|Yellow Faced Tiger (1974, Lo Wei)
Also known as Slaughter In San Francisco, Don Wong's first lead role under the watchful eye of Lo Wei (Fist Of Fury) on location in San Francisco is a tired, dull revenge actioner that has no business running 100 minutes. Lo Wei's usual, static direction results dialogue scenes that go on forever and has no craftsmanship within them that would build momentum. A plot about a kind of primal bloodthirst should be more felt than this but this level is what Lo Wei is mostly capable of. Don Wong occasionally flashes powerful intensity in otherwise pedestrian action scenes. Including his end bout with Chuck Norris that also goes uninspiring places such as setting the fight in a tiny fountain. Aimless, endless, underwhelming... I expected that coming from our director at hand. Also with Sylvia Chang and Chin Yuet-Sang.
|Yellow Peril (1984) Directed by: Terry Tong
With the acclaimed Coolie Killer behind him, director Terry Tong rightly could be expected to deliver once more. Yellow Peril ain't it though. With a little politics woven into the bad guys chasing the anti hero-scenario, the substance attempted has no place so you figure out it's up to the filmmakers to rely on violence. Choosing gritty settings and action of that kind, Tong gets zero pounding effect out of the violence despite. It's not even to be considered as an attention grabber, which is the secondary priority when you can't make it connect to character drama. There's only a minute showcase during the end that jolts you but as you can guess, Yellow Peril is far behind when it crosses the finishing line. Starring Alan Tang, Tong Lan-Fa, Kam Hing Yin, Chang Yi, Walter Tso and Sai Gwa-Paau.
|Yellow Rain (1991) Directed by: Lau Chung-Pak
Notable merely for the choice of featuring a Westerner in the leading role, Yellow Rain can only pursue the ordinary in its cheap ways, if that. Told in flashback, chronicling Chen Buo's oppression as the son of an American father (played by the same actor by the looks of it, with an added moustache) and having his Chinese mother abandon him, he channels a rare stream of conscience in a hostage situation he's in but as for added understanding psychologically in the subsequent flashback, director Lau Chung-Pak offers up nothing. Some outrageous action ensues during the finale and Chen Buo hiding in a bath house, in full scuba gear before executing a higher ranked boss is a stirring image...for your laugh center. Alex Man, Ku Feng, Dick Wei and Alexander Lo co-stars.
|Yellow River Fighter (1988) Directed by: Cheung Yam-Yim
*Trailer voice on for the first half of the sentence* In a time of ruthless terror, Toh Hong (Yue Sing-Wai) sees his wife and daughter killed by the ruling forces and goes to drown his sorrows with wine. Meeting an upbeat beggar, the wine given to Toh Hong has poison in it that makes him go partially blind. In this state and having the beggar following him around, Toh Hong saves the life of one of the three kings wanting to rule the land. Given rewards and a little bit of power, Toh Hong tries to do good and dish out justice the way it's supposed to but power struggles are still going on. So is deception...
The cast and crew behind The Shaolin Temple and Kids From Shaolin (minus star Jet Li though) reunite for another stab at basic old school martial arts with the twist of featuring impressive Wushu performers. The villain from The Shaolin Temple, Yue Sing-Wai is quite excellent as the common man, the family man who's drawn into violent times in a hands on-way. It's a ruffian type character but nevertheless Yue sinks his teeth well into the role that includes some impressive physicality as well (in particular his drunken swordplay demonstration in the earlier parts of the film). All this is evidence of director Cheung Yam-Yim taking established clichés of the genre, injecting a little bit of solid drama amongst the very bloody, violent action and therefore coming off as a filmmaker having grown. Utilizing gritty settings that display a cold, harsh and at times snowy landscape, it may be epic in scope but in tune with the violent times portrayed. One set piece is also covered in rain and the finale is set at a grand, ice-covered waterfall. Disappointing a little when it comes to the fight action as clarity and fluidity isn't always well pulled off, the intent actually leans more towards desperate, ugly battles. Even if it does include weaponry and acrobatic feats, the action team merges better with the narrative and atmosphere via this choice, making Yellow River Fighter the best effort that came out of this cast and crew.
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|Yellow Skin (1985) Directed by: Wong Goon-Hung
Sub-par gangster warfare set in and presumably shot in New York, writer/director/lead Wong Goon-Hung captures a city with compelling grit but can't transfer that to effective grit on screen. Therefore this Chinese-Korean-African American and corrupt cops power struggle is rather flat and dull. With no punch to scenes of violence (except for an apartment fight towards the end), it feels evident early on that Yellow Skin can't and won't bring the skills to matter. Also with Phillip Ko, Johnny Wang and Kwan Yung-Moon.
|Yes, Madam (1985, Corey Yuen)
Michelle Yeoh's action lead debut and featuring Cynthia Rothrock's first foray into movies as well, Sammo Hung's production is wildly different in tone from scene to scene. Going from light to shockingly dark in an instant at points, the approval of these shifts in moods is required out of the viewer. Thankfully I am one of those and not only is the usual team of actors and stuntmen surrounding Sammo fun to spot (whether in the background or inserted into one or two scenes, for skit purposes almost), director Corey Yuen is pacing Yes, Madam really well. Stock plot about a microfilm in need of being retrieved is not lingered on and he's moving fast ahead through basic beats and light banter between the likes of Tsui Hark, Mang Hoi and John Shum with Michelle and Cynthia on their trail. There's points where editing would've been Corey Yuen's friend as the bit-parts look like little scenarios thought up on the spot for the actors but the 90 minutes nevertheless pass by quickly. Then because it's also spiced up with action-power you expect to see (but never get tired of) in a production bearing Sammo's name, it's easy to approve of the film. The lightning fast, out of the blue powerful kicks and punches are incredibly well conveyed (and the team also do gritty gunplay), culminating in a fight/stunt finale that ranks as classic Hong Kong action cinema. Star-turns therefore by Yeoh and Rothrock who respond splendidly to the painful looking requirements with merely limited doubling.
|Yes Madam 5 (1996, Lau Shing)
Boyfriend and girlfriend on opposite sides of the law and at the center a disc with incriminating information that the triads are desperate to get back. It's a springboard for action. Or that's the intent. The failed intent. Partly set in Malaysia, Cynthia Khan, Chin Siu-Ho and Phillip Ko try to drum up excitement but its main element is lacking in almost every scene. Ko Fei's action is often poorly shot, edited and sluggish. Resulting in none of the gunplay and car chases standing out on screen. The technical work by the stunt crew is commendable but as captured, it doesn't move the needle. Billy Chow does fine as an assassin and his brief fight with a charismatic Chin Siu-Ho livens up the movie for a minute.
|Yes, Sir! (1988) Directed by: Jin Ao-Xun
Following a group of part misguided, part undeveloped men during their basic Taiwanese army training, it is not an uncommon sight in Taiwanese cinema to feature stories surrounding their own army and the great people within in. Especially these 'Sir' films crop up frequently and even director Jin Ao-Xun seemed to be a go to director occasionally for this template as the filmography also sports Yes, Sir! 2, No, Sir and G.Y. Sir. There's no particular dramatic drive to this 1988 drama though and very few characters are identifiable as this is usually about one group. Going through the motions with basic training and the bonding and strength that comes with an experience like this, Jin goes through the motions decently even though being standard makes it less of an uplifting time. Tok Chung-Wa as the squad chief puts in dependent effort though and provides a human face to the fierce instruction as the movie rolls on. It all ends a little sugar-sirapy and wears its patriotic intentions on its sleeve but a few human positives makes it one to watch out of this common template in Taiwan. Also with O Chun-Hung.
|Yeung Yuet Lau Story (1999) Directed by: Lee Tso-Nam
About opera performer Yeung Yuet Lau (a very dignified and fairly effective Mark Cheng) being wrongfully accused of murder, Taiwan veteran Lee Tso-Nam has the costume and sets budget in his favour but you could convince anyone Yeung Yuet Lau Story was a TV movie. It's that flat. Hence never involving dramatically or scoring as a spectacle. Mixing in some (welcome) grounded martial arts, we do get clarity but also tightly shot fights that merely has the effect of the flat being a bit louder in volume. Also with Carrie Ng, Jay Lau and Karel Wong.
|Young And Dangerous (1996) Directed by: Andrew Lau
Starting a juggernaut of successful sequels (five in total and a prequel) and spin off's (including Portland Street Blues), 1996 was the year of Young And Dangerous. Featuring the initial good times and exploits of the more flamboyant and stylish 'Teddy Boy' type of triad, during the times in part 1 the Hung Hing triad society boys (led by among other Ekin Cheng and Jordan Chan) have the time of their lives until death puts a stop to all this. The heinous Kwan (Francis Ng) initiates a take over and the boys grow into men as they try and restore order to the Hung Hing and take revenge on fallen brothers. As true to the comic book series as the look and feel may be, first half following the fun and games being in the triads is nearly deadly dull. The fresh faces don't break through (despite doing so in pop culture) and one thing become increasingly clear: Thank god Andrew Lau got veterans present. Enjoyable bit parts featuring Simon Yam, Frankie Ng, Teresa Ha Ping and Spencer Lam highlights the fact that these actors could make an impact working with very little. None more so than Francis Ng as Kwan (who was the subject of Once Upon A Time In Triad Society that portrayed an alternate universe that character belonged to for satirical purposes) who's having a great time wearing loud outfits and killing off entire families in a heartbeat if he so wishes. The latter sections also showcases Andrew Lau being more comfortable making dark, urban, triad warfare as already established very well in To Live And Die In Tsimshatsui (1994). Also with Michael Tse and Gigi Lai.
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