# 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 Storm Riders (1998, Andrew Lau)

Based on the comic book series 'Fung Wan' (translated as Wind and Cloud), the big screen adaptation arrived as The Storm Riders starring Ekin Cheng and Aaron Kwok along with Sonny Chiba. A sizeable summer hit that year, with its focus on special effects it expectedly a bagged a couple of technical Hong Kong Film Awards along the way as well. Visually impressive but decidedly underwhelming, it's not terribly dated effects-wise but it's just that the fantasy setting and its inherent energy felt muted. Also the boys with the hair in the lead roles are more representations of visual casting rather than elevating the characters beyond that but they are faced with a Sonny Chiba running laps around everyone in his villainous turn. Andrew Lau can expectedly put on a show visually, with the camera working the big interior and exterior spaces amidst expertly crafted costume design and computer generated imagery that made it a standout in 1998. But with only bursts of momentum, including action-wise, during its 130 minute running time it's not particularly exciting watching it build with only sparse, frenzied noise along the way. Despite stripping 'Fung Wan' of content and going for a 2 hour depiction of it, it is basic and coherent though and doesn't go overboard with characters. But a sense of energy and personality remains pretty absent even though Wind and Cloud have clear motivations and personal, emotional journeys. Visually functional isn't quite enough. Keeping the triangle drama and said journeys more localized, internal gets us to said coherent places but when all is said and done we're merely left with the memory of a few creative sequences in a rather big package. A daytime scene by a river involves a nice mixture of physical action, wirework and effects (Roy Cheung throwing energy bolts and Michael Tse's boxing blows that instantly freezes opponents looks very cool) and the ending very much gets the Wuxia energy correct with its mixture of powers, manifestation of elements, cranked wire shots and flying attacks. Which is what The Storm Riders desperately needed more of.

Stormy Sun (1973) Directed by: Directed by: Mo Man-Hung

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Also known as Super Man Chu, in the realm of yet another the flick definitely fits but the standard proceedings remains totally watchable despite. We're actually not seeing our heroes during the opening credits but the the vile bad guys that goes on a murder/rape rampage at a local inn. Thankfully an actual hero turns up, the son (Chang Yi) of the murdered family and off he goes on the revenge path. He can make proceedings stormy alright and possessing good eye/hand co-ordination (like so many others in the film, be it when they're using knives or clogging guns by throwing coins from a distance) equals created cinema of the crude but admirably intense kind at times. What's lacking in invention is made by some brief flashes of that intensity and while darkness in this straight effort never registers as truly effective, lead Chang Yi has the chops to carry standards. Some neat, fast paced choreography towards the end involves a samurai and turns out to be the true standout in this department. Also starring Pai Ying.

The Story of Drunken Master (1979) Directed by: Ngai Hoi-Fung & Wu Pang

Despite the English title suggesting so, this ain't a recap of how Simon Yuen's So Hat Yi became the drunken beggar but pretty much your run of the mill kung-fu flick that uses some of its cast members well sporadically. Yuen himself is a mildly fun inclusion especially in the training scenes but it's clear the actor isn't as inspired as when he was directed by his son Yuen Woo-Ping in Drunken Master for instance. Yen Shi-Kwan is his nemesis after revenge and it's pretty much the only story strand you can interpret. The rest is an abstract mess of things that doesn't matter one bit, aside from a funny scene with Sharon Yeung on stage performing acrobatics and Dean Shek trying to sabotage the performance. The final reel has some expressive choreography involving Casanova Wong and Sharon however. Of note is that the director team was behind The Cub Tiger From Kwangtung (Jackie Chan's early starring role, a movie that was re-edited into Master With Cracked Fingers, featuring new footage with Simon Yuen and Dean Shek) and over 50 Wong Fei Hung films (starring Kwan Tak-Hing) respectively.

Story Of Kennedy Town (1990) Directed by: Wu Ma

For Story Of Kennedy Town, parallels can be drawn to the core story of the three friends in Bullet In The Head and perhaps it's no coincidence either as Wu Ma's film premiered just a few months after, with Waise Lee again in a large role. Despite an unnecessary character fate reveal at the beginning, Wu Ma gets respectable mileage and poignancy out of such an expected story covering friendship, honor and law. Performances from Waise Lee and Aaron Kwok suitably match this fair competence but it's Mark Cheng who does some of his best work ever here. Cinematography is very attractive as well, enhancing the respectable nature the production. It ultimately doesn't mean a lot but Wu Ma the director usually didn't either in this capacity so it's nice to be able to proclaim this as one of his best films despite. He appears in a supporting role as well the late Bill Tung, Sharla Cheung, May Lo, Tai Bo, Billy Ching and Chu Tau.

The Story Of Movie (1996) Directed by: Shut Mei-Yee

Although not featuring the structure of Pulp Fiction to any large degree, director Shut Mei-Yee clearly channels esthetics of Quentin Tarantino's film (and places a poster of it in one scene to make the inspiration ultra-clear). More specifically via the use surf-esque music for the soundtrack accompanying two slightly interconnected stories. Chun (Ken Lo) is a former boxer turned truck driver that happens upon waitress Lorna (Alice Lau). A connection is made through various interactions but it's a love brewing. Brewing to a frustrating degree and coming up are crossroads where choices has to be made. Meanwhile close by, or not, we find Man (Moses Chan), a low-life triad and pimp for Cat (Amanda Lee). Betting on horse races while she does the do as Miss Frenchkiss, these two spend so much time together only a wall apart that it's inevitable that they start to get to know each other.

Taking its sweet time and being rather flimsy, some character reveals and dialogue is quite on the off-beat side and director Shut doesn't seems to want to place crucial events in a reality. Doubtful if any of what we see therefore means anything but the title The Story Of Movie all of a sudden turns accurate. Little by little, his cast begin to gel at key points and slight charm grows out of this very different Hong Kong production. Also with Lee Fung, Peter Chan Lung and Lam Suet. See if you can spot Wu Ma too.

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The Story Of My Son (1990) Directed by: Johnnie To

Future Milkyway founders Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai collaborated for the first time on this melodrama in the wake of To's success working on All About Ah Long (starring Chow Yun-Fat). Running a mere 80 minutes, it's no wonder he thrusts us into the life of Damian Lau's Li whose wife has just died. Not telling his young children Chien (Wong Kwan-Yuen) and Kang (Jeng Paak-Lam), they trio try to cope but broken promises, hospital bills, triad debts and in general a hellish hand continues to be dealt to the family. While the elder son Chien does try to act as a role model, all is crushed the more Li gets pushed around by the triads. It's all cinema distressing to almost the max from beginning to end, giving us no light and more importantly, no distinct belief from the director's chair. Considering To's debut The Enigmatic Case was quite the tour de force of subtle behaviour, it's definitely clear Johnnie was playing the commercial game while trying to find a footing (which he did eventually after forming Milkyway). Occasionally effective in his punishing ways, The Story Of My Son is merely extreme melodrama put out there in the hope that the masses will accept it because they're easily fooled. We aren't. Ng Man-Tat, Sunny Fang and Lau Siu-Ming (in the film's only subtle performance) also appear.

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The Story Of Pei-Li (1993) Directed by: Chou Tan

Threatening to be a big character piece through text cards identifying each new one that pops up, in reality Chou Tan's movie is very contained and simple. But also hard to grasp as it doesn't seem to want to be simple. Wong Yue-Man is the titular Pei Li, a single mother of a mute son who she's planning to send away for education experiments in America. Unless they can crack that surface and feel love as a family unit that hasn't been there due to a possible trauma in the boy. Carrie Ng also appears as an escort girl who's going where the money is and gets Pei-Li into the line of business too. Chou Tan scores through a naturalistic frame and the simple moments of character drama but never truly cracks OUR surface continually. Valiant effort but too much focus it could be argued. Also known as A Modern Love Story, presumably for Hong Kong release of this Taiwanese movie and featuring very misleading poster art. Things are never that cheery in the film.

The Story Of Qiu Ju (1992, Zhang Yimou)

A comedy-drama about a kick to the nuts. Zhang Yimou strips visual splendor in favour of highly rural and a documentary-style as Gong Li playing the titular character seeking justice after her husband gets into a scuffle with the local village chief (and as a result is kicked in the nether regions). Turns out getting the wheels of bureaucracy in motion isn't easy but the pregnant Qiu Ju isn't backing down. Carefully crafting a frame that thrusts the narrative forward mixed with loose scenes that don't seem to be about much of anything other than observing how people react, turns out playing The Story Of Qiu Ju very casually still makes for an involving drama. Highlighting but not overdoing how out of place and touch a villager is in the city, the slowly moving Gong Li (due to late stage pregnancy of the character) is marvelous at in particular underplaying her stubbornness. In fact we get involved because Zhang Yimou is not necessarily siding with her drive to get complicated justice. The movie hits a stride the more people try to get her to lay off and in its minimal ways, Zhang Yimou punches through dramatically when asking this question. Leading to an unexpectedly poignant and heartbreaking conclusion to the film. A major awards winner, including at the 1992 Venice Film Festival where Zhang Yimou and Gong Li both went home with The Golden Lion and Golden Ciak respectively.

Story Of Ricky (1991) Directed by: Nam Nai Choi

Probably director Nam Nai Choi's (The Cat, The Seventh Curse) most ambitious project in terms of special effects, the aspect Story Of Ricky is most widely known for (in addition to the fact that it's based on the Manga cartoon Riki-Oh by Tetsuya Saruwatari and Takajo Masuhiko).

No one could ever argue that Nam displayed consistent filmmaking skills. Case in point, Story Of Ricky bears such traits as poor dialogue, poor framing, cheap looking sets, sans logic for most of the running time, obvious continuity errors and performances that even for the genre barely becomes average. That leaves Nam with his special effects and those alone makes the film very much watchable. For a Hong Kong movie of this era, the execution is good even if the different impalings, explosions and gut bustings on display can't hide that distinct rubber look of the setup's. One or two aftermath effects are surprisingly effective and, again, judging this element by Hong Kong movie standards, Nam's team pulled off the high number of effects well.

Providing unique, insane, Hong Kong cinema entertainment is what director Nam does best and he can spellbind the target audience with his frenetic to the on screen spectacle. The problem with Story Of Ricky is that it doesn't opt for that high gear intensity previously and later seen in Nam's work. Also, certain areas of the film are played serious and with that comes a cheesy atmosphere, a bad one unfortunately. Still, it's good fun, Nam Nai Choi rarely provides less. Also with William Ho (not nearly as evil as in his different Cat III movie roles), Fan Mei Sheng (star Fan Siu Wong's real life father) and Yukari Oshima. In a nice touch, the original Hong Kong cinema trailer on the Hong Kong Legends dvd features original artwork from the Manga and how it was realized in the live action movie.

The Story Of The Dragon (1976) Directed by: Chan Wa & William Cheung

Although the title screams yet another bio-pic of Bruce Lee (which already appeared in the same year in the form of Bruce Lee - True Story, also starring Bruce Li) and there's the element of Li's character of Bob (not Bruce) creating Jeet Kune Do, The Story Of The Dragon does away with most elements put on screen to cash in on the late star. The overall story is a basic Western gangsters versus Chinese Kung Fu school-template and not a very engaging one at that. This is at least very basic and bearable genre storytelling with the sellable element of kung fu featured fairly heavily though. But most of the choreography is uninspired and it's not until the finale where Li gets to shine as well as the action team's creativity. He goes head to head with about 20 armed henchmen and subsequently has to avoid another group on horses armed with whips. Add some goofy looking (and dubbed) Westerners plus Hwang Jang-Lee sporting a very bad wig and cape and you have at least a movie that sparkles at points. Boredom rarely sets in. Also with Carter Wong, Wei Ping-Ao and Roy Horan.

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