Blog Archives

Chasing the Dragon (2017)

To begin, an admission. I have not seen many Wong Jing films. Not even some of his biggest hits, such as God of Gamblers. Some of his work has flickered across my retinas, but given the fellow’s torrential output over the decades I may as well have folded before even picking up the cards. I know him more by reputation; a film-maker chasing the broadest and basest of cinematic trends. Jackie Chan’s classics are hardly high-brow, but City Hunter(read more)

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Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (2018)

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The Ip Man film scene has become a crowded sub-genre over the last decade and a bit. Although the four numbered titles directed by Wilson Yip and starring Donnie Yen are the most well-known, there are also the alternate takes on the historical figure in Ip Man: The Legend is Born, Ip Man: Kung Fu Master and Ip Man: The Final Fight plus Wong Kar Wai’s spin on the legend in The Grandmaster. There’s also a 2013 TV … (read more)

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Once Upon a Time in China 3 (1993)

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The first two chapters in this telling of the legend of Wong Fei Hung are bona fide classics, so the third has to aim its no-shadow kicks high. While it may not reach those heights, Once Upon in China 3 does a great job of carrying on the story and themes of international influence in China and the interplay between tradition and modernisation. It just goes about this in a different way, which while a little disappointing should still be … (read more)

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Mad Monkey Kung Fu (1979)

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Mad Monkey Kung Fu is another of director Lau Kar Leung’s classics from his Shaw Brothers heyday. 1979 also saw the release of his top notch hoe-down Dirty Ho, but this time we get to see him act in his own film as well. Having put mantis style to celluloid the year before with Shaolin Mantis, Lau brings another animal to the party here and it’s barrels of fun all round.

The film opens with a prologue of … (read more)

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Ip Man 4 (2019)

Donnie Yen returns for a victory lap as Wing Chun master Ip Man, once more directed by Wilson Yip and ever-ready to humbly stand up to injustice and demonstrate to a fresh batch of bullying foreigners the value of Chinese kung fu. Sometimes bearing the subtitle The Finale and not to be confused with Ip Man: The Final Fight — a different take on the master’s later life featuring Anthony Wong — Ip Man 4 delivers a satisfying conclusion to … (read more)

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Armour of God II: Operation Condor (1991)

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Asian Hawk is back! Now renamed Condor for some reason! It’s definitely the same chewing-gum-chomping character, tasked with tracking down some treasure by the same gentleman who put him up to it in Armour of God, except the daughter played by Lola Forner from that movie is never mentioned, so Jackie (as he’s still sometimes called) is lumped with a few other, less useful female characters instead. Continuity was not a priority in this cinematic universe.

Operation Condor begins … (read more)

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Martial Arts of Shaolin (1986)

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The Shaolin Temple trio of films left a strong cultural impression. They brought Jet Li to the big screen, as one of several members of the Chinese national wushu team brought on board to execute the impressive choreography. They also featured extensive shooting at the temple itself, lending a real sense of history to proceedings. These combined factors brought about something of a renaissance for the Shaolin temple at the time and its martial arts tradition. The first two films … (read more)

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The Scorpion King (1992)

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No, not that Scorpion King. Erase the horrifying CGI amalgam of The Rock’s head on a scorpion’s body and the still-running franchise that it became from mind. This Scorpion King is way more interesting to watch. First glimpsed by a school kid through a window at night, he’s ever-ready to spring to the defence of his disabled father with his superlative martial skills and distinctive scorpion-style moves. Hero material. Except his father is a lecherous slave trader and the … (read more)

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