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Master's Top 50 Hong Kong Films


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#141 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 05:26 PM

rewatch

 

All in the Family (1975: Chu Mu: Hong Kong) Chinese title: 花飛滿城春

Curiosity and having to complete filmographies can be dangerous to our mental health (or at least a waste of valuable time) in viewing cinema.  It can also be rewarding when you see that film that is underrated and underappreciated, but most often I will settle for fleeting glimpses of sagaciousness, a few chuckles, memorable lines or at least one good scene.  I have seen so many mediocre to bad films just because Jackie Chan is in it (include Police Woman which is also directed by Chu Mu) and the same goes for Sammo Hung.  I was surprised when early on I got to see Sammo Hung as a rickshaw driver.  Unfortunately, he is not in the rest of the film and Jackie (billed as Chan Yuen-lung using Sammo Hung’s Peking opera school name) is not in it until much later.

 

This movie is mostly known as the film in which Jackie Chan has a love scene (technically he has a couple in the movie; I believe he had not had another one until Shinjuku Incident and later he had one deleted out of 1911).  But he also does not do any martial arts or action in it other than explaining the proper way to use a rickshaw (one of my favorite scenes in the movie and a prognosticator toward his later physical comedy though in his later scenes he is completely misused as a boy toy).  The movie though is not really a sex comedy.  That only happens toward the last vignette of the movie (his plot comes in toward the last third of the film, but even then it is interrupted with other plotlines) and it certainly is not a porn movie which Jackie has described it as.  He has hurt himself with his statements on this because this canard still lives on.*

This is a Chinese New Year (year of the rabbit) comedy so it is full of then popular actors out of Golden Harvest’s lineup including Tanny Tien Ni (Black Magic), Wang Lai (over 200 films in her career), James Tien (The Hand of Death), Carter Wong (Hapkido, The Legendary Strike) and many more.  When there is a variety of stars to showcase what better approach is to create lots of different vignettes and storylines that do not or barely connect.  I am being factitious because the plot is rambling with very little cohesion. These problems could be forgiven if the film was funny or interesting but too often you end a scene with a freeze frame of a character’s face after a bad joke. The longest story is of a mother whose frugal husband has recently died and her horrible sons and daughter-in-laws take very poor care of her until one son makes fake ingots for her to “pretend” to hide so she appears to be rich.  Then the family members treat her well expecting to reap from her when she is deceased.  One jest had a dumpling seller stating that his old dumplings had killed a kid the day before all after he tried to sell the same rotten dumplings to a rickshaw owner – actually I kind of liked that one.  Can you believe they even put in a banana peel gag with the completely expected payoff?  Can you believe it did decent, though not quite making the top 10 for that year, at the Hong Kong box office making over a million Hong Kong dollars at the time?  Can you believe I have seen this several times?

 

There are a few positives though.  I liked the animated beginning and end credits, done by Au Ching, which I have not often seen in Hong Kong films.  The Peking Opera scene was done well with a few barbs towards the art including: “It’s costlier than big theaters.”  The sets are detailed (it would be interesting to know what other films used this set; the car in the film dates the setting from early to mid 20th Century) and a few of the comedic scenes are bizarrely funny, but most are rambling, trite and inconsistent.  This was probably rushed out to make the Chinese New Year timeslot.  I would not recommend this movie to anyone other than the morbidly curious or those suffering from Jackie Chan (or Dean Shek) see-everything-itus like myself. I believe that includes most of you.

 

I have the R0/NTSC Legendary Collection release from Joy Sales/Fortune Star.  The print is decent, though the credits are slightly cropped, and the subtitles are better than many from this collection without the gender mix-ups that are prevalent with these releases, but it is not without spelling and grammatical mistakes.  The language is in Mandarin, which was the original release language.  The subtitles are Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and English.  The extras are a trailer and a photo gallery.

 

* For example I found a mention in the site omg-facts which states a couple of falsehoods, one that the film is pornographic another that the film is a “classic.” I have seen so many North American R-rated films that have worse sex-scenes. Sammo Hung’s later released The Iron-Fisted Monk has much more explicit scenes as well as several Shaw Brothers films at the same time like Black Magic. Ultimately I think that the translation was off, Jackie’s memory is hazy or Jackie misunderstands what porn is. The article that many people have quoted is titled Jackie Chan Admits Acting in Porn Movie (I first saw this written up in China Daily; quoted below):

 


Kung Fu film star Jackie Chan Monday admitted that he acted in a porn movie 31 years ago, responding to a report revealed by Hong Kong media, Information Times reported Tuesday.

 

"I had to do anything I could to make a living 31 years ago, but I don't think it's a big deal, even Marlon Brando used to be exposed in his movies," Chan said. "The porn movie at that time was more conservative than the current films," he said.

 

Hong Kong netizens tipped local media that Chan was in the porn movie "All in the Family" in 1975, with a porn movie star who was famous at that time.

The Hong Kong made movie, directed by Zhu Mu, was defined as a comedy. Dean Shek, Tien Chun, and Sammo Hung were also co-stars.

 

Keywords: automobile, Bolang Gu (pellet drum), electric fan, nudity, Peking opera, Republic era, rickshaw, telephone.

 

Sources:

Book: I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action (1998) by Jackie Chan with Jeff Yang

Previous post of review.

HKFA

 

Notes/Questions:

I have the only review of this film on both HKMDB and IMDB.
It is interesting to see the Peking Opera scene where they toss around steaming hot towels. “…waiters hurried around filling tea cups and throwing steaming-hot towels to customers to refresh themselves in the badly ventilated building (speed was crucial to keep the towels hot enough.)” from Soul of Beijing Opera (2010) by Li Ruru

The Wikipedia entry is rather worthless.  It gets the language wrong as well.

I am not sure who the local porn star was if indeed there was one. Any answer on this would be helpful.

Any idea what car was used?


Under Construction:
My Criterion Collection (408; I Own and Have Watched):
1-16, 18, 19, 20, 21(2nd), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51(1st & 2nd), 52, 52, 53, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86. 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151(1st), 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 239, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 266, 267, 268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 300(2D), 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 357, 358, 359, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 378, 379, 380, 383, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 441, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 453, 455, 456, 457, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 470, 475, 476, 478, 481, 482, 487, 490, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 503, 505, 512, 524, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 539, 540, 543, 556, 565, 572, 578, 579, 580, 586, 596, 650, 664, 677

Previous Editions: 2,
Eclipse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 26, 33

“Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine you call coffee.” – The Tick

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#142 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 04:38 PM

another long-winded review for you:
 
“We’ll call him God of Shits instead.” – man about to lose over 10 million dollars.
“Great I’ll be Donald Trump.” – Sing (Stephen Chow)
“Don’t rape women. “How about men?” “That’ll be fine.””
“I lost all my special power.  I’m leaving.” – Tai Kun: one of the better henchman exit lines.
 
God of Gamblers II (1991: Wong Jing: Hong Kong)
 
Talk about quick and talk about ersatz.  Director Wong Jing had a mega-hit in God of Gamblers the year before.  Jeff Lau and Corey Yuen created a semi-spoof in All for the Winner a few months before this film which was an even bigger hit and made Stephen Chow a star.  So Wong Jing had his peanut butter and chocolate idea to combine the two.  It was also a hit and the gambling cycle of films was in full bloom like a bizarre looking butterfly out of its cocoon and would have a lifespan almost as long.  Just a few weeks before King of Gambler came out (not related, not a hit and I have not seen it yet.)  So even without hindsight it seemed inevitable that God of Gamblers 2 (the Chinese title is Knight of Gamblers) would be birthed and Wong Jing would direct it.  It was almost inevitable that this would going to be a gigantic hit, though did not quite make as much money of All for the Winner which was 41.3 million HK dollars compared to the 40.3 million here.
 
It starts off just like the first film in San Francisco but here we have the God of Gambler’s surrogate Michael Chan the Knight of Gamblers (Andy Lau) showing off his abilities while eating chocolate, having gelled hair and playing with his jade pinky ring.  He is more suave than the first film, though Chow Yun-fat is certainly missed by me while his character is retired and hiding out in South America.  However, Sing, the Saint of Gamblers, is still bumbling and Stephen Chow-like, in tow with Uncle Tat (Ng Man-tat) except he has a few new nifty abilities like the “penetrating eye”, and the ability to make himself invisible (its effectiveness reminds me somewhat of Invisible Boy in Mystery Men) that come and go at the whims of the script or lack of one.  Sing wants to apprentice under the original Ko Chun and the way to get to him is through the Knight of Gamblers.  But since Chow Yun-fat did not want to be in this film that is not going to happen (joking aside I believe he was contracted with John Woo’s Once a Thief at the time which had started filming in November of 1990).   
 
But not too many people know who the Knight of Gamblers actually is.  Hussein (Tan Lap-man), show foster father was the Beast of Gamblers in the first film, has an idea to impersonate the Knight and hold an offshore (the old international waters idea that you can get away with murder) tournament in the name of charity.  But first he has to eliminate the possible competition in Michael Chan and Sing.   Luckily Chan’s bodyguard has a sister in the Hong Kong police force Lung Kau “Kowloon” (Monica Chan in her second film) to help protect them.  Unluckily Dream Lo (a dead ringer for Beautiful Dream from the first film, of course played by the same actress Sharla Cheung Man) is forced to work for Hussein and is ultimately used against Sing.  Somehow we all know that this film is going to culminate with a poker game.  It has too, it is in the cards.   
 
As always with Wong Jing it pays not to think too much.  Some of the logic lapses in this film is too much even for Wong.  What gambler would accept losing to a half-eaten card?  Why would the bodyguard Lung Ng would leave them alone during a gun battle and go off on a motorcycle?  Though one might also wonder why Lau puts on a complete new set of clothes while in the middle of the gun battle scene and so does Lung.  Talk about some continuity problems.  There are more logic lapses than a Corey Yuen gun battle (action director Paul Wong Kwan is stronger with fighting scenes than gun battles).  Also why would Sing try to change a card when he knows his powers are mostly gone?  And according to the rules of the first film (losing his power for a period of time) it makes even less sense.  How in the world during the first conference on the boat by the evil Hussein does the press not notice the two kidnapped individuals with silencers to their head and Tat with a stuffed mouth?  The press are even looking in that direction.  And the Indian from the first film transformed into a Kuwaitian though strangely the film mentions both, so either subtitles are off, it is supposed to be two characters or Wong Jing’s fault which tends to be my default.  One might also wonder how many scenes you can shamelessly insert Chow Yun-fat into (if there were too many more times it might have ended up a gambling version of Game of Death.)  
 
The main reason to watch this is Stephen Chow in his first collaboration with Wong Jing.  He is one of my favorite comedians.  His influences are from everywhere from the USA to Hong Kong. You see a Warner Bros. cartoon influence especially on scenes like where the chair he was about to sit in was kicked out from underneath him, but since he does not know it he stays in sitting position much like Wil E. Coyote.  The nunchuck plunger gag (one cannot get enough plunger gags also in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective) is not only a Bruce Lee reference, but also a Michael Hui homage when Hui did a similar Bruce Lee influenced gag in The Private Eyes.  With Chow’s increasing stardom he would often be called the heir apparent to Michael Hui (though without as much social criticism as Hui.)  But his strange amalgam of verbal, visual, slapstick, absurd humor is quite unique.* He also created one of the worst calling card videos I have ever seen.  
 
I would recommend watching this only if you have seen the previous two films.  Too many in-jokes, characters and references would be missed.  I also think that it is probably better to wait a little time between watching all three films because too many gags are repeated.  This film sometimes feels as fresh as Bernie in Weekend at Bernies.  According to John Charles in The Hong Kong Filmography (2000), a book I highly recommend for HK fans, the flashback scenes reference both Swordsman and A Terracotta Warrior.  Overall I enjoy it even with the sense of déjà vu.  It is just that every aspect of the movie is not as good as the previous two including action, fighting, original comedy and the card games (though technically Wong Jing in the first film was “influenced” from Norman Jewison’s The Cincinnati Kid.)  But it is funny in many scenes some of which were mentioned above.  I liked this movie most the first time I saw it while subsequent rewatches do not hold up as much as the previous two. This was followed by God of Gamblers III: Back to Shanghai the following year.
 
I saw this on the Mei Ah R0/NTSC “A Grand Collection of God of Gamblers II” which has this movie and God of Gamblers III: Back to Shanghai on another disc.  This movie is anamorphic widescreen, has Cantonese (Original, Dolby Digital Surround 5.1, DTS) and Mandarin (Original) audio tracks while subtitles are Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and English.  The subtitles are not bad and the print looks decent.  Special Features are a Trailer (1:49m), Data Bank (which is Synopsis and Cast & Crew in Chinese and English), and Best Buy which is a God of Gamblers III trailer (2:39m).
 
* It is important to remember that very little is unique and comedy is no exception. Michael Hui was influenced by Peter Sellers, Peter Sellers was influenced by Jacques Tati.  I believe Tati was influenced by Charles Chaplin.  Chaplin was influenced by Pantomime Theater, early Roscoe Arbuckle and Max Linder.  Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
 
Keywords: butterfly knife, derringer gun, Filipino maid, Guan Yu, gwailo, handheld camera, handover (Tat mentions it), Michael Jackson, moleitau, undercranking, smiling watch, straight flush, “We Give You Good American Mind Mac Beth” t-shirt hoodie, worst bow tie ever.  
 
Notes/Questions:
Since you have two popular entertainers I noticed Ronald Wong Ban’s Crawl character gets a much smaller role than the first film.
Nice little in-gag with the Kam & Ronson Ent. Col, LTD computer program.
One of the many Hong Kong films of this time to reference the upcoming handover.
[rhetorically] Why does Lung Ng’s jacket have print on it?
Nice little body fall from bodyguard (33 minutes in) from second story through glass straight onto the ground.  Watch his body bounce.
 
Sources:
The Hong Kong Filmography, 1977-1997 (2000) by John Charles: he gives this a 7/10. I am a little surprised he only gives the first God of Gamblers 6/10.
At the Hong Kong Movies (1999) by Paul Fonoroff: He does not like it as much as All for the Winner.  But he liked Chow more and more when he was not always thrilled with the earliest Chow films.  It is a fair review and he makes the not too difficult prediction that it will do well at the box office.  I would not have known the Kowloon joke without this.
Planet Hong Kong 2nd Edition (2011) by David Bordwell: Check out the chapter “Whatever You Want: Wong Jing” and also there is a good amount of info on the gambling cycle of films.
John Woo: The Films (1999) by Kenneth E. Hall: I got the schedule of John Woo’s Once a Thief from here.  It also describes how this film was delayed for a considerable amount of time which could explain why Chow Yun-fat was not in God of Gamblers II.


Edited by masterofoneinchpunch, 24 May 2016 - 12:40 PM.
Added missing paragraph

Under Construction:
My Criterion Collection (408; I Own and Have Watched):
1-16, 18, 19, 20, 21(2nd), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51(1st & 2nd), 52, 52, 53, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86. 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151(1st), 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 239, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 266, 267, 268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 300(2D), 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 357, 358, 359, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 378, 379, 380, 383, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 441, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 453, 455, 456, 457, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 470, 475, 476, 478, 481, 482, 487, 490, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 503, 505, 512, 524, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 539, 540, 543, 556, 565, 572, 578, 579, 580, 586, 596, 650, 664, 677

Previous Editions: 2,
Eclipse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 26, 33

“Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine you call coffee.” – The Tick

My HK movie reviews
My Amazon Reviews

#143 masterofoneinchpunch

masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 22 June 2016 - 04:27 PM

not top 50:
 
Bury Me High (1991: Tsui Siu-ming: Hong Kong)
 
In the small country of Carrinan (an obvious allegory to Vietnam; though filmed in Mainland China), a rich traveler Nguen (Paul Chun: also a bad guy in All for the Winner) is looking for a burial spot, according to the rules of feng shui’s sepulchral veneration (aka good burial spot of family that will increase fortunes of descendants.)  Helped led by Wei Tien-hsien (Corey Yuen, another All for the Winner connection) who warms him of the catastrophe of his plans (one might wonder if Nguen knew so much why he would use Wei.)  However, its usefulness is only good for 24 years and will expire like the pineapple cans in Chungking Express which itself is an allegory to the upcoming handover.  Wei creates a map so a future individual may destroy the burial ground (though it seems that it would run out of potency if you just let the time pass).  He also ends up burying his friend into a wealth spot and himself into a wisdom spot (though apparently both with timelines as well).  Argh my head is hurting from this logic much like the mostly inoperable tumor of Wisely which will possibly make him insane one day, most likely caused by the dad or reading the screenplay. 
 
Wisely* (Chin Ka-lok: Operation Scorpio) is an orphan who was adopted out to the United States.  Upon happenstance he meets Anna Wong (Moon Lee: Mr. Vampire) the sister of his Dad’s friend who also happens to be in United States.  She believes that the change in fortune between her family and him happen to be because of something changed in the burial grounds or the fact that the 24 year period is about up and the graves have to be disinterred.  This does seem to be a rather large impediment to the positiveness of burying someone, especially in a hard-to-get to country.  It is not just a coincidence that Wisely is probably dying, Anna Wong’s fortune and company is dwindling, and a psychopath General Nguen like any good martial art villain is a wearing a cape (guess who he is related to; played by Yuen Wah in a role analogous to Eastern Condors) is taking over Carrinan all at the same time.  But they need help and they find a somewhat rotund but adroit UCLA professor in the director Tsui Siu-ming (The Buddhist Fist).     
 
So when they arrive in Carrinan, with mountains that remind me of Monument Valley, they are in the middle of a civil war led by General Nguen, his sister (Sibelle Hu: The Inspector Wears Skirts) and militant brother (Cho Wing; also one of the action directors).  The plot does get a bit murky, sometimes overly sappy, but I feel that it becomes rather obvious what will happen as the film commences and who live/die.  It just does not hold up especially watching it more than once.  Some or most viewers I expect are probably just looking forward to the action scenes. 
 
Unfortunately Chin Ka-lok puts in a milquetoast performance and undermines the role by his ineffectual presence and acting.  Luckily he can fight though.  So can Tsui Siu-ming, even with a few extra pounds.  While he does comment on his weight in the film, he is no Sammo Hung in size.  Now Yuen Wah may be playing a one-dimensional character as the military leader/dictator, but he acts it with relish. 
 
The hacker scenes were as unrealistic as Hackers (1995) or most films involving computers.  Though it is cool to see an earlier 8-bit version of Google Street View.  The early police scenes were no better.  Cops, usually, do not fire upon an unarmed fleeing person especially for a non-violent offense.  Also their quick arrival was pretty hilarious, especially for just a hacker.  Also why turn in a person if you are just going to rescue him?  Most of the gun battles were pretty unrealistic and sometimes hilariously inept with some obvious influence (though without the gravitas) from Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III. Another item that is either fun or annoying is the amount of product placements you can find in 1990s Hong Kong cinema.  Coca-Cola, Pepsi (the drink of rebels) and McDonalds are three of the usual suspects and all present here with a multitude of others.
 
But there are some good aspects to this film.  The cinematography by Peter Pau (The Bride with White Hair and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) who was nominated for a Hong Kong Film Award is superb with helicopter shots, crane shots, nice composition and use of color.  It is the most consistently superlative aspect of the movie.  It is the only consistently superlative aspect of the movie.  Luckily, there are also some good fight sequences and stunts in here which is the primary interest of many people reading this.  The first major fight in the discotheque is decent with a couple of nice stunts and combination fighting especially with an uncut sequence with Chin Kar-lok doing a breakdance sweep, to a sweep to a jumping spinning kick.  He also (I think it is him and not his stunt double) does a nice painful jump to the floor earlier on.  Chin also has a nice little fight with Cho Wing which was too short.  The last action scenes are good and crosscut between weaponry, some nice stunts, and hand-to-hand fighting.  Finally you get to see Yuen Wah in action who is awesome with combinations, especially against Chin Kar-lok and Moon Lee.  It is nice to see so many good side-kicks (the move not an actor like Rob Schneider.)  Then there is the most unlikely use of brain surgery you will ever see outside of The Man With Two Brains.   
 
I really cannot recommend this except for the fighting (especially the last fight sequence) and cinematography.  But I do not think you have to stay away from it either.  I noticed most reviews I read were pretty much the same on this film.  It is nice to see a Hong Kong film to try a big budget type of action adventure.  It was not a box office hit though making under 11 Million HK Dollars. 
 
This was watched on the Universe R0/NTSC DVD.  It has a trailer for the film and one for The Miracle Fighters.  It has Cantonese and Mandarin dubs with Traditional, Simplified, English and Bahasa subtitles.  I wish some of the written Chinese was translated.  I always dislike when English is spoken and yet the subtitles translate it incorrectly.  The print is so-so at best with some damage and a washed out look which hurts the fine cinematography.  The night scenes sometimes are close to.  The DVD is letterboxed and not anamorphic.  There is a Legendary Collection R0/NTSC release of this which I would have to believe given their past releases is better looking.  However, given their past releases I have the subtitles might even be worse.
 
* The Wisely character can be seen in other films like The Seventh Curse, The Legend of Wisely and The Cat all played by different actors.  It is based off of a fictional character by prolific author Ngai Hong (Ni Kuang). Most of his books are not translated in English, but I have seen a few like The Return of the Hermit that were.
 
Keywords: AK-47, Coca-Cola (drink of hackers), discotheque, dynamite, English spoken, fireworks, flintlock pistol, geomancy, helicopter cinematography, Los Angeles, McDonalds (the food of hackers), Monterey Park, Nescafe (product placement), Nespray (product placement), optical effects, Pepsi (product placement), Sanyo (product placement), tank, WCT skyscraper (this is World Chinese Trust; the history of this is interesting and not just for people in Los Angeles).
 
Notes/Questions:
Chinese sepulchral geomancy, a subset of feng shui, in dealing with burial sites is a pseudoscience, but it is interesting how this films conflicts with what I have read about it.  Normally you are not supposed to bury so high and normally you are not supposed to move after buried.  Here is an article from Travel China Guide on this.  But there are so many variations like martial arts that it does not matter too much.  It also might be because the plot is convoluted that one might think too much of logicality of this if one is inclined.
The burn in hand was taken directly from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Quote: “When modern science can’t prove against its existence, you can’t negate it.”  This is a burden of proof logical fallacy.  Also known as appeal to ignorance
Any idea where is that staircase in the cliff is (supposed to be in LA)?
Are the white gloves of the two dictators a reference to someone?
Where else has a bad guy in film died from lightning strike?
 
Sources:
Politics of Landscapes in Singapore: Constructions of 'Nation' (Space, Place and Society) (2003) by Lily Kong and Brenda S. A. Yeoh: Take a look at Chapter 4 “Making Space for the Dead in the Body of the Living “Nation”.
The Hong Kong Filmography, 1977-1997 (2000) by John Charles: he gives this a 6/10.  States that this is inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark, though I think that only a few scenes are.  His opinion of the film is the general one: good choreography, some good fight scenes, and implausible plot.
At the Hong Kong Movies (1999) by Paul Fonoroff: he also does not like this movie much besides the cinematography.  I got the author of the Wisely series from him.
Sex and Zen & A Bullet in the Head (1996) Stefan Hammond & Mike Wilkins: small mini-review plus an assortment of mangled subtitles throughout the book (definitely not the translation that I saw.)
Review from The Gweilos Guide


Under Construction:
My Criterion Collection (408; I Own and Have Watched):
1-16, 18, 19, 20, 21(2nd), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51(1st & 2nd), 52, 52, 53, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86. 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151(1st), 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 239, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 266, 267, 268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 300(2D), 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 357, 358, 359, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 378, 379, 380, 383, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 441, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 453, 455, 456, 457, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 470, 475, 476, 478, 481, 482, 487, 490, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 503, 505, 512, 524, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 539, 540, 543, 556, 565, 572, 578, 579, 580, 586, 596, 650, 664, 677

Previous Editions: 2,
Eclipse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 26, 33

“Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine you call coffee.” – The Tick

My HK movie reviews
My Amazon Reviews




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