# 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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Slaughter In Xian (1987) Directed by: Chang Cheh

Chang Cheh completists need only apply for this modern day blend of traditional martial arts and gunplay. The opening demo showcases what clearly is a budget constraint on the film although the martial arts is of a good caliber. Gunplay isn't however, nor is this standard story about police corruption. Some decent trademark Chang Cheh gore and mayhem does sporadically rear its head but when all parts are added up, Slaughter In Xian is only marginally better than the crap Joseph Lai and IFD churned out...sadly. Dung Chi-Wai was Chang Cheh's leading man of choice during this period and he's recently been employed by Stephen Chow, playing the character of Donut in Kung Fu Hustle.

Oh, and if you had your doubts about the homo-eroticism in Chang Cheh's movies, I think Slaughter In Xian will firmly seal your opinion. Not subtle. I'll leave it at that.

Sleazy Dizzy (1990) Directed by: Chor Yuen

In general all 1990 efforts during Stephen Chow's breakout years that showed him not quite being Stephen Chow yet but also trying on the hat of dramatic- and action actor all have pleasures on display. Even if it's only to see a sign or two of a comedic genius being born and while Sleazy Dizzy has that thing or two, it's also a thorough failure on all fronts. Essentially a great setup with a great cast involves Chen Kuan-Tai's memory loss, his previous knowledge of 50 million dollars stashed away so the hunt is on with Chow and Sibelle Hu by his side and Alex Fong and Kenneth Tsang leading the hunt in the bad guy camp.

One of Shaw Brothers legend Chor Yuen's last movies, this certainly has a 90s charm with many pieces on its plate normally not fit for movies such as gunplay, drama and comedy but it's all mind numbingly flat. No comic chemistry exists in the main trio and although Chow's rapid mouth gets a few comedic scenarios off their limp legs, it all grows increasingly dull as the movies goes by. A deadly and quirky crime-comedy in intent is a fine choice but executing in this flat way is not excusable in 90s Hong Kong free for all cinema either.

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The Sleepless Town (1998) Directed by: Lee Chi-Ngai

Kenichi (Takeshi Kaneshiro) finds himself in the middle of a gang war between the Chinese, 3 days prior to the New Year. He's on a reluctant mission for Shanghai crime boss Yuan (Eric Tsang) to find an old partner Yuan needs to exact revenge on. In comes the mysterious Natsumi (Mirai Yamamoto) who's offering Kenichi his target...a little too easily perhaps.

Lee Chi-Ngai (Lost And Found) once again utilizes Takeshi Kaneshiro to excellent effect in this Hong Kong/Japanese co-production. Largely set in Japan, it's the award winning technical merits to shines the most in this rather ordinary and overly complicated noir piece. Cinematographer Arthur Wong gives the perfect polished surface for the gritty gangster world while Lee makes Takeshi Kaneshiro and Mirai Yamamoto an effective couple. All up till the end, we're never sure of their loyalty towards each other and with that achieved chemistry, Lee Chi-Ngai gets some grade A remarks sporadically throughout. Although the standard he set for himself with Lost And Found is obviously lacking though. However, The Sleepless Town contains genre standards in a slick package which is a ride worth taking. Also with Kathy Chow (Beast Cops) and Ang Lee regular Lang Xiong.

Slickers Vs Killers (1991) Directed by: Sammo Hung

Dark and off-beat comedy from Sammo Hung that juggles all kinds of elements that only Hong Kong cinema can for 90 minutes. Dealing with relationships, there's first Hung himself as a phone salesman trying to outdo his fiercest rival Ling (Carol Cheng). Being witness to a brutal murder by the whack job Bat (Jacky Cheung) and his calmer sidekick Owl (Lam Ching Ying), he manages to flee to report the case to the police. Difficulties arise because one, his wife (Yu Li) is a cop and the object of desire of another cop (Ngai Sing) and Hung's testimony doesn't get taken seriously. Then there's the shrink (Joyce Godenzi) who has Hung as her patient and gets involved as the killers go after him...

Slickers Vs Killers is involving but a little bit lacking in focus, mainly in regards to Carol Cheng's Ling who doesn't seem to have a proper spot in the narrative in the latter half. A few characters too many really occupies the film although Hung and backup leading lady Cheng's feisty interactions are probably the funniest throughout. Joyce Godenzi also gets ample time to shine as she tries to manipulate the underlying tension in the Hung/Yu Li relationship and Sammo hard hitting action, with a few stunts thrown in, has a decent showcase in what in the end, despite darkness, really is light, entertainment "only". Richard Ng and Tommy Wong also appear.

The Smart Cavalier (1978) Directed by: Joseph Kuo

When the action directing isn't particularly distinctive, Taiwanese martial arts filmmaker Joseph Kuo easily gets into trouble and The Smart Cavalier (The Cavalier in Mei Ah's newly generated credits) is further proof why. While the likes of leading man Sze Ma Lung comes off well during the fights and various acrobatics are noteworthy, Kuo's film rather represents a haunting memory of poorly paced and grating comedy bits that perhaps may have worked in the local market but are a cruel tester for anyone else. Lo Lieh's end fight cameo adds some colour to the film but by then it's way too late.

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Smugglers (1973) Directed by: Suen Ga-Man

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Also known as Kung-Fu Gangbusters, all the bone crunching bashing in the world can't help this boring trek amongst cops, drug smugglers and raging brothers out for revenge. Tony Liu (director of Holy Flame Of The Martial World) is in the latter part and certainly possesses a physique fit for anger but Ed Wood-inconsistencies by director Suen makes everyone take the descending trip. Even when cop Jason Pai takes center stage and bones are literally broken left and right, you have scenes with a three section staff appearing and it all turns totally baffling. Yep, Smugglers has one consistent factor: It's terrible.

Snake And Crane Arts Of Shaolin (1978) Directed by: Chen Chi-Hwa

Serious and straightforward but with strong, well conveyed hints of the lighthearted martial arts mixture that was just around the corner for Jackie Chan, Snake And Crane Arts Of Shaolin seems busy but is quite simple. Everybody's after a martial arts manual Jackie's Hsu Yin-Fung gladly informs he's in the possession of but it's his way of trying to find a man with a specific mark on his chest that may have something to do with the disappearance of a group of Shaolin monks. Co-choreographed by Chan, the martial arts is largely terrific with Chan bringing intricate, acrobatic traits to what is both traditional martial arts for the screen but it's also infused with comedy. It works less well for a couple of sequences towards the middle and certainly not when Chan is NOT involved but the parade of fighters (and hence parade of fight SCENES) throughout culminating in an astonishing finale (with Jackie taking on the main villain twice, with an interlude of him versus three spear man) remains strong to this day. Especially fun to go back to an actual kung fu picture with Jackie who would create a style less concerned with that as the career really took a leap into stunts in the 80s.

Snake-Crane Secret (1978) Directed by: Wu Ma

Familiar story structure of Ming vs Ching, rebellion, a secret name list, some comedy and Dean Shek as a badass?! It could connect, it could create a disconnect. Largely Wu Ma (a very solid director) goes through the familiar paces and phases and while the action is solid, even that comes off as somewhat tired. Solid watch for the brief stay in your life but I had 5/10 expectations out of this considering it was Wu Ma.

Snake Deadly Act (1980) Directed by: Wilson Tong

image stolen with permission from Dragon's Den UK

When Eastern Heroes in the UK released Wilson Tong's Snake Deadly Act on video back in 1995, it had reportedly been hard to obtain ever since its run in 1980. It's notable for that as well as being the only starring vehicle for Ng Kun Lung and for also featuring one of the most abrupt endings in martial arts cinema history.

But that's not really notable positives as such and Snake Deadly Act doesn't come off as anything special, even though it certainly doesn't try either. The obvious template is the successful one set by Snake In The Eagle's Shadow and in particular Drunken Master with Ng Kun Lung being launched as a Jackie Chan style hero here. Ng does have abilities, no doubt, but doesn't possess any of the winning charisma that Jackie had brought. Even with solid players outside of Ng's casting such as Wilson Tong, Fung Hak-On, Chan Wai Man, Phillip Ko and Angela Mao, the end result is just an assembly line product. Tong's action is lively and intricate but lacks a certain polish that the best of the action directors had. Despite, Snake Deadly Act is a harmless waste of time and don't expect a gem just because it once was rare. Also with Bolo, Tai Po and Cheng Hong-Yip.

In an odd move, Eastern Heroes dvd presentation uses the same subtitled print found on the VHS release but drops the original Cantonese track in favour of an English dub only. The tape is still readily available though.

Snake In The Eagle's Shadow (1978) Directed by: Yuen Woo-Ping

A classic not so much based on its depth and weight as part of the martial arts genre but more having to do with the impact it had when released in 1978. Star Jackie Chan was on loan from Lo Wei's production company to Seasonal Film Corporation and it proved to be a masterful decision on producer Ng See-Yuen's behalf. Snake In The Eagle's Shadow became a box-office hit and established Jackie as a bonafide star after years of making unsuccessful movies under the direction of Lo Wei. His agility, lightness of body and innocent charm is one of the many reasons why Snake In The Eagle's Shadow still holds up.

Snake In The Eagle's Shadow certainly wasn't the first kung-fu comedy but it firmly ignited the combination at the box-office. It doesn't set the house on fire today, at least not with Westerners, as much of the comedy is broad but when placing the comedy within action choreography, it holds up better and is fun. The traditional martial arts on display is entertaining and intricate as well, with the best elements found in the latter reels. All this of course orchestrated by Yuen Woo-Ping behind the scenes in his directing debut and as an actual storyteller, he gets surprising warmth out of the relationship between Jackie and Simon Yuen's (Yuen Woo-Ping real life father) characters. Simon would from this point on by synonymous with the beggar character, drunken or not, and leaves a charismatic impression in this first outing when doning his classic wear. Korean superkicker and legendary movie villain, Hwang Jang Lee, having debuted in Secret Rivals at Seasonal, brings much power as the Eagle's Claw master. So much so that he knocked out a tooth of Jackie Chan's while filming their first fight, a shot that's in the film. If that incident is due to the finale being disappointingly short, I can't say, but that fact is one of the true disappointments of the film. Dean Shek, Peter Chan Lung, Fung Hark On, Hsu Hsia and Roy Horan also appear.

The remastered Mei Ah dvd of course features the uncut version of cat vs. cobra fight, a scene that still won't pass censors in the United Kingdom due to their stance on animal cruelty and it's hard not to squirm even though it's a storyelement. It definitely does disrupt what is a rather light, generic but very important genre effort.

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