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Posts Tagged ‘Chow Yun Fat’

The Occupant

Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

THE TRAIL was far from Ronny Yu’s only attempt at mixing sincere supernatural horror with silly comedy. THE OCCUPANT (1984) is a ghost tale that takes its tragic backstory seriously, but the movie centers on a goofy love triangle, and one of the three leads is a broadly comedic nerd character named Hansom Wong (Bak-Ming Wong, MAD MISSION, LETHAL PANTHER, also a writer, producer and director).

Like Yu himself, Angie (Sally Yeh, PEKING OPERA BLUES, THE KILLER) is a world traveler – she’s from Vancouver, visiting Hong Kong for three weeks to work on her thesis about Chinese superstition. Hansom is a… used car salesman/property manager/random weirdo?… who sees her trying to find an apartment, latches onto her and “helps” her in exaggeratedly-sexual-harassy ways. He invites himself in, makes excuses not to leave, asks if he can take a shower, suggests that he should run around the apartment naked to scare away potential ghosts. I don’t know if that’s a cultural thing or a Hansom Wong thing. (He also claims to be an expert on the supernatural.)
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The Postman Strikes Back

Tuesday, March 21st, 2023

Ronny Yu’s 1982 film THE POSTMAN STRIKES BACK (or THE POSTMAN FIGHTS BACK in the U.K.) is not a sequel to Kevin Costner’s THE POSTMAN, but it is about a heroic letter deliverer. Courier Ma (Bryan Leung, IRON MONKEY, IP MAN, THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS) enjoys his humble life as a messenger in bandit-ridden territory between Canton and Shanghai. Like many of us he has the shadow of technological advancement hanging over him: when the trains come in, people like to tell him, they won’t need guys like him anymore. But he’s still reluctant to take 300 taels of gold for a sketchy delivery-through-the-mountains job offered to him by Hu (Eddy Ko, HEROES SHED NO TEARS, THE EAST IS RED, LETHAL WEAPON 4).

He only delivers letters, he says. And you can see why he likes it. The villages treat him like the ice cream man when he shows up. Now that I think about it it might not be because of the letters – he actually does bring the kids treats. He tries to introduce some kids to chocolate, which he got in Canton, but they refuse it because they say it looks like mud (or dog shit in the dub). I guess that shows you how important it is to experience different parts of the world and learn from different types of people. Those dumb little shits missed out on free chocolate! Back when it was rare!

Ma’s wimpier friend Yao Jie (Yat-Chor Yuen, CHINESE HERCULES, SOUL BROTHERS OF KUNG FU, IN THE LINE OF DUTY 4) really wants to take that job, and he can’t do it alone, so eventually Ma gives in. All they have to do is carry several cases, “a gift for Zhao Long” to deliver by his birthday to keep the peace. They just can’t look to see what’s in the cases. (That’s one of the Transporter’s rules also.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Once a Thief

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

I can’t explain this, and it’s embarrassing to admit, but somehow I had never seen ONCE A THIEF (1991) until now. How the hell did I not watch the movie that John Woo and Chow Yun Fat did between their two greatest home runs? Especially since I even watched the North American TV pilot he made based on it five years later! I knew this was gonna be more light-hearted and comedic than THE KILLER and HARD BOILED and that I probly wouldn’t like it nearly as much, but come on. Obviously it was something I needed to see. As I should fuckin known, it’s a fun time with some great stunts and action and a type of ludicrousness I enjoy in many Hong Kong films, if not usually Woo’s.

The story is about a trio of thieves, Cherie (Cherie Chung, PEKING OPERA BLUES), Joey and Jim (Chow Yun Fat and Leslie Cheung, reuniting after A BETTER TOMORROW 1 and 2). We meet them as they’re staking out an art museum for a heist, with Joey walking around admiring the art in the suave manner of Chow Yun Fat, Cherie pretending to be an idiot walking her dog through some deliverymen so she can mark the crate that holds the painting they’re planning to steal, and Joey strutting to his motorcycle in a leather jacket and scarf, bragging to a random street artist that he’s a famous thief. Soon they’re performing a really cool FAST AND FURIOUS-esque mobile truck heist that involved climbing on and under the truck, cutting a hole through the bottom, and gliding away with a parachute. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Replacement Killers

Monday, September 7th, 2020

I try not to be too set in my ways, which is a good reason to rewatch a movie years later and see if you respond differently than the first time around. So something told me it was time to revisit something from those heady days when the emerging international popularity of Hong Kong action cinema fired peak John Woo and Chow Yun Fat out of a cannon aimed at the heart of Hollywood. I’m not sure what kind of a cannon shot them so that Woo landed in 1993 and Chow not until 1998, but life is a mystery. Anyway, they exploded and in the case of Chow, we were mostly disappointed and then happy that he didn’t stick around that long, because Hollywood clearly didn’t know what they were doing with him.

THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS was significant not only as Chow’s first Hollywood/English language movie, but the directorial debut of Antoine Fuqua, who became a much bigger deal when 2001’s TRAINING DAY won Denzel Washington an Oscar. That kind of gave him the air of an Important Filmmaker for a little bit, but I think now he’s settled in as the type of director who makes OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN and THE EQUALIZER 1 and 2, which is more like the expected trajectory for the director of this one. He came from directing music videos, most famously “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio, but also “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” by Prince.

Chow plays “John Lee,” who’s pretty much a remix of his character in THE KILLER. He’s an assassin who owes one more hit to L.A. Triad boss Terence Wei (Kenneth Tsang, A BETTER TOMORROW 1 and 2, THE KILLER, SUPERCOP, RUSH HOUR 2). But he’s sent to the home of LAPD Detective Stan Zedkov (Michael Rooker, CLIFFHANGER) and sees the man’s wife and son through the sniper scope and decides he can’t do it. (In a corny touch, Zedkov doesn’t see him but looks right into the scope as if sensing him.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Tiger On Beat

Monday, February 10th, 2020

TIGER ON BEAT is a 1988 Chow Yun Fat cop movie that’s not an untouchable masterpiece like HARD BOILED, but a goofy ‘80s time capsule sort of in the tradition of Hollywood buddy cop action comedies of the era. It opens and closes with an appropriately cheesy hard rock theme song.
Chow’s character Francis Li is that type of cop we’re supposed to be charmed by for his careless attitude (until he gets serious about a case) and his relentless hitting on every woman he meets.

We first meet him in bed with a woman, their ankles handcuffed together, when her husband gets home. Somehow he convinces the husband that he’s a good samaritan doing CPR on her as a favor to him while he goes out drinking. Because he’s this smooth-talking, crazy-lying guy I thought for a minute it was gonna be his BEVERLY HILLS COP. There’s even a pretty great synth tune, but unfortunately it doesn’t turn out to be as prevalent in the movie as “Axel F. Theme” was. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Seventh Curse

Monday, October 21st, 2019

Let me try to explain this in pizza terms. You know how every once in a while you might get a pizza, and it’s not of the highest possible quality? They got all the ingredients there, but maybe the proportions are a little off, or it was cooked too much or too little or something, so it’s not the greatest, but at the same time it has crust and sauce and cheese and toppings and those ingredients together are always gonna taste pretty good? THE SEVENTH CURSE is like that. It’s kind of too gooey and falling apart but it has pineapple, fake ham and jalapenos, and that’s pretty much my favorite toppings. (I’ve come to prefer Mama Lil’s Peppers*, but this one needed more spice.)

It’s a supernatural action adventure with Chow Yun Fat playing the pipe-smoking occult expert Wisely (called Wesley on the subtitles of the DVD I rented), a character from a series of 156(!) novels. In this one he’s kind of a supporting character because it’s based on another book series centered on his colleague Dr. Yuen, here played by Chin Siu-ho (TAI CHI MASTER, FIST OF LEGEND). The books are by Ni Kuang, who in between writing enough novels to make Stephen King look like a lazy no good piece of shit also found the time to bang out screenplays for DIRTY HO, THE 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN, HEROES OF THE EAST, THE 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER, and literally hundreds of other movies.

He didn’t write this one (that was Wong Jing [MERCENARIES FROM HONG KONG] and Yuen Gai-chi [DRUNKEN MASTER II]), but would you believe he hosts it? It opens with him, playing himself, surrounded by women and talking to the camera.

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON is an important movie to me for a couple reasons. One is personal, but the other is kinda about you guys. I had been writing reviews on my Geocities websight for a bit, but I didn’t really think anybody gave a shit, so I had kind of given it up for a few months when I ran into an old friend who mentioned he liked what I wrote about CROUCHING TIGER and wondered when I was gonna write more reviews. So I did, and then I continued for like 17 years, and here we are. Thank you, Jacob M., for saying that to me that day.

I love CROUCHING TIGER. I wasn’t sure how well it would hold up after all these years. It was such an exciting movie of its time, but it’s been imitated, techniques have evolved, new things have been achieved in martial arts, we’ve changed. And though I still like HULK, the other Ang Lee film I was obsessed with in the early 2000s, it doesn’t quite knock my socks all the way off anymore. Just part way off.

CROUCHING TIGER, I’m happy to discover, still does. And it knocks them off in a deeper, more mature way than it used to. My socks were very impressed.

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The Killer

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

tn_thekillerwoozoneAs a guy specializing in writing about action movies, sometimes I worry I’m documenting an ancient art form. I romanticize a time when action movies were a rite of passage, a father-son bonding tradition and a major passion for many young people, especially males, but it seems like the youth of today aren’t necessarily interested in this shit. And if they don’t grow up on it then they’re never gonna have that moment when they get a little older and become aware of the other powerful strains of it from around the world.

That makes me sad because whatever they’re watching instead cannot possibly match the rush of joy I got when I saw my first John Woo movie – which was THE KILLER – or each time I revisit his classics now. At the time there was nothing else like it. Somehow that seems even more true today.

The things that are greatest about THE KILLER might be the things that would seem silliest to younger people: the unabashed style and the the unbridled, unironic emotion. I remember people who came up a few years after the era when Hong Kong action cinema was the coolest thing going – people who are old and decrepit now – who would make jokes about John Woo’s doves. “Ha ha, two pistols, and some doves, am I right? Ha ha, I know about a trademark, I have defeated him.”

Well, THE KILLER is gonna be way too much for anybody like that. And maybe I gotta face that they just don’t deserve THE KILLER. The cards are laid on the table in the opening, when Chow Yun-Fat as Ah Jong (or “Jeff Chow,” according to the credits) meets with his Triad manager Fung Sei (Paul Chu Kong) in an empty church at night. That happens in all action movies, but this church is lit with what must be a thousand candles, and there are doves and pigeons flying around, landing on the cross. (read the rest of this shit…)

City On Fire

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

CITY ON FIRE, a 1987 Hong Kong crime movie by director Ringo Lam, is a vehicle for Chow Yun Fat’s charm. He’s not a God of Pistols, he’s one of these fuckup characters who loves the ladies but does pretty terrible with them. In a restaurant he argues with two different women, one I thought was his wife and the other his mistress, but that later seems to be wrong. Anyway one of them seems to be leaving him for an older guy who owns the restaurant, so he gets into a confrontation and a brawl.

The cops bring him in for what seems like questioning but is actually a meeting. It turns out he’s an undercover cop, or at least he was, but he doesn’t want to do it anymore. His boss pushes him into it, so he gets a couple guns out of a bowling alley locker and sells them to a gang of jewel thieves.

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A Better Tomorrow III

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

tn_bettertomorrow3After their disagreements over A BETTER TOMORROW 2, John Woo and Tsui Hark weren’t able to work together on part 3. But they both wanted to do a Vietnam war era prequel, so Woo took his and made it BULLET IN THE HEAD, Hark made A BETTER TOMORROW III: LOVE AND DEATH IN SAIGON. As far as artistic success I’d say Woo definitely won that battle, but at least Tsui got to clean up in the getting-to-hang-out-with-Chow-Yun-Fat department. (read the rest of this shit…)