Mrs K (Review)

Mrs K

Mrs K
Written by Chan Wai-Keung and Ho Yuhang
Directed by Ho Yuhang

Mrs K
Kara Hui headlines another action flick with Mrs K, the star of My Young Auntie and The Inspector Wears Skirts series returns to her action roots for what is rumored to be her farewell film performance. A delivery boy brings an oversized basket filled with food to a large house in a gated community. Inside, the homemaker (Kara Hui) is bringing out a fresh batch of buns from the oven. But the delivery boy brandishes a gun, while his partner starts rummaging through the house, demanding the valuables. The housewife smiles, grabs the gun and starts smacking the delivery boy, and shooting his accomplice in the crotch with the pellet gun. She admonishes them for being so sloppy and not even having a real gun, while the delivery boy lets loose that his pregnant girlfriend is at her husband’s doctor’s office. She lets them go with a warning (and a taste of her cooking), but the accomplice isn’t done yet and makes plans to return with a weapon. But she’s already called security on them, and watches from the video feed as the guards beat and arrest them.

Mrs. K isn’t your typical housewife. She has a rich husband (Wu Bai), a daughter (Li Xuan Siow), and looks the part, but she has a past with a lot of shade, and that’s going to catch up with her real soon. But from the introductory sequence we know she’s not someone to be taken lightly and she knows her way around weapons. It’s going to take someone with a real reason to want to mess with her, and that person exists.

Macau had a casino robbery years ago, most of the plotters escaped with the money, but their inside man (Simon Yam Tat-Wah) tried to turn on them, and she shot him. Only problem was, he wasn’t shot dead, and now he’s back and very angry. Mrs K herself is first harassed by a nosy ex-cop who managed to track her down, but she turns the tables on his attempts at blackmail. What he did end up doing is lead Simon Yam’s character right to her. One quick sequence later, and her daughter is kidnapped, her husband is in the hospital, and Mrs. K is desperate to get her back, woe to anyone who gets in her way.

Mrs K doesn’t do the straight-forward female lead driven action, part of the running time is devoted to her daughter’s attempts to escape from the villains (which she does often enough thanks to bumbling co-conspirators) and her husband’s attempts to recover enough to provide help. This keeps things from becoming Mrs. K running through a gauntlet of goons, but also seems to make the film lose focus. Mrs. K had such a good introductory scene we just want more of her and less of anyone else.

Mrs K is best when it is throwing us into the thick of some rough action sequences, and there isn’t enough of them for my taste, but what we do get works and works well. The action scenes are the meat, and they deliver with some nice desperate fighting between aging heroes and villains, at times you can see on her face that Mrs K knows that some of the jumps and falls are going to be painful but must endure them to save her daughter. Characters get hurt, and their being hurt follows them throughout the movie. They are getting old and tired, but continue to fight because they must, to save their family or to enact their revenge.
Mrs K
Director Ho Yuhang is obviously a fan of Quentin Tarantino, beyond the film superficially resembling Kill Bill, it is peppered with soundtracks from Westerns. There are some nice shots such as a POV while a head is in a vice or the silhouetted killer standing off in the distance, but Ho doesn’t get too creative with shots and that ends up making the better ones stand out more than they should. The opening sequence where the fellow co-conspirators are all slaughtered is and interesting introduction, but at that point we are to confused as to who the people are and why we would care. Oddly enough, the characters are more developed in death when they appear to Mrs K as an hallucination. Fans of Hong Kong style action will enjoy Mrs K, but if you are looking for something greater, you should probably keep looking.

SFIFF 2017

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The Thieves

The Thieves

aka 도둑들 aka Dodukdeul
The Thieves
Written by Choi Dong-Hoon and Lee Gi-cheol
Directed by Choi Dong-Hoon

The Thieves Jeon Ji-hyun
Crosses, double-crosses, and triple-crosses in the midst of teamwork is the template of The Thieves. Not only is there a group of thieves who are all looking out for themselves while planning a heist, but there are TWO groups of thieves working together (and trusting no one) while working each other and planning bigger plots. This is the kind of film a flow chart would help, but it’s designed so well that things rarely get confusing. The various characters are fleshed out and the backstabbing becomes more personal. It helps that The Thieves is not a short movie, but it keeps the game going even after the heist and the eventual fallout. Things become really deadly, and the question of who will live, who will win, and who will die will be answered.

Sprawling across much of Asia, from Korea to Hong Kong to Macau, The Thieves sports an impressive cast of faces and names that will be familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in Asian cinema. The Thieves manages to build on the concept of the Ocean’s 11 film (which is the obvious starting point of comparison due to the heist and big cast angles) while instead being more about the twists and turns and secret motives of the various participants in the crime. The big score, while a central action piece, is nothing but a stepping stone for one character’s true motivation. And everything revolves around his eventual plan, that doesn’t go according to plan at all.
The Thieves
Partnerships are forged by desperation and motive, but easily fall apart as soon as the winds change. Some characters are more loyal than others, and some betrayals are clear from the start. The con artists will each try to stack the deck in their favor, and the fun is watching how everything plays out. So let’s deal…

Popeye (Lee Jung-jae) – A local boss of a theft ring who gets his crew attached to a potential big score, but has his own motivations for becoming involved.
Macau Park (Kim Yoon-seok) – A bigger boss who used to work with Popeye and now runs a crew based out of Hong Kong, he gets Popeye involved in a huge score.
Pepsi (Kim Hye-soo) – A safecracker fresh out of jail, was part of Popeye’s crew and is welcomed in again just as they head off to their mission, breeding mistrust as some members don’t know her at all, and others had previous relationships.
Yanicall (Jeon Ji-hyun) – A swindler and con artist who uses her beauty to separate rich men from their money. Immediately doesn’t like Pepsi. Has a sort of mother/daughter relationship with Chewing Gum.

The Thieves
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Legendary Amazons (杨门女将之军令如山) trailer!

[adrotate banner=”1″]The trailer for Legendary Amazons (杨门女将之军令如山) is here! Looks like most generic giant Chinese battle epics, though. But, every time Cecilia reacts, her hair goes flying up in the air! Red Cliff don’t got that!

Posters here

Legendary Amazons

Legendary Amazons – 杨门女将之军令如山 – Posters!

[adrotate banner=”1″]Legendary Amazons (杨门女将之军令如山 AKA Lady Generals of the Yang Family) is an upcoming Frankie Chan Fan-Kei film about the real life story of the Yang family women generals, who took up fighting after the men in their family were slaughtered (some info here) Jackie Chan produces. This is a retelling of the same story from the Shaw Brothers classic 14 Amazons, and a 1960 film Women Generals of the Yang Family, plus probably others and several Peking Operas and tv series. If it is half as good as these awesome posters, it will be awesome.

Cecilia Cheung
Cheng Pei-Pei
Yu Na
Jin Qiaoqiao
Chen Zihan
Liu Xiaoqing
Kathy Chow Hoi-Mei
Yukari Oshima (!!!)
Liu Dong
Simon Yam Tat-Wah

Here are a bunch of beautiful posters
Legendary Amazons
Legendary Amazons
Legendary Amazons
Legendary Amazons
Legendary Amazons
Legendary Amazons
Legendary Amazons
Legendary Amazons
Legendary Amazons
Legendary Amazons
Legendary Amazons

Sina via FilmSmash

Bad Blood (Review)

Bad Blood

aka Mit moon

Directed and written by Dennis Law Sau-Yiu

Bad Blood is a Hong Kong crime film that is about Triads and betrayal and having too many characters to give enough of them proper character development. And it isn’t very good. It is saved from being completely boring by one character going absolutely crazy and by Jiang Luxia beating up lots of dudes.

Granted, the only reason I even bothered to see this film was Jiang Luxia was in it, and from the trailer and description it made it look like she was going to be a deaf evil hit girl. And though she is deaf and dumb, she isn’t an evil hit girl and her character actual does stuff and is likeable, more than in Coweb, but no one still has bothered to use Jiang Luxia in a real capacity. Someone get of your duff and do it right, before I fly to Hong Kong and then quickly fly back home after having breathing problems in the bad air quality.

But Triad films are still the rage thanks to affairs of the infernal kind and dudes who are youthful and menacing. So for every HK Triad film you will sort of remember, there are many more that you will not. This might qualify as a film you will remember, but not because of the intriguing Triad relationships.

Audrey Lok (Bernice Liu Bik-Yi) – Audrey Lok is the female heir of a crime family who wants to go straight. Or does she? Beware, for when she cuts her hair she goes from normal to insane! No one will stand in her way. Bernice Liu’s picture was on the wall of a dim sum place I was eating at soon after I watched Bad Blood, so now she is following me and soon will try to tie me to an SUV and set me on fire as well. Too bad she has to wait in line for that chance!
Funky (Simon Yam Tat-Wah) – The default new leader of the gang who presides over most of the gang getting killed and himself killed. What a great leader! Simon Yam was on TarsTarkas.NET before with Fatal Termination and Future Cops.
Calf (Andy On Chi-Kit) –With a face deformed by a birthmark, this illegitimate son of a hooker is the heir to the crime family that is only barely tolerated by the rest of the family. Finds Dumby and takes care of her, but he is used by Audrey to get revenge on everyone. Andy On was Jet in Lethal Angels, so he’s got that going for him.
Dumby (Jiang Luxia) – Dumby is deaf and dumb, hence her name. Dumby talks via texting and sign language. She knows kung fu, having been trained by Calf who found her as an orphan on the streets. Spends her spare time doing amateur super-heroish work. Is not related to the Seven Dwarves or Gumby.
Brother Zen (Michael Chan Wai-Man) – An older gang member with grey hair and smart enough to figure out things despite being a lower-tier guy. But he gets killed regardless. That’s what you get for being named “Brother Zen”!
Kong (Xiong Xin-Xin) – Kong is a gang member who also runs a gym. That’s about it for his character, and then he’s killed. Xiong Xin-Xin has probably done action choreography in many films that you have seen. Or maybe not, because I don’t know what you’ve been watching. He also directed Coweb.
Hung (Ken Lo Wai-Kwong) – Another member of the gang who does stuff and then gets killed. You gotta love characterization like that! Ken Lo has been an HK actor for decades, and has made appearances on TarsTarkas.NET in Future Cops and Nobody’s Perfect.

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Fatal Termination (Review)

Fatal Termination

aka Chi se da feng bao

Directed by Andrew Kam

This movie has the scene. What scene? If you’ve seen Fatal Termination, you know what scene I am talking about. If you haven’t, just look at the screencaps littering this review, or watch the movie clip. We have a young girl dangled out of a car window at high speeds. No special effects, no blue screens, no CGI, it’s 100% real. That scene. What would normally just be a random Hong Kong action film with a slight Girls with Guns vibe (solely because of Moon Lee, who doesn’t do much fighting until that scene) instead becomes a memorable experience just for the shock of wondering if they could do that. They could, they did, and now we can enjoy! So enjoy! Or I’ll dangle your daughter out a window like I’m Michael Jackson. So read on…

John (Ray Lui Leung-Wai) – Husband of Moon, head of security at the airport, father of Yan Yan and tries to get to the bottom of the weapons smuggling mess.
Moon (Moon Lee Choi-Fung) – Wife of John and one of his security team members. Is a faithful mother to the point of jumping onto a moving car, punching through the windshield, and yanking out passengers to save her daughter. See Moon Lee here also in Tomb Raiders.
Officer Wai Loong (Robin Shou Wan-Bo) – Custom official who is on the take, to the point where he begins playing both sides and getting deeper and deeper into a pit. Goes into mortal combat with the heroes as they uncover his layers of lies.
Jimmy Li (Simon Yam Tat-Wah) – a cop from Political Division, which must be a division of Police Squad considering how much they blow solving the case here and getting lots of people killed. Jimmy Li’s white boss keeps thinking he’s a loose cannon who doesn’t play by the rules, but as people die no matter how much by the rules he plays who really cares? He likes wearing gigantic sunglasses, which must have been in at the time in Hong Kong. Simon Yam is in dozens of Hong Kong action films, and has been seen here in Future Cops.
Ko Mok-Fu (Phillip Ko Fei) – The criminal mastermind setting up a weapons theft and delivery to a rival Muslim faction, but gets double and triple crossed by Officer Wai Loong. Ends up in a final battle with Officer Wai and hero cop John. Phillip Ko was also a producer of this movie, as well as starring in many other cheap action films at the time, like Angel Enforcers and Deadly Target.
Mr. Lau (Lau Dan) – Pipe-smoking partner of Jimmy Li, Political Division. More soft-spoken and diplomatic, worried about eating, and doesn’t pay attention when someone breaks into the hotel room to kill him. Oops!
Officer Miu Chun-Fan (Kiu Wai Miu) – Moon’s brother, framed for stealing the weapons and is dropped off a building by Ko Mok-Fu when Miu gets evidence that Officer Wai was responsible for the weapons theft. Kiu Wai Miu starred in Centipede Horror and several of the Lucky Star films.
Yan Yan (Chan Cheuk-Yan) – Daughter of Moon and John, likes ballet, hanging out car windows, and getting shot.
Billy (Cheung Kwok-Leung) – Protégé of Officer Mui, but joins in Officer Wai’s evil plot. Later regrets it and helps John uncover the truth until he gets blown up by Ko Mok-Fu. Cheung Kwok-Leung stars in a film called The Mystery of the Big Boobs which I need to locate immediately…
Wrestler Goon (Mike Abbott) – Rarh! Bonesaw will smash you scrawny weaklings! Snap into a Slim Jim and dangle your Asian children out windows, because YOU WILL BE DESTROYED!! The Title Belt is mine! Bonesaw!

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