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    Hong Kong Short Reviews

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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Hong Kong Short Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:19 am

    I am creating this for shorter reviews that don't merit a new thread (if they do merit I will move and delete with my mod powers bwah ha ha ha cough cough.)

    Men Suddenly In Black (2003: Pang Ho-cheung: Hong Kong)

    What do you do when your wife is away for 14 hours shopping in Bangkok with her friends who also happen to be your friends significant others? It is time for adultery or at least try to have an affair. Eric Tsang is Tin (somewhat parodying his Infernal Affairs role) a leader among his small group of four who is guiding them on a mission to have an affair (though sometimes the homosocial behavior delves into the potentially homoerotic*.) He is doing this in honor of his Ninth Uncle (Tony Leung Ka-fai) who several years ago got caught in a similar male-bonding tryst, never giving up the participants and subsequently is cut off from friends, prostitutes and porn by his wife.

    However, the wives (and one girlfriend), led by Tin’s wife Carrie (Teresa Mo who has a strong role here) soon find out that there is something fishy going on and abort their trip and go husband hunting.

    An impressive second release from director Edmond Pang Ho-cheung (You Shoot, I Shoot). He is satirizing male and female relationships and homosocial ones as well as some triad jokes thrown in. There is some allegorical references of John Woo to explicit Stephen Chow and Sammo Hung ones that Hong Kong fans should like. This is on LoveHKFilm.com’s The Best Hong Kong movies list ever. While it would not have been on mine, it still is a fun film that sometimes dragged a little bit through the various “missions”. Of the three other main male actors Chapman To and Jordan Chan have a panache which makes “Spirit Blue” Gu Zong-chao’s presence seem under assertive.

    The Chinese title is 大丈夫 which roughly translates to “a man of character” or “manly man.” The English title is a bit confusing though it probably refers to the change in the men’s attire in the film (alluding to the fact that they have to appear differently than they normally do to help avoid being recognized – though with Eric Tsang’s loudness and particular body shape he could be recognized after plastic surgery from several hundred meters away) and it feels like it is taken off of the title of the film Men in Black.

    I have the Mei Ah R0/NTSC release. The English subtitles could use some improvement. They have some spelling and grammar mistakes, use British idioms like “punter” and occasionally I am not sure what is actually going on. I understood the vast majority of the film, though once in a while I had to pause or rewind segments. There are three trailers including The Romancing Star, The Romancing Star II and Running on Karma.

    There is a sequel to this, though I have not seen it, the reviews I read are not too fond of it and not all the actors appear in it.

    * It is hilarious how upset and disappointed Tin was when Dr. Lee wants to go to his own affair instead of the group one at the end.
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    Re: Hong Kong Short Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:32 am

    Hmmm, this became somewhat bigger than a capsule review that I originally intended. I have not done enough research to do a full length review (I also like to do a rewatch as well), but it is getting close. I will avoid plot recap until then. Spoilers alert.

    The Skyhawk (1974: Jeng Cheong-who: Hong Kong)

    The venerable Kwan Tak-hing had played the famous Wong Fei-hung in around 80 movies. His previous one before this film was in 1970, but he was still synonymous with the role equivalent to the Tramp with Charlie Chaplin. He is probably not as known with that character now as either Jackie Chan or Jet Li (partially this has to do with the fact that many of his films need to be released; of course many now might even not know who this character even is)* not counting Hong Kong fans from the 1950’s through the 1970s.

    One may wonder why Wong Fei-hung takes so long to get involved. While it works quite well early in the film and the scene with the scalding hot water is quite memorable, it becomes more than a little aggravating when his reticence goes from self-imposed Confucian restraint to waiting around for more and more evidence when you already have enough. In fact several die needlessly because of this. There are plenty of mistakes like this throughout. Later on several of the main characters perish because for some reason they think that walking alone in alley ways after they threaten to kill a relative of Ku is a good idea. It is also hilarious when Wong makes a small complaint about not killing and Leo does it anyways with no retributions from his sifu.

    Most of the film is on location and looks quite good because of it. The very end fight scene is a mixture of on location, but mostly studio shoot which is jarring and quite noticeable because of the juxtaposition. It is easy to notice a few continuity mistakes, like Carter Wong’s massive amount of sweat-stained clothes to dry and clean within the same scene (of course the background gives it away quite easily.) This was probably done (as Cal states in his review in the link below) because of Kwan’s aversion to the heat there given he was around 68 at the time of filming. It is also hard not to notice The Big Boss vibes, or influence, well let’s call it a homage. You have the drug front in Thailand, an out-of-towner character who refuses to fight (for a bit), Nora Miao and some working-class themes that get ignored rather quickly.

    The fighting is quite good though. Sammo does well with the choreography and in working the strengths and hiding the weaknesses of the combatants. There are the powerful kicks from Whang In-shik, the poetic style of Kwan Tak-hing (doubled in acrobatic scenes, but he still can move), the presence of Carter Wong (I always get the feeling that while his kicks are not always fluid he could probably hurt anyone he fought against.) You get leg traps, throws and even get a Boston crab. It is all quite impressive for the time. Sammo would continue to improve his choreography and eventually become a star in Hong Kong. It is fun to see his work.

    Overall a fun film with nice location shots and good fighting. I got this in the Marital Arts Movie Marathon collection which has a Mandarin and English dub. There is a little bit of blur with motion so I am wondering if this suffers from PAL-to-NTSC improper conversion issues. It comes with the trailer.

    * An anecdotal experiment: I have asked several of Chinese descent (born from Taiwan, Mainland, Vietnam and Hong Kong) if they knew who Wong Fei-hung was and generally everyone who was over 30 knew.

    Sources:
    Cal’s Review at HKMDB: I miss him writing about HK cinema. But he is busy trying to make people laugh somewhere in various English pubs.
    Mark Pollard’s Review: More plot issues are mentioned here though for the reasons I mentioned above I do not quite agree with “Tak-hing still comes out looking all the wiser.” I do agree that Sammo’s character is rather bland compared to later films.
    There is no capsule review in Dr. Reid’s book The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s. I have not read much discussion of this in books. I will keep looking. If anyone has any decent references to this film in print please write me.
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    Re: Hong Kong Short Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:36 am

    The Bloody Fists (1972: Ng See-yuen: Hong Kong) aka Deadly Buddhist Raiders

    Another Japanese as bad guys trying to take over local martial arts clubs list. Though this one adds in a MacGuffin in the guise of the Dragon Herb. This herb is needed to cure a plague, but the Japanese want it for themselves (though they do offer to pay.) Not as good as the earlier Fist of Fury or the later Hapkido in both action and plot it does offer some brutal basher fight scenes. It also has a good guy appearance from Chan Sing who normally plays the antagonist including a bad Japanese in New Fist of Fury. The main bad guy (of course Japanese) is played by Chen Kuan-tai. I will watch anything with him in it. However, when his character is first introduced he is wearing a face covering mask that is similar to The Winter Solider in the second Captain America – seriously it reminds me of it with the long hair parted in the middle. But what is pretty hilarious is that it appears that a few people are doubling for Chen (check skin color, eye shape, nose shape etc…) until he takes that mask off for good.

    One way you can tell a non-martial artist from an accomplished one is the way they will do certain kicks especially a spinning heel kick. If you see the leg whip around way earlier than the head (especially awkwardly) than that is a tell-tale sign of a novice. But what would a basher film be without flailing arms and legs. Check out Fong Yau’s head movements when he fights – it is all over the place.

    But with Yuen Wo-ping being one of the action directors (and an appearance in the film), the brutal action and a decent amount of it comes off well. The plot does not fare well with (I think) disappearing characters, one bizarre rape scene that probably should have been removed and a meandering “do we even have a” script. Suen Lam (as Chen San) has one of those made to be a bad guy faces and his overuse of facial contortions. I have to stifle the urge to punch the TV when he is on it. Maybe that makes him good or maybe he is just a different version of Dean Shek. Maybe those two should have done a buddy movie together.

    It looks like it is filmed in Taiwan. Because of the one and only car and no mention of a war with the Japanese I would put this film at some time in the 1920s or 30s (not sure how old that car is.) It has an early appearance of a nunchaku. This was put on the sohu.com top 100 classic martial art films. I cannot find a link to it, but the movies are mentioned on icheckmovies. I doubt it would make my top 100 though.

    I watched the Warner Bros. R1 release of this. It is widescreen, but only has the old school English dub. Not a bad print, but certainly not remastered.
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    Re: Hong Kong Short Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Mon Sep 08, 2014 10:30 am

    Some comments and small spoilers (third paragraph):

    A Simple Life (2012: Ann Hui: Hong Kong)

    If I happened to have viewed this on time it would have been in my top 10 movies of 2012. I have only viewed a few Ann Hui movies, something I hope to remedy in the near future, and her July Rhapsody was in my top 50 Hong Kong movies of all-time. But her reputation is quite large within Hong Kong critic circles and has been expanding over the years. This film seems to have done more for her reputation with western critics than any of her previous movies.

    It is a moving tale about the interdependence of Roger Leung (Andy Lau) and his amah Ah Tao (Deannie Yip Tak-han: The Owl and Dumbo). Ah Tao has taken care of Leung and his family (who have moved on elsewhere including immigrating to the United States) for several decades. Leung has relied on her all of his life. But she has had a stroke, not a completely debilitating one, but one where she expects to get back 80 percent of her strength. Instead of relying on Leung she goes to an elderly home (reminding me of the phrase of Mike’s Dad in the tv show The Middle “I don’t wanna be a bother.”) There is mention of the juxtaposition in the film because Ah Tao had taken care of Leung through his heart issues and now Ah Tao needs taken care of. But it is not a complete juxtaposition because Ah Tao will not allow herself to be a burden to Roger (and he might not be capable of taking care of her.)

    There is an interesting and effective use of ellipses similar to the use of Jane Campion’s use in An Angel at my Table. Sometimes it is startling as in the second stroke here. But we are given enough information to understand what has happened and at that point more scenes would have been repeating unnecessary information. The second stroke was foreshadowed in several statements throughout the film so it was expected.

    There are a lot of cameos here. The most interesting are Sammo Hung and Tsui Hark pretty much playing themselves. I can easily see Tsui use that tactic for dealing with Mainland budget money he describes in this film.

    The acting between Andy Lau and Deannie Yip is superb. It is a touching symbiotic relationship. Ann Hui’s cinematic direction is quite good and an underrated facet of hers. She captures all facets of the nursing home in a realistic style and yet intriguing in the camera work with its composition and often use of reflecting light and objects in the foreground. It is as superlative movie.

    David Bordwell on A Simple Life (some spoilers).
    Roger Ebert’s Review.
    In Film Comment May/June 2014 Grady Hendrix article “Milestones list: Key Hong Kong Movies 1996 – 2013”
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    Re: Hong Kong Short Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Mon Sep 08, 2014 10:31 am

    Moonlight Sword and Jade Lion (1977: Karl Liao: Taiwan/Hong Kong):

    Not many comments on this film on this site. A couple of notables is Morgoth calling this “a real stinker” (which it is) and Golden Dragon Yin-Yang considering it a masterpiece (not even close.) Mark Pollard wrote a review on it. He also is not a fan of it (he gets the year of the film wrong.)

    There are good films with meandering plots like The Big Sleep and To Have and Have Not. They keys are to keep things interesting. When this Taiwanese film is at its best is when there is exploding weaponry, fancy knives that shoot and Angela Mao’s elongating and shortening spear (could there be a Freudian context, nah.) There is two scenes I did like: one involves a showdown early between Mao and Don Wong Tao (this one is particularly aggravating because it teases you that you might see more shapes and you might get more action than you do; it is also a little goofy which does not fit the tone of most of the film, notice that Mao works with Don Wong on several films in 1977) and the other between Mao and the Doris Lung led exploding flower commandos which are ugly guys who are supposed to be girls. But with too many new characters in a scriptless film, no budget, an obvious bad guy and an obvious ruse with not enough action this is as Mo would call it “a real stinker.” This movie is a real good example of make-it-up-as-you-go-along.

    HKFA entry (synopsis is wrong)
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    Re: Hong Kong Short Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:58 pm

    mini-review on a independent HK film that is actually pretty good. Not top 50 material, but say top 100 HK martial art films Very Happy.

    A Fistful of Talons (1983: Sun Chung: Hong Kong)

    One of the main reasons I had wanted to watch this was that Ric Meyers had named this one of his top 100 Kung Fu Movies. Now I am not the biggest Meyers fan but I had to watch it (it reminds me of when a relative, friend or foe states that they love a film that you have not seen and you use that as a reason to watch it.) It helps that it was directed by Sun Chung as I could not help thinking of Avenging Eagle when watching this.

    One scene that I noticed was the crane shot early into the film (I am not sure it is used again) and it was done well. The cinematography and composition looks superb and is among the best looking of the independent HK films I have seen. Now the copy I have is faded and full-screen so I can imagine that this would look far better with a proper release.

    The plot is basic, though interesting because it mentions, Sun Tzu (author of The Art of War), Sun Yat-sen and takes place during the Republic era of China. Here you have the Manchus (still being bad guys) trying to take back the country which makes a nice counter to all those Hans trying to take back the country in the Qing dynasty films.

    I liked the Buddha set and I do wonder if that was used again in a film. Some of my favorite scenes involved this set. Billy Chong who has a short lived acting career as a precocious and capable martial artist who has to be bettered by a better sifu to be able to defeat the main bad guy (aka being a Jackie Chan clone, though his career and personality reminds me more of Conan Lee – weird coincidence that both Conan Lee and Billy Chong are in Aces Go Places V.) I liked Kung Fu Zombie, though I don’t think I’ve seen anything else he was in not counting Aces Go Places V.

    I believe this was Whang In-shik’s last official Hong Kong appearance in film. I feel he was slightly underused, especially if you compare to his fighting in Dragon Lord the year before, in this as I thought some of the fight scenes could have been elongated. I liked the use of strategy at the end (nod to Sun Tzu) though. His side kick looks like it could kill Billy Chong if he wanted to.

    I hope that was not a real eagle pulled apart by Nai Sin Very Happy.
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    Re: Hong Kong Short Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:00 pm

    random comments on:

    Goose Boxer (1979: Chin Ming: Hong Kong)

    The Fearless Hyena influence is still felt with Goose Boxer which was released later that year in 1979. You have a comedic martial art movie with a made up style and masochistic training scenes. There is a somewhat different twist where the student is really not a willing one under the sifu (though Jackie Chan was not always that willing under his sifu’s either.)

    My goodness the comedy is bad here. The movie gets better when more focus is on the crane, goose and sex style martial arts, especially the last two fights. I’m a Lee Hoi-sang fan so I will watch anything he is in and I like best the fight with him versus Phillip Ko. I probably should not be routing for him against Charles Heung in the finale though – ungrateful forced student. Some of this film reminds me of Knockabout which also came out earlier than this and is probably an influence.

    Addy Sung Gam-loi’s eyebrows should have a credit of their own as they seem to have a life of their own.

    Whenever I go over a 1970s martial art film I then look it up in Dr. Reid’s The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s. While it is missing a decent amount of Golden Harvest capsule reviews it is still normally a great resource, especially in dealing with the martial art aspect of the film. The reviews are rarely film criticism. Now he hates this film, mainly because of the use of the “little person.” Unfortunately he gets plot aspects of the movie quite wrong and does not even mention the sex manual which is a big part of the plot. This leads me to wonder if he paid attention to the film, not counting that he timed all the training and fight scenes (a big plus with this book.) HKMDB has the wrong year for this movie as well. I had to go to HKFA to get the proper release date.

    What do you think of the use of the “small person” in the film? Is this a sore spot in the film? Now you probably did not need the biting of the groin in the film (or do you), but Charles Heung probably did not need the poop in the face either. Maybe he did, but I did not need to see it. I found it nowhere near as offensive as Dr. Reid did, mainly since he wasn't treated separate that much (a few jokes concerning his height, not too mean-spirited) and didn't look worse than Tin Ching (who had an outstanding and long career, just not here). Cheung Sin-Ming (looking at his filmography I see he was in The Private Eyes as well as Winners and Sinners -- six films in all.) He even helps with the winning blows against Lee Hoi-san.

    If I was doing a proper review I would add the fact (what I'm doing now Very Happy) is that the two main combatants (Phillip Ko and Lee Hoi-sang) were wearing Qing style wigs. Obviously this is a Republic-era film (I'm thinking only the Qing would keep the queue for awhile longer), but interesting that they were against each other.

    Is there a Cantonese version of this available?
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    Re: Hong Kong Short Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:01 pm

    Tiger Over Wall (1980: Lu Chin-ku) Hong Kong

    I am quite behind many in watching independent Hong Kong martial art films that I thought it was time to watch one that I have seen mentioned many times on various sites.

    Overall this is not a good film. You can tell it was rushed with some characters appearing than never appearing again (dyed gwailo appearing with I think mother and father.) It starts off with a “Warning Chinese and Dogs Not Allowed” sign (reference to Fist of Fury aka The Chinese Connection, yet apparently Chinese and dogs are allowed since the main resident (Glen Thomson) has a Chinese wife who has a dog. Plus there are plenty of Chinese playing behind that sign. Actually it is best not to think logically about this one because some of the character’s behaviors, horrible English dubbing, and plot thread disappearances will drive you a little batty. I think most people who rewatch this ignore the exposition and just go to the two main fight scenes which are the high points of the film. Or they judge the film solely based on the finale -- “It's the most important part of the story, the ending.” I have no issue with the main plot though with the disappearance of a dog being the impetus to start all the action (see John Wick or Seven Psychopaths for other good films dealing with a dog being the cause of it all.) But I can see viewers with the problems I mentioned above wanting to turn it off at the halfway point. That would be a mistake for martial art fans.

    The Chiang Tao/Phillip Ko fight scene is underrated, but that is because the best scene in the movie is the final fight and this one is a bit too short. I liked the use of the umbrellas.

    The last fight is awesome and understandably well liked among the martial art film fan illuminati. I do agree that it picks up (in Spinal Tap talk it goes to 11) once the weapons have been dropped, but still Phillip Ko with the staff and Hwang Jang-lee with the guan dao. I may be in the minority, but after watching this several times I think Hwang outperforms Ko with the weapon as well as mix in kicks while wielding the guan dao. He does more of a variety of movement while Ko seems too typical (while still being good) with his staff. But the fight scene shines most when they get down to hand-to-foot fighting. Hwang is awesome and one of my favorite on screen fights as his kicks are fluid, he can use punches to good effect and he works combinations (the key for great fight scenes) effortlessly with multiple spinning heel kicks (or spinning heel kick to roundhouse to spinning heel kick to roundhouse and repeat) and works well against the hybrid mantis form of Ko.

    Random thoughts: Chan Lau as the village idiot makes me miss Dean Shek. Do you ever think about combinations of actors like what would Dean Shek (in his prime) have been like with Pauly Shore? The biting scene reminded me of a similar scene in Beach of the War Gods. As mentioned by others: what the hell was with Hwang Jang-lee’s dubbing voice. I felt bad for Hwang as it undercuts his character by sounding like a smoking castrato who is accidently taking estrogen therapy instead of testosterone.

    Is there a Cantonese version of this available for this Hong Kong film?

    Random annoyance: I hate the amount of ads at HKMDB now. It has been driving me crazy being interrupted so many times for commercials and ads.
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    Re: Hong Kong Short Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:05 pm

    The Tattooed Dragon (1973: Lo Wei)

    I am hoping this is the worst film in the box set of the recently released Jimmy Wang Yu Collection from Shout!. I am a fan of The One-Armed Boxer so I have two more to go to find this out. The best aspect of this film is that it is coherent. It is not particularly fun though. It is overly didactic (gambling is bad), treats everyone as imbeciles (almost no one has control over there gambling addiction habits, in fact the whole plot is based on this fact), overwrought (the suicide was a bit much) and unfortunately there is not enough fighting. Well the fighting is not particular good either and the ending is under-cranked. I do blame Lo Wei’s script (or lack of one) the most though. I do wonder if Wang Yu’s fighting ability gets worse as he gets older.

    Wang Yu stars as the stoic Tattooed Dragon a wandering hero who seems to have a bit of trouble at first in fighting to retrieve some stolen money and gets himself injured. How he fights better later on in the film I’m not sure, though Sam Hui does help. He luckily gets rescued by a Lassie-like dog (it gives a good performance) and finds himself into the hands of Sam Hui’s character and his too-nice girlfriend (Sylvia Chang.) In the meantime local crime boss (James Tien), who is also looking for the Tattooed Dragon, sets up an evil gambling casino in a remote region to legally steal (they do not appear to cheat that much) all the houses from the locals. Obviously there is going to be a showdown.

    The whole film was unfortunately a chore to sit through.

    There is a Zatoichi reference when Jimmy Wang Yu’s titular character goes in gambling with dark shades on and a Zatoichi ear twitch which he uses to know, sight unseen, what values the dice have landed on. Interesting connection because Wang Yu played in Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman (1971). It is nice seeing the future director Sylvia Chang in her first Golden Harvest role and her second film overall (the first seems to be The Flying Tiger (1973) is not even mentioned in IMDB and is a movie I know nothing about.) Like Golden Harvest’s The Big Boss (1971: Lo Wei) and The Skyhawk (1974: Jeng Cheong-who) it takes place in Thailand and like The Tournament (1974: Huang Feng) it features a Muay Thai fight.

    IMDB Review: surprisingly this is a good review there, better than the HKMDB ones. A few mistakes in it though like saying Sam Hui is a kickboxer which is something he does once and doesn’t even keep the money that was bet on him and saying Sylvia Chang is his wife (he will not marry until he makes his fortune off his ducks which he will sell for other animals etc…, yes he is stubborn in this as well.)
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    Re: Hong Kong Short Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:06 pm

    taken from a mini-review I did a year ago with more than a few changes and spelling fixes:

    The One-Armed Boxer (1972: Jimmy Wang Yu) Hong Kong/Taiwan

    I am a big fan of the sequel Master of the Flying Guillotine (aka One-armed Boxer vs. the Flying Guillotine (1976)) which is one of my favorite martial art films of the 1970s. I finally got around to rewatching this one as finally a good release of this came out with the Shout! Jimmy Wang Yu set. This was made in Taiwan, but co-produced and distributed by Hong Kongs Golden Harvest who were doing quite well during this year (Bruce Lees beloved Fist of Fury had already been out earlier that year). Wang Yus directed films do not always contain good martial artists nor exquisite story or direction, but there is always something fascinating and fun about them even though I notice he does repeat himself quite often.

    The weakness of some of the martial artists is evident, especially with the Thai fighters (compare the Thai fighters here compared to the later Yu film Return of the Chinese Boxer) and Wang Yus kicks (and punches) but with a coherent storyline, a large body-count and a plethora of fighters with various fighting styles this is a fun film. Wang Yu is Yu Tien-Lung the star pupil of his martial arts school who gets into fights to protect the weak (annoying his current sifu which then annoys me because there is a strain of sifus that just do not want to stir any trouble -- nowhere near as bad as Kwan Tak-hing in some of his films though), but also antagonizes a neighboring school of martial artists that want to take over the whole territory where they can operate their drugs and prostitution without resistance. Yus embarrasses the thugs by beatdown and ultimately it leads them to outsource to a variety of hired fighters from Tibetan monks, several Japanese fighters including one with fangs (Lung Fei), Thai fighters and a yogi who fights on his hands. They are a surly lot. This leads to one of the basic patterns in martial art films: humiliation (of teacher and/or self), recovery, training and then revenge. Oh but what revenge.

    I'm still not sure why Lung Fei has fangs though. I'm also not sure he has them in all his scenes either. One might wonder how lucky Yu Tien-Lung was to just happened to stumble bleeding upon a brilliant sifu who just happened to have all the knowledge to not just strengthen his arm, but to also defeat the lama version of Violet Beauregard. But we can ignore the logic as we fast forward through a quick montage so we can get on with the fighting.

    Recommended for kung-fu fans. This is my favorite release of the Shout! set and the second time I have seen the film. There are two strong releases with this and Beach of the War Gods (funny enough I watched this right before seeing the battle-centric The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.) There is no English dub for this though the rest of the films have one. Not a negative for me since I'm just happy this is out and the Mandarin release sounded good to me.

    Sources:
    Unfortunately the link ahead is now defunct. I wish I copied the article. If anyone has this, or if there is another link please tell me: ONE ARMED LEGACY : How Wang Yu single-handedly created an icon. By Bey Logan
    Dr. Craig D. Reid has a nice little write-up of the film in his The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s though I'm not sure he is correct stating this is Wang Yu's first directed film after leaving Shaw Brothers (IMDB has it as such; HKMDB has two films between; OK HKFA has The Brave of the Evil listed as 1971 as well.) He states this film has about 40 percent of fighting throughout the movie.
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    Re: Hong Kong Short Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:52 pm

    Tiger’s Claw (1974: Ng Tan)
    Kung Fu Genius (1979: Wilson Tong)

    This is an interesting duo of Hong Kong independent films to watch back-to-back. First because they both star Cliff Lok but there are several things to compare against. The older one is a basher and the second one is a shapes film. When I watched Tiger’s Claw I was wondering if this is the same Cliff Lok I had seen in other films as the fighting is very sloppy and he comes off looking like he has the fighting ability of Jimmy Wang Yu (this is not a compliment.) * But when you watch the later film Kung Fu Genius you notice that his abilities are there and intact. Lok can be a little sloppy with form but he can do a lot (usually only doubled for difficult moves.)

    It is also interesting to see Lok being used as almost a clone of someone more popular in both movies. In Tiger’s Claw he seems like a Jimmy Wang Yu character (except for the ending which I do not think Wang Yu would allow at that point in his career) and in Kung Fu Genius you can easily tell the Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung influence (which you would also see in several other Cliff Lok movies.) Both are good examples of their time period and how fast the martial art movies was to change in Hong Kong. You have a serious morality play of the first film with a too cocky protagonist and you have a very silly comedy kung fu film with a too cocky protagonist in the later.

    Tiger’s Claw has the more straightforward storyline. But it is somewhat unique because it is not based on a revenge plot, but it has more of a wuxia plot in a kung fu film of a martial artist (Cliff Lok) looking to be number one in a fighting world (really one of his own creation though.) He mows people down until he hears of a great martial artist named Tiger (Sek Kin: Enter the Dragon) who is imprisoned. What does he do, yes he gets himself jailed so he can break him out. Now there is a twist to the film as well as some moral didacticism. The ending reminded me of Samurai Assassin (kudos to who have seen this) as it went along though that conclusion was by far more grim.

    Kung Fu Genius is literally about a very skilled martial arts practitioner (Cliff Lok) who is a kung fu genius and sets up his own school and proceeds to make enemies with his personality and looks (just looking at Lok makes me want to hit someone.) The difference here is that the plot is much more jumbled, the kung fu much better and comedy is added. I liked this one more because of the massive amount of fighting with a variety of real and made-up styles (already very common to do with kung fu comedies.) Some of the highlights include an iron ring (Hsiao Ho) versus long staff and fan vs. fan with the director and fight choreographer Wilson Tong. So, of course, I like this film more.

    In Kung Fu Genius when you have a sidekick/student like Cheng Kang-yeh you pretty much know what is going to happen to him in the film. Like Dean Shek he is typecast and audiences expect a not-so-good martial artist as comic relief who is going to come to some type of bad end. However his descent into madness has to be one of the great “that’s all it took” moments. This is not a steady decline like King Lear but more reminds of the suicide of the lover in Milk which was hilariously capricious though based on a real-life incident. But that leads to a later meeting of two mentally challenged martial artists which is the nadir of the film. Of course it does make one wonder how good of a teacher could Cliff Lok’s character actually be (this scenario seems to come up a lot) when your student is that untalented.

    Note: I saw the full screen version of Tiger’s Claw on the Brooklyn Zu Vol. 1 9 pack of films. It is full-screen and if you compare it to the widescreen prints available on youtube you notice about half the film is missing. It’s that bad and I easily recommend it watching on youtube. This would be a bigger crime if the film was better and the choreography had more to it. The Kung Fu Genius copy on the Great Impersonators set release is widescreen and looks great.

    * I am not the only one to state this. In The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s Dr. Reid states: “Though the fights are fast and furious, the kung fu looks sloppy, which is surprising for someone of Cliff Lok’s abilities.” Unfortunately the book does not have a capsule review for Kung Fu Genius which is by far the better film in terms of fighting choreography and should be of more interest to people here. Of course this is very reminiscent of bashers. You could mix a variety of people into the film, often with no martial art background, combine with a slapping type of fighting (not like Joe Calzaghe would actually hurt someone with that style), put it in the Republic era of China and bam you have a movie.

    Dr. Reid also notes a hilarious dubbing mistake in the film. I caught it as I kept wondering how that person could be his dad when it was only 10 years ago he was sent to prison. They later changed the time period to 20 years in the dubbing.

    Tiger’s Claw widescreen Youtube link: notice the aka Shaolin Tiger’s Claw. You will see some more scenes on this that are not in the full screen version.
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Hong Kong Short Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:53 pm

    easily top 100; probably not top 50:

    ??) Dragons Forever (1988: Sammo Hung): This was fun. It is a shame that this is not readily available here in the States as it is (so far) the last time that Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan would work together. The plot is so-so with Yuen actually outshining everyone here as a semi-psychotic paranoid friend of the three while Jackie plays the womanizer who will be redeemed by one love and Sammo as the lovelorn glue that holds the three together (he is also the director.) As you might expect it is the action sequences that outshine everything else in the film. They are awesome. For the second time you get to see Benny The Jet Urquidez (an undefeated kickboxer -- there is some controversy over one muay thai bout) spar off against Jackie Chan. One may wonder about Urquidez's eyeliner though. It does fit the 80s if he was a singing in a new wave band. Jackie liked it so much he considers it one of the best fight scenes Sammo has ever done. There are great stunts to be seen here too. Check out the straight kick in this battle.
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Hong Kong Short Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:54 pm

    Bruce Lee’s Deadly Kung Fu (1976: Chi Chang, Hua Chen) Hong Kong

    It is interesting that this is a Hong Kong release which I found on HKFA (though it uses a different Chinese title than the one on HKMDB.) I am not sure where most of this was filmed (probably Taiwan, certainly not San Francisco.)

    This is OK. I had fun with it, to a point. The plot is reductive of Way of the Dragon mixed with of Bruce Lee’s adventures in America. Now after watching The Clones of Bruce Lee this feels like quite a step up, even in washed-out full screen English dubbed mode. Strangely enough since the fights are mostly centered the cropping does not hurt the action as much. Now the kid actor, especially with the dub, is almost Sleeping Fist kid annoying (very little is annoying as the kid in The Tin Drum.) Now if the plot was not in cruise control it could have been a much better film. I am a Hwang Jang-lee fan (though I am never convinced his character could actually lose to Bruce) and it was nice to see Roy Horan and Carter Wong in it as well. With several other actual martial artists in the film you get some decent choreography (done by Wong Fei-lung) and Bruce Li comes off decently. I think I have appreciated him more after watching several Dragon Lee and Bruce Le films.

    This is written about in The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s by Dr. Craig D. Reid.
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Hong Kong Short Reviews

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:54 pm

    The Defender aka Bodyguard from Beijing (1994: Corey Yuen) Hong Kong

    I was surprised on how ultimately mediocre this was. Obviously this was influenced by 1992s The Bodyguard with a few key differences but the crux remains the same. Like the former Li is hired to bodyguard a spoiled woman (Christy Chung) who was a witness to a triad murder. They will eventually fall in love with each other.

    The shootouts were disappointing. The common mistake that bullets hit secondary characters but not main characters was prevalent (so much so that bullets which ricochet off small metal columns right in front of the characters instead of hitting their targets.) Jet Li shoots way too much and does not particularly look adept at doing it.

    There is not much fighting in the movie and the finale with Jet Li versus former Red Guard Wong (Collin Chou) disappoints. There are a few too noticeable wire uses that detract. It is also edited too quickly. But one of the most annoying aspects was the use of gas in this scene (apparently the characters have gills). It is so inexplicably stupid that is furrowed by brow. Wait I just remembered something even more idiotic. The fact that several characters could outrace bullets fired. Apparently the bullets are so incredibly slow that you could step in front of someone from a large distance to prevent them from being shot (there is one scene even worse than this, but it is a little harder to explain as well as it is a spoiler.) Another hilarious aspect was that the house that was being watched all of sudden had 30 or so thugs just appear. How do you get such a large crowd into a watched house without being noticed? I liked how many of the bodies just disappear and new cronies suddenly appear to be taken out. It is like a video game with spawning bad guys. The whole finale is a huge mess and I could write an essay on all the issues with it.

    I watched this in the Dragon Dynasty 5 Movie Collection. This is a glorified version of the Weinstein release. Not too much was cut from the original (differences here) and this comes with the Cantonese track which has the Cantonese songs that were missing from the English track so that is plus. Though the beginning and end credits are from the Weinstein release. Like with most DD releases there is a Spanish subtitle track. The movie is not a plus though.

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