# 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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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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Spirit Of The Raped (1976) Directed by: Kuei Chih-Hung

The deposit for the wedding is about to be paid for couple Chen Liang (Lam Wai-Tiu) and his wife to be Liu Mao-Li (Lau Ng-Kei). She's pregnant, all's bliss and then a gang of robbers (Tung Lam, Wong Yue, Wong Chung) steals their money and Chen ends up dead. Liu receives money after the funeral, that is promptly stolen by Wang Hsieh's character. Getting relief fund from the government, Liu is robbed, taken in by a couple (Lau Wai-Ling and Tin Ching) but she's given the Spanish fly, raped by the pimp Tin Ching is and forced into prostitution before finally ending her streak of EXTREME bad luck by dressing in red and killing herself. As characters note, she dressed in red to become a vengeful ghost and thus the gory ride is ON! It's simplicity, it's a genre template and a chance for Kuei Chih-Hung (Bamboo House of Dolls, Boxer's Omen) to play (along with cinematographer Yu Chi). Echoing the fact that Liu eyes fell out during her suicide, the eyes come back to haunt Wang Hsieh in incredibly gruesome ways, there's green slime, possession, pulsating boils turning into man eating heads... it's a terrific, fun ride that it's in and out of your life quickly (it's only 76 minutes) but memory will linger on.

The Spiritual Boxer (1975) Directed by Lau Kar Leung

Lau Kar Leung's debuted as director at Shaw's with this mixture of comedy, martial arts and spirit boxing. The Spiritual Boxer therefore pre-dates acclaimed efforts such as Snake In The Eagle's Shadow and Encounters Of The Spooky Kind. I truly wish I could say Lau had the full upper hand on both those, in particular Sammo's classic, but The Spiritual Boxer doesn't outdo its opening reel. That features Wilson Tong, Ti Lung and Chen Kuan-Tai demonstrating spirit boxing but when we're subsequently introduced to the con artist Wong Yue plays, it's quickly apparent that he's not cut out for a lead, or even comic lead. Here's what a strong figure alongside Wong would've helped but Lau rejects that notion early when exiting Chiang Yang from the picture. So what's left is thankfully not a broad comedy but uneven due to Wong Yue flying solo.

Admittedly director Lau effectively does toy with the audiences minds that Wong Yue's Siu have come to adopt the powers of spirit boxing in his various con scenarios and really, anything with Lau's hand on it AND produced at Shaw's should come with some entertainment. The Spiritual Boxer does but after waiting many years to see it, a sense of disappointment is hard to hide. This is where it started for Lau Kar Leung the director though, something you'd want to be there for.

Lau's action is rather sparse and there in sporadic bursts but before the finale, enough glimpses of entertaining and intricate martial arts are on display to breathe life into the picture. The finale, while not up to the levels of subsequent works of Lau's, is still a joy to watch for his expert skill as a choreographer. As always, Shaw's populated their movies with then known and later known faces, in this case Lin Chen-Chi (Dangerous Encounter - 1st Kind) Tin Ching, Fung Hark-On, Lee Hoi-Sang, Eric Tsang and Lau Kar Leung himself, who steals the movie during his brief stint as a village fighter.

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