# 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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Tactical Unit - Comrades In Arms (2009) Directed by: Law Wing-Cheong

The last of the five PTU spin off movies released and that I saw, they are all standalone but the final one goes out on a strong note. Bringing in most of the regular Milkyway crew (including the writers), matters are quite sharper than weaker efforts such as 'Partners' as Sam's (Simon Yam) and Madam May's (Maggie Siu) respective crew venture into a forest and village setting to capture Mainland robbers. Establishing an antagonistic vibe between units, the expected 'gotta work together' template IS echoed but director Law Wing-Cheong stages competent, quick entertainment. The non-urban setting gives way to good tension and gritty realism while the final church siege just oozes Johnnie To and Milkyway style for the better. Swift, easy and recognizable Milkyway Image entertainment, straight to video. That's a creative exercise too. Also with Samuel Pang and Lam Suet (having been demoted to PTU in this part) being more of a buffoon than usual.

Tactical Unit - Human Nature (2008) Directed by: Andy Ng

One out of five spin off movies based on Johnnie To's PTU but the sole connection aside from some of the cast returning as similar but different characters merely remains the police unit being featured. Through different filmmakers and Johnnie To producing, none is so far in my viewing experience trying to emulate the stylistic nature to To's one night experience that was his earlier movie in a nutshell. Tactical Unit - Human Nature is mainly a vehicle for Lam Suet who may walk around with a head injury like in To's film but is in reality playing a different character. Saddled with a gambling habit and huge debt with loan shark Hung (an energetic Gordon Lam making the most of his standard, clichéd character), Lam Suet's Tong steals money from a crime scene and close friend Sam (Simon Yam) in the police tactical unit rather than report Tong tries to get him out of the situation with his job intact and character restored. It's a little redemption tale that also involves the police force trying to redeem their image with the public after a video is leaked online showing Simon Yam's unit stuck in a van while Mainland robbers are shooting up the van. That gang of robbers is also one Tong gets closer and close to as the promise of money seems greater with them. The cast of Lam Suet, Yam and stone faced Maggie Siu bring fine presence in what is a very flat movie in reality. Low production values and indeed the feel of a TV movie dominates but the cast makes us hang on and director Andy Ng (The Untold Story 2) at least delivers a competent story of morals, friendship and brotherhood. Sans the Johnnie To stable however, would've been close to a turkey.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Tactical Unit - No Way Out (2008) Directed by: Lawrence Lau

One of five PTU-esque spin off movies produced by Johnnie To, Simon Yam, Maggie Siu and Lam Suet again play different characters in these more TV sized offerings in scope (most of the batch went straight to dvd). That said, the episode 'No Way Out' benefits from the portrayal of the cop squads as quiet, rule bending roamers and Lawrence Lau (Spacked Out) fearlessly diving deep into the grittier aspects of the story. Centering around largely mute immigrant Fai (Derek Tsang), he's used by the cops (lead by Yam's Sam) to appear as a snitch in the eyes of the triads and this sets off a chain reaction that brings him and his romance with an elder prostitute out on the streets and in peril as triads are looking to exact vengeance harshly. Fairly effective darkness and squeezing some actual dangerous aura out of the triad stock characters, it also tracks back decently to the opposing cops Siu and Yam plays and whether they do or should feel anything in the name of disrupting gang activity.

Tactical Unit - Partners (2008) Directed by: Lawrence Lau

One of the weaker PTU spin off movies that mostly went direct to dvd, director Lawrence Lau (My Name Is Fame) tries to merge several story strands dealing with personal life of Officer May (Maggie Siu), Peter Chan's Indian character Velu who can't escape his criminal past and present and rookie Rocky (Tsui Tin-Yau) insecurities and clumsiness on the job. Tries to, doesn't succeed and the final tally of the entry 'Partners' is that of lacking in interest, drive and punch. There's clearly a desire to play out proceedings natural and real but it mostly comes off as quickly produced instead. Simon Yam is dependable and iconic as Sam who acts more as a veteran mentor here in the movie's sole effective scenes. Lam Suet as per usual also supports.

The Tai-Chi Master (1993) Directed by: Yuen Woo-Ping

Jet Li may have worked a lot with Corey Yuen but his pairing with Yuen Woo-Ping results in very compelling Hong Kong action cinema. Made at a time when wire assisted fight choreography dominated, Yuen Woo-Ping delivers several topnotch and imaginative fight sequences. A few ropey wire shots and choppy editing appears but nothing that will detract from the quality of the action. Storyline doesn't break any new ground but that doesn't matter when the main cast is Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh and Chin Siu Ho. Jet may have found his dream role as Wong Fei-Hung in the Once Upon A Time In China series but takes what was seen there and adds a boyish charm to this role. Chin Siu Ho should've been a bigger star and despite another role alongside Jet in Fist Of Legend a few years later, his career never really took off. Yuen Cheung-Yan, brother of Yuen Woo-Ping, appears in a supporting role.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Tai Chi Warriors (2005) Directed by: Tuen Ping-Yang

How in the world David Chiang managed to end up in this low-budget, broken English language modern martial arts actioner of 100% inept-status, god only knows. Hong Kong cinema gave him minor spotlights in 2 Young and Election recently but this throwback to genre "fun" of yesteryears (in particular American produced films of its kind) has evidence of a Chiang (credited as John here) being old and bored. Yet, playing Master Dragon, he's the best part of Tai Chi Warriors, where there exists valid themes of disillusioned students of his choosing darker martial arts paths, new students trying to find acceptance and cocky, black, sexist, wannabe movie stars named Bruce (with credits such as "Karate Elvis" and "Transsexual Karate Queen" under their belt) trying to punch their way through the Tai Chi-way American style. It's performed atrociously, in heavy Chinese accents mostly, personal drama is told in ham fisted style, drab comedy appears (the Tai Chi bowling game would've needed resources to pull off some effects. Here it's just student film levels on display) but the usage of stock elements of genre flicks isn't necessarily a bad choice. I can even swallow the appearance of new wave Wuxia fight scenes in this modern scenario and it probably isn't 2000 miles away from crap that came out 20 years before it but that's still not an excuse. It's a mess with no official release on the horizon but that fate would be well deserved. Can't say I was bored though, which is perhaps a cardinal sin to admit as a reviewer? You be the judge.

Take Five (1998) Directed by: Roman Cheung & Ally Wong

Low budget and painfully unfunny slasher flick, Take Five tackles a murder mystery set in a school with a way too generous and wacky character gallery. Goddess Athena Chu is an overprotective sister looking through the various creative areas of her sister's school, including the cooking class with the busty teacher, arts class and theater class. All supervised by a controlling principal constantly in conflict with the nutty school priest (Cheung Tat-Ming). Oh it so desperately wants to kooky to the max but doing isn't equal to funny and especially not so since Take Five plays it very dry. No suspense either when mixing in the murder plot, it's all capped with a strange supernatural twist that no one in their right mind would bother decipher. Little else is penetrable anyway. Elvis Tsui is the sole amusement as the janitor looking like Jean Reno out of Léon and therefore carries a plant with him constantly. It's a testament to the actor that he can induce snickers through sheer presence. Also with Edmond Leung as Chu's love interest in a limp romance subplot and Wayne Lai.

Buy the VCD at:
Yesasia.com

Takes Two To Mingle (1990) Directed by: Dick Cho

Very little seems wrong and little right about Dick Cho's Danny Lee-vehicle but eventually scoring with edgy and suspenseful sequences of action and getting a Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau-esque chemistry out of Lee and Wu Ma, Takes Two To Mingle grows. Lee is the impulsive, often annoyingly loud-mouthed cop who is very protective of his sister (Fennie Yuen). When she brings home boyfriend KK (Lam King-Kong), the son of a rumoured to be triad businessman (Wu Ma), this particular hell breaks loose. On the more dangerous side of the story coin, Ricky Yi is working within the company of Wu Ma's alongside dangerous, sharp shooting villains. Straight and often barely decent, director Cho eventually finds a flow that is very entertaining, mixing comedic banter, Lee's particular fists before brains attitude and fun touches such as one of the timid cops finding an outlet via guns to really let loose. Lam Wai also appears.

A Tale From The East (1990) Directed by: Manfred Wong

After a rare lunar event, out of the earth rises 3 Ching Dynasty characters. One is Huang Zhin (David Wu - Full Throttle), a royal servant to Little Princess (Chan Cheuk-Yan - Fatal Termination) who also is awakened along with the feisty Blood Devil (Daai Cheung). Huang ends up in the hands of Chu Kor Yee (Joey Wong) and her brother Tai Lit (Billy Lau) while a pair of wacky electricians (Eric Kot and Jan Lam, aka the Soft Hard DJ duo) tries to figure out the origins of Little Princess that they are stuck with...

A great, big history lesson in the opening narration perhaps signals something significant but it's merely a basic lead into a Manfred Wong directed piece that's flirting with elements already present in The Reincarnation Of Golden Lotus and The Iceman Cometh. It's certainly broad and a product that tries to commercially satisfy on all levels but Wong's choice to try and balance the elements still creates little distinction in A Tale Of The East. It goes through its comedy routines courtesy of the "comedy" performers, some cuteness and over the top fantasy fighting but overall stands out little despite having ideas. It register as dull even at points. I Kuang appears in support as his own creation Wisely, dishing out helpful advice while nods to The Evil Dead and Ghostbusters (with a sliiiiight re-working of its famous theme can be seen and heard. Manfred Wong himself as well as Lawrence Cheng, Amy Yip and Alfred appear in cameos.

A Tale of The Sacred Mountain (1999) Directed by: Feng Xiaoning

Referencing Peter Fleming's book, Feng Xiaoning's first of his "War And Peace" trilogy (that was followed by Lovers' Grief Over The Yellow River and Purple Sunset) takes place in the early 1900s as a small British expedition heads for Tibet. Stuck in an avalanche due to their defiance against respecting local gods, they are saved by a poor family living on the Tibetan planes. Part of the expedition, Jones has to tend to his wounds before returning and begins experiencing an on the surface uncivilized culture that has as much of a valid place in evolution as his normal, high-tech reality. Perhaps even more. More is coming though as British forces are preparing to enter Tibet as liberators, with full force...

Feng Xiaoning is careful not to expose either side as heavenly. The Tibetans uses human sacrifice to please the gods and are bound very much by that otherworldly reasoning. Portraying them as divided by rich and poor, emotions come together in characters that sometimes are looking for simple love only, simple life only and individual choice not governed by social status. The awakening of the character of Jones sees even the Western world mix perfectly with the quote unquote simple reality on the outskirt of civilization and tending to these smaller, more intimate sections becomes a stepping stone of great importance for director Feng when he unleashes his epic sensibilities later. The vistas are dependently beautiful at all times but Feng has an eye for large scale mayhem. He does produce the odd abstract and overly explicit symbolism at times but this is nonetheless powerful, speaking in a global perspective to boot. When one force has decided it knows best (the British in this case), events unfold that are unifying a people in death and in spirit. That's possibly even stronger than a million cannon balls inflicted upon your land. Many times reincarnation is touched upon in A Tale of The Sacred Mountain and therefore a sense of sadness does come with the material because now into the 21st Century, we're still making the same flaws as a human race and not realizing until late what the essence of simplicity is. Simple still means humanity. Don't touch that. Ning Jing (Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker , Set To Kill) co-stars.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

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