Jane Bond – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 10

The Infernal Brains are back again, this time with a special Guest Brain, duriandave from Softfilm, Soft Tofu Tumblr, and Connie Chan Movie Fan Princess!


Actual photo of duriandave

Join Tars, Todd, and Dave as we discuss one of our collectively favorite world movie subgenres, Cantonese female focused action films that became known as Jane Bond films! We chat about Connie Chan, Josephine Siao, Suet Nei, So Ching, Fanny Fan, Lily Ho, Chor Yuen, masked heroines, James Bond influences, theater singing, the genesis of the genre, and many films that you’ll be hunting down for the next few years! It’s an infotainment explosion of knowledge that will pack your brain with so many cool facts that they’ll start leaking out your ears and drip on the carpet! The Infernal Brains are not responsible for any carpet cleaning bills.

As usual, we got more listening choices than you can shake an unsubtitled vcd at: downloadable mp3, embedded flash with slideshow, embedded audio player, and iTunes feed link. So many choices, you’ll have to call in your secret evil gang to select them all!

Download the mp3 (right click, save as)

Watch in slideshow form:

Subscribe to the Infernal Brains on YouTube!

Click the graphic for Podcast Feed:

Click here for iTunes Feed

Films Discussed:
Black Rose – Tars Review, Todd Review, Dave Review
Spy With My Face
The Blonde Hair Monster – Dave Review
Lady Black Cat – Tars Review, Dave Review
Lady Black Cat Strikes Again
The Black Killer
The Professionals
Golden Skeleton
Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa – Tars Review, Todd’s series overview
Dark Heroins Muk Lan-Fa Shatters the Black Dragon Gang
Lady in Black Cracks the Gates of Hell
Gold Button
Temptress of 1000 Faces
Angel with Iron Fists
Angel Strikes Again
Wong Ang vs the flying tigers part 1 part 2

Jane Bond overview
More Cantonese Cinema information

Site Links:
Soft Tofu Tumblr
SoftFilm Blog
Connie Chan Movie Fan Princess
The Lucha Diaries
Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill!

Prior Infernal Brains:
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 1
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 2
Polly Shang Kuan
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 1
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 2
Dara Singh
Infernal Brains Podcast – 07 – Insee Daeng
Infernal Brains Podcast – 08 – Worst Podcast Ever
The Mummies of Guanajuato – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 09

Spy With My Face (Review)

Spy With My Face

aka Black Rose vs. Black Rose aka Hei mei gui yu hei mei gui aka 黑玫瑰與黑玫瑰

Directed by Chor Yuen
Written by Poon Faan

Spy With My Face
The sequel to 1965’s Black Rose has a greatly expanded scope, as the Chan sisters go from being champions of the poor to outright superheroes who take down a sinister secret gang intent on robbing jewelry from all over the city. The James Bond influence is very heavy, as there are a lot of gadgets, microbombs, disguises, and hidden identities. The film also has what sounds like an original score that is rather well done as well (and also Bond influenced).
Spy With My Face
The review of Black Rose has miniprofiles of Nam Hung, Connie Chan, Patrick Tse, and Chor Yuen, so we don’t have to do it here! Hooray for laziness! We also have the overviews of the Jane Bond genre and other interesting links there so we don’t have to link it again here. Spy With My Face is notable because this film was where Connie Chan eclipsed Nam Hung and became a bona fide Hong Kong superstar.

Spy With My Face
A color print does survive in the HKFA vault, but the VCD release is a black and white dub probably made for TV. This sucks, because it would be great to see all the funky colors. At this point in time Cantonese cinema was on the decline as the Shaw Brothers were becoming the standard with their high production values and massive use of color. Shaw was also putting out their own spy films at this time, some with female leads as well.

Once again we have no subtitles, but TarsTarkas.NET doesn’t need no stinking subtitles! And the wife translated about half of the film before deciding it was time for bed, so the rest I just followed along the story as best I could. It all works out fine.

Spy With My Face

Chan Mei-Yi (Nam Hung) – The older Chan sister, who is freed from the constant attention of rich bachelors because she spends the whole film helping her friend Cheung. Is Black Rose along with her younger sister.
Chan Mei-Ling (Connie Chan Po-Chu) – The younger Chan sister who is sassy and tough. She doesn’t put up with bad guys’ crap and would just as soon beat the tar out of them as look at them.
Black Rose (Nam Hung and Connie Chan Po-Chu) – Black Rose moves up from Robin Hood thief to gangbuster as the Black Roses save an entire city from an evil criminal element while saving their friend at the same time. Remember, it is only good to steal if you steal from those who deserve to lose it.
Cheung Man Fu (Patrick Tse Yin) – Insurance investigator and subject of Chan Mei-Yi’s attraction. Gets himself caught up in a nasty situation and replaced with an evil duplicate.
Gold Boss (Cheung Wood-Yau) – All my wife could translate of his name was Gold _____ – so we will call him Gold Boss. If he doesn’t like it, he can get bent. Gold Boss runs the secret society that kidnaps Cheung to rob all sorts of rich people. He’s also a refugee from a Mexican Wrestling film. Cheung Wood-Yau was in film for almost thirty years at this point, and only made a few more films before retiring in 1969 (with one later appearance in 1980’s Duel of Death.)
Fake Cheung Man Fu / #1 (Patrick Tse Yin) – Fake Cheung is the most worthless gang member on the team. Had he not undergone surgery to look like Cheung he would be #0 as he would have been fired. Was saving your job really worth the pain? Despite looking like Cheung, he totally doesn’t act like Cheung at all and dresses in dark shirts and sunglasses in order to look like a gangster, thus keeping his innocent insurance investigator cover. Fake Cheung is not the sharpest of tacks.
#2 (Fung Ngai) – The mute gang member. Only a mute guy would put up with being named #2, because that means you can’t hear him complain! Fung Ngai also played #1 in fellow 1966 spy film The Golden Buddha. Among his many other film appearances is Come Drink With Me.
#3 (Wong Hon) – The nerdy gang member who is fourth in charge and has confidence problems. Wong Hon was a Chor Yuen regular, appearing as a policeman in Black Rose, a doctor in Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan, and many other Chor Yuen films.

Spy With My Face
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Black Rose (Review)

Black Rose

aka Hei mei gui aka 黑玫瑰

Directed by Chor Yuen
Written by Hoh Bik-Gin

Black Rose
Welcome to a trip to some classic Cantonese cinema. Not only are we going to review Black Rose, but we’ll be hitting the sequel, The Spy With My Face, as well as one entry from the 1990’s, and an eventual rewrite of our review of Protege De La Rose Noire. Yes, that previous sentence will get edited as the other reviews appear here. Eventually. Maybe.

Black Rose was basically the beginning of the Jane Bond films. It did not start the strong female character/super hero genre, but popularized it to the point where Black Rose is known as the standard bearer of the genre. This blog entry going over some of the wonderful films featured on the SoftFilm blog features a cornucopia of films with strong female leads.

Connie Chan Po-Chu was born in 1947 and is the daughter of two Beijing opera stars (Chan Fei-nung and Kung Fan-hung) She was not only trained in classical opera style (specializing in male roles) but also trained in both Southern and Northern martial arts styles. Connie made her film debut in 1959’s The Scout Master, and became a breakout star in the 1960s. Her last film was 1972’s The Lizard (also her only film for Shaw Brothers and one of the few that still survives in color, The Spy With My Face was filmed in color even if it doesn’t seem to have survived that way.)

Black Rose
Unlike her fellow teen queen Josephine Siao, Connie Chan stepped out of the limelight after her retirement, though she does emerge from time to time in stage presentations on TV (much to the excitement of my in-laws, who spend a frightenly long time trying to capture just her performance from a TV special onto a DVDR despite barely knowing how to turn the computer on.) More information on Connie Chan can be found on Movie Fan Princess. The site is run by duriandave of SoftFilm, who also supplied me with the vcds used to review the two Black Rose films. Check her out in action in Lady Black Cat and The Furious Buddha’s Palm.
Black Rose
Nam Hung was born as Su Manmei. Her mother and sister were also stage actresses, but I don’t think they were in films. The stage name Nam Hung means “fame of the south”. She began stage performing in 1950 and moved to films in 1953. She set up the Rose Film Company in 1962 with future husband Chor Yuen (also the director of this film) She starred in many Chor Yuen and Chan Wan films, and was a coproducer of Black Rose and its sequel. She was also in the original House of 72 Tenants, which was remade and then both inspired Steve Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle. Nam Hung moved to tv in 1976.

Director Chor Yuen was born in 1934 as Cheung Bo-kin, the son of Cheung Wood-yau, a Cantonese cinema actor. After studying chemistry in college, Chor Yuen joined the cinema world, first as a screenwriter (under pen name Chun Yu) and then worked as assistant director to Chun Kim. His directorial debut was The Natural Son in 1959. He helmed all sorts of films over the years. Notable films include 1963’s Tear-laden Rose, 1968’s Winter Love, and 1968’s Young, Pregnant and Unmarried, a comedy capitalizing on the youth craze in Hong Kong (also starring Connie Chan). Chor Yuen joined Cathay in 1969 and started focusing on wuxia films. Then he moved to Shaw Brothers in 1971. Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan was one of his films there (he later remade it as Lust For Love Of A Chinese Courtesan) Besides the Rose Film Company with Nam Hung, Chor Yuen formed his own company Ligao Film in 1985
Black Rose

Patrick Tse Yin is probably best known to Western film fans as the evil guy in Shaolin Soccer, but he was a huge star in Cantonese film in the 1960s and is a pretty cool dude and leading man. But for people like me who were first exposed to him playing a jerk, we will always have that image stuck in the back of our minds when we see him play good guys. Patrick Tse Yin is the father of Nicholas Tse (seen here with his wife Cecilia Cheung in The Promise.)

The Black Rose series of films goes like so: The 1960’s had the first two entries, Black Rose and The Spy With My Face/Who is That Rose? in 1966. Then there was nothing until a revival in the 1990’s with homage films that are basically love stories to 1950s and 1960s Cantonese cinema. There are three films in this set, 1992’s 92 Legendary La Rose Noire (written and directed by Jeff Lau), 1993’s Rose, Rose, I Love You (directed by Jacky Pang and produced by Jeff Lau), and 1997’s Black Rose 2 (directed by Jeff Lau and Corey Yuen Kwai). The series was recently revived as a vehicle for the pop duo The Twins in 2004 for Protege de la Rose Noire. I doubt there will be any direct sequels to this due to the whole Edison Chen sex photo scandals which enveloped Twin Gillian Chung in its tentacles when she showed up naked online. Teresa Mo was the Black Rose in Protege, continuing the loose connections between the films (she was one of the apprentice Roses in 92 Legendary La Rose Noire.)

The VCDs we watched were without English subtitles, but we don’t need no stinking subtitles! And my lovely wife translated. So take that, not released on DVD film!
Black Rose Continue reading

Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan (Review)

Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan

aka Ai Nu

Lily Ho Li-Li as Ai Nu
Betty Pei Ti as Lady Chun
Yueh Hua as Chief Constable Ji De
Tung Lam as Bao Hu
Directed by Chor Yuen

What is an admitted inspiration to the classic Asian trash film Naked Killer is a keen Shaw Brother’s epic, which is not your typical kung fu epic. This film has women empowered, killing men who have wronged them, a classic revenge flick. As I eat this stuff up, this is a perfect movie for me. It’s sprinkled with great fights, and plenty of naked women. There is even the lesbian theme pushed in, and the body count is piled to the ceiling and above. Since this inspired Naked Killer, which inspired Naked Weapon, we also get a living example of the theory that the third generation of dynasties ruin everything. The thought that such good movies inspired such garbage would be mind-boggling, except Hollywood does the same thing at least once a month with the latest “re-imagining” of classic movies or TV shows. Luckily, this is the generation one of the sexy killer lesbian kung fu movies, and it’s all good as gold!

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Clan of Amazons (Review)

Clan of Amazons

aka Xiu hua da dao

Lau Wing as Lu Xiaofeng
Ling Yun as Jin Juiling
Yueh Hua as Hua Manlou
Ching Li as Xue Bing
Shih Szu as Jiang Qingxia, 3rd Sister
Cheung Ying as Serpent

This Shaw Brother’s epic features no Amazons, instead you have red shoed women, police inspectors, blind kung fu, sword fu, needle fu, embroidery fu, burning boat fu, and prostitutes getting paid to look out a window.
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