Archive for the Sammo Hung 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!)

Advertisements

Review: Winners and Sinners (1983)

Posted in Dick Wei, Fat Chung, Fung Hak-On, Jackie Chan, James Tien, Lam Ching Ying, Mars, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao with tags , on March 2, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Winners Sinners 3

Starring Sammo Hung, Richard Ng, Stanley Fung, John Sham, Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Dick Wei, Moon Lee, James Tien, Mars, Fung Hak-on, Wu Ma, Lam Ching Ying, Fat Chung.

Fight Choreography by Sammo Hung

Directed by Sammo Hung

The first official film in the Lucky Stars series finds our first iteration of the group (really missing Eric Tsang!) meeting for the first time in prison, after they are all put there due to their bad luck, and, well, they aren’t really very good and playing bad guys. They form a bond, and the team, consisting of Teapot (Hung), Curly (Sham), Exhaust Pipe (Ng), Vaseline (Charlie Chan), and Rookie (Fung) decide to join Curly’s sister in a cleaning business called the Five Stars Cleaning Company. Meanwhile, a rather bad cop named CID 07 (Chan) does a really inept job of trying to catch a group of drug dealers attached to Jack Tar (Tien), and a mishap causes a briefcase that contains counterfeit plates lands in the hands of the Lucky Stars. Of course they are oblivious at first as they are obsessed with trying to get into the pants of Curly’s sister but soon find themselves in danger as Tar thinks the Five Stars Cleaning company are another rival gang. Most of the Lucky Stars are taken hostage, and its up to Teapot to save his friends and get the girl…

Winners Sinners 1

Too much fun. That’s what all of these actors bring to the table. The story is flat and unoriginal, but never mind that. The Lucky Stars are the draw here, and in particular Sammo Hung and Richard Ng. Sammy brings his innocence as Teapot, a fighter who is good at being a good guy but bad at being a bad guy, but wants to get the girl in the end. Richard Ng, clothes or not, is hilarious as he tries to pull off his complex shenanigans all to see one woman naked, but of course he’s the nut job of the group as well. John Sham brings his normal manic energy to liven things up, and Jackie Chan is on hand to provide stunts, and at the same time play a real prick of a cop. Many HK stars come out to play, and Tien chews the scenes like a nice ham sandwich as Tar, but I was hoping to see more from Lam Ching-Ying as the Butler. As good as everyone is, there is one scene that still has me laughing out loud, involving Vaseline and two thugs, none of whom know kung-fu, but can all strike poses as if they did, and they engage in trying to out-pose each other in the middle of bodies and chairs flying around…and watching what happens when Exhaust Pipe enters this strange scene will have you rolling.

Winners Sinners 2

A warning to Jackie Chan fans: he isn’t the star of this film, and this is the Lucky Stars film where he shows up the least, even though adverts showcase him as if he were one of the major stars of the film.

The fight scenes are as great as one could hope for, the best being the finale in the warehouse as Teapot takes on Fung Hak-On, Dick Wei, and two bald fighters in a duel to the finish. Jackie Chan has a brief fight with Yuen Biao that was under cranked (actions filmed on a slower frame rate to make the speed of the actual fight faster) in a way I thought wasn’t necessary. The battle at Tar’s mansion was also a standout, especially the results of an ill-fated piano jump (you’ll have to see for yourself!). The roller-skating stunts by Jackie Chan were good also, but went a bit overlong, but was worth it for the massive car pileups that occurs at the end of the sequence. With the exception of the final warehouse fight, this is probably the Lucky Stars film with the least impressive fight scenes in the series.

However, any film where Fat Chung sports a Jheri Curl:

Fat Chung

is just gold to me.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

Not my favorite of the series, but it’s still a fun first entry into the world of the Lucky Stars! 

This Month on Kiai-Kick–now on Video! Including a look at my webseries Cornered!

Posted in Dennis Ruel, Michael Jai White, Michael Moore, Sam Hargrave, Sammo Hung, Tony Jaa with tags , on February 1, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Philip Ng kicks ass in Once Upon A Time In Shanghai! (2014)

Posted in Andy On, Chen Kuan-Tai, Philip Ng, Sammo Hung, Yuen Woo Ping on December 6, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Once Shanghai

What can I say? This movie looks like 2014 is gonna get started the right way! With this, Police Story (it’ll be 2014 before we get it in the states) , The Protector 2, The Raid 2: Berandal and perhaps Unlucky Stars (Dennis Ruel, I gotta see this, man! At this point I feel like a junkie looking for his fix!), plus a new film from Michael Jai White, Jeeja Yanin, more Tony Jaa and Jason Statham on the way 2014 is shaping up to be something special, if all expectations are met. Philip Ng is a great martial artist, deserving of stardom that has eluded him, but I think this will get him into the big time. With Sammo Hung, Andy On, and Chen Kuan Tai on hand, and fight choreography by Woo Ping, I think this film will be…awesome.

 

 

 

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!

Review: Tai Chi Hero (2013)

Posted in Sammo Hung, Yuan Xiaochao (also Jayden Yuan), Yuen Biao on April 26, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

taichihero5

Starring Yuan Xiaochao, Angelababy, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Eddie Peng, Daniel Wu, Yuen Biao, Peter Stormare

Fight Choreography by Sammo Hung

Directed by Stephen Fung

 Tai Chi Zero was a fantastic mashup of kung-fu, comedy, special effects, and a great steampunk story, coming from the hit-and-miss Stephen Fung. This is the second (?) film in the trilogy, so can it live up to the original film’s success and deliver another steampunk epic?

Yes. Mostly.

The film picks up right where Tai Chi Zero ends, with Lu Chan about to marry Yu Niang, and once he does so he’ll be able to learn Chen style Tai Chi, but for those who saw the last film, someone was about to interrupt the festive proceedings. That someone was Yu Niang’s brother, Zhi Yang, who has returned home for more reasons than just to attend a wedding. His return tears open all wounds for the seemingly invincible Master Chen and Yu Niang, but amidst all this their old foe Zi Jing (Peng) returns, still smarting from the asskicking he received in the previous film, and vowing revenge for the death of Claire. He finds an ally with Duke Fleming (Stormare) of the East India Company, and both men plot to bring down Chen Village once and for all, and Lu Chan has to save the village and somehow win the love of his new master…and wife, Yu Niang. Can Lu Chan overcome his affliction using Tai Chi in time to save his people?

taichihero4

Now that the novelty of the first film has passed, this film has to live and die on its own merits, and lives quite well. Xiaochao does a great job as the hapless Lu Chan, and as his affliction heals, he is great at showing Lu Chan getting smarter, which wasn’t really expressed as an issue in the previous film, but explains his actions in that film and parts of this one. Angelababy does a great job as Yu Niang, a nicer person this time out, now that she is starting to find that she does indeed have feelings for Lu Chan, and becomes a partner with him. Tony Leung Ka Fai is once again fantastic as Master Chen, and even better he gets a true story arc for himself this time around, and we find out the real reason he wanted to train Lu Chan so badly, and why the village was forbidden from teaching Chen style kung fu. Eddie Peng was pretty good as Zi Jiang, but he doesn’t get as much screen time here, nor does Peter Stormare. Daniel Wu gets a small cameo as a Mad Monk, and the makeup people did a good job as it took a moment for me to recognize him. Seeing Yuen Biao face off with Xiaochao for the final fight of the film was great, and while their fight was effects-filled, it still had enough good kung fu to be exciting.

Stephen Fung brings back his inventive transitions and visual storytelling techniques here, and doesn’t really go for the same tricks he used in the previous film, using more forced perspective, slow and fast motion, but just as the first film, the cinematography is still gorgeous.

taichihero2

The fights are all special effects and wirework-heavy, but there is enough traditional kung fu and concepts for the more die hard traditionalists (of which I am one) to like. The best scenes are the series of fights Lu Chan must win, patterned after Tekken or Street Fighter battles, with costumed fighters of various types and even the VS graphic for each fighter, and the graphic of the fighters’ wheel of opponents as Lu Chan defeats them!

Is Tai Chi Hero better than Zero? In many ways it is more fun, now that we don’t have to be introduced to the characters and can just go for it, but the ending here, while hinting at the next film, isn’t as clean as the first film, and wraps things up too easily and quickly, and while I look forward to see how things resolve themselves, the ending of this film left something to be desired, but doesn’t detract from the fun!

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

 Tai Chi Hero is a worthy sequel that push-hands the fun with fantastic Steampunk action and kung fu asskickery!