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|The Web Of Death (1976) Directed by: Chor Yuen
Early on in The Web Of Death, we get a clear look and indication of the special effects limitations that is going to make or break this Chor Yuen directed Wuxia piece. The sought after weapon in the martial arts world for this one is the Five Venoms Spider and the effects guys are certainly pushing it as far as they can. This beginning appearance and its subsequent manifestation during the finale could disrupt the straight mood the filmmakers are going with, for certain viewers but I've learned to love the charm of SFX limitations in Hong Kong movies so I'm not easily bothered. Especially not since this is yet another very fetching Chor Yuen work visually.
The various trickery and weaponry are wonderfully showcased on the intricate sets, captured like very few directors at Shaw's could. It's not another Killer Clans or The Magic Blade but The Web Of Death, with only a fairly complicated plot by scriptwriter I Kuang's standards, is still memorable. With Yueh Hua, Ching Li, Ku Feng Lo Lieh. Lily Li and Norman Tsui logs smaller roles.
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|Web Of Deception (1997) Directed by: Billy Tang & Takkie Yeung
Investment manager Fion (Francoise Yip - Rumble In The Bronx) is scammed into putting 100 million USD into an acquisition deal by business man Donson Woo. When trying to look him up again, she finds out Donson Woo is some other person entirely (played by ass kicking Michael Chow). The two join together to untangle this web of deception, ending up being wanted criminals and lovers in the process.
Co-directed by Billy Tang (Run And Kill, Sharp Guns), little of his visual strength or cinematic strength for that matter is evident in Web Of Deception. The movie may go to exotic locations but it's still an awfully cheap looking movie further enhanced by the fact that the plot carries such traits as well. The twists along the way causes some slight interest to manifest itself while Tang's Category III background remains evident in one sex scene as well as in the casting of Diana Pang (nothing that fits the actual story but it sure as hell is audience pleasing). But in the end, there's nothing to care for really.
May Yuk Sing's action directing has some neat ideas but is hindered by the low-budget clearly. Plus the casted henchmen add an unwelcome hokey flavour that stops any desires of Ma's to create hard boiled action.
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|Wedding Bells, Wedding Bells (1980) Directed by: Yim Ho
The anti-movie to Yim Ho's violent The Happenings in that it's a broad comedy and not good by any stretch of the imagination, Wedding Bells, Wedding Bells may be very local in design but something should've translated. Tai Shui (Suet Lee) almost gets run over by wealthy 70+ Mr. Chow and this opens up the opportunities to squeeze something out of the rich man to benefit her fishing family. Her younger sister sets in motion the needed requirement that Tai Shui must marry though and awkward Ah Kiu (James Yi) is chosen. Tai Shui bails on the wedding to pursue what she thinks is Mr. Chow (but is instead his younger assistant), Ah Kiu follows and one of many complications arises when Tai Shui is standing there about to be wed to a 70 year old man in need of a son...
Possibly Yim Ho is commenting on different social status in broad slapstick form but the film clearly isn't a bellyful of laughs despite. Featuring the Star Wars theme but whistled instead, loud banter, people falling over, in water, Tai Shui being pushed into the entertainment industry (she even takes a slimming pill making her violently allergic to eating) and all culminating in a deserted island scenario that tries desperately to be over the top crazy. Tries. Fails. A sleeping pill. Even locally.
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|Wells Up In My Heart (1981) Directed by: Lau Lap-Lap
Hsia Ying-Lan (Shirley Lui) is the newly appointed secretary of Mr. Hsiao but little voices around the office start to spread correct rumours about the Hsiao family that basically are recruiting secretaries as well as wives. Hence never hiring any ugly girls. Nice. Ying-Lan does befriend one of the common workers though, Ah-Chi (Liu Wen-Zhen) and love is in the air. That is until those who has experienced ache in connection to the Hsiao's reveal that Ah-Chi is in fact part of the family. Confusion, lack of bliss and heartache follows...
As with his Errant Love, Lau Lap-Lap doesn't set out to amp filmmaking techniques and style of Taiwan romance cinema. Some shots with gelled up lenses, bliss- and ache-montages set to moody soundtracks, it's all here and Wells Up In My Heart is truly a cinema soap of its time. What it does offer up that rises it ever so slightly above others is an continuing back and forth for the characters that seems to be heading towards a fate of not knowing what to or how to love anymore, with so much conflicting truths around them. This complexity probably deserves better filmmaking skills but the movie stands out when placed in correct context. Leads Shirley Lui and Liu Wen-Zhen also display good chemistry. Co-starring Nancy Lau.
|We're Going To Eat You (1980) Directed by: Tsui Hark
Behind its goofy title actually does lies a goofy, gory Tsui Hark movie, his 2nd. One that combines imagery and elements from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2000 Maniacs and cannibal movies in general, that were hot at the time. The end result is plagued with more broad Hong Kong comedy than I can take but admittedly, Tsui churns out some funny gags from time to time, both when it comes to the low-budget gore and visually. The finale takes on a wild aura as it's just very active and Tsui manages to find entertaining ways to introduce roller-skates into it. Norman Chu's Agent 999 character, just like the world's best known secret agent known by another number, has an amusing running gag that he manages to get out of the most hairy situations when dealing with them cannibals. You also get what could surely be the inspiration for the nose-picking transvestite in several Stephen Chow movies and a fun, if not overly clever, Wong Fei Hung reference towards the end (involving one of the reoccurring actors in the old Wong Fei Hung films starring Kwan Tak Hing). Corey Yuen's martial arts choreography also adds a little fun to the mix.
There's enough here to like for Tsui Hark followers but We're Going To Eat You is more of a precursor of greatness to come, which obviously makes it essential viewing if you're studying the development of one of Hong Kong cinema's main trendsetters of the 80s and 90s. The cinematography for instance is a combination of well accomplished and typical Tsui Hark nuttiness, something I've always been fond of. And it has to be said, how uneducated it may come off as, the concepts for this and Tsui's debut The Butterfly Murders are cool. Co-starring Eddy Ko, Melvin Wong and Margaret Lee.
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|The Wesley's Mysterious File (2002, Andrew Lau)
Reportedly filmed as early as 1999 and spending two years in post-production (with the computer generated effects taking quite a while to complete), the big screen adventure of novelist Ni Kuang's adventurer Wisely this time stars Andy Lau (previously Chow Yun-Fat and Waise Lee among others have played the character). Tasked to protect an alien race called Blue Bloods (Rosamund Kwan and Samuel Pang play two out of the species that have been on Earth for hundreds of years), he has to battle the government agency Double-X who's got nefarious plans for the aliens as well as a duo of shape shifting alien baddies (Mark Cheng and Almen Wong) who's out to destroy them. The ingredients are there for a modern adventure and high tech spectacle but The Wesley's Mysterious File doesn't come near the crazy heights of past Wisely entries such as The Seventh Curse and The Cat. The problem comes down to celebrated cinematographer turned director Andrew Lau, who has no sense of pace and energy for the scenario and as a result his actors look bored out of their minds as well. We're not asked to take the events at hand that seriously (Andy Lau even breaks the fourth wall at one point) but it still doesn't lead to an entertaining time or even a cool leading man act. Shot for a large portion in San Francisco, the poor actors are also asked to deal with expository and technical English dialogue and the delivery stands no chance in translating to viewer engagement. Writer Wong Jing also appears in support to represent levity and perhaps his choices are only valid and tolerable because it's the first sign of personality in the film. Then there's the awful computer effects and we draw the conclusion during the rare instances of skirmishes with the bad aliens and their tentacles that Andrew Lau has no feel for any of this. No eye... as director. Also starring Roy Cheung and Shu Qi.
|Whampoa Blues (1990) Directed by: Blacky Ko
We've seen this one before, when it was both called Top Gun, Proud And Confident and to a much lesser extent No, Sir. Therefore Blacky Ko has not so much made a movie but extracted a template and dressed the human pieces of it with different faces. On the army training grounds in Taiwan there are therefore comrade, performance rivalry, strict training in order to bond and improve these soldiers as well as emotional twists where sickness may turn proceedings on its head. Plus you have the romance subplot straight out of Top Gun re-molded a bit and put into this movie but never followed through on so it's safe to say director Ko merely needed some filler. A variation on Europe's "The Final Countdown" is heard before the boys enter their examination mission but then real life circumstances turn into a real, albeit small war. Who saw that one coming? A lot of us and aside from an assured act from Miu Kiu-Wai as the typical drill sergeant with a heart, none of the performers such as Max Mok, Wilson Lam or Kenny Ho inhabit anything else but a shell that holds zero character. Compared to dreck like No, Sir however, Blacky Ko knows how to spice up the training sequences more and some of the more epic shots register favourably.
|What A Wonderful World (1996) Directed by: Samson Chiu
At times a little cheesy and uneven pace-wise, Samson Chiu's What A Wonderful World is still a worthwhile study of sensationalistic journalism and newly found humanity in the face of terminal disease (a plot device that's been used fairly frequently by Hong Kong filmmakers). Some of the characters, especially the reporters and the police are a fair bit overblown and stereotypical but the performances by Andy Lau, Kenny Bee and Teresa Lee carry the film well enough to not let those things bother in the long run. Jacky Tang's beautiful scenic photography greatly enhances as well. Paul Fonoroff and Kent Cheng logs cameos.
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|Whatever You Want (1994) Directed by: Wong Jing
Wong Jing in good form mixing the manic and movie parodies, Anita Yuen's Ko Siao-Ping picks up pearls for a commercial shoot heading by her half sister (Christy Chung who doesn't remember her) but they contain the genie Bolobolo (Michael Wong) who grants her three wishes. Starting out by making a dig at his own work, Wong Jing then proceeds to put Law Kar-Ying in a number of parodies ranging from Chungking Express (Wong Kar-Wai gets ridiculed plenty of times throughout the movie), A Chinese Torture Chamber Story to US action hit Speed. Focusing on the oddity of Michael Wong as a bit of crap genie, the key to success here is energy and game performers who at one point in the movie can act in any way and within the aura of the film it tickles you easily. Jordan Chan in particular in an energizer bunny in this one, going from horny office worker to being transformed into the most kind man ever by the genie. Something that has its drawbacks.
|What Price Honesty (1981, Patrick Yuen)
Amazingly Yuen's period tale of police corruption manages to come out on top despite being anything but subtle. Newly examined constables (Jason Pai, Sun Chien and Danny Lee) soon find out the entire force is corrupted and that they're expected to fall in line with established system of bribery and corruption. When they don't and instead try and uphold the law alone... let's just say that there will be blood. Yuen is continually spelling out the movie in dialogue, its darkness, the frustration main characters feel and how eeeeeeevil everybody else is. Yet, there IS an intelligence and darkness on display here. Strands about going with the flow and not resisting, for safety and comfort, despite knowing it's morally wrong becomes mental talking points for the movie and. Adding onto this a furious pace and intense violence, What Price Honesty makes so much noise that it seems desperate to be heard. But Patrick Yuen avoids that pitfall and his hard push into pitch black territory is deserved and warranted. Action-choreography serves the thriller-narrative, with a couple of weapons-fights involving an animalistic Lo Lieh ranking as highlights.
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