Hapkido (Review)


aka 合氣道 aka He qi dao aka Hap Ki Do aka Lady Kung Fu
Hapkido 合氣道
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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Teddy Girls

Teddy Girls

aka 飛女正傳 aka Fei nu zheng zhuan

Written by Patrick Lung Kong and Lam Nin-Tung
Directed by Patrick Lung Kong

Teddy Girls
Patrick Lung Kong’s work is not mainstream pop cinema. It is instead cinema touching on social and economic problems not touched by most films, and the few times the topics are, it’s clearly in the realm of exploitation cinema. The approach to the subject matter is more mature than much of the Hong Kong cinema of the time. While there were plenty of dramas involving family issues, the issues tackled in Teddy Girls trend more serious, and show more of societies effects on the problems, both on how they’re caused and by what they do to the people trapped in them. These are common themes in Patrick Lung Kong’s work.
Teddy Girls
What makes Patrick Lung Kong’s films stand out from other dramas is the strength to tackle difficult and controversial issues in a mature manner and still tell a good and entertaining story. Both as a writer and a director, Lung worked to better Hong Kong film at the same time Hong Kong cinema was suffering from a decline. Mandarin-language Shaw Brothers flicks outperformed and outclassed local Hong Kong productions, and the highly respected Union Film had shuttered its doors.

His directorial debut was in 1966 with Prince of Broadcasters, which foresaw the influence of radio in Hong Kong and became a hit at the box office. He followed that up with what is arguably his most famous and influential film, The Story of a Discharged Prisoner (1967), a tale about a former prisoner desperately trying to not get sucked back into a life of crime. It had a direct influence on John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow. Woo also must have seen (and borrowed from) Lung’s next film Window (1968), which features a blind woman and a criminal who fall in love. Next up was a look at youth culture with Teddy Girls, the film we will discuss at length below. Yesterday Today Tomorrow (1970), about a plague affecting Hong Kong, caused controversy, the heavily censored version failed at the box office. He continued on with My Beloved (1971) and the domestic drama Pei Shih (1972).
Teddy Girls
Lung dealt with social issues at large with Hong Kong Nite Life (1973) and then The Call Girls (1973), which featured the stories of five prostitutes. Lung Kong tackled the issue of nuclear disarmament before it was even on people’s radar with Hiroshima 28 (1974), and followed up with the quickly made Mitra (1976), filmed in Iran while he was showing Hiroshima 28 at a film festival. 1976 also saw the release of the sci-fi influenced Laugh In (1976) and Lina (1976). His final film was 1979’s The Fairy, the Ghost and Ah Chung, though he continued to be active in the Hong Kong cinema world through the turn of the century. His films went on to inspire the Hong Kong New Wave directors as they helped reshape Hong Kong cinema.

Most of Lung Kong’s films are hard to find in general, and with English subtitles they are exceedingly rare. Despite a HKFA retrospective his material still remains hard to find for the true Hong Kong cinema connoisseur.

Lung was not afraid to create serious films that tackled social issues in a non-exploitative manner. Patrick Lung Kong became one of the most influential directors in Hong Kong cinema due to how he helmed films like Teddy Girls. His attempts to escape the boundaries and touch on subjects usually avoided stand out sharper now, especially with the ease of availability of the other older films, you can see just how fluff a lot of them were.
Teddy Girls
What other director of the time could do a teenage girls in prison film and not make it feel dirty in the slightest, but still fill it with believable and sympathetic characters, humor and tragedy? Characters who suffer all types of bad influences while growing up, rebelling for their own reasons, reaching further tragedy due to the consequences of their original actions. These aren’t bad girls who are bad, these are girls who had the entire deck stacked against them. It’s no wonder some of them just fold and give up. Teddy Girls is never so cruel as when is is making you think things just might be all right for once.

Josephine’s character is running, running from an unhappy home life and disintegration of everything she knew. Her father’s decay and death while her mother found comfort in a new man, a man who is obviously a sleazy parasite.
Teddy Girls
Of the stories of the girls, Josephine’s is the most avoidable, she seems to be acting out more of simple teenage rebellion. But she becomes part of a system that is bigger than her, and life is a cruel thing at times. Josephine’s downfall is the biggest as she has the longest way to fall. Her character seems to have it all, but she lacks the one thing she craves, and she cannot stand it. Her life becomes destroyed, and her rage focused on a single target, the man she blames for ruining everything. And he’s not innocent, his motivations are scuzzy and he leaves Josephine’s mom in ruin.

Josephine is swept up in revenge, but she becomes her own victim, by acting out rashly and destructively. Not only does she destroy her life, she brings downfall on others. Misery is spread, the only lesson is how many ways this could have been avoided, by many people.

The only real drawback is the moral message at the end literally given by Kenneth Tsang Kong as the mouthpiece to one of the young ladies, bringing to mind flicks like Reefer Madness where a character will suddenly address the audience from behind a desk.
Teddy Girls

Josephine Hsu Yu-ching (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – Troubled young lady furious at her mother disrespecting her dying father by hooking up with a scumbag and then ignoring her. Causes trouble and volunteers to go to lockup, but things don’t get better.
Hsu Mei (Teresa Ha Ping) – Josephine’s mother who falls for a scumbag and then things go from bad to worse as she neglects everything including her daughter and her business’s finances.
Li Chang (Patrick Lung Kong) – Hey, it’s that scumbag I mentioned in the last two entries! Li Chang is dating Hsu Mei because she has all this sweet sweet money he can use to live the high life and drop her when she’s all used up. Josephine is not too happy about that…
Ma Pi-shan (Nancy Sit Ka-Yin) – Troubled reform school girl from a broken home life, she’s doomed from the start and things just get worse and worse.
Do Shu-yan/Mr. Rector (Kenneth Tsang Kong) – Do Shu-yan is the head of the reform school and is called Mr. Rector by the students. Cares for the girls but is forced to accept reality that many of them come from desperate situations and things can easily spiral out of control.
Li Shu-chun (Yip Ching) – Girl in detention who comes from a poor family with too many children and no money to take care of her siblings. Escapes to try to help her family.
Yang Shiao-chiao (Lydia Shum Tin-Ha) – Girl in juvie who’s a funny thief, uses her personality to befriend all of the girls but doesn’t cross the line into dangerous behavior.
Chen Li-fan (Mang Lee) – Lockup girl who talks obsessively about her boyfriend, but everyone notices that her boyfriend doesn’t come around any more. Breaks out to find out what the heck. The results are…killer! Listed as “Sussie Huang” on HKMDB though that’s not her name in these subtitles.

Teddy Girls
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All’s Well Ends Well 2011 (Review)

All’s Well Ends Well 2011

aka 最強囍事 aka Ji keung hei si 2011

Directed by Chan Hing-Kar and Janet Chun Siu-Jan
Written by Chan Hing-Kar, Ho Miu-Kei, and Fung Ching-Ching

All’s Well Ends Well 2011 follows in the footprints of it’s four predecessors in presenting a series of couples who spend the majority of the film bickering about the nature of love and then end up all marrying or getting together at the end. The previous film a year prior reset the action to ancient China, but we’re back to modern day and with an almost entirely new cast, save Louis Koo and a few brief cameos (AngelaBaby, Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei, Stephy Tang Lai-Yan, and a billion others!) The story is a mix of several stereotypical lovers stories, with a healthy mix of fantasy scenes and goofy side characters to keep things going until everyone gets married.

Sammy (Louis Koo Tin-Lok) – Sammy is a famous makeup artist who obsesses over women, despite putting on an air of homosexuality. But all shells must crack, and Sammy meets his match in his personal assistant, Claire. Louis Koo continues to be in every movie ever made in Hong Kong. See him here in Mr. and Mrs. Incredible.
Claire (Cecilia Cheung Pak-Chi) – Sammy’s personal assistant at the cosmetic company. She takes her job serious and doesn’t waste time chasing after money. Sammy defends her through all the crap she takes from other people, causing her to have feelings for him instead of the billionaire chasing after her. This is Cecilia’s big return to the screen after the Edison Chen photo scandal and taking a break to have some children. Between the time I watched this film and the time the review was published, Cecilia and her husband Nicholas Tse became embroiled in a huge divorce drama. Cecilia is also here in The Promise and My Kung Fu Sweetheart.
Clerk Chan (Raymond Wong Pak-Ming) – Clerk Chan is a billionaire businessman too busy to spend time with his girlfriend, so he gives her a cosmetics company to keep her busy until he has time to marry her. This backfires when Dream begins to spend all her time making the company work. Raymond Wong has been in all of the All’s Well, Ends Well films.
Dream (Yan Ni) – Clerk’s girlfriend who he puts in charge of a cosmetics company to keep her busy while he does business deals. Dream takes the job serious and becomes very involved in her company. Clerk must work to keep her heart.
Arnold Cheng (Donnie Yen Ji-Dan) – A cosmetics salesman and friendly rival to Sammy, who recruits him to his new company. Arnold is also friends with Mona. Donnie Yen co-directed Protege de la Rose Noire
Mona (Carina Lau Ka-Ling) – a writer who gets invested in her books and is friends with Arnold. Carina Lau was also in Detective Dee

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Little Devil (Review)

Little Devil

aka The Devil Warrior

1969HKMDB link
Directed by Chan Lit-Ban
Written by Sze-To On

Taiwan has been a source of lots of rarities, but for once let us look at a Taiwanese rare film that doesn’t have giant monsters in it. Sad, I know, but we’ll have more Taiwanese giant monster flicks soon enough. Instead, we got a sort of fantasy film that has a demon dude and funky kung fu powers, but only goes over the top in various parts. There is good fight choreography, best I have seen so far from a Taiwanese production back then. There are also lots of blood sprays and blood packs that make the sword kills rocking good fun.

Little Devil is also known as The Devil Warrior. It does not look like it was ever released in the US, so get your butt to the rare tape circles if you want a hold of this one!

Now, TarsTarkas.NET doesn’t need no stinking subtitles, and we especially don’t need no stinking subtitles when the subtitles are only in Korean! The language spoken is Mandarin, which my wife can understand but not well. So even though I scored a coup by actually getting her to watch this one (probably due to her recognizing Bobo Fung) the words were flying by too fast to catch all the small details, but we should have all the big ones. Most of the rest is a guess based on what is happening onscreen and the plot synopsis off of the HKFA.

Yeung Siu-fung (Petrina Fung Bo-Bo) – Despite being a boy, Yeung Siu-fung is played by a girl! Totally unheard of in Chinese cinema. I mean, totally normal in Chinese cinema, the weird films are the ones where everyone is the correct gender. Fung Bo-Bo was nicknamed “Shirley Temple of Hong Kong” as a child star, the daughter of actor/director Feng Feng. Her most recent role that Western audiences will know is 1992’s 92 Legendary La Rose Noire (unless you recognized her cameo in All’s Well Ends Well 2009.)
Chui Yuk-wah (Nancy Sit Ka-Yin) – Speaking of weird gender stuff, Yuk-wah is a girl played by a girl who disguises herself as a boy. Nancy Sit was a teen movie queen who retired to be married, raise kids, and get divorced. Oops! Thus, she returned to show biz in the popular Auntie Ho tv series and made mad money, and even popped up in The God of Cookery and Black Rose II.
Pak-chuen (Chiang Nan) – Yuk-wah’s father and evil dude. He hate orphans so he kills Siu-fung. He’s so evil his daughter runs away, and then he uses his magic eye power kung fu to attack Sound Devil.
Sound Devil (Gu Sam-Lam) – Sound Devil is a crazy devil guy who always has a weird look on his face, flies around, spends his spare time being buried in snow, and also rescues murdered orphans and trains them in kung fu. Just like the real devil! Gu Sam-Lam is also known as Ku Sum-lam
Mui Yau-tang (Adam Cheng Siu-Chow) – Owner of an inn with his sister. Yau-tang longs for some action in his boring life, but he can’t even get the guests at the inn to pay their bills. Gets more than he bargains for as the film progresses. Adam Cheng is probably best known to cult movie buffs for his role in Fantasy Mission Force as the boss of the female tribe, and he also appeared in The Eight Hilarious Gods.
Mui Fung-kei (Sum Chi-wah) – Sister and co-owner of the inn that Siu-fung and Yuk-wah end up at, and thus she and her bro get dragged into the drama going on.

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