# 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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Rich And Famous (1987) Directed by: Taylor Wong

screencap stolen with permission from Hong Kong Digital

Rich And Famous, despite the being part 1 in a triad story that was followed up with Tragic Hero (aka Black Vengeance), it was the latter that was first unleashed upon audiences as it was thought to have more commercial potential (more action). Tragic Hero was successful, much thanks to the star power of Chow Yun-Fat and Andy Lau no doubt, but Rich And Famous managed to slide by, taking in over 21 million at the box office. It goes to show that audiences are willing to be put be subjected to mediocrity as long as there's stars involved...

Kwok (Lau), Yung (Alex Man) and Chui (Pauline Wong) are the trio of kids from a poor family that end up working for respected triad boss Chai (Chow Yun-Fat). With Yung being adopted into the family, he is naturally the one that goes astray, leading to betrayal and bloodshed along the way...

Manfred Wong and Stephen Siu's script is the epitome of ordinary and generic within the triad genre. Each and every role is a pure stock character and no attempts whatsoever are made to make old seem fresh. Director Taylor Wong doesn't seem to bothered either and hands over the duties to the actors. Can't say I blame them for acting left alone with no guidance. No star power in the world can in this case overcome the sheer dullness on display and while Chow Yun-Fat can look suave in his sleep, he looks thoroughly bored here. Remarkably sloppily directed at times, Rich And Famous offers up maybe a stunt or two of noteworthy nature towards the end. The other positive out of all this is a fairly likeable performance by none other than Alan Tam as Mak the stuttering coward who has to face his demons in the end reel as these things go. Also with Danny Lee (as yet another cliché character...the cop hellbent to nail the crime boss!), Carina Lau, Shing Fui On and Fan Mei Sheng.

Note that the screencap above is from the Tai Seng dvd. Mei Ah have out an anamorphic edition that surely beats prior home video presentations.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Rich Man (1992) Directed by: Joe Ma

Not another pervy men getting laid flicks that James Wong and Tommy Wong headed occasionally at this time (See Stooges In Tokyo, The Wild Goose Chase) but a comedy where the standout elements is chemistry and performer-energy. Kwong (Tommy Wong) is a low-rent triad and poor to boot but meeting the generous Peter Chow who advances Kwong and girflriend (Elaine Lui) up the wealth- and poverty ladder turns out to be a heavenly experience until it turns out it's too good to be true. The rise and fall of a once righteous and focused character is present here, with a strong point being how Kwong forgets what it's like to be a friend and a rascal and feature debut director Joe Ma continually keeps proceedings moving fast (at 80 minutes, Rich Man is logically lean too). Tommy Wong, Elaine Lui and Shing Fui-On head fine performer chemistry where it's not so much about the comedy but banter and really evident comfort. You notice when chemistry is on less substantially and a lot more substantially when off. Lau Kar-Wing, William Ho, Clifton Ko and Frankie Ng also appear.

Rider Of Revenge (1971) Directed by: Hung Ting-Miu

Freed from prison, the quite lethal Ting Fu (Shan Mao) isn't so much being saved but the warriors equipped with claws and horrible scars have an agenda and it's spelled l-o-o-t. Ling Hua (Polly Kuan) enters the scene as one seemingly wanting the law to handle Ting Fu while Lung (Tien Peng) and Wei (Kong Ban) have their own reasons for wanting the cuffed Ting Fu in their possession...

It's a complex web of mystery all up till the last seconds and while a compelling choice as well as the movie coming off like less of a complex Gu Long novel that it seems, director Hung Tin-Miu doesn't come through with much viewer interest in the developments. The Union Film production looks stunning and the action for its time is big, very epic and even set in complex environments such as fire (the brawl at brewery is a very compelling example of this). You also have compelling design choices in the weapons arsenal present, with each crucial character getting a distinctive trait that carries through nicely in the film (ranging from Polly Kuan's coin sword, Kong Ban's whip to the character of Ting Fu using his big cuffs to gory effect). But a serious, twisty turny core is the intent here and Rider Of Revenge doesn't quite cut it when it's done. It's something, the intent is admirable but the execution an empty one.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (2005, Zhang Yimou)

Zhang Yimou switches effortlessly back into drama after two big swordplay movies prior, telling the story of Japanese fisherman Takata (Takakura Ken) and his quest to mend the relationship with his son. Since the son is infatuated with Chinese folk opera, Takata travels to China to film the performance of 'Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles' for him. Zhang Yimou often communicated better using the platform of the small and even static and it works tremendously well here thanks to the treatment of a universal family-theme. The unseen son and the father who’s internalized emotions for a long time, it’s fascinating to see how newly found motivation and devotion is generated, what beautiful ripples are created as a result and the way Zhang communicates that these estranged characters would have avoided being alone had they not been stubborn. Takakura Ken does one or two inner dialogues too many but mostly Zhang wisely chooses what moments are needed to clarify what’s in the mind of his lead character. Not that it’s truly needed as the stern looking Takata’s face and demeanor speaks volumes. Including his drive to adhere to the lesson that it’s never too late to do good. The emotional trip is also beautifully highlighted by location work in and around the Yunnan province and wonderfully cast amateur actors such as Takata’s interpreters played by Qiu Lin and Jiang Wen as Jasmine.

Right Here Waiting... (1994) Directed by: Joe Hau

Frequently slammed for efforts such as Passion Unbounded and Hong Kong Showgirls (and rightly so), Joe Hau's debut film is a fine ensemble drama focusing on career women possessing that tough/equally soft shell that speaks to their longing for love. A terrific cast consisting of Cecilia Yip, Carrie Ng (looking nothing like her trademark glamour self), Pauline Wong (also producer) and Petrina Fung performs in the often familiar template with gusto but much credit goes out to Hau's sense of making simplicity and familiarity work. Best scene probably being when the character of Dickson (Wu Shing-Guo - Temptation Of A Monk) takes Cecilia Yip's Ha to meet his parents. Staged as a cross examination, Hau's cinematic sensibility gels perfectly here and he remains truthful throughout. Bringing in elements of farce in the interaction between the women (Pauline's character doesn't go for a boob job, she goes for a pump that she adjusts whenever she likes), this clearly signals his desire to not go overboard with depth but Right Here Waiting... isn't a production that has calculated wrongly in its strife to be simple about the fate of characters. Their stern, playful shells make way for shyness, innocence in a way that is felt and even depressing. But the message about being pro-active, to only worry about the things you can change and change them brings the movie to a fine close. Shot in synch sound thankfully where you for once get to hear Pauline Wong speak in Chinese AND English. Emil Chow, Julian Cheung, Crystal Kwok, Jimmy Wong and Law Kar-Ying also appear.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Rigor Mortis (2013) Directed by: Juno Mak

Just like Derek Kwok and Clement Cheng's Gallants did for the old school faces of kung-fu, Rigor Mortis brings back the ones out of the hopping vampire-genre (key cast all appeared in the Mr. Vampire-series). It's an absolute delight seeing the likes of Chin Siu-Ho, Anthony Chan and Chung Fat cast by a young (and debut) director, clearly enjoying the chance to sink their teeth into material and I'll admit, the nostalgia factor plus what seems like a focused project got approval very early on in Rigor Mortis. But this is not designed as a trip down memory lane to a genre that never seemed to go for dark horror but it's a 2013 pitch black vision done with the tools of the trade of today. Which could be for better or worse (usually worse). However Juno Mak backs up the respect for and casting of veterans with flawed but creative horror tactics. Within this apartment building set possession and hopping vampire-tale, Mak is not shying away from a slow, calm frame where actors (that also includes Kara Hui, Pau Hei-Ching and comedy legend Richard Ng) are allowed to act nor is he shying away from how computers can amp his scare tactics. Mak isn't going for the startle but more visual terror done partly physically but mostly in post and for the most part in combination with the tone, the horror is intriguing and creepy. Mak can't make the dreaded computer generated blood acceptable and there is a thread or two too many (the movie is too crowded character and therefore cast-wise unfortunately) that therefore reduces narrative effect. As great as Chin Siu-Ho looks, he's the one we disconnect most from but seeing the ageless veteran use presence and still present action-chops creates impact. Even if some connects to said nostalgia. Rigor Mortis is unexpectedly honed considering the young filmmaker and if Mak can shed a little bit of his need for visual aid and streamline his storytelling, these directorial instincts are going to evolve.

The Ringing Sword (1969) Directed by: Kim Lung

The more you watch the unearthed Taiwanese swordplay movies, the more you come to encounter a cinema just content with making a genre movie just to make one. Adhering to a market demand in other words... heard of that notion before? The Ringing Sword features the usual Wuxia techniques (in 1969, technically the effects and portrayal of them expectedly was basic), stiff fight scenes, betrayal, scheming, honor, revenge, twists and lacks any excitement or coherence to rival elite personnel on the scene such as King Hu. It's not King Hu-lite. It's just a production failing to make an impact in any area. Not even the inclusion of a ninja or killer darts helps.

The Ring Of Death (1980) Directed by: Ng See-Yuen

Attaching a small story to strands of war and politics wasn't really needed for this Seasonal production as it stands well on its own, has above average production values and sharp instincts. Cliff Lok is the orphan searching for his father who is an official, he learns kung-fu along the way having already a good foundation in strength. Some comedy follows and an epic end fight. Why The Ring of Death largely succeeds is through Ng See-Yuen's dedication to making the production seem like it wants to aspire higher than most. Being trendsetters themselves responsible for Jackie Chan's breakthrough and despite Cliff Lok not looking like a fit for the country bumpkin role, the comedy is surprisingly restrained, production looks rather dynamite and Corey Yuen co-directed action is always of quality. Bit of a pleasure feeling like someone took the time to try, even as far as to the English dubbing stages where a more than competent job (despite its rather crude and graphic dialogue at points with references to masturbation, modern day slang etc) was delivered as well.

Rivals Of The Silver Fox (1979) Directed by: Chan Siu-Pang

Although I can't confirm whether Joseph Lai and Tomas Tang had a hand in producing it, presumably this Korean production (originally called The Barrier and directed by Kim Jung-Yong) was released under their Asso Asia banner as Rivals Of The Silver Fox. Not fully coherent as a revenge tale and really possessing no particular strong traits, with Casanova Wong on the production you can expect some flashes of brilliance at least and the last 20 minutes got the highlight package for the film. With flashes of Wong's extraordinary kicking skills to take note of, more important and memorable is an epic finale with Wong vs a ton of both bronze- and silvermen with some pretty neat ideas within it (the harsh Korean landscape acts as a nice counterpart to many low budget Hong Kong and Taiwan productions of this kind). Echoes of the Lone Wolf And Cub series are also present through Wong carrying with him his child that may hold secrets the opposites at the Devil Valley Lodge are after.

River Of Fury (1973) Directed by: Cheung Chang-Chak

Before he managed to star in a bunch of Shaw Brother's more outrageous films (Super Inframan, Oily Maniac, Mighty Peking Man, Bruce Lee And I), the studio tried to find something for Danny Lee to do, not hitting the mark with River Of Fury. A familiar story of innocence abused and betrayed, thematically much can be squeezed out of it but director Cheung Chang-Chak never manages to find the sparks for the film to ignite into worthy poignancy. No complains about the sets and cinematography plus Lily Ho (Intimate Confessions Of A Chinese Courtesan) is stunning as a Peking opera performer yet it's far from sufficient. Really far. The usual end credits caption "Another Shaw Brother's production" never rang more true. Also with Ku Feng, Tin Ching and Ouyang Shafei.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

The Road Home (1999, Zhang Yimou)

Luo Yusheng (Sun Honglei) returns home after his father has passed away. His grieving mother Zhao Di (Zhao Yulian) requests her husband to be carried home so he'll never forget his way. This superstition presents its share of logistical problems but in flashback we see how love blossomed and what the road to and from the village meant for Zhao Di (played as young by Zhang Ziyi in her feature debut). Since it's told as a story from the past and one that the entire village know by heart as well, Zhang Yimou unashamedly makes The Road Home a sugary sweet, fairytale romance. Going from scope photography in black and white to stunning color that will cover the seasons at their peak, avoiding the cloying and sappy is something he's also extremely capable of. It's adorable to see young love being born through curious looks and smiles, with the camera catching Zhang Ziyi's eyes and awe of watching the new teacher arriving and eating the dishes she prepares for him. A genuine feel runs through the movie, its heightened visuals doesn't betray that, it has its share of heartbreak but is told in a brisk fashion that still clinches the meaningful nature of falling head over heels for someone. For life. Also captured using still, static shots with long takes of dialogue, which is an equally mesmerizing and confident choice.

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