# 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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Master Killer (1980) Directed by: Wong Hung-Cheung

Blacky Ko and Casanova Wong play re-united brothers who must execute revenge on the ruling overlord (Phillip Ko) of the town as he killed their father. Generics and baring not just a little resemblance to Snake In The Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master, what Master Killer doesn't have in its favour is the amount of annoying comedy-style present for one. Pratfalls, sound effects to accompany them and Chan Lau being aggravating to the max as the slimey assistant to Phillip Ko, not even the intricate comedy routines that echoes mentioned classic vehicles gets any acceptance. Plus, Blacky Ko as our Jacky Chan-esque lead doesn't exactly make himself fit but with the such a physical cast, sometime the film must deliver something you would think. And oh yes it does. After Blacky has been educated by the beggar/sifu in different ways of fighting Empress-style (Drunken Empress-technique is taught for instance), the intricacy in several fighting scenes is very much spot on. The mammoth finale with Blacky, Casanova and Phillip seals the deal perfectly and generics certainly made themselves look great here eventually.

The Master Of Kung Fu (1973) Directed by: Ho Meng-Hua

In this solid Shaw Brothers outing, the character of Wong Fei-Hung gets taken to places veteran Ku Feng can and his character's torment about a fatal usage of the famed Invisible Kick handles well. As he is framed by forces from within, his fellow Chinese and forces from outside, the Westerners, we see a dark tale evolving from director Ho Meng-Hua (The Mighty Peking Man). It holds interest in combination with a basher-like nature to the action, where even a three section staff is rife with power thanks to Yuen Woo-Ping and Yuen Cheung-Yan's contributions as action directors. While the final fight extends nicely on this, the story has run its course earlier and we begin to direct annoyance at technical goofs and exaggerated acting from the main Westerner in the cast. Also with Wang Hsieh, Chan Shen and Johnnie To regular Hui Siu-Hung in support.

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Master Of Zen (1992) Directed by: Brandy Yuen

Not what you would expect from anyone out of the Yuen clan, Brandy actually tackles a fragmented story of how the Bodhidharma went from being an Indian prince to becoming a Buddhist monk preaching Zen Buddhism. Why it makes sense to have a Yuen onboard is due to the fact that Bodhidharma did know martial arts as well. Noble thoughts but a scattered narrative doesn't do justice to those intentions though. Starring Derek Yee during a year where he was unusually active as an actor rather than director, this quite quickly told journey (meaning it's done in a few beats... basically making the movie a cliff notes version of the story/legend dealt with here) suffers from the fact that we rarely are given an easy ticket into the content. The character of Bodhidharma isn't particularly engaging, later on Yee is barely visible under some very crude facial hair and bald cap, making only various philosophical statements ring true of any poignancy. That's pretty much as much drive that can be found in Brandy's direction and the subplot with Fan Siu-Wong's young buddhist being haunted by visions of killing doesn't even come with even any sporadic dips into well honed philosophy. The scenery and production values manages to strike a chord though and the supporting cast of Chan Chung-Yung and Wu Ma adds assured prescence.

Master With Cracked Fingers (1979) Directed by: Chin Hsin

Jackie Chan got his first starring role in 1973's The Cub Tiger From Kwangtung, a movie that didn't crack the earth open and nor did Jackie as a leading man. Fast forward to 1979 and Master With Cracked Fingers which right off the bat needs to be said is only enjoyable if you find commercial exploitation fascinating. Jackie broke through the year before and shameless producers unearthed the original basher (that action-wise is not bad at all in short bursts here and there), chucked about half of its footage and began to re-assemble a product bearing themes and content of Jackie’s breakthrough films. They hired Simon Yuen to reprise a variation his old master character in Snake In The Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master (footage from it pops up briefly too), shot a backstory of Chan’s character being trained as a child by the old man, occasionally had Yuen interacting with the old footage (sitting in bushes watching the other movie essentially) and the greatest sin of all, a 15 minute comedy gambling scene with Dean Shek was inserted to bump the local flavour and commercialism. By setting up a fighting technique using a blindfold, an additional finale was conceived with a considerably chunkier Jackie Chan double shot in shadows and with said blindfold (pay attention to the soundtrack in this section too as music from Zombi 2 and Dawn of The Dead is used) and while not in the slightest a good re-take of the largely unknown, original film (it has passable, new action scenes essentially), to stand Master With Cracked Fingers you need to almost love the aspect of producers squeezing money out of a hot thing. Distributed in the US as Snake Fist Fighter with a hilarious trailer featuring audience testimonials, the transparency is marvelous and surreal. Almost to the point of admiration. Almost.

Master Wong Vs Master Wong (1993, Lee Lik-Chi)

The gang who made a silly Wong Fei-Hung movie are back with Alan Tam back in the leading role. Playing a Wong Fei-Hung that would rather stick to cooking, his fame is now being exploited by his students (selling No Shadow Kick leg-merch among other things). A smarmy businessman (Anthony Wong) wants Wong to open a new branch of Po Chi Lam and the gang (Ng Man-Tat, Eric Tsang and Teresa Mo therefore return) go on a trip where it's agreed Wong shall stay anonymous. Wackiness ensue and while fairly often on par with the amusing first, the constant throwing gags against the wall and hoping it sticks is a little bit less successful here. There's worthwhile banter and physical gags present but the movie struggles to get out of the shadow of most and better Stephen Chow-vehicles. The casting Tam as Wong Fei-Hung and flipping the image of the character isn't as fresh anymore either and Lee Lik-Chi has problems getting worthwhile interaction out of Tam and Carol Cheng's scenes. Culminating in a Wong Vs Wong end fight, the wire assisted kung-fu comedy scores some points as does an unexpected dramatic beat but it was a good idea to end at two movies from this team, during this stretch of the 90s where the character was popular.

The Mating Season (1966) Directed by: Wu Jia-Xiang

Rival advertising companies try and land a contract through any means necessary. Deception, enemy romance and desperate methods ensue. Hilarity does not. Fine production values at Shaw Brothers can't save this dreadful, boring and unfunny farce. The stiff direction of Wu Jia-Xiang evident in Dark Semester continues here. With Peter Chen and Pat Ting Hung.

Maximum Risk (1996, Ringo Lam)

Lam's Hollywood debut is admirably in tune with his Hong Kong sensibilities at times and attempts to bring Jean-Claude Van Damme into new acting territory. In other words bring his character down to earth a bit. Highlighted mainly by opening and closing chases plus select action beats, the problem with Ringo's vision is that it doesn't translate into enough noisy spectacle. It's a solid thriller but also timid for a big Van Damme-release. Aside from a few poorly placed and forced one liners, Lam keeps Van Damme in check with logical, feasible action beats involving wrist-breaks, kicks but he also gets injured more often than not. A violent altercation in an elevator goes for grit stripped of style but also brutality and the street chaos of the end evokes a little bit of the eye Lam brought to City On Fire. It's not terribly watered down compared to Hong Kong but there's merely bursts of inspiration here that also meant no further Hollywood adventure at the time and he quickly re-located to Hong Kong to finish off the 90s in strong fashion. Also starring Natasha Henstridge, Paul Ben Victor and Zach Grenier.

May & August (2002) Directed by: Raymond To

10 year old May (May Xu) and her little sister August (Qiu Lier) loses their parents (Cecilia Yip and Lin Quan) to the occupying Japanese forces and are forced to flee Nanjing. They get taken in by their uncle (Zhang Yijun) and his family but scars are now forever etched into the children...

As we enter the initial moments of Raymond To's May & August, one can't help to think of familiarity as it's a story of the ordinary people struggling in a war torn reality. It's been done masterfully before (Hong Kong 1941) as well as not so masterfully (1941 Hong Kong On Fire). But by settling on a children's perspective, To gets more out of this story.

He plants fine, poignant train of thoughts about the role of children during this time, doubting their worth and despite having shelter of some sort, they truly feel alone amongst adults not their own. The uplifting spirit of the film takes its rightful place and the titular characters May and August have to adopt their mindsets to a different, higher form of life learning. Whether or not politics and war will rob them of that, remains to be seen. There's some odd, brushed over so called poignancy planted by To in some quite grisly ways early on but he keeps afloat mostly throughout, dishing out emotions in more subtle manner. It may never be truly affecting but Raymond To deserves a slight pad on the back for a job well done despite. Mark Lee's cinematography is an asset, capturing the Chinese landscapes quite dependently.

McDull, Prince De La Bun (2004) Directed by: Toe Yuen

Hong Kong's ambitious animated feature My Life As McDull managed to find not only respect with fans but a contrasting, yet seemingly fitting balance of stale 2D animation and bubbling 3D renderings of the Hong Kong cityscapes. A city inhabited by humans and our main characters, the two piglets of the scattered McDull family (voiced by Sandra Ng, Lee Chun Wai and as the adult McDull in the narration, Jan Lam Anthony Wong also reprises his role as Head Master in addition to Andy Lau joining the voice cast)

The creative crew of art directors Alice Mak, Brian Tse (also producer and screenplay) and director Toe Yuen again assembled for the sequel that remains true to the established visual style but for the longest of time, you do wonder if the Mak/Tse/Yuen team have left the building completely. Bear with me, and bear with them, to get your rewards however.

The constant building redeveloping are about to hit the McDull's and making sure their future is set, Ms. McDull gets herself the greatest grave plot overlooking the sea. McDull himself may have developed great calves from his bun snatching training but not being able to utilize that, he's developed leg shaking, much to his mothers distress. Feeling time is coming somewhat to an end for the two in terms of life purposes, Ms. McDull deviates from the usual Harry Potter bedtime story one night and instead brings us the boring, as the narration warns us, story of Prince de la Bun, all while we're scratching our heads as to what is going on. Is it fantasy? Is it reality?

While it's still a short feature, the makers manages to express their point finally about what the purpose of this rather abstract story is about and they really hit a stride in terms of themes all throughout subsequently. McDull, Prince De La Bun still is about dreams and that you have to do well in the moment in order to be well in the future but explores it in a much more somber way, making the film actually less suitable for the kids this time around. The full reward will come with a 2nd viewing as Toe Yuen and co. take more abstract roads for their thematic purposes but it's worth the short ride.

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McDull, The Alumni (2006) Directed by: Samson Chiu

After two animated features and one short for the 1:99 collection, Brian Tse's and Alice Mak's comic book pig SORT OF took a leap into live action. For the Lunar New Year of 2006, Samson Chiu (Golden Chicken, When I Fall In Love... With Both) helmed the blend of the simplistic 2D/extravagant 3D and live segments featuring the Hong Kong movie entertainment elite. The end result again scripted by Brian Tse rings true to the wonderful, honest and intelligent questions hovering in little McDull's head as he tries to conjure up thoughts of how to be a pillar in society (owning no pants but only swim trunks, he sets his sights on being a lifeguard or an office lady). Whenever blending in live action however, the often puzzling, weird, off-beat yet oddly accessible nature to the animation gets muddled in a barrage of attempts at possibly in-jokey, puzzling, weird, off-beat cameo-heavy skits. It's a stream of random consciousness in the eyes of this viewer and perhaps requires a Hong Kong mind but various episodes of Ronald Cheng as a braindead marketing head stuck in the legs of Cheung Siu-Fai's marketing head, Christopher Doyle teaching his new butcher's apprentice the ropes, Anthony Wong (who returns to do voice work again naturally) as a sea captain stranded with hungry passengers, and the centre piece hostage situation led by the members of Alive (Daniel Wu, Terence Yin, Andrew Lin and Convoy Chan) is dumb silliness not transcending that tag. The animated touches are McDull-lite but still fairly top notch stuff that just tells us how good of a puzzling, philosophical time we've had with the two features previously. The long cast list includes the likes of Sandra Ng (also a returning voice cast member), Kelly Chan, Gigi Leung, Eric Tsang, Josie Ho, Shawn Yue, Jaycee Chan, Jan Lam, Francis Ng, Nicholas Tse, Miu Kiu-Wai, Cheung Tat-Ming, Alex Fong, Jim Chim (in a patented oddball performance), Wayne Lai and John Shum.

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