Archive for the Wai-Man Chan Category

Review: Dragon Lord (1982)

Posted in Corey Yuen, Fung Hak-On, Hwang In-Sik, Jackie Chan, Mars, Wai-Man Chan with tags , on July 9, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Dragon Lord

Starring Jackie Chan, Mars, Wai-Man Chan, Fung Hak-On, Hwang In-Sik, Corey Yuen

Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan

Directed by Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan Dragon Lord was supposed to be a sequel to the hit film The Young Master, but was changed later. This film was something of a transition film, which saw JC leaving the traditional kung fu films and lacing them with the stunts he would be come known for. This film also gives his buddy Mars, a veteran of many Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung movies a chance to shine.

Dragon Lord follows the adventures of Dragon (Chan) and his buddy Cowboy (Mars). Both are two immature teens whose fathers fret over them constantly. Cowboy’s father is wealthy, so he always feels a sense of entitlement. Dragon, on the other hand, is lazy and spends his days pulling pranks with his posse. What both boys have in common are the town’s past-time: sports games. The film opens with one of the craziest scenes of King of the Hill you’ll ever see, with a ton of guys trying to climb their way up a hill to grab a golden football. After this what ensues is rugby-Jackie Chan style, so know what kind of oh-my-god-did-you-see-that shenanigans that will ensue. Things get dicey for the two boys when they both fall for the same girl, which leads to a rift in their friendship as they try to one-up the other. But there’s nothing to brings two friends back together in a Jackie Chan film like a bad guy, and we have the return of Hwang In-Sik (The Young Master) as a badass who leads a group of soldiers, one of whom, Lu Chen (Wai-Man Chan) isn’t keen on their latest criminal enterprise, the stealing and selling of ancient Chinese artifacts in order to fund their overthrow of the government. He leaves the gang, but of course you don’t just leave, and Dragon and Cowboy find themselves trying to save Lu Chen and stop a coup if they can survive both the traitorous soldiers and their fathers…

Dragon Lord Jackie Chan

Dragon Lord is a very entertaining movie, and for once Mars gets to step beside JC instead of behind him, and does a good job as JC’s friend and foil. Jackie Chan is good as the clueless Dragon, but it’s virtually the same character he’s perfected in Fearless Hyena, The Young Master and Drunken Master, so nothing bad, but nothing original either. Look out for my personal favorite Fung Hak-on as a competitor in the shuttlecock / soccer game that becomes increasingly insane as the game goes on. Hwang In-Sik is good at playing a badass in this, as always, and Wai-Man Chan also shines as a good guy (for a change). The story itself is paper thin, and exists simply for the action scenes, but, in the case of Jackie Chan, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Dragon Lord Jackie Chan

There aren’t as many fights as you would expect in this film, the sports games taking a part of what would normally have been devoted to a fight. The final battle between Jackie Chan, Mars, and Hwang In-Sik is like The Passion of Jackie Chan 2: Mars Gets His Ass Kicked Too. They don’t so much beat the bad guy as much as wearing him down as he beats the holy hell out of them. That kind of ass-kicking can tire anyone out, and JC and Mars both take vicious falls and kicks, and I cringed at a particularly painful fall Mars pulls off.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

The Jackie Chan and Mars scenes are great, but in the case of Jackie Chan we’ve seen this character many, many times before. Still, it’s a movie full of crazy stunts and wild action. The crazy sports scenes are the highlights of this one!

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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: Gallants (2010)

Posted in Chen Kuan-Tai, Lo Meng (Turbo Law), Sui-Lung Leung, Wai-Man Chan with tags , on January 26, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Siu-Lung Leung, Kuan Tai Chen, Teddy Robin Kwan, You-Nam Wong, J.J Jia, Wai-Man Chan, Jin Auyeung, Lo Meng (Turbo Law)

Fight Choreography by Yuen Tak

Directed by Kwok Chi-kin, Clement Sze-kit Cheng

After watching the dreadful Choy Lee Fut film, I began wondering what happened to Hong Kong martial arts cinema. With the exception of Donnie Yen it appears that kung-fu films that aren’t giant special effects wire harness spectaculars no longer exist in China. Yes, martial arts films are flourishing in other countries, but Chinese cinema, once known for the Shaw Brothers, Golden Harvest, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan seems to have left films of that style behind. And here we have a film that reminds us of what kung-fu films used to be, and may never be again…

Gallants begins as the narrator introduces us to Cheung (You-Nam Wong) a clumsy office drone working for a real estate agency who has no prospects whatsoever. He’s unmotivated, no self-esteem, hated by everyone, and did I mention clumsy? After spilling coffee on his boss and being verbally abused by him Cheung is sent to settle a property dispute in a small village. Little does he know that the tea house in question is owned by two martial arts pupils Dragon (Kuan Tai Chen) and Tiger (Siu-Lung Leung) who converted their old dojo into a tea house while waiting for their Master Law (Kwan) to wake up from his thirty year coma. Rival Master Pong, who owns a modern day martial arts training facility, wants control of the dojo to expand his school, and one of his students, Mang (Auyeung) was an old childhood rival of Cheung. Things get even more complicated when Master Law awakens from his coma and, not realizing how much time has passed, mistakes Cheung for one of his pupils, and begins to train him and his real former students kung fu, so that they may enter a martial arts contest to win glory for the school, but it won’t be as easy as that…

Much of the film centers on the two old students, played to perfection by old Kung-Fu film stalwarts Siu-Lung Leung (Kung Fu Hustle, 10 Tigers of Shaolin) and Kuan Tai Chen (5 Deadly Venoms, Blood Brothers). They play the old men as still young inside, but at the point where age has taken much of their skills away, but they can still kick a lot of ass and do, but the crux of their characters is the devotion they show Master Law, by remaining with him for all of these years as opposed to going out and getting lives of their own.  Teddy Robin Kwan is great as Master Law, a master whom, despite his penchant for wooing women and remembering what time period he’s living in, still has the pulse of his students and has one last lesson to teach them about life as a kung-fu fighter. Lo Meng (5 Deadly Venoms, The Kid with the Golden Arm) really brings out the old school flavor as Jade Kirin, the main thug of the film. You’ll recognize his boss Master Pang (Wai-Man Chan, who played Tiger in Project A2). All of the old men are veterans of the Shaw Brothers and Jackie Chan-era HK films, and for good reason. The scenes involving Cheung aren’t that interesting, as he becomes a better person, but we never really see how, nor are we told enough about his backstory. He’s merely a go-between for the audience into this world where old school kung-fu fights never really disappeared.

The fights are great, even better when you remember that the men fighting are old guys in their sixties and seventies. My favorite fight is the second fight between Tiger and Jade Kirin. The fight choreography is fantastic as both men show speed and power despite their ages. The group fights that Dragon gets into are also well done, and all of them evoke a time and fight choreography that has been given over to the Tony Jaa’s of the world.

So what does Gallants really say about this? Perhaps it’s saying that the time period has finally passed from China, just like westerns have for the States. You’ll see an occasional throwback film like Gallants, but as these men get older and pass away so too does those kinds of films. The baton has been picked up by other countries, but never again will an age like that come to China, which makes a film like Gallants all the more special.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) Every fight was well done, and it was great to see such old kung fu veteran actors still able to pull the moves off. Evocative of both Jackie Chan fight choreography and that of the Shaw Brothers films.

STUNTWORK: (7) There aren’t too many stunts and they aren’t crazy ones, but what was there was done well.

STAR POWER: (9) Their stars may have faded, but these old veterans are still special to those of us who watch their films!

FINAL GRADE: (10) A great but bittersweet film that shows us what Hong Kong cinema used to be and may never be again, and gives us great performances across the board.

Review: Shanghai Express aka Millionaire’s Express (1986)

Posted in Cynthia Rothrock, Dick Wei, Hwang Jang Lee, Lam Ching Ying, Richard Norton, Sammo Hung, Shih Kien, Wai-Man Chan, Wang Lung Wei, Yasuaki Kurata, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah with tags , , , on July 5, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, Lam Ching Ying, Hwang Jang Lee, Yukari Oshima, Richard Norton, Cynthia Rothrock, Dick Wei, Shih Kien, Richard Ng, Yu Wang, Wang Lung Wei

Fight Choreography by Sammo Hung

Directed by Sammo Hung

Sammo, a fan of many westerns, had always wanted to do one himself, and decided to call on damn near every star at the time to be in his kung-fu/western mashup. The film was designed to be another Sammo Hung/Jackie Chan/Yuen Biao team up, but alas Jackie wasn’t able to be in it due to scheduling conflicts, but never mind that. Everyone and their brother is in this film, and Jackie being in the film would have robbed someone else of screen time, especially two newcomers, but more on them later.

Sammo plays Cheng, a thief, opportunist and sometimes pimp with big plans for his small hometown of Hanshui, plans the town is unaware of. He had to leave Hanshui after a series of good deeds gone bad, or bad deeds that had a somewhat noble purpose, depending on your POV. Well, Hanshui ran him out of town, but he has a plan to return and open up a casino/ secret brothel, but since Hanshui is a no where town with nothing more than a train track not far away, he had to do something to get the customers in, and has plans to blow up the train tracks just when the Shanghai Express, a train full of wealthy passengers, will pass, making them stay in the town to spend their money there. Captain Tsao (Biao), the former fireman now the law offical thanks to some of his not-too-smart comrades who decided to use a fire to rob a bank (Lam Ching Ying, Yuen Wah and others), knows Cheng and vows to break up whatever scheme he’s running…

Meanwhile a group of bandits that include Dick Wei, Cynthia Rothrock and Richard Norton plan to rob the train near Hanshui in an effort to help a mob family secure documents being smuggled out of China by Japanese operatives….

Also, Master Wong (Yu Wong) and his son, the great Wong Fei Hung, travel in the same car with rival Master Sek (Kien) and his son.

And…the group that robbed the bank in Hanshui plan to use the train to get away with the town’s money.

AND…quite a few more stories that will all come together in Hanshui, leading to a slam bang finale that features some fantastic fight choreography and some genuinely funny moments. Admittedly, the comedy can be hit or miss depending on whether you like the slapstick comedy that was pervasive in Hong Kong in the 80’s. Personally, most of it worked for me, especially the Richard Ng stuff. That guy is crazy funny:

He plays a lecherous douche who bounces between his wife and his mistress, both of whom are on the train. He has some fantastic stunts where he “trots” on the train cars, jumping from one to another with ease, and does the same later on the roof of a three story casino. His facial expressions are hilarious to watch.

The stunts are thrilling to watch, such as a series of impressive fire fighting stunts by Yuen Biao culminating in a jump from the top of a 3 story building to the ground…and lands on his feet. Wow. He really does get to cut loose, and Sammo lets everyone have their moment in the sun, from the comedians to the fighters. I have to give Yuen Wah and Lam Ching Ying credit-they were really game to become the two idiots they play. No fighting for them, but it’s still great to see them playing different roles than what I would normally see from them. Now, in a changeup from most of my reviews, because there are so damn many, let’s look into individual fights, eh?

Sammo Hung Vs Yuen Biao: Wow. This fight would be the showstopper of other, even very good martial arts films, but here it is in the middle of the film, which helps break up the comedy. Sammo and Yuen really bring it, and if you watch the first kick Sammo gives Yuen, that kick almost really took Yuen Biao out. Like really out. These two go at it, and the choreography is excellent here, and you can tell that they are actually striking each other, which is something Sammo demands of all of his action co-stars, but hey, they’re kung-fu brothers, so they know what to expect from each other.

Yasuaki Kurata vs Richard Norton: Yeah, it was really short, and Richard’s end is painful (note to self, never try to kick high on a short girl with sword.) but what was there was gold. Of course Richard says his classic line “Painful?”after he gives Kurata a nasty kick. Great blocking moves in this scene.

Yuen Biao vs Dick Wei: Oh. My. Gosh. This fight was incredible. Yuen Biao and Dick Wei blaze along their fight with pure speed and Yuen’s acrobatic stunts in this fight is stunning to watch. His spin off the balcony is legendary as writ in the scrolls. Wei’s punches were lightning fast and Biao even faster at dodging them.

Sammo Hung vs Cynthia Rothrock:  Yeah, this fight was cool, and it’s no wonder Cynthia became famous in HK cinema after this fight. She hung tight with the big man himself through his fight choreography that had him going from being Sammo to impersonating Bruce Lee. I was disappointed that one of her big kicks was actually done by Yuen Biao as her stunt double, but the rest is fantastic. Sammo really tossed himself around.

Hwang Jang Lee vs Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung: This the most hair-pulling of all of the fights in this film. It barely lasts a minute, when the reality is it was supposed to be the absolute show stopper fight in the film, but had to be cut for the running time.  What’s there was the beginning of something epic that gets chopped to about 30 seconds. Argh! Luckily Hwang does get to jack up a bunch of other guys, but this is still a great opportunity missed.

Yukari Oshima vs a bunch of sad bastards: Yukari showed off her stuff in this fight, and though she isn’t a kendo practictioner she made it look as if she were, and really had a good, if short fight scene.

Also I have to say I loved the fight between young Wong Fei-Hung and Master Sek’s son. Those two kids were great, evoking the classic Shaw Brothers style of fight choreography, and the parents’ response is a funny way to end the scene, as is the train ride where both masters get their shots at each other each time they enter a tunnel. I want to go back and say a thing or two about Richard Norton and Cynthia Rothrock. These films would pave the way for their American B-movies, but they really understood the Hong Kong style of fight choreography and were the few Americans and Australians to do so at the time (There were a few others, but not many. Karen Shepard and Peter Cunningham are some of the others.) They work really well with the Sammo Hung/Yuen Biao/Jackie Chan style of choreography that dominated 80’s HK films from the Golden Harvest camp.

This film is really a sampler kind of film. You get a full plate that has bits and pieces of everyone, and the whole will fill you up, but you wished you had more of this or that. I needed more Hwang Jang Lee and Yasuaki Kurata, and Dick Wei, but that is a small gripe in a film chockablock full of fights, at least in the last half of the film. The first half does contain enough goodwill and comedy to tide you over until then.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) Sammo does a fantastic job all around allowing everyone to show off their stuff and have their own “moments”. The fighting mixes being fast and fun with being brutal all at once.

STUNTWORK: (9) Fantastic stunts all around. The scene where the train stops is great, and Richard Ng really does a great job, and Yuen Biao takes it up a level with his acrobatics, especially in his fight with Dick Wei. Some of the falls are just down right painful to watch.

STAR POWER: (10) Did you see the cast list I put up there?!

FINAL GRADE: (9) One of the best martial arts westerns of all time, bar none. There aren’t many fights until the end, but the end fights are plentiful and well worth the wait.