Beast Stalker, The (2008) Review

"The Beast Stalker" UK DVD Cover

"The Beast Stalker" UK DVD Cover

AKA: Beaststalker
Director: Dante Lam
Writer: Jack Ng
Cast: Nicholas Tse Ting Fung, Nick Cheung Ka Fai, Sherman Chung Shu Man, Derek Kwok Jing Hung, Ringo Chan Ka Leung, Joe Cheung Tung Cho
Running Time: 111 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

I just realized it’s been years since I’ve seen a Dante Lam flick (last one I saw was 1998’s Beast Cops), let alone any Hong Kong movie. I have to say, popping in a modern Chinese crime film was a nice change of pace for me. I’ve been sort of pissed off at current films lately (all genres, all countries); so most of what I’ve been watching are ones I already love or classics that I’ve never seen. It’s films like Avatar and Transformers 2 that steer me to that backwards direction (God, those movies sucked).

This brings us to Dante Lam’s Beast Stalker (which has nothing to do with Marc Singer or barbarians). This moody action-thriller centers around a hot headed cop (Nicholas Tse), some asshole gangsters, a murdered child, a grieving mother, and a kidnapping by a psycho called “Beast” (Nick Cheung). Without giving too much away, the way the story unfolds would make Paul Haggis proud.

Beast Stalker starts out typical, then mellow drama starts to pour in. The next thing you know, tension comes out of nowhere; now you’re glued, and what started out as something you didn’t want to watch, turns out to be very watchable.

Nicholas Tse – who is looking more like a man these days; and less like a long-haired teeny bopper with highlighted hair – gives us an outstanding performance. To a lesser extent, Nick Cheung carries the weight with some solid acting.

There is a major car accident sequence that is visually impressive. This is very rare for me to say, but I actually appreciate the use of cgi in these particular shots. I never thought that little pieces of glass and slow motion could look so awesome.

Now, if they could only put a stop to that shaky camera and constant zooming crap; why in the hell is everyone still going for that Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay bullshit? It got old more than 15 years ago. Enough.

All in all, Beast Stalker is passable flick, just don’t expect to remember it years from now.

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 6.5/10

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Beast Cops (1998) Review

"Beast Cops" Danish DVD Cover

"Beast Cops" Danish DVD Cover

Director: Gordon Chan, Dante Lam
Writer: Gordon Chan, Chan Hing Kar
Producer: Gordon Chan, Dante Lam
Cast: Anthony Wong, Michael Wong, Stephanie Che Yuen Yuen, Kathy Chow, Sam Lee, Patrick Tam, Roy Cheung, Arthur Wong Ngok Tai, Raven Choi Yip San, Michael Lui
Running Time: 104 min.

By Tequila

Beast Cops, for me, was the best film out in 1998, just beating Milkyway’s fantastic and even more seedy The Longest Nite at the post.

Why? Well, the acting (from award winners Anthony Wong and Patrick Tam to the lesser roles of Roy Cheung and the excellent Stephanie Che, nominated for an award in this, her first film) is completely first rate. I would say that Anthony Wong has put in his best performance to date here, with some fantastic thespianism (ooh!) and anyone who’s seen Beast Cops knows what I mean when I mention the balcony scene with Stephanie Che. I think that some of the praise heaped on Michael Wong here is a bit overdone as he doesn’t really DO anything of note as an actor but he fitted the role like a glove and the character development is all done visually (he shoots to kill as an SDU, drives a Hummer, smokes cigars, solves things “The American Way” – shoot everyone). Sam Lee is great in his second film and an interesting note is Gordon Chan gave him time off so he could finally finish his electrician’s course in college. Kathy Chow offers great support in a breakout role that should get here away from the “girl next door” stereotype, but I fear it’s too late for the excellent Roy Cheung who was pigeonholed years ago unfortunately. Patrick Tam shows that he’s one to watch as he turns in a great performance as the youngblood who doesn’t give a damn.

And that brings me on to the next point of the film. On the surface, Beast Cops is corrupt cops and triads with a shake up that provides the action, but look deep and Beast Cops is unique. The comment on youth – no one cares about the kid Michael Wong just shot and arrested; everybody loves violence until it is used against them, the young triads pissing their pants and hiding under baskets as a drug-addled and blood soaked Anthony Wong storms around singing and holding his blade in the air. The use of Ecstacy and steroids by on duty cops who openly use whores and have evidence of other business out of work (Tung’s house, full of arcade machines, cornershop coolers and boxes of old stock) is shocking as it is the first time it has ever been shown to my knowledge and it gives a whole new meaning to the term “bent cop”. As a comment on HK’s seedy underworld, Gordon Chan and his team have done a great job.

Chan’s direction and screenplay are other big, big plusses. Chan is one of those unique directors who can have a film that is as deep as you want it to be, as throwaway as Young and Dangerous (albeit better) or deeper than classics like A Better Tomorrow. Chan never shouts at his players and knows what they are going to do, sitting down with them for a chat rather than giving them 30 seconds and multiple takes and so he gets the best from them and it is one reason why he is becoming one of my favourite directors. His style of filming makes the visual aspect very striking, with harsh lighting and small amounts of slow-mo that really enhance the film – the result being brutal yet almost anime style action that really gets you riveted to the screen. Chan makes the kind of movies I want to make and he is an inspiration. Beast Cops is never dull during even the most trivial of scenes because it looks so damn good. With a budget lower than that of the catering for your average Hollywood production, Chan has worked miracles.

The finale is the part of this movie that will be the most talked about in years to come, but with good reason. Chan’s aim here I believe was to make a dig at those Triad pictures that glorify the violence, as the blood flows at an amazing pace but it is never unbelievable and it would certainly discourage potential Triads from getting into knife fights. The visuals are fantastic and the look on Anthony Wong’s face as he charges toward Pushy Pin Wah immortalizes his performance – the rage is so believable. The morale of the combatants is also used by Chan, as he has the cocky Pushy Pin turn into Pussy Pin when Tung laughs while gripping the blade of his machete bare-handed. The final showdown is almost Kurosawa-like because of this. The next twist in the plot is never predictable in Beast Cops, as it goes against the norm so many times.

Beast Cops is a movie that both nerdy movie buffs and stupid inbreds can get enjoyment from, even more so than Star Wars (more specifically The Empire Stikes Back) and that is a big stamp of approval from someone who has seen that certain film 20 odd times. It is a brilliant spectacle.

And as a bonus, is contains the immortal name Punk-Punk. I’m calling MY kids that.

Tequila’s Rating: 10/10 – A classic movie, one of the best of the nineties.

By Alexander

Early in the film, Anthony Wong’s character says “I am a…I’m a cop!” You’d never know this, however, as he doesn’t do anything in “Beast Cops” that’s even remotely cop-like. His partner, played by Sam Lee, is also very un-cop-like and not just because of his trademark frizzy ‘fro. Both enjoy the whores, drinking, smoking, gambling, protecting neighborhood triads, and generally being admitted lazy-asses throughout the entire film. Not that all police officers in real life are virtuous crime-fighters with huge hearts of gold. I’m sure they enjoy their vices too. In fact, living in L.A., I hear stories all the time about cops stealing cocaine from evidence lockers; cops beating the hell out of innocent teens simply for wearing baggy clothing and bandanas; and cops who spend a few too many of their overtime dollars in establishments like Deja Vu Showgirls. So there’s absolutely nothing wrong with portraying unsavory policemen in a movie aptly titled “Beast Cops”. However, what irked me most about this film wasn’t the general do-nothingness of Lee’s and A. Wong’s characters, but rather the general do-nothingness of the usually heroic Michael Wong.

M. Wong, a favorite of mine despite his monotonous delivery and expressionless responses to both romantic advances and guns being held to his head is supposed to join forces with A. Wong and Lee to vanquish some local triads. He drives a menacing Hummer, wears cool outfits (Banana Republic?) and grimaces on cue. He is supposedly thrust into A. Wong’s life to whip the cop led astray into shape. However, despite the fact he drives a big-ass black Hum-Vee (a Hum-Vee in Hong Kong! How cool is that?!); despite the fact he can score the head whore simply by looking cool (the HEAD whore by simply looking COOL!); despite the fact it’s even Michael “I’m in Every HK SDU Movie” Wong, he inexplicably fails to bring the expected discipline and morale to A. Wong’s unit. And not because M. Wong is particularly wooden here, but because his character is severly under-written. Whose ass inexplicably gets kicked the most in “Beast Cops”? Michael Wong! And he’s ex-SDU! WTF?!

Anyway, maybe I’m getting too bent out of sByhape about how M. Wong’s character is portrayed in “Beast Cops”. Because despite this, “BC” is an enjoyable, refreshingly well-written film that includes some of the best dialogue I’ve ever heard in a HK film. All of the performances (even M. Wong’s) are commendable. The violence is kept to a minimum until the final third when all hell breaks loose and knives are frequently thrust into the exposed necks of many a victim. I won’t mention the ridiculous sub-plot involving a triad boss and his love of custard cups or the equally ridiculous collection of silly-monikered gangsters like Man-dick, Custard Thui, Big Fucking Brother and Pushy Pin.

Despite the film’s flaws, this is definitely a must-see for any fan of the HK “heroic bloodshed” genre. Hell, it’s a must-see for ANY fan of intense, well-acted, well-written detective tales. Recommended.

Alexander’s Rating: 8/10

By Numskull

Beast Cops: A breath of fresh air after being stuck in an overflowing port-a-potty all day.

Much of the film strives for in-your-face realism to the point where you feel like a fly on the wall observing real-life events. It’s not slick, it’s frank. The world in which it takes place bears a much stronger resemblance to the one in which we actually live than those presented by many other films, Hong Kong and otherwise.

No elaborate kung fu bouts…just people beating the shit out of each other. No dazzling swordplay…just people getting cut and stabbed from behind and bleeding into their shabby clothes. No storybook romance…just people exercising their genitals and spending time together out of loneliness, not affection. No condoms within easy reach when you need them…just…well, mustn’t give too much away.

Sometimes the impression Beast Cops gives is more like that of a documentary than a drama, and not just because the actors sometimes turn towards the camera and speak directly to the audience. It’s also because, in a good number of scenes, the camera holds still and there’s no music…thus, the performers don’t have all the additional perks that cinema typically provides in order to get the point across. Nothing is rammed down the viewer’s throat; instead, we’re given a chance to look in on these cops, as if through a one-way mirror, during some of their most private moments, instead of just the glamorous, heroic parts of their lives where they save the day, get the girl, and walk off into a nauseatingly cheerful sunset.

Michael Wong, not as flat as usual, is a consummate cop who drives a Hummer (in the days before the Suburban Yuppie Mommies of the world started switching over to them, having decided that their SUVs just didn’t hog enough of the road). Anthony Wong is more charismatic as a less admirable character, a cop who freely indulges in Hong Kong’s seedy night life. Also, Kathy Chow is quite good as the emotionally unstable Yo Yo, a woman who dresses like those 13-year old sluts who get sent to boot camp on daytime talk shows, and Sam Lee and Roy Cheung fill their smaller roles nicely.

While not categorically an action movie, Beast Cops has a share of adrenaline-charged sequences that don’t hold anything back. The most memorable part of the movie by far is when Anthony Wong attacks the treacherous young gangster Pushy Pin in an alcohol-fueled frenzy…he gets stabbed and bludgeoned and shot and beaten around like a human pinball but he absolutely refuses to fall over and die like he ought to because his thirst for blood is just that damn strong.

Whether you’re tired of straightforward, balls-out HK action flicks or not, Beast Cops is well worth 110 minutes of your time.

Numskull’s Rating: 8/10

By Vic Nguyen

Sweeping the 1998 Hong Kong film awards this past year (including best picture and best screenplay), the Special Administrative Region’s films in 1998 have never been better than Beast Cops. This latest work from Gordan Chan Kar-seung and his protege Dante Lam is an immensely entertaining character study, layered with shining performances, bouncy camera-work, and an intelligent script with heavy doses of wit and humor.

*SPOILER WARNING* The films plot centralizes around a decorated cop named Michael Cheung (Michael Wong Man-tuk). Cheung has been appointed to the anti-triad division of the force, and subsequently moves in with his cohorts, Tung and Sam (Anthony Wong Chau-sang and Sam Lee). Sam is the slacker-type who drives around in a scooter, and prides himself as the “ladies man”. Tung is a pleasure seeker who’s quick mouth makes himself popular with his aquaintances. This feature makes himself especially popular with a local triad group, with whom he’s working for. As Tung shows Michael around the various hangouts littered in Hong Kong, he brings him to a popular triad spot, where Michael meets, and eventually falls for Yo Yo (Kathy Chow), a hooker who has been left behind by the local dai go who promised to run away with her. This dai go, or big brother (Roy Cheung), who is a friend of Tung’s, had fled to China in order to escape an unintentional murder rap. As big brother is gone, his sai lo, a young, arrogant triad named Pushy Pin, takes it upon himself to over. Pushy Pin has his own type of infatuation with Yo Yo, and unsurprisingly, is furious to hear of Michael and Yo Yo’s relationship. He attempts to have Michael “bumped off”, but his efforts falter. This is where the film takes a sharp turn in the other direction when big brother returns, only to be killed by Pushy Pin himself. Every single twist and turn ultimately leads up to the over-the-top conclusion, where it pits everyone, more particularly Tung and Pushy Pin, in a no-holds-barred knife and fist fight. *END SPOILERS*

As mentioned before, the main reason that drives Beast Cops ahead from the rest as one of the best of 98 is because of it’s script, which was jointly written by Chan Hing-kai (A Better Tomorrow, Hitman) and Gordon Chan. The screenplay manages to blend drama and violent action with scenes of hilarious, and often dark comedy. The film even takes a documentary turn, in which the actors speak to the camera, therefore breaking the fine line between them and the viewer. Hell, even the typical romantic subplot doesn’t drag the film down (like so many other Hong Kong movies, ala Black Mask), in fact, it provides a good chunk of the humor (a particularly memorable scene features Wong desperately searching for a substitute for condoms).

As mentioned in plenty of other reviews, the title Beast Cops, often misguides the viewer, leading them to believe that the film is a hardcore action film, in the tradition of other Gordon Chan Kar-seung efforts, like the Option series (which also stars Michael Wong). Instead, they are treated to a character study, leaving very little room for over-the-top action. Instead, realism sets in, and once again, they take the documentary turn, as a handheld camera bounces around shooting all the carnage that surrounds it. Of course, those gore hungry fans who are disappointed in the limited action sequences that Beast Cops offers will definitely not be disappointed in the gore factor. The film’s action, especially the finale, features plenty of brutal stabbings and shootings, in the tradition of Hong Kong cinema. The finale is a prime example, as Tung is literally drenched in blood by the end, although I might gripe that it gets a bit too over-the-top, with derivative, music video music in the tradition of hacks like Brett Ratner (not to say that Gordon Chan is at the same level as Ratner, Chan is eons ahead when it comes to talented filmmaking)

Whew! While citing the superb script and how not to view Beast Cops for the action, I forgot to mention my single favorite element to the film, the powerful and superb performances. Wait a minute, powerful and superb performances and Michael Wong don’t go together. Wong, who is undoubtebly the most criticized actor in HK cinema history, breaks that typecast by delivering the best performance of his entire career. His use of the English dialogue to get around the tougher Cantonese phrases is used to a minimum here, and he manages to stand out during his key sequences. But as much as he stands out, he cannot, even on his best day, make himself stand out when the great Anthony Wong Chau-sang is on screen. Wong, who appears a bit bloated in this film (due to the fact of an illness he is recovering from), is the strongest out of the ensemble cast. His lines are delivered with his characteristic wit and sarcasm. His dramatic scenes are also well handled, making this an all around jaw dropping performance. Add this to one of the many awards Wong has received for best actor. The actor who plays Pushy Pin (I forgot his name), is also impressive, and earned the film another award, a Best Newcomer trophy at the ceremonies this year. Sam Lee, whose appearence is reduced to a small role, gets some funny scenes, and basically provides some of the comic relief the film contains. Kathy Chow is very effective as Yo Yo, while Roy Cheung for once doesn’t play an irritating bad ass (from his work with Ringo Lam), and settles down to deliver a restrained and impressive performance. To sum it all up, none of the cast disappoints the least bit.

With 1998 long past, in my opinion, nothing in Hong Kong has ever topped Beast Cops. Although Milkyway film companies The Longest Nite comes close, it’s tiny subtitles have taken the enjoyment factor out of me. Beast Cops is a pleasant change of pace in a cinematic community where Hollywood films are currently dominating the territories own box office receipts. With Hong Kong’s decline in the quality of films, Beast Cops (and virtually every Milky Way production) is a step in the right direction. Ever since I read the first wave of reviews for the film, I have been anxiously awaiting the day when I finally saw it. Let’s just say I share the enthusiasm contained in most of the reviews, and that the wait was well worth it.

(Note: The sources that I viewed this film under were the Megastar VCD and it’s far superior DVD (duh). Although the VCD is LBX with readable subs and a trailer, the DVD blows it away in every aspect, and is well worth the extra money. The picture is sharp, with slim to nil artifacts. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is intense and mindblowing, and is far from the screwjobs that the company has released previously. Extras on the disc include trailers for Gordon Chan’s other works (Stephen Chiau’s starring vehicle King of Beggars, Michael Wong’s First Option, Dante Lam’s directorial debut Option Zero, and the Beast Cops trailer are featured), with a music video montage for other Media Asia releases, and some behind the scenes footage, activated when you view each individuals bio. Chapters are included, but are sparse, including only 9. Optional languages include Cantonese, Mandarin, and an English dub that is horrible to hear, and makes the film seem cartoonish. You can activate multiple remastered subs, which include English. )

Vic Nguyen’s Rating: 9/10

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Treasure Hunt | aka American Shaolin (1994) Review

"Treasure Hunt" Chinese DVD Cover

"Treasure Hunt" Chinese DVD Cover

Director: Jeff Lau
Writer: Edward Tang, Fiba Ma, Lee Wai Yee
Producer: Linda Kuk Mei Lai
Cast: Chow Yun Fat, Wu Chien Lien, Gordon Liu, Philip Kwok, Chin Han, Choi Yue, Roy Chiao, Michael Wong Man Tak, Giorgio Pasotti, Jun Kunimura, Jeff Lau, George Saunders
Running Time: 105 min.

By Numskull

“Lag.” Verb. To fall behind; to straggle; to fail to keep pace. In other words, to proceed at an inadequate rate.

Treasure Hunt lags.

Boy, does it EVER lag.

It lags so much, it sets a new standard in lagging.

Lag, lag, lag.

It lags by day, it lags by night. It lags so much, it’s out of sight. It lags left and it lags right. It takes lagging to a whole new height.

Yes sir, this movie sure does lag.

So, anyway…

Chow Yun-Fat plays a cop or a secret agent or whatever living in the United States, and he gets sent to China, and he’s supposed to find some treasure, and he stays at the Shaolin Temple, and there’s a nosy fat kid, and he gives the nosy fat kid his Game Boy, and the Game Boy actually has a cartridge in it unlike the Sega Game Gear in Rumble in the Bronx, and there’s a girl with supernatural powers, and she takes Chow Yun-Fat flying through the snow in a scene that lags and lags and lags and lags and lags and lags and lags and lags and lags and lags, and by the time the plot has actually taken a step forward the movie is half over. There’s one funny scene where a cab driver thinks Chow wants to fuck a donkey, and there’s the obligatory “show the kid’s ass” scene, and there’s a shootout where Chow pulls a shotgun out of nowhere, and there’s some hand to hand fighting, and then there’s more shooting, and there’s way too much romance. The details aren’t worth getting into.

Normally, I have a long attention span, but this friggin’ film knew just the right buttons to push to make me want to stop watching it and pretend that I finished it for review purposes. (Despite appearances to the contrary, I DID, in fact, watch the whole thing…except for the last 20 seconds or so, because the DVD began to skip and then totally stopped. Big loss.) A tear-jerker ending is set up reasonably well, and then almost immediately gets knocked down by a lame, commercialized conclusion. In a better movie, this would have annoyed me. In this movie, I was just happy the damn thing was over.

Numskull’s Rating: 4/10

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Twin Dragons (1992) Review

"Twin Dragons" Japanese Theatrical Poster

“Twin Dragons” Japanese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Brother vs. Brother
Director: Ringo Lam, Tsui Hark
Producer: Ng See Yuen
Cast: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Nina Li Chi, Teddy Robin Kwan, Johnny Wang, Guy Lai Ying Chau, David Chiang, Jamie Luk Kim Ming, Kirk Wong, Philip Chan, Alfred Cheung
Running Time: 100 min.

By Numskull

One thing you have to admit about Jackie Chan, whether you like him or not, is that he’s not afraid to admit it when one of his movies is a disappointment. Besides the Lo Wei years (his own personal dark ages), he has gone on record and criticized several of the films in which he has starred, including Thunderbolt and Rush Hour (“Too much talk, not enough action.” My God! Somebody else noticed!!!). Some people have accused him of playing favorites and crediting only those films directed by himself and sometimes Sammo Hung and Stanley Tong as his “best.” Well, look at it this way: which double bill would you rather watch, Project A and Police Story or City Hunter and The Big Brawl?

I rest my case.

Twin Dragons…not one of Jackie’s favorites and certainly not one of mine…is substandard but still moderately enjoyable Chan fare, with an ungodly amount of lame mistaken identity humor and a huge cast of characters (many played by HK cinema notables) who never stop to think that maybe, just MAYBE, there is somebody out there somewhere who looks like this guy they’ve been talking to or beating up or whatever…instead, they chalk up “his” tendency to seemingly travel from one side of a room to the other, change clothes, change hair style, and get “his” ear pierced all in the blink of an eye to “blurry vision.”

The way the Jackies swap female companions reeks of American Saturday morning cartoon show. The “mannered” Jackie seems to have no qualms whatsoever about letting Maggie Cheung into his car and…well, uh, okay, I guess that’s not a very good point. Still…lame.

Action is somewhat lacking here, but what’s there is generally pretty good. The final battle in the vehicle testing facility brings back fond memories of the days when Jackie would fight a bunch of people at the end of one of his movies, rather than running amok in a monster truck or hovercraft or whatever. The beaten-to-death mistaken identity aspect rears its ugly head here, too, but doesn’t detract too heavily from the ass-kicking.

All in all, a lesser latter-day Hong Kong effort from the esteemed Mr. Chan, but preferable to anything with Brett Ratner’s name on it. To get a good sense of how annoying the obligatory twin humor can be, read this review twice.

Numskull’s Rating: 6/10

By Ro

Jackie plays twins, separated at birth. One is a mechanic (Boomer), who can fight; and the other is a world class conductor (John), who can’t. Some gang boss wants Boomer to participate in a car race and of course they keep trying to kidnap the wrong guy. The twins wander around Hong Kong for a while before they discover each other. The plot’s pretty silly and some of the mixed identity stuff drags on too long, but most of it’s funny and on the whole, the movie’s still a lot of fun.

The scene at the end in the car testing facility is wonderful! We all know that Jackie never gets in a car normally, but in this scene he shoots out of the window and kicks somebody in mid air! Wow!! Jackie overdoes the low- class Boomer, but he gets to show off his acting muscles in playing the laid back, sophisticated John perfectly! Who says he just ‘mugs for the camera’? Another plus – this film includes the best love scene in a Jackie Chan movie (that I’ve seen so far) – the incredibly sweet kiss shared by John and Barbara at the piano. One negative, Jackie doesn’t dub his own voice and the one they used is perfectly awful!

Ro’s Rating: 6.5/10

By Master of the Stick

I’d heard good things about this movie, so I was pretty excited to find it on the bargain shelf at my local Borders bookstore. However, when I got home to watch it, I found that I had been duped! “Original Subtitles,” my ass! The sound also faded in and out, and the screen was filled with lines of white snow – the tracking did nothing. It’s a damn shame buying Jackie Chan films is such a gamble. Anyway, before I went back to Borders and gave the clerks hell, I figured I’d watch the whole thing. (After all, a poorly dubbed, muffled sounding, extremely fuzzy Jackie Chan movie is still a Jackie Chan movie.) Well, it was worth watching, but I’m not about to go buy another copy.

The fight scenes were cool, though few and far between, and there were some decent action sequences. Unfortunately, the weird attempts at humour just weren’t very funny, and the whole twin thing was stupid. It’s a pretty unoriginal concept, and it wasn’t done very well in my opinion. Maybe it’s the the fact that I got gypped, but I really didn’t like this movie very much.

Master of the Stick’s Rating: 5/10 (7/10 if you’ve got a good copy)

By Marcia

OK, it’s stupid, but you had to know that just by looking at the title and the cover art. You also had to know there were going to be the obligatory mistaken identity gags. Even the twin-A-does-and-twin-B-feels schtik is predictable, and though usually annoying, makes for a good lewd comment when the two first meet up in the hotel bathroom.

Actually, I’m surprised that the Boomer character flew at all with Jackie’s audience (OK, it was the fighting that saved him), considering his ultra nice guy reputation. Maybe the smokin’, drinkin’, womanizin’ Jackie was acceptable in context because there was the contrasting “every woman’s dream guy” (so the producers hope) Jackie as well. Whatever the reason, I thought it was kind of a nice change of pace and allowed Jackie to showcase two very different sides of his public appeal (great fighter, “sweet” guy). Don’t go watch this if you’re looking for something even remotely serious; unless you go in expecting it to be one bad cliche after another, you’ll be disappointed. Otherwise, it’s surprisingly good.

Marcia’s Rating: 7/10

By Shazbot!

The film opens up with good action and a serious tone and deviates into slapstick, almost farcical. It might be less annoying subtitled. The best element of the film is the running gag (which doubles as the plot) of mistaken identity with girls, friends and enemies. The best bit is in the apartment bathroom (The Marx brothers would’ve been proud). The movie ends with the greatly underrated battle in the auto plant, which is also a great comedy bit. JC plays his most arrogant and confident character here. He looks like he enjoyed it. The effects are decent, and not nearly as bad as JC pans them. It don’t look fake- as least not on grainy EP VHS.

Shazbot!’s Rating: 7/10

By James H.

I was at Wal-Mart recently. While there, I happened on a big bin of movies on sale for $4.88. So the curious fellow I am, I looked through. To my surprise I found “Twin Dragons.” Hot damn, I thought. So I quickly bought it and I was on my way. (Note: other titles in the bin were “Fearless Hyena” and “Fantasy Mission Force.”) I must say there was some sort of hype to this movie, at least in my mind anyway. Having two of the biggest names in the Hong Kong film industry (Tsui Hark & Ringo Lam) directing this movie meant it was big. Despite the half-assed dubbing, I was very impressed. Jackie’s acting was great, doing double time as twins. Let’s also not forget Maggie Cheung putting in a great performance and looking as sexy as ever.

It has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster: action, comedy and romance. The mix of action and comedy was perfect, almost too perfect. Near the end of the film, it was as if they were laying it on a little too much. Generally, the scenes with two Jackies were hilarious as were the scenes of mistaken identity. The action is top notch: boat chases, car chases, shoot outs, and plenty of fist fights. This one’s got it all. The fight at the Mitsubishi car testing area was flat out amazing. The choreography was very good as well.

Before I mentioned that there was some romance in the film. It’s something that usually isn’t in a Jackie film, and in this one it worked quite well. The scene with Jackie (as John) and Maggie at the piano was one of the best in the movie. “Twin Dragons” is a great piece of Jackie that everyone should see it’s plenty of fun for the whole family. For $4.88, something has to be too good to be true, and to my dismay, there were no outtakes during the credits.

Note: My copy is the full 100-minute version, distributed by Front Row Entertainment. Check your local Wal-Mart now for more Jackie!

James H’s Rating: 8/10

By Sean Johnson

Chan plays two parts in this slapstick comedy about twin brothers seperated at birth. One is a Hong Kong mechanic (Boomer), the other is a world famous conductor from NY (John Ma). Things get wild when the two meet up with each other in Hong Kong while Boomer’s having trouble with the cops, and John just wants to give a concert. Once the two find each other things get crazy and slapstick prevails. The comedy is funny to an extent, then grows tiresome. However, because of the excellent hard pounding action scene at the Mitsubishi Testing Factory (with cars racing at Jackie) the video is worth buying for about ten bucks.

Sean Johnson’s Rating: 6.5/10

By Andrew

This film is Jackie’s take on the “Double Impact” premise that Van Damme did. Four words: Jackie did it better. There’s a few good fights early on, and an awesome sequence at the end that puts the “Rumble in the Bronx” gang fight to shame. The action drags in the middle, but the confused relationships between the two Jackie Chans and their girlfriends keeps the story moving. The one problem I had with this film was with the three stooge-esqe moments thrown in gratuitously immediately after the boat chase scene. This one is a must see for anyone who enjoyed Rumble or First Strike.

Andrew’s Rating: 7/10

By Vic Nguyen

Twin Dragons is basically a Hong Kong version of Double Impact, only 50 times better! Jackie Chan takes the roles of twin brothers seperated at birth, John Ma and Boomer. John Ma is a successful pianist from New York and Boomer is a trouble making car mechanic from Hong Kong. When John goes on tour in Hong Kong,everything goes wrong. They run into each other and because of confusion, each lives the different lifestyles that the other one has. Caught in the mess are both of their girlfriends. There are some great action sequences, but the one that stands out from the rest is the final fight scene in a Mitsubishi car testing facility. This movie was made to raise funds for the Hong Kong Directors Guild. Recommended.

Vic Nguyen’s Rating: 8/10

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Thunderbolt | aka Dead Heat (1995) Review

"Thunderbolt" International Theatrical Poster

"Thunderbolt" International Theatrical Poster

Director: Gordon Chan
Producer: Chua Lam
Cast: Jackie Chan, Anita Yuen, Michael Wong, Thorsten Nickel, Ken Lo, Chu Yuan, Yuzo Kayama, Annie Man, Daisy Woo, Chin Kar Lok, Hon Chun, Michael Ian Lambert, Bruce Law, Michael Lui, Eguro Mari, Rebecca Penrose, Paul Rapovski, Kenya Sawada
Running Time: 107 min.

By Raging Gaijin

“Thunderbolt” is the only Jackie Chan film from the 90’s that never saw wide release in the US, whether on DVD or at the theatre. After watching it, I still don’t know why. It’s great! Sure, it’s rather dark and serious for a Chan flick, but hey they still put out “Crime Story” here. Okay, it has quite a bit of car racing (not something that Chan is particularly known for) but it’s all a lot more exciting than when he rode a bulldozer at the end of “Mr. Nice Guy”. Besides, the fight sequences are fantastic! Somebody needs to buy the distribution rights to this movie and get it out on video store shelves. This is a must see for any self-respecting Jackie Chan fan.

So what makes “Thunderbolt” so great? For one thing, it’s pretty unique among Jackie’s films. Case in point: Jackie smiles maybe once the entire movie. It manages to be serious and sober without being overwhelmingly grim. I love Jackie’s blend of comedic hijinks and action just as much as the next fanboy, but I have to admit that I enjoy it when he does a darker movie every so often. It’s just a good change of pace. And Jackie really gets put through the wringer in this one: his family is tortured and nearly killed, then kidnapped, and Jackie has to fend off dozens of opponents and drive in a Japanese acing tournament just to get them back. Can he do it? Well, come on now… he’s Jackie Chan.

As a director, Gordon Chan is either hit (Fist of Legend) or miss (The Medallion). Fortunately, he does an adequate job filming “Thunderbolt”, although that may be due more to Jackie’s interference than his own talent. Either way, the fight scenes and racing sequences are all handled very well. There are two fights in particular to watch for: one in Jackie’s car shop and another in a Japanese casino. Both scenes are absolutely incredible and rank as some of Jackie’s very best fight scenes. The casino fight is extremely long and even has Jackie up against some members of the Yakuza. For Asian cinema buffs, this is something like a dream come true. Jackie Chan vs. the Yakuza… all I can say is “hell yeah!”

You might expect that putting Jackie in NASCAR-style races just wouldn’t work. It’d come off as “Days of Thunder” with Jackie instead of Tom Cruise. But these aren’t your typical racing scenes… these are done Hong Kong style. What does that mean? It means Gordon Chan has seemingly sped up the footage to make the cars look even faster. As a result the racing scenes are so fast that there’s a car crash at least every twenty seconds. Naturally, they’re pretty exciting to watch. Look for the part where a car flies off the track and crashes into a watchtower as a helpless bystander leaps out of the way.

So what marks the film down? No offense to Anita Yuen but her character is positively annoying and seems to add very little to the story. She plays a driven news reporter who trails Jackie’s every move and often puts the lives of others at risk all for the sake of getting a news scoop. Whenever Jackie is onscreen fighting or racing, the movie is great. Whenever he has to deal with Anita, the movie just drags. Also, there’s a twist during the third act that is completely out of the blue. It somewhat makes sense and it’s not that big of a deal but… let’s just say there’s a character in the movie for all of thirty seconds who shows up an hour later, out of nowhere, to save the day. Far-fetched but it thankfully doesn’t ruin the movie.

To sum things up: if you love Jackie Chan, chances are you’ll enjoy “Thunderbolt”. It’s a little darker than the usual Chan fare but in my book that’s a good thing. It’s got action, suspense, a cheesy gweilo villain, and Jackie Chan doing what he does best: fighting bad guys across the globe. Not even Michael Wong’s presence can ruin this movie.

Raging Gaijin’s Rating: 7.5/10

By Mairosu

Foh (Jackie Chan) is a trained race car driver who is now working as a mechanic in Hong Kong. His life will turn upside down when a renegade street racer Krugman (Thorsten Nickel) comes into the town – two of them quickly meet each other in a chase through the city in which Krugman gets arrested, the event earning Foh a big deal of media coverage and praise. Soon after, Krugman is busted out and he sets his sights at revenge – by demolishing Foh’s house and kidnapping his two sisters. In order for them to come back in one piece, Foh must travel to Japan and race with Kougar, with his sisters’ lives as a stake.

Thunderbolt, aka Dead Heat, is an entertaining, if not a bit atypical, Jackie Chan action flick from his latter stages of Hong Kong career. Shot in 1995. in Hong Kong and Japan, Thunderbolt benefits greatly from involving a racing aspect to the already trademark kung-fu shenanigans and martial arts – though this time, “shenanigans” turn a bit evil at the times.

As I said above, it’s an atypical Chan fare, most notably because it’s devoid of his trademark slapstick, down to the point that it can be considered as a “serious” action film. There are no trademark Chan grimaces here, or his off the wall (literally) kicks and punches – those are replaced by more no-nonsense fight sequences and an unusual (for Chan) number of on-screen deaths and mild violence spruced with some bloody close-ups. The villain, in this case “Cougar” Krugman, is not the usual pompous-wannabe-world-leader-tyrant goof, he is a really devious character who gets his kicks from aggressive driving and street races – the sole form of comic relief comes from the character of Amy Yip (Anita Yuen), an opportunist journalist who follows Foh determined to make him the next media darling of the Hong Kong populace.

The action sequences – both fighting and racing – are very well done. The races – notably the first Foh/Krugman chase and the final showdown in Japan – are exquisitely shot and choreographed, with some fine camerawork and an interesting effect of slowing the picture down, then letting it go in fast forward for about few seconds. Fight scenes don’t appear as frequent as we’re used with Chan, but the scene in which Foh thrashes a pachinko parlour, decimating the local Yakuza branch to rubble in process, is a definitive standout.

The issue with this film is a muddled character interaction and communication. The film intertwines Cantonese, English and Japanese with mediocre success – Foh’s driving instructor talks sometimes in Japanese, sometimes in English to him, a Interpol police officer switches from Cantonese to English literally sentence after sentence, Foh himself is addressed as Foh and “Jackie” throughout the film, which is nothing new as Chan’s characters are, probably intentionally, called “Jackie” in majority of his films regardless of his on-screen name, but at the ending credits Chan is credited as “Alfred Tung”, leaving me in state of total confusion. Also, Chan is a talented polyglot here, understanding all three languages and responding in all three without particular logic (when addressed in English by the Japanese characters, he responds in Japanese and when addressed in English by Chinese characters, he answers in Cantonese…?!). Now it might be of course I got a dodgy dub-undub copy on my hands (see Drunken Master Columbia Tri-Star disc which “fills” Cantonese voice track gaps with English), but I doubt that as there is a fair number of non-Hong Kong characters who are supposed to speak other languages in the film. Also, this movie can get slow at the times, but that is a minor remark as the fast-paced action sequences pick up the tab for the rest.

Anyhow, Thunderbolt is a fairly good action film and well worth seeing, if nothing then for the fact that this is probably one of the best Chan films from his late HK period. Just don’t rent this awaiting something similar to Operation Condor and you’ll be fine…oh, and the opening/closing credits theme song, a delightful slice of Cantonese (I presume) pop, is horribly catchy.

Mairosu’s Rating: 8/10

By Vic Nguyen

Ah, here is another addition to the long line of mediocrity starring Jackie Chan, which consists of Rumble in the Bronx, Thunderbolt, First Strike, and Mr. Nice Guy (I’m surprised New Line hasn’t released a box set yet). Thunderbolt has possibly the worst plot ever contained in a Jackie Chan film. It has as much imagination as a porno. The villains have absolutely no personality (the person that plays the bad guy gives possibly the worst performance in a film, ever) , and they appearently have no motive for what they do. The “heroes” are no better. Amerasian Michael Wong Man-Tak gives another half-assed mediocre performance, mostly because he relies on his English much more than his Cantonese, something that does not belong in this, or any other Hong Kong film for that matter. Jackie is surprisingly bad in his usual underdog role. That is not his fault though, he isn’t given a decent script (or anything resembling one) to work with.

The film also has a very uneven pace to it. The most logical explanation would be because so many different units worked on a piece of the production. Gordan Chan Kar-seung (who is previously not known for action films) directed the dramatic scenes (if they are any). Frankie Chan, a heralded composer and actor, was brought in to direct the racing scenes. Jackie Chan directed some of his scenes, and Sammo Hung Kam-bo took control of the good ole fight choreography. How did he do? It is explained in one word, amazing. If one man can direct and choreograph an incredible fight scene, it’s Sammo. The first nock down, drag out fight scene is held in a body shop, and is a spectacular display of power on Jackie’s part. Here, he literally wipes the floor with his opponents in a series of stunts, split kicks, spin kicks, and head bashing.

The second noteworthy encounter is undoubtebly the best, and most imaginative scene in the film. It takes place in a Japanese packinko parlor. It starts off slow with some exchanges in dialogue, but when Jackie instigates the encounter by stealing a mallet from a game, it leads to a fight to the finish. This action scene is pure Sammo. He uses all the goods in his filmmaking artillery; acrobatics, wire work, extreme camera angles, and pure, adrenaline pumping choreography. What I like most about the fight though, is the use of environment in the traditional widescreen scope. The Japanese parlor provides the perfect backdrop for this type of fight, and with Sammo at the helm and Jackie as the featured combatant, it is even more perfect.

You cannot give all the on screen credit to Jackie though, because it is not him fighting nearly half the time. The double for Jackie on some of the more difficult moves is a Sammo discovery, Chin Kar Lok. Although he has appeared in numerous films, he has not made a name for himself as a box office champion as of late. Despite this, he is a wonderful talent, both acting and martial arts wise. His best films include Operation Scorpio and Martial Arts Master: Wong Fei-hung while as an actor, Ringo Lam’s Full Alert and Derek Yee’s Full Throttle. You also have to give credit to the combatants that fight Jackie. The two featured fighters are Ken Sawada, and our favorite high kicker Ken Lo Wai-kwong. I have never seen a Ken Sawada film before this one, so this is my first taste of his skills. He is very talented and gives Jackie (or Chin Kar-lok) a run for his money.

Ken Lo is pretty disappointing in the film, but still gets to show off some of his trademark bootwork. The movie should have ended after this amazing fight, but the filmmakers probably thought that the film needed some more zest, so they added a terrible, incredibly disappointing racing finale that is better off gone. Although some of the stunts are impressive (the car through the tower bit), that is basically it. The cars are so sped up that it reminds me of the old Speed Racer shows (I actually found myself humming “go speed racer, go speed racer, go speed racer go). And of course following the feature is an outtakes reel, which features a catchy tune and some classic moments. Overall, the only thing to recommend to this film are the fights, choreographed in pure Sammo fashion, and a tune that you can’t get out of your head. There is little else to recommend.

Vic Nguyen’s Rating: 5/10

By Ro

Alfred? Alfred? They named him ALFRED!!!! Oh no, no, no, no – Alfred it Batman’s butler, he’s the guy in Mad Magazine, he is NOT a Jackie Chan character! What DID I like about this movie? I liked that fact that he actually has a family life and he’s a complete person – work, home, play. The relationship with his father and sisters worked for me. I liked the house wrecking incident, even though it was too long. I liked the way he came to defend his sisters’ honor after a whistling construction worker grabbed one of them. The shootout in the police station was great (even though only the policemen bled – not any of the bad guys). and I LOVED tha fight scene in the car shop – pure Jackie!

What didn’t I like? Forget the lack of plot – that’s only to be expected. However, in return, I expect humor and fights and stunts. There was almost NO humor in this movie! And OK, I knew the cars were the main action, but the fight in the pachinko parlor – the main BIG fight was filmed so badly it would have been better to leave it out entirely. It looked as though they tied a camera to a stunt guy and threw him into the fray! Between the fast cuts and the motion of the camera that blurred the action, I was so frustrated I wanted to strangle the director (if I could figure out which director was responsible)! And the use of wires! I like to ‘wonder’ if a wire is being used, I don’t like seeing the actors flying around like Superman (shades of Lo Wei! Or do I mean, Lo Wei’s shade?). These are tricks for action directors who have stars that can’t fight, not for Jackie and his stuntmen. I kept getting glimpses of a great punch or kick and then the camera would cut to something else – and Ken Lo was doing some great stuff, I could tell – but I couldn’t SEE!!! What a tease! And the trampoline – MY GOD, the possiblilities of that trampoline! Just wasted! And, lastly… I can’t belive they named him ALFRED!

Ro’s Rating: 5/10 (would have been 6.5 if they’d filmed the pachinko scene properly!)

By Steve Lawson

This movie seems to cause mixed opinions – some people love it and others hate it. Well, I’m a bit of both, I love parts of it and hate others!

First of all I saw the original synch-sound Cantonese version, and I must say the acting and drama scenes are excellent. Jackie plays a real character for once, and isn’t called “Jackie” (well, for most of the film he isn’t called Jackie, but at the end when he goes to Japan suddenly everyone calls him Jackie – it’s really wierd!), and his romance with Anita Yuen is well done.

What I don’t like are Sammo Hung’s fight sequences, which don’t fit with the style of movie and use too many wires and fancy camera effects. I suppose all this was to hide the fact Jackie used a double for the fights, but it doesn’t work cos you can spot from a mile off when it’s Jackie and when it isn’t. If Jackie couldn’t fight they should have just done some smaller fights with easier moves he could do himself and then had more car chases or something to make up – if I want to watch a stunt-double flying around on a wire I’ll watch a Jet Li movie!!!

The car stunts in the movie are good but are too speeded up to be taken seriously, so basically it boils down to: good drama, characters and music, but silly action scenes. New Line are gonna have great fun chopping this up for the US market.

Steve Lawson’s Rating: 6/10

By James H.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this film, scanning the other reviews on this site, I noticed a lot of 5’s & 6’s, with some 7’s and 8’s. But when I popped the tape in and heard the theme song, I knew I was going to like it. It is sung by Jackie and is very catchy and upbeat. “Thunderbolt” is Jackie Chan meets “Days of Thunder” with great results. Unfortunately, there are only two fights in the film. The first one is very entertaining and whets the appetite for more. The second is even better. There is even a kick-ass shoot out about half way through the movie.

When you have a movie about a mechanic/race car driver, you have to have car chases. The chase at the beginning is just superb. The direction in this movie is great, as is the cinematography. The only time that this film falters is at the end, which is why I didn’t give it a higher rating. The end car chase is nothing compared to the one at the beginning. It is rediculously sped up and boring because it is on a fixed track; it’s predictable.

I think I’d have to stick this film in the same pile as “Crime Story.” It is not the usual “fight-every-ten-minutes” deal. If you want that rent “Mr. Nice Guy” again. If you want something a little different, pick this one up.

James H’s Rating: 7/10

By Marcia

As of this writing, I’ve only seen Thunderbolt once. My gut reaction was that it was pretty good. The points that several other reviewers make about the poor plot and “boring” race finale are valid, but I didn’t find them distracting when I was actually “watching” the film. In retrospect, perhaps it wasn’t so hot, but at the time I enjoyed it quite a bit. I guess Jackie wanted to do something like this because of his great fondness for stock-car racing, but that will likely leave most of his fans with a bad taste in their… um, eyes. Aside from the questionable slo-mo camera work, the fight scene in the pachinko parlor with Jackie doing some almost-sumo moves against the well-tattooed Yakuza was probably my favorite part.

Marcia’s Rating: 7/10

By Silent Fighter

This is a hard movie to approach. The fight scenes are dis-jointed, the stunts are relatively low tech and usually in slow motion. The story makes no sense and the direction is un-even. What we have here in Thunderbolt is a confused Jackie Chan. In wanting his picture to be more American, the film loses focuse on what makes a Jackie Chan’s movie so unique. In the American action films, slow motion fight scenes and car chases are common. But the sight of unbelievable and inspired action is largely absent. Thunderbolt is better than most American action movies, but it falls short, way short, of a true Jackie Chan movie. The American actors used in the movie are horrendous, the fights seemed either ultra-slow or unbelievably fast.

Thunderbolt does have its moments. The battle in the car factory is pure Jackie. But the poor directing, combined with the very un-exciting finale leaves you wanting more. Had Dimension films released a new version of Thunderbolt, the film could have been better, and possibly a success in American markets due to its Hollywood feel. This film was completed after Rumble in the Bronx and was schedule to open in the states. The bad press surrounding the making of Thunderbolt (Jackie Chan reportedly used stunt doubles in key areas of the film due to the production’s relatively short schedule) is a key factor in why this film was never released.

Silent Fighter’s Rating: 5.5/10

By Jim Carrey

I review here today to bring you a commentary on a masterpiece which is usually not appreciated. “Thunderbolt” is on my top 10 Jackie list and I’ve seen all his films, with the exception of ones he has only cameos in. Talk about a great movie, it manages to mix action, martial arts, stunts, emotional drama, suspense, and MultiEthnic themes without it seeming to be a lousy everything to everyone flick like “Mr. Nice Guy”. Not only that, for the first time since “City Hunter”, which is also in my top 10, Jackie goes back to being a big filmmaker instead of being too self-indulged with himself to cast more than 3 other stars.

The cast includes Jackie Chan, Anita Yuen, Michael Wong, Dayo Wong, Ken Lo, Cho Yuen, Chin Ka-Lok, Henry Sanada, Corey Yuen Kwai, & Shing Fui-On. Many complain that there is no plot – well here it is to prove them wrong: The film starts off with possibly my favorite Jackie song during the opening credits. Jackie works as a test driver for Mitsubishi and is about to go back to his family and auto shop back in Hong Kong. Right before he leaves, there is a funny bit about him helping find the ear ring of a daughter of one of the heads of the Mitsubishi corporation, she slams his hand. Anyways, next we see this anglo racer who is also wanted internationally for drug dealing, and they had to fit Michael Wong in there somehow. Next stop for this bad anglo is Hong Kong, he obviously has yet to find an opponent to equal to his racing abillity. Jackie works with his father and has two sisters, they own an autobody shop. He and his father also work as car inspectors for the police in their spare time.

One night while inspecting cars, they see this maniac racer go by and strike a policeman in the process. Also, on the scene is a pesky TV reporter, Anita Yuen and her cameraman, Dayo Wong. Now comes Michael Wong, an interpol agent after the blonde anglo racer who’s name is Cougar. One night Jackie and co. run into Anita and her jackass cameraman cause their car broke down, the jackass forgot to fill her up. While Jackie is testing the car from the inside to make sure it runs good, along drives the wanted Cougar, without hesitation Jackie chases after him in the car he was repairing, not remembering that Anita is still inside. A great car race ensues, which involves great maneuvering and excitement coreographed by Car Stunt Director Frankie Chan Fan-Kei. Jackie wins this race of course and they put Cougar in custody, but Michael can’t arrest him because he has a fake passport from Libya, so they have to let him go because Jackie couldn’t positively recognize him from when he struck the cop the night before. Cougar, impressed by Jackie’s racing skill, challenges him to a race, but Jackie declines so he sends goons over to Jackie’s autobody shop.

Jackie kicks their asses out of his shop in a great fight scene that is like the one he has sliding through railings in “Dragons Forever”. This obviously pisses Jackie off, so he then tells Michael that Cougar was the man who ran into the policeman. Cougar gets arrested, then eventually breaks out but his girlfriend dies in the process, so now he’s really mad. He then trashes Jackie’s house and autobody shop with a crane and challenges him to a race in Japan. For insurance, he kidnaps Jackie’s two sister so Jackie can’t call the cops again. Jackie realizes he must race this gwailo bastard to get him thrown in jail and get back his sisters. At the same time there is a subplot about Anita trying to get an interview with him. She is the one that gives him money to build a car for the big race.

After this long summary, you watch the rest to find out what happens.There is barely any comedy in the film, but Jackie gives one of his greatest performances on screen and this film has my favorite Jackie Chan fight scene of all time in the Pachinko Parlor. It only helps that this is the only film he used wires for, and he utillizes them great with his style of fighting. This proves that he is much better than Jet Li, although, you have to give Sammo credit for chhoreographing the fights, which I think is his best coreography scene of all time. This film is also directed by a truly great director names Gordan Chan Ka-Seung, who also directed “Fist of Legend”. “Thunerbolt” is a must see.

Jim Carrey’s Rating: 10/10

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Sleepless Town | aka Fuyajo (1998) Review

"Sleepless Town" Chinese DVD Cover

"Sleepless Town" Chinese DVD Cover

Director: Lee Chi Ngai
Writer: Lee Chi Ngai
Producer: Masato Hara, Tsuguhiko Kadokawa
Cast: Kaneshiro Takeshi, Mirai Yamamoto, Lung Sihung, Eric Tsang Chi Wai, Kathy Chow Hoi Mei, Seijun Suzuki
Running Time: 122 min.

By Alexander

“Now it all makes sense,” says Kenichi, Takeshi Kaneshiro’s character near the end of the noir-ish thriller “Sleepless Town”. Well, not quite. This meandering, slick and very Wong Kar Wai-like film is so confusing, you’ll instantly ignore the deluge of plot twists amidst a huge cast of characters and instead focus on the beautiful cinematography and adept direction. Director Lee Chi-Ngai is amazing here, as are stars Takeshi Kaneshiro (“Chungking Express”) and Mirai Yamamoto.

“ST” is based on the book of the same name, which is apparently one of Japan’s most popular and critically acclaimed contemporary detective novels. The film opens with a spectacular, uninterrupted lengthy tracking shot of Kenichi walking through the neon-washed streets of Kabukicho, Japan, which instantly reminded me of the similarly lengthy and uninterrupted introduction to “Boogie Nights” and the single-take hospital gun battle in John Woo’s “Hard Boiled”. The director’s skill is evident and this lingering, expertly planned shot sets the tone for the rest of this gorgeous film.

If you’ve seen WKW’s masterful “Chungking Express” and “Fallen Angels” you will undoubtedly make comparisons between them and “ST”. The meandering pace and gritty settings are akin to “Fallen Angels”. Takeshi Kaneshiro appears in all three aforementioned films. The soundtrack is at times both eerie and airy, including popular songs and a moody score, similar to “Fallen Angels” and “Chungking Express”. There’s even a sly reference to “Chungking Express” when Takeshi and Mirai hear a song by “Express” co-star and Hong Kong pop singer Faye Wong on the radio. Takeshi switches stations quickly prompting Miria to ask, “You don’t like Faye Wong?”, an obvious nod to Wong Kar Wai’s masterpiece.

Ultimately, even as the film sometimes slogs through it’s own convoluted plot, “ST” is interesting and engrossing and serves as a great alternative to traditional HK action and romantic-comedy fare. There’s little action and most of the dialogue will leave you scratching your head in bewilderment (and frustration), but “ST” is nonetheless a worthy film and thus, recommended.

Alexander’s Rating: 7.5/10

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Shaolin Wooden Men | aka 36 Wooden Men (1976) Review

"Shaolin Wooden Men" Japanese Theatrical Poster

“Shaolin Wooden Men” Japanese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Shaolin Chamber of Death
Director: Chan Chi Hwa, Lo Wei
Producer: Lo Wei
Cast: Jackie Chan, Kam Kong, Doris Lung Chung Erh, Chiang Kam, Miu Tak San, Liu Ping, Li Min Lang, Miu Tin, To Wai Wo, Weng Hsiao Hu, Chang I Fei, Lam Fai, Lee Siu Chung, Luk Yat Lung,  So Kwok Leung, Yuen Biao, Hwang Jang Lee
Running Time: 103 min.

By David Bell

Lou Anne came into the Bistro and threw her lug wrench right into booth number four, where it hit a cushion, bounced up and dented the napkin holder. Lou Anne treats her tools better than most of us treat our kids so we all knew something serious was up.

Hey Lou Anne, what’s the problem?

“That lousy O’Malley kid!”

Jimmy O’Malley just turned 17 and bought himself a junker that he’s been bringing into the shop side of Crazy Willie’s 24 Hour Bistro and Diesel Station (on South Palo Verde) for the past few weeks. Lou Anne’s been helping him get it street ready.

What did he do?

“He said his father made him watch a Marx Brothers movie! He said he hated it!”

Big deal. You hate the Marx Brothers too.

“That’s not it! He said he hates all that old stuff made during our generation! I’m 32! The frigging Marx Brothers started in the 1920’s!” As Lou Anne went off to cry under the hood of a 1992 Taurus, Willie and I made an important discovery. Those napkin holders can take a fair amount of punishment.

While Lou Anne wept over the points and plugs, Willie and I watched ShaoLin Wooden Men. Jackie is this mute guy that gets lead platform shoes that the monks want him to wear to look taller when he goes to the discos. The other guys call Jackie Dummy not just because he can’t speak but because he has these weird flashbacks of the Elephant Man smacking his old man around. While Jackie is doing all the regular temple stuff like chop firewood with his hands and carry water eight miles instead of using the indoor plumbing, he sees some monks try to take some food to this prisoner that looks like Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead during methadone withdrawal.

Jerry Garcia yells and the monks split but Jackie gets the guy some food so Jerry offers to teach him some Kung Fu in return for some wine and any heroin he might have lying around. Meanwhile one of the other students thinks he’s ready for the outside world, but first he has to run the gauntlet of giant wooden Rockem Sockem Robots. They knock off the kids block and Jackie figures he needs the Jerry Garcia treatment. So Jackie trains and learns the vicious style that a nun says sucks and she offers to teach Jackie Grease Fu. She takes Jackie over to a pit of Oleo and jumps in singing “Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee” and shows Jackie her moves.

Jackie tries it but slips and slides and figures he either needs to learn more or get a couple chicks in bikinis in there and try to sell the show to the bars in Ft. Lauderdale. After some Rocky style training, Jackie is ready to take on the Rockem Sockem Robots but first Jerry Garcia asks Jackie to take this note out to Ken Kesey. Jackie kicks wooden robot but and wins the right to brand himself with a hot boiling pot in this place with candles that looks like the set of the “Every Breath You Take” video. Out in the world, Jackie finds Kesey who hasn’t had a good novel since “Cuckoo’s Nest” and gives him the note. Then Jackie save a family restaurant from six gang members who try to play Sharks and Jets with the daughter. Kesey gives the note to the other members of Jerry Garcia’s band who then bust him out of the joint. The Merry Pranksters go on a mad cap, whimsical tour of the small villages and towns, killing everybody they see. And they kidnap the daughter so Jackie volunteers to find her.

The ShaoLin monks catch up to Jerry Garcia and tell him “Free form jazz this, you dried up hippie” and they all fight. But Jackie comes to Garcia’s rescue and gets him out without the monks seeing. Jackie hangs out with Jerry until Jerry decides that the fish they all had for dinner was a little salty and kills a family. Then Jackie returns to find the gang released the girl. Then a guy picks a fight in the restaurant and Jackie recognizes the style from his flashbacks earlier in the fill so he thinks it’s the Elephant Man that killed his dad. But the guy splits. Then Jackie finds this guy that looks like the blind guy on the TV show “Kung Fu” that called David Carradine grasshopper.

The grasshopper guy tells Jackie he has to whale on Jerry Garcia, but not before he autographs a copy of the script because he has the far sight and can tell that “Rumble In The Bronx” will be big in the US in about 20 years. So the big showdown comes and Jackie has to take on Jerry Garcia but not before he finds out that the guy in the restaurant that fought like the guy that killed Jackie’s dad is trying to find the real killer. So Jackie saves him from Garcia, who does the same move and then Jackie speaks for the first time. “He says, “Hey man, this is one weak plot device” and proceeds to wipe out not only Jerry Garcia, but the Grateful Dead’s drummer and bass player too.

Willie and I thought that this was like three movies in one, with the temple one part, the helping the restaurant the second, and the final showdown with the evil guy third. Unfortunately none of the three parts is entertaining enough to want to watch. On the plus side Lou Anne came in during the final fight and said she saw some moves she’s going to try on O’Malley. “I’ll show that punk what my generation can do.”

David Bell’s Rating: 2/10

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Heart of the Dragon | aka The First Mission (1985) Review

"Heart of the Dragon" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Heart of the Dragon" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Director: Sammo Hung
Producer: Leonard Ho
Cast: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Emily Chu, Lam Ching Ying, Meng Hoi, Peter Chan, Yuen Wah, Chin Kar Lok, Melvin Wong, James Tien, Anthony Chan, Billy Chan, Chan Chuen, Billy Ching, Chow Kong, Chu Chi Ling, Chung Fat, Fung Hak On, Fung King Man, Huang Ha, Jeng Maang Ha
Running Time: 89 min.

By Vic Nguyen

This is the first film that I cried through. Jackie and Samo’s performance’s are astounding. Jackie plays a cop that dreams of sailing around the world, but the only thing that is stopping him is his mentally ill brother, played by Samo. While playing, Samo unintentionally mugs a person, making him drop the persons bag. Little does Samo know that the bag contains stolen jewels. Now Samo is wanted by the police and its up to Jackie to clear his name. I really liked this film, with great dramatic performances by Jackie and Samo. This film has little action, but the performances and the plot make up for that.

Vic Nguyen’s Rating: 10/10

By James H.

As you most likely already know, “Heart of the Dragon” is not your typical JC fare. It is, however, quite the touching film. Jackie plays a cop who gives up his dream of being a sailor to take care of his mentally challenged brother played by Samo Hung.

The film has a little bit of everything: drama, humour, romance and action. Notice how I put action last? Good, because this is not an action film. It is a drama. Generally, the acting is good, but it’s hard to gauge due to the sub-par dubbing. There are two scenes that prove that Jackie and Samo have the ability to act.

The action scenes were well down, but darker and more hash than those of, say, “Police Story”. It is very rare to see a JC movie where Jackie himself shoots a baddy at point blank range. I really enjoyed the film, especially the ending. It completely took me by surprise. The direction was top notch thanks to Samo. The ending montage was just marvellously put together.

James H’s Rating: 8.5/10

By Jordan

Call me soft, but this movie to me was very sad and depressing. It is the only movie that ever made me cry! There are some funny bits though involving Jackie’s retarded brother (a great performance by Samo Hung, but no action for him) and the fights were pretty impressive, but there weren’t enough of them. In “Jackie Chan: My Story” it shows two of the fights cut from the movie and I must say “Heart Of Dragon” would have been better had they been left in. It is a quality movie but most of it is far too dramatic for my liking.

Jordan’s Rating: 6/10

By Ro

A lot of people liked this movie and I don’t know why. The story line involves a CID detective (Jackie) and his mentally challenged brother (Samo Hung). He really wants to be a merchant marine, but is giving up his dream to take care of his sibling. It’s supposed to be funny, but most of the humor was at the expense of Samo, and I didn’t find it amusing. There’s only one fight, at the end, and it’s bloody. I found the whole movie dark and the end was incredibly depressing! I just couldn’t believe they ended it that way! Maybe it was more realistic, but who wants that much realism anyway? And I found the acting way over the top. I don’t know if it was the direction, the script or the acting, but if you want to see a movie with the same basic plot, see the powerful Dominick and Eugene instead.

Ro’s Rating: 4/10

By The Great Hendu

DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE EXPECTING ACTION! Watch this movie because you want to see a serious drama with a twist of humor and a touch of action. Sammo plays the mentally challenged brother of Jackie. It makes for a few comical scenes and a good drama between Jackie and Sammo. If any movie could be called a tear jerker, this is it. Sammo does a tremendous job in his part. I believed the role he played. And Jackie does equally well as the sympathetic brother. I think it was well written and concieved. I might actually enjoy seeing a sequel sometime. So, was there any fighting? Yes. At the very end of the film, Jackie threw a few kicks and punches. They were good, but not spectacular. I think anything more would have detracted from the art of the film. It was a good blend of all aspects. Definately worth a look.

The Great Hendu’s Rating: 8/10

By Rintor

This was a very sad ‘drama’. When I sat down to watch this movie I was expecting another beat-’em-up-crazy-stunts-with-lots-of-laughs JC flick. However, I got a heart warming drama with the beat-’em-up-crazy-stunts- with-lots-of-laughs mixed together. The product of this was a very good movie. Both Jackie and Sammo played their roles very well. Although it was difficult for me to get the full effect of Sammo’s mental handicap at first with the bad English dubbing. Friends don’t let friend Dub. It doesn’t help the film a whole lot. The fighting was pretty good, and I was surprised to see Jackie put a machete half way through a guy’s neck. The wall flip was impressive too. Shaol!nDrunkMonk, the last time I fought Dick Wei and did a wall flip and killed twenty people was yesterday. I was asleep. So, where’s the toilet bowl full of chunky peanut butter?

Rintor’s Rating: 8.5/10 (9/10 without bad dubbing)


As if being one of the very best, if not THE best, Jackie Chan movies I have ever seen, this one has to top my list as being one of the very best films I’ve ever seen period. This movie is greatness beyond comprehension, action beyond belief, “the chunks of ‘hearty’ peanut in the chunky peanut butter that sticks to the roof of your mouth when you try to scrape it off” type of movie that is so great. Firstly, this one has better acting than I’ve seen in most American movies, and it is this top-notchness that almost brings you into the character and story development. Contrary to what the other reviews say, this is not just a drama movie with no action. While it is true that this is a very sad drama, this one has plenty of action. Jackie and Sammo pull of their roles the best I have ever seen them do, as a younger brother and retarded older brother, respectively. The story moves along very well. Next, the action.

While it is true that this doesn’t have as much action as in his other movies, Jackie is mesmerizing in the final sequence, when he takes out all his anger on the baddies for the years of torment people gave to his older retarded brother. It is kind of like the way he dishes out punishment in Police Story. He just walks in, loses it, and bashes heads in without any hesitation…sweet and to the point. In one scene, a character begins(Keyword-“BEGINS”) to point a gun at Chan’s head, and Jackie doesn’t even show any fear before jacking him up. Now, the last fight scene is cool incarnate. Other people say, “OH MY! This one absolutely is over-rated, MY GOODNESS!”, and other whiny things…well, when was the last time YOU fought Dick Wei and did a wall flip and kill twenty people (if anyone answers this I will make them eat chunky peanut butter from the toilet bowl…)? This fight is short, sweet and to the point…two incredibly guys meet, exchange about two sentences, them beat the sweet cucumber chips out of each other…This is one of the 4-5 movies I would ever give a ten out of ten to… so THERE!

S!DM’s Rating: 10/10

By Dan-O

Now don’t misunderstand me – I like this film. But does anyone else out there notice that the last fight sequence is rediciously sped up? No one I’ve shown this film to ever seems to catch onto this. Seriously, if you own this film, go back and watch the last 20 minutes. Its almost laughable. Jackie IS quick, as are his stunt monkeys, but this is stupid. It doesn’t even make the movie more exiting (which is what they were obviously goin’ for). Another gripe: a couple of the scenes felt scotch-taped on, like that goofy-ass chase scene and the equally goofy-ass military training scene from the beginning. It’s almost as if those scenes came from an altogether different movie. Yes, I know, at it’s heart this is a Jackie Chan film, so I simply dismiss such incongruities with a shrug and a smile and a twinkle in the eye. Other than that, this is a heartwarming, and at times, depressing film, and Sammo gives a superb performance as Jackie’s turnip of a brother. Go see it, buy it, rent it, whatever it takes. You’ve obviously got nothing better to do.

Dan-O’s Rating: 7/10 (would’ve gotten an 8 if not for Sammo’s butt-crack)

By Andrew

This was a fun film, but also needs to be filed away under “Sammo Hung” in the grand scheme of kung fu film history. Do we really have to see Hung’s @$$ while he’s in the bathtub? I’d rather forget that part. The action scenes in this one are pretty fast and furious. One thing that bugs me though is just how mean everyone is to Sammo’s character. I just can’t imagine a bunch of chefs beating the $#!+ out of a guy who can’t pay his bill (although they did the same to Jackie in the first Drunken Master) The best stunt in this flick was done by a supporting character who falls out of a restaurant and lands on the ground instead of the specially prepared car (same problem they had in Police Story). The car chase stuff was good too, but not quite like the ones in Armor of God and Operation Condor. Despite my references to other JC films this one was pretty unique and really not all that bad. See if you can spot the guy who played “Panther” in Supercop. Ok, I’ll stop now.

Andrew’s Rating: 6/10

By Aloho

The thought of Jackie playing a dramatic role propelled me not to buy this surprisely realistic flick. The reason I did buy it though is because I heard all this mumbo-jumbo about the spectacular finale. I got more than expected when viewing this. It keeps you alive through the whole movie because of the plot. Jackie did good playing his part. Sammo did a good job directing. This movie gets your emotions going. In some parts, I just wanted to kill those bastards teasing Sammo’s character. It’s kinda like I wanted to be in the movie and just change matters around and just unleash on the bad guys. Well, that is exactly what Chan did towards the end in a construction site. He does not wait for the enemy to throw a punch or anything, he just gets in there and kicks ass. Jackie knocks out a guy that put a gun to his (Jackie’s) head before that guy could yell out “freeze.”

When Jackie and Dick Wei meet, they don’t exchange looks or blab some corny catch phase, they just duel till death. Chan does a wall flip, those are cool. There is a semi-entertaining chase scene, but it never really picks up. In the beginning, there is a police training thing in a forest. That was just O.K. Some funny parts, like Sammo almost drowned himself in a bathtub claiming he was teaching a toy to swim underwater. Another scene, Jackie holds hands with Sammo giving the appearance they are gay. I got the Taiseng video; the dubbing was awful! Of course most dubbing is said to be bad, but face it, the mouth will never really move in sync with another language. What makes the dub so horrible and much worse than other dub jobs is that mouths move when there is no sound, vice versa. That’s like Godzilla quality. If you see it, buy a subtitled one over a dubbed one. Otherwise, just cope with it.

Aloho’s Rating: 7/10

By Clint

This DRAMA contains a good car/motorcycle chase scene and the spectacular finale. The only scene I found semi-amusing was when JC was holding hands with Samo walking down the street and he had to point out to everyone that they were brothers and not a gay couple. It does entertain you for the entire hour and a half, despite the lack of action or comedy, because you actually feel for the characters. I must say i got a little angry at that guy when he made Samo slither on the ground like a snake. All in all a decent film. You can get this one at Blockbuster too, under the name “Heart of Dragon.”

Clint’s Rating: 6/10

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Sexy and Dangerous | aka Sexy Undercover Angels (1996) Review

"Sexy and Dangerous" Chinese DVD Cover

"Sexy and Dangerous" Chinese DVD Cover

Director: Billy Tang
Writer: Philip Kwok
Producer: Wong Jing
Cast: Mariane Chan, Mimi Chu Mi Mi, Maria Cordero, Vincent Kok, Deon Lam Dik On, Michael Lam, Spencer Lam Seung Yi, Lee Kin Yan, Rachel Lee, Lee Siu Kei, Teresa Mak, Karen Mok, Francis Ng, Ng Sui Ting, Shing Fui On, Michael Tong, Johnny Wang, Wong Wa Wo, Wong Yat Fei
Running Time: 92 min.

By Alexander

I picked up this film because of its promising premise: “Sexy” Karen Mok plays a motorcycle riding hustler whose boyfriend is a gang leader embroiled in a turf war. After two minutes, however, I knew I was watching what could possibly be the worst film of all time.

10 reasons why this movie absolutely SUCKED:

1. Ten seconds into the film, a character utters the unforgivable line, “Yeah, I am eating fish ball at the pimp’s place.”

2. There are characters named “Muscular Man,” “Dirty,” “Fatty,” “Marble” (Karen Mok), and “One”.

3. Another dialogue gem: “You look ugly. Are you coming to clean your asshole?”

4. And another: “If your phone is out of battery, don’t come for shitting! Take me the paper now. I won’t let you clean your ass, as your punishment.” (I am NOT making this up.)

5. The only thing even remotely “sexy” in this film is a five-second scene of Karen Mok clad in black leather stepping off a motorcycle.

6. There is a character named “Aids”.

7. Gun shots AND punches to the face have the same sound effect. And there are A LOT of punches to the face.

8. I dig slapstick. Jackie Chan. Charlie Chaplin. Gilligan. I dig them all. But there is something really unnerving about casual references to rape; face slashings; and women beatings in a film billed as an action-comedy.

9. The line, “Bitch, your tits stink.” (And you thought it couldn’t get any worse?)

10. The worst thing about this movie? That it even exists. There should be laws protecting us against ever accidentally stumbling across this garbage.

You’ve been warned!

Alexander’s Rating: 1/10

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All in the Family | aka It’s All in the Family (1975) Review

"All in the Family" Chinese Theatrical Poster

“All in the Family” Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Zhu Mu
Writer: Yeung Hua
Producer: Raymond Chow
Cast: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung Kam Bo, Dean Shek Tien, James Tien Chun, Tien Ni, Carter Wong Ka Tat
Running Time: 97 min.

By Vic Nguyen

A Japanese girl’s dream film. If you want to see Jackie’s ass doing something other than for the purpose of comedy, this is the film to see.

The plot has something to do with a dying man spending his last days with his relatives. During the first part of the film, there is alot of “male bonding” (perverted sex talk) and arguments, then the Chan meister himself arrives. He formally “bonds” with some woman a few times, including one with what seems to be a prostitute.

Other than the wild monkey sex, there is no action in this film (unless you consider wild monkey sex action, which believe me, many people do. You won’t believe High School kids these days). With the sex out of the way, you can watch for future “Snake in the Eagle Shadow” costar Dean Shek in his usual 70’s comedic role, and an appearence by Sammo Hung as one of those bicycle riders that carry people around.

Overall, the perfect movie for those lonely days and nights.

Vic Nguyen’s Rating: 5/10

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Shanghai Grand (1996) Review

"Shanghai Grand" Chinese DVD Cover

"Shanghai Grand" Chinese DVD Cover

Director: Poon Man Kit
Writer: Poon Man Kit, Matt Chow Hoi Kwong, Sandy Shaw
Producer: Tsui Hark
Cast: Andy Lau Tak Wah, Leslie Cheung, Ning Jing, William Ho Ka Kui, Amanda Lee Wai Man, Wu Hsing Kuo, Lau Shun, Almen Wong Pui Ha, Lee Kin Yan, Sam Wong Ming Sing, Jeong Wu Seong, Tommy Leung Ka Chun, Yip Chun
Running Time: 91 min.

By Mairosu

Ding Lik (Andy Lau) is a Shanghai city dweller, who dreams of becoming someone one day. His fortunes take a sharp turn when he accidentally stumbles upon Hui Man Keung (Leslie Cheung), a Taiwanese soldier who is on the run – they team up together and form a brotherly bond, which will be put on a test as one rises to the top of the underworld ladder, and another reveals his true colours…and oh, they also seem to be in love with the same woman, who just happens to be the daughter of Shanghai’s biggest mobster.

Man Kit Poon’s big-budget (I think) period piece Shanghai Grand is a decent, solid depiction of late 30s-early 40s China, but hardly anything spectacular. Film dangles three plots at the same time which ultimately mould into one near the end, mixing drama, romance and gangster noir genre, and does so with medium success. The first part of the film follows Ding Lik and portrays his rise to “fame”, from a mere street cleaner to one of the big shots. Later on, we learn the past of his love interest, Ching-Ching Fung (played by beautiful Jing Ning), and his comrade Keung, who pursues a personal vendetta but puts it on hold so he could help Ding’s cause. And of course, it all builds to a big showdown with tragic ending.

The biggest issue with this movie is that it jumps from character to character too fast and makes the plot somewhat disjointed and incoherent, which is a shame as it spoils some good acting work, especially by both male leads, Lau and Cheung, both veterans of Hong Kong cinema (and later pop singers as well). Pity that the nameless female assassin (Almen Wong) who haunts Keung gets limited screen time – her villainious persona easily steals the show in those few scenes she appears ; the main bad guy himself, King-Yiu Fung (Hsing-Kuo Wu), is rather under-used as well. The real quality of this film is probably the genuinely recreated atmosphere of the pre-war Shanghai, giving Shanghai Grand an authentic feeling to it.

All in all, this is not a bad film, but don’t expect “the oriental Godfather” as some distributors tend to market it. And drop the final grading for half a notch if you suffer the misfortune of obtaining the English dubbed copy.

Mairosu’s Rating: 5/10

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King of Boxers | aka The Screaming Tiger (1973) Review

"King of Boxers" American Theatrical Poster

"King of Boxers" American Theatrical Poster

AKA: 10 Fingers of Steel
Director: Kim Lung
Writer: Hoh Ho
Producer: Si Chiu Yam
Cast: Jimmy Wang Yu, Cheung Ching Ching, Lung Fei, Liu Ping, Chi Laan, Shan Mao, Got Siu Bo, Ma Kei, Cheng Fu Hung, Hong Hoi, Chang I Fei, Chiu Hung, Choi Wang, Goo Gwan, Law Bun, Lui Ming, Ng Tung Kiu, Seung-Goon Leung, Sit Hon
Running Time: 75 min.

By Jesse

Some have said “The Godfather.” Others, “Citizen Kane.” But I will tell you right now folks… the greatest movie of all time is King of Boxers (aka The Screaming Tiger). Jimmy Wang Yu has his entire family wiped out and swears to kill every Japanese person on the planet; Now wait, that sounds kinda crazy don’t it? Exactly, but this is what he does in this mind-boggling, insane in the membrane, classic kung fu flick.

Jimmy Wang Yu is fast and furious at fighting, and the action scenes are nonstop. Bonus points go towards the director, performing a Quentin Tarantino and ripping off “The Man With the Harmonica” in one scene, as Jimmy talks to a mysterious stranger with a wastebasket on his head, and we hear “Jill’s Theme” as a woman close to Jimmy dies (both songs from “Once Upon a Time in The West”).

But all that aside, nothing will prepare you for the final 20 minutes, which has Jimmy and the evil villain going at it. They randomly find a train to stage their impressive and lengthy battle; but that’s just the beginning. After the main boss throws Jimmy off the train tracks into a huge body of water, they both fight to the death under a waterfall for what seems like years. Etsuko Shihomi may be my new idol, but Jimmy Wang Yu is my new God.

I will make a shrine for him and pray to the ghost of Master Yu, once a day, with lighted candles flickering. See this movie or I will be forced to kick your ass in front of a waterfall while I wear a trash can on my head and play a flute.

Jesse’s Rating: 9/10

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Away with Words | aka Kujaku (1999) Review

"Away with Words" UK DVD Cover

"Away with Words" UK DVD Cover

Director: Christopher Doyle
Writer: Christopher Doyle, Tony Rayns
Producer: Hiro Tokimori
Cast: Tadanobu Asano, Kevin Sherlock, Mavis Xu, Georgina Hobson, Christa Hughes, Takanori Kubo
Running Time: 86 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

A dispirited young man (Tadanobu Asano of “Ichi The Killer”) who has had it with the noisy stressful life in Japan heads to Hong Kong to find the peace he’s been lacking since his early childhood. Oddly, he finds solitude at a gay nightclub where he quietly sits alone and gathers wordily-thoughts to himself. While there, he befriends the bar’s owner (Kevin Sherlock), an extreme-party animal and alcoholic, who’s bad memory constantly gets him into trouble. Also in the mix is a pretty Japanese woman (Mavis Xu), who works as a fashion-dresser at the nightclub; she left her family in Japan to pursue her “own” meaning of life. Together, the three characters discover each other’s pleasant company and connect their problems through an array of colorful (but odd) poetic-like conversations.

The first few minutes of “Away With Words” makes you think that unless you have the artistic mind capabilities of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, you’re not going to get too far into it. It’s a film that definitely lives up to it’s title because most of it’s dialogue is a colossal-gag of thought provoking poetry. At times, it may seem to get a little tedious, but with given moments and a bit of patience, you might find an entertaining art-house flick.

Written and directed by Christopher Doyle (mostly known for being Wong Kar-Wai’s prized cinematographer), “Away With Words” is a surreal, melancholic tale that’s several notches above “Chungking Express” as far as artistic visuals are concerned. Doyle’s trademark camera techniques are put into full effect. Many different film stocks, effects and cranking speeds add to the film’s dreamy tones. Obviously influenced (and educated) by director Wong Kar-Wai, Doyle takes what he’s learned and applies more whimsicality and less logic.

Look for outstanding performances by the lead cast, especially from Kevin Sherlock, who plays the cracked nightclub owner. “Away With Words” also bares a catchy soundtrack, which surprised me when the song “Sugar Water” by Cibo Matto (one of my favorite bands of the 90’s) came on and played fully to a music video-like montage of related incidents in the film. Also, look for a hilarious moment when an old lady starts rapping to the karaoke version of Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s classic “The Message” – she’d give that other old lady from “The Wedding Singer” a run for her money.

“Away With Words” is recommended, but mostly for art-film enthusiasts.

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 7.5/10

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Baroness (2000) Review

"Baroness" Chinese VCD Cover

"Baroness" Chinese VCD Cover

Director: Anthony Lau Wing, Johnny Wang Lung Wei
Producer: Lau Kei
Cast: Anthony Wong Chau Sang, Chin Kar Lok, Anthony Lau Wing
Running Time: 89 min.

By TheFrankEinstein

According to the DVD case, Baroness has three selling points: Anthony Wong, exploding cars, and a naked woman. Well, it delivers on the exploding cars. But why did I buy this movie? Because I assumed that if Anthony Wong was in it, it must have its merits. NO. NO NO NO. WRONG. I learned my lesson well.

I’m not going to engage in the behind-the-scenes crap, I won’t speculate as to which star was the director, I’m just going to share with you how this movie sucked beyond suck. I want to tell you that the movie inexplicably halts in what SHOULD be the third act, so that the up-to-this-point heartless villain can have his car EXPLODE while he’s in it, then, apparently just mildly singed, break into a nurse’s apartment, ask her to help him, then promptly pass out on the floor. For the next ten minutes or so, this ruthless killer that you despise becomes a charming, gentlemanlike guest for this nurse, making small talk with her crippled mother (even telling her that she has a “filial daughter.” Wow. Thanks.) helping out around the house, then leaving a huge wad of cash when he leaves to go back on his killing spree. Let’s just say that this confusing little detour would have ruined this movie… if it hadn’t already sucked so inconceivably to begin with.

The “action” that in some Hong Kong movies can redeem a subpar story is here with all the storm and fury of an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies. The setups here are composed of whoever the “hero” of the scene may be firing into a crowd of incompetent enemies, with them countering the attack by falling down dead, not having ever fired a shot. One time is a surprise attack, but by the fourth “gunfight” you’d think this shipyard full of goons would have been alerted to the gunman’s presence. Pathetic by even American standards. But was it stylish? Well, look at it this way. If you consider “Walker: Texas Ranger” stylish, then no. Still no. Never.

Anthony Wong, one of the cover’s promises, shows up about every twenty minutes to supply a little bit of comic relief (!?), torturing interrogates by mouth-breathing into their faces, to which they reply “stinky” while waving their hand in front of their face. Haha! Classic! And if he’s not doing that, then he pops up for two seconds to watch something explode, then berate his assistant with such gems as “You are shit. Let’s go.” Whoa! R. Lee Ermey eat your heart out!

So in closing, I can’t even recommend Baroness to an Anthony Wong fan, because… well… I am one, and I feel ripped off even when I paid a measly five bucks for it.

TheFrankEinstein’s Rating: 2/10

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Sukiyaki Western Django (2007) Review

"Sukiyaki Western Django" Japanese Theatrical Poster

“Sukiyaki Western Django” Japanese Theatrical Poster

Director: Takashi Miike
Writers: Takashi Miike, Masa Nakamura
Cast: Hideaki Ito, Masanobu Ando, Koichi Sato, Kaori Momoi, Yusuke Iseya, Renji Ishibashi, Quentin Tarantino
Running Time: 120 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

For years, a small town named Yuda has been dominated by two rival gangs: The Heike Reds and the Genji Whites (one group sports white, the other wears red). The two sides have pretty much taken refuge in Yuda, due to a treasure rumored to be buried somewhere within.

One day, a lone gunslinger, who is also in search of the treasure, rides in the gang-infested town. His solid skills and quick reflexes are immediately challenged by both gangs. Impressed by his skills, the two gangs have a bidding war to recruit the stranger, with each leader promising him a larger share (or better deal) if the treasure is found…

Sergio Leone took a big ass bite out of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and made one of the most influential Italian western films ever. Now, Takashi Miike – one of the world’s most loved cult directors – takes that bite back, chews it up, gargles it down, then spits it out on an odd shaped canvas. The result: a fun-filled flick full of violence, humor and wackiness (not to mention weirdness!).

Sukiyaki Western Django is filled with nods to some of the most popular Italian Western flicks we’ve come to know and love. It even goes as far as having direct references to characters like Django and Yojimbo, as if they existed in the same parallel universe.

Essentially, Sukiyaki Western Django is to Italian Westerns what Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1 was to Exploitation/Asian films. Both share the same execution… you know, a filmmaker’s love for film, making a flick for the fun of it, yet still packing that creative punch that will eventually make it a cult classic in its own right; And speaking of Quentin Tarantino, he does have a cameo in this film (and he does way better behind the camera).

With all the wisecracks, painted sets, neat perspective shots and quick animated sequences (The Bloody Benton), you still get some of Miike’s trademark vulgar violence… don’t ever expect this guy to pull a punch. I won’t ruin any particular scene for you, but there’s a moment where one of the “red” gang members says “My color looks good on you” after a traumatic killing. Classic.

The action scenes are well choreographed and there’s hardly a dull second. In addition to the gun-slinging, there’s enough slicing, dicing, explosions and beatings to go around for those who prefer something than just “John Woo” sh*t.

Sukiyaki Western Django is filmed entirely in english, but keep that subtitle button handy, because you can barely understand the cast members. The first time I watched it, I only understood 40% of what they were saying; the second time I watched it, the english grew on me, and I understood nearly everything.

Sukiyaki Western Django is a great film. If you’re a fan of both Asian and Italian Westerns, it’s a must. As for the people who thought this film was crap (and I was surprised at how many people didn’t like it), they were just taking it way too serious. It’s not a remake, it’s not a wannabe, it’s not a rip-off, it’s just a great director having fun while making a cool fucking movie.

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 8/10

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