# 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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Lifeline Express (1984) Directed by: Kirk Wong

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Entertaining horror-comedy from the early, quite exciting career of Kirk Wong's. Kent Cheng is Fatso who prays to Buddha for the well-being of his brother Tiger (Teddy Robin Kwan) who's on an operating table but giving away years of his life wasn't the best idea. Fortune tellers spell out the final destiny of Fatso and he now attempts to perform rituals to salvage his life before his next birthday. It doesn't help that his non-believer brother is focused on getting girls for him and Fatso...

Although starting out with a serious prologue concerning disasters (archival footage of war and racing accidents etc etc) that lacks subtitles, we're soon in somewhat safe hands. Am saying that because contrasts in mood and content seems to suggest darker things but we're not entirely sure where Kirk is taking us. As it turns out, you're very willing to be taken on a light and creepy ride, often with those moods colliding. As Fatso attempts a life-saving ritual that concerns making sure bumping into particular signs on the Hong Kong street, a certain amount of low-brow cleverness takes place on occasion as for instance here Fatso is said to look out for two chicks (i.e. chickens) fighting over a cock. Well, he bounces into two prostitutes (chicken being a slang for that profession). Wong's methods are farce or slapstick-like in nature indeed but having Kent Cheng's predicament being both light and dark seems perfectly natural for this film. Latter parts really amps the creepy factor as now the afterlife intrudes on Fatso's life and only Eddy Ko's Professor (and some pyramid magic) is left to possibly save Fatso. Mixing in more wonderful dialogue in even the darker parts of the film (Fatso's parents have invited Bruce Lee and Peter Sellers to his afterlife birthday), Lifeline Express greatly entertains for all the right reasons. Fine balancing act.

Life Show (2002) Directed by: Huo Jianqi

Lai Shuang Yang (Tao Hong) runs a small restaurant stand in Jiqin street each night as well as being dedicated towards her own family matters. Outspoken to some that her heart is not at ease with this pattern, meeting frequent Jiqin street visitor Zhuo Xiong Zhou (Tao Zeru) seems to mark an upwards turns but all around Lai Shuang Yang, society changes are about to crumble the life of the little, strong-willed woman...

Directed by Huo Jianqi (Postmen In The Mountains), he wisely chooses a female portrayal of less clichéd proportions and carries her into the realm of strong instead. The problem is that Life Show for longer periods of time feels fragmented in its portrayal of characters around Lai. Skipping even basic setups for some, it's definitely hard to attach emotionally to conflicts and Huo's low-key style actually makes the film even more distant. It's encouraging then that Huo has Tao Hong's character to lead the film because it's in the latter focus on her emotional state where the film finally triumphs. Subtle, open and hidden depth is all over Hou's frame and he proves Life Show can be minimal just like Postmen In The Mountains was. By the end you even appreciate some of the annoyances pointed out earlier so structurally, maybe his choices in fact are spot on throughout. Co-starring Pan Yueming from the Huo Jianqi's previous film A Love Of Blueness.

The Shanghai International Film Festival awarded Life Show with Best Film, Best Actress and Best Cinematography statuettes.

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The Lion Roars (2002, Joe Ma)

Poet Seasonal Chan (Louis Koo) struggles to both achieve acceptance in that field and to find a wife while Moth Liu's (Cecilia Cheung) matchmaking isn't going well either. Being paired up and eventually married, Moth is dedicated to her man but also has a dominating and violent streak the poet has to deal with. Attractive stars occasionally effectively used by Joe Ma (especially Cecilia) the goofy, playful nature rarely sticks however. Ma throws a lot on the screen, which sometimes amuses when it comes to Moth's character but a lot is simply forced nonsense. Also with Hui Siu-Hung and Fan Bing-Bing.

The Lion's Heart (1972) Directed by: Ding Sin-Saai

The very definition of a Jimmy Wang Yu movies that comes and goes out of your consciousness but puts forth the sellable effect while it last in a pleasurable way. Not totally disinterested in plot and certainly featuring a fairly dark one, what one sit down for is Wang Yu plowing through opponents and there's powerful bashing on display here. Combined with a sinister tone as a movie partly and an extended finale involving jousting and a final fight in muddy water, The Lion's Heart is hard to quote because not a lot is memorable but the star provides the goods. Also with Suen Yuet and Sally Chen.

Little Big Soldier (2010, Ding Sheng)

If the beginning exposition-dump about the plentiful Chinese warring states fighting for power, the sight of the costume epic is a turn off and it makes you feel like an outsider, Little Big Soldier quickly sidesteps such fear by stripping the big picture and transforming into a little one in the aftermath of battle. In it we find one survivor of the Liang (Jackie Chan) and an injured General of Wei (Wang Leehom). Seeking the reward of cash and land, Chan drags his captive across the land, running alongside the conflict at hand but they ARE also being hunted by the players within it. Disarming us by lightening the mood and essentially crafting a buddy road trip movie, Chan and Wang Leehom engage in broad, droll and dry (and most importantly fine) comedic interplay that injects action choreography suited for the situations (Chan's greatest skill here is throwing small rocks at opponents). There's a lot of fun present here, achieved through chemistry but then again director Ding Sheng is also skillful at steering us into serious territory where he talks about the futile nature of war (and why these two should be so different when in reality they're not). Especially affecting and poignant because neither actor overdoes the drama involving such realizations, the comedy isn't clumsily stated and nor is the message. Also starring Steve Yoo, Lin Peng & Do Yuk-Ming.

Little Cop (1989, Eric Tsang)

Very meta and about breaking the 4th wall of the movie early, Eric Tsang's comedic assault starts early by having the credits branded onto himself and he never lets up. Seemingly having access to 90% of the actors in town as well, the mix of cameo-parade and gag a minute-style is therefore set. But acting like loons cranked to eleven is a dangerous proposition and requires a skillset to pull off. Tsang is a talented director but not fit for comedic lead and since it's essentially him and Nat Chan heading said assault, it's no surprise Little Cop doesn't make much of what it throws at us effective. Being playful has sporadic, charming effect and the skit-scenario centered around a hunt for the Thousand Faces Killer (that takes on the form of Alfred Cheung and Michael Miu mostly) leads to a couple of successful jokes and cameos (including Shing Fui-On as an abusive waiter). Callous violence is also played for amusing effect, matters turns surreal at a funeral that includes a song and dance number, we get animation as the movie breaks during an almost Category III-moment while Jacky and Maggie Cheung turn up to laugh at Tsang who's now a braindead waiter. Nothing makes much sense, some of the cranked humour gets the insanity right but Little Cop scores way too infrequently.

The Little Drunken Masters (1995) Directed by: Siu Wing

The kids of the Shaolin monastery flee from King Fifth (Hung Yan-Yan) who's after one of them known as Little Buddha. Settling in a town under the supervision of Carman Lee's character, cue comedic shenanigans. Far too violent as a kids movie and too unfunny for both adults AND kids, The Little Drunken Masters shows promise, isn't the most shoddy looking kung-fu movie of the 90s but the elements it attempts to feature, fall mostly flat. I say mostly because the wire choreography, creativity and energy gets a boost come ending time. Still, the movie doesn't know what audience to aim for here either. evident as we see Hung Yan-Yan exit in a manner Lucio Fulci fans will recognize. Willie Chi from Burning Paradise co-stars.

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Little Godfather From Hong Kong (1974) Directed by: Ng See-Yuen

After actor Wang Liu (Bruce Leung) witnesses an assassination attempt on a drug enforcement agent, the cult behind it sets up a movie shoot for him in Rome where they plan to take him out and anyone connected to him. Ng See-Yuen sets the stage for a rather basic martial arts actioner but Little Godfather From Hong Kong (aka The Godfather Squad) feels really packed in a welcome way. Diverse even. For one the fight action is largely terrific for a small production of the time, with Leung showcasing great kicking skills. Even the various Westerners keep up with Leung even though some scenes clearly show him keeping a distance from their faces and body. But the welcome treat is that the movie turns into a revenge one where Leung is equally kickass and violent. He'll drop people from towers or shoot them ten thousand times with a machine gun if wronged. All culminating in an intense showdown with Yasukai Kurata who gets one of his best kicking showcases on film. Leung, supporting actor Mang Hoi and Ng See-Yuen teamed up again on the same location for 1976's Kidnap In Rome.

Little Hero (1978) Directed by: Chan Hung-Man

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Taiwan reefer madness if you will, orchestrated with the pitch perfect knowledge of how to create energetic, laughable thrash. Laughable being the highest compliment to this thoroughly fun Polly Kuan vehicle directed by the editor of her breakthrough movie, Dragon Inn. A basic period plot at heart arises little interest but instead, Chan Hung-Man know where to push for success. To boot, they manage to maintain pace and energy as they wade through the many highlight creations. Watch the men of the Devil's Gang try and take on Polly's male character, whether it's the midget brothers in their rolling boulders, tiger assassins, elephant assassins, lion assassins and even octopuses working in the same capacity! It's a wonderful smorgasbord where added sounds in post to the various animal attackers are as dumb as they are entertaining. When capping it off with Polly and fellow cast members (including her annoying students) looking extremely embarrassed when fighting the octopus prop that could've come directly from Ed Wood's Bride of The Monster, the filmmakers may have their poorest looking effect but their best ideas, especially when they start shooting baby octopuses at Polly! Men behind masks and Lo Lieh in the cast list signals a surprise towards the end but as with the other actual kung-fu action, Little Hero does less well when being ordinary.

Little Heroes Lost In China (1995) Directed by: Allan Lan

Shot 90% outdoors and focusing on kung-fu fighting kids, usually it's a recipe for (grating) disaster. Surprisingly Allan Lan's low budget quickie doesn't implode onto itself but instead provides a tight experience for at least an hour. Featuring clashes between of forest tribes, evil Westerners after a treasure and a family working for the Mountain Forest Bureau, the film is notable for its Western supporting cast (including Louis Roth) being allowed more than their fair share of screentime (notable despite villain roles for some). Moon Lee appears in support and brings the skill expected in undercranked action scenes but the real revelation is some the highly gifted kids coming off as hard fighters in the fight scenes. For a movie for kids and with kids, Allan Lan puts in admirable time to make the fights seem somewhat plausible. Bodily functions humour, attempt at heart that is just flimsy storytelling follows but Little Heores Lost In China is harmless while at the same time not annoying. It just doesn't maintain the unexpected interest it drummed up initially.

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