# 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 Kinmen Bombs (1986, Ding Sin-Saai)

Depicting the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis where the People's Republic Of China extensively bombed the island of Kinmen (and closeby islands). The tactical thinking and retaliation from the Defense Force the Republic Of China (ROC) had setup on the island is therefore also depicted in this nationalistic piece of action-drama. Which makes veteran Ding Sin-Saai's filmmaking calculated but he scores high technically. Using his first half to establish characters, quirks, friendships, dedication and brotherhood, as basic as it is he knows exactly the structure to pursue for this to translate to an audience. Sympathy needs to be in place which will lead to loss being felt and rousing spectacle as heroic counter tactics are employed (sometimes emphasized through singing, crying and cry-singing as well). An interest in how propaganda works aids appreciation of The Kinmen Bombs as well but mostly sharp production qualities takes us places of acceptance. Gradually the widescreen frame gets blessed with well done pyrotechnics, model-work, huge activity in back- and foreground using military hardware that really does give off the vibe that this was war. Not without its harrowing beats either, it ultimately shows its cards in terms of intentions early but when you nail the spectacle and noise accompanying that, there's no reason to put it down as a production. Starring O Chun-Hung , Sun Ya-Ting with minor appearances by Ti Lung, Don Wong and Dr. Haing S. Ngor (The Killing Fields).

Kiss And Kill (1967) Directed by: Ching Gong & Daai Go-Mei

The 60s was a decade for spy entertainment in the vein of James Bond, something Shaw Brothers gladly capitalized on. Not being ashamed of that fact and even featuring the James Bond score for this one, Paul Chang is the handsome and cool Liang Tianhong who comes back to Hong Kong to find the secret plans for a ray transmitter that could bring world turmoil if ending up in the wrong hands. It's never explained really what it does but Kiss And Kill relies well on a rather pleasant aura to this spy adventure. It's mildly silly escapism with Paul Chang (along with Wei Ping-Ao) even going undercover in drag at one point. While there is some bloodshed and violence in the underground lair complete with an acid bath of sorts (bodies explode when hitting the water), largely Kiss And Kill is designed to be breezy and is in and out of your life quickly without much impact. Not a truly great nor bad thing that. Also with Tina Chin Fei.

Knight Errant (1973) Directed by: Ding Sin-Saai

Lin Huo-Shan (Jimmy Wang Yu) is a taxi driver who gets into fights, willingly or not, to the point of ruining his family financially at a time where they want to save money to cure the blindness of Huo-Shan's sister. Creating strains between him and his father (Ngai So) therefore, fights will have to come to the forefront as three Japanese fighters (Yasuaki Kurata, Lung Fei and Shan Mao) arrive to claim revenge on Huo-Shan's father...

Modern day effort with Jimmy Wang Yu but nonetheless a versus Japan plot is constructed yet again, Knight Errant fits more into standard tactics that thankfully features Jimmy. More often than not the bashing on display doesn't dazzle but from the saw mill sequence and onwards where the revenge driven Japanese are revealed to be both rapists and inept killers, the fury of Wang Yu gets to shine... albeit only fairly well. Using the structure of this location well, veteran Taiwan director Ding Sin-Saai saves the best for last as Wang Yu goes head to head with badass kung-fu grandma played by Tse Gam-Guk (Queen Of Fist and credited on the English print of Knight Errant as Lady With An Iron Fist). Strong beyond belief, even getting run over by a car doesn't stop this woman! You tally up the elements and get a favourable grade out of the uneven Knight Errant easily therefore. Also known as Dragon Fist.

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The Knight Of Old Cathay (1968) Directed by: Li Su

A partly superb swordplay drama examining the feeble notions of revenge and how you ultimately may earn nothing from it, director Li Su offers up plenty of well-staged atmosphere, using among other things the weather elements to his advantage as a secretive mystery slowly is unveiled when Peter Yang Kwan's character goes on his path of revenge. Equally adapt at letting this atmosphere build within very slow passages of film, this is approaching King Hu levels of direction, especially evident in an outdoor fight scene where Yang is outnumbered along with his sword fighting wife. Problem is though that once everybody sits down to slowly talk, talk, talk AND talk, the narrative fizzles out to the point of pure incoherence. Simply put, we're lost and frustrated since director Li Su clearly has a classic firmly in his hands that slips away way too easily. The final emotional push is very good though and Peter Yang Kwan shows what an acting strength he is for this genre in development at the time (see him log some of his best work in Joseph Kuo's King Of Kings).

Knockabout (1979, Sammo Hung)

Concluding his run of four movies as director in the 70s with the first starring vehicle for Peking opera brother, fight extra and stuntman Yuen Biao, Knockabout is a decidedly weaker effort from Sammo Hung that contains enthralling, inspiring sections but struggles to stand out as something working the kung fu comedy template in a way that pushes the genre forward. Sammo had provided heart and wacky comedy in Enter The Fat Dragon as well as a powerful Wing Chun movie in the form of Warriors Two but scales things down to very cheap basics here. The double conman act between Yuen Biao and Leung Kar-Yan is distractingly unfunny and it feels more like two untested performers making noise and being broad in hopes of the comedy landing. The action design is partially clever here as the two are led to believe they possess terrific kung-fu after training for the film’s baddie played by Lau Kar-Wing and their subsequent opponents go down very easily as a result. It’s only when Leung Kar-Yan exits the film and Yuen Biao’s character learns a mish mash of martial arts from a beggar (Sammo Hung) including monkey kung fu that he can truly matter as a martial artist and the narrative and fight design take a huge step up during the last third. Here the simply awe inspiring acrobatic abilitilities of Yuen Biao are on full display and the clever training sequence involves a test of stamina you rarely see in these films. Leading to a finale with Lau Kar-Wing that showcases plentiful styles, creative action direction and somehow the goal of giving Yuen Biao a chance to shine is achieved in the end. As a new lead, this is a first step, not an inspiring one but Sammo and Yuen Biao would achieve perfection utilizing the strength of each shortly thereafter in The Prodigal Son.

Knock Off (1998, Tsui Hark)

Shot in Hong Kong during the 1997 handover, Tsui Hark’s second American production (like his debut Double Team) didn’t do well at the box office and 2 years later he was back on Hong Kong screens with Time And Tide. Bringing with him a sense of the free, unpredictably stylish and that’s a big inclusion within his Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle Knock Off. Originally containing a more elaborate plot involving a forgotten Chinese Communist CIA cell, this was eventually changed to Russian's installing nano-bombs into counterfeit goods and into this comes Van Damme’s Ray and his partner Tommy (Rob Schneider).

While it does have a Hong Kong flavour to the action set pieces (reportedly some of Sammo Hung’s action choreography was left on the cutting room floor however), Tsui Hark is quite concerned with letting a peculiar visual style lead. Working in the cramped environment that is Hong Kong, he does the reverse with his camera by letting it roam free, going into electronics, through newspapers, it's shaken to the point where it looks like Tsui Hark's Tetsuo The Iron Man and oddly enough it becomes an alluring, enticing proposition that we’re going to get a wild looking 90 minutes. With tropey plotting sure but with a Van Damme that’s game to look a bit silly along the way too. There’s not even that many distinct Van Damme moments present to fill a quota but rather he’s part of a couple of creative action sequences devised by masters of Hong Kong cinema. Prime among them being a neat gunplay and martial arts sequence on a container ship and Sammo stages exciting beats and peril as the little humans and big containers are sliding all over the deck. It may have been too much for an American or any global audience to absorb a clearly conceptualized, mobile camera catching this action ride but Knock Off clearly has the best intentions and gets away with indulgence. Involving the Western stunt community such as Mike Miller, Jeff Wolfe, Jude Poyer and Mark Houghton, the film also stars Glen Chin, Lela Rochon, Paul Sorvino, Carman Lee and in the role originally meant for Jet Li, Michael Wong.

Korean Connection (1974, Lee Doo-Yong)

The standard, generic kung-fu movie template could come out of Korea as well but noise and brevity is its strengths. A simple yet often muddled narrative about a document and revenge acts as the catalyst for the fight action as expected and here's where Korea does alright for itself after having chosen a basher-style to the proceedings. The complexity of the choreography can feel a little unrefined (certainly applies to the camera work too) but lead Han Yong-Cheol puts on a decent kicking showcase. Combined with a loudness within the brawls and the short running time for its US release, Korean Connection is the definition of a disposable genre-effort that was molded into a suitably brief package in the West thankfully.

Kung Fu Chefs (2009) Directed by: Ken Yip

With the Shaolin Vs Evil Dead-movies (the second of which Ken Yip co-directed) production company My Way tried and sporadically succeeded to evoke Hong Kong genre cinema of the past. Kung Fu Chefs has today's polish (a first for My Way) but evokes a lot of element of yesteryears and in a sleeper hit way genuinely engages. Sammo Hung is master chef Wong Bing-Yi who is disgraced after his apprentice Leung (Sammo's real life son Timmy Hung) sabotages the banquet he's preparing for a village. Re-emerging as the head chef for the struggling restaurant run by sisters Ching (Cherrie Ying) and Ying (Kago Ai), he also takes under his wing a new apprentice (Vaness Wu) with cutting and fighting talent. The master will have to eventually settle his past and deal with the grudges in such characters as Fan Siu-Wong's and the apprentice will have to prove his skills in the ultimate cooking competition...

With that polish also comes a hungry director who despite laying it on thick on with style during certain cooking sequences knows the select moments to choose in terms of this. The energy is engaging and with Yuen Cheung-Yan and Yuen Shun-Yi on board for the action, it's very thrilling to see such scenes shot with stability and clarity plus Sammo still appearing to move well for his age. Kung Fu Chefs doesn't snap into the age old schizophrenic mood of a Hong Kong action comedy thankfully and the drama present actually makes sense. It's as violent as it should be, as clichéd as it should be (think The Karate Kid with cooking instead) and surprisingly heartwarming. What hasn't changed since the 80s/90s however is certain tacked on elements such as Vaness Wu's and Kago Ai's love story and a lot of the broad comedy comes from this Japanese actress too. It's there to be survived easily and Kung Fu Chefs ultimately deserves to be a stronger blimp even on the Sammo fan radar. Also wiith Ku Feng, Bruce Leung, Lee Hoi-Sang and Lam Tze-Chung.

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Kung Fu Cult Master (1993, Wong Jing)

Based on author Jin Yong's 'The Heaven Sword And Dragon Saber', Wong Jing's movie spends a good 10 minutes rattling off multiple plot developments that makes one think this is movie two out of x amount of adaptations. In fact, it's the first but was clearly aimed to be followed by at least an additional one judging by the open ending. Presumably disappointing box office figures and the popularity of the Wuxia pian trend of the 90s fading figured into a decision that led the creators to move on instead. Unless you're familiar with Jin Yong's work or any other film- or TV-adaptation, it's recommended you find a written recap and setup of the story that you can calmly read and absorb. Then Wong Jing's hyperactive spectacle isn't so hard to keep up with and is definitely easier to admire. There's certainly a plethora of characters to keep track of but a basic understanding of desires and motivation within the fantasy realm depicted here can be grabbed onto. Jet Li has his sights on revenge while sects and clans have their sights on each other and weapons to rule the martial world. This all gives way to surprisingly sporadic Wong Jing-comedy and instead a focus on momentum. Rarely letting up in the verbal and certainly not physical developments and altercations, on hand is Sammo Hung to direct the wire assisted action. And there's some inspired, visual tactics on display here, with most of it undercranked. Working well and even splendidly so as the characters are flying, displaying (to audiences) unpredictable powers whose effects are mostly done in camera (with select visual effects shots), it's only when Hung keeps action grounded that the performers are bouncing around in a noticeably unnatural fashion due to said filmspeed. But even when that creativity is not the focus, Wong Jing and Sammo just make sure that the film has a pace to it, with the camera often moving to emphasize this. It's easy for the story to get lost underneath what IS excess but when it's quite extensive, violent, imaginative and even brilliant moments of excess, we take basic understanding and even accept a degree of incoherency. Also with Chingmy Yau, Sammo Hung, Sharla Cheung, Ngai Sing, Francis Ng and Leung Kar-Yan.

The Kung Fu Emperor (1981) Directed by: Pao Hsueh-Li

Ti Lung is the 4th prince, son of an ailing emperor and forces who wants him to be the successor of the throne asks him to play dumb and go out amidst the people to get a sense of the emperor THEY want. Well crafted production technically, populated with genre familiars and fine martial arts choreography director Pao (an understudy of Chang Cheh's) maintains interest initially but the long section of the film with the 4th prince outside the walls stalls the movie. Little clarity or coherency remain and while the kung fu is continually a highlight, before we sensed a movie that could appeal to us on a broad scale but instead it gets lost in disinterest. Also with Dorian Tan, Chen Sing, Shih Szu and Wong Ching.

Kung Fu Executioner (1981) Directed by: Lin Chan-Wai

You don't expect a violent gangster/martial arts picture out of a title like this but that unexpected trait holds unexpected treats. Billy Chong along with excellent martial artist Carl Scott (previously paired up with Chong in Sun Dragon) gets drawn into a gangster war between two families and the bodies start piling up. A clichéd and average plot kept afloat well via a dedication to a dark mood, bloody and primal violence and to make martial arts part of it is a choice that makes sense. Because not only are the likes of Billly Chong and Scott pretty electrifying once they engage in the choreography but the tone of the fast and intricate choreography holds its share of primal darkness too. It genuinely feels dangerous as Chong takes on multiple swordsmen and best of all Kong Do in the next to last fight in the movie. That Bruce Lee-style yells were dubbed into at least the English language version of the film feels rather desperate and unnecessary. Kung fu fans would know they've seen far more boring narrative stretches in between the main selling point. Also with Chen Sing in a dependable villainous turn.

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