# 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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Reign A Behind The Curtain (1983, Li Han-Hsiang)

Released a month after The Burning Of The Imperial Palace, the sequel picks up as ailing Emperor Xiang Feng (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) decides on an heir, there's internal struggles between the Empress (Liu Xiao Qing) and Noble Consort Yi who the Emperor has promoted and politics get bloody as there's dual Empress Dowagers who are facing opposition from government. With an epic first outing that largely didn't connect, by staging a tighter and more streamlined drama that's also geographically contained, Li Han-Hsiang achieves a better sense of the world and the events at hand in Reign Behind A Curtain. The more down to earth moments from characters come through, although hour one still has issues with coherency (in particular the rivalry between the women). The sense of being distant disappears nicely when the darker second half arrives however. Putting the two women onto a path of tyranny, it's clearly not a positive portrayal of the consequences one pays to thrust regency and country forward but it engages because the thread is clear. Special mention to the atmospheric cinematography for the film's more gloomy scenes. Winner of the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor (Tony Leung).

Reincarnation (1987) Directed by: Jamie Luk

Newly married couple Li Hsi (Kenny Bee) and Liu Ah Yu (Cecilia Yip) die in a car crash but death has come for them too soon due to bureaucratic error (they haven't yet registered for marriage) so they get a chance to reincarnate as a couple if done within 49 days. A couple who killed themselves together is the aim but only Li Hsi is able to reincarnate into rich buy Peter Wu but his girlfriend Julia (Julia Nickson) survives. The alive/dead couple now tries to plot the perfect death of Julia now but they've also stumbled into intrigue involving Julia and David (Stuart Ong) out to kill off Peter...

Enjoyable supernatural mix by Jamie Luk who keeps the exaggerated to a minimum and focuses more on suitable comedic scenarios that are born out of this plot, including the "new" Peter who's acting kinder, is less stupid and talks to imaginary people. Darker comedy and more sinister episodes smoothly make their way into the movie and simply, it all gels very well even down to the supporting actors (in particular Tai Po as the kind friend of the couple).

Remains Of A Woman (1993) Directed by: Clarence Fok

Tackling the same true life crime but released theatrically after Cha Chuen-Yee's Legal Innocence, Clarence Fok's film stars James Pax as Billy Chan, a corrupter and of feeder on the weak. In this case, two desperate women, Judy (Carrie Ng) and Lisa (Jacqueline Law). They collide in his depraved world of sex and drugs, with Lisa ending up dead, hacked up and left to corrode in acid. Sentences are carried out but a retrial is on the horizon and a lawyer (Melvin Wong) re-examines the facts...

With less time spent with the young christian (Rachel Lee and played in Cha's film by Cecilia Yip) that falls in love with the manipulative Billy, Fok's film can be argued to be the least focused of the films. Yet neither Remains Of A Woman or Legal Innocence have perfect track records. Style is Fok's forte though, especially in the flashback sequences set in Billy Chan's decadent world. Of course his colours and sounds are escalated tenfold for the sake of cinema but it's thoroughly captivating in quite the distressing way to be part of Fok's vision of the crime. Much also thanks to Carrie Ng's intense, deep, deep descent as a character, effort that gave her a Taiwan Golden Horse Award. Melvin Wong, Dennis Chan (also co-writer) and Kenneth Tsang also appear.

Remember M Remember E (1995) Directed by: Cheuk Lei

It seems a little too short to be relevant but this Raymond To scripted drama is well-conceived and executed. It's a coming of age story celebrating both with the joys of growing up, newly found friendships and dreams of breaking free to pursue dreams. But director Cheuk Lei also throws in the sadder and darker consequences of wanting to rebel against the adult world and the Remember M Remember E is a rare balanced experience because of that inclusion. Broad comedy finds its way into the film but is usually a hoot, especially Lau Shun's priceless cameo. Lead Chu Kin-Kwan is a little to blank to carry the movie competently but he strikes up well-honed chemistry with Nicky Wu and the adorable Athena Chu. Lee Fung however brings superb dramatic weight as the strict mother of Athena Chu's Ching while O Chun Hung and Bonnie Fu appear in support.

Replicant (2001, Ringo Lam)

Although the idea of going back to the English language market and repeating the Jean Claude Van Damme as twins-plot (akin to Maximum Risk) surely wasn't a great motivator for Ringo, Replicant sees the filmmaker and main performer in a different place personally and professionally to good effect. Lam had returned to Hong Kong and logged acclaim once more, Van Damme went through personal issues and wasn't as huge of a star in 2001 so the small nature of the production (in all likelihood was mostly a straight to dvd release across the world) at hand here seems to signal newly found inspiration, maturity and creative freedom. With an engaged Michael Rooker leading Van Damme's genetic double around town in order to catch a killer (naturally played by Van Damme as well), Lam doesn't seem to have the pressure on him to be Ringo Lam. Rather there's opportunity here to have fun with a low budget sci fi angle, feature some brutality in the vein of the serial killer movie but also some fairly genuine pathos is present. Mainly through Van Damme's often non verbal turn as the newly born clone who's picking up knowledge of the world but also carries the burden of being connected to someone evil. He excels quite a bit playing the frail and his sparse, flat lines are conceived as that very thing because the replicant is picking up language as he goes. Quality stuntwork and suitably conceived fight scenes are not shoehorned in either to please the JCVD fans but rather the killer versus clone confrontations take on a somewhat gritty and clever nature since the latter can determine moves and techniques being connected to his so called brother. A somewhat silly and potentially corny concept is treated both seriously but with an aura of fun and need to push forward at all times and without studio pressure, Lam, his star seems to enjoy the places they are in as people. Even if the market place is different.

The Replacement Killers (1998, Antoine Fuqua)

Chow Yun-Fat's Hollywood debut is expectedly echoing his past, commercial action persona and owes a lot to the beats of The Killer. But it's a suitable intro for the star and audiences, with debut director Fuqua tapping into the charisma, cool and non-verbal tactics Chow can bring. There's not a whole lot of setup or treks between action set pieces (where eventually, as designed, eye candy Mira Sorvino joins up) and also, Fuqua doesn't rely solely on Hong Kong action tactics stylistically either. Not a lot of slow motion or desperate cool exists but rather a good amount of firepower for 89 minutes, with the better of their own imagery taking place in an alley shootout towards the end. Ultimately mixing appearances on Eastern and Western markets was a good thing for Chow but his stint in Hollywood was fairly respectable, even though he didn't win over audiences. A good start that led to better usage in non-action fare such as Anna And The King. Also with Michael Rooker, Kenneth Tsang, Danny Trejo and Jürgen Prochnow.

Requital (1992) Directed by: Chu Yen-Ping

Not too far away from his favourite movie and justifiably critical high A Home Too Far, Requital sees Taiwan's "finest", Chu Yen-Ping emulate /steal unashamedly yet again. The heroic bloodshed movie, the gangster movie and a mish-mash of various American ones (including Once Upon A Time In America and State Of Grace) are all run through Chu's filter and the results are predictably familiar therefore. Predictably as well, Chu somehow avoids irritating the crap out of this viewer and his ultra gory take on matters is enjoyable. We're not far from fountain like manifestations of bloodshed, all within the spiral of events lead Tok Chung-Wa is part of. A quality cast in minor to large appearances includes Jack Kao, Amy Yip, Alan Tang, Chan Chun Yung (as a character obsessed with having sex with virgins), Blacky Ko, Lung Si-Hung, Wu Ma, Lo Lieh, O Chun Hung and Jimmy Wang Yu.

The Return Of Pom Pom (1984) Directed by: Phillip Chan

Premiering 4 months after the success of Pom Pom, The Return Of Pom Pom sees the comedic cop duo Ah Chiu (Richard Ng) and Beethoven (John Shum) on different ends of the grown up-scale... kind of. Ah Chiu is getting married to Anna (Deannie Yip) and even though he and Beethoven are called into duty during the ceremony, she is head over heels in love with him. Meanwhile, the usually thoughtless and impulsive kid Beethoven is is kicked out of his apartment and after moving in with Ah Chiu and Anna, it's clear the friendship is going to be tested. Also, Inspector Chan (Phillip Chan) loses a package of money to a former thief with a grudge (Lam Ching-Ying) and Beethoven falls in love with the thieve's daughter, stuntwoman Mimi (Kara Hui).

Ng and Shum are flowing much better as a duo this second time around and although somewhat scattershot still, we're more entertained when the duo usually gets into trouble employing lies and impulsiveness. Whether it's when dealing with superiors or trying to find a blind informant at a pool where everybody wears glasses. The addition of the flexible Kara Hui and in particular Lam Ching-Ying also helps matters. Lam's highlight concerns him acting paralyzed and Richard Ng trying out various techniques to reveal he's not. Also with James Tien.

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Return Of The Chinese Boxer (1974) Directed by: Jimmy Wang Yu

Jimmy Wang Yu's follow-up to The Chinese Boxer, which he directed for Shaw's. This Taiwanese independent production ranks as poor in most regards but after the long trek towards the hour mark, Jimmy finally wakes up and gives us some of that wonderful inspired lunacy that really was the driving force of movies such as One-Armed Boxer and Master Of The Flying Guillotine. Best out there-moment being the reanimated Thai fighters (one of them being the late Blackie Ko).

Return Of The Demon (1988) Directed by: Wong Ying

There's few that can rival the goofy horror mayhem of 80s Hong Kong cinema but very few who could make it extremely insane in a very compelling way. Clearly director Wong Ying (yes, that's NOT schlockmeister Wong Jing) is no Nam Nai Choi when it comes to this, even though what's on offer is has all the opportunities to rival the likes of The Seventh Curse.

The various set pieces probably do go on for a bit too long (such as the one where Charlie Cho turns into a dog) but it's nonetheless unique Hong Kong entertainment, one that maybe new viewers won't be so critical of. While it's really a small nugget of momentum on offer, much of it is lost in the latter stages and the finale becomes much of a chore to get through. The last few minutes amps the gore and excitement however, ending Return Of The Demon on a slightly better note. The Seventh Curse should be your first stop if you want an experience like this, Wong Ying's movie...roundabout spot 12 on that list, if you have one. Starring Shing Fui On, Robert Mak, Emily Chu, Wu Ma, Dick Wei, To Siu Ming, Nat Chan (who along with Charlie Cho for once that does not play a happy, horny character) and Chui Sau Lai.

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Return Of The Evil Fox (1991) Directed by: Leung Joh-Chi

The fight against Fox Elf starts many generations back and is destined to conclude in the modern world of 1991 where the white paws of the Evil Fox turn up again. Chiang Wu (Wu Fung), his daughters Yu (Sandra Ng), Little Yu (Charine Chan), Mainland relative Hwa (Ng Gong) and a triad turned Catholic priest (Shing Fui-On) fight back. Michael Lai as a building security guard and Charlie Cho turn up to be hassled and get laid respectively...

Opening in a very energetic and goofy fashion but soon cutting to the dragged out, barely interconnected silliness, it's classic Hong Kong cinema where lack of focus and viewer frustration is part of the fun mostly. Unconnected tangents include Wu Fung thinking Ng Gong has gambling skills he can capitalize on, Sandra Ng falling for Hwa but Hwa falling for Charine Chan naturally and on the subject of naturally, there's naturally a lot of stretches of dead film. But it all perks up via some spirit battles, the multiple sights of the white, furry paws of Fox Elf and Shing Fui-On stealing the show as the converted triad. It's not boring, largely unfunny and also quick, harmless run of the mill 90s Hong Kong product. Up to you if you deem that acceptable.

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