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# 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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Summer Snow (1995) Directed by: Ann Hui

The Best Picture, Best Director (Ann Hui), Best Screenplay (Chan Man Keung), Best Actor (Roy Chiao), Best Actress (Josephine Siao) and Best Supporting Actor (Law Kar-Ying) winner at the 1996 Hong Kong Film Awards and a well deserved sweep by all involved. Ann Hui celebrates the strength of women but also family in her drama about the Sun family's struggle with keeping their Alzheimer diagnosed father (Roy Chiao) in check.

Thankfully not overbearing with her jabs at social problems such as elderly care and economical struggles, Hui rightfully takes the low-key approach for her detailed snapshot of reality and while the MTV crowd, or those in need of a quick entertainment fix, should stay away, Hui still crafts highly compelling drama that goes equally touching and funny routes. Funny in the way Chiao's disease stricken Lin takes some odd detours in the city but it's equally tragic to see the struggling family go through breakdowns, both inner and outspoken ones. The slight disinterest that crops up is via the son's sub story and Law Koon Lan's character is a few notches too broad for my liking. Still, Summer Snow couldn't come more highly recommended and with a trio of terrific performances, most notably the late Roy Chiao who finally received some overdue recognition, Ann Hui crafts perhaps one of her more uplifting movies in the end. A young Stephen Fung, in his debut, appears briefly as well as Ha Ping.

Sun Dragon (1979, Hua Shan)

In a way nothing surprising happens for the genre here but shifting the setting to the Wild West (but the movie seems to flip flop between that and contemporary America) we get some different atmosphere around a movie that otherwise exists for martial arts. Certainly earns high praise action-wise as the choreography (save for a few moments) is great and Billy Chong really makes his mark on the movie as a powerful hero. Often finishing off choreography with fine kicking, the movie also makes a the case for being wall to wall action for the last third because of variation and quality. Since it's also stripped of comedy largely, the in between stretches feel even more tolerable. Second lead Carl Scott possibly outshines Chong as he keeps up splendidly with the demand of the powerful and fast choreography.

The Sun Has Ears (1995) Directed by: Yim Ho

The setting is 1920s China where warlords are running the countryside. In an isolated village landscape, Yoyo (Zhang Yu, also producer) lives in poverty with her husband Tianyo (Gao Qiang), things being so bad that she is fainting in the street out of hunger. Lieutenant Pan Hao (You Yong) enters the life of Yoyo, forcing the husband to give her up for a short period of time. However when the agreement has run its course, Pan isn't letting go and nor is Yoyo...

Yim Ho directs this story where hurt and torn are keywords running through the often low-key narrative. With a certain connection to Red Dust therefore, even without knowing your history, Yim Ho will easily let in anyone who wants to. Yoyo at center is presented as a woman flowing with the so called prosperous options before you, whether it's wealth or an actual injection of passion into your life. There's a sense of doom over the film though and more often than not, Yoyo's action generates some kind of painful effect. Yim Ho has a firm grip on his atmosphere, where even slight motions and sounds are tension-filled. Few choices seem upbeat here by design and an obvious frustration is put forth as well, not just having to do with the Chinese history that the film is part of. While absorbing throughout, Yim Ho doesn't seem to develop his statements as much during the last 20 minutes, even if proceedings do get closure. A minor niggle in yet another atmospheric movie that benefits from fine cinematography and a score by Otomo Yoshihide (The Blue Kite, Summer Snow).

At the Berlin International Film Festival, Yim Ho ended up sharing the Silver Berlin Bear Award for Best Director together with Richard Loncraine (Richard III).

Sun Valley (1995) Directed by: He Ping

To Sun Valley comes a lone swordsman (Zhang Fengyi - Farewell My Concubine), one the villagers name the Avenger as that seems to be his agenda. He stays at an inn run by Hong Liu (Yuan Kuei-Mei) whose husband Hei Niu (Wang Xueqi) only occasionally comes home from his extended trips as a horse merchant. The Avenger carries with him hidden secrets though, being haunted by the sight of slaughter courtesy of a red hooded swordsman and a fear of blood, resulting in him taking the lives of several villagers in his confused state. His prolonged stay at the inn with Hong Liu creates an unexpected bond between the two subsequently but she carries with her secrets and agendas of her own...

He Ping's (The Swordsman In Double-Flag Town, Warriors Of Heaven And Earth) movie is slow but a rewarding drama that couldn't be farther removed from what Hong Kong cinema fans perceive as a swordsman movie. He Ping may break out from the mundane and held back into stylish bloodshed but it's violence, not action and even though Sun Valley may have a distant cousin in Tsui Hark's The Blade, the portrayal of a world with less and less swordsmen is a welcome perspective as it's from a Mainland filmmaker. The narrative is of course a large puzzle which may frustrate but in the end He Ping has hit a stride and given us a compelling character journey, one with a humanistic outlook, without ever condescending his audience. It's not particularly complex but the film does require your attention and perhaps, depending on the viewer, a good chunk of your patience. Rewarding is the key word though. Shaw Brother's veteran Ku Feng appears in support.

Super Citizen (1986) Directed by: Wan Jen

Produced by John Woo for Cinema City, this Taiwan set drama sets out to feel rather uneventful but slips badly into it so no memorable cinema here. Lee Shi-Xiang is looking for his sister in Taipei and he befriends various what you might call eccentric characters, ranging from regular kids, petty criminals and aimless street girls. Lee is the face of innocence and possibly the super citizen of the rather poor English title but he finds out along with others that life is filled with loneliness (and some grave darkness). Pinch me, I'm sleeping and while director Wan Jen employs cinematic language that can work, he is in fact novice at walking that tightrope.

Supercop.com (2000) Directed by: Phillip Ko

Phillip Ko was still directing cheap action films into the new millennium and long after a golden of era of that particular genre, it's no surprise there's no creative juice left. Doubt there ever was any substantial amount in Ko to be honest.

Shot in Korea and Hong Kong, Ko wastes no time, launching us right into an ultra-serious narrative consisting of SDU training, the step into crime fighting uniform and supposed personal drama resides in the film as well. Ko seems to want to have a fast pace to his narrative yet displays awful skill at it. This then continues throughout as the story and characters are unimaginative, to put it nicely. All that's left is to let the girls kick some butt then, something he refuses to do until the final reel. There any potential skills left in Cynthia Khan and company is obscured by more lack of imagination in the choreography and editing. Anthony Wong phones in a heartless performance where he literally is yawning and sleeping through scenes. I won't knock Anthony or Cynthia for that matter as their given direction really seems nonexistent. Also with Johnny Wang, Ken Lo and Angela Tong.

Buy the VCD at:
Yesasia.com

Super Cops (1997, Mao Chiang-Pang)

Mix of cooking comedy (Gordon Liu as the cook) and cops and robbers movie, initially Super Cops comes with a lively tone at least promising a swift time. Not afraid of broad humour vs gangster genre tactics, no real element does stand out in the end. Super Cops verges on action breakout but with rather poorly shot and edited action, the effect expectedly does not come through. Billy Chow vs Yukari Oshima and Cynthia Khan during the extended action climax shows some sharper technical aspects but the movie comes and goes very quickly without impact. The absolutely harrowing, full body fire stunt that caps the film does leave a mental mark however.

The Super Gang (1982) Directed by: Wong Siu-Jun

As simple as it is (gang wars, deceit, betrayal, death, fights), The Super Gang is oddly impenetrable. Understanding the basics in this basically made actioner is enough however and the mad, violent action beats are sporadically very jaw dropping. As Bruce Le, Kwan Yung-Moon and Bolo Yeung among others duke it out, we get a head crushing (although a deliberate cut away to a melon represents the impact), characters beating themselves into a violent rage and a masked assassin also equipped with a giant hand. It's usually fast paced action nonsense with few lulls in pace.

Super Lady Cop (1992) Directed by: Wellson Chin

Back for more of the same routines, only outside of The Inspectors Wears Skirts series for Wellson Chin. With a female terminator-esque character (Cynthia Khan) and a bumbling idiot of a cop (Alex Man furthering his lack of talent as a comedian), Chin basically has the outline to make up a script as he goes along. It's a seriously unfunny one created with the only redeeming feature being the concept of the amnesia gun and Athena Chu is easily forgiven just because she's Athena Chu.

With the casting of Khan and Yuen Wah, some type of action workout obviously will be injected and echoing style of the Street Fighter video games creates an at times mildly spectacular ride. The finale even takes a few detours into graphic violence so viewer attention is easily maintained. Speaking of Street Fighter, there's clearly a sequence during the climax lifted from the Hong Kong edit of the film where Khan turns into the character of Chuan Li and reports seems to suggest this transformation was in other versions such as the one in Taiwan. As it stands now, the Hong Kong edit may not be cut as such but I'll tell you, you don't need to lose sleep over finding any version of Super Lady Cop. Really.

Supermen Against The Orient (1974) Directed by: Bitto Albertini

A co-production between Shaw Brothers and Italy, Supermen Against The Orient brings back the crime fighting Superman from Gianfranco Parolini's 1967 comedy The Three Fantastic Supermen. Adding Lo Lieh, Shih Szu (both appearing in other co-productions such as Blood Money and Legend Of The 7 Golden Vampires during their career) and Jackie Chan choreographed action from the Hong Kong side, Robert Malcolm stars as a US agent sent to Asia to ultimately free six agents from the grip of a drug dealer...or something. Meeting up with friends Max (Antonio Cantafora) and Jerry (Sal Borgese), they've learnt kung fu from master Tang (Lo Lieh) but are also planning to rob the consulate. Excellent location shots in Thailand and working on the Shaw Brothers lot means production values but neither action- or comedy comes off as anything but pedestrian and even boring. Robert Malcolm is verbally setup as a clumsy agent who still gets the job done but that angle isn't echoed from this point, showing a sloppiness in even the most basic of character-treatment. There's novelty value in seeing how the local flavour meet but Jackie Chan's action rarely comes to life (other than the end fight with all the supermen, showing Sal Borgese in particular impressing in the action department) and Jacques Dufhilo as the American Counsil hams it up to greatly annoying degree throughout. Possibly playing well for the Italian market, mostly it exists as curiousity value and the value is enough to soak in reading about this co-production, not watching it.

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