# 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 Chinese Odyssey Part Two - Cinderella (1995) Directed by: Jeff Lau

Everyone returned for the sequel (with the addition of Athena Chu), probably because it was simultaneously with part one, but one thing's for sure, while very much worthwhile, the best creative energy ended up in the first installment. Production values are consistently excellent, in particular the make-up design (Chow and Ng Man Tat are unrecognizable as the Monkey King and Pig respectively) but for Western viewers, the step down in physical humour creates a somewhat slow paced and confusing experience (the addition of below par subtitles doesn't help). The basic story of the journey to the west continues in a well enough developed manner but the character relationships seems somewhat spotty, making us more scratch our heads at certain development in the plot. However, I do reserve the right to completely change my mind upon a second viewing. Special mention to Law Kar-Ying who is terrific as the very boring Longevity Monk plus the stunning Athena Chu logs a playful and affecting performance.

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Chinese Odyssey 2002 (2002) Directed by: Jeff Lau

Produced by Wong Kar-Wai (who also co-wrote Jeff Lau's Haunted Cop Shop) the good production values and cinematography makes this period comedy enjoyable to look at. Lau directed the prior Chinese Odyssey vehicles starring Stephen Chow and this 2002 edition has the feel of a Stephen Chow film. Many of the jokes are done in a similar way but I wouldn't want to call it a negative thing. It's all in the performers and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai provides many laughs as the leading man. It's basically all the scenes (whether serious or not) with him, Vicky Zhao and Faye Wong that makes the movie reach the enjoyable level. When focus is shifted away from that the content is not as fun nor interesting. A fairly sizable number of cast members are Mandarin speakers and are therefore dubbed on the Cantonese track, obviously so. That is especially noticeable in Vicky Zhao and Cheng Chen's case. In their scenes together I switched to the Mandarin track where we hear the original sync sound Mandarin dialogue.

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A Chinese Tall Story (2005) Directed by: Jeff Lau

Jeff Lau goes back to the Journey To The West territory but not exploring it story-wise like he did with the Stephen Chow Chinese Odyssey movies. In fact, the monk Tripitaka (Nicholas Tse) is the main focus of the story with little contribution from the likes of Monkey (Wilson Chen) and Piggy (Kenny Kwan, neither of which are made up to look anything like the famous characters. Can't hide such "stars" behind make-up apparently). They are on their journey to retrieve Buddhist scriptures but during a stop at Shache City, the root of all evils (a bunch of demons, represented by horrible CGI) appear. Big battle ensues, Monkey sacrifices himself and when all is said and done, Tripitaka may or not fall in love with ugly lizard imp Meiyan (Charlene Choi)...

Energetic but not in the Jeff Lau way that proved critically successful way before the advent of CGI, there's an argument you can put forth that such a fantasy based story that also mixes in sci-fi elements doesn't have many rules so ropey artificial imagery could work in its favour. All well and good but Lau mixing in old timey mo lei tau comedy but via less talented performers than Stephen Chow or Tony Leung Chiu-Wai proves to be a major downfall for A Chinese Tall Story. Many excursions to different lands takes place where they meet Yuen Wah as Lord Chancellor Tortoise, several non-subtle nods to The Matrix (the golden staff of Monkey is a very helpful tool during this hands on reference), Star Wars and Spider-Man (Tripitaka is fooled into believing he's a student of an ancient spider web shooting martial arts) are present so sporadic energy and so many elements makes us stay on but the full explosion into manic energy, hilarity and even emotions the more Tripitaka and Meiyan grow affectionate doesn't happen (violent comedy manages to work great though). That effect of Lau's is in the past. Kara Hui, Gordon Liu, Isabella Leong, Patrick Tam, Wong Yat-Fei and Wayne Lai also appear.

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A Chinese Torture Chamber Story (1994) Directed by: Bosco Lam

Some of you might've seen a movie clip on the Internet where two people, Crouching Tiger style are having sex. That was from this 1994 Cat III and Wong Jing production directed by Bosco Lam (who came up with the concept for the Derek Yee/Law Chi Leung directed Viva Erotica). Period effort and the same flashback structure as many Cat III productions from this era. Yvonne Yeung plays Little Cabbage that endures grim Ching dynasty torture while outside influences tries to prove her innocence. For once the combination of low brow humour and the grueling scenes of this story blend well together to create a, at times, completely insane Cat III entry. Not FILLED with insane imagery but instantly memorable ones, the highlight being the flying kung fu sex-fight (with Elvis Tsui and Julie Lee) and a Cat III parody of Ghost. Fans of the Sex & Zen movies should like this but be prepared for fairly strong scenes of torture (cuts to the print was required at time of release and they still remain on the dvd). You have to hand it to the Ching's, they were creative when it came to this. Also starring Tommy Wong and Lawrence Ng. A very much inferior and non-related sequel followed in 1998.

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Chivalry Deadly Feud (1981) Directed by: Tang Chen-Dah

Nothing too complex storytelling-wise in this swordplay universe, Wong Goon-Hung is helping the remainder of the Hsiao family (the daughter who has lost her memory) get revenge by taking out the family enemies one by one. There might be an ending twist too. Certainly up there costume-wise and attempting grand vistas, Chivalry Deadly Feud is the timid production not sure how to showcase being epic. But that has a positive effect on the action and a good mix of grounded and flying feats highlights the production. If anything at points comes off as more feasible and thought out by being scaled back. Also with Chung Wa and Pai Ying.

The Chivalry, The Gunman And Killer (1977) Directed by: Hon Bo-Cheung

Opens up interestingly enough with a string of senseless killings by female assassins led by Hsu Feng in a red mask. Clearing up the mystery and reasons along the way, the film loses momentum and coherence story-wise and merely works as a decent swordplay spectacle with a recognizable cast (including Yueh Hua, Pai Ying and Lo Lieh).

Choi Lee Fat Kung Fu (1979) Directed by: Chan Siu-Pang

No doubt a bi-product of Jackie Chan kung fu comedy breakthrough, the cashing in on a hot mixture and template often came off as ugly in the hands of other filmmakers and stars at the helm. Mostly true for Choi Lee Fat Kung Fu as well. Cliff Lok displays fine physical skill but is not much of a compelling leading man here and the movie just ticks off genre content hoping it'll pop. Elaborate martial arts training and grating comedy aside, for most of the movie the action does not reach any passable standard. Performers seem tired, the choreography is rushed and it's only Lok's final confrontation with Phillip Ko that stands out. Here the performers respond to each other in a rather violent and primal end fight that sticks in your memory but go watch Duel Of The 7 Tigers featuring the same team for highlights that appear all throughout the movie instead. Also with Sharon Yeung


The Christ Of Nanjing (1995) Directed by: Tony Au

Tony Leung Ka-Fai is Japanese writer Okagawa who meets and marries young prostitute and christian devotee Jin-Hua (Yasuko Tomita - Kitchen). When she finds out he already has a family in Japan, she detaches herself from Okagawa and devotes herself only to her God, a decision that in her mind strengthens but in fact leads her onto a road towards insanity...

Tony Au bid farewell to directing Hong Kong cinema with this his 8th feature, a dark, depressing and complex drama where he and writer Joyce Chan subjects poor Jin-Hua to grave punishment. It's an interesting portrayal in the way they put a blurred line between belief, need and love and you'd better be prepared for pessimism of the highest order. If so, The Christ Of Nanjing offers up fine production values, style and acting, in particular the intense and daring role for Japanese actress Yasuko Tomita.

Chu Liu Hsiang And Hu Tieh Hua (1980, Lin Ying)

For something scripted and produced by author Ku Long, expect complex tales from the martial world. This rings very much true here but some choices are of note and technically the movie represents Taiwan well at the time. Instead of many indoor locations such as palaces and clan hideouts as ambience for our story, Chu Liu Hsiang And Hu Tieh Hua takes a road-trip approach. Yet this doesn't men it's a production faced with budget issues because it looks technically sound to a decent degree. Taiwanese cinema had learned how to shoot and edit action with speed and finesse by this point so any lapses in coherency is made up by this craftsmanship on- and off-screen . The weapons-based but grounded martial arts is detailed, fast plus director Lin Ying drops martial heroes and their otherworldly techniques on us to fun effect (including during the creative hall of mirrors finale). You obviously wanted a more engaging movie on a story level but the genre had its tropes... including complexity. All sounding like an excuse for poor storytelling but with wuxia, you get what you get. Same with Ku Long. Starring Alan Lau and James Tien.

City Cop (1995) Directed by: Herman Yau

Despite the Chinese title suggesting we're watching a sequel to Danny Lee's acclaimed Law With Two Phases, City Cop holds mere one connection and if you can't figure that out, you're still new to Hong Kong cinema...

Herman Yau made Cop Image the year before, the film where the ordinary cop tried to adopt the characteristics of the unrealistic movie cop. City Cop, written by infrequent but obviously talented Anna Lee, toys with us a little as it's first established we're into buddy cop movie territory. That's the template and via the very small means, Herman crafts a very exciting and affecting film. His talent in this particular production is not just keeping an even pace and getting the action to register as effective but highlighting the little, humane things that make up the lives of cops Jackson (Parkman Wong) and Rambo (Michael Chow). Of course an odd couple to begin with, Yau plants incredibly simplistic notions of the validity of being the cop type you are, valuing family and relationships as well as keeping count of your hour quota. Rarely interrupted by silliness, whenever the generic plot of the invincible Mainland Chinese villains kick in, even here where the script calls for brief commentary on the weaponry possessed by the criminal underworld Yau gets his point across very efficiently. Employing focus when working with action directors Chin Kar-Lok and Yee Tin-Hung as well, the film never strays and offers suitable mayhem (including some very fine stunt work and a terrific finale at a cinema). The downfalls of City Cop, albeit briefly concerns predictability and melodrama played out under Canto-pop. Perhaps it's also too minor to register with the masses but it's a fine film underneath that familiarity despite. Danny Lee appears in support, handing out friendly advice but a lot of credit sure belongs to him as a producer for allowing those mentioned little things to take center stage. Also with a relentless Ben Ng, Peter Yung and Tam Suk-Mooi.

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