# 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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Return To Action (1990) Directed by: Chen Kuan-Tai

Cop Man (Alex Man) is investigating a financial company due to suspicion of drug trafficking. This firmly affects his family as his brother-in-law Hwa (Mark Cheng) works in the shady business and it all eventually sets off a chain reaction of violence involving Man's wife (Rosamund Kwan) as well as her father (the film's director Chen Kuan-Tai). Standard and rather cheaply made, Chen Kuan-Tai nonetheless delivers the beats of the narrative fairly well. It's meant to be a movie and not just a catalyst for violence but its selling point is that very thing. It eventually comes through after some weak power and impact in initial scenes of dark violence. But rest of the running time mixes shotgun violence, gritty fights, stunts and bloody gunplay (with innocent women and children repeatedly getting in the line of fire) to involving effect. Not so much involving drama but that's ok as bloodthirsty effect is what Chen is after for the latter stages and achieves well looking at this filmmaking aspect alone. Also with Shing Fui-On.

Return To The 36th Chamber (1980, Lau Kar-Leung)

Representing how to execute unexpectedly and really how you do the more difficult follow up to something iconic Without knowing how the discussion went at the top of Shaw’s, clearly the makers ultimately didn’t decide on a straight follow up or a quick one either to The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin. By now Shaw Brothers had started to respond to kung fu comedy industry standard, they struggled with it however but when they gave Lau Kar Leung the task of making kung fu comedy, it worked out better, added to his versatility and the angle of Return To The 36th Chamber is rather delightful. It's making the movie world impact of Monk San Te’s accomplishment felt to the point where there are imposters around trying to cash in on the nationalistic, inspiring and heroic wave (enter Gordon Liu as said imposter). Already positioning itself differently therefore, with no national conflict but a local involving rival dye mills, ruling forces pushing out local workers and terms, in favour of Manchurians, their tools and dyeing technique. For Gordon Liu's San Te failed imposter, it's about making an honest, able man out of oneself who then protects the little people.

Once in the temple, his act is transparent (this is where Gordon Liu starts to shine the most), he fails at basic chambers and he's being messed with. Leading to wonderful cinematic moments showing Liu trying to wash his hair using a single rock and subsequent trajectory of the water splashes of a well. Which then transfers to the core of it where he's graduated to putting up scaffolding around Shaolin temple and catching glimpses of techniques that way. It feels like such a different and even smaller film that it was not destined for as big of a status movie but execution leads to a very fun time. Liu's character applying his scaffolding techniques to martial arts battles is clever, usually non violent which then feeds into a focused mood that was all about satire and justice. A most unusual and focused sequel in name only.

The Revenge Ghost Of The Tree (1988) Directed by: Ding Sin-Saai

Taiwan veteran Ding Sin-Saai's latter day work had its ambitious moments in terms of special effects (The Beheaded 1000, Magic Sword) and The Revenge Ghost Of The Tree wants to flourish via that train of thought too. Being a melodramatic and dark ghost revenge story with Shih Szu vs the ruthless Mr. Chow David Chiang plays, the production is of high standard but also isn't shot with a skill for the eye popping. However at a mere 92 minutes and intensifying its sights once the revenge plot kicks in, it's fairly memorable. Terrorizing Mr. Chow with giant fruit from the tree Shih Szu's Hsu Yuen was hung in and having to deal with the red-faced god General Kwan, Ding Sin-Saai's heads the execution well and even impresses with one hardcore gore moment as Shuh Szu forces a man to cut his own throat in bloody fashion. A distraction made in somewhat of an old fashioned way by a veteran makes it seem less like 1988 and more 78 but it has its charms when the basics are done well.

The Revenge Of Angel (1990) Directed by: Yeung Kuen

A different Moon Lee vehicle but seeing as it partly replays the opera scene from Once Upon A Time In China and features the ghost/man love story that A Chinese Ghost Story made popular, it's hard to look at The Revenge Of Angel as a true original. In the role usually reserved for Joey Wong, Moon plays Angel, a peking opera performer that dies in a fire at the hands of local thug Chan Ping (Chung Faat - Spooky Encounters). 20 years later, fresh opera performer Siu Man (Lau Ji-Wai) finds the spirit of Angel and falls in love. With him and several others of the opera troupe on her side, Angel can finally plot her revenge...

Played almost totally straight (a gag at the very end concerns flashing your underwear to break Taoist priest's concentration), director Yeung Kuen (Seeding Of A Ghost) doesn't play out the otherworldly romance particularly well, pushing for emotions in the most sappy of ways (think stock, manipulative score). It's Hong Kong cinema being slightly more ambitious but in the end drawing a "storyline" merely as an excuse for fights and effects. The latter it does as standard as you'd come to expect from the era but the action choreography is well done. Standouts includes a skirmish onboard a ship heading for the afterlife where Angel's servants turn against her and the ending involving spells and weapons is rather noteworthy. Wu Ma and Alvina Kong co-stars.

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Revenge Of The Corpse (1981) Directed by: Sun Chung

Sergeant Du (Jason Pai) is framed for murder and theft by his wife and Zeng (Lo Lieh) and eventually dies. A couple of grave robbers are witnesses to Du rising again and soon the entire village is shivering at the prospect of a heinous looking Du returning but he's set his sights on the ones responsible for his death...

Simple, straightforward horror (with minor touches of action only) by Sun Chung (Human Lanterns) that sufficiently sets up his story, albeit it takes half a flick for it take flight. Then seeing Jason Pai's corpse rotten, twisted and bathed in a green light starts a fair delight of messy violence on the Shaw Brothers stage. Clever, age old solutions using wires, smokes and colored lightning through Sun Chung's eyes rank as clever and the atmosphere takes on a suitable aura of dread. Revenge here is bloody and as inhumane as the actions initially were.

Revenge Of The Shaolin Master (1979) Directed by: Lo Chen

Impressively mounted compared to most of its genre-companions, Dorian Tan's Lin Chen Hu is escorting goods meant for refugees and to stabilize the suffering the region. Escort is intercepted and stolen though but Lin is accused of being the mastermind behind it. It's basic storytelling but the quite relentless darkness at points and in general the tangents of corruption, betrayal etc is marginally interesting. Which is a lot more than you expect sometimes. Yuen Woo-Ping and Yuen Cheung-Yan provide intricate, incredibly well-flowing and even gritty choreography as well to elevate the fair emotional investment. Also with Lung Fei, Cheung Fook-Gin, Liu Shan, Tsai Hung and Chen Sing in a last reel fighting cameo.

Rhythm Of Destiny (1992) Directed by: Andrew Lau

A diamond smuggling triad (Danny Lee) and his ambitious younger brother (Aaron Kwok) reunite but the former stirs up troubles via his criminal ways, drawing his Christian family closer to his shady world...

Directed by Andrew Lau and largely designed to be a movie for Aaron Kwok (dancing and lots of Canto-pop opportunities are utilized), standard sentimental drama comes with the commercial package deal therefore but having producer/lead Danny Lee on board makes Rhythm Of Destiny a lot more gripping than it probably should be. The requisite character that has to come to terms with shedding his criminal skin in favour of family values has Lee anchoring the picture as you've come to expect from the otherwise cop actor. The violent ending is disappointingly highly calculated rather than earned and director Lau really shows no interest in making any of this special. Danny did. Shing Fui-On is fun in a supporting role as one of Lee's wilder triad brothers. Also starring Sharla Cheung, Lisa Chiao, Peter Lai, Wu Ma, Blacky Ko and in one of her appearances in Hong Kong cinema, future Ally McBeal star Lucy Liu.

Rich And Famous (1987) Directed by: Taylor Wong

screencap stolen with permission from Hong Kong Digital

Rich And Famous, despite the being part 1 in a triad story that was followed up with Tragic Hero (aka Black Vengeance), it was the latter that was first unleashed upon audiences as it was thought to have more commercial potential (more action). Tragic Hero was successful, much thanks to the star power of Chow Yun-Fat and Andy Lau no doubt, but Rich And Famous managed to slide by, taking in over 21 million at the box office. It goes to show that audiences are willing to be put be subjected to mediocrity as long as there's stars involved...

Kwok (Lau), Yung (Alex Man) and Chui (Pauline Wong) are the trio of kids from a poor family that end up working for respected triad boss Chai (Chow Yun-Fat). With Yung being adopted into the family, he is naturally the one that goes astray, leading to betrayal and bloodshed along the way...

Manfred Wong and Stephen Siu's script is the epitome of ordinary and generic within the triad genre. Each and every role is a pure stock character and no attempts whatsoever are made to make old seem fresh. Director Taylor Wong doesn't seem to bothered either and hands over the duties to the actors. Can't say I blame them for acting left alone with no guidance. No star power in the world can in this case overcome the sheer dullness on display and while Chow Yun-Fat can look suave in his sleep, he looks thoroughly bored here. Remarkably sloppily directed at times, Rich And Famous offers up maybe a stunt or two of noteworthy nature towards the end. The other positive out of all this is a fairly likeable performance by none other than Alan Tam as Mak the stuttering coward who has to face his demons in the end reel as these things go. Also with Danny Lee (as yet another cliché character...the cop hellbent to nail the crime boss!), Carina Lau, Shing Fui On and Fan Mei Sheng.

Note that the screencap above is from the Tai Seng dvd. Mei Ah have out an anamorphic edition that surely beats prior home video presentations.

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Rich Man (1992) Directed by: Joe Ma

Not another pervy men getting laid flicks that James Wong and Tommy Wong headed occasionally at this time (See Stooges In Tokyo, The Wild Goose Chase) but a comedy where the standout elements is chemistry and performer-energy. Kwong (Tommy Wong) is a low-rent triad and poor to boot but meeting the generous Peter Chow who advances Kwong and girflriend (Elaine Lui) up the wealth- and poverty ladder turns out to be a heavenly experience until it turns out it's too good to be true. The rise and fall of a once righteous and focused character is present here, with a strong point being how Kwong forgets what it's like to be a friend and a rascal and feature debut director Joe Ma continually keeps proceedings moving fast (at 80 minutes, Rich Man is logically lean too). Tommy Wong, Elaine Lui and Shing Fui-On head fine performer chemistry where it's not so much about the comedy but banter and really evident comfort. You notice when chemistry is on less substantially and a lot more substantially when off. Lau Kar-Wing, William Ho, Clifton Ko and Frankie Ng also appear.

Rider Of Revenge (1971) Directed by: Hung Ting-Miu

Freed from prison, the quite lethal Ting Fu (Shan Mao) isn't so much being saved but the warriors equipped with claws and horrible scars have an agenda and it's spelled l-o-o-t. Ling Hua (Polly Kuan) enters the scene as one seemingly wanting the law to handle Ting Fu while Lung (Tien Peng) and Wei (Kong Ban) have their own reasons for wanting the cuffed Ting Fu in their possession...

It's a complex web of mystery all up till the last seconds and while a compelling choice as well as the movie coming off like less of a complex Gu Long novel that it seems, director Hung Tin-Miu doesn't come through with much viewer interest in the developments. The Union Film production looks stunning and the action for its time is big, very epic and even set in complex environments such as fire (the brawl at brewery is a very compelling example of this). You also have compelling design choices in the weapons arsenal present, with each crucial character getting a distinctive trait that carries through nicely in the film (ranging from Polly Kuan's coin sword, Kong Ban's whip to the character of Ting Fu using his big cuffs to gory effect). But a serious, twisty turny core is the intent here and Rider Of Revenge doesn't quite cut it when it's done. It's something, the intent is admirable but the execution an empty one.

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Right Here Waiting... (1994) Directed by: Joe Hau

Frequently slammed for efforts such as Passion Unbounded and Hong Kong Showgirls (and rightly so), Joe Hau's debut film is a fine ensemble drama focusing on career women possessing that tough/equally soft shell that speaks to their longing for love. A terrific cast consisting of Cecilia Yip, Carrie Ng (looking nothing like her trademark glamour self), Pauline Wong (also producer) and Petrina Fung performs in the often familiar template with gusto but much credit goes out to Hau's sense of making simplicity and familiarity work. Best scene probably being when the character of Dickson (Wu Shing-Guo - Temptation Of A Monk) takes Cecilia Yip's Ha to meet his parents. Staged as a cross examination, Hau's cinematic sensibility gels perfectly here and he remains truthful throughout. Bringing in elements of farce in the interaction between the women (Pauline's character doesn't go for a boob job, she goes for a pump that she adjusts whenever she likes), this clearly signals his desire to not go overboard with depth but Right Here Waiting... isn't a production that has calculated wrongly in its strife to be simple about the fate of characters. Their stern, playful shells make way for shyness, innocence in a way that is felt and even depressing. But the message about being pro-active, to only worry about the things you can change and change them brings the movie to a fine close. Shot in synch sound thankfully where you for once get to hear Pauline Wong speak in Chinese AND English. Emil Chow, Julian Cheung, Crystal Kwok, Jimmy Wong and Law Kar-Ying also appear.

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HK Flix.com

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