Archive for the Hoi Sang Lee Category

Review: Warriors Two (1978)

Posted in Cassanova Wong, Fung Hak-On, Hoi Sang Lee, Lam Ching Ying, Leung Kar Yan (Beardy), Sammo Hung with tags , on August 20, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Sammo Hung, Cassanova Wong, Fung Hak-On, Leung Kar Yan (Beardy), Hoi Sang Lee, Lam Ching Ying, Dean Shek

Fight Choreography by

Directed by Sammo Hung

Golden Harvest films are and have always been, at least for me, comfort food. You know what you’ll get, particularly if Sammo Hung is directing: awesome kung fu fight choreography and physical comedy that works more often than not. It all comes together magnificently in Warriors Two.

Cassanova Wong stars as Wah, a kung fu practitioner and banker, who makes the mistake of returning to work one night only to stumble upon a plot by the banker, Mr. Mo (Hak-On ) to kill the mayor and take over the down with his cronies. Wah goes to the mayor’s home only to be betrayed by the mayor’s right hand man Yao (Shek), and after being saved by Fatty (Sammo, but I’m sure you guessed that) Wah must learn Wing Chun from Fatty’s master Tsang (Beardy) in order to face Mr. Mo and his henchmen…

Cassanova Wong is a Golden Harvest stalwart, veteran of many films, and here he does a good job as the hero, but of course he gets upstaged by Sammo, who shines in every scene he’s in, bringing the comedy as the hapless Fatty, even during the darkest scenes. Fung Hak-On is menacing as Mr. Mo, but folks, this is FUNG HAK-ON. If I didn’t already assign Gordon Lui as The Greatness, Fung may well hold that title. Add in a good performance by Beardy as Master Tsang, and you’ve got classic kung-fu theater gold here! Now the story is okay but nothing more than a typical kung fu revenge story, but its the fights here is what makes this film a classic…

Lord have mercy the fights! There isn’t a single fight that isn’t exciting to watch, as Sammo Hung and company throw themselves around and unleash some truly fast kung fu, that you can tell is fast, even with the undercranking (a film technique used in many martial arts films where the film is shot at a slower frame rate in order to speed up the fights when played back). The best fight is saved for last, as Wah, Phoenix (Master Tsang’s niece) and Fatty take on all of Mr. Mo’s most dangerous men, using a variety of swords, knives and staves, and it doesn’t take long for the blood to flow like a river.

Some thing extra has to be said about that almost-forgotten scene of a great kung fu film: the training scenes! There is even a room that has mechanical wooden men for Wah to train against, and all of these scenes, together with the Cassanova Wong/Sammo Hung/Beardy training battles, and you’ve got one of the best kung-fu films Golden Harvest put out.

Comfort food indeed.

 

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 10

This is one of the best of Sammo’s early films, and without a doubt a great kung fu film by any standard. Seek it out and watch it if you can! (Hint: It’s on Amazon Prime!)

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Review: The Young Master (1980)

Posted in Fung Hak-On, Hoi Sang Lee, Hwang In-Sik, Jackie Chan, Shih Kien, Yuen Biao on May 1, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Jackie Chan Young Master

Starring Jackie Chan, Hwang In-Sik, Yuen Biao, Shih Kien, Hoi Sang Lee, Fung Hak On, Fan Mei Sheng, Wei Pai

Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan and Fung Hak On

Directed By Jackie Chan

After the death of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan was tabbed as his successor, and producer Lo Wei envisioned another Bruce Lee, and for a time Jackie Chan tried to act like Bruce Lee in a succession of failures that started with New Fists of Fury. It didn’t work for audiences, and it didn’t work for Jackie Chan, who didn’t want to be another Bruce Lee clone. JC was more interested in comedy with his kung fu, and had a few modest hits before Lo Wei offered him on loan to Golden Harvest. JC went to Golden Harvest and had some success with Snake in The Eagle’s Shadow, but it was the massive success of The Drunken Master that would pave the way for this film.

The story begins at a lion dance, as the school of Master (Tien) takes on a rival school. Lung (Chan) and his brother Jing (Wei Pai) were street orphans taken in by the Master and trained in Kung fu, but during the Lion dance Lung finds that Jing has betrayed them and is being paid by the other school to secretly perform the dance for them. The Master eventually finds out and sends Lung off to find Jing and bring him back to the school. Unfortunately Jing has gone back to the other school, and their headmaster has a job for him and his two bodyguards, played by Hoi Sang Lee and Fung Hak-On: free their Master Kim who is being transported by a group of guards to a new prison. They are successful in freeing Master Kim, but the guards in town mistake Lung for being Jing, and Lung must avoid the police, and in particular the police chief (Kien) and his son (Biao) and somehow clear his name and that of his brother’s by facing Master Kim and defeating him…

Jackie Chan Shih Kien Young Master

This film is a template of what Jackie would be doing the rest of his career: imaginative fight scenes, funny situations, and crazy stunts, which in this film is getting his ass massively kicked by Hwang In-Sik. Yuen Biao is good but there wasn’t enough of him, and Hoi Sang Lee and Fung Hak On perform just as good as you’d hope, and then once Fung breaks the chains of Master Kim…Hwang In-Sik aka “Nimble” emerges with some next level Hapkido s**t! He proceeds to give the guards a one-time clinic in asswhoopery. He kicks their asses so badly they have to montage this scene! The beatings he delivers is so damn absolute you immediately doubt that Lung could win this fight..without a machine gun at least. The Jackie Chan/Yuen Biao fight is also really good, if the speed of choreography isn’t as fast as the rest of the film.

The fight between Lung and Chief Sang Kung is a lot of fun, especially once Lung gets ahold of the policeman’s pipe. Watching this fight between Jackie Chan and Shih Kien, and then comparing it to Shih Kien’s fight with Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon paints the differences between the two in broad strokes, and I wonder if that was intentional. Their mix up later at Chief Sang Kung’s house is a funny comedy of errors that would also become a staple of Jackie Chan’s films.

Yuen Biao Jackie Chan Shih Kien

The final fight between Master Kim (Nimble) and Lung may as well been called The Passion of Jackie Chan, as JC proceeds to take an epic beating from the hapkido master, and is only able to beat him not because his kung-fu was better, but because he simply outlasted his opponent. Nimble proves that badassery does have limits, ‘cause you can only beat someone down for so long before you just…get tired. Hwang In-Sik would prove to be the first in a long line of super-kickers JC would have to face off with over the course of his career.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

The movie that showed Jackie Chan was more than a passing fad, and may truly be the one to carry Bruce Lee’s torch. A fun kung fu comedy that would become the template for Jackie Chan films over the next twenty years.

 

Review: Project A 2 (1987)

Posted in Hoi Sang Lee, Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Wai-Man Chan, Wang Lung Wei on March 26, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Project A 2

Starring Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Bill Tung, Rosamund Kwan, Mars, Ken Lo, David Lam, Wang Lung Wei, Hoi Sang Lee, Wai Man Chan

Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan

Directed by Jackie Chan

Project A 2 picks up what seems like moments after the close of Project A: The leftovers of Sam Pau’s men wash up on Hong Kong’s shore, angry a Dragon Ma (Chan) for killing their leader, and vow revenge, but first they have to find Dragon Ma. Meanwhile the police are concerned that there is too much crime in many of their districts, and believe that Inspector Chun (Lam) a cop who seems to always make busts when the media can see it, is somehow connected. The Police Commissioner (Tung) sends in Dragon Ma to pose as a transfer to Chun’s men, but just as Ma thinks he’s got a bead on Chun, he finds that he’s way in over his head when  Chinese revolutionaries are being hunted by the Emperor’s men, and Ma finds himself trying to keep a book that contains the locations of the various rebel cells away from the Emperor’s agents. Of course, mayhem will ensue…

ProjectA2 Wai Man Chan

The story here is simple but a lot of fun. Jackie Chan, is, well, Jackie Chan, and there is nothing wrong about that! Maggie Cheung once again shows her early chemistry opposite the craziness around her, and Rosamund Kwan is as game as she always is. The bad guys were good as well, and who doesn’t love Bill “Uncle Bill” Tung? Jackie continues to show his growth as a filmmaker as his shot compositions–and editing choices–have evolved since the previous film. The biggest problem with this film is that Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao aren’t present to reprise their roles. If you’ve seen the original Project A, you’ll miss them here, but it’s good to see Shaw Brother stalwart Hoi Sang Lee (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin) and Wai Man Chan (Gallants, Five Element Ninja)

Project A2-1

The fights are really good here, the best being the restaurant fight that started as free for all brawl but then features a fantastic fight between Jackie Chan, Wang Lung Wei, and Wai Man Chan. The chase scene with Dragon Ma and Chun and the pirates was also a well done mix of comedy, stunts, and fight choreography, as is the finale. What has to be understood here is that this film was made in 1987, and for those of you who follow my reviews, know that the make-up of Jackie Chan’s films changed in the 90’s, where the stunt work started to outweigh the straight up kung-fu fight scenes, and the stuntmen were spared the more jacked-up stunt work (Nasty falls aside). That doesn’t mean the film isn’t fun, because it is, but for those who are into the more fight-heavy Jackie Chan films may be disappointed.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

A Jackie Chan joint that features fantastic stunt work and creative fight scenes, and is a precursor to Jackie’s 90’s output. A fun sequel all around.

Review: Magnificent Butcher (1979)

Posted in Fung Hak-On, Hoi Sang Lee, Kwan Tak-Hing, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Yuen Woo Ping with tags , on May 6, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Sammo Hung Magnificent Butcher

Starring Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Hoi Sang Lee, Kwan Tak-hing, Fung Hak-on

Directed By Yuen Woo Ping

Fight Choreography by Sammo Hung and Yuen Woo Ping

Sammo Hung and Yuen Woo Ping, both a few of the best fight choreographers anywhere, tag team on Magnificent Butcher, and the results are exactly what you would expect: a fun and inventive film full of great fight scenes and slapstick comedy.

Sammo plays the titular character Butcher Wing, a far from magnificent student of the actually magnificent Wong Fei Hung (played by Kwan Tak-hing, who’s played the character in over 75 films!). It isn’t that his Kung Fu is bad, far from it, but it’s because he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. He always has good intentions, but they always lead him into trouble. The film opens as Butcher is ripped of his two pigs by the local Butcher, but as he’s actually a much bigger idiot than Wing, and through double talking by Wing he winds up giving him 6 pigs instead. ( I take that back. Butcher Wing isn’t an idiot. He’s just in the wrong job. He needs to be on Wall Street.) He then stops a man whom he thinks is a thief, but as he does the entire film, rushes into fights before understanding what is happening and why. Which is why the guy he beats up, thinking he’s a thief, is actually the servant of a prominent Kung-Fu Master who was ripped off in a game of chance. Since he did just get his ass kicked, and didn’t want to admit why, he lies to his boss Master Kao, who has conveniently perfected the Cosmic Palm Technique. I would assume that he can now kick ass throughout the galaxy, and hopes to do so once space travel is invented. Before taking off Kao greets his shifty as shit son Tai Hoi, who quickly shows himself to be a perverted horn dog, lusting after his dad’s godneice.

Soon Kao and his Get Fresh Posse arrive to have it out with Master Wong for the slight against his man. Of course Wong is engaged in calligraphy at that moment, and Wong tries to teach him a few new strokes, by way of using brushes to whup Wong’s ass. But Cosmic Palm ain’t worth much against Wong Fei Hung’s Paintbrush Style, which may very well trump all. What follows is a very well done fight scene as Wong fights Kao but continues to write his words, which may very well say “pwnd” as Kao gets his ass handed to him, and by the way, never get behind your master and ask him if he’s gonna bow after getting beat. That will result in a bitch slap with a shoe. You’ll see what I mean when you watch it.

Fung Hak On Magnificent Butcher

Of course it comes out that Butcher Wing screwed up, and is punished by Master Wong by holding up vases filled with water in his mouth and arms. Ah, the days of corporal punishment. It’s at this time that Butcher’s fellow student, played by fellow Peking Opera School chum Yuen Biao plays a practical joke on Butcher by convincing a blind guy that Butcher Wing is a latrine. Hey, at this point either the comedy works for you or it doesn’t. I guarantee Will Ferrel or someone will rip this scene off soon.

Soon Butcher Wing’s brother Sai Kwong arrives in town, looking for Wing, not having seen him in over a decade. Unfortunately Sai and his wife run into Tao Hoi, who predictable starts ogling his wife, and scams them by saying that he’s friends with Wing, and gets some jackass to pretend to be Wing. Sai figures it out quickly enough, but gets beat up and thrown out of Tai Hoi’s home, and his wife is held captive. Meanwhile Master Wong leaves to go on a trip to buy herbs, leaving the school to his three students, which is akin to letting the inmates run the asylum, and of course all hell is going to break loose, and it does in spectacular fashion. Soon Tai Hoi, with balls of steel, walks down an alley only to get his ass beaten like…I don’t know, but it was bad. The person on the giving end of this is Sai, who wants his wife back. Once again Butcher runs in, not knowing what’s really happening, and beat Sai up, not realize he just jacked up his own brother. Tai Hoi decides, like the world class douche he is, to take advantage of this, and spins a lie to Butcher that the lady in question was his wife whom Sai had kidnapped. About this time another famous Chinese hero turns up in the person of Beggar Su, master of drunken boxing amongst other things. After saving Sai Kwong from committing suicide, he agrees to help him get his wife back. Soon Beggar Su comes face to face with Wing, and this leads to a hilarious and great fight scene between the two. Wing is defeated, but finds out about his brother and Tai Hoi’s Kung Fu Treachery (I ‘ve been waiting to say that.) . Unfortunately Tai Hoi escapes during the fight.

Later, Beggar Su and Wing infiltrate Tao Hoi’s house, and after beating up Tai Hoi’s buddies ( I assumed they were, because they suck as fighters) they make off with Sai Kwong’s wife, and in yet a another situation where Wing doesn’t think it through, they take the goddaughter of Master Kao with them. Soon the films takes a very dark turn as the goddaughter is killed by Tai Hoi during an attempted rape scene. Wing returns home to find her body, and Master Kao shows up just in time to think Wing did it. A terrific tension filled scene as you wonder how Wing is going to get out of this one. So, Master Kao and the Get Fresh Posse show up at Po Chi Lam and destroy the school sign, which instantly calls for epic asskicking, and it does in one of the two showstoppers in the film as Yuen Biao and a fellow student go up against Master Kao’s boys, one doing Monkey staff, and the other doing Fan fighting. Incredibly acobatic and a densely choreographed scene full of dozens of moves. Butcher arrives just in time to take a Cosmic Palm shot to the chest, and he and the other two students escape.

Beggar Su heals Wing by dunking him in a vat of advil, and soon starts training him in the 12 arms of Hung style. ( I love stuff like this in these old films, where the hero has to learn some new shit before fighting the main baddie. Nowadays these guys already know everything.) He learns just in time to fight the last of Master Kao’s boys, Wildcat, in a really acrobatic driven fight that is fun to watch, but Wildcat is no match for both as Beggar Su gives him the final death blow.

Kwan Tak Hing The Magnificent Butcher

Meanwhile, the only guy to witness the murder of Kao’s godniece tries to blackmail Tai Hoi, but winds up taking a knife in the gut for his trouble, but is able to run to the home of Sai Kwong before exiting this life, and Sai Kwong is killed, so his wife can escape getting gutted by Tai Hoi. She goes to Butcher Wing to tell him what happened, and Wing understandably flips his shit, and he goes to pay Tai Hoi a friendly visit, just to show him what happens when the head is struck incredibly hard with a large piece of wood.

This lead to the final fight, the second showstopper as Wing takes on Master Kao. Equally funny and exciting, this is why you want to see this film. This fight is one of the best you’ll ever see, and Sammo pulls out every trick in his bag, and with Woo Ping running the show the results are astounding. You won’t believe how many moves are in one camera angle before an edit. Soon he beats Kao, just in time for Master Wong to return, and has a new sign for the school, which turns out to be the wrong sign (my copy didn’t translate what it said. Damn Fortune Star.) One of the best of the old school films.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (10) Of course a collaboration between Sammo and Yuen would turn out like this. Some of the most acrobatic fighting ever seen, and the number of moves in one scene is mind boggling.

STUNTS: (7) Pretty good, but no one does anything amazing, but the stuntmen throw themselves thrugh doors and windows well, and sells their scenes as they should.

DIRECTION: (9) Woo Ping knows how to shoot a fight scene, and where that camera needs to go for maximum effect. The story was well done, but the action is where it’s at here, and it doesn’t get much better.

STAR POWER: (8) Sammo Hung is all the star power this film needed, and he makes you laugh or stare in awe every moment he’s on the screen. Kwan Tak-Hing is the quintessential Wong Fei Hung, and always will be!

FINAL GRADE: (9) One of the best Kung-Fu films you can ever see, and a snapshot of the things to come from all involved. An absolute ass kicking classic.