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Goodbye My Friend (19??) Directed by: Hoh Lin Chow

Listed as a 1988 production if you look it up at Hong Kong Movie Database, while watching this Chow Yun-Fat vehicle it's very evident that it was shot at least 8-9 years prior. Unearthed and released (perhaps for the first time ever?) after Chow became a megastar all over Asia, Goodbye My Friend is a perfect example of cashing in, regardless of quality. With a horrendously poor Cantonese dub (that does feature Chow), the movie comes off as a bad story restructured in the post dubbing into another bad story. One even wonders if Cantonese should be the intended language. Still, these geeky details aren't worth worrying about as Goodbye My Friend is a turkey from the initial stepping stones into a screen acting career for Chow Yun-Fat.

A standard gangster story set in 1940s Thailand involving revenge also holds some bizarre subplot about a blood sect collaborating with the Japanese so naturally, the Chinese must unite to bring them down. Featuring little to care for and characters that no one possibly can figure out what they're doing and who they are, the hokey aspect that runs through the production does create some ludicrous moments that transforms the film into a minor guilty pleasure. The gore does draw attention to itself and the action is not only highly incompetent but at times undercranked to wonderfully bizarre levels. And fact of the matter is, the film is easy to get through. Kenneth Tsang also appears briefly.

Xenon was responsible for a subtitled VHS release under the title Shanghai Killers, utilizing a still from City War for its cover. A wise decision since Chow Yun-Fat had better hair in that film.

Goodbye My Love (1986) Directed by: Frankie Chan

A Frankie Chan concoction we've seen within his director filmography and he never seemed to get he has no business making anything but action and violence as those are the imprints he leaves on his audience. When hamming it up as a thief in the long run being a valuable support for Joan Chen's character after she gets cancer, Chan makes himself and Goodbye My Love a bland romantic comedy but makes us sit up through gritty gunplay, stunts and a dark (albeit undeserved ending). He had his filmmaking path under his nose and he didn't even know it. Also with Wu Fung and Lau Chi-Wing. Also known as Goodbye My Hero and Everlasting Love.

The Goofy Gang (1987) Directed by: Stanley Fung

Derek Yee and friends take out their anger as low paid workers at a country club onto wealthy Harry Tse (Stanley Fung). Rather inexperienced and clumsy kidnappers, Harry doesn't fear for his life at all but when no one wants to pay ransom money for him, a personal betrayal leads to him working with his kidnappers to exact a little revenge...

A rather flimsy start or rather quick leads to rather quick decisions by Derek Yee to host the kidnapping plan. ALMOST a valid argument for these irrational characters, the lightness that follows in the trail of the kidnapping scenario is very fun to follow and in the background Stanley Fung injects some not so overbearing themes of the hard workers vs. the rich, pre-conceived notions about each other etc. Fung himself is very good as the kidnapping victim who's got the situation under control but it's when the plot turns, a quite grave tedium sets in. Simply put, Fung doesn't create interest for the entire two halves of the flick and his intent to get even more somber clashes with the prior movie in a bad way. A fun cast, 80s atmosphere, the dependable D & B gets you only so far sometimes. Also appearing is May Lo as Yee's love interest, Joyze Godenzi as the cop, Ronald Wong, Robert Mak, Stuart Ong with cameos by John Sham and Richard Ng.

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Gorgeous (1999) Directed by: Vincent Kok

Vincent Kok's movie starring Jackie Chan and Shu Qi is a romantic comedy with action mixed in resulting in an enjoyable little tale. It's far from the greatest romance ever told but one shouldn't demand that much depth from a Lunar New Year film or Jackie Chan film for that matter. On the other hand it's nice to see Jackie challenging his audience and I personally thinks it's refreshing to see him wanting to merge these two movie elements. There is passable chemistry between the leads and I also largely enjoyed Emil Chow as the movie's nice bad guy. That's also what makes Gorgeous notable. It's a friendly and nice movie even down to the bad guy. The main attraction, in terms of action, is the two bouts between Brad Allen and Jackie. Very little of it seems wire supported and it's great to see Jackie do some hand to hand combat (boxing in this case). Even here the movie remains light when we see the two fighters make sure it's fought fair. The R1 dvd has the original language track but has been cut down from it's original length. The Universe dvd is uncut.

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The Greatest Civil War On Earth (1961, Wong Tin-Lam)

Detailing the rivalry between a Northerner and a Southerner, it doesn't just end with their verbal shouting matches as businessmen (both have a tailor-shop) but their kids intermingle romantically and now the Cantonese and Mandarin bickering is on. Shot in synch sound, Wong Tin-Lam's film ultimately is very inviting to an external audience despite surely a fair amount of nuance being lost in translation. The performers bring energy and the basic frame is lively enough for it to feel cinematic for its time. While there is a throughline as described above, the movie can feel skit-based at points but Wong overall keeps himself and hence us focused on the central, comedic conflict across the four pairings (which includes the little ones). Comedy is at points bigger such as in the scene where leads Liu En-Ja and Leung Sing-Bo argue about whose Opera-style is better but never too broad where it takes detours into incoherency or into unfocused territory. In the end about cinematic tropes and lessons such as humility, letting go off your preconceived notions and stubbornness, even as a Western viewer one can sense the recognition factor Wong Tin-Lam taps into here. Imagine how much the local audience would've nodded along to the action on screen then.

The Greatest Lover (1988) Directed by: Clarence Fok

Three mainlanders (Chow Yun-Fat, Eric Tsang & Shing Fui-On) swims ashore in Hong Kong, hoping to prosper. As luck would have it, a wealthy man played by Wang Ching is out for revenge due to the humiliation cast upon him by women in his life (namely Nina Li Chi and Pauline Wong) and he hires image consultant Anita (Anita Mui) to make a playboy out of Chow's character...

The sometimes reliable Clarence Fok provides the manic in both comedy and melodrama for this 1980s effort, creating an uneven experience but one that comes with an enjoyable pairing of Chow Yun-Fat and Anita Mui. While Chow's character does everything from eating tiger poop (and just about anything he can get his hands on), kiss Eric Tsang, generally whine and act retarded, it's an annoying performance in intent in a way as Chow then grows into the trademark suave character that's such a immortal image of 80s Hong Kong cinema. Mui also gets a role that is just tailor made to fit with her image in entertainment circles as she was constantly changing her looks in real life, being nicknamed the Asian Madonna in the process.

80s Hong Kong cinema had the uncanny ability to simply entertain despite a flawed package and even hugely flawed packages. The Greatest Lover therefore is highly questionable on a film quality level but does the job commercially and for fans of the star's. Elizabeth Lee, Sandra Ng, Wong Jing and Anders Nelson also appear.

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The Greatest Plot (1977) Directed by: Ulysses Au

This supposed greatest plot is a not so subtle one where prince Yeung Ching (Yueh Hua) takes over the throne as Emperor, promises his fellow Han people he won't change and low and behold he becomes a tyrant. Pretty quickly too so his former brothers and sisters (as Hsu Feng is leading them) swears to take revenge. Hopefully before they're all wiped out. Au (The Country Of Beauties) stages a majestic looking movie with quite excellent costume- and set design but underneath it the genre-content is familiar. It's how you execute within that though and only slowly The Greatest Plot transforms into something entertaining. Because for the longest of time, not even the action element is particularly strong as the group fights are a bunch of hits, kicks and slashes that doesn't stand out. However when introducing weaponry like flying guillotines, a spinning log or barrel with projectile swords, a fan that could slice through anything etc, the movie delights because it can execute all of this technically. That means the stretches in between remain pretty uninteresting although Lo Lieh as a right hand man to the emperor that questions his reasoning and subsequently gets demoted is as written given an interesting side story. Far removed from the standardized (but often awesome) Lo Lieh-appearance. The finale adds some surreal, possibly ghostly imagery and pours on the established weaponry and wire assisted action quite well.

The Greatest Thai Boxing (1974) Directed by: Hsu Tseng-Hung

Centering around boxing in the titular country, the corruption and gangsters at ringside, in comes Fong Yau after revenge for his brother's death at the hand of said gangsters. Family wants this vicious circle broken though but if that would happen, there would be no movie. Well shot Thai scenery and boxing scenes, there's even some genuine emotions during the first reels. Ultimately The Greatest Thai Boxing falls down using genre clichés and in a rather muddled, amateurish way to boot. Director Hsu Tseng-Hung definitely provided better quality filmmaking with his groundbreaking Temple Of The Red Lotus in 1965.

The Greatest Wedding On Earth (1962, Wong Tin-Lam)

The cast and crew from The Greatest Civil War On Earth (1961) reunite for this unrelated entry but one that follows the template of a heated conflict between a Southerner and a Northerner (Leung Sing-Bo and Liu En-Jia and the movie yet again is recorded in Cantonese and Mandarin sync sound). Rivals in the restaurant business, now the younger ones in the family have found each other and getting these fathers to approve and co-operate is the big hurdle to overcome. In many ways a re-thread of the first movie but there's still some comedy-fuel left utilizing this setup. Easy to follow, likeable, relatable and commercially friendly without making the issue at hand into a cartoon, if anything is different it's the nastier tone between the fathers. But otherwise Wong Tin-Lam (correctly) trusts performers will bring energy and when the local can translate somewhat well still to the West, that means you have tapped into something part homebound, something part universal.

Great General (1978, Ting Chung)

Voice over initially spells out the entire movie and how General Chik (O Chun-Hung) achieved peace in China after a long conflict with Japanese pirates. Not the greatest sign of confidence but it's all about how you put character into the following 90 minutes. Great General definitely is noteworthy as a production, especially in the costume-department but otherwise feels very subdued and invisible. The conflict isn't particularly exciting except for some action-beats scattered throughout. When a key storyline involving the execution of his son after a failed military operation, there are attempts to humanize matters but it also falls into the trap of melodrama. Not without interest but a very insignificant historical piece. Also starring Mang Fei and Fan Mei-Sheng.

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