# 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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Wai's Romance (1994) Directed by: To Hoi-Sun

KENNETH'S REVIEW: The busy adventures of ex-triad Wai includes copious amounts of sex, an almost creative fight with his jojo, a gig at an antique company with shady behaviour behind the scenes, karaoke bar duty, appearing in Category III films and one not so carefully injected plot point about him needing to revenge his parents (especially heightened when he finds evidence of who's responsible, carefully organized in a folder). Furthermore there's Hong Kong/Mainland cops, dopey assassins of sorts and indeed, the plate seems rather full. But going about it in light fashion translates more into casual behaviour and Wai's Romance doesn't become as fun as its opportunities are. In quite the big role reversal, Charlie Cho is timed and afraid of the other sex but rest assured, he gets in on the action eventually. Ku Feng and William Ho also appear.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Walking Beside Me (1986) Directed by: Chen Fang

Joey (Joey Wong) works at an advertising agency and her superior has his younger brother coming back to Hong Kong. Having had money invested in gold lost at the hands of his brother, the younger brother Chao (Louis Kong) finds himself starting over in Hong Kong and being infatuated with Joey. Eventually falling for the childish dope Chao is, what future does such love hold? Plus, Joey has some surprises of her own hidden...

It's the utmost basic, uninteresting and unconvincing romance-beats being offered up in Walking Beside Me. Despite having Joey Wong owning the screen with her presence, her chemistry with Louis Kong lacks the punch intended. Truth be told, Kong is apt at playing this rather immature character but the problem starts there as there lies no interest in the contrasting nature between him and Joey. Eventually bringing in heavier melodrama and the subplot of Joey trying to pair up her mom with a new man adds no substance, director Chen Fang's not so subtle work only dips from beginning all till the final, expected frame. Also with Pau Hei-Ching and Shek Sau.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

The Wandering Swordsman (1970, Chang Cheh)

In his 4th movie released in 1970, it's no wonder The Wandering Swordsman feels like a smaller endeavour made simultaneously with the likes of The Heroic Ones and Vengeance. But the adventure with David Chiang's Robin Hood character trying to navigate which camp deserves his aid and assistance is still executed with a familiar style and punch. Even if it doesn't affect. Chang Cheh isn't terribly inventive or distinctive here but a confident smile on his lead and knowing the swordplay genre well makes it an easily digested time. Better so in the second half as Chang Cheh (working with a set of different action directors, including Yuen Cheung-Yan) work in crude but sometimes extensive wire work and the familiar heroic bloodshed. With Chiang's character favouring the short swords, the action also gets quite deliciously stabby and blood drenched. Starring Lily Li, Cheng Lui, Chang Pei-Shan as the famed 'Fail Safe' Kung Wu and Chen Sing. Mentioned action director Yuen Cheung-Yan and Bolo Yeung can also be seen in smaller roles.

War City 2: Red Heat Conspiracy (1988) Directed by: Phillip Ko

A string of surely, if you know your IFD pattern, five unrelated War City cut and paste action movies, it largely suffers from the fact that IFD had left ninjas behind and were struggling to find a sellable element. The modern action thriller doesn't come with the potential color ninjas came with (literally), that's for sure. Sourcing Kim Si-Hyun's Korean romantic melodrama Maze Of Love (1986) and adding a connection between Mike Abbott and the main character on the Korean side called Richard, he has to make sure May doesn't sit on or spill any information about Abbott's illegal business. The Koreans deal with their tedious and terrible drama on their own while IFD make their cops and robbers flick (with Hans Haraldser as the cop). While somewhat more coherent than usual and not really complicated after IFD's make-over, Kim's original movie (despite being re-edited and dubbed to fit the new movie in question) looks flat and IS dull. Kim had the touch when it came to Korean made martial arts and action but this unusual venture clearly show signs of a director not comfortable with drama at all. Maybe it would pass for a TV soap. Most probably not. The IFD footage doesn't register as fun as such either but having Ko Fei and Ridley Tsui on the production ensures that there is a snap and intensity to the brief fight action sprinkled throughout the production.

War City 5 - Law of Honour (19??) Directed by: Charles Lee

Seemingly co-producing with two other companies this 5th entry in what one should assume contains all unrelated movies if you know their track record, not much changes in feel at Joseph Lai's IFD that pairs up a contemporary cops and gangster plot courtesy of themselves with a similarly themed one originating from the Philippines. While coherency level using such a simple template is low here, the source movie provides some decent, gritty violence dealing with among other things a cop going off the rails after dipping his toe into corruption. IFD's players interact mildly with the footage but largely have the cop-duo chase their own bad guys in a mixture of fairly bloody gunplay and even fight choreography. Decidedly middle of the road for IFD but not their worst considering this post-ninja era didn't contain much color or fun flavour.

War Of The Shaolin Temple (1980) Directed by: Chiang Nan

Surrounded by a template that is part Shaolin Temple (Jet Li) and The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin, Chiang Nan's well-crafted production never has the stench of copycat and yet another trying to desperately fit in on the busy scene of martial arts cinema. Very much its own through an attractive widescreen frame, sufficient storytelling but mainly excellent martial arts. The pace and fluidity is ferocious, highly inventive, detailed and it's a delight to find "yet another" in terms of the genre it belongs that burst through the screen with such confidence. Even a dip into comedy via Ga Hoi's crazy, wine drinking monk is fits well as everybody is in it for the craft. Be it behind the camera or the inspiring physicality in front of it. Also known as 13 Poles From Shaolin.

A Warrior's Tragedy (1993) Directed by: Frankie Chan

Released at a 3 hour length, as separate movies on video and distinctly shorter edits subsequently, Frankie Chan's Gu Long adaptation never makes a true case for being in need of the epic runtime. There is a moody setup as Ti Lung's swordsman sets off on his revenge path and we shouldn't really be shocked that this Hong Kong movie also has a lighter, humorous aura (mostly represented by director Chan himself in the other lead role and an intolerable Anita Yuen). But if A Warrior's Tragedy had involved as secrets, facets, twists, turns and alliances are revealed, we'd be more forgiving and even entertained by the wild shifts. It doesn't and even a sparse character gallery in Chan's hands makes the movie incoherent. When you're merely placing dialogue about revelations that shatter the core of characters on screen and in actor's mouths, with no added flair needed to communicate that to your audience, you're really setting yourself up as the poorly chosen filmmaker here. The production values are of above average standard with moody rural locations and good costume design but at the same time, it's all strangely flat and dull. With the varied tone, forced theme about love, hate and incoherent storytelling backing up the action, it's no wonder it doesn't feel thrilling even when Chan's large team of action directors are creative with weaponry and wire assisted sights. The second half seems a bit more livelier and out there action-wise, with invisible cloaks, legless fighters, creative weapons but these are minor sparks during 180 minutes. You're constantly begging for shorter Chor Yuen adaptation of Gu Long's work instead because at least it's over quickly and holds more color. It makes you wonder how A Warrior's Tragedy would fare in one of its shorter edits.

Warriors Two (1978, Sammo Hung)

A showcase for how kung fu cinema familiarity looks and feels in the hands of a visionary. Sammo Hung isn't crafting genre gold in terms of plotting (guess what, it's about revenge) but this is an exemplary work nonetheless. With Casanova Wong in need of revenge but mainly martial arts training, he is taught by real life Wing Chun practitioner Leung Jan (Leung Kar-Yan in an iconic performance). The extended training sequences are excellent and creative, taking us through a variety of hands- and weapons combat all the way to the ingenious blocking chamber. With the extensive action finale (and action all throughout really) leading the way to its classic status, Sammo totally earns our attention through the quiet spots and the wildly action-oriented ones. The style is brutal, powerful and hard and the variety in the opponents very entertaining. Ranging from Lee Hoi-San with the invincible armour to Fung Hak-On as the gravity defying praying mantis, the only misstep is allowing Dean Shek to be part of the fighting parade as comedy has no logical place in the way Warriors Two is made. Sammo himself co-stars.

The Water Margin(1972, Chang Cheh, Wu Ma & Pao Hsueh-Li)

Considered one of the four great classic novels of Chinese literature, The Water Margin is essentially the story of 108 outlaws gathering at Mount Liang to form an army. So obviously there's a rich character gallery and stories to pick from and while Chang Cheh seems intent on giving each of them at least a second of screentime (including Chen Kuan-Tai and Danny Lee), the opening crawl confirms the makers have wisely picked a set number of chapters and stories for their 2 hours here. Specifically the sections about Lu Chun I (also known as Jade Unicorn, played by Japanese actor Tetsuro Tamba) and David Chiang's Yen Ching joining the Liang Shan outlaws. Shaw Brothers expectedly and expertly puts on a widescreen show here, with horses and extras occupying large stretches of the landscape and the who's who of the studio contract players turn up in the feast sequence that serves as actor- and character identification (even if they never get face time again). Worrisome to a degree because you fear Chang Cheh is going to tell the tale of all of them, the movie then settles into a rhythm and simplicity that is the starring vehicle for David Chiang and Tetsuro Tamba. The talky narrative concerning Tamba's wife betraying him which leads to incarceration isn't a particularly tense or thrilling piece of storytelling from the co-directors though and that's problematic. Seeing your favourite Shaw Brothers players in expertly designed sets and costumes is compelling per default yes but only to a point and the first 90 minutes are slow. Select action in between by an expanded action department, with slow motion moments becoming rather hypnotic doesn't alleviate boredom but seeing the Japanese performers involved in weapons based demonstrations or fights is pretty compelling.

Granted, The Water Margin really does have a goal, a focus and follows through on that but the epic nature visually, casting and action really only comes to fruition during the lengthy ending of the film where a good two or three dozen of the outlaws get involved in a rescue mission at the execution grounds. Leading to good tension and thrills as the camera follows the large amount of extras and star players as they inject some power into the proceedings. Ranging from Fan Mei-Sheng executing away with his axe, Ti Lung entering the fray to Chang Cheh's Japanese stars and their climactic duel, what The Water Margin promises even in written form is something big and expansive. And eventually Chang Cheh and crew transfers it in a compelling way to screen in a 30 minute finale that almost erases your thoughts on the tough first 90. The sequel All Men Are Brothers show 1973 as production year but wasn't released until 1975. Other adaptations by Shaw Brothers of stories from the book include The Delightful Forest and Pursuit.

Known internationally as Seven Blows Of The Dragon and distributed by Roger Corman's New World Pictures, it features a substantially shorter running time, narration and reportedly an additional sex scene not present in the Hong Kong version.

The Way We Dance (2013, Adam Wong)

Adam Wong (Magic Boy) returns after a 6 year absence and the skillful touches, local flavour and love for his chosen subject matter remains strong. He may be older but his eye aimed at youth culture, dance, pursuing dreams and passions shows him being in tune with what he wants to tell. Neither cloying or even THAT easy to deconstruct at first glance, he takes Cherry Ngan’s bubbly Fleur on her journey of finding a dance troupe, discovering harmony in Tai Chi and love for her Tai Chi instructor (the reformed Alan played charmingly by BabyJohn Choi). Threatening to be a bit too infatuated with quirky character personalities and displaying the skilled dancers, you have to cut through some cinematic style to get to the core but ultimately Wong makes visuals and story gel. Because nothing is terribly complex once you get into the flow and core about following your passion strongly, finding nuance and compassion for your so called rivals who are just like you and the trials and tribulations of young love. Wong’s charm as a filmmaker means being charmed by his characters and by also being blessed with Johnnie To regular Cheng Siu-Keung’s eyes on the proceedings he not only provides invigorating dance sequences but a visual palette that is far from old hat. Being mentally massaged with positive- and visual vibes, it may ultimately play somewhat better with a younger audience (and as an aside, a negative to the film is that the adult world is quickly introduced and then ejected from the film) but as a moviegoing audience looking for that all too rare local Hong Kong flavour, Adam Wong yet again shows he’s getting better at highlighting it while also turning his eye to new subjects. Also with Yeung Lok-Man, Tommy Ly, Janice Fan and Gloria Yip in a rare film appearance.

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