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I Do! (1983) Directed by: Hilda Chan, Annette Shum & Angela Mak

Fittingly the title of this movie, containing three stories about love and marriage, is also the name of the strongest of the shorts but the package is too wildly uneven to rank as an accomplishment. Starting out with 'New Year's Eve' by Hilda Chan, here's a marriage where the husband (Chang Kuo-Chu) cheats on his wife on New Year's Eve and feels no shame about it. It's apparently an ill and infected marriage where handing out hurt is priority one so wife tries to go on a path of destruction therefore. It has an hungry filmmaking style that really makes it part of the early 80s new wave in Hong Kong and welcome darkness but with a very vague conclusion, despite the quick beats needed to get there (quick beats is the saviour of the entire feature as a matter of fact), 'New Year's Eve' falls flat.

Annette Shum doesn't seem to know what to do with 'Please, Please Me' as it ventures between comedy, darkness and ends on a goofy note. At any rate, Kenny Bee manages to create a split between him and his love when he hooks up with another one. The regret of seeing how much hurt and unhappiness the choice comes with is capped with said goofy conclusion. Weak.

'I do!' by Angela Mak is the hungriest story, even though it might not have survived an entire feature. Moving into a new house with new love in his life, Alan Tang (also producer) starts seeing manifestations of his former, now dead partner and possibly, the ghost has anger in her that will threaten his new environment. Mak stages some creepy atmosphere and despite it being the clearest and best conclusion of the three shorts, it's not enough to get us emotionally on board but at least the intention is very clear. Not just firmly WELL executed.

If I Were For Real (1981) Directed by: Wong Tung

Alan Tam plays Li Hsiao Chang, relegated to farm duty under the Communist rule and back in Shanghai, his pregnant girlfriend awaits the chance that he might be transferred so they can start a life together. Trouble is, you need influence and Li puts everything on the line when infiltrating the prestigious ranks by acting as the son of a Party Official...

Based on a Russian play, outside viewers are in danger early of falling behind the proceedings as the captions presumably setting up the story flashes by in Chinese only. We're slowly made to understand the social critique on display though and while director Wong's static camera only transforms If I Were For Real into an interesting tragedy, it's nonetheless valuable to get an insight into desperation of the less fortunate during this era. Some climactic lines uttered during the end are appropriate and requisite but not exactly subtle. Yet with an Alan Tam performance that is far from the fluff he went on to make, it's a worthy work.

If U Care... (2002) Directed by: Adrian Kwan

Meet Gino (Eason Chan), the biggest asshole in Hong Kong. One night he hurts his hand in a car accident and after that, when touching people with the hand, he can feel their pain. This triggers an understanding of others and a reunion with his childhood friend Gillian (Gillian Chung - one half of pop duo The Twins).

In typical Hong Kong comedy fashion, this is one zany ride and a sweet romantic comedy all served in one. While this blend works fairly well, the eccentric character of Jennifer did feel out there even for this movie. Adrian and his team of writers are modest in their vision and by doing so, If U Care... is not deep nor unexpected in terms of characterdevelopment. Having said that, it's very much an enjoyable 100 minutes thanks to the main performers. An expressive Eason Chan has great fun performing both sides of the Gino character and in my mind is the pop star, along with Nic Tse, that has showcased the most potential (in particular when you look at him in Funeral March). Gillian is a sweet presence but, multiple times, directing her to just stand and smile is a bit lazy, even if she does project much by doing so. Also starring Eric Kot, Lam Suet and Hui Siu-Ming.

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

I Love Maria (1988) Directed by: David Chung

Fritz Lang's Metropolis meet Robocop Hong Kong style which means it doesn't really resemble any of those efforts. Producers John Sham and Tsui Hark also stars as Curly and Whisky, two scientists that deprogrammers the robot Maria (Sally Yeh) to do good deeds for them instead for the evil corporation that built her. Of course, they won't get away with that and the hunt is on, lead by the human inspiration for Maria (Yeh again). Sort of tagging along yet not is a bumbling reporter played by Tony Leung Chiu-Wai.

For a Hong Kong production, the budget is up among the higher numbers but ultimately, director David Chung and all involved know that they can't make their audiences take this seriously so they don't do that themselves. This means much silly but generally fun banter between John Sham and Tsui Hark's characters, cheap special effects and a Sally Yeh forced to keep a straight face through all this. It's all very endearing and while the movie is hard to truly love, I Love Maria is easy to like.

Lam Ching Ying, Ben Lam, Paul Chun co-stars and watch out for cameos by Kirk Wong and John Woo. The end credits and Hong Kong trailer holds evidence of much footage left on the cutting room floor. The Universe dvd also features a soundtrack with many different music cues compared to the old laserdisc. For more info, check out John Charles review.

Buy the VCD at:
Yesasia.com

I Love Miss Fox (1993) Directed by: Stephan Yip

Wang (Lee Chung-Ling) and Ling (Mondi Yau) live a perfectly ordinary but organized married life. Wang is presented with the temptation of actually going out to get a mistress to bring the actual fun into his life and he can't resist the sight of wild girl Nancy (beautiful Category III girl Lee Wai-Gwan whose career only covered 1993 and 1994). Having learned a thing or two about sex and image, he projects those desires onto his wife only to have it work against him as she's now slipping out of his grip. And the moral of the story is...

Stephan Yip directed the off-beat, black Category III comedy Mad Stylist (featuring the sight of Michael Wong and Kent Cheng singing "Diana" together) in 1997 but those sensibilities existed earlier on, in particular to great, big overloaded effect in this other Category III rated comedy. Playing out almost all proceedings with a quirky touch, making the office world look like a full fledged, surreal cartoon with people dancing, Yip showcases a knack for winning the audiences over with pure silliness. Lee Chung-Ling as Wang is overacting his little heart out but it's often a delight to watch him go through hell and back, trying to realize what stability he had before. Oh the lessons are super-clear and Yip's particular comedy assault is a bit too much on the senses sometimes but I Love Miss Fox proves to be creative and clever for a cheap one like this despite. Leung Kar-Yan appears at the end as a solicitor.

Buy the VCD at:
Yesasia.com

Immigrant Policeman (1989) Directed by: Luk Chi-Gong

Getting a cinema run for 2 days according to Hong Kong Movie Database, Luk Chi-Gong's New York set drama has a very telling English titles in terms of its content but themes laid out on the table doesn't mean compelling drama or focus here. Mixing a moral dilemma for Anthony Tang's cop (he finds out his father is smuggling forged watches and looming in and around this is an assassin) with themes of abroad immigrants and the fear of the 1997 handover, the direction is talky, scenes are set in small rooms and there's no snap to the valid drama on paper. Kenneth Tsang and Phillip Chan appear for a few scenes.

The Imp (1981) Directed by: Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu (The Beasts, Evil Cat) pulls at all the stops for his dark (and green) 1981 horror effort that echoes the very superstitious Chinese mindsets in the most punishing of ways. No doubt, The Imp scared the living daylights out of people back then and while the execution has obviously dated, Yu's frame of ideas has survived remarkably well.

Yu, part of the new wave of directors of the late 70s and early 80s, doesn't hide the trademark pessimism of the era in this story with a supernatural angle to it but it's not a stronger thematic. Just an observation you do make after familiarizing yourself with some of that directing talent back then. Yu had talent to jolt you and while he doesn't necessarily register creepy moments, a shrill, freaky factor amps the atmosphere well, especially during the finale (both in pictures and sound). The cinematography that mainly captures cramped apartments, run down urban settings and a desolated office building, is effective in balancing a sense of reality with the unreal as well. For a stronger characterbased story, turn elsewhere though but as a pure visual assault on the senses, The Imp still lives on. Charlie Chin, Kent Cheng and Yuah Hua stars.

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

The Imp (1996) Directed by: Ivan Lai

This Category III horror effort makes little sense but sees Ivan Lai step into another league as a director who can push the visuals up to a pleasing degree (and steal defining images from other horror movies smoothly). The Imp looks surprisingly slick which is a plus because obviously much of the plot in here is just an excuse for the sex scenes to add onto the running time. Say what you want about Ivan Lai though, but he's one of the few that made Cat III erotica erotic when it was supposed to and disgusted when that was called for. The Imp has much of both, in particular quite a grim final reel. While Diana Pang has little to offer in terms of acting, she was one of the most stunning women to appear in Cat III movies such as this and coupled with the fairly chilling atmosphere, The Imp does ok.

Imperial Sword (1977) Directed by: Chan Chi Hwa

Also known as The Brave In Kung-Fu Shadow (the title when presented by Joseph Lai and his company IFD), Chan Chi Hwa (Snake And Crane Arts Of Shaolin) showcases more than his share of shoddy filmmaking techniques but the run of the mill story never generates unwelcome snickers or laughter while the fight choreography is fast and fluid. Positive aspects you don't always expect from a Taiwanese martial arts film or anything associated with IFD. Starring Judy Lee with supporting appearances by Blackie Ko and Lung Fei.

Imperial Sword, Crouching Devil (1981) Directed by: Fong Ho

When you don't have the benefit of a very watchable video version (in this case cropped, including the subtitles), you rely on what little you can extract or from the story (which may be a basic one anyway, following templates) and the visuals. It's in the latter department Imperial Sword, Crouching Devil scores anyway. There's heroes and opponenents, some from above but what ultimately is striking aboiut Fong Ho's direction is that it's a very animated Wuxia Pian. 80s computer game sound effects, wirework, pyrotechnics, ingenious traps (one that apparently contains sand that can melt your body and the opening is Indiana Jones crossed with a fantasy like this) and Chang Yi as the villain able to divide himself up into several parts and teleport anyway, even without subtitlea it would've been a bit of a loud Wuxia Pian treat. All set to the very contemporary and stolen movie music from 70s and 80s movies.

Impossible Woman (1983) Directed by: Tommy Lee

Tommy Lee's To Catch A Thief became a victim (depending on how you look at it) of the IFD scissors and glue (thus, Ninja Thunderbolt was created) and Impossible Woman may have gotten the English dub title The Ninja Avengers but isn't in fact distributed by Joseph Lai. What it is corresponds more to the original title and within it Elsa Yeung stars as a ninja killer that has her days numbered when she wants out (after TWO missions!). Mama-san and female boss Chao (Mizuno Yuko - Heroes Of The East) and her bodyguard (Yusuaki Kurata) send their best and brightest after her but after evading several poorly planned assassination attempts, a clash between the trio will end the flick. Oh... and there's Don Wong as the cop out to nail these suckers and Yun Zhong-Yue is the annoying brother of Chao's as well as love interest for Elsa's killer.

It's action, ninja stars dipped in snake poison, a soap opera and far from a snappy piece. Pace is slow with several scenes clearly being dragged out for the sake of clearing feature running time and director Lee unfortunately doesn't suck to the point where it becomes immensely fun to watch his "art". No, the odd detour into rather "creative" English dubbing that often comes off as two guys and a girl doing ALL voices and just about the poorest melodrama ever occurring when truths are revealed (not the fault of the dub) doesn't save Impossible Woman but it's something to laugh at sporadic times only. Not a job well done therefore.

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