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The Postman Fights Back (1982) Directed by: Ronny Yu

Set during the early days of the Republic, Hu (Eddy Ko) hires noble postman Ma (Leung Kar-Yan), pickpocket Yao Jie (Yuen Yat-Chor), kung fu fighting conman Fu (Chow Yun-Fat) and explosive expert Bu (Fan Mei-Sheng) to transport several cases with secret content across the harsh, cold Chinese landscapes (although reportedly, the film was shot in Korea). There are forces out there that are hellbent on intercepting the party though...

Most notably an early effort by Ronny Yu and rare martial arts role for Chow Yun-Fat, this Golden Harvest production has several things going for it. The group of characters is a compelling mix of actors and the Korean landscape is captured in a competent way, leading to the desired epic grandeur that director Yu is striving for. The Postman Fights Back does suffer due to the colorless surroundings unfortunately enveiling the film in a too much sedated atmosphere for the most part. Several nods to Westerns, expected themes of brotherhood and patriotism is baked in there, as well as some unexpected narrative beats yet the film registers overall merely as a recommended viewing to experience established cinema legends early on.

Action directed by Yuen Cheung Yan and Yuen Shun-Yee (with Yuen Woo-Ping producing), there's mostly an emphasis on placing the action in Chow Yun-Fat's hands. A charming presence no doubt and while he performs most of his choreography, it's only sporadically that Chow is able to shine. A set piece involving ice skating villains is an inspired idea in itself as well as a weapon of choice being a scarf for Chow's character. Definitely the most fun the otherwise somber film offers. Cherie Chung co-stars but is sadly rather unnoticeable.

Postmen In The Mountains (1999) Directed by: Huo Jianqi

The webmaster's favourite Mainland Chinese film and the one that truly defines the expression "criminally simplistic", when discussing this particular style of Chinese cinema. Hou Jianqi's masterpiece of low-key, extremely clearly told subtleties only seems to get better over the years.

Basically a giant walk and talk dealing with a transition of a humble profession from father to son, the joys of Postmen In The Mountains is to discover every new facet within every frame that Huo presents. It's a crowded piece but concrete in every sense of the word, meaning our director may have staged his film simplistically but focused on the many tiny details that manages to add up to a masterpiece. With spellbinding cinematography and a soundtrack evoking atmosphere of the Chinese landscape, Postmen In The Mountains will continue to produce universal, heartwarming magic wherever it's screened. Starring feature debuting Liu Ye (The Floating Landscape) and Ten Rujun (Red Sorghum)

The film received Golden Rooster Awards for Best Film and Best Actor (Ten Rujun).

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com
Yesasia.com

Power Connection (1995) Directed by: Phillip Ko

Even when only concerning himself with action, there's often very little to come out of a Phillip Ko directed flick. Oh Killer's Romance and Angel's Mission offer up their share of quality but with Power Connection, proceedings in that department are super stale so no wonder the rest is unbearable. With a Filipino actor and a fairly engaged Yukari Oshima teaming up, matters are muddled, broadly comic and it's quite embarrassing to see Ko attempting drama, triangles and painting it all in blood in an effort to be felt. Not even with Godfrey Ho on board there's hilarity to be found aside from some over anxious gangsters pulling guns whenever they're NOT threatened, mullets and a piece of religious imagery that will have you go "Wow" due to the way it's suddenly injected. Lo Lieh appears in a small role.

Power Of Love (1993) Directed by: Simon Leung

Gam Biu plays a wealthy man who signs off his entire fortune to his newly appointed maid (Lui Lee), something that doesn't sit well with the son and his wife. The natural thing to do is to contact assassins, including a sexy one (Suen Tong) with a nymphomaniac touch. Yep, you know we're in adult territory here and thanks to the turn of events from rather cheap, dull material to wild, sexy one, Power Of Love suffices as yet another Hong Kong skin flick. Especially so since the characters involved change loyalties, violence escalates to the point where character gets her breasts shot. Good times and although someone wants the English title to bear meaning within this spiral of violence, there's no points to be had there. Sex, guns, girls, no budget and a Hong kong exercise in adding spice in sufficient ways, that's the power present here. Wong Yue choreographs action and appears briefly.

Power Of Ninjitsu (1987) Directed by: Joseph Lai

TROY'S REVIEW: Hold on a second - Isn't that the music of 80's pop group a-ha playing over the opening credits in this? It sure is - and you can bet your Gluteus Maximus that said chaps were not asked for permission either! Yes, the usual musical copyright infringement in addition to the infamous cut & paste technique of lazy git filmmaking features here for the umpteenth time in yet another gloriously absurd ninja outing as cobbled together by those lovable rogues at IFD. And what glorious sights does this typically bewildering entry boast? Well, brace yourselves, for one of the most astonishingly baffling fights ever committed to celluloid, during which the combatants start off fighting in an office before suddenly appearing, as if by some miracle, on a roof top and then just as abrupt we see the fight suddenly changing location once again, this time to a public park! Are these guys able to teleport or something? Also marvel at the scene in which a character appears sporting what must surely rank as one of the very worst mullet haircuts in history (move over DJ Pat Sharp!) and of course, all the usual luminous attired ninja antics that regular fans will have come to expect in these demented flicks. Finally, special mention must go to the hilariously abrupt finale in this which ends on a decidedly sour note for poor old Richard Harrison's character. Yes, typically tremendous cut & paste fun from start to finish! Also known as Ninja Operation 5: Godfather The Master.

Pretty Ghost (1991) Directed by: Teddy Chen

Aka Alien Wife, this is a modern portrayal of the often impossible ghost/man romance that A Chinese Ghost Story made very popular. Through wild, wacky and complex circumstances, Tony Leung Ka-Fai ends up having a female ghost (Rosamund Kwan) walking beside him, sharing the same exact emotions he does. She also assists him in obtaining the love of office bomb shell Ellen Chan but soon it's a love triangle...

Told in a flimsy way by debuting director Teddy Chen (In The Heat Of Summer, Purple Storm), that's a choice any number of directors of the time went with, focusing on delivering skit after skit of typical Hong Kong shenanigans. Leung and Kwan are featured in scenarios that work relatively well though and the ultimate fate of their romance holds interest in a light, fluffy way. Watch out for a gag "stolen" straight from Beetlejuice. Wu Fung, Michael Chow and Peter Lai co-stars. Alfred Cheung and Lawrence Cheng appears briefly, both playing priests.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

The Pretty Ghostress Story (1992) Directed by: ?

Tapping into the sex- and A Chinese Ghost Story formula using a small budget, a few rooms and one outdoor location, this 90s ghost-sex quickie is as transparent as they get and pretty tedious before the second half comes around. Wu Fung gambles a lot with his brother, argue, Charlie Cho is trying to ward off ghosts but ends up having sex with them unwillingly anyway and Wu Fung's dead daughter is trying to escape the King Of Hell (Chung Faat). Said latter half increases the sex (after the first desperately tries to fill with hints at erotica. Case in point, a 5 minute look through a keyhole at a girl showering behind a curtain), the animated special effects and even kung-fu action between ghost, priests and Chung Faat's character. Lively to a decent degree overall but with no true ambition other than to fit in commercially for a week or two in the cinema.

Pretty Woman (1992) Directed by: Yeung Chi-Yin

We open with a grisly rape/murder, subsequently are lead into dumb, politically incorrect "comedic" hijinks, Alex Fong doing action, multiple softcore sex scenes and Veronica Yip taking a looooong bath. I'll hand it to these Category III filmmakers of the era. They could fit everything in there and padding the correct commercial elements certainly was one thing they knew veeeery well.

Veronica Yip was one success out of all this though and her relatively short stint in Category III movies lead her to some fairly respectable actual acting performances in movies such as 3 Days Of A Blind Girl and the underrated Scarred Memory. Pretty Woman is strictly one for the guys though and those willing to accept the lowest standards of filmmaking. Disposable but that bath scene will make you happy.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Prince Of Temple St. (1992) Directed by: Jeffrey Chiang

A distinctive and distinguished cast (Ray Lui, Charles Heung, Kenneth Tsang, Lau Siu-Ming, Lau Kong, Amy Yip, Kent Cheng etc) make opening reel cameos in order to setup the story of a baby found in the gangster-infested Temple Street. That baby is looked after by lowly Tong (Ng Man-Tat), his wife Phoenix (Deannie Yip) and grows up to be local big brother Twelve (Andy Lau). Looking after his neighbourhood and enjoying street life in quite the lighthearted manner, when conflict occurs with Lap Ling (Chin Ho) who wants dominance, our casual cast of characters are forced into more dark violence than ever. Also, Twelve falls in love with Christian devotee Teresa (Joey Wong)...

Aside from some well shot sequences (including a long one take scene when Lau and company walk the street, greeting the locals etc) and a good workout for the stuntmen employed on the production, Jeffrey Chiang's ordinary genre-entry scores precious few points. Designed according to most rules in a genre running on autopilot by 1992, when the romance angle between Lau and Joey Wong becomes the focus (cue Andy Lau's obligatory song for the movie), there's an embarrassing echo of Lau's classic starring vehicle A Moment Of Romance but without the heart, emotions and dedication. Chin Ho as the manically laughing villain provides a cartoon-side to the film that is occasionally fun and one of the women beside him turns out to be a cold killer in disguise. Necessary standout elements we could've used more of. Jeffrey Chiang would go on direct more competent fare such as Dream Killer.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com
Yesasia.com

Prince Of The Sun (1990) Directed by: Wellson Chin

Despite a screenplay by Abe Kwong (Visible Secret II) and Lawrence Lau (Spacked Out), it's not an production aiming for substance and not even Lau assisting director Wellson Chin means extraordinary things ending up on screen. Bringing in the usual Hong Kong cinema decisions structurally by giving us what we expect (I.e. the special effect driven adventure) and then for the middle section testing the patience of its audience through local comedy isn't my preferred choice.

Sheila Chan, being Chin's Sandra Ng for this movie, has initial fun, completely outrageous character traits to work with as we see her gambling and abusing kindergarten children who happens to aggravates her. Meeting the Mainland country bumpkin played by Conan Lee is the setup for the middle section sit com with the titular character (Jeng Paak-Lam) caught in between. The black humour takes on satisfying proportions (especially a recurring gag involving a loose window frame) but the majority of the bickering is grating. You do wish director Chin would've stuck with making the movie the opening reel promises as it then it would've been unspectacular but generally hokey, diverting fun for the short running time. These rare diverting sections involves the on- and off presence of Cynthia Rothrock, an at times nicely choreographed playground fight that sees Conan doing his best stunt and also when Chin allows the script to let Conan display fighting skills, some is forgiven. Ultimately Prince Of The Sun is a minor to poor showcase for most involved though. Also starring Lam Ching Ying, Jeff Falcon and Lau Shun.

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