# 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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The Great Hunter (1975) Directed by: Larry Tu

The movie deserves kudos for playing it straight and not going for a typical kung-fu template (a militia leader is assassinated, Jimmy Wang Yu is after the truth, revenge etc baked in there) but a potentially cool atmosphere, memorable character image and a sinister tone attempted gets squandered by pure boredom and incoherence. A confrontation between Chan Hung-Lieh and Jimmy Wang Yu where they're trying to outduel each other underneath the courtesy and Chang Yi's projectile weapon during the finale livens up matters very little and The Great Hunter is one of usually dependable Jimmy's worst movies of the 70s. Also with Chia Ling and Hsu Feng.

The Great Pretenders (1991) Directed by: Ronny Yu

About conmen with a focus on gambling and to act as Robin Hood's by donating the scammed money to charity. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Simon Yam, Amy Yip and Raymond Wong leads the group while Ronny Yu directs in much light-hearted fashion. The actors are largely in exaggerated mode, you'll get an overabundance of gambling scenes (in particular involving mahjong) and at times the film is even a little insulting. For once it's only a little though and unlike Fat Choi Spirit, prior knowledge of much of anything set at the gambling tables isn't needed. There's even a gag or two that manages to register as clever (the presence of Amy Yip and Teddy Robin means the expected in terms of comedy though) and the whole tone leans towards unremarkable but suitably breezy. Assembly line product ever so slightly but it's nothing to be ashamed of. Also with Leung Tin and Lok Wai.

Great Shanghai 1937 (1986, Chang Cheh)

Part historical piece about the Japanese occupying Shanghai that then gives way for a bit of an anonymous gangster story with a fairly wild variety of action. Chang Cheh adheres to part modern gunplay aura with bloody but not well honed results (the reaction of the stuntmen is off in these scenes in particular). But through various assassination attempts and a steady stream of action, he amps the entertainment factor by echoing his days spent making kung fu- and swordplay movies. Meaning a lot of his heroes, despite being in the modern era of guns, use their kicks and punches but also fun, concealed weaponry (cue gory end results). Plus Chang Cheh has his then roster of physically talented action performers (most of which are his choreography team as well) and the somewhat quirky mixture makes total sense. Attaching to the bloody brotherhood drama is nearly impossible however.

The Great Wall (2016, Zhang Yimou)

Throughout the years I always enjoyed the idea of co-productions that merged with stars of cinema I follow and that idea still makes me interested in 2017. So my motivation going in was not Zhang Yimou since I like his smaller stories way better, it was not Matt Damon or really that it was a monster movie but that it had Andy Lau in a movie with Matt Damon and monsters. The scope of the whole affair and production values is nothing that raises the heart-rate but I suppose the clever angle by Zhang Yimou and the creators is the battle with the monsters and that it plays out at a fast moving 100 minutes. Taking this scope and stripping it down to a short monster feature is a rather entertaining idea… even if ultimately the movie comes and goes quickly and IS completely throwaway. But Andy does well in a Mandarin and English language performance, the co-production aspect generates sufficient performances overall and it’s all a perfectly fine time that you don’t need in your life whatsoever either. For Hong Kong film fans who have not had the chance to see Andy Lau on the big screen, DEFINITELY watch it for that experience and in support.

The Green Hornet (1994) Directed by: Lam Ching Ying

One of few attempts by Hong Kong cinema to exploit, if you will, the character of The Green Hornet (or rather his Chinese partner that Bruce Lee played on American television). Only other film in this regard that springs to mind is the wonderfully hokey Bruce Lee Against Supermen and truth be told, that ain't much better or worse than Lam Ching Ying's interpretation here. Which is a shame as this was Lam's last of two films he directed (the other being Vampire Vs Vampire) and one of his last appearances ever in Hong Kong films before passing away in 1997.

Shot on the cheap and therefore assigning itself to B-movie territory, that would be fine if there was some minute charm in the production as well. As it stands, Lam can't take these low grade sensibilities and spice it up Hong Kong style, which was really the only way The Green Hornet was ever going to work. Lead Chin Ka-Lok undoubtedly flashes his acrobatics well and the fighting tricks by the character can be compelling but it's way too rare and poorly captured on film. With no compelling story behind our hero either, like the best of the super-hero movies have, little is worth caring for and especially so since leading lady Esther Kwan (Run And Kill) is joining the legion of annoying female sidekicks with her performance. Lam himself has some very minute, worthwhile low-key comedy moments but the film is not the high water mark for the immortal legend Lam Ching Ying became. He had such a great selection of screen performances behind him anyway so The Green Hornet will never tarnish that reputation. Turn to Black Mask if you want a better spectacle in the vein of Bruce Lee's Kato character though. Co-starring is Yu Rong Guang and Lam Fai-Wong.

The Green Jade Statuette (1978) Directed by: Lee Tso-Nam

The search for the titular statuette, secrets, twists, turns, changed alliances, kung-fu... yes it does present a rather basic time but Lee Tso-Nam (Shaolin Vs Lama), who usually could, can NOT elevate The Green Jade Statuette out of strictly average. The packed character gallery plus a fairly talky plot aside, the main element never becomes a shining star here. While the choreography (especially the various two on one's) is intense and certainly accomplished, the breakout feeling that could make a middle of the road kung fu-picture stand out is lacking and The Green Jade Statuette passes by without much impact. Starring Mang Fei, Chi Kuan-Chun, Hu Chin, Wong Goon-Hung, Lung Fei and Phillip Ko.

Green Snake (1993) Directed by: Tsui Hark

Tsui Hark's apparently much beloved AND hated Wuxia effort and for someone coming into the experience that is Green Snake so many years after everyone else, I was eager to try and figure out why. Whether it's right or not, one can sense that the very apparent parallels to modern social commentary towards Chinese ruling forces is way too overbearing depending on the viewer. Yet, it's ok to disconnect those train of thoughts because this Seasonal production sweeps you away through its layered portrayal about the definition of humanity.

Based on the Chinese folktale of White and Green Snake (portrayed by Joey Wong and Maggie Cheung respectively), the two are attempting to perfect the human form, especially Cheung's Green, and come to an understanding of what it takes to be one. Closely following their supernatural trail is a powerful monk (Vincent Zhao - The Blade) who sees the human land as monstrous and in presence of evil that can't co-exist with the real world. A scholar (Wu Hsin Kuo - Temptation Of A Monk) is also the subject of White's love but that love threatens to be diminished by the always present monk, trying himself to attain the highest power of enlightenment...

A re-visit to the ways of A Chinese Ghost Story yet not, a single train of thought but a complex one runs through Green Snake. Tsui Hark expertly creates a stunning visual palette that is his Wuxia world. An expected beautiful place with alluring atmosphere but also a horrific one at times, through the eyes of Zhao's monk character, not unlike anything this viewer ever witnessed from this new wave era that Tsui Hark basically headlined. Aiming for an erotic aura via the snakes, it's a choice and behaviour that seems logical in Green and White's quest for answers and through performers Wong and Cheung, Tsui achieves a sexiness that doesn't seem sacrificed for the Cat II rating. More than ever the wild and creative visual mind of Tsui Hark is also showcased, in particular during any shots at the snake house and the majority of special effects enhancements works (the often mentioned reveal of the snakes, the magic crane and ropey CGI detracts but not on the whole). James Wong and Mark Lui's score is also mesmerizing, being highly in tune with the hypnotic effect that runs through the film. Veteran Tien Feng appears briefly.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Green Tea (2003) Directed by: Zhang Yuan

Graduate student Wu Fang (Vicky Zhao) and Chen Mingliang (Jiang Wen) hook up via a blind date and one conversation over green tea and coffee turns into several. Subjects cropping up often is Chen's recent break-up with his fiancee, Wu Fang's disgust with violence against women but mainly a story of Wu Fang's friends parents which started with a lie and spiraled into unheard of darkness. While visiting a piano bar with his friend, Chen makes advances at the beautiful woman playing the piano and it's Wu Fang... only with her hair down and with less of a buttoned up, conservative aura around her. She says she's called Lang Lang however...

Zhang Yuan (Little Red Flowers) doesn't make it easy for anyone and especially not come ending time so this mystery of a possible doppelganger, possibly the same person that for whatever reason takes on an evening persona and a day persona, survives and pays off. At least according to my own interpretation of the film. Captivating us via two characters mostly talking, all this is spiced up with gorgeously composed and dreamy cinematography by Christopher Doyle. The camera loves Vicky and she beautifully represents the mystery and questions surrounding the film. All while the somewhat rough Chen goes through personal therapy with the two characters, dealing with his hatred for prior break-up among other things. It's a thin line Zhang Yuan balances well on and since he barely is clear about what it all IS about, Green Tea will surely be a hit and miss affair across the board of critics. I got something out of it that means something to me.

Guardian Angel (1994) Directed by: Phillip Ko

Phillip Ko echoes the ways of IFD by crafting a new movie consisting of footage with Yukari Oshima and Ricky Davao wrapped around the 1993 action-erotica Sexual Harrasser. The merger is apparent, coherency is not and the cheap, weak action (plus a few sex scenes thrown in to bump the rating) doesn't make you go with it. It's crude, boring, abstract and with a very quick conclusion that doesn't seem to conclude much of anything.

Guards Of Shaolin (1984, William Cheung)

Also known as Ninja Vs Shaolin Guards and Hero Of Shaolin and credited to an additional two directors (both Korean), this suggests a co-production that prepped this martial arts movie for their respective market. At any rate, watching the English dubbed version reveals narrative- and technical efficiency (as well as martial arts mastery of the highest order). This is a mostly shot outdoors road movie whose bread and butter is the fight scenes but Guards Of Shaolin possesses a confidence that means it's going to let the basic reign, dial down the comedy to a sound nature which then makes room for jaw dropping choreography. Within the different pieces of scenery (seasons really judging by the appearance of snow after a while) that's also lensed beautifully for a film of this nature, star Alexander Lo Rei and Robert Tai put together a fight package of fast, intense, impactful and most importantly varied nature. With a roster of performers responding effortlessly to the intricacy and need for lingering effect required of them, Guards Of Shaolin stands as one of the finest example of a kung fu movie stripping filler away to make room for genre conception and grand execution.

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