# 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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A Touch Of Zen (1971, King Hu)

Going back and re-examining a movie like A Touch Of Zen, because it’s from such a crowded and overdone genre, means you get to see the best and leading efforts still ARE leading (showcased splendidly via the movie’s recent restoration). Much has been said, maybe even about the 3 hour running time because at heart after some ghost story fake out by King Hu (movie is adapted from Pu Songling's supernatural tales collection "Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio”), this plot is deceptively simple. It’s a basic chase scenario but what's clinched with this film in an even greater way compared to Come Drink With Me and Dragon Inn connects to style and technique. Not thematically strong until an intriguing spiritual ending, what you get is 3 hours of pitch perfect precision. Precision in framing, foreground and background elements and an unbeatable flow in editing from shot to shot (it won the Grand Prix du Technique at the Cannes Film Festival in 1975 after all). It’s simply a joy to watch how this evolves from vision at a filmmaker’s level, to acting, costume- and production design and it’s insanely well-driven by all involved. By 1971 action had involved into a snappier affair compared to Dragon Inn and the fantastical heights, where filmmaking techniques described prior play an integral role again, show up here in long, thrilling scenarios rich on buildup through Chinese percussion instruments and intense fight action. Many looked excellent working for other filmmakers but being controlled from the top by such a visionary like King Hu makes all involved do inspired work, ranging from lead Shi Jun as the common man thrust into the deadly affairs of the government to actor/action choreographer Han Ying-Chieh whose work has probably never been as stellar as it is here. Everybody is working with and for King Hu and the results clearly show he was working with and for his cast & crew as well.

Tough Guy (1997) Directed by: Ka Ka

Pure turkey that blends modern day action (hence Yu Rong-Guang and Billy Chow) and drama as the often used terminally ill character plot point rears its head here. Admittedly, that comes as a surprise but neither elements are executed with any skill. The action is dreadfully edited at times and the drama (also dreadfully performed) never is able to go beyond any of the clichés. I'll tell you what Tough Guy has that no other movie has though; a scene where a character falls into a crematorium furnace with melting corpses! That's something you don't see every day.

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Yesasia.com

The Tournament (1974) Directed by: Wong Fung

The team behind Hap Ki Do and When Taekwondo Strikes brings us this modern day effort that, compared to the former mentioned movie, disappoints. Director Wong Fung's straightforward direction slows down many parts of the film and fans will certainly be disappointed by the lack of action in the first half. When it does hit, Sammo Hung and Chan Chuen's choreography is fast and powerful but there lacks a dedication to it overall. It's sad when the best fight in the film, between Whang In Sik and Mao, occurs way too early. There was a great oppurtunity to end the movie with another bout between the two but the filmmakers opted to introduce a Western fighter instead. An example of the fact there isn't a whole lot of focus to certain areas of the film. Anglea Mao doesn't disappoint however and she displays that famous ferocity with a true fighting ability that few could rival. Quite a number of familiar faces stop by for a quick visit including Sammo himself, Wilson Tong and Yuen Biao. The Tournament is a good watch if you're a fan of the performers but know that previous efforts possesses much more quality. Time to rewatch Hap Ki Do.

Tracing Shadow (2009) Directed by: Marco Mak & Francis Ng

Co-director Francis Ng plays Chang, a swordmaster who's retreated from the Wuxia world but is drawn back into it via a desire in multiple characters for a map, including a trio of Andy Lau, Jet Li and Jackie Chan lookalikes and the local rent collector (Jaycee Chan, the son of Jackie Chan). Classic template and Ng along with Marco Mak (this is their second collaboration after Dancing Lion) mixes high flying action, some very silly comedy and don't forget to tap into the charisma Ng can bring. Thankfully.

Mak's visual trickery is both intrusive and shamelessly engaging, Ma Yuk-Sing's action merely cool and creative when it involves Ng and the whole attempt at a majestic, silly production does feel a bit forced. The sets and costumes are there but not the full skill to immerse the viewer into the world. Then again this is a silly world with its share of parodies and satire... little of which comes through. Worst offender being aforementioned trio of warriors whose looks and characteristics are based on the likes of the smiling, good-hearted Jet Li who in the movie has survived a tsunami. True to life, kind of mean spirited but it would've been shamelessly fun had it been.... FUNNY! Thankfully Francis Ng single handedly carries the movie into an ok, lighthearted romp with heavy duty charisma and cool. He can yawn, say nothing, do nothing and it still is mesmerizing. Tracing Shadow isn't pointless and considering how it ends, never intended to provide more than an entertaining distraction. But it's distracting when it stops dead in its tracks when the lead isn't on screen.

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Yesasia.com

The Tragic Fantasy - Tiger of Wanchai (1994) Directed by: Stephen Lo & Joe Chu

Based on a true story and being one of the few Hong Kong movies with a Dolby soundtrack at the time, things are as expected in this genre entry and it's not likeable. Simon Yam is Chan Yiu-Hing who together his core group of buddies (played by Vincent Wan, Roy Cheung and Lau Ching-Wan) rise from lowly parking attendants to power players in the triad world (in VERY fashion, as the montage-format dictates). A rise must come with a fall however...

Characters act as as the triad punks that they are, flashing aggressions, bad fashion and they're of course often in debt with maniacally laughing loan sharks. Within this we're supposed to care for the story of sworn brothers where also Yam's Chan flashes his loneliness aura as he can't live without a woman. The one in this case being Mil (Marianne Chan) but here's a key plot that is as pedestrian and sloppily handled as the rest of the movie. Someone spent way too much attention on the behind the scenes techniques but got merely some plus points for Simon Yam's lively performance (but inappropriately over the top for a serious movie) and some shots of gloriously gory triad violence. A solid cast come and go, including Yvonne Yung, Ben Lam, William Ho, Lo Lieh and Ku Feng.

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HK Flix.com
Yesasia.com

Tragic Hero (1987) Directed by: Taylor Wong

screencap stolen with permission from Hong Kong Digital

This sequel to the triad actioner Rich And Famous ended up premiering in theatres first as the producers felt they could make more of a buck from the more action-filled Tragic Hero. In the end, it sparked enough interest to make Rich And Famous the more successful film at the box office.

A few years has passed and triad boss Chai (Chow Yun-Fat) faces his greatest challenge yet as Yung (Alex Man) is hot on his tails for bloody revenge. Everyone is expendable, even his family...

Taylor Wong gives us more of the same in Tragic Hero, from the opening caption talking about criminals never being able to bury the past to presenting many triad movie clichés in the most generic of ways. Despite attempts to develop characters, especially Chai's bodyguards (played by Shing Fui-On and Lam Chung), the script still halts at ordinary and melodrama is as expected terribly overdone. Admittedly, Chow Yun-Fat has sprung to life a little bit for this installment but he has little substance to work with. Andy Lau pops up now and again without much impact and Alex Man overacts his little heart out as the über-evil Yung. Both parts of this epic gangster saga in the end remain dull but Tragic Hero has an upper hand thanks to a fairly steady stream of action. The finale is a welcome frenzy of fire stunts and gunplay but you wouldn't mistake it for a top notch John Woo sequence. Danny Lee, Carina Lau, and Pauline Wong reprise their roles and Elvis Tsui can be seen as one of Yung's henchmen.

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

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Yesasia.com

The Trail (1983) Directed by: Ronny Yu

Quite an unexpected Hong Kong horror movie considering it was co-written by comedic actor Michael Hui and that is stars his brother Ricky Hui and Kent Cheng. Director Ronny Yu goes for a laid back and serious tone to his horror with comedy inserted in places, an element that works well since it's closer to the proper mood of the film. The Trail does not add up to more than an interesting time though, mainly through the serious mood and a look of more ambitious proportions than seen in this era of Hong Kong cinema. The pace is slow, the plot not very spelled out in detail but it's worth the ticket for those seeking a different look and feel to their Hong Kong horror. Also with Choong Fat and Mars (both serving as action directors as well). One of the main music cues you may recognise from The Thing but as with John Carpenter's classic, The Trail also benefits since it adds decent tension.

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Yesasia.com

The Trail Of The Broken Blade (1967) Directed by: Chang Cheh

The Trail Of The Broken Blade is vintage Chang Cheh filmmaking in many ways, dealing with loyalty, love and righteousness but putting enough spins on it to stand well on its own. First of all, the true loyalty isn't for once towards blood brothers but towards blood...

Jimmy Wang Yu plays swordsman Li who takes revenge on a corrupted official who executed his father unjustly. Now wanted by the Imperial Court, he goes into hiding under a false identity, having no choice but to abandon his past. In that past we find his childhood love Liu Xian (Chin Ping) who's rescued by another swordsman Fang Jun-Zhao (Chiao Chuang) from the dangerous Flying Fish gang of robbers. Liu Xian's father sees the opportunity to pair up her with a new man but she proclaims to the kind hearted Fang that only one true love exists for her. Fang takes it upon himself to reunite the two...

After the accomplished The Magnificent Trio the year before, Chang was on a roll but for the longest of time in The Trail Of The Broken Blade, he can't make his portrayal of Li and his lonely future come to life. Nothing much resonates dramatically as the prior year's effort did but sticking with The Trail Of The Broken Blade proves to be rewarding. Chang's handling of the character drama can seem rather overwrought (literally an operatic aspect to the portrayal of the romance can be seen and heard) but in reality it does come off as suitably subdued as well. Point is, this didn't further Chang Cheh but with a charismatic lead in Jimmy Wang Yu to truly embody his intentions, the film becomes unexpectedly involving despite the lesser first half.

A small problem also lies in the casting of Chiao Chuang as he doesn't always look convincing as both the tough and kind swordplay hero. Lau Kar Leung and Tong Gaai choreograph the action once again and it's always rough to look at now but not hard to put into perspective either. Most of the fights are fairly short all up till the final reel and it's rather bursts of creativity that highlights their work. But that fact is important as the development would lead into us being treated to some of the finest on screen martial arts ever filmed eventually. Worth waiting for but as you'll hopefully see for yourself, drama wasn't in development but rather polished back then. That makes this side of Chang Cheh's catalogue of films truly thrilling to follow. Ciao Ciao, Fan Mei Sheng, Chen Hung-Lieh, Tien Feng, Wu Ma and Paul Wei co-stars.

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Yesasia.com

Train Robbers (1995) Directed by: Michael Mak

Michael Mak takes Ray Lui's Public Security Officer onto a train leading into Russia to hunt down vicious robbers while also co-operating and finding love in the Russian camp of cops. Fairly ambitious and certainly providing a unique setting for a 90s Hong Kong action movie, Mak creates memorable scenes shooting in cramped train compartment spaces and while low-key, it's easy to be on board because of the unusual plot for a Hong Kong movie. When on foot and tracking down the gang led by Sister (Liu Fan who sounds like she's dubbed by a man) the movie stops a little dead in its tracks but a short running time and decently choreographed and bloody violence towards the end makes Train Robbers a minor distraction.

The Traitorous (1976) Directed by: Sung Ting-Mei

Here's a beast we've seen before, with Carter Wong as a Shaolin student out to revenge the death of his parents at the hands off government forces. He's gotta carry water and jump out of mud pits properly before being let out on his killing spree though. Director Sung Ting-Mei uses agony, both ways, as fuel for his simple-minded story and while it's A gory choice, it's not THE gory choice. The Traitorous therefore plods along like most low-budget vehicles of its kind, disappointing also in the fight department as little invention exists (only the pyramid of guards is a fun, crazy concept). Swingy arms, punching and blocking as a dominating factor isn't a beneficiary for the production, especially not since Carter Wong is less than ideal in the lead. Polly Kuan displays some much needed fury though, in particular in her opening fight scene against multiple opponents. Chang Yi plays our white haired villain while Sammo Hung also appear as one of his henchmen.

Trap (1982) Directed by: Ang Saan

Whilst being a cop and even after resigning, Chung (Pai Ying) engages in a one man war against ammunition smuggler Ma (Kenneth Tsang) who's targeting everyone close to Chung in order to get him off his back. Also known as Cop Killer, that refers to one of Ma's henchmen played by Lau Hok-Nin who sets the vicious tone in the first scene but barely appears in the film. Instead director Ang Saan (Finger On Trigger) focuses on and does very well telling the story of an escalating battle between one operating outside of the law and one trying to play it by the book. Very action-packed and tense, when Ang Saan makes the picture increasingly bleak there's quite a harrowing effect present in Trap. Bloodthirsty, vicious and everyone's a target is a story beat he pulls off. Used as the source movie for Filmark's cut and paste ninja actioner Silver Dragon Ninja subsequently. Also with Wong Yuen-San.

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