# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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Enter The Game Of Death (1981) Directed by: Lam Kwok-Cheung

An awesome combination of strong words connected to the legacy of Bruce Lee made into a Bruceploitation vehicle for Bruce Le not able to live up fully to what the title evokes. A randomly strung together and oddly plotted movie, after random tangents initially (like a ring fight between Le and Bolo Yeung), the movie settles for a simple for a simple plot about retrieving a document in the hands of the Japanese and westerners that rightly belongs to the Chinese. Le is a reluctant hero but has personal stakes in all this and we expectedly get to the pagoda but surprisingly early on. While it is a 20 minute plus showcase of what this setting can offer up, it's both an uneven and highly entertaining showcase. In particular Le and Lee Hoi-Sang has a fun weapons duel and the snake master (using real snakes) goes to some stunning lengths to combat Le that even stuns the stoic hero. Rest is a rather standard mish-mash of the expected Bruce Lee mannerisms copied by Le, war cries not dubbed in but made to be part of the soundtrack and rather endless slow motion sections of fights that after the pagoda portions are over doesn't maintain interest like the main attraction does. Bruce Lee knew that too as he would've centered his incomplete Game Of Death around this. Enter The Game Of Death has it as one of many attractions and the result is that only 20 minutes attracts.

Enter The Phoenix (2004) Directed by: Stephen Fung

After the big brother of the Hung gang (the welcome presence of Yuen Biao) dies, they're forced to call in his son gay son Georgie (Daniel Wu) from his chef stint in Thailand. A mix-up occurs and it's instead Georgie's best friend Sam (Eason Chan) who steps into the shoes of big brother, with Georgie on the sidelines...

One of the four directors on Heroes In Love, Stephen Fung (Gen-X Cops, 2002) debut as feature director with Enter The Phoenix is a surprisingly enjoyable but flawed deconstruction of the triad genre (bending the genre is never a bad thing to attempt). Fung works with top personnel to make his stylish attempts come to life (hit and miss excursions) while he simultaneously makes fun of conventions we've come to expect. While Eason Chan is at times a riot, mimicking movie Don Corleone's of the past, Fung's handling of the dives into said conventions (especially melodrama) never quite maintains a balance. We're simply at times not sure if he's doing it with a wink in his eye or being serious. Again, it's hit and miss and when hit, clever only to a minor degree. The film is also arguably quite homophobic so here we do know that Fung is up to no good. Still, the stars are photogenic and assured (especially Wu and the comedy double act between Chapman To and Law Kar-Ying) and action-director Ma Yuk-Sing provides sporadic, professional mayhem that we see very little of in Hong Kong cinema today. The choice to go complete wire-fu on us is mystifying however but Enter The Phoenix is signs of a filmmaker that can go further. There are worse commercial debuts out there, far, far worse and more cruddy looking. Also starring Stephen Fung himself, Karen Mok, Michael Chan with brief appearances by Nicholas Tse, Sam Lee, Sammi Cheng and Jackie Chan.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

The Era Of Vampires (2002) Directed by: Wellson Chin

While not a sign of Tsui Hark back on form, writing and producing this Wellson Chin directed vampire flick at least signals the attempt to awake a filmmaking. Taking on the horror elements made popular by the likes of Mr. Vampire, the choice for the new millennium comes via the ability to enhance matters. CGI makes some visits on occasion but even within a fairly low-budget frame, the ideas to make proceedings a bit more grisly than usual does make the computer work integral. One of the main ingredients here being how our super vampire of the piece drains the life out of victims not by biting but by basically inhaling them and there is additional morbid content by design as the plot take refuge to the mysterious Jiang mansion where Yu Rong-Guang's character lurks. Even when welcoming the hopping vampires, Tsui and Wellson wisely chooses to think about echoing the horror of it all and it's not totally ineffective. The characters certainly are though, with no distinction in terms of authority in the Taoist masters or in their semi-naughty followers. But The Era of Vampires does overcome via its slight content and the ideas brought up wouldn't have been unwelcome in a bigger budget feature. Film stars Michael Chow, Lam Suet, Ken Chang, Danny Chan, Ji Chun-Hua, Anya, Chen Kuan-Tai, Lee Lik-Chi and Horace Lee.

These remarks applies to the US version Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters but be sure to track down the Singapore version under the original title that contains 15 or so minutes chopped out of the US edit. Aside from dialogue extensions and minor extra scenes, actual notable additions includes more "depth" to the ongoing romances, a longer prologue and the epilogue goes on a bit longer, creating less of a confusing downer ending compared to the shortened version of the film. It's definitely welcome to have The Era of Vampires play out slightly more elaborately and not as tight. For a detailed look at the Singapore version vs. the US, check out Schnittberichte.com (in German).

Buy the US DVD at:
HK Flix.com
Yesasia.com

Erotic Ghost Story (1990) Directed by: Nam Nai Choi

Despite this Cat III effort's obvious title play on A Chinese Ghost Story, Nam Nai Choi's Erotic Ghost Story in the end owes more to The Witches Of Eastwick than to the Ching Siu-Tung classic. The combination of softcore sex, a thin but surprisingly straight story certainly is very much worth sitting through and true to form, Nam Nai Choi gives us some wonderfully wild, bizarre and superbly entertaining images towards the finishing stages of the movie. I wouldn't mind if there had been more of that as Nam was one that had an uncanny ability to greatly entertain through his low-budget, special effects spectacles. Nam also acted as cinematographer here and Phillip Kwok action directed. Phillip would subsequently work in that capacity on Nam's The Cat and Story Of Ricky.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Erotic Ghost Story II (1991) Directed by: Peter Ngor

Sequel to Nam Nai Choi's cult favourite is merely connected via a fairly long prologue and a cameos by Amy Yip and Man So, two of the fairies from the first film. After that, it's business as usual as Peter Ngor gives us plenty of nudity, demonic sex and ghostly hijinxs. Like the first installment, proceedings do feel boring at various times but things do spark whenever Anthony Wong appears as the depraved Wu-Tang god. Another aspect to connect the films is the fact that the directors both served as cinematographers as well and it's here that Ngor clearly has the upper hand on Nam (you may remember Ngor in an acting role, playing the cinematographer in Viva Erotica). It's lush colours and fairly nice camerawork, with some particular stunning images (for the genre) appearing at the end. Still, Nam knew how to shift gears into overdrive, something Ngor isn't interested in so even the big finale is a slow battle.

Anyone who actually went after the sequel knows what they're after and truth be told, you can't really dislike Cat III smut like this. It's uniquely Hong Kong and some small merit lies in that.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Erotic Ghost Story III (1992) Directed by: Ivan Lai

Trying to follow in the footsteps of Nam Nai Choi and Peter Ngor, Ivan Lai took on the challenge of bringing something noteworthy to a series that's only mildly enjoyable anyway. Surprisingly, and in a big way, Lai utilizes a high gear of creative energy that I for one didn't think was in him, creating perhaps the second best of the series (best being Part II).

Using plenty of drawn out, fairly well-shot, erotic scenes instead of a full plot to get this baby up to 90 minutes (not necessarily a bad thing), Lai also gives us rather plenty of Cat III insanity along the way. Those include midgets, a character having the power to shrink himself to get into...umm...tight spots (one of them only in Hong Kong movie moments) and even a smattering of fun wire-enhanced martial arts choreography (Phillip Kwok returning to the series as action director). Starring Pauline Chan, Cheung King Fa, Noelle Chik, William Ho and in a fun little turn as the Buddhist monk, Shing Fui On.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Errant Love (1980) Directed by: Lau Lap-Lap

I've come to realize that Taiwan romance is equally addictive when in poignant AND corny territory. And somewhere in between efforts like Cloud Of Romance travels but Errant Love however loses its battle with me, being an audience of today. Shirley Lui is Ho Pan Yun, a widow shortly after marriage and her heart is broken in pieces. Living with the family of her diseased husband, lively and energetic young woman of it, Chung Ko Hui (Nancy Lau) devotes her heart to handsome singer Kao Kan (Kenny Bee). However Kao Kan wants to connect to the musical and blue Pan Yun more. Enter a little rivalry, tragedy, deception and lotsa scenes of Kenny playing the guitar...

Noble themes of heartbroken romance isn't a bad thing and despite the many musical numbers, sometimes very unwarranted, the film is blessed with a moody soundtrack. However as characters start to ache, the emotional distress on display doesn't really translate and although performers are nowhere near embarrassing, the women on display aren't able to challenge the power of Brigitte Lin, the queen of Taiwan romances.

Escape From Coral Cove (1986) Directed by: Terence Chang

KENNETH'S REVIEW: In the producing group of most John Woo's movies from Once A Thief and onwards, Terence Chang attempted directing once with this horror flick in the vein of Friday the 13th, Halloween (there's a shot by shot scene from the original in Chang's movie) and monster flicks in general. Sort of fitting the story of the first part of the former, along the way Chang injects totally gratuitous tits, ass, bush (in fairly well shot underwater scenes), a boat party that leads into a groovy party montage (watch out for the Donald Duck bathing suit) and then love rivalry as the majority of the useless characters decide to go with primal lusts in favour of friendships (no sex scenes in the flick though). Thank god there's a creature (Roy Cheung) in the water to disrupt things then. Or perhaps not as the monster stalking isn't particularly eventful. We do get genre clichés aplenty as people act in the most stupid of ways, like peeing on burial urns and walking in thick forests by themselves. A little boy and his science experiments sets up our finale not subtlety at all and the sole fun image comes from the reveal that our water ghost doesn't bleed, he spurts water! And the nice guy finishes last in this one! Bonus points for a busty Elsie Chan.

Escape From Hong Kong Island (2004) Directed by: Simon Loui

Simon Loui can't have escaped your view as he seems to turn up almost everywhere (except the big budget vehicles) mostly playing odd ball characters with mildly amusing, harmless results. Which means that his impression on a film usually isn't very long lasting and same can be said for his directorial debut Escape From Hong Kong Island.

The moral of the story as presented by Loui is glaringly obvious as we follow stock broker and genuine a-hole Raymond Mak (Jordan Chan) and his struggles to get to a job interview across the harbor in Kowloon. After being robbed of all his money, it's soon apparent that he's made no friends in this world that are willing to help out...

Shot on the cheap and not a little self indulgent in visual style and presentation of comedy, Loui hopes and prays that the inclusion of blurry visuals, split screens, Jim Chin and Chapman To will produce amusing results. As hard as it is to admit as performers Chin and To are annoying and largely unfunny respectively, there is an aura to Escape From Hong Kong Island that is mildly amusing and harmless. Jordan Chan gets us easily through the running time, handling the cliché development of Raymond as competently as the familiar script will allow and Loui paces the movie well enough, not overstaying his and its welcome. Whether or not he's is welcome to dabble in directing again is questionable as this first foray equals what he usually does when in front of the camera. It certainly rarely cost anything to have him there but if Loui want to further himself, he really should venture into darkness next as he proved in Killing End that he can make a long lasting, even haunting impression. Escape From Hong Kong Island is almost forgotten by the time I write this and is not a fine addition to 2004's Hong Kong output but there are a few more worse ones and that is some kind of kudos to Loui I guess. A host of familiar faces turn up including Law Kar-Ying, Tats Lau, Vincent Kok, Emily Kwan, Wayne Lai, Cheung Tat-Ming and Barbara Wong.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com
Yesasia.com

Esprit D'amour (1983) Directed by: Ringo Lam

Reports are that Leung Po-Chi (He Lives By Night, Hong Kong 1941) started off as helm of this project before getting the boot after producer Karl Maka felt unsatisfied with his work. The assistant director Ringo Lam instead got upgrade to debuting director and helmed mostly a typical Cinema City production with the addition of a little of his own flavour.

No, it's really not a pre-cursor to anything that's now highly associated with Lam. I.e. gritty realism and pessimism (City On Fire, School On Fire) and largely Esprit D'amour certainly is a product of its time, featuring numerous silly bits in combination with the supernatural angle (man-ghost romance). The 80s cinema of Hong Kong often had its charms, combining a confidence in an actual uneven package and the film corresponds to that. Alan Tam fans probably walked home happy as their favourite star goes bare chested and engages in ghostly love with Joyce Ngai. The late Bill Tung's role becomes an in-joke as well as in real life he was devoting himself to the world of horse racing just like his character in this film. Phillip Chan is also allowed to be funny for once, a nice spark to the flow of the film. Cecilia Yip, Tien Feng and Lung Tin-Sang co-stars.

Then Ringo's dark demons surface and the film becomes another definition of a true Hong Kong product. Ejecting all notions of fun, Lam delivers a stylish tension-filled ending that makes you realize that Esprit D'amour actually holds some significance in regards to the future trajectory of his.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

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