# 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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She'd Hate Rather Love (1971, Hua Hui-Ying)

One of many signs that there were only precious few directors leading the way in Taiwan when it came to fantasy tinged swordplay. Hua Hui-Ying's film at hand here boasts decent production values and even quite an extended comedic side as David Tang plays mind games on the bandits he's asked to help fight. But Hua has difficulty breaking through as the story, conflict and beneath surface-motivations become clear. Resulting in a dull frame and the primitive, clunky action choreography fails to generate excitement.

She Starts The Fire (1992) Directed by: Lawrence Cheng

Famed for its poster art featuring Chingmy Yau in Marilyn Monroe mode, her iconic scene also mirrored to lame effect in the film. It also is co-written by Wong Jing which means no one should be surprised by the content that includes a character with breasts so firm they make deep imprints in doors, Michael Lai filming pornos, Deannie Yip drinking urine and Chingmy Yau in hot pants! Director Lawrence Cheng does nothing to stop this but despite this being run of the mill, early 90s crap, She Starts The Fire is also cheap, unashamed entertainment in a good way. The Firestarter connection does not make room for any horror and it's all another shameless, continuous display of Yau's beauty. Am not complaining but the real fire is provided by comediennes Deannie Yip and Carol Cheng, both, especially Yip, going out of their way to please the local comedy demand. It travels and it works. Also starring Lawrence Cheng, Chu Kong, Peter Lai, Kingdom Yuen, Damian Lau and Lee Siu-Kei.

Shogun And Little Kitchen (1992) Directed by: Ronny Yu

Ronny Yu's cooking comedy should be sorted under standard but under a sub-section concerning even execution as well. Yuen Biao plays a Mainlander who achieves success at his relative Bo's (Ng Man-Tat) restaurant and eventually hits the big time with his acrobatic cooking. Meanwhile Bo lets runaway Feng (Leon Lai) stay with him and his daughter Maggie (Maggie Shaw). Feng is breaking away from his family but seeing as he is the son of the boss (Jimmy Wang Yu) who wants to buy the land of the restaurant, conflicts will arise...

Integrating Yuen Biao's wonderful acrobatics and kung-fu skills into a select few highlight reel cooking scenes, director Yu's puts equal focus into making him and Ng Man-Tat a credible comedy team, with fairly well-honed results. Flowing into serious territory isn't a drawback for the film as Ng leads the pack in a series of felt dramatic moments but do note that it's still within a framework of a commercial comedy. While dramatically exciting to a decent degree, the fire climax tends to forget to structure itself as character closure so the end product may be even but it slips a bit at the finish line despite. Also with Leung Kar-Yan.

The Shootout (1991) Directed by: Michael Mak

Produced by Jackie Chan, The Shootout by all accounts isn't quality but coming from an era where Hong Kong filmmakers still had it in them to deliver, it's a silly diversion. For the cop unit, played by Aaron Kwok, Leung Kar Yan and Lau Ching Wan, you've got Aaron as the lovesick puppy (target being Fennie Yuen) and a fun double act between Leung and Lau. Basically they all act like idiots up until the point when it's time to battle the ultra bad guys (who other to lead them but Elvis Tsui?). Action director Leung Ga-Hung here gives us cool glimpses into Hong Kong cinema acrobatic gunplay and stunts at its coolest while it's director Michael Mak that slows down the film significantly with the comedy routines. The elements still add up to a light and violent product. I like that, from an era such as this that is. As part of Elvis Tsui's gang, we see otherwise comedienne Kingdom Yuen not hamming it up for once.

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Shoot To Kill (1993) Directed by: Wong Gam-Din

Made directly for video by Danny Lee's production company Magnum, as with many of these movies no English subtitles were ever created but Shoot To Kill is such basic entertainment anyway that it's relatively easily followed. Lo Sect On (Nick Cheung in a role he probably wouldn't accept today but he should be grateful to Danny who landed him several roles early on) is a triad gangster who is let out of prison but he hasn't realized it's bad to be bad. On the contrary, he continues to mess up his family, corrupt his younger relatives and go on a violence bender with his gang. All this is up to Danny Lee's usual crew of characters to handle then...

Rated Category III, director Wong Gam-Din plays with the video format but swiping cues from The Terminator movies and featuring a lame, stock score otherwise, his chops as a supervisor for destruction and suspense gets paid off in slight ways only. Making sure to add extra outrageousness to Cheung's psycho character via bloodshed, the violence moves the picture ahead at a brisk pace but even with subtitles, nothing grand character- or narrative-wise would probably have been revealed in Shoot To Kill. Just sit back for a mere 80 minutes and take the punishment and slight rewards. Also starring Parkman Wong, Eric Kei, Lam King-Kong and Danny Lee appear sporadically.

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Showdown At The Cotton Mill (1978) Directed by: Wu Ma

The first film from Chang Cheh's newly formed Chang Ho Film Company in Taiwan, directing reigns were handed to understudy Wu Ma and there's certainly love for Chang Cheh evident. More in terms of film style as Wu Ma chooses to echo the dramatic director Chang Cheh was earlier in his career. A direct sequel to the Shaw Brothers movie The Shaolin Avengers, Chi Kuan-Chun reprises his role as Ming rebel Hu Hei-Chien who is after revenge for his father's death. Clinching that goal early, this starts a seemingly endless cycle of violence as he's now a wanted man. Back at Shaolin Temple, his teacher San Te (the character Gordon Liu played as a young man in The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin) dispenses the advice of not being rash but Hu's actions are already affecting the world. Especially his family where the son is clearly looking up to the violent nature of his father...

Aside from the fact that the titular cotton mill is absent from the film, Wu Ma makes sure to hook even those not familiar with The Shaolin Avengers. Creating the basic plot structure and injecting bearable drama having to do with consequences of violence, no one would turn their head in general but it's a welcome stance for an independent kung-fu film. Growing a little talky during some sections though, Wu Ma erases that critique as he conjures up magic via the introduction of Dorian Tan as a very cunning and manipulative end fight opponent. Tan sells this very well and the expected showdown with him using his awesome kicking skill versus hand expert Chi Kuan-Chun is worth the wait through a fairly sparse fight-fest. The crisp, clean and clear nature to the intricacy is commendable and Showdown At The Cotton Mill is really two of the best genre-presences in one package. Three if you count the drama.

Shy Spirit (1991) Directed by: Chong Yan-Gin

Predicted at birth to not last more than 24 years of life, although he will mature on the outside quite quickly, Long-Life (Eric Tsang) has his family deviously arrange a wedding with the local but poor beauty Siao. But peeping at her taking a bath one night causes the ceiling to collapse, killing Siao but not her spirit as Long-Life literally takes her breath away containing it. It's now up to the good family of the town, Mr. Ko (Chung Fat) and his son (Ngai Sing) to get Siao reincarnated but Long-Life isn't giving up without a fight...

Lam Ching-Ying appears at the very beginning only and the remainder of Shy Spirit turns out to be rather insignificant. While the martial arts is a big component of the film, whenever it seems to go cool and creative, shoddy wirework takes over. It doesn't help that the finale contains obvious breakaway props to the max and while there's the odd fun after-life scenario, Shy Spirit never goes off. Only remains stale. Peter Chan Lung plays Eric Tsang's father (!) while Dick Wei and Stanley Fung also appear.

Silent Love (1986) Directed by: David Chiang

Despite the English directing credit saying John Chiang, Silent Love is actually Shaw Brother's star David Chiang's 7th feature as director. A social drama, Chiang plants the seed of darkness early as deaf Heung (Season Ma - The Lunatics) is imprisoned for manslaughter. What follows is the story of her and her pickpocket deaf/mute friends meeting ex-con Kelly (Lau Ching Wan in a very relaxed movie debut) and perhaps finally being encouraged to give up the lives as outlaws...

But director Chiang's story is about hopeless outcasts and as the violent act draws near, it's easy to spot that there's no true salvation in the film. The study is very much worthwhile and featuring characters relying on sign language to such a great extent is a directorial challenge Chiang does well in. The social commentary and its examination is a bit on the slight side though and Silent Love never really goes beyond interesting territory. The directing gene in brother Derek Yee was and is more prominent but Chiang proved to be a worthy behind the camera talent, none more so than in his last feature Mother of A Different Kind. Also with Fan Siu Wong, Roy Cheung and Lam Chung.

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Silver Maid (1969) Directed by: Fu Nan-Du

Although personally at a disadvantage somewhat due to the cropped print also cutting off most of the subtitles, you can extract the basics out of Silver Maid and certainly how it does as a Taiwanese fantasy spectacle. Because here we're talking a visual ride amidst a rival sect plot (the Red and Black Devils respectively) and one of the biggest draws in Silver Maid is its ideas in infancy. Not shy about throwing big concepts up on screen without extensive special effects knowhow or experience, the enhanced fighting (unless we're talking little Silver Maid herself and her ability to walk on water and fire) takes a backseat to among other things a fight with a snake (puppet) and while slow and clunky, there's admirable energy here. A cinema that's feeling its way through an existing genre. Only this time they want it bigger and more energetic. In 1969 it's not quite there but combined with a a possible viewer-fascination for the development and the colors the genre can offer up, Silver Maid is worth a look.

Silver Hawk (2004) Directed by: Jingle Ma

Silver Hawk is the crime fighter doing things her way, employing her own principles and behind the mask is rich Lulu Wong (Michelle Yeoh, also producer). Annoying police by simply being first on the scene every time, childhood friend Rich Man (Richie Ren) is the cop out to nail her. A kidnapping case but ultimately world domination via phones courtesy of Alexander Wolfe (Luke Goss - Blade II) keeps them busy...

A bright, silver-like (literally) attempt at futuristic comic book action, going into Silver Hawk with the big budget, international dud that was the Michelle Yeoh vehicle The Touch in mind certainly lowers expectations. So as flawed, ridiculous, dumb and ridiculously dumb Silver Hawk is, director Jingle Ma actually does show some skill in maintaining the fun and cool of the premise. With concepts such as Silver Hawk jumping The Great Wall on her bike and featuring Alien Sit choreographed fights of varying quality, the movie is a vehicle that often tries to survive by being loud. The action choreography when clear is all about the one or two kicks in slow motion set to pounding, generic techno while any move by anyone is accompanied by something boring from the library of whoosh-cues. Playing the movie out suitably light still ruins any chances as the largely English language performed dialogue is terrible and terribly performed. It's basically the Alien Sit show for two action scenes that matches the need for over the top behaviour to this universe. One has Silver Hawk taking on fighters on bungy chords and later in the same environment, it's henchmen on rollerblades with steel hockeysticks. Luke Goss has a suitable design as a villain with bionic arms as well and the ending pyro show not only entertains that way but in between has some cool cinematic moments that shows Jingle Ma is a director with it in him. Problem is, lighting up for a second or two doesn't help anyone and Silver Hawk needed a ton of bricks of more cool to clinch its goals. Deservedly so it bombed at the box office but low expectations at least makes you remember the 5 minutes that weren't abysmal. Also with Brandon Chang as the chairman of the Silver Hawk fanclub, Michael Jai White and Li Bing-Bing.

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Silver Knife, Scarlet Blade (1969, Wong Fung)

Petrina Fung and Sek Kin do make an impression, mostly thanks to lifelong, legendary status. But despite a swordplay genre having seen groundbreaking efforts over at Shaw Brothers at the same time, this Kin Shing Film Company production possesses little but good costumes and in reality is too primitive to further the genre. Largely talky and providing no real genre noise until Fung and Sek Kin square off at the end, it's only here Lau Kar-Leung's action becomes a bit more active with creative violence and wire-work. Even at 82 minutes, it's still a long sit.

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