Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mail Call More Hong Kong VCDs From France

Just received another package of HK VCDs from my ebay buddy across the English channel in France. The last package can be seen here.

Again, I hadn't even heard of a couple of these but decided to take a chance for less than £2 each!

3 Days of a blind girl

Black cat in jail

Devil's woman

Golden swallow

Interpol 009

One title was missing a cat III movie called A day without policemen, I've been in contact and it's now on it's way so no problem. The quality of these vcds may not be up to much, but I do like being able to pick up a bunch of titles that are mostly unavailable for very little cash and legitimately too!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hunting List : Cat III Part 10

Chu Yen Ping's Hunting list has to be one of the most derivative films ever made, and that really is saying something when talking about Hong Kong triad movies. Where this would usually be an issue, with this movie much of the fun is picking where the various ideas and scenes have been stolen from.

Chu Chi Kit (Ray Lui) returns from hiding out in Taiwan and goes back to work with his best friend Cramp (Tan Lap Man)  a hot headed, drug dealing triad. Their big boss Lui (Paul Chun Pui) is ambitious and is being held back by the actions of some of his "brothers", will he choose ambition or loyalty?

Essentially Chu Yen Ping's Hunting list is a remake of Phil Joanou's excellent State of grace from 1990. Despite sharing virtually the same storyline, the two movies are radically different in approach, State of grace is a serious and seriously well acted film, while Hunting list is a typically trashy category III action movie that aims for nothing more than to provide the sex and violence cat III fiends desire. If that sounds like a criticism it isn't at all. It delivers on both counts, Hunting list delivers some fantastically bloody shoot outs that utilise some of the most incredible squibs I've ever seen, they don't just blow, they shoot the blood in jets that travel several feet! The numerous sex scenes are not particularly well intergrated into the film and feel like padding to get the movie to feature length, but most won't be complaining!

The performances are pretty poor across the board, the film prefers hysteria over drama right from the off and when the tone of the acting is pretty much at ten to start with there really is only one way to go when the real histrionics begin.

Hunting list is a fun little time waster, that while offering little in terms of anything new or any actual drama, delivers pretty much everything it sets out to. enjoyment also comes from the blatant lifting of scenes from other movies, the most notable ones being the two stolen from Tony Scott's True romance, almost verbatim.  Mostly though the fun comes from the movies enthusiasm for it's more exploitable elements, especially those incredible squibs!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lucio Fulci's Contraband aka The Smuggler, The Naples Connection

Lucio Fulci's Contraband a.k.a The Smuggler (and The Naples connection) was made in 1980 in between his more famous gory zombie movies Zombie 2 (or the much cooler sounding Zombie flesh eaters to UK readers) and City of the living dead, house by the cemetery and The Beyond. Contraband was a departure for Fulci, although he directed films in many genres, this was his first and only entry into the Euro crime genre. He made a pretty good stab at it, continuing the fan pleasing combination of sleaze and incredibly violent and gory mayhem he had become famous for. Much like The Big heat, the Hong Kong movie I covered here the level of bloodshed is more befitting a splatter horror movie than a crime film.

Luca Di Angelo (Fabio Testi) is a cigarette smuggler in Naples, he along with a bunch of other gangsters run the smuggling operation into Italy. A gang of ruthless drug dealers want to use their route and when they are refused access, the gangsters and their families starting with Luca's brother are targeted by the head of the drug dealers Marsiguese (Marcel Bozzuffi).

Contraband could have been one of the best Euro crime films of the period, but has two major problems preventing this from being the case, firstly the scripting and dubbing into English are truly terrible and secondly the pacing of the first act is painfully slow. However once the film does get going it's one hell of a nasty ride with a seemingly never ending stream of gory shootings, stabbings and much worse. In fact a face being burned via a Bunsen burner makes for very uncomfortable viewing, worse still though is an incredibly vicious rape scene.

Many people are of the opinion that Fulci was a hack director, and to a certain extent I can see why but in amongst the zooms into faces Fulci and his crew capture some excellent moments, the funeral at sea utilising the boats is an example of a really well put together scene. The ever reliable Fabio Testi puts in a decent performance, at least physically as the dubbing makes it impossible to judge anything else and Marcel Bozzuffi is impressive as the evil leader of the drug dealers.

With a more careful dub and a better paced opening Contraband could have been a classic Euro crime film. As it is, it's a solid genre entry that once you get past the opening half hour and into the meat of the film really delivers for Fulci fans, with all the sleaze and gory violence you could hope to see. Be warned it's strong stuff!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Flying swords of Dragon gate first footage and posters

UPDATE : First full trailer for the film, see it here

The first clips from Tsui Hark's reunion movie with Jet Li, Flying swords of dragon gate has been released as part of the Bona entertainment Cannes preview.

Some interesting looking footage in there, along with clips from The Great magician, Overheard 2, A Beautiful life and Wong Jing's fun looking Treasure inn.

A couple of posters for Flying swords, the first one obviously designed for the western market and looking like something knocked up in about five seconds flat!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mongkok Story

Before going on to become one of Hong Kong's biggest film directors Wilson Yip made a number of low key films, a world away from from the huge Donnie Yen movies he makes these days. One of the earliest was Mongkok story, a triad movie made in the wake of the success of the first Young and dangerous movie. It has a similar feel to begin with but is more leisurely paced and becomes much more off kilter, while still using many of the genre tropes established by that influential movie.

Leung Ping (Edmund Leung Hon Man) is a waiter in a Mongkok cafe frequented by triads who follow Brother Ching (Roy Cheung). Leung sees the triad lifestyle as being glamorous and longs to be involved, inevitably he does gets drawn in to the rivalry between Brother Ching and Brother Lone's (Anthony Wong) gangs. A rumour started by one of Ching's gang about Lone begins an ever more destructive sequence of events, resulting in much posturing and machismo between the gangs before things spiral downwards to the point of no return.

Mongkok story's biggest failing is lead actor Edmund Leung, who lacks the charisma required to carry the movie as his own story. Leung is not helped here by the pairing of Roy Cheung and Anthony Wong who have charisma to burn, the screen comes alive when either are on screen and doubly so in the scenes they share together. Roy Cheung is effortlessly cool in his role as Ching, while Anthony Wong is hilarious as another in his long list of sleazy bad guys, this time as part triad leader part actor, a scene in a cinema showing him starring in an El Mariachi rip off is worth seeing the movie for alone. Wong has his hair long here and I think always looks sleazier that way. Chan Wai Man provides solid support as usual,  he must have one of the most recognisable faces in all of Hong Kong cinema.

The movie really picks up pace once Brother Lone comes onto the scene, changing from a triad lifestyle film into an almost Shakespearian tragedy/farcical black comedy. That Wilson Yip pulls this transition off is pretty impressive for a movie so early in his directing career. The action scenes are also very impressive, the gang fights certainly being better than similar scenes in the Young and dangerous movie. Mongkok story could have been improved by giving more depth to Leung's character, although I feel the filmmakers may have thought the actor wouldn't have been up to it.  This may be the reason a sub plot set up in the movie, where Leung is shown to be in love with Ching's wife leads to absolutely nothing.

You do not want to be in Edmund Lung's position, trust me
The Universe dvd is a typical Hong Kong dvd of it's time, letterboxed with burned in subtitles and quality that looks like a laserdisc transfer. It's unlikely to look better anytime soon (if ever) and is perfectly watchable, so if you do want to see Mongkok story this is probably you're best option.

While no classic, Mongkok story is a solid entry into the endlessly popular triad genre and stands up pretty well, thanks largely to the screen presence of Roy Cheung and in particular Anthony Wong who raises the movie to greater heights than perhaps the material deserves. I can't believe I managed to get through this without mentioning the Anthony Wong oral sex scene, oops!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Recent Buys : Part 2 Everything Else

Following on from part 1, here's everything else purchased in the last few weeks.

The Second wind, Alain Corneau's remake of Jean Pierre Melville's magnificent Le Deuxieme souffle is a movie I've been intrigued by, even though reviews of it were poor. I found it brand new for 99p.

Death wish, I've been on a bit of a Bronson kick lately, and haven't seen this since my teens and that's far too long ago. Which leads me on to...

Charles Bronson collection, 10 to midnight, Kinjite, Messenger of death and Murphy's law. I've only seen Murphy's law out of these, which I enjoyed and I really wanted to see 10 to midnight, the other two may not be great films but I'm sure I'll find some fun in them somewhere.

Give'em hell Malone, Loved this film, saw it on a pretty low quality version after seeing the trailer, so it should be awesome on blu. Can't get enough of Thomas Jane, he really should be a much bigger star.

Charley Varrick, This movie recently came up in comments on another post, it's an excellent film and I realised I didn't have it.

G-Men from hell, I love the comics of Mike Allred and this dvd contains not only the film but also his own Astroesque movie. G-Men from hell is obviously a very low budget film but it looks interesting and it features Gary Busey and William Forsythe, a pairing that demands to be seen.

Blowout, Both Brain De Palma and John Travolta's best movie for me, I picked up the new Criterion blu ray during the recent half price thing Amazon.com were running.

Dressed to kill, Speaking of De Palma, I've been trying to get the region 1 version of this for ages as it has lots of extras not on the UK disc, snagged it on ebay finally.

The Last boy scout, For my money the funniest bad ass action movie ever, and the perfect role for Bruce Willis, yes even more than John McClane! The dvd was horrible, so I'm hoping for an improvement with this blu ray. I've seen Last man standing, not one of Walter Hill's better efforts but I'll give it another shot.

Scream and Scream 2, Welcome blu ray upgrades for these two, wanted to see them again before seeing the latest installment, not really interested in upgrading number 3. I'm in the minority as I enjoy Scream 2 more than the original.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Recent Buys : Part 1 Hong Kong And Other Asian Movies

It's been a while since I've done a recent buys post, so here are my recent Asian cinema purchases, part two will follow with everything else soon.

Mongkok story, never seen this but Wilson Yip, Anthony Wong and Roy Cheung must be worth a watch right?

The Black panther warriors, again never seen this but an all star cast and an excellent review on Mike's Hong Kong Rewind site. Don't know why I've never seen this really.

Bullets over summer, an upgrade this time of a great movie. I wanted to watch this recently but the original Mei Ah dvd looked awful, I'm getting better but when a film IS available with better image quality I'm afraid I still can't resist!

Black Ransom, Simon Yam as a Jedi like cop, what's not to like?

Monga, Taiwanese gangster movie with a pretty big reputation, ordered this ages ago but it was delayed, looking forward to seeing it. Recommended by Kingwho? no less.

Beauty on duty, Man cannot live on crime and horror movies alone, so while it's possible I may regret this purchase at only $8.49 for the blu ray, I figured it was worth a shot.

Eastern condors, I had a previous dvd of this but lost it, no HK collection is complete without this movie so it had to be replaced.

Bullet in the head, My pick of John Woo's movies, while The Killer is just pure cinema, and sure Hard boiled has better action, no other movie makes me feel the way this movie does. It may well be another upscale but any improvement is worthwhile to me for this masterpiece!

The Man from nowhere, This movie made my top ten of the year for 2010 and with good reason, it's fantasttic. It doesn't really break any new ground but it's pretty close to perfect in execution and a must see, my favourite Korean movie since The Chaser.

Love in a puff, Pang Ho Cheung's unconventional and excellent rom-com from last year on blu ray for $10.49. Awesome!

Enchanting shadow, Early Shaw Brothers horror on vcd, recommended by Hong Kong rewind in Mike's fabulous history of Shaw Brothers horror articles. The movie is an early version of the story A Chinese ghost story was based on.

Diamond Hill, Soi Cheang's directorial debut, never seen this but I've heard good things about it, I don't think it's available on dvd so I went for the vcd.

I've gone a little mad this month, now I've just got to find the time to watch them all.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Celebrating My First Century Of Posts With Some Hong Kong Photos

I've been thinking about what to do to celebrate the 100th post for my blog and I decided to share some photos taken on my trips to Hong Kong. I just some picked out and grouped them into themes.

I've really enjoyed the doing the first 100 posts and hope to carry on for many more!


Taken from the bank of China observation deck

Tsim Sha Tsui clock tower

Film related

Eric Tsang at the 32nd HKIFF

Avenue of stars Tsim Sha Tsui

Tony Leung Chiu Wai arriving at the Asian film awards

Streets and markets

A quiet day in Mongkok

Turtle power in Mongkok

One of the more bizarre sights you may see in a major city

Views of the Hong Kong skylines

Similar shot to the one above but from the bank of China again
The famous view from the peak

From the peak trail


Cheung Chau

The temple from Just one look, Cheung Chau

Happy valley race course

Macau street looking towards St. Pauls ruins 

Hong Kong wetland centre

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