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Painted Faces (1988) Directed by: Alex Law

As much the story about Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao's rise from Peking Opera performers (known as the "Seven Little Fortunes" that also included the likes of Corey Yuen and Yuen Wah), under the guidance of Master Yu Jim-Yuen, to Hong Kong cinema legends as much as it is the downbeat portrayal of an ancient art during its last dying breath. Master Yu is appropriately then played by his student Sammo Hung and while director Alex Law along with co-writer/partner Mabel Cheung may have had to tone down the strict guidance Yu inflicted upon his students, the tale is a touching one. Evoking the era beautifully without being overbearing with period details, Law evokes ideas of childish innocence allowed to be that before maturity enters and also the somber for classical Chinese opera that is being shifted aside in favour of the new, partly Westernized era. The young, unknown talent makes one suitably forget we're watching real life portrayals of today's superstars but Law also rightly chooses Sammo Hung's performance as a centerpiece, with outstanding results. Yu clings on to his art, for better or worse and clinging on means sticking a live turtle under one of his bed poles, symbolism that is thoroughly winning. While he sends his students on their way to good times, Painted Faces undoubtedly paints a sentiment that you can't help but feel to down about. It's easy to handle that however, I guarantee you that. Old friend and struggling stuntman Wah is essayed by Lam Ching-Ying, a performance so felt by the end due to a key sequence set at the Shaw Brother's movie studio. Cheng Pei-Pei also appear as Master Ching of nearby Peking Opera School, a role possibly tailored after Lam Ching-Ying real life master Madam Fan Fok Fa.

Sammo ended up winning the Best Actor trophy at the Hong Kong Film Awards and David Chung's cinematography on the film was also rewarded.

Painted Skin (1993) Directed by: King Hu

King Hu's final film sees him returning to some of the spiritual and ghostly side of his storytelling, as also seen in Legend Of The Mountain. In no way a reference work for the legendary filmmaker, there are also those that are not blessed to go out on a semi-decent note. Joey Wong plays a ghost being prevented to go either to heaven or hell thanks to the King Of Yin & Yang's disruptions. She encounters a happy, a bit horny scholar (Adam Cheng) but he gets possessed by the Yin & Yang King so hope to restore peace in the spirit world rests on the shoulders of a monk (Sammo Hung)...

With its stylistic heart in the right place, King Hu shows plentiful of his typical sweeping elegance which in turn leads into some fairly well-honed instinct for creepy atmosphere. This particular Wuxia world is filled with dread as it is being disturbed and all beings above, middle and below seems to be forced to co-operate in order to restore spiritual peace. Not a missed opportunity but leaning towards a standard one in execution, while Painted Skin doesn't hit the mark, it provides a decent breath of fresh air in the Wuxia craze of the era. Wu Ma, Lau Shun and Lam Ching-Ying also appear.

Pale Passion (1984) Directed by: Gam Bing-Hing

A Shaw Brother's downer, centering on a doomed relationship between Hsia (Cheung Lai-Ping) and Liu De Fa (Ngaai Dik, aka Eddie Chan from Man On The Brink). An aimless, ignorant and downright crazy guy, he cuts off a finger to show his undying love and somehow gets Hsia's family to approve of the marriage. But his way of showing love leads to abuse, even after Hsia rightfully leaves him...

Shot in drab and realistic settings, while downbeat, director Gam Bing-Hing know it's a valid cinematic choice to bring nothing but pessimism to the table. However the script he helped co-write doesn't bring enough nuances for one rather slow piece of drama. Statements are overly clear quite early on and when no further development comes out of the character traits, the title Pale Passion really does begin to resemble unfortunate poignancy. A raw, haunting energy does make the proceedings semi-interesting at times as director Gam effectively underplays violence by first employing hardly any score but also by depicting the acts realistically. Co-starring Elaine Kam.

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Pantyhose Hero (1990) Directed by: Sammo Hung

Sammo's action-comedy about two cops (Sammo and Alan Tam) who has to go undercover as a gay couple is mostly an embarrassing but also, in parts watchable, experience. The sole reason why this Sammo reason leaves, frankly, quite a bitter taste in your mouth is due to its political incorrectness in regards to the depiction of homosexuals. It's certainly not the first film out of any cinema to portray homosexuals in this stereotypical way but Sammo's handling of it is way too one note all throughout. The result is this embarrassing mix of comedy and terrific, very brutal action. Also with Joan Tong and cameos from Wu Ma, Paul Chu, James Tien and Phillip Chan.

Paris Killers (1974) Directed by: Alain Jobert

Credited to Alain Jobert on the international print and Kwok Ting-Hung on Hong Kong Movie Database, reportedly young director Godfrey Ho (before gaining a reputation as the man behind IFD's ninja cut and paste action pictures such as Ninja Terminator) stepped in to co-direct or took over this French-Hong Kong co-production. Simple tale of two men fleeing Hong Kong with stolen diamonds and now targets to the extent that not even Paris can act as a hiding place, the good thing is that it's only 78 minutes. The hugely bad thing is that clearly the filmmakers have little else to offer except some fairly strong action but mostly a desire to showcase an international land on the big screen. Drenched in several scenic shots of Paris, nudity from almost every female performer, car chases intercut WITH nudity, Paris Killers desperately tries to stretch itself to feature length by padding and not even somewhat brutal gunplay manages to distract in a true fashion. Starring Tam Sing, Leung Siu Wa plus Wu Ma and Dean Shek make short-lived appearances.

Parking Service (1986) Directed by: Angela Mak

Raising eyebrows by casting Hong Kong cinema cop Danny Lee as Piggy (known as Stanley as well), the son of a pig farmer father (Ku Feng), his adventures in the city working for a, believe it or not, parking service is still a rather uneventful 90 minutes. There are good-hearted notions of Piggy spreading warmth and courage wherever he goes, in particular when pushing friend Parkman (yes, played by Parkman Wong) who's head over heels in love with frequent parker Stella (Woo Mei-Yee). When a bunch of false US dollars lands in Piggy's lap, it's his irrational behaviour, him forgetting he is of lower class that gets put to the test but some rather evil shenanigans towards the end culminates in a "I learned something today..."-speech that further diminishes the chance of Angela Mak's movie to matter. You can't say Mak has created an offensive product however. Peter Yang, Stuart Ong and Shing Fui-On also appear.

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Passion (1986) Directed by: Sylvia Chang

Sylvia Chang's second directed feature and a fine accomplishment to boot, detailing the enduring friendship between Wan An (Chang), Ming (Cora Miao) and in the middle the man they both love (George Lam). Told in flashback as the two women reminisce about life that has past them, the deeper into the passion and emotions they get, the bleaker the truths will become...

Jingle Ma contributes splendid mood via his cinematography and the art direction by William Cheung gets immediately noticed via its elegance because of it. But this is not your pretty, empty triangle drama (would basically be a Yonfan movie then) but Chang's slow, hands-off style combined with the skill to make her script take flight way beyond the soap opera it threatens to be makes Passion totally immersing. Sparsely scored by Lowell Lo but filled with spine tingling tension as the wrong people meet in secret and is witnessed by the people on the receiving end of hurt, scars are continually open in our female characters, scars that may never have been healed as the continuing present day scenes tells us. The leading ladies are both wonderful, getting to be gorgeous and vulnerable and while George Lam is as empty as ever, he has a rapport with Cora Miao that works because these two characters never really bonded. They were bound by tradition while the only passion that appeared was the forbidden one. One of the most poignant lines in the film (If I get one thing from you, I expect more) drives home the message of Passion and seals the deal on Sylvia's terrific drama. Appearing as Wan An's mother is Wong Nam while also Stuart Ong, Rachel Lee and May Lo can also be seen.

Passion 1995 (1995) Directed by: Clarence Fok

Expectedly colourful (literally) and messy (not figuratively) coming from Clarence Fok (Naked Killer). There's an idea here that could've worked as Fok takes off-beat, mad and ordinary characters into gangster violence scenarios but attention to playing with the story structure is absent. With direction all over the map, Fok's time spent with uninteresting characters and out of nowhere dance numbers seals the fate on a movie best summarized as "what the...?". Madness in the best of ways if you're really forgiving but Fok's only attention to the movie arrives when it's not really him steering it. Action director Lau Shung-Fung makes sure to create slight, acrobatic gunplay that only adds up to so many minutes that I bet they gathered it all in the cinema trailer! Starring Simon Yam, Christy Chung, David Wu, Teresa Mak, Kingdom Yuen (representing the all out mad out of the characters), Ben Ng (as the psycho, gay triad gangster. He does however bring out some very minute, actual colourful characteristics to the film) and Wong Hei (Ng's co-star in The Accident).

Passionate Killing In The Dream (1992) Directed by: Parkman Wong

Gordon Lau is a serial killer with a taste for women. Michiko Nishiwaki (My Lucky Stars, Magic Cop) a fashion photographer with vivid nightmares of his deranged killing acts. Uninspired Category III exploitation ensues.

It has to be said that director Parkman Wong (who acted in the notorious Dr. Lamb the same year) does set the mood for the exploitation fans during the opening as he combines disgusting images of cock fighting with women brutality but that is as "creative" as he gets. The rest of the narrative is a tedious low-budget mix of dreadful acting (even from curly haired Lau), good to poor fight action, a lesbian sub plot and lame comedy involving only one stupid cop this time around. Despite all those bankable aspects, I doubt that the Dr. Lamb and The Untold Story crowd would chalk up Passionate Killing In The Dream as a favourite. I sure didn't.

Passionate Nights (1997) Directed by: Joe Hau

Liu Siu-Chen (Pauline Chan), the wife of Ma Joe Fai is the only survivor of the car crash they were in and can expect 10 million dollars from the insurance company. But the surroundings are suspicious, especially the insurance company and when Liu moves into the house of Joe Fai's family, further conflict arises. Matters get increasingly dangerous when clearly someone wants Liu dead as well so she hires bodyguard Jet Li (Edmond Leung)...

The last piece of the synopsis shouldn't give you confidence and semi to fully lethal director Joe Hau (Passion Unbounded, the worthwhile drama Right Here Waiting... and the cult classic Phantom Of Snake) doesn't provide any either. Injecting comedic relief via cops, a brother of the family who is special and oogling lawyers (it does lead to a creative bit of topless work by lead Chan), the mystery in this rather dull frame isn't engaging for one second. When we later on are supposed to MAYBE feel a bit sympathetic towards Liu Siu-Chen, Hau flashes inconsistency when portraying this character and the final twist is more silly than coming from the depths of hearts from key characters like Hau intends. Also with Ha Ping, Suki Kwan, Bowie Lam and Ada Choi.

Passion Unbounded (1995) Directed by: Joe Hau

A weird, slow moving attempt at doing an arthouse Category III slasher-thriller. If Joe Hau actually had something to tell in his subtle directing ways, then the slow pace would've been one thing but we're left with only a few select interesting points that do not add up to coherent whole. You'd have to be blind not to see that. Carrie Ng is killing off the scum of the earth and wouldn't you know it, her next door neighbour is a fellow psycho. Psycho Love should've been the alternate title.

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