Archive for the Hong Kong Category

FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH (1972) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Hong Kong, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2010 by goregirl

I wanted to discover and experience as many new titles as I could during my journey through the 70’s, but I also wanted to share a few of my favourites. I haven’t a clue how many times I’ve seen Five Fingers Of Death over the years but it never fails to entertain me. It isn’t the most violent or action packed martial arts film nor would I claim that Lieh Lo is the best fighter I have ever seen. But then again, I know zero about fight choreography or fighting styles, I just like watching men beating the snot out of each other. Five Fingers Of Death offers more than just men beating the snot out of each other, it actually features well fleshed out characters with depth. The character encounters throughout the film are that much more meaningful because of it. Plus, our hero has glowing red hands and some seriously cool theme music!

Chao Chih-Hao becomes caught up in a power struggle between two schools both hoping to win a competition that will determine the dominant fighting style for the provinces. When his rivals learn Chih-Hao’s master has passed down his knowledge of the deadly Iron Fist they will stop at nothing to prevent Chih-Hao from representing his school. Chih-Hao is forced to defeat a number of deadly foes who aren’t afraid to use ugly tactics to win.

Five Fingers Of Death has a satisfying story about revenge, tragedy, love, and honour with a very likable lead you can’t help but root for. Lieh Lo is excellent as humble hero Chao Chih-Hao. He is not super-human and his regular guy tendencies really help to ground the character and make his journey that much more engrossing. Because I could connect with Chih-Hao it is extra rewarding when he unleashes the beast and decimates his opponents. A fair amount of attention is given to characters in general. Among the players is Chih-Hao’s long time love and daughter of his first master who he intends to marry. Along his travels Chih-Hao saves the life of an attractive singer who falls in love with him providing some serious inner turmoil for our hero. Chih-Hao is sent away to learn under a new master who really puts the gears to Chih-Hao making him work in the kitchen until he improves his skills, which he does with great humility. A jealous fellow student wants to see Chih-Hao go down, but he’ll have to get in line. Even the bad guys get their share of the spotlight. There are some memorable villains all guided by the evil Meng Tung-Shun. Tung-Shun runs a corrupt martial arts school and on his payroll are Japanese Samurai, a fighter with a forehead like a drive-in movie theatre and Tung-Shun’s douche bag son who proves the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

It’s a great story with interesting characters but Five Fingers of Death has its share of bloody 70’s violence. Scattered among the martial arts mayhem is blood spray, deadly head-butts, and plucked out eyes. The soundtrack is great and Chih-Hao’s infamous musical cue is the perfect compliment to the glowing red power of the Iron Fist. A fair amount of restraint is used in the length of the fight scenes which might turn some off. But personally, as much as I enjoy guys wailing on each other I enjoy it more when I have an idea who they are and what their motivation is. The film is also well-paced and long wordy exchanges are kept to a minimum. In my opinion, Five Fingers Of Death has the perfect balance of fighting and story that makes for an entertaining viewing experience.

The Dragon Dynasty DVD for Five Fingers Of Death looks superb and had a nice selection of extras. It is awesome to see these older films getting the love and respect they deserve. Five Fingers Of Death is one of my personal favourite martial arts films. It delivers lively and entertaining violence without sacrificing its story or characters. Epic fun. Highest of recommendations!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Chang-hwa Jeong

Starring: Lieh Lo, Ping Wang, Hsiung Chao, Chin-Feng Wang, Mien Fang, Feng Tien, James Nam, Shen Chan, Bolo Yeung, Wen Chung Ku, Lung Yu

BIO ZOMBIE (1998) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Hong Kong, horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2010 by goregirl

I apologize it took me so bloody long to get my first zombie review of the month up, but I am now officially in full frontal zombie mode! For your reference (and mine!) I swiped a list of zombie films from Wikipedia which I put in my sidebar. Seems like a pretty complete list to me, but if you spot an omission leave me a comment and I’ll add it. I also included links to zombie films I’ve already reviewed. I watched 3 zombie films on the weekend and I am pleased to say I enjoyed them all in varying degrees. The zombie sub-genre has always been a personal favourite. There is however a lot of shitty zombie films out there, and an awful lot that lack any originality and just feel redundant. But when they work, they really kick ass! Regardless of quality, I always appreciate a fresh attempt at the zombie film. I’ve really enjoyed the few Asian zombie flicks I’ve watched so I thought I would start out the reviews with a horror-comedy entry from Hong Kong.

Like Dawn Of The Dead, Bio Zombie’s action takes place in a mall, although that would be where the comparisons end. There is barely a serious moment from beginning to end of Bio Zombie. It is definitely intended to be comedy first. The film focuses on its two main characters Woody and Bee. Woody and Bee are a pair of lazy, irritating losers that work in the mall selling bootleg films. They are loud, obnoxious and do some incredibly messed-up things, like mugging a character in the washroom and stealing her ring and cell phone. This film takes a while to get going and you are forced to sit through this pairs antics a little too long. I wasn’t overly impressed with the first 20 or so minutes of the film. But things do improve significantly as the film moves along. In fact, to my surprise, I actually ended up having a little bit of empathy for this pair.

We begin with the obligatory set-up where we learn that a soft drink called Lucozade has been spiked with a bio weapon that turns its consumer into a zombie. We are introduced to a prototype soldier who has drank the lucozade and goes nutzoid and chases a conspiring employee out of the building. Inevitably, the employee gets hit by our two dumbasses. Seriously injured and lying on the road he asks for a drink and wouldn’t you know it but a can of Lucozade has fallen from his briefcase. The employee ends up in their trunk full of zombifying Lucozade and the two drive to the mall. I don’t recall if there is another mention of Lucozade until the films final scene, but at this point people are turned into zombies the old-fashioned way, by biting. Well, it seems one cannot avoid some manner of build up but I just wish it hadn’t lingered so long. We watch Woody and Bee interact with various mall patrons and merchants, scamming, yelling, taunting and flirting. The other players include a couple of aestheticians; Jelly and Rolls (yeah, ha ha), Sushi-boy (you guessed it, he works at the sushi restaurant), and then there is the owner of the cell phone store and his meek wife. It is these secondary characters that help take the piss out of the Woody and Bee duo. Eventually the group must work together to survive. Even though I found the build-up tedious I must admit it definitely aided the character development. The man who owns the cell phone store is a bitter, cowardly asshole who is a complete dick to his wife. It is he who ends up being the revelation that Woody and Bee need, as the two realize he is them in grown-up form. The film ends up being a character-driven story as opposed to just a typical zombie showdown. In fact, even the zombies maintain a certain amount of their human personality.

I didn’t find much inspiration here for Zombie Walk. The zombie make-up isn’t bad; it’s just kind of mediocre. Some of the zombies face sores looked a bit gross but it really could have used some amping up. There sure seemed to be a lot more zombies than there were people in the mall, not that I consider that a negative, I actually found it amusing. The more zombies the better! Sadly there’s not much in the way of gore but there is a decent body count. There is a scene where the characters are mocked up into a video game screen that shows their profile. Their weapon, strength; the kind of stuff you see in a character profile in a video game. The scene actually works quite well. It fits the films vibe and the profiles are quite humorous. But the best part is the surprise ending which you are either going to love or hate depending on whether you like hopeful endings or bleak endings. For me, the last half of the film definitely made up for a less than stellar start. Bio Zombie does have heart and tries to do something different that works more often than not. Recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: Wilson Yip

Starring: Jordan Chan, Emotion Cheung, Sam Lee, Yiu-Cheung Lai, Angela Tong Ying-Ying, Suk Yin Lai, Tat-Wah Lok, Frankie Chan