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Archive for August, 2011

Lo Tung and his friend Malted Candy, pedicab drivers working the streets of Macao, have both fallen in love. The problem is that both their objects of affection – one a baker, the other a prostitute – are working under cruel and lecherous bosses. Somehow, the pair must find a way to win the ladies’ hearts and free them from their unpleasant jobs.

One of Sammo Hung’s best movies and considered by many to be his masterpiece, it starts out as a comedy, moves into romance before entering heroic bloodshed territory by the time the end credits roll. The plot could have been made tighter but it doesn’t matter when you’ve got a good balance of humour and drama including a funny nod to Star Wars when Sammo has a flourescent light tube fight. However, the mood changes dramatically to the dark side in the 2nd half as Sammo is out for revenge when his friend and his new bride are slaughtered. The fight choreography throughout the movie are outstanding. Even though Sammo may never leave the shadow of his countryman Jackie Chan, he is definitely just as inventive and nimble for a large man in his fights. The fast and furious stick fight between Sammo and Lau Kar Leung is a model of dazzling choreography and sharp, superb direction, and easily one of the best ever of its type.

A seemless and utterly compelling blend of first-class martial arts comedy and truly breathtaking violence, “Pedicab Driver” showcases the master of Hong Kong action at his awesome, bloody best.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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The movie that gave 80’s Hong Kong action heroine Cynthia Khan her debut. A violent Japanese couple are responsible for the death of a policeman in Tokyo. His partner vows revenge and tracks them down to Hong Kong where mayhem ensues on the streets. A rookie female cop is assigned to help the Japanese officer to capture the deadly pair.

The action which is typical of the HK action genre is fast, bloody, and brutal. Cynthia Khan and Michicko Nishiwaki are superb and, in addition to being very easy on the eyes, display some great kicks and punches in their fight scenes. The plot is textbook stuff focusing mainly on the 80’s favourite revenge storyline, which only acts to give the cast an excuse to kill and chase each other. Many of the fight sequences are powerful and realistic, and there is a good balance between cinematic choreography and outright simple bloodshed. By the end it’s clear that anyone could die at any moment: something you’ll rarely see in a Western movie (outside the horror genre, at least). A superb movie that no HK action fan should miss.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Siblings Kwanny & Chung are left in charge of their father’s empire after he is assassinated by rival Chau Yung. After a series of tit-for-tat killings and a bloody massacre at Kwanny’s wedding, she is left as the sole heiress to her late father’s business. However, this means that she must now deal with an ambitious and ruthless family member who orchestrated the massacre and is planning to take over the business for himself.

This is the movie which features the iconic moment when Cynthia Khan in her bloodstained wedding dress grabs a machine gun and starts mowing down the villains like the bad ass chick that she is! Apart from a couple of exciting scenes for the action fan, this movie has a lot of boring screentime in the 1st half when you’re just twiddling your thumbs waiting for something to happen. Thankfully during the 2nd half the action really kicks in. It’s fairly standard stuff mainly consisting of gunplay. There’s also a welcome bit of hand-to-hand combat in the climatic showdown courtesy of Cynthia Khan, Billy Chow and a Japanese businessman and his blonde henchwoman. It’s certainly not Cynthia’s best movie but there’s enough here to satisfy any HK action fan.

No trailer but here’s the wedding massacre scene from the movie

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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The first ITLOD movie. The Vietnam war: A group of men pledge eternal loyalty to each other. The present day: one of them is being extradited from Tokyo to Hong Kong, and a hijack attempt, planned by his blood brothers to rescue him, is foiled by Yeung, Sanada and Wong, who thus find themselves the target for vengeance by the remaining fanatics. They blow up Sanada’s wife and child, kidnap Wong and use him as a lure for Yeung.

80’s Hong Kong action classic featuring a young Michelle Yeoh before her first retirement. It has larger-than-life heroes and villains, iconic screen personalities in Michelle Yeoh and Hiroyuki Sanada and explosive and fast-paced fighting, gunplay and car stunts delivered with all the skill and daring of Hong Kong’s ’80s-era stunt professionals whom fans and filmmakers the world over have come to admire. A typical over-the-top, “nothing succeeds like excess” HK action thriller that works from the first scene to the last. Michelle Yeoh is on top of her game here, dishing out pain to the bad guys. For fans of fighting females or just out-and-out brawling, this is an absolute must-see.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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High octane kung fu action all the way in this impressive HK movie. The pacing is superb. You watch action films for action – and director Yuen Woo-ping keeps the movie going at a breathless pace with a fight or chase almost every five minutes. It’s inventive and brutal stuff. The story might not be anything special-a witness to a crime is hunted by both the police and some gangsters-but with blistering chop-socky and dangerous stunts from the opening frames to the end credits, those who enjoy Hong Kong mayhem will be in heaven when they watch this.

Cynthia Khan who is absolutely amazing gives as good as she gets in the action scenes. She’s easy on the eye, can act and fights as well as any man. One of the many highlights featuring her is a scrap on a moving ambulance. Donnie Yen also gets to shine in the action department with several incredible set pieces.

This movie has a take-no-prisoners, anything-goes attitude that is unique to Hong Kong action cinema. I loved it and highly recommend it to action fans.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Gachi Boi (2010)

With shades of “Memento” fused with some comedy, Gachi Boi is an underrated feel-good movie that will leave you with a smile as the end credits roll. The plot is about a bright, intelligent student Igarashi who joins his local uni’s wrestling team. Trouble is, he has a big problem. An accident on his bike has left him brain damaged meaning he can’t recall anything he’s done over the past day when he wakes up the next morning. The only way he can recall the previous day is by writing down notes and taking photos for himself to find in the morning.

This movie though it may be about amateur wrestling WWE style is poignant and heartbreaking at times. You feel so sorry for Igarashi and his condition. I couldn’t imagine it myself – waking up ever morning and not recalling what happened the previous day. You can see the pain etched on his team mates’ faces and especially his little sister as he makes mistakes and has to consult his notebook to remember things. The cast are great in their roles and the wrestling matchups are filmed very well. The final tag-team match against the Coelancaths is really exciting.

Overall this movie is a fantastic human drama with a good mix of comedy and emotion. Those that like underdog sports movies will definitely love it.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City is set in 2025. Zebraman is captured and put in a giant centrifuge splitting him to 2 seperate entities, meanwhile evil forces have taken over Tokyo and turned it into Zebra City, featuring their own Zebra laws and everything. Basically, there’s a daily 5-minute window where all crime is justified and you cannot be prosecuted for killing, raping and doing other nasty things. Zebra City thrives, but Zebraman is slowly regaining memory of his former duties. If that sounds a little weird and all, don’t worry, it’s supposed to.

Story-wise it’s a pretty straight-forward sequel, firmly set in the same realm as the first movie and expanding on the original story. But the feel of Zebraman 2 is completely different. Sho Aikawa has returned from the first movie featuring bleached hair for the occasion. He’s a great actor who appears a lot in Miike’s movies with a rare talent to bring humour to a straight-faced performance. It’s a unique combination that makes him quite perfect for his role. Naka Riisa does a pretty good job of opposing Zebraman as the Zebra Queen, bringing a lot of attitude and power to the table. The songs she sings are quite catchy too. They both hold up extremely well amongst all the silliness.

Zebraman 2 is not all that easy to recommend. Depending on what you expect or demand from a sequel, it’s either a missed opportunity or a definite improvement over the first movie. It’s doesn’t follow the same path as the first Zebraman so people expecting to return to the same atmosphere will be a little disappointed. I still found it very amusing.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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