# 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
Page 01 | Page 02 | Page 03 | Page 04 | Page 05 | Page 06 | Page 07 | Page 08 | Page 09 | Page 10
Heaven Sword And Dragon Sabre (1978) Directed by: Chor Yuen

With reportedly such a packed book (released across 5 volumes), movie adaptations of Jin Yong's 'The Heaven Sword And Dragon Saber' expectedly runs into trouble. Especially when a director like Chor Yuen is choosing to feature tons of characters from the page. This reduces coherency, context, connection and leaves newcomers to the universe quite befuddled and disconnected. But the martial arts world and its fantasy-excesses (a Chor Yuen specialty) can be appreciated despite in an oddly valid way. Despite not being packed with characters initially, it's easy enough to follow some of the adventure of Derek Yee Chung Wu-Ji who's fatally injured after being hit with the Freezing Palm, his counteract in the form of advanced martial arts, rivalry between the Ming Clan and Evil Cult and the search for legendary weapons in the martial world. All set on smoky, expansive and beautiful sets at Shaw Brothers. It isn't frenetic like depictions of this world became like in the 80s but Chor Yuen sets the enhanced stage like only movies could do vs TV-adaptations. Entertaining enough during these stretches and even when he opts to introduce new characters every scene seemingly, if there's any apparent weakness here that isn't oddly charming it's the choice to feature action choreography in long shots in multiple instances. While we don't get extended and balletic swordplay, when we do see it the exchanges are fun and acrobatic... making them a cool part of the ambience Chor Yuen is attempting here. Those attempts have been stronger before and since and really Heaven Sword And Dragon Sabre isn't fun enough through and through in its disconnected ways to rank as a classic But it is confusing Wuxia comfort food despite not knowing fully what you're consuming. The huge cast also includes Candice Yu and Ching Li. Unlike Wong Jing's adaptation (Kung Fu Cult Master), this one came with a sequel released the same year (and previewed to great, overwhelming confusion at the end of the first movie).

Heaven Sword And Dragon Sabre 2 (1978, Chor Yuen)

The first film adapted part of the massive 'The Heaven Sword And Dragon Saber' by Jin Yong and it did well enough sticking to Derek Yee’s Chang Wu Ji gaining magical martial arts powers and rising in the ranks of the Ming Cult. But once in that position, characters moved from scenario to scenario, in and out of peril and the movie through multiple introductions of new people which made it dense and incoherent. Plus the production came off as dealing with the notion of too much book, too little film. A gloriously produced and costumed film though (ranks up there as one of Chor Yuen’s best looking Wuxia films), a part 2 was teased at the end and a week later it appeared in cinemas with the objective of finishing off the epic story. After saving time and money by recycling the credits sequence and theme song, Chor Yuen sets out to untangle, reveal and further story threads such as Chang Wu Ji owing three favours to the mysterious Princess Chiu Ming (Ching Li). After her poisonous attacks on the Grand Teacher of Wu Dong, is she also (like everyone else in the martial world) after the titular weapons? Which would force Chang Wu Ji's godfather Lion King Tse Chun out into the open. Meanwhile a large number of the Ming Cult's clan rivals are lured into a temple and poisoned, they try to resist help from Chang Wu Ji but eventually agree. There's also a series of tournaments and a variety of twists and turns that may require actual note taking.

Unlike latter stretches of part 1, here Chor Yuen mostly sticks to a few core elements and doesn't produce an entirely new character gallery for us to deal with. But despite that reduced pressure, he's seemingly packing key events from five volumes worth of writing into two movies. Clearly he can't spend time on a lot of them so as a result there's a lot of fast travel between locations, quick cuts to new developments such as a marriage and that makes Heaven Sword And Dragon Sabre 2 a bit impersonal. Its priority is taking on the challenge of cramming it all in there and it doesn't quite earn our devotion to the story. Technically the dominance continues though as these serene settings really evoke a sense of fantasy and the otherworldly but surprisingly Chor Yuen keeps most of his action free of the magical. Tong Kai's action instead keeps matters grounded and often involves the actors in hand to hand confrontations. An admirable stance but it comes with the price of repetition rather than distinction and excitement. Whenever he does choose to depict powers, it's often through simple means such as jump cuts or colored light hitting the actors. This and the direction is very theatrical but in the end it's a watchable, sometimes surprisingly coherent conclusion to the story that probably seasoned viewers familiar with Chor Yuen's take on the complex Wuxia will find more comfort in. New ones should probably seek out the likes of The Magic Blade for a more concrete audio/visual package that brought the written to the screen. Co-starring Candice Yu, Candy Wen and Lo Lieh as Lion King.

He-Born To Kill (1993, Li Chien-Ping)

Behind the choppy English title and the surface of a low budget Taiwanese gangster picture we find a thoughtful character-piece. Or a very decently attempted one that should've had more room to maneuver. Jack Kao is Sing Fa-Cheng whose poor childhood leads him to to the decision that he wants to kill, he wants money, he'd rather be cruel than fair and his idols are Middle Eastern leaders and dictators. A one note character that feels frightening in the hands of the exceptional Kao and director Li Chien-Ping is quite dedicated to character-depth such as the bloodthirsty man being haunted by his actions. It works when it pops up sporadically but that does not complete the picture. The rest, played out mostly in ill-conceived flashback (meaning we see Alex Man's cop die early in the film), is standard gang warfare but with enough watchable teeth (including in the firepower and blood squibs-department). Spotty but admirable. Also with Pauline Chan.

He Has Nothing But Kung Fu (1977, Lau Kar-Wing)

Another example of filmmakers and action directors such as Lau Kar-Wing not being able to provide much kung fu spark when venturing outside of Shaw Brothers. Gordon Liu with amnesia teaming up with Wong Yue's swindler, unbearable comedy from frame one (almost all of it set to 'I Was In Dixie'), you'd hope the one who has nothing but kung fu could make that element carry a movie therefore. While there's skilled and intense exchanges at points, most of Lau Kar-Wing's choreography, while solid, still doesn't ignite what ultimately is yet another kung fu-comedy. No distinction and desperation to please does not make for a highlight of the genre. Also with Kong Do and Chan Shen.

He Is My Enemy, Partner And Father-In-Law (1999) Directed by: Aman Chang

Small time hoodlum Stallone (Nick Cheung) is the witness to a massacre on other small time hoodlums and is also in the possession of money the killer wants. Sgt. Bruce Lee or Y2K (Danny Lee) is assigned the case and is to drag Stallone with him wherever he goes, including home to marriage trouble...

A forced style and poor synch sound recording dominates early but on his own, Nick Cheung scores a little every now and again by tuning his performance to the situation rather than acting outside of it. The fact that he says he watches over all McDonalds restaurants and is the poor victim of a guess the song-game is a testament to slight amusement that comes out of Aman Chang's direction. When paired up 48 Hours-style with Danny Lee, both characters with silly names will get their respective "I learned something today"-moments but duo also produces workable chemistry. It's done on shoestring but far less annoying than it should've been. Helena Law Lan co-stars as Stallone's very socially active and deceptive mom.

Buy the DVD at:

The Hellfire Angel (1979) Directed by: Lam Gwok-Cheung

KENNETH'S REVIEW: The veteran cinematographer turned director Lam Gwok-Cheung once more misfires under Golden Harvest (another dud being Mr. BIG). Although lead Ma Man-Ngai presents an unusual strong female heroine, this gangster actioner with some twists, turns, deception and way too many uninteresting characters is a fully forgettable entry in the Golden Harvest catalogue. It seems to be simple enough yet is complex beyond human logic and although the pole vaulting scene out of the ring of fire spices things up briefly, it's indeed briefly.

Hell Has No Boundary (1982) Directed by: Richard Yeung

On a camping trip with her boyfriend (Derek Yee), May (Leanne Lau) is possessed by a vengeful spirit and now the bloodbath is on. A creative bloodbath I might add, Richard Yeung (Seeding Of A Ghost) stages a trippy, gruesome time. Coming up with compelling ways to frighten characters, creep US out and to disgust, Hell Has No Boundary adheres to the simplicity of the horror scenario but knows how to execute within it. May as possessed comes up with various ways of killing including changing directions of bullets, summoning crabs in bathtubs that pinches off male, sexual organs on cue etc. Much of it set in an intense green and red lightning show with the finest sequence seeing Ken Tong as a reporter captured into a spirit world full of deceptive illusions, characters eating eye balls, maggots (kudos to both Leanne Lau and Ken Tong for being game as they put these both in and ON them) and Yeung adds a nicely brutal backstory for this to be an engaging time of horrendous acts of people and rage bleeding into modern day. Shaw Brothers may have been running on empty to some degree with their kung-fu line in the 80s but their take on graphic horror kept expanding admirably. Also starring Yueh Hua and Teresa Ha Ping.

Hello Late Homecomers (1978) Directed by: Lau Tin-Chi, John Woo & Louis Sit

A trilogy of short stories, containing farce-takes on love and sex, all starring a mostly unbearable Lo Yuen. In "Till We Meet Again", he's a playboy who makes a bet with his friends (one played by Karl Maka) that he will score with a particular beauty within 24 hours. The poor man's Michael Hui in the form of lead Lo goes to work by assaulting and trying to drug the victim of his bet. Some bad taste rears its head indeed and not an ounce of humour, much of which can be applied to the second 30 minute skit "Heart On Her Undies" as well. Here Lo is a race horse broadcaster with women lining up to bed him and his heart-undies. One scene sees Lo basically raping one of the women as someone off-screen is instead describing how to deal with a pig. This bad taste coupled with penis jokes and a Benny Hill emulated score, doesn't fly. Reportedly John Woo handled the last segment called "Little Men's Big Hopes" and here things start to finally get good and bearable. Lo Yuen plays a husband under strict control of his wife and he decides to hire an assassin to kill her. Lo chooses to set the traps himself and of course this backfires. Many surreal tangents and Lee Hoi-Sang as the deranged, very braindead assassin gets this often black and exaggerated short deserved laughs. Lo Yuen is now a bearable poor man's Hui and echoes of what was to come in Woo's filmography can be picked up upon if you will. Such as guns being hidden in pots and the general dark tone to the comedy that become a huge tangent of From Riches To Rags.

Hello! Who Is It? (1994) Directed by: Jamie Luk

Having so much wrong with it yet succeeding fairly well, it's that pesky Hong Kong multi-mood cinema working its magic again for those who can accept such an attack on the senses. Blending clownish comedy, romance, ghost story with a rape revenge thriller, Jamie Luk's (The Case Of The Cold Fish) film is as light as it sounds and as dark as it sounds. Thankfully. May (a smokin' and dedicated Anita Lee) is a prostitute with both a sick mother (Helena Law) and son to look after. After being raped and accidentally killed by a group of construction workers (William Ho, Peter Chan Lung, Kwai Chung and James Ha), her ghostly self takes over the phone lines to execute revenge. All while her neigbour, cop Ma (Lau Ching-Wan) worries about his own romantic exploits and now the well being of May's mother and son...

When it succeeds, the low budget atmosphere actually manages to go the dark, foreboding and felt places it wants to. It's a joy to root for May as she viciously gets even. Before we're prepared for the mixture however, it's almost nauseating getting slapped in the face with the clownish (more like retarded) antics of Lau Ching-Wan's co-workers while being faced with the darkness where Anita Lee really gets abused to hell and back (literally). Even gay-jokes are areas Jamie Luk happily engages in but Hello! Who Is It? eventually benefits from the main story focus which makes the dedication to create that particular mood pay off in exciting ways. William Ho is deliciously evil while Derek Yee and Ivy Leung appear in cameos.

Here Comes A Vampire (1990) Directed by: Yuen Cheung-Yan

It's sad to see expected familiarity taking such a nosedive in quality. Hong Kong horror and comedy mixed together quite often meant a few minutes of film would be fast paced and contain a unique Eastern sensibility/creativity to remember (and therefore earning the movie a place in a collection). No such thing in Yuen Cheung-Yan's Police Academy emulation Hong Kong style with a twist of The Haunted Cop Shop II, only minus the talents of Jeff Lau. With an intriguing, pixilated still on the back of the dvd, this seems to promise some nastiness eventually at the end of the rainbow but after trainees (such as Sandra Ng, Billy Lau, Charlie Cho and Andy Hui) womanize, play around, get disciplined by Wu Fung etc, director Yuen begins to showcase what an empty tank he's got. Whenever there's possession, animated special effects and the likes, the usually dependable Hong Kong cinema has no energy to offer up to salvage what's been ruined by the often intolerable skits prior. You'll remember a frame or two such as Charlie Cho biting Andy Hui's nipples and a commendable fire stunt at the end. But no brisk energy or nastiness as promised surfaces. Just another sad, forgettable copy of a copy of a copy. Also with Walter Tso and Kingdom Yuen as the ghost.

Buy the DVD at:

Page 01 | Page 02 | Page 03 | Page 04 | Page 05 | Page 06 | Page 07 | Page 08 | Page 09 | Page 10