Hong Kong Cinema

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#76 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:40 pm

Assuming the menu doesn't just identify the audio as generic "Chinese" (中国話), it should say either "Pekingnese" (北京話) for Mandarin or 広東話 for Cantonese. Probably the easiest way to distinguish the two audibly: if it has a bunch of sh- sounds, it's probably Mandarin. If people say hai for "yes" and use -p, -t and -k at the end of syllables, it's Cantonese.

Orlac
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#77 Post by Orlac » Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:38 am

feihong wrote:Which disc had the frame cuts? The Dragon Dynasty disc? The IVL disc?
Both

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#78 Post by feihong » Fri Nov 01, 2013 1:12 pm

Received 4 of the Japanese Paramount Shaw Bros blu-rays from YesAsia yesterday: King Boxer, Mighty Peking Man, Super-Inframan and Golden Swallow. In all cases the discs are extremely pleasing upgrades from the SD discs, albeit with no English subtitles. Each disc has removable Japanese subtitles and a single audio track, which in each case sounded Mandarin to me. All that interlacing from the old IVL discs is nowhere to be found, and each movie has a real, film-like luster, similar to the Media Blasters blu-ray of The Deadly Duo...though I think these new discs look a bit better, on the whole.

King Boxer, Mighty Peking Man and Super-Inframan all look sharp, crisp and beautiful. All 4 discs have good-looking grain, depth of field, and strong, vivid color. King Boxer, of course, has more muted color in its basic color scheme than the others do, but the disc reveals that King Boxer is actually filled with beautiful, subtle lighting effects (the dojos are lit with great care--the sunlight coming through the windows is gorgeous, and the shadows of the chandeliers look very haunting--and the noirish blue corridor where the villains are ambushed near the end has crisp shadow detail and burning, intense color).

I never saw an instance of excessive DNR on these discs, but Golden Swallow is another film which, like Heroes of the East, seems to have been shot with a lot of soft-focus effects. These effects never look DNR-ed or muddy, though, and I don't think they've been manipulated beyond how the film was shot to begin with. Golden Swallow is very dark, however. The black tones in the film are consistent and very flat. I don't know if this was Chang Cheh shooting his bizarre "day-for-night" approach, but a lot of scenes have this extremely dark sheen to them. There are some isolated, damaged-looking shots occasionally, which have that vaseline-smeared look which we can see on many of the SD discs from IVL, Image, etc. On the whole, however, the film is crisply-rendered, especially in closeups and close-quarters fight scenes. All these Japanese Shaw Bros discs so far seem good investments to me, if I can only figure out how to watch them with subtitles. It's great to see these films finally looking like films, instead of interlaced video.

Orlac
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#79 Post by Orlac » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:40 pm

Golden Swallow's opening is unusual, a black screen with various sections cut away to reveal segments of the action.

The scene with a young Mars is very grim!

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#80 Post by feihong » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:53 pm

Yeah, that opening scene is really nicely rendered on this disc.

I actually find the whole movie very grim. It's a pretty good-looking film, in a garish way, and it is interesting, but it's also a very frustrating movie on a lot of levels. The supermasculinity of Silver Roc, overwhelming Lo Lieh and "taming" Golden Swallow is one of the most frustrating thematic developments in any Chang Cheh movie I can think of. It's so clearly meant to be mud in the eye for King Hu, and the sliminess of that really annoys me.

That said, it's great to see it with added clarity and a stable image.

Orlac
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#81 Post by Orlac » Sat Nov 02, 2013 6:58 am

What's the running time on the BD of King Boxer?

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#82 Post by feihong » Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:46 pm

101 minutes.

Orlac
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#83 Post by Orlac » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:06 pm

Still frame cut :(

Orlac
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#84 Post by Orlac » Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:41 am

feihong wrote:Yeah, that opening scene is really nicely rendered on this disc.

I actually find the whole movie very grim. It's a pretty good-looking film, in a garish way, and it is interesting, but it's also a very frustrating movie on a lot of levels. The supermasculinity of Silver Roc, overwhelming Lo Lieh and "taming" Golden Swallow is one of the most frustrating thematic developments in any Chang Cheh movie I can think of. It's so clearly meant to be mud in the eye for King Hu, and the sliminess of that really annoys me.

That said, it's great to see it with added clarity and a stable image.
Chang Cheh never understood women and seemed to really dislike them from a film character point of view. He's like a reverse Kenji Mizoguchi.

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#85 Post by feihong » Sun Nov 03, 2013 3:54 pm

I have heard it suggested that this Golden Swallow was a hatchet job from the get-go, as well--commissioned by the studio as a deliberate snub to King Hu, who had just left in some frustration. But I don't remember where I heard this from. Is it maybe on some Bey Logan commentary? I can't remember.

That's an interesting comparison, because Mizoguchi was able to bring such a range of women's concerns to his pictures, and these concerns seem to come so much from real life. By contrast, Chang Cheh's interest in men is a kind of fantasy Arcadia whose values are completely abstract. His men don't have concerns drawn from real life, but rather intense yearnings to be with other men and exchange only the briefest admissions of feelings. If we're going by Vengeance, Chang's men dream of hanging out together and doing backflips, practicing opera together, I suppose. It would be interesting to do a double-screening of Women of the Night and Vengeance, or Street of Shame and The Angry Guest. Or Yang Kwei-fei and Four Riders.

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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#86 Post by Orlac » Sun Nov 03, 2013 4:40 pm

The only strong female character in a Chang Cheh film I can think of is the Wu Tang girl (Candy Wen) in Two Champions of Shaolin.

Orlac
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#87 Post by Orlac » Sun Nov 03, 2013 4:46 pm

feihong wrote:I have heard it suggested that this Golden Swallow was a hatchet job from the get-go, as well--commissioned by the studio as a deliberate snub to King Hu, who had just left in some frustration. But I don't remember where I heard this from. Is it maybe on some Bey Logan commentary? I can't remember.

That's an interesting comparison, because Mizoguchi was able to bring such a range of women's concerns to his pictures, and these concerns seem to come so much from real life. By contrast, Chang Cheh's interest in men is a kind of fantasy Arcadia whose values are completely abstract. His men don't have concerns drawn from real life, but rather intense yearnings to be with other men and exchange only the briefest admissions of feelings. If we're going by Vengeance, Chang's men dream of hanging out together and doing backflips, practicing opera together, I suppose. It would be interesting to do a double-screening of Women of the Night and Vengeance, or Street of Shame and The Angry Guest. Or Yang Kwei-fei and Four Riders.
Another thing about Chang Cheh. He absolutly hated the suggestion that he was gay...but his films got, well, gayer as they went on. The Shaolin Avengers is far too interested in Fu Sheng bum (his weak spot). Some of his latter Taiwanese indies are camper then Butlins.

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#88 Post by feihong » Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:46 pm

In the spirit of barely-admitted male confessions of feelings, I have to somewhat sheepishly admit that my favorite Chang Cheh movie is The Angry Guest. That is a horrible and substantially bigoted movie, but I adore it all the same. I feel as if the anti-Japanese fervor of the movie is so ridiculous that no one could possibly take it seriously, and the racism is weirdly modulated by the fact that Chang casts himself as a Japanese villain.

But the movie also has fantastic fights and great location footage of Japan, and a fun, very enjoyably dated score. It boasts a supercool appearance by Yasuaki Kurata, and one of the quintessential pairings of Chang's golden duo, David Chiang and Ti Lung. Then there are the strange, unfinished-seeming aspects of the film, like the front-seat perspective shot of driving through Tokyo, and the fact that the story is so awkwardly carried over from Duel of Fists. The movie is a rampage of half-articulated statements amounting to nothing, and I think David Chiang gives one of his best renditions of effortless suavity. Ti Lung as the "take-nothing-off-of-nobody" tough guy works just fine for me as well. That they play long-lost brothers--and that we don't have to see them finding each other, since they did that in the previous, inferior film, is just icing on the cake. Of course, their love for each other is given the at the time socially more acceptable background of their fraternal bond, but I do like that in this film they get to relate to one another in a bevy of practical contexts. In so many of the David Chiang/Ti Lung movies, they meet only occasionally, and in this film it's nice to see them working together and solving problems together, instead of just gazing at one another and simmering in key scenes. I also like that Ching Li doesn't have to do much acting, because she wasn't usually a very good actress, as far as I see it. Though I did enjoy her hoydenish performance in The Anonymous Heroes.

So it's a stupid movie, but I enjoy it more than I ought to, I suppose. I like Switchblade Sisters a lot, too, for many of the same reasons. Both films are mashups of so many potent, yet not-fully-digested ideas. So go figure. I hope The Angry Guest eventually makes it to blu-ray.

Orlac
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#89 Post by Orlac » Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:05 pm

This is my, rather crude, review of The Angry Guest

THE ANGRY GUEST (1972)

A sequel to DUEL OF FISTS, with David Chiang and Ti Lung taking on the Yakuza. Mainly notable for featuring the HK debut of the legendary Yasuaki Kurata, who gets to enjoy a rather explicit sex scene (maybe that was a concillation for him having to lose to David Chiang).
Be prepared for a shock, as the Yakuza boss is played by none other than...Chang Cheh, who has shocking bad teeth. And of course, Chang gets to indulge his particular fetish, by having several scenes of topless men slowwwwwly slitting their stomachs open in hara-kiri fashion.
Speaking of fetishes, Ching Li is back, doing absolutley nothing but looking fabulously gorgeous, and there's an exceptionally cute "Japanese" chick played by Fong Yan-ji.
My fave HK villian, Chen Sing, is largely wasted in this, his last film for Shaws before he became an indie star. Still, you have to admire his character's dedication, constantly joining in fights despite having a broken leg.
And Bolo looks like the freakish love child of Chang Cheh and Kenneth Anger here - all bare chest and biker threads!

Oh, was it any good? Yeah, it was ok - points for the Jackie Chanesque construction site finale, two hot ladies, cool cast, and some funky fashion. But Mr Chang, please, a dental plan perhaps?

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Cold Bishop
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#90 Post by Cold Bishop » Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:47 am

Even though its often blasted as a misogynistic, and its far from my favorite film of his, I think Ching Li in Blood Brothers is one of Chang's most fascinating female characters. True, on one hand she's a femme fatale, who lustily destroys Chang's ideal utopian brotherhood. On the other hand, she does all this, if not reluctantly, at least understandably, as all the men around her are ineffectual, caddish or megalomaniacal, even without her presence. In fact, I was ready to completely write the film off until that final scene,
SpoilerShow
where Ching Li's silent ruin is played against David Chiang's unheroic "heroic" death,
as I don't think the relationship between shots (and subsequently the relationship in the film) is as simple as one of blame and culpability.

Golden Swallow is fascinating in that I really feel Chang Cheh was trying to make a "negative" version of his usual film. It's the Changian male hero as murderous sociopath, and I genuinely wonder, being something of nipponophile (which also plays into Angry Guest), if he wasn't thinking of Sword of Doom when making the film. But ultimately, despite his best interests, he can't help but be seduced by Wang Yu's strength of will and capacity for violence. I really think it's the point where Chang Cheh started embracing the ultra-violence that was always ambiguously approached in his films prior.

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#91 Post by feihong » Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:30 am

I forgot until you mentioned it Ching Li's performance in Blood Brothers. That was one of her better ones. I do think though that Duel of Fists, the predecessor to The Angry Guest, contains one of her most underwritten roles, and it's improved upon in The Angry Guest by mostly just removing her.

I find I often like Ching Li in the Chor Yuen films. Maybe what I respond to in the Chang Cheh pictures is Chang's own conflicting feelings about the role of his female characters. He is definitely less interested in the female characters, but he doesn't often seem to be able to do without them. Then a character like the Ching Li character in Blood Brothers takes Chang off in a different direction than usual.


. . .


Speaking of Chang Cheh, and another of my favorite Chang Cheh movies:

Don't know if anyone has noticed this German blu-ray of The Savage 5? It claims to be English subtitled.

Image

Can anyone speak to the quality here? I'm thinking about ordering the film and checking it out for myself.

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Cold Bishop
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#92 Post by Cold Bishop » Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:38 am

Is it T.V.P.? From the looks of it, their DVD was solid (even had the English dub, which is uncommon for foreign releases), so if this is simply an upgrade to an HD transfer, it's likely a safe buy.
Last edited by Cold Bishop on Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#93 Post by feihong » Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:46 am

It's from ELEA-Media. It is apparently an Austrian disc. The same company also does an English-subtitled blu-ray of Crippled Avengers, which I might have to get as well.

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Cold Bishop
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#94 Post by Cold Bishop » Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:56 am

On second look, I'm pretty sure the logo at the bottom says "TVP", so either ELEA-Media runs it, or it's a port. Either way, you're probably good.

EDIT: More here

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#95 Post by feihong » Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:15 am

Yeah. I see TVP on the box, but Amazon.de credits the discs to ELEA-Media. Thanks for the link. I saw caps from the Savage 5 disc towards the end of the thread, and that convinced me it was worth it. The caps look really sharp.

I went and pulled the plug. I had to order Savage 5 and Crippled Avengers from separate sources, but hell, it's pretty exciting anyway. Every Shaw Bros film I can see on blu-ray--every one that isn't filthy interlaced or somesuch crudity--is a genuine thrill.

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Cold Bishop
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#96 Post by Cold Bishop » Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:59 am

Interestingly enough, I'm planning on (re)watching this film tonight for my Shaw project. Hooray '74! Only 6 more years to go!

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#97 Post by feihong » Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:38 am

Savage 5? I like that one partly because of the fantastic DeWolffe theme music, "Dark Battalions," which thunders through the movie. I also remember David Chiang being fairly charismatic in this one, and Danny Lee having a pretty cool part. And if I remember right, I think Wang Chung gets to show off in an extended fight.

I watched this one in a whole grip of Chang Cheh movies, and it was one of the pictures which stood out from the pack as being somewhat unusual, though I can't exactly remember all the particulars. I liked Four Riders a lot, also.

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Cold Bishop
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#98 Post by Cold Bishop » Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:41 am

I'm not sure which cue that was, but I did notice what sounded like Morricone, although I can't place which soundtrack.

Wang Chung/Wong Chung really gets to shine in The Delinquent which despite the co-directing credit is really Kuei Chih-Hung's baby. Harrowing, modern basher shot in the streets of Hong Kong.

He also went on to have a career of some note as a director and actor during the New Wave. He was co-star of the landmark Cops and Robbers, and he was one of the few Shaw directors to try out the new style during the 1980s.

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#99 Post by feihong » Wed Nov 27, 2013 7:04 am

They used the cue again in a Venoms movie, I think, but it works very well in Savage 5, and it gives the film a distinctive flair. I think it is actually another composer; someone under contract to DeWolffe? But it sounds pretty great.

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#100 Post by feihong » Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:40 am

Today I saw that HK Video in France has released a blu-ray box set of the Once Upon a Time in China "Trilogy." Has anybody seen this set? HK Video used to be synonymous with quality, so I'm wondering whether they managed to get real blu-rays of these movies, instead of the fake crap put out by Kam&Ronson?

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