An Interview with Composer Dave Klotz

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Gemini-nominated composer Dave Klotz is one of the prized “guests from the West” in the Hong Kong film industry. Much like Xavier Jamaux, he’s an international composer whose talents Johnnie To and his Milkyway Image partners have called upon repeatedly, often alongside Guy Zerafa (before his untimely death). Among other achievements, it could be said their score to Exiled is an integral part of that film’s artistic success, and one of the most memorable of its decade in Hong Kong. A performer, an arranger and a music producer in addition to being a composer (for film but also for TV and for dance choreography), Klotz also struck up a lasting professional relationship with the great Ringo Lam, right up to his latest film, Sky on Fire, now out in China and the US. He graciously agreed to answer our questions.

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SKY ON FIRE (2016) review

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2015’s Wild City, which marked the end of Ringo Lam’s twelve-year hiatus from directing feature films, was an unremarkable but solid and heartfelt crime thriller, which while nowhere near the artistic heights of the Hong Kong director’s career, was especially heartening when thought of as a lead up to more ambitious films. A bit over a year later (a half-second when compared to that twelve-year wait), Sky on Fire is indeed more ambitious in terms of themes and spectacle, but it’s also oddly underwhelming. Five years ago, Dr. Pan, a scientist who was making major advances in cancer research, died in a possibly criminal fire while he was working in his lab. Now, her protégé Dr. Gao (Zhang Jingchu) and her husband Dr. Tong (Fan Guangyao), under the banner of their pharmaceutical company Sky One, have used his notes to discover a revolutionary cancer-curing medicine, X-stem cells. But the truck carrying the first of these curative cells is hijacked both by the son of Dr. Pan, Ziwan (Zhang Ruoyun), and by Jia (Joseph Chang), a man desperate to save his cancer-stricken sister Jen (Amber Kuo). Caught in the crossfire is Chong (Daniel Wu), the head of security for Sky One, who must take sides as hidden agendas are revealed.

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LOOKING FOR MR. PERFECT (2003) short review

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A rare light, glitzy and non-urban film in Ringo Lam’s distinguished filmography, Looking for Mr. Perfect tells of a young cop (Shu Qi) who’s been dreaming about the perfect boyfriend but is stuck with two awkward and clingy suitors (Raymond Wong Ho Yin and Godfrey Ngai). Things change when she follows her roommate (Isabel Chan) to Malaysia, where she meets her Hong Kong informer (Chapman To), a libidinous talent agent (Lam Suet), a flamboyant arms dealer (Simon Yam), a hapless mercenary (Hui Shiu Hung), as well as his hunky associate (Andy On), who may just be Mr. Perfect. Misunderstandings abound as the two young women get embroiled in the hunt for a prized missile guidance system. Sense and logic go out the window very early on in this overstuffed little action-comedy; Chapman To, Lam Suet and Hui Shiu Hung do their shtick pleasingly, Shu Qi, Isabel Chan and Andy On look very attractive, and Simon Yam steals the show as a tap-dancing, relentlessly finger-snapping villain. The film’s uneven and somewhat repetitive comedy gets compensated for by two very fun action set pieces choreographed by Nicky Li Chung Chi: one a spectacular jet-ski chase and the other a protracted finale starting with impressive motorbike stunts, powering on as Andy On and Simon Yam go at each other with a variety fruits (needless to say, durians come in contact with arses), and ending with a fun visual punchline involving a kite and a speedboat. Oh, and there’s giggling animated sunflowers, too. **1/2

TOUCH AND GO (aka POINT OF NO RETURN) (1991) review

What could a collaboration between Sammo Hung Kam-Bo and Ringo Lam in the early nineties look like, since the former was at the time known more for his hard-hitting but breezy comedies, and the latter already celebrated for his brutal and pessimistic style and outlook (having already directed such classics as City on Fire and Prison on Fire). In a way, this is a similar kind of pairing as when two years later the realistically-inclined Kirk Wong paired up with the perennially sunny (at least at the time) Jackie Chan for Crime Story. But Touch and Go didn’t fare quite as well as Crime Story would, artistically or financially. It tells of Goose (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo), a cook who witnesses the murder of a cop by a gang of sex traffickers headed by Tiger (Tommy Wong Kwong-Leung) with ties and “customers” high up even in the Hong Kong police. Goose agrees to testify against Tiger, but the latter is bailed out and proceeds to burn his restaurant down to scare him away from testifying. A terrified Goose finds help with Pitt (Yeung Ming Wan), the murdered cop’s partner, as well as his sister Angel (Teresa Mo) and a kind-hearted Mainlander May (Irene Wan) who was lured to Hong Kong only to be exploited by Tiger, who actually may have feelings for her…

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