# 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
Page 01 | Page 02 | Page 03 | Page 04 | Page 05 | Page 06 | Page 07 | Page 08 | Page 09
Romantic Dream (1995) Directed by: Lee Lik-Chi

Sharla Cheung's production company reportedly only churned out two movies: Romantic Dream and Dream Lover (directed by Bosco Lam). What's curious is that they came out at essentially the same time and were essentially the same movies. An experiment to see which cast & crew would create the better flick or sheer laziness? Based on the different verdicts of the films, it's easy to argue the latter but both certainly aren't space-wasters. Romantic Dream more than Dream Lover though. So we do have the same plots, this time Lau Ching-Wan is Dino Sau, a poor but brilliant engine designer who falls in love with rich girl and equally fanatic car nut Mandy (Sharla Cheung). When their fates eventually doesn't match, despite Dino trying his best to woo her by growing her favourite flowers, the rose, he gets launched into wealth thanks to his invention the V-T engine. But as the years pass, Dino won't let go off Mandy and bumping into her as a married woman certainly springs feelings to life again. So much so that he hires a dream master (Wong Kam-Kong) to at least have him feel the happiness he never had...

Lee Lik-Chi ultimately stumbles compared to the out there trickery of Bosco Lam's. Structurally both movies are way out there but a few notches beyond the usual Hong Kong cinema shenanigans and while Lee seems to adhere to the Stephen Chow-esque notions of comedy (he directed quite a few of those films), he IS on board with the weird, epic structure. Central message is fine during the opening reels, about seeking real love, but gets buried under one sheet of weirdness after the other, something that makes Romantic Dream stumble less as it moves on. Credit Lau Ching-Wan for the dedication as a few instances of heartache gets to us too and credit director Lee for enhancing the frame with basic yet unusual Hong Kong cinema techniques. Problem overall is, the plight of the lovers ultimately must be compared to Dream Lover. Lau Ching-Wan and Sharla Cheung rank below Tony Leung Ka-Fai and Wu Chien-Lien therefore. Similar exaggerated and felt package deals, the bout of movies where Romantic Dream just isn't as adept is interesting and definitely shows why Dream Lover is such an underrated piece of fireworks display you're just not going to see each day. It feels like being thrown around like a rag doll and being a free for all experience, final kudos could actually go to Sharla Cheung the behind the scenes profile for her work. Co-starring Lawrence Cheng as the mostly grating best friend of Dino's. Also with Michael Wong.

A Roof With A View (1993) Directed by: Tony Au

Cop Lau (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) witnesses his long time partner (Kent Cheng in a cameo) commit suicide t in front of him, leading to him moving and working on small time cases in order to deal with this loss. His neighbor Hiu Tung (Veronica Yip) is a single mother struggling to find a footing in life and men only seems to want to be with her for casual reasons. When her father passes away, she makes a commitment to step away from any loose lifestyle and helping along is neighbor Lau. Eventually love is in the air and both now has to overcome issues of trust and commitment...

For Tony Au's streak of movies during the 90s, he utilized Tony Leung Ka-Fai as his leading man and after their first collaboration on Au Revoir, Mon Amour, Au went back to something smaller in scale and old fashioned in its ways, namely the romance/drama/comedy. He consciously uses genre staples that have been done to death but hinges a lot on his leading man and lady for it to stand out and he succeeds.

A Roof With A View sees an already suave and terrific actor strike up fine chemistry with prior Category III starlet Veronica Yip. Yip gets strong emotional beats to work with for sure but Au challenges by letting the whole proceedings, including the drama and comedy, play out calm and light, something Yip in particular nails. A lot of subtle things can be read into Hiu Tung's plight and desire to finally settle down and further shows how easily Yip escaped her sexy image from movies such as Take Me and Pretty Woman. A Roof With A View can easily be looked down upon as being too clichéd but it thoroughly works and is a small, Sunday afternoon delight of a movie. Perhaps even Au's finest next to Dream Lovers. Kwan Hoi San, Ray Lui and Carina Lau also appear.

Buy the VCD at:

Rosa (1986) Directed by: Joe Cheung

Sporadic fun can be had in this buddy-cop actioner starring Yuen Biao and mostly otherwise composer Lowell Lo (An Autumn's Tale). We've seen better pairings and for 90 minutes it's also uneven Hong Kong comedy hijinxs with mainly two action set pieces in between. To list good points, Lowell Lo is a visual amusement in itself and Paul Chun is a good sport, being the object of much punishment at the hands of our two cops. The action directing trio of Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah and Lam Ching Ying also serve up dependably executed action and stunts, playing to the strengths of Yuen Biao nicely while Lowell Lo participates as much as he can as more of a comedic fighting sidekick. Kara Hui, James Tien, Dick Wei, Chong Fat, Tai Bo, Zebra Pan and Blackie Ko also stop by. Writer Wong Kar-Wai would go on to better things...

Rose (1986) Directed by: Yonfan

image courtesy of the A Free Man In Hong Kong website

Also known as The Story Of Rose and Lost Romance, Maggie Cheung is the titular character going from the pouting, annoying girl that every man wants to a full grown woman in the space of 90 minutes...or something like that. However many deep sensibilities may have been intended by director Yonfan, Rose is a hasty product with attempts that resembles grave pretentiousness despite not hiding behind abstract behaviour. There's the obvious journey Rose needs to take, from shallow youth to maturity, form an independent aura around herself and realize that love hurts, taking it or giving it. Her relationship with brother Charles (Chow Yun-Fat) is a close one, both clearly not being able to survive without each others presences. Loneliness. Bada-bim, bada-boom, Rose goes on a lighting fast ride through studies, marriage, parenthood, divorce, death and love again when Chow Yun-Fat turns up a second time in the picture as a different character. For obvious symbolic reasons partly, Yonfan doesn't convince other than in the careful design of the flick. Being a photographer, it's no surprise surroundings are impeccable and that the stars look marvelous. The transformation in Maggie Cheung is admirable because Yonfan finds an early version of the movie star she turned out to be while Chow spreads some well-honed charisma over the production. Then again, it never really helps. Roy Cheung, Ha Ping and Alfred Cheung also appear.

The dvd release supervised by Yonfan reportedly replaced the dubbing of the leads with a new voice track by Tse Kwan-Ho and Ada Choi. The Winson laserdisc preserves the original soundtrack.

Rose (1992) Directed by: Samson Chiu

"Have you ever seen Maggie Cheung act in a movie with Roy Cheung?
I don't know, we haven't tried but maybe there will be some sparks?"

This is actual dialogue from Rose (aka Blue Valentine), a not so subtle in joke but director Samson Chiu actually makes us believe it's an intriguing proposition for a romantic drama. Clear from the beginning is that he's mixing drama and generic triad action, these crucial points works fine for the opposite attracts romance between insurance sales woman Rose (Maggie Cheung) and triad bad boy Roy (Roy Cheung). Both of whom have been neglected and left alone, especially the pregnant Rose who is now living in a shell where she makes her smoking habit equal to that of a secure man in the house. A little calculated, plagued with some holes in the character sketches (in particular Rose's shift in behaviour when harboring the wounded Roy as she would probably at one point do anything to kick him out) and predictable, director Chiu, while "borrowing" slightly with the A Moment Of Romance formula, merges these opposite performers to pretty decent effect. The stars themselves carry their more all too familiar-roles from their perspective into this unusual narrative, especially Roy, and delivers emotions of the workable, bearable kind. Still only at his second feature film (the superb Yesteryou, Yesterme, Yesterday followed), Chiu at this point doesn't seem to know that sappy montages are not needed for dramatic effect but his final reel moments does however speak of a subtle, simple poignancy that would be very evident in later films. Veronica Yip co-stars as Rose's friend who can't juggle life and love while Norman Tsui, Michael Wong and Yiu Wai also appears.

Buy the DVD at:

The Roving Swordsman (1983) Directed by: Chor Yuen

One can't deny that Chor Yuen and company have done their best Wuxia filmmaking in the past but The Roving Swordsman contains worthwhile elements despite. It's simply a lot of fun watching the cunning trickery back and forth between the rival martial arts families for starters. All contained within colourful, intricate sets that Shaw's did not put in sloppy work into, even during their decline at this time. The actual sword fight action by Tong Gaai does not feel inspired but an extended sequence in a mirror maze (that curiously comes with a disco ball!) has creativity in spades from all involved, even though the concept is far from riveting) With Ti Lung, Cheng Lee, Ching Hoh-Wai, Goo Goon-Chung and Ku Feng.

Buy the DVD at:

Royal Destiny (199?, Vincent Leung)

Reportedly a co-production between IFD and Austria's Lisa Films that fell apart and was therefore left incomplete, Joseph Lai used what footage he had and scoured the archives for already existing footage of his. Hence crafting a for once complete movie out of an incomplete one (this practice was rumored to be how IFD went about creating their products from the beginning). Not entirely easy to spot the seems, personal theory is that Jonathan Isgar starred in the incomplete footage while Lai inserted older action- and narrative scenes featuring the likes of Bruce Fontaine and Kenneth Goodman. The end result is pretty basic, very busy on characters and scoring pretty low in the coherency-department. Truth be told, it's a common plot involving revenge, cops, druglords and feels pretty much like any modern actioner IFD produced. But with the added production history and certainly arriving armed with a pretty decent drive and pace, Royal Destiny never bores. For one the co-production SEEMS TO have meant slightly bigger budget and time scheduled to shoot gunplay. Meaning there's more than usual of it here, rather than technically skilled. Older and new scenes also feature funny and hilariously profane dialogue (from mainly an energetic Jonathan Isgar) so while only a curiosity (and the last cut and paste movie from IFD) and no swansong, it certainly makes enough in front of- and behind the scenes noise to make it a decent one time-watch.

The Royal Scoundrel (1991) Directed by: Johnnie To & Chik Gei-Yee

Further signs of Cinema City's decline and dressing the buddy cop genre in Hong Kong colours doesn't make for an outstanding or even good time with The Royal Scoundrel. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Ng Man Tat are paired up but that's where all the effort ends. They go into both sedated comedic banter (feelings of Johnnie To's subsequent Lucky Encounter crop up) and exaggerated exchanges but these are just guys punching in for a few days work where nothing is expected of them. They do comedy, romance, action while directors Johnnie To and Chik Gei-Yee try to convince themselves they have a passable product. This is the heyday of assembly line filmmaking though (not a forgivable thing but still...) and Johnnie To certainly turned his act around. Wu Chien-Lien delights every time she's on screen and is one actress that could just stand in front of camera and pass with flying colours. Waise Lee, Wong Yat-Fei and Wong Tin-Lam also appear.

Royal Tramp (1992, Wong Jing)

Based on the character of Wai Siu Bo out of famed novelist Jin Yong’s expansive 'The Deer And The Cauldron', Stephen Chow is tailor made for the journey of the peasant who manages become a eunuch at the Emperor’s palace without having to cut his penis off. Through his wits, quick thinking and some luck, his mission for the Heaven and Earth society leads him all the way to being the Emperor’s right hand man. Gags follow. Often involving penises. A success on release, Wong Jing takes a backseat to let the fast talking, visual and physical antics of his star take center stage instead. A choice that pays off because all manner of out of the blue, funny, surreal gags get thrown our way as Wai Siu Bo (Wilson Bond in the subtitles) advances quite inexplicably up the palace ranks. Destined to be very local but as is often the case, Chow’s energy as a performer is universal in feel and there’s inventive and creative comedy crafted here. Considering the volume of it all, the consistency is quite remarkable and the creativity is further enhanced by Ching Siu-Tung wire-heavy action choreography. Direct sequel came out merely months afterwards and almost matched the takings of part 1. Co-starring Ng Man-Tat, Chingmy Yau, Sharla Cheung, Norman Tsui and Derec Wan as the Emperor.

Royal Tramp II (1992, Wong Jing)

Released just a few months after the wildly successful first entry, the ending tease is expanded upon as the member of the Dragon Sect posing as the Empress Dowager (Sharla Cheung) changes into her actual self and now she takes the form of Brigitte Lin. Through a number of plot developments, she doesn’t stay mortal enemies with Wai Siu Bo (Stephen Chow who is still undercover working for the Heaven and Earth society and close to the Emperor) and instead they work together to squash another attempt at rebellion. Since Jin Yong’s characters are so well known to local Hong Kong audiences, the comedic take on them and quite a complex story probably doesn’t make them sweat. Western audiences might do well with an accompanying plot breakdown however but when all is said and done, this is a Stephen Chow comedy after all. With the added value of Wai Siu Bo doing less of the improvising himself out of situations but instead now he’s confident in his wit and that it can get him out of a pinch. Even effective at defusing situations by turning them silly, Chow brings a verbal energy that makes each Royal Tramp movie distinctive. Working well with Ching Siu-Tung’s idea of fantastical action choreography, the mix of wild comedy and wild, otherworldly sights and powers during the end makes the movie take on the appearance of of a Wuxia comedy but Stephen Chow’s stamp on it. Also returning are Nat Chan, Chingmy Yau, Damian Lau, Derec Wan while Ken Tong, Michelle Reis, Paul Chun and Yen Shi-Kwan join the cast.

Page 01 | Page 02 | Page 03 | Page 04 | Page 05 | Page 06 | Page 07 | Page 08 | Page 09