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Hidden Desire (1991) Directed by: Ho Fan

Veronica Yip's path from being a coveted Category III girl to acclaimed dramatic actress started intensely with three films streaking down the finish line towards Call Girl 92. First out of the gate was Hidden Desire. with Yip in a supporting "role" in what barely could be qualified as a movie. Ho Fan (Brief Encounter) pays extremely little attention to plot but instead seems to give his all in creating high class erotica. Valiant attempts but laughable execution in its pretentious ways. However, Hidden Desire is harmless crap right up till a final reel that turns it into offensive crap. Good of Charlie Cho to spoil it all and try to find any sense in the excruciating rape finale if you can. Yipes.

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Yesasia.com

Hidden Hero (1990) Directed by: Chang Cheh

It seems appropriate that one of the last films from legendary Chang Cheh last would be a collection of elements from his prior Shaw Brother's flicks but it's a rather failed best of-collection that barely touches upon the excellent character-skills the Chang Cheh of the late 60s and early 70s possessed. The career trajectory was indeed quite notable/bizarre in that regard but clearly Chang found the combination of plastic heroes and bloodshed to his liking in his latter filmmaking life. While low-budget and utilizing quite embarrassingly empty, large scale sets, Hidden Hero is not unlike what Shaw's did turn out. Therefore we get an oversized character gallery, endless talking, plotting and backstabbing. All later interspersed with fairly lively bursts of martial arts that echoes weapons- and gore elements of past flicks. But it's an art that was dying and the screen results are very watered down. When Chang Cheh lets preferred leading man of this era, Tung Chi-Wa speak of the corrupt evil of our world, proceedings also turn corny beyond belief. Still, with a legacy left behind with classics such as One-Armed Swordsman and Blood Brothers, any amount of bad genre filmmaking won't be able to shake the foundation.

Hidden Passion (1991) Directed by: Leung Dung-Lei

Chu (Ng Jan-Wei) reminisces of his youth island adventures, being a virgin turned über horny teen and in love with neighbourhood woman Tak (Lau Wai-Han). In the mix is also Tak's handicapped husband and her outgoing niece Pauline (Asuka Tamami) and since we're also dealing with a Category III rating here, the drama is all about da sex! Yes, Tak's husband has troubles in that area and when not satisfied, Tak is both drawn to Pauline and Chu, creating jealousy in Pauline who has forced Chu to be her boyfriend and further bla bla bla...

Desires and fantasies collide in low-budget, run down environments which surely is representing a village reality but with such inept drama at hand (despite the "art" above in the screencap), it's no wonder Leung Dung-Lei focuses on the sex...A LOT. What feels like a dozen sex scenes in 90 minutes, the erotica could've gone places had it not employed your typical jazz/lounge porno score plus at one pivotal point where Tak REALLY gets what she wants, angelic choirs are heard on the soundtrack! Hilarity ensues then and even great inserts of big engine vehicles during a sex scene has the laughing center getting a workout. The end credits show brief behind the scenes footage of yet another Asuka Tamami vehicle which is possibly Love In Sampan. Remembering nothing of that flick, it all doesn't matter but is a choice by the filmmakers to welcome us to the next sex-marathon. Who's willing...really?

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Yesasia.com

High Risk (1995) Directed by: Wong Jing

In City Hunter, director Wong Jing 'borrowed' the concept of Under Siege to a certain extent and with High Risk he gives us Hong Kong Die Hard. It comes with trademarks of his and a common one is the main flaw with this otherwise entertaining spectacle. That is the often crude and silly humour but where it does work is in Jacky Cheung's funny performance as movie star Frankie. Corey Yuen, Yuen Tak and Bruce Law also gives us some very slick action, THE element plus Jet Li that makes High Risk memorable.

Going back to Jacky Cheung's character, Wong Jing apparently had disagreements with Jackie Chan during the making of City Hunter. The Frankie character is obviously modeled after Jackie (and Bruce Lee in a less mocking fashion) and portrays him as a cowardly womanizer. That's fine, often public figures becomes the target of parody, satire etc. However, having Wu Ma play Frankie's father, again absolutely inspired by Jackie's real life father, is a good casting choice but seems like a rather pointless inclusion since Wong never really attempts to mock him. Also in the cast; Chingmy Yau, Billy Chow and Valerie Chow. The newly released Universe DTS dvd is now uncut, as opposed to the remastered release that was trimmed for violence.

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Yesasia.com

High Sky Mission (1989) Directed by: Philip Ko

TROY'S REVIEW: Philip Ko directs and very briefly appears in this sadly, somewhat mundane war effort from Joseph Lai's infamous chopping shop, IFD Films & Arts Distribution. The story features a group of nine American Special Forces troops (including IFD regular Mike Abbott) who are dispatched to the Philippines in order to take on the Japanese army there. Despite one or two chuckles to be gleaned from a number of scenes (including in one when the enemy makes the bizarre discovery of a swear word that has been urinated into the sand) plus the utter historical inaccuracy displayed glaringly throughout, the film itself is regretfully a chore to sit through and is best done so with one's finger held securely on the fast forward button. A real shame. Also known as American Force 3: High Sky Mission.

High Voltage (1995) Directed by: Andrew Kam

Even for a no-brainer action flick, the Philippines lensed High Voltage scores astoundingly low. Although written by a woman, nothing but the standard cop (Donnie Yen) wants revenge on thug (Roy Cheung) for sadistically killing his wife-template is used, with quiet moments of character torment interspersed throughout to make us believe there's depth. You don't hire Donnie Yen for that but to flash his action skills. They're hidden in a murky vcd print and the poor editing, with the only clear moments being when Donnie Yen "blesses" us with his poses. While Phillip Ko makes worse B-movies, director Andrew Kam (Fatal Termination) not only disappoints but ends up dangerously close to Ko Fei's level.

Hired Guns (1981) Directed by: Chung Gwok-Yan

Simple cops and robbers stuff to the point where matters are even unclear. There seems to be a controlled plan from within the prison walls and the group of men from Holland (among others Phillip Ko) arrive to kill off to us random characters and perform a robbery. Police led by hot headed Goony (Addy Sung) tries to stop them. As a viewer personally weak for the tough edge, grit and gore this era of cop actioners in Hong Kong cinema could offer up, Hired Guns got some show stopping moments of viciousness, in particular when family members of Goony's are targeted. Short, efficient, flawed, kind of classic.

His Name Is Nobody (1979) Directed by: Karl Maka

Orphaned conman Peking Dog (Lau Kar-Wing) starts studying thievery under Sting (Dean Shek) but when hired as assassins, the failed attempt sees the two go on separate paths. Peking Dog finds a new master though, the elderly Koo (Leung Kar-Yan) and now the kung fu skills are heightened...

An expected mish-mash of martial arts and goofy comedy as it's a 1979 production headed by baldy himself, Karl Maka. That Dean Shek "fit nicely" into an over the top, cartoon role is no secret but Lau Kar-Wing is not leading man material. A fantastic martial artist best showcased in supporting roles or when directed by his brother Lau Kar-Leung, the reason why the whole package doesn't work is due to the genre-stance it takes. With Dean Shek roaming free and the parade of weird looking faces out of Hong Kong cinema being given a chance to use that to their advantage (Dai Sai-An, To Siu-Ming, Ho Pak-Kwong and Yue Tau-Wan therefore make appearances), you'd wish that was a concept that would take flight. But the movie simply isn't funny and you find yourself turning away from the screen more often than not as you're not missing anything anyway. The action directing talents of Lau Kar-Wing shine on more than occasion though, especially when it's only him and Leung Kar-Yan during the abusive training sequences. Here Karl Maka achieve performer chemistry as well and although Dean Shek hams it up for the finale again, he's noticeably (and even impressively) physical. But it's a wait and trek, uphill, to get to these favourable pieces of film. Finale villain is Chung Faat while Lam Ching-Ying, Billy Chan and Karl Maka himself also appear.

Hitman In The Hand Of Buddha (1981) Directed by: Hwang Jang-Lee

Korean superkicker of Drunken Master and Snake In The Eagle's Shadow fame, Hwang Jang-Lee knew he wasn't going to be able to escape his villainous screen persona working for others so with his own production company and himself in the directing chair, Hitman In The Hand Of Buddha became one of the rare ventures where he was the hero of the piece. Still a fairly tough sell in actuality but Hwang still knew a thing or two about the selling points of martial arts cinema of the time. Personal vendetta, comedy (with the main inclusion being a Beggar So-esque character essayed by Fan Mei-Sheng from The Magnificent Butcher. A role he inherited from the iconic Simon Yuen who passed away during the production of that film), uneventful middle section and some good ol' Shaolin Temple training makes for a typical template. Hwang Jang-Lee also knew why he was a selling point so the repertoire is firmly on display, starting with the trademark kicking showcase. But the package is a detailed combo of everything from props fighting involving benches and chopsticks to pole work and eagle's claw, all well supervised by action directors Corey Yuen and Mang Hoi. Co-starring Eddy Ko, Tino Wong and To Siu-Ming.

Worth mentioning is the Eastern Heroes dvd presentation that includes a rare Korean edit of the film, reportedly assembled by director Hwang Jang-Lee himself. While both this and the English version are still missing footage, the Korean language edit contains exclusive training scenes and extended fight scenes among other things. At times, in particular the beginning, the editing feels almost too rapid and obviously still in need of a spit polish but it's a very welcome inclusion after all.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Hit Team (2001) Directed by: Dante Lam

Stilized action picture from Dante Lam turns out to be better written than most actioners nowadays. In a story of cops vs. cops and the meaning of loyalty, screenwriters Lee Hau Shek & Ng Wai Lun manages to inject depth to most of the characters we encounter. No one is truly evil but the real bad guys and the script is aided by a level headed direction by Dante. Conciously, it seems like a few characters are not very developed, one of them being Jane, played by Jo Kuk. That's a shame when it comes to this talented actress, she doesn't deserve that in my opinion. Leading the acting pack is Daniel Wu who is more supported by the writing rather than vice vera and the strongest turns instead comes from Alex To and Chin Kar Lok. Action is well-staged (choreographed by Lam and Wong Wai-Fai) and the otherwise flashy director is only at times guilty of turning his visuals into a quick cut MTV video. For every Jiang Hu - "The Triad Zone" and Hit Team, Dante also has given us Runaway and The Twins Effect, making him an interesting but inconsistant director so far.

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

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