# 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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Mainland Dundee (1991) Directed by: Jeffrey Chiang

In all honesty it feels like at most 20% of Mainland Dundee actually comes through to this particular Western viewer. But it's an an energetic and silly 20%. Antique officer Siu Fung (Kenny Bee) and fellow comrade played by Mimi Chu comes to capitalist Hong Kong. Aside from the antique hunt, Siu Fung also spots a doppelganger for his beloved Heung Heung. She is however Lok Yee Ngar (Teresa Mo) who's supporting herself among other things working at a phone sex service. Siu Fung bunks up with another past comrade, Kau (Ng Man-Tat) who lives next door to the Taiwanese grandpa (Lam Kau) of Heung Heung. So they all collide with the respective side's patriotic views, fish out of water humour takes its place in the narrative as well as borderlining retarded characters (hello Gabriel Wong). There's a screwball charm in Jeffrey Chiang's movie that translates well, especially when Siu Fung gets shown a vacant apartment just exited by a suicidal Mainlander. The various games of dress up Kenny Bee goes through (for whatever reason... yes, sometimes matters are incoherent) including as Ray Lui's To Be Number One character Limpy Ho and a hairy, triad heavy also represents fun energy. A mid section of Mainland Dundee concerns itself seemingly with a LOT of wordplay but amazingly doesn't bore thanks to the energy on display by the performers despite a small percentage being obtainable by outside views. It helps when the ending is literally a big cartoon come to life and a chase scenario atop of two buses carrying campaigning politicians (one being a triad) shows Chiang staying true to an all out cartoony comedy for locals 100%. And partly for outsiders.

The Making Of Steel (1997) Directed by: Lu Xuechang

Lu Xuechang (Cala, My Dog!), part of the 6th generation of Mainland Chinese filmmakers (Zhang Yimou was in the 5th) debuted with this interesting coming of age story, using Mainland cinematic sensibilities far removed from what one comes to expect when hearing the words "coming of age". The Making Of Steel is in fact the title of a Russian novel found by main character Zhou Qing (played in young adult version by Zhu Hongmao who also scored the film) who finds out there's no steel content in the book but that it's a parallel to how you must shape into an individual with an iron will. Definitions are contrasting when speaking of that, something Lu acknowledges. Good and bad values surfaces, life facets fades in and out and so does the characters you so desperately wants to praise as having an impact on you. Complex in its own right but usually very clear in its intentions, cinematic language is suitably non-stylized with only select, smooth camera moves to accompany scenes. A compelling editing choice takes place many times during the first half as director Lu clearly is no fan of lingering on events more than necessary and instead favours trusting his audience being with the narrative. Second half gets a bit more stale and unclear but whenever Lu reminds us of the central theme of the film and the meaning of steel for Zhou Qing, The Making Of Steel regains its interesting status. Destined for rewatch status as well in my book.

A Man Called Tiger (1973) Directed by: Lo Wei

Jimmy Wang Yu is Chin Fu, a Chinese man in Japan who scores a chance to get into the local Yakuza group. He seems soulless, cold, opportunistic but revenge is closer to his heart as he's doing all this to avenge his father and gain back the trust fund money stolen from him...

If you enjoy seeing Jimmy Wang Yu bash his way through a movie with the intensity that wasn't so much about skill but about grit, A Man Called Tiger sporadically offers up the immensely likeable presence he and a movie will have when in action mode. The modern day setting presents a variation for the genre too but as for the remaining chunk of film Lo Wei is directing, A Man Called Tiger showcases his knack for creating zero excitement, tension and in this case, basic plot coherency. Again, when looking for the action fix, the basic framework is penetrable but Lo Wei wants his plot to be trickier than that and contain more characters. By doing so, there's no distinction in barely anyone and what their motives are. Putting us to sleep via this type of direction and a crucial dice game in the final reels, Lo Wei may have a place in cinema history but even within those pieces of history (The Big Boss, Fist Of Fury), he was never the star. This film has its shining star not being allowed to strut enough star power. What kind of a directorial train of thought is that? Also with Maria Yi, James Tien, Han Ying-Chieh. Tien Feng and Lo Wei.

On home video, matters are very complicated for A Man Called Tiger. The Joy Sales vcd represents the Hong Kong cinema version clocking in at approximately 100 minutes. This in itself is 25 minutes longer than the US English dub version by Embassy (same edit as the old Hong Kong vhs), 14 minutes shorter than the Taiwan edit also available in America (released by Rainbow and dubbed in Cantonese) and 24 minutes longer than the Fortune Star dvd print. Despite being close to each other in length, US English dub version and Fortune Star dvd print are in fact rather different edits.

A Man From Holland (1986) Directed by: Patrick Kong

The current print as presented on vcd by Ocean Shores is often so dark that this gangster-cops actioner becomes utterly incomprehensible. Then again I'm certain that if all was crystal clear, A Man From Holland would still rank as an uninteresting exercise anyway. Aside from some fine tension at the very end (a confrontation between Michael Chan and Phillip Ko), director Kong relies on stock genre scenes and exploitation elements. For instance, John Ladalski is a drug dealer that later appears in a beach scene where he's tied a woman down and is painting her with either brushes or tortoises. Phillip Ko turns up just before he John unleashes an eel on her! There's a also a transvestite killer in this mix. Is Kong trying to get a point across? Then it surely is that he's incapable of dealing with the genre. Ray Lui and Kwan Hoi-San co-stars.

IFD released and dubbed the film into English under the title Magnum Thunderbolt. There are differences between the prints with each missing and containing the scenes the other one doesn't have. Considering the track record of Ocean Shores, the versions might as well have matched up when comparing a tape or laserdisc release of theirs prior to the vcd.

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The Man From Hong Kong (1975) Directed by: Brian Trenchard-Smith

A co-production between Golden Harvest and Australia's The Movie Company, this generally silly and cheesy actioner that is just an excuse for Jimmy Wang Yu to wreck havoc in Sydney thankfully plays matters firmly tongue in cheek. Because if they wanted to be a serious player in world cinema, challenging James Bond, Dirty Harry, Steve McQueen and the likes, this would've today had the tally of a production with its head up its ass. Jimmy is Inspector Fang Sing-Ling who's supposed to extradite courier Chan (action director Sammo Hung) from Australia to Hong Kong but has his sights set on the bigger fish in the pond. Namely powerful crimelord Wilton (George Lazenby, coming off very well in the fight scenes as well as performing one bravura fire stunt). Australia's finest and also most laid back pair of cops (Roger Ward and Hugh Keays-Byrne) try their best to keep up in between playing pool, drinking beer and eating hot dogs...

With wonderfully shameful dialogue to get our invincible, heroic hero into bed with several white women (including Ros Spiers, when she's not hang-gliding her way through the flick), this is certainly action-entertainment of the risque kind as it doesn't dabble in the most politically correct areas. Then again, director Brian Trenchard-Smith has no problem getting the audience on board for a ride that is meant to show off the land of Australia, its very talented stuntmen (especially one car chase is tour de force-stuff) the intensity of Jimmy Wang Yu violently bashing his way through a million bad henchmen (almost getting killed an equal number of times but a veterinarian taking care of him says he finds his internal will extraordinary) and a stock-plot to lift the necessary beats out of any potential boredom despite a 100 minute running time. Totally irresponsible but a very fun effort out of the mold of the buddy cop actioner, The Man From Hong Kong also sports a number of your favourite Hong Kong stuntmen later turned actors/directors and the number one hit single "Sky High" by Jigsaw.

Man Of The Times (1993) Directed by: Taylor Wong

Ray Lui stepped into the shoes of Limpy Ho for To Be Number One and the acclaim garnered from that real life dramatization lead to a number of bigger vehicles, always with at least Stephen Shiu lurking in the background. In Man Of The Times, I'm not certain Lui's character Chan Chi Chiu's rise from cadet to corrupt prick of the police force gets its truths from real life but it certainly tries to present a political view of issues of reality. Now that doesn't sound totally uninteresting but in the hands of director Taylor Wong, it all sinks like a rock. Trying to portray our man and his times in broad, comedic (Ng Man-Tat is a whirlwind of annoyance in this once) and to an extent, straight faced ways while looking at corruption of the times, neither mood gels and rather shows a large degree of hack behaviour from a hack director. But the feeling is definitely that of had Wong gone with making one movie, he still would've bored us to tears. Now the contrasts are just there to annoy us to the extent that we happen to finish the flick in the process. Kent Cheng, Veronica Yip (largely wasted despite being a dramatic element), Ben Ng, Bowie Lam, Deannie Yip, Kelvin Wong, Louis Roth and Kwan Hoi-San also appear.

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Man On The Brink (1981) Directed by: Alex Cheung

Alex Cheung followed up his terrific debut Cops And Robbers with yet another gritty drama, focusing on the turmoil rookie cop Chiu (Eddie Chan) goes through when he takes on the task of infiltrating a triad gang...

Writing, directing and photographing Man On The Brink, Cheung can't possibly have been the first kid on the block to attempt this story that later cropped up to great effect in City On Fire. But watching Chiu's descent shaped by the seedy world around him is quite engaging, much more so during the latter stages of the film when Cheung easily plants that sinking feeling in viewer's stomachs. Meaning that the proceedings are heading towards a sad end statement as Cheung takes us on a continuation of the social commentary from his debut. His view on the Hong Kong citizens first may be seen as unified but as it turns out, it's a unified, lawless group. Finely tuned is also his portrayal of triads that clearly have a tough shell that's easily cracked in the face of blood and violence. Cheung shoots mostly gritty, documentary style but has an eye for whenever to use slow motion to exhilarating effect. Some misplaced comedy and a really sappy montage disrupts his social commentary for a bit however. Nevertheless, Man On The Brink rises well-above any familiar goals this particular story possesses, complemented by an immersing performance by Eddie Chan who would go on to make an impact in He Lives By Night and Law With Two Phases.

Man Wanted (1995) Directed by: Benny Chan

Lok Man Hwa (Simon Yam) is an undercover cop in Brother Feng's (Yu Rong-Guang) gang and is on the verge of getting a promotion within it. Managing to get Feng at gunpoint, Feng gets away and goes up in a ball of flames... seemingly. Cut to a year later and Lok is enjoying a higher rank, a good relationship with girlfriend June (Eileen Tung) but the re-connection with Feng's girlfriend Yung (Christy Chung) sparks feelings. Various crimes around the city also smells of Feng returning for revenge...

It's City On Fire-lite (very lite) with little to no drama about the torment of the undercover hell and the consequences of being heavily loyal towards two sides. An interesting template not explored enough and Man Wanted certainly shows so much cheap filmmaking tricks for drama (Canto-pop and montages, those are the tools of Benny Chan) that it's hard to see any artistic intentions being attempted. But combine the big efforts of Simon Yam when later being fooled to quite a grave and bloody degree by Feng and Ma Yuk-Sing constantly delivering hard action and you have a fast food product that doesn't bore nor offend. In and out, despite the fireworks on display. Also with Law Kar-Ying, Kenneth Chan, Parkman Wong and Cherie Chan as the closest sister to Feng and often being dressed in the most ridiculous ways.

The Marigolds (1980) Directed by: Lau Lap-Lap

Han Pei-Yin (Brigitte Lin) applies for a job as a tutor of lawyer Chao Tzu-Keng's (Chin Han) daughter Hsien-Hsien (Jue Hoi-Ling). Getting the gig and soon realizing the daughter is merely following the demands of her father, the outspoken Pei-Yin roars back and eventually gets the parent/daughter unit to realize what's best for the family. In this case, Hsien-Hsien's love for flowers will be put as priority one. This willingness to change people for the better makes Chao fall for Pei-Yin but her insecurity will lead to a lack of trust as he has the rumour of being a player. At the same time, Pei-Yin's friend Yu Sing-Chao (Ma Yung-Lin) acquaints Hsien-Hsien but a past event will threaten to derail this sweet romance as well...

As much of yet another Taiwanese soap opera as this sounds, at least The Marigolds floats along the standard quite efficiently. Brigitte Lin is as lovely as ever and within the old template there's emotional response. Director Lau Lap-Lap got a good pace going as well, injecting a valid message in regards to what Chao the father decides for his daughter. While the darker sub plot about Pei-Yin's insane mother never gets developed fully nor take the harrowing turns it threatens to, The Marigolds is pleasant (for once) stuff from the veterans of this kind of Taiwan cinema.

The Mars Villa (1978) Directed by: Ting Chung

The export trailer tried to sell The Mars Villa as a "kung fu picture with a difference" and with an "unexpected plot". Which is funny because already at that point, the story staples presented surely was getting old. Regardless, The Mars Villa stands the test of time thanks to John Liu whose kicking abilities lives up to the reputation. In between all that, director Ting Chung does nothing out of the ordinary but admittedly, for an independent martial arts production, the scenes of Liu having fallen from grace and into insanity are unexpectedly affecting. Also with Phillip Ko Fei, Tong Bo Wan, Chan Chia Kai & Suen Yuet.

Crash Cinema's release offers up the original Mandarin language version with English subtitles on a separate dvd.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

The Marshes Of Liang Shan Po (1984, Ma Shing)

Also known as Warriors Of The Water Margin, the movie may connect to the epic, written work but in reality is so basic and self contained that it's easy to follow without preparation. Rebels are fighting for the people and the rulers want to squash them (centering around a martial arts tournament). Easy enough, well designed, costumed and shot in a grounded way. Meaning there's not an epic, sweeping nature but a rather realistic tone in terms of style. This doesn't generate a cinematic effect though and by the hour point the disconnect to characters and conflict is what's present instead. Backed up by solid martial arts action though (in particular the tournament fights), we get a marginal and competent 90 minutes on offer here. Competence that does not linger however.

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