# 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 Tragic Fantasy - Tiger of Wanchai (1994) Directed by: Stephen Lo & Joe Chu

Based on a true story and being one of the few Hong Kong movies with a Dolby soundtrack at the time, things are as expected in this genre entry and it's not likeable. Simon Yam is Chan Yiu-Hing who together his core group of buddies (played by Vincent Wan, Roy Cheung and Lau Ching-Wan) rise from lowly parking attendants to power players in the triad world (in VERY fashion, as the montage-format dictates). A rise must come with a fall however...

Characters act as as the triad punks that they are, flashing aggressions, bad fashion and they're of course often in debt with maniacally laughing loan sharks. Within this we're supposed to care for the story of sworn brothers where also Yam's Chan flashes his loneliness aura as he can't live without a woman. The one in this case being Mil (Marianne Chan) but here's a key plot that is as pedestrian and sloppily handled as the rest of the movie. Someone spent way too much attention on the behind the scenes techniques but got merely some plus points for Simon Yam's lively performance (but inappropriately over the top for a serious movie) and some shots of gloriously gory triad violence. A solid cast come and go, including Yvonne Yung, Ben Lam, William Ho, Lo Lieh and Ku Feng.

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HK Flix.com

Tragic Hero (1987) Directed by: Taylor Wong

screencap stolen with permission from Hong Kong Digital

This sequel to the triad actioner Rich And Famous ended up premiering in theatres first as the producers felt they could make more of a buck from the more action-filled Tragic Hero. In the end, it sparked enough interest to make Rich And Famous the more successful film at the box office.

A few years has passed and triad boss Chai (Chow Yun-Fat) faces his greatest challenge yet as Yung (Alex Man) is hot on his tails for bloody revenge. Everyone is expendable, even his family...

Taylor Wong gives us more of the same in Tragic Hero, from the opening caption talking about criminals never being able to bury the past to presenting many triad movie clichés in the most generic of ways. Despite attempts to develop characters, especially Chai's bodyguards (played by Shing Fui-On and Lam Chung), the script still halts at ordinary and melodrama is as expected terribly overdone. Admittedly, Chow Yun-Fat has sprung to life a little bit for this installment but he has little substance to work with. Andy Lau pops up now and again without much impact and Alex Man overacts his little heart out as the über-evil Yung. Both parts of this epic gangster saga in the end remain dull but Tragic Hero has an upper hand thanks to a fairly steady stream of action. The finale is a welcome frenzy of fire stunts and gunplay but you wouldn't mistake it for a top notch John Woo sequence. Danny Lee, Carina Lau, and Pauline Wong reprise their roles and Elvis Tsui can be seen as one of Yung's henchmen.

Note that the screencap above is from the Tai Seng dvd. Mei Ah have put an anamorphic edition that surely beats prior home video presentations.

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The Trail (1983) Directed by: Ronny Yu

Quite an unexpected Hong Kong horror movie considering it was co-written by comedic actor Michael Hui and that is stars his brother Ricky Hui and Kent Cheng. Director Ronny Yu goes for a laid back and serious tone to his horror with comedy inserted in places, an element that works well since it's closer to the proper mood of the film. The Trail is an interesting time, mainly through the serious mood and a look of more ambitious proportions than seen in this era of Hong Kong cinema. The pace is slow but a subdued nature to both Hong Kong horror and comedy working in tandem is compelling. Also with Chung Fat and Mars (both serving as action directors as well). One of the main music cues you may recognise from The Thing but as with John Carpenter's classic, The Trail also benefits since it adds decent tension.

The Trail Of The Broken Blade (1967) Directed by: Chang Cheh

The Trail Of The Broken Blade is vintage Chang Cheh filmmaking in many ways, dealing with loyalty, love and righteousness but putting enough spins on it to stand well on its own. First of all, the true loyalty isn't for once towards blood brothers but towards blood...

Jimmy Wang Yu plays swordsman Li who takes revenge on a corrupted official who executed his father unjustly. Now wanted by the Imperial Court, he goes into hiding under a false identity, having no choice but to abandon his past. In that past we find his childhood love Liu Xian (Chin Ping) who's rescued by another swordsman Fang Jun-Zhao (Chiao Chuang) from the dangerous Flying Fish gang of robbers. Liu Xian's father sees the opportunity to pair up her with a new man but she proclaims to the kind hearted Fang that only one true love exists for her. Fang takes it upon himself to reunite the two...

After the accomplished The Magnificent Trio the year before, Chang was on a roll but for the longest of time in The Trail Of The Broken Blade, he can't make his portrayal of Li and his lonely future come to life. Nothing much resonates dramatically as the prior year's effort did but sticking with The Trail Of The Broken Blade proves to be rewarding. Chang's handling of the character drama can seem rather overwrought (literally an operatic aspect to the portrayal of the romance can be seen and heard) but in reality it does come off as suitably subdued as well. Point is, this didn't further Chang Cheh but with a charismatic lead in Jimmy Wang Yu to truly embody his intentions, the film becomes unexpectedly involving despite the lesser first half.

A small problem also lies in the casting of Chiao Chuang as he doesn't always look convincing as both the tough and kind swordplay hero. Lau Kar Leung and Tong Gaai choreograph the action once again and it's always rough to look at now but not hard to put into perspective either. Most of the fights are fairly short all up till the final reel and it's rather bursts of creativity that highlights their work. But that fact is important as the development would lead into us being treated to some of the finest on screen martial arts ever filmed eventually. Worth waiting for but as you'll hopefully see for yourself, drama wasn't in development but rather polished back then. That makes this side of Chang Cheh's catalogue of films truly thrilling to follow. Ciao Ciao, Fan Mei Sheng, Chen Hung-Lieh, Tien Feng, Wu Ma and Paul Wei co-stars.

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Train Robbers (1995) Directed by: Michael Mak

Michael Mak takes Ray Lui's Public Security Officer onto a train leading into Russia to hunt down vicious robbers while also co-operating and finding love in the Russian camp of cops. Fairly ambitious and certainly providing a unique setting for a 90s Hong Kong action movie, Mak creates memorable scenes shooting in cramped train compartment spaces and while low-key, it's easy to be on board because of the unusual plot for a Hong Kong movie. When on foot and tracking down the gang led by Sister (Liu Fan who sounds like she's dubbed by a man) the movie stops a little dead in its tracks but a short running time and decently choreographed and bloody violence towards the end makes Train Robbers a minor distraction.

The Traitorous (1976) Directed by: Sung Ting-Mei

Here's a beast we've seen before, with Carter Wong as a Shaolin student out to revenge the death of his parents at the hands off government forces. He's gotta carry water and jump out of mud pits properly before being let out on his killing spree though. Director Sung Ting-Mei uses agony, both ways, as fuel for his simple-minded story and while it's A gory choice, it's not THE gory choice. The Traitorous therefore plods along like most low-budget vehicles of its kind, disappointing also in the fight department as little invention exists (only the pyramid of guards is a fun, crazy concept). Swingy arms, punching and blocking as a dominating factor isn't a beneficiary for the production, especially not since Carter Wong is less than ideal in the lead. Polly Kuan displays some much needed fury though, in particular in her opening fight scene against multiple opponents. Chang Yi plays our white haired villain while Sammo Hung also appear as one of his henchmen.

Trap (1982) Directed by: Ang Saan

Whilst being a cop and even after resigning, Chung (Pai Ying) engages in a one man war against ammunition smuggler Ma (Kenneth Tsang) who's targeting everyone close to Chung in order to get him off his back. Also known as Cop Killer, that refers to one of Ma's henchmen played by Lau Hok-Nin who sets the vicious tone in the first scene but barely appears in the film. Instead director Ang Saan (Finger On Trigger) focuses on and does very well telling the story of an escalating battle between one operating outside of the law and one trying to play it by the book. Very action-packed and tense, when Ang Saan makes the picture increasingly bleak there's quite a harrowing effect present in Trap. Bloodthirsty, vicious and everyone's a target is a story beat he pulls off. Used as the source movie for Filmark's cut and paste ninja actioner Silver Dragon Ninja subsequently. Also with Wong Yuen-San.

Treasure Hunt (1994) Directed by: Jeff Lau

Treasure Hunt marked Chow Yun-Fat's return to Hong Kong movie screens after a 2 year break (was probably needed after the intense shooting of Hard Boiled), this time directed by prolific Jeff Lau (Chinese Odyssey 1 & 2, Haunted Cop Shop). Being true to the Hong Kong cinema way of doing things, Treasure Hunt gives us gunplay, martial arts, comedy, romance, resulting in something very typical of Jeff Lau; an uneven but still strangely charming and enjoyable little film. The plot about Chow's CIA character and his mission to bring back a Chinese Treasure, a young woman with supernatural powers, played by the beautiful Wu Chien-Lien (The Phantom Lover) doesn't interest much but instead the core of the film, Chow and Wu Chien-Lien's romance carry us nicely through this 100 minutes. The two display supersolid chemistry and I just wish there was at least 20 minutes more of them together on screen. Co-starring Gordon Lau and Phillip Kwok.

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The Treasure Trap (1986) Directed by: Phillip Chan

Also known as From Here To Prosperity, the stage is very busy in Phillip Chan's conmen romp mostly set in Thailand. So much so, especially considering the print I got to see, that it's often tough to follow the quick laid out plans by conmen David Chiang and Richard Ng in their pursuit to avenge the death of Jenny's (Pong Chao-An) father. But the familiar cast and at times amusing antics of the leads does get you through proceedings. Ng has a wonderful bit where he bets that a lit cigarette will not become shorter. His winning tactic is simply lighting it at the middle. Ng and Chiang comparing battle scars but the former not showing signs of any because they've healed well goes down well and the re-imagining of the Indiana Jones-score is shamelessly fun to hear. During the gunplay ending, Ng injects more fun as he makes a bomb using a grilled chicken! Fans of Desperado will notice that Quentin Tarantino's piss joke from that film is entirely visualized in The Treasure Trap. Also with O Chun-Hung, Wu Ma, Melvin Wong, Tin Ching and Wu Fung.

Triad (2012, Daniel Chan)

The sights and sounds of what was standard Hong Kong cinema decades earlier is nicely captured by Daniel Chan (Sifu Vs Vampire) in 2012. Now, Triad isn't reinventing the local Hong Kong gangster picture for a new audience but within that statement lies a few key words to my personal enjoyment: It's a Hong Kong gangster picture. With emphasis on Hong Kong. In a climate where the lucrative Mainland China market and its restrictions is a common topic, Triad is refreshing Hong Kong movie in feel without being a retro throwback. Because we've seen the likes of Andy Lau, Alex Man and Simon Yam perform all this stuff before. Only here William Chan, Derek Tsang and Edward Chui play our youths embracing the life of the triad and rising in the ranks. With it comes the expected grand lifestyle, violence, loss and early on Chan establishes that cruelty wins in this world. Remember that, even as characters try to build lives focusing on education and family. Aside from a few stylistic excursions, Chan keeps the frame clear, fast moving and the life altering violence is fairly effective. Even more so because of the final cap to the power play that has occupied the last 90 minutes. Triad may remind you of something from 25 years ago but arguably it does well without going through many or any changes. Also with Michelle Wai and veteran faces such as Michael Chan and Lo Hoi-Pang.

Triad Story (1990) Directed by: Shum Wai

A generic title like Triad Story should be very telling for anyone with a vague knowledge of the triad genre that was a mainstay during this period in Hong Kong cinema. Director Shum Wai injects some decent thoughts in the portrayal of the old time triads that tries to accept that time has run out for them but it lasts very shortly. Soon the gang conflicts escalate in the usual ways, sentimentality is high and another fault of the film is that it's way too talky when it should be trying to salvage itself with audience pleasing features. After several failed attempts at poetic and lyric imagery as lives are lost, Shum Wai instead wisely unleashes action director Siu Tak Foo. Decent brutality and fight action comes during the finale although there lacks a certain internal logic when we see who takes center stage. Billy Chow (in a rare good guy role) obviously is a fighter so that sets up his place in the finale but at this point, main characters are not even in the same room! Still, it's the best times of Triad Story. The rest is instantly forgettable.

Although poster arts feature Stephen Chow, it's merely a supporting, dramatic role he's given and frankly, he looks uncomfortable dealing with this kind of material (and to add on to that, Chow did not dub his own voice). His subsequent comedy co-star Ng Man Tat receives more screen time while O Chun Hung, Wu Ma, Shing Fui On, Shum Wai and Kwai Chung also appear.

Available is a Mainland vcd release under the title The Last Brother, featuring English subtitles and the Cantonese dub.

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