# 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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Shanghai 1920 (1991, Leung Po-Chih)

Exemplary production values and shot in sync sound English with an international cast, Leung Po-Chih doesn't reach any terrific heights with his gangster saga since the execution of it is according to template. But within that standard there is quite a sharp focus as he unveils the story of childhood friends Fong (John Lone) and Dawson (Adrian Pasdar) and how they go into business together despite the former bearing strong signs of being a ruthless Shanghai gangster. It's a bit too bombastic initially with a score suggesting emotional engagement when we haven't experienced anything prior to the Japanese occupation of Shanghai that opens the film. But Leung Po-Chih (Hong Kong 1941, He Lives By Night) soon settles into a groove as he showcases marvelous production, costume- and set design as well as a fine comfort directing in English. The blood brothers plot remains pretty standard throughout but John Lone adds nuances to his character's desire to elevate status through violence that then is going to come with the realization actions have consequences on a dear friend. It's not depth that linger post viewing but the execution is appreciated during the 2 hours we spend with this duo and despite the heavy handed end, we're happy to see Leung Po-Chih strip the characters to the core where only the friendship is left. Familiar faces out of Hong Kong cinema also turn up such as Lau Siu-Ming, Kirk Wong, Fennie Yuen, Wong Kam-Kong and Loletta Lee who unfortunately only gets ONE line in the entire picture despite the playing wife of John Lone's character.

Shanghai Blues (1984) Directed by: Tsui Hark

There's no denying the visual masterstrokes director Tsui Hark puts into many of his films. Peking Opera Blues (1986) was lighthearted but mixed in political intrigue and action into its plot while Shanghai Blues is 'only' a romantic comedy set in the 1940s. What a wonderful ride it is though! Only a slightly dull middle section disrupts an almost perfect blend of splendid production values, a handful of subtle visual effects and situation comedy (Tsui seems to have stuided 40s and 50s movies, looking for humour that would be fitting for Hong Kong Cinema). In between all that, Tsui carefully injects a serious message about this era of Shanghai but never tries to depress the viewer with it.

Casting Sylvia Chang and Sally Yeh as the leading ladies is so much a key to the success of Shanghai Blues. The characters aren't terrifically written as such but are enhanced in the hands of these ladies who make them loveable characters. Especially Sally Yeh is a comic revelation even when she's repeating some of the humour over and over again. She has a wonderfully spunky energy but is never is directed till the point where her presence becomes annoying. Kenny Bee handles the comedy routines well but sadly isn't much of a leading man. Still that weak link doesn't ruin, what turns out to be, a very endearing romance and Tsui's ending will have the viewers divided, in a very positive way. An overlooked gem that currently does not have an English subtitled dvd release.

Shanghai Grand (1996, Poon Man-Kit)

A big screen adaptation of the Chow Yun-Fat/Ray Lui TV series 'The Bund', a charismatic pairing in Andy Lau and Leslie Cheung plus excellent production values can't save a spectacle that lacks an emotional- and character-punch. God knows Poon Man-Kit and producer Tsui Hark try as they employ very fast moving and hyperstylized visuals. A modern tactic if you will that still manages to showcase the grand nature the period Shanghai setting requires. Couple that with bloody and entertaining gunplay choreographed by Stephen Tung and this seems like a winner. It would've been had Poon Man-Kit managed to make something out of the bloody friendship/brotherhood/love triangle type of drama but the attempts fall flat. Basic as conveyed, part impenetrable but ultimately not engaging, Shanghai Grand was aiming for a dramatic heroic bloodshed impact but that key component of drama is absent. It's all very pronounced and loud but that's not enough. Also with Ning Jing, Wu Hsing-Guo, Amanda Lee and Almen Wong.

Shanghai Heroic Story (1992) Directed by: Chris Lee

Chris Lee opens with some fairly elegant images to accompany his gangster story but soon it develops in that very thing, just another gangster story. This time set against the backdrop of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong with rebels trying to reclaim their land. Divided loyalties becomes the biggest plot point eventually. Lee tries to overcome his own shortcomings as a director through action but it barely registers as passable since dark cinematography, quick-cuts and close-ups are elements that dominate the fights. Things improve during the finale as the mayhem includes guns as well and our villain Damian Lau is a lot of fun to watch during these moments. Also with Roy Cheung and Vincent Wan.

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Shanghai Massacre (1981) Directed by: Lee Tso-Nam

Deadly dull gangster action from Lee Tso-Nam that goes to prove he thrives and comes off as very creative only when the material is a bit more out there (akin to A Life Of Ninja for instance). Here the conflict between Chinese, Japanese and French are difficult to follow and a dignified performance by Wong Goon-Hung and decent dips into brutal violence does not help matters at all. Also with Elsa Yeung, Yasuaki Kurata, Lung Fei, Chen Hung-Lieh and Chen Sing. Also known as Big Boss.

Shanghai, Shanghai (1990, Teddy Robin)

The likable factor about the production headed by Teddy Robin is strong via accomplished costumes, sets, certainly stars but ultimately it doesn’t break out into decent until the show stopping ending. Yuen Biao arrives in town to find his brother, a high ranking official played by George Lam who’s also an inventor, and after trying to save a gangster boss (Lo Lieh) he gets involved with an opera troupe in these times of revolution. That also plays out through Sammo Hung’s crime head and Anita Mui's character who may have her country in mind first rather than the stability found when being closer to Sammo. Not thoroughly interested in being wall to wall fight-heavy, Teddy sets up conflicts and drama well enough without the need to show off what cool production he's got brewing. Too scattershot, lacking in heart even head scratching at points though, characters come and go (episodic is not a good choice here) and the most jarring element is the light touch that George Lam as a maker of flying machines represents. Played with little to no comedic or even sarcastic tone, its out of place nature becomes a distraction. Getting mileage in itself out of Anita Mui in period costumes, her storyline never really ignites beyond that visual impact either. It’s only when Shanghai Shanghai slots itself into genre by having Sammo and Yuen Biao square off in a fast, powerful, acrobatic fight-finale that we sit up and notice what we hoped was going to be there more constantly from the beginning. The action team also craft a remarkable fight-scene for Anita with minimal doubling and it's possibly the best she’s looked doing intricate choreography on film. Also starring Tien Niu, Sandy Lam and Lawrence Cheng.

The Shanghai Thirteen (1984) Directed by: Chang Cheh

What turned out to be last get together for some fighting between his old and more recent on-screen talent, Chang Cheh post-Shaw Brothers goes for the bare plot as an excuse for a constant stream of fighting centering around an escort mission of Mr. Gau (Chiang Ming) who carries with him a sought after document. Some nonsense about patriotism and Chang Cheh injecting forced drama (we get to know no one including Andy Lau but a romantic montage is still in order), you can still go with the basics because The Shanghai Thirteen was designed as a fighting showcase and it delivers. Several complex, gory and slow-mo death scenes together with doses of humour like a cigarette piercing someone's forehead, Wong Ching as a continually giggling fighter (fits as his smile is so wide) plus knowing there's a recognizable fighting cameo around every corner, we get the best for last in true fashion as Ti Lung goes head to head with Ricky Cheng. A mediocre film but one of Chang Cheh's last really good movies before giving us merely sporadic bursts of greatness in increasingly cheaper films before his directing career was over. Among others Jimmy Wang Yu, David Chiang, Chen Kuan-Tai, Danny Lee, Chi Kuan-Chun, Leung Kar-Yan and Chan Sing appear.

Shaolin And Taichi (1983) Directed by: Wu Chia-Chun

Criminally generic and designed simplistically to the T, this indie obviously doesn't care for making a mark on the genre. That's why it unashamedly features little story surprises, ranging from the coveted gold seal at the core of the story, brothers separated by birth only identifiable via half jade bracelets, drunken masters, the temptations of being a monk to moral values and further bla bla. While the production has invested in good acrobats that deliver the action choreography well when called upon to, Shaolin And Taichi needed to realize that it required some charisma somewhere. A few scenes being on the VERY truncated and illogical side doesn't help either.

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HK Flix.com

The Shaolin Avengers (1976, Chang Cheh)

Alexander Fu Sheng returns as Fong Sai Yuk but to my eyes, no homework watching the likes of The Shaolin Temple or Heroes Two is needed. The Shaolin Avengers stands on its own and really doesn't attempt anything but simplicity. A positive for this brief time with tons of martial arts, Chang Cheh opens with the end fight and then utilizes flashbacks to gradually complete the picture. The device isn't unique but adds a different flavor to HIS cinema. Ultimately existing for tropes such as blood soaked revenge, he runs through staples like training in order to quickly offer up more action. The majority of it being varied and impressive, with the more brutal and primal being imagery (mostly tinted in red for censorship purposes) that lingers. A stretch of a playful, lighthearted Fong Sai Yuk hurts momentum but it's temporary. Also with Chi Kuan-Chun, Bruce Tong, Lung Fei, Johnny Wang and Leung Kar-Yan.

Shaolin Boxers (1974) Directed by: Wong Daat

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Easy to sit through as it reaches just above the 70 minute mark but easy to dispose of and forget too, Shaolin Boxers was clearly never meant to be a standout coming from Golden Harvest. James Tien and fellow students protect the honor of their school and safety of their fellow villagers whilst fighting within boring Ching Siu-Tung choreography. Hon Gwok-Choi displays neat acrobatics in the sole worthwhile fight scene while Mars appears in a fighting cameo.

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