Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Coolest HK Movies You Have Never Seen pt.2- Invasion of the Taiwanese!!!


Often times I knowingly lump Taiwanese productions in with HK productions, especially dealing with the 'golden era' of HK cinema. The reasons being that Taiwan and HK often shared their respective top talents as well as genre cinema stereotypes and often co-produced films together. At times it was difficult to tell what was a Taiwanese production or a HK one, in respect to it's lower budget genre films, as both cinemas were fired up with similar energy and irreverence as well. So, it is only fair of me to count Taiwanese productions in my 'Coolest Movies' series as, for my $, Taiwanese films pack more of a fervent and kinetic off the wall-ness than most HK films. And the proof is where my cheesy little videos come in.

Above is the 1991 Taiwanese actioner, BIG CIRCLE BLUES, starring HK'ers Mark Cheng Ho-nam, Michiko Nishiwaki, Wu Ma, and Taiwanese tough bitch, To Gwai-fa. The films look is cheap, as were the majority of Taiwanese films from this era, but don't let the meager budget fool you. This film, and a whole heckuva lot more films from this era, pack quite an action wallop. Cookie cutter stories and characterizations aside, Taiwanese actioners were more times head and shoulders above their HK counterparts. Believe it!


OK. So, I will admit here that the 1992 gangster actioner HEROES IN GAIL is not a good film. The two copies I have seen of this choppy actioner were questionable at best. The running time is relatively short and appears to be oft edited. I'm unsure if these copies are the most complete ones available, but I don't think a coherent edit would matter? That much being said, HEROES IN GAIL provides some nice action work that thankfully slices into this turgid tale nicely. HK actor Shum Wai, who is most notable for his villainous roles, again body slams his persona into his character by playing a wonderfully glorious bastard. Other HK'ers of note in this mess are bits by Jimmy Lung Fong, the Duke of Dirty-Charlie Cho Cha-lee, and once again, Mark Cheng Ho-nam. The actual title, I believe, should read HEROES IN JAIL, not GAIL. That shit titling only adding to my slight satisfaction with this film.


And finally, WOLF OF CHINA SEA aka THE KILLER FROM CHINA. Again, as with HEROES IN GAIL, this film isn't so hot, but it is definitely cool in parts. Three of HK's finest, circa 1991, star in this gangster blow 'em up. Michael Miu Kiu-wai, Alex Man Chi-leung, and Alex Fong Chung-sun co-mingle with Taiwanese actor Wong Goon-hung, the actual star of this enjoyable action yarn.

As I mentioned earlier, action was the flavor of the day with Taiwanese films from this era. Liberally 'borrowing' plots and pacing from it's better known bigger brother from across the South China Sea, Taiwanese cinema deserves just as much props for their brand of genre excess. Though never really even coming close to scrapping the heels of HK in terms of success, it wasn't for lack of trying. I will most definitely be showing you guys more Taiwanese madness, not only from this beautiful 'golden age' but from some wacky-ass years prior. Some truly cool films that most of you probably have never seen....or heard of, for that matter. Seek these bad boys out! Stay tuned and enjoy.


  1. "action was the flavor of the day with Taiwanese films from this era.", wasn't this (also) the era of the Taiwanese New Wave with great non-action films being made by the likes of Hou Hsiao Hsien, Edward Yang, Ang Lee and others? ;b

  2. hahaha Touche, YTSL! =D

    I am only speaking about 'genre' films, here. Those directors you have mentioned AND their films were more arthouse. That being said, their films definitley deserve their due.

    I happen to enjoy their films less than the action/fantasy films provided by Taiwan during this era.

    I also feel that the Taiwanese industry kinda fizzled with their genre filmmaking as the New Wave was ascending. The movie system seemed to befall the same fate as HK's around the same time. The only films that have appeared to make it out alive were the arthouse ones.

    I hope more genre oriented pics make a resurgence. While 'you can never go home again,' I really enjoyed seeing more genre-oriented films from Taiwan like Zoom Hunting,Invitation Only, and Monga.

    I sure hope movies in this vein make a modest return so we aren't ONLY stuck with Hou Hsiao Hsien films. =D

  3. Hmmm, Kingwho? -- I actually like Hou Hsiao Hsien's films a lot (including those with some crime and action in them)... heheheh. OTOH, have given up on Tsai Ming Liang's movies after having seen three of them.

    But yeah, definitely would not mind seeing more movies like "Monga" coming out of Taiwan. Really enjoyed that work. :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.