Posts tagged "Corey Yuen Kwai"

She Shoots Straight (Review)

She Shoots Straight

aka 皇家女將 aka Huang jia nu jiang aka Lethal Lady
She Shoot Straight
1990
Written by Yuen Gai-Chi and Barry Wong Ping-Yiu
Directed by Corey Yuen Kwai

She Shoot Straight
An underloved classic, She Shoots Straight gives us a healthy dose of female fighting action that will satisfy even demanding Hong Kong Action Cinema junkies, as well as throwing in family drama and even a few funny scenes. Corey Yuen helms and shows off his action movie chops that have kept him producing cool cinema for decades.

Despite the awesome fights, She Shoots Straight failed to do well at the box office and has gone down in history as a failure. Despite the effort of many cult film fans and bloggers, it remains relatively obscure, lacking a lead who is one of the better known Girls with Guns actresses. It deserves a larger audience, the fight sequences are brutal and well choreographed, and several of the supporting actresses are legends of Hong Kong cinema. An English dub exists, but it is terrible, so avoid it like the plague.
She Shoot Straight
Joyce Godenzi is a former Miss Hong Kong (1984), whose big break in the acting world was 1987’s Easter Condors, directed by her future husband Sammo Hung. Mixed Australian and Chinese, it is even mentioned in the film. Her Eurasian ancestry and accusations of being a homewrecker (Sammo Hung was married when they met) may have had a hand in her disappearing from the spotlight. This is one of several films Hung put together for her.

Agnes Aurelio is an American-born body building champion, and I’ve seen her claimed to be the daughter of former President of the Philippines (though I can’t figure out which one, so take that with a grain of salt!) She apparently makes a fleeting appearance in JFK(!!), which gives her a Kevin Bacon number of 1.

Tang Pik-Wan plays the Huang family matriarch. A classic Hong Kong actress with credits dating back to 1950, She Shoots Straight would be among her last work, passing away in 1991. Her credits largely consist of opera or comedic roles, and she had a long career on television serials as well.
She Shoot Straight
With Carina Lau and Sandra Ng as sisters, the Huang family is well represented with legendary actresses and 1980s hairstyles. Rounding out the four sisters are Angile Leung and Sarah Lee (who is somehow Loletta Lee’s sister!), who are short on lines thanks to the already huge cast. Sammo Hung pops up as an adopted member of the Huang family who is also a cop. Yuen Wah is almost unrecognizable as the Vietnamese gang leader. His hair style and nerdy glasses hide the ruthless individual beneath who cares for nothing except his own family and revenge, innocents be damned.

The action sequences are solid, opening with Mina Kao showing her stuff saving a diplomat. There is a lot of leaping through windows and shooting while flying in the air. There is also a huge body count, with not only villains but many police and innocent people getting killed and maimed as the fights continue. The villains are presented as a force of pure destruction, the cops can only hope that they’ve brought enough men and ammo to slow them down and contain them. The final fight is classic, and the assault on the cargo ship is filled with some awesome moments of butt kicking. Ignoring the family drama, the action alone is enough to bump this up to classic territory.
She Shoot Straight

Inspector Mina Kao (Joyce Godenzi) – Decorated police inspector headed for a high ranking position. Also a new bride of a husband feeling pressure not only to carry on the family line, but because she’ll soon outrank him. A tough cop who gets results.
Huang Chia-Ling (Carina Lau Ka-Ling) – Hot-headed sister-in-law of Mina, doesn’t like her one bit. Her anger issues endangers a mission, then help lead her into a trap that she’s saved from at the cost of her brother. Forms a bond with Mina after that event.
Mrs. Huang (Tang Pik-Wan) – Matriarch of the Huang family, was the wife of a cop and saw her four daughters and one son become cops.
Inspector Huang Tsung-Pao (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) – The only son of a three-generation police family. You might as well call him Inspector Dead Meat, because he’s way too nice to survive. And that’s not just an opinion, it happens.
Huang Chia-Ju (Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu) – While a more minor character, Sandra Ng is a welcome sight as another of Tsung-Pao’s sisters who is involved in a few of the action scenes.
Yuen Hua (Yuen Wah) – Vietnamese refugee who is a veteran of guerrilla warfare, came to Hong Kong to cause trouble and rob for money. Life is cheap to Yuen Hua, except that of his family. Leaves a bloody trail at all of his crime spots.
Yuen Ying (Agnes Aurelio) – Sister of Yuen Hua and a huge body builder and fighter. Just as ruthless as her brother, and more perceptive about the police. Has a big fight scene with Mina Kao.

She Shoot Straight
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 24, 2014 at 3:09 pm

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Zu: The Warriors from the Magic Mountain

Zu: The Warriors from the Magic Mountain

aka 新蜀山劍俠 aka Xin shu shan jian ke
Zu Warriors From Magic Mountain
1983
Written by Shui Chung-Yuet and Sze-To Cheuk-Hon
Directed by Tsui Hark

Zu Warriors From Magic Mountain
My life having gone through the binge period of renting blurry Hong Kong VHS second generation dubs with hard to read subtitles from locally owned video stores in the 90s, Zu: The Warriors from the Magic Mountain is one of those films that unleashes giant waves of nostalgia. Despite the bad conditions it was being viewed under, the energy and effects magics caused it to rise above the masses. I’ve since seen it on first generation VHS, vcd, and DVD, each time being a fun experience as an idealistic young fighter is caught in the world of wuxia masters, who turn out to have just as many problems as the normal folk (only their problems are a million times more dangerous!) With Tsui Hark’s direction (and choreography work done by Corey Yuen Kwai, Yuen Biao, Fung Hak-On, and Mang Hoi), Zu is visually distinctive. The choreography and effects jumpstarted the look of modern Hong Kong film from the 1980s, while the color and humorous tone helped distinguish it from the Shaw Brothers films that it often shared rental store space with.

The effects look a bit dated now, flying people on obvious wires, old school makeup effects, and cartoon lasers zapping around. But a lot of the practical effects still look nice, and the pulsating monster seems more dangerous as a jiggling puppet than it would as just a bunch of lifeless CGI. The effects were pushed to show that Hong Kong could produce films on par with Star Wars and other early 80s effects-laden films from Hollywood. While I don’t think they quite match the talent, much is accomplished on what is obviously an insanely smaller budget (and Hong Kong effects would develop much further thanks to experience from producing films like this one!)
Zu Warriors From Magic Mountain
Despite the effects, much of the film is character driven. Dik Ming Kei’s endless idealism, Ding Yan’s tough exterior hiding a lonesome and good man, Yat Jan being a royal screw up, and the Ice Queen being the total opposite of her name when it comes to Ding Yan. It’s Moon Lee’s first major role, she would go on to be a major player in the Girls with Guns films of the late 80s/early 90s. Brigitte Lin began her domination as a martial arts queen that would ripen with Swordsman II and The Bride with White Hair.

The energy of Zu: The Warriors from the Magic Mountain is infectious, it covers so much that we’re sprinting from concept to concept. Despite that, the basic story is simple to follow. They even stop to remind everyone that it is just good vs. evil!
Zu Warriors From Magic Mountain

Dik Ming Kei (Yuen Biao) – A former scout turned man fed up with war, who then gets entangled in drama in the martial world. He will become involved on a quest to literally save the planet. Through it all, his optimism and hope for the future becomes almost as powerful a weapon as the martial art skills he learns along the way.
Ding Yan (Adam Cheng Siu-Chow) – Ding Yan of Nam-Hoi, a lone martial fighter who fights against evil and lives a solitary life. Ding Yan is proud and stern, but he’s also loyal to his friends.
Yat Jan (Mang Hoi) – The student of Hiu Yu, a goofy klutz who doesn’t feel he is worthy to carry on the legacy of the Kwan-Leung school. Needs a healthy dose of confidence. Wears a turtle shell on his back.
Hiu Yu (Norman Chu Siu-Keung) – Leader of Kwan-Leun school and trains his student, Yat Jan. Is called Heaven’s Blade. Poisoned early in the film, requiring the help of the Ice Queen.
Ice Queen (Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia) – the Lady lives in her secluded palace and has the power to heal those injured by supernatural means. But it also costs her much energy to heal them, and she usually decides to heal or not to heal based on fate, things ouside her control. Her isolation is argued to cause her to be cold, but she does have humanity in her (as evidenced by her interactions with Ding Yan)
Ice Queen’s Guard (Moon Lee Choi-Fung) – One of the guards of Ice Queen’s palace, she is tricked by Dik Ming Kei and Hiu Yu when they embarass her to try to get past. She gets revenge on them by embarrassing them much more, and is the only member of Ice Queen’s crew to escape her palace. She joins the heroes on their quest as she has nowhere else to go.
Chang Mei (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo) – Founder of Ngo-Mei School and fighter against evil. He holds the big villain at bay for 49 days with only a mirror and his eyebrows, surviving only with the hope the dopey goofs he sent on the quest to save the planet actually get their act together.

Zu Warriors From Magic Mountain
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - December 15, 2013 at 6:41 pm

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Treasure Inn (Review)

Treasure Inn

aka Choi San Har Jan aka 財神客棧 aka God of Fortune Inn

2011
Directed by Wong Jing and Corey Yuen Kwai
Written by Wong Jing


Wong Jing scores with Treasure Inn, a blend of action and comedy with just the right ratio for a pleasant viewing experience. Like most Wong Jing movies, Treasure Inn borrows from a variety of sources, the most obvious are the classic King Hu wuxia films that revolve around inns (Dragon Gate Inn, The Fate of Lee Khan, and even A Touch of Zen) Jing makes the most of the sweeping desert landscape and the cinematography and nature shots are among his best work. Jing wisely brought in Corey Yuen Kwai (DOA: Dead or Alive, So Close) to direct the action sequences, giving them the fanciful look that Yuen brings to his projects. But before we get to the inn, we have the journey along the way.

At this point, I’m no longer impressed by opening credits animated in Flash. Luckily, the credits are quickly over, and we jump into the film proper as good guys are slaughtered and villains strike a deal. But let’s meet the cast!

Liu Jianmeng aka Young Master (Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung) – An apprentice cop stuck on laundry and cook duty while the incompetent bully actual police bumble their way through life. Young Master was taught kung fu by his grandfather, who taught him speed is the most important aspect and that true love is worth sacrificing for. Nicholas Tse has been on TarsTarkas.NET in The Promise.
Chen Yungren aka Brad (Nick Cheung Ka-Fai) – Young Master’s whiney friend and partner. Brad has big buck teeth that he’s shockingly using the entire film and not just for a throwaway gag. As the comic relief, Brad is usually horribly injured. Yes, this film has two actors named Nick as the two leads.
Lady Water Dragon (Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin) – Lady Water Dragon and her sister are reward scammers and thieves. Lady Water Dragon falls instantly in love with Young Master upon seeing him in the prison cell. No one would believe for one second she is a dude, especially with the tiny Hitler ‘stache she’s sporting. Charlene Choi is also here in Protege De La Rose Noire, Beauty on Duty, and Hidden Heroes.
Lady Fire Dragon (Crystal Huang Yi) – Lady Water Dragon’s sister, who winds up with Brad, and the contrast of the two characters’ personalities gives us many moments of merriment. A tough chick not taken to falling in love at first sight to a random guy in jail. Is just as unconvincing disguised as a man.
Wen Wenqie (Tong Dawei) – A wandering doctor who is probably asleep in the ceiling of your house as you read this! Is an expert in kung fu, though always tries the peaceful path first. Wen Wenqie is in love with Yue Linglong.
Yue Linglong (Liu Yang) – Owner of Treasure Inn and badass swordswoman and dancer. Object of Wen Wenqie’s affection, and even Young Master becomes smitten with her. Some of her anctics reminded me of Moulin Rouge, though I don’t know if it was intentional.
Captain Iron (Kenny Ho Ga-Ging) – leader of the Gold Shield Constables, tracking the villain who stole the White Jade Goddess statue and trying to keep Young Master and Brad from getting the villains before he does.


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - August 21, 2011 at 8:45 pm

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DOA: Dead or Alive (Review)

DOA: Dead or Alive

DOA: Dead or Alive
2006
Directed by Corey Yuen
DOA: Dead or Alive
DOA: Dead or Alive is not a movie. It is not a video game. It is a music video. A ninety minute music video with no discernable song (except maybe “I like the way you move” as it is used during one montage.) But you don’t need a song, you just need lots of women bouncing around in micro-clothes, and dozens of action sequences with posing shots. Actually, there is a movie a lot like this one, but instead of just being mindless action, Hero went a step farther and goes all commie in the end. DOA goes all “Let’s be friends!” and then goes back to sword-wielding chicks in spandex. That’s not to say DOA is any good. However, I was expecting it to be so horrible, that when it turned out to be passable I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, I’ll never watch it again, but there are many films I won’t be watching again, for I don’t have the time. Speaking of Hero, several of the scenes here are directly lifted from that film, as well as movies such as Crouching Tiger, Kill Bill, and Charlie’s Angels. Just part of the flash in the pan fun of DOA. But the imitations are not complete nor memorable on their own, giving another reason why there is little value in rewatching this film.
DOA: Dead or Alive
DOA: Dead or Alive is based on a series of video games, fighting video games mostly. These games have plots, as much of plots as fighting games can have, and the film chooses to ignore much of it. As I have never played the game nor care about the original story, it is not a big deal to me, but I remember a few people making a big stink when this came out. As some people complain about everything, they were easily ignored. They probably would have attacked the Q*Bert cartoon had it aired while they were alive. One of the main drawing points of the video games is the many teenage girls that bounce around and jiggle while beating the crap out of gigantic opponents. DOA games also spawned the ridiculous DOA Extreme Volleyball games, where you watch the female characters run around on an island, playing mini-games and buying ever-more revealing bikinis for the girls. Obviously a game for very lonely men. Fan service triumphed and there was plenty of volleyball in the DOA movie, but as they are real girls I am not complaining.
DOA: Dead or Alive
The movie plot itself is ludicrous. The DOA tournament is held, which randomly invites the world’s greatest fighters by some sort of flying invitation/blade that always seems to invite people just after a cool action sequence. They are then set against each other for a $10 million prize, but organizer Donovan may have another agenda. Realistic? Of course not, but much of this movie is not, so no bother. Luckily, some Wikipedia nerd has chosen to tell us that one of the major factual errors in the film is that a ninja clan would not be staffed by hundreds of armed soldiers. He seems not to have taken issue with the nanobot/magic sunglasses technology, which should tell you something about Wikipedia. The biggest flaw he found in a movie that opens with a girl fly-walking over hundreds of troops, diving off a sword, flying over a wall, ripping off her clothes to reveal a backpack, which opens to reveal a hang glider, and gets an invitation to the DOA tournament thrown at her by someone who was watching all this. But, yeah, too many armed guards for a ninja clan. Thanks Asperger McVirgin! People with too much time on their hands aside, the film is rife with several other problems, most noticeably the fact no one seems to get any injury at all, despite constantly being punched and thrown through walls. Hardly a bruise is to be found. It’s all fun and games until someone gets a paper cut. This would spoil all the fun, so just ignore the lack of wounds and go with it. Director Corey Yuen is a Hong Kong import, best known in the US for The Transporter, but best known to me for So Close.
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 21, 2007 at 12:07 am

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