Posts tagged "Tony Leung Ka-Fai"

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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Tai Chi Hero

Tai Chi Hero

aka 太極Ⅱ:英雄崛起 aka Tai Chi 2: The Hero Rises

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

Tai Chi Hero
How do I pee in this thing???

While Tai Chi Zero spent most of it’s running time setting up an Eastern tradition vs. Western modernism dichotomy that clashed with the very editing processes used to make Tai Chi Zero visually entertaining if nothing more than fluff, Tai Chi Hero tries a different tact. A method of uniting the different aspects of not only the film series, but of the culture clashes and personal clashes. The film is all about reconciliation, reunion, and combining into a greater whole. A balanced whole between the yin and yang, which is a part of the philosophy of tai chi.

Tai Chi Hero
Suddenly the movie goes all Forrest Gump!

There are still lots of plot lines to resolve, since the last film didn’t bother to finish anything up. And don’t expect everything to get resolved this time, either, though at least most of the problems are solved. At the last minute. Tai Chi Hero‘s attempts to have more of a story feels better, but conflicts with the flashy editing and choreography that was the only charm of the first part. So while being a better film on the whole, Tai Chi Hero manages to disappoint in the area that gained it fame, while not making enough up in the other aspects. Instead of the parts balancing together into a better whole, instead we just a big confusing mess, which defeats the whole message of the film! This is where Homer Simpson would say “D’oh!”

If you see one Tai Chi -ero movie, make it Hero, but seriously consider grabbing something else. Make it a balanced viewing where you also watch a decent film.

Tai Chi Hero
Rah rah, ah ah ahh
Roma, Roma ma ah
GaGa, Ou lala

Yang Lu Chan/The Freak (Jayden Yuan Xiao-Chao) – The hero from our last film is marrying into the Chen clan so all his tendon’s aren’t ripped out. And also to learn the kung fu he needs to survive. And to help save his home. And also because he loves Chen Yu Niang.
Chen Yu Niang (AngelaBaby) – Daughter of Master Chen Chang Xing, marries Yang Lu Chan despite not loving him nor wanting to be tied down with the responsibility, but Yang Lu Chan will prove himself over time. Helps him achieve balance.
Chen Chang Xing (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) – Master of the Chen clan and Chen Village. His strictness has caused family problems which are brought up again during a plot against Chen Village. Manages to play roles of both the wise elder and the antagonist of one of the minor heroes, before achieving redemption and thus, balance.
Chen Zai Yang (William Fung Shiu-Fung) – Oldest son of Chen Chang Xing, who was run out of town do to his preference of technology over martial arts. He returned in a complicated plot and eventually tries to redeem himself. His wife Jin Yun Er is a capable woman and partner despite being mute.
Fang Zi Jing (Eddie Peng Yu-Yan) – The villain returns with a complicated plot of revenge against Chen village involving working and bribing his way to getting an East India Company funded army to blow the crap out of the town. Which he does, and probably killed dozens of people, so I guess he sort of gets revenge even though he’s stopped.
Tai Chi Hero
More clockworks than A Clockwork Orange!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 1, 2013 at 6:09 am

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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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Your 2013 Lunar New Year Comedies!

Shu Qi Chrissie Chau Journey to the West
It’s that time of the year, when China shuts down thanks to Chinese New Year! In between everyone going to see their family and every family going out for an incredibly expensive dinner, there is also the tradition of going to see ridiculous comedy films in the theaters! The Lunar New Year comedies are a source of some of the best comedy films from Hong Kong! And also some of the most terrible… But let’s not dwell on those failures, because they get buried beneath the sands of progress progress progress. And more films the next year! This time, we got a three-way battle plan, and the first time in two years that there isn’t an I Love Hong Kong/Alls Well Ends Well matchup at the box office. Because last year’s entries are buried beneath the sands of progress progress progress.

Journey to the West: Fell Monsters Chapter (西游·降魔篇) – The most anticipated of the three new years comedies, because it’s the long-awaited return of Stephen Chow to film! He’s directing this insane take on the famous Monkey King story, even if his appearance in front of the camera will be brief if he does it at all. In any event, I cannot wait, and will literally murder every single one of you to get to see this film. Yes, even you, Tiny Tim. Think I’ll spare you because of your gimpy leg? Think not!
We posted the trailer here

Hotel Deluxe (百星酒店) – Vincent Kok’s entry takes place at a fancy hotel, and like all good Lunar New Year comedies, a bajillion things are going on. The hotel hires scab employees, it’s being used as a film set, is being renovated, and is hosting a fake wedding. Yes, only those few plot lines! Hotel Deluxe stars Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei, Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu, Teresa Mo Sun-Kwan, Chapman To Man-Chat, Fiona Sit Hoi-Kei, Eric Kot Man-Fai, Raymond Wong Pak-Ming, Lynn Hung Doi-Lam, Karena Ng Chin-Yu, and many more. Raymond Wong is producing. It opens February 7th
The trailer:

Better and Better (越來越好·村晚) – Zhang Yibai (with help from Xie Dong-Shen) bring us this Mainland funded comedy on February 10th. It features Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Wang Bao-Qiang, Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu, Wu Gang, Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing, Wang Luo-Dan, Xu Jing-Lei, Ni Da-Hong, and cameos from the likes of Karen Mok Man-Wai and Zhang Ziyi.
Trailer:

Who will win the ultimate showdown of ultimate 2013 Lunar New Year Destiny? Probably Stephen Chow unless that film sucks, than it’s anyone’s game!!!!!!! Enjoy the lots of pictures below.

via Roast Pork, Sina

And let’s not forget I Love Hong Kong 2013 (2013我爱香港之恭喜发财), like I almost did!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 31, 2013 at 12:20 pm

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I Love Hong Kong

I Love Hong Kong

aka Ngo oi Heung Gong: Hoi sum man seoi aka 我愛香港

2011
Directed by Chung Shu-Kai and Eric Tsang Chi-Wai
I Love Hong Kong
I Love Hong Kong is another Shaw/TVB backed Lunar New Year comedy coming on the heals of 2010’s 72 Tenants of Prosperity. It is also deeply tied to Hong Kong nostalgia, and growing up in Hong Kong. Thus, a lot of the charm of the film does not translate well to overseas markets. And while parts of the film are funny and interesting, it feels like you are at your roommate’s family reunion. This isn’t to say that I Love Hong Kong is a bad film, but if you didn’t spend time living in Hong Kong, it is probably impossible to fully appreciate it. And I say that as someone who’s never lived in Hong Kong.
I Love Hong Kong
During the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong, it has become tradition for the studios to release comedy films. And that tradition dates back to 1937’s Bloom and Prosper, a film that doesn’t exist any more. Lunar New Year’s films generally have huge casts bursting to the brims with everyone famous they can cram in, wacky plots, romance, and lampooning cultural targets. And while the modern age may have lessened the impact of the box office, the tradition is alive and well. Besides starring a whole host of people, I Love Hong Kong has two directors, three script writers (Chung Shu-Kai, Heiward Mak Hei-Yan, Wong Yeung-Tat), and is based on an original story by 8 people (Eric Tsang, Chung Shu Kai, Heiward Mak, Wong Yeung Tat, Manho Mok, Chan Cheuk Wah, Ming Wong, and Louis Ng)! That’s almost as many people as who write the average terrible Hollywood blockbuster. Some of the cameos include Tenky Tin Kai-Man, Michelle Lo Mik-Suet, and even Maggie Cheung!

The theme song repeats the “I Love Hong Kong” phrase a lot, and by the end of the song you are reassured that everyone on the planet loves Hong Kong. So get with the program! There are several other songs in the films, usually during flashback sequences, and they are classic songs well enough known that my wife was singing along.
I Love Hong Kong

Ng Shun (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) – The former owner of a toy factory out of work when the factory is forced to close. Moves his whole family (illegally) into his father’s apartment, where he grew up, and reconnects with the residents he left behind. played by Bosco Wong in flashbacks.
Shun So (Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu) – Forced to take an old job at a beautician’s office, but is treated like crap by her former coworker and friend. In another hilarious scene, she acts as a stunt double for a tv series. Her youngest daughter is Ng King (Chan Wing Lam). Sandra Ng is also in Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, The Eight Hilarious Gods, and Beauty on Duty.
Ng Tung (Stanley Fung Sui-Fan) – Shun’s dad and grandfather to the three kids. Lives in the Hong Kong apartment complex all his life, and now has to deal with his grown son returning with his whole family. Is fully integrated in the complex and never wants to leave. Also his birthday is July 14th, and that’s the day I finished writing this review. Coincidence?? I think not!!!! Stanley Fung has been in over 100 films, so odds are you’ve seen him in something.
Ng Ming (Aarif Lee Chi-Ting) – The son of the Ng family. Is FEHD (Food and Environmental Hygiene Department), but his job is going after street vendors, which is bad because where he just moved into is filled with the people he’ll be busting! Aarif Lee is one of the new Hong Kong heartthrob guys you will probably hear a lot of soon. They even reference one of his earlier roles as Bruce Lee in this film.
Ng Chee (Mag Lam Yan-Tung) – The Ng’s older daughter, who works as a promotions model while going to college. Is shy and not wanting to bare her body like the famous E Cup Baby. Mag Lam won the reality show The Voice 2 and was quickly snatched up to a four year deal by EEG. This is her first film.
Tok Shui Lung (Eric Tsang Chi-Wai) – After some rough goings when he first comes back, Tok Shui Ling and Ng Shun return to being best of buds. Tok knows a lot about everything and is good at getting Shun to go along with his schemes to get into trouble. But there is more to Tok Shui Lung than we, and Ng Shun, know. Tok is played by Wong Cho-lam in flashbacks, where we watch as his girlfriend becomes Miss Hong Kong and dumps him. Eric Tsang is also on TarsTarkas.NET in Kung Fu Cyborg and Task Force.

I Love Hong Kong
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm

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Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (Review)

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

aka Di Renjie

2010
Directed by Tsui Hark

What they say: This is Tsui Hark’s best film in years, it’s one of the best films of 2010, Tsui Hark, Tsui Hark, Tsui Hark!

What you really need to know: Andy Lau gets into a kung fu fight with CGI deer.

Do you like yo-yos? Yo-yos go up and down, and so does Detective Dee. Some sequences in Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame are awesome, but other parts of the film are embarrassing and make you wonder why people were lavishing praise upon it.


If you’ve read any book on Hong Kong cinema that came out in the 90’s (which is when most of the books started appearing in the US), then you remember every single one had chapters on Tsui Hark. Tsui Hark was one of the Hong Kong New Wave directors that shook the industry to the core, and helped modernize Hong Kong film. Many of his earlier films are classics, though he had a few misfires. But even as the industry changed, Tsui Hark has seemed incapable of making film that is watchable since the mid-90’s. Those Jean-Claude Van Damme films were terrible, the Zu Warriors redux was boredom, and Seven Swords is a film so long that no one has ever gotten to the end of it. Despite all the technological achievements, Tsui Hark just wasn’t making good films anymore, and no amount of technology can change that. While Detective Dee isn’t a great film, it is at least the most watchable Tsui film since Black Mask, and something you should eventually get around to watching. You know, when it’s raining outside or something.


With Tsui Hark in the director’s chair, we are at least assured the film will look good, and it does. The cinematography is top notch. Elaborate CGI effects are needed to create ancient Chinese cities, palaces, giant Buddha statues, and underground meeting places – some are more believable than others, but you always know you are looking at a bunch of 1’s and 0’s in picture form. We do give props to action director Sammo Hung, as the actions sequences are the best parts of the film.


The stylized elements Tsui loves sometimes help the film, and sometimes hurt. As the opening scrawl is stylized to appear and disappear in wisps of smoke (which is nice), but a problem is the crawl is Star Warsian in length. In fact, the long text openings of Reefer Madness and Alone in the Dark are brought to mind. We are forced to read like half a sentence at a time, and have to wait for each piece one by one. It is what I like to call “annoying”.

Detective Dee (Andy Lau Tak-Wah) – Detective Dee is based on the real Di Renjie, who is a famous official during the Tang Dynasty. There have been countless books and references to Di Renjie over the years in both the East and the West. You should probably look them up if you want more information, this is only a small character box. Andy Lau is in every movie ever made! Just click on the Andy Lau tag to see all we’ve done…
Empress Wu Zetian (Carina Lau Ka-Ling) – Empress Wu Zetian is another real historical person, China’s only Empress and legendary for her ruthlessness. Though supposedly Di Renjie helped calm her down some. Carina Lau is also a real historical person, being an actress who has been in the industry for over 25 years and is married to the Tony Leung who is not in this movie.
Shangguan Jing’er (Li Bing-Bing) – Shangguan Jing’er is a made-up version of Shangguan Wan’er, famous female poet. As events transpire you can see why they went with a fictitious person for this character to keep with the stunning historical accuracy of the rest of the film. Li Bing-Bing was here before with white hair in The Forbidden Kingdom.
Pei Donglai (Deng Chao) – It’s an albino who isn’t a depraved mutant torturer! Although he does threaten people with torture… Pei Donglai is an investigator in the case who assists Detective Dee and whose own boss has burst into flames. Deng Chao is primarily a television drama actor.
Shatuo (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) – A former buddy of Detective Dee who now works in building the giant Buddha statue. This is the Tony Leung who was in 1992’s The Lover, not the one who was in Lust, Caution. Keep them straight!
Donkey Wang (Richard Ng Yiu-Hon) – A famous doctor hiding in the Phantom Bazaar, probably to escape taunting schoolkids over having the name “Donkey Wang”! Please don’t reveal the shocking secret of Donkey Wang. It’s good to see Richard Ng working again, as he is at the point in his career when he doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to and can live in semi-retirement. I am a big fan of his through much of his earlier work through the 80’s and 90’s, including when he pops up in Future Cops.


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 28, 2011 at 12:17 am

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