EUROPE RAIDERS (2018) review

111506.88158161_1000X1000

13 years isn’t such a long time for a sequel to arrive, considering Rambo came back after 19 years, Blade Runner after 25 years, and Mad Max after 29. Yet 13 years feels like eons for the sequel to such fluff as Tokyo Raiders and Seoul Raiders to turn up. Not in terms of anticipation, mind you. Tokyo and Seoul were mildly entertaining but quite unmemorable, and haven’t really aged well. Still, they benefitted from attractive casts gathered around the considerable charm of Tony Leung Chiu Wai. Surprisingly, Leung returns for Europe Raiders, despite having become more rare in recent years – perhaps Wong Kar Wai’s role as a producer helped a bit, or perhaps he just wants to have fun: after all, he also appeared in Monster Hunt 2 this year.

(more…)

Advertisements

THE OWL VS. BOMBO (1984) review

OwlVsBombo_UniverseLaser&Video_SC36

Sammo Hung’s The Owl vs. Bombo (also know as The Owl vs. Dumbo or The Owl vs. Bumbo, if you like fascinating film trivia) revolves around two retired robbers, the gentleman-thief type Owl (George Lam) and the more straightforward and bumbling Bombo (Sammo Hung). A year after their respective last heists, they’re contacted by a Chung (Stanley Fung), a cop who has evidence of their crimes and blackmails them into becoming partners to complete two tasks : to expose a gangster’s (James Tien) real estate fraud, and to assist two social workers (Deannie Yip and Michelle Yeoh) in rehabilitating juvenile delinquents. Mirroring the two tasks, this is a film of two halves, featuring light tension and a (very parsimonious) sprinkling of action when the reluctant duo try to bring down James Tien, and a fairly cheesy redemptive vibe when they try to give the delinquents reason to hope and the will to straighten their lives. The film follows both strands lazily, until they are joined in a finale that, while short and not quite memorable, is the only real fight scene of the film.

(more…)

SHANGHAI SHANGHAI (1990) short review

100601_shanghaishanghaidvdcover

In the 1930’s, Small Tiger (Yuen Biao) comes to Shanghai hoping to make it big. There he finds himself torn between his brother Big Tiger (George Lam), who’s an army colonel, and a charismatic mob boss (Sammo Hung Kam Bo), for whom he starts working. But a case of stolen funds forces him to choose sides and butt heads with a high-ranking revolutionary (Anita Mui), who’s also in love with his brother. With its 80 minutes running time, and sometimes subpar production values (mostly in scenes that involve flight in machines designed by Big Tiger), Shanghai Shanghai often feels more like an extended TV series pilot, but the sheer charisma and class of its cast, whether it be a flawless Yuen Biao who proves again what a fine leading man he can be, the classy Anita Mui singing, dancing and fighting the film away, or a towering Sammo Hung Kam Bo in a mob boss role that foreshadows his impressive S.P.L. character fifteen years later. Ultimately it’s a fun little adventure film, and one that speaks to any martial arts fan’s heart by ending with a Sammo Hung/Yuen Biao fight. ***

 

EASY MONEY (1987) review

Easy Money was Michelle Yeoh’s final film before she went into early retirement to dedicate herself to her marriage with Dickson Poon (who had been her producer via D&B Films on most of her films up to then). That didn’t quite work out and five years later she was back in business, new and improved, making quite the splash by upstaging Jackie Chan in Police Story 3. So this is the last film featuring that former incarnation of Yeoh : a more round-faced, girly-looking actress, already very beautiful and stunt-ready, but not quite as well-rounded a performer, especially in the dramatic department.

Easy Money is actually a thinly-veiled remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, with the spin of a gender-switch : Michelle Yeoh is the gentleman-thief figure formerly played by Steve McQueen and Pierce Brosnan ; former crooner George Lam takes the Faye Dunaway/Rene Russo role of the insurance investigator who gets drawn into a web of deceit and seduction that is half of his making. Kent Cheng is the dogged cop in charge of investigating a multi-million-dollar heist, thus taking the Paul Burke/Dennis Leary role : no gender-switching for this character, merely a waist-enhancing.

(more…)