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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.

Three-Against-the-World screenshot

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)

her vengeance vcd

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.

HerVengeance screenshot

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.

Chicken and duck talk screenshot

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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One nite in mongkok

A gang member is killed by a rival during a high speed chase in a car near Mongkok, an area of Hong Kong. A gang war is threatening to break out as the two brothers in charge of the gangs retaliate against each other. One of them hires an assassin to take out his brother. The assassin is an inexperienced young man named Lai Fu. Detective Milo and his team set out to capture Lai Fu before he does the hit by arresting the go-between Liu and his wife in order to get some information about the assassin. In order to save his own skin, Liu gives the location where Lai Fu is staying. However, Lai Fu is cleverer than that and manages to escape before the cops turn up. After saving Dan Dan, a prostitute from being beaten up by her pimp, she offers to be his tour guide in Mongkok for money. Lai Fu isn’t in Mongkok just to do a job as an assassin, he also wants to find his girlfriend Sue. Milo orders the police to tear down every bar, club and massage parlour in order to capture Lai Fu but he and Dan Dan once again are successful in evading them. However, the net is closing on the pair. Will the police eventually manage to arrest Lai Fu or will he be able to escape yet again?

This fantastic award-winning crime drama directed by the great Derek Yee is set in Mongkok, the most densely populated area on the planet. It’s a vibrant place full of shops and bars but a couple of unsavoury incidents did take place there between 2008-10 when plastic bottles full of corrosive liquid were hurled on shoppers from tall buildings. The story does not take place during one night but over several days and deals with people working in the seedier side of life such as pimps, assassins, prostitutes and triad gang members. It’s not your typical assassin movie. The main characters in the movie are Lai Fu and Dan Dan whose meeting starts off a chain of events that will end in tragedy. All of the characters that the viewer is introduced have their fates intertwined with each other. There’s a grittiness attached to the plot which director Yee exploits to the full. He also shows the viewer how beautiful Mongkok looks at night with all its neon lights. It succeeds in displaying a part of Hong Kong you might not be familiar with and the dark underbelly that exists there. The camerawork used by Yee is fantastic. As well as our two main characters, a lot of focus is on the police team under Detective Milo who are pissed off at having to work during Christmas Eve when the majority want to go home to their families.  A naïve rookie joins their ranks and unexpectedly manages to get himself into a lot of trouble during a raid on an apartment to capture Lai Fu in which he kills an unarmed man. Milo went through a similar experience when he was younger and it has haunted him since. However, lady luck is on the police’s side and the team manage to come away with their noses clean after finding some drugs in the dead man’s place. It’s interesting to see the prickly relationship between the veteran Milo and the eager and cocky new recruit. During the second half of the movie things get really tense as the net closes on Lai Fu with Milo relentlessly pursuing all avenues to get his man. Don’t expect to see a happy ending (not that I thought that was going to happen anyway) as the plot goes dark and events get bloody and brutal.

one nite in mongkok 2004

Daniel Wu and Cecilia Cheung are excellent in their roles as Lai Fu and Dan Dan and have great chemistry together. It’s good that Yee doesn’t go down the route of having the pair fall in love. There are hints that perhaps they do like each other but it never goes any further than that. Both characters share a common bond having come from the same area of China and being from poor families. I’ve never been a fan of Daniel Wu in the past. I think his acting skills are rather limited but he does a good job here as the shy and inexperienced assassin. It might be the best performance I’ve seen from him. Lai Fu is not what you would call a typical cold-hearted killer either and the viewer will feel some sympathy towards him. It’s heartbreaking to watch when he finds out that his girlfriend Sue may be a prostitute even though he is adamant she isn’t and when he discovers her face in a local paper and that she’s been involved in a car accident (she was a passenger in the car during the high speed chase at the beginning of the movie and has been badly burned after the car caught fire). Lai Fu might look weedy to some but he can take care of himself and proves to be handy with his fists even though he does get beaten up very badly near the climax. Lai Fu’s face is a mask of crimson after Dan Dan’s boss extracts revenge on him by smashing his head repeatedly on a brass door handle. I really liked how Yee linked the tragic events at the climax involving Lai Fu with the life ebbing away from the badly burned Sue at hospital.

A big part of why I wanted to watch this movie was because of the lovely Cecilia Cheung. She was amazing in the movie Failan and she pulls off another great performance here. Although her character of Dan Dan might seem on the surface to be a likeable woman, she is not averse to stealing money from Lai Fu’s rucksack after he takes off after a man who steals her bag. Lai Fu does find his money in her bag but does nothing about it and lets her keep it. Some people might say that Cheung’s prostitute is just too beautiful but I’m not complaining. I’ve read that her voice has been dubbed over as she couldn’t speak Mandarin properly. Alex Fong is also superb as Milo who’s a worthwhile adversary for Lai Fu with the rest of the supporting cast performing well.

One Nite In Mongkok is a very well made movie with an engaging and thrilling plot, well drawn out characters and it has tons of atmosphere. I found it to be extremely entertaining and would recommend it to HK movie fans.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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eternal evil of asia

Four friends from Hong Kong travel to Thailand to have a good time. They have an altercation with some triads at a casino and flee for their lives. After losing them, the gang stumble upon a practicing warlock Laimi and his pretty young sister Shui Mei. They become friends with the pair and Shui Mei falls in love with one of the men named Bon. Bon rebukes her advances as he already has a girlfriend back in Hong Kong. After they return back to their hotel, Shui Mei asks Laimi for a love hex on Bon which will be delivered to his hotel room. Unfortunately when the package is delivered, Bon’s friends open it and become hexed instead. All 3 find their way to Laimi’s place and have a three-way orgy with Shui Mei who imagines it’s Bon she’s having sex with. In a freak accident after the sexual encounter when the magic wears off, Shui Mei finds herself impaled on a knife and dies. Laimi comes back to find Shui Mei dead and vows revenge on the men who return back to Hong Kong by cursing each one of them that they’ll die in horrible circumstances.

This is a strange but thoroughly entertaining Cat III movie which mixes comedy and horror. It is full of surreal images and when I mean surreal I mean that sincerely!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a weirder scene than having a man’s head turning into a giant penis after calling the warlock a ‘dick head’!! What makes this scene all the funnier is some urine comes out of the top of the head when the man gets frightened!! The movie is low on shock value compared to other Cat III productions but where it lacks in that it delivers on OTT scenes, sleaze and stupid humour instead. So if you’re somebody that expects to see tons of gore and sex then you may want to skip this movie. It’s the craziness that makes this movie so much fun, you just don’t know where this movie is heading and what will happen as the story wears on.

eternal_evil_of_asia_dickhead

As well as the penis head scene, you’ll see such delights as a man so hungry he starts to eat his own hand, another who thinks he sees ghosts in his own home so he hacks away at them with an axe only to discover that he has killed his family instead, another man getting nails forced into his face (ala Pinhead from Hellraiser), an aerial sex scene which has been copied from A Chinese Torture Chamber Story and a ghostly blow job by Bon’s girlfriend May on Laimi who has made himself invisible!!! If that list of visual treats doesn’t get you interested in watching this movie I don’t know what will!!!!

What I enjoyed most about this movie is it was so imaginative, outrageous and it never took itself seriously. Naturally if you’re offended by some softcore sex scenes especially during the final third as Bon’s girlfriend May battles Laimi in a sexual encounter to the death then you shouldn’t watch this movie but then again you should know what you’re in for when viewing a Cat III movie. There are 2 beauties in the enchanting Ellen Chan and Lily Chung for the men to enjoy during the story. One can only imagine the mirth that took place between the male castmembers when Elvis Tsui first came out as penis head!

This isn’t the best HK Cat III movie you’ll ever see but due to the crazy nature and creativity of it all I guarantee you won’t see anything quite like it in any other movie so it’s worth checking out just to see how off the wall it is.

No trailer unfortunately but here’s the intro to the movie

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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Angel 2 (1988)

Angel-II-1988

Aka Iron Angels 2/Fighting Madam 2

After the Angel team complete their latest mission to save a kidnapped businessman, they go on holiday to Malaysia where they meet Alex’s old college friend Peter who is a successful businessman. Alex doesn’t know that Peter harbours an ambition to overthrow the government and has amassed a small army in the jungle where they are awaiting orders. When he’s not training with his army, Peter enjoys watching footage of his idol Adolf Hitler! One of the Angel team Elaine has fallen big time for Peter and when she stumbles upon his plan she hides underneath his private helicopter to see what’s going on in his jungle hideout. She witnesses a CIA agent Marco being murdered by Peter and unfortunately is discovered in the process before being captured. Alex and Moon call up fellow agent Karina (and her 2 male helpers) to aid them in a frontal assault on Peter’s hideout to rescue Elaine.

This is great sequel to the first Angel movie which was released in 1986 after it proved to be popular and the leading trio of Alex Fong, Moon Lee and Elaine Lui return to reprise their roles. It can’t strictly be classed as a ‘girls with guns’ feature because instead of focusing strictly on Moon and Elaine, this movie is more about Alex Fong’s character and his association with the villain of the story. It opens with a fantastic action packed rescue of a businessman from a group of killers. After dispatching the majority of them, one of the baddies puts a grenade in the mouth of the kidnapped man. Alex shoots the baddie in the head but in falling down dead he pulls the pin out of the grenade. Alex quickly kicks the grenade out of the businessman’s mouth before Moon catches it and throwing it quickly out of a window before it explodes. It’s a fast paced and action packed start to entice viewers to the movie.

Iron Angel II screenshot

The plot slows down in the middle section for the viewer to be introduced to Alex’s friend Peter in Kuala Lumpur and his plans to dominate Asia. There’s a big brawl in a bar to interest action fans as Peter and Alex take on a transvestite gang and a small car chase through the jungle! After Elaine is captured by Peter and his associates, it gears up for the superb finale as Alex, Moon and Karina load up with a variety of weapons (machine guns, grenades, crossbow, blowguns etc) and head off to take on Peter and his army in the jungle. The introduction of Karina is a good one as she’s one bad-ass lady. All manner of explosions go off as everything in Peter’s camp is blown up. Moon Lee gets to do an incredible stunt from a look-out post up a tall tree when it explodes after a small missile is launched from a rocket launcher and she falls from a great height before crashing through the roof of an explosive store. She also has a brief fast and furious fight with one of Peter’s henchmen played by the action choreographer Yuen Tak before the movie finishes with a bloody and brutal fistfight between Alex and Peter near a waterfall. I wished the scenes would have been swapped about as Moon’s scrap is much better than Alex’s one and would have made for a far better ending for the movie. Although Alex is a capable enough fighter, he doesn’t come close to what Moon Lee was able to achieve. The movie makes you wonder how this small army hoped to overthrow the Malaysian government if they couldn’t deal with 6 people as they are completely decimated! I thought the movie suffered a little bit by not having a strong enough villain. The first Angel movie was blessed with having Yukari Oshima and Hwang Jang Lee as the evil bad guys. Ting Wai-Chin is OK as Peter but he’s just not threatening enough. There’s also less intense action but that’s only a minor quibble. The movie is still very entertaining and I enjoyed it.

Overall, Angel 2 is a competent action movie which would have been better had it not been for the middle section (although I’m sure the sight of seeing Moon Lee and Elaine Lui in black bikinis by the swimming pool is a welcome sight for a lot of people!). The first and last third of the movie will be enough though to satisfy most HK action fans. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of Moon Lee.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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In the line of duty 6

Two cops Chen and Hua (one from Mainland China and the other from Taiwan) go to Hong Kong on the trail of smugglers who are using the city as a temporary base to hide 600 guns before it is shipped on to Taiwan to sell. Their confrontation with the smugglers on the streets raises the ire of the HK Police who are furious with the two for bringing their fight to the city. They assign a tough female detective Madam Yeung to assist them with the hope of bringing the criminals to justice. The only problem with trying to catch the smugglers is they have better firepower than the cops which brings danger to everybody concerned.

Viewers who have been following the ITLOD franchise from the beginning will have seen the standards have slightly dropped since no.4 and this one unfortunately whilst having a couple of nice set pieces never really hits the heights that were achieved in the first 4 movies. It starts out really well with Cynthia Khan’s character having a great one-on-one fight on top of a 16 wheeler truck which continues with a running gun battle on the streets before it ends on a high in the last 15 mins with a brilliant gunfight battle at the smugglers lair. Sadly it all falls apart during the middle section where things slow down and the dialogue between the two male cops and the HK police is more about the differences between the law in the colony and that of the pair’s respective countries. The Chinese cop falls for the sister of the chief smuggler which complicates matters. It also has some comedy that isn’t funny at all – an example of this is the Chinese cop not knowing how to work a microwave oven and he promptly blows it up in Cynthia’s apartment. Some of the lame brained comedy on offer may even upset some viewers (the talk about homosexuals in a bar is particularly cringe-worthy and rather offensive).

In the line of duty 6 screenshot

There’s a lot more focus on the two leading male characters in this movie which means that Cynthia’s screentime is less than the pair which I thought was a mistake. The fact that the pair squabble all the time is rather annoying as well. Naturally all of this is resolved as they realise that only by teaming up with each other can they take down the bad guys. The movie only comes alive when Cynthia gets to do what she does best – kicking ass and taking no prisoners. It’s particularly memorable in this movie as she fights in a rather tight short skirt which will please many male viewers!! I’m not sure how she was able to perform certain kicks with that skirt – one guy goes flying with tremendous speed from one kick (it’s like he’s attached to a large rubber band that snaps back). She even gets to smooch with the Taiwanese cop right at the end of the movie before she comes to her senses and gives him a good right hook in the mouth which ends the movie.

This is certainly not one of the best entries of the ITLOD franchise. The action scenes are too sporadic throughout the movie and isn’t that exciting apart from Cynthia’s initial fight. It just about managed to maintain my interest. Just one more movie (Sea Wolves) to go before I’m done with watching all 7 in the franchise. I only hope it’s a bit better than this one!

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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Deadful Melody dvd

A little girl and her brother are forced to flee with the family’s magic lyre when their parents are massacred although they are split up during the pursuit by their enemies. The magic lyre has the power to kill and certain people are desperate to get their hands on it. 16 years on and the little girl named Snow has grown into a woman. She is the current owner of the lyre and hasn’t forgotten about what happened to her parents. She sets out to seek vengeance on those that wronged her. Snow has a plan which will draw out her enemies by asking a courier Lui Lun to transport the lyre to a certain person. She knows that if her enemies find out about the lyre, they are certain to attack the courier in order to steal it. Lui Lun’s father is killed by the villains only for him to discover that he wasn’t his real father. He was adopted when he was a child and that he is really Snow’s sister. Although angry with Snow at first for getting him involved with her plans of revenge, he is eventually reconciled with his sister. They team up together to fight off their enemies once and for all.

This HK wuxia movie isn’t that well-known over in the West but it has all the ingredients of what makes the genre so much fun to watch (which includes people fighting through the air, a ludicrous plot, some OTT characters and plenty of swordfights). The story starts out very promisingly with an exciting action-packed sequence and this sets the pattern for the rest of the movie with the energetic and inventive action scenes coming thick and fast with hardly a pause in between them. At least nobody will be able to complain that the movie is boring!! Viewers could get confused with the complex plot as there is so many characters and trying to fathom which side each of them are on might make your head spin!!  Then again this isn’t a movie to be taken seriously so let the plot go over your head and just enjoy the spectacle that unfolds onscreen.

Deadful Melody screenshot

The plot as you’d expect from this genre is totally bonkers and the lyre in question when played properly can kill a person (in fact they explode in a cloud of multi-coloured dust!!). It seems to me like the filmmakers went in with an ‘anything-goes’  approach to the action scenes. I’m glad they did as that what makes this movie a joy to watch. You just never know what the hell they’re going to come up with next. The special effects and the wirework scenes are exhilarating. The humour in the plot is funny at times as well – some of the colourful dialogue in particular will make you smile! Unfortunately there isn’t a resolution to the story which suggested to me that there was a sequel being planned (which obviously didn’t take place after all).

Some might say that Brigitte Lin is typecast once again in a cross-dressing role but I thought she was great in it. You can always count on Brigitte to give a good performance which came a year before she quit the movie business. Her character isn’t quite so straight forward as you think – her mind has been so consumed by revenge she’s close to becoming just a cold hearted murderess and not somebody that’s out for justice for her parents. Yuen Biao holds his own with Brigitte Lin but he sure looks his age in this movie. He also doesn’t get to show a lot of his usual acrobatic martial arts skills because it’s more about sword-fighting so I felt a bit let-down because of that. Biao and Lin complement each other quite well in this movie. Although she’s not in a lot of scenes, Siu Wing-Sang is stunning as a witch who is deadly with a whip and the reliable Carina Lau is also funny as a feisty woman. The actors playing the clan leaders who are after Snow and her lyre also give good performances

If you’re a fan of OTT wuxia movies you should find this enjoyable enough. It’s far from being a classic but it will hold your interest due to the enthusiastic action scenes. I had fun watching it.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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prison on fire dvd

Yiu is sent to prison for 3 years for accidentally pushing a man in front of a bus as he was attacking his father. He is totally unprepared for the harsh reality of prison life and is targeted by some of the other inmates. Whilst working in the Infirmary, Yiu meets up with the wise cracking Ching who takes him under his wing after he realises that unless he helps him out Yiu won’t survive in prison for long. When a gang leader sets Yiu up for a fall thanks to his association with a corrupt prison warden, maybe even Ching won’t be able to save Yiu from the wrath of the other prisoners.

A pulsating prison drama from talented HK director Ringo Lam as part of his ‘On Fire’ trilogy (City On Fire/School On Fire) which shows a harrowing look into the bleak and brutal prison system in Hong Kong and how much power the triads have on the inside. It follows a man who slowly adjusts to life in the slammer after he meets a sympathetic inmate who takes pity on him. It also depicts the violence that takes place. All the things you associate with a gritty prison movie are here from riots, corrupt officials etc. The first part of the movie is what you would call a slow burner with not much action happening but plenty of character development. To some this might be boring but it’s all enjoyable stuff by Lam. However it is in the second part that everything kicks off and gets noticeably darker.

prison on fire screenshot

As Yiu is not a part of a gang and a bit naïve he is made to be a scapegoat by a power struggle between two factions. It’s great seeing the friendship between Yiu and Ching develop as the storyline takes place over the course of several years – they’re a good contrast to each other. Apart from the evil warden, the other chief villain of the story is a prisoner called Mickey who becomes a thorn in the side of our two friends. He is transferred to another prison after he attacks Ching with a piece of glass and things get better for Yiu and Ching. However, one year later with things having settled down, the two are shocked when they discover Mickey is back in their prison and hasn’t forgotten about the issues he has with them. He sets the pair up leading to their lives being in danger. The story builds up to it’s conclusion very well indeed in that you can see that tension is growing and that something will eventually give and it does.

Chow Yun-Fat is brilliant in this movie and gives it his all as Ching, the prisoner with a carefree attitude but who knows exactly the prison politics that are taking place. What I loved about Chow Yun-Fat’s portrayal of Ching was he changes somewhat from when the viewer first sees him. His playfulness is transformed into blind rage by the end as he has been pushed to the limit and it all explodes in an orgy of violence. Ringo Lam knows how to get a good performance out of Chow Yun-Fat. They’ve collaborated in several movies over the years. Tony Leung also pulls in a fine performance as the vulnerable Yiu. You really feel for him when he attempts to kill himself. Roy Cheung plays the vicious warden who kills several inmates by whacking them across their heads with his truncheon.

This is an excellent movie by Ringo Lam and is definitely one of his best. Coupled with the outstanding performances by the cast, for HK movie fans this is a must-see movie. Don’t miss it.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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in-the-line-of-duty-5-middle-man-poster

Female HK police inspector Rachel Yeung is looking forward to seeing her cousin David who has served in the military overseas. They haven’t seen each other for a while and she hopes they can spend some time together. A fellow officer in the military Alan arrives in HK with David and he’s involved in some shady dealings with some people in the intelligence community about selling secrets to foreign buyers. When Alan is murdered by some thugs by accident, David is framed for the crime. He tries to clear his name but this only makes things worse as people from the CIA to the local crime organisation are either trying to kill or kidnap him! The only person that can testify to David’s innocence is May, a teenage girl. Rachel is convinced of her cousin’s innocence but her job is not helped by her superiors wanting to bring David in for questioning. Rachel has always been one to do her job by the book but this time she might have to break the rules if she’s to save her cousin’s life which means going all the way to South Korea to sort the mess out.

Coming off the back of ITLOD 4 which was one of the very best in the franchise, there was a lot of expectation that this movie might be just as good but sadly it isn’t. This movie is the point at which the franchise gradually went down. It does have it’s moments but it just doesn’t stand out from any other generic action movie that was coming out of HK at the time. The uninteresting espionage plot doesn’t help things either. The movie does start off on a bang as Rachel Yeung is chasing after a suspect in a car park and she does a flying kick through a windshield of a moving car before the pair continue scrapping through an alleyway and onto a couple of other moving vehicles. Sadly though, apart from a couple of other good fights this movie is lacking in any real excitement.

In the line of duty 5 middleman screenshot

The fight choreography whilst competent enough isn’t as good as previous entries because Corey Yuen and Yuen Wo Ping wasn’t involved. Still, I will watch anything with Cynthia Khan and she performs well as Rachel Yeung – dodging bullets and kicking ass. She takes part in a couple of good stunts, one of which has her dangling off the side of a skyscraper! Another sees her chasing after a speedboat at a container terminal which ends with the bad guys’ boat being smashed to pieces by a falling cargo container. The highlight of the movie has to be the girl-on-girl fight between Cynthia and the Australian blonde Kim Maree-Penn (a stuntwoman) in a room full of breakable glass which turns into a swordfight.  She also has a good fight with Billy Chow.  Thankfully even though the plot is a bit dull, there’s enough action sequences to keep this movie from being boring – one of the stunts to watch out for is a man falling from height and destroying a car roof. The word ouch springs to mind when you see it!!  Taiwanese actor David Wu is rather lacklustre as the soldier on the run and I noticed a lack of chemistry between himself and Cynthia Khan.  Alvina Kong is wasted as May as she doesn’t have a lot to do in the movie. The same goes for Kim Maree-Penn and Billy Chow.

Tinkering with a formula can play havoc in a successful franchise and that certainly did happen in this movie. The humour that was present in the previous movies has disappeared completely and they go for a deadly serious story instead with more emphasis on the drama. It just doesn’t work out as well as the filmmakers thought it would be.

Overall, this is a movie that will appeal more to Cynthia Khan fans more than anyone else. There’s nothing that really stands out and the plot doesn’t really grab you at all. By all means take a look if you’ve seen the previous 4 movies but I’m sure like myself you’ll end up feeling a little disappointed by the end.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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Iron Angels 3

AKA Iron Angels 3

Moon is a secret agent working undercover in Thailand who joins a suicide assassin organisation as a Japanese bodyguard called Yoko. Her evil boss is a foreign lady who has a small pet crocodile she carries around on her arm. When Moon has to ditch her secret transmitter on the way to her boss’ mansion, she loses contact with the rest of the team which includes a Thai agent named Kharina, a foreign computer geek and 2 male HK agents. They don’t seem to be overly concerned as they know that Moon can take care of herself.  As Moon tries to get some information from inside the organisation about the mission they are about to undertake in assassinating a group of top government officials at a garden party, the other agents from outside try and stop their plan.

Billed by many as the weakest in the Angel (or in some cases it’s called Iron Angel) trilogy, this is certainly the wildest movie of the lot. The high-octane action is incredible and the finale contains some crazy shit going on with a huge body count which sees well over 100 people being slaughtered but I’ll get into that later on in the review.  I thought this movie had Moon Lee as the central character but she disappears from the movie for a large portion and is not present in the climax at all. For a person like myself who is a huge Moon Lee fan I was really disappointed about this. The plot is paper thin but the action that unfolds onscreen is some of the best I’ve seen in a ‘Girls With Guns’ movie so it doesn’t really matter. The action gets going in the opening scene as Moon Lee is in disguise acting like a ditzy woman on a train who gets inside a carriage with a Japanese female passenger and a man. After getting the guard to remove the man thanks to a false accusation that he touched her up, the viewer finds out that the Japanese woman is really an assassin and a brilliant fight ensues inside the carriage. There’s a nod to 007’s From Russia With Love as the Japanese woman has a blade hidden inside her shoe which springs out ala Rosa Kleb. It ends with Moon Lee shoving the assassin’s head through a window which knocks her out and she assumes her identity! There’s even a first for myself in seeing Moon Lee strip off and change clothes. Moon has probably some of the best fights you’ll ever see her get involved in (barring her scraps with Yukari Oshima from other movies). She single-handedly takes on a mansion full of killers with only her martial arts skills, a sword and a nunchaku when her cover is blown.

Iron Angels 3 screenshot

It’s the pair of Alex Fong and Ralph Chen that takes the majority of screen time in this movie and they make for a good pairing. Ralph Chen plays an agent that gets in constant trouble. If he’s not attracting the attention of a suicide bomber who is selling drinks from a mobile stand and has placed bombs inside fake pineapples, he’s annoying the hell out of Thai agent Kharina who he likes very much but she’s not too impressed by him! The story even goes off tangent when the two male agents go to see a Thai boxing match. After Fong’s character interferes in a match when he saves a man from being killed in the ring, his irate opponent challenges him to a match. The viewer is then treated to an extended and very brutal match between the two.

The best action sequence is saved for last as the evil organisation carries out it’s nefarious masterplan and sends a group of assassins on motorbikes armed with machine guns to gatecrash the important garden party. The Thai army manages to repel this raid until a massive truck smashes through a wall and when the side of the truck opens there’s a whole army of assassins ready to attack. As the Thai army begins to get hammered by the onslaught of the assassins, from out of nowhere who should appear on jet-packs which have twin machine guns inserted in the handles but the 2 male HK agents. It’s one of the craziest things I’ve seen in a HK action movie as the pair destroys the assassins. It’s literally carnage within the grounds where the garden party is taking place which is completely littered with dead human bodies!! After taking care of business on the outside it’s time for Alex Fong to have a fight with the head of the evil organisation played wickedly by the blonde haired Saskia Van Rijswijk who enjoys torturing her underlings if they don’t perform to her high expectations. It’s hard to say whether there was a joke involved in having Saskia’s character having a pet baby crocodile, it seemed to me like a parody of a Bond villain. I kept waiting and hoping for Moon Lee to appear and perhaps have a one-on-one encounter with Saskia’s character but it doesn’t happen. I have no idea why she was left out of the finale?

For an action movie this delivered on everything I expected and more besides. Moon Lee is still as cute as a button even when she’s kicking ass. A great ending to the trilogy. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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