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Archive for the ‘Hong Kong’ Category

the-kung-fu-cult-master-cover

Chang Mo-kei’s parents are the owners of a pair of magical swords and some clans are desperate to get their hands on them. In the process of this struggle, they are forced to commit suicide by rival clan leaders and young Chang Mo-kei is given the Jinx Palm curse which prevents him from being able to practice martial arts. He is taken in by the Wu-Tang clan leader but a young rival manages to cast him out. He is released of his curse by a crazed monk he comes across who is strapped into a rock and teaches him the Great Solar Stance. Chang Mo-kei vows to take revenge on the clan leaders responsible for the death of his parents. Two rival clan sects are also fighting each other for ownership of the 2 magic swords and Chang Mo-kei also sets out to sort this feud out not realizing that it is a ruse by the government led by a woman who looks very much like his dead mother. The government wants to reduce the amount of power that the martial arts clans have. Will Chang Mo-kei be able to deal with everything on his own?

This martial arts fantasy epic which is packed full of spectacular action sequences was supposed to be the first of a 2-part movie series but unfortunately due to it being a flop the 2nd movie was cancelled which is a big shame as I really enjoyed it. You’d think with such a distinguished cast which included Jet Li, Sammo Hung, Chingmy Yau, Richard Ng and Sharla Cheung, this movie should have been a runaway success so I’m not really sure why that wasn’t the case? It leaves the story dangling on a bit of a cliffhanger at the climax of the movie. The story has been adapted from a long running TV series called Dragon Sword & Heaven Sabre and trying to cram around 60 hours of the TV series plot into 90 mins was always going to be a struggle for the scriptwriter. There are apparently 2 Shaw Brothers movies from the 60’s (not sure of the movie’s titles) that more or less follows the plot of this movie and continues with what would taken place in the proposed sequel.

kung fu cult master screenshot

I think part of the reason why this movie divides so many martial arts fans and didn’t do too well is because of it’s overly complicated plot but thankfully this is balanced out by the wildly choreographed fight sequences which was directed by Sammo Hung. Don’t expect any standard kung-fu antics here as there is a lot of wire involved. It’s fast and frenetic stuff but always great as expected by Sammo. It will take a viewer with a lot of concentration to understand the plot completely from start to finish. I’m sure to many it will make no sense at all but don’t worry because the numerous action sequences that litter the movie will take your mind off the baffling plot. You never have enough time to digest what is going on before another fight or skirmish happens. All the famous martial arts schools you may have heard about is featured in this movie plus some fictional ones thrown in such as the Ming Sect which is depicted as being evil and led by magical people with OTT names as Green Bat (a vampire) and Gold Lion. I’m quite amazed at the rather offensive dialogue that I come across in some Asian movies. In this movie you have 2 cowardly comic characters who disguise themselves as Red Cross workers and jokingly say they are going to rape a woman. I’m not sure how joking about a serious offence as rape can be considered funny.

Jet Li is rather good in the leading role and he is given the very gorgeous Chingmy Yau as his partner in crime and love interest. Always pleasing on the eye, she looks fabulous in her costume but so does Sharla Cheung who pops up in 2 roles in this movie. First as the mother of Jet Li’s character when he’s a child and then as the government official behind the clans fighting each other. Sammo and Richard Ng don’t have that big of a part in this movie.

Despite the convoluted plot, I loved this fantasy movie and thought it was a lot of fun. If you’re into a movie with fast and furious action set-pieces and not that bothered if the plot goes above your head then you may perhaps enjoy this movie. Give it a go and see what you think.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Journey to the west

In a small village by a river, a mysterious large demon creature attacks the father of a young child which is then killed by a fake Taoist priest. The creature is revealed to be a manta ray and is proclaimed dead by the priest. A demon hunter named Sanzang appears on the scene warning that it is not the real demon that attacked. His pleas are ignored and he is captured and tied up in ropes high above the river. The demon creature comes back and kills a number of villagers but thankfully Sanzang who is able to release himself manages to beach the creature which turns into a man. Sanzang begins a ritual by using a book of nursery rhymes and singing to the man. The man becomes agitated and attacks Sanzang. Another demon hunter, a female warrior named Duan enters, capturing the man inside a blanket and turning him into a puppet. Sanzang isn’t happy at being upstaged by Duan and complains to his master who tells him that his way of trying to pacify the demon and reforming them is good. He is ordered to try and tame the Monkey King demon who has been trapped by Buddha. During his travels he becomes entangled again with Duan after battling a pig demon in a restaurant. After days of travelling he finally finds the Monkey King but not before being captured by Duan’s gang, rejecting her advances and battling the injured pig demon again. Will Sanzang be able to tame the Monkey King or does the demon have a trick or two up his sleeve?

Those of a certain age in the UK will remember a TV programme during the late 70’s/early 80’s called Monkey. It was a dubbed version of a Japanese programme based on the Chinese novel Journey To The West. This movie isn’t a new version of that story but rather a prequel of how the main characters got together. It’s directed by Hong Kong comedy legend Stephen Chow who it seems now is content to be behind the cameras rather than in front of them. Perhaps with his movie CJ7 not being as successful as he thought it might be maybe he doesn’t want to act again? Then again I’ve heard that he has some politicial ambitions so that could be the reason for his scaling down of movie activities? Chow has covered Journey To The West before in the 2-part comedy movie A Chinese Odyssey. His trademark OTT action, romance and humour is prevalent throughout this movie – he might not appear on screen but everything from the comedy to the great action scenes is quintessentially Stephen Chow. The lead character of Sanzang would have been ideal role for him. The Journey To The West story has been done many times over the years but Chow somehow manages to make it feel fresh even though it does get bogged down in the middle section when it focuses more on Duan trying to seduce Sanzang which gets incredibly ridiculous and boring too.

journey-to-the-west-conquering-the-demons

There’s a memorable start to the movie with a fantastic and imaginative choreographed attack on a small village by a water demon which is really exciting to watch as Sanzang tries to rescue a young girl from being devoured by the demon. It does go on for a little bit too long but it doesn’t half hook you into the story. The scene leads you to believe that the danger has been eliminated by a fake priest when a manta ray is killed so when the real demon does appear it’s more of a surprise to the viewer. The same technique of showing red herrings to the viewer is used again in the instance of the pig demon and the Monkey King. A lot of symbolism is used in the movie which is lost on myself as I don’t know a lot about Chinese mythology. It probably makes a lot of sense to Chinese people but to Westerners they won’t have a clue what they’re on about. There are a couple of excellently staged action scenes which culminates with a battle between The Monkey King and Buddha after the Monkey King tricks Sanzang into freeing him from the cave in which he’s been imprisoned for 500 years and he’s not too happy about it. Production values for the movie is quite high with plenty of money having been thrown at it as the CGI effects is very good. It matches what you might see in a Hollywood movie. It’s only right at the very end the viewer sees characters they recognise as Sanzang becomes Tripitaka the monk and he along with Monkey, Piggsy and Sandy (3 ex-demons seeking enlightenment) begin their journey to the West to recover some sacred texts for Buddha. Perhaps Stephen Chow will continue the story in a future movie?

It’s up to Wen Zhang to carry the movie as it’s leading character Sanzang and he does extremely well. Sanzang makes for an instantly likeable character with his vulnerabilities. Zhang is able to do comedy and action effortlessly, exactly like Chow used to do. I wonder if Chow showed Zhang how to play Sanzang as he would have done it? For Sanzang’s female foil, Chow employed the beautiful Shu Qi as the aggressive demon hunter Duan. Both Zhang and Qi bounce off each other so they’re a good combination together. It’s very easy to believe that Duan is an effective demon hunter with the way she dispatches them violently. She tries to get Sanzang to love her but he’s so devoted to being a monk he cannot reciprocate her feelings which leads to all kinds of troubles in their relationship. Huang Bo is superb and makes for an engaging villain as the sly Monkey King.

Overall, this was an excellent action comedy with a lot to enjoy for Stephen Chow fans. He can still churn out a good movie even though he might not be acting in it and the mix of action, drama and comedy is perfect. I only hope Chow fans like myself won’t have to wait so long for his next project and that he can be coaxed to actually appear on screen next time. We wait with baited breath! Highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Three_Against_the_World

Charlie Chan (not that Charlie Chan!) is a detective that is charged with protecting the Koran that is being shown at a museum. There are however people that are interested in stealing this precious artifact such as a top fighter named Ma Ju-Lung and a skilled thief called Cho with his daughter. Chan has to keep one step ahead of the two if he wants to prevent the Koran from being stolen. To complicate matters is the fact that Cho’s other beautiful daughter has fallen for Chan and her loyalty become divided. Before the trio square off against each other, they must join forces against a greater threat to their plans. Who will eventually come out on top?

During the late 80’s and early 90’s. Andy Lau starred in a number of movies – some were memorable, others were not and faded into obscurity. This movie isn’t that well known to Western fans but that’s not to say this movie is bad because it isn’t. It’s a fun action heist/comedy caper which is very entertaining. The Westernised title is rubbish to begin with as it’s not the three people teaming up to take on the world, it should be more like Three Against Each Other which is more in line with the plot. I think the proper English translation is something like Dragon Trio Fight Over Treasure. I wouldn’t say the movie is one of Lau’s best at all but there’s more than enough to entertain his fans over 90 mins. Lau is backed by a great cast such as the beautiful Rosamund Kwan, Teddy Robin and martial artist Tsui Siu Keung.

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I believe the lavish sets and costumes for this movie were rehashed from when Jackie Chan was filming Miracles: The Canton Godfather so production values are quite high. This isn’t an all-action martial arts spectacular although the last 15 or so mins has many impressive set pieces. The fight choreography is by Yuen Wah so at least the viewer will know that his standards are usually pretty good. The story is light in tone and although it isn’t a laugh-out-loud movie there are plenty of amusing moments to make the viewer chuckle. Andy Lau also gets to take part in a bizarre piano duet with his co-star Teddy Robin half way through the movie although I’m sure the lyrics have been mistranslated as they sound stupid. It doesn’t really serve any purpose other than to showcase Lau’s talent as a singer. Double crosses and even triple crosses is the order of the day as each party tries to get the upper hand in trying to get the Koran although most times Charlie Chan has a trick up his sleeve to foil the would-be thieves. It does get a little bit ridiculous and tedious during the second half of the movie as a number of fake Korans are bandied around the characters as red herrings so you don’t have a clue who has the real one. Where the characters have gotten their hands on these fake Korans is never explained? Are they being sold at a local market and anybody can buy them??

Andy Lau is great as Charlie Chan who as well as being likeable is a bit of a charming rogue with the ladies. Although Lau isn’t what people would call a martial artist he does get a chance to show the limited skills he has as a fighter. I’ve always had a soft spot for Rosamund Kwan and I enjoyed seeing her in this movie. She’s absent for the majority of the first half although you get glimpses of her. It’s in the second half she comes to the fore and takes more of an active role in the storyline. Teddy Robin surprises everybody as the character Cho during the climax. Teddy Robin isn’t that tall (not sure if you can call him a midget?) but when you see him take on Andy Lau and Tsui Siu Keung and actually gain the upper hand against the pair it’s incredible to see. The only mistake the filmmakers do is that Teddy Robin’s stunt double is noticeably taller than him and you will notice the height difference during the fight!! I got the impression that the whole cast had a ball whilst filming this movie and it shows in their performances.

Three Against The World might not be Andy Lau’s crowning glory in his glittering movie career but if you’re one of his fans you should not pass this opportunity up of watching this movie. The mix of comedy and martial arts works well and I found it a lot of fun.

No trailer but here’s an action scene from the movie

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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Her Vengeance (1988)

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Chieh Ying is a female employee at a Moulin Rouge type nightclub in Macao when 5 drunken men come inside and start making a nuisance of themselves. Security finally persuades them to leave the establishment but they aren’t happy and blame the woman for their eviction. Chieh Ying finishes her shift for the night and walks off home but she is followed by the same men. She is grabbed and then dragged into a cemetery where they violently gang rape her. They eventually leave after having their fun by walking away laughing and in the process giving her a dose of a sexually transmitted disease. After arriving home in which she shares with her blind sister, she confesses what has taken place. Her sister convinces her that she must have her revenge and kill them all as the men were also responsible for the death of their father. Chieh Ying agrees to go to Hong Kong where the 5 men live and contacts her sister’s ex-husband, a bar owner who is now crippled in a wheelchair. It seems these men were responsible for blinding the sister and severly injuring her husband. He gives her a job in the bar but will not help her in her quest for vengeance. Chieh Ying finally sees one of her attackers one day and her plan for revenge begins…………………

This is a particularly nasty HK Cat III movie which is as brutal, unrelenting and bleak as it comes. It’s a movie full of despair, hate, blood and darkness. There’s no humour or a happy ending – just a full on visceral movie of a woman on a mission to avenge herself and her family. There are apparently 2 versions of this movie out: one has the gore and nudity scenes cut out whilst the other (the uncut edition) has everything in it. I’m reviewing the full uncut version here.

Directed by Ngai Kam Lam, the man who helmed the ultra gory and OTT movie The Story Of Ricky, I think it’s fair to say that this movie isn’t easy to watch especially the harrowing rape scene and the revenge attacks that follow. It follows a similar plotline to I Spit On Your Grave in which a young woman turns the tables on her attackers. The perpetrators of the horrific rape incident are a vile bunch of individuals that deserve what’s coming to them and the devious graphic acts that Chieh Ying use to extract her revenge makes for gripping viewing. You have to feel sorry for the character of Chieh Ying as not only does she have to go through such an ordeal but when she goes to a completely unsympathetic doctor to treat her STD he says she has AIDS (which she doesn’t have) and that her hair will fall out and her breasts will shrink. The rape incident leaves the old Chieh Ying dead and what emerges is a cold and calculating person whose only motive for living is to kill her attackers. Chieh Ying lures her first victim into a false sense of security as he thinks he’s going to get his wicked way with her inside his car. She asks him if he remembers raping her but he doesn’t and when the time is right she manages to tie him up in his seat with rope, grab a pair of scissors she’s hidden away, cuts one of his ear’s off (a-la Reservoir Dogs) and taunting him at the same time ‘do you remember me now!’ before choking him to death with the rope.

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Things don’t go exactly as planned for Chieh Yang’s next victim as she throws acid on his face and tries to stab him in the gut. Unfortunately he manages to escape the attempt on his life and he now knows that Chieh Ying is after the rest of the gang. If you thought that things couldn’t get any more violent and bloody you’re in for more shocks as Chieh Yang uses a hatchet and a sharpened iron rod to dispatch two more of her attackers which leaves two men left. In order to lure Chieh Yang out, they pay a visit to her blind sister’s apartment at night. She throws herself from the apartment balcony to her death rather than being subjected to the same ordeal as her elder sister. When Chieh Yang’s crippled ex-brother in law finally decides he must have his revenge on the two men, things are headed for a gory finale in his bar with a number of traps set up and all 4 people determined to kill each other.

Pauline Wong is brilliant as the vengeful woman Chieh Ying. She captures the hate she has for her attackers through her eyes. For a change, Lam Ching Ying gets to play somebody who isn’t a priest of some sort. He gets a chance to sink his teeth into a meaty role as a cripple who despite being stuck in a wheelchair shows the viewer that he can still take care of troublemakers in his bar by the power of his hands. The viewer will instantly grow to dislike the group of 5 men who attack Chieh Ying. There’s no explanation as to why her family were attacked by these same individuals in the past. I really like the colours that the director uses for several scenes e.g the rape scene is bathed in a blueish tint that really makes the horrible act even stronger and harsh. The cinematography is definitely one of the highlights of this movie. Be aware that when I say this movie is graphic I really mean it. There’s no holding back on anything so please stay away if you cannot stomach extreme acts of violence.

Even though this is such a grim movie, I thought it was really well made with fine performances from the cast. If the storyline sounds like your cup of tea then seek this gem out even though finding the full uncut version is really difficult. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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magic-cop-dvd

In a small rural village, a man (Uncle Fung) who banishes demons for a living and uses old Taoist methods lives there with his beautiful niece. A dead young girl in the village becomes a zombie and it is only through considerable effort she is stopped as even a bullet in the leg does not do anything to halt her. It is found she has been injected with a drug that makes her seem invincible. The man along with his niece heads to Hong Kong to find out who is supplying the drugs. He teams up with 2 police detectives who are only too keen to help him out as both have taken a shine to his niece. They discover that the zombie girl was in fact a drugs mule and soon the trail leads them to a powerful Japanese evil witch who is behind the drugs and using dead people as drugs couriers. Can they defeat the witch who has an endless supply of magical spells at her disposal?

Wrongly advertised in some quarters as the fifth installment of the Mr Vampire series, this movie is hugely exciting and entertaining to watch. The combination of police drama, superb action set-pieces and ghost hunting along with a fast frenetic pace employed by director Stephen Tung help make this movie one of the best HK fantasy actioners from the early 90’s. It is a highly imaginative movie which uses Chinese folklore tales to good effect. Unlike the Mr Vampire series which has traditional hopping vampires and is set in the past, this movie has a contemporary setting and uses zombies instead and one evil badass Japanese witch. Although some elements of the movie does have some humour (mostly involving a bumbling cop helping Uncle Fung), the plot is mostly serious in tone. An aspect of the story can also be taken as the old vs the new with Uncle Fung’s traditional methods coming up against the present in which Fung isn’t too impressed with modern day society especially with equipment such as fax machines etc.

The plot builds up very nicely and during the stunning climax the evil witch goes toe to toe in a long spell casting contest with Uncle Fung in a fabulous fun-filled finale on top of a building. It does get a little bit far-fetched as she is set on fire and thrown down a lift shaft but she comes back up as a flaming corpse to chase the heroes around a room by using sound to track them down as her eyes have been burnt so she can no longer see. It culminates in a satisfying ending to the movie.

magiccop screenshot

Lam Ching-ying takes the leading role as Uncle Fung. He is brilliant in this movie especially in his fight scenes when he takes on a couple of young and buff fighters in Frankie Chan and Billy Chow before taking on Michiko Nishiwaki. Lam also choreographed the slick fight scenes and instead of concentrating on long scraps he keeps them short and sweet. Seeing him kick ass on a bunch of bodybuilders in a gym is superb. It’s a shame that Western fans only recognise him for doing these kind of roles as he was unfortunately typecast as a monk in many movies. Wilson Lam plays Officer Lam who is highly skeptical of Fung’s Taoist skills and is a bit of a ladies man. Lam and Fung clash as Lam has his eye on Fung’s beautiful niece and he is very protective of her. Fung doesn’t take too kindly to the way that Lam treats his female colleagues (i.e slapping their arses) but gradually the pair set their differences aside to crack the case. Wong Mei-Wa is only in this movie to look beautiful and act in peril as Fung’s niece. Michiko Nishiwaki is superb as the leader of the drugs gang – a particularly nasty witch who seems to molest her pet white cat when she is doing some of her evil spells. Those that don’t want to see a visibly distressed cat should look away from these scenes.

There’s a lot to enjoy in this wild and unpredictable movie with a wonderful performance by Lam Ching-ying. It is well worth checking out if you can get a hold of it. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Chicken-and-Duck-Talk-1988

Hui is the owner of a cooked duck restaurant which has a very loyal customer base that come there regularly despite the fact that place is very unhygienic. The staff that work for him feels they are unappreciated and recieve low pay but Hui doesn’t seem to care. The dominance of Hui’s place ends when a new fast food restaurant named Danny’s Fried Chicken open right across the road. The owner of Danny’s intends to crush Hui’s restaurant so they can try and buy the place. Despite Hui thinking that Danny’s will not attract a lot of customers, he is forced to rethink when people start going in droves there and one of his trusted workers Cuttlefish is fired and leaves to find work in the new place. To try and get his old customers back to his joint, Hui is forced to try out some gimmicks in the hope that it’ll help his business and for a while it does until Danny’s owner resorts to some dirty tricks by forcing rats into the restaurant from the ceiling. The Health Inspectors come there and close the place down. What will Hui do now that his restaurant is closed and how does he intend to get his revenge on Danny’s owner?

This is one of Hong Kong’s most celebrated and highly acclaimed comedy movie. It was a big crowd pleaser at the time of it’s release. Considering it was made over 25 years ago, it has aged remarkably well. It’s a satire movie of a traditional restaurant taking on a large corporation which use cut throat methods to destroy their opposition. It was written and directed by the main star of the movie – Michael Hui. If you don’t know who Michael Hui is then you know nothing about the HK film industry where he’s seen as a bit of a national treasure in the province. Along with his two brothers (one of whom stars alongside him in this movie), Michael revived the HK film industry during the 70’s which was in a bit of a doldrums due to it being dominated by the Shaw Brothers for so long. This very funny comedy was made at the height of Hui’s popularity. I’m usually wary when critics give praise to a movie so much and I was prepared to be disappointed. However, after viewing this movie I can say that the plaudits that have rained down on this movie is quite rightly justified.

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This hilarious movie has many laugh out loud moments and most of the laughs are due to Hui’s performance as the grouchy boss of the duck restaurant who doesn’t give a toss about keeping his place neat and tidy and uses cheap tactics to try and win back his customers from Danny’s but fails. Even though he’s not a nice character, you can’t help but like him. He comes to his senses near the end and tries to change his ways. He even has to swallow his pride at accepting money from his mother in law to spruce up the restaurant. I can’t tell you the numerous amount of times I laughed over the course of the movie. Hui dresses up as an Indian woman in one funny sequence in order to infiltrate Danny’s but is discovered by the owner when the polish he’s used to blacken up his face starts to come off!! Another example of the superb humour which is seen in this movie comes in a scene in which some hygiene inspectors come to Hui’s restaurant after reports of rats there. Hui and his staff use soup bowls to try and hide the live rats that are dropping from the ceiling and they come up with a variety of excuses such as doing exercises and dancing in order to lie to the inspectors. This ruse however is eventually found out by them.

Kudos has to go to Michael Hui who is quite simply brilliant in this movie. Everything from his performance to the way he’s co-written the script is great. The interplay between Michael and his brother Ricky is fantastic. You only have to see their famous fight/chase on a ledge of a building in chicken/duck costumes to appreciate the chemistry they have with each other and another scene in which Ricky tries to find out Michael’s secret duck recipe by using saucepans and mirrors to spy on him. There is a message in this movie in that shiny flash new fast food restaurants by corporations might look good on the outside but to savour the taste of proper HK food you have to go to a traditional outlet instead.

Overall, Chicken And Duck Talk is an amazing movie. It is definitely one you should track down if you enjoy laugh out loud comedies. I really enjoyed myself watching this thoroughly entertaining movie. Definitely recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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ptu -police-tactical-unit-poster

Cocky rotund HK detective Lo who has been eyeing up a group of triads whilst eating at a restaurant loses his gun when the triads beat him up after he slips on a banana in a dark alley after one of them scrapes a key against his car. A special police team called the PTU (Police Tactical Unit) led by a man named Mike who slightly bends the rules in order to solve cases finds Lo and immediately asks his team to help find the firearm before dawn but they do not tell their superiors as Lo fears that if they found out it could have serious consequences for him so they keep everything hush-hush between them. Unfortunately the situation is more complicated being that the triad leader Ponytail who ordered his underlings to beat up Lo has been murdered with a knife stuck in his back. Having tried to get to hospital by driving, he’s managed to pass out and crash the car. A rival triad gang leader is named the suspect but he denies everything. However, Ponytail’s father wants revenge for his son’s death and with Lo’s missing gun sets out to make sure that somebody pays the price. Then a separate CID team led by a female inspector begin investigating Ponytail’s murder and find that Lo is somehow involved. Will the PTU team manage to find the gun before Ponytail’s father kills somebody?

This is yet another brilliant stylish movie by HK director Johnnie To who has directed many classics over the years. It’s probably his shortest movie at just 85 mins long with the story taking place during one night somewhere in Hong Kong. Unlike his other crime thrillers which has many shootouts/action scenes with the storylines having a fast pace about them, this movie is rather slow with only 1 major bloody shootout near the climax which may disappoint some fans. You’d normally associate the city of Hong Kong as being a bustling metropolis but in this story the viewer doesn’t see that many people. The streets are nearly deserted with only one or two people walking about in the background and just as many cars driving around. The storyline has several plot threads such as the police trying to apprehend a suspect who has been smashing car windows. The actual culprit is none other than a suspicious looking kid riding around the empty streets on his bicycle. The director is adept at weaving these strands until they all come together in the finale in which lives are lost and heroics come from an unlikely source. There is also good use of light and shadow to show the dark underbelly of Hong Kong. The cinematography is fantastic and the only bad thing I can say about this movie is the awful soundtrack which is frankly terrible.

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The cast of the movie is headed by the great Simon Lam, an actor I’ve admired for many years. He plays the leader of the PTU unit Mike who uses questionable tactics to help him in finding Detective Lo’s gun. The scene at an arcade parlour in which he continuously slaps a punk across the face is chilling as the viewer sees the tough guy being reduced to a quivering wreck. Mike’s dubious efforts in seeking Lo’s gun isn’t helped by the fact that he’s got a rookie in the team and that he and Lo are under suspicion by the CID team. Suet Lam also gives a brilliant performance as the comical and incompetent detective Lo who has one of the worst nights in his career. Not only does he lose his gun, he also sees his car being daubed with yellow paint and he makes an idiot of himself by slipping on a banana not once but twice! His actions this night inflame an already tense situation between two triad gangs which threatens to break out into an all-out war.

If you’re new to Johnnie To’s movies this is a good movie to start off with though it’s not his best. It might even make you want to check out more of his movies. A good solid effort from him.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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