# 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 Monkey King 2 (2016, Soi Cheang)

Played by Donnie Yen in Soi Cheang's 2014 'Journey To The West' adaptation or episode, he is now out and Aaron Kwok instead plays the Monkey King (despite playing a different character in the first movie). Released from his confines, he is now tasked by The Goddess Of Mercy to protect and escort Monk Xuanzaang (William Feng) as he goes on the journey to retrieve scriptures from the Thunder monastery. Monkey King is defiant, has a violent streak in him and in the battle versus the White Bone Spirit (Gong Li), his protection is going to be mistaken for reckless and this tests the relationship with the Monk and the traveling party of Pigsy (Xian Shen-Yang) and Sandy (Him Lo). A basic familiarity with the source material prevents any incoherency to enter but at the same time Soi Cheang shows skill setting up this particular adventure within the bigger one the novel covers. This is a visual spectacle with reliance on special effects but there is both a sense of an unpredictable, supernatural as well as the physical world. Which is the clever balance and even though Cheang is pushing the 3D and effects hard, he tips the scale towards the better critical notice concerning imagination. Plus by humanizing some of the conflicts at hand and having a dedicated Aaron Kwok and William Feng on board, this snapshot of a bigger whole is quite engaging even as dramatic spectacle. Gong Li is fully invested as well, playing up the devious, bloodthirsty and snakelike Madame White Bone and if you make an impact even surrounded by tons of special effects mostly, there's something to be said for an actress wanting to be there and how that travels to viewers. Ultimately an easily digested balance between computer generated sights, magical powers, vistas that manages to be somewhat fresh because Soi Cheang shows a keen eye for needed direction of actors within this scenario. It saves The Monkey King 2 from simply being commercial noise.

Monkey Kung Fu (1979, John Law)

1979 saw the release of Lau Kar-Leung's Mad Monkey Kung Fu and Sammo Hung's Knockabout so monkey style was apparently the in thing to do there for a while. Including in this lesser known and decidedly minimal Shaw Brothers production starring (in a rare lead role) future Duel To The Death and A Chinese Ghost Story director Ching Siu-Tung. John Law, like Five Superfighters from the same year, knows too much of a thing is bad so the simple plot of uncovering the hidden martial arts manual of the Gibbon Fist, and shenanigans in between should be dealt with in 90 minutes or less. Also reigning in comedy and making Monkey Kung Fu come off as light rather than a parade of tomfoolery allows action directors Ching Siu-Tung and Tony Leung to shine. Showcasing the immense acrobatic abilities of the men and women on the production, there’s also creative uses of props and several fights designed to actively feature anything from 3-5 participants. It’s a steady stream of the element you pay for but not overstacked and aside from one or two sequences framing the skirmishes around broad comedy, largely you’re in awe of the physicality and creativity on display. The select dips into clearly artificial indoor sets at Shaw Brothers meant to be exteriors evokes a fun, comforting, professional feeling and Monkey Kung Fu shows the studio in the case of this production could keep up with the lighter side of kung fu movies popularized by Jackie Chan. It may not be Mad Monkey Kung Fu but is perhaps the easier watch.

Monkey Kung Fu (1980) Directed by: Joe Law

Also known as Monkey Fist, Floating Snake and and furthermore, this indie should not be confused with the Shaw Brothers movie of the same name from the year before. Monkey Kung Fu expectedly comes off as a pale imitation of successful efforts in similar vein (most notably the Jackie Chan vehicles Snake In The Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master) but due to that profitable concept, all that indie producers bothered with was making a quick buck on the movie title and content (whether good or bad). Shooting it on the cheap (with the outdoor locations being a dead giveaway), bad filmmaking is still not an excuse however and despite veteran appearances (Eddy Ko, Yueh Hua, Chen Sing), there’s no spark here and even the monkey kung fu itself receives a lackluster showcase.

The Monk's Fight (1979) Directed by: Yu Kong

ALMOST way too stuffed and unacceptable Taiwanese Wuxia pian, this Pearl Cheung vehicle (she really shares the spotlight with Lee Wing) goes from seemingly spiritual to an escalating revenge affair. Both good and bad people lose close ones in this battle but there's no tension or fine lead up to a great battle. It's packed and often disorienting as a whole but scenes and concepts on an individual basis shows a higher strength. The Monk's Fight has plenty of cinematic cool on a budget, some fine action and gore (an assassination of several characters during temple prayer is well done) but extracting bits that work don't add up to a fine whole. Also with Casanova Wong.

Moon Night Cutter (1980) Directed by: Hsu Yu-Lung

High on style and spectacle but not coherency, Hsu Yu-Lung does adhere to Wuxia pian tradition by packing his frame with characters, twists and developments, something that in the case of this viewer often becomes an impenetrable mess and Moon Night Cutter doesn't get any easier as it goes along. But setting aside that, the stern and even bleak atmosphere coupled with a ton of bursts into high flying swordplay and cool style makes the exercise alluring to follow despite critically it deserving a huge slam. Starring Ling Yun, Wong Goon-Hung and Violet Pan.

Moon River (1974) Directed by: Steven Lau

The daughter of a famous chairman goes missing during an important visit to Taiwan. She is found drunk the street by a journalist (Gu Ming-Lun). Treating her hostile at first but warming up to her soon enough, he is also aided by his sister (Brigitte Lin) who starts off by supplying the girl clothes and may be the angelic character that brings them together. Thankfully short because Moon River is a corny entry in the vast Taiwan romance and melodrama cannon of films, Steven Lau reveals all too clearly his limited set of tricks by shooting well furnished interiors (often with a guitar or two mounted on the wall) and the antagonism turned aching romance won't fool anyone into sharing the feelings of the characters. Throw in some wacky cops looking for the girl and the clichéd techniques of employing romantic songs, slow-mo montages and issues of longing represented by a walk on a beach and Moon River manages to go down in history as one of the lesser Brigitte Lin flicks.

Moon, Stars & Sun (1988) Directed by: Michael Mak

The punishing life of a hostess gets another examination through the eyes of Michael Mak (Long Arm Of The Law II, Sex And Zen), with very unimaginative end results. Despite the fantastic lineup of Cherie Chung, Carol Cheng and Maggie Cheung, the Stephen Shiu/Johnny Mak script offers up nothing new whatsoever and Michael can't exactly bring a fine tuned touch to the various harsh treatment the ladies goes through either. Sure some excessive moments gets your attention, including Maggie Cheung being forced to lose her virginity to an obese gwailo and the rape of Cherie Chung amongst strobe lights is eerie. But it's never enhancing any previous developments in the characters. That's because Mak does nothing with the script outline and even though the very final shot reaches some form of downbeat poignancy, it really doesn't count as meaningful based on the jerking around we've experienced prior. Hu Chin, Shing Fui-On and a very intimidating Wong Chi-Keung also appear.

Moon Warriors (1992) Directed by: Sammo Hung

Moon Warriors credits Sammo Hung as director although in reality, there resides a known truth behind the making of this worthwhile 90s Wuxia piece. That's not to discredit Sammo as the film really employs the correct talent for the correct jobs, most notably Alex Law and Mabel Cheung as directors of drama (Law also penned the script), Ching Siu-Tung and Corey Yuen (action directors), Arthur Wong (cinematographer) and Sammo as chief supervisor of it all. The end result benefits unexpectedly greatly from Law's involvement as he gives a decent weight to the story of different social classes uniting in the face of danger and the divided loyalties that play a crucial role in the framework.

The fact that his script is also allowed to dominate for a long period of time without any action is a credit to the belief of all involved in their respective departments. Star-power is also a benefiting factor and Andy Lau, Anita Mui and Kenny Bee all give fine performances, doing justice to the material that, as I should mention, isn't great by character-drama standards but unexpectedly involving for the genre. Maggie Cheung, AS expected however, leads the pack with a spot on performance and Hsien's divided loyalties plays out perfectly with Cheung behind the wheel. Can you believe she only logged 2 days on the set?! The sign of a true pro...

The action has its drawbacks as the undercranking sometimes creates more of a comic feel than that of extravagant and thrilling but most of Ching and Yuen's work come off well despite. The wirework remains fairly well-edited as are the swordfights, mainly performed by the stunt doubles but the actors do shine in bursts when participating.

The Hong Kong Legends dvd does not feature the alternate end credits sequence (added to home video after the theatrical run) featuring footage of Andy Lau with the whale at Ocean Park (accompanied by an Andy Lau song now as opposed to the Sally Yeh song playing over the end credits of the theatrical cut).

The Most Wanted (1994) Directed by: Wong Gam-Din

Cat (Lau Ching-Wan) is an undercover police officer slipping deeper and deeper into unwanted criminal behaviour such as robbery. Death comes along with it and when his confidante and superior Li (Lee Gwok-Lun) is killed by robber Yip Huan (Robin Shou), Cat's grasp on trying to re-gain his identity as a police officer is slowly slipping. Especially as Super Intendent Cheng (Kent Cheng) is pursuing him intensely...

Opening in an atmospheric manner but showing less than exciting street life in and around Cat and buddy Sap (Bowie Lam), it's an non-distinct life and movie frame. Also very much the point as Cat is harboring a secret from his best buddy, The Most Wanted does fairly well examining the tough trials and breakdown of an officer stuck in undercover hell. With fewer and fewer knowing his real identity and being a victim of police politics, Lau Ching-Wan at center embodying all this makes a rather standard template grow during certain moments in the film. Cat has forged alliances on both sides, is trying to find romance with immigrant Lily (Eileen Tung) but it's the age old downwards spiral being against him. Director Wong Gam-Din provides some edgy atmosphere on a budget and the various scenes of chaotic gunplay has the needed street realism the story requires.

Mother Of A Different Kind (1995) Directed by: David Chiang

Lam's (Fung Bo Bo) son Man goes astray one day during a football match where he injures one of his bullies. Being an underdog with a very protective mom who's also a nurse, his stay at the hospital soon develops into extreme paranoia about possible jail time. He ends murdering one policeman but subsequently is shot and killed by superintendent Cheung (Lau Ching Wan). Not being able to cope or forgive, Lam goes on the path of irrational revenge, targeting those precious to Cheung...

David Chiang's last directed film to date, a thriller echoing Misery but thankfully not reenacting the James Caan/Kathy Bates vehicle completely. Chiang brings nothing new to the portrayal of insanity in the face of tragedy but has a thoroughly dedicated Fung Bo Bo at his disposal, a factor that makes Mother Of A Different Kind a highly chilling tale. Chiang and Fung takes advantage of the familiarity and even when going highly over the top (along with the plot), it not only seems logical but a veteran performer like Fung also makes it bearable. Lau Ching Wan backs up in a solid way as the victim nobody believes and Veronica Yip is annoying in the best of ways. A rare movie where comedic relief is welcome.

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