Posts tagged "Yuen Wah"

Hapkido (Review)

Hapkido

aka 合氣道 aka He qi dao aka Hap Ki Do aka Lady Kung Fu
Hapkido 合氣道
1972
Written by Yan Ho
Directed by Feng Huang

Hapkido 合氣道
When you need villains for your martial arts movie, the Japanese are very handy. Not only did the Japanese actually do a bunch of bad stuff that seems only cartoon supervillains would do, but depicting them doing so helps stir up nationalistic feelings and potentially increases your box office bang. Thus martial arts schools are the setting for rebellion against Japanese occupiers in Hapkido, and Angela Mao Ying is more than capable of beating the snot out of all sorts of Japanese jerks.

Hapkido is one of Angela Mao’s earliest films for Golden Harvest. You can still see legacies of the Shaw Brothers influence, from the Golden Harvest logo having a strangely familiar shape to the film being advertised in “Dyaliscope”, whatever the heck that is!
Hapkido 合氣道
We start out in 1934 Japanese-occupied Seoul, where three Chinese students are studying Hapkido before harassment by Japanese occupiers cause them need to return to China, but that also means they can open a Hapkido school in China. Just as Japan now controls Korea, Japanese influence in China is not something to be ignored, their impending invasion of the whole country means their people act arrogant and criminally. The watchword for Hapkido is “forbearance”, which works fine except when the Japanese are assaulting innocent people and Sammo Hung’s character has a wicked temper. Then it gets put on the wayside while people get punched.
Hapkido 合氣道

Yu Ying (Angela Mao Ying) – Hapkido student who just wants to set up a school and teach everyone Hapkido, except the Japanese have other ideas. So it’s time to kick those ideas out of their heads and also kick many other parts of their bodies to get them to go away!
Fan Wei (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo) – Hot-headed Hapkido student who constantly gets into fights and causes trouble for his friends. But he also just happens to be around whenever the Japanese are doing something evil, so he also has very bad luck.
Kao Chung (Carter Wong Ka-Tat) – Hapkido student who tries to calm down all the trouble happening only to get a brutal beatdown to emphasize how the Japanese school is beyond reason.

Hapkido 合氣道
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - September 8, 2014 at 7:11 am

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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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Princess & Seven Kung Fu Masters (笑功震武林) is pure Wong Jing


Wong Jing is back again for the 100th time (okay, okay, 93rd time…) with Princess & Seven Kung Fu Masters (笑功震武林), a sort of kung fu Snow White but not really but also wacky weird stuff. With Sammo Hung as Sammo Hung, and also Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu, Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei, Eric Tsang Chi-Wai, Rose Chan Ka-Wun, Timmy Hung Tin-Ming, Natalie Meng Yao, Xie Na, Yuen Wah, Bruce Leung Siu-Lung, Wong Cho-Lam, and many more. It looks totally, totally…something. And because everything Hong Kong is Chinese now, it’s in Mandarin. Yeah.

The plot:

During the early years of the Republic era, in the North-East region of China, the people are suffering from the power struggle among the local Warlords, bandits, and Japanese invaders. Warlord Lam (Sammo Hung), is not a leader of great vision, but stands firm in his own beliefs. The only paradise within the region is ‘Lucky Town’, the one place where no one dared to attack as it was protected by the seven kung fu masters who have resided there. When young patriots, Yan Fang (Rose Chan) who disguised herself as a man, and Howard Luo (Dennis To), infiltrate Tiger’s Den at night trying to steal the code book fail in their mission and tries to run, only Yan survives and is rescued by Cheryl. Mistaking Yan as a man, Cheryl falls for Yan. She then brings Yan to Lucky Town and begs the Seven Masters to cure Yan. Cheryl and the Seven Masters are then told of the secret plan by the Japanese, and together, they resolve to fight against Tiger Den and save Warlord Lam.

Natalie Meng Yao

How dare you!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 31, 2013 at 10:52 pm

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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

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Vampire Warriors (Review)

Vampire Warriors


2010
Written and directed by Dennis Law Sau-Yiu

Sparkle THIS!

The announcements of a film starring Jiang Luxia and Chrissie Chau as chicks who fight vampires sounded like it would be the best movie ever. The reality is a far different creature, instead being a disappointing film with a few good moments. Jiang Luxia continues to be the best part of the films she shows up in, while Chrissie Chau continues to be…hot. She also barely participates in the action sequences. The action sequences should be what the film is built upon, but the tone of the sequences shift from practical fighting to insane flying wire fu where people get thrown through every wall in China, except for the one wall you would want to see someone thrown through.

The script itself feels more like a first draft than a full script. Many characters have little motivation, and even those given reasons for why they do stuff aren’t given much else to explain how they got to where they were. More of this complaint near the end of the review. It is obvious that Twilight inspired parts of the film, what with all the moping, the vampire family, and the vegetarian vampire angle. Someone needs to write a teenage girl hopping vampire romance novel quick!

Yank him until he goes full Anime!

When you think Chinese vampire films, you think of the hopping vampires, one-eyebrowed monks, awesome retro effects, lots of goofy scenes, and spooky/gross effects shots. Which is why when one comes out that features exclusively the western style vampires it is sort of interesting. There is no vampire hopping at all in this film, though there is a guy running around in the Qing style uniforms. We got no priests, and the effects shots are entirely digital and sparse. I don’t know if the complete lack of religious figures blasting the vampires is because the film is trying to appeal to more Western audiences who would be confused, or if there is some film guidelines from Mainland China that are against that stuff showing up. I do think the latter is why there were less gross/makeup effects that used to be common in these films.

Only mean people on the internet can make Chrissie Chau sad

Besides Jiang Luxia and Chrissie Chau, there are a bunch of other models in the cast – Haley C, Annie G, Dominic, Laying, Mia C, Suki, all of these are model/lang mo names. One expects the amount of Blue Steel in this movie will keep Pittsburgh in business for a bajillion years. I’m sure other girls with normal names in the credits are also models, it’s almost as if Dennis Law was trolling for dates. We also have two alumni from the original Mr. Vampire film, who are also the only people (besides one old lady) who look over 24 in the film. So please forgive the scant biographical information on some of these girls, as there isn’t any in English. As a final note, the film toys with some lesbian undertones between the main characters, which is sort of weird, especially since this film takes place in the all-too-common Hong Kong world where everyone is attractive 22 year old models who have never had a boyfriend.

Gymkata!

Ar (Jiang Lu-Xia) – Ar is a vampire hunter who spends all night killing vampires. Ar killed vampires with her father when she was young. She is also illiterate and has no money, as killing vampires doesn’t pay well. Jiang Lu-xia is rocking some awful extensions. Did one of the 1000 models on the movie sabotage her hair? See Jiang Luxia also be awesome in Coweb and Bad Blood.
Max (Chrissie Chau Sau-Na) – Vampire Max is Ar’s best friend and is a vegetarian vampire. Max’s favorite food is corgi, and definitely not obviously stuffed rabbit or ketchup. Chrissie Chau is the queen of the new breed of models showing up in Hong Kong called lang mo. Lang mo are models who aren’t fashion models but thanks to the internet get famous via the internet, and publish picture books of themselves wearing bikinis, something that is still shocking to many people in Hong Kong. There was even a big book fair recently where the lang mos like Chrissie Chau were banned and that caused much publicity and the models just showed up anyway as visitors. Chau is in an impressive number of recent films and will probably be in many more and inspire a whole new generation of lang mos.
Mung (Yuen Wah) – Mung is a Vampire Vampire, who consumes the blood of vampires to get powerful or something. Yuen Wah is one of two Mr. Vampire alums, and has been in a bajillion films, including My Kung Fu Sweetheart and Kung Fu Hustle.
Lung (Chin Siu-Ho) – Lung is the dad of the vampire family and is 1500 years old. He likes younger chicks, and lying to younger chicks. Chin Siu-Ho is another Mr. Vampire alum.
Rex (Rock Ji) – The brother in the family and the family member every sister has a crush on, even though Rex is too dense to pick up on it. Rock Ji is a male model. Shocking that another model is in this cast, I know.
Kar (DaDa Lo Chung-Chi) – The 800 year old vampire sister who is sick of living the unfeeling life. She gets her wish, though in the end maybe she didn’t want it so bad. DaDa Lo is a lang mo and also is in a pop group called Sugar Beez with A. Lin. The group appears to be based on the Twins, though most YouTube videos show them performing in front of only a few people at a time.
Lin (A. Lin) – The youngest member of the vampire family. That’s about it for what her character does in the film except almost drink too much water and die. Then she actually dies via Vampire Vampire. A. Lin is a model/singer noted for her resemblance to Gillian Chung. In the group Sugar Beez with DaDa Lo.
Menstruation really hits the spot!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 13, 2011 at 11:32 pm

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

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