# 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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Son Of The Swordsman (1969) Directed by: Joseph Kuo

Protecting a valuable cargo on behalf of his adoptive father Wong I-Hsia, Wan Fu (Peter Yang Kwan) has to fight his way through hordes of henchmen belonging to Master Leung. Eventually Wan Fu is injured but is rescued by female swordswoman Pi-Ku. This triggers various revelations and connections the rival families thought they never had...

In my experience, outside of Kung Hu, Joseph Kuo was the only director with any sense of style or tension when depicting the Wuxia world on film. Striking narrative gold with King Of Kings the same year, Son The Of Swordsman has strengths that makes it climb to an acceptable level as a movie but runs out of steam when the intricate plotting isn't particularly interesting (or surprising to follow). The overall mature intent shines through though and having assured male lead Peter Yang Kwan at the forefront of all this benefits Kuo's frame. The action is also almost extremely plentiful with at times terrific tension and fluidity for its time.

Soul (1986) Directed by: Shu Kei

When it all comes crashing down, it crashes down HARD as Deannie Yip's upper class character finds out. It starts with her husband Kai Yeung (David Chiang in a cameo) of many years falling to his death at the police station where he works. A suicide the police calls it but soon the wife, the Taiwanese neighbour and her kid Leong, are the targets of a bumbling trio of triad assassins. As the neighbour, who turns out to be the mistress of of Kai Yeung, falls at the hand of a knife, Yip is given responsibility of Leong and begins her own character re-building. Taking on parenting and tracking back to the past what might be the reason for Kai Yeung's demise....

Shu Kei (Hong Kong movie critic and director of the acclaimed Hu-Du-Men) sure causes death and destruction across his characters but does so in a more dreamy, subdued manner that makes the all too familiar aspects of the plot template take on a different life than we're expect and are used to. The piece is moody and rather underplayed (especially violence that tends to be very incidental and therefore haunting) with nice, unexpected touches such as Jacky Cheung's triad character learning to think for himself, leading to him abandoning his big brother. It can be tricky to take in what exactly remains the main purpose of Deannie Yip's journey but then again it seems to be in design that she doesn't go straight roads towards her goal. Violence we know is looming though but how and when makes Soul take on a dangerous edge at times. But mostly it leans towards being a picture of a female backtracking, learning to fight back and Deannie Yip at center of these traits is an asset for the production that also deals with suitable, in tune comedy at times! Reportedly a remake/re-take/rip-off/whatever expression you find suitable of John Cassavetes Gloria. Elaine Kam, Dennis Chan and famed Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien appear in support. Director of photography was Christopher Doyle who won the Hong Kong Film Award for his work here.

The Souls Of The Sword (1978) Directed by: Cheung Paang-Yee

Attempting some depth about the futile pursuit of supremacy in the martial world (The Dragon Verse Sword represents the ultimate key here), Cheung Paang-Yee (Night Orchid) certainly provides the ominous and stern atmosphere suitable for the material but the material is pretty lifeless for this on-screen examination of the compelling theme. Simple to follow, the character gallery is still too extensive which doesn't allow for audience investment. Action is relatively sparse, usually competent but also surprisingly sluggish at points too considering the talent involved. Film stars Wong Goon-Hung, Yueh Hua, Phillip Ko and Wang Ping.

The South Shaolin Master (1984) Directed by: Siao Lung

As pedestrian as they come when it come to plotting and narrative in a period martial arts vehicle, yet The South Shaolin Master escapes entirely without criticism (personally I could've done without such a large character gallery that naturally ends up being barely distinguishable). Director Siao Lung (Lackey And The Lady Tiger) superbly utilizes the big look the location of Mainland China offers up so when dealing with genre staples (such as training sequences), the film is shot up a notch. The true star of the show is the Brandy Yuen co-directed fight choreography that brings a fair mixture between weapons and hand to hand combat with the added advantage of full visibility and crisp movement. Yuen brought something with him indeed as part of that famous family of filmmakers and action directors. Star Yau Gin-Kwok returned for the 1994 sequel, reprising the role of patriotic fighter Lin Hai-Nan.

The South Shaolin Master Part II (1994, Hoi Wa)

Decidedly smaller in scale compared to its 1984 predecessor, Yau Gin-Gwok is back as patriotic fighter (and impossibly awesome) Lin Hai-Nan who takes on both invading forces as well as collaborators from within. With the aura of Once Upon A Time In China hovering over it, director Hoi Wa doesn't provide any new beats for the genre to work with. On said scale, it's all basic and competent and certainly doesn't reek of a copycat of a trend setting vehicle. Mostly thanks to Fung Hak-On's action choreography that doesn't skimp on the wire trend of the time but keeps the grounded impression all throughout despite. Not a ton of fight scenes are present but they're often impressively staged when they do occur.

So Young (2013, Zhao Wei)

The directorial debut of actress Zhao Wei (Shaolin Soccer, So Close ) and based on the novel 'To Our Youth That is Fading Away by' Xin Yiwu, she also reportedly injected aspects of her own college experience from the 90s (possibly a personal fandom of the Britpop band Suede led to the acquiring of the rights to the song 'So Young' to be used in the film and for the English title). Threatening us with too great of a character gallery initially, Zhao jumps ahead in time throughout her narrative as she evolves the core group of girls and their relationships (focus mainly lies on Zheng Wei played by Yang Zi-Shan and Chen Xiaozheng played by Mark Chao). But ultimately she commands her frame well, favoring a naturalistic and naturally told drama (a few dips into fantasy and a professional frame doesn't cancel out this desire and focus) which eventually pays off once we get a grasp of the happiness and ache that will land in the laps of these girls and boys. Irrational love takes center stage, with some characters focusing more on the pursuit of studies and a career and will as a result leave others behind and Zhao Wei's take on the material never slots So Young into the standard teen romance. A solid sense of maturity enters and raw emotions does not equal overwrought melodrama either. Granted, the cut to adulthood, unresolved feelings, emotions, pessimism, cynicism, tragedy means it's a tough reconnect for these people and quite complex, inner turmoil that sometimes doesn't travel to us fully. But she is in command of story progression and professionalism runs through the work that clearly signals a storyteller at heart. Although she asks a lot of us so viewers not ready for an eventual detour into grey might give it a miss. A multi-nominated and awarded film, the film also took in over 100 million USD on a 5 million dollar budget at the Chinese box office.

Space Thunder Kids (1992) Directed by: Elton Reins

What feels like a final push to squeeze more of the market looking for animation to put out on TV and video, Adda Audio Visual and Joseph Lai assembled Space Thunder Kids. Now assembled is a good and familiar word to use if talking Joseph Lai as he had done so numerous times through the ninja cut and paste action line (and subsequently when IFD turned to kickboxing and modern action as well). But nothing can prepare you for the head bursting experience that is Space Thunder Kids. Consisting of a ton of characters, giant robots fighting in space, a transparent Godzilla, blue-faced aliens and Kim Il-sung making an animated appearance (as he's fighting with the aliens and not Earth's alliance... of course), how this Korean made animation could have this much content crammed into 80 minute is nearly impossible. And that's because it is. Lai took footage from at least six of the animation titles they'd already dubbed and released separately (including Defenders Of Space and Protectors Of Universe) and crafted a new, dizzying film. Premise of alliance versus the dark emperor wishing to rule the universe seems simple enough but by introducing new characters, space ships, robots and action set pieces (plus the print quality varies distinctly from quite clear to sub par VHS) in every scene, obviously coherence level goes out the window and this could be seen as a best of-edit of all the rip-off animation (including of 'Space Battleship Yamato', 'Transformers' and 'Mazinger Z') they sourced from South Korea. Well, the problem is none of it was really good in the first place. But what makes Space Thunder Kids a draining and ultimately recommended pleasure is because of the number it does on your brain. It's mind numbing, incoherent, you have no connection to events, you admire nothing that comes out of the Korean animation houses across the movies but the experiment of cramming two much into one is shamelessly enjoyable.

Space Transformer (1990) Directed by: Johnny T. Howard

More Joseph Lai acquired Korean anime cash-in, where the makers of 'Micro teukgongdae Daiyateuron 5' eyed the Japanese toy line Diaclone and as English dubbed under the AAV banner, the 1985 or 1986 movie became Space Transformer. There's little sense of technical progression having seen the other Korean productions AAV handled, with a stock plot of Earth about to be taken over, we get giant robots fighting in space but at least taking the battle INSIDE the human body presents a break from the norm. Inside, we find a kingdom battling with high tech bacteria but precious little imagination exists beyond the initial concept. Running just over an hour, it is still one of the easier sits with a Joseph Lai presented animated title.

Spider Woman (1995) Directed by: Lo Kin

Very much fueled by Basic Instinct, Lo Kin (Heartbeat 100) and his writer Sze-To Cheuk-Hon seems to take pride in their concept of two sisters (Jade Leung). One weak, one strong, one lethal. Injecting "class" into the proceedings by shooting in synch sound and hiring above average DOP Joe Chan, it all halts there. Sure the erotica and gore elements are tasty enough to keep us occupied but Lo Kin not only loses us but himself into the cryptic murder case led by cop Edwin (Michael Wong, unfortunately he also in synch sound, switching heavily between Cantonese and English). A relatively sparse cast of characters whose motives and purpose are not made clear adds further insult, especially in regards to Day Wong's truly bizarre supporting role. Acting as a consultant coroner for the investigation, he sexually harasses and abuses his assistant played by Emily Kwan without the cops taking much notice and Spider Woman slowly takes on the feel of a David Lynch movie we demand an explanation from. Not a good sign. Also with Lowell Lo, Valerie Chow and Chan Kwok-Bong.

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Spirit Love (1989) Directed by: Ding Sin-Saai

Taiwanese production that utilizes the Joey Wong as a ghost-image to make up any kind of story, however implausible it may be. Ding Sin-Saai (The Beheaded 1000) creates an almost extremely dull looking frame that has its so called interesting starting point at Joey Wong's Ginny's suicide. On the board of directors at a beverage corporation, a far fetched plan is hatched to collect Ginny's ashes and somehow feed it to her identical twin Fen in order to to maintain the company image. Spirit Love lacks a craziness in pacing and visuals to support such a wild plot but when it finally creates a focus, it's mildly enjoyable to see the filmmakers come up with just anything, especially when they bring in the Joey Wong multiple characters angle. The film spirals into melodrama where secrets behind Ginny's death are revealed, emotional scars brought to the surface and several logistically impossible elements (such as perfectly arranged photographs being available for Ginny's last moments) just adds to what really is made up on the spot-entertainment. Or rather thoughtless entertainment. It makes for curious viewing at a few points, nothing else and when final, final twists are revealed, THAT is the ultimate moment where no rules apply anymore. Ay ay ay...

The Spirit Of The Dragon (1997) Directed by: Adam Tam

Co-written by Michael Chow, he stars as a country bumpkin who goes to Hong Kong to take over a small restaurant but gets in trouble with local thugs (headlined by Ben Ng)...

The stock plot is similar to a lot of things, including The Way Of The Dragon, and this mildly amusing comedy does indeed go Bruceploitation routes...sort of. Recognizing the fact that everyone doing a Bruce Lee impersonation is degrading the essence of his that is still lingering, for large parts The Spirit Of The Dragon is far from inspiring, with Michael Chow as a buckteeth character being a low-end joke in itself. Chow often amuses but continues to mix in more of the worse, including bike crashing gags where he lands up in a tree. His meeting with a Bruce Lee devotee (Cheng Pei-Pei) in the most strict of ways changes him and the momentum of the film changes for the better as now the tribute-mode better utilizes the notion of inspiration left behind by Bruce. Little that has to do with being a top fighter (and Chow's character certainly is not), scenes showing this is a showcase of Michael's skills at their very best. It's all far removed from reality, hit and miss, but also in its own way, a suiting tribute to the Little Dragon, believe it or not. Law Kar-Ying, Eric Kei (also producer), Miki Lee, Diana Pang, Jamie Luk, Rosemary Vandenbroucke, Paul Fonoroff and Emily Kwan also appear.

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