# 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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Happy Together (19??) Directed by: ?

There's merely sparse info available on this seemingly Taiwan produced drama released by Ocean Shores on laserdisc in 1991. That copyright date as available on Hong Kong Movie Database essentially only had the home video release date to go by but the movie clearly is at least 8 or 10 years older. Centering around a trio of women who continually gets dealt the bad hand in life, past and present money issues (among many other things) dictates they need to go into prostitution. It's a foul, depressing destiny and despite seeking to secure themselves financially in relationships, there's always something that throws them off the right track. Be it rapes, venereal disease and more.

Both dull and uninteresting, the above content could connect Happy Together to the hostess genre in Hong Kong exploitation but the movie plays out its cards in such a non-dramatic fashion. That could've meant a desire to be subtle but it's a snoozefest of indistinct drama, characters and rather cheap melodrama. Often set to 80s music by among others Cyndi Lauper and Phil Collins (the alternate Cantonese track on the laserdisc contains nothing of this, suggesting it was prepared some time later), these powerful and emotional tracks are at best used as incidental music for the utmost wrong scenes. No emotional push where there could've been one... even if a fake one. The ending is set to a higher gear but is not a lifesaver to turn the movie into a basic but watchable punishing time.

Hard As A Dragon (1974) Directed by: Raymond Lui

Starring, directed by, written by and co-choreographed by Raymond Lui, he puts himself front and center in a movie designed for action. Thankfully being an early 70s basher with a thin plot as a springboard for kung fu, Lui and crew delivers. Featuring plentiful scenes of hard hitting and primal martial arts, Hard As A Dragon (aka The Tiger Jump) does surprisingly well considering it exists for one thing only.

Hard Touching (1995) Directed by: Cheng Ming

A direct to video release from Danny Lee's production company Magnum, Hard Touching definitely does reek of your age old cop soap drama, with just a hint of more gory violence added. Many genre bound clichés are recycled including the opening reel with personal death in the family for the main character, a supremely evil villain and the crazy girl bound for redemption at the hands of our supercop (played rather confidently by Alex Fong). Imbedding a message about Hong Kong cops in need to shape up, director Cheng Ming invests in forced style throughout (smoke and titled angles) but somehow makes the short running time feel less like a punishment as we move on. It's very much on par with a cheap 35 mm production and Cheng does deliver violence that ranks up there with one such. That's not an actual reason to approach the film however. Also appearing is Joey Man and Patrick Hon.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Hard To Kill (1992) Directed by: Phillip Ko

Using Walter Hill's Red Heat as a reference or blueprint (plus incorporating scenes from Fatal Termination with Simon Yam), Phillip Ko takes Robin Shou's cop to the Philippines to hunt down a drug dealer (played by the director). Teaming up with a buffoon (and later Yukari Oshima) from the local police department called King Kong who wears a gun holster/bra, it's on. In fact that's a lie, it's all off. Grating humour (a Stephen Chow joke is just bad inside humour) and pedestrian to even dull direction, some saving grace come in the form of mild energy and major squib-work in the shootouts.

The Haunted Cop Shop II (1988) Directed by: Jeff Lau

Jeff Lau reunites his main cast (Jacky Cheung & Ricky Hui) for the sequel to his very energetic original. Energetic being one of the great, big compliments on The Haunted Cop Shop. The sequel sees Cheung and Hui alongside their superior (Woo Fung also reprising his role) trying to put together a crack team of vampire busters at a haunted military camp. No one told them about the haunted aspect though and it's struggles from day one. Best way to learn really...

That Jeff Lau manages to maintain such a frantic pace without losing sight of the entertainment value (even though this type of film is very uniquely Hong Kong so your Hollywood movie fan friends may scratch their heads) is a testament to his particular skills. While thoroughly silly, low-brow and downright childish, Lau has a great pulse on the energy to his horror-comedy, even delivering dependent scares and gore along the way. Billy Lau returns as the loopy twin brother of his character from the first film. The reveal is not quite on par with Chow Yun-Fat's return in A Better Tomorrow II but Lau is good fun. The subplot of Ricky Hui's predicament as a half-man, half-vampire (he only got one bite you see) threatens to be a boring echo of a similar plotline the actor was faced with in Mr. Vampire but Jeff neatly avoids that and makes it an worthwhile inclusion as part of the comedy. Also with Charlie Cho, Sandy Lam and Barry Wong.

Buy the VCD at:
HK Flix.com

The Haunted Madam (1986) Directed by: Tony Liu

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Farce, dark humour and straight faced horror collide in Tony Liu's (Holy Flame Of The Martial World) wild experience. It's rather a haunted quartet of policewomen that after a fortune telling know their respective fates (be it beaten, raped or killed) will come at the hand of the first man they meet. It seems to be leaning towards their superior Pei (Siu Yuk-Lung - Possessed) but in reality the hand of fate will be the work of Taoist magic terminator (Jason Piao) now turned terminator spirit with a penchant for possession. Liu's said Shaw Brother's extravaganza won't be threatened but a crazy nature comes with The Haunted Madam that is often entertaining. A raid on an apartment complex containing a cross dressing lunatic with two guns isn't light stuff per say but black humour executed with belief. When mostly then dealing with one of the ladies being the victim of possession and when in that mode doing cartwheels in her aerobics outfit, Liu strikes a fun balance between the scares and dark comedy. Especially via the animated special effects of the time that is performed without hesitation or fear. The green light accompanying Piao's entrances are an example of that, yet it's not laughable. Of course it all can't reach similar efforts such as Possessed (and in particular its sequel) but The Haunted Madam is fairly close to cult status despite.

Haunted Tales (1980) Directed by: Chor Yuen & Mou Tun-Fei

Chor Yuen (Killer Clans, The Bastard) and Mou Tun-Fei (Lost Souls, Men Behind The Sun) helms one of the haunted tales respectively, a format by popular demand (?) usually consisting of three stories but here split into two. Chor portrays the mysterious, ghostly surroundings of Yali (Cheng Lee), effectively blurring the line between reality and possibly illusion. Fine use of colours and rather freakish make-up effects makes this one flow. Also starring Ling Yun and Lam Jan-Kei.

Greed and sleaze is everywhere and unholy activities in between will not please the saucer spirit as Mou Tun-Fei speaks of in his short story. Chan Shen is a grade A, smelly loser who gets otherworldly assistance to win the lottery but doesn't quite shape up as a human being after given the chance. Mou amps the nudity and injects little to none class into the proceedings therefore. Certainly passes the time but the finale contains a worthwhile, tension-filled gamble about Chan Shen's characters wealth and a gory comeuppance worthy of the plot content.

Buy the VCD at:
HK Flix.com

Have Sword, Will Travel (1969) Directed by: Chang Cheh

December 1969 saw the release of Dead End and Have Sword, Will Travel, two movies that firmly (especially the latter) showcased a strong pairing of on-screen and behind the scenes talent. Namely the so called 'Iron Triangle' consisting of director Chang Cheh and stars David Chiang and Ti Lung. Collaborating frequently from this point in a variety of genres and settings, Have Sword, Will Travel stands out alongside movies such as The Blood Brothers (1973) as one of the very best. In particular as a drama. Expert swordsman Siang (Ti Lung) is set to wed his partner in action Yun Piao Piao (Li Ching) but first their mission is to protect the annual transfer of money by aged swordsman Lord Yin (Cheng Miu) to the capital. A trip rife with peril and keeping an eye on the gang Chao Hong (Ku Feng) heads, the couple bumps into Lo Yi (David Chiang) and his horse (expect to cry for the horse by the way), a poor swordsman with only a horse and high level of skill to his name. Looked at as one of Chao Hong's men by Siang, Piao Piao sees the humble human in Lo Yi...

Opening with a stylish red background fighting showcase and soon cementing the fact that the short bursts or extensive swordplay will be of high caliber (choreographed by Tong Gai and Yuen Cheung-Yan. One of the few Chang Cheh movies of this era Lau Kar-Leung didn't work on), amidst this technical excellence (the Shaw sets are one notch above incredible this time) we have the mystery of Chiang's Lo Yi engaging highly. With a line by Li Ching at a dinner table directed at Chiang's character essentially meaning she is the first to truly see him, Chang Cheh, as is often the case from this era, beautifully underplays their relationship and via the sadness of David Chiang touches audiences like so many have forgot Chang could. The portrayal of heroism, brotherhood and awesome feats of splitting chopsticks in four, Have Sword, Will Travel is quite the rare example where it feels you're discovering Shaw Brothers for the first time. And you can't stop feeling giddy about or reduce the awe of watching the inspiring style on display (the select slow motion shots of wire work and the incredible leaps into the air by characters is particularly effective and the cobweb clad pagoda finale is terrific). Add a stolen but perfect soundtrack for the action, melancholy and very well executed gore effects, the film is a first for the cast & crew in a firm way and from the beginning, the magic happened. Later on the magic happened every now and again combined with the team feeling they could relax a little bit in movies such as Four Riders. Yet no one minded, nor should anyone.

The Head Hunter (1982) Directed by: Lau Shing Hon

An early Chow Yun-Fat vehicle at Seasonal, obviously drawing inspirations from the acclaimed The Story Of Woo-Viet (that Chow starred in the year before), with intentions to examine the effects of war, settling of old scores and biological warfare played out within the higher ranks in politics. All well intended but director Lau Shing Hon merely makes sure to feature those plot points and never does anything significant with them. Chow Yun-Fat showcases charisma and effective coldness but has nothing to work with, making The Head Hunter more or less a curiosity only. While director Lau Shing Hon proves to be adept at shooting gritty violence and is suitably hand off in the visuals department, which lends itself well to a gritty reality, it is simply not enough. Rosamund Kwan and Phillip Chan co-stars.

Mei Ah debuted The Head Hunter on dvd under its alternate title The Long Goodbye but for whatever reason presented a rather drastic re-edit which included the removal of the political subplot in the film. The remaster therefore runs approximately 13 minutes shorter than the theatrical edit! Not only that but the original voice looping for the Cantonese track (that featured Chow doing his own dubbing) have been replaced all together, along with certain music cues. A subtitled vhs release was once in circulation as well as a vcd sans subtitles but the closest thing you'll find to an uncut print is Treeline's English dubbed dvd (runtime 97.06 NTSC). Quality is pretty murky but mostly watchable and the original aspect ratio is mostly intact, save for a few scenes that revert to 1:5:1 approximately. Reportedly, three censorship cuts for violence were required at the time of release but both Treeline's and Mei Ah's remaster have these scenes intact. For more details regarding what's edited out of Mei Ah's dvd, read John Charles review at Hong Kong Digital.

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father! (1993) Directed by: Peter Chan & Lee Chi-Ngai

image stolen with permission from lovehkfilm.com

Tony Leung Chiu-Wai plays the über bad son Chor Yuen who after lashing out against his father (Tony Leung Ka-Fai in mediocre old age make-up) finds out he's fallen into a coma after fighting a robber. Feeling hate to the degree that he even has sex with a nurse in the hospital, Chor soon finds himself in front of a wishing hole for kids that he manages to fall into only to wake up in the 60s! Here he finds his parents (mom being played by Carina Lau who is also in a fat suit in the present scenes) living on Memory lane, all thin and beautiful and thus begins the journey towards appreciating his parents and ancestors...

A box-office hit from UFO, providing overly narrated, warm, suitable, star-filled family entertainment without taking as much as a risk in the process. Which is kind of why He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father! doesn't feel special but in a weird way irresistible. Back To The Future did the whole scenario much better and while the Peter Chan/Lee Chi-Ngai helmed local flick does travel sufficiently, it does feel somewhat closer to heart of its audience. Which isn't a bad thing and certainly UFO's intention to the T. But watching the parade of stars conquer issues of love for parents, love for your girl, your children, overcoming debts, gambling habits while at later points break out into sing and dance and doing a bit of dress-up as Indians, the product becomes rather infectious. Anita Yuen, Lawrence Cheng, Anita Lee, the real Chor Yuen, Valerie Chow, Michael Chow, Jacob Cheung and Waise Lee also appear.

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