# 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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Phantom Of Snake (2000) Directed by: Hsien Yueh

A modern update of the Green Snake/White Snake folktale that was beautifully captured in 1993's Green Snake, directed by Tsui Hark. Hands on director Hsien Yueh (who wrote, produced and art directed the film also) takes cues from Tsui's vision and tries to give this low budget fantasy-thriller the same alluring, erotic atmosphere. Surprisingly, Phantom Of Snake doesn't do bad in this regard and the angle this story takes is not about obtaining humanity but straying far away from it. A murder mystery at heart also, Hsien does get lost in the often immersing atmosphere (lensed by veteran cinematographer Joe Chan), its sound and fails to fill in a few plot points. The experience is tasty enough to forget shortcomings strangely enough. Cecilia Yip and Jade Leung also manage to cast aside any feelings of laughable B-movie charm and deliver eroticism through their twirling performances. The highlight coming in the street scene where the ladies are being the snakes that they are amongst the Hong Kong populous. It's a wild and bizarre scene that says a lot about the film in a short amount of time. Also with Jimmy Wong and Michael Tong.

Buy the VCD at:
HK Flix.com

Phantom War (1991) Directed by: Simon Yeung & Cindy Chow

Shot on location in London and produced by Phillip Ko Fei, one would assume they used the time they had to film both this and Killer's Romance (released the year earlier, directed by Ko Fei). Regardless, Phantom War punches in and comes with a punch as well. Bearing the traits of a familiar gangster actioner and an unwilling participant being drawn into one such plot, there's solid dramatic beats here centering around former soldier Nan (Ben Ng) with severe Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome trying to live a quiet life with his wife Yin (Yammie Lam). His condition is played up to intense levels but remains very workable because Ben is quite intimidating when being so large mentally and physically (also see Red To Kill for evidence of this). The location brings the obvious change of atmosphere for the frequent Hong Kong gangster actioner of the time but the action directors (Luk Chuen and Paau Wa) provides several rousing scenes of both brutal violence with limbs blown off and people blown UP but quite primal, stylish gunplay as well. To expect anything SUPREME dramatically out of what is clearly on the surface yet another is certainly not sound but it's nice to be surprised how much of a complete experience Phantom War is as a film. Also with Lau Siu-Ming, Phillip Ko Fei and Alex Man. Latter two both in fine form as over the top villains.

Picture Of A Nymph (1988) Directed by: Wu Ma

Wu Ma creates a spin-off vehicle for his character from A Chinese Ghost Story in this mostly unremarkable imitation of said classic. The idea of continuing on the adventures of Wu's swordsman is a promising one but Wu the director can't make much of the material fly and Picture Of A Nymph ultimately seals its fate as a pale imitation of A Chinese Ghost Story. Some worthwhile elements can be found such as Yuen Biao's performance, with his boyish charm turned on. Joey Wong, despite performing the sorrowful ghost on autopilot, is always alluring and Sammo Hung's stunt team livens up with good action directing, mostly consisting of various demon battles. Fans of the Wu Ma's character will also find him performing not one but TWO music numbers in the film, a fun idea that was first was seen in A Chinese Ghost Story. Also with Yuen Wah, Lawrence Ng, Elizabeth Lee, May Lo and Fanny Sit.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

The Pier (1983) Directed by: Phillip Ko & Terry Tong

There was every op to succeed with The Pier as an edgier, more raunchy response to Jackie Chan's Project A (there's even a short alley bike chase!) but despite the superb cast including Norman Tsui, Leung Kar-Yan, an amusingly animated Phillip Ko, Lily Li, Johnny Wang and Tien Feng, this period actioner is an impenetrable mess of comedic hinjnxs, cartoonish overacting translating to zero comedic effectiveness. The Pier simply tries incredibly hard with numerous repeating of its score and while the odd exaggeration hits home (Phillip Ko is trying out stuff he's normally keeping away from us) and the end reel knife violence finally brings that very thing into the picture, it doesn't redeem a strangely worthless, unredeemable product.

Pink Bomb (1993) Directed by: Derek Chiu

Derek Chiu's debut movie and thankfully he got a lot better (already at his second venture Mr. Sardine). A rather puzzling mix of only slightly broad comedy and... actually there's not much of an and and there's not much of any purpose for the film either. Oh on the surface we follow a group of Hong Kong citizens on a tour to Thailand with Waise Lee's priest Graham (a priest who's scared of water and who kills off his head priest trying to prevent HIMSELF from drowning. The only good scene in the film) as a way to better themselves, to stand up for themselves and while those lessons might've been learned, it sure doesn't show up on the screen. Lau Ching-Wan is a taxi driver who doesn't want to be pushed around and he fires paintballs at night to blow off steam. He obviously gets to shoot a real gun. Cynthia Khan can kick with the best of them but is still a bullied traffic cop. Guess what she gets to do. Rachel Lee is a teacher who can't be as authoritarian and caring of the kids as she wants to be. As they meet prostitute Ann (Gloria Yip) in Thailand and get into conflict with the gang who's controlling her, care and protection gets to be the issue. Fair points, done with little finesse, excitement or humour. In fact, the whole movie is asleep and doesn't even play up the violent clashes with the Thai gang as anything but light. You also know a movie is dull when writer/co-star Dayo Wong (playing a triad who gets kicked out of his gang) fails to be annoying. On the plus side, the ladies look incredible and incredible together but that can only get you a bit.

Pink Force Commando (1984) Directed by: Chu Yen-Ping

Merely acquired and distributed by Joseph Lai's IFD (Chu Yen-Ping's directing credit being ejected in favour of "Lawrence Full". Chu remains the production designer according to the English print however. Whatever), the intent to tie in Pink Force Commando with Chu's insanely filled to the brim with every genre, content and thievery- spectacle that was Golden Queen's Commando is puzzling. He's got his cast of girls on board again, such as a totally badass Brigitte Lin, Elsa Yeung in a cape, Sally Yeh reprising the explosive expert character and Teresa Tsui as the Woman In White but the flashbacks to the first film seems to merely act as a reminder of how much these girls rocked earlier. But sense is not required here. In fact, it's not even preferred as Chu Yen-Ping demonstrates how much fun you get after putting every thought about cinema and all your love for cinema that you can muster up in a blender.

Imagine a parallel world where everything is possible. A wild west town with 80s style graffiti, attacked by the Ku Klux Klan and Chinese guys in Nazi uniforms while a band of girls fight for trust amongst each other once more. Welcome to Chu's world of idiotic fun done with care to absurd detail. The spirit of famed composer Ennio Morricone is hovering over the production heavily (i.e. classic pieces of score were stolen) and there's even time for a little dip into featuring old school kung fu characters (including a Pai Mei and a Bruce Lee copy) and Blacky Ko as a motorbike rider in the mentioned town. Some limbs are chopped off and replaced by shotguns, heavy handed melodrama rears its head, insane camera speeds are employed , stuntmen show signs of being really "good" at rolling and jumping and to top of it all off, god only knows what goes on half the time. What God does know is that he's created as much of a hero as an asshole in Chu Yen-Ping and that's the biggest praise you can give during his absolute cinematic prime. No artistic merit, no technical achievement (the gunplay is almost embarrassingly stale) but pure Taiwanese enjoyment that ranks as a landmark of some odd sort. That is until I watch Fantasy Mission Force that is? As a sidenote, anyone familiar with the usual IFD presents... logo will find that it's a clip lifted from Pink Force Commando!

Plain Jane To The Rescue (1982) Directed by: John Woo

Plain Jane To The Rescue actually represents the third cinema adventure for Lam Ah Chun (I.e. Plain Jane in English), this time as well as prior essayed by Josephine Siao. In the new millennium, Cecilia Cheung put on the glasses for her transformation into the character in Wai Ka-Fai's Fantasia but with a Harry Potter touch.

Not a series of connected films, John Woo's Lam Ah Chun contribution showcases what we unfortunately know of his comedy side; it ain't pretty. Siao is certainly a fine comedienne and initially has the physical delivery somewhat nailed down but it's still contained within routines that never feels possible to laugh out loud at anyway. As Woo, who also wrote, pours on his social commentary about evil corporate Hong Kong, it's painfully obvious he lacks the skills of Michael Hui to combine this with a skit structure. Plain Jane To The Rescue isn't all that different to Woo's prior output therefore and the off-beat tangents may prove durable for some but the tone shouldn't feel inspirational for anyone who loved The Killer or A Better Tomorrow. Aimless is the word but at least it's comforting to know Woo re-positioned himself and improved...big time. Ricky Hui and Wu Fung co-stars while John Woo appears in a noticeable cameo.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Platoon The Warriors (1988) Directed by: Phillip Ko

TROY'S REVIEW: You know, it's an all too frequent and thoroughly vexatious occurrence; You're minding your own business, urinating innocently into a bush, when your privacy is abruptly shattered by some semiautomatic totting lunatic who proceeds to open fire on you! Yes indeed, such is the unfortunate situation Cornish born, bad acting deity Mike Abbott finds himself in during one scene in this somewhat hilarious cut & paste action epic from IFD. In it, Mike plays Rex, a top drugs lord and slimy, double crossing swine on the side as is clearly demonstrated early on in this when he rips off and tries to kill fellow crook Bill who only just manages to escape with his life. Understandably, somewhat offended by this decidedly un-gamely conduct, Bill subsequently decides to take revenge. At the same time (courtesy of another film) Jack is also seeking retribution, this time against a bunch of robbers who murdered his brother Michael in a drive by shooting. But wait... there is a (highly bloody tenuous!) connection between this tale and that featuring Rex and Bill; You see, we are informed, via a series of shoddily edited scenes involving phone conversations, that the goons who Jack is seeking are in fact under the employment of Rex. Aha! Well, it all makes perfect sense then. Or maybe not.

For those interested in a bit of trivia, Mike Abbott appears to have provided his own voice over in this (bearing in mind that these flicks were recorded sans sound) as is evidenced by the very broad West Country accent he speaks in throughout. It must be further added that the result of this is nothing short of hilarious, especially when Abbott utters such immortal lines as, 'Don't be an arrrrsssse!' Fellow fans of IFD ineptitude, this is absolutely essential viewing although, note: Despite bearing an aka (Ninja Knight: Brothers Of Blood) alluring to the contrary, there is in fact only one very, VERY brief scene in this flick featuring ninjas. Ah, the joys of IFD false advertising eh?

Play Catch (1983) Directed by: Lau Kar Wing

A reunion movie for the cast & crew of Till Death Do We Scare (smaller roles for David Chiang and Raymond Wong though) but taken into the crime-comedy direction instead. Alan Tam is an illegal immigrant and with the "aid" of Eric Tsang's character tries to pose as the long, lost son of wealthy Billion Lo (Wong Ching). Matters turn complicated, characters intertwine and the title Play Catch lives up to its name as Lo is also on the hunt for an incriminating tape in the hands of a female journalist (Olivia Cheng)...

Peppered with movie references and strangely enough not going the obvious romance angle again with Tam and Cheng, Lau Kar Wing helms a very typical 80s product consisting of loosely related vignettes and banter that somehow is supposed to resemble plot importance. You don't mind as such as the tone is constantly light and funny. Highlights being the drinking contest and the extended finale at the circus. Also with Lee Hoi San, Bolo Yeung, Walter Tso, Shing Fui On and Lau Kar Wing appears briefly at the beginning.

The Plot (1991) Directed by: Yu Chik-Lim

Early 90s cheapie and one of thirteen movies Simon Yam appeared in that year, of course it's not going to be terribly innovative or refined. But as part of the gigantic output from Hong Kong cinema that involved gunplay, The Plot can be forgiven if approached with the right state of mind. Not hard when it delivers in key areas.

Considering the English title, it doesn't come with much of one and it's most of the time flimsy. Kwanty (Yam) kills off big boss (Kenneth Tsang in a cameo) to get control and money through weapons transactions. After him with grudges now are relatives, cops and an asskicking Sun Chien turn against him. Plenty of martial arts from Sun Chien and firepower highlights the film that may not bring that fine technical skill but more than makes up with it via a fine sense of tuned intensity. Considering it's one of so many and the gunplay genre exactly wasn't at its most compelling in 1991, The Plot is admirable and damn entertaining where it counts. Also with Emily Chu and Alex Fong.

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