HAPPY FORTUNE
Screening Room

2005

  • Run and Kill [1993]
  • Street Angels [1996]
  • Street of Fury [1996]
  • Dail D for Demons [2000]
  • Infernal Affairs [2002]
  • Color of Pain [2002]
  • The Twins Effect [2003]
  • City of SARS [2003]
  • Running on Karma [2003]
  • Cat and Mouse [2003]
  • Infernal Affairs II [2003]
  • PTU [2003]
  • Silver Hawk [2004]
  • Magic Kitchen [2004]
  • Heat Team [2004]
  • The Twins Effect II [2004]
  • 6 Strong Guys [2004]
  • Escape From Hong Kong Island [2004]
  • The White Dragon [2004]
  • Yesterday Once More [2004]
  • Kung Fu Hustle [2004]
  • Divergence [2005]




  • Run and Kill (1993)
    Directed by Billy Tang, Screenplay by Bryan Chang
    Starring Kent Cheng, Simon Yam, Danny Lee

    In the wake of the box office success of Dr. Lamb, The Untold Story and similar films, director Billy Tang reunites with stars Danny Lee, Simon Yam and Kent Cheng to make graphic, brutally violent film. Like its predecessors, this one is supposed to be based on an actual headline news story. I don't think you could make this one up if you tried. If you can look beneath the murky surface, there is pre-Handover anti-Mainland subtext that can be read from the structure of film. What makes this film good is that all these horrible events are portrayed with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

    More disturbing to look at than usual is Kent Cheng, cast as good natured, hard-working guy who catches his wife cheating on him. Emotionally distraught, he gets in a pitiful, drunken stupor and "arranges" for his wife to be murdered. Sober, this would be the last thing this guy would do. Circumstances spiral out of control in an unbelievable fashion until Simon Yam shows up as the insane "mad dog" killer. Once Yam appears, things' ratchet up to new levels of sick, twisted violence. Tang turns the two actors loose and they don't disappoint with their over the top performances while Danny Lee is hardly in the film.




    Street Angels (1996)
    Directed by Billy Tang, Produced by Andrew Lau, Screenplay by Manfred Wong and Not a Woman
    Starring Chingmy Yau, Michael Tiu, Simon Yam, Hsu Chi, Tsui Kam-Kong

    Released in the summer of 1996 in the middle of the Young and Dangerous phenonenom that spawned sequels and spin-offs in quick succesion. This film is from the group that created the Y&D original with direction handled by Billy Tang who helmed Sexy & Dangerous earlier. While the comic book based screenplay is set in Portland Street, the film is about "older" established niteclub owners who have a violent rivalry.

    Vicious tough guy Simon Yam and girlfriend Chingmy Yau murder a rival gangster in bowling alley. Yam escapes into hiding while Ms.Yau goes off to jail. Yau meets a club owner [ Michael Tiu ] and becomes a top "mamasan" hostess. Mainland gangsters, politicians, and rival triads fight for a piece of the action. When Yam returns suddenly from hiding, he goes against Yau and her new pals.

    Billy Tang gets a lot of compelling performances from the eclectic cast. Shu Qi, appearing in her 2nd Hong Kong movie, is energetic as the massage girl with a heart of gold. Elvis Tsui, as always, manages to steal every scene as the oddball bodyguard. Watch for the always awesome Maria Cordero as a niteclub singer doing a bawdy song. Action Director Dion Lam gives viewers lots of wide angle close-ups and furious fighting.




    Street of Fury (1996)
    Directed by Billy Tang, Produced by Lee Siu-Kei, Ang Liu
    Starring Louis Koo, Michael Tse, Teresa Mak, Simon Loui, Gigi Lai

    Summer of '96 spits out another triad movie in the aftermath of the extremely popular Young and Dangerous released earlier in the year. Director Billy Tang crafts an interesting film that features then newcomers Louis Koo and Michael Tse as brothers who dream of escaping the poverty of the housing project where they were raised. Tse's character is a hot headed fellow who gets himself, and his brother, into trouble with a local, low level gangster [Simon Loui]. They make a name for themselves and go to work on the famous Portland Street, pospering from triad activities.

    Theresa Mak is the star of this movie, playing a massage girl with a gambling problem. She becomes the pawn in the endgame that brings violence and misery to everyone. Director gets wild performances from Tsui Kam Kong and Action Director Alan Chui as rival triad bosses. Cinematograher Tony Miu captures jarring images and creates a gritty realism for the look of film.




    Dail D for Demons (2000)
    Produced and Directed by Billy Tang
    Starring Jordan Chan, Joey Man, Terence Yin

    Take one part Scream, one part Sixth Sense, and a heaping helping of The Ring, mix it up real good and you have Dial D for Demons. This film is a vehicle for several young stars who were quite popular in 2000. Jordan Chan and Terence Yin are the featured males and alluring Joey Man is the featured female along with 3 young starlets.

    Jordan Chan was well established as a genuine Hong Kong movie star. Terence Yin was starting out and had not become the "bad guy" star he is today [2005]. His odd performance is all over the place as he displays the raw energy he was able to harness in later roles. Director Billy Tang manages to create some spooky sensations but the movie suffers from a screenplay short on ideas.




    Infernal Affairs (2002)
    Directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, Action Direction by Dion Lam
    Starring Tony Leung, Andy Lau, Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang

    Outstanding production design blends superb cinematography, costume and set design with excellent cast performing exquisitely drawn characters that fill extremely well crafted screenplay. Andrew Lau's camera work [and his direction of Christopher Doyle and Lai Yiu Fai] is his finest achievement to date. Infernal Affairs is heavenly; the best film of 2002.




    Color of Pain (2002)
    Written, Produced, and Directed by Sam Leong, Action Direction by Adam Chan
    Starring Raymond Wong, Sam Lee, Josie Ho, Terence Yin, Tony Ho

    A well-written script goes awry in pre-production when film makers have to take Japanese funding to get their movie made. What could have been an excellent Hong Kong movie becomes symbolic of what is wrong with Hong Kong movies these days. Lack of production money in the SAR has local producers seeking funding from neighboring Asian film markets, which brings location shooting in the new co-producers country and casting of non-Hong Kong actors in major roles.

    Writer, producer, director Sam Leong does outstanding work here. Performances by Tony Ho, Terence Yin, and Sam Lee as young jewel thieves are well worth the price of admission. Raymond Wong shines as troubled SDU officer. Performance of Josie Ho is great, as well. These five actors never seem to disappoint in anything they do and they make this film go.

    A fatal flaw is casting of Japanese Kenya Sawada in a role that was probably written for Ekin Cheng. Kenya Sawada is all over the place and never really nails the role. He's trying to act like Ekin doing the character, which is kind of cool to watch I guess. Action sequences by Adam Chan are well done, very tense and exciting. Check this movie out, you won't be unhappy.




    City of SARS (2003)
    Directed by Steve Cheng, Produced by Ng Kin Hung
    Starring Eric Tsang, Kristy Yeung, Patrick Tam, Jerry Lamb

    This is a cutting edge film with startling performances from several actors. Director Cheng Wai Man uses standard 3 story formula so common in Hong Kong films to blend drama, romantic comedy, horror and triad genres into entertaining, satisfying movie.

    First story is about hospital health workers [a doctor, Patrick Tam, and a nurse, Kristy Yeung] who are caught at work in the epidemic and the personal anguish they suffer as the infections spiral out of control. Second story is a "love story" that develops between 2 ordinary citizens during a 10 day quarantine. Third story tells of a shady businessman [Eric Tsang] and how the economic downturn during the epidemic affects him, his co-workers [lead by Jerry Lamb], and his family.




    The Twins Effect (2003)
    Directed by Dante Lam and Donnie Yen, Action Direction by Donnie Yen
    Starring Gillian Chung, Charlene Choi, Ekin Cheng

    Hong Kong summer box office blockbuster jumbles genres and pop stars with mixed results. Co-directors Dante Lam and Donnie Yen manage to turn pop music sensations Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi into action movie stars. Pairing the 2 young stars with pop music idol turned action movie star Ekin Cheng is a stroke of sheer genius. Donnie Yen's action direction is very good, adding to this viewers enjoyment. CGI special effects achieve mixed results, at best.

    Best part is Edison Chen and Anthony Wong playing conventional Western style vampire story characters. The hardest thing to get my mind around in this film was the idea that Karen Mok could possibly fall for Jackie Chan. Bring an extra packet of suspension of disbelief and you will enjoy the film.




    Running on Karma (2003)
    Directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai, Action Direction by Yuen Bun
    Starring Ceclia Chung, Andy Lau

    Since the collabaration between Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai as co-directors started in 2000 they made a series of films that started strong (Needing You... and Help!) but 2002's My Left Eye sees Ghosts was one of the most annoying movies ever made. 2003's Running on Karma is the best film of the 10 they made together.

    Film stars Andy Lau and Cecila Chung, insuring box office success in the SAR. Lau plays a Shaolin monk/bodybuilder named Big who has the ability to see one's karma. Maybe more of a curse than a blessing, Big leaves the Monastery for the secular life as a male stripper. Chung pays female undercover cop. Top-notch performances from the 2 stars make the movie go. Screenplay is really well crafted, combining action, comedy, drama, bizarre martial arts, and Buddhist philosphy into extremely entertaining and thought provoking motion picture.

    Action Direction by Yuen Bun is awesome, filling Running on Karma with lots of bizarre, titilating action sequences. Prosthetic make-up Lau wears as bodybuilder achieves mixed results here; not as good as the fat suits he used in To/Wai's 2001 film, Love On a Diet.




    Cat and Mouse (2003)
    Directed by Gordon Chan
    Starring Andy Lau, Cecelia Cheung, Anthony Wong

    Absolutely funny movie to celebrate Lunar New Year with friends and family. Andrew Lau produces screwball comedy directed by Gordon Chan. Film makers and cast are having wildly funny time working to bring popular martial arts story to the silver screen with tongue's planted firmly in cheeks.

    Watch for Chapman To and Cheung Man Tat to go goofy in almost every scene. What is refreshing to this viewer is that this film is made for the hometown audience, very provincial. Not made with the international box office returns in mind, this one is for true Hong Kong cinephiles.




    Infernal Affairs II (2003)
    Directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, Action Direction by Lee Tat-Chiu
    Starring Edison Chen, Shawn Yu, Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang

    Sequel to 2002's best movie, this is just one fine piece of storytelling; an exquisitely crafted film that has deeper resonance through its outstanding predecessor. Directors Alan Mak and Andrew Lau continue to lead the way among peers and colleagues. The stellar cast is stupendous; two fine actors stand out. Francis Ng gives an brilliant, understated performance while Eric Tsang's performance is chillingly mesmerizing. I loved it!




    PTU (2003)
    Directed by Johnnie To
    Starring Simon Yam, Lam Suet, Ruby Wong

    Director Johnnie To Kei-Fung returns to top form with tense police drama. Cinematography, art direction, and film editing combine to create intensely moody atmosphere. Simon Yam and Lam Suet shred scene after scene with exquisite portrayals of Hong Kong cops living and working in desperate, dangerous conditions. Excellent supporting cast fill in finely drawn characters that populate brilliant screenplay.




    Silver Hawk (2004)
    Produced by Michelle Yeoh, Directed and Written by Jingle Ma
    Starring Michelle Yeoh, Richie Ren

    Big, glossy production stars Michelle Yeoh as a futuristic crime fighting heroine in action comedy. Director/Cinematographer Jingle Ma serves up visual feast for the eyes in this upbeat, lighthearted Lunar Holiday film.

    Film features classic movie martial arts filmed at low and wide angles. A couple of action set pieces are unique and play well in this film of comicbook heroics.




    Magic Kitchen (2004)
    Produced, Directed and Written by Lee Chi Ngai
    Starring Sammi Cheng, Jerry Yan, Andy Lau

    A Hong Kong romantic comedy that delivers on romance and comedy is driven by an outstanding performance by Sammi Cheng. This film has a nice story told through excellent screenplay, mounted with high production values and fine performances from supporting players (and a bunch of cool cameo roles by big Hong Kong movie stars). If you like Sammi and Andy Lau, then this film is definitely for you. If you think you're going to see some sort of God of Cookery redux, stay away.




    Heat Team (2004)
    Directed by Dante Lam, Action Directon by Wong Wai Fai
    Starring Aaron Kwok, Eason Chan, Danny Lee

    In sequel to 2001's Hit Team, top Hong Kong director Dante Lam tries to mix police action film with off-beat buddy cop comedy with mixed results. Aaron Kwok seems to be sleepwalking through his fluffy role as a tough cop with a warm fuzzy heart for the ladies. Eason Chen plays, with some gusto, his role of a hard nosed cop who fancies himself as a gigolo with fellow lady police officers.

    Look for fine performances from the supporting cast members, especially Danny Lee, Victoria Wu and Dave Wong. Action sequences are very explosive and fun to watch. Comedy has several laugh out funny moments but is, for the most part, kind of flat. I must say that I enjoyed the film but, frankly, this director has done better movies.




    The Twins Effect II (2004)
    Directed Corey Yuen Kwai and Patrick Leung, Action Direction by Corey Yuen Kwai
    Starring Gillian Chung, Charlene Choi, Donnie Yen

    Talented directors, Corey Yuen and Patrick Leung, cobble entertaining film from convoluted screenplay. Pop music sensations, The Twins, are cast in fantasy wuxia with veteran movie stars Donnie Yen, "Big" Tony Leung, and Daniel Wu. Five, count 'em, 5 screenwriters contributed to weak pastiche of genre cliches unrelated to first film in any way other than the title.

    Lots of fun and hijinks in a strange world were an evil powerful queen subjugates all men as slaves. As in the first film, Jackie Chan has a cameo role as a terra cotta warrior who does battle with Donnie Yen in sequence that is a joy to behold. Action direction by Cory Yuen is up to the usual standard of excellence. Movie has excellent production values; cinematography, costumes and set design are top notch. Like the original film, CGI special effects achieve mixed results.




    6 Strong Guys (2004)
    Directed by Barbara Wong, Written by Theresa Tang
    Starring George Lam, Chapman To, Ekin Cheng

    6 Strong Guys is another in the long line of romantic comedies that have been so popular currently in Hong Kong. This one is a little different in that it tells a story of male angst and insecurity dealing with the pressures of working life and female relationships through the eyes of a female director, Barbara Wong, and a female screenwriter, Theresa Tang.

    Director Wong shows savvy directing chops in casting the wonderful George Lam and Ekin Cheng in scenes together. They help carry the film along with Chapman To and Karena Lam who play high school sweethearts reunited to commiserate over troubled marriages. Comedic screenplay takes a strangely melodramatic twist at the end which makes the movie stronger, more uplifting.




    Escape from Hong Kong Island (2004)
    Directed by Simon Loui
    Starring Jordan Chan, Chapman To, Cheung Tat-Ming

    Cineaste Simon Loui directs his first feature after years of being in front of the camera. Loui has been involved in the screen writing of several popular films [Killer, Paramount Motel, Last Ghost Standing] and he wrote this script with Chan Tai Li and Lee Ho Cheung. Film is an easy going comedy featuring Jordan Chan and Chapman To as protagonist and local cop respectively.

    Jordan Chan plays Raymond Mak, a hard-nosed, cold-hearted businessman who has the bad day from hell. After he gets fired from his high powered job, he lines up another job right away with a rival company. He must get from Hong Kong to Kowloon by 5pm or lose this opportunity. He gets robbed at knife point and without identity papers or cash gets to suffer numerous trails, tribulations and setbacks in his attempts to cross the harbor.

    Simon Loui gets quirky, enjoyable performances from his two stars and fills the movie with oddball cameo appearances by some of Hong Kong's finest comedic actors. Lots of local movie industry inside jokes and sight gags to keep you amused along with the corny morality lesson about being a good person in today's harsh world.




    The White Dragon (2004)
    Directed by Wison Yip, Action Direction by Ma Yuk Shing
    Starring Cecelia Cheung, Francis Ng, Andy On

    This is a funny, clever movie by one of the best film makers working in Hong Kong. Cecilia Cheung and Francis Ng star in a basic romantic comedy formula story about adversary's who fall in love with each other. Director Wilson Yip fleshes out the formula with funny bits of business that cross in and out of time frames and genre's.

    Beautiful young woman [Ms. Cheung] loves, then forsakes a handsome prince [Andy On] for a quirky, blind assassin [Mr. Ng] hired to kill the heir to the throne. Marvelous performance by Francis Ng pays homage to the legendary Zatoichi [Shintaro Katsu]. Blending romance, wuxia, and comedy, Yip leads Cheung and the always awesome Ng through a moving, enjoyable visual experience.




    Yesterday Once More (2004)
    Written and Directed by Johnnie To, Action Direction by Yuen Bun
    Starring Sammi Cheng, Andy Lau

    The answers to the rhetorical questions I posed about director Johnnie To in my review of his film 'My Left Eye Sees Ghosts' are No and No. He certainly is not overrated in any way and he did not blow his load with 'The Mission'. The darling of Cannes scores big with Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng in multilayered film that cleverly mixes romance, action-adventure, and politics.

    Both actors turn credible performances, especially Ms. Cheng. I'm not going to try to describe the plot since it is convoluted to a minor fault. Kind of like 'The Thomas Crown Affair' sequel, if you can imagine it, with Faye Dunaway [Sammi] and Steve McQueen [Andy] teaming up to pull off big time crimes together. Leftist subtext places high class elegant lifestyles against highly charged atmosphere of national politics in HKSAR. Never mind that stuff, though. This is a very moving, funny film.




    Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
    Directed by Stephen Chow, Action Direction by Yuen Wo Ping, Sammo Hung
    Starring Stephen Chow, Yuen Wah, Lam Suet

    So good. Laugh out loud funny and dropped jaw astonishing all at the same time.

    I'll call this film simply the best Hong Kong movie of the 21st century [so far].

    I think it's safe to say that even if you don't like martial arts films, you will enjoy yourself with this movie.




    Divergence (2005)
    Produced and Directed by Benny Chan, Action Direction by Nicky Li
    Starring Daniel Wu, Aaron Kwok, Ekin Cheng

    Extremely stylish, well crafted film from director Benny Chan that allows top actors to ham it up to excess. Clever screenplay by Ivy Ho could have benifited from a somewhat subtler approach. Overacting by the three lead actors aside, the film is full of delightful performances from supporting players Eric Tsang, Sam Lee, Lam Suet and Yu Rong Guang.



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