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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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The Supernormal (1992) Directed by: Lo Ting-Git

What looks to be a fairly successful documentary at the box office that year based on the 11 million Hong Kong dollars take, The Supernormal is hosted (and produced) by Edward Lee who takes the viewer through stories of fox goblins, tree manifestations of fox goblins, fortune telling, stories of scam artists, feng shui, exorcism, haunted mansions and the famous hell tour. Joined on occasion by actress Joyce Ngai (who relates some stories of the problematic shooting of Ringo Lam's Esprit D'amour), much of all this is delivered in quite the rapid fire way so it's difficult, at least as a Western viewer or one lacking the knowledge, to thoroughly follow the loose structure of The Supernormal. At core it's about belief and the Asian audiences don't take matters presented lightly so neither should we. Despite some sections looking staged, some are even uncomfortably staged such as the exorcism of a little boy that really is borderline child abuse. Western viewers will definitely sit up and take note as one section talks of Amy Yip's breast operation and how it probably brought her good luck. We even get the seemingly first shot of Yip's breasts on camera, this time not obscured by something but in a weird turn, we subsequently see various spiritualists discuss whether her assets were real or fake.

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The Supernormal II (1993) Directed by: Lo Ting-Git

More of the same in the sequel to the notably successful 1992 documentary, Edward Lee quickly guides us through various tangents on possession across Asia. Amping the grisly sights this time around via footage of ceremonies surrounding possession and participants striking themselves bloody but not feeling pain, photographs of decayed corpses said to be vampires and a healing ceremony towards the very end where the leader of the congregation performs surgery then and there to remove ailments (fake or not, it looks nasty). Also brining back Joyce Ngai as his co-host but also actress Lily Chung for company and re-enactments of the darker aspects of possession, some of what can be picked up in The Supernormal II IS interesting and is not to be looked down upon but for a second time in a row there seems to be a flimsiness inherited in the production. Cutting down on content and pace could've produced a smoother, sometimes eerie insight into superstition and supernatural encounters.

Superriders Agsinst The Devils (1976) Directed by: Lin Chong-Guang

All evidence, despite sketchy information, points towards the fact that this Taiwan produced Kamen Rider-movie combines footage from the Japanese feature Kamen Rider Vs. Shocker (1972) but almost all footage of actors outside of costumes was re-shot with Taiwan leads Lee I-Min (7 Grandmasters, Mystery Of Chess Boxing) and Man Kong-Lung. Therefore plotted along the same path as the 1972 movie, with the leads portraying the mutant cyborgs Kamen Rider 1 and 2 respectively and trying to prevent the Brotherhood Of Satan (POSSIBLY led by Dracula essentially) from obtaining the GX Device on their way to world domination, the Taiwan crew does well in echoing the endearing cheap sci-fi design of the franchise. Actors in a variety of monster disguises (looking like anything from frogs, insects to skeletons and possessing killer gadgets such as teleportation-foam) doesn't equal a scary time and it certainly takes a certain mindset to enjoy the live cartoon. Because the plentiful bouts aren't exactly well-paced, possessing a flow or even exciting but the costume ball on display (coupled with a short running time) is a definite charmer despite. The same crew has the 1975 movie Super V3 in their filmographies as well which presumably could've been made along the same lines as Superriders Against The Devils. Available on German dvd (German dub only, English subtitles), you can pick it up at German Amazon.

Supreme Sword (1969, Ling Yun)

Nothing much in the way of a new take on the swordplay genre occurs in Supreme Sword. But its low budget nature, certainly Cantonese synch sound and stars leads to decent effort and sincerity trying to depict the age old cycle of revenge within the martial world. Leaning on tropes therefore and melodramatic acting, the movie does get off to a fast start with Connie Chan slicing and dicing her way through opponents. Slowing down and featuring less action therefore, when Walter Tso's beggar character turns up to then reveal (to the surprise of no one) he's a swordsman of note with a backstory, the movie can't lean very effectively on the verbal interaction and Supreme Sword ultimately comes off as merely a perfectly ordinary swordplay movie. Lau Kar-Leung and Tong Gaai's action is fairly impressive however, achieving complexity and speed working with Connie Chan in particular. Also starring Sek Kin.

Survival Of A Dragon (1981, Lin Ying)

Other than the novel idea of going from modern martial arts action to time travel film and hence a detour into Wuxia, Survival Of A Dragon (IFD re-title, possible original title being 'Hero From The Wind Tunnel') has trouble with the genre shake-up it's trying to craft. The fish out of water humour on both sides (i.e. the visitor to the Sung Dynasty and the visitor to modern times) feels rather phoned in and certainly the interaction rather stale and hollow. With conflict brewing in the competitive world of track and field and despite a tone that's meant to be light, its novel angle is all the movie have for about a fourth. The rest only lights up via a few instances of complex action choreography, with the highlight being the acrobatic nature of the cast and stuntmen. Starring Alan Lau, Lee Lieh, Li Chien-Ping and Wei Ping-Ao.

The Sweet And Sour Cops (1981) Directed by: Norman Law

Spending more time and creative juice on the animated opening credits, the rest of The Sweet And Sour Cops is just classically bad and grating Hong Kong cinema where filmmakers try to rely on the skit format and a vague narrative framework. In this case it's the goofy cop movie where the duo of Liu Wai-Hung and Kent Cheng are mostly incapable, clumsy, unlucky in love, worst friends in the next to last reel only to become besties again and they solve an actual crime by the end. Since Norman Law (Gun Is Law, A Hearty Response) throws so much of these bit pieces at us, some laughter is ensured but far, far, far from enough to ensure a snappy 90 minutes. Since the actors only show chemistry during those brief, sparse bits that do work, the dud-factor of The Sweet And Sour Cops is apparent and it's never a feeling that goes away. A sequel followed the year after.

Sweet Peach (1993) Directed by: Lau Siu-Gwan

Sex and some plot. I.e. the creative process by Lau Siu-Gwan (Hero Dream) leading Sweet Peach into the booming 90s Category III trend of Hong Kong cinema. Connecting quite a big character gallery to Stuart Ong and Tsui Man-Wah ruining several characters for their financial gain, that minimum thread is the representation of plot here. Rest is a surprisingly entertaining and fast mix of static direction, lifeless and unconvincing sex (where you can even spot the actors laughing in an endeering moment). Adding melodrama, some violence, action and rape for largely unwarranted reasons, Sweet Peach gets by thanks to its insistance to be something it knew beforehand oddly enough. Also with Rena Otomo, Chan Pooi-Kei, Dennis Tang and Charlie Cho in a rare dark role.

Sweet Surrender (1986) Directed by: Frankie Chan

Ko (Frankie Chan) is a barber who was previously married into the family headed by stern father played by Ku Feng. The daughter Youth (Shirley Lui), and therefore Ko's sister in-law, is free spirited and begins taking a liking to Ko. Naturally them hanging out as much as they do leads to romance. A tricky notion considering their relation and status in the family...

Believe it or not, Frankie Chan takes at least two thirds of the movie to make this simple plot coherent! Before that, there's evidence of an unfocused 80s experience, only lacking the CHARMING, unfocused 80s charms. Hanging out with Youth, Youth's extensive circle of very eclectic friends, going go-carting...it all sounds like mindless fun but faced with close to a 100 minute running time (at least 10 minutes too much), thankfully director Chan begins injecting slight bearable cinema towards the end. He has veterans Ku Feng and Sek Kin to thank for that. The themes surrounding family comes to life and the Ku Feng character has his self-realizations, which is wonderfully, albeit in a standard way, handled by the veteran. Melodrama seems naturally unavoidable but at least we understand it and are even entertained by the minor stunt component of the flick as well. Sweet Surrender could've been much more though if Chan had been a charismatic lead and if Shirley Lui had been geared towards being peppy, free and compelling in an actual way throughout. Paul Chun is the dopey, detective brother with a gun, Lee Heung-Kam the mother while Charlie Cho, Wu Fung and Shum Wai also turn up. Someone named Wong Kar-Wai co-wrote the script.

The Sword (1971) Directed by: Poon Lui

Part of Crash Cinema's Unearthed Classic range, Poon Lui (a Shaw Brother's director before and since) creates a stunning piece of independent Wuxia, worthy of all the reputation it has worked up, especially in the light of this 2007 dvd release. Reportedly preparing the film for over a year, The Sword is meticulously created, pushing the limited indie budget well with sets and costumes being of the highest order. At heart also, it's not even about the action solely but an uncommonly (for the genre) complex portrayal of the consequences of obsession, embodied by Jimmy Wang Yu's Hsio Ho Wei. Son of a general, he stands in the way of his family crossing over to join the new empire. All he cares for are his swords however...

Jimmy logs perhaps his finest performance alongside the outcast Fang Kang in One-Armed Swordsman here, being in the shoes of a man rebelling in his own way but utilizing his position as part of the wealthy elite. However it's a tricky character who IS seeing things one-sided and perhaps will do less so via lessons learned along the way, be it philosophical ones or in battle. Perhaps is the key mystery word and Poon Lui neatly captures interest of those of us willing to listen as the piece revolves greatly around dialogue passages. With atmosphere oozing grandeur as we move through every set (the snow covered finale is particularly striking), The Sword truly involves all the way and is a splendid example of a director breaking down the walled boundaries of independent cinema to compete with movie making empire Shaw Brother's. Even though the action is stagy, there's more than enough story driven intensity behind it to forgive the lack of fluidity in the swordplay. Forgiving genre/Wang Yu staples such as a fighting tournament and the appearance of his trademark beard is easy too.

The Sword (1980) Directed by: Patrick Tam

Behind its stock plot about swordsmen on their quest to acquire a legendary sword lies a calm and measured Wuxia from first time director Patrick Tam (Nomad, My Heart Is That Eternal Rose and editor on Ashes Of Time). He invests his images in the needed storytelling yes but it's the highly exquisite atmosphere and camerawork that makes The Sword a terrific standout amongst the Golden Harvest efforts of the era. Ching Siu-Tung's action directing is also given a spotlight to thoroughly shine, combining winning doses of swordplay and Wuxia trickery, something he would expand on even more when directing his own classic Duel To The Death a few years later. With Adam Cheng, Norman Tsui, Eddy Ko, Lee Hoi Sang, Lau Siu-Ming and Tien Feng among others.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

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