# 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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Fong Sai Yuk (1993, Corey Yuen)

The lighter side of the new wave of kung-fu of the 90s. Gone is the stoic Wong Fei-Hung Jet Li played and in comes the boyish, charming, mischievous character of Fong Sai Yuk before maturing and joining the Red Flower Society. Corey Yuen isn't attempting much beyond the familiar martial arts movie structure but infusing it all with a frantic style of action that's quite coherent despite its dizzying appearance, it all makes for a relaxing viewing if Once Upon A Time In China gets too heavy. Not letting conflict take the stage until later in the film, initially Fong Sai Yuk excels at sports, ignores his studies and has goofy scenes with his mother (played by Josephine Siao who is stealing every scene she's in). Amazingly enough, the signature element of the wire assisted action, is again not so much quick cut but Corey and team craft the flow shot by tiny shot, getting us off ground, into air, on top of people and in particular the scene involving just that is patiently executed and a standout scene of this style from the 90s. Despite performing some more grounded action once Jet faces off against Vincent Zhao, the movie continues to mix intent to amuse and impress, even using some very tried humour (again, Siao nails this). Although Fong Sao Yuk's transition to hero that now knows the seriousness of engaging in political matters, its life and death aspect, Corey argues he's got the technique and technicians to pull off this and manages to create somewhat iconic images as Jet uses arrows to dispatch tons of foes by the end. Was followed by a direct sequel same year. Also with Sibelle Hu, Michelle Reis and Paul Chu.

Fong Sai Yuk II (1993, Corey Yuen)

A few months after the first, the continued adventures of Fong Sai Yuk was released by and with the same team (minus some of the father-figures from the first movie). Corey Yuen progresses Jet Li's character by bringing him closer to politics and his personal core of morals and ethics not fitting in with the Red Flower Society. All while he strikes up a rivalry with martial arts movie villain you can spot from a mile away played by Ji Chun-Hua and having to deal with the prospect of a second wife (Amy Kwok) in the name of obtaining a box the Red Flower Society is after. Plus his caring mother (Josephine Siao) supports, helps out, gets most of the laughs and reconnect with an old martial arts brother (Corey Yuen). While technically accomplished and the action is admirable in its meticulous ways, Yuen doesn't have enough new ideas for the sequel. All on top and below the surface stuff is ok, above average genre fodder in the wake of Once Upon A Time In China but accomplishing well staged action and drama that feels awfully similar to part one means you can't escape the feeling of redundancy. Then again, it's inconsequential and easily digestible. Just don't expect a strong arc akin to Tsui Hark's series. In fact, thank god there was no Fong Sai Yuk III. The atmospheric ending involving Fong Sai Yuk blindfolded and the fight amidst stacked benches is worth the price of admission alone however. Also with Michelle Reis and Adam Cheng.

Fooling Around Jiang Hu (2016, Lam Chiu-Wing)

An impenetrable audio and visual assault that it's either insanely local or simply flat and bad. Going by gut feeling, it is the latter as power struggles and conflicts play out in the wacky triad-world at hand here. To deconstruct the glossy and sometimes glamorous life of a Hong Kong gangster is always a welcome idea but director Lam Chiu-Wing is an idea man without a sense of purpose and theme. So the volume of gags, quirky humour, working the soundtrack into your comedy as you touch upon genre-tropes, comes off as completely misguided. With enough noise and a couple of veterans like Alan Tam and Jordan Chan, he seems to think that's enough satirical work done for the movie. It is not and Once Upon A Time In Triad Society nor Too Many Ways To Be No. 1 need to worry.

Forbidden Arsenal (1991) Directed by: Cheng Siu-Keung & Yuen Chun Man

Official part of the In The Line of Duty series or not (the Hong Kong print calls it aka part VI), Forbidden Arsenal is largely a stale action- and fighting showcase with Cynthia Khan. The odd fun banter between Waise Lee, To Siu Chung and Khan flashes by, something that also can be said about the action (best bit before the slightly better finale is a short but well-done fencing duel) but the series and Hong Kong action cinema of this kind has seen better days.

Co-director Cheng Siu-Keung now enjoys much more acclaim as Johnnie To's cinematographer of choice, having worked on such films as PTU and Throw Down. Also with Robin Shou, Phillip Kwok and Hiu Siu Hung (now also a Johnnie To regular).

Forbidden City Cop (1996) Directed by: Vincent Kok & Stephen Chow

Sort of a sequel yet not to From Beijing With Love, this period comedy sees Stephen Chow as once again as Ling Ling Fat (008 in Chinese), an emperor guard with a dedication to inventions such as an early prototype for an helicopter. Trademark silliness ensue...

Eventually Chow got himself a co-directing credit when Vincent Kok realized how many ideas were put forth by the star and he's really on high form here. Compared to the older films of his helmed by Wong Jing, that were really point and shoot affairs, the technical aspects of Forbidden City Cop share the spotlight with the hilarious antics of Chow and company. Strong comedic interplay with his leading lady Carina Lau is one of the prime assets also and what really also is encouraging is how Chow's mo lei to style really does feel fresh from movie to movie. With a finale that goes surreal places such as the foray into an awards ceremony among other things, Forbidden City Cop cements its winner status. Even though there surely are many local references, and even recognizable ones such as Yuen Cheung Yan in his The Miracle Fighters costume and a parody of the famous alien autopsy, it's easy to connect to Forbidden City Cop. It's simply a great, wild Hong Hong Kong comedy with and by the one who does it best. Law Kar-Ying, Cheung Tat-Ming, Carman Lee, Tats Lau, Yuen King Tan, Vincent Kok, Lee Lik-Chi, Sunny Yuen and Lee Kin Yan (nosepicking transvestite) also appear.

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The Foreigner (2017, Martin Campbell)

Based on Stephen Leather's novel The Chinaman, The Foreigner sees Jackie Chan in action territory but if anything this is material connecting more to his long standing desire to be taken seriously as a dramatic actor. Although he’s demonstrated this in various projects through the decades, it’s always reassuring to see him skillfully and gladly switch to dramatic and underplayed territory again. Losing his daughter in a bombing the IRA is taking responsibility for, Jackie plays Ngoc Minh Quan. With a desire to find the persons responsible, he turns to the current Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), who’s also a former IRA member, for answers. When rejected, Quan unpacks his previous special forces skills and begins making life difficult for Hennessy. Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) stages a harrowing opening and a showcase for Jackie’s fine transfer into playing his age and the emotionally devastating convincingly. While politics is a key component, Campbell doesn’t make it too demanding and adheres to the pace and beats of the action-thriller with pleasing results as he navigates plotting centered around Chan and Brosnan individually. Chan’s action performance plays to his character being resourceful and while it SEEMS he’s a bit too spry for his age, it’s easy to let go of this since content and tone of choreography suits the movie. Takedowns are brief, gritty, sometimes about trying to escape situations rather than to show off and it gives the impression of being Jackie’s choice rather than a watered down version of his skills for a Western audience. A fairly tight action-thriller that, for those who know Jackie’s Hong Kong filmography, doesn’t outshine prior turns in Crime Story for instance but it’s far more preferable versus the plethora of lighter and more calculated efforts from the veteran star.

Forever Friends (1996) Directed by: Chu Yen-Ping

More Taiwanese army training and this time aggravation is justified because Chu Yen-Ping simply made one hell of a boring stinker here. Despite big budget shots and unashamed theft of the score from Superman, Chu echoes exactly what he did wrong in No, Sir, only with even less focus. Returning cast members Jimmy Lin and Takeshi Kaneshiro (who flip flopped between acclaimed movies and these types around this time) play different characters who are treating their training less like a breeze this time but still has to learn the true value of friendship...bla bla. If only Forever Friends had been up to the level of No, Sir that at least a goal had executed less badly and verdict would have landed on a different spot. Here Chu is seriously sleeping his way through proceedings, nailing none of his simple little themes and even the Taiwanese army should've been thinking that this is sketchy propaganda. Nicky Wu is horribly miscast as the commander of the Special Squad where most poor soldiers end up and the sole fun Forever Friends offers up comes in an outtake-reel where Wu is seen performing with a foot injury for part of the shoot. Writer Wu Nien-Jin apparently took a vacation also after logging layered work in movies such as Song Of The Exile and Osmanthus Alley.

Fortune Chasers (1990) Directed by: Charles Tang

Ka Ho (Chin Siu-Ho) battles with gambling habits and debts to triads so it's fitting he comes across smugglers who put diamonds in rice. Comedic vignettes and a few well choreographed fights ensue. For large parts just padded with random detours into scenarios set in a madhouse, characters receiving involuntary breast implants (that does get a minor pay off though) and in general loud banter that flies over your head, it's not worth grabbing seemingly to see if it's funny. Chin Siu-Ho's energy is commendable and one of the ladies gets a neat fighting showcase where the stunt team is put through a pretty good workout as well. Also with Dick Wei.

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For Your Heart Only (1985) Directed by: Raymond Fung

Womanizing DJ Piggy Chan (Leslie Cheung) desires Jane (Rachel Lee) so every kind of dickish- and asshole behaviour is utilized in order to get inside her pants, including literally putting a bag over her head. Living with friends Hayden (Jimmy Wong) and Sapi (Mang Hoi), the latter is the best friend everyone wishes for and one you would take a bit too much for granted. Lending cars set to be repaired at a garage and rather finishing last, Sapi is the key to an awakening in this very unsympathetic character Leslie plays. A noble idea at the conception stage but the movie never clicks when contrasting this devil- and angel character against each other. It's understandable structurally why Leslie is portrayed in this extremely unsympathetic light but director Raymond Fung can't mold this into a cinematically sound time. It's forced melodrama with an expected twist. Mang Hoi is thoroughly likeable in the role of Sapi though. Also with Bonnie Law and Ann Bridgewater.

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Four Dragons (1992) Directed by: Yip Hing-Fai

A treasure hunt amongst gangsters, cops, those caught in between and it results in one of the low-points of Hong Kong action cinema. Containing quality from start to finish, there's also the poor grade of that scale and Four Dragon goes down the drain with every direction it takes. The cheesy synthesizer score of the opening should set off the internal alarm with most and it would be correctly tuned therefore.

The action goes from one cheap set to the other, offering up laughable choreography (featuring an embarrassing editing choice where moves are repeated 2-3 times), comedy and erotica in between. Occasionally you're reminded of the fact that there apparently is a plot and ultimately that Four Dragons really represents the sad truth of being an actor or a filmmaker in Hong Kong. The cast included all have award winning works behind them (Long Arm Of The Law and Mr. Vampire mainly) but this film could serve as an example (depending on your preference for mentioned awarded films) of how quickly you fall from grace and how you need to accept every gig possible to get by. At any rate, stars of this show includes Ken Lo, Chin Siu-Ho, Shum Wai and Ku Feng.

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The Four Invincible (1979) Directed by: Wa Yan

KENNETH'S REVIEW: What looks like retard kung-fu being briefly demonstrated at the top of The Four Invincible coheres later on into a fun piece of kung-fu entertainment. Ching Lei (Ku Feng) is part of the Hung Clan that has strict punishment for disobedience, including amputation. Kicked out and crippled therefore, we cut to 16 years later where the leader of the clan (Jeng Kei-Ying) and his men roam the town to punish whatever comes in their path. Their tour among other things results in a mute (Hon Gwok-Choi), they blind a local fortune teller (To Siu-Ming) and chop off the arm of the character played by Dai Sai-An (also co-action director). Wanting revenge but possessing no skills, they're taken in by Ching Lei and slowly the crippled men become crippled avengers...

Yes, Crippled Avengers is the film that should spring to mind when watching The Four Invincible but this production has chops of its own. Being quite fierce and brutal in its ways, director Wa Yan uses the concept well and rarely stray outside of moods. The lightness that is allowed makes sense and with the dependable Ku Feng present, the slight dip into personal drama even works. Real martial arts action is let loose very late but is of stellar quality with only the actual handicapped kung-fu being a concept that doesn't fly. Thankfully, the movie doesn't hinge on its inclusion funnily enough.

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