Firestorm (Alan Yuen/Hong Kong/2013)

Story:

When a wave of bloody daylight heists terrifies citizens and shames the police, a straightlaced cop plays dirty to stop a ruthless criminal gang.(Netflix)

My Opinion:

Sometimes it is really hard to say a lot about movies that are entertaining to some point but mostly nothing special at all.

Movies with similar storys and constellations are kinda typical for Hong Kong cinema. The good cop gone „bad“ story line that gets presented here is not that new and Hong Kong has a long history of similar cop vs. gangster movies. Especially Andy Lau and Gorden Lam played in a lot of these movies.

Overall Iam a big fan of movies like this, if they are good. But there is sometimes just not that much to say about the 50th similar movie. You can see that, cause so far I spent most of the time telling you about that there is not much to say.😂

Still, some things here are special. The most standout things are the action scenes and the ruthlessness of the gangsters, they don’t seem to care about other people’s life at all. The movie isn’t even dull, for a big part of the time it really works ok. Sure, it isn’t the most innovative thing ever, but it works. Like I said, the action is really good and hard hitting, although totally over the top at times (probably a bit more than is good for the movie).

At some point, although I often pointed out the movie is not that innovative, it turns a bit too much into a no-brainer. Some things, even if they are understandable to some point, feel kinda too irrational and seem to only be there to justify the biggest possible final. Before that the movie felt a bit more thoughtful on the dramatic side of things.

The big final could easily be some part of Roland Emmerichs „2012“ in some way. Although it is fun tao watch, it sometimes feels almost ridiculous in terms of being over the top.

Whatever, for most of the time the movie is good to watch. There are a lot of well known plot lines going on but it is ok for a watch and especially the action makes it a fun ride. I still feel it had more potential. At least it has some impact here and there after all.

Trailer

When Fortune Smiles (Anthony Chan/Hong Kong/1990)

Story:

When a rich man dies and wills his fortune to his daughter, other members of the family launch dubious schemes to get some of the money.(Netflix)

My Opinion:

I really don’t know what to tell you anymore, since the movie is not totally different from other movies with Stephen Chow. I have a passion for these movies and I enjoyed this one.

So if you are already a fan, givr it a try. If you want to discover Stephen Chow movies, this one is probably not the best but ok. If you never liked these movies, don’t watch it.

It’s really as simple as that.😂

Trailer

Love Is Love (Tommy Leung Ga-shu/Hong Kong/1990)

Story:

Defying family expectations, a pair of childhood sweethearts wed and move to the big city, where work life and temptations test their relationship.(Netflix)

My Opinion:

Wow, it is still pretty strange for me to see Stephen Chow in one of his normal movies. While this is still a romantic comedy, it is almost a serious movie for Stephen Chow standards. Nothing over the top happening here.

That being said, „Love Is Love“ is not the most special or original movie you’ll ever see but it isn’t bad at all. If you are in the mood for a HK RomCom it won’t hurt to give this one a look. Props also to Shing Fui-on for his role as the father in law.

As often the trailer is just too long. Give it a minute to get the idea, so you won’t know the best scenes already.

Trailer

Once A Gangster (Felix Chong/Hong Kong/2010)

Story:

A successful restaurateur finds his idyllic life turned upside down when he must temporarily replace a mob boss.(google)

My Opinion:

It’s pretty seldom, but it happens. „Once A Gangster“ is a HK comedy/satire that I didn’t really like and also wouldn’t recommend, especially for foreigners who are new to asian movies.

The film feels messy and unfocused at times, but that is not even something uncommon when it comes to the crazy world of HK comedys. The thing is, there is nothing really funny and that is probably the worst thing that can happen. I would say the movie lacks timing and punch, it just drags on and on without much energy. While fun is surly something very subjective, the movie just has these general problems for me. So yeah, maybe if you are a fan of one of the actors give it a try. If not, I find it hard to recommend and there is not much worth to see, despite a few scenes maybe.

Trailer

The Magnificent Scoundrels (Lee Lik-chi/ Hong Kong/1991)

Story:

Two scam artists cross paths and wind up hustling together to repay a loan shark — if two other tricksters don’t outwit them first.(netflix)

My Opinion:

And another one! I just love this type of comedy and this one is amongst the best movies with Stephen Chow for me.

Sometimes I don’t know what to say about movies like this. Either you love them or you hate them. Either way, it is hilarious what is going on here.

Ps:

The trailer is way too long, so maybe only watch a small part of it, to get the idea.

Trailer

Sixty Million Dollar Man (Raymond Yip/Hong Kong/1995)

Story:

After mobsters blow him up, a rich, arrogant prankster is resurrected as a cyborg with unique skills, a real job and a new love interest.(Netflix)

My Opinion:

Another one for Stephen Chow completists. There isn’t really much to say here for me. The premise is actually promising and opens enough possibilities for the nonsense that we love Stephen Chow for. So there are quite a few funny scenes and stuff you would only see in this type of movie. There are even some small parodys of „Pulp Fiction“ or „Terminator 2“ for example. Also Chow is once again united with his beloved partner in crime, the late Ng Man-tat. So actually there isn’t too much that could go wrong here, if you are a fan of Stephen Chow and his type of comedy.

Despite all craziness and promising ingredients, in the end I would say it is one of the weaker movies involving Stephen Chow. While the movie is ok to watch, even with all the craziness, it still feels a bit lackluster, uninspired and lacks punch. I don’t know how to put it any better. All of this doesn’t feel like the most enthusiastic attempt from all the persons involved. So for me the end result feels just mediocre.

For all people who wanna explore the movies of Stephen Chow, it is better to start with his 90s movies directed by himself. In my opinion you can’t go wrong there, I love most of them. Probably someday I will make a list of my favorite movies of him. In the end the one who knows best how to do a Stephen Chow movie is Stephen Chow himself.

Trailer

Big Fish & Begonia (Liang Xuan, Chun Zhang/2016)

Story:

A 16-year-old girl embarks on a fantastical and dangerous adventure after transforming into a dolphin. When a boy sacrifices himself to save her, she uses magic to bring him back to life — only to learn that this power comes at a serious price. (Google)

My Opinion:

It took me a while to get to watch this one, finally I was able to and Iam not disappointed. Actually this is the kind of movie that is really difficult for me to talk about. Sure, I can give you infos on the story and say that it contains a lot of mythology and partly plays with legends and religion and so on. In the end it still is a movie that you have to see and feel for yourself to get it. Sometimes words can’t really describe everything, or maybe they can but Iam just not able to find these exact words.

Anyway, I can only recommend this one if you like animated movies, even if only in the slightest way. „Big Fish & Begonia“ looks almost breathtakingly beautiful and the animation is flawless. Probably one of the most beautiful looking animation films in recent years, maybe even ever. Some things, not only about the story, reminded me of Studio Ghibli movies and that is a big compliment. The directors, especially as first timers, did an awesome job here. The same goes for everyone else involved in this movie.

That being said, I can’t find any major weakness that really drags the movie down. Maybe there are some things that keeps it from being a total masterpiece. I find it hard to describe it, maybe the story needed a bit more focus or power at some points. I don’t know if that is the correct way to say it. Well, I know a perfect movie, for myself of course, when I see it. This wasn’t it, but it was close.

Again, I highly recommend the movie. It’s beautiful.

Trailer

Rat Disaster (Lin Zhen Zhao/2021)

Story:

Su Zheng Huai boarded a train to the district city with his family. Not long after the train departed, it encountered rat attacks. Su Zheng Huai’s son was bitten and passed out. In order to rescue his son and the other passengers who were bitten, Su Zheng Huai and his daughter, Su Ting, decided to take the risk and head to Xiaobaihe Hospital to retrieve the medicine. Thus, a thrilling adventure begins to escape from the rat disaster. (Source: iQIYI)

My Opinion:

First of all I gotta say, the movie isn’t half as good as the pretty cool posters and trailers might suggest. Honestly I didn’t expect much, since a lot of bigger budget movies from China are often rather disappointing these days. Sometimes they too much rely on special effects rather than a real well developed story and so on. That being said, the effects are not bad but could be better.

Overall the the movie is a „Train To Busan“ rip off, change the zombies for rats. The idea is actually cool but the execution is kinda average. All is pretty much by the numbers, a bit of action and some melodramatic moments. Some scenes are really good but overall people maybe shouldn’t expect too much here. The actors are actually good, nothing to complain here. Anyway, „Train To Busan“ is at least one class obove this one.

Still, I wouldn’t call it a disaster or a totally bad movie. It is just nothing too special, enough for one watch and fast to be forgotten. Could be worse, but it could very well be a lot better.

Trailer

The Mad Monk (Johnnie To/1993)

Story:

The gods in heaven complain to the Jade Emperor about the malicious practical jokes played on them by Dragon Fighter Lohan.

My Opinion:

Stephen Chow and director Johnnie To are two of the biggest names when it comes to Hong Kong Cinema. Chow gained a bit of fame in the west with his hits „Shaolin Soccer“ and „Kung Fu Hustle“. Johnnie To gained fame due to his marvellous gangster movies. He wasn’t that famous and focused in the past but still made some classic movies like “ The Heroic Trio“ or „The Barefooted Kid“ to name two.

Actually Stephen Chows style of comedy in the two movies I mentioned above is not so much different than from what he did in past movies. Only in Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle it was probably more viewer friendly, especially for a non chinese audience I would say. Now when we come to „The Mad Monk“, this is total mayhem and chaos for people who aren’t familiar with chinese culture or even chinese comedy in general. That being said it isn’t just easy to catch if you have never seen this kind of movie before. It doesn’t mean it is totally impossible for „Outsiders“ to like the movie but it is definitely a challenge. I guess you will either love it or hate it and for sure will scratch your head more than a few times I guess.

„The Mad Monk“ first and foremost is a comedy. Then again it is a wild mix of fantasy, traditional legend, Buddhism and even packs a bit of a love story and sexual violence together. All of that is pretty over the top and sudden tone switches are nothing special. Some things can probably make you speechless and leave you jaw dropping, again, especially if you aren’t familiar with these kind of movies. That includes the acting and special effects. In my 25 year long history with HK movies I got used to these kind of things. Hong Kong cinema is still my big love.

To round it up, the movie isn’t Chows best movie, I would place it somewhere in the midfield, the same goes for Johnnie To. Overall I loved the madness and also some of the special effects were really cool. I love this handmade stuff, even if it seems trashy to a lot of people. I wouldn’t say the movie is totally inconsistent, I mean, even with a lot ot stuff going on, the story is still pretty clear. In the end it probably still comes across like a collection of madness a little bit too much. I enjoyed it but it’s definitely not for everyone. For people who didn’t see anything besides „Shaolin Soccer“ or „Kung Fu Hustle“ it is probably still better to start with other movies to widen their interest in Stephen Chow. I would suggest „King Of Comedy“, “ God Of Cookery“, „From Beijing with Love“ or the „Fight Back To School“-trilogy for a start. There may still be some unusual stuff going on but overall I think they are more relatable and viewer friendly for an audience that is maybe not familiar with HK cinema in general.

Also I want to say Rest In Peace to Ng Man-tat, one of my favorite HK actors. He was the beloved co-star or sidekick in many Stephen Chow movies (also in this one, hilarious as often) and they both made a real good team. He just died a few days ago due to liver cancer! RIP

Chasing The Dragon 2 (Wong Jing/Jason Kwan, 2019)

Actually I wanted to complain a bit more about the title but ya, things like that happened in the past and usually I don’t expect a particular thing when I watch a new movie.
The thing i am talking about is that, despite some minor similarities(actually it was kinda unnecessary to show flashbacks of Andy Lau and Donnie yen in the intro of the movie) , this actually has nothing to do with the first part.

This one is basically your usual undercover has to catch gangster movie. It is just that and does not have the kinda „epic“ story of the first part.

That being said, the movie is still solid and entertaining. This one also, like the first part, is nothing sepectecular. Just a solid genre movie with good actors.
By the way, is it possible that Louis Koo plays in almost every HK movie these days? 😂