Posts Tagged ‘Hong Kong’

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The Fearless Hyena (1979/ Goodyear Movie Company/ Dir. Jackie Chan)

Really? All the movies I’ve reviewed and this is the first Jackie Chan movie? Huh, that’s odd. This is as good a place as any to start with Chan. As far as I’m able to tell, this is Chan’s first directorial effort, even though Kenneth Tsang helped out. The thing is, this is a really cheap movie. Really cheap. You know how Shaw Brothers movies tend to look like a poor man’s version of old Hollywood movies? No? Do we need a Shaw Brothers primer? Okay, note to self, review a Shaw Brothers classic sometime. Let me break it down quickly. A lot of the Shaw’s movies were studio bound in a way that soap operas would find embarrassing. I’ve seen Shaw films that have almost no exterior shots, despite the fact that much of the movie ostensibly takes place outside. One Armed Swordsman comes to mind. The Shaws did build a backlot, and used it to great effect, but many movies still have a great deal of indoor studio shooting. The reason I bring this up is that things like Fearless Hyena didn’t have as much money as a Shaw production. That’s my point. They’re not even as expensive as a poor man’s knock-off. However, along with more exterior shoots (the forest is CHEAP!) there is also a bit more soul here. Chan and company are working their butts off to produce a new kind of kung fu movie. It worked too, this movie even supplanted Chan’s break-out film Drunken Master as the highest grossing movie in Hong Kong.

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Seven Swords (2005 Mandarin Films & Eng Wah Dir. Tsui Hark)

This is a movie that should have been awesome, but fell short of that lofty goal. The reasons it should have been awesome are easy to see just from the people involved. Tsui Hark reinvigorated the Wuxia genre in the 90s, Donnie Yen is one of the biggest stars in HK cinema, the other actors are hardly unknowns, and it’s based on one of those books that I’m told is a favorite in Chinese culture. Of course, that’s maybe where things start to go wrong. The movie bears little resemblance to the book in question. Much of the story telling is put on the shoulders of characters that weren’t written to hold such weight, and the action is underwhelming. However, all that said, there are things to like in this movie as we’ll see. This isn’t a movie without merit, and some might look beyond the weaknesses and really fall in love with this thing.

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The Killer (1989 Golden Princess Dir. John Woo)

Really, we’re going to do The Killer? We want to go to that one? We don’t have some obscure shoot ‘em up that no one has seen? Out of cheap westerns already? Actually, we just did one, so probably don’t want to do another for a while lest I be known as the “Cheap Westerns Guy” which would kill my stab at being the “Doesn’t Like Anything New Guy” for the internet. I suppose I should explain my reluctance before we go much further. I like John Woo’s movies, but I don’t like them in their entirety. There are a lot of problems with John Woo, like he really, really wants to make a romance but keeps making gun operas that are like old-fashioned westerns. I wish he’d just make a romantic western and get it out of his system. Possibly, he wants to make a gay romance, but can’t come to terms with it and has to have the guys shooting at each other. There is an undercurrent of homoerotic bromanceness about his movies, after all. Another problem is that he’s another one of these guys who keeps wanting to have his movies run about 9 hours long, forgetting that he’s making commercial action movies. So a lot of what he thinks the movie is supposed to be ends up on the cutting room floor, which is never a good thing. Anytime you have to cut a movie in half, it looses coherency. What I’m saying is, that while I like The Killer, I’m afraid that in reviewing it I’m going to end up vivisecting it and just point out all its flaws to the world. However, this is the movie I’ve slatted for this week and if I don’t review it I’ll be going back on what I said I’d do, so here we go.

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Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983 Golden Harvest Dir. Tsui Hark)
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SPL/Kill Zone (2005, ABBA Movie Company, Dir. Wilson Yip)


I don’t have anything funny to say about this shot.

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Fantasy Mission Force (1982 Dir. Chu Yin-Ping)
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