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Simian "Lam"

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Life of Action: Interviews with the Men and Women of Martial Arts and Action Cinema
Life of Action: Interviews with the Men and Women of Martial Arts and Action Cinema
by Mike Fury
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring book for film fans and action junkies, 23 Oct. 2015
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Fans of action cinema will find much to enjoy about this book filled with stars and filmmakers of the much loved action genre. A full book containing interviews of some of the heroes of action cinema ranging from the top A-listers and the lesser known individuals each as interesting as the next. Author Mike Fury has researched well on his interviewees, Fury ask some very well thought out questions and his interviewees provides interesting and insightful answers. It is pleasure to see lesser known stars/filmmakers such as Richard Norton, Cynthia Rothrock, Mark Strange, Chee Keong Cheung and the late Darren Shalavi get the coverage they deserve.

One of the weaker element of book is that Andy Lau's interview that is published in this book is an old interview for the then current release of Detective Dee so the focus is on that oppose to his rise in HK cinema.Though author Mike Fury does state that it is to coincide with the release of the mentioned film it does feel like a wasted opportunity. The same is true of Tsui Harks interview but at least his interview covers more of his previous work.

Another problem I had with the book is Yang Ik-June's interview which again his interview was used to coincide with the UK release of the Breathless film. I loved the film Breathless and think its a fantastic film but his interview feels rather shoehorned in as Breathless is not an action film but more of a drama with spouts of violence and the actor is not known as an action filmmaker/actor.

The negatives mentioned do not ruin the book but feels at odds with the otherwise meticulously put together pieces. Overall it provides fantastic insight in to the industry and provides a fantastic read for action junkies and aspiring filmmakers/actors.

Police Story [DVD]
Police Story [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jackie Chan
Offered by Direct-Offers-UK-FBA
Price: £6.77

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jackie Chan's breakthrough., 8 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Police Story [DVD] (DVD)
International superstar Jackie Chan has been delivering some of the best stunts and fights in his earlier career compared to his Hollywood outings and Police Story was his first breakthrough film to introduce audiences his blend of dangerous stunts and intense fights.

Story wise Police Story does not really do anything interesting but people do not go to see Jackie Chan deliver in story, they go to watch him beat people up and he does this plentifully. The film opens with a shoot out in a shanty town in HK before the destruction of the whole place with speeding cars through the whole town. Admist this chaos the audience can witness real stunt mean in the fray of the destuction and you get a real sense of danger. This is followed by Jackie pursuing a speeding bus and then hanging of the bus that is on the run. The opening alone should be worth the price of the film and is an indication of things to come. Through out the film the audience get to watch stunt men put to the test with some dangerous stunts scattered in the film.

Fight scenes occur regularly and they are of a high standard. Unlike Bruce Lee Jackie Chan takes on multiple opponents by ducking, weaving, avoiding and using props to fend of his attackers. More acrobatic movements are involved and Jackie Chan does get hit regularly making him seem vunerable for a brief moment. The final showdown at the shopping mall is testament to Jackie Chan's choreographing abilities; going through multiple opponents on the run, attacking with baseball bats, fists and feets, railings, motorbikes, all allowing Jackie Chan to dispatch them in style. The final daring stunt is also a sight to behold and it just goes to remind audiences why Jackie Chan has gained the fame he deserved.

Credit has to go the stunt team involved for they are there to make Jackie Chan look good. This is one of Jackie Chan's best work and it goes to show how poor his hollywood efforst have been.

The Prodigal Son [DVD]
The Prodigal Son [DVD]
Dvd ~ Yuen Biao
Offered by nagiry
Price: £13.09

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What more needs to be said. CLASSIC., 8 Dec. 2011
This review is from: The Prodigal Son [DVD] (DVD)
Yuen Biao has always been one of the most under rated martial arts actor and always in the shadow of Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan. In Prodigal Son Yuen Biao is given the top billing as actor, choreographer and stunt men for his co stars. Before there was the "Ip Man" films that made Wing Chun popular to the masses. Sammo Hung has already successfully captured Wing Chun on film but due to world wide distribution being relatively small back then this feature was only witnessed by a select few.

Sammo Hung choreographs some fantastic fights that makes Wing Chun look beautiful on screen and it is helped by top performer Yuen Biao who excels in the role of the legendary Leung Jan. Yuen Biao really sells the Wing Chun and you believe that he has been practising it for years. The fights are fast and furious and compliment with some exellent editing. The late Lam Ching Ying gives a fantastic performance as Biao's master and he too delivers in the action departmemt. Fights feature frequently and maintain the high standards that it sets early on. The only problem may be the final show down between Frankie Chan and Yuen Biao, after so many fights of a high standard the last fight does not quite up the ante.

Sammo hung also lets loose in some Wing Chun but his character is introduced mid way through the film and seems to be at odds with the rest of the film but this was the usual style of HK film making in the 80's.

Comedy is the norm of any HK traditional kung fu film and this is no different. The is a mixed bag sometimes it is successful in gaining a chuckle but other times it is nonscensical. This can be tolerated because it does not linger long enough to grate.

Highly recommended for traditional kung fu fans.

Knockout! [DVD]
Knockout! [DVD]
Dvd ~ Panna Rittikrai
Offered by Leisurezone
Price: £2.53

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best fight scenes you will witness., 8 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Knockout! [DVD] (DVD)
Thailand seems to be the place to go for top quality fights these days and Bangkok Knockout futher solidfies its position as the top deliverer of fight action. First lets get this straight the story and acting is atrocious, there are no familar faces such as Tony Jaa or Jee Ja Yanin (other than Patrick Tang from Raging Pheonix and director Panna Rittikrai) instead stunt men and women are placed in front of the camera and forced to go through the motions before the next fight scene.

Hopefully now your expectations are lowered for the story telling department. It is the fight scenes that shines through and they deliver some of the best fights that are reminiscent of old HK films and have been sorely been lacking of the late. Many of the main "stars" are given an oppotunity to display some form of fighting and they are all capable in front of the camera. Each hit is showcased, so you are witnessing actual contact which makes the fighting all the more exciting. Choreography is also in top form featuring creativity all showcased in long, wide angle shots for the viewing pleasure. Wire work is used more this time compred to Panna Rittikrai earlier efforts (Ong Bak 1&2 and Chocolate) but they are used to enhance movements as well as the flow of the execution of the moves. Stunt work also needs to be mentioned, the likes of Ong bak and Chocolate featured some mind blowing stunts and Bangkok Knockout follows suit. Some will leave you spell bind and question the limits of human pain tolerance.

After the likes of Chocolate and Raging pheonix you would think females would be given more opportunities to shine but they are reduced to being a bit weak and pathetic in this feature.

Rarely do you get to see director Panna Rittikrai on screen but here he plays the role of a villain but sadly he does not really deliver much in the action department. Patrick Tang last seen in Raging Pheonix also makes an appearance as a villain but he too does not really get to let loose.

I watched this film with the knowledge of a terrible story and acting and deemed a lot of enjoyment out of this film. But for those who can not tolerate bad acting and non existent stories avoid this film. 4 stars just for the fighting alone.

The Lost Bladesman [DVD]
The Lost Bladesman [DVD]
Dvd ~ Donnie Yen
Offered by Bee-Entertained
Price: £2.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable if a bit forgetable., 8 Dec. 2011
This review is from: The Lost Bladesman [DVD] (DVD)
Donnie Yen is the man these days with every director and producer clammering for the Yenster. The latest product of director Felix Chong and Alan Mak (director/writers of infernal Affairs Trilogy) is The Lost Bladesman. The story of the Three Kingdom and the unification of China under the rule of Cao Cao. The problem occurs from the very start of the film with little or no explanation about the current scenario, those unitiated with the Three Kingdom lore will be left in the dark. Intial skeptism about Yen playing the legendary Guan Yu can be put to rest. Though Yen being a little short compared to the mythcal legacy of Guan Yu, Yen embodies both charisma and composure. His acting is subtle and reserved compared to his more showy efforts of Flash point and Dragon Tiger Gate. But it is Jian Wen that gives a fantastic performance as the great Cao Cao, he conveys loyalty and intelligence with hints of deception with ease. His admiration for Guan Yu is more fleshed out compared the character of Guan Yu portrayed in this film.

Those watching a Donnie Yen film will expect top quality action. Depending on your expectations you may be a bit disappointed with this feature. In terms of quality Yen delivers some fantastic weapon work with some nice choreography but they lack the usual intensity usually associate with Donnie. The first major action between Andy On and Donnie Yen is nicely staged but lacks any real power. The next major action scene features Yen taking on various opponents but unfortunately a lot of the fight is clouded in dakrness making it hard sometimes to see the fluid action. Those sitting through the film expecting a final pay off will also be likely let down, for it is very anti climatic. There is action but very brief and with no real strong adversary to take on it only can be viewed as a disappointment.

Felix Chong and Alan Mak are competent writers and directors, evident in there past work but sadly they fall behind in this feature. Guan Yu is very under developed and lacks any real characterisation beyond "I am righteous and loyal". During the quieter moments I was a bit bored and that was due to not really caring for the relationship between Betty Sun Li and Donnie Yen. Chong and Mak make up the film with some fantastic cinematography and camera work especially during the action scenes.

A very ambitious film that entertains on a supperficial level but those hoping for more attachment to characters and more understanding of the Three Kingdoms story will be left a bit cold.

(I know very little about the Three Kingdoms story only what I have witnessed in the film Red Cliff and the other features about the legendary Guan Yu)

Heart of the Dragon [DVD]
Heart of the Dragon [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jackie Chan
Offered by Direct-Offers-UK-FBA
Price: £3.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Effective drama topped by some fantastic fight action., 8 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Heart of the Dragon [DVD] (DVD)
Heart of the Dragon marks one of Jackie Chan's few films featuring him in a serious role. The few moments of comedy is left to the likes of Sammo Hung who plays Chan's mentally challenged brother. There relationship in the film is established from the start of the film, with Chan caring dearly about his brother but is tested when he gets offered his dream job. Though this is rarely explored in the film, it provides the perfect frame work for the brothers bond. The story is very simple and does not really break any new grounds but is very effective because the film makes it obvious that these are good people and it is easy to sympathesis with both Jackie and Sammo's character. Especially towards the end where a typical cantonese ballad puntuates the nessecary emotional moment.

Action occurs less often than one would expect of a collaboration between Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung but when it appears it is top notch. The first fight occurs at the beginnig of the film and it is breif but features fine choreography with Jackie Chan and Lam Ching Ying going toe to toe. It isn't till the end that the real fight occurs with the likes of Chin Kar Lok, Chan Lung, Yuen Wah and Mang Hoi joining Jackie Chan. This lengthy fight features Chan making his way through a construction site taking on all opponents; the fights that are featured are surperbly staged and intense especially with the emotional build up that has led to this very moment. Chan's final opponent is the high kicker Dick Wei. Both deliver in the punches and kicks demonstrating real power and danger. Sadly Sammo Hung does not fight in this film but that is a minor quibble.

The drama gives the final action more emotional reason and is something that HK fight films rarely demonstrate. Though it is debatable if it is needed, I personally found it added more investment from the audience.

The DVD features crisp picture quality and the original cantonese track. Though not much in the form of quality extras it does offer two deleted fight scenes that was featured in the japanese print of the film. The scenes feature the same level of high quality fight choreography.

In terms of fight quantity this film is sorely lacking but for fight quality is tops and the lengthy end action sequence makes up for all those willing to wade through the drama sequence.

Dragons Forever (2 Disc Ultimate Edition) [DVD]
Dragons Forever (2 Disc Ultimate Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jackie Chan
Offered by soundsunlimited ** SALE **
Price: £6.96

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard hitting action., 8 Dec. 2011
Dragons Forever marks the last time that Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao and Jackie Chan appearing together in a feature film. The result is a fun film featuring some fantastic fight action. All 3 stars get to let loose in the film but the most screen time is given to Jackie Chan. Here he is given the mojority of fight scenes and they do not disappoint. The fights are frentic and hard hitting though featuring less acrobatic moves from the likes of Chan and even less death dying stunts that one might expect from Chan. The final throw down with Benny "the jet" Urquidez is amazing and they exchange fist and feet like one would expect from a kickboxing match, both being of equal skill levels. Though it does not quite live up to there first match-up "Wheels on Meals". Instead the more acrobatic movements is given to Yuen Biao who does some fantastic flips and kicks against kickboxer Billy Chow. Sammo Hung also enters the fray in some brutal fight scenes that appear painful for the poor stunt men on the recieving end. As always Sammo conveys great power and agility in his fights. The film also has a first ever brief fight between Jackie, Sammo and Biao which is great if a bit short.

The problem with the film comes in the form of logical story telling and any real emotions. Also the comedy is a bit hit and miss. During the slower periods of the film such as the romantic sequences or any real attempt at telling the story things become a bit of a bore. Unlike "Wheels on Meals" or Project A" where there was a perfect balance of successful comedy and action with good pacing, "Dragons forever" is more sparondic in terms of balance of action, comedy and romance.

HK action cinema fans will have a joy spotting the likes of Yuen Wah, Dick Wei, Yuen Cheung Yan, James Tien, Lau kar Wing and many regular faces of HK fight films. Though some appear to get punished by the likes of Chan and co. it is still a fun little distraction.

The picture quality is great and the wealth of extras on offer is a fantastic supplementary to the film. With interviews with Brad Allen, Andy Cheng and Joe Eigo. Each gives fascinating insight in there careers as stunt men. A Making of featurette with interviews with Benny "the Jet", Sammo Hung, Yuen Wah and for some reason Brett Ratner(WTF). with a few other extras that round of the package making it the definitive version to view.

Recommended for fight fans.

Shaolin [DVD]
Shaolin [DVD]
Dvd ~ Andy Lau
Price: £7.19

17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining popcorn film., 30 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Shaolin [DVD] (DVD)
If there is anyone you can trust in directing entertaing action commercial films is in Benny Chan, here he weaves a basic story of a man on a road of redemption interspersed with fine action set pieces.

The film is very melodramatic with over stuffed emotions that work fine but is not very original in delivery. Music score hits all the right notes queing the audience with the right emotions. andy lau is always a competent actor but here flutuates between over acting to more composed frequently and the effect can be a bit jarring. fan bing bing has little to do in the film except for a flower vase role and nicholas tse over acts to the point of destroying the film. Tse grins and laughs menacingly and dons a beard to highlight his evil side but his villainous character lacks the logical motivations in his actions. jackie chan appears in an extended cameo that is very fun to watch but sometimes it feels like he is a different film from the seriousness of the film.

Those who have become dissappointed with Cory Yuen action choreography of the late can rest assured that here he returns to form with some finely staged fights, complimented by the able cast of martial artirts such as wu jing, real life shoalin monk xing yu, jackie chan and xiong xin xin (aka Hung yan yan of Once upon a time in china fame). Stars such as andy lau and nicholas tse also do admirably in the fight department. Wire work is obviously used but sparingly usually to enhance a move or exaggerate power. Fights do occur frequently through out the film but there is a major problem being that fights end pretty quick. The end show down is also a bit of a dissapointment especially the fight between xiong xin xin and xing yu.

Those approaching this for original story telling will be dissapointed, the story is as generic as it gets, but with competent action scenes and an incredible cast the film is very enjoyable.

Gallants [DVD]
Gallants [DVD]
Dvd ~ Siu-Lung Leung
Offered by joe4books
Price: £5.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Nostagic quality HK kung fu film., 9 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Gallants [DVD] (DVD)
Any hong kong kung fu fans should give Gallants a watch it is most likely the best small budget martial arts film to come out of hong kong in a while. The film features relatively unknown actors to the mojority of the western audiences, the only names that maybe recognisable to western territories is the likes of MC Jin and maybe Bruce Leung (kung fu hustle). Veteran HK martial artists/actors carry the film and they excel in their respective roles and given ample opportunities to show their martial prowess.

Martial art wise it features some excellent choreography from HK master Yuen Tak, Bruce Leung demonstrates that he is still capable of delivering amazing foot work, Kuan Tai Chen shows amazing fist fighting and Lo Meng gives the two a brief throwdown. Shaw Brother fans will be delighted to see these veteran actors back on the big screen and they do not dissapoint. The camera gives lots of opportunity for the audience to witness the fights with little of the quick cuts apparent in todays cinema. Also wire work is used sparingly which is a fresh air to the ever present wire work in modern films.

Story wise it is very simple and harks back to the past underdog storys in which the protagonist rises obove the bully, this works in its favour because it does not pretend to be big blockbuster it uses its budget wisely. Comedy is also present and it is reminiscent of all school comedy, the down side is localised humor is quite applenty so western audience may be left in the dark with some jokes.

Great fight scenes, funny humour and a lot of nostalgia, highly recommended.

Beast Stalker [DVD] [2008]
Beast Stalker [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Nicholas Tse
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.46

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars intense action thriller., 14 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Beast Stalker [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Beast stalker is a unique beast; it breaks away from the martial arts genre that hong kong has been delivering of the late instead focusing on intense scenarios and character developement.

the director delivers his unique visual style showcasing some beautifully crafted camera movements accompanied by excellent cinematography, the opening car crash is stunning and very well shot - this immediately engages the audience. from the start things move at a relentless pace and to its merit the audience is always engaged with the happenings. characters are realised and motivations are established, characters have an emotional back ground that drives their actions and villains are not straight out evil but have their own agenda.

as for the action scenes, shoot outs are well shot featuring the necassary cuts and camera movements to make them entertaing. not stylised at all instead more reality based they give a sense of danger; characters do die and get injured. there are moments of hand to hand combat but they are brief and again strive for realism. the chase scenes are intense and the cat and mouse scenario is thrilling.

Nicholas tse does a fantastic job as the tormented cop on the chase and redemption but it is Nick Cheung that steals the show; his intense performance as the villain channels something more than you archetype villain, he feels human.

the major a downfall is the ending that ends in an unnecessary good point that does not fit the overall proceedings, (with out spoiling it) the out come of a certain character only happens to please the audience but instead feels forced taking away the reality that the filmmakers have been striving for. by no means does this destroy the film, so dont be put of.

great performances, excellent direction and highly entertaing, recommended.

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