# 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 Messengers (2007, Danny Pang & Oxide Pang)

After making their mark with The Eye in 2002, the Pang Brothers (identical twins Danny and Oxide) took to Hollywood and directed The Messengers. In many ways a classic haunted house tale and on the surface ambitious with its attention to character and horror visuals. It's also not particularly impactful. Being rather basic as family tension leads to more of the same as Kristen Stewart's experiences visions and terror around the house and sound design goes into overdrive with creaking and startles, there are admittedly some creepy visuals that lean more towards surprise rather than startling (because it played silently). But overall no one would mistake The Messengers for featuring imported, award winning talent. It moves at a good pace though, doesn't get dizzy working its mystery and to favour the brightness of the rural setting actually generates some of the scarier moments. On a 16 million dollar budget, it grossed 55 million worldwide and had a 2009 sequel (with a script by Todd Farmer who has story credit on the 2007 movie). Also starring Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller and John Corbett.

Middle Man(1990, Cha Chuen-Yee)

Also known as In The Line of Duty V, the face of the series Cynthia Khan stars as Inspector Yang who has to protect her cousin (David Wu) who's being framed for espionage by a secret organization out to protect their interests. They also pack heat. Director Cha Chuen-Yee is wise to showcase the bravery, willingness and action abilities of his leading lady early in a tilt with Bruce Fontaine (capped with a car stunt by the Canadian stuntman and director). Meaning the formula isn't here to be tweaked and the movie feels more like a Cha Chuen-Yee/Chris Lee affair. His action design has volume and variation in its favour, gunplay hits you more when venturing into darker territory and it's in particular the ending that seals the deal for Middle Man as Lee gets to play in a variety of locations, mixing hand to hand combat and swordplay right out of a period movie. Kim Maree Penn and Khan's sword fight is memorable and amazingly enough doesn't derail the movie as it's a serviceably told and made thriller with audience pleasing elements. Director Cha Chuen-Yee would go on to acclaim making true crime Category III movies and the triad satire Once Upon A Time In Triad Society. Also with Vincent Lyn, Alvina Kong, Billy Chow, Steve Tartalia and Chris Lee himself as one of the hired assassins.

The Midnight After (2014, Fruit Chan)

On a minibus after midnight, any random group of Hong Kong people could gather in a space and this group of passengers find out after passing through the Lion Rock Tunnel, that Hong Kong looks mightily deserted. Individually the characters try and locate friends and family, only to realize they are seemingly the only ones left and they need to stick together to find out whether Hong Kong has been struck with a virus, explosion, the apocalypse, if they're dead or whatever idea Fruit Chan can come up with for his 2 hour circus. Possibly (and a lot of the movie is a big possibly) Chan has embedded a human, heartfelt message or a satirical one but one thing that is clear, no one is telling him how to make the movie. Going with the no restraint-approach and the challenge of whether he can take loose, quirky, off-beat, dramatic, gruesome, creepy ideas into wildly entertaining territory, The Midnight After is a multi-mood exercise that possibly and probably should be dismissed as random nonsense border lining on experimental art. But with an energetic group (consisting of veterans such as Simon Yam Lam Suet, Kara Hui as well as the young ones represented by the likes of Wong You-Nam, Janice Man, Sam Lee and Tsui Tin-Yau) embracing every mood Chan throws at them, it's rather impossible to dislike the audio-visual playtime of Chan's. Yes, there's intrigue because the changed world holds peril, supernatural imagery, examples of a society broken and broken down to the point of anarchy but at the end of the day, regardless if Fruit Chan means any of this, it is technically skilled and not random laziness. He works for it and makes everyone understand that it's ok to work towards the open purpose of The Midnight After. Indecisiveness in tone has rarely been this entertaining. Based on the web novel 'Lost On A Red Mini Bus to Taipo', written by the pseudonym Pizza.

Midnight Angel (1990) Directed by: Jonathan Chik

If you want your Hong Kong cinema smorgasbord full, then it's wise to turn away from Midnight Angel (also known as The Legend Of Heroism) as this is too stuffed with content for its own good. Yet for sadists like myself, it's enjoyable because it IS. A mish mash of brutal violence, action, martial arts and comedy, at heart we see story strands merge having to do with the masked vigilante Cotton Flower (coming from a family of masked avengers) dishing out justice where the police can't and a brutal criminal called Bull (Melvin Wong). Simple enough but director Chik rams so many comedic threads into the picture that it overtakes its better commercial element. Midnight Angel is a wacky headscratcher that thankfully clarifies its purpose the more action Alan Chui choreographs. A little shaky in the beginning, soon the likes of Yukari Oshima gets to engage in hugely powerful fights that may be placed in a low budget frame but are nonetheless effective and powerful. Sufficiently directed gunplay and an increase in brutal violence helps cement this true definition of a Hong Kong movie. Arguably it's too much of a Hong Kong movie and would've been a better one stripped of a good chunk of its comedic streak. Also with May Lo, Mark Cheng, Miu Kiu-Wai and Sek Kin.

Midnight Caller (1995) Directed by: Raymond Wong

A poor showcase for everyone involved but then again, barely anyone involved possesses any true talent. Diana Pang is a radio DJ and dancer stuck with a stalker calling himself the Hungry Wolf. Michael Wong is the cop protecting her...

We first wish that Raymond Wong would unashamedly utilize busty Pang like the commercial element she clearly is because she's not in this vehicle to act. First X in the protocol then and Wong is not the guy ready to make a stalker thriller either so predictably this production is ill from the getgo. When then making sure to occasionally let us know Pang's stance on ALMOST nudity in film, Midnight Caller does become even more sad. Favouring the easily shot light over the easily shot and devoid of suspense, Michael Wong is a drooling cop with relationship troubles, his boyish partner is played by Joyce Ngai and various clueless, technical detours via oddly chosen slow-motion and inserted cartoon sound effects also haunts us. While Wong injects a dig at himself at the end, it doesn't turn the film into a product of note. About one minute of almost decent final reel tension isn't enough either and the minute positive gets erased by a typically predictable twist ending only Hong Kong cinema can manage to make dull.

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Midnight Conjure (1991) Directed by: Mo Keung-Bong

Rival swordsmen battle for supremacy once in the past and again 3000 years later in the modern age. Simple yet somehow extremely muddled with no skills to conjure up viewer commitment, Midnight Conjure (aka Fatal Umbrella) is the kind of new wave Wuxia emulation the likes of Tsui Hark wouldn't be threatened by.

Reportedly a Taiwan production (with added star power in the form of Carrie Ng and a brief appearance by Lam Ching Ying), any time high flying action is carried out, there's a sense on director Mo Keung-Bong's behalf that he wants to keep proceedings as clear and flowing as possible. However he left out rhythm and energy from the equation so it's rather embarrassing to watch this wire-fu xerox, even though Hong Kong cheapies of this kind could very well fare as bad. Only minute recommendation of Midnight Conjure goes out to those Lam Ching Ying fans who wants every piece of footage with the man. Can't say I blame you.

Midnight Girls (1986) Directed by: David Lai

Terribly uninteresting hostess melodrama by David Lai (Possessed, Saviour of The Soul). Getting no distinction out of his main casting of Kitty Chan and Ng Man Ling, the film portrays the usual rise, fall and the ones you take with you on the way down. It's done with such disinterest that you comes to a point where you wish Lai will screw his characters over (and he does to a certain extent), just so that our attention can be held just for a small amount of time. Another lackluster script by Johnny Mak and Stephen Shiu and even when having the a dynamite cast for the similar genre entry Moon, Stars & Sun, they provided no distinction whatsoever. Midnight Girls only notable trait is a feature debuting Francis Ng in a supporting role.

Midnight Revenge (1994) Directed by: Chang Tso-Chi

Receiving a one day cinema run in Hong Kong, writer/director Chan Tso-Chi decides to take his (what turned out to be sparse) audience on a slow, mundane, vague journey that by design will have an understated payoff. It's somewhat there and has something but nearly not enough. Jack Kao (one of Taiwan's premium bad guy actors, never missing a beat when it comes to having a dangerous aura and presence in him) plays a cop that essentially carries with him something, a burden and goes off on his own while cases of a pyromaniac and a cop killed in the line of duty occupies the police force. Featuring numerous long takes lingering on Kao (who is expressive but is relied on way too much to convey the vague material), moody music reminiscent of Mamoru Oshii's Stray Dog, Chang goes for the non-verbal and mysterious flashbacks to a kid having experienced tragedy. Midnight Revenge is mildly involving and we're not at all annoyed it keeps us in the dark but the ultimate pay off is plagued by the fact that there's few if any pieces added to the puzzle of Jack Kao's character. Things conclude but if any throughline is there, it's the mystery and that shouldn't have run all the way through the movie.

Midnight Whispers (1988) Directed by: Michael Mak & David Lai

Depressing drama but dedicated directing from Michael Mak (Sex and Zen) and David Lai (Saviour of The Soul) makes many of the quite evil events towards the main characters immersing, valid cinema. Josephine Koo (A Fishy Story) plays a strict mother that has her daughter kidnapped by her Chinese mother in-law (Mama Hung). While in China, the kid gets swept away by the political times, losing her grandma in the process and ended up being an outcast without much of an identity. Meanwhile the mother's long quest to find the daughter pays off and the reunion becomes a fact (in teenage form, the daughter is essayed by Moon Lee of Angel fame) but there's scarring underneath that prevents the relation from blossoming..,

An epic lasting 90 minutes, Mak and Lai manages to somehow not only make things clear as to where we might be in the timeline, make further tear in the characters as we move through the rough eras but also created is fairly immersing family drama that doesn't rely on the biggest melodramatic outbursts either. Josephine and Moon's characters are realistic snapshots, despite the overabundance of poor luck launched at them. A choice that as always kills a movie for many but this push into the dark fates of characters is at times needed. It's especially welcome when it's executed surprisingly well. No classic and the director's rightly dabbled in other genres but it's an interesting footnote nonetheless. Wong Chi-Keung co-stars.

The Mighty Gambler (1992, Wong Jan-Yeung)

A busy plot and unnecessary sub-plotting aside, The Mighty Gambler comes loaded with era specific commercialism, firepower, gun powder, explosives and blood packs. Wong Jan-Yeung treats the movie and that his sole purpose as a filmmaker is to convey a heightened blood bath compared to his own Dreaming The Reality, Devil Hunters etc and it's a rousing success. The main core of Sibelle Hu, Alex Man and Alex Fong plus the stunt team surrounding action director Chui Fat gets a workout that hovers somewhere around John Woo and Chu Yen-Ping in terms of heroic bloodshed excess (heroic goreshed rather). With dips into some acrobatic choreography but mainly focusing on raw, primal gunplay, the highlight is not necessarily the borderline splatter nature to it all but environment pyrotechnics. Impact-explosions go off constantly around the main actors, stuntmen and combine this with a terrific sense of filming it and you have yourself an action-gem proudly proclaiming that this is what it exists for. Also with Francis Ng and Michiko Nishiwaki (using her brief screentime very well in the film's fight scenes).

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