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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Zu Warriors From The Magic Mountain (Shu Shan – Xin Shu shan jian ke)

Director – Tsui Hark – 1983 – Hong Kong – Cert. 12 – 98m

*****

One of the greatest special effects action movies ever made, this groundbreaking epic delivers non-stop, near unbelievable, visually entrancing vistas of Chinese mythology – online in the UK as part of Hong Kong Focus 2021 from Tuesday, February 9th to Monday, February 15th and available on Blu-ray

There are films which seem almost single-handedly to define cultures. There are plenty of elements in Zu Warriors From The Magic Mountain that can be found elsewhere in Hong Kong cinema – martial arts stunts, flying wire work, period costumes, stock figures, airborne drapery – and yet the precise way this mixes these elements up then adds in others and adds in lots of 2D effects animation makes it a unique work, even by Tsui’s extraordinary standards.

With the ancient world in which he lives in a state of chaos due to constantly warring human factions, a man gets swiftly out of his depth when he sidesteps all that to follow a hero in the hope of becoming his disciple as the hero battles the forces of evil. If this sounds very highbrow… well, perhaps it is. Or perhaps it’s just an excuse to put together a series of truly extraordinary special effects action set-pieces that transport the viewer to mythological otherworlds the exact like of which have never been seen onscreen before or since.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Empty Hands (Hung Sau Dou)


Director – Chapman To – 2017 – Hong Kong – Cert. N/C 15+ – 97m

Film *****

Subtitle legibility *

25 word intro – online in the UK as part of Hong Kong Focus 2021 from Tuesday, February 9th to Monday, February 15th

To get the subtitle issue out of the way first, the subs here are what subs often used to be forty years ago – white with no black edge around the lettering. So as soon as the lettering appears over a white area of the image, it’s rendered invisible and illegible. These days, that system is rarely used so it’s rarely a problem. But there are several scenes here when it’s an issue. Nothing that will fundamentally spoil the film, but it’s a pity that someone cut a corner and didn’t get this quite right. If it ever turns up on home video, I hope someone redoes the subs properly to make them legible. The translation seems fine, which makes the poor legibility far more irritating. Now then, the film…

This follows the time-worn, martial arts movie template of a hero with something to prove so they train for a big competition fight in which they somehow find themselves.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Memories To Choke On, Drinks To Wash Them Down (Ye heung, yuen yeung, Sham Shui Po)

Directors – Leung Ming Kai, Kate Reilly – 2019 – Hong Kong – Cert. N/C 15+ – 77m

**1/2

Four stories from contemporary Hong Kong comprise three dramas and a closing documentary segment – online in the UK as part of Hong Kong Focus 2021 from Tuesday, February 9th to Monday, February 15th

An anthology of four stories from contemporary Hong Kong – three fiction and one documentary – showing the city’s diversity: Forbidden City, Toy Stories, Yuen Yeung and It’s Not Going To Be Fun.

Forbidden City features an old lady (Leong Cheok-mei) and her immigrant carer (Mia Mungil). The first time ‘grandma’ mentions that her son is now a big shot but used – as the not quite right subs put it –to scratch his wee-wee when he was young, it’s funny. The second and third times, it becomes obvious she has dementia and keeps repeating the same phrases over and over. Mia initially refuses to accompany her charge to a reunion in town, but after taking a video of the old lady swearing that she won’t take her carer to her son’s office (“if I do that he’ll fire me,” the carer says), she agrees to accompany her on the bus into town.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Till We Meet Again (Sheng Qian Yue Si Hou)

Director – Steven Ma – 2019 – Hong Kong – Cert. N/C 15+ – 97m

****1/2

A young man succumbs to a debilitating psychosis in the decade following his mother’s death – online in the UK as part of Hong Kong Focus 2021 from Tuesday, February 9th to Monday, February 15th

When Wai Wong Oli, Moritz) was three, his mother Mui (Josephine Ku) told him she’d always be there. Ten years ago, she died of cancer and Wai (Steven Ma) blames himself. He’s never been able to get past this, making himself dangerously ill. He gave up a job for a restaurant job near his parents’ home just so he’d be able to look after her. He’s a conscientious and efficient worker, so his boss gives him time off to see his mother whatever he wants, and when that doesn’t work out his grateful colleagues cover for him.

Sometimes, though, he doesn’t take the meds prescribed for him by Dr. Fung (Jennifer Yu) and goes completely to pieces. Fortunately, his schoolfriend Chi (Himmy Wong) is there for him. Thoughts of guilt and suicide are never far away.

The narrative proceeds on its course, flashing back and forth in time through Wai’s memories from when he was younger, including himself (Fong Chit Lun) at age 10 and himself in the decade leading up to his mum’s passing, in the company of both his mum and his bus driver dad Chung (Ling Hiu Wah).… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

A Witness Out Of The Blue (Fan Zui Xian Chang)

Director – Fung Chi-Keung – 2019 – Hong Kong – Cert. N/C 15+ – 104m

****

When a member of a gang of jewel thieves is found dead, the murder suspect may not be the obvious person – online in the UK as part of Hong Kong Focus 2021 from Tuesday, February 9th to Monday, February 15th

Following a jewellery store heist, a gang of robbers are to meet to split the loot. But someone gets to gang member Homer Tsui first, slits his throat and makes off with the bag of jewellery. There are no witnesses unless you count the pet macaw which saw the whole thing. When gang leader Sean Wong (Louis Koo) arrives, Tsui is already dead.

Senior Inspector Yip (Philip Keung) is convinced Wong is guilty. “He’s harsh”, says pretty young officer Charmaine (Cherry Ngan), “but he takes care of you.” However, Officer Larry Lam (Louis Cheung Kai-Chung) seems to get on the wrong side of Yip all the time. Lam is passionate about caring for animals and runs a cat sanctuary in his spare time, but he’s got himself into debt with a loan shark setting it up and following an early morning run in with the moneylender arrives late to the crime scene of Tsui’s murder, not to mention slipping on some blood and falling flat on a corpse.… Read the rest

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Live Action Movies Shorts

Jellyfish

Director – Che Chun Hei – 2018 – Hong Kong – Cert. N/C 12+ – 30m

****1/2

A gangland sniper’s shooting of his designated target leads to a friendship with a dog and further unauthorised killings – online and Free To View in the UK in the Fresh Wave short films strand of Hong Kong Focus 2021 from Tuesday, February 9th to Monday, February 15th

Gangland boss Shing (Lau Kong) sets up a sniper (Bowie Chan Wai Wing) in an apartment in a block overlooking a patch of waste ground. Every day, a man walks his dog over this patch. The man is the sniper’s designated target. So the sniper sets up his gun, passes the time, tries to get a decent signal on the TV, smokes, relaxes on the sofa, anything but look through his viewfinder and watch the man and dog pass.

Finally, the order “today” comes though his pager from Shing. One shot and the guy is dead. The dog just sits there, remaining where his master fell. A black van rolls up. Two guys. One has a revolver and thinks of shooting the dog, but doesn’t do it.

The sniper feels for the dog. He takes it food.… Read the rest

Categories
Live Action Movies Shorts

Hello

Director – Chan Lok-yi – 2017 – Hong Kong – Cert. N/C 12+ – 23m

*****

A schoolgirl looking for her first alcoholic drink falls in with a poor, unemployed man who likes to drink – online and Free To View in the UK in the Fresh Wave short films strand of Hong Kong Focus 2021 from Tuesday, February 9th to Monday, February 15th

A schoolgirl (Chan Wing Sum) eyes up the canned alcoholic beverage section of the local 7-Eleven. She’s aware of the man (Ng Kam-chuen) at the counter asking, pleading, almost pathetically, “can I pay you next time, please?” Both are losers. After class, her teacher takes her aside and tells her, “unless you do something, you will fail.” 

The man, meanwhile, gets short shrift when he enters a local warehouse looking for work. The extremely busy and smartly dressed manager doesn’t seem to like the look of him but is quite happy to tell someone else, “you’ve come just in time.” 

Our man hangs around the streets near the school.  He’s grateful when a group of self-proclaimed Christians turn up to hand out food to the needy and enjoys a quiet meal out of fast food cartons on a bench in a deserted urban area as a result.… Read the rest

Categories
Live Action Movies Shorts

Bright Spring Days

Director – Yeh Ka Lun – 2018 – Hong Kong – Cert. N/C 12+ – 25m

****1/2

The son of the family returns from his father in Canada to his mother in Hong Kong – online and Free To View in the UK in the Fresh Wave short films strand of Hong Kong Focus 2021 from Tuesday, February 9th to Monday, February 15th

A block of flats seen from the walkway. Middle-aged Lai-kuen (Ellen Liu Oi Ling) spots him down below, her son Ka-kei (Sham Ka-ki from Weeds On Fire/Dian Wu Bu, Chan Chi Fat, 2016)) arriving from Canada (where he lives with his dad) pulling a wheeled suitcase. In the cramped interior of her flat, he asks about the broken door. It got stuck and the locksmith will charge $300. He shows her a mike he found on the street “so you can sing in the flat.” She asks if he wants to see Auntie Kit tonight.

So they go down to a small club with tacky illuminations on Temple Street where she sings to the audience area from a book on a music stand. While Lai-kuen and Kit (Shui Jie from Mad World / Yat Nim Mou Ming, Chun Wong, 2016 and again Weeds On Fire/Dian Wu Bu, Chan Chi Fat, 2016) chat, he helps young Chun (Lau Ching-yu) with his homework.… Read the rest

Categories
Live Action Movies Shorts

Conditioned

Director – Chan Kam-hei – 2015 – Hong Kong – Cert. N/C 15+ – 24m

****

A schoolgirl pretends to be a boy at home because her mother can’t deal with her being a girl – online and Free To View in the UK in the Fresh Wave short films strand of Hong Kong Focus 2021 from Tuesday, February 9th to Monday, February 15th

Teenager Nam takes off a feminine top and changes into his/her boy’s school uniform. As a boy, s/he calls in on her grandpa to pick up a plate, waiting ’til she’s out of sight of the house to dispose of the contents in a dumpster, then proceeds home to where her mother has turned the apartment upside down ina hunt for earring. Her mother is only interested in her own looks. Does she look okay? He likes me in earrings, she says.

At night, Nam sneaks round to her friend’s, a boy who lets her wash her smalls – bra, knickers – in bowls in his bedsit sink. Only at thisa point does it become clear Nam is a she. She helps him with homework. He jokes, asking her to move I with him or can he walk her home.… Read the rest