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The Private Eye Blues (1994) Directed by: Eddie Fong

Eddie Fong and Clara Law logged their last Hong Kong cinema contribution with The Private Eye Blues, this time with Eddie directing (and Law acting as visual consultant) this marvelously entertaining comedy/drama. Jacky Cheung stars as a derailed private detective, having lost his wife (Kathy Chow) and kid and now given the task of finding a Mainland girl (Mavis Fan). She turns out to be more trouble and more hot property than he could've ever imagined...

Surely one of the, if not THE wildest ride of 1994, Eddie Fong injects all moods conceivable yet manages to succeed with every attempt. Shot by Jingle Ma the art way, with dutch angles, blue and green filters, Fong immerses us immediately despite the storyline being that age old of the downtrodden detective. His wit is super sharp and the visual style works splendidly with the low-key humour and off-beat narrative. Events may seem random and surreal but it nonetheless registers very favorably. Even when dabbling with human drama, Fong shows skill in making his audience affected despite the insanity on display. On board with Eddie Fong's script is Jacky Cheung who doesn't miss a beat, almost always carrying a beer bottle and being generally abused before having to pick himself up again. His chemistry with newcomer Mavis Fan is excellent and supporting acts from Chin Ho adds on to the fine package The Private Eye Blues is.

The Private Eyes (1976) Directed by: Michael Hui

It's never too late to catch up on the classics of Hong Kong cinema and The Private Eyes is my first encounter with the Hui brothers. Michael Hui's movie is pure comedy gold despite an almost nonexistent plot (Shek Kin and his henchmen are it) The top quality of the comedy segments make up for any complaints about that. Especially Michael who is the one messing up most of the time is on top form and the timing from him, in all it's simplicity, is exceptional. I don't know how their other movies were structured but the brothers respective roles in terms of comedy is clearly defined here. Michael gets the most laughs, Sam plays it more straight and Ricky is in the background performing much of his bits low key (looking at his wonderful face is enough to chuckle at least). Sammo Hung also choreograph two action comedy set pieces with the famous kitchen fight being a highlight.

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The Prodigal Boxer (1972) Directed by: Choi Yeung Ming

The martial arts action by Lau Kar Wing (who also appears) and Wong Pau Gei doesn't set the screen on fire but director Choi Yeung Ming possesses some unusually strong storytelling abilities and a genuine cinematic sense. The featuring of Chinese folk hero Fong Sai Yuk (Meng Fei - Five Shaolin Masters) will no doubt make viewers comfortable with characteristics early as we're given the trademark ignorant and rash behaviour to the young hero. Unlike the Jet Li and the Hsiao Hao interpretations, things leans more towards subdued here and the revenge drama at times comes with fine dramatic instincts for the genre. Some mundane events go on forever though, showing a definite inexperience in director Choi but the fact that the actual drama outdoes to the action is an unusual final verdict on an independent martial arts effort. Also with Maggie Lee, Yusuaki Kurata and Wong Ching. Fung Hark On, Yam Sai Koon and Yuen Cheung Yan can also be spotted.

T.H.E. Professionals (1998) Directed by: Wilson Tong

Remaking Michael Mann's Heat with so few means, amidst a crisis period of Hong Kong cinema and with less than powerhouse actors facing off (Louis Koo and Norman Tsui in the Al Pacino and Robert De Niro roles respectively), Wilson Tong merely gets a response sporadically with his street shootouts and violence but everything in between is very dull.

Project S (1994) Directed by: Stanley Tong

Re-titled in the US to Supercop 2, it's not entirely inappropriate as Project S features another adventure with Michelle Yeoh's Mainland police woman Yang Chien Hua. Her colleague and boyfriend Chang Fung (Yu Rong-Guang) decides to leave for Hong Kong to pursuit riches but it's done in the form of robbery and killing. Yang is called in to Hong Kong to assist on the robbery case Inspector Lee Ming (Emil Chow) and Lung (Fan Siu-Wong) are on and naturally comes into contact with Chang Fung...

With its main core being the relationship between Michelle Yeoh's and Yu Rong-Guang's characters, Stanley Tong rather poorly conveys their connection and Chang Fung's quick transition into crime. The usual Mainland vs. Hong Kong ways of policing, prejudice against Yeoh's female cop, some comedic shenanigans as Emil Chow trying to romance Yeoh follows before Project S turns into the action entertainment it should be. It survives silliness and lapse in logic. Tong begins crafting an efficient and fast moving plot, with the main excitement coming in the bank vault finale. It's hard to rise Tong's action up to a high standard as the movie isn't very stunt- or fight heavy but what's here is solid and exciting, with Yeoh's bout with one of the big Westerners being the prime recommendation. Shot in synch sound and also with Athena Chu, Bill Tung, Dick Wei, Bowie Lam and Yukari Oshima. Jackie Chan (playing his Police Story character Chan Ka Kui again) and Eric Tsang (both in drag) appear in a very silly 3 minute scene that may contain action but could've easily been cut out of the film.

Prosperous Of Family (1970) Directed by: Ding Sin-Saai

Produced at Union Films (that earlier in the 60s gave us King Hu's seminal Dragon Inn), Ding Sin-Saai (The Ghost Hill) takes a break from his overall action oriented rep to take a stab at the period drama. Featuring a minimal amount of action and instead a thematic focus, he sets his plot in motion when the extended house of Master Hsueh gets scattered as he is presumably killed by bandits. Kept alive if ransom money is provided, that money is grabbed by the greedy bunch of servants and wives. One of tem, Chun-Ngo ends up with the young son of Hsueh's, Eago, and has to start from scratch along with a male servant. First goal, get the naughty and distressed kid into school and along the way make any sacrifice needed, like an actual mother would...

A beautiful and deeply detailed frame doesn't detract from the needed intimacy of the themes on display here. Some messages may be a bit on the nose (even when portrayed in a comedic way, it doesn't quite gel) but Ding Sin-Saai has his noble intentions translating despite. Point of all this being that a tragedy that leads to a split of a large "family" will reveal true family values and the revelation of who ultimately is going to take on responsibility rather than sitting comfortably back. Telling performances and a director contributing genuine, dramatic class to Taiwan cinema at the time makes Prosperous Of Family a warm recommendation overall.

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The Protectors (1975) Directed by: Wu Ma

Although Celestial's remastering technique of cutting frames means certain movies were a few minutes shorter, Wu Ma's The Protectors originally must've been very short and therefore an exercise in being short and to the point. Two security guards, Ling (Lo Lieh) and Guan (Cheung Poi-Saan) become enemies when the latter sees the opportunity to make more money if collaborating Jin (Wang Hsish) to steal the next escort containing silver. Almost made with Shaw Brothers having engaged the automatic gear, it's actually very cool to get a quick fix because it's there. Fine costumes, decent action with blood and sneaky weapons and a bit unfortunate, too many twists for 62 minutes.

Protectors Of Universe (198?) Directed by: Larry M. Jackson

More Korean made anime rip off shenanigans presented by Joseph Lai's IFD Films & Arts (but more prominently their Adda Audio Visual gets the main released through-credit). Acquiring the 1983 giant robot feature Super teukgeup Majingga 7, those makers were not shy about what famous manga- and anime design they were copying as clearly Go Nagai's Mazinger Z is being victimized here to a degree (to what extent is hard for me to say as I'm not familiar with it). But the Japanese need not worry about a third rate anime like Protectors Of Universe that launches at us with expected crude results. It's another blue faced alien invasion plot with Lai adding the best (or unbearable depending on the viewer you are) elements needed to sit through such as poor/hilarious dubbing, ridiculous names for our villains (including Alfred) and the original crew mixes quite limp giant robot action with a large dose of wacky comedy courtesy of our invading forces. It doesn't have a particularly strong story-drive despite its brief running time but at least some memorable, nutty elements that is all capped with a fight between Mazinger 6 and a fire breathing dragon.

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