Monday, June 29, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
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 ..er.. 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.
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
Saturday, June 13, 2009
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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 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!
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.
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 ...er... 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.
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?
- A-1 (HK 2004)
- A Girl Without Sorrow (Taiwan 1982)
- Alan & Eric : Between Hello & Goodbye (HK 1991)
- A True Mob Story (HK 1998)
- Blue Lightning (HK 1991)
- Chicken A La Queen (HK 1990)
- Clueless (HK 2001)
- Colour Of The Truth (HK 2003)
- Crazy Blood (HK 1983)
- Crazy N' The City (HK 2005)
- Fruit Punch (HK 1992)
- Love Connected (HK 2009)
- Nightmares In Precinct 7 (HK 2001)
- Teenage Dreamers (HK 1982)
- Tequila (HK 1993)
- The Top Bet (HK 1991)
- Till Death Do We Scare (HK 1992)
- Tragic Fantasy : Tiger Of Wanchai (HK 1994)
- Troublesome Night 4 (HK 1998)
- True Women For Sale (HK 2008)