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Talk To Me, Dicky (1992) Directed by: Alfred Cheung

There are signs out there in celluloid form that Alfred Cheung wasn't just into the yucks. Directing the dark thriller On The Run, appearing in Allan Fung's funny and twisted In Between Loves and Freedom Run Q and in the clownish and disturbing action-comedy The Nocturnal Demon, you are but shouldn't be surprised about what his own script Talk To Me, Dicky got in store for us. Trying to catch a rapist working from a single office building, cops Wu (Cheung) and Siu (Michael Chan) turn to a notorious rapist (San Tak-Kan) for help with the profiling of the rapist. He reveals that the key to advancing in the investigation is knowing how to talk to your dick...y. Initially writing him off as a loon but acting on his advice, low and behold Wu realizes he has a companion down there in need of more than physical comfort....

A wild but subdued comedy, Alfred Cheung does the right thing by not engaging a higher gear akin to many comedies at the time but treating the atmosphere with more care. Pushing exploitation buttons quite harsh though and clearly making somewhat fun of The Silence Of The Lambs, when the wildest time is introduced, Cheung treats it as outrageous for sure but is not as loud about like you would expect. It's an entertaining time, fast paced and with performers truly responding to Cheung's fairly well thought out direction. Darkness has a place, even heart towards the very end as there is a chance Cheung (and Chan) will lose the ability to hear their old friends. Slapstick and a wild ideas has seldom been this subdued. But despite being without huge laughs, Cheung tickles us nicely with the light, wild and dark.

The Tantana (1991) Directed by: Mang Hoi

The palace of heaven is threatened to be destroyed by Against nature-Boy so a supreme buddhist with supernatural powers (Lam Ching Ying) sets out to locate the chosen one who can withstand such an evil force,; the Sharp-witted Buddha. Thinking his blood brother and fellow buddhist (played by Wu Ma) has located the one, it turns out that it's village boy Dragon (Chin Ka-Lok) who unknowingly is the Sharp-witted Buddha. Time is short to truly enlighten him and the threats are drawing closer...

Mang Hoi utilizes some fine looking temple locations and a lighthearted tone that surprisingly, and thankfully, never takes the broad comedy route. While nothing astonishing ever occurs in The Tantana, a likeable cast gets Mang Hoi places of acceptance despite this having the feeling of just another production. Mang Hoi himself appear as well as Sammo Hung and Tai Po.

Taoism Drunkard (1984) Directed by: Yuen Cheung-Yan

From the wonderful era of the early to mid 80s from the Yuen Clan where they produced live action cartoons after live action cartoons of incredible, creative quality. The likes of Taoism Drunkard and The Miracle Fighters do feel like head trips fueled by substance but I think the Yuen brothers were a bit more disciplined than that. This is just a group of passionate, incredible physical performers managing to bring to the screen some of the most manic, silly and incredibly odd scenarios within a period setting (Mismatched Couples managed to transfer all of the above nicely to modern day though). Director Yuen Cheung-Yan plays dual roles, reprising his grandmother role from The Miracle Fighters and the crazy drunkard from Shaolin Drunkard. The film has so many tangents it's impossible to mention all or even keep track of all but it's part of the ride where we try and buckle our seat belt for 90 minutes but keep getting yanked around. The main, minor plot strands concerns Cheung-Yan's crazy drunkard wrecking havoc at a temple with his little car and being ordered to find a virgin born on a particular date for a future ceremony in honor of the temple's grandmaster and he is to be relieved once the virgin is in place. The grandchild (Yuen Yat-Chor) of grandmother fits the criteria and he is also training in her elaborate chamber that includes burning coal, spears and a mechanized, round robot. The villain in the form of Yuen Shun-Yi's Old Devil wants the writ placed on the altar of one of the chambers too...

So begins manic, madness that sustains momentum rather well, mixing unpredictable scenarios, very broad comedy accentuated by sound effects and a versatile choreography job by the Yuen's that work equally well with whatever mood or scenario is being attempted here. Also with Mandy Chan, Tai Po and Yen Shi-Kwan

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A Taste Of Killing And Romance (1994) Directed by: Veronica Chan

One of those titles corresponding exactly to the content, A Taste Of Killing And Romance initially can be viewed upon as PERHAPS offering up a more solid mix than usual through its attractive leading performers and a female director at the helm of an action picture. Aside from some not totally uncool ventures into visual style, Veronica Chan makes us taste one sweet and one sour taste, with the latter belonging to the romance sadly. Standard chemistry between Andy Lau and Anita Yuen, playing hitman and hitwoman respectively, doesn't cut it but Stephen Tung's action is rousing. Veronica Chan obviously is somehow connected to the choice of featuring this much brutal bloodshed but Stephen brings the explosive factor to it, be it in sadism- or gunplay mode. Mark Cheng's deliciously evil supporting act enhances matters also. Co-starring is Waise Lee and Christine Ng. Keep your eyes peeled for a debatable partial rip-off/homage concerning The Killer.

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The Tattooed Dragon (1973) Directed by: Lo Wei

Jimmy Wang Yu is Tsang Leung aka The Dragon who ends up injured and taken in by Hsiao Yang (Sam Hui) and his eventual (but not until all the ducks grow and breed) wife Ah Hsiang (Sylvia Chang). But when the local gambling house begins squeezing all the money and sense out of the town's gambling addicts, a recovering Tsang steps up to do the righteous thing...

Shot in Thailand and getting a rough, gritty aura to surround the film, there's even deeper, tragic ideas being attempted by director Lo Wei and that deserves kudos in itself. They aren't successful ideas but makes The Tattooed Dragon a more bearable experience as a movie (despite canned melodrama at points). Because as fun, tough and bloody as the fight scenes (of the basher kind) with Jimmy Wang Yu are, they're also not as frequent as one would like. The further you get into Lo Wei's collaborations with Jimmy, the more you realize how movies perked up when he himself took directing reigns in other films. They could be equally dark, often goofy but definitely almost always more fun and bearable. Lo Wei never learned that. Also starring James Tien and Lonnie the dog.

Taxi Hunter (1993) Directed by: Herman Yau

Mild mannered insurance salesman Kin (Anthony Wong) goes after Hong Kong's taxi drivers after his pregnant wife dies at the hand of a selfish one.

Apparently inspired by a true life taxi strike in Hong Kong, Herman Yau (director of The Untold Story) brings to the screen a touching revenge tale that is a bit rough around the edges. Firstly, actor Anthony Wong has quoted Taxi Hunter as one of his favourites and he is simply terrific here. While it isn't a sophisticated character portrayal of an oppressed man, Anthony brings much class to the character traits of Kin. He's sympathetic in his ways, chilling as he murders his oppressors, the taxi drivers, but also brings human comedy that plays on the unsure side of Kin. Yau's direction is effective when the film is in dark mood but less so when, as with other movies of its kind, clownish comedy is introduced. Taxi Hunter was rated Cat II but despite less gore, the cold, violence is as effective as anything seen in a Cat III film.

What Yau fails at is to provide any real motivation for the taxi drivers being the evil people that they are. There are exceptions in the film to this but for the audience to simply accept that they have become this selfish, arrogant and plain evil lessens the impact a little. Taxi Huner therefore is poignant social commentary at a basic level only but ranks as a stronger work amongst many similiar ones at this time. Ng Man Tat and Yu Rong Guang co-stars.

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Teaching Sucks!! (1997) Directed by: Wilson Yip

Following his critically acclaimed anti-triad movie Mongkok Story, young and upcoming director Wilson Yip (Juliet In Love, The White Dragon, SPL) teamed up with producer/writer Vincent Kok for this comedy/satire/romance. Teaching Sucks!! is a title that represents a starting point for the character journey Yip takes teachers Lam (Jan Lamb who is also the voice of adult McDull) and Wong (Anthony Wong, again collaborating with Yip after his wonderful turn in Mongkok Story) on. As Yip's visuals indicate, these guys have lost inspiration in their line of work and their fellow teachers are all going through the motions. Enter a fresh beauty in the teacher's lounge, namely Miss Lee (Cathy Tsui - Time And Tide) and she inspires her fellow personnel to actually fight for such things as keeping the astronomy club. Meanwhile, all seemingly falls for her, none more so than best friends Lam and Wong...

At its core, Teaching Sucks!! a simple romance but one peppered with Yip's compelling habit of going off on off-beat tangents and injecting unusual story beats. He makes a bold move by hinging a lot on Cathy Tsui's character as she is an important key for both the teacher's work and Lam and Wong's desire to obtain fulfilled lives. Tsui doesn't necessarily come through as it's an awkward performance but Yip does come through by "just" making her a sweet presence. That works as a counterpart since Jan Lamb and Anthony Wong are such a likeable duo, creating sweet, sincere and heartfelt emotions eventually. Arguably, the movie takes some odd detours (still related to the character arcs though) but Yip easily keeps the audience's attention on an entertainment-level when doing this. Best examples being a sudden birth during a teacher's meeting and Lam's visit to a teaching coach (a very funny Cheung Tat-Ming). Christine Ng, Kim Yip, Lee Kin Yan, Bobby Yip, Lee Lik Chi and Wilson Yip himself also appear.

Techno Warriors (1997) Directed by: Phillip Ko

I guess Phillip Ko cares little for the fact that sci-fi usually becomes pretty laughable when you're operating in the arena of low budgets and incompetence. So therefore Techno Warriors came out of the Philippines in 1997, showcasing perhaps quite rightly little care for plot and just for mayhem instead. In a future where the computer illiterate turn to crime instead, we divide our time between the game world seen through the eyes of a master player and the intrusion of these fighting characters into the real world. You might think Ko and co. are blowing their wads early on in this Street Fighter influenced vehicle as all manner of explosions and laserwar goes on but he populates the film with pretty much wall to wall action of this kind. At times entertaining, at most others tiring as it presents little variation. When it then combines rather poor kicking from the players and constant posing, the fast forward button becomes your friend during the action. At least there's little comedic annoyance when the main element takes a rest, despite that risk looming over the production.

Temple Of The Red Lotus (1965) Directed by: Hsu Tseng-Hung

Although King Hu's 1966 Shaw Brothers production Come Drink With Me is recognized for firmly launching the Wuxia genre, Hsu Tseng-Hung's Temple Of The Red Lotus from the year before (and also at Shaw's) deserves a huge chunk of the credit even if it's not comparable to Hu's honed vision. The first of three parts (the others being The Twin Swords and The Sword And The Lute), Jimmy Wang Yu is Wu who's on his way to Jin Castle to marry childhood sweetheart Jin Lian Zhu (Chin Ping). Interrupting a robbery by a group of bandits, he's injured but nursed back to health by Red Lady Swordswoman (Ivy Ling Po). Finally reaching his destination, Wu starts suspecting the family he's marrying into may in fact be behind the acts of robbery and he decides to try and escape the intricate confines of Jin Castle together with Lian Zhu. Easier said than done when the family (played by the likes of Tien Feng and Lo Lieh) are all adept at fighting and swordplay...

Consistently high production values can't mask the fact that director Hsu Tseng-Hung isn't very able at making this easy template impactful. We're rarely convinced of the emotional devotion between our leads or the melodrama happening when deadly action is taking place between family members. It's all told in a refreshingly basic way though and the action (mainly weapons based) does excite. Although relying on the static master shots with subsequent cuts to closer/different angles, much of the clashes on display has an exciting rhythm that isn't at all far behind King Hu's vision. It may have been a different vision but Temple Of The Red Lotus isn't a bastard child of the genre. For a while maybe but the latter plot developments engage on a much higher level. Plot strands like Wu seeking revenge for the death of his parents is presumably matters that are going to be the focus for the sequels and Temple Of The Red Lotus overall wets our appetite for this story and audiences would take to heart even more intensely the new take on Wuxia on screen. Therefore this early effort matters more than just historically.

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