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Twilight of the Warriors
Walled in
(Jiu Long Cheng
Zhai·Wei Cheng,
九龙城寨之围城)

Director – Soi Cheang – 2023 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 126m

*****

A refugee steals money from a Hong Kong triad then hides out in Kowloon Walled City, a place as dangerous as the triads pursuing him – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 24th

Never entered by those outside, an uneasy peace has reigned in Kowloon Walled City a.k.a. the City of Darkness since Cyclone defeated ‘Dragon Head’ Liu and his warlord partner Jim. It’s Hong Kong in the 1980s, when refugees were flooding into the territory. In a nightclub where women dance to Cantopop, one such refugee (Raymond Lam) wins a fist fight competition then is conned by gang boss (Sammo Hung) into paying for a shoddily made fake ID card, which he refuses to accept when he calls to collect it two weeks later. Leaving the ensuing argument, he snatches a bag from the villain’s drug warehouse and runs hell for leather into the Walled City, where the gangsters won’t follow.

Inside, he discovers to his horror that he’s snatched not a bag of banknotes as he supposed but a bag of drugs. Trying to sell it, he finds himself fighting local gangsters, who don’t want him selling drugs on their turf.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Jackie Chan’s
Police Story
Trilogy

Police Story (Ging Chaat Goo Si, 警察故事)

*****

Director – Jackie Chan – 1985 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 100m

Police Story II (Ging Chaat Goo Si Juk Jaap, 警察故事續集)

***1/2

Director – JackieChan – 1988 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 101m

Police Story 3 Supercop (Ging Chaat Goo Si III: Chiu Kup Ging Chaat, 警察故事3超級警察)

*****

Director – Stanley Tong– 1992 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 96m

The Police Story trilogy is a landmark of Hong Kong action cinema. As David West points out in his informative essay in the accompanying booklet to Eureka’s welcome 4K UHD release of the three films, the first one was the point in Jackie Chan’s career where he broke with period dramas to make a vehicle for himself that was totally modern, set in contemporary Hong Kong rather than an historic Chinese past or even the early twentieth century of his own Project A series of films. Action films set in the present started to emerge in Hong Kong in the early 1980s, with a couple of them directed by Chan’s fellow former Peking Opera schoolmate Sammo Hung, who managed to secure roles for Jackie some way down the cast list in Winners And Sinners (1983) and My Lucky Stars (1985).… Read the rest

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Mr. Vampire II
(Geung See
Ga Zuk,
殭屍家族)

Director – Ricky Lau – 1986 – Hong Kong – Cert. 12 – 89m

*****

After a professor unearths a family of undead corpses, the child befriends a little girl and the parents go looking for it – out on Blu-ray in the UK on Monday, May 22nd as part of Eureka! Video’s Hopping Mad: The Mr. Vampire Sequels

The second ‘official’ Mr. Vampire film (i.e. to be made by Sammo Hung / Leonard Ho’s Bo Ho Films company).

A professor (Fat Chung) leads his two hapless assistants Chicken (Billy Lau) and Sashimi (Lau Chau-sang) on an archaeological dig, sending them into a cave where they find a family of corpses (father, mother, small boy played by Cheung Wing-cheung, Pauline Wong and Hoh Kin-wai respectively) immobilised by talismans on their foreheads, and take them back to the professor’s workshop. As the professor and Sashimi are driving the child corpse, the talisman comes off, and it comes to life, later escaping to a house where it is found and befriended by a little girl Chia-Chia (Hon Kin-yu), who keeps it hidden in her room from her widowed father Mr. Hu (Woo Fung). She introduces it to her brother (Choi Man-kam) and later to four of their friends.… Read the rest

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The Dead
And The Deadly
(Ren Xia Ren,
人嚇人)

Director – Wu Ma – 1982 – Hong Kong – Cert. 12 – 99m

*****

A couple planning an inheritance swindle convince their victim to play along then kill him, after which he comes back as a ghost to take revenge – classic and seminal HK kung fu comedy is out on UK Blu-ray in a 2K restoration.

Made three years ahead of Mr. Vampire (Ricky Lau, 1985), this puts all the elements of that film in place, apart from the vampires. Actually, they’re not so much vampires as hopping ghosts (jiangshi). There’s no hopping in The Dead And The Deadly, but there are ghosts.

Chu (Sammo Hung) becomes suspicious when best friend Ma Lucho (Wu Ma) dies, suspecting Mrs. Ma (Leung Mei Hei) and her priest companion (Chung Fat) of poisoning him. As becomes clear from an early scene in a brothel, Ma is not gifted with women, so Chu is surprised that his surviving wife is pregnant. What he hasn’t realised is that Ma is actually in on the scam and is only pretending to be dead.

But that changes about an hour in when Ma’s two co-conspirators kill him for real to get his money, as Mrs.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Zu Warriors
From The
Magic Mountain
(Shu Shan
– Xin Shu Shan Jian Ke,
新蜀山劍俠)

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 Focus Hong Kong 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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Mr. Vampire
(Geung See
Sin Sang,
殭屍先生)

Director – Ricky Lau – 1985 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 96m

*****

The first ‘official’ Mr. Vampire film (i.e. to be made by Sammo Hung / Leonard Ho’s Bo Ho Films company).

If your knowledge of vampire lore comes from Western movies about Dracula you’re in for some real surprises with the 1985 Hong Kong movie Mr. Vampire. This is the movie that put the Chinese hopping vampire on the map.

It’s evening, as mortuary assistant Man-choi (Ricky Hui) checks a number of upright standing corpses with talismans affixed to their foreheads. All present and correct. Behind him a corpse without a talisman advances towards him. By the time he’s realised this is fellow mortuary assistant Chau-sang (Chin Siu-ho) playing a prank, the resultant air flow has blown the talismans off the other foreheads and eight vampires are hopping towards them, Man Choi runs to fetch his employer, Master Gau (Lam Ching-ying)…

I review Mr. Vampire for All The Anime to coincide with the film’s UK Blu-ray release from Eureka! See also my Manga Mania review published back in the nineties to coincide with the film’s UK VHS release from Made In Hong Kong.… Read the rest

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Mr. Vampire
(Geung See Sin Sang,
殭屍先生)

Director – Ricky Lau – 1985 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 94m

*****

This review originally appeared in Manga Mania to coincide with the film’s UK VHS release from Made In Hong Kong. Running time as on VHS sleeve. See also my All The Anime review coinciding with the 2020 Eureka! Blu-ray.

SCREEN GEMS

MR. VAMPIRE

The Far East views vampires through completely different cultural baggage, the extraordinary result of which can be seen in seminal Hong Kong period horror outing Mr. Vampire (1985) – which spawned several sequels and influenced countless genre outings both in Hong Kong live action and Japanese animation.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

Encounters Of The Spooky Kind (1980) sees director Sammo Hung spend the night in a haunted house where he encounters various undead manifestations. It’s no surprise that Hung acted as producer on the later Mr. Vampire, where director Ricky Lau distilled Chinese cadaver / vampire mythology into a subsequent industry staple. As Lam Ching-ying so clearly explains in Mr. Vampire: “There are good men and bad men…corpses and vampires…this corpse is turning into a vampire.” Producer and director went on to make Mr. Vampire 2, 3 and 4, all with corpse‑busting star Lam Ching-ying who returned a fifth time under a different director for the present day Magic Cop / Mr.Read the rest