Wednesday, December 23, 2009

MV : "Game over" by G.E.M. Tang

Its a toss-up whether this or Charlene's "survivor" is my current favourite cantopop track. So lets enjoy both!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Why me? (HK 1985)

This is quite an unusual HK film, especially for it's time, being rare in that it deals with the issue of mental illness. Its typical of HK cinema however to make a film about the tragic story of a mentally ill man and his dying mother (and boy, this is epic in it's tragedy!) but wrap it up with silly goofy humour and some half-baked romance. Thats not to say this film is bad but there are times when your finger does hover over the STOP button on the remote. You should refrain though because this is a good film... overall.

Olivia Cheng and Chow Yun Fat play 2 social workers who are also a couple. Olivia happens upon the mentally ill man (played by Kent Cheng who won an award for his role) and his poor mother who refuses to accept charity. Olivia tries to get them better housing and a place at a special school but the queue is wrong. Olivia tries to get the queue jumped but as Chow says, the queue is full of people who are just as deserving.

Olivia also has family problems of her own including a dead beat dad and Eric Tsang as a step-father, however its not one of his best roles. His usual jokey clown act seems rather jarring and forced here. These sub-plots are all rather incidental to the main plot of the film which comes to a rather predictable but powerful all the same climax.

MV : "Survivor" by Charlene Choi

Got Ah Sa's latest EP yesterday, and this song is on it and it's excellent!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Colour Of The Truth (HK 2003)

Colour Of The Truth was directed by Wong Jing and was undoubtably inspired by the then-current Infernal Affairs trilogy however don't let that put you off. Colour Of The Truth is an excellent crime drama with a solid plot, good acting, solid action and even includes Gillian Chung from Twins wielding a gun. Now for some guys that is a kind of fantasy, i'm sure i'm not alone with that.

Anthony Wong stars as a senior police officer who, in the early 1990s, was involved in a double shooting where a hoodlum and a fellow police officer were both shot. Now ten years later the sons of the two people Wong shot are fully grown up adults and have followed their father's trades : one a gangster boss (Jordan Chan) and the other a cop (Raymond Wong) and they both want revenge.

Mixed up in this is a crime sub-plot involving Patrick Tse which at the start seems unconnected to the main revenge plot but as the film progresses the plots become more and more intertwined. What marks this film above "competant" and into the "good" category is the subtleness. Raymond hates Anthony Wong but when he gets to know him he finds the man is not quite the monster he was bought up to believe he was.

The final showdown is exciting and has plenty of twists though is probably overshadowed by some of the action set-pieces that take place earlier on. The film isn't perfect but happily includes none of Wong Jing's usual silliness or racism. Gillian seems just in place to provide some eye candy (not that there is anything wrong with that) and Chapman To seems just in place to provide some annoyance.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Crazy N' The City (HK 2005)

Crazy N' The City is an entertaining HK cop movie, though a movie that focusses more on the lives of the police than any big crime drama (though there is a notable serial killer-rapist case later on in the movie). It is really about Eason Chan's worn-out cop who has the passed the eager innocent early stage of his career (which he is reminded about by rookie Joey Yung) and is now settled into a rut and awaiting his long-off retirement. Joey of course wants to save the world and even climbs buildings to rescue cats.

At first glance you might think this is going to turn out to be a generic HK cop movie full of cliches. However if we were following cliches to the letter then Eason would be snapped out of his lethagy by Joey and rediscover his earlier zeal actually it doesn't quite work out that way. A couple of teenage girls become his fans when they see him take down a criminal but then one of the girls becomes the victim of a serial killer and Eason resolves to catch him. In catching the criminal Eason rediscovers why he became a cop in the first place of course.

Francis Ng also plays a good role of a man who has lost his mind and of course he also becomes wrapped up in the serial killer case. This subplot fits in well with the overall feel and direction of the movie and again is not resolved the obvious way. The moviemakers do tease us a bit though, we see him get hit on the head many times but its the love of a good woman not blows to the heads which tempers his insanity somewhat.

The movie is entertaining, sometimes a bit obvious and overblown, but it doesn't detract from the overall level of quality and the good performances by some of the major actors. Don't let the presence of "idols" in some of the major roles put you off.
  • Click here to get this movie on DVD / VCD

Friday, November 13, 2009

MV : "等等" by Grasshopper

Uploaded some more videos to Youtube, including...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

MV : "Goodbye kiss" by Jackie Cheung

Old 'un by the God of song. One of my favourite Jackie songs.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Missed Date (HK 1986)

Olivia Cheng plays a bored housewife who is neglected by her husbund (who is thus either blind, dumb or both), who puts his business and flirting female clients first and his wife second even though she works hard to be the perfect wife (which happily for male viewers includes lots of yoga and aerobics). However when she meets a tennis instructor played by Chow Yun Fat she toys with the idea of an affair but decides she cannot as she is loyal to her man.

But then she finds her hubby hopelessly drunk with a female client and follows them to a love hotel. While her man and the client indulge in the beast with two backs in one room Olivia and Mr Chow chat and laugh in another room in quite an amusing parallel. Yet, of course, both couples leave the hotel at the same time and meet up in an awkward moment.

The marriage is over but the hubby hopes to woo her again yet spends his time smoking at his desk wondering what to do. He is too late anyway, his wife has sailed off with Chow... literally.

A really good 80s HK film that is accompanied by a couple of killer cantopop tunes by Andy Lau and Priscilla Chan. Cantopop was designed for such dramatic romantic times.
  • Get this movie on VCD

MV : "Jade butterfly" by Nicholas Tse 謝霆鋒

Great song by Nic.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

MV : "Sugar in the marmalade" by Leon Lai

Leon in his late 90s/early 00s Sony days was well known for his dance songs, this wasn't the best example but still pretty damn good.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Charlene Choi is CosmoGirl

Charlene Choi, ex of Twins, as she posed for September's CosmoGirl. Charlene has her latest solo CD out soon by the way.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

MV : "落花流水" by Eason Chan

Some of his songs are really great though dunno whats up with his hair in this MV!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

MV : "飄雪" by Priscilla Chan

Priscilla Chan in the snow, what could be more romantic?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Movie : Heart Into Hearts

Heart Into Hearts (HK 1990)

Heart Into Hearts was the second in popular "Hearts" series following on from 1988's "Heart to Heart" and like the first film starred George Lam as some sort of creative type (which seems one of the most common jobs in HK according to movies). George is due to marry Dodo Cheng (with her daughter Vivian Chow) but he meets an advert director played by Maggie Cheung whom he first hates as an emotionless professional but then they have to go to Paris together and begin to flirt...

Its a light hearted HK comedy with unfortunately 2 cute kids in (which as far as i am concerned is 2 too many). The film is enjoyable enough with quite a few funny bits but it lacks some bite. You can probably guess most of the jokes before they actually arrive and the film is a little formulaic. It is maybe worth watching for the massive brick mobile phones alone though...

One problem with the film is that Dodo comes across as very annoying in the film without the chemistry with George of the first film. Thus when George is flirting with Maggie you can't really see why he should stay with Dodo. George is his usual jolly and jovial (and often hilarious) self though. Anyway the series ended with 1992's "Heart Against Hearts".

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

MV : "Mr Pig" by Andy Hui

One the better songs in Andy's latter few years.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

CD : Vincy Chan - more Vincy

Vincy Chan's latest album is very fine indeed. 10 great songs starting with "Love delusions" which is a rollicking pop-rock song and ending with a duet "My memory isn't mine" the singer Ocean. Unlike a lot of albums there are not many fillers and Vincy is on good singing form throughout. Like most cantopop albums there is a bit of a mixture of styles but the mixture isn't too jarring and it is a great excursion in contemporary pop-rock. I'd stretch to saying this is the best cantopop album of the year so far. I haven't bought that many though admittedly... but even if i had i doubt this wouldn't be far off the top of the list.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Janice Vidal interview

Talking about her English language album, her sister's drug arrest et cetera. Interview by SCMP.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

MV : "白紙" by Vincy Chan

Got Vincy's new album yesterday, its very good indeed and includes this song.

Friday, September 4, 2009

MV : "Big brother" by Janice Vidal

One of Janice's early hits.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Review : Nightmares In Precinct 7

Nightmares In Precinct 7 (HK 2001)

Andy Hui plays a top cop in this entertaining film who is left in a coma after a bust goes wrong. When he awakes from his coma two years later he finds he can see ghosts, which is a cool if slightly mysterious side-effect. He can also see the cute nurse Loletta Lee who of course has fallen for him.

Andy is finally discharged and returns to his crime team with his buddy Simon Lui who is struggling with a serial killer case of a guy who kidnaps, rapes and then kills nurses. Oh and what was Loletta's occupation again? You know it would be an amazing co-incidence if she was the next target...

With the help of a funny ghost (Cheung Tat Ming) at the hospital Andy manages to track down the killer, but he is too late as he has already struck and carried off Loretta to do unspeakable things we won't speak of. Can Andy save her before those unspeakable things are carried out?

A really pretty good film, the supernatural angle isn't overplayed and its mostly a solid cop drama with plenty of cool and fun moments.

Friday, August 21, 2009

MV : "个性" by Linda Wong

Another great old Linda video.

CD : Janice Vidal - morning

Janice has usually included some songs in English on her cantopop CDs (including some translated Leon Lai songs on her debut) but this is her first fully English album. She sounds great of course with her pronunciations spot on though on some songs her breathing is a little too audible. My favourite song on the album is "speechless" which is a nice ballad with good tone and a big chorus. Its basically a good cantopop album in English though the lyrics are maybe a bit basic.

MV : "你不是好情人" by Twins

Ahh Twins, where did it all go wrong? Well we know of course but lets not go into that!

Review : A-1

A-1 (HK 2004)

A-1 is a refreshingly cerebral film, a murder investigation thriller without buckets of blood and ultra-violence (not that these are bad, just that its nice to have a change). The gorgeous Angelica Lee stars as a reporter with a debt problem. Not only are debt collectors in the shape of Anthony Wong and Eric Kot hanging around wanting her money her boyfriend has died in a car crash. And when Anthony Wong turns out to be an ex-cop and suggests the car crash wasn't an accident then Angelica begins an investigation into what really happened with her rather gormless photographer friend in tow played by Edison Chen.

Had Angelica's boyfriend uncovered a plot to cover up the death of a model because of the involvement of a son of a tycoon? Well yes and is the editor of the newspaper covering it up? Well maybe. And what is the role of the police in all this? The film is an enjoyable exploration of HK from it's gadget obsessed (and debt stricken) youngsters to the super-rich and the influence they can exert on society, even the forces of law and order. There is some action but most of the film is slow burning investigation. There is also a slightly romantic subplot involving Anthony and Angelica, even if she says he reminds her of her Dad!

One criticism of the film is that it ends very neatly with various parties coming clean about their parts in corruption and maybe a bit of a damp squid with little suspense but maybe we are just too used to big action set-pieces and plenty of spent cartridges. The sudden about-face by Anthony about one of the key parts in the plot also confuses slightly. But this is a very enjoyable film with good characters and a good script, some may call it boring however i call it intelligent and dare i say it realistic?

Click here to get this movie on Blu-Ray / DVD / VCD.

Monday, August 17, 2009

MV : "I am Aaron Kwok" by Aaron Kwok

Aaron thinks we need reminding who he is!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Review : The Sniper

The Sniper (HK 2009)

The Sniper is a decent and enjoyable HK action film. Its very commercial, with plenty of buff male bods and guns on show to cater for as many parts of the film audience as possible. It is also a bit confusing to be quite honest but gets it's job done in the end.

Edison Chen (he of the nude celeb photo collection) plays a rookie in the elite HK sniper team. Despite being new he is full of confidence and thinks he can be the best sniper ever. The two current contenders for that title are the head of the sniper team played by Richie Jen and a disgraced ex-member of the team played by Huang Xiaoming. When we first see Huang he is coming out of prison. We arn't told for some time why he has been in the Nick, it was because of a mission that went wrong but he is most sore about the fact that he wasn't backed up by Richie in the enquiry.

Huang now is using his skills on the side of the bad guys including gangster Jack Kao but is it all just a means to an end so he can try and gain revenge on his ex-team mates? Well you will just have to see it and find out.

The film is rather confusing though does make sense, more or less, in the end. There are a number of plot dead-ends though such as an appearance by Edison's Father. Their relationship is rocky but the film doesn't go anywhere with this. You get the impression the film could do with another 30 minutes of footage to tidy it up though that may spoil the taut and macho action. Its not really a film for exquisite storytelling, its a story of guys with guns running around bare chested. Great action scenes and some nice stylish cinematic touches. Maybe it needs a sequel to tidy everything up. Though with what Edison has been up to over the last couple of years that is unlikely to ever come about.

Monday, August 10, 2009

MV : "难忘初恋" by Linda Wong

One of Linda's big hits.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Review : True Women For Sale

True Women For Sale (HK 2008)

True Women For Sale is one of those very HK films that reveals in the people and culture of the SAR that you either love or find totally alien. I fall into the former category and loved this collection of misfit/normal HK characters struggling in their different ways to make it in the world.

You have Prudence Lau, in a rare film outing, as an aging drug addict prostitute with terrible teeth. Anthony Wong as an insurance salesman who is always looking for a new client even if his working class clients are not exactly that regular with payment of their premiums. Race Wong plays a mainland immigrant made pregnant by a now dead HK man who is continually demanding her rights and in a very annoying squeeky manner too (no doubt intentionally to amuse the HK audience).

The film, directed wonderfully by Herman Yau, does not have a plot as such. It is more like a set of storylines based around the various characters which sometimes intermingle and portray a HK unsure of it's reunion with the mainland and under pressure from its larger, more virile and in some ways quite alien neighbour. Thus Anthony Wong considers selling insurance on the mainland but is warned the market is very different and the HK prostitutes face competition from younger and cheaper women from the mainland.

Fairly low budget but the film does not suffer for that because of the style and content. The film is full of rough HK humour but it does not detract from the drama and social comment, the humour is used in a very natural way. One criticism may be it's more like a truncated soap than a movie but the story reaches a (kind of) conclusion in the end and is highly recommend for those who love HK and want a bit more than bland action thrillers which are set in HK but could basically be anywhere.

Friday, July 24, 2009

MV : "睡公主" by G.E.M. Tang

Right up to date cantopop wise a nice song by G.E.M. Tang.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

CD : Rowena Cortes - raining sha la la

Rowena Cortes did not release many albums in her short(ish) cantopop career in the 1980s but with this re-issue as part of UMG's Black in Black series this more or less completes her cantopop discography. There is one more album i have seen the cover of dating back a bit further (late 70s i think).

Raining sha la la was a hit for Rowena and starts off this typical mid-80s cantopop album, the song has a lovely early electronic melody to it. Electronics were just getting going in cantopop by then so this album is a mixture of the more organic funky sounds of the early 80s and the electro-pop which dominated the genre well into the 90s and the best songs are in this vein such as 暗藍 and 笑匠. Of course there are a couple of western cover versions though these arn't terrible. Overall its a good selection of music with Rowena's sweet vocals and seems a shame Rowena did not release that much after this album.

One nice touch, as with all the Black in Black series, is the black CD and faux-LP design.

MV : "DNA gone wrong" by Leon Lai

Oh no my DNA has gone wrong!

Review : Shinjuku Incident

Shinjuku Incident (HK 2009)

Lets review a new movie for a change. This is Jackie Chan's latest and is in a much darker tone than you usually get from the man. He plays an illegal immigrant from Mainland China who sneaks into Japan to look for his beau, Xu Jinglei, who has gone missing. Jackie settles down to a life as an illegal with his friend Daniel Wu doing the dirty jobs Japanese don't want to do though of course always being wary of the police and in one incident he ends up saving the life of a cop (Naoto Takenaka). Finally he sees his old love... who is now married to a Yakuza mob boss!

To survive Jackie forms his own gang from a collection of misfit Chinese illegal immigrants in order to get legal status and some respectability but of course as you know in these films a dark past never can be evaded forever and the cop he saved earlier wants him to get his former buddies back the right side of the law. The end of the film is very violent as Japanese and Chinese mob gangs do battle though the fight scenes are realistic (apart from Jackie who can't be stopped by gun or sword wounds it seems). The plot is quite generic for these kinds of movies (New guys enters scene / Fights way to top / Rivals want to bring him down) but also has a number of interesting sub-plots such as the experience of illegal immigrants in Japan to shake things up a bit though these sub-plots never really go anywhere.

Its the darkest Jackie Chan film i've seen and he tries his best to portray a complicated character with good and bad facets to his character but Jackie Chan has a lot of acting baggage (and not all of it that good) so sometimes it is difficult to relate to his character. It might just be down to the countless films you have seen him in before where he plays a much lighter character. Of course he has played "serious" roles before but often as the "good guy", here it is much more ambiguous.

The film is good though and portrays Japan's back streets as dark and violent. You won't find much if any of Jackie Chan's trademark action but you'll get a good solid mobster movie with plenty of gritty violence.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

MV : "虹日" by Hacken Lee

Going really old skool with Hacken!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Review : Raped By An Angel 3 : Sexual Fantasy Of The Chief Executive

Raped By An Angel 3 : Sexual Fantasy Of The Chief Executive (HK 1998)

With a title like this you know its not going to be an arthouse movie or a philosophical work, especially as Wong Jing is behind it. This film can be best described as a soft porn crime thriller in that it involves a candidate for the position of HK Chief Executive (Alex Fong) who is also a successful businessman but in his office building women working alone at night get raped yet this somehow does not affect his election standing.

The fact he keeps seeing naked women while out on the campaign trail doesn't affect him either or the fact he likes a bit of rumpy pumpy on his desk though he does go and see old-flame turned psychologist Angie Cheung who suggests he cut himself off from the world for 24 hours.

When the 24 hours are up, and he scarcely remembers what has happened in that time, he finds out one of his office staff, Pinky Cheung, has been raped and he is the suspect. Oddly enough though Pinky's brother is the cop assigned to the case. So no clash of interests there. The story is not bad though not very original and you can see the twist coming a mile off. Gratuitous use of female nudity and writhing bodies of course but an entertaining little film for all it's faults. The film may have been inspired by President Clinton and his libido.

MV : "私人時段" by E-Kids

Not to everyone's tastes i know but i like this song by E-Kids a lot.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

MV : "Desire" by Linda Wong

My favourite Linda Wong song. Just love the gothy feel to this.

Review : Blue Lightning

Blue Lightning (HK 1991)

Hong Kong: it seduces you, inspires you, attracts you but its a tough mistress. The streets have the bright lights and a myriad of attractions but in a dark alleyway is something ready to bite you on the...

Danny Lee plays a drunk ex-cop whose ex-wife is killed by person unknown. Only their kid survives. But why kill the woman? Thats the question on the lips of cop Tony Leung Ka Fei. As they investigate they start to delve into a world of blackmail, corruption and underage sex...

A Bigwig in HK is preparing for election but has a dark secret the assassin is trying to cover up. The assassin comes back for more to remove the evidence, including the friend of the deceased woman in the form of Olivia Cheng (in her last film according to online filmograhies before she went to become a golf instructor). And then he comes after Danny. The Bigwig has the police in his pocket, can he be stopped?

A hard bleak and very violent film. In this film HK is sleezy, HK is brutal, and HK doesn't care as another victim bleeds to death on it's tarmac...

Monday, July 13, 2009

10 Leon Lai videos uploaded

Finally getting around to some video uploading i put 10 Leon MVs on my Youtube channel last night. The songs are all from Leon's Polygram years. His Sony MVs are probably the best but there are also some classic moments from his earlier work. Including this MV, one of the best of all time (in my view)...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

MV : "Spokesman for sorrow" by Kelvin Kwan 關楚耀

Current favourite cantopop song.

Kelvin is a good singer, though his career is probably over (at least for a while) after he was arrested for drug possession in Japan. What is it with the young generation eh? You wouldn't catch the older generation and the 4 Kings doing this kind of stupid stuff (or not getting caught anyway).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

MV : "Happy 2000" by Leon Lai 黎明

A classic track from Leon's Sony days when big video budgets and bigger beats were the norm! What a wonderful song and video this is.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Review : Till Death Do We Scare

Till Death Do We Scare (HK 1982)

The first few minutes of Till Death Do We Scare are among the funniest in movie history, thats if someone getting crushed by a steamroller (and then we cut to the funeral with a totally flat coffin) would make you laugh, it worked for me.

After that the film meanders a bit too much though the ending is fairly exciting with some nice ghost monster touches. There wasn't enough script for a whole movie but the good start and decent ending make the film worth persevering with.

A horror-comedy Till Death Do We Scare stars Olivia Cheng as a three-times widow who is wooed by Alan Tam. Olivia's 3 husbands (present as ghosts) want her to be happy and stay alive to maintain their legacy so try their best to get Olivia and Alan together and then, as they fear Alan will also die soon after marriage, do their best to try and split them up. Alan's sidekick Eric Tsang gets scared by a chair and menaced by the Ghost King's daughter playing the fall guy for a lot of the jokes as he does so well.

Its hilarious and stupid, like many other HK comedies of the period. The comedy is goofy and slapstick and at times highly inventive. At times the horror is quite frightening though others utter cheese. A bit genre-bending then. Great stuff.

Monday, June 29, 2009

MV : "Getting married" by Hacken Lee 李克勤

I'm a big fan of Hacken, i re-watched his 2001 movie "Clueless" earlier. Its a pity he hasn't done more on the big screen. But then it would mean he has less time to make great music like this...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Movie : Interactive Murders

Interactive Murders (HK 2002)

Someone is kidnapping celebrities in HK and boasting about it on the internet, enter Andy Hui who plays an ex-cop bought in to help out. Even with his expertise the cops are getting nowhere fast and the kidnapper (played by Ronald Cheng) displays his captured celebrities in glass boxes. Then enters a HK female geek cum mystic (Nicola Cheung) who had predicted the kidnaps. She becomes a celebrity and then herself becomes the latest victim.

This is an interesting though slightly far fetched crime drama and of course suffers like so many films and TV programmes back then which featured the "internet" in that the internet portrayed is very fanciful with full screen animations and plenty of exciting looking flashing screens. The "interactive" part of the film is actually true as the audience are invited to take part in some of the puzzles such as when the kidnapper tests the police out with a spot the difference test.

At the end of the film we get bolted on a twist and this maybe stretches credibility a bit too far when we find out the events of the film and the motivations of the major players were not quite as they seemed. Personally i think the film would have been better off a straight kidnap drama without the twist which is a little too cute. However those criticisms aside this is a very interesting and enjoyable little movie.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

MV : "In search of the deities" by Joey Yung 容祖兒

Joey's new album is really good, this song is off it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Movies : Gambling then and now

The Top Bet (HK 1991)

No one can make films about gambling like HK cinema which so often gives a mystical bent to it. Here are two examples of HK gambling movies old and (slightly) new starting with The Top Bet which can be best described as bizarre HK gambling fun.

The Saint Of Gamblers has gone off on holiday but the Triad boss needs a top gambler to win the gambling championship. Uncle Ng Man-Tat is tasked to find someone to win or he gets a chopping. He happens upon the Queen of Gambling (Carol Cheng), basically a hard HK fisherwomen who does some card tricks. But she pretends to have magical powers in order to get the dough to help her paralysed brother. Still with me? No? Tough.

Meanwhile real magical powers arrive in the shape of the Saint's sister Mai (Anita Mui) from the mainland but she refuses to use her magical powers to help gambling and capitalist pigdog things (this was before the Communist Party discovered the love of cash of course). But then, with the Triad's rival is also getting help from psychic power, Mai decides to help the Queen in her battle against the bad guy with the help of magical card tricks and plenty of kung fu.

If you've seen a HK gambling movie before you know what to expect. Grand entrances in slow motion, sharp suits and stirring music. Plus a lot of slapstick humour and fun. Its ridiculous, its bizarre, its probably banal. But you'll love it.
Kung Fu Mahjong (HK 2005)

So lets move forward to a more recent example of a HK gambling movie, this time centred around mahjong. Now if you don't know how to play the game you probably won't learn how from watching this film, unless you want to know how to fire mahjong tiles from between your man breasts (yes you read that right).

Its a Wong Jing movie so you probably know what to expect. Wacky and bizarre HK comedy thats definately politically incorrect, and borrowing shamelessly from whatever is hip. This time he borrows from the popular TVB serial Life Made Simple and includes a character called Ah Wong so similiar to the serial's Ah Wong he might as well have used the same actor... so he did. Roger Kwok basically plays the same role as the mentally challenged waiter.

But he also has an incredible memory and loser hustler Yuen Weh decides to use this to win at mahjong big. Unfortunately he has to get by the imposing figure of Yuen Qiu (who looks fairly hot in a Bruce Lee jumpsuit, lets admit it). Basically they play similar roles from Kung Fu Hustle.

There is a love interest with ex-Cookie Theresa Fu but that seems to get forgotton as the film progresses. The main focus is on the mahjong. And its tile clicking good. You will either hate or love this film. I love it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

MV : "Unlock me" by Charmaine Fong 方皓玟

Some up to date cantopop off Charmaine's latest album. Nice song in fact.

Now if only all McDonalds staff looked like this!

Joey Yung at a promo event for McD.

Joey's twitter by the way.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

MV : "Who dares to love this person?" by Andy Hui 許志安

From Andy's 2007 album "Unprecedented".

Movies : Oily Maniac

Oily Maniac (HK 1976)

If there is to be an award for the film with the best title ever then this 70s Shaw Brothers film may be in with a shout. Using Malay witchdoctor magic a cripple having a hard time (played by Danny Lee Sau-Yin) transforms himself into an oily maniac, or to be precise a monster made out of oil, and basically busts some ass.

Low-concept maybe but definately high-cheese, this is a highly entertaining 70s shock horror flick. The special effects are not fabulous but then again it was mid-70s and that is maybe part of the appeal. There are also plenty of female breasts on show and a number of women get their clothes ripped off. Yeah its that kind of film. Sex and oily monsters. Like a Friday night in Wan Chai.

What more could you want? A plot? Well there is one! More or less. Mind you the plot is full of holes. A monster made out of oil does have one rather large design flaw, but no one seems to realise this until the end. Is this film any good? It is hard to tell really, no doubt a great part of the appeal is the fact it is called Oily Maniac...

Friday, June 12, 2009

MV : "Rain sha la la la" by Rowena Cortes 露雲娜

Its the 80s! Its Rowena Cortes, what a singer. I'm glad to see that the album that this song was the title track of has been re-released. Should get that soon!

Movies : Leslie Cheung & Rowena Cortes

HK actress and singer Rowena Cortes was quite popular in the early 80s, here are a couple of her films where she made a great pairing with Leslie Cheung.

Energetic 21 (HK 1982)

In many ways an annoying film but Rowena Cortes is in it so i will forgive anything.

Leslie Cheung is a street racer who drives a Porsche 911. In the first part of the film you see how he and his buddies hang out and basically do very little (i like these guys). There are a couple of strange tangents (well it is a HK film) including a faked demonic possession that ends up in a fat girl getting pregnant. No really. I'm not making that up.

Rowena, who plays the sister of one of Leslie's friends, also gets into some scrapes including fighting girls over a dress and accidentally getting her boyfriend beaten up on his driving test. Leslie's mum brings a gwailo home but Leslie doesn't like it as its filthy apparently.

Then in the second half of the film things really get going. Another gwailo is accidentally killed in a fight and the guys suddenly start acting incredibly stupid. They begin running around like headless chickens and even turn on each other as the Police close in. In the end they are holed up in a supermarket, the Police have them surrounded. So how did it all go wrong? It is a HK film about young people, it always goes wrong.

So what is this film about? Its an entertaining romp with some good car stunts thrown in, especially a cool stunt-a-rama with some gokarts. My only beef with the film (apart from Rowena not getting enough screen time) is that the guy's characters seem to change utterly after they kill the guy. They turn from being some layabout losers into psychotic madman. Oh well.

The film is about how youthful optimism and exuberance can turn into disaster so easily i think, so it portrays that message well. For a decent slab of early 80s HK idol cinema you couldn't do much better than this. It has it all all : young beautiful people, hot 80s sports cars, cheesey nightclubs and HK 80s cool. Fantastic.
Teenage Dreamers (HK 1982)

Elaine Chow and Rowena Cortes are high school students doing what HK schoolgirls always seem to do in movies - throw coke (as in cola) around and shoplift in japanese department stores. Then their school links up with a boys school to do a joint production of Romeo & Juliet. Elaine gets the part of Juliet to play opposite schoolboy hunk Leslie Cheung's Romeo. But she can't get the final dramatic scene right... until she falls in love with her Romeo for real.

They meet secretly in Macau, they frolic on the beach, he pulls down her top and then we cut to the waves crashing on the shore... Now real lovers their final scene in R&J is a hit. But then he splits up with her before the opening night...

Cute and very vivid early 80s HK teen flick. The colours are fantastic, you even get to see/hear Rowena singing on the beach, fantastic! There are plenty of teen/fun frolics but nothing too cheesey.

Lemon Cola is the chinese title.

MV : "Everlasting love" by Leon Lai 黎明

Been away from the cantopop scene for awhile but now back, i am eagerly awaiting Leon's latest EP (released at the end of last year actually). My favourite singer. This is one of his countless great songs.

Movies : The Oldest Profession

Three films that explore prostitution in the usual subtle and tasteful HK style.

Chicken a la Queen (HK 1990)

Chicken a la Queen stars a couple of former teen idols, Loretta Lee and Sarah Lee, playing less fullsome roles than we may be accustomed to. They play young prostitutes on the mean streets of HK, selling their bodies (though we hardly actually see this) and getting battered by their pimps (which we see a lot of). The two girls have a friendship akin to sisterhood yet they have different pimps. One of them is a vile thug who delights in beating his women. The other is kinder... and an undercover cop played by Roy Cheung.

The film is really about the undercover police operation to smash the Triad gang but mostly the film is a string of violent episodes between the pimps and their girls. Girls get dragged along by cars, thrown through tables, whipped, kicked and beaten. Yet somehow seem still more or less unscathed and ready to "work" a short time later. To be honest after the first hour of violence against women it does get a bit samey...

The two pimps have a rather unrealistic relationship, at one stage one is trying to burn the other alive yet a short time later (after a stern telling off by their Dailo) they are sitting next to each other with hardly a nasty look. As already said its a film about prostitution without any prostitution, well except one pretty much unnecessary scene where one of the girls bawks at selling herself to a black guy. Loretta Lee also looks a little too cute to be a brutalised whore.

But overall its a very good film but not a bundle of laughs. If you like hard and gritty violence then you will enjoy this film, if you liked Loretta's previous cutie films then maybe you wouldn't...

Gigolo & Whore (HK 1991)

Low rent HK sleeze romp starring Simon Yam, Carina Lau and Alex Fong.

Carina is a mainlander who comes to HK for her fortune, and seems to think the best way to do this is lying on her back. She comes to this conclusion after she meets Simon, HK gigolo par excellence, and her lunatic cousin who is already a "chicken" or prostitute. So Simon teaches Carina how to sell sex... only snag being she's fallen in love with him. But he sells sex and tells her love is betrayed. Oh well.

Carina then gets the gig of getting Alex Fong to wake from his depression. This she does but Alex falls in love with her. Then Simon realises he is in love with Carina after all. Yay!

To be honest the sequel was better, and thats never a good sign. But why is this a watchable film? FOR THE HK 80S EXCESS!!! The clothes! The cars! The booze! The money! This is when HK was the place to be, where you could arrive penniless and end up rich and drink expensive brandy from the bra cups of women. It never happened for me, but then again i didn't get there until 1998.

Gigolo & Whore 2 (HK 1992)

So the sequel then, silly un-PC erotic HK fare really.

Rosamund Kwan plays a tough rich girl who buys Alex Fong's company and shunts him from his swanky office. To persuade her to sell him back her shares he hires the top gigolo in HK Simon Yam to seduce her. The problem is Rosa is a lesbian...

But the uber stud does turn her back into a woman (don't shout at me, thats what the blurb says) and she sells the shares... but there is one problem : he's fallen in love with her for real. That would be fine except Alex is in love with her too. And to make matters worse the gigolo bar's madam (Veronica Yip) is in love with Simon. But its all sorted out in the end of course amid much mess and hilarity.

Some silly humour and plenty of rumpy pumpy, though i found the film a little boring and rather weird. The picture quality didn't help, for some reason the colours were a bit wrong. Though in low-lit scenes the picture became very red, i suppose thats rather apt.

The HK gay bar was quite strange, it seemed to consist mainly of bitch fights between groups of gay men and women. I suspect this film couldn't really be used as a serious examination of the gay scene in HK...

Fashions : Bright blue baggy suits, ugh

Movies : A sideways look at HK Triads

A True Mob Story (HK 1998)

Andy Lau plays that more unusual character in HK Triad films : the loser Triad. As a minor boss hes more like the whipping boy for the smug elder bosses who basically treat him like a gopher and ration his pay. His wife was killed several years before by a vile thug Andy half blinded but his son is looked after by mamasan Suki Kwan.

As Andy gets dragged further and further into trouble he meets barrister Gigi Leung... who just happens to be the g/f of Alex Fong, the cop whos out to bust Andy's ass! Of course Gigi falls in love with the loveable Triad boss putting her career at risk, naturally, but is it two-way?

The thug who killed Andy's wife makes a comeback and puts Andy in peril, but the bosses won't help and he finds himself the fallguy for a drugs operation. Now what?

Its a Wong Jing film so you know what to expect : violence, lots of it, especially against women. Blood, gore, death, sexual violence and torture. The "master" delivers, this is one of the best films Wong Jing has ever done. All in all this is a superior HK film, very well played by Andy Lau.

Rating : 5 machetes out of 5

My Hero II (HK 1993)

Dicky Cheung
plays a comic writer who has two major problems : 1) his mum is insane 2) his comics are crap. His boss tells him to come back with a good story or else... He then runs into a bona fide triad hoodlum, how better to get inspiration than to watch the real thing? By a strange co-incidence the triad is his neighbour... and has the hots for his mum.

Vivian Lai also has the hots for Dicky, but she remains unfulfilled. Never mind, she can maybe comfort herself that her part in the film probably contains the worst acting in the world. Ever. Perhaps why Vivian Lai did not make that many movies. Dicky gets drawn into the triad world and ends up the hero of course. And his comic sells huge.

Bizarre humour, sometimes hilarous, often just weird and a good lash of violence. Plus a good dollop of fantasy and weirdness... far too much weirdness. Often the film slips into comic mode with several strange tangents.

A car crash of a movie. You remain on edge watching it, torn between switching it off and destroying the VCD into a billion pieces and continuing to watch this... crime (for thats what it is) onscreen. Its a movie Jim but not as we know it. I think there is just enough goodness to recommend a viewing, at least just to see how bad some things can be. If you like Vivian Lai as a singer this is worth seeing her on screen.

Movies : Hacken Lee on film

Although a prolific cantopop singer Hacken Lee's filmography is rather short! Here are two films that did star the singing superstar!

Fruit Punch (HK 1992)

There are many things in this world i thought i would never see. Like world peace. A cure to all disease. A good Robbie Williams song. A greener future. Fans of Big Brother not getting totally carried away...

But top of all those must be the two clean-cut icons of cantopop Leon Lai and Vivian Chow getting steamy with each other. Come on, Elvis being found alive behind the counter at a supermarket is more likely surely? But no! This is the film to see Leon and Vivian snog! Incredible!

So what is this but one of those happy HK idol films. The recipe for which is very familiar : grab a load of current pop idols (and in 1992 this was Leon Lai, Vivian Chow, Hacken Lee and Grasshopper), give them a script about young people trying to find their way in the world and how to find love. And stir. So five guys (typical stereotype HK guys in these kind of films - carefree and funny and somehow are able to live despite no visible income) go into business together but fail of course.

Hacken steals the show with his shy guy who stutters all the time, but still lands the cute chick. Leon fools around with Vivian but his carefree attitude leaves their relationship on the edge all the time...

Oh Hell you know it ends up happily in the end after some minor peril involving one of the main characters. Enjoyable fluff with enough star power to start your own galaxy.

Clueless (HK 2001)

Clueless is a seriously strange film starring Hacken Lee, Elle Choi and Elvis Tsui.

Hacken and Elvis are cops investigating a serial rapist, and a rather evil criminal he is too (what he does with an empty bottle of San Miguel doesn't bear thinking about!) They think they have their man when he is identified after a brutal assault... only he has got a cast iron alibi, many witnesses saw him asleep at the same time of the crime. So how is it he is doing this? Aha of course it must be due to ancient Chinese mystical powers! You don't see that on Law & Order or CSI.

After 40 minutes however this crime is solved and then we move onto another one about 2 strange men who seem to be bumping off random Hongies and then disappearing into thin air. And there is also a corrupt cops sub-plot too. Well it all ties in the end after lots of weirdness, plenty of violence and lots of chicken rice.

The film is pretty entertaining if you like all that supernatural thing. Just don't expect Alicia Silverstone.

Movies : 3 Olivia Cheng Movies

Play Catch (HK 1983)

Play Catch is a gem of the early 80s, good old HK slapstick comedy with the right formula of comedy, action and general entertainment HK cinema cracked so often back then, of course with a totally incomprehensible plot. Alan Tam plays an illegal immigrant looking for his father, he comes across a crook who smuggles in illegal immigrants played by our hero Eric Tsang (who i forgot once had hair as he does here) who thinks Alan can pretend to be a triad boss' son. That boss is being investigated by Olivia Cheng who plays a reporter who unknowingly is carrying a tape recorded by an ICAC investigator (now dead) in which the triad boss incriminates himself in wanting to kill a judge.

And so follows a frantic race against time as the crooks chase the tape, then the girl. And with the police unwilling to help the heroic trio decide to save the judge themselves... unfortunately he's at the circus. Hilarious HK fun, like it used to be. Highly recommended.
Crazy Blood (HK 1983)

Crazy Blood is a much darker film than Play Catch. Olivia plays a social worker married to a police photographer. They have one son upon whom the husband dotes on to an almost unnatural degree whilst she is busy saving the lives of the teenage tearaways in her care. The streets of TST and Mong Kok never looked so dark (both literally - there looks like there was not much budget for lighting so often its hard to see what's going on - and morally). Rape, arson, prostitution, violence, drug taking... seem endemic on the mean streets of Kowloon!

A tragic string of events that starts with a brutal rape leads to the death of their son and then the husband goes - well crazy. He starts to kill off his wife's clients using various methods such as apartment window assisted projection. As the film continues he gets more and more insane, in the end wanting to kill himself and Olivia as he thinks his dead son is lonely. The ending is a bit unsurprising, and rather gore splatter-tastic.

Recommended little gem from the early 80s. Don't expect a barrel of laughs though.

Winner Takes All (HK 1984)

There are (according to HKMDB) 5 HK films with the English title Winner Takes All, well this is the 1984 version Yau Friend Mo Geng which also stars Alan Tang as well as Olivia. Its a crime revenge drama.

A jewellery shop boss loses his daughter in a rather bloody manner (crushed under a Ford Cortina - well i suppose that's the coolest way to go) during a robbery and then seeks revenge on the 3 men who did it.

He enlists the help of a tough guy who is also after those 3 for killing his bro, nice co-incidence huh? The two allies chase the 3 hoodlums, trying to keep one step ahead of the Cops. The female cop has a rather large bust which you may notice and the film certainly does. Our hero also has a rather fine leng lui girlfriend Olivia Cheng who doesn't really affect the plot that much but does look lovely.

The geeky shop owner ends up being a bit of a double crosser and a strange but interesting 3 way fight takes place in a shopping mall.

A nonsense plot really like so many films of the period but 80s HK was cool. The subtitles disappeared a few times. Some good fighting and bad acting and hot chicks. Typical early 80s HK fare!

Movies : Triads going crazy

Tragic Fantasy : Tiger Of Wanchai (HK 1994)

The streets of Wan Chai never looked so bloody, every KTV lounge and bar is a battleground complete with heaps of dead hoodlums.

Simon Yam plays the part of a parking attendant who rises to Big Bro in the triads, but of course as soon as you rise then there are rival bosses who want you to fall. We've seen it all before of course many times, but this is especially quite gritty. However at the same time the film doesn't engage you fully, it lacks that extra special something. So no X-factor, though has plenty of XXX factor. Violence aplenty and not a small amount of sex.

Simon looks cool and Marianne Chan looks hot, and action is interspersed with some cool mid-90s cantopop tunes, including a bit where Roy Cheung is firing an AK-47 in slo-mo to a musical accompliment. Lau Ching Wan plays a bumbling character showing the film has plenty of star power.

Its supposed to be based on a true story but lets just say its maybe a little itty bit exaggerated.

Ebola Syndrome (HK 1996)

If Tiger Of Wanchai is Cat III because its violent, Ebola Syndrome is Cat III because its... well... sick! Anthony Wong plays a triad on the run for murdering his boss. Hiding out in South Africa he catches the Ebola virus by raping a woman, but finds he is one of the few people whom it does not kill but instead he is now a carrier. He then begins a bloody rampage, killing and infecting people often by rape across South Africa and back to HK.

If you want to see a film where 3 people are killed and then turned into hamburgers then this is your bag. If you want to see a film where someone uses a pork chop for masturbation and then puts it back in the fridge for cooking later then this is your bag. For everyone else it may be your sick bag!

A film so dark and evil its wonderful. A masterpiece. A gory glory.

Movies : Alan & The Girls

Two more films starring Alan Tam but very different...

Girl With A Gun
(HK 1984)

Yin Hsia
plays an unfortunate girl, orphaned and now mute who is raped on the way home. And when she gets home she disturbs a burgular who rapes her again, but she grabs an iron and clobbers him. Then she cuts his corpse up and puts it in the fridge as you do. She grabs his gun and begins a one-woman crusade against anything male... No its not a comedy.

The action is furious, the shootings are rather unrealistic (she doesn't seem to aim very well but shoots them stone dead every time), especially in the gang fight scene which borrows heavily from the 2nd best film of all time The Warriors. The action even takes place in a fair ground (but its not Coney Island).

As she progresses with her shooting spree she updates her look from mousey seamstress to 80s hot babe (and wow is she hot!) To a soundtrack of great tracks like Ghostbusters and Like A Virgin she hunts down bad men (women beaters, players, punters) and puts them away with her .45. Its very 80s of course and hugely enjoyable for that.

Alan Tam plays her boss and at the end she is invited to a party which involves limbo dancing. A hamsup lo takes her to a room... but when he pulls up her dress he finds something rather unexpected tied to her thigh. Bang! Another dead un!

But by now the police are on her trail as her land lady got suspicious and investigated her apartment and found something rather ewww in the fridge. Best not tell her though that Yin Hsia had already fed her cat human meat. Burp!

And Yin Hsia ends up in the asylum. She doesn't utter a single word throughout the entire film.

A Girl Without Sorrow (Taiwan 1982)

Whereas the first film was all thrills and excitement this is a rather dull love drama that doesn't get out of second gear. However has slightly less gore.

Alan Tam plays a good-for-nothing rich man's son who falls in love with Joan Lin. Unfortunately Joan likes her men to have virtue and be hard working. So Alan, with the help of his friend, creates a new persona for himself as a hard-up painter. It does the trick but what happens when Joan finds out the truth?

And so on, not very exciting film. I was not in a state of grippability. Alan Tam has a remarkable similarity to Alan Partridge in this film, bizarre i know.

Movies : The Tough Streets Of Mong Kok

Mong Kok in HK is the most densely populated area in the world and in HK movies is often portrayed as the centre of Triad and vice activities. I can't say its seemed that rough when i've been there but there you go...

Mongkok Story
(HK 1996)

Mongkok Story is decent if unspectacular Triad film, definitely from the Young & Dangerous slash-slash stable rather than the more cerebral assassin stable a la Election. Not that that is a bad thing of course. However when you see Mongkok Story you will probably get a feeling of deja vu as it re-treads familiar ground covered so often in HK cinema.

Edmond Leung plays a young waiter who is seduced by the glamour of being a Triad, especially the local small-time hoodlums who frequent his cafe and their Dailo Roy Cheung. He joins this group but finds the Triad life is not so wonderful after all. Especially when he has to "go down" on Anthony Wong, a rival boss and sometime film star, no really. Not that there isn't a suggestion that Edmond might be gay, at least gay for his Dailo though we find out that Dailo is married to Edmond's first girlfriend. Not that she remembers him, and the Director forgets this soon enough anyway.

When his Dailo is killed by the rival gang Edmond thirsts for revenge. So begin the slash slash! Overall the film is pretty good stuff though nothing you haven't seen before. Good action and a slightly surprising ending.

Prince Of Portland Street
(HK 1993)

Maybe only in a HK film could you have a film starring two lovable cheeky chaps (Simon Yam and Dicky Cheung) playing woman beating and cheating pimps. But if you ever wanted a film about two lovable pimps here is their story. Simon is the "Prince Of Portland Street" - some kind of uber-pimp, i guess its not an official post in the HK government.

He tangles with a rather nasty rival Triad Dailo and gets hit on the head with a gas bottle. Simon now acts like a child (hmm where have we seen that plot used before?) and follows Dicky instead. However Dicky, although he tries hard to play the part, can't pull off the Prince role as well.

Enter two ladies (of the night) who begin a love-hate relationship with the two guys. The Triad badboy comes into the fray again though but once Simon hits his head again his "magical powers" are restored. Can't think where they got that idea.

In typical HK fashion this is a very violent film but with good humour, and questionable morals. The question behind this film is can two men escape their past? This film proves it is difficult. Great stuff anyway. The HK in these two films is a neon-lit sleezy and violent world. Men drink, fight and enjoy women, then fight and enjoy some more women. Crime doesn't pay but you can have a good time finding out. Of course it glamourises violence and thats bad 'kay?

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