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The Wicked City (1992) Directed by: Peter Mak

Tsui Hark co-produced and co-wrote this live action adaptation of the Japanese manga The Wicked City. Previously also an animated Japanese feature, the comic book aspects are brought to life in a way only Hong Kong cinema could, in 1992. Tsui Hark can inject his productions with genuine thought but he suitably retains cheesy aspects of comic strips in general here instead. It means that characterization is kept simple, visual style is extreme and, for this particular comic book adaptation, the special effects mayhem is high.

The Wicked City won't be remembered for its drama though, even if proceedings and the theme of humanity lost is handled straight. No, this is a showcase for Hong Kong filmmakers knowledge of how to use their limited special effects resources to delivery energetic images. The Wicked City being a prime example and the physical effects are pulled off with an admirable, cheesy style that greatly entertains. Being the trendsetter that Tsui Hark is (even when producing), a fair amount of CGI is also employed throughout, which obviously is crude because it wasn't an aspect that Hong Kong cinema fully took to heart until the latter half of the 90s with movies like Stormriders (directed by the co-cinematographer on this film, Andrew Lau).

Widow Warriors (1990) Directed by: Johnny Wang

It's hard initially to differentiate Johnny Wang's gangster actioner from many others of the time but when it starts to live up to its title and the girls take center stage, Wang injects sparks into the film. Featuring a well-choreographed gym fight involving Kara Hui and Michiko Nishiwaki and several instances of brutal violence (not an uncommon trait in Wang's films), Widow Warriors becomes an entertaining time with the genre. The gunplay comes off as less refined while film speeds are not utilized well during one fight, definite negatives in Wang's frame. Tien Niu is watchable as one of the feisty widows who takes the greatest responsibility after the males of the crime family are wiped out. Also starring Elizabeth Lee, Michael Chan, Phillip Chan, Ha Chia Ling, Liu Fan, Ken Lo and Sek Kin.

Wild (1996) Directed by: Billy Tang

Wild was Billy Tang's first film after a lengthy break from an acclaimed string of Category III movies and while he's working with a Cat IIb rating here, much is not sacrificed. Wild is just less explicit but the erotica is still steamy enough. No nudity for Francoise Yip though boys but the slick style of Tang's is given a decent vehicle. Yip plays a girl on the run from her Mainland village and hooks up with a gang of thieves (led by Bowie Lam with one of the henchmen played by Simon Loui who also did the score). What follows is a desperate run from police but more importantly, the characters are running from their past in hope for a better future. That's pretty much all that's told in Wild, enveiled in a subdued but more than often fairly appealing visual palette that sustains interest. Even though Tang is not working with regular cinematographer Tony Miu, Cheung Man Po more than adequately collaborates with Tang to bring his ideas to the screen.

Wild undoubtedly is pretty uninteresting since the characters are really in no way sympathetic or appealing but the combination of erotica, visuals and a slight thematic works fine for the fans of Billy Tang even though it's not excess akin to Red To Kill and Run And Kill.

The Wild Girls (1993) Directed by: Cheung Sek-Lung

Inappropriately overstuffed, somehow The Wild Girls comes out as a minor winner with skills shown within a very low budget frame in how to move all of the crowd populating its world along swiftly. Centering mainly around Stuart Ong's gambling habit and excessive debts with triads, he abuses his wife and through some ill plotting with one of his assistant she is left dead. Before her death she signed her life insurance away from her desperate husband and now more join the hunt for money. All while Lee Chung-Ling is sort of involved with the wife's death but acting on a minor plot point of his own, Charlie Cho runs a phone sex service with his wife and we get unwarranted sex scenes after ending reel tragedy. Within this very plain frame, director Cheung Sek-Lung disturbs more when pushing the degrading and harsh buttons but at the same time the direction is static almost all throughout. But by continually adding elements (even Michael Chan turns up and hence the movie has a fight scene), it's entertaining to watch The Wild Girls fill up so much while never being boring.

The Wildgoose Chase (1990) Directed by: Simon Yip

Justifiable cheating is the agenda of the characters played by James Wong, Tommy Wong and Lam Lei. Being businessmen on a trip to Korea, the latter two follow the advice of their Godfather of sexual practices but when feelings towards the women enter the frey, they break away from the words of "wisdom". Very offensive if you want it to be but a tiny little, naughty heart resides in the film. Basically Wong's pupils want care and love, not necessarily an urban, sexy time with prostitutes and with the master having an answer or a piece of wisdom to anything they might encounter, the name of the game is for a long time paying for casual sex. The sight of a sexually frustrated Tommy Wong is gold but when director Simon Yip does take the flick into something akin to serious, the consequences of the trio isn't portrayed in any felt fashion. It tries with some sappy romance but is more fun when the consequences are about the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases. Know the agenda you're clearly better at, Mr. Director. Also with Elsie Chan, Kathy Chow and Wong Yat-Fei as the VD Doctor. The duo of James Wong and Tommy Wong would go on to roam in a similar manner in Stooges In Hong Kong and Stooges In Japan.

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The Wild Goose On The Wing (1979) Directed by: Lau Lap-Lap

Tao Ten-Feng (Brigitte Lin) aborts her acting studies in England in order to find out what truly happened to her diseased sister Tao Pi-Huai (Tse Ling-Ling) back in Taiwan. Gathering info from the husband and brother in law Chiang Huai (Chin Han), Tao goes about her business with a degree of viciousness. In fact, this lady in black, a wild goose flown in, seems to want revenge and Chiang Huai's brother ends up in her path. But he's not knowingly meeting and acquainting Tao Ten-Feng but instead wild flower Lin Hsiao-Shuang...

Veteran director of Taiwan romance and melodrama Lau Lap-Lap does little to enhance cinematic qualities of the cinema climate he's in. In fact, The Wild Goose On The Wing is visually and structurally nothing else but a stage play concerning four characters and the secrets within. Little skills are shown by director Lau though as he unveils the truths about the death of Pi-Huai little by little and the flip flop of emotions in Lin's Tao Ten-Feng. A character that is an actress after all. The sense of danger is merely enhanced via lazy usage of one sound cue and the melodrama lacks a realistic stamp on it to make us truly hooked. Then again, The Wild Goose On The Wing does seem to challenge the movie climate of the time by going darker on us. Kudos for trying but if anything, Brigitte Lin manages to escape unharmed from criticism. While part of the critique towards the mentioned melodrama, the gorgeous looking Lin in whatever wear she appears in, puts in a patented epic performance of emotions. Skills that would eventually be put to use in better movies.

Wild Panther (1984, Lee Tso-Nam)

An incriminating list is out of the hands of an organized crime gang. Hunt and kill is the mission. Cue violence. It's not refreshing because it's basic but refreshing because Lee Tso-Nam (A Life Of Ninja) does something with what's supposed to be the show stopping elements. Although there are some comedic detours, Wild Panther is largely populated with ferocious violence. Whether martial arts or gory gunplay, the danger and fury comes nicely to the forefront on a frequent basis. Despite the stretches of talk and attempted character-drama in between being uninteresting. It simply lights up big time when bringing its sellable element. Culminating in a varied traps, fights and gun-tinted finale in the woods. Starring Don Wong, Eagle Han Ying and Chen Shan.

Wild Search (1989) Directed by: Ringo Lam

The logical step down from the anger height Ringo Lam reached in his critical School On Fire from the year before. Back in his gritty realism, cops and robbers territory but despite mixing in romance, he doesn't cheat any portion of his audience. In fact Lam is mellowed out and the stance equals his absolute best movie. Said to be a remake of Peter Weir's Witness (1985), I can't say how much if even THAT much Lam takes in order for his take to take flight but one thing's for certain, you can't complain when the final product is this excellent. In one of his many collaborations with leading lady Cherie Chung (An Autumn's Tale, Once A Thief etc), Chow Yun-Fat plays the cop who protects the only living witness of the murder of a female arms dealer... her daughter. Cherie is the sister who wants to put the little girl into the care of her biological father, a gangster played by Paul Chun. Getting close to him also get the trio close to violent assassins (led by Ringo Lam's favourite on screen bastard Roy Cheung) working for the gangster...

As a matter of fact, Wild Search isn't a classic Hong Kong cinema mood switcher. Lam takes his camera to the streets, focuses his eye on cops, features rather copious amounts of extreme violence when you think about it but where he's clever is via the use of very little visible effects to make it felt firmly, firmly, firmly felt. The violence IS visible but it's more about amping sound, camera technique instead of loading up with squibs. Therefore it fits to take Chow Yun-Fat's cop into a more human territory. Very on top of his game and showing his kind side, the classic bonding between two at first antagonistic characters creates an unusual screen romance where much is picked up on by the viewer but little is said. Even when, and this is going to sound very clinical, it's almost a romance based on a contractual agreement. But there are feelings there, feelings of feeling comfortable with a new person in your life (all while Cherie Chung's ex-husband played by Lau Kong turns up to stir the pot) and carrying all this are the terrific leads. It's essentially touching to watch these performers on top of their game and complimented by a terrific supporting cast such as Ku Feng (as Chung's angry father) and Tommy Wong's as Chow's partner, Wild Search is essential Hong Kong cinema viewing and Ringo Lam's pitch perfect showcase for his cinema statements. It doesn't have to do with anger.

Will Of Iron (1991, David Chiang)

A return to the darker minded David Chiang, re-uniting friends Jacky, Maggie, Michael and Carol (Jacky Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Michael Wong and Crystal Kwok) and now drug addiction and gangster connections make their lives deadly dangerous. Sticking to one mood and generating decently gritty and violent impact as Jacky's life is being showcased mainly, the focus is admirable. But Chiang doesn't elevate the escalation into a harrowing, dramatic effect by the end. Achieving solid but lack of impact type of effect isn't quite enough. The action tinted ending contains some worthwhile violent acts and stuntwork but as hard as Chiang pushes, his fist doesn't break through.

Wind Beneath The Wings (1995) Directed by: Andy Chin

A group of stewardess including Kwok Ching-Wan (Dayo Wong), the sole male of the group meet during a training course. Finding it hard to establish connections first, the quickest one happens between Kwok and Violet (Valerie Chow). It's a light, jokey friendship and Violet is looking for more attraction than that but is taking it at her own pace. As the seasons come and go during the year, she is chosen by a wealthy family who are descendants from the Ching dynasty to be paired up with the son Sai Wing (Yu Rong-Guang) in marriage while she also engages in a serious relationship with struggling musician Chan Wai Ming (Moses Chan). But when devotion is put forth by Violet to make others receive wind beneath their wings, when will she get hers?

A mature piece by Andy Chin (Call Girl 92) that lacks the emotional hook to must be conveyed through his main character Violet. Thankful he doesn't let matters degenerate into basically a movie that could've been called Stewardess Academy, the rather subdued atmosphere gets to the point where high emotions equal uneventful as they try and reach outside of the screen. Really poor character narration tries to deepen aspects on friendship and the philosophy on love but little registers aside from Dayo Wong's fairly infectious role as a confidant.

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