# 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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Final Target (1994) Directed by: Ridley Tsui

Friends Sing (Ridley Tsui) and Chung (Karel Wong) are taken in to be part of Brother Ki's (Eddy Ko) triad organization, despite the former's insistence on not doing anything illegal. With Sing rising in rank and confidence in the eyes of Ki though, the screw-up Chung's resentment is growing to the degree where betrayal and murder will be the necessary cause of action. Ki's woman Yung (Erica Choi) has also caught the eye of Sing, especially since she's living in an abusive relationship with Ki...

Shot on a shoestring budget clearly, Tsui actually spreads out his elements of thriller, focus on narrative and action very well and the whole package is a solid movie from a storytelling point. All basic stuff but casting well across the board (Karel Wong is highly enjoyable when heinous as always, without going over the top) and providing a fine mix of gunplay, painful stunts and fights, Final Target is a reason to open your eyes to Ridley Tsui's skills as a filmmaker.

The Final Test (1987) Directed by: Lo Gin

A rare venture for Hong Kong into sci-fi territory but not the first time them borrowing a plot outline from somewhere else. In the case of The Final Test, you'll recognize the plot beats from the Sean Connery movie Outland (1981) but The Final Test is spiced up with enough Hong Kong uniqueness to make it its own and it's bad choice. Sum Ying Mo (Austin Wai, not a successful action, comedic or romantic lead) becomes the new security chief at a mine and uncovers a plot where the workers are injected with a drug called LAXO49 in order to increase productivity. An operation headed by the foreman played by Blacky Ko and the mine doctor Jo Jo (Deborah Sims). Ying Mo digs deeper, romances Jo Jo and in the end has her by his side to shoot and kick his way through the plant leading up to the suspicious plant manager (Yuen Wah) who is more often than not occupied with his Space Invaders gaming session...

Austin Wai largely hams it up and when Billy Lau enters as one of the security staff, the movie largely grates. Clashing with all this is the various scenes of harsher violence, fight action and even rape plus the future design of the mine is rather poorly realized. Putting fences inside and shooting in a factory, it hovers into low budget territory that didn't do the movie any favours in the 80s. It's just poor but the similarities in costumes to that of the TV-series V is amusing. The second half picks up considerably and moves along at a snappier pace thanks to an ejection of clownish comedy. The lack of true sci-fi weaponry or any refined gunplay is ok as director Lo Gin (Fatal Love) barely stops to breathe and Yuen Wah at the end turning into a robotic fighter is a classic sight that redeems the movie for an all too short while. The undeserved dark ending does spoil the positives a lot though. Also appearing, Chin Siu-Ho, Eric Tsang, Mandy Chan and future acclaimed director Jacob Cheung in a fighting role (!).

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Yesasia.com

Final Victory (1987) Directed by: Patrick Tam

As Big Brother Bo (Tsui Hark) is about to go to jail, lowly triad Hung (Eric Tsang) gets awarded the task of looking after two mistresses of his, Sue (Margaret Lee) and Mimi (Loletta Lee). They're difficult to contain and along the way some kind of bravery in Hung makes Mimi fall for him. Question is, how will this breach of confidence go down with the imprisoned Bo?

Written by Wong Kar-Wai and being a departure from the majority of the scripts he was behind at the time (including The Haunted Cop Shop) in the way it leans more towards black comedy, drama and arthouse. A strange little off-beat creature therefore, directed by Patrick Tam (My Heart Is That Eternal Rose). Strange in the way it seems to wander endlessly without a purpose, churning out black comedy that is merely amusing but all of a sudden Wong and Tam turns the film into a coherent one. Then there's the big problem of believing in the love story between Tsang and Loletta Lee but Tam pours on the style, making this work a fairly immersing one. In the end it's still a frame that's more clear to the filmmakers than the audience but it's worth the time spent. Eric Tsang puts in admirable dramatic acting although his efforts at this time was still rough but instead it's Tsui Hark that impresses with a convincingly menacing performance. Aided by writing and direction quite a lot obviously but it's the rare chance for Tsui to not done his goofy persona when in front of the camera. Dennis Chan and Chen Jing also briefly appear.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Fingers On The Trigger (1984) Directed by: Ang Saan

The police, led by Inspector K K Lee (Melvin Wong) seeks a limping man for a murder on the streets of Hong Kong. The connection is former cop and partner to KK Lee, Fan Kun (Stanley Fung) who is desperate to raise money for his sick son...

With some stylish point of view shots for a production such as this during the opening, director Ang Saan provides an assured hand to the almost straight proceedings. The desperation of Fan Kun and the drama connecting his character to KK Lee, it is done according to formulaic expectations so assured hand doesn't mean anything more than fair. But stable Hong Kong cinema, infused with a good sense of providing gritty violence, it gets you places of acceptance on the small scale. Also with Margaret Lee as the love interest of Fan Kun's character and her body double to raise the gratuitous nudity factor for no valid reason whatsoever.

Fire Bulls (1966) Directed by: Lee Ga, Lee Hang & Pai Ching-Jui

The Yen Army is closing in on the territory of the Chi's and their main town so it's up to General Tien Tan to gather troops and the little man against a much greater force. Oh yea and the bulls help too...

An impressive epic scale-wise and the trio of directors brings us some mighty quantity within their images. Engaging on a pretty nonexistent level otherwise when portraying the struggles and suffering of the people vs. the various palace intrigue and strategy, Fire Bulls is an attempt that stops at way above average grade technically. Only.

Fire Dragon (1994) Directed by: Yuen Woo-Ping

One of Yuen Woo-Ping's forgotten 90s new wave martial arts efforts, probably because it's very hard to own this on dvd. Rebel fighter Yuen Ming (Max Mok) must protect an important letter with content that can expose the corrupt Chinese government. Sent to retrieve the letter is Ma, the Fire Dragon (Brigitte Lin) and she infiltrates the small village where Yuen Ming has settled. Along the way the cold blooded Ma's kind hearted side is awaken and the time comes when she must decide where her loyalty lies...

A plot that divides it's time between lowbrow comedy and political intrigue would normally not work for me but thanks to the casting of Sandra Ng, this former element becomes much more enjoyable. By the second half we are happy to leave it behind us though and watch the serious action unfold. Surprisingly little action for a lot of the time but what's shown is a very compelling mixture of over the top wire work and, to my delight, ground based choreography (courtesy of Yuen Cheung Yan). On display are also a high number of well executed fire- and pyrotechnic gags, an aspect that really shines in the finale. Max Mok equips himself well in the first role I've seen him do outside of the Once Upon A Time In China-series and Brigitte Lin provides the necessary depth to sell the journey her character goes through.

Fire Phoenix (1990) Directed by: Wong Chun-Yeung

Wong Chun-Yeung (Dreaming The Reality) to me is a director who uses the tactic of throwing everything possibly against the wall of movie content until something sticks. Usually, it doesn't stay for very long and while Fire Phoenix isn't a whole lot different from his other actioners, it does things at such a high pitch, creating an entertaining distracting in the long run. Francis Ng and Sibelle Hu BOTH have fighting roles with Ng doing admirably well as he is clearly doing choreography for longer takes but is really flailing his arms and legs more than anything. His Mantis style against Mark Houghton is a sight though. Playing against the likes of Alex Fong, Carrie Ng, Alex Man (another performance based on growling) and Sandra Ng, initially this means a whole lot of action sans style but some of the stuntmen under action director Chui Fat showcases their talents well. Francis is comedic relief for the first few reels but seeing as director Wong want to have this carrousel spinning at top speed, Sandra Ng and Shum Wai turn into representatives of the intense "comedic" side to Fire Phoenix. At best, Sandra is a fine comedienne, at other times like here, she's really the female equivalent of Dean Shek. Still, it's a short and breezy package where guns, gore and sophomoric behaviour rules but I've had worse.

There are a number of movies from this time where Francis Ng and Alex Fong have shared the screen, a match up that would be a character acting heaven these days. What we know today is that they needed to grow older and that Fong needed to shave. Rest is history...in the making.

First Love: The Litter On The Breeze (1997) Directed by: Eric Kot

Who would've thought that aggravating comic Eric Kot, who directed arguably the most abnormal episode of 4 Faces Of Eve would go on to log a scattered yet emotionally felt arthouse experiment? I certainly didn't and generally not being a fan of this genre of cinema either, First Love: The Litter On The Breeze genuinely is flawed as well as being some kind of great gem of proportions hard to define.

Kot is an extremely conscious guy, opting to give the film a direction where we're instead watching the making of the arthouse film backed by Wong Kar-Wai (producer) and Christopher Doyle (cinematographer). Kot appears in video segments talking about trying to find a direction for his musings on first love, seemingly making up crap as he goes along (true old school way of creating fine Hong Kong films) and aiding us through it all via visual- and audio commentary at select points.

If it sounds frantic and fragmented, you wouldn't have assumed wrong and Kot's laid back attitude and actually mistreatment of the audience is perhaps the biggest delight of his film. Kot eventually finds two stories he likes, going over unusual, joyous first love and love where destruction has entered. It's the quirky touches on display, ones that Kot in his commentary acknowledges aren't meant for interpretation (a sly dig at viewers wanting to interpret every single frame and one of many examples of the kind of off-beat humour served up) that eventually leads into visual poetry of a rather felt kind. Aided by an equally quirky but perfect score for Kot's surroundings, anti-arthouse camps should give First Love: The Litter On The Breeze a shot. It isn't a chore to find Kot's telling moments. It's instead a lot of fun watching him come to a conclusion that is as meaningful for his characters as it is for him as a director. Our firsts aren't perfect but as delightful as anything we as humans can ever experience. With Takeshi Kaneshiro and Karen Mok.

First Shot (1993) Directed by: David Lam

Dealing with the formation The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) for a second time in 2 years (prior year saw the release of Powerful Four), David Lam is pretty much using historical and crucial points in Hong Kong history as springboard for the action picture he's crafting. But compared to Powerful Four, this time Lam realizes earlier that he's no history professor but a professor of good looking Hong Kong cinema and action.

Ti Lung plays Wong Yat Chung who's miraculously survived being shot at the hands of rookie cop Sam Mok (Simon Yam) who's one of the many in the police force drawn to the money there is in being corrupted. Solicitor Annie Ma (Maggie Cheung) contacts Wong to head the Internal Revenue as a way of trying to clear out corruption. Recruiting a trigger happy pretty boy (Andy Hui), a Bruce Lee fanatic (Lau Sek-Ming) and Sam Mok as a way of making him pay back, the quartet have their hands full as many of their fellow officers are continually accepting money from powerful gangster Lui Tai Chiu (Waise Lee). The closer they get, the more the bloodshed and violence increases on a personal level.

A movie not overbearing with period detail but nevertheless captures the 1970s well, there's more immediacy in First Shot compared to Powerful Four and Lam gets us far by tapping into the passion for the cause within Ti Lung. A few too broad strokes are present such as when our leads go undercover at a gay nightclub but overall David Lam achieves an entertaining balance of portraying something important and mixing it up with Tony Leung Siu-Hung's intense action directing. In particular Baat Leung-Gaam as the assassin popping up everywhere gets a terrific showcase for the danger needed within such a character. First Shot therefore gets the honorary grade of being good looking, honed Hong Kong action cinema and the BASIC (merely basic) history lesson included isn't at all bad to have taken to heart as well.

First Strike (1996) Directed by: Stanley Tong

First Strike ,or unofficially the 4th installment in the Police Story series, sees Stanley Tong returning as director and co-action choreographer after the excellent Police Story III: Supercop. Featuring a plethora of global locations and plenty of Jackie Chan creativity (the superb ladder fight has outtakes written all over it and right on cue, that appears in the end credits), it's not unexpected that the actual storyelement to the film is weak. Where Police Story III succeeded was in providing even entertainment while First Strike suffers from a dull first half. Second half is sparkling with energy however and most fans should be pleased with this despite it being the worst in the series so far.

First Strike is difficult to own on dvd due to neither version being ideal. It's either cut, dubbed or subtitle less but Mei Ah's original vcd is uncut, has the correct language track (which is a mixture of Cantonese, Mandarin, English and Russian) and English subtitles.

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