Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Half Twin (HK 2006)

This was one of the biggest flops in HK cinema in 2006 (apparently only making a few thousand at the box office though admittedly not a huge budget film) though it is maybe a bit unfair as its not that bad a film, indeed it is actually pretty good... in parts anyway.

It stars Candy Lo who plays an estranged twin who apparently buries her successful twin sister alive to take over her successful life. Crumbs!

The rich sister's boyfriend Eric Kot gets a bit suspicious though when his "girlfriend" wants nothing to do with him and acts totally strange. Bad Candy is assisted by Carl Ng who is the real evil mastermind behind the plot. Of course there is a twist, its not totally unexpected but pretty well done.

So all in all a decent film and worth seeing. Candy Lo pulls off two good roles for the price of one as the twin sisters have different characters. Indeed it is worth watching alone for the rather impressive athletic form of Michelle Zhang incidentally. She steals the scene fairly often, standing there silently. Hopefully she will get other film roles where she actually speaks.

Love Connected (HK 2009)

I'm a sucker for HK romantic comedies which feature a host of the current starlets in favour and especially those that star Stephy Tang. She is in this one along with Justin Lo, Kay Tse, Miki Yeung and I Love U Boyz. This film is really 5 little films in 1, like a complicated drama serial it includes different storylines and plots running simultaneously and the film switches between them. 5 may be pushing it slightly as the film is bitty but its not without high points (and low points for that matter).

The most important story is probably between Stephy and Justin. He tries to woo her with his music (he being a musician) though hits an unexpected snag when he discovers Stephy is deaf! The most annoying story involves the I Love U Boyz pair playing a couple of losers (no sniggering please) who end up with Miki Yeung staying with them (somehow) and we follow their "hilarious" attempts to try and have sex with her. If there ever is a low point in the history of cinema then this may be it.

Sammy Leung is another comedian who can often be annoying but here he is on top form as a guy trying to juggle multiple simultaneous dates. It is a ridiculous set-up of course but funnily done. All of the stories end in a twist which i won't spoil here. Some of the twists are a bit ridiculous stretching credibility a bit far but few are predictable. Overall the film is worth watching though not without flaws, some big ones at that. The star spotting can be fun though.

Tequila (HK 1993)

Andy Hui (looking rather young here) plays a cop investigating a series of murders along with his annoying partner Cheung Kwok Keung. The victims seem to all be cheating husbands and linked to a club Table For Two which seems to cater for those who wish to fool around... so the two cops go undercover and both fall for two girls who work there. Andy falls in love with Chan Hui Ying... unfortunately she has a beefy ex-husbund who wants to beat up anyone who touches his ex.

As guys who have been with Ying have ended up dead and Andy gets threatened with a knife by the ex he becomes the suspect for the murders. But then the ex is gunned down too. So who is it? The jealous barman who is secretly in love with Ying? Though you know Sarah Lee seems very close to her too...

The film is entertaining low-budget HK fun, the plot is coherant (no weird tangents which is a rarity in HK movies of the period) and keeps you guessing for a time although an experienced HK movie watcher should be able to guess who the murderer is before the unveiling because the other suspects are just too obvious. There is even a showdown with explosions!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Overheard (HK 2009)

Overheard is an enjoyable yet not more much than that cop drama involving three HK police investigating stock market irregularities involving a company. As the police (played by Lau Ching-Wan, Daniel Wu, Louis Koo) listen in on what is happening in the company they overhear some stock market manipulation being planned and can't resist the temptation to make a few (or a lot) HK$ themselves.

Of course the police all have their individual stories which maybe explain why they are morally conflicted but basically good including Louis Koo who is dying and has a sick son so wants the money for them. Of course once they have entered the wrong side of the law they can't get out but no sooner have they managed to avert the anti-corruption investigation by the police then the bad guy behind the company (played by Michael Wong - and boy is he bad) is after them too.

Its a nice movie, it has a strong cast and some twists to savour and is generally produced well. Of course being a modern HK movie it has to steer within the boundaries set by the Chinese censors. Thus you know they will not get away with it but the ending and resolution of the film does manage some genuine surprises even if the plot stretches credibility somewhat in doing so. A win but not a knockout, but a win all the same.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Stoner (HK 1974)

Dating back to the early 1970s when Bruce Lee was still fresh in people's minds and kung fu and martial arts was big business worldwide (or at least the current in-thing) comes Stoner, starring George Lazenby oddly enough. Bruce Lee was apparently originally set to star in this fairly standard but slightly odd film but after his untimely death it was decided to make the film anyway. Angela Mao was bought in as George's co-star. Let the hard kung-fu action begin!

There is a kind of plot, something involving an evil gangster mastermind (who has a rotating desk, excellent!) creating explosives and drug smuggling in his (evil) underground lair but the plot is just a bare frame on which to hang a sequence of excellent fighting set pieces.

The result is undeniably cheesy, fairly confusing but also highly entertaining. It is a 70s period piece and perhaps nothing that original from the time but worth seeing all the same. How many HK kung-fu movies had an ex-James Bond in them after all?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Shootout (HK 1992)

A movie in that very HK specific genre : slapstick comedy ultraviolence. This time starring Aaron Kwok as a pretty boy / pretty useless young cop who gets caught up in a case involving violent armed robbers and thus gets assigned to Lau Ching Wan's team. Then he falls in love with a KTV singer (Fennie Yuen) but of course she turns out to be the criminal boss' (unenthusiastic) girl... et cetera.

That makes it easy to find the criminals, which is just as well as the cops don't really seem to do any police work, their idea of investigating seems to be following a suspect into a brothel and then singing badly in a karoke lounge.

The final showdown takes place in a police training area, why and how the bad guys got there isn't explained but it makes for a good action setpiece to end the film. Jackie Chan produced and his hallmarks are here : fast, imaginative action.

Its not a film for plot but a film for big guns and bigger explosions.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Killing End (HK 2001)

Killing End is nothing that new, its a HK gangster film involving gangsters and police wrapped up in a brutal story that can only end in tragedy. However this Herman Yau film starring Andy Hui and Loletta Lee is very well done and well worth watching. One reason for this is the characterisation. The main characters in this film are more than your usual "troubled cop", "vicious gangster" stereotypes.

Take Andy's character for example, a cop in an impossible situation. He knows his police precinct is corrupt thus making his fight against the local gangsters hopeless but he continues onwards despite everything collapsing around him. Loletta Lee also plays a great role as a young woman with mental health issues who gets wrapped up with the story, and with Andy.

Things come to a head when Andy kills the Triad boss' son. Then Andy is marked for death. Can he avoid it?

A film well worth your time.
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