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A Father With His Twenty-Five Children (2002) Directed by: Wang Hong

Zhao Guang (Wang Hong, also the film's director) has managed to put his village on the map after making a considerable sum of money as a chicken farmer. An orphan who was taken in by the village, him relating this story on TV leads to a huge stream of parents dropping their children off at the village. Now desperate to get rid of them and instead start his own family, Zhao instead follows his bleeding heart for the kids in his situation and tries to educate them like a father would...

Aside from lead/writer/producer/director Wang Hong trying out camera tricks not suitable for a simple Mainland village-set drama (it does comes off as crude editing instead), A Father With His Twenty-Five Children is a fine gift to Mainland cinema. Straightforward but very rich, Wang Hong has a great handle on Zhao Guang, especially when when we see he can do nothing buy sympathize with the children and the pride in his face when his teachings reaches the lot of 25 is wonderful. Veering off its simple path by the end by creating misunderstandings and comical complications, then again kids are kids and scenarios are bound to turn up. However crazy they may be. Compelling cinematography, natural performances and veteran Siqin Gaowa (Full Moon In New York, The Postmodern Life Of My Aunt) adding fine support makes the movie constantly high quality and joins that group of Mainland village dramas that has the skills (the needed ones) to MOSTLY point and shoot to achieve its best magic.

Fearful Interlude (1975) Directed by: Kuei Chih-Hung

Three shorts by Kuei Chih-Hung (The Killer Snakes, Boxer's Omen): "The Haunted House", "The Cold Skeleton" and "A Wolf Of Ancient Times". Scoring high with his first two, with the first being an effective scenario where Kuei can stretch his eye for visual and macabre as skeptics fall victim to possible pranks or real ghosts. Second more dramatic about the loss of a mother that keeps coming back continues set skill and provides a decent, dramatic twist so the mix of emotions and the disturbing play well in Kuei's hands. By the time the longest and last hits us, the tone is all of a sudden switched and a horny scholar with buckteeth really is a comedic experiment with an end tint of horror gone horribly wrong. Across the shorts, Wong Chung, Wang Hsieh, Lam Wai-Tiu and Dana (Girl With The Long Hair) appear.

Fearless Dragons (1980) Directed by: Lee Chiu

Also known as Two On The Road, despite the high division pairing of Leung Kar-Yan and Phillip Ko, much of these light shenanigans mixed with pretty well done action choreography not so much annoys but it's simply not funny. Concerning a missing gold shipment the conmen/thieves Leung and Ko plays are accused of stealing, in between there's much twisting, arguing, comedy accentuated with sounds, music (James Bond villain Jaws gets referenced in its own, long action-skit) and it reeks of those unnecessary but inevitable imitations of a better product. At least the martial arts action stands out, especially towards the high concept ending involving the leads and Johnny Wang. With Horse and Dragon Fist featured and therefore the sole noticeable wirework in the film, it's exaggerated fun for a reel anyway. Also with Kong Do and Addy Sung.

The Fearless Duo (1978, Fong Chiung & Joseph Kuo)

Definitely and gladly takes the pitfalls into kung fu comedy emulating the very select few that executed that content well but The Fearless Duo also has sellable skill as well as several what the heck-sights that ranks it above lazier productions. At its core a revenge and master/student-story, Lau Ga-Yung annoys quite a bit but he, along with the movie, manages to keep annoyance off the radar to the extent where you actually appreciate the action- and physical efforts outside of the light tone. The Fearless Duo goes for playful, with varying degrees of success but some out there inclusions like suggested ghost-rape and a finale involving urine (and lots of it in a strangely dark way) gets noticed. It breaks out of a standard you expect out of a low budget kung-fu comedy and action-wise it nearly delivers in a terrific manner. When Lau is asked to demonstrate and fight seriously coupled with rage, his skills are undeniable (cocky he does not do well however) and coupled with the likes of Yuen Qiu and Hwang Jang-Lee responding equally well, it's no wonder you forget The Fearless Duo is expectedly lame at points. Merely points.

Fearless Fighters (1971) Directed by: Mo Man-Hung

Quick, efficient, to the point and with no unnecessary dialogue, Fearless Fighters is one of the very best Wuxia pieces of its kind, providing terrific energy, creative weaponry and only running 82 minutes. There's a good explanation though as to why all of a sudden a production such as this got polished and streamlined. It was a 1971 film originally but picked up in 1973 by Richard Ellman's independent distribution company. Dubbed and re-edited, Fearless Fighters went on to become a noticeable success in the relatively early days of exposure of this genre to American audiences. The now less complex movie features some simple strands of clan feud, betrayal, deceit and a case of gold but what a continually exciting blast it is. Mo Man-Hung (director of fan favourite Stormy Sun) lets the action speak, something that could've gone on a dull repeat but there's a seemingly endless creative force behind the film. Crude creativity but creativity nonetheless. As it's mainly a weapons movie and the US movie poster rightly showcased the versatile range we're about to witness, it's a decision paying off as we see the usual poisonous darts, flying hats but also crippled fighters with sneaky weapons, assassins dressed as vampires, whips, twin swords and more. Chen Hung-Lieh (Come Drink With Me) walks away with the highest honor in cool as the twin sword master.

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Fearless Hyena (1979) Directed by: Jackie Chan

While Jackie Chan in his directorial debut further continues to showcase that a kung-fu comedy hero needs to be essayed by a capable performer (rather than just being put in one and hope for the best), the earlier stages of Fearless Hyena both comedically and action-wise stumbles. But as he continues to hone his vision, that vision becomes inspiring and exhilarating within the development of this movie. Increasing the complexity, ideas and showing a highly tuned sense skill of delivering ridiculously complex action choreography, it's a wild mix of comedy and melodrama that somehow makes sense when that latter trait is apparent in the action too. Especially on the wild side of things, Chan learning the fighting style of anger, melancholy and laughter from Chan Wai-Lau is utterly bizarre and a delight. Also with James Tien who gets a couple of intricate fights with Jackie and Yen Shi-Kwan as the white haired villain of the piece.

Fearless Hyena II (1983) Directed by: Chan Chuen

Well into the successful run for Jackie Chan, producer Lo Wei decided to squeeze out what was left of his material and connection to the star through the unrelated/odd re-thread of Chan's 1979 directorial debut (that Lo Wei produced). Using deleted footage, scenes out of the earlier Chan vehicle Spiritual Kung Fu, doubles and new scenes, the result is desperate and largely impenetrable. While Yen Shi-Kwan and Chan Wai-Lau return and we get more footage with Chan, James Tien and Dean Shek, much on display was clearly cut for a reason and making use of poor footage just isn't the best terms a movie could be working from. Matching old and new is at times fairly seamless but the Chan doubling is as obvious as you'd imagine (at point he gets a silly hat, nose and moustache in order to appear on screen more). The final dual fight with the double and Austin Wai's character teaming up is merged with the end fight from 1979 and while the editing job is ok, the one thing that is becoming apparent is that Jackie's good quality footage in this new context becomes very tedious.

Feel 100% (1996) Directed by: Joe Ma

After acclaimed features Over The Rainbow, Under The Skirt and The Golden Girls, Joe Ma took a nosedive into mediocrity but not commercially as the twentysomething's rom/com Feel 100% (based on a comic book) became a success at the local box-office. Starring Ekin Cheng, Eric Kot and Sammi Cheng, they portray three friends since school who are now living life in a shallow way and not growing up. All not breaking pattern except Sammi's Cherie who is feeling the crush she has on Ekin's Jerry. He is feeling nothing but to fool around and Kot's Hui Lok goes on a risky venture by meeting up with a phone flirt (Christine Ng) who turns out to be all out insane. The "I learned something today..."-statements are not far away.

From a hot year for in particular Ekin Cheng, star of Young And Dangerous, the main men Andrew Lau and Manfred Wong behind that franchise perhaps looked to spawn more series but thankfully stopped early (Feel 100%, Once More followed, then key personnel except director Ma were out) despite the figures being in their favour. Feel 100% attempts a mix of upbeat, light and clownish behaviour mixed in with so called drama as our characters finally understand what the true love is in their lives. All fine and well but striking that balance in an awful way, Ma's film is the equivalent of tasteless chewing gum and that's not enough to earn any acclaim. Decent parodies of A Moment Of Romance and Mission Impossible rises the off-beat nature of the flick but lacking devotion towards anyone hurts it severely. The cast is pretty, wacky and are not asked to venture far outside of that realm. A sappy end montage offends the viewer, Christine Ng is earlier basically seen raping Eric Kot and then trying to commit suicide with him in the most odd tangent of the flick. Watch Ng, better style and emotions in Riley Yip's Love Is Not A Game, But A Joke instead.

Feng Shen Bang (1969) Directed by: Lin Chong-Guang & Yamanouchi Tetsuya

Although only available in Mandarin or Italian without subtitles currently, if you know the basic story of the protection deity Nezha from reading or watching movies such as Na Cha The Great (1974) or the animated feature Nezha Conquers The Dragon King (1979), the Taiwanese production Feng Shen Bang is very easy to understand. Going through the recognizable beats with a focus on big special effects, for an industry not known to dabble in effects to this degree, the execution here is admirable. Although matte shots expectedly are a little rough around the edges, the story elements like Nezha's fight with the dragon prince (involving our child actor on top of a big puppet) and the underwater kingdom of the dragon's are very well conceived. Imaginative costumes from that department as well, Feng Shen Bang keeps it up and doesn't spend it all in ONE special effects sequence. Yau Lung as Nezha would go on to reprise the role in the Shaw Brothers production Na Cha And The Seven Devils from the Japanese co-director of this film.

A Fiery Family (1989) Directed by: Wilson Tong

Cheap, poor, boring and even a little embarrassing action-drama from Wilson Tong, featuring his recurring teaming up with old school chums Norman Tsui and Gordon Lau, all once under the mighty wing of Lau Kar-Leung. Ending up being just another gangster actioner of its time, if you face direction where characters walk into camera as a way ending scenes and sappy montages for fallen characters, you know you're not in good hands. Even the action, blending some fisticuffs but mostly gunplay, is routinely staged and doesn't get enhanced one bit even as the blood is thrown around freely. Lo Lieh also take part in this one.

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