Heroes of the East

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    anyone up for a challenge?

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    Cash

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    anyone up for a challenge?

    Post  Cash on Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:09 pm

    Below is a list of every film I've ever seen produced by Hong Kong. In your opinion point out my blind spots without bias to dialect, genre, or time. There are no wrong answers. Suggest 10 films or a 1,000 or more! The list has been compiled in alphabetical order for your convenience. Thank-you in advance.

    P.S. You may now all giggle behind my back at what a neophyte am. Laughing

    8 Diagram Pole Fighter, The (1984, aka "Invincible Pole Fighter")
    36th Chamber of Shaolin, The (1978, aka "Master Killer," "Shaolin Master Killer")
    2046 (2004)

    Accidental Spy, The (2001)
    Aces Go Places (1982, aka "Mad Mission")
    All About Ah Long (1989)
    All for the Winner (1990)
    All Men are Brothers (1975, aka "Seven Soldiers of Kung Fu")
    Ambush (1973)
    Armour of God (1987)
    Armour of God II: Operation Condor (1991)
    As Tears Go By (1988)
    Ashes of Time (1994)
    Autumn's Tale, The (1987, aka "An Autumn's Tale")
    Avenging Eagle, The (1978)

    Beast Cops (1998)
    Better Tomorrow, A (1986)
    Better Tomorrow II, A (1987)
    Better Tomorrow III, A (1989, aka "A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon")
    Big Boss, The (1971, aka "Fists of Fury")
    Big Brawl, The (1980, aka "Battle Creek Brawl")
    Big Bullet (1996)
    Black Cat (1991)
    Black Mask (1996)
    Blade, The (1995)
    Blood Brothers, The (1973)
    Blue Jean Monster, The (1991)
    Bodyguard from Beijing, The (1994)
    Born to Defence (1986)
    Boxer from Shantung (1972)
    Bride with White Hair, The (1993)
    Bride with White Hair 2, The (1993)
    Bullet in the Head (1990)
    Bullets Over Summer (1999)

    Casino Raiders (1989)
    Cave of the Silken Web (1967)
    Centre Stage (1992, aka "The Actress")
    C'est la Vie, Mon Cheri (1993)
    Chinatown Kid (1977)
    Chinese Boxer, The (1970)
    Chinese Feast, The (1995)
    Chinese Ghost Story, A (1987)
    Chinese Ghost Story II, A (1990)
    Chinese Ghost Story III, A (1991)
    Chungking Express (1994)
    City Hunter (1992)
    City on Fire (1987)
    Come Drink with Me (1966)
    Comrades, A Love Story (1996)
    Crime Story (1993)
    Crippled Avengers (1978, aka "Return of the Five Deadly Venoms")
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
    Cub Tiger from Kwantung (1973, aka "Little Tiger from Canton," "Master with Cracked Fingers, "Snake Fist Fighter," "Ten Fingers of Death")

    Day the Sun Turned Cold, The (1994)
    Days of Being Wild (1990)
    Dead and the Deadly, The (1983)
    Dirty Ho (1979)
    Dragon in Shaolin (1996, aka "Dragon from Shaolin")
    Dragon Lord (1982)
    Dragons Forever (1988)
    Dreadnought (1981)
    Drunken Master (1978)
    Drunken Master II (1994)
    Duel to the Death (1983)
    Dumplings (2004)

    Eagle Shooting Heroes, The (1994)
    Eastern Condor (1987)
    Election (2005)
    Encounter of the Spooky Kind (1981, aka "Close Encounters of the Spooky Kind," "Spooky Encounters")
    Erotic Ghost Story (1990)
    Eternal Evil of Asia, The (1995)
    Exiled (2006)
    Expect the Unexpected (1998)
    Eye, The (2002)

    Fallen Angels (1995)
    Fantasy Mission Force (1983)
    Farewell China (1990)
    Farewell, My Concubine (1993, aka "Farewell to My Concubine")
    Fatal Contact (2006)
    Fearless (2006)
    Fight Back to School (1991)
    First Option (1996)
    First Strike (1996, aka "Police Story 4: First Strike")
    Fist of Fury (1972, aka "The Chinese Connection")
    Fist of Legend (1994)
    Five Element Ninjas (1982, aka "Super Chinese Ninjas")
    Five Venoms, The (1978, aka "The Five Deadly Venoms")
    Fong Sai Yuk (1993, aka "The Legend of Fong Sai-yuk")
    Fong Sai Yuk II (1993)
    From Beijing with Love (1994)
    Full Alert (1997)
    Full Contact (1992)
    Full Throttle (1995)
    Fulltime Killer (2001)

    Game of Death, The (1978)
    Games Gamblers Play (1974)
    Gen-Y Cops (2001)
    God of Cookery, The (1996)
    God of Gamblers (1989)
    God of Gamblers II (1990)
    God of Gamblers III: Back to Shanghai (1991)
    God of Gamblers Return (1994)
    Golden Swallow (1968, aka "The Girl with the Thunderbolt Kick")
    Gorgeous (1999)
    Green Snake (1993)
    Gunmen (1988)

    Hand of Death, The (1976, aka "Countdown in Kung Fu," "Strike of Death")
    Happy Together (1997)
    Hard Boiled (1992)
    Have Sword, Will Travel (1969)
    Heart of the Dragon (1985, aka "First Mission")
    He's a Woman, She's a Man (1994)
    Hero (2002)
    Hero Never Dies, A (1998)
    Heroes of the East (1978, aka "Shaolin Vs. Ninja")
    Heroes Shed No Tears (1986)
    Heroic Trio, The (1993)
    High Risk (1995)
    Hitman (1998)
    Hong Kong 1941 (1984)
    House of Flying Daggers (2004)

    Iceman Cometh, The (1989)
    In the Line of Duty 4 (1989)
    In the Mood for Love (2000)
    Infernal Affairs (2002)
    Infernal Affairs II (2003)
    Infernal Affairs III (2003)
    Inner Senses (2002)
    Ip Man (2008)
    Iron Monkey (1993)

    Jackie Chan: My Stunts (1999)

    Kids from Shaolin (1984, aka "Shaolin Temple 2: Kids from Shaolin")
    Killer, The (1989)
    King Boxer (1972, aka "Five Fingers of Death")
    King Eagle (1971)
    Knock Off (1998)
    Knockabout (1979)
    Kung Fu Cult Master (1993, aka "The Evil Cult," "Lord of the Wu Tang")
    Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

    Last Hero in China (1993, aka "Deadly China Hero")
    Last Hurrah for Chivalry (1979)
    Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974, aka "Dracula and the 7 Golden Vampires")
    Legend of Zu, The (2001)
    Legendary Couple (1995, aka "Story of a Robber")
    Lifeline (1997)
    Long Arm of the Law (1984)
    Long Arm of the Law II (1987)
    Lost and Found (1996)
    Love Battlefield (2004)
    Love Me, Love My Money (2001)
    Lover of the Last Empress (1995)

    Mad Monkey Kung Fu (1979)
    Magnificent Butcher, The (1979)
    Magnificent Trio (1966)
    Magnificent Warriors (1987)
    Man from Hong Kong, The (1975, aka "Dragon Flies")
    Martial Club (1981)
    Masked Avengers (1981)
    Master, The (1992)
    Master of the Flying Guillotine, The (1975, aka "One-Armed Boxer Vs. The Flying Guillotine")
    Men Behind the Sun (1988, aka "Man Behind the Sun")
    Millionaires' Express, The (1986, aka "Shanghai Express")
    Mr. Canton and Lady Rose (1989, aka "Black Dragon," "The Canton Godfather," "Miracles")
    Mission, The (1999)
    Mr. Nice Guy (1997)
    Mr. Vampire (1985)
    Moment of Romance, A (1990)
    Moon Warriors, The (1992)
    My Father is a Hero (1995)
    My Lucky Stars (1985)
    Myth, The (2005)

    Naked Killer (1992)
    New Legend of Shaolin, The (1994)
    New One-Armed Swordsman, The (1971)
    New Police Story (2004)

    Once a Thief (1991)
    Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
    Once Upon a Time in China II (1992)
    Once Upon a Time in China III (1993)
    Once Upon a Time in China and America (1997)
    One-Armed Swordsman (1967)
    Organized Crime & Triad Bureau (1994)

    Pedicab Driver (1989)
    Peking Opera Blues (1986)
    Police Story (1985)
    Police Story Part II (1988)
    Police Story III: Supercop (1992)
    Portland Street Blues (1998)
    Powerful Four (1992)
    Prison on Fire (1987)
    Private Eyes, The (1976)
    Prodigal Son, The (1982)
    Project A (1983)
    Project A II (1987)
    PTU (2003, aka "PTU: Into the Periless Night")

    Raped by an Angel (1993, aka "Naked Killer 2")
    Red Cliff (2008)
    Red Cliff: Part 2 (2009)
    Return of the One-Armed Swordsman (1969)
    Return to the 36th Chamber (1980, aka "Return of the Master Killer")
    Righting Wrongs (1986, aka "Above the Law")
    Rob-B-Hood (2006, aka "Robin-B-Hood")
    Rouge (1988)
    Royal Tramp (1992)
    Rumble in the Bronx (1995)
    Run and Kill (1993)
    Running on Karma (2003)
    Running Out of Time (1999)

    Saviour of the Soul (1991)
    School on Fire (1988)
    Sex and Zen (1991)
    Shaolin Intruders (1983)
    Shaolin Mantis (1978, aka "Deadly Mantis")
    Shaolin Soccer (2001)
    Shaolin Temple (1982)
    Snake and Crane Arts of Shaolin (1978)
    Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (1978)
    So Close (2002)
    SPL (2005, aka "Kill Zone")
    Stone Age Warriors, The (1991)
    Storm Riders, The (1998)
    Story of Woo Viet, The (1981, aka "The God of Killers")
    Sword Stained with Royal Blood (1981)
    Swordsman (1990)
    Swordsman 2 (1992)

    Temptation of a Monk (1993)
    Temptress of a Thousand Faces (1969)
    Ten Tigers of Kwantung (1979)
    Thunderbolt (1996)
    Tiger on the Beat (1988)
    Time and Tide (2000)
    Too Many Ways to be No. 1 (1997)
    Treasure Hunt (1994)
    Twelve Gold Medallions, The (1970)
    Twin Dragons, The (1992)
    Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars (1985)

    Untold Story, The (1993)

    Valiant Ones, The (1975)
    Vengeance is a Golden Blade (1969)

    Wandering Swordsman, The (1970)
    Warlords, The (2007)
    Warriors Two (1978)
    Water Margin, The (1972, aka "Seven Blows of the Dragon")
    Way of the Dragon, The (1972, aka "Return of the Dragon")
    We're Going to Eat You (1980)
    Wheels on Meals (1984)
    When Taekwondo Strikes (1973)
    Who Am I? (1998)
    Wicked City, The (1992)
    Wing Chun (1994)
    Winners and Sinners (1983)

    Young and Dangerous (1996)
    Young and Dangerous 2 (1996)
    Young Master, The (1980)

    Zu: The Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983)




















    Last edited by Cash on Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:07 pm; edited 3 times in total
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: anyone up for a challenge?

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:42 pm

    I'll have some additions later, but I think all of use have blind spots when it comes to viewing HK films. Sometimes it is because of availability, sometimes we just miss something. Your list gives me ideas of what I need to watch in the future.

    I know you wrote produced and I tend to put coproductions sometimes with my lists when organizing (though taking them out if I'm doing top lists) though I normally don't think of Hero (2002), The Master of the Flying Guillotine, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Red Cliff as Hong Kong films (even if sometimes HKFA sneaks them on Very Happy).

    The Private Eyes is a much watch (one of the most important comedies for HK in the 70s). Always good to have Michael Hui films under your belt.
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    Cash

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    Re: anyone up for a challenge?

    Post  Cash on Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:51 pm

    "The Private Eyes" was a gross oversight on my part a la "Rouge." I have now updated my list to include them both. Hopefully this thread will proceed without further incident.

    My criteria for what was included (and excluded) is a tad dubious and open to debate I will admit but I generally listed films wholly produced by Hong Kong or Cantonese language co-productions or mainland films with cast and crew from the former colony.

    I look forward to your recommendations.
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    Brian T

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    Re: anyone up for a challenge?

    Post  Brian T on Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:38 am

    I'll be chiming in on this shortly as well. Great discussion starter, by the way. Hopefully more than just the three of us will be discussing it as time goes on, but it is a rather small crowd hereabouts.

    I've deliberately taken myself out of the Hong Kong cinema loop for the past couple of years to focus on getting my general movie experience more finely-tuned, so any suggestions I make will likely be for pre-2009 pictures at the very least (with possible nods to HK films screened at TIFF right up to 2011).

    Your list is pretty impressive, but if I had to make one mild criticism—and it's one that could be leveled at the vast majority of people reviewing HK cinema on the web this past decade—it would be that it hews pretty closely to a sort of "these are the HK films you should see" list, a list that western fans of Hong Kong cinema helped to shape over the years, with the inevitable heavy lean towards action films of one stripe or another. That's fine in and of itself—those are the kinds of pictures that put Hong Kong on the international map to a large extent—but I'm pretty sure there are some gaps there that could be filled with interesting movies of equal, lesser or greater acclaim, if not greater meaningfulness to the city of Hong Kong itself. Smile

    As for the China-Hong Kong split, I agree that co-productions are generally OK considering how much cross-financing is going on these days. Hell, even some China-only movies these days have so many Hong Kong pros working on them it's hard to leave them out of the bigger picture of Hong Kong cinema.

    I'll second Shawn's recommendation of PRIVATE EYES. In fact, I strongly suggest watching all five of the core Hui Brothers movies, preferably in release order so you can chart the evolution of their unique brand and better appreciate its influence on HK comedy for years afterward: GAMES GAMBLERS PLAY, THE LAST MESSAGE, THE PRIVATE EYES, THE CONTRACT and SECURITY UNLIMITED. Their two later pictures CHICKEN & DUCK TALK (Sam Hui's barely in this one) and THE FRONT PAGE are OK as well, but are ultimately more typical of HK-style comedy of the late 80's.



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    Cash

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    Re: anyone up for a challenge?

    Post  Cash on Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:06 pm

    I've deliberately taken myself out of the Hong Kong cinema loop for the past couple of years to focus on getting my general movie experience more finely-tuned, so any suggestions I make will likely be for pre-2009 pictures at the very least (with possible nods to HK films screened at TIFF right up to 2011).

    I've pretty much moved in the same direction. Aside from maybe the latest Milkyway Image offering or Stephen Chow's new project little if anything from the former British colony even makes me blink. Judging by the marketing its all bubblegum, CGI, and the waring states these days. By the early aughts I fled and took refuge with the once very promising South Korean new wave. How Ross Chen reviews new Hong Kong films month after month is beyond me.

    Your list is pretty impressive, but if I had to make one mild criticism—and it's one that could be leveled at the vast majority of people reviewing HK cinema on the web this past decade—it would be that it hews pretty closely to a sort of "these are the HK films you should see" list, a list that western fans of Hong Kong cinema helped to shape over the years, with the inevitable heavy lean towards action films of one stripe or another. That's fine in and of itself—those are the kinds of pictures that put Hong Kong on the international map to a large extent—but I'm pretty sure there are some gaps there that could be filled with interesting movies of equal, lesser or greater acclaim, if not greater meaningfulness to the city of Hong Kong itself.

    And it's a fair criticism. I, like some many other enthusiasts from rural America, was first introduced to Hong Kong cinema via "Rumble in the Bronx" when it was released stateside in 1996 and with the growing popularity of the internet around the same time suddenly became aware of Hong Kong cinema...as defined by the books available, the newsgroups with regular contributors, and the popular websites (all of which I lived and breathed at that time).

    I'll second Shawn's recommendation of PRIVATE EYES. In fact, I strongly suggest watching all five of the core Hui Brothers movies, preferably in release order so you can chart the evolution of their unique brand and better appreciate its influence on HK comedy for years afterward: GAMES GAMBLERS PLAY, THE LAST MESSAGE, THE PRIVATE EYES, THE CONTRACT and SECURITY UNLIMITED. Their two later pictures CHICKEN & DUCK TALK (Sam Hui's barely in this one) and THE FRONT PAGE are OK as well, but are ultimately more typical of HK-style comedy of the late 80's.

    Whoops! I updated my list but still left off "The Private Eyes." To settle further mention -- I quite enjoyed it. Wink
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    Brian T

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    Re: anyone up for a challenge?

    Post  Brian T on Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:02 am

    Cash wrote:Whoops! I updated my list but still left off "The Private Eyes." To settle further mention -- I quite enjoyed it. Wink
    This is partly my bad. I must've skimmed your second post too quickly and thus missed the fact you'd added PRIVATE EYES to your list. I see GAMES GAMBLERS PLAY is there as well, but I don't see the other three (or five), so get crackin'! Laughing


    Cash wrote:I've pretty much moved in the same direction. Aside from maybe the latest Milkyway Image offering or Stephen Chow's new project little if anything from the former British colony even makes me blink. Judging by the marketing its all bubblegum, CGI, and the waring states these days. By the early aughts I fled and took refuge with the once very promising South Korean new wave. How Ross Chen reviews new Hong Kong films month after month is beyond me.
    I think Ross Chen came up in another thread here. Someone noted that he got all mopey on Twitter about some ancient post in the HKMDB forums (most likely one of mine) regarding his near-constant negativity. I even reactivated my own Twitter account to stand behind what I wrote. Frankly, I grew tired even then of Chen's disliking of virtually everything the city's filmmakers were producing and, back when I was still watching HK movies regularly, I often found myself vehemently disagreeing with his opinions (as did local audiences in many cases). He turns people off of Hong Kong cinema more than he turns them on to it. This isn't to say that everything coming out of Hong Kong the past few years is cinematic gold, but really, was it ever? To read a general consensus in the west seemingly since the dawn of the internet is to believe that Hong Kong's greatest movies were all made pre-1997, and that the majority of productions since then have neither been able to measure up to their predecessors nor compete with Hollywood (as if they ever could!). I just don't think that's true, and it goes back to my previous comment about there being a sort of master list of "HK films you simply must see" floating thanks to years of western fandom and populist books by people like Bey Logan and Stefan Hammond. And we've all probably seen most of these movies. But it's so far from a complete picture. Which is why I think your challenge is a good idea . . .

    Incidentally, the reasons for my self-imposed exile (or whatever) were not quite the same as yours, which might mean suggestions I make in this thread going forward will be met with scoff or three. I never grew tired of Hong Kong cinema. Everything still makes me blink, if not metaphorically salivate on occasion. I simply felt that my knowledge of world cinema in general was inadequate and decided to go on a bender to bring it up to snuff as best I could. Thus my rather lengthy lists of library sign-outs and other screenings in the "now watching" thread. It's already expanded the context in which I can place the Hong Kong films I watch when I return to the fold. Another part of it might simply be aging too, and being cinematically wiser than I was a decade ago, by default.

    That said, I still buy every Hong Kong movie that comes out, either on DVD or (don't laugh) VCD. A lot of Chinese stuff, too. So much so that I've had to store much of it at another location just so I don't look like a damned hoarder! Laughing Living in Chinese-heavy Toronto certainly makes it easy to keep up, as there are still a few legit CD/DVD retailers plugging away here even as the bootleggers find their numbers dwindling thanks to the interwebs. Prices on legit stuff drop fairly quickly as well, and there are still countless bargains to be had on the back shelves. If I have missed a title or two, well, there's always YouTube! Smile

    I think your impression of contemporary HK cinema as being all "bubblegum, CGI and warring states" is worth exploring:

    1. For my money, Hong Kong has been producing some of the most consistent bubblegum movies in the world since the 1960's (at least) and I pray they never stop. They're part of the soul of Hong Kong cinema (and music, for that matter). They sold tickets then, they sell them now (albeit in lesser quantities). Another Wong Jing assembly-line comedy with dirty old men chasing young babes in bikinis?. Sold! Another "love sucks" teen soap from Patrick Kong?. Count me in. Another pan-Asian 7.1 multi-lingual action fest with bad English and dodgy science from Dante Lam?. I'm hooked! They might all suck, but they're all so unique to Hong Kong cinema and deserve to be graded on a scale that somewhat ignores what Hollywood is doing.

    2. CGI is the new norm. I enjoy seeing it in Hong Kong cinema just as I do in movies from everywhere else, and I'm forgiving when budget-conscious HK computer effects don't rival the rendering factories of Hollywood. Most reviewers of Hong Kong cinema (including Ross Chen) who poo-poo the computer effects in Chinese or Hong Kong movies (even the silly comedies) inevitably make the mistake of comparing it—either implicitly or explicitly—to the work they see coming out of Hollywood, instead of contemplating it as part of the evolution of effects work in Hong Kong cinema which, as anywhere else, has only gotten better with time, not worse.

    3. The warring states-type pictures are largely mainland Chinese productions (with injections of HK talent and/or partial funding). There is indeed too many of them. But, like Hollywood, new technologies enable ever grander retellings of historical events. I do wonder if even Chinese audiences will grow tired of them at some point.

    As I mentioned, I'm a bit pseudo-OCD in that I buy every new HK release. When I get them home, I often give some of them a quick flip-through just to see what the visuals look like, who's in 'em, the general tone of the acting, how much of the city is on view, etc. I usually like what I see, and I get anxious: the urge is so strong just to chapter back to the beginning and watch 'em straight through, pen and notebook in hand. But I gotta resist a while longer. Weird, I know . . . Laughing


    Cash wrote:And it's a fair criticism. I, like some many other enthusiasts from rural America, was first introduced to Hong Kong cinema via "Rumble in the Bronx" when it was released stateside in 1996 and with the growing popularity of the internet around the same time suddenly became aware of Hong Kong cinema...as defined by the books available, the newsgroups with regular contributors, and the popular websites (all of which I lived and breathed at that time).
    You and me both, mate! Cool
    (except that my introduction as ACES GO PLACES 2, via an old dubbed VHS tape around 1990.)


    .
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: anyone up for a challenge?

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:54 pm

    I should probably eventually put a list together of all the HK films I've seen Very Happy. I've wanted to do that for a few years and maybe make a listsofbests list of it.

    I actually like film canons. They vary in use depending on who (or group) has done them, but there are definitely a few out there that are worth looking into. Especially if there is commentary along with it. Often these canons do indeed miss important (or semi-important) films, but they do bring discussion to the table.

    My top 50 HK Films
    HKFA Top 103 Films


    I agree with Brian that there have been some great HK films since 1997, but then Cash has seem some of them. I'll also reiterate that many hardcore fans still miss out on plenty of the good-to-great films that are from HK. Part of this is because of availability. I still haven't seen A Chinese Ghost Story for this reason.

    One of the reasons I tend to take off coproductions is that many of them tend to have different asthetics and rules (especially if you work with the Mainland now) to filming than Hong Kong films have. Sometimes this gets sticky, but it is an interesting topic regardless. But, it is very important to study films from Mainland and Taiwan for many of the reasons Brian listed earlier.

    Some quick picks of films not mentioned in the first post:

    The Odd One Dies (1997: Patrick Yau Tat-chi): Johnnie To also did a lot of direction on this film on this film as well. I love misanthropic loners and add a bit of good luck to the mix and you get a quirky black comedy that sometimes feels like a Wong Kar-wai film (especially in Takeshi Kaneshiro's character Mo), sometimes feels like a Johnnie To film but ultimately it is just a strange fun film. It is easy to see it as an allegory for the upcoming handover to China, but you can see it as a parable of Hong Kong youth as well. But the biggest lesson learned from this movie is what not to do when someone tries to stab you.

    horror:
    The Boxer’s Omen (1983: Kuei Chih-hung)
    Human Lanterns (1982: Sun Chung)
    Story of Ricky (1992, Hong Kong, Lam Nai-Choi)
    (Brian would also suggest Black Magic 2, I'm still not sure how I feel on that one)

    1950s realist cinema:
    An Orphan’s Tragedy (1955: Chu Kei)
    (some also recommend The Kid (1950), though I was less enthused by this one)

    Martial arts (I could come up with many more):
    The Delightful Forest (1972: Pao Hsueh-li, Chang Cheh): Another film like The Magic Blade that I had not heard much on and currently cannot find much on the history of it. When it finally came out on R1 I was not expecting much and got a beautifully brutal ode to chambara from Chang Cheh and Pao Hsueh-li. The ending is so over-the-top you think it must have been influenced by Sword of Doom (1966). Ti Lung reprises his role as Wu Sung he previously played in The Water Margin (1972) about a powerful Kung Fu artist who killed a tiger with a single punch. He is one of HK’s better actors from this time and he has a bad-ass panache that tends to be quite believable. This movie has quite a good chance of being higher on this list after another viewing.

    Johnnie To:
    Sparrow (2008: Johnnie To): I love this French Influenced Johnnie To film which is a mixture of Jean-Pierre Melville, Francis Truffaut, Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Bresson's Pickpocket. This is quite a bit different than most of To's films (though it does have some resemblance to Yesterday Once More (2004)), but it still contains many of his auteur themes such as team work and redemption. The climax duel of the pickpockets is one of the best directed scenes I have seen in quite a long time and the team's bicycle ride is quite unique as well. Sparrow has beautiful use of location as well and was partially made to be a time capsule to show the splendor of older Hong Kong.

    Anita Mui (someone I need to watch more of):
    July Rhapsody (2002: Ann Hui): My first and currently only Ann Hui film I have seen. I certainly need to improve my knowledge of Cantonese social dramas and she is often considered on the most important. While the film starts slowly dealing with a laborious and languid aspect of relationship malaise it eventually becomes an emotionally fascinating tale of interpersonal problems. This film is a mix of Bresson-influenced acting style (this is one scene at the end of the film which is analogous to the end of Pickpocket) with a camera style that is less austere and more Wong Kar-wai. It would be Anita Mui's last performance before her death from cervical cancer.

    ------------------------

    I have more but I don't want to overdo it, plus the many more I have tend to be action-oriented Very Happy, with horror and comedy thrown in. I'm glad Brian rementioned The Contract one of my favorite Hui films.
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    Cash

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    Re: anyone up for a challenge?

    Post  Cash on Wed Dec 21, 2011 5:30 am

    I think Ross Chen came up in another thread here. Someone noted that he got all mopey on Twitter about some ancient post in the HKMDB forums (most likely one of mine) regarding his near-constant negativity.

    He did and you're not the first to voice frustration over Chen's negativity. I've always found his reviews a bit long-in-the-tooth for my tastes so I stick to reading his synopses which have often left me with the impression Chen either feels the majority of films released in post handover Hong Kong are a mixed bag or every cloud has a silver lining. I've never thought, however, that he's closed the book on the industry. On his site he gives 200 recommendations and 41% are from 1997 or after. As for me personally, I've interacted with him briefly a few times and he's always been kind and encouraging. A couple of years ago he even quoted me on his blog and I appreciated that.

    I even reactivated my own Twitter account to stand behind what I wrote.

    I know -- I'm following you. Write SOMETHING...ANYTHING!

    He turns people off of Hong Kong cinema more than he turns them on to it.

    I think a lot of people moved on way before LoveHKFilm ever launched and eventually became the web's largest and most visited Hong Kong film review site.

    This isn't to say that everything coming out of Hong Kong the past few years is cinematic gold, but really, was it ever? To read a general consensus in the west seemingly since the dawn of the internet is to believe that Hong Kong's greatest movies were all made pre-1997, and that the majority of productions since then have neither been able to measure up to their predecessors nor compete with Hollywood (as if they ever could!).

    It depends on how one defines "cinematic gold." In my mind -- and I don't think I'm alone here -- films such as "A Better Tomorrow," "Once Upon a Time in China," "Police Story," "Peking Opera Blues" and many more are gold. And there was a time when Hong Kong was the David to our Goliath. A number of notable Hollywood blockbusters flopped right and left on the colony until "Jurassic Park" rampaged through the domestic market in 1993.

    I empathize that a lot of prevailing Western attitudes shape world views (often negatively) and I don't necessarily disagree that Westerners like myself have all but quit on the industry but I remember a time in post handover Hong Kong when we were still interested. We still wanted to know what Jackie would do next, everyone was talking about the latest Milkway offering, and "Shaolin Soccer" and "Infernal Affairs" were proof there was hope.

    I just don't think that's true, and it goes back to my previous comment about there being a sort of master list of "HK films you simply must see" floating thanks to years of western fandom and populist books by people like Bey Logan and Stefan Hammond. And we've all probably seen most of these movies. But it's so far from a complete picture. Which is why I think your challenge is a good idea . . .

    I understand this frustration and it was in-part my motive for creating this thread. What great films came out of the golden age that no one ever talks about? What films came out of the golden age that are on everyone's list but not on mine? And finally, what films have come out since the handover that are truly worth tracking down?

    And to be fair to populist authors the largest grossing pre-handover Hong Kong films (adjusted for inflation) as well as ones the industry and citizens voted as their favorites of the millennium in separate polls were by and large films found on all of fan boys' lists over here.

    Incidentally, the reasons for my self-imposed exile (or whatever) were not quite the same as yours, which might mean suggestions I make in this thread going forward will be met with scoff or three. I never grew tired of Hong Kong cinema. Everything still makes me blink, if not metaphorically salivate on occasion. I simply felt that my knowledge of world cinema in general was inadequate and decided to go on a bender to bring it up to snuff as best I could. Thus my rather lengthy lists of library sign-outs and other screenings in the "now watching" thread. It's already expanded the context in which I can place the Hong Kong films I watch when I return to the fold. Another part of it might simply be aging too, and being cinematically wiser than I was a decade ago, by default.

    It is unreal how the older you get, the more films you see, the more your reactions change. I remember a number of films I saw a decade ago that I both praised and dismissed and how much my viewpoints changed when I revisited a lot of those films a decade later.

    1. For my money, Hong Kong has been producing some of the most consistent bubblegum movies in the world since the 1960's (at least) and I pray they never stop. They're part of the soul of Hong Kong cinema (and music, for that matter). They sold tickets then, they sell them now (albeit in lesser quantities). Another Wong Jing assembly-line comedy with dirty old men chasing young babes in bikinis?. Sold! Another "love sucks" teen soap from Patrick Kong?. Count me in. Another pan-Asian 7.1 multi-lingual action fest with bad English and dodgy science from Dante Lam?. I'm hooked! They might all suck, but they're all so unique to Hong Kong cinema and deserve to be graded on a scale that somewhat ignores what Hollywood is doing.

    Good point. Perhaps I was critiquing the bubblegum of yesterday verse the bubblegum of today? I think there's something worth juxtaposing there.

    2. CGI is the new norm. I enjoy seeing it in Hong Kong cinema just as I do in movies from everywhere else, and I'm forgiving when budget-conscious HK computer effects don't rival the rendering factories of Hollywood. Most reviewers of Hong Kong cinema (including Ross Chen) who poo-poo the computer effects in Chinese or Hong Kong movies (even the silly comedies) inevitably make the mistake of comparing it—either implicitly or explicitly—to the work they see coming out of Hollywood, instead of contemplating it as part of the evolution of effects work in Hong Kong cinema which, as anywhere else, has only gotten better with time, not worse.

    And that new standard is a bit vexing for me across the board; not just in Hong Kong. Ironically, CGI often scratches the magician especially in horror films. I miss the days when Hong Kong filmmakers had to get cute with the budgets they were given to work with. I also miss a time in the industry when the performers -- mainly martial artists -- were the special effect.

    3. The warring states-type pictures are largely mainland Chinese productions (with injections of HK talent and/or partial funding). There is indeed too many of them. But, like Hollywood, new technologies enable ever grander retellings of historical events. I do wonder if even Chinese audiences will grow tired of them at some point.

    I agree, it's just that they seem to have over saturated the market.

    As I mentioned, I'm a bit pseudo-OCD in that I buy every new HK release. When I get them home, I often give some of them a quick flip-through just to see what the visuals look like, who's in 'em, the general tone of the acting, how much of the city is on view, etc. I usually like what I see, and I get anxious: the urge is so strong just to chapter back to the beginning and watch 'em straight through, pen and notebook in hand. But I gotta resist a while longer. Weird, I know . . . Laughing

    Indeed some of the visuals have improved a great deal. The handful of films I've seen come out of Hong Kong over the last couple years look pretty sharp (especially compared to the VHS tapes I have of older films). It's just that there's that unique magic these films once seemed to posses that I and so many others have noticed is now gone. No, I can't expect certain performers and entertainers to remain ageless or even to keep their schtick fresh until the day they bow out...but I miss the golden age of Hong Kong filmmaking a great deal.
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: anyone up for a challenge?

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:49 am

    Cash wrote:...And to be fair to populist authors the largest grossing pre-handover Hong Kong films (adjusted for inflation) as well as ones the industry and citizens voted as their favorites of the millennium in separate polls were by and large films found on all of fan boys' lists over here. ...

    Surprisingly not necessarily true. I made a list of top grossing 80s films (not sure if I posted here) not adjusted for inflation and you get some films that were wildly popular but not necessarily known outside of HK. Here is the link (if I haven't posted this before I will soon). The top grossing film for HK for a long period was with HK dollars 37,090,776 The Eighth Happiness. While it is a film worth watching, it is not a classic with one of the strangest Chow Yun-fat performances I have ever seen. While there are certainly many films that we have all seen, there are interesting ones like It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World and The Greatest Lover (1988) that are usually not mentioned as much. Of course if you wanted to finish this list you would have to watch the rest of the Aces Go Places series (I'm a big fan of II, not not as much of the rest of them including 97 Aces Go Places Very Happy).

    I need to do a BO list of the 90s Smile.

    Cash wrote:It is unreal how the older you get, the more films you see, the more your reactions change. I remember a number of films I saw a decade ago that I both praised and dismissed and how much my viewpoints changed when I revisited a lot of those films a decade later.

    I don't change my opinion as much anymore (I believe Brian is similar to this), so I'm more surprised by a revisit when I do (personal example Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas which I liked more the second time).

    Personally I tend to more in the middle and take a pragmatic approach. I try to find the good parts as well as be critical of what I can (though giving more weight in the analysis to where I think it needs to go).

    On the period pieces from the coproductions:

    Oh my have they over-saturated them. While there is definitely some good work among them, they really tend to overdo a particular formula of nationalism, xenophobia, special effects, battle scenes, etc... I should give them a break, but they keep coming out on R1 releases Very Happy. With the period pieces the filmmakers could use them to be more politically daring (funny how some of the 5th generation filmmakers like Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige were much more politically daring then these later filmmakers, but yes more money is involved now and it seems more censorship). There are some that do take some risks like the anti-war plot of Battle of the Warriors (2006: Jacob Cheung Chi-leung) or the pro-democracy of Bodyguards and Assassins (2009: Teddy Chan) but both of those still fit many other formulas that have been repeated Ad Nauseum with these genre films.
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    Brian T

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    Re: anyone up for a challenge?

    Post  Brian T on Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:10 pm

    I started composing this hours ago, but work intervened, so apologies if I'm repeating anything Shawn might have said . . .


    Cash wrote:He did and you're not the first to voice frustration over Chen's negativity. I've always found his reviews a bit long-in-the-tooth for my tastes so I stick to reading his synopses which have often left me with the impression Chen either feels the majority of films released in post handover Hong Kong are a mixed bag or every cloud has a silver lining . . .

    I find most internet reviewers are long in the tooth. I generally exclude paid, professional critics from that group as they have the benefit of editors, whereas the title of "editor" at most DVD review sites is virtually an honorary one when you see some of torturously long-winded and grammatically-stunted material that gets posted.

    I do appreciate Chen's use of "the skinny" to summarize his thoughts. It's a technique he probably swiped from Variety, where it's done to perfection as far as I'm concerned. Their summaries are slightly longer than Chen's, but it's amazing how much useful info is often packed into them. They could compile a very handy quick-reference guide (a la Leonard Maltin's book) just by collecting their summaries in one big volume.

    To me, it feels like Chen believe that every silver lining MUST have a cloud, and not the other way around. Laughing In truth, I rarely see any film, from anywhere, that deserves nothing but fawning praise, but like nearly all reviewers who came into existence during the internet era, he seems duty bound to make nearly every review an equal mix of pros and cons (or cons and pros!), which can potentially leave newcomers and veteran fans alike wondering if anything is really worth bothering with. But maybe that's just me . . .

    Those recommendation numbers to give me hope. Perhaps I just have a knack for clicking on links to reviews of movies he either dislikes or which leave him indifferent. Pretty sure I don't, but maybe I've missed some of his raves.

    I do agree that Chen never turned his back on HK cinema, and I give him full props for that, despite his regular threats to toss in the towel. But it would be nice if he lowered his nose toward it a bit more often, especially some of the crass, populist stuff that has made it so unique for decades. It doesn't compare to almost any other cinema on earth.


    Cash wrote:I think a lot of people moved on way before LoveHKFilm ever launched and eventually became the web's largest and most visited Hong Kong film review site.
    This wouldn't be the case if the HKMDB was run properly.

    We were once told that the site generated the most traffic of any HK- or Asian-film related site (I do recall seeing some stats to verify it at one point). Different story the last few years, unfortunately. For example, I just Googled "Police Story Jackie Chan", and the film's HKMDB listing was on the FIFTEENTH page of results. Who even trawls through that many pages of search results? LoveHKFilm's review, which doesn't even have complete production information, is on the first page, of course. And I don't believe it got there strictly on searches alone. There are ways to make sure your site stays on top, but they require routine vigilance.


    Cash wrote:I know -- I'm following you. Write SOMETHING...ANYTHING!
    I do. Here. Wink

    When I'm (hopefully) back to watching and reviewing HK movies on a more permanent basis, I really hope to utilize Twitter (in unison with a blog or website of some kind).

    Until then, I really don't have anything to new to say about 98% of the (non-HK) stuff I'm watching because, as I mentioned, I'm simply filling in long-standing gaps in my personal cinema experience, albeit on an expedited schedule, with films that have been analyzed and reviewed so heavily that there's simply not much if anything I can add to the existing consensus. You'll also notice the majority of my rankings for these recent viewings are in the 7 to 9 range. It's not that I'm generous with my ratings, it's that I'm actively seeking out generally highly-rated or otherwise key films from many eras, genres and countries. The cream of the crop, I suppose. Plus the usual drive-in fare to keep me grounded. Laughing

    Hong Kong movies are a somewhat different situation for me. Sure, we can all find copious reviews of the films on that "must see" list that I referenced previously, but I'm sitting on a metric ton of films (as are Bjørn/"Bearserk" in Norway and Alex/"Teddy Wong" in Israel, those lucky bastards!) for which reviews are either scarce or literally non-existent, as well as countless video productions which absolutely must be considered in any greater critical overview, but which have been uniformly ignored up to now (except when someone ridicules them because they're not filmed productions).


    Cash wrote:It depends on how one defines "cinematic gold." In my mind -- and I don't think I'm alone here -- films such as "A Better Tomorrow," "Once Upon a Time in China," "Police Story," "Peking Opera Blues" and many more are gold.
    They are indeed. Quintessential gold, in fact!

    And so are (off the top of my head) ECHOES OF THE RAINBOW, A SIMPLE LIFE, MERRY-GO-ROUND (2001), LEAVING IN SORROW, LOVE @ FIRST NOTE, 6 AM, GOLDEN CHICKEN 1/2 and countless post-handover films (there's eight more recommendations for you, by the way!), but reviews in English are scarce, and purported "fans" of HK cinema continue to avoid stuff that doesn't feature the elements they've come to associate with and expect from Hong Kong cinema: action, martial arts and horror. Thus, you can safely assume that what they do see and/or review is often evaluated within a very narrow framework, which naturally places the review in doubt because of the limited accumulated experience of the reviewer, at least in my eyes.


    Cash wrote:I understand this frustration and it was in-part my motive for creating this thread. What great films came out of the golden age that no one ever talks about? What films came out of the golden age that are on everyone's list but not on mine? And finally, what films have come out since the handover that are truly worth tracking down?
    See my previous paragraph! More will follow, I'm sure. Wink


    Cash wrote:And to be fair to populist authors the largest grossing pre-handover Hong Kong films (adjusted for inflation) as well as ones the industry and citizens voted as their favorites of the millennium in separate polls were by and large films found on all of fan boys' lists over here.
    And yet I've still come across some fantastic cinema that, as far as I know, made neither of those lists nor turned up in the more populist books (scholarly books, yes and no), which to me suggests a possible case of like following like, so to speak. Plenty of movies clearly fall through the cracks in such surveys (limited releases, box-office failure but later reappraisal, etc.) Hopefully as this thread progresses, I can recommend some more goodies . . .


    Cash wrote:It is unreal how the older you get, the more films you see, the more your reactions change. I remember a number of films I saw a decade ago that I both praised and dismissed and how much my viewpoints changed when I revisited a lot of those films a decade later.
    I can understand this, but I can't entirely subscribe to it. However, I've seen a lot of older movies in the past five or ten years that, had I seen them when I was in my teens or 20's, I might not have fully appreciated. This is why, even then, I consciously put them on the backburner (after having caught a few minutes on TV in most cases) because I knew I was out of my element. I wish a lot of young web reviewers out there would consider doing the same. Once you see one about-face, you have to question nearly everything they've written. It's better to get it right the first time, and have your opinion waver slightly, one way or the other in the ensuing years. But even Roger Ebert has been known to do a complete turnaround (though rarely), so who's to say what's right?


    Cash wrote:Good point. Perhaps I was critiquing the bubblegum of yesterday verse the bubblegum of today? I think there's something worth juxtaposing there.
    I do think the bubblegum of today is very much the natural progression of the bubblegum of yesterday, only subject to market forces (like fewer productons, smaller budgets and the limitations associated with staying local, ), but hopefully we'll do more juxtaposing as time goes on, but


    Cash wrote:And that new standard is a bit vexing for me across the board; not just in Hong Kong. Ironically, CGI often scratches the magician especially in horror films. I miss the days when Hong Kong filmmakers had to get cute with the budgets they were given to work with. I also miss a time in the industry when the performers -- mainly martial artists -- were the special effect.
    I kinda miss those days too, but even in that bygone era many of those martial artists (or "martial artists")—some of whom were no more formally trained than many of today's young HK idols—were still enhanced with special effects, expert choreographers and patented Hong Kong editing trickery of one kind or another. It wasn't always so pure as people remember it, though it was definitely more low-tech and human-labour-intensive than what came later. It's like how people sometimes lamented the wire-fu that supposedly "took over" HK action cinema in the 80's and 90's, and yet I've seen clips from 50's, 60's and 70's martial arts movies where the technique was clearly employed. They just found better and more inventive ways to utilize it, then it died out for a while, and now it's back with a vengeance thanks to . . . CGI. "Look ma, no wires!"

    I still marvel at the practical effects in old movies (from anywhere). I grew up watching models, miniatures, monster costumes, puppets, gory makeup and countless optical illusions, and when the story, performances, production value and direction were of a high-enough standard, it was easy to switch off that part of my brain that knew how it was all done. It's still the same. The only dodgy period was in that narrow transitional period from practical to CGI, where some filmmakers dreamed too big for the computer processors to keep up, and the results were occasionally heartbreaking. Today, though, I absolutely relish seeing the big popcorn blockbusters on the big screen. This past summer, I made concerted efforts to see THOR, X-MEN, SUPER 8, GREEN LANTERN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4 and TRANSFORMERS 3. I was dazzled and largely convinced by the copious computer generated imagery in all of them, even when the screenwriting sometimes left my brain bleeding (as it did with TRANSFORMERS and GREEN LANTERN). None of these movies could have been done justice 20 - 25 years ago. Oh, they could've been made, and they might've been blockbusters with top-shelf special effects, but 20 years later they'd simply be products of their era. I honstely believe the time to criticize contemporary CGI effects against the practical effects of some of the all-time cinema greats has come to pass, no matter how fondly we all may remember the latter, or even how well they hold up all these years later. I think this goes for Hong Kong cinema effects work as well. Computer effects have allowed Hong Kong filmmakers, like any others, to paint on larger, more elaborate canvasses. And just as in Hollywood, some of them are hampered by budgets or the limitations or inexperience of their FX designers or even their directors, but this was likewise true 30 years ago. For every ZU, there's probably five no-budget schlockfests with anemic special effects that were years out of date even then. But it's all worth watching, at least once.


    Cash wrote:It's just that there's that unique magic these films once seemed to posses that I and so many others have noticed is now gone.
    The list in your first post is weighted more heavily toward pre-1997 movies than post, and the majority (but not all!) of the post-97, post-millennium movies that are on it are genre productions, many of which were released in R1 by distributors who've been cherry picking just such easily-marketed products for decades. Stick to too much of that stuff, and always view it with the "golden age" in the back of your mind, and I suppose it could seem like the magic has disappeared.

    I think the magic is still there, and it's as uniquely Hong Kong as it ever was, but obviously it doesn't happen with the same wild abandon as it used to, which means it sometimes has to be teased out through trial and error. Hell, movies made in Hong Kong already have a certain magic built in, the place is just so photogenic. Perhaps you just need help finding it again, and appreciating it within contemporary contexts (the old "that was then, this is now" routine), which is why I think this thread might be interesting in the long run. Might take me awhile because of my silly sabbatical, but I'll do what I can.


    Cash wrote:but I miss the golden age of Hong Kong filmmaking a great deal.
    Me too, but they're still plugging away, and in the long run I don't want Ross Chen to be the only guy who can claim he kept up with them . . . Wink


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    Brian T

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    Re: anyone up for a challenge?

    Post  Brian T on Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:38 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Surprisingly not necessarily true. I made a list of top grossing 80s films (not sure if I posted here) not adjusted for inflation and you get some films that were wildly popular but not necessarily known outside of HK. Here is the link (if I haven't posted this before I will soon). The top grossing film for HK for a long period was with HK dollars 37,090,776 The Eighth Happiness. While it is a film worth watching, it is not a classic with one of the strangest Chow Yun-fat performances I have ever seen. While there are certainly many films that we have all seen, there are interesting ones like It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World and The Greatest Lover (1988) that are usually not mentioned as much. Of course if you wanted to finish this list you would have to watch the rest of the Aces Go Places series (I'm a big fan of II, not not as much of the rest of them including 97 Aces Go Places Very Happy).

    Glad you brought this up. Again, I think these "best-of lists"—especially as they exist in the west and on the web—are compiled by fans who may not realize how limited their scope is with regards to Hong Kong cinema in all of its permutations, and are possibly parroting each other down through the ages. The MAD, MAD WORLD films are a perfect example of films that don't seem to make many such lists, or get written up too heavily in either the populist or scholarly books that I'm aware of, but really should be seen for a better understanding of the city, it's people, and even it's prejudices(!). The first one is absolutely essential viewing (my rank: 9/10). The second one is mean spirited and demonstrates a staggering ignorance of foreign cultures, and presents its prejudices with absolutely no irony, indicating the filmmakers share the sentiments of the main characters (my ranking: 2/10). But it's box-office success makes deeper analysis something of a necessity. The third one is more akin to the first, but the social commentary lacks real sting this time around, seemingly on purpose since windfalls of money are always just around the corner. Collectively, they should give a viewer something interesting to chew on. I haven't seen the fourth one yet, but I do own it.

    ACES II is far and away the best of that series. To me, the first two ACES are absolutely ideal Hong Kong films, and thus essential. PARTS III and V are not without their gonzo charms. PART IV was unnecessarily grim compared to the first three, and 97 ACES is below-average; worth viewing with lowered expectations as it doesn't really do anything new with the concept, nor does it honor the magic of the original series.

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    Cash

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    Re: anyone up for a challenge?

    Post  Cash on Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:42 pm

    Gentlemen, my sincere apologizes for not keeping up with the very thread I started. Apparently, my e-mail notifications shut off at some point and during the busy holiday season I haven't been able to stop by otherwise. Anyways, I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


    Surprisingly not necessarily true. I made a list of top grossing 80s films (not sure if I posted here) not adjusted for inflation and you get some films that were wildly popular but not necessarily known outside of HK. Here is the link (if I haven't posted this before I will soon). The top grossing film for HK for a long period was with HK dollars 37,090,776 The Eighth Happiness. While it is a film worth watching, it is not a classic with one of the strangest Chow Yun-fat performances I have ever seen. While there are certainly many films that we have all seen, there are interesting ones like It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World and The Greatest Lover (1988) that are usually not mentioned as much. Of course if you wanted to finish this list you would have to watch the rest of the Aces Go Places series (I'm a big fan of II, not not as much of the rest of them including 97 Aces Go Places Very Happy).

    God Bless Google (in this instance). I just discovered the page containing the aforementioned lists was in fact archived. Ironically, it was from my old thankfully now defunct Geocities Hong Kong review site.

    In a recent poll the Hong Kong film industry voted for their ten favorite films of the millennium (*indicates three-way tie):

    1. A Better Tomorrow (1986)
    2. The Private Eyes (1976)
    3. Days of Being Wild (1990)
    4. Fist of Fury (1972)
    5. Boat People (1982)
    6. The Autumn's Tale (1987)
    7. The Great Devotion (1960)
    8. The Tragedy of the Emperor's Daughter (1959)
    9. Zu: The Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983)*
    9. Long Arm of the Law (1984)*
    9. Chungking Express (1994)*

    In a separate poll Hong Kong citizens voted for their ten favorite films of the millennium:

    1. A Better Tomorrow (1986)
    2. The Autumn's Tale (1987)
    3. The Private Eyes (1976)
    4. The Tragedy of the Emperor's Daughter (1959)
    5. A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)
    6. Fist of Fury (1972)
    7. Summer Snow (1995)
    8. God of Gamblers (1989)
    9. The Great Devotion (1960)
    10. C'est la Vie Mon Cheri (1993)

    Top ten films of the millennium adjusted for inflation:

    1. A Better Tomorrow (1986)
    2. Armour of God (1987)
    3. My Lucky Stars (1985)
    4. Aces Go Places: Our Man from Bond Street (1984)
    5. Aces Go Places (1982)
    6. The Eighth Happiness (1988)
    7. Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars (1985)
    8. All for the Winner (1990)
    9. Prison on Fire (1987)
    10. Project A II (1987)

    Cited sources: Michael C Cook and Robert Larson

    I demonstrated poor tact by the way when I implied the films here are all on the fan boy list of favorites. What I meant was with a few exceptions most of these films are well known to Hong Kong film junkies in the West and enough of them have appeared on recommendation lists to argue the films we love and the films they love are not exactly as different as night and day.

    I find most internet reviewers are long in the tooth. I generally exclude paid, professional critics from that group as they have the benefit of editors, whereas the title of "editor" at most DVD review sites is virtually an honorary one when you see some of tortuously long-winded and grammatically-stunted material that gets posted.

    Which is why when I write about a film I tend to sum up my feelings in a synopsis as you already know being a follower of The China Dragon. I get to the point -- and quickly -- and then close the door behind me with [maybe] some parting thoughts. I can't stand when on-line reviewers write as if they're making a contribution to a film's plot summary on Wikipedia. They remind me of myself when I was trying to write reviews in college. Embarassed

    To me, it feels like Chen believe that every silver lining MUST have a cloud, and not the other way around. Laughing In truth, I rarely see any film, from anywhere, that deserves nothing but fawning praise, but like nearly all reviewers who came into existence during the internet era, he seems duty bound to make nearly every review an equal mix of pros and cons (or cons and pros!), which can potentially leave newcomers and veteran fans alike wondering if anything is really worth bothering with. But maybe that's just me . . .

    I don't necessarily get that impression when I read Chen but agree no film is worthy of fawning praise. In fact, imperfection can be a thing of beauty a la "Apocalypse Now."

    Hong Kong movies are a somewhat different situation for me. Sure, we can all find copious reviews of the films on that "must see" list that I referenced previously, but I'm sitting on a metric ton of films (as are Bjørn/"Bearserk" in Norway and Alex/"Teddy Wong" in Israel, those lucky bastards!) for which reviews are either scarce or literally non-existent, as well as countless video productions which absolutely must be considered in any greater critical overview, but which have been uniformly ignored up to now (except when someone ridicules them because they're not filmed productions).

    I took note of that back in the day and miss seeing you lend to films that few have or write about popular new releases in an honest attempt to drum up support for post handover Hong Kong cinema. Bill...why did you have to go and exorcise us? The fans! Hopefully, that blog or website isn't too far off.

    And yet I've still come across some fantastic cinema that, as far as I know, made neither of those lists nor turned up in the more populist books (scholarly books, yes and no), which to me suggests a possible case of like following like, so to speak. Plenty of movies clearly fall through the cracks in such surveys (limited releases, box-office failure but later reappraisal, etc.) Hopefully as this thread progresses, I can recommend some more goodies . . .

    Like I said I feel like it's a bit of a stretch when I hear what we love and what they love are completely different. It's almost condescendingly implied -- not necessarily here, mind you -- that we're the ones with juvenile tastes. I think a lot of westerners get this impression from finding out that a number of the films they verbally masturbate to performed very poorly or at least below expectation at the Hong Kong box office and it baffles them that the domestic audience largely shunned their favorite films.

    I can understand this, but I can't entirely subscribe to it. However, I've seen a lot of older movies in the past five or ten years that, had I seen them when I was in my teens or 20's, I might not have fully appreciated. This is why, even then, I consciously put them on the backburner (after having caught a few minutes on TV in most cases) because I knew I was out of my element. I wish a lot of young web reviewers out there would consider doing the same. Once you see one about-face, you have to question nearly everything they've written. It's better to get it right the first time, and have your opinion waver slightly, one way or the other in the ensuing years. But even Roger Ebert has been known to do a complete turnaround (though rarely), so who's to say what's right?

    Given that we've lost so many films (seemingly forever) and so many more have never been released [legally] to home video and there's a million and one films I'll never get to even if I live to be 101 I'll always be somewhat ignorant but having said that I've caught a number of films I saw a decade ago in film class that much to my chagrin I panned as boring or films I saw in the theater back in college that I again much to my chagrin praised. Truthfully though there's some of both I still love and still hate. Some things will never change.


    I kinda miss those days too, but even in that bygone era many of those martial artists (or "martial artists")—some of whom were no more formally trained than many of today's young HK idols—were still enhanced with special effects, expert choreographers and patented Hong Kong editing trickery of one kind or another. It wasn't always so pure as people remember it, though it was definitely more low-tech and human-labour-intensive than what came later. It's like how people sometimes lamented the wire-fu that supposedly "took over" HK action cinema in the 80's and 90's, and yet I've seen clips from 50's, 60's and 70's martial arts movies where the technique was clearly employed. They just found better and more inventive ways to utilize it, then it died out for a while, and now it's back with a vengeance thanks to . . . CGI. "Look ma, no wires!"

    Absolutely; great points all-around. I will admit I failed to consider that the few newer Hong Kong films I've seen with martial arts in them have appeared more organically choreographed and I like it. Perhaps organic is a bit misleading and the CGI is in fact employed better than previously afforded. Again, I think there's a part of me that just misses that bygone zaniness at the heart of a number of the films. As for wire-fu I understood the arguments both camps made. Me personally, I always thought it looked ridiculous in a modern setting but I digress. Anyways, upon reflection it's not CGI I'm so much against in total but rather the shift in the industry to style over substance.

    I still marvel at the practical effects in old movies (from anywhere). I grew up watching models, miniatures, monster costumes, puppets, gory makeup and countless optical illusions, and when the story, performances, production value and direction were of a high-enough standard, it was easy to switch off that part of my brain that knew how it was all done. It's still the same. The only dodgy period was in that narrow transitional period from practical to CGI, where some filmmakers dreamed too big for the computer processors to keep up, and the results were occasionally heartbreaking. Today, though, I absolutely relish seeing the big popcorn blockbusters on the big screen. This past summer, I made concerted efforts to see THOR, X-MEN, SUPER 8, GREEN LANTERN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4 and TRANSFORMERS 3. I was dazzled and largely convinced by the copious computer generated imagery in all of them, even when the screenwriting sometimes left my brain bleeding (as it did with TRANSFORMERS and GREEN LANTERN). None of these movies could have been done justice 20 - 25 years ago. Oh, they could've been made, and they might've been blockbusters with top-shelf special effects, but 20 years later they'd simply be products of their era. I honstely believe the time to criticize contemporary CGI effects against the practical effects of some of the all-time cinema greats has come to pass, no matter how fondly we all may remember the latter, or even how well they hold up all these years later. I think this goes for Hong Kong cinema effects work as well. Computer effects have allowed Hong Kong filmmakers, like any others, to paint on larger, more elaborate canvasses. And just as in Hollywood, some of them are hampered by budgets or the limitations or inexperience of their FX designers or even their directors, but this was likewise true 30 years ago. For every ZU, there's probably five no-budget schlockfests with anemic special effects that were years out of date even then. But it's all worth watching, at least once

    Another great round of points. I certainly think CGI has a place and has made a number of your examples possible where they previously wouldn't have been before (remember that first stab at "Captain America"?) but I still miss the ingenuity of the fine folks who had to stop and think "now how in the hell are we going to do that?" which in turn made the audience later go "How in the hell did they do that!" Further, despite the great leaps in technical innovations I'll argue half of the films you listed were either overrated or just as bad as everyone claimed they were. When I leave the theater the stigma of a bad script, direction, actors, etc. will always trump the CGI no matter how awe-inspiring it is.

    I think the magic is still there, and it's as uniquely Hong Kong as it ever was, but obviously it doesn't happen with the same wild abandon as it used to, which means it sometimes has to be teased out through trial and error. Hell, movies made in Hong Kong already have a certain magic built in, the place is just so photogenic. Perhaps you just need help finding it again, and appreciating it within contemporary contexts (the old "that was then, this is now" routine), which is why I think this thread might be interesting in the long run. Might take me awhile because of my silly sabbatical, but I'll do what I can.

    I'm all ears gentlemen and I appreciate everyone thus far taking the time to chime. To prove my willingness to listen: I picked up "Detective Dee" last night as its great word-of-mouth has spread far and wide since its release.
    avatar
    Cash

    Posts : 63
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Central Illinois

    Re: anyone up for a challenge?

    Post  Cash on Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:42 pm

    Well, looks like I tapped out another thread with my own bare hands. Sorry. Anyways...a couple of weekends ago I was in Chicago attending the annual winter convention for my beloved Cubbies and that Sunday was treated to a never-ending Chinese feast at the Phoenix in the city's modest Chinatown before catching the train back home to Central. After dinner my hostess and her boyfriend were kind enough to accompany me through a handful of shops in search of films notwithstanding their complete and utter lack of interest in Chinese cinema.

    I hadn't been to Chicago's Chinatown in nearly a decade and had forgotten that there wasn't a whole lot to mine though I reminded myself to verify the characters for ENGLISH SUBTITLES before making a dubious purchase as my first trip nine years ago left me with a painful memento I have yet to find a taker for: "Police Story Part II" in Cantonese without subtitles on VCD.

    Still, I managed to find something -- whether it's anything remains to be seen -- but these purchases were about all the shops had to offer in a sea of hardcore/softcore pornography and illegitimate product.

    THE CONTRACT (1978)

    Here we go, Brian!

    PRISON ON FIRE II (1991)

    I was a fan of the uber-popular first installment. Renting the sequel has proven difficult over the years and pulling the trigger on purchasing the VCD on-line had yet to happen so seeing it for the price of a rental made this one an easy sell.

    POLICE STORY 3: SUPERCOP (1992)

    One of my favorite Jackie Chan films. I have the original cut of "Supercop" in Cantonese with English subtitles but on a shoddy VHS tape which I discovered post-purchase (and much to my chagrin) was in fact a bootleg. Equally disappointing was discovering the Dragon Dynasty print I received as a gift was the 1997 stateside print...though it does resurrect the original score and target language in favor of the English dubbed audio and kitschy stateside soundtrack. That being said, if Disney did the film justice it was in the name of a much-needed color correction. The point is this: I now have a decent and legitimate original print of the film albeit on VCD. Blu-ray?

    THE EYE 2 (2004)

    I enjoyed the first film for what it was and heard this one was at least worth a rental.

    14 BLADES (2010)

    I once scoffed at Donnie Yen's filmography but have had to acknowledge that he's really come into his own in the new millennium so I thought what the hell...

    TRUE LEGEND (2010)

    Again, I had heard decent word of mouth and figured a la "14 Blades" since I was making a conscious effort to at least give recent Hong Kong releases a chance I might as well.

    In addition to these purchases I figured I could do my part in this thread as well instead of just relying on others to do the legwork for me. I hopped on Netflix and added the following post-handover titles to my queue:

    CENTURY OF THE DRAGON (1999)
    THE DUEL (2000)
    NEEDING YOU (2000)
    TOKYO RAIDERS (2000)
    LAN YU (2001)
    LOVE ONE A DIET (2001)
    JUST ONE LOOK (2002)
    MY LEFT EYE SEES GHOSTS (2002)
    BEYOND OUR KEN (2004)
    BREAKING NEWS (2004)
    ONE NITE IN MONGKOK (2004)
    THROW DOWN (2004)
    AFTER THIS OUR EXILE (2006)
    ELECTION 2 (2006)
    WO HU (2006)
    ASHES OF TIME REDUX (2008)













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