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# 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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Memory Of The Youth (2001) Directed by: John Chan

John Chan returns to directing after no one's really missed him but fans of writing would know he penned such films as Eighteen Springs, Fong Sai Yuk and Mother Of A Different Kind. Produced by Johnnie To and shot with a Mainland Chinese talent pool, Memory Of The Youth is simple in its approach. Chan has a few quirky visuals to go along with the growing love between Lin (Ma Xiao Qian) and Nuo (Zhai Tian Lin) but his greatest tool here is sincerity. With it you get far but as simple-minded the story is, with the elements of nostalgia and a once in a lifetime experienced love, Chan includes quite a few brave character choices. Lin is depicted, whether she knows it or not, as a small bird dying to break free into individuality as that's the only life choice now. It generates elements found in Derek Yee's 2 Young but all these choices would verge on dangerous for any character. However director Chan has decided to let naive characters have that as a building block for their particular fate and this rather uncompromising approach makes Memory of The Youth stand out. There's no cultural boundaries, that's why Chan deserves a larger audience and Johnnie To should lend his producing talents to more projects like this.

ALTHOUGH, one can't help to think John Chan needs to polish some of his storytelling skills as one particular plotpoint concerning Lin running away from home is hard to swallow in the way the adults don't seem to be in a rush to get her back. No prior developments suggests a logic to this and Chan's directing of the younger supporting players is not convincing at times.

Mermaid Got Married (1994) Directed by: Norman Law

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Ekin Cheng is Chi, a boy who never learned to swim and is now brought in as an adult to substitute at a school, as a PE-teacher. Just like once in his youth, he is once again saved by a mermaid (Christy Chung) but this time she loses a vital pearl so she has to go on land in order to retrieve it. Falling in love with Chi doesn't help matters as of course she wants to stay... and marry? Yes, the English title jumps way ahead of matters and this literally fish out of water story is predictably easy enough sap to sit through. Not sweet sap though as intended by Norman Law (Gun Is Law, A Hearty Response). The various shenanigans around our leads are about feeble teen romance and a tangent about the adult world trying to cash in on the mermaid-find is unbearably dumb. Efforts wasted by Kent Cheng, Yuen King-Tan and Dennis Chan while Takeshi Kaneshiro and Teresa Mak also appear.

Merry Christmas (1984) Directed by: Clifton Ko

Whenever he isn't the victim of pranks at work or trying to prevent his young daughter (Rachel Lee) from becoming a model, Baldy Mak (Karl Maka) tries to win the love of Paula (Paula Tsui). But when a rival (a typically overacting, in the best of ways, Yuen Woo-Ping) threatens to take the woman the entire family has approved of away to America, drastic measures are needed. So let a very elaborate and mean-spirited game of jealousy begin...

Very much a product of its time from the minds of the Karl Maka co-founded Cinema City, Merry Christmas runs along the lines you expect it to. Especially due to the fairly big all star cast so skit-structure simply MUST be employed by director Clifton Ko (it's all set rules... believe me). Doing so very dependently, an energetic Leslie Cheung enters trying to romance Rachel Lee's character all the way into the bedroom but Baldy Mak intercepts only to get viciously drunk with him later. The movie certainly isn't aspiring for INSPIRED gags then and the christmas atmos that is taken to the background a little of course gets an upswing come ending time when director Ko has employed a few fun, likeable reels of the battle between Karl Maka and Yuen Woo-Ping's characters. The constant misunderstandings and the shameless, cheap and quick moviemaking-ways pays off because this is from a way more likeable era in Hong Kong cinema. It simply would have trouble making any kind of mark today. Also with Danny Chan and Cyrus Wong as Junior Baldy.

Merry-Go-Round (2001) Directed by: Thomas Chow

Director Thomas Chow pushes familiar buttons in this coming of age drama but the end result is surprisingly sweet. Set to one of those simple piano scores that Hong Kong composers are so good at, and with capable acting from the younger leads, Chow certainly knows he's not being a revolutionary but sometimes you don't need that belief to create pleasing results.

It's only when he tries to jazz up the film with style diverting from reality in the process, that his weaknesses are apparent. That is a choice that can be made to work but it's a fine line between success and disaster for those choices. Sadly, Chow's attempts leans towards the latter although his final shot is where he finally nails his wish for abstract style to walk alongside the reality of the film. Very much worthwhile and completely harmless, Merry Go-Round has enough positives to make you smile for the moment.

Co-starring Eric Tsang (who looks a bit battered due to an assault on him during production) and Helena Law Lan, both adding the suitable weight that's called for. Ann Hui, Kelly Chen and Vincent Kok also logs cameos. GC Boo Bi's screenplay (based on her own series of radio plays) was honored at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Midnight Angel (1990) Directed by: Jonathan Chik

If you want your Hong Kong cinema smorgasbord full, then it's wise to turn away from Midnight Angel (also known as The Legend Of Heroism) as this is too stuffed with content for its own good. Yet for sadists like myself, it's enjoyable because it IS. A mish mash of brutal violence, action, martial arts and comedy, at heart we see story strands merge having to do with the masked vigilante Cotton Flower (coming from a family of masked avengers) dishing out justice where the police can't and a brutal criminal called Bull (Melvin Wong). Simple enough but director Chik rams so many comedic threads into the picture that it overtakes its better commercial element. Midnight Angel is a wacky headscratcher that thankfully clarifies its purpose the more action Alan Chui choreographs. A little shaky in the beginning, soon the likes of Yukari Oshima gets to engage in hugely powerful fights that may be placed in a low budget frame but are nonetheless effective and powerful. Sufficiently directed gunplay and an increase in brutal violence helps cement this true definition of a Hong Kong movie. Arguably it's too much of a Hong Kong movie and would've been a better one stripped of a good chunk of its comedic streak. Also with May Lo, Mark Cheng, Miu Kiu-Wai and Sek Kin.

Midnight Caller (1995) Directed by: Raymond Wong

A poor showcase for everyone involved but then again, barely anyone involved possesses any true talent. Diana Pang is a radio DJ and dancer stuck with a stalker calling himself the Hungry Wolf. Michael Wong is the cop protecting her...

We first wish that Raymond Wong would unashamedly utilize busty Pang like the commercial element she clearly is because she's not in this vehicle to act. First X in the protocol then and Wong is not the guy ready to make a stalker thriller either so predictably this production is ill from the getgo. When then making sure to occasionally let us know Pang's stance on ALMOST nudity in film, Midnight Caller does become even more sad. Favouring the easily shot light over the easily shot and devoid of suspense, Michael Wong is a drooling cop with relationship troubles, his boyish partner is played by Joyce Ngai and various clueless, technical detours via oddly chosen slow-motion and inserted cartoon sound effects also haunts us. While Wong injects a dig at himself at the end, it doesn't turn the film into a product of note. About one minute of almost decent final reel tension isn't enough either and the minute positive gets erased by a typically predictable twist ending only Hong Kong cinema can manage to make dull.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Midnight Conjure (1991) Directed by: Mo Keung-Bong

Rival swordsmen battle for supremacy once in the past and again 3000 years later in the modern age. Simple yet somehow extremely muddled with no skills to conjure up viewer commitment, Midnight Conjure (aka Fatal Umbrella) is the kind of new wave Wuxia emulation the likes of Tsui Hark wouldn't be threatened by.

Reportedly a Taiwan production (with added star power in the form of Carrie Ng and a brief appearance by Lam Ching Ying), any time high flying action is carried out, there's a sense on director Mo Keung-Bong's behalf that he wants to keep proceedings as clear and flowing as possible. However he left out rhythm and energy from the equation so it's rather embarrassing to watch this wire-fu xerox, even though Hong Kong cheapies of this kind could very well fare as bad. Only minute recommendation of Midnight Conjure goes out to those Lam Ching Ying fans who wants every piece of footage with the man. Can't say I blame you.

Midnight Girls (1986) Directed by: David Lai

Terribly uninteresting hostess melodrama by David Lai (Possessed, Saviour of The Soul). Getting no distinction out of his main casting of Kitty Chan and Ng Man Ling, the film portrays the usual rise, fall and the ones you take with you on the way down. It's done with such disinterest that you comes to a point where you wish Lai will screw his characters over (and he does to a certain extent), just so that our attention can be held just for a small amount of time. Another lackluster script by Johnny Mak and Stephen Shiu and even when having the a dynamite cast for the similar genre entry Moon, Stars & Sun, they provided no distinction whatsoever. Midnight Girls only notable trait is a feature debuting Francis Ng in a supporting role.

Midnight Revenge (1994) Directed by: Chang Tso-Chi

Receiving a one day cinema run in Hong Kong, writer/director Chan Tso-Chi decides to take his (what turned out to be sparse) audience on a slow, mundane, vague journey that by design will have an understated payoff. It's somewhat there and has something but nearly not enough. Jack Kao (one of Taiwan's premium bad guy actors, never missing a beat when it comes to having a dangerous aura and presence in him) plays a cop that essentially carries with him something, a burden and goes off on his own while cases of a pyromaniac and a cop killed in the line of duty occupies the police force. Featuring numerous long takes lingering on Kao (who is expressive but is relied on way too much to convey the vague material), moody music reminiscent of Mamoru Oshii's Stray Dog, Chang goes for the non-verbal and mysterious flashbacks to a kid having experienced tragedy. Midnight Revenge is mildly involving and we're not at all annoyed it keeps us in the dark but the ultimate pay off is plagued by the fact that there's few if any pieces added to the puzzle of Jack Kao's character. Things conclude but if any throughline is there, it's the mystery and that shouldn't have run all the way through the movie.

Midnight Whispers (1988) Directed by: Michael Mak & David Lai

Depressing drama but dedicated directing from Michael Mak (Sex and Zen) and David Lai (Saviour of The Soul) makes many of the quite evil events towards the main characters immersing, valid cinema. Josephine Koo (A Fishy Story) plays a strict mother that has her daughter kidnapped by her Chinese mother in-law (Mama Hung). While in China, the kid gets swept away by the political times, losing her grandma in the process and ended up being an outcast without much of an identity. Meanwhile the mother's long quest to find the daughter pays off and the reunion becomes a fact (in teenage form, the daughter is essayed by Moon Lee of Angel fame) but there's scarring underneath that prevents the relation from blossoming..,

An epic lasting 90 minutes, Mak and Lai manages to somehow not only make things clear as to where we might be in the timeline, make further tear in the characters as we move through the rough eras but also created is fairly immersing family drama that doesn't rely on the biggest melodramatic outbursts either. Josephine and Moon's characters are realistic snapshots, despite the overabundance of poor luck launched at them. A choice that as always kills a movie for many but this push into the dark fates of characters is at times needed. It's especially welcome when it's executed surprisingly well. No classic and the director's rightly dabbled in other genres but it's an interesting footnote nonetheless. Wong Chi-Keung co-stars.

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