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My Neighbours Are Phantoms (1990) Directed by: Lau Shut-Yue

Father and son strike together! In this case it's Wong Tin-Lam and his son Wong Jing who concocts this horror-comedy directed by Lau Shut-Yue (Ghost Fever, New Tales Of The Flying Fox). A very entertaining and creative brew, Nat Chan plays Dragon who falls head over heels in love with Siu Sin (Sharla Cheung) but fellow cop friends and sisters realizes spirits reside next door and tries to stop the plan of them attempting collecting enough blood to unleash hell on earth. And Satan. Siu Sin as it turns out is kind and controlled by the other blood sucking spirits so a mission to lay her spirit to rest becomes a priority too...

By mixing low-brow humour (Amy Yip is in the cast list so draw your own conclusions as to what low means here) and low budget special effects, My Neighbours Are Phantoms certainly sets itself up as something very annoying and only sporadically enjoyable. But both sides of the mood coin means creative inclusions here, even when it's all about squeezing as much comedic value as possible out of Amy Yip's cleavage. Leading us through violent gunplay, one of the robbers being possessed and finally a pervert played by Charlie Cho being thrown into the photo the spirits has been trapped in, the eagerness to please is for once very honed especially in the case of Cho's cameo. He's essentially an expert pepper with lots of technology at his disposal and on director Lau/Wong family goes, logging surprising laugh after laugh as the characters do dumber and sillier things. Director Lau Shut-Yue even features a welcome gruesome side to the film (among other things, humans believing they're eating delicious chicken when in fact they're chowing down on limbs and pulsating brains) and has a good grip on the fast paced energy needed when the movie is about making special effects cinema on a budget. Creative spells, effects and unexpected, supernatural scenarios (one involving Bruce Lee), My Neighbours Are Phantoms is the rare product out of the massive production house that Hong Kong cinema was at the time that could claim it fired on all cylinders... expertly! Also with Chung Faat as the semi-accomplished Taoist priest, Chingmy Yau and Cutie Mui.

My Rebellious Son (1982) Directed by: Sun Chung

A lot of grating noise trying to pass for a comedy, this Sun Chung (Human Lanterns) directed Shaw Brother's production is further evidence why the decline happened at the legendary studio. Fu Sheng in the Jackie Chan role is an irritating mimic and when the whole package is designed around even a basic storyline that doesn't involve, there's a realization that the crew thought either too much of or too little of themselves to actually deliver a fine product. Either way, the film sinks and stinks. The long trek towards the action doesn't make My Rebellious Son worth it but the intricacy of the choreography translates into quality at least. Also with Ku Feng, Cecilia Wong, Johnny Wang and Michael Chan.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

The Mysterious Knight (1969, Chan Lit-Ban)

Brevity and some worthwhile glimpses into commendable, intense swordplay for the time, otherwise The Mysterious Knight executes in a way too mild manner to be noticed. Our lead and titular character has a playful aura about him and the relationship with the two swordswomen is interesting for a bit. But when full motivations are revealed through clumsy exposition, the movie manages to make itself incoherent instead. And since it has precious little genre-color outside of said bursts of action, a lot of interest vanishes by the end.

Mystery Files (1996) Directed by: Jeffrey Chiang, Sherman Wong & Tony Leung

Three murder mysteries in one, all with nifty and quirky Mr. Solve-It-All Yat (Andy Hui) at center. Two occur during his Mainland visit, one on a cruise and the 7co-directed effort is a stinker in every sense. Never showing any belief in the material and just having the actors read and act out the short mysteries without any guidance, not only is it the recipe for boredom here but for full on incoherence as well. This is not a Hong Kong equivalent of Monk and never shows signs of ever being. Also with Ada Choi and Edmund Leung.

Buy the VCD at:
Yesasia.com

Mystery Of Chess Boxing (1979) Directed by: Joseph Kuo

image stolen with kind permission from Dragon's Den UK

Joseph Kuo's independent martial arts cinema can be very much hit and miss but along with The 7 Grandmasters, fan favourite Mystery Of Chess Boxing (aka Ninja Checkmate) ranks as one of his better genre efforts. Not so much thanks to his own directing as much as it covers generic genre content in generic ways while plot devices are pretty much lifted straight out of Snake In The Eagle's Shadow (Li Yi Min playing a bullied wannabe student who eventually gets trained by a reclusive master played by Jack Long). Despite, Kuo never makes the familiar template a hindrance and even gets a assured performance from Jack Long.

Main highlight is of course the work of action directors Ricky Cheng and Wong Chi Sang who gives us extensive fight choreography with emphasis on acrobatics (a particular well-honed skill in Jack Long). This was also one of the movies hip hop group Wu Tang Clan incorporated into their act, hence the familiarity in modern audiences of such names as Ghost Face Kiler. Simon Yuen also appears as a cook and not Beggar So. A surprising fact considering the impact his portrayal had after Snake In The Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master.

My Young Auntie (1980) Directed by: Lau Kar Leung

Delightful kung-fu comedy from Lau Kar Leung that features Kara Hui (Best Actress winner at the 1st Hong Kong Film Award for her performance) as Ching Dai-Nan, the widow of the deceased 2nd uncle of the Yu family. She travels to Canton deliver the will to Yu Jing-Chuen (Lau Kar Leung) but the evil 3rd uncle of the family, Yu Wing-Sang (Johnny Wang) isn't about to let go off a heritage he thinks rightfully belongs to him...

Kara Hui is as fetching as ever as the titular young auntie, which creates a fun comedic energy throughout and Hsiao Huo is the overseas educated son of Yu Jing-Chuen who's out to make her life a living hell, using the manners he's picked up in the West (including spouting English left and right much to the confusion of Ching and everyone else except of his fellow students). If this was the answer by Shaw's to the kung-fu comedy trend set by Snake In The Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master over at Seasonal, it's a pleasure to report that not only is it a successful combination of whacky comedy and massive doses of martial arts, but clearly much more polished than anything that subsequently came out of Golden Harvest. Hsiao Hou can grate on your nerves occasionally, as can the peak of the wackiness in the form of the masquerade ball, but that's minor quibbles in this more family oriented martial arts entertainment (if there ever was such a thing).

Gordon Lau appears as one of Hsiao Hou's fellow students, sporting both mustache and a full head of hair and Lau Kar Leung himself, having stayed mostly in the background for larger parts of the film, comes out during the extensive finale to deliver some excellent action as on-screen fighter and choreographer.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

My Wife is 18 (2002) Directed by: James Yuen

Ekin Cheng is livelier and more fun than ever before but it's effort wasted as My Wife Is 18 becomes another one of all too many examples of Hong Kong romantic comedies that can't combine its broad and heartfelt elements into an effective whole. Plus, what the hell is up with clocking in over 100 minutes these days for these kinds of films that doesn't have that much say to warrant the viewing time.

Anyway, Charlene Choi without dedicated direction not surprisingly comes off as annoyance on two feet and James Yuen brings nothing of note to a romantic comedy that has neither romance or as much comedy as it clearly thinks. Richard Ng, Stephanie Che, Ronald Cheng and Patrick Tang also appear.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

My Will, I Will (1986) Directed by: Jamie Luk

Miss Wang (Carol Cheng) seeks a suitable man to become the father of a future child and there's money in this deal so the enlisted lawyer (Bennett Pang) and an employee at a detective agency do their best to woo her. Heading that agency is Wang's old flame played by Chow Yun-Fat...

Despite a breezy, pleasant, at times even dopey tone and star power that largely works, Jamie Luk doesn't manage to get My Will, I Will going. It hits several walls trying to be a balanced, pleasant product but somehow it turns incoherent at many points as well. Various scenes with Cheng and Chow are very enjoyable to follow though, even silly scenarios like Chow playing her lawyer and getting mighty drunk in the progress. Catch their collaboration in Alex Law's Now You See Love... Now You Don't... instead. Also starring Kenneth Tsang and Wong Wan-Si.

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