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All reviews - Movies (49) - TV Shows (5) - DVDs (41) - Music (13)

A Girl Fighter - Polly Shang-Kwan

Posted : 8 years, 8 months ago on 25 February 2009 03:03 (A review of A Girl Fighter)

This was a good one. Polly Kwan stars as Suma, a young woman who rides into a town and volunteers to bring in Kim, the thuggish son (his hobbies include indiscriminate rape and murder) of a local warlord, to justice. Once she's captured Kim she has to get him out of the warlord's territory to the capitol for trial. She's helped by the last survivor (Tien Peng) of a family butchered by the warlord's son.

One of the highlights is when they ride into the town and people find out who the prisoner is, five minutes later it's a ghost town. Suma, her prisoner and the guards hole up in a inn for the night, which is then besieged in various ways by Kim's father.

The source, some old print, is beat up, but still plenty watchable. The color and sound are ok. The subs are adequate. It's 4:3 letterbox.

The fighting is hand and sword, weighted toward hand, with some primitive wire work and lots of trampolines.
Some edits during fights, but not too bad. The martial heroes/villains are all fairly evenly matched. You see Polly kicking ass plenty.

I couldn't help but notice some similarities to Rio Bravo/El Dorado, which probably is no coincidence. It would definitely make an interesting double feature with one of them. One of the better Union films that Hoker has released.
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Taoism Drunkard (Yuen Clan)

Posted : 8 years, 8 months ago on 19 February 2009 02:31 (A review of Drunken Wutang)

Another wacky martial arts comedy/fantasy from the Yuen Clan. The drunken brother (Yuen Cheung-Yan) of a Taoist monastery leader must find a 'cherry' male born on 15 August for a taoist purification ritual to make amends for his drinking while a vengeful madman, Old Devil (Yuen Shun-Yi) tries to steal a macguffin (It was never clear what the macguffin was good for) from Granny (Yuen Cheung-Yan) and her grandson, Wu Shun-Chiu (Yuen Yat-Choh).

I've only seen one other of the four martial arts comedies/fantasies they produced during the early-ish eighties, MIRACLE FIGHTERS (1982), which was the first. TAOISM DRUNKARD is number three and while the hi-jinks are still enjoyable, it felt less inspired than MIRACLE FIGHTERS, like the formula was wearing thin. There is some good fighting mixed in with the high wire action and silly romantic sub-plot.

This was the new Joy Sales disc. It was alright, but the subs were lacking. Not so much the mispellings/grammar as that the Banana Monster (amusing, if a retread) wasn't subtitled as well as other chunks of dialog, here and there. Enough to miss the subtleties, if this movie actually had any.

I need to see the other movies they made, SHAOLIN DRUNKARD (1983) and YOUNG TAOISM FIGHTER (1986) (not sure if DRUNKEN TAI CHI (1984) really qualifies) to gain a better perspective.


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Coraline review

Posted : 8 years, 8 months ago on 16 February 2009 08:30 (A review of Coraline)

Just got through seeing CORALINE for the third time (twice 2-d, once 3-d). It was a good crowd for the first showing on a Monday. Is Presidents Day a school holiday? Eh, it was cool, part of the movie takes place on Presidents Day (as a sign declares when Mom & Coraline are at the clothing store).

Three times is my limit, unless I really love it (I think I saw THE INCREDIBLES five or six times). I could probably sit through it again another couple of times (at least once more in 3-d, for sure, but I probably won't). Three times is good enough. I hope they include the 3-d version on the dvd. Tried to pick up details in the background, like three silhouette profile portraits on the wall in the dining room of Other Mother's three other victimes (I guess she really did love them, ha ha).

I had read the book, but that was years ago; all I remembered was the basic plot, not much in the way of details, so I was (initially) going in mostly fresh. I guess Wybie could have been named Basil Exposition, but if he didn't particularly add anything to the story, he didn't particularly detract from it either. The musical bits were completely organic to the story so I had no problems with them. I'm quite fond of the mouse band segment, which I take as a homage to George Pal's Puppetoons (though all I've ever seen of those are clips).

As for the horror aspect...I think that W&G:CURSE OFTHE WERERABBIT is more of a straightforward horror movie (I"ve read people splitting hairs about W&G and CORALINE not being the same claymation vs stop-motion; it's silly, same process, stop-motion, different media, clay/puppets). CORALINE is a dark fantasy, like LABYRINTH or MIRROR MASQUE (only there isn't anything that honorific in either), with elements of horror.

Obviously, I like the movie, because the more I like something, the more copy I produce. I guess in 10 years or so we'll know if it has the same kind of legs that NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS has. I think I'll probably be squeezing in a viewing every October.


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Ninja in Ancient China [1989] review

Posted : 8 years, 8 months ago on 12 February 2009 03:42 (A review of Ninja in Ancient China [1989])

Nope, it's likely not has good as any random Shaw, Chang Cheh, movie you could name and doesn't really find it's feet until the action moves to the castle. It's another revenge plot. The locations make you wonder what Chang Cheh could have done with them back in his hey day when he had the full backing of the Shaws behind him.

The ninjas are mostly ciphers defined by their elements except for the two young ninjas Metal (white) and Water (black). The villain was no monster, though he deserved what he got. Live by the sword... The fights are good (mostly swordplay), with an emphasis on acrobatics. Perhaps, only for completists.


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Where's Officer Tuba? review

Posted : 8 years, 8 months ago on 11 February 2009 04:38 (A review of Where's Officer Tuba?)

WHERE'S OFFICER TUBA? was made a couple of years after POM POM (1984) and produced by another of Sammo Hung's production companies (D & B instead of Bo Ho). An hot shot detective (David Chiang) dupes a timid officer (Sammo, after his ambitious fellow cop/roommate (Jacky Cheung) volunteers him) into a dangerous ransom drop off. Things don't go well, and ghostly vengeance is played for laughs, along with a dollop of romance.

Sure, it is fantasy, but there's still plenty of similarities between the two movies. TUBA is more equally balanced between the action and the comedy, where POM POM definitely erred on the side of comedy. The humor in both was certainly along the same lines. Maybe the characters are just more likable. Joey Wong was so cute....damn, she must have been about eighteen/nineteen when she acted in this. The fights are good, and the comedy funny, what more can you ask for?


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The Legend (aka The Legend of Fong Sai-Yuk) review

Posted : 8 years, 8 months ago on 7 February 2009 08:59 (A review of The Legend (aka The Legend of Fong Sai-Yuk))

Jet Li is still mostly in his prime, the fights are all good, especially the one between Josephine Siao and Sibelle Hu and the fight between Jet Li and Vincent Zhao at the dye yard. There's a fair amount of wire work, but I've never had any problems with that. It was a great mixture of comedy, action, romance and a touch of tragedy. Makes me anxious to see FONG SAI YUK II.


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Golden Knight review

Posted : 8 years, 8 months ago on 6 February 2009 03:45 (A review of Golden Knight)

Good movie, slightly goofy. It amuses me to no end that when a woman puts on men's clothing in one of these wu xia flicks (as a disguise this time), she's a man and that's that. It should also be THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS, but the hero(ine) of the movie is Lily Ho, who was definitely not a Golden Knight. Lily is an orphaned daughter determined to avenge her murdered father. The plot was another madman tries to take over the martial arts world (which never gets old). It was definitely of the old school wu xia movie. Lot's of trampolines, roof hopping (which has never really gone completely out of style), preternaturally deadly martial arts moves and a touch of chi. The movie actually has a nice fairly morbid/grotesque touch introduced about a quarter in that I won't spoil, because it ties into a major plot point.

The fights were all competent, but nothing special. Lily is better with a sword than without, though she might have gotten better in that regard in some of her later movies; I don't remember her doing much in the way of hand-to-hand martial arts in INTIMATE CONFESSIONS OF A CHINESE COURTESAN. A good way to pass an evening; Lily's got the gender blender thing going on with Shu Pei-pei, the villains are dastardly and there are actually some Golden Knights in there.


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Pom Pom review

Posted : 8 years, 8 months ago on 4 February 2009 10:08 (A review of Pom Pom)

Episodic buddy cop movie that's light on the action and heavy on the comedy. Richard Ng stars as 'Curly' and and John Sham, who was, I think, channeling Larry (Hey, Moe!) to some extent, as 'Beethoven', slacker detective partners. Even back in '84 this had to feel a little familiar with some similar shenanigans happening in movies like ACES GO PLACES (1982); only ACES GO PLACES is weighted more toward action. I liked the comedy/slapstick well enough, but I think our two heroes were a little too hapless, it was way to episodic, there wasn't a strong villain. I want to like this more, but it ain't gonna happen; it just never gelled. I'll revisit it in a couple of years and see how it plays.


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Hulk Vs. (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Widescreen) review

Posted : 8 years, 8 months ago on 1 February 2009 11:56 (A review of Hulk Vs. (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Widescreen))

They're both rated pg-13 and the fights are quite vicious. Both have solid animation and if you're a comic fan you'll appreciate all the characters you see. I'd say it's probably the best of the Marvel Lions Gate comic adoptions, but still doesn't match the heights of the DC direct to dvd adoptions like Justice League - The New Frontiers.


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Chandni Chowk to China review

Posted : 8 years, 9 months ago on 18 January 2009 06:41 (A review of Chandni Chowk to China)

I can still count the number of Bollywood movies I've seen on one hand (KRRISH, the two Ramsay brothers horror movies in the Bollywood Horror Collection, and CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA) and this is the only one I just plain like completely. I even liked the musical bits because they felt like they were part of the story.

While watching I noted that the filmmakers had obviously watched SHAOLIN SOCCER and KUNG FU HUSTLE. A lot. Even thought I recognized a music cue from SHAOLIN SOCCER. My friend and I agreed that there was probably a little too much wire work (or as I suggested, the problem was that there was too much CROUCHING TIGER wire work and not enough Shaw Bros/'80's ZU WARRIOR type wire work). Didn't think they overplayed the cgi though. Otherwise the fights were all satisfactory, the pseudo drunken style being one of the highlights.

I was off on my ' HK martial arts comedy inspired by Drunken Master' prediction', though there was a bit of that, especially during the training sequence. I thought the Ganesh potatoe gag was amusing and found Sidhu's...well let's just say he's not the sharpest arrow in the quiver. I thought the ending had a CRAZY SAFARI touch, but I could be reading too much into it.

Definitely worth catching if you can. I want one of those umbrellas.


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