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 Fox Lover (Review)

The Fox Lover

aka 白狐 aka Arctic Fox
Fox Lover
Written by ???
Directed by Niu Chao-Yang

Fox Lover
Another effects-laden Mainland China film about fairy spirits, these have been all been slogs, and I was expecting another mediocre effort. The shocking thing is The Fox Lover is actually good! The freedom of not being a direct copy of one of the classic 80s/90s Hong Kong films has given it some freedom to still be loyal to the tone of the fox spirit movies, but to be able to do its own thing. The other key to success was it isn’t as big budget effects as it is advertising. There are a few scenes, but most of the effects are more practical, and the lack of money means they need to rely on things like the story and acting.

The Fox Lover is based on one of the tales in Pu Songling’s Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio/Liaozhai Zhiyi, the origin for a huge chunk of supernatural ghost lover stories in Chinese film – such as Erotic Ghost Story, Painted Skin, A Touch of Zen, and A Chinese Ghost Story.
Fox Lover
I think things went a bit too far overboard as far as female characters getting a raw deal is concerned. But then practically every character has something bad happen to them. It’s even a disclaimer in the film itself – romances with fox spirits end in tragedy. The only reason the mother fox is offering her daughter to a human is from a sense of repayment for saving her life long ago. It also helps Lord Wang out, as his son Wang Yuen Feng’s mental condition will keep him from finding a human bride who would want to be with him (I don’t think that’s entirely true, as the Wang family has money and there would be many poorer families that would give multiple daughters. But I guess that’s not as good of a choice socially has a hot fox bride!)
Fox Lover
Through a series of problems, the white fox family is drawn into battle with Sea Bat King, who murders Lord Wang as revenge for protecting his village from the Sea Bats. Madam Yu vows to avenge her friend’s death, but the Sea Bats are too powerful to fight without causing danger to her entire family.
Fox Lover

Willow (Gillian Chung Yan-Tung) – Called “crazy” by the other fox sisters, Willow is a strong-willed spirit who delights in causing mischief. Her hobby is ripping up kites. Willow’s color theme is subtle turquoise with touches of lavender and green. One of her closest friends is Rattan the tree. Does not initially think that Wang Yeun Feng is the man that she should make body contacts in cloud and rain with.
Wang Yuen Feng (Julian Cheung Chi-Lam) – The adopted son of the magistrate of Cangcheng, Lord Wang (Wang Yuen Feng was a foundling, and came with sword that no one can unsheathe) Wang Yuen Feng has been afflicted with an illness that turned him into an idiot. Has magic powers that need to be unlocked, and can only be unlocked by making love to a woman he loves.
Madam Yu (Kara Hui Ying-Hung) – White Fox Fairy Spirit who lives in Fox Fairy Valley with her daughters. As she was saved by Lord Wang 40 years ago, she offers to betroth one of her daughters to Lord Wang’s son. Has the Power of 9 Tail, though transfers it to her daughter Willow.
Ling (Abby Yin Guo-Er) – A Human girl adopted by Madam Yu, her color scheme is green and she is usually serving tea to the other girls.
Sea Bat King (Gao Hu) – Lord of Sea Bat Island and leader of a gang of blood drinking demons call Sea Bats. They are like vampires, with long claws on all fingers. Most are formless and black clothed, except adviser Wisdom Spirit. Sea Bat King can morph into a more demonic form that looks straight out of early 1990s practical makeup effects. Sea Bat King hates Lord Wang, who prevented him from feeding on the inhabitants of his town. His vengeance sets into motion a war between the Sea Bats and the Fox Spirit family.
Ji Yao (Guo Ming-Xiang) – A cousin of Wang who becomes the de facto head of the Wang family after Lord Wang is kidnapped and murdered. Wants a fox fairy spirit of his own. He starts out a coward, but finds bravery.

Fox Lover

I’ll get those Hobbits!

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