# 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
Page 01 | Page 02 | Page 03 | Page 04 | Page 05 | Page 06
Kids From Shaolin (1984) Directed by: Cheung Yam-Yim

After the success and effect of The Shaolin Temple, cast and crew reunited for Kids From Shaolin. Also known as Shaolin Temple 2, this is unrelated stuff that echoes the Wu Shu-spectacle of the first film but adds in "comedy" in between. Almost fully unbearable as it displays the acrobatic skills of its kid performers but also the full on annoyance of them performing in various lighthearted skits along the way, Jet Li in the midst of this doesn't elevate matters either. Basically a battle of Shaolin vs. Wudong, families live on opposite sides of the river and are in need of completing elements of their respective families if you will. Lighthearted rivalry, singing, misunderstandings, Jet Li in drag, glorious Mainland Chinese landscapes and an excruciating 100 minute running time, there's no strength that can outweigh this full on misfire (although it did do good business). There is a group of villains literally waiting to go into action and while the extensive end battle does contains some wonderful staff work from Jet Li and gore, to wait for that is one painful trek. I suggest not.

Buy the DVD at:

The Kid With A Tattoo (1980) Directed by: Sun Shung

Opium and weapons smugglers headed by Johnny Wang, a hired escort gang carrying red spears whose leader is Yuen Wah vs a cocky, tattooed cotton business apprentice with a secret love for kung-fu played by Wong Yue, the recipe for disaster is spelled Wong Yue and Shaw Brothers desperately trying to fit into the growing kung-fu comedy market. Director Sun Chung shows obvious signs of not wanting to be there, Wong Yue is intolerable and even the Tong Gai action choreography is often tired and uninspired. A fairly ferocious finale and a good fight between Yuen Wah and Dick Wei doesn't help matters in an overall sense. Also with Ku Feng.

The Killer (1972) Directed by: Chor Yuen

Former circus artist (with a specialty in knife throwing) Chiao Ho (Chung Wa) returns home only to be facing injustice and corruption... and his fuse is short. Busting up a martial arts school and eventually being accused of several acts of violence and murders he didn't commit, this tests the relationship with friend Inspector Ma (Chin Han) and the future with Yu Chiao (Wang Ping)...

Although it's not an affecting triangle of friendship and romance, The Killer (aka Sacred Knives Of Vengeance) combines its basic storytelling very well with how the Yuen Woo-Ping/Yuen Cheung-Yan action direction plays out. Featuring several huge battles of hard punches, kicks, wilder stunts than usual for the time and extensive Shaw Brothers blood, the flow is incredible and very well honed for 1972. If it had been released on Hong Kong dvd or vcd, The Killer would and could be seen as an important achievement but Celestial left The Killer restored and unreleased locally. Chor Yuen's work during this time also remains his most interesting (Intimate Confessions Of A Chinese Courtesan, The House Of 72 Tenant, The Bastard etc) before becoming the man in charge of every complicated swordplay novel adaptation in the late 70s.

The Killer (1989) Directed by: John Woo

How can you NOT use this image?

One of the foremost classics of the heroic bloodshed genre, one fully ignited by director John Woo, and the film that established his and star Chow Yun-Fat's reputation internationally. The Killer has always been a kind of a struggle for me though. The reason is that I've never really seemed to grow to love it as much as others during my prior viewings. However with the Hong Kong legends dvd that received good remarks about its newly created translation, I finally began seeing what was truly great and what I always seemed to dislike. While the themes of brotherhood, loyalty and the action sequences (beautifully staged by Ching Siu-Tung & Lau Chi Ho, with much input from John) are pretty much nailed, I can't help to feel that it's one nail too many. Certain moments between and those about characters feels overemphasized, even sappy and corny, to me and that may explain why I've always felt a bit distanced to The Killer compared to other movies by John Woo.

It's still an excellent film though with Chow Yun-Fat at his charismatic best and while not as impressive, Danny Lee performs admirably in his finest role alongside the performance in City On Fire (his award winning turn in Law With Two Phases, which he also directed, I haven't seen so I can't comment on that currently). Sally Yeh is left a little in the background which is not surprising coming from a filmmaker specializing in portraying male bonding. However I think Sally's character does works nicely as the goal of salvation for Ah Jong while that particular theme and its outcome I think never sat well with every viewer. I certainly respond to it but I think it depends on where your mind can go in terms of light and dark. Sounds cryptic? Watch the damn film!

The terrific action finale set in a church took several months to shoot and it's here Chow suffered an eye injury, which is visible in the film. Also starring Chu Kong, Kenneth Tsang and Shing Fui On. The Killer won Best Director and Editing at the Hong Kong Film Awards the following year.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Killer Angels (1989) Directed by: Tony Liu

One of the hidden gems that followed in the wake of Angel, Moon Lee stars and is here part of the team called the BLUE angels. Having in their possession a defected members (Lau Siu-Gwan) of the Shadow gang and a chance to take them all out, it also takes Moon's character going undercover at a hostess club. Mainly employed as a singer though (Canto-pop number comes included) and striking up a connection Gordon Liu's in-house assassin and right hand man of Don Chu (Leung Kar-Yan), fisticuffs, filled up squibs and explosions follow...

Pretty simple genre entertainment and it's simply good skill put to good use that makes Killer Angels the fun ride it is. With focus on extensive gunplay and stunts (the fight scenes that ARE present are very good and each cast member you expect to throw down, pretty much does) and even featuring bearable personal and triangle-like drama, the attention to detail pays off for director Tony Liu. Also with Kingdom Yuen, Ng Man-Tat, Shing Fui-On and Mark Houghton.

The Killer Has No Return (1996) Directed by: Jeffrey Chiang

Concerning a killer of killers (Wong Hei - The Accident) who slowly begins to break his habits of drinking things other than hot chocolate and displaying empathy for other human beings, such silly notions threatens to be shattered by another assassin (Yu Rong-Guang)...

I'm sure Jeffrey Chiang (The Dream Killer) had good intentions when echoing Wong Kar-Wai's stylistic sensibilities (Blur-O-Vision being the one utilized here) and plot points from Fallen Angels and Chungking Express. Here's his problem though, it's a xerox of someone else's voice, not Chiang's own and he even manages to make his art completely muddled and lacking of interest while he's at it. Voiceover musings on the art, the habits and the interaction with people doesn't aid the otherwise solid stylist Chiang. Which is all a shame because he's loaded up the flick with gunpower that isn't out of place But that's it for The Killer Has No Return, an effort that thought it could get away with an homage such as this. Carol Lee and Ng Man-Tat also appear.

The Killer In White (1980) Directed by: Joe Cheung

Being a fan of contrasting and genre-bending that Hong Kong cinema can be, it's possibly the most jarring when experienced within an old school, martial arts comedy. A terribly obnoxious one at that for one hour in the buddy cop comedy we got here with the old guard (Roy Chiao) teaching the young (Stephen Tung Wai). Getting into conflict with the local gambling den, it spurs the injection of the killer in white and unheard of darkness for this movie. Populating the movie with the thought that everybody just needs to be a bit out there, grating and ugly for the comedy to shine, no dubbing in the world can save us from the fact that the movie is possessing a critical death wish. Stephen Tung Wai has close to a star turn here though, co-choreographing (along side Lam Ching Ying among others) intricate comedy set pieces that work very well and deserved to be supported by a funnier movie. Then Tung Wai's character gets pissed and the movie switches gears into true danger for every character as the hunt is on for the killer in white. Having blood literally running down the screen at one point and culminating in a gory finale that sees Tung Wai's hand going limp, red, black and essentially being shattered, 'Bloody Fury' was clearly the half hour movie baked into this one and it's reference material... after the hour mark. Director Joe Cheung went on to helm Rosa, Flaming Brothers and Return Engagement. Co-starring Yam Sai-Goon (Dance Of The Drunk Mantis, Once Upon A Time In China).

The Killer Meteors (1976) Directed by: Lo Wei

Novelist and writer Ku Long goes to town, conjuring up a huge character gallery, motivations and alliances galore to keep track of as well as genre twists so per default The Killer Meteors is hard to penetrate. But since Lo Wei brings his usual cinematic tedium, the fantastical elements have little to no chance of standing out. Jimmy Wang Yu is The Killer Meteor and that's as much as one is likely to remember throughout a way too generous and muddled 100 minutes. Sold on Jackie Chan's three scene appearance, the movie marks a rare villainous turn from the future superstar. It's nothing special as a performance or written and leaning more towards the maniacally laughing villain than any fresh take on it. But the two fight scenes Wang Yu and Chan do get, they represent a rare spike in energy for the movie that largely is uneventful. Lacking colourful design or characters on enough of a regular basis, there is some marvelous production- and character design (Phillip Ko with magnetic hands springs to mind) but again Lo Wei is not good at showcasing any of this nor injecting a snappy energy to proceedings.

Killer Of Snake, Fox Of Shaolin (1978, Fan Dan)

A supernatural kung-fu movie that should've been fun. Amidst an incomprehensible plot, director Fan Dan populates this universe with a variety of fighters that are animals in human form, black magic, ghosts, witches etc but there's no energetic push. It's more about featuring the players and the elements but it stops right there. With a very bored looking Carter Wong heading this and very sparse action choreography, the exchanges are not half-bad but the failure of the movie's main draw hovers over it even during quality sections.

The Killer Snakes (1974) Directed by: Kuei Chih-Hung

It's not the flick for the optimists when Chen Zhi Hong (Kam Kwok-Leung from Purple Storm) excises his sadomasochistic demons and lust for revenge with his killer snakes...

Ngai Hong's script lacks great characterdepth and subtext (although the theme of Chen's decisionmaking for others becomes an interesting point) but director Kuei Chih-Hung (The Bamboo House Of Dolls) makes it all up by providing high atmospherics. It's surely more of a simple revenge story, one definitely inspired by 1971's Willard, but the stylish cinematography by Yu Chi turns The Killer Snakes into an immersing and even unnerving ride. Despite being set among the lower class, in a decayed urban Hong Kong, the professionalism is suitably in tune with the content. The filmmakers even go to the brave lengths of not relying on much source light, and letting contours and shadows do the work within a beautifully composed Shawscope frame.

At times threatening to be a bit goofy, in particular during the snake attacks, this 1974 Shaw Brother's production, nowadays also rated Cat III for very valid reasons, doesn't offer happy solutions and a life affirming sentiment. Its impact and disturbing nature can still be felt today but whether you're the viewer who's willing to go down that route and examine film merits, I can't say. I can however say that animal lovers should really stay away as the various killings are most certainly not special effects.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Page 01 | Page 02 | Page 03 | Page 04 | Page 05 | Page 06