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)


By S!DM

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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