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When I Look Upon The Stars (1999) Directed by: Dante Lam

It seems like a distant memory but Dante Lam's directing persona was for a while quite the distinct mix of quirky and action oriented (and sometimes blending them in one). So the man behind Beast Stalker having a movie like When I Look Upon The Stars on his resume was a given once. Not now. A bit too odd and quirky for its own good as it's really thrives more through its common, romantic beats, you quickly forget about the Japan setting and Leo Koo's odd working colleagues therefore. Basically a break up with one girl but find the one that suits you better instead type of story, the tone is pleasant and the movie sparkles when letting Shu Qi take over through her playful character. This is what a leading lady should do to you. Make you love her and Shu Qi is a star here despite this being an awfully small production from a struggling Hong Kong cinema era. With fair charm when all is said and done. Also with Sam Lee, Anita Chan and Eric Tsang.

When Taekwondo Strikes (1973) Directed by: Wong Fung

Wong Fung assembled the team from Hap Ki Do (Angela Mao, Carter Wong, Sammo Hung & Wang In-Sik) for another similar showdown with the Koreans, Chinese vs. the ruling Japanese forces. While Hap Ki Do was run of the mill, it possessed a great deal of momentum and energy while When Taekwondo Strikes (aka Sting of The Dragon Masters) can't muster up any sparks. Action director Sammo along with Chan Chuen creates notable fast and fierce fighting action though so Angela Mao fans will get something out of all this rather dull stuff (I would like to judge the film on its real terms whenever a Mandarin language widescreen print is made available by Golden Harvest however).

Of note is the casting of Golden Harvest executive producer Andre Morgan in a substantial role as well as the "Father of American Tae Kwon Do", Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee. You can also see Sammo and Chin Yuet Sang as part of the villainous Japanese gang.

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When Tat Fu Was Young (1988) Directed by: Eddie Fong

Rarely involving to any extent (unless you're knowledgeable about the period covered?), Eddie Fong's drama about poet Yu Tat Fu (played as an adult by Chow Yun-Fat and in his teens by Terence Fok) struggling to find his Chinese identity among Japanese rulers and as a lover was apparently an unfinished Shaw Brother's production later sold to Golden Harvest. Re-edited without director Fong's consent and bumping the minor appearance of Chow's up to leading man status for marketing reasons, the film flopped despite. It's hard to imagine Fong's vision being that great to begin with and the film has little of the class and texture his prior An Amorous Woman of Tang Dynasty had. Also known as Cherry Blossoms.

Where's Officer Tuba? (1986, Ricky Lau & Phillip Chan)

Hong Kong police officer (doing duty in the music division) Tuba (Sammo Hung) witnesses a detective (David Chiang) being brutally shot to death but since he comes back as a ghost, he can aid Tuba and a newly examined officer (played by Jacky Cheung) in solving the case. Essentially several movies in one since comedy, action and bloody violence occupy the same frame, for the seasoned Hong Kong cinema viewer it will still come off as restraint and pleasant in tone despite. Sammo puts his ordinary guy-persona first and action second, showing he's very capable of leading a comedy that also needs to be strong on performer-chemistry. Early back and forth banter involving many colleagues entrusting him with lies to keep track of shows this to be a confirmation that skill and understanding is present in the production. Power within action and gory gunplay is reliably strong as well, with even the smallest moments nailed by Sammo and his stunt-team. Highlighted the best towards the end as the action team choreographs in a way where Jacky Cheung can participate to an admirable degree and there's a terrific possession-gag running through Sammo's end bout with Hwang Jang-Lee. None of the ghostly shenanigans are particularly new or inspired but the pleasant/we all want to be here to do good-tone is a fine driving force. Thank our two directors as well. A slew of cameos from prior and subsequent Sammo Hung productions include Stanley Fung, Paul Chun, Teddy Yip, Tai Po, Yuen Wah, Lam Ching Ying and Melvin Wong. Joey Wong co-stars.

Whiplash (1974) Directed by: Ding Sin-Saai

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Cheng Pei-Pei is Tiger-Lasher whose father is lost on a guide-mission in the mountains. Approached by a gang of robbers, she manages to seize control over them in order to follow up on any leads they might have in locating her father. When truths are revealed, they are more sinister than first believed...

Opening in a curtain-like fashion as a narrator tells us of the great, brave story that is to be told and even references actress Cheng Pei-Pei in the process, Ding Sin-Saai's (Blood Reincarnation) direction is shaky for an hour only to gain superb momentum for the remainder of the running time that even carries well-honed thematic excursions. We're actually not that allured by Cheng Pei-Pei's more natural bound heroine and the bunch of robbers she is accompanied by take on a more irritating nature via dialogue said in choir, musical numbers and bowel movement humour. But opening up the story and character gallery by going more confined places (caves mainly), the lure of the treasures hidden reveals Ding's ones in the direction as well. Here the game of deceit, desperation and bloody greed transforms Whiplash into a totally seducing mixture that then includes brutal savagery to the max. No use for neat forms here, with issues of redemption being a final reel topic, here's a vehicle strong on many fronts you weren't expecting during your first hour into it. Veteran Ding Sin-Saai has a reference work in Whiplash and yet another Cheng Pei-Pei performance for the ages.

The Whirl-Wind Knight (1969) Directed by: Sek Kin

The Golden Dragon League is after two halves of a treasure map but after killing off two brothers connected to it, the third, Shieh Chien (Lui Ming) known as The Whirlwind Knight puts up a fight as well as re-connecting to his family who he hasn't seen for 10 years...

Unusually well-directed swordplay movie gains points for a more well thought out narrative structure and intense action (Shieh Chien literally whirls his way through hordes of enemies at one point). Coming off as more ropey when taking the story dramatic and personal places, the main bulk of it still concerns the strand about the treasure map and The Whirl-Wind Knight manages to maintain a status worthy of note amidst these releases from Fusian. Their dvd, or the print used, is clearly missing a good chunk of footage at at least two points.

White Lotus Cult (1993) Directed by: Cheng Siu-Keung

Made into a trilogy that also featured the movies Sam The Iron Bridge - Champion Of Martial Arts and One Arm Hero (all released the same year), Do Siu-Chun (To Catch A Thief, Forbidden Arsenal) stars as Sam Liang-Kun who was part of the group known as the Ten Tigers Of Canton. Defenders of Ching interests at the end of the Dynasty, other known characters out of the ten includes Wong Kei-Ying (father of Wong Fei-Hung) and So Haak-Yee (aka Beggar So). So for this trilogy directed by Johnnie To's cinematographer of choice basically ever since Milkyway formed, we see the titular cult roam villages, preaching their immortality and defense stance against the Western interests that are threatening to crumble the Ching. Their leader Chan (Ji Chun-Ha) enlists his elder brother Chen Chin who makes his living as a opera performer, to assassinate the Empress Dowager, a plan that in intent is actually Chan's attempt to restore the Ming. Not thoroughly unsuspecting of Chan's plans, Chen Chin dispatches his daughter Tieh (Yip Chuen-Chan) to contact Sister Hung (Lily Li, the former Shaw Brothers star). Meanwhile merchant Liang Kun enters the story properly as he tries to save the life of Chen Chin who is injured in the assassination attempt and he's now in the middle of a war between clan brothers. It also means one of his close brothers, Kuang, gets more and more infatuated with what he sees in the White Lotus Cult...

Featuring impressive sets and costumes, it may have been a choice to appear a bit more rooted and gritty than its obvious inspiration the Once Upon A Time In China Series but White Lotus Cult can't escape a sense of feeling and looking cheap. Phillip Kwok's mostly wire-assisted action isn't very impressive either but does have decent energy whenever grounded. What saves the day somewhat though is Do Siu-Chun as Liang Kun. A serviceable presence as a hero and possessing enough charisma, his story merges nicely with the story of the brothers and in a competent way, in terms of action and drama, director Cheng Siu-Keung in the latter section gets the film to adhere to a familiar kung fu-movie structure. The politics around it doesn't affect but it never could akin to mentioned Tsui Hark-series.

Whore & Policewoman (1993) Directed by: Wong Gwok-Chue

Prostitute May Lin (Julia Cheng - Daughter Of Darkness II) finds her friend Nana brutally beaten and tortured. All done by a masked client with a huge streak of sadism. Although the crime is caught on tape and Nana dies, May is accused of her murder and she finds herself on the run from assassins. Getting help from a prosecutor (Kwan Hoi-San), he sends cop Nancy Cheng (Michiko Nishiwaki) to track her down and protect her as they try and turn the case around. Rated Category III for essentially the opening and torture and a non-graphic but disturbing gang rape scene, Wong Gwok-Chue is after telling the story straight and with competence, something that is achieved without it being more than a solid recommendation. Mixing Julia Cheng's grating but energetic performance with Michiko's action skills, Whore And Policewoman is unusually focused stuff from the major year of Category III movies. Michiko Nishiwaki is strangely absent from the finale, possibly due to injury on set. Also with Charlie Cho.

Who's Killer (1992) Directed by: Wu Kuo-Ren

Possibly the quickest start to any stupid horror flick, Wu Kuo-Ren (The Super Ninja) gets our class of archeology students, their teacher (Joyce Ngai) onto a remote island of crackpots (and Shing Fui-On), poor housing and in comes an axe wielding maniac to boot! The youths are obviously too sexual for their own good and too annoying to be alive, something director Wu is quickly and correctly acknowledges as this is a pretty fast paced slaughter-fest. Only slow when forced to be expository, otherwise the standard beheadings, body splits etc are going to be fun for anyone with a weakness for the slasher movie. I'm one and to boot, the story strand of Joyce Ngai returning to her home island comes with a wonderful dream sequence with phallic symbols galore and extensive weirdness. The twist can therefore be spotted a mile away but Who's Killer is not sleep inducing. That's important for a genre entry such as this. Leung Po-Chi's The Island it is similar to in many ways but there actual dread was accomplished. Wu's intentions are different and it's as valid of a movie therefore.

Who's The Woman, Who's The Man (1996) Directed by: Peter Chan

Re-uniting the cast and themes of Peter Chan's critically successful box office smash He's A Woman, She's A Man from 1994, story picks up as Wing (Anita Yuen) and Sam (Leslie Cheung) embark on their journey as lovers. Chaos is soon in Sam's lives as Wing brings with her friends and an energy he's not able to cope with. Auntie (Eric Tsang) suggests keeping her busy by re-igniting Wing's career as a male pop star and through the re-appearance of retired superstar Fan Fan (Anita Mui), a complicated love triangle starts. While the energy is there in the performers and the script isn't the laziest, the makers are not able to catch the magic once again despite going for a quite wacky and emotional core. By no means a waste and despite a hefty running time, there's enough pleasure watching superstar performers be comfortable and likeable. Jordan Chan and Teresa Lee co-stars in their own romantic comedy section of the movie where Chan tries to win her over by appearing more and more feminine as the movie runs along.

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