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In The Heat Of Summer (1994) Directed by: Teddy Chen

A light, tight group of cops try to survive in the heat while facing criminal heat in the form of robbers and a disgruntled army officer (Jack Kao) deciding to take out his frustrations by placing bombs all over the city. Why Teddy Chen's (Purple Storm, Wait 'Til You're Older) film surprises lies in its humane portrayal of the cop unit. There's always a light moment to be had in the midst of seriousness and their everyday routines are tedious until that coincidental moment hit that can cause loss. Outside of the group, personal issues are as vital but Chen never gets trapped by clichés as he's also aided by a rich screenplay by James Yuen that achieves a right, fresh character depth. Equally funny, touching, tension filled and with excellent performances from Jack Kao, Benny Chan and Jordan Chan in particular, In The Heat Of Summer is one of those multi-mood experiences that Hong Kong filmmakers are so adept at executing. Also with Moses Chan, Christine Ng, Marco Ngai and Jacob Cheung (director of The Kid and Cageman) puts in a cameo as one of the promotion board members.

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In The Line Of Duty 4 (1989) Directed by: Yuen Woo-Ping

Ever wish you could have an action scene every 5 minutes? Well, the fourth installment in the woman-cop action-series In The Line Of Duty instead offers you another set piece every 2-3 minutes, with minimal plot in between. Thankfully, it's an entertaining ride and a good showcase for both Cynthia Khan and Donnie Yen. Yen impresses with his kicking more constantly throughout but Khan is given the majority of the spotlight during the finale. Drawback is a noticeable amount of undercranking but an explanation MIGHT be due to slightly sluggish Western fighters (which there are plenty of in this one) and Yuen Woo-Ping having to find a solution for desired effect. For sheer brutality, In the Line Of Duty 4 does ok but for a better combination of all these things, the first official installment, the Michelle Yeoh vehicle more commonly known as Royal Warriors comes more highly recommended. As does Corey Yuen's She Shoots Straight.

The Hong Kong Legends release was the first of the films to hit the UK market under the name In The Line Of Duty so they scrapped the part 4 angle, understandably so to avoid confusion.

Intimates (1997) Directed by: Jacob Cheung

When the sum of its parts are added up, Jacob Cheung's Intimates is a touching and competent women's drama. However for parts of the film, there is a feeling of, from the perspective of this Western viewer, of detachment and even muddled storytelling, largely because of three distinct reasons probably.

Reportedly, the Mei Ah dvd version is roundabout 30 minutes shorter (!) than the cinema release (and the film still clocks in at almost 2 hours!) and it shows in the way everyone else seems caught up in certain character relationships and events while we're not.

Secondly, a little bit of research beforehand won't hurt as the film deals with strictly Chinese customs, main one being the notion of a Ji Sau woman. Ji Sau is basically a woman who's refused arranged marriage and the consequences of that action makes her unfit for marriage or sex for the rest of her life. There enters the theme of strong, independent women but in this story it sometimes comes with the price of refused love towards them as well. This is all told in the flashbacks to the war years where Wan (Carina Lau) and Foon (Charlie Yeung) are the center of attention. Paralleling that is the present story where architect Wai (Teresa Lee) is escorting her maid, Auntie Foon (here played by Gua Ah-Leh) to Guangzhou to see an old friend.

Third reason why the film seem lacking partially...am I just too thick to get all this? Regardless, there are many positives in this shortened Jacob Cheung vision and the terrific acting by leads Carina Lau & Charlie Yeung carries us well through the ups and downs of the film. Their subtle interplay is of high caliber and the ever so reliable Yeong does not disappoint even when her spunkier side to her acting is not required. Carina Lau is pure class and one actress, like Maggie Cheung, that can magically immerse herself in period films in particular. Good but not as finely textured support comes from Teresa Lee and Gua Ah-Leh provides a touching connection between the two ages. Also with Stephen Tung and Chin Kar Lok.

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Intimate Confessions Of A Chinese Courtesan (1972) Directed by: Chor Yuen

Yueh Hua plays the chief police hot on the trails of courtesan Ainu (Lily Ho) who is exacting revenge on those who forced her into prostitution and the men forced upon her. Betty Pei Ti is the madam of the brothel responsible for Ainu's training, making her a prime target, though she's head so head over heels in love with Ainu that she's never going to believe that she's a target herself. It all culminates in a gory and great action fine that holds many fun surprises...

Beautiful and captivating, two descriptions that are applicable to the body of work that Chor Yuen provided for Shaw Brother's. Nothing is different in the sleazy and explicit, for its time, Intimate Confessions Of A Chinese Courtesan, which in turn director Clarence Fok and producer Wong Jing used as their template for the even more sleazy, (and not in the good sense of the word) Naked Killer. It's rather sleaze with class here though as Chor Yuen once again showcases the utmost potential of the marvelous sets and costumes at Shaw's, while carefully framing every shot of the Shawscope to eerily captivating effect. Story-wise, this is the utmost simplicity BUT elevated greatly by the excellent eye of Chor Yuen.

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Into The Fire (1989) Directed by: Lo Gin

Having witnessed a brutal assassination of a number of police officers, martial arts able Chou (Ngai Sing) and triad punk Spitfire (Chin Siu-Ho) are forced to flee together as suspects. Lo Gin (Heartbeat 100, Fatal Love) under the supervision of Sammo Hung as producer and action director, crafts an intensely violent time with Into The Fire. Rated Category III, there's a brutality to the bloodshed that really required someone associated with power to make it feel more elevated above most modern Hong Kong action movies of the time. Coupled with a stylish looking frame, several fights between the able leads and very few detours into comedy, Into The Fire involves greatly despite being a basic piece as well. Ngai Sing and Chin Siu-Ho's bonding isn't classic character-drama but the performers are enjoying and responding to the somewhat more honed frame crafted here. Teddy Yip puts in an unusually dark performance as a crazily angry and corrupt cop and future Category III starlet Chan Wing-Chi co-stars.

Intrigue In Nylons (1972) Directed by: Kuei Chih-Hung

Awesome as a child, awesome as an adult, Helen Tse (Ching Li) comes back to Hong Kong after education abroad to turn the family nylon stocking company and its fortunes around. Effective at doing so, she also goes undercover at the rival company and eventually falls for her enemy in business, Lee Ji Yang (Tin Ching). Kuei Chih-Hung quite quickly found his skill at pushing darkness and violence into the Shaw Brothers frame (even the same year, in the co-directed Stranger In Hong Kong and subsequently in movies such as The Killer Snakes, Bamboo House Of Dolls etc) but Intrigue In Nylons is a complete dud. Shaw Brothers has the facilities to make a production look like it was something but almost all gags are desperate. Enhanced with music cues, music NUMBERS, sound effects and lame jokes, Li Ching is a delight to watch by simply being there but it's clear she, nor anyone else including director Kuei, are feeling inspired.

Invincible (1992) Directed by: Blacky Ko

The unsubbed synch sound footage at the beginning of Invincible suggests many things (among those that the entire film probably was a mixture of languages) but the switch to the generic gangster formula creates confusion as to why and where we are. Blacky Ko reveals his intentions soon as Kit (literally a weak Dave Wong) murders Lung Fong (who usually deserves that fate) and flees to France with his love Mandy (Sharla Cheung). In an effort to gain French citizenship, Kit joins the French army and nothing is ever nice in Ko's vision from that point...

Ambitious via its use of locations outside of Hong Kong and the central army training plot, Invincible never gains much of a momentum and is just 90 minutes of various punishment for Kit in order to become a man. The French army certainly are hard on your case and the individuals within it are nut jobs of the grave kind. Billy Blanks in particular has a not so flattering role as a psycho, gay rapist but gets the goriest comeuppance in the film later on so all's well...? So you won't care but at least Blacky goes maximum overdrive on us for the ending that is a fine, over the top showcase of millions bullets fired and insane stunts. Also with Leung Kar-Yan and Danny Lee.

The Invincible (1972) Directed by: Law Chun

Long forgotten and lost Jimmy Wang Yu swordplay movie until a German, widescreen cinema print turned up and was released on dvd, it's a shame such gems remain forgotten for so long as The Invincible is a definite highlight in Jimmy Wang Yu's literally kickass filmography. Playing Li Mu Bai whose people are oppressed by the evil Mongol ruler Wan Yan Liang (Paul Chang), earlier Li saves woman Wan Yan Chang (Helen Ma - Deaf Mute Heroine) but when finding out she's the sister of Yan Liang, a conflict of interests arises. Especially so since the two have a growing affection in each other where that is entirely impossible. It's about doing good for your people after they've been violated so the moral dilemmas are certainly familiar but executed with sincerity by director Law Chun (who had directed Jimmy in My Son at Shaw Brothers). Also devoid of much pretension since it's not a history lesson too, The Invincible is refreshingly straightforward and simple with that simple complexity joining hands too. Although visibly undercranked, the swordplay and the various group battles are exciting and often extensive, complex pieces of furious choreography where Wang Yu puts his all into said furious emotion needed.

The Invincible Constable (1993) Directed by: Chan Siu Chuen

Featured prominently on the vcd cover, Cynthia Khan and Anthony Wong make sporadic appearances but even with their full presence, I doubt The Invincible Constable would've gain much of a rep as a fine work in the wake of the Once Upon A Time In China success. Budget is seemingly restrained, comedy even more straining and there's certainly no plot worth paying attention to. Then you could only put your hopes into the action directing. At few times, action director Ha Dik delivers creative, flying bouts but that verdict still means The Invincible Constable isn't worth hunting down. Also with Alex Fong, Mark Cheng and Yen Shi-Kwan of Once Upon A Time In China fame.

The Invincible Fist (1969) Directed by: Chang Cheh

While not the strongest Chang Cheh swordplay drama out there, if this is autopilot it's pretty damn good autopilot. Partly incoherent and slow, the main thrust of Lo Lieh hunting for criminal Ma Wai-Jia (Fang Mian) is easy to latch onto and especially when it turns out Lo Lieh's character is falling for the blond daughter of his rival (Li Ching) who doesn't know of her father's criminal activity. Effective bursts of action out of nowhere and a calm, dramatic template with the expected threads of morality and conscience, Chang Cheh's still gets effect out of the drama of it all by being sincere and then some about it. It speaks to his desires and strengths at this time as a dramatic filmmaker. The end fight with continually tired, wounded and worn fighters is iconic and effective as well. Co-starring David Chiang.

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