# 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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The Flock (2007) Directed by: Andrew Lau

Having been let go of his job as an employee at the department of public safety, Erroll Babbage (Richard Gere) has been tracking down and following sex offenders to the point where he occasionally turns to assault. Becoming a monster with only enough humanity in him basically. Training his replacement Allison Lowry (Claire Danes), the two go on a hunt for a sex offender in Babbage's registry that might be connected to the case of a missing girl...

Reportedly a troubled production that saw Andrew Lau leaving or being let go off his first English language project before completion, subsequently there was barely any cinema release for The Flock and it's now merely enjoying a fairly obscure dvd life. Also released in different versions in America and Europe (latter adds about 10 minutes and is reportedly more of a director's cut), what's clear is that Lau is back in his harshest territory since 1994's Raped By An Angel. Surprising and a bit intriguing considering Lau's stock was elevated via Infernal Affairs rather than his Wong Jing produced exploitation vehicle. With bearable clichés of a character soon to be retiring, training a new version of himself and being in general burnt out, Lau chooses to romance the trigger happy style of a Tony Scott. It's therefore hyper, constantly manipulated images on display but for the gritty tone setting up the darkness of Babbage's world and mind, it could be argued Lau is on to something here. On to and deserving of a bigger audience for the movie too? Nah. It's competent but standard serial killer fare that evokes the tough surroundings (sex offenders, fetishes, S & M etc) the likes of Se7en brought more masterfully. Even though there's deeper interest via lines with key words such as "... sees the human condition for what it is" and Richard Gere going admirably intense (one of his past cases he deems a failure for himself so hello... redemption-time!), The Flock has trouble differentiating itself literally from the rest of the flock. So therefore when the dust of trouble has settled, this was never going to make a dent on the box office and dvd life is barely keeping it alive. For those of us who are expecting very little with Andrew Lau alone in the director's chair however, the territory covered is beforehand an intriguing prospect but the excitement fades quickly and is soon forgotten. Avril Lavigne appears briefly.

The Flowers Of War (2011) Directed by: Zhang Yimou

Most likely a fictional story within the real pages of history that was the Nanking Massacre, Zhang Yimou keeps a decent, if somewhat distanced grip on us initially only as Christian Bale's mortician character tries to save a group of women and children from the Japanese occupation of Nanking. While there is war imagery and harrowing ones at points (the international version cuts out a good chunk of these scenes), the main advantage of The Flowers Of War is that it's contained. It makes Zhang Yimou more relatable when working with the smaller scope (see Not One Less). Movie grows on you over the course of the movie therefore and acting is solid to strong across the board with Bale's and actress Ni Ni's chemistry in particular standing out.

The Flying Dagger (1969) Directed by: Chang Cheh

Pursued by the Green Dragon Clan, Yu Ying (Cheng Pei-Pei) of the Qiankun Sword Clan hides while their leader tries to regain fighting strength after being wounded. The ruthless Flying Dagger Jiao Lei (Yeung Chi-Hing) encounters a wandering swordsman (Lo Lieh) also apt at the same skill but he's showing support for no side yet continues to play a crucial part in the conflict.

The Flying Dagger while bearing the trademarks of a Chang Cheh movie is decidedly a smaller piece. Maybe quicker even as the Shaw Brothers movie making factory did not stand still and out of the six movies released in 1969, somewhere you had to reel in your scope. But it proves to be easier to connect to the film thanks to its intimacy. Chang Cheh opens with a rape and murder sequence shot in black and white and it's fine fuel for audience hatred of our villains in the Green Dragon Clan. Building interest through Lo Lieh's neutral character that displays a coldness as well as clearly taking sides of right and wrong, couple that with several sensitive, human touches from Chang Cheh outside of the plentiful and impactful bloodshed and The Flyimg Dagger becomes further proof why this sensitive persona was so appealing. Rough sometimes but appealing nonetheless.

Flying Dagger (1993) Directed by: Chu Yen-Ping

Chu Yen-Ping will never truly emerge out of the rotten hole of filmmaking some critics have unfortunately placed him in forever since Fantasy Mission Force and Island Of Fire. But this versatile, genuinely crazy... yes eclectic filmmaker to say the least knows his strengths. Wild and wacky usually being the ones employed even though dramatic fare such as A Home Too Far showcased a very competent side. For this high flying, totally incoherent 90s Wuxia, his duet with Wong Jing is a match made in heaven. With Wong's crazy script backing him, Chu goes to town as bounty hunters Big Dagger (Tony Leung Ka-Fai), Little Dagger (Jimmy Lin) square off against their rivals Big Bewitchment (Sharla Cheung) and Little Bewitchment (Gloria Yip). Often after the same thieves, the latest is the man/wife duo of Nine Tail Fox (Jacky Cheung) and Flying Cat (Maggie Cheung). Then some other stuff happens really fast and then the movie is over...

Existing solely and rightly just to have sheer wacky craziness on display, Chu Yen-Ping brings to life the very literal characteristics of Nine Tail Fox (cue massive tail) and Flying Cat (Maggie Cheung acts VERY feline). The evident key is to pour it on and furthermore the four bounty hunters take on a bunch of death gods. One is Lo Lieh as Must Die who dies after one blow and Yuen Cheung-Yan is Never Die who puts up more of a struggle. That is until he's subjected to love, sex and general naughtiness but his hand lingers. Fans of The Addam's Family and Evil Dead II will like what happens next and this general theft/homage is a true trademark of Chu Yen-Ping's. In reality, it's not just about pouring it on and keeping it snappy but to bring to life the above, something Chu proves highly adapt at. Merging with all this with is Ching Siu-Tung's, Ma Yuk-Sing's and Dion Lam's high flying choreography that has something fresh (and only a handful of scenes on the unclear side) around each corner. Culminating in a finale with extensive characters in one frame quite often, the wire crew had their work cut out for them and succeeds quite splendidly. Further special mention goes to a thoroughly disgusting explanation of how to get rid of the Kiss Of Death poison. Even the young members of the cast gets sent out of this scene at that point and the endless list of madness can be filled with inclusions of lustpowder and powers of flatulence too. Also with Ng Man-Tat and Pauline Chan.

The Flying Guillotine (1975) Directed by: Hoh Mung-Wa

Trying to inject a historical perspective on the usage of the flying guillotine and certainly creating a memorable looking (and sounding prop), Shaw's venture into the world of flying guillotines is a basic exercise that unjustly claims the right to a 100 minute running time. Ma Tang (Chen Kuan-Tai) is one of many Ching slaves trained to use the titular weapon under the watchful eye of Xin Kang (Ku Feng) and the emperor himself who is after spilling blood more efficiently. When Ma Tang finds out their targets have been good and honest officials, he flees the confines of the emperor's training ground to settle down with a family. Of course, he becomes the object of a manhunt all while there's power struggles under the emperor...

No doubt the flying guillotine will always be cool and seeing training sequences with it only furthers wonderful spin to the genre it brings. Hoh Mung-Wa's (The Mighty Peking Man) work as director doesn't extend beyond those basic storybeats as described above and the movie is seriously harmed in the pace department when it follows Ma Tang into peasant-life. There's no substance to fill up the void between the checkpoints of the story, only a slight tease where Ma Tang is shown having been psychologically scarred by the weapon he's becomes the expert of. This still should've meant a good 20 minute chop out of the running time and that wouldn't even have compromised the ace looking Shaw Brothers production values or the solid presences from Chen Kuan-Tai and Ku Feng. Also with the stunning Lau Ng-Kei and Wong Yue. A Teddy Chen (Purple Storm) helmed remake has been given the go ahead.

Flying Guillotine 2 (1978) Directed by: Ching Gong & Hua Shan

A sequel in name only to Ho Meng-Hua's 1975 movie, the dual directors takes a shorter and more simple approach to their tale of rebellion against a tyrant with an army carrying flying guillotines. Ti Lung (in a supporting appearance really) and Han people plan to take out Emperor Yung Jing (a terrific Ku Feng). Plotting and violence follows, aided by a fast pace and a pronounced desire to keep things moving. Very noticeable in the editing and camera work, this basic but technically skilled stance makes Flying Guillotine 2 a lot more fun than the more talky and serious 1975 counterpart. A superb depiction of the flying guillotines, fast and exciting (despite not being groundbreaking) action choreography involving said weapons finally showcases how Shaw Brothers could make this unique genre-content come to life on their grand stages. Also with Shih Szu (leading the female troop carrying the titular weapons), Lo Lieh and Wai Wang.

The Flying Killer (1969) Directed by: Liu Chun

Sisters Feng Yao (Ting Ying) and Hsiao Wei have settled down in the thick forests and in their Lady Tarzan outfits where they practice flying all day long. Living with their grandpa (Ma Kei) who once had a firm place in the Feng Yun manor before getting poisoned, one day the girls pick up an unconscious swordsman floating in the river. He is Ku Tien Feng who's escaped an attack on said manor by thieves but his his sister is still being held captive. Feng Yao decides to put her fighting and flying skills to the test which starts a battle both in the manor and in the forests...

Several concepts of the different kind makes The Flying Killer mostly avoid the lowest grade. The forest setting feels fresh and every character is not cut out of the standard Wuxia mold to a distressingly obvious degree. With a straight forward plot and plentiful action, the movie lacks the skill of execution though. Ting Ying has an annoying habit of wiping her mouth as a way of displaying character plus weak wirework and stiff action reveals these Taiwan filmmakers still being infants compared to other well developed profiles in the industry such as King Hu. Valiant attempt that you can't stay mad at but ultimately it fades way before the ending.

Fly Me To Polaris (1999) Directed by: Jingle Ma

Good but not up to there with the greatest romantic dramas out of Hong Kong. Veteran DP Jingle Ma's film deserves credit though for the slightly unexpected plot structure, considering the genre it belongs to. Richie Ren (obviously dubbed on the Cantonese track) plays Onion, since childhood blind & mute with a close bond to the nurse Autumn (Cecilia Cheung). A car accident takes his life but up in heaven he receives a chance to go back for 5 days. Only downside is that no one will know who he is, not even Autumn. The sentimentality is turned up full blast but the drama is still effective thanks to two fine lead performances. Especially Cecilia confidently conveys the true longing for a friend she never got to fully open her heart to. The film is filled to the brim with music and even though most of it is beautiful they could've excluded it from a few scenes. Also starring Eric Tsang, William So and Eric Kot.

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The Foliage (2004) Directed by: Lu Yue

Set during the Cultural Revolution and around a platoon of the People's Army that's part of the "Down To The Countryside Movement that performed manual labour in the countryside forests, Xing Yu (Shu Qi) arrives wanting a discharge to care for her elderly father. In need of going through a lot of bureaucratic tape, she re-joins her fellow comrades and in particular childhood friend and platoon leader Ding Guo (Fan Bing). Once infatuated with Xing Yu but now prioritizing the thinking of the revolution, Xing Yu is instead drawn to rebellious Sie Mong (Liu Ye). A member of another unit, after a town brawl a conflict starts between Sie Mong's and Xing Yu's comrades. A conflict that awakens true emotions, bitter ones in Ding Guo's case and the kind equaling physical attraction between Xing Yu and Sie Mong. Two outcasts. One desiring these feelings and one desiring less of the words of the Cultural Revolution...

Possibly making a whole bunch of harsh comments against the political movement of the time, Lu Yue does bury that neatly in a suitable distanced approach to his storytelling. Letting sparse words and action speak, The Foliage represents a challenge worth taking even if it doesn't spellbind. Shu Qi's Xing Yu is never skipping through fields due to having found someone to be strongly attracted to. No, Lu Yue's reality plays out like a document that wisely argues that emotions boils on the inside of our main characters rather than on the outside. Watching this trio trying to choose a path, whether it's their own or the orders of Mao essentially, the film is classic romantic melodrama taken down many notches but Lu Yue keeps emotions in check so that they don't disappear off the map completely. As the last half hour plays out and we get a sense of the story spanning more time than we initially thought. Lu Yue shows here he believes a little bit too much in his material and that results in a few too many unresolved beats as well as one disastrous final one. No, a Mainland shot drama often does well, excellent even, when just pointing the camera at the human condition. Often The Foliage is worthy of the entire small group of audience it speaks too but it betrays them at the very end.

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Follow The Star (1978) Directed by: John Woo

Garage repair man/drunkard Roy Chiao teams up with young singer (Rosena Cortes, who also sings the requisite cheery ditty during the opening credits) as they try and beat a bunch of inept assassins (a hilarious teaming of Fung Hark On, Chin Yuet Sang, Lee Hoi San, Wong Ching and an actor I personally am not able to identify) to a hidden money stash connected to the father of the singer...

In between Money Crazy and Follow The Star, John Woo reacquainted himself with the martial arts genre via the classic Last Hurrah For Chivalry and returning now to comedy, traces of a multi-genre thinker crops up in what essentially is Golden Harvest trying to achieve more success in the vein of the Hui Brother's landmark comedies. It's no surprise that Michael Hui and company does it better but Woo scores points with his breakneck pace and the generally amusing slapstick that Follow The Star is populated with. Outside of some quite extensive comedy fights (action directors Fung Hark On and Huang Ha are kept highly busy), a little bit of slow-motion, religious symbolism and gunplay marks some ever so slight precursors of what would be Woo's trademarks in the 80s/90s also.

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