# 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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The Mighty Gambler (1992, Wong Jan-Yeung)

A busy plot and unnecessary sub-plotting aside, The Mighty Gambler comes loaded with era specific commercialism, firepower, gun powder, explosives and blood packs. Wong Jan-Yeung treats the movie and that his sole purpose as a filmmaker is to convey a heightened blood bath compared to his own Dreaming The Reality, Devil Hunters etc and it's a rousing success. The main core of Sibelle Hu, Alex Man and Alex Fong plus the stunt team surrounding action director Chui Fat gets a workout that hovers somewhere around John Woo and Chu Yen-Ping in terms of heroic bloodshed excess (heroic goreshed rather). With dips into some acrobatic choreography but mainly focusing on raw, primal gunplay, the highlight is not necessarily the borderline splatter nature to it all but environment pyrotechnics. Impact-explosions go off constantly around the main actors, stuntmen and combine this with a terrific sense of filming it and you have yourself an action-gem proudly proclaiming that this is what it exists for. Also with Francis Ng and Michiko Nishiwaki (using her brief screentime very well in the film's fight scenes).

The Mighty Peking Man (1977) Directed by: Ho Meng-Hua

By Shaw Brothers standards, a pretty atrocious production and King Kong rip off that is infused with ambition the studio simply can't execute, making the final special effects tally closer to Paul Leder's A*P*E (1976) in actuality. However the charm and fun on display stems from the fact that Shaw Brothers were so transparent with their story intent (few tweaks to King Kong are made, aside from our Jane of the jungle, played by Evelyn Kraft that's raised by the titular gorilla) and the lack of convincing special effects. Almost every process shot merged with separately shot action, miniature work etc is so poorly handled and acting direction so awkward, you can feel the regular players were all struggling to find comfort. But since this is a story of exploiting a wonder, Ku Feng becomes the sole performer having a ball as the money- and as it turns out rape-minded Lu Tien. With Evelyn Kraft running around in a animal skin bikini and causing no one in the Hong Kong streets to take notice and some sections being pornography of the more transparent kind as Danny Lee sucks poison out of Kraft's snakebite VERY close to her nether regions at one point, the awkward energy is highly memorable. The rampage on Hong Kong by the gorilla is a lot better in special effects execution though. Miniatures are highly noticeable but the editing and destruction is verging on exciting... at least compared to earlier parts of the picture.

Reportedly a flop on release, Quentin Tarantino's Rolling Thunder outfit resurrected the film for re-release in 1999 and it has since been made available as part of the remastered Shaw Brothers catalogue.

Millionaire Cop (1992) Directed by: Cheung Gon-Man

Initially Millionaire Cop seems to be portraying the lives of very different cops. One with concern in the form of his kids and lack of money to pay for water vs the one with no concerns. Soon we know it's instead all about the cop with the coolest motorbike. They are Fish (Ng Man-Tat) and Ball (Aaron Kwok), partners and in the opening reel on the hunt for a molester that does the town regularly. To dress up as school girls themselves doesn't work and Fish (after getting stuck in a giant condom) instead unknowingly catches the pervert during a game of mahjong. Then enters the plot somewhat, with vicious robbers taking down the parlor, chopping off the hands of the cop and his prisoner in the process. Cut quickly too, because quick is a key in in the film, Fish with the hand re-attached but in actuality it's the hand of the pervert so unwillingly it tries to molest whatever it can. Get a sense that Wong Jing is involved? He is but director Cheung Gon-Man paces matters well and injects the needed energy to make described gags enjoyable, even if going low places with it. The actual plot concerns millionaire Mr. Lee (Dennis Chan) fearing his son Jessy Lee (Deric Wan) might be kidnapped so they send in Ball undercover to act as the son. Can't tell his girlfriend Shun (Chingmy Yau, playing a character with a penchant for cleaning... quickly!) but as she works in the company Ball is working undercover at, situations will arise. Especially so since Jacky (Maggie Cheung) was the child love interest of Lee's and becomes awfully clingy whenever she sees round objects. All leading to more fast paced hijinxs that work more often than not, especially during the view of Jacky's apartment that contains little to no circular objects, including her cd's and coke cans. It's a free for all in a way, that is capped suitably shamelessly when the end fight between Hung Yan-Yan and Aaron Kwok has the latter turning into his Silver Fox character from Saviour Of The Soul! Also with flat chested Kingdom Yuen (leading to breasts jokes of course) and Lee Siu-Kei.

The Millionaires' Express (1986, Sammo Hung)

Sammo Hung goes to town with scope, cast and design for his thankfully short and simple action-adventure. Leading us through an opening set in snow and then into more of a rural Western look, Hung is at least UNDERNEATH the stress of handling a big movie having the time of his life and it's transferred to screen in the form of a pleasant vibe, energetic performances, stunts and fight-action. All suitably well exposed during 97 minutes. Not under- or overexposed. There's a joyous energy present as the movie becomes cameo, bit-part, and supporting part heavy with tons of recognizable actors, actresses and stuntmen of the time (a list that would cover an entire review on its own). All fun to spot but all fun because of said vibe and some scene stealing performers like Richard Ng's. Confident touches by Hung that also extends to the almost throwaway in nature type of moments that still require stuntwork. Which is a choice that's wholly approved and therefore you don't long for fight choreography to light up the scope-frame. But it comes and Hung manages to get the balance right by making sure key performers are given a spotlight of appearing (and excelling) within his trademark fast, powerful, impactful (i.e. painful) choreography. Always an inspiring trademark but especially the way it's handled here. No one feels wasted. Everybody seems happy to be there. Including the viewer.

Mini-Skirt Gang (1974) Directed by: Lu Chi

Depicting a gang of beautiful, sexy female pickpockets (led by Danish actress Birte Tove from Bamboo House of Dolls), Lu Chi has a great, fun idea in Mini-Skirt Gang (done at Shaw Brothers) but chooses not to utilize it. Structurally there's nothing wrong with showing different scenarios, the different schemes the girls employ in order to achieve their goals and at the end of the day, in fine exploitation fashion, they undress and shower in slow-motion. All while a very voyeuristic camera catches in particular the hideout of the girls from a top angle. Oh there's the subplot of the girls taking in two bumbling male thieves (one being cross-eyed To Siu-Ming) but after they've been expectedly humiliated for peeping, you'd expect the movie to kickstart a little bit of plot at least. Not counting the prostitute ring which a girl runs from, in fact it's soon very clear the film has settled on the formula of lighthearted fun with sexy pickpockets. It's fun initially, fun towards the end where some creative cartoon action kicks in (Birte Tove goes into Mulan territory, Peking Opera-style for her big fight) but in between we get tired of repetitive voyeurism and sexy pickpockets.

The Miracle Fighters (1982) Directed by: Yuen Woo-Ping

From an era when the Yuen clan churned out a handful of supernatural comedy romps, The Miracle Fighters fits nicely into the equation although it's not as mad as Shaolin Drunkard for instance. Concerning squabbles and battles between sorcerers, director Yuen Woo-Ping probably does present practices that are no laughing matter and does have a footing in reality but obviously the film has a sense of fun towards it all. So much so that Westerners will probably be a bit turned off by the relentless broad comedy and constant mugging of lead Yuen Yat Chor as the pupil in training. The odd couple double act by Yuen Cheung Yan and Leung Kar Yan is highly memorable though and throughout the Yuen clan offers up plenty of creative scenarios with relatively little martial arts blended in. The finale in particular set at the Sorcerer's Championship sees Yuen fire on all wacky and creative cylinders, while giving real snakes a little bit of a hard time again (also see Snake In The Eagle's Shadow). Yuen does not seem overly concerned with narrative though and the film seems to brush over Yuen Yat Chor's training quite a bit in favour of other shenanigans. Sunny Yuen plays the Bat Sorcerer while Eddy Ko and Huang Ha also appear. Believe it or not but in a twisted way, the late Simon Yuen also gets in the cast.

Yuen Cheung Yan puts in a cameo appearance as the same character in Stephen Chow's Forbidden City Cop plus he would go on to have dual roles in Shaolin Drunkard as both the titular drunkard and the granny sorcerer of The Miracle Fighters.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Mirage (1987) Directed by: Tsui Siu-Ming

A sadly neglected filmmaker and one of Hong Kong's most efficient maker of grand, explosive adventures, Tsui Siu-Ming directs this Mainland China/Hong Kong co-production that may be low on its core drama attempted but high on everything else including directorial- and stunt insanity from the man himself. Photographer and adventurer Tong (Yu Rong-Guang) spots a mirage of a beautiful woman while on a mission and is obsessed by the beauty of her. Heading into Mongolia with best friend (Tsui Siu-Ming), the discovery of the woman and her true nature is anything but beautiful however as she's the leader of a gang of desert bandits. Overall Tsui's insistence of anything could be a bonebreaking stunt for the sake of spectacle reigns supreme and only a reel or two seems more concerned with presenting culture, customs and its people. All fine and respectful but it doesn't make for entertaining cinema. However turning up the heat on stunts- and firepower reveals the legendary vicious and distressing side to Mirage. Not so much due to violence but the sheer daredevil stunts on display and terrific, big imagery captured by Tsui Siu-Ming. Demonstrated perfectly and perhaps better than Hong Kong cinema classics that actually DIDN'T fall through the gap (like Mirage did), a dangerous house explosion and fire stunt involving our director at the end is suffering for your entertainment. While painful to watch, it's exhilarating cinema few pulls off and gets away with it intact. Tsui did and cements Mirage as a forgotten adventure no one pulled off to THIS dangerous extent ever again or before.

Misfire (1984) Directed by: Kuei Chih-Hung

It takes a while to come to terms with what movie Misfire wants to be and truth be told, it doesn't seem to want much of anything. Released just a year before Shaw Brothers stopped movie-production, this comedy is random vignettes like Hong Kong cinema often could display, centering around Alex Man's cop called ET and his attempts to woo Shirley Lui's Luo Siding (which means screwing in Mandarin according to the subtitles). Being obnoxious, mean, a pervert and manipulator in order to get inside her pants (there's few notions of romance here), she does battle back when she sees through his tactics. So we got a loud comedy here with fair chemistry between energetic actors but director Kuei Chih-Hung (The Killer Snakes, Boxer's Omen), coming off as a guy with nothing to lose, also goes into whatever random tangent and random episode he pleases. Everything from a dance inspired by the music video "Thriller" to Ku Feng's homicidal maniac acting as Luo's father and in the end reel a transvestite killer showing Luo his collection of bodyparts and subsequent chainsaw chase. The movie is eager to please and is therefore very amusing once you realize there's no true throughline here. Just a couple of random bits strung together and it's amazing it comes off as anything.

Mismatched Couples (1985) Directed by: Yuen Woo-Ping

A Yuen Woo-Ping movie tapping into modern culture full speed ahead. 80s culture that is and what might've been considered hip then is seriously dated today. Yet, it's a charming mix not as much due to the plethora of bad clothing, break dancing and hairdos but because this is wild 80s Hong Kong cinema. All over the place and barely plotted, Mismatched Couples wins you over for the moment due to the merging of the setting and performer's skills such as Donnie Yen's. Dick Wei is also very funny as an eager fighter but director Yuen never injects any danger into the film despite a final duel between him and Yen. In a supporting role, Woo-Ping himself actually is very likeable or completely annoying depending on who you are, causing harm to himself in pretty much every scene.

It's lighthearted and irrelevant to the max and Mismatched Couples is stuck in time. Mostly in a good way though if you're looking at it from the Hong Kong cinema perspective. I doubt any performer's would want to return to the fashion statement made here though. Also with May Lo, Wong Wan Si and Kenny Perez.

Buy the VCD at:
Yesasia.com

Miss Du Shi Niang (2003) Directed by: Raymond To

It's all talk, talk, talk when Raymond To writes and directs the adaptation of his own stageplay Miss Du Shi Niang. What initially, through the on-screen narrator Lydia Shum, threatens to be a stiff period comedy, unexpectedly develops into a rather bleak tale of greed and impossible love between social classes.

Michelle Reis supports the writing well with her presence while Daniel Wu is miscast for both this kind of role and theatrical writing. Thankfully To maintains interest through his screenplay and while at times clear as day with his themes, there's a fair amount to be deciphered here, and we're glad to do it. His off hands approach and restricted scope to the movie may prove bothersome for one crowd but another one may find an unexpected liking to this vision.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

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