Posts tagged "mo lei tau"

Never Say Die (Review)

Never Say Die

aka 羞羞的铁拳 aka Xiu Xiu De Tie Quan
Never Say Die
2017
Directed by Yang Song and Chiyu Zhang
Never Say Die
A fun body swap comedy that throws any sort of sexual politics to the wayside in favor of lots of wacky antics, Never Say Die often runs into mo lei tau territory. That is fantastic, there just hasn’t been enough weird, fun stuff coming from Chinese cinema, and if they have to crib from Stephen Chow’s playbook to do it, fine with me. Never Say Die has been rewarded for being funny with some good box office returns (some of which might even be legitimate!), and gets the TarsTarkas.NET Seal of Approval! (Note: Seal of Approval does not contain actual seals.)

The film is merciless towards ultimate fighting, depicting it as an incredibly corrupt institution controlled by a family that profits off of the use and destruction of the other fighters, while promoting their son, Fight King Wu Liang (Xue Haowen) as the undefeated champion for years. Edison (Allen Ai Lun) is even introduced as being part of this machine, his first appearance is holding own on throwing a fight while demanding more money, and his character is coming off a suspension for giving bribes to the Fight King (for a match Edison lost and had his arm broken during) Later fighters are obviously bribed, including one who complains that the fighter won’t even try to attack them so they can fake lose.

Reporter Ma Xiao (Ma Li) is a no-nonsense sports reporter who will do whatever it takes to get her story, which is usually about how awful the various ultimate fighters are. Which is ironic, given that she is engaged to the Fight King himself! As Edison is announcing his big comeback for a rematch with the Fight King (provided he wins enough qualifying matches to do so), she harasses him at the press conference and then overhears him discussing with his manager, Ma Dong (Tian Yu), about how Ma Dong bribed enough fighters to take a dive to ensure a rematch. An attempt by Edison to retrieve Ma Xiao’s take with incriminating evidence results in the two switching bodies thanks to the power of accidentally kissing while falling in a swimming pool when lightning strikes. You know, the usual stuff. The fun then begins as they both walk several miles in each others shoes and realize things aren’t as simple as they first appear (or as I have described them above!)
Never Say Die
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - November 2, 2017 at 7:19 am

Categories: Movie Reviews   Tags: , , , , ,

Super Energetic Man (Review)

Super Energetic Man

aka 戇豆豆追女仔
Super Energetic Man
1998HKMDB Link
Written by Johnny Lee Gwing-Gaai
Directed by Dung Do Cheung Mei

I’m off-brand Popeye the Sailor Man!

A bootleg Hong Kong version of Popeye? Yep, Super Energetic Man transplants Popeye to Hong Kong cinema, brings a good portion of cartoon violence, and then goes completely nuts! Super Energetic Man plays like it’s trying to be a Stephen Chow comedy: It’s got copious copyright “borrowing”, cartoonish violence, scenes that make little sense to fill out the mo lei tau, and Lee Kin-Yan. As a Popeye film, it barely qualifies, with much of the plot running off in random directions, sometimes not even involving any of the main characters. But it just qualifies enough on the rare occasions On Do-Do whips out a can of spinach, shoots it up in the air (the spinach being played by green confetti), munches it down dramatically, inflates his arms, and does superhuman deeds.

Super Energetic Man

Oh no!


The fake Popeye is named On Do-Do (Edmond Leung Hon-Man), and he’s a humble newbie lifeguard who mysteriously often dresses in a sailor suit. His first appearance is disrupting the complicated seduction plans of Captain Lorento (Elvis Tsui Kam-Kong), who throws rats at women who are in rafts, then “saves” them from fake sharks. This overly-complicated plan fails when On Do-Do tosses a skewer into the “shark”, and earning the unwanted gratitude of hot babe Maltese, who will spend most of the film chasing after him and declaring him her boyfriend. But On Do-Do’s heart belongs to another…

On Do-Do and Princess Lychee (Gigi Lai Chi) are in love, they met on the internet. In 1997. “But ours is internet love, I can’t retreat from it,” says On Do-Do. Also they’ve never sent photos to each other, so when they do meet, it is a mystery what each one looks like. But once they do meet, sparks fly, at least until the many many times someone comes in to disrupt their union. Princess Lychee is a real princess, from Kuwite, and because of her great beauty, many men have turned heel in obsession with stealing her away to make her their bride. Hence, her Uncle Pat spends the beginning of the film battling some random soldier who professes her love and tries to kidnap her (Lychee protests that she’s never even met him!) and later Captain Lorento and Mad Dragon also try to steal her away. With all these creepy dudes stalking after her, On Do-Do becomes the best guy in the country simply because he’s the only one who let’s her choose who she wants to date. Also he helps save her from the creeps who take her agency, which often makes up for the various lovers’ quarrels.

Super Energetic Man

So say we all!


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 22, 2015 at 7:07 am

Categories: Movie Reviews, Ugly   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Out of the Dark (Review)

Out of the Dark

aka Wui wan yeh

1995
Written and directed by Jeff Lau Chun-Wai
Out of the Dark
Stephen Chow is known as one of the funniest people to come out of the Hong Kong film industry. His films have become favorites around the globe and he has legions of fans. Chow’s mo lei tau films cross all sorts of genres, from spies to action to historical to gambling to sports. People argue over which of his films are the best. But one film that rarely is brought up is Out of the Dark, and here at TarsTarkas.NET we believe that is a crime. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that Out of the Dark is my favorite Stephen Chow film. But it isn’t a non-stop wacky film, it’s a comedy that’s also a pretty spooky ghost film with a very high body count. Most of the look, costumes, and even a few character names are ganked from Besson’s Leon: The Professional. Heck, there’s even a plant! Director Jeff Lau previously directed several ghost movies, and Chow in the Chinese Odyssey flicks. He moved on to Metallic Attraction: Kung Fu Cyborg among other films.
Out of the Dark
Out of the Dark doesn’t fit the mold of the normal mo lei tau films, it spends time transcending the genre of wackiness while simultaneously embracing it (yes, that’s possible!) Out of the Dark shows much of the genius later captured by Kung Fu Hustle as a mo lei tau that is more. But instead of following a hero arc, we instead follow a group of people caught up in the sins of an evil family and their revenges from beyond the grave. There are kids brandishing knives, creepy old ladies, possessions, and the one man crazy enough to not be scared of this crap. Someone’s gotta bust ghosts and take up where Lam Ching-Ying left off! So let’s get our Dark on!
Out of the Dark

Leon (Stephen Chow Sing-Chi) – He’s Leon, he’s nuts, he ain’t afraid of no ghosts! Leon can defeat the forces of darkness thanks to his superior will and superior insanity. Leon takes the security team under his wing, attempting to save them from the wrath of poltergeists.
Qun (Karen Mok Man-Wai) – A girl at the crossroads who stumbles across Leon and is instantly smitten. Qun has what it takes to follow Leon into the abyss. Qun is sometimes subtitled as Kwan. Karen Mok later dealt with ghosts in Haunted Office, and also appeared in Task Force.
Tieh Dan (Wong Yat-Fei ) – A suicidal security officer due to his wife running off during the beginning of the film. Spends most of the first 1/3rd trying to kill himself, and the last 2/3rd fighting for his life.
Lily (himself) – Leon’s flower that can see ghosts. This is not the first time a plant has gotten a credit in Roll Call.

Out of the Dark
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 30, 2011 at 2:20 am

Categories: Bad, Movie Reviews   Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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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Hidden Heroes (Review)

Hidden Heroes

aka Zhui ji 8 yue 15

2004
Directed by Joe Ma Wai-Ho and Soi Cheang Pou-Soi
Written by Joe Ma Wai-Ho and Sunny Chan Wing-Sun


After Steve Chow stopped doing 30 films a year to focus on bigger projects, Hong Kong went through a state where the genre of mo lei tau was sort of a walking dead. But before the bullets where put through the brain, several pretenders to the throne were marketed. Nick Cheung was just not very funny, but Ronald Cheng at least had some of the childlike charm mixed with perversion and quick wit that was Chow’s claim to fame. Not enough to capture the thrown and come out with 30 films of his own each year, but enough that he could do at least one. Cheng’s acting style was to hold nothing back, often screaming his lines and charging forward, no matter the ridiculous situation, and going with the flow whether situations become dangerous or completely wacky. And much of Hidden Heroes is wacky. It is a mo lei tau film, and done well enough you could see Steve Chow starring in it, but not so mo lei tau that people start dancing in the streets. The tonal shifts remind me a lot of the Fight Back to School films.

Hidden Heroes is also that rare genre of Hong Kong Science Fiction. Not with kung fu masters flying around shooting cartoon rays, but with time traveling robots. And that will bring out comparisons to The Terminator, even though the films are almost completely different. The movie itself even references The Terminator. Because of the nature of Hong Kong cinema, Hidden Heroes becomes a few other genres as it goes along, sometimes tacking serious as the framed cop/corrupt cop story plays out.

This film is also where Charlene Choi and Ronald Cheng worked together enough to fall in love and eventually get secretly married. Their marriage was finally discovered by the Hong Kong press just in time for them to divorce. Another fun fact about Ronald Cheng is that in 2000 he got so drunk and disruptive on a flight it had to make an emergency landing to kick him off, and the pilot beat him over the head with a flashlight. This became the “air rage incident”, because every story in Hong Kong press has a definitive name. The craziness stalled his singing career for years, and he was just getting back into the swing of things as Hidden Heroes was made.

Officer Ho Yoiji (Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei) – Our hero is a lazy coward who spends most of the film plotting to kill the love interest while being engages to another love interest. That is, when he isn’t running away in fear from mad bombers, robot girls, and corrupt cops. And yet, Ho Yoiji is likable, and you want to see him succeed and not be murdered on his appointed date in history.
Mei Ling Chan 1872332 (Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin) – In the future, there are millions of Charlene Choi robots running around. That seems cool, until you realize what most of them are probably being employed as, and then it all gets disgusting! Robot 1872332 gets blown up. See Charlene Choi also pops up in Protege de la Rose Noire and Beauty on Duty!
Mei Ling Chan 1872333 (Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin) –Whoa! I guess hair styles in the future are now mimicking Bride of Frankenstein! Robot 1872333 replaces 1872332, and it is her duty to keep Yoiji alive long enough for him to die when he’s supposed to die. Sometimes, she doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
Mei Ling Chan (Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin) – Another Charlene Choi robot? Nope, this is the actual Charlene Choi, or Mei Ling Chan, who works making fake passports for criminals until she crosses paths with Ho Yoiji. Then it’s love, and crazy, and love. Love means never having to say your sorry for shoving Yoiji into a washing machine after lying about his fiancee.
Inspector Cheng Wai Ming (Raymond Wong Ho-Yin) – He’s the chief, and he’s corrupt! Ho Yoiji is partially responsible for the death of his lover, and also inadvertently picks up the key to the secret money stash the two criminals had. So now Yoiji is a target. Look out, Yoiji!
Officer Zhang Kitt (Qin Hailu) –Kitt is the only competent member of the police force who isn’t evil. Gets caught up in all the Ho Yoiji hysteria, but is eventually proven right. Qin Hailu is not exactly a comedic actress, and plays her role strictly straight. It sort of works, but it also makes you wonder if she knew it was a comedy film.
Mayumi (Higuchi Asuka) –A former dancing Geisha, now engaged to Ho Yoiji until the time traveling robots show up and his life gets flipped, turned upside down. We don’t have a minute to rap, so basically they agree to see other people.


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 17, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Categories: Bad, Movie Reviews   Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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