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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.

He & She (1994) Directed by: Lawrence Cheng

Yee (Anita Yuen) gets impregnated by lawyer Kit (director Lawrence Cheng) who promptly flees to his wife and back to Australia. Left in the caring hands of gay tailor Kai (Tony Leung Ka-Fai), they agree upon a marriage and to have him look after the baby while she pursues a career. After a while, everything flows so well that flamboyant Kai starts to experience love towards women again. Or rather one woman...

Director Cheng opts for select detours in elaborate camera work, especially the opening and closing shots that moves neatly through sets but he's otherwise telling a basic, synch sound story here. Basic not being an all out good remark hurled towards He & She. Mostly escaping a throughline concerning the stereotyping of homosexuals (actor Leung balances his act in that regard), Cheng doesn't quite smoothly set up the lead character's friendship for us to firmly believe it goes the places it does. It's much thanks to the lead's shining star power (although Anita Yuen runs a little bit too much on autopilot for my liking) that any of this goes affecting places. Much of what's communicated through the film, going through family rejection of your lifestyle (Leung has a finely played scene concerning this where he stays within a subtle range instead of the usual outbursts you would expect) and male abandonment, boils down to a view on marriage symbolizing the union as a project. A project that concerns safety first and foremost, something that threatens to disrupt when Lawrence Cheng's character pops up again to settle matters in court. The climax therefore feels out of touch with the reality of courtroom proceedings and is more a sequence that comes from a need to fulfill a structural duty (and prejudice makes sure to take a place in proceedings too). Still, He & She remains memorable for detours into the meaning of relationship and sexual confusion, anchored in the long run in a likable way by Tony Leung. Christine Ng, Annabelle Lau, Law Kar-Ying, Sheila Chan, Alex Fong, Kingdom Yuen and acclaimed director Jacob Cheung also appear.

Heartbeat 100 (1987) Directed by: Kent Cheng & Lo Kin

Writer Maggie (Maggie Cheung) takes her sister (Bonnie Law) to On Lok village for inspiration. Tagging along is Weeny Eyes (Liu Fong), a general pest and since long one that is head over heels in love with Maggie's sister. Their miserable stay at one of the village houses (number 13...subtle) gets disrupted one night as Maggie witnesses retarded neighbor, nick named Pink Panther (Wong Ching), being brutally murdered. Next day however, everything is all right with him and his uncle (Woo Fung)...

Co-directed by Kent Cheng (who also appears in a cameo), Heartbeat 100 succeeds more when not mixing suspense and brutal deaths with broad comedy (mostly coming from the annoying Liu Fong). The premise of a village of shady and bizarre individuals echo feelings of the Jamie Luk helmed The Case Of The Cold Fish, only directed more straight with more nods to horror. Cheng and co-director Lo Kin proves to be fairly adept at this but Heartbeat 100 doesn't become anything more than that as the mystery isn't all that original. However, it's a rare Hong Kong cinema genre attempt and the film proves to be an entertaining watch. Chiao Chiao, Lam Chung, Shing Fui On and Mark Cheng also appear.

Heart Of Killer (1995) Directed by: Andrew Kam

Andrew Kam (Red And Black) bid farewell to Hong Kong cinema with this recognizable action-drama, dealing with themes of brotherhood, sacrifice etc etc...yawn. But as luck would have it, long after John Woo made the themes an institution in modern day action cinema, Heart Of Killer still surprises.

Kam does log a work of varying quality as the pretentious factor can be pretty extreme and cause confusion at times. As can Max Mok's comedic presence do for your frustration vein. Kam holds surprises up his sleeve though in his possible ode to John Woo as he envelops Heart Of Killer in a hard boiled atmosphere, transformed strikingly by cinematographer Jim Pak Hung. Frankly, you wouldn't expect something as well shot from this initially nor that certain heroic bloodshed clichés actually possesses some genuine interest here. Action directing does suffer from all too tight and quick cut camerawork but one shootout in daylight is a nice reminder of the type of action that both John Woo and his gazzillion of imitators did well.

A winner but with emphasis on minor, Heart Of Killer possesses a interesting narrative and cool images that manages to overpower most of its flaws. Also starring Yu Rong Guang and Elaine Tung.

Heart To Hearts (1988) Directed by: Stephen Shin

Alex Lui's (George Lam) model girlfriend Peggy (Rosamund Kwan) leaves him and takes his beloved toilet seat with her. Working in advertising himself and feeling distressed, Alex accepts a part time gig as a choir leader. There he meets the not so talented Vivian (Vivian Chow) but things go as far as him casting her voice for a commercial. Then the overprotective, out of touch mother of Vivian, the character of Chu Lai Ngor (Carol Cheng) enters as she fears her daughter is having an affair with Alex. Being fooled by his friends that he's gay initially, the two do start to bond and eventually love is in the air. But Alex not being able to speak his mind during the right time and a clingy ex-girlfriend are two aspects that bring trouble to the relationship...

Shot in synch sound, creating a pleasant atmosphere and getting more than workable chemistry between his leads, Stephen Shin's romantic comedy doesn't break new ground, nor attempts to. It does make Heart To Hearts pretty slight though and Shin's attempts at consciously letting the movie conclude with a few loose ends isn't a fully developed thought. It tracks back to Alex's inability to say the right things at the right time and while admirable to not end the movie predictably, Shin has not stayed very true to his characters come ending time. Elaine Kam is great in a supporting role as Chu Lai Ngor's mouthy friend while Carina Lau, Lowell Lo, Chan Ging, Teddy Yip, Yuen Woo-Ping, Amy Yip, Lawrence Cheng, Michael Chow, Manfred Wong and Dennis Chan also appear.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com
Yesasia.com

A Hearty Response (1986) Directed by: Norman Law

Kwong Sun (Joey Wong) enters Hong Kong illegally from China and in order to buy herself time to get an ID, she fakes amnesia. Cop Bon (Chow Yun-Fat) has to look after her, actual truths are revealed and naturally, they fall for each other.

Time to bring in that immortal Anthony Wong quote once again; "We put everything into Hong Kong films except knowledge". Director Norman Law not so gently greets us with immigrants on the run, sadistic torture followed by buddy cop comedy shtick and the eventual romance between Chow Yun-Fat and Joey Wong's characters. Considering the fact that we have a few small plot strands instead of one coherent one makes A Hearty Response a prime suspect for one of those made up as they went along productions. When the running time also offers up a scene of Chow asking a kid to urinate into a man's mouth to see if he's faking unconsciousness, you know you're in typical Hong Kong cinema 80s fare. It's not a charming mix, it's not fun and when Norman Law goes all out for the uncomfortable and violent finale, almost all notions of acceptance goes out the window. Despite, A Hearty Response is a decent watch for fans of either stars as they look great together and the various stunts amidst the action choreography is terrific. Kent Cheng briefly appears as a dim-witted cop.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Heaven Can Help (1984) Directed by: David Chiang

All round bad luck plagues Mak Don Hugh's (Eric Tsang) life and he of course ends up dying horribly. Meeting demons in the afterlife (with horsemasks), they send him back as he's apparently not supposed to die until three others specifically have. So Mak sets out to try and change his destiny and steps into a murder plot with vicious killers...

Quite gloomy as shot but at the same time broad, David Chiang clearly sets out to mix the two heavily in order for it to meet somewhere in the middle as a darkly comical tale of destiny. While making little sense, the style set is infectious when especially mixing in heavy duty violence vs. Richard Ng as a pipe smoking detective with his own methods. Eric Tsang is therefore not the reason for acknowledging Heaven Can Help but it clearly belongs to the group of 80s new wave efforts with fresh, creative juice and that wasn't afraid of doom and gloom. Especially not comedic doom and gloom. Cherie Chung, Paul Chun and Charlie Chin co-stars.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Heaven Can't Wait (1995) Directed by: Lee Chi-Ngai

UFO produces yet another polished, well-performed vehicle with its stable of stars such as Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and if anything there lies a comfort knowing their movies won't be bottom of the barrel efforts. This one though is a bit too big for its boots but earns fair kudos as satire. Leung plays Fung, a con artist who finds his cash cow in the form of a creation he decides to call Master Da Da. The rather slow Chun (Jordan Chan) gets the honor of being the faith healer in question and is brought in to manipulate the media for the sake of a pop star and even big business out there in the world (including the stock market) is what Da Da is said to be able to predict. He becomes a sensation naturally and the satire of course involves media manipulation, followers believing in anything because of said manipulation but also actual self help not being executed gets a kick in the nads from the creators at UFO. Director Lee Chi-Ngai keeps it all rather slight, light and fun for most of the film and is not aiming for pretentious intelligence. A good stance that scores him points for awareness but the latter, BIG sections of the film are way too cartoony and the grip of satire slips out of the grips of UFO. It's downright impenetrable the final sections of the film. Also starring Bowie Lam, Karen Mok and Jerry Lamb.

Heavenly Spell (1991) Directed by: Ma On

Some convoluted nonsense about the girl Fang whose sister dies that then connects to a river goddess that then leads to a war between wizard masters and jewels... the mere curiosity about this low budget black magic movie is the fact that it's a composite of footage the sparse Hong Kong cast & crew shot and an old Thai movie on the same subject. Featuring C-talent from the likes of Witchcraft Vs Curse and Body Lover full on or barely interacting with the original movie (that has significantly lower quality source material, making the cutting back and forth very easy to spot), little fun energy is present aside from footage from the Thai production where the hero Master Linghuan wrestles with the river goddess that comes in the form of an inanimate mini Loch Ness monster with red bulbs in its eyes. Ed Wood would've been proud.

He-Born To Kill (1993, Li Chien-Ping)

Behind the choppy English title and the surface of a low budget Taiwanese gangster picture we find a thoughtful character-piece. Or a very decently attempted one that should've had more room to maneuver. Jack Kao is Sing Fa-Cheng whose poor childhood leads him to to the decision that he wants to kill, he wants money, he'd rather be cruel than fair and his idols are Middle Eastern leaders and dictators. A one note character that feels frightening in the hands of the exceptional Kao and director Li Chien-Ping is quite dedicated to character-depth such as the bloodthirsty man being haunted by his actions. It works when it pops up sporadically but that does not complete the picture. The rest, played out mostly in ill-conceived flashback (meaning we see Alex Man's cop die early in the film), is standard gang warfare but with enough watchable teeth (including in the firepower and blood squibs-department). Spotty but admirable. Also with Pauline Chan.

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