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Step Into The Dark (1998) Directed by: Dick Cho & Wong Jing

Dr. Care Kwan (Lau Ching-Wan) not only gets the benefit of getting out of a demanding relationship with May May (Celine Ma) but strikes up a friendship with former patient Faith (Athena Chu) who a year earlier nearly lost her life after falling from a roof. It all seems very sugar sweet between them until people around Kwan starts to suspect Faith is a ghost and Kwan is being enchanted. You know what they say about ghost/human love. The TV ghost expert Sperm Loui (Simon Loui) does draw comparisons to masturbation and the triad society in that regard but Kwan and friend Leslie Cheung (Emotion Cheung) needs to enlist this obviously very inept expert despite...

Wong Jing's paws infect this deadly boring ghost story that seriously lacks energy and initiative. Going silly on us and thinking comedy will be achieved just because characters are a bit out there, a tired Titanic spoof follows and it's not long before we truly see the boredom in leads Lau and Chu's faces. There's not much romance to work with anyway and when the regular spooks turn up that years earlier even from Wong Jing meant some kind of low budget energy was nowhere to be found, Step Into The Dark is embarrassing in the way it hardly tries to conjure up even a minute spark. Also with Helena Law Lan, Ha Ping and Lee Siu-Kei.

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The Stewardess (2002) Directed by: Sam Leong

The trailer for The Stewardess asks us if it's horror, comedy, cult and you should be asking the filmmakers too but ultimately settle in to be yanked in all of these three directions. Screenwriter Ken Ma (Sam Lee) hooks up with stewardess Apple (Lee San-San) whose family he gets to meet the day after. A triad family as it turns out with the head being Dragon played by Michael Chan. Meeting his neighbour, the Japanese stewardess Yurei (Seina Kasugai) one day in the hallway, Ken is infatuated and sees his opportunity to try and get another stewardess onto his resume. It's especially good that she's Japanese as he's always wanted to avenge the Chinese people by having sex with an oppressor. Ok... he's not exactly good boyfriend material nor a sympathetic character but he's one that gets Yurei following him and revealing ghostly tendencies...

Sam Leong continues to via production company Same Way put Japanese talent in his Hong Kong productions (also see Shamo, Explosive City etc) and with himself in the directing chair, The Stewardess turns out to be a rather kooky, spooky time with a lot of dedication to mentioned three moods. They logically shouldn't mix but Leong isn't afraid to be off-beat, quirky, very Japanese in horror and cartoony to almost a literal extent. The music, atmosphere and camerawork all contribute to a very light time that doesn't mean very much as a story or even cinematically but Leong clearly has an eye for what the trailer asks. As well as a desire and skill to deliver. Also with Wayne Lai and Lam Suet.


The Sting (1992) Directed by: Nico Wong

Fast-paced, hyperactive lunacy that represents one of those many Hong Kong movies on the shelf that you don't expect much out of but get a ton out of. Andy Lau is Simon Tam, wealthy private detective of some sort that has sworn to his master not to take any more jobs. His agent and assistant (Simon Loui) does accept a million dollar down payment to protect a client but that client dies and leaves behind the wife Yvonne (Rosamund Kwan). Subsequently the triads (led by Henry Fong and Michael Dinga) want money and diamonds so the hunt is on. All while CID officer played by Bowie Lam wows to take down Simon Tam...

Certainly a very lively, comic book adventure in style as director Nico Wong lets us know he feels The Sting has no business operating in the real world or within the notions of sense. But Wong has the skills to back this up as he takes the über-awesome Simon Tam through a plethora of chase scenarios. It's one of those heroes tailored for Andy Lau's inherent coolness as there's no way he's ever going to be in danger and judging by the manic humour on display, here could've laid a Stephen Chow vehicle perfectly suited for that man's screen image of the time as well. Andy Lau continues to prove he's adept at selling fights and take part to an admirable degree, even though the action here is more comedic in style (his encounter with an assassin not QUITE from the modern world is the best action director Lee King-Chu offers up). Bonus points goes to a completely mad Bowie Lam who appears in a variety of disguises, none more memorable than him as Jesus on the cross or as a very ugly baby. Also with Chin Ho and Shing Fui-On. Wong Jing's gambling/prison movies parody Perfect Exchange was also known as The Sting II but has nothing to do with Nico Wong's movie aside from the casting of Andy Lau in the lead.

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Stolen Love (2001) Directed by: Alan Mak

By the time director Alan Mak and writer Felix Chong reveals their high concept for Silent Love, you firmly realize what a missed opportunity this romance was. An entire different cast & crew of note should attempt this love story again, preferably one headed by Derek Yee and not do what Mak does here, which is a whole bucket of wrongs. First is the problematic casting of young faces Rain Lee and Raymond Lam who strike up zero chemistry and are unable to chime in any weight to the characters. Mak instead attempts compensate for that by populating the film with surreal comedy, an overload of Canto-pop to stir up emotions and a surprise twist that again has opportunities but not in Alan and Felix's hands. It's definitely 10 steps back for Mak since he had A War Named Desire done by this point but Stolen Love thankfully has become buried under the success of the Infernal Affairs series that Mak co-wrote together with Felix and directed with Andrew Lau.

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The Stone Age Warriors (1991) Directed by: Stanley Tong

After working as action director for a number of years, Stanley Tong got the chance to helm his own feature in 1991. The result was this jungle adventure starring Elaine Lui (Angel) and Nina Li (Tiger On The Beat) that, judging by the outtakes, was not an easy going and glamorous shoot for anyone (Lui and Li has several very real encounters with the wild and its animals here).

Aside from some lagging pace initially, The Stone Age Warriors settles in nicely after a while, giving us equal amount of low brow humour, slight detours into sleaze and competent action directing. The latter being the standout and is supposed to be a standout in a movie such as this. Tong doesn't create overly complex set pieces but plus points goes to the fair brutality of it and the fact that stars Lui and Li are most of the time performing themselves. If any style is evident in Tong's early work as a narrative director, it's that of giving us a piece not only set outside of Hong Kong but amongst several exotic locations. Something that would be very true for his subsequent collaborations with Jackie Chan on Police Story III and First Strike. Fan Siu-Wong co-stars (and gets a fine fighting showcase) and Dick Wei appears in a cameo during the intro.

Stoner (1973) Directed by: Wong Fung

George Lazenby (the one time only 007) plays American cop (although the original trailer seems to go with him being Australian) Stoner who goes to Hong Kong to stop the new drug "Happy Pill" (a mixture of heroin and aphrodisiac) and to exact a little personal revenge as well. A parallel investigation is headed by Taiwan police woman Li Shao Hu (Angela Mao) who's suspecting the smugglers are using old Taiwanese boats to ship their drugs into Hong Kong. Traces leads to a local temple where the sick and poor go to have their illnesses cured...

If you're into the particular, sometimes unexplained atmos a Golden Harvest production can provide, you'll feel right at home with Stoner as it features elements and cast members we've come to expect to be included, including Whang In-Sik and Sammo Hung (also the film's co-action director). The film also takes some wonderfully dopey detours into exploitation as the effect on the drug can be seen at an early drug party scene where a woman is screaming for men and sex all while the onlookers praise the black man who's delivering the happiness. Lagging in pace somewhat, Lazenby does look powerful in his various brawls and the finale at the James Bond-esque lair gives Angela Mao her time to shine. Especially an extended end fight with Whong In-Sik is intense and even dangerous as it's got a fair amount of fire gags incorporated.

A shorter version on Hong Kong vcd loses a good chunk of Angela Mao's scenes (even fight ones) and nudity from the film. Lazenby went on to star in an additional two Hong Kong productions: The Man From Hong Kong and A Queen's Ransom.

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Stooges In Hong Kong (1992) Directed by: Otto Chan

A comment on the lows television goes to to satisfy its audience, it's not a finely tuned view on our times but in this second James Wong/Tommy Wong romp (first being Stooges In Tokyo), the combination of hit/miss silliness equals an entertaining, silly time. James is the host of a dirty jokes show that is a smash but when he threatens to exclude Tommy as credited writer for their upcoming book, the buddies go their separate ways. No longer repressed, Tommy achieves great success utilizing a dirty singer while James is left to his own devices that drains the life out of his audience. Verbal vulgarity, a lot of lame parody and skit-theft (Airplane! and Monty Python being victims although the makers of the former seemingly gets an end credit acknowledgement!), director Chan (Devil's Woman) begins rebounding in the second half thanks to excessive silly behaviour that means a lot actually sticks to the wall. See one of the television bosses scratch his always growing testicles, multiple jokes about Amy Yip's breasts, her choice of vibrators and even when she's sporting a beard, there is something amusing and successful about Otto Chan's straightforward directing. James Wong mostly grates but Tommy Wong is funny and part of a surreal sense Stooges In Hong Kong has as the character for some reason enter different eras wherever he goes at times. Among others appearing are Mimi Chu, writer Vincent Kok and producer Clifton Ko.

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Stormy Sun (1973) Directed by: Directed by: Mo Man-Hung

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Also known as Super Man Chu, in the realm of yet another the flick definitely fits but the standard proceedings remains totally watchable despite. We're actually not seeing our heroes during the opening credits but the the vile bad guys that goes on a murder/rape rampage at a local inn. Thankfully an actual hero turns up, the son (Chang Yi) of the murdered family and off he goes on the revenge path. He can make proceedings stormy alright and possessing good eye/hand co-ordination (like so many others in the film, be it when they're using knives or clogging guns by throwing coins from a distance) equals created cinema of the crude but admirably intense kind at times. What's lacking in invention is made by some brief flashes of that intensity and while darkness in this straight effort never registers as truly effective, lead Chang Yi has the chops to carry standards. Some neat, fast paced choreography towards the end involves a samurai and turns out to be the true standout in this department. Also starring Pai Ying.

The Story of Drunken Master (1979) Directed by: Ngai Hoi-Fung & Wu Pang

Despite the English title suggesting so, this ain't a recap of how Simon Yuen's So Hat Yi became the drunken beggar but pretty much your run of the mill kung-fu flick that uses some of its cast members well sporadically. Yuen himself is a mildly fun inclusion especially in the training scenes but it's clear the actor isn't as inspired as when he was directed by his son Yuen Woo-Ping in Drunken Master for instance. Yen Shi-Kwan is his nemesis after revenge and it's pretty much the only story strand you can interpret. The rest is an abstract mess of things that doesn't matter one bit, aside from a funny scene with Sharon Yeung on stage performing acrobatics and Dean Shek trying to sabotage the performance. The final reel has some expressive choreography involving Casanova Wong and Sharon however. Of note is that the director team was behind The Cub Tiger From Kwangtung (Jackie Chan's early starring role, a movie that was re-edited into Master With Cracked Fingers, featuring new footage with Simon Yuen and Dean Shek) and over 50 Wong Fei Hung films (starring Kwan Tak-Hing) respectively.

Story Of Kennedy Town (1990) Directed by: Wu Ma

For Story Of Kennedy Town, parallels can be drawn to the core story of the three friends in Bullet In The Head and perhaps it's no coincidence either as Wu Ma's film premiered just a few months after, with Waise Lee again in a large role. Despite an unnecessary character fate reveal at the beginning, Wu Ma gets respectable mileage and poignancy out of such an expected story covering friendship, honor and law. Performances from Waise Lee and Aaron Kwok suitably match this fair competence but it's Mark Cheng who does some of his best work ever here. Cinematography is very attractive as well, enhancing the respectable nature the production. It ultimately doesn't mean a lot but Wu Ma the director usually didn't either in this capacity so it's nice to be able to proclaim this as one of his best films despite. He appears in a supporting role as well the late Bill Tung, Sharla Cheung, May Lo, Tai Bo, Billy Ching and Chu Tau.

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