|# 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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|One-Armed Swordsman (1967) Directed by: Chang Cheh
One of the greatest Shaw Brothers classics is important and interesting contextually for the era in which it was made in as well. A groundbreaking swordplay movie that (as Grady Hendrix noted) introduced a rougher tone and character gallery to the Wuxia genre. Leading up to 1967, the look and feel in for instance the Red Lotus trilogy was cleaner, more majestic and lacking in exploration of honor and humanity. Enter Chang Cheh’s dramatic and blood soaked take on matters that would solidify part of his versatile legacy, a successful cinema run (it is said to be the first Hong Kong movie to earn a million Hong Kong dollars at the box office) and a star making turn by Jimmy Wang Yu. It is thematically that One-Armed Swordsman holds its greatest strengths today as his character unjustly pays a huge price for being the outsider. Even after humiliation and when adapting himself to his crippled state, he remains an honorable hero and that trait becomes inspirational, even in its simple form. As a martial artist, Jimmy wasn't classically trained (but a good swimmer!) but is the performer with most power and impact thankfully (as was true over the course of the Red Lotus trilogy). Huge developments would occur subsequently in on screen action, in particular by co-choreographer Lau Kar Leung himself, but the genre and swordplay was taking a leap forward in One-Armed Swordsman with more consistent weight, grit and the Chang Cheh-speciality of bloody violence. His actual narrative ranges from captivating to a bit tedious as clearly the most interest lie in the journey of Jimmy's character but when focusing on the rival clan subplot, One-Armed Swordsman doesn’t stand out as distinctly Also, directing of actors can feel a bit theatrical at times and melodrama is not subtle but nevertheless, it was a blessing when the movie finally was restored in the new millenium and a wider audience could start seeing one of many crucial pieces that formed the always evolving Wuxia.Tsui Hark adapted the basic premise when making his dark and dirty The Blade in 1995, Jimmy Wang Yu would also transfer the concept of the one armed hero when going independent and in the process created some wonderfully weird and entertaining vehicles such as One Armed Boxer (in which the famous armbreak is legendary ludicrous. Chang definitely made it more of a harrowing scene in in the 1967 movie) and Master Of The Flying Guillotine.
|One Arm Hero (1993) Directed by: Wei Han-Tao
Entertaining and affecting close to the "Sam The Iron Bridge Trilogy" (White Lotus Cult and Sam The Iron Bridge - Champion Of Martial Arts preceded it) by Wei Han-Tao (possibly thanks to this efficiency, producer Stephen Shin brought him onboard the 1994 epic The Great Conqueror's Concubine). Sam Liang-Kun (Do Siu-Chun) is now the Governor of Canton and his righteous self refuses to play the corrupt officials game with the likes of Prince Mu (Wong Kam-Kong), the father of Princess Keke (Fennie Yuen). In terms of the love triangle between Liang-Kun, Keke and Tieh (Yip Chuen-Chan), Liang-Kun's heart is decided and the marriage with Tieh finally takes place. Still thinking of his lower class friends as well, Liang-Kun's outstanding, human choices will not erase the dark forces wishing the government to be headed into more corrupt directions however. When Japanese pirates invade China, Liang-Kun is forced to use the locked up silver reserve to buy guns and this gives his enemies, in particular Prince Ting (Chiu Cheung-Gwan - Blade Of Fury) the excuse they want to put away Liang-Kun...
A darker and more emotional tale, one of the throughlines of the series that manages to resonate under Wei Han-Tao's direction is the love triangle. In particular Fennie Yuen's Keke goes through a development where she's not let her emotions create hatred towards Liang-Kun. On the contrary, she's devoted to look after his life if needed, leading to a common understanding between the trio. Director Wei also keeps the mixture of politics, action and drama simple and One Arm Hero finally shows hints of promise on the lower scale it works within compared to the Once Upon A Time In China-series. We get a sense of pay off but there's an endurance test across two movies that comes with that. Phillip Kwok's action mixes poorly staged battle scenes with a well-conveyed sense of choreographing the grounded with the wire-assisted. Lily Li again co-stars as Sister Hung.
|The One Arm Swordsmen (1976) Directed by: Jimmy Wang Yu & David Chiang
You'd think a team up of iconic Shaw Brothers stars reprising their one-armed roles but TOGETHER would generate some kind of spark, even if made independently. The answer is a painfully, resounding no. Directing as a duo, even combined experience can't get this awful Wuxia pian to stand out. With a way too generous 110 minutes running time, Wang Yu and Chiang do multiple, drawn out inn sequences to showcase each individual's cool and skill but it merely comes off as being too long. And with no fun genre trickery, colour and energy but rather a long, incoherent and exposition filled narrative, The One Arm Swordsmen is sadly a big embarrassment. An oddly appropriate or well timed one for two stars not in their prime as box office draws anymore. Also with Lo Lieh.
|One Foot Crane (1975) Directed by: Mo Man-Hung
An iconic looking Lily Li in a standard revenge story, Mo Man-Hung (Stormy Sun, Fearless Fighters) focuses on the cycle of revenge, unexpected family connections, and weaponry. But nothing iconic or well thought out in concept can save One Foot Crane from being rather awfully standard, earning it a marginal recommendation only which is a shame because it could've had more. Lo Lieh also appears.
|One Husband Too Many (1988) Directed by: Anthony Chan
In the sequel to Happy Bigamist, Hsin (Anthony Chan) and friend Hua (Kenny Bee) have their women exit their lives, their arms broken and a dual scare that they might turn gay if spending too much time together. When Frances (Cherie Chung) enters both their lives, a love triangle and rivalry starts. Hsin even tries to hide the fact that he even knows Hua, going extreme lengths to remain hidden in the process...
Anthony Chan surprisingly sidesteps the potential pitfalls when briefly dealing with the homosexuality issue and generally provides a workable genre effort here. A little too extreme and lacking in spark at times, it's much thanks to Cherie Chung's interaction with the former Wynners members that One Husband Too Many does spark on a general level. Some smirks, slight sweetness and a short running time later, no viewer will have their lives changed but although an assembly line product of its time, you obviously find more horrible cinematic crimes in the genre during any era. Outside of the male leads, the carryovers from Happy Bigamist, Anita Mui and Pat Ha put in brief appearances. Alfred Cheung and Michael Chan also stops by.
|Only Fools Fall In Love (1995) Directed by: Vincent Kok
Ford (Lau Ching-Wan) is a rich man's son, spoiled, rude, manipulative and full of himself. Still, he obviously needs to marry and continue the bloodline but his brother (Dayo Wong) wants to be the successor instead. To the point that he arranges an accident that makes Ford lose his memory and sense. Dubbed Fool instead, he's taken in by tailor Dee (Wu Chien-Lien) and her father (Yuen Wah). Dee and Ford were originally paired up for marriage but teaching Fool basic skills about life again, actual love may be blossoming. All while Ford's brother has become the primary son in the family finally...
Produced by Johnnie To, director Vincent Kok provides the expected moral of the story and a polished commercial feel that takes few chances. Unexpectedly not going the nonsense comedy route with the premise, there's still some wild, funny sights gathered up such as the wife candidacy in Ford's family being handled American Idol-style and Ford being reduced to beggar also very quickly makes him grow dreadlocks! Totally amusing but a bit overlong, much of the very bearable nature to Only Fools In Love is due to the fine chemistry and presences of Lau Ching-Wan and Wu Chien-Lien. Wu is exceptionally fetching in period wear (always has been), even flashes her on-screen kung-fu skills at one point and Kok really lights up the screen with her face via various perfect close-ups. It's a sweet and fun time she provides together with her leading man. Also with Billy Lau, Jerry Lamb, Roy Chiao, Wong Yat-Fei and Vincent Kok himself.
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|On Parole (1993) Directed by: Lee Gwok-Laap
Hung (Kara Hui) follows through on her deceased husband's (Dick Wei) demand that she gets out of the gangster world. Her legal path consists of working more with her brain and her fellow ex-con sisters as she runs a village restaurant. But as the saying partly goes, they pull you back in...
A bit flimsy told but Sea Root director Lee Gwok-Laap has noble intentions. Shooting in synch sound, he gets Kara Hui to nicely own the strong-willed character or rather the one that has to be as the leader of her sisters. The directing consisting of lining up actors, rather poorly scripted so called deep character connections and loud melodrama doesn't further any intentions however. But... a realistic and more village bound atmos combined with reserved pieces of action (violence rather) has On Parole showing its intended hand. We get it but don't wholly approve. The sequel On Parole No.2 - Do Unto Others followed the same year. Also appearing are Lo Lieh, Henry Fong, Chin Kar-Lok and a male saviour in the all women environment, the kind hearted character played by Vincent Wan.
|On Parole No.2 - Do Unto Others (1993) Directed by: Lee Gwok-Laap
A little bliss has been infused in the surroundings when we meet up with Hung (Kara Hui), her lover Nan (Vincent Wan) and the girls of the ex-con restaurant again. However past grudges and secrets harboured threaten to destroy all. That connection is lawyer Donald Tang (Tan Lap-Man) who screwed over Hung and is the husband of Chin (Yip San), the mother of Nan's child. Donald is a bit of a meanie too as he continually loses it when approached with this connection. It's still loud melodrama, this time about parental responsibility, but a better paced experience. Oh the intensity and violence does its share in that regard and this plot really is an op for that level of harshness that Lee Gwok-Laap illuminates pretty well. It's not pretty watching the rape and abuse on display but again with a fine anchor in Kara Hui, the On Parole-continuation ends up working a lot better.
|Operation Lipstick (1967) Directed by: Inoue Umetsugu
Establishing early that you don't need to strap in for a tense ride, Inoue Umetsugu (Hong Kong Nocturne) provides a light time using the era's spy-trend, popping colours and a playful Cheng Pei-Pei showing what a star she was for this ALMOST family friendly time. A singer (Pei-Pei) born into a family of thieves gets involved in the chase of a microfilm containing atomic energy research. Good and evil wants it, the chase, deception and twists follows subsequently. Not only playful but very funny and sexy too, Cheng Pei-Pei is a natural fit and Inoue Umetsugu truly seems inspired working with a game and so many game performers. Clicking in at a brisk 90 minutes, aside from one rather grim death at the end, everybody is in it for the fun and even says goodbye to the audience by the end. Also with Ku Feng, Tien Feng, Paul Cheng and Tina Chin-Fei.
|Operation Pink Squad (1988) Directed by: Jeff Lau
A little bit of Angel, Inspector Wears Skirts and Stakeout is mixed together for Jeff Lau's second film as director. Also known as Thunder Cops, Lau crafts both lame, amusing and even dark results from his action comedy, giving Sandra Ng both a fine comedic showcase but also an early chance to show off dramatic chops (which would be developed later in the 90s to a fine degree). While never truly fast paced and entertaining like the best Jeff Lau movies are, Operation Pink Squad really is a throwaway effort but does its job neat and quick with the fight scene at the playground being the standout moment in terms of action. Lau shows that he can create dark atmospherics effectively but his successful recipe in my mind has always been when dabbling with the supernatural on a comedic level. Thankfully he went on to shoot the sequel to this (Operation Pink Squad 2: The Hunted Tower) and Haunted Cop Shop 2 subsequently then. Billy Lau, Woo Fung, Lowell Lo, Ng Man Tat, Lam Chung, Helena Law, Charlie Cho, Suki Kwan, Ann Bridgewater and Ricky Hui also appear.
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