# 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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Mr. Smart (1989) Directed by: Kent Cheng

A failed sailor Smart (Kent Cheng) returns home to Hong Kong only to be scolded for not bringing back dough to the household. Threatened to have his family kicked out of their village home, he starts up a fast food business but ultimately, all Smart wants from life is a little bit of extended happiness. The road towards that begins when he meets and falls in love with nurse Mona (Rosamund Kwan)...

Alongside Why Me?, Mr. Smart is one of Kent Cheng's finest hours. Favouring simple minded themes, emotions and beats, we do get contrasting halves which is a little bit of a flaw within this package. Cheng reveals much of his intentions during the first stages of the film, balancing themes and inserting fairly exaggerated comedy from time to time but proceedings feels shy and emotionless. What sets the serious flow in motion is the entrance of the character of Mona and rarely have I seen anyone on screen so genuinely in love with his female co-star. Despite Cheng at the helm, this is not a vanity vehicle for him though as he stays true to a thematic core, talking about life happiness as something necessarily not exclusively reserved for you. Learn to think of your fellow man and family, thus creating perhaps the true form of happiness. This sincerity and realism helps Mr. Smart outgrow its more uneven steps into the story and ends up as a touching winner. Also starring Jaime Chik, Billy Lau (in one of his rare normal roles), Cheung Kwok-Keung, Ann Bridgewater and Chiao Chiao.

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Mr. Sunshine (1989) Directed by: Phillip Chan

Mak Bo (Kent Cheng) is the all round good son and helper in all matters close to home or heart, starting with a daring stunt to save the son of the father in their crumbling apartment block from falling to his death (a bluescreen or matte shot as a matter of fact, uncommon in this type of Hong Kong movie at the time). Trying to keep a job is a different matter though and double bad luck sets in when he seeks jobs together with San (Maria Cordero). When Mak Bo's building eventually become a danger zone, he gets to shack up with San's family (father being played wonderfully by Wu Ma) and he unites the large unit by spreading his particular, very well-honed warmth...

Not necessarily a stars on parade vehicle but A LOT of beloved and familiar faces comes and goes (among others, Chiao Chiao, Richard Ng, John Shum, James Wong, David Chiang, Amy Yip, Alan Tang, Melvin Wong, Johnny Wang, Shum Wai, Michael Chan, Blacky Ko, Lowell Lo, Dennis Chan, Manfred Wong, Lam Chung and director Phillip Chan himself). Mr. Sunshine is primary a standout vehicle for Kent Cheng though who can do no wrong when being a loveable, clumsy fool but primarily here it's a terrific act where he displays his large heart as a character. Scenarios in between are very silly and outlandish (including the hunt for blackmailing gangsters with bombs placed inside of chickens) but it never grows annoying one bit and the delight is added upon thanks to the synch sound recording.

Mr. Vampire (1985) Directed by: Ricky Lau

As Western fans have learned ever since their first exposure to Ricky Lau's Mr. Vampire, Hong Kong filmmakers had been venturing into the combination of supernatural horror, action and comedy a few times before. At Shaw Brother's, it was Lau Kar Leung who brought in spirit boxing and taught us the ways of the hopping Chinese vampire in his seminal efforts The Spiritual Boxer and The Shadow Boxing. Sammo Hung had Ricky Lau as cinematographer in his more widely seen Encounters Of The Spooky Kind at Golden Harvest in 1980 but if any Hong Kong horror effort jolted the international audiences greatly, it was Mr. Vampire, released in 1985. Setting the example, the template and the trademarks firmly in place, the success was immediate and spawned sequels and spin-off's that mostly involved the late Lam Ching Ying reprising his ghost busting taoist priest role or some version of it (see the terrific Magic Cop).

Mr. Vampire certainly tries to provide tension in its horror moments but not only mixing it with broader comedic elements decreases this aspect but the fact of the matter is that Hong Kong cinema wasn't so much the premium special effects cinema of the world (I personally like the animated effects and today's CGI doesn't fare that much better in Hong Kong movies anyway). But Lau uses his cinematography background to infuse the film with a sense of grand style at times, adding some striking camerawork and imagery working onthe Golden Harvest and Taiwan based sets. Despite most subsequent sequels and spin-off's borrowing the same template to actual good degrees of success at times, Lau's effort easily ranks as the most entertaining of all.

Lam Ching Ying had performed, working under Sammo and Wu Ma, within the genre before. Among other things he logged a hugely underrated and funny performance as the not so sturdy taoist priest in The Dead And The Deadly but the famed characteristics Lam brought to the role is firmly cemented here. The character has always been comedic gold with his blend of stoic authority as a master and endearing, child like behavior whenever out of his element. Lam proved over the years that even on autopilot, most bland movies overall hugely benefited from him imitating himself over and over again. The genre simply lived and breathed thanks to Lam Ching Ying and despite fine dramatic roles in between, it's the image of Lam in his Taoist wear that will forever live on. And there's certainly no shame in that. The ever so acrobatic Chin Siu Ho, comedic relief Ricky Hui, Billy Lau, playing his usual thick headed police officer, co-stars. Pauline Wong, Anthony Chan and Moon Lee also appear.

Mr. Vampire II (1986) Directed by: Ricky Lau

It was unevitable that producer Sammo Hung and director Ricky Lau would continue riding on the success wave of Mr. Vampire from the year before. In a surprise move, they constructed a very much different unrelated episode this time around, transferring the vampire busting to modern day but sadly churning out one of the lesser efforts out of all sequels, spin-off's and imitations.

That's not to say that Mr. Vampire II doesn't hold interest because it clearly does. We initially follow an antique dealer (played by Chong Fat) who digs out a vampire family that has been buried in a cave for a century. Of course his dopey assistants (Billy Lau & Fung Lee) makes sure the vampires are awaken and let loose. The kid of the vampire family ends up with a living family where the children thinks they've got an illegal immigrant on their hands while a doctor and all round ghost buster (Lam Ching Ying of course) crosses paths with the parents and soon the mayhem is on. Tagging along is the boyfriend (Yuen Biao) of his daughter (Moon Lee) who now has to prove himself worthy under extreme circumstances...

It's an odd choice to have Lam Ching Ying appear as late as one third into the movie but truth of the matter is that a fair energy is maintained via Chong Fat in the lead who seems like a worthy follower in Lam's character footsteps even though his role is not that of the taoist priest. But a longing for Lam to enter eventually sets in during the annoying segment with the human kids befriending the vampire kid. When all finally sinks into the place, there seems to be an ever so slight lack of creative energy even though action set pieces such as the slow-motion fight in a room filled with sedative smoke is a creative feature. As for good vehicles for Lam, Yuen Biao and Moon Lee, you're better off looking elsewhere as neither is put to trademark use like they should. Hung and Lau should be applauded though for wanting to go different places with the franchise but they realized the experiment wasn't as good as they'd hoped so with Mr. Vampire III, much was back on track thankfully. Woo Fung, James Tien, Wu Ma and Stanley Fung also appear.

Megastar's out of print dvd didn't indicate it but they presented Mr. Vampire II in anamorphic widescreen, Cantonese and an English dub to boot. Deltamac's non-anamorphic disc substitutes the English track for a Mandarin one.

Mr. Vampire III (1987) Directed by: Ricky Lau

An admirable attempt was made to take the sequel to Mr. Vampire new places but ultimately producer Sammo Hung and director Ricky Lau ended up with a misguided product. The series got back on track with Mr. Vampire III though, early on making a smart move by adding the comic genius of Richard Ng as a conman Taoist priest, getting assistance from two friendly ghosts as he "eradicates" ghostly problems (a plot device also found in Peter Jackson's The Frighteners). Lam Ching Ying is soon in the frey as well as the stern Taoist priest who battles demons, ghosts and in the case of this film, black magic. High annoyance Billy Lau is this time one of Lam's constantly naughty students and proves to be as unsympathetic as when he played a police in the original.

Ricky Lau has the Mr. Vampire formula very clear in his head, directing Lam Ching Ying in the best of ways, getting the humour out of his character trait easily and also going low with some of the jokes when dealing with the shenanigans of the students. A high pace to the entire affair also benefits while the action choreography by Sammo, Stephen Tung and Lam Ching Ying being full of entertaining bouts with the black magicians later turned ghosts (in particular an early scene when the whole town joins up against the evil). Mr. Vampire III simply put is the best of the sequels while Magic Cop holds that honor in terms of best unofficial one. Also with Liu Fong, Fung Lee, Baan Yuen Sang, Chow Gam Kong, Wu Ma, Corey Yuen and Sammo Hung.

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Mr. Vampire Saga 4 (1988) Directed by: Ricky Lau

It's sans Lam Ching Ying for the 4th installment of the Mr. Vampire series so Ricky Lau and Sammo Hung did some rethinking, albeit less radical than in the first sequel. The idea hatched was to bring back Anthony Chan's Taoist master character that appeared briefly in the first film and then pair him up with a more mellow buddhist monk (Wu Ma). Thus creating the odd couple act needed and Chin Siu- Ho's brother, equally acrobatic Chin Kar-Lok takes up the lead role as more of a love struck pupil rather than a naughty, annoying one. The dynamic in the select locales works very well, with Chan and Wu Ma providing bickering of decent quality. Director Ricky Lau even takes the opportunity to think up a few clever visual tricks along the way in addition to working out a good looking frame with his cinematography team. Then the last half hour eventually brings in the ferocious hopping vampire of the piece and Sammo's stunt team gets the film into high gear. It's nothing groundbreaking but the frantic pace injected as well as Sammo's flavour to a requisite power within the struggles makes Mr. Vampire Saga 4 a very worthy entry. It probably could've done with another movie title however as it's more of a spin-off. Yuen Wah co-stars (and acted as co-action director), hinging onto typical flamboyance but with a great sense of fun. Also with Loletta Lee and Chong Fat.

Mr. Vampire 1992 (1992) Directed by: Ricky Lau

Despite the team of Lam Ching Ying, Chin Siu-Ho and Ricky Hui being together again for the first time since the original Mr. Vampire, the 1992 rendition does correspond to the fact that the unconnected series had been milked out of most its creative energy. Having said that, if you can get mild amusement out of a movie in the wake of Ricky Lau's classic, that is actually some form of merit. Such mild flavours includes Sandra Ng's character showcasing her attraction to Lam Ching Ying's sifu by timely being sprayed by water in key areas while Chin Siu-Ho and Ricky Hui go undercover in a vampire lair, even going the lengths of learning some vampire language (as also seen in The Musical Vampire). These examples get to represent a form of class in Mr. Vampire 1992 but director Lau also go expectedly low-brow, ranging from bowel movement humour during the vampire fighting and Billy Lau is in trademark, nutty overdrive most of the time. While then Lam Ching Ying's master seems to have embraced Western fashion, the character is unfortunately less comic gold this time around. An aspect that also ran out of steam as the years went by. Oh well, if you've come this far in your Hong Kong vampire movie travels, you might as well take this in.

Mr. Wai-Go (1998) Directed by: Aman Chang

Reportedly wanting to use the English title "Mr. Viagra", not too surprisingly someone got wind of that and Chinese translated title was chosen instead. Written and produced by Wong Jing without an ounce or self-respect or foot on the brake pedal, there's two low-brow, naughty stories on display here, with one actually possessing some kind of worthy message. In the first Eric Tsang's Viagra experiences erection problems but can't take the pill for health reasons. Living a mundane village life, he even desperately wants a BORING sex life. Any will do. He seems to have found his Viagra though when the sexy Bobo (Angie Cheung) arrives. Him and the villagers stand and listen outside her window on a nightly basis as she is, as it's said in the film, "nourishing their health". Viagra goes a step further though after Bobo's boyfriend dies and starts having phone sex with her. For Viagra it works as a way of igniting sex life at home and Bobo finds the stranger on the other line and the fantasies they go over (often involving a teacher/student scenario) tempting.

Viagra is calling a radio station to relate his story and listening in as a special guest is famous adult film star Chiu (Anthony Wong). Having no problem performing in softcore material, he's approached to truly go XXX with a Japanese AV star and now Chiu's problem really start to rise. Or in fact, it doesn't rise and it becomes about saving face and sperm.

A manic, silly and childish time with a Wong Jing tinged-movie, director Aman Chang is well on board with the material and as aggravating as it should've been, Mr Wai-Go comes through with a lot of winning material. There's no originality in Eric Tsang and Lee Siu-Kei having swollen organs due to snake bites, no good taste in Tsang desiring to rape now that he's erect again but the good taste grade-wise comes through more in Anthony Wong's segment. Desperately wanting to be anonymous when asking around about his problem and finding out by talking to his penis that he may have depleted the restricted amount of sperm he's given in life, on display is also a costume ball (men dressed as sperm while playing mahjong) that is thoroughly infectious via its silly ways. Ultimately we're won over because the simple moral of the story is very warm thanks to Anthony's and Kingdom Yuen's (playing Chiu's wife) interaction. Viagra may have learnt a little less but we've had no less of a fun time. Spencer Lam and Helena Law co-stars in a mini-story connected to Chiu's that isn't as interesting.

The Mummy, Aged 19 (2002) Directed by: Wilson Yip

A portrayal of a teenager coming to terms with a dysfunctional family situation in the face of an unwelcome change internally. Believe it or not, Wilson Yip's The Mummy, Aged 19 actually is that but first and foremost, it's a very creative and lighthearted mainstream horror-comedy. Although Yip starts slow, he soon finds a delightful rhythm to his I Was A Teenage Mummy-storyline and his script comes with inspired and charming silliness. Main reason being that Yip clearly knows what he's doing and manages therefore to distance himself from cliché trappings, delivering his best mainstream effort in the process. Obviously, he's scored the highest critically in smaller character-driven dramas (preferably starring Francis Ng) but this return to horror shows that when Wilson Yip is let loose, he can really make Hong Kong cinema fly! Too bad the movie flopped...

Stars Tsui Tin-Yau (another one of director Fruit Chan's discoveries, who cast him in Little Cheung) and Wong You-Nam (another one Fruit Chan has also utilized, this time in Hollywood Hong Kong) are both members of the boy band Shine and that fact, and casting, should've automatically killed off any chances of a film featuring an ounce of actual creativity. Then again, mainstream in intent it may be but The Mummy, Aged 19 feels so much more like Wilson Yip's movie, that time has clearly been taken to utilize the boys the Yip-way, not the commercial driven way. Again, the movie flopped...

Familiar personnel from other Wilson Yip movies turn up in front and behind the camera, including Joe Ma (co-producer), Soi Cheang (line producer), Matt Chow and Joe Lee (with some truly priceless hair). Also starring Hui Siu-Hung, Tiffany Lee, Wyman Wong, Yuen King-Tan and Chapman To.

Mei Ah released a 2 disc dvd set of The Mummy, Aged 19 but managed to mess up the English subtitles that goes out of sync for a large part of the film. Those in need of subtitles will have to turn to the vcd therefore.

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Mummy Dearest (1985) Directed by: Ronny Yu

A Cinema City attempt to shake things up a bit without alienating their audience or jeopardizing their image. The attempt is a hybrid of thriller, inappropriate comedy, elderly romance and drama but there's times where Ronny Yu keeps Mummy Dearest afloat despite the mixed content. Alan Tam is the devoted son with the requisite abusive past that's now taking out his frustration via murder, albeit accidental at first. Feeling much like a vanity project for Tam during the MV style opening credits instead becomes a decent act for him as he displays fairly intimidating presence. In between the darkness, goofy cops roam wild but tricky investigator Bill Tung takes the film into a slightly worthwhile off-beat territory. It's a questionable end product but Ronny Yu completists should bring this obscurer film into their collection.

The Musical Vampire (1992) Directed by: Wilson Tong

Lam Ching Ying has a supporting role in this ordinary yet dependably entertaining vampire busting effort from Wilson Tong. While Stanley Fung, Hung Yan Yan and company does ok for themselves in providing the requisite acting energy to the vampire busting set pieces (choreographed by Tong and Fung Hak On), the film does gain a whole lot more of a momentum whenever Lam appears. His purpose is mainly comedic before the final reel but true to form, Lam is a riot. The ghost language scene with the vampire at hand is inspired silliness despite surely being anchored in actual beliefs. The Musical Vampire certainly owes a lot to the structure set in stone by Mr. Vampire and also borrows a scenario straight out of The Shadow Boxing but it's nonetheless harmless, entertaining genre fun. Loletta Lee, Charlie Cho and Tai Po co-stars.

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