in this ordinary martial arts venture. Goofy dubbing featuring all manner of accents, including Chinese, makes sure the proceedings flow and Excelsior does offers up harmless genre entertainment despite. Lung Wei co-stars.

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