I tend to be a sucker for sweaty actioners circa the early 90's. Usually the cheaper the better. And if they are set somewhere in Southeast Asia's "Golden Triangle", then sign me up. This delightful period of filmmaking churned out such movies by the dozen. Though set in Hong Kong, Yun Juen-man's 1991 triad actioner BULLET FOR HIRE is a cut above the usual fare tapping stars Simon Yam and Jacky Cheung to play the leads in a somewhat tired tale of triad hitmen. That being said, the film stays afloat by injecting a touch of comedy into the proceedings. The comedy doesn't linger too long and action is the main force behind the film. The film also stars Elaine Lui. Unfortunately Lui's career didn't last long. A shame, since she had a wonderful screen presence and appeared to have immense talent. Both acting and action wise. She is most definately one of my favorite HK actresses. Above are poster images for the film. Sadly, sans Elaine Lui. And below, another oldie review from cityonfire.com. Enjoy.
Interpol has been conducting a study on the numbers of satellite triads that steming from Hong Kong. A top official from Interpol is in H.K. for discussions on curbing this global epidemic. Gun brandishing P.O. Elaine Lui is assigned to protect him from possible triad danger. And wouldn't you know it, hitman #1 Simon Yam outsmarts her and hits Mr. Interpol man post conference. After this take out, Yam's elder partner decides to hang up his 9 millimeter and their big boss furnishes Yam with a green, wet behind the ears, young upstart, Jacky Cheung. As the two get chummy and Yam schools Cheung on the triad game, events are set in motion for a showdown with Lui and the police force.
Made during the days when H.K. action cinema was watchable and Simon Yam's perm wasn't, director Yuen Jun Man's "BULLET FOR HIRE" is great early 90's filmmaking, and distracts the viewer from Yam's ugly fro. It's an erratic, irreverent, almost anything goes flick with comedy that's actually comical and some explosive action sequences that get the squibs bursting. The humor in the film comes from the interaction that takes place between the new gun pro Cheung an the old hat Yam as Yam teaches him the ropes. The downside to these comedic interludes is that action, on occasion, takes a backseat and causes the film to lag. I suppose these scenes are integral to the plot as they let us become better acquainted with the charming Yam and gullible Cheung, both hard core killers. So much time is spent with these two that we begin to root for them, even though they are on the wrong side of the law. A testament to their great acting and Yuen's filmmaking. Though the plot of the film is your basic triad morality tale involving brotherhood and such, "BULLET FOR HIRE" comes highly recommended.
The majority of the visitors to this blog...all 3 of you....already know the course Veronica Yip's HK film career took. From shedding her kit in soft porn Category III titilators and turd's to displaying her rather fine acting chops as a legit player, fully clothed, alongside some of HK's best actors. Yip disappeared in the mid 90's just as the HK film industry began to tank. I have long wondered what had happened to her? Well, a few years back I made my first visit to the Hong Kong Supermarket in Flushing. The place was packed. Teeming with people clamoring for all sorts of Asian groceries and treats. Curious about this wonderful place I did what everyone does when they need an answer. I Googled it. Who knew that my Veronica Yip query would be answered by searching for supermarket info!? Turns out, upon leaving the HK film industry, Veronica married wealthy Chinese-American businessman, Jeffrey Wu, and started a family. The couple own the very well known Hong Kong Supermarket chain, with stores throughout Asian communities in North America. The couple are also largely vested in banking and real estate ventures and are said to be worth quite A LOT of moolah. She has transformed herself from masturbation material to succesful businesswoman. Upon further investigation I found a most awesome nugget of gold. Veronica and family reside on Long Island. My neck of the woods. No actual location is given but no worries. I'm just happy to be in close proximity. Somewhere in Veronica's life story are themes of female empowerement. Whether it be by taking her top off for all to oogle or by becoming a genuine success by personal courage and perseverance....with just a tinge of nepotism. But you won't find Veronica's possible deep personal arc here in this story. Now, if you'll excuse me. I'm off to watch GIGOLO AND WHORE II.....again. Boobies.
After watching the documentary "NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF OZPLOITATION!", I felt the need to share my poster for one of the films commented on at some length in the doc. The simply awesome 1975 Hong Kong/ Austraila co-production, "THEMAN FROM HONG KONG", starring Jimmy Wang-yu, George "I played James Bond in only one film" Lazenby, and a brief appearance by Sammo "can I have another cha sha bao?" Hung. The documentary's talking heads are people who worked on the film including director Brian Trenchard-Smith, all of whom recall Jimmy Wang-yu as, "horrible", "a nasty piece of work", and "one of the two worst people I have ever worked with in my life". Lazenby recounts that Wang-yu had no respect for anyboby. Also told, Wang-yu felt that white women were scum and white actresses were worse than scum. As such he insisted on catching flies from the air and eating them before having to kiss his white female love interest. Wang -yu was so disliked by all that actor Roger Ward asked Trenchard-Smith, "look, do you want me to take care of Jimmy? Do you want to give me a hiding?" The "hiding" never occured. All of that smack being said, "THEMAN FROM HONG KONG" is one hell of an entertaining action-adventure. As for "NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD"....Boobies for the fellas, John Holmes' hog (or razorback) for the ladies, and a wagon load of blood, carnage, and explosions for all to enjoy. YOU MUST SEE IT!
Above are poster images for director Chan Wing-chiu's 1993 Cat III thriller 3 DAYS OF ABLIND GIRL, starring Anthony Wong and Veronica Yip. Below is an ancient review I did for cityonfire.com. Check it out.
The plot of 3 DAYS OF A BLIND GIRL, aka Retribution Sight Unseen, is lifted in part from the Michael Apted film Blink, with Madeline Stowe as the main afflicted and Terence Young's, Wait Until Dark, with Audrey Hepburn as the tormented blind. This HK counterpart gives it that glorious Cat III punch and it's 'over the topness' makes the film surpass others in the genre. Veronica Yip is struck with a loss of eyesight for 72 hours (some mumbo jumbo of ruptured blood vessels causing the damage). Her husband, a renowned heart surgeon, must leave her home in HK to attend a medical conference in Macau. By now you know what will occur in the remainder of the film because you've seen this device time and again. As hubby exits, Anthony Wong steps on the scene. Wong tells Yip he's an old buddy of the doc's and would like to thank him for performing life saving heart surgery on his wife. Yip informs him of her hubby's absence and politely invites Wong in for tea. The audience groans at her stupidity as we know Wong is there for good. Mayhem ensues and Wong chews scenery. The typical cliches are enlisted-phone lines cut, light's go out, deserted home where no one can hear you yelp for help, and a HK favorite, the family pup served for supper. Wong's reasoning for catching the crazies is his cheating wife. Turn's out Yip's surgeon-hubby was treating/banging Wong's wife on the side as well as prescribing vitamins instead of heart medicine, thus leading to her death and Wong's psychotic vengeance. At one point in the film, delusional Wong tell's Yip,"He fucked my wife, I want to fuck his". All's fair in love and war, I guess, but Wong doesn't succeed. As Yip slowly regains her sight, she takes him on in combat, grabbing anything she can for defense, including a humongous frozen sausage, which she uses to whack him over the dome with. Hysterical, and worth the watch alone. Eventually, retribution sight is seen and Yip wins the battle-as if you didn't know that would happen. What would a Veronica Yip movie be without nudity? A bad Veronica Yip movie. Since this one is not, we are treated to an unforgettable shower diddy, more funny than bone inducing, as Wong slips in behind Yip and mimics washing her. Wong's portrayal of the weirdo is like many other characters he had played in Cat III films of the time, more disturbingly absurd than menacing. His wardrobe stand's out in the film and is chuckle inducing. Along with his scraggly long hair, he dresses like a mountain-man from one of those Ricola cough drop commercials-clad in green hiking shorts and suspenders. There is also some choice banter between the two stars as Yip reveals that she sometimes thinks of Chow Yun-fat while making love to her husband, to which Wong replies,"How about Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok?". Adding in Richard Gere for the female gwailo in the crowd. The movie is very well made and though some of the suspense comes off silly do to Wong's nut job performance, it is strongly maintained and reminded me of a Dario Argento shocker. The acting by Wong and Yip is quite strong and elevate the film above the standard Cat III thriller/ sex fare.
Restaurant window in NYC Chinatown. Rumor has it, if you visit this eatery after a late night of karaoke you might find Kurt Russell and Kim Cattrall, passed out at a back table, strung out on speedballs............of tapioca.
A few poster images from Nam Nai-choi's much beloved 1992 action-gore flick "STORY OFRICKY" starring Fan Siu-wong, William Ho Ka-kui, Yukari Oshima, Frankie Chin Chi-leung, and Philip Kwok Chung-fung. Fan Siu-wong seemed to suffer a bit as HK cinema took a turn for the worse in the mid to late 90's. He found himself in a ton of low budget garbage, some of which I happened to enjoy (So what if I liked Spy Gear, The Story of Freeman, and Unbeatables? Sue me), but appears to be making a comeback in legit productions. The past few years Fan has been seen making the grade in films like The Moss, Ip Man, Connected, Split Second Murders, and On His Majesty's Secret Service. He can also be seen in the upcoming Future X-Cops, Ip Man 2 as well as the Ip Man prequel, Once Upon a Chinese Classic, and Flirting Scholar 2. Welcome back Fan Siu-wong. HK action cinema looks a lot brighter with him in the fold.
Director Joe Hau Wing-choi is quite possibly one of the worst directors to ever lens a film in Hong Kong. While not quite the craptacular director Kenneth Lau is, Hau, whose main gig is that of Art Director, at the very least captures smooth images inside his frames. Flipping through dvd's last night in Flushing I came by Hau's latest, THE PRETTY WOMEN. It stars Cecilia Yip and Ray Lui. Two very, very fine actors. If the year was 1994 I would have snatched this one up in seconds. Though for these two actors, I believe their best years are unfortunately behind them. If you have seen Yip's 2002 turd, CHINESE ORTHOPAEDIST AND THE SPICE GIRLS, you know what I'm talking about. I do hope that these two actors find better projects to revive their careers. Yip did appear in veteran director Jacob Cheung's 2008 film TICKET and Lui made an appearance in the exceptional 2007 Wilson Yip actioner FLASHPOINT. So appearing in a Joe Hau film seems, to me at least, a HUGE step back. But to be fair, I haven't seen it. I'll wait for it to become available in the bargain bin. Below is an old review for one of Joe Hau's better films, 1995's PASSION UNBOUNDED. Above some poster images.
1995's PASSION UNBOUNDED glides along it's 99 min. running time with a strange and creepy fascination. Like DIARY OF A SERIAL RAPIST, "PASSION UNBOUNDED" also involves deadly matters in the Tuen Muen district of Hong Kong. The menacing atmosphere is amplified by the enigmatic performance by Carrie Ng, who slinks in and out of every frame. Dead bodies are popping up and the search is on for the killer, who's bumping off victims while doing the bump. Though the film let's on early as to who the killer is, there is much more in store for the audience who are expecting a little sleaze. The film lurches and evolves towards a satisfying finale aided by an excellent use of color, outstanding photography, and moody pacing that infuses this striking oddity with a touch of class. Director Joe Hau Wing-choi uniquely realizes this bizarre CAT III entry and directs it with force....and a touch of pretensiousness. Carrie Ng makes a strong performance as a deranged murderess whose past is charred with childhood trauma. A flashback reveals mommy turning tricks in the same bed as Ng, while she tries to sleep. When the john is gone, mommy dearest turns her affections towards Carrie. That's enough psychology for me! As a bonus we get to see Carrie Ng masturbate in the tub and the use of her stiletto heel as a lethal weapon a la Jennifer Jason Leigh in SINGLE WHITE FEMALE. The pace begins to fall off towards the middle of the film, which may set viewers off, myself included. The film does have the feeling of being ostentatious as well and their is little, if any, semblance of a cohesive story. These issues were drawbacks I found in the film but i'm not mistaking this for anything more than a fine piece of trash cinema. The depravity and eccentricity on view doesn't seem to deserve the upscale production values PASSION UNBOUNDED offers, but all seem to work amazingly well.
X-mas time is just around the bend over and here's a gift to make the tweeny boppers swoon. This life like Jay Chou is ready to saddle up, Cowboy...er...girl!? Throw on his 10 gallon hat and its, "10-4 buddy, come on back!"
Just a few poster images from Godfrey Ho's 1991 girls-with-guns smush'em up LETHAL PANTHER. Though the plot, like in many a Mr. Ho opus, is a head scratcher to piece together, there are some good things to be found here. Most are in the form of the era's cheap action player's Sibelle Hu and Alex Fong (who is one of my favorite actors working in HK today, by the way). A nonsensical, yet fun, little time waster.
Before the days of the internet, when cine-idiots like myself needed a fix, we looked to the 'gray market' for a hit. The mail order catalogue was the flavor of the day and a great place to find your favorite rare and OOP flickers, all terribly transferred to SLP VHS. Unfortunately your cinema jonesin' had to wait 2-4 weeks for delivery. I dropped a pretty penny on the gray market back in the day but i'm happy to report that, for the most part, I have been clean for quite sometime. Though, admittedly, every once in a while I cook one up. I recently tortured myself by revisiting Mah Wu Tu's 1990 Hong Kong porno, Mind Fuck. I also took a few screen shots so you can see the awful transfer I mentioned earlier. And here's an old review I wrote once upon a gray market VHS binge....
Cross Sex and Zen's ancient Chinese cultural characteristics with The Devil In Miss Jones' production values and penetration and you have MIND FUCK . This Chinese porn is outrageous from start to finish, combining elements of almost every HK genre. Ghost story, hopping vampire, and canto-comedy are blended, though unevenly, with a bit of the old in-out. Like this films filthy contemporary , IMPETUS FIRE, MIND FUCK is chock full of degenerates. Though this one is a damn site more enjoyable. As in Impetus Fire, a bunch of ugly people with ugly genitalia follow the mind-numbing plot, getting down to the devils business on occasion. But here, the production value is quite good....for a porn. The plot is not worth mentioning (this is a porn! ), but there is a subplot involving a thief with some funny "toilet humor" thrown into the mix. The thief can't seem to stop passing gas after he eats bean curd, and is given the funniest line in the film,"I'm farting upa cyclone!" (seen screen shot). There are many camp attributes to MIND FUCK including the use of the same establishing shot throughout and some Jess Franco-like camera "tricks"(kaleidoscope). Some downsides to the production are the editing, for one, is atrocious (but again, it's a porn. Not THE 400 BLOWS. Which would have made a great porn title...) and when you're peddling t&a you need more of it. Would you believe that this is a character driven porno? Less story and more characters doin' the bump would have made it a worthwhile hour and a half. The production also boasts very easy to read green subtitles. Better than Impetus Fire, but that's not saying much.
Upon further Ebay browsing I unearthed some more severed Hong Kong heads. Just in time for Chanukah. One crazy head for eight crazy nights. Pictured from top: Takeshi Kaneshiro- as Zhu-ge Liang from Red Cliff Simon Yam- Pass. He's too cool for me to make fun of Shawn Yue- See above. A rare respectable actor in the current crop of Hong Kong trash Lam Suet - If you look close you can even see his mole! Now THAT'S fine craftsmanship! Donnie Yen- as Rocky Dennis from Mask 3 clones of Bruce Lee
For all of you holiday shoppers, I found these while browsing Ebay. Give your loved one's lasting holiday memories...or nightmares with these lifelike decapitated heads of eveyone's favorite Hong Kong thespians , Michael Fitzgerald Wong and Anthony Wong Chau -sang. Reenact your favorite scenes from such Hong Kong classic's as BEAST COPS and HOUSE OF FURY!
Anthony Wong's doll face looks way too clean. If you notice, Michael's doll face is more pock marked than Anthony's face in real life! As per the Ebay listing, Michael Wong's "Head is painted and unmodified (no hole in neck)! Head is made of solid resin, and will fit most 12" figures with minor modification!" The listing also states that this is a toy and NOT real! Seriously.
Hong Kong Cinema is like sex and pizza. Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good.
I have had a love affair with Hong Kong Cinema for over 17 years now. I have accumulated over 3,000 HK films and many other HK film related items throughout those 17 years. With this blog, I am hoping to share my collection with other HK cinema fans. With my writing, I am trying to keep things light,fun,and tongue in cheek in hopes that my love affair with HK cinema continues and remains as fresh as the days I first fell in love with it. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoy!