Webmaster of Sogoodreviews and Sleazy K's Video and of course the driving force behind the ever growing (both in size and stature) Podcast On Fire Network. The diversity and sheer amount of information available across the P.O.F Network, from This Week In Sleaze and it's CAT III coverage, to The Director's series, to Commentary On Fire and Ken's new baby Taiwan Noir, is truly inspirational. Initially Ken was a little reluctant to submit a list, but was very supportive of the idea of putting this together and that pretty much sums up what I know about him. He eventually gave in and provided his list, which as I expected is a very interesting one, and one I'm really pleased to be able to share with everyone. It's been mentioned on facebook numerous times how Ken is the cornerstone of the Hong Kong cinema fan community, and his quality of output, work ethic ( I can never keep up with his schedule) and above all attitude have more than earned him that compliment.
In order of preference.
An Autumn’s Tale.
Take two stars, Chow Yun-fat and Cherie Chung, who always were comfortable with each other and concoct the most perfect romantic, simple beats that are universal (helps that the movie is about two Hong Kong people in New York) and you got what has often been described as the perfect date movie out of Hong Kong cinema. Everyone delivering the utmost from stars to understated direction by Mabel Cheung.
I find it frustrating director Nam Nai-choi isn’t associated with his sci-fi/gore/special effects spectacle The Cat but rather weaker material, in comparison, like Story Of Ricky but regardless, the former cinematographer took on a wealth of material during his relatively short directing career. Clearly though, it was love for special effects and b-movies that shined through and none better in the non-stop carosuel that is The Cat. Watch out forthe ingenious sequence featuring a fight between an alien cat and a super-dog. All done without harming the animals seemingly. See, Hong Kong cinema does care.
Due to lack of availability, this Tsui Hark blues has always lived in the shadow of the weaker Peking Opera Blues. Shame because it’s a perfect mix of beautiful design, music, goofy comedy, romance and heart. Special mention to Sally Yeh in a perfectly pitched, ditsy performance.
I love it when swordplay movies say something real despite being set in a fantasy-world. Patrick Tam makes us question along with Adam Cheng’s character what truly is the point of striving for supremacy in the martial world. Heavy stuff, all performed during a very short running time in a refreshing move.
Bullet In The Head.
My introduction to Hong Kong cinema where I got excited an destroyed in one go. John Woo’s movie certainly is about the stylish action but the anger is put to use in a way where we realize the term bloody brotherhood has never been as well executed as it is here.
Once Upon A Time In Triad Society.
Chow Yun-fat was my first actor discovery in Hong Kong cinema in the sense that I can’t get enough of this guy. Francis Ng the second and this performance (along with the one in the unrelated sequel) is character acting gold. Told from two perspectives as his heinous triad boss Ugly Kwan is on his way out of this world, it’s a perfect send up of triad movie conventions that were becoming a bit too allurring for the youth and just perfect entertainment helmed by Cha Chuen-Yee who peaked with this and mentioned sequel.
Regardless of how much it’s tailored after ‘Witness’, Ringo Lam’s more mellow side after being angry to the max in ‘School On Fire’ gives us the finest on-screen collaboration between his leads Chow Yun-fat and Cherie Chung as well as glimpses into choices of mixing violence and a relationship that doesn’t need to be romantic. It needs to be however.
You know how Hong Kong movies put every mood and genre into one movie sometimes? Being silly, grating, touching and extremely violent? Scared Stiff is THE test for this but Lau Kar-wing pulls it off because he knows how to push. From Eric Tsang dressed up as a robot to sections echoing giallo movies to an an ESP action/gore ending, it’s jaw dropping material especially if you don’t know it going in.
Hail The Judge.
I might be missing out on tons of intricacies in Stephen Chow’s comedy here but Hail The Judge is still the most hilarious of Chow’s 90s comedies. It may be directed by Wong Jing but it feels a lot more Chow than Wong thankfully.
Red To Kill.
You do need to be slapped around by cinema, you do need to be pushed, be violated and feel ill after watching certain movies. At least that’s my take on it and during the Category III explosion of the 90s, there was no one better to turn to than Billy Tang. Shooting his rape-thriller in synch sound and creating some of the most vivid visually and disturbing imagery in any Hong Kong movie before or since, it may have some missteps or two when it comes to the pitch in Ben “The Hulk” Ng’s performance and it doesn’t apologize for the story it’s presenting. It doesn’t say that it’s liking it either and therefore I return to it... often.