Archive for the Lar Kar Wing Category

Review: My Lucky Stars (1985)

Posted in Bolo Yeung, Dick Wei, Jackie Chan, James Tien, Lam Ching Ying, Lar Kar Wing, Michiko Nishiwaki, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah with tags , , on June 21, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

my lucky stars

Starring Sammo Hung, Richard Ng, Eric Tsang, Stanley Fung , Charlie Chin, Sibelle Hu, Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Dick Wei, Michiko Nishiwaki, Bolo Yeung, Lam Ching Ying, James Tien, Lau Kar Wing, Yuen Wah

Fight Chroegraphy by Sammo Hung

Directed by Sammo Hung

The Lucky Stars are some of the craziest martial arts films out there. It features many of the best funnymen in Hong Kong at the time, led by Sammo Hung. Technically this is their second film, the first being Winners and Sinners, but this is the first film under the “Lucky Stars” moniker, and all of these films feature some of Sammo, Jackie, and Yuen Biao’s best screen fights. As a warning, though, the comedy is extremely juvenile and slapstick, so if slapstick comedy isn’t your thing, you may want to fast forward to the fights. Me? I’m a fan of Richard Ng, so I’ll watch whatever he’s in.

The film begins following Hong Kong police men Muscles (Chan) and his partner Ricky (Biao) are undercover following Paul Chang, a former cop turned crook, to Tokyo, to find out what nefarious business he’s up to. What that business is hardly matters, as Muscles and Ricky chase one of his gang to an amusement park where they are attacked by ninjas dressed in light blue in the broad daylight in front of people. And now I know where the ninjas from Miami Connection got their training from. Muscles beats the tar out of them but in the fight Ricky gets kidnapped. Muscles, as it turns out, was at one time one of the “Lucky Stars”, a group of orphanage kids who turned to petty crimes. He was cast out once he became a cop and sent his best friend Kidstuff (Hung) to prison. Muscles arranges for Kidstuff to get out of prison early and along with the rest of the Lucky Stars, Sandy (Ng), Roundhead (Tsang), Rawhide (Fung), and Herb (Chin). Kidstuff can stay free of prison if he takes the Lucky Stars undercover to find out what Chang is up to and to find Ricky. Their liaison with the police is a beautiful detective Barbara (Hu). Can the Lucky Stars keep their composure around a beautiful woman long enough to save Ricky and bring Paul Chang to Justice?

my lucky stars Jackie Chan

The story is really simple, and features mostly the shenanigans of the Lucky Stars, all of whom have the maturity of twelve-year-olds, and bring no unending annoyance to Barbara. Richard Ng as Sandy, the nutso (that’s debatable) member of the crew, is as reliably funny as always. I like Eric Tsang as Roundhead, but thought his schtick grew old after a while. Chin is good as Herb, but doesn’t really do much. His shining moment will come in another Lucky Stars film. Stanley Fung’s best moment comes early, when he comes face to face with a very angry Bolo Yeung. And jeez, was there a Hong Kong star not in this film? It felt like they were all there. That’s part of the fun of the film, and it did look like everyone was having a blast, including Sammo Hung as Kidstuff, the most competent member of the crew. Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao are really only supporting characters with small parts, despite the DVD covers that feature Jackie as if he was a main character. Jackie’s not even in the film extensively until the last twenty minutes.

my lucky stars2

But what a good twenty minutes they are! Jackie takes on ninjas in a house of horrors, (there is one moment where Jackie Chan is in a mascot getup and gives expressions that are just laugh out loud funny as he stays in character) and then has a fantastically choreographed fight with Dick Wei. Sammo Hung takes on Lau Kar Wing in one of Sammo’s best onscreen matchups, but perhaps the most memorable fight is Sibelle Hu versus bodybuilding champion and martial artist Michiko Nishiwaki. Ms. Nishiwaki gives some leg kicks that looked just brutal. Yuen Biao has an all-too-short fight with Lam Ching Ying, but it does feature one of my favorite moments concerning Yuen Biao’s sweater. Also look out for Yuen Wah as one of the thugs.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5

 My Lucky Stars is a wildly fun film featuring some of 80‘s Hong Kong’s best performers led by legend Sammo Hung. I highly recommend this film, but the best, though, is yet to come!

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Review: Five Shaolin Masters (1974)

Posted in Alexander Fu Sheng, Chaing Tao, Chang Cheh, Chi Kuan-Chun, David Chiang, Fung Hak-On, Gordon Liu, Lar Kar Wing, Lau Kar Leung, Leung Kar Yan (Beardy), Meng Fei, Ti Lung, Tsai Hung, Wang Lung Wei with tags , , on December 5, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring David Chaing, Ti Lung, Alexander Fu Sheng, Wang Lung, Gordon Liu, Liang Chia-Jen (Beardy), Meng Fei, Chi Kuan-Chun, Fung Hark On, Chiang Tao, Tsai Hung

Fight Choreography by Lau Kar Leung and Lar Kar Wing

Directed by Chang Cheh

The name Shaw Brothers has long been synonymous with kung-fu films and for good reason. Run Run Shaw and his brother Runme forged martial arts films into what they are today, and really created the studio system for them in Hong Kong. For that alone we should all bow down and worship them…forever. Not all of their films were great, and many were not good in relation to the fact that they churned out what seemed like hundreds, but when they struck gold boy did they ever, and directors like King Hu and  Chang Cheh are many of the reasons why, and in 1974 Chang Cheh got together an all star cast in a film about Shaolin revenge that thrills with wall to wall action…

The story opens during the Qing Dynasty, where the Manchus attacked the Shaolin Temple and kills everyone there–except five of them, of course. The opening escape of the Shaolin is a thrilling way to showcase the cast while rolling the opening credits at the same time. We are introduced to: Hu Dedi (Chaing), the leader of the group, the young idiot Mao Chao-Hsing, Tsai Te-Chung (Lung), Fang Ta-Hung (Fei), and Li Shih-Kai (Kuan -Chun) as they are the last to escape the temple, and are pursued by a cast just as good as the heroes, led by Chiang Tao, the always dependable Fung Hark-On, Tsai Hung, Beardy, and Wang Lung. Now if that’s not an all-star group of villains I don’t know what is.

The Five Shaolin are good, but not good enough to defeat the Emperor’s men, and they go into hiding, meeting up with other Shaolin who have taken to hiding in an attempt to regroup and attack the Emperors’ men. This is tougher than it seems as some of the Shaolin and the local rebels have ideas of their own, and there is even a shaolin traitor who ratted them out to the Manchus, Ma Fu-Yi (Wang Lung). Hu Dedi tries to garner the support of Chief Gao, leader of a group of rebels, but Gao has a little bit of bitch in him, and decides he wants Hu to kill the local magistrate, who just happens to be the very badasses that the Shaolin ran away from in the first place. Compounding matters is Mao “I’m the young idiot of this film” Chao-Hsing, who in his bravado and yes, idiocy, gets captured but not before finding the Shaolin traitor. Hu Dedi and Chief Gao rescue him, but it costs Gao his life. Reunited with the other Five Shaolin Masters, they go to train, and plan to take on the Manchus in a fight to the finish…

Five Shaolin Masters has that familiar theme that runs through many Shaw Brothers film of brothers-at-arms and the bonds of fellowship even as Chang Cheh throws so many martial arts fight scenes into this film that it would satiate even the most ravenous kung-fu film buff. The acting runs the gamut, but each actor more or less plays their best character-type: David Chaing as the stoic hero, Ti Lung as another stoic hero, Chaing Tao as a villainous douchebag, and Fung Hark-On as the bad guy badass. The only problem I had was with Alexander Fu Sheng, who always looked as if he was too hot, and never really bothers to wear a shirt, which he seems to opt out of for any film he makes. C’mon Alex, those abs aren’t that great! His character irked me the entire film, which may have been the intent, as he acted like a knucklehead, and an overconfident knucklehead at that. I’m convinced Cheh knew this as whenever Fu Sheng fights he gets some children-sounding music that seems to say “ yes, he’s the comedy relief of this film”. Gordon Liu has a cameo, and looked like he stumbled on set from a different film, and they just decided to use him in this one.

The camera work is great, and captures the fights in all of their ShawScope glory, of which there is many. The slow parts aren’t very long, and the fights, from the opening to the end, escalate the complexity and astounding choreography perfectly. Lau Kar Leung was always one of better choreographers from the Shaw Brothers stable, and he shows why. The villains are damn tough, and the fights show this appropriately, and the choreography flows brilliantly so that at all times you know what each fighter is doing and more importantly why, rather than being a bunch of pretty movements. My favorite fight? The fight that begins to save Mao. Beardy really shows his stuff here, as does Wang Lung. The Final fight is–I have trouble choosing one over the other, so I won’t! The final fight does have one of the most painful kills ever committed to films. Gentlemen, you may want to look away at that part. You’ll know what I mean.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (10) Lau Kar Leung does some of his very best work here, and is nothing short of tremendous, and with so many fights, they all move the story at the same time giving something different each time.

STUNTWORK: (9) The stuntmen bring some great stuntwork and falls, and yes, even their overacting for their death scenes has a brilliance all their own. Kudos to the poor bastard at the beginning of the film who rolls himself down a fight of concrete stairs. I hope they bought him a beer.

STAR POWER: (10) Are you kidding me? Check that cast list again!

FINAL GRADE: (10) This is one of the best of the Shaw Brothers output. An average story surrounded by tremendous martial arts fight scenes and stars. A must see for any martial arts film enthusiast.

Review: Knockabout (1984)

Posted in Lar Kar Wing, Leung Kar Yan (Beardy), Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao on September 19, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung, Lar Kar Wing, Leung Kar Yan (Beardy), Mars

Fight Choreography by Sammo Hung

Directed by Sammo Hung

While Jackie Chan was creating a new genre of police thriller in cinema, Sammo wanted to put a final stamp on the old school period films, and with another collaboration with Peking Opera School brother Yuen Biao, whom he previously worked with on Dreadnaught and Prodigal Son, they tried to knock another one out of the park, and absolutely did.

The film starts as two thieves, Yi Pao (Biao) and his brother Tai Pao (Beardy), spend their days trying to rip off the local casinos in their small village. After a casino fight where they eventually gets their asses handed to them, not having learned their lesson, they try to rip off an old man in a restaurant named the Fox. Now you might think that a dude named the Fox is someone not to trifle with, but neither brother is exactly a rocket scientist, and after their swindle fails they decided to pull the ole’ jump-a-dude-on-a-dirt-road trick, but any guy named the Fox would be wise to this, and after delivering a beating the likes of which both brothers have never experienced they beg for the Fox to teach them, which he agrees to. After a time they are also screwed with by a beggar (Hung) who takes a keen interest in them both. But both brother are unaware that they are in great danger, and are also unaware of the true nature of their master…

Sammo delivers another fun kung-fu and acrobatics film. The production values are similar to most of those types of films, meaning low, even reusing sets from previous kung fu films, but who cares? Your watching this film to see a fun story along with good kung fu, and you get both here. Yuen Biao plays Yi Pao with the same playful fun he approaches many of the characters he played during that time period of his career. It helps that he has an equally game actor in the great Beardy, he of the magically awesome beard. They both play so well off of each other you’d think they really were brothers. Lar Kar Wing also plays a great villain in The Fox, and is able to come off as the good master in the beginning, but he’s also great as his true nature is revealed. Jackie Chan co-hort Mars comes into play as a cop who is looking to put the Fox away.

The fights are terrific as you would expect from a Sammo Hung film. The best fights are the fights of Yuen Biao and Beardy versus two killers sent to get the Fox, one of which is played by the great Hoi Sang Lee (36th Chamber of Shaolin) and the finale fight of Sammo and Yuen Biao versus Lar Kar Wing. Their fight is an acrobatic showdown that features both Sammo and Yuen doing monkey style to defeat Lar Kar Wing, using some of the best monkey kung fu moves committed to film. There is also a fantastic training sequence as Sammo’s character teaches Yuen Biao monkey style. The form is a fantastic showcase for both men as they couple it with some tremendous somersaults and flips.

Knockabout is a good old fashioned kung fu film that features some great fight choreography along with some good comedy moments. Not quite as good as Prodigal Son, but it’s still a crazy fun film you won’t want to pass on.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) Some of Sammo’s best choreography here. Everyone does a fantastic job pulling it off. The finale is the best fight of the bunch, but they are all uniformally great.

STUNTWORK: (7) Yuen Biao does some good work here, as does Sammo himself. Nothing too spectacular, but nevertheless solid stuff.

STAR POWER: (9) Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao and Lar Kar Wing. Toss Beardy in there and we have a winner!

FINAL GRADE: (9) A funny collaboration between Sammo and Yuen Biao that never gets old. This is one of their best together, and allows these Peking Opera brothers to really strut their stuff.

NEXT: I’ll be judging short films for Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas later this week, and will review a few of them here afterward (Ray Park is in one of them).

Review: Choy Lee Fut (2011)

Posted in Kane Kosugi, Lar Kar Wing, Sammo Hung, Sammy Hung, Yuen Wah with tags , , on July 20, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Sammy Hung, Kane Kosugi, Sammo Hung, Yuen Wah, Lar Kar Wing

Fight Choreography by Sammo Hung and Sam Wong

Directed by Sam Wong and Tommy Lor

Choy Lay Fut (also spelled Choy Lee Fut and Choy Li Fut) is a southern style of kung fu that emphasizes long range striking along with continuous and powerful hand techniques and fluid footwork. There have been very few films made about the form, and since it is the style I am a practitioner of, I was pleased as punch when I heard they were finally making a serious film about it. After seeing the film I must say…

…I’m still waiting for that film, ‘cause this ain’t it.

The film stars Sammy Hung as Jie Chen, a young man who live in the UK along with his Japanese best friend Ken Takeda (Kosugi). Both young men are living day to day in England with no real direction, but Jie gets a visit from his father Wai-Yip (Sammo) who is traveling the world bringing Choy Lee Fut to wherever he goes. After a long talk Jie decides to return home, and brings Ken with him, since Ken wants to study Choy Lee Fut. No sooner do they return to the family school than they find trouble when the current teacher, Wai-Yip’s brother Tin-Cheuk (Wah), a teacher and major pothead is being harassed by a local Choy Lay Fut corporation, Pan-American International,  to buy out the school, which has been given permission to buy the school from Jie’s father.  Jie talks their representative, Xia, into a duel between the two organizations, with 3 million dollars and ownership of the school itself in the balance. Things get complicated when Jie falls in love with Xia, and she may or may not feel the same way, but Jie, Ken, and senior teacher Si-Hai Ren find that they will have to train harder than they ever have before using traditional techniques versus the modern equipment and training used by the three fighters they will have to face…

If this film is about Choy Lay Fut, then except for a few scenes and moments it’s more about Jie trying to cultivate a silly relationship with Xia that could have been left on the cutting room floor, but takes up the majority of the film’s running time. The few moments that actually have to do with their training are okay, the best being the training sequence with the three masters, one of whom is Shaw Brothers star Lar Kar Wing as a Hung Gar master. Even this isn’t very well done, leaving us with a brief montage of their training with these masters, which really should have taken up a far larger part of the film. At least the music was cool in this scene. The only real fights come at the end of the film during the tournament, but these are horribly edited, and the best fight involves Kane Kosugi and Ian Powers, but even that is compromised in post-production. If the fight choreography is good, I sure as hell couldn’t tell as they went MTV crazy with the editing. Also, a fight between Yuen Wah and Sammo Hung takes place on a mountain with obvious green screens being the background for the fight. So they couldn’t find one damn real mountain in China to film on? Really?

Sammy Hung is okay, but has a looooong way to go before he’s anywhere near as good as his father. Kane, on the other hand, is every bit as good as you would expect, and is a better actor than Sammy. Both boys are still young, and can forge their own path in martial arts cinema, but they’ll need to get away from films like this. The script itself is terrible and only Yuen Wah’s fun character keeps things from going completely bad.

If you are looking for a film about Choy Lay Fut, you won’t find it here. Nothing about the form is explained, and it ends up being a film that has no heart, no character, and not much in the way of fighting, which is the cardinal sin here. Probably the most disappointing film of the year for me so far. It does have really cool soundtrack, however. If only more care had been placed into the film itself.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (4) Of all of Sammo’s films, this one has to be the worst. It’s hard to say who the real culprit is, Sammo himself or the editing, but both combine to make a really weak effort.

STUNTWORK: (2) Yeah. You won’t find much fighting here, so what do the stuntmen have to do?

STAR POWER: (7) Sammo Hung, Yuen Wah, Kane Kosugi, Lar Kar Wing should have been able to elevate this film. They couldn’t, and that should tell you all you need to know. Sammy was okay, but just barely.

FINAL GRADE: (3) This is a terrible film, more so if you are a martial arts film fan, and perhaps even more if you are a Choy Lay Fut practitioner. This may very well be Sammo and Yuen Wah’s worst film.