# 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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Explosive City (2004) Directed by: Sam Leong

A high ranking officer (Joe Cheung) becomes the target of female assassin Jade (Japanese actress Hisako Shirata - Tomie: Revenge). After the failed attempt, she is injured and caught while the cop unit, headed by Cheung (Simon Yam) assigns CID officer Yiu (Alex Fong) to the case. Yiu soon becomes the an involuntary victim of a plan to re-attempt the assassination as the Japanese bad guys (headed by a mostly a sitting Sonny Chiba) murders his wife and kidnaps his son...

Considering the state of Hong Kong action cinema with a thriller touch, it's encouraging to see a low-budget film being executed with a fair amount of skill. Originality is not what Explosive City will ever be associated with and director Sam Leong, whose Color Of Pain received mostly poor reviews, certainly is in the viewers face. 90% of the film is a dizzying, headache inducing handheld experience, also within the gunplay scenes and it's more a strained attempt to provide style. Even when going for character depth, Leong's choice is to have the film being a visual- and audio exploration. But in the long run, Explosive City manages to not falter that much at all actually. Leong's echoing of plotlines from 24 and to a certain extent Shiri is less intrusive than it sounds and he supplies a decent amount of edge of your seat-entertainment throughout this ride. The intrusive cinematography even works with the desired choices at select points and it's a tight experience for a surprising amount of minutes. Simon Yam may look like he's phoning in a performance but his dead cool is still an immersing act while Alex Fong's trademark quiet dignity gets another worthy showcase.

Towards the end the energy starts to peter out, Sonny Chiba's brainwash scheme towards kids feels just a little too sci-fi for this film and the mixed language usage provides its set of problems but Hong Kong cinema have before thrived on low-fi vehicles that delivers desired genre entertainment. Back then, Explosive City wouldn't have turned heads. Today, it's kind of welcome. Eddy Ko, Samuel Pang and Lam Suet also appear.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Express (1984) Directed by: Yeung Laap-Gwok

Well meaning and with good instincts for its dark tale, Express is also hard to grasp and connect to. Essentially the story of an ill-fated family and how the son Lin (Ralph Chan) goes from drop out student to committing manslaughter and kidnapping a woman. He unexpectedly connects to his kidnapee, supermodel Sophia (Tsang Hing-Yu) and she to him. Suitably shot straight and with a sense of everyday grit without being overbearing, the basic structure is there but director Yeung Laap-Gwok never finds a true footing. When that does seem to happen, the extent of the rewards is knowing the basic and appreciating the filmmaking instincts and style ocassionally. Therefore not a problem to follow through on but an empty experience mostly despite. Also with O Chun-Hung, Don Wong and Michael Chan.

Extreme Challenge (2001, Stephen Tung Wai)

A group of fighters participate in the internet broadcast competition Extreme Challenge and in the end there can be only one. From a period in Hong Kong cinema where they were trying to get onto the world stage by producing blockbuster style-films with high tech, effects, action and fairly frequently in English, Extreme Challenge embraces the evolving notion of an online audience but is not a big budget film. Or that much of a film. While Stephen Tung deals with the surrounding drama and intrigue, clearly he understands what the movie promises after casting martial artists and not actors (with a few exceptions). And as cheesy as the competition is, feeling like a mixture of American Gladiators and kung fu, his team delivers. The fights are quite fast, sometimes marred by an overabundance of jazzed up visuals (like an internet TV production would do, to spice up the dynamic nature of a match?) but nevertheless the exchanges are powerful and exciting. Combining both hand to hand and weapons-work ensures a variety and while this is bottom of the barrell filmmaking outside of the ring, it's easy to break through ineffective drama and the evoked tropes in question. If you allow yourself. Starring Ken Cheung, Jacqueline Li, Yeung Chuen-Li, Patricia Ja Lee, Paul Rapovski and Scott Adkins.

An Eye For An Eye (1990) Directed by: O Sing Pui

Wong Fung-Yee (Joey Wong) inherits the top spot of her father's triad activities after he's arrested. Immediately closing down the profitable nightclubs and gambling dens, Wong earns herself enemies amongst the senior members. In particular with Cheong (Lung Fong) who goes all out to thoroughly degrade her. Wong's relationship and friendship with cops Tats (Wilson Lam) and Ching (Max Mok) becomes increasingly strained as well.

From the era where gangster movies were being churned out in dozens, it was hard to be noticed. In the long run perhaps acclaim would surface but definitely not during the initial run. An Eye For An Eye probably didn't strike a chord with anyone then but looking back at it, several aspects do come to life despite the movie relishing every opportunity to be generic. The main compelling aspect comes in the portrayal of the fairly affecting love triangle between Joey Wong, Wilson Lam and Max Mok's characters. Lung Fong also gives us a truly heinous and memorable villainous act while Benz Kong and Tony Poon's action is on the intense and gory scale. There's something for everyone and despite rough filmmaking, ill treatment of women, O Sing Pui's contribution to a busy genre comes with fine dramatic chops.

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