# 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
Page 01 | Page 02 | Page 03 | Page 04 | Page 05 | Page 06 | Page 07 | Page 08 | Page 09 | Page 10 | Page 11 | Page 12 | Page 13
The Thundering Mantis (1980, Teddy Yip)

Another production doesn't realize casting ferocious badass Leung Kar-Yan in a kung fu comedy (as per the template of the genre, in the Jackie Chan-role therefore) is a fatal mistake. The man is not an ill fit for a lead role but rather for the happy go lucky kung-fu hero. And much of The Thundering Mantis is just a tired imitation of what came before it, where it hinges a lot on grating comedy (involving undercranking, a drunken master-character, bowel-humour and music cues as punchlines). Its sellable element, martial arts action, is largely affected by this when it too is a comedic scenario but when shedding that in favour of some seriousness, it's easy to appreciate the intricacy and talent the performers share. Eddy Ko looks great as the villain and the movie probably is remembered for the end fight where Leung Kar-Yan's goes insane. It's the sole standout because the movie is doing something different but for the majority of the time, it's trying to be another movie. Also with Chin Yuet-Sang.

Thunder Prince (1987) Directed by: Lenny Washington

An unusual animated title from Joseph Lai's library because the source from Korea (1982's 'Heukryong wanggwa biho dongja') is not a science fiction anime rip off but instead it's riding on the kung-fu movie template. Which isn't as transparent of a choice. With the young child witnessing his father murdered by a martial arts master and growing up desiring revenge, coherency is almost automatically ensured because of this familiarity and the production does look fairly honed technically. Featuring animals helping out our young hero, a character modeled after the type Dean Shek often played, training sequences and a drunken master, the actual animation does seem rather still mostly. Even when it comes to action it doesn't quite have the chops to spring to life and animated martial arts does look expectedly crude here. Only highlight really being a rather gory fight between a monkey and a snake that features another kung-fu movie genre delight: eye gouging.

Thunder Run (1991) Directed by: Hsu Hsia

Hong Kong cops Ju (Ray Lui) and Leong (Alex Fong) succeed but break protocol during a mission at home (being part of the Flying Tiger Team) so they're sent on leave. Vietnam is the choice but soon thereafter Leong is caught on a false drug smuggling charge and sent to a brutal prison camp out in the forests. The lawlessness of the land means authorities won't be able to help out so Ju consciously goes in after Leong as a prisoner himself. Seeing his friend break down psychologically through torture and gangsters bullying him, their friendship makes them both focus on an escape plan, together with an even more bullied dwarf in the prison camp...

Hsu Hsia probably rips off half a dozen flicks (and scores) for his prison actioner but being less of a seasoned viewer myself (and even if not), Thunder Run is a fun exercise in concrete, unpretentious intentions. Director Hsu knows to push buttons, meaning first of all a larger than life cinematic tapestry where nothing really feels like a life circumstance snapshot. It's all an excuse to go excessive on us. Prison warden played gleefully over the top by William Ho makes sure for instance troublesome inmates will get a bath together with hungry rats. Other sights include Alex Fong experiencing a cavity search, Ray Lui biting the head of a snake in defiance and the actor actually comes off quite well as a tough, action hero throughout the film. Add a seemingly worthless but in the end sympathetic part for the actor playing the dwarf and good enough doses of pretty general gunplay/fisticuffs mayhem and Thunder Run will mean easily digested, genre stuff to you. And that's fun when done even somewhat right. Ha Chi-Jan, Jason Pai and Fung Hak-On also appear.

Tian Di (1994) Directed by: David Lai

image stolen with permission from lovehkfilm.com

When in doubt, just "borrow" the template from something else. The result, Tian Di aka Chinese Untouchables (its UK video title which should give you an idea of what movie is being referenced here). Andy Lau stars as Cheung Ye-Pang, the newly appointed Anti-Drugs officer in Shanghai. A city filled to the brink with drugs and corruption. Nice gig.

What could've been somewhat interesting and dark examination of corruption at its most severe quickly crumbles. David Lai instead opts for massive doses of cartoonish and overblown character behaviour which turns Tian Di into something Hong Kong cinema does well at the best of times; not holding back. Sadly, it's all for the worse as no drama, characters or action takes on any meaning. However the movie boasts fine cinematography and production design which suggests that all reasonable effort was instead spent on the visual presentation. The dark atmosphere also gives way for some effective detours into brutal violence and Yuen Tak's action directing registers favorably at times. It comes with the price of being almost totally detached from any reality Tian Di tries to represent but at least it entertains as a separate element while it lasts.

Tiger Angels (1997) Directed by: Sek Bing-Chan

When action cinema's schizophrenia is clueless and frustrating, Tiger Angels seemingly gives us some slight ninja action, inserts Cynthia Khan and Yukari Oshima randomly but mainly concerns itself with a relationship comedy that sees the creation of a doppelganger so an unstable relationship could be mended again. Then Cynthia, Yukari and Billy Chow fight again. Very oddly constructed and made as a comedy primarily and action movie well after original conception clearly, the end fight does occasionally feature some stunning exchanges.

Tiger And Crane Fists (1976) Directed by: Jimmy Wang Yu

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Also known as Savage Killers, the film suffered the unfortunate fate of Steve Oedekerk literally inserting himself into it for his turkey Kung Pow: Enter The Fist in 2002. The original is in many ways typical but since it has Jimmy Wang Yu, a certain automatic cool-factor manages to creep in. The standard story of two fighting styles and two schools in need to unify gives way to Wang Yu collaborating with action director (and co-star) Lau Kar-Wing to give us fairly gritty takes on kung fu-action. Lung Fei as our villain armed with a chain and so confident he advertises where his weak spots are, becomes a memorable force despite having the Master Betty aura around him thanks to aforementioned kung-fu parody. Wang Yu also feels very at home creating the training sequences and caps the finale in a cool way.

Tiger Cage (1988) Directed by: Yuen Woo-Ping

With Yuen Woo-Ping's name attached to this star filled 80s actioner, you know you're going to get great Hong Kong action cinema. Plot of corruption works well enough in tandem with our near and dear action cinema which is good because for a while, the choreography seems fairly sparse. But the action directing Yuen's (Yuen Woo-Ping, Yuen Cheung-Yan, Yuen Shuen-Yee, Yuen Yat-Chor in addition to Paul Wong and Donnie Yen) increases the gory brutality as we go along, resulting in a splendid, hard hitting genre effort and a genuine fan favourite. The action is also designed so that performers Jacky Cheung, Simon Yam and Carol Cheng can participate to a substantial degree without overdone doubling. Also with Ng Man Tat (clearly dubbed by someone else), Johnny Wang, Donnie Yen, Irene Wan, Michael Woods and Leung Kar Yan.

Tiger Cage 2 (1990) Directed by: Yuen Woo-Ping

This unrelated sequel to Tiger Cage doesn't come with as much star power but brings back Donnie Yen which is more than enough. Tone is a few tads lighter and comedic and Yuen Woo-Ping doesn't exactly further himself as director here. But then again no one should expect that and while Tiger Cage scored more points in my book for its brutality, the action directing team of Yuen Woo-Ping, brothers Yuen Cheung-Yan and Sunny Yuen in addition to Phillip Kwok and Donnie Yen does splendid work for the sequel. Donnie especially gets ample time to showcase his marvelous kicking skills, best featured within the sword fight with John Salvitti. Robin Shou (Mortal Kombat) also is an effective villain while Rosamund Kwan, David Wu, Michael Woods, Carol Cheng, Cynthia Khan and Lo Lieh also appear.

An alternative ending, featuring footage with Cynthia Khan as replacement for another characters actions plus an ending coda was included on the export prints but the now out of print WA dvd features the Hong Kong edit on this sequence.

Tiger Force (1975, Joseph Kong)

Best friends (Michael Chan and Chen Sing) reunite but on a criminal path. One's a cop, gang warfare and fights ensue. Starting with a slow, clunky car chase and thrusting us into excellent, fast and gritty martial arts action, the production showcases an action-volume for sure. More successful in this physical department they all knew rather than the gunplay (some individual squib work is effective however), ultimately there's not enough of the outstanding. Glimpses get us through it and a 72 minute running time makes it all marginal recommendation.

Tiger Jungle (1976) Directed by: Ting Chung

Although the angle of the Japanese wanting the resources of a land of tribe people is not common in the martial arts genre, Tiger Jungle is still largely uninspired genre-fare. Featuring no snap to the pace, extended scenes of dancing and anonymous romance subplots, the extensive star of the show may have fury and grit but it doesn't jump out at you as it should. Not even as a distraction. Man Kong-Lung stars and Han Ying-Chieh is the villain.

Page 01 | Page 02 | Page 03 | Page 04 | Page 05 | Page 06 | Page 07 | Page 08 | Page 09 | Page 10 | Page 11 | Page 12 | Page 13