Archive for the Maggie Cheung Category

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.

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Review: Police Story 3: Supercop (1992)

Posted in Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Michelle Yeoh, Reviews, Stanley Tong, Yuen Wah with tags , , on August 5, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung, Yuen Wah

Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan and Stanley Tong

Directed by Stanley Tong

Everyone was excited when news came that Jackie Chan would once again play supercop Ka-Kui in another installment of the Police Story series, and would bring fellow Peking Opera buddie Yuen Wah along for the ride, but while Supercop is a great action film, it marked the closing of the door on Jackie’s 80’s style films and would mark the films that would define him for the 90’s. That bodes good and bad depending on who you ask.

The film opens as Chan Ka-Kui is once again tricked by Uncle Bill and a new superintendent (I’m assuming the previous superintendent started attending high school, and his parents wouldn’t allow him to work anymore) to work with the Chinese (remember HK wasn’t part of China at the time) in order to find out what arms dealer Chabot is up to by going undercover and getting close to his man Panther. Some may be disappointed to know that this is not Jackie Chan versus the Thundercats, but I’ll forgive anyone who thinks that to this point. At least they don’t take half the film to get Chan to do shit, and he and May seem to have patched things up from Police Story 2.

Chan is teamed up with Inspector Yang (Yeoh), a hard ass Chinese police officer who isn’t very impressed with Supercop Chan, and he doesn’t exactly like her too much either. To test his skills first she tricks him into fighting the top police martial arts instructor. A small fight that is well done, but no where near the caliber of any of the fights in the previous films, and that accounts for this entire film, but more on that later.

The goal to getting close to Panther (Wah) is to make it as if Chan is one of the men hired to break Panther out of prison. The escape scenes are filled with good stunt work, and a pretty good fight (more on that later) between Chan and the prison guards. He takes Panther and some of his men to his fictional home, only to find that Uncle Bill is posing as his mother, and Yang is there as his fictional sister, and immediately we see that they in fact do have a very believable relationship as brother and sister with the way they bicker at each other, fooling Panther further, but the suspense is good here as Panther is always one mistake away from figuring the whole deception out.

After another pretty good fight in a bar where Michelle Yeoh really gets to show her stuff, both she and Chan are taken to Chabot, who is not, in fact, the main enemy of the Gobots, but a batshit crazy arms dealer whose wife is really the brains behind their operation, but she’s currently awaiting trial in prison, and he plans to get her out, but first wants to eliminate the arms dealer competition, and does so by meeting them in a private location i.e. a place where large number of people can get shot or blown up without anything but satellites being able to know it was happening, and they should have, since the battle that takes place looks like a scene out of Rambo. What takes it to another level is that fact that Yang is wearing a bulletproof vest lined with explosives, and one bullet and she goes kaboom, and she knows that, but Chan doesn’t, which leads to some funny moments when he tries to use her as a human shield.

Chabot succeeds in killing his competition off, and now turns his crazy ass to seeing about breaking his wife out of prison. By the way, when I say crazy, I mean Jack Nicholson crazy. He just laughs uncontrollably at damn near anything.

They head to Malaysia for the finale, and no sooner do they arrive than trouble starts when May arrives as a tour guide with a bunch of travellers, with no idea Chan is there, as he had lied earlier and told her he was going to a police conference. Sooo, their relationship still needs a bit of work. Soon she learns that he is indeed there, and in typical May fashion flies off the handle, but not anywhere near what she did in Police Story 2, which is a shame, but probably for the best as she nearly gives the game away, and eventually does so thinking she’s helping Chan out, which leads to her getting caught once again by the bad guys, and Panther will exchange her so long as Chan and Yang help break out Mrs. Chabot.

They do free her, and in a total dick move Chabot drops May out of a helicopter from 2 stories up and ricochets her body off of a car. This leads to the jaw dropping finale as Yang hangs off of a van that nearly collides with a bus, and Chan flies all over the city of Kuala Lumpur at the end of a rope ladder tied to a helicopter that is flying nearly 10-20 stories high! They eventually land on moving train where they have a final fight with Chabot and his men to bring his wife back into police custody. They win the day, and the film draw to an end, and a new era of Jackie Chan films begins.

Choreography: (7) With this film, and what we will see for the 90’s, gone are the elaborate fight scenes where stuntmen get their asses handed to them in frenetic fight scenes that are beautiful in their chaos, and here we get fights that seem more cartoonish in nature, and the threat of Ka-Kui getting killed has lost its flavor, as he never really seems over his head, which is the hallmark of Stanley Tong’s fight choreography style, more movement than consequence, and Jackie would use this style for many films of the 90’s, the ones Americans would largely see. There were also no signature fight scene, like the Mall fight in part 1 or the playground fight in part 2.

Stuntwork: (9) Good work by all involved, but this really gets the high marks for specifically the stunts Chan and Yeoh do, particularly the bus scene for Yeoh and the helicopter ride for Jackie. That shit was insane.

Star Power: (9) Jackie and Michelle Yeoh at the height of their skills do a great job here, and any time you can see Yuen Wah is a good thing, but there wasn’t enough of either Bill Tung or Maggie Cheung, and after the great performance she had in Police Story 2, it’s a shame she was relegated to what amounted to a guest starring appearance.

Final Grade: (7) A good action film that put less emphasis on the martial arts and much more on the stuntwork, and that’s not so good for martial arts film fans. We’ll have to wait a while before we see Jackie in more fight intensive films. Luckily he made one of the greatest ever during the 90’s version of JC, but this ain’t it.

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Review: Police Story 2 (1987)

Posted in Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Reviews with tags , , on July 8, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Bill Tung

Fight Choreography and Direction by Jackie Chan

Of the many sequels Jackie Chan has done, this one is the most direct a continuation from the original as you would ever see. Ka-Kui has to save the day once again…but is it as good as the first? In many ways it is, and besides the fantastic fight scenes, it can be attributed to one person-Maggie Cheung.

We pick up the action as we are once again introduced to Ka-Kui, who now finds his ass on traffic duty due to the shitstorm he caused in the previous film. I guess delivering 4 mall floors of asswhuppery is a bit much, even for Hong Kong. Ka-Kui finds himself directing traffic when May comes to visit him, and a pleasant moment is ruined when that glass-wearing douchebag Ko drives up. In Police Story he was the jackass Jackie socked in the glasses, and evidently that painful moment was lost on him as he starts tossing not-so-subtle threats toward May, and in a real punch to the gut, he shows that Chu, the main villain from the previous film, has been released from prison, the judge citing that he has a disease that is killing him, and he has a few months to live anyway.Chu vows to get his revenge on Ka-Kui before he expires. That evening Ka-Kui and May return from a dinner only to be threatened by Ko. It is here that we also see that May will play a much bigger role in this film than she did in the first one. She’s a great foil for Ka-Kui, and Maggie Cheung and Jackie Chan have that rare chemistry that makes you believe that yes, they are together in spite of each other. Maggie makes it seem so effortless, is it any wonder she became a major star in both China and France?

Fearing for her safety, May goes to stay with her Aunt, but Chu’s men find her anyway, and May busts that bitch Ko a right cross to his glasses, a taste of the pain to come. Unfortunately for Ko and his men they slap both May and her aunt around, and then have the brass balls-and I mean they must have been laced with titanium-to decide to get lunch and the diner across the street. Ka-Kui shows up at the diner, all right, with a tray of ass beating with a side of bitch slap potatoes, and he came to make sure they eat every bite. The fight here is just right, fast and brutal, with Jackie using everything around him as weapons, but in these early films they weren’t the gimmick they would become in later films. He used them because he had to. It’s painted with a more frantic brush and not with a “hey look at me use this ladder, chair, sofa, etc.” Ko, as you would expect, gets his ass royally kicked, and yes, gets punched in the glasses.There are more falls that make you wince in pain, none more than the last one.

Afterward Ka-Kui is chastised by the police chief, the same guy from the last film who looks like he’s 14 years old. Meanwhile just outside of his office Ko yells at everyone in earshot as he curses the police, and the payoff here is great fun as Ko dares Ka-Kui to strike him, and is surprised at what happens next.

That night May and Ka-Kui are on another date when he tells her that he’s quitting the police force. May is thrilled at this, and they plan a trip to Bali, and head to the mall (not the same one as in the last film…I think)to get their tickets. A fellow cop then enlists Ka-Kui’s help as a bomb may have been placed in the mall somewhere. Ka-Kui helps with the evacuation, and no sooner do they think it was a false alarm than the entire mall blows up, and I’m sure Ka-Kui will be banned from entering within 100 yards of any mall in China.

We then meet the group of businessmen who own the mall, as they get a call from the bombers who want a lot of money or something else goes boom. The police chief gets the case, and tries to get Uncle Bill (Bill Tung, but I didn’t have to say that, did I?) to get Ka-Kui to come back, but in a funny turn of events makes the chief do it himself. They do get Ka-Kui back by tricking him to get off his plane, but he leaves May behind as the plane takes off, and realizes too late that he has her passport. Ka-Kui takes the job, and he and Uncle Bill head for a little spy mission, not really realizing that a storm called Hurricane May is brewing over the horizon…

After successfully planting a bug with the business men, Ka-Kui and Uncle Bill return to the police station as a torrential downpour takes place outside. But that was merely letting Ka-Kui know that May had returned, and no one, not Ka-Kui’s martial arts, and not even an army of naked cops can stop her vengeance. This is one of the funniest relationship fights you’ll ever see onscreen, and even more impressive is that May’s tirade is done in one take through several rooms. Maggie really show’s she’s got the acting chops here, as Ka-Kui wilts in fear at her anger. One of the best scenes in the entire series, and laugh out loud hilarious. Brilliant.

That night Ka-Kui tries to make it up to her, but finds themselves ambushed for the final time by Ko and his men, leading to one of the best fights in the series, the playground fight, full of invention and “wow” moments. You’ll never look at a playland quite the same way ever again. After ward May decides to really call it quits as she can’t handle the life he leads, and the enemies he makes.

The film transitions at this point away from May and anyone having anything to do with the first film, and delves into Ka-Kui’s search for the bombers. He is given a team of undercovers who help in this task, as they search for anyone buying explosives. They soon find that this is the work of s small group of men, and no sooner does Ka-Kui think he’s gotten them where he wants them than they first blow up the police station and then kidnap May in exchange for Ka-Kui’s aid in getting them their money! Holy shit, these guys are more ambitious than many of Jackie’s baddies, and they mean the business. During this time we find that Chu is breathing his last breath, but finds himself applauding Ka-Kui as he breathes his last, not quite hating him anymore. You’ll see why.

Ka-Kui is able to escape the bombers clutches before going to free May at a fireworks factory-and you know that some old school JC Justice will commence, and chiropractors will toast their champagne glasses knowing more business is on the way. The bad guys, and even Ka-Kui, take horrifying falls, the likes of which you may never see again. Both May and Ka-Kui find themselves in danger, and working somewhat together they have the bad guys defeated, and their relationship restored. A thrilling action packed ending.

Choreography: (9) The fights, particularly the Playground Fight, is a Jackie Chan classic all the way. Maybe even more inventive than the fights in Police Story 1.

Stuntwork: (10) The stuntmen did a fantastic job once again, selling every fall, of which there were many, and having the balls to come back after the injuries incurred by the stuntmen in the previous film. They have ice in their veins, no doubt.

Star Power: (8) Jackie Chan and Maggie Cheung make a great pair, and Maggie is given much more do to here, no longer quite the one-dimensional character she was in the previous installment.  She played her ever suffering character with a lot of energy and verve, and is the perfect straight woman for Jackie Chan. Her star was poised to take off, and eventually did. Bravo to Jackie for recognizing her talent.

Final Grade: (9) Jackie Chan outdoes himself once again, and had the vision to give Maggie a bigger role than before, and this is a classic martial arts action film with enough action to satisfy the most jaded martial arts fan. I’m never sure whether I think this is better than the first one or not. Either way, a great film.

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Review: Police Story (1985)

Posted in Fung Hak-On, Jackie Chan, Lo Wei, Maggie Cheung, Reviews with tags , , , on April 8, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Jackie Chan, Bridgette Lin, Fung Hark-on, Maggie Cheung

Directed and Fight Choregraphy by Jackie Chan

It’s said that Golden Harvest studios is the house that Bruce Lee built. If that’s so, and I believe it is, then Jackie Chan furnished the place, as his reign as king of HK cinema truly started here, and you can’t find a better representation of everything JC stood for than this film right here.

After enduring failure after box office failure under the direction of Lo Wei, Jackie Chan was considered a bust, and his contract was about to expire with Lo Wei. At this time Jackie had made a bunch of horrid movies in an attempt to be Bruce Lee, like so many others of the time. With nothing left to lose, Jackie was given reign to do what he wanted with his last few films. The first result was Snake in Eagle’s Shadow, which was a modest hit, his first doing things with a bit more comedic flair. Then followed two major hits, Young Master and the classic Drunken Master. Both together turned Jackie Chan into a star. A slew of hits followed, like Project A, The Lucky Star series, and Wheels on Meals. In 1985 Police Story was released, and the international community discovered what would take many Americans much longer to figure out-Jackie Chan was in a class all by himself.

The film starts with a bang, as the police are in the middle of a sting operation to capture notorious criminal Chu, who arrives at a shanty town to engage in a drug deal. Jackie arrives on the scene as Detective Kevin (Ka-Kui) Chan. I like this character a lot, because he’s a different type of action hero. He runs like an energizer bunny, never willing to give in to defeat when he probably should, is not the best boyfriend in the world, a bit overconfident, kind of a jerk, at least to some people, and kind of has a Charlie Brown (why me?) complex. Not the average kung-fu hero. Anyway, before too long the sting goes awry, as you knew it would, and a fantastic action scene commences that in many films would be at the end of the movie is how it starts here, looking more like a John Woo film than a Jackie Chan one.

Soon all hell breaks loose, and an amazing car chase down the shanty town (it sits on the side of a big hill) that would be ripped off shamefully in Bad Boys 2 (Police Story still does it better, with a budget that probably was less than what Michael Bay’s production paid for Kraft services) kicks the film into high gear, and doesn’t rest until Kevin has chased the bad guy while using an umbrella to hang on to a speeding double decker, and fight on said bus, Kevin getting knocked off bus, and using his gun to finally stop the bus, sending two sorry bastards through the windshield of the top of the bus, careening head first into the concrete in front of Kevin in a scene you’ll cringe in pain at even as you rewind your player at least twice going “Did you see that shit?!”

After the opening things slow down a bit as we are introduced to the other characters in the film, Selina, a secretary for Chu who may or may not know about his drug-running, played with equal parts amazement at her situation and fear of what may come by Bridgette Lin. Maggie Cheung also checks in as Kevin’s long suffering (and at least through 2 more films after this one) girlfriend May. She’s equal parts his foil and the one person who understands him. Jackie and Maggie have a natural chemistry that plays well over the span of three films. Special shouts also go out to Bill “Uncle Bill” Tung as the assistant police chief “Bill”. He used to be a famous horse commentator that made the switch to films, and this was I think his first. He’s not really Jackie’s uncle, but has played one in so many of Jackie’s films that everyone simply calls him Uncle Bill. Bill passed away in 2006. I already miss the guy. Farewell, Uncle Bill!

Kevin soon has Selina in protective custody after arresting Chu after the shanty town scene, and what follows are comedy hijinks as Kevin, using his buddy Jaws (Mars, another JC regular) stage an attempt on Selina’s life to get her to cooperate. Things don’t go as planned as Selina knocks out Jaws with not 1, but 2 vases, and Kevin is forced to take her to his house.

After another amazing fight involving Kevin, a handful of thugs and 2 cars, Chu winds up getting off after his capture by Kevin when Selina sabotages her testimony, embarassing Kevin on the stand with some tricks of her own involving his tape recorder.

Not thinking that maybe-just maybe leaving well enough alone would be best for everyone, Chu decides to get revenge on Kevin by framing him for murder. The plan goes off without a hitch, although if that smug little bastard knew what was coming he may have opted to go on a vacation, somewhere like the Bahamas. Forever.

What ensues is a convergence of everyone on an unsuspecting shopping mall where Chu has his secret headquarters. Okay, they lose me a bit here. Why the hell would you place your evil headquarters between Lenscrafters and Ambercrombie and Fitch? Was office space that limited in Hong Kong? Of course, what does that say for the police? Or worse, mall cops? Did the group of well dressed drug dealers in the food court ordering Slushies not tip them off? Mall cops really aren’t worth a damn.

No sooner than can you say “property destruction” than Kevin and May arrive, following Selina as she tries to get the goods on Chu in his mall office, and Chu and his men discover her data theft when their magical Commodore 64 alerts them (I couldn’t use mine to spell my name right, and this one has security alerts and crap! WTF!). They show up to get Selina, unaware that Kevin is there too, with a bur up his ass to getting good old school fashioned vengeance using his fist on many faces.

The mall fight is the reigning jewel in this crown, and it doesn’t disappoint. I can’t begin to count the many moments when you wince as some poor jackoff gets his shoulder bounced off an escalator arm, or one gets dropped 3 floors down and has a wooden table at the bottom to break his fall. Kevin gets as good as he gives, getting punched, kicked, dropped 2 floors though a garden center, head smashed into glass, etc, culminating in a huge stunt involving sliding down a bannister wrapped in lights, going 4 stories down, his hands being burned by the lights as he goes. Don’t worry, you can’t miss it as it’s repeated twice more, for effect. Hell, if I did a stunt like that, I’d make your ass watch it multiple times, too.

For fans of Jackie who only really know him from his U.S. films will meet a side of Jackie they are unfamiliar with: Raging Jackie. This moment arrives when his character has taken enough shit from the bad guys, and decides to kick ass and win whatever way he can. He becomes a wildman, with the single minded goal of making sure that EVERY BAD GUY WINDS UP IN MORTAL PAIN AND IS PLACED IN TRACTION FOR SEVERAL WEEKS. This type of Jackie is prevalent in many of his 80’s films. Like Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk.

Police Story is an exciting entry that would influence an entire new generation of stars that would rule the Hong Kong action roost for the 80’s and most of the 90’s. If you want to start watching Jackie Chan films, I would highly suggest this film. One of the best martial arts films ever. Nearly a complete package.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) The fighting in this movie was different from any other kung-fu movie at the time. Gone are the animal forms, replaced with a modern style of fighting with faster paced fight scenes.

STUNTS: (10) Folks, it doesn’t get any better than this. The stuntmen nick-named this movie “Glass Story” due to the many panes of glass they went through. Keep in mind, it wasn’t the normal candy glass used in films. It was a harder material that could simulate glass. What resulted was many cuts and gashes. The stuntmen performed well. I would ask you to place this next to The Big Boss and tell me whose reactions are better. The falls, hits, and so many, many “ouchy” moments that can’t be counted on one hand. Most of these guys never worked with Jackie again after this film. That’s the level of awesome we’re talking about.

DIRECTION: (7) Pretty good. Jackie knows where to place the camera for maximum effect, and how to let the camera linger just a second longer on stuntmen who were obviously hurt, just so you know what they just did was real.

STAR POWER: (10) Jackie brought all the charisma and obvious star power to the film, Maggie Cheung was new, but it was obvious she would soon forge her own stardom, which she did. Brigette Lin was the Meryl Streep of Hong Kong at the time, as also held up her end of the film. Did I mention Uncle Bill?

FINAL GRADE: (9) Fast paced action, comedy, and amazing stunts are what defined Jackie Chan, and few movies brought it all together in equal parts than this.

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