Posts tagged "Bruce Leung Siu-Lung"

Hapkido (Review)

Hapkido

aka 合氣道 aka He qi dao aka Hap Ki Do aka Lady Kung Fu
Hapkido 合氣道
1972
Written by Yan Ho
Directed by Feng Huang

Hapkido 合氣道
When you need villains for your martial arts movie, the Japanese are very handy. Not only did the Japanese actually do a bunch of bad stuff that seems only cartoon supervillains would do, but depicting them doing so helps stir up nationalistic feelings and potentially increases your box office bang. Thus martial arts schools are the setting for rebellion against Japanese occupiers in Hapkido, and Angela Mao Ying is more than capable of beating the snot out of all sorts of Japanese jerks.

Hapkido is one of Angela Mao’s earliest films for Golden Harvest. You can still see legacies of the Shaw Brothers influence, from the Golden Harvest logo having a strangely familiar shape to the film being advertised in “Dyaliscope”, whatever the heck that is!
Hapkido 合氣道
We start out in 1934 Japanese-occupied Seoul, where three Chinese students are studying Hapkido before harassment by Japanese occupiers cause them need to return to China, but that also means they can open a Hapkido school in China. Just as Japan now controls Korea, Japanese influence in China is not something to be ignored, their impending invasion of the whole country means their people act arrogant and criminally. The watchword for Hapkido is “forbearance”, which works fine except when the Japanese are assaulting innocent people and Sammo Hung’s character has a wicked temper. Then it gets put on the wayside while people get punched.
Hapkido 合氣道

Yu Ying (Angela Mao Ying) – Hapkido student who just wants to set up a school and teach everyone Hapkido, except the Japanese have other ideas. So it’s time to kick those ideas out of their heads and also kick many other parts of their bodies to get them to go away!
Fan Wei (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo) – Hot-headed Hapkido student who constantly gets into fights and causes trouble for his friends. But he also just happens to be around whenever the Japanese are doing something evil, so he also has very bad luck.
Kao Chung (Carter Wong Ka-Tat) – Hapkido student who tries to calm down all the trouble happening only to get a brutal beatdown to emphasize how the Japanese school is beyond reason.

Hapkido 合氣道
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - September 8, 2014 at 7:11 am

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Showdown at the Equator (Review)

Showdown at the Equator

aka 過江龍獨闖虎穴 aka Guo jiang long du chuang hu xue
Showdown at the Equator
1978
Written and directed by Gwan Jing-Leung

Showdown at the Equator

Trashing restaurants is soooooo boring!


It’s a kung fu cop action flick from the late 1970s, so you know it will be full screen and dubbed terribly. The characters will be wearing outfits that make fashion police commit suicide, and the plot will only occasionally make sense. Throw in scenes that are just there for excuses for more fights and characters whose names change depending on who is talking, and you got yourself a movie. Just don’t hurt yourself getting down to the funky theme song. Because it’s the only thing that’s funky.

Showdown at the Equator is about gangs that extort protection money out of small business owners, and the cops that are bringing them down. The film doesn’t bother to tell us certain characters are cops (though it’s easy to deduce), and spends a long time putting together the reason why the plan is so complicated. But Showdown at the Equator does have a more unconventional final battle sequence, the characters that end up fighting aren’t quite the matchups you think they’ll be.

Showdown at the Equator

Peter Tork!


As part of the massive deluge of kung fu films pumped out to feed the overseas demand, Showdown at the Equator packs in a lot of action, even if it doesn’t make any sense. The action it does well, the choreography pretty decent for a film obviously made in a hurry with little money for fancy rigs or setups. It’s got that small budget charm that you get from picking a random martial arts vhs from the video store (if your store was cool enough to have a martial arts section!) I enjoy these films, but I recognize what they are, that they aren’t for everyone, and that Showdown at the Equator has a lot of problems that keeps it from being a film anyone remembers anything about. Good thing I took notes!
Showdown at the Equator

Herbie, NOOOO!!!


Chen Wan Tu-Lei (Nora Miao Ke-Hsiu) – Daughter of a restaurant owner who is targeted by the extortion gangs. She knows enough martial arts thanks to her nunchucks that she can fight back some when the gang trashes their place.
Yu Wang-Yeung (Larry Lee Gam-Kwan) – A drunk that helps the Chen family rebuild their restaurant multiple times thanks to stacks of cash he has with no explanation. He’s really an undercover cop trying to bring down the gang by infiltrating it by being an awesome fighter. Of course Chen Wan falls for him.
Chen Chung (Yiu Ping) – Restaurant owner and father of Chen Wan Tu-Lei. Tries to be friendly with the extortion gang, but they trash his place regardless. Mr. Chen Chung is sometimes called Ching Chung depending on who is speaking.
Li Shung (Bruce Leung Siu-Lung) – An undercover informant for cops who is exposed halfway through the film. He barely crosses paths with Yu Wang-Yeung except during the final fight.
Steven (Lo Lieh) – The head of the gang, the cops don’t even know who he is until most of the way through the film. Despite being in charge of the gang, he overseas almost all of their illegal activities, which lets him discover when the cops are closing in.

Showdown at the Equator

How dare they think this isn’t a real stadium!


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 24, 2014 at 2:59 pm

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Tai Chi Zero

Tai Chi Zero

aka 太極1從零開始 aka Tai Chi 0

2012
Written by Chang Chia-Lu and Cheng Hsiao-Tse
Directed by Stephen Fung Tak-Lun

Tai Chi Zero
Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne are back, but darker and edgier!

A festive feast of visual excess that leaves you unsatisfied and full of regret, Tai Chi Zero is that mirage in the desert that looks good, but is nothing but sand when you get up close. The fun graphics and video game inspired editing are polish over a generic and predictable plot that doesn’t even do us the favor of trying to be creative. All the enthusiasm and cool effects are wasted, and that just makes me mad!

Now, I love cool looking visuals and razzmatazz editing. But you need something beneath that that’s just as creative. When the story is essentially something that has been done to death a thousand times, often more creatively, it’s just not exciting. The cast, the look, the effects, the wasted potential.

Tai Chi Zero
Chef Emeril Lagasse?

The main hero’s arc tale is set against a conflict that is essentially the modern West vs. the traditional East. Of course, tradition and kung fu wins out over technology and guns. One of the ways to get your film easily approved by Chinese censors is to make it about how awesome China is, so a lot like this is an easy pass. Creative films use that “China rules!” setting to say other things that censors are too dull to pick up on. Instead, Tai Chi Zero has characters saying how technology is bad in scenes with video game graphics and editing. It’s almost as if there is something else being said, but there isn’t. This expectation and disappointment exposes Tai Chi Zero as nothing more than a mannequin that can’t talk or move, but sure is wearing a pretty dress in the store display window. But it has encouraged me to go find some real people in real clothes, aka good movies. The East vs. West thing is even more hilarious because I can literally walk to the high school producer Daniel Wu went to school at here in America.

Tai Chi Zero
It’s the cover of one of those cheap shot on video horror films!

The action scenes I have little complaint with. The diagrams and arrows while the characters go through their stances were neat touches, and Sammo Hung and Andy Cheng Kai-Chung know what they’re doing to make things looks cool. The video game stylizing is incorporated into the choreography, which makes many scenes look like they are straight from a fighting arcade game. When each cast member first shows up, there are character cards for each of them as well as a brief one sentence bio. Besides looking cool, the biographies are good for beginners to Hong Kong/Chinese cinema, and good for those of us who don’t keep up with wushu stars who are making their first appearance in film.

Tai Chi Zero
SURRENDER HUMANS! TODAY THE MACHINES RISE!

Tai Chi Zero‘s tale is your normal hero’s arc story. Yang Lu Chan is The Freak, born with a super rare skin tag on his forehead which means he has super kung fu powers. Which is good, because he doesn’t have super brain powers. Discovered at a young age by a master, Yang Lu Chan is trained as a warrior and becomes his greatest fighter in the battles that come. But a chance encounter with Master Dong clues Yang Lu Chan in that his kung fu skills will prematurely kill him unless he learns negative kung fu, which is only taught in Chen Village, and then not to outsiders.

Yang Lu Chan/The Freak (Jayden Yuan Xiao-Chao) – A fictionalized version of real a tai chi master and teacher, Yuan Xiao-Chao is depicted as a martial arts prodigy with a growth on his forehead – the three crown blossoms – that gives him supernatural powers when smacked. It also will kill him if he doesn’t learn the style of kung fu taught in Chen Village. So he goes to learn. Is not very bright.
Chen Yu Niang (AngelaBaby) – Daughter of Master Chen, leader of the Chen School. She and her boyfriend Fang Zijing are trying to persuade Chen Village to accept the rail station that is planned to be built there. Until Fang Zijing goes bad and rejects her, then she tries to save her home from his plans.
The Old Labourer/Chen Chang Xing (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) – Gee, could this mysterious Yoda character secretly be Master Chen Chang Xing? Duh Doy! Of course, he’s just using Yang Lu Chan to save his village, but eventually is less manipulatively evil about it when the crap hits the fan. Is also a fictionalized version of a real person.
Fang Zijing (Eddie Peng Yu-Yan) – Chinese citizen educated overseas in England, who tries to bring modern technology back to the scoffing villagers. Is never accepted in Chen village and eventually rejects it in favor of not looking like a failure in front of the Emperor. Brings the giant steam machine to forcibly build the rails and reconnects with his overseas lover Claire Heathrow.
Claire Heathrow (Mandy Lieu) – Fang Zijing’s sweetheart from England who has come over as part of the East India company to lay tracks, and also to come with Fang.
Tai Chi Zero
I hate it when my steam-powered superweapon is infested with lady ninjas!t

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 20, 2013 at 2:55 pm

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Princess & Seven Kung Fu Masters (笑功震武林) is pure Wong Jing


Wong Jing is back again for the 100th time (okay, okay, 93rd time…) with Princess & Seven Kung Fu Masters (笑功震武林), a sort of kung fu Snow White but not really but also wacky weird stuff. With Sammo Hung as Sammo Hung, and also Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu, Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei, Eric Tsang Chi-Wai, Rose Chan Ka-Wun, Timmy Hung Tin-Ming, Natalie Meng Yao, Xie Na, Yuen Wah, Bruce Leung Siu-Lung, Wong Cho-Lam, and many more. It looks totally, totally…something. And because everything Hong Kong is Chinese now, it’s in Mandarin. Yeah.

The plot:

During the early years of the Republic era, in the North-East region of China, the people are suffering from the power struggle among the local Warlords, bandits, and Japanese invaders. Warlord Lam (Sammo Hung), is not a leader of great vision, but stands firm in his own beliefs. The only paradise within the region is ‘Lucky Town’, the one place where no one dared to attack as it was protected by the seven kung fu masters who have resided there. When young patriots, Yan Fang (Rose Chan) who disguised herself as a man, and Howard Luo (Dennis To), infiltrate Tiger’s Den at night trying to steal the code book fail in their mission and tries to run, only Yan survives and is rescued by Cheryl. Mistaking Yan as a man, Cheryl falls for Yan. She then brings Yan to Lucky Town and begs the Seven Masters to cure Yan. Cheryl and the Seven Masters are then told of the secret plan by the Japanese, and together, they resolve to fight against Tiger Den and save Warlord Lam.

Natalie Meng Yao

How dare you!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 31, 2013 at 10:52 pm

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Hustle and Flow – Human Nature and Kung Fu Hustle

Hustle and Flow – Human Nature and Kung Fu Hustle

A review of Kung Fu Hustle aka Gong Fu

Fig. 1 – Title credit for Kung Fu Hustle

2004
Directed by Stephen Chow Sing-Chi
Action Directors Yuen Woo-Ping and Sammo Hung Kam-Bo

Fig. 2 – Axe Gang members dance in a downward triangle representing their subscribing to baser emotions

Abstract

Gong Fu (hereafter Kung Fu Hustle), is a perfect representation of human nature, complete with characters representing the ego, the super-ego, and the id. The setting and characters are mired in the secret world of Jiang Hu. Characters grow and evolve through the film, throwing off their layers of subterfuge and revealing their true selves.

Fig. 3 – Pig Sty Alley

Introduction

As the opening credits of Kung Fu Hustle play, a butterfly flutters through a canyon that is a winding, twisting maze. A pullback reveals the canyon forms the characters of the title of the film, Gong Fu/Kung Fu Hustle. The butterfly’s presence foreshadows the final act, subconsciously readying the viewers for the change they will see. The canyon walls becoming the title let the viewers know that everything we need to see is there, we just have to look in the proper way.

Kung Fu Hustle is a martial arts comedy. At time the action becomes deliberately cartoony and over the top, those instances serving both comedic elements and further exaggerating the underlying role of the nature of humanity. Kung Fu Hustle‘s cartoonishness comes partially from it being among the last of the mo lei tau films, Stephen Chow growing as an artist and expanding his films’ reach to use things beyond sheer ridiculousness to get points across.

Fig. 4 – Cartoonish violence stylizes Landlord’s cover of having no martial skills

Characters:

Sing (Stephen Chow Sing-Chi) – Sing is the protaganist who goes through a standard protaganist’s journey. He begins down on his luck and with major obstacles in life, only to overcome the odds and save the day as the Chosen One.
Sing’s Friend (Lam Tze-Chung) – Sing has a sidekick who follows him on his schemes. His friend is another good hearted person who can’t seem to do anything evil despite his numerous attempts.
Landlady (Yuen Qiu) – Owner of the Pig Sty Alley complex and secret martial arts master living undercover trying to escape his past. Landlady refers to herself as “The Little Dragon Maiden” in Cantonese, a character from Jin Yong’s Condor Trilogy of books.
Landlord (Yuen Wah) – Owner of the Pig Sty Alley complex and secret martial arts master living undercover trying to escape his past. Landlord refers to himself as “Yang Guo” in Cantonese, a character from Jin Yong’s Condor Trilogy of books.
Axe Gang (Danny Chan Kwok-Kwan, Tenky Tin Kai-Man, Lam Suet, and numerous others) – The Axe Gang controls the underworld of the city. They dress almost as sharp as the blades of their axes.
The Beast (Bruce Leung Siu-Lung) – The Beast takes his Chinese name – Dark God of the Fire Clouds – from books written by pulp novelist Liu Can Yang.
Fig. 5 – Sing traumatizes children subconsciously repeating his own tragic life-altering childhood

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 24, 2011 at 6:43 pm

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Adventure of the King (Review)

Adventure of the King


2010
Directed by Chung Shue Kai

Adventure of the King is way the hell better than Flirting Scholar 2. Why am I bringing that up? Because Flirting Scholar 2 was made along with Adventure of the King as part of the same group (Chinastar’s 5510 production plan – 5 years, 500 million yuan budget, 10 films), and is a sort of spinoff from Flirting Scholar 2 (which is a prequel to the Stephen Chow film Flirting Scholar) Adventure of the King is also an adaptation of the play The Matching of Dragon and Phoenix, which has been made into film several times, most recently as Chinese Odyssey 2002. So just imagine that Micheal Bay directed Romeo and Juliet and had Sam Witwicky wandering around going “No no no no no no no!” just because he wants to set classic plays in his universe.


Flirting Scholar 2 was absolutely awful. The worst films are bad comedies, because their entire reason for existing is to make us laugh. Failing at that becomes a big ball of sadness that can rarely be fixed by just going to town and mocking the film. Flirting Scholar 2 had no reason to exist except to make money off of dumb people who thought Stephen Chow would show up. He didn’t. It is basically a Hong Kong version of those Jim Carrey-less Jim Carrey movie sequels like Ace Ventura Jr., Dumb and Dumberer, and Son of the Mask. With that wonderful film as the opening movement of the 5510 plan, one would think that things would only go downhill from that low valley. How wrong I was!


Emperor Zhu Zhengde/Lee Siu-Lung (Richie Ren Xian-Qi) – He’s the emperor, and he had an adventure. And he’s also a king. King Emperor. Not one of them evil Emperors like in Star Wars. At least not in the film, maybe in real life he was a jerk, I don’t know, I wasn’t in China back in the day when he was in charge. While with amnesia, takes the name Lee Siu-Lung (aka Bruce Lee)
Phoenix (Barbie Hsu Hsi-Yuan) – Phoenix’s character a delight, constantly beating everyone with a whip and yelling. This is the first Barbie Hsu character that I didn’t find annoying or boring. Even her over the top crazy lady turn in Reign of Assassins pushed my patience.
Lord Sima The Royal Historian (Law Kar-Ying) – The Royal Historian’s job is to chronicle the life of Emperor Zhu Zhengde, and spends most of the film making proclamations and writing them down in his Royal Log. This is both annoying to everyone in the movie and hilarious to everyone watching the movie. Law Kar-Ying is in both Metallic Attraction: Kungfu Cyborg and Future X-Cops.
Commander Chen The Royal Bodyguard (Bruce Leung Siu-Lung) – When you bodyguard is Bruce Leung, you’re in pretty good hands.
Mr. McFortune (Wu Ma) – Kentacky Fried Chicken’s answer to Colonel Sanders is Mr. McFortune. Have you ever been to Kentacky? They really need a new decorator… Wu Ma’s been in film forever, and was recently seen here in Haunted House Elf.


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 9, 2011 at 2:24 am

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