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Gorgeous (1999)

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The whimsical opening music of Gorgeous accompanies the narration of a romantic legend, while the camera pans across a dazzling night sky. This is promptly followed by a CGI fish burp gag. It’s not a movie to be taken seriously, but still ultimately wants to be a fairytale romance at heart. I can’t believe I watched this with my brothers back in the day without squirming.

Innocent, starry-eyed, Taiwanese girl Bu (Shu Qi) strikes out for the big city with … (read more)

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Wheels on Meals (1984)

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At least the title is likely to catch an eye running down a list of potential viewing opportunities. The standard explanation for this strangeness is that the previous two films from the Golden Harvest studio that had English names beginning with the letter M had flopped, so the titular nouns were reversed to get away from the unlucky consonant. What the heck — a fun movie needs a fun title, and this one delivers!

Following in Bruce Lee’s footsteps with … (read more)

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Project A: Part II (1987)

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Project A is a highlight of Jackie Chan’s filmography, and the movie I use to introduce those unfamiliar with Hong Kong cinema to the many and varied delights it delivers. However, Project A: Part II is my favourite Jackie Chan movie. It is perhaps one of the purest displays of Jackie’s talent for creating intricate action and comedy scenes, displayed so clearly that the skill behind their construction is almost invisible.

As if as a reminder of the high bar … (read more)

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Pedicab Driver (1989)

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Sammo Hung has embraced the fact he is a large fellow. Often giving his characters names that draw attention to his size — Teapot in Winners and Sinners or Moby in Wheels on Meals — or even referencing his physique in the title of the film itself — Enter the Fat Dragon or Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon — he has never allowed his decidedly non-traditional fighting frame to slow him down. This is amply apparent in Pedicab Driver.

Seconds … (read more)

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Mr. Nice Guy (1997)

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According to his autobiography, Chan first received the nickname “Jackie” at a job on a Canberra construction site while visiting his parents, who worked at the US embassy. Although the construction site fight is an action movie staple — along with the warehouse or factory fight — it seems fitting that this Australian set film’s best action scene take place in one.

The second film of Jackie’s “Aussie duology” — after Jackie Chan’s First StrikeMr. Nice Guy is … (read more)

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Jackie Chan’s First Strike (1996)

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The original title positions this as the fourth in Jackie’s Police Story series, but apart from Stanley Tong returning as director after Police Story 3: Supercop and Bill Tung appearing in a few brief scenes as Jackie’s senior in the Hong Kong police, there is no connection to the previous movies. This is surely deliberate, allowing Jackie’s first American release post Rumble in the Bronx to build on the momentum begun by that film, without being billed as the fourth … (read more)

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Millionaires Express (1986)

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This movie is ridiculous. I mean that in the best sense of the word, as in over-the-top silliness, expertly crafted to make you grin with glee or cringe with incredulity depending on your familiarity with Hong Kong’s special filmic sauce — equal parts broad visual gags, verbal comedy that doesn’t quite translate, kinetic action and a pinch or two of political incorrectness, all boiling down to a bubbling broth of good old fashioned fun.

Just look at that cast list! … (read more)

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Ip Man 3 (2015)

I missed the third film in the Wilson Yip-directed, Donnie Yen-starring Ip Man series when it was in cinemas, so I was very happy to have a chance to review the upcoming Aussie DVD/Blu-ray release (available May 4 from Eastern Eye). Yen’s portrayal of Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man as a quietly traditionalist, highly skilled master of his art has been his most popular role of the last decade or so. Aside from his transformation in the flawed but fun … (read more)

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