A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #

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THE MACHINE GIRL

(Japan 2008) 

Original Title: Kataude Mashin Garu

Directed by Noboru Iguchi Produced by Yoshinori Chiba, Yoko Hayama, Satoshi Nakamura Action by Kensuke Sonomura

Starring: Minase Yashiro, Asami, Nobuhiro Nishihara, Kentaro Shimazu, Ryosuke Kawamura, Yuya Ishikawa

Reviewing: Cineasia UK DVD Release

Genres: Gore / Action / Ninja / Comedy

Rating - 4 / 5

DVD Synopsis: When Ami's bro can't pay enough, violence breaks out, he is murdered and Ami is bound, tortured and has her left arm hacked off as a reminder not to screw with the Yakuza. But this is one chick who doesn't take any shit! Barely alive, she is take in by a mechanic, who builds her a prosthetic limb with a difference – it's only a fully automatic machine gun! Filled with genius tongue-in-cheek gore moments including human tempura's, nail-gunned faces, finger sushi, exploding torsos and the soon-to-be-legendary 'drill bra', Machine Girl is the movie that Quentin Tarantino always wanted to make! Don't miss the over-the-top cult action hit of the decade!

Views: Noboru Iguchi's Machine Girl is a wild tale about a normal schoolgirl, Ami Hyuga, whose life takes a turn for the worse when her brother and his friend (Takeshi) are killed by bullies after being thrown to their death from a building. Setting out to find those responsible, Ami's first stop is with one of the bullies at his family home – a meeting that soon leaves her abused by both parents, one of which deep-fries her arm in hot oil with tempura batter! That night, Ami returns for revenge and soon finds out that the gang of bullies is led by Sho Kimura – the son of a gangster leader connected to a ruthless ninja-yakuza clan. After beheading the bully, Ami puts a knife through the back of the mother's head and showers the dad with the blood of his son, while he takes a bath. It's all pretty mental, and only a warm-up for what's to come! Determined to get her revenge, Ami moves forward with an attack on Sho at his family home, but is soon overpowered by the clan in a brutal and bloody fight that sees her chained and tortured before having her left arm cut off!

Ami soon escapes and eventually gets help with Takeshi's parents – two mechanics who help nurse her back to health. Takeshi's mum (Miki) agrees to help Ami seek revenge for the boys and in between training her, creates a multi-barrelled machine gun prosthetic arm of which she helps fit to Ami. Miki agrees to help her seek revenge for the boys just as a trio of ninjas attacks them in the garage. As the action kicks off, Miki's husband completes Ami's gun-arm and throws it to her as a dozen ninja stars cut through his body. Angered, the girls set out to take down the rest of the clan members, massacring them one-by-one with Miki armed with a chainsaw to accompany Ami's gun-arm. It all leads to a gore-filled, action-packed, and violent showdown that involves a deadly drill-bra, crazy ninjas, exploding heads, and much, much more!!

Machine Girl is the kind of film where there are seemingly no rules! In fact, although it was successful enough on release I think this is the kind of story that would have been even better as an anime – perhaps giving it even more freedom and higher production values. Regardless, this insane revenge flick definitely has its moments from the over-abundance of gore to its wild action scenes, and plenty of corny lines. Because let's face it – you are not supposed to be taking this kind of thing seriously (and if you have, then perhaps this style of cinema is not for you). Like many Japanese film-makers, director and writer Noboru Iguchi started life in the film industry as a soft-porn director, delivering a host of titles throughout the 90s before moving into television and fictional features just after the turn-of-the-century. It seems that insanity and beautiful women have always been Noboru's thing (quite obvious in Machine Girl) and apart from a handful of sane films, his true style would show in films such as Sukeban Boy, Cat-Eyed Boy, and this which was very quickly followed by the wonderful Robo-Geisha, Mutant Girls Squad, Zombie Ass: Toilet Of The Dead, and Dead Sushi – to name but a few. And while most of them are far from perfect, often showing their flaws through the low-budget production values, Noboru still adds enough exciting things to save his titles from being written off as a complete disaster.

For her first-ever role, the beautiful Minase Yashiro does a fantastic job as Ami – the titular Machine Girl. Her great looks and passable acting were aided by the fact that she was brave enough to step into the role, as well as throw herself into the action which was often pretty wild. She clearly made enough of an impression and went on to star in a host of TV shows including Kamen Rider W. Popular adult and exploitation actress, Asami, plays the role of Miki who gets to kick as much ass as Ami – even when her leg is cut-off! Asami had already had a few crazy projects behind her by the time Machine Girl came round, including the lead character in Sukeban Boy. After this, she went on to star in most of the girls-n-gore films for Noboru Iguchi as well as movies like Helldriver, Erotibot, the Rape Zombie series, Bikini Ramen, Tokyo Vampire Hotel, and much more. Of course, one of the other main stars (if not the actual star) of Machine Girl is its special effects and gore. Blending some digital works in with lots of well-crafted practical effects, viewers are taken on a crazy ride of blood showers, exploding heads, sliced bodies, and finger sushi. This is all down to Taiga Ishino and his team who do an amazing job without a Hollywood budget. Of course, Taiga had already kicked things off in the equally wild Meatball Machine as well as the aforementioned Sukeban Boy with Noboru. His work would put him in charge of effects on more great titles such as Tokyo Gore Police (which I adore), Love Exposure, Samurai Princess, Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl, Deadball, Helldriver, and pretty much all of Noboru's gore-filled films that followed...

Kensuke Sonomura is a fight choreographer whose film, Hydra, I had the pleasure of screening at my festival in 2020 – has worked on a lot of great titles over the years, even getting in with Donnie Yen and his team on The Monkey King and Iceman. Others include Japanese films such as Death Trance, Shinobi: Heart Under Blade, Alien Vs Ninja, the Gantz film series, and more. Here he provides a host of fun fights and even given the limitations of his non-fighting females, still manages to make it work. Machine Girl may be far from perfect and does offer plenty of eye-rolling moments – with the bad acting from the younger cast members being a huge part of that – but the film is so outrageous, it totally works and proves to be an entertaining 90 minutes that passes pretty quick. Although it's definitely not for the squeamish!

Overall: Action-packed insanity with lots of blood and buckets of gore, topped-off with ninjas, gun-wielding schoolgirls, and great special effects!

 

DVD Extras: Behind The Scenes, Trailer

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MADAM CITY HUNTER

(Hong Kong 1993) 

Original Title: Cheng Shi Nu Lie Ren

(aka) Lady City Hunter; Born To Fight 6

Directed by Johnnie Kong Yeuk Sing Produced by Yuen Woo Ping Action by Yuen Cheung Yan

Starring: Cynthia Khan, Anthony Wong, Tommy Wong, Kara Hui Ying Hung, Sheila Chan, Wu Fung, Yau Gin Gwok, Tang Tai Wo, Hau Woon Ling, Simon Cheung, Jack Wong, Patrick Ling, Alex Yip, Tse Wai Kit

Reviewing: YouTube Release

Genres: Martial Arts / Action / Comedy

Rating - 3.3 / 5

Synopsis: After being implicated in a murder case, policewoman Cynthia Khan is sent on vacation and spends her time trying to find out information about her mysterious stepmother who, she believes, is connected to a powerful gang.

Views: The first 10 minutes of Madam City Hunter consists of 2 energetic action sequences, both of which show lady cop Cynthia Khan infiltrating 2 different (abandoned) mansions to take down 2 different gangs of crooks in a flurry of kicks and gunfire. During her second bout, Khan meets Anthony Wong – a private detective who goes by the name of Charlie Chan, that has been hired to search for a worried grandmother's teen granddaughter. Tricked into helping Wong in his search, Khan soon finds the young girl hiding out in a drug den with her boyfriend and his gang and, in a bizarre turn of events, is quickly knocked out and locked in the boot of a vehicle that just happens to be in the room. At the same time, one of the crooks from the second mansion suddenly appears in the den and, using Cynthia's gun, kills everyone there in a bid to frame the cop for their murders. Implemented but supported by her chief, Khan sets out to find answers aided by the lustful private dick who refuses to leave her side. With her job on hold, Cynthia visits her father and similarly aged stepmother who, she believes, is part of a powerful gang and is trying to kill her dad for his riches. And this is all while trying to dodge Wong's advances, divert attempts on her life, and find the real killer that framed her!

Given the talent involved both in front of and behind the camera, Madam City Hunter should have been a much better film as well as a bonafide classic of Cynthia Khan's career. But as with a number of Yuen Woo Ping movies from the mid-90s, it often comes across a little uneven with the fast-paced first 30 minutes playing like a collection of random fight scenes and silly gags – most of which are entertaining to watch, to be honest. Although released on DVD in Germany as Born To Fight 6, Madam City Hunter is actually a very hard title to find and perhaps if Yuen Woo Ping had also directed it instead of just producing, the film might have been more widely available given his boost of popularity since his surge in Hollywood projects. Often overlooked by many fans of Hong Kong cinema, Madam City Hunter isn't terribly made by any means and is really only marred by a slower middle section, as well as (for me) a lackluster score when it comes to the action scenes. While it tends to focus more on the 'hit and miss' comedy elements that feature plenty of sex jokes in the second third, we do get treated to one random action scene that is seemingly thrown in between the madness. It also seems that everything that happened in the first half-hour of the film is pretty irrelevant, with the storyline on the relationship between Cynthia and her stepmother dominating the final two-thirds. Of course, the loose connection is that her stepmother (played by the wonderful Kara Hui) is part of the very same gang that Khan went after in the second mansion at the beginning – but by this stage, you really don't care...

While the ever-popular Yuen Woo Ping may have produced the film and his equally famous brother handled the action, the main man at the helm was Johnnie Kong Yeuk Sing. Most probably recognised by fans of Hong Kong cinema as Sandy in Stephen Chow Sing Chi's awesome films, A Chinese Odyssey 1 & 2 (of which he would also serve as an executive director), Kong started life in the industry as an actor and assistant director in the mid-80s, honing his skills behind the scenes on classics such as Happy Ghost 3, Haunted Cop Shop 2, As Tears Go By, The Inspector Wears Skirts 2, and more. The 1990s would see him continue as an assistant director to Wong Kar Wai on Days Of Being Wild, Chungking Express, Fallen Angels, and Happy Together, as well as hits like The Top Bet, Fist OF Fury 1991 and its sequel, Doctor Wai & The Scripture With No Words, and Island Of Greed, before going onto Era Of Vampires and Black Mask 2 for Tsui Hark. Back in 1993, Kong also served as an executive director of Yuen Woo Ping's underrated Donnie Yen flick, Heroes Among Heroes, which is probably what helped him bag the support for Madam City Hunter which was made the same year (with some stating it may have been the year before). Although he had been involved heavily with a number of fantastic titles for almost a decade at this stage, it looks like Kong still hadn't quite mastered the art of direction with what was on offer in Madam City Hunter – similarly put together and as entertaining as his directorial debut, King Of Gambler, a few years earlier. Of course, this could be down to the hurried production in order to cash in on Jackie Chan and Wong Jing's action comedy, City Hunter, which was doing the rounds at the same time, lightly basing Anthony Wong's PI character on that of Ryo Saeba from the popular manga/anime with – and not Cynthia Khan's as the title would have you think.

By the time she had made Madam City Hunter, Cynthia Khan had already starred in almost 30 titles and had wowed audiences with her roles in Tiger Cage 2, Queens High, It's Now Or Never, Super Lady Cop, Zen Of Sword, Blade Of Fury, and In The Line Of Duty 3 – 7 of course, as well as many more. Interestingly enough, 1993 would be one of her busiest ever years starring in no less than 10 productions from 13 Cold Blooded Eagles to The Avenging Quartet. And while you would imagine this kind of popularity over the course of a year made her somewhat of a hot-ticket, Cynthia Khan's career started to quickly take a dive soon after and by the turn-of-the-century saw her almost slip into obscurity, only to pop up in cheap Chinese titles here and there, holding on for as long as she could - much like her past co-stars Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima. Another actor who had had a busy 1993 also was co-star Anthony Wong, who starred in a crazy 18 titles the same year including Heroic Trio 1 & 2, The Untold Story, A Moments Of Romance 2, The Mad Monk, Taxi Hunter, and the often forgotten, Murders Made To Order along with Cynthia Khan herself. Of course, before all of that, Wong had made an impression starring in films such as The Big Score, An Eternal Combat, Erotic Ghost Story 2, Hard Boiled, and Full Contact, and seems to be having a good time as the wacky, perverted PI. It was also good to see him get in on the martial action and deliver some fun moves. The crazy Sheila Chan, from Prince Of The Sun, All For The Winner, All's Well End's Well 92, and Heroes Among Heroes, plays two roles in Madam City Hunter, with the main one as the character of Blackie – the wild twin sister of Wong's murdered girlfriend. The great Tommy Wong Kwong Leung gets to step back from his usual gang boss role and stars as Khan's police chief who also has an eye for his lady cop. Having started in the industry with Oh, My Cops! back in the early 80s, Tommy Wong has appeared in around 100 movies, with many huge titles under his belt from directors like Clifton Ko, Ringo Lam, and John Woo. Popular Hong Kong actor and star of over 380 films, Wu Fung, does a great job as Cynthia's father who gets to roll about a number of times with the incredible Kara Hui Ying Hung – the award winning Shaw Brothers actress. Starting her career in 1977 (which was the year I entered the world) with The Brave Archer, Kara very quickly made a name for herself under the watchful eye of the legendary Lau Kar Leung, and with over 150 titles to her name, is still going strong today as a true queen of Hong Kong cinema. Much like her co-stars, it looks like she's having a blast being silly while dressing up in French maid outfits to tease her older lover, and gets to kick ass a few times throughout, although without really taking anything away from its leading star. Yau Gin Gwok, who burst onto the screen in the awesome South Shaolin Master, plays the main bad guy of the film and gets to trade kicks with Cynthia, Kara, and Anthony at different times. Although his career only lasted a decade, Yau starred in many great films such as Don't Fool Me with Andy Lau, Once Upon A Time In China, Angel Terminators 2, Fist From Shaolin, South Shaolin Master 2, and once again with Anthony Wong in Rock N' Roll Cop which would be his final film.

The action in Madam City Hunter is all down to the wonderful and very talented Yuen Cheung Yan, who delivers a host of fun and varied martial arts battles over the 90 minute running time. Although his fight choreography has sometimes been a little less refined than that of his brother's, I've always enjoyed what Yuen Cheung Yan brings to the screen. Here, it seems that anything goes, from good old fashioned hand-to-hand combat to some moves that seem more inspired by wire-fu flicks like Iron Monkey and Super Lady Cop for example. Heck, there's even some gun-play thrown in just for fun! It all starts with the aforementioned opening fights in the first 10 minutes of the film, both set in abandoned mansions. This sees Cynthia take down a host of gangsters in scenes that could easily have taken from her In The Line Of Duty series. She gets to go toe-to-toe with Kara Hui later on, but only for a brief moment. Strangely enough, Kara only gets one more fight scene towards the end when she faces off against the gangster boss, but seems fairly underused in the action department overall. It was fun to see Anthony Wong getting in on the action also, putting his martial skills to use a number of times (although artfully doubled for the more intricate moves). His highlight fight comes at the halfway mark when, while dressed as a woman, he sits fishing at the top of a huge reservoir where he is suddenly attacked by a lone swordsman. While it's a fun fight, it almost seems out of place in such a modern action-comedy as the choreography has them pulling moves that would be more fitting in a mid-90s wire-fu film. With a few other scuffles throughout including a great chase on bamboo scaffolding, it all leads to a fun finale where Cynthia and Anthony take on Yau Gin Gwok and his men in an exciting showdown that should please fans.

I really wanted to love Madam City Hunter the first time I saw it, but for some reason, it just isn't overly memorable and feels a little uneven along the way. Cynthia is as great as always (as is everyone else), but there's just something about it that seems unfulfilling. That said, there are plenty of great action scenes to enjoy (even if they don't make sense sometimes) and some funny moments, but it isn't Tiger Cage 2 or In The Line Of Duty 3 & 4, and should have been much better to be honest. Regardless, it is worth a watch and I will return to it someday soon!

Overall: Although uneven in it's execution, Madam City Hunter redeems itself with some great action scenes and a fun cast!

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MAD DETECTIVE

(Hong Kong 2007)

Original Title: San Taam

Directed by Johnnie To, Wai Ka Fai Produced by Johnnie To, Wai Ka Fai

Starring: Sean Lau Ching Wan, Andy On, Gordon Lam, Eddy Ko, Kelly Lin, Joseph Lee, Karen Lee, Flora Chan, Lam Suet, Eddie Cheung, Jay Lau, Jeff Cheung, Chiu Chi Shing, Hung Wai Leung, Lu Ching Ting

Reviewing: YouTube Release

Genres: Crime / Drama / Action / Mystery

Rating - 4.5 / 5

Synopsis: A rookie cop teams up with a former detective with a supernatural gift, to hunt down a serial killer.

Views: The awesome Lau Ching Wan gives one of his best-ever roles as Detective Bun, a genius detective who goes to goes to extreme lengths to solve a case. And like many geniuses, it seems he has a screw loose as shown in his introductory scene where he solves a murder by re-enacting the case – such as stabbing a hanging pig in the middle of a room, before climbing into a suitcase so that he can be thrown down many flights of stairs. Bloodied and dizzy, Bun gets to his feet announcing the murderer and the case is closed. Soon after, at the retirement of a senior officer (in a cameo by Eddy Ko), Detective Bun offers him a goodbye present by cutting off a piece of his own ear – an act that sees him fired from the force. Five years later, unemployed and living with his long-suffering (ex) wife, Bun's mental illness has seemingly gotten worse and things are dull. Inspector Ho (Andy On), a young member of the force who admires Bun greatly, approaches him for help on a case that involves a stolen gun, and a dirty cop named Ko (Gordon Lam) who suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder. Luckily enough, Bun has been blessed (or cursed) with the ability to see the true personalities of others, and soon finds himself facing off against Officer Ko and his 7 inner persons which reignites his flame for detective work!

Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai's Mad Detective is pretty damn amazing and gave me vibes similar to that of the incredible, Running On Karma, which was their previous project together before this. Wonderfully constructed and so off-beat, you may possibly need to watch it twice to grasp the cleverness of it. That said, it really is a simple premise that the directors decide to take on a more complex journey – albeit in the most entertaining way – offering plenty of typical Johnnie To moments such as unexpectedly humour, exciting action sequences, Mexican stand-off's, mystery and suspense, and plenty of stunning visuals courtesy of cinematographers Cheng Siu Keung and To Hung Mo. Having worked on a host of Johnnie To films from Loving You to Blind Detective and many more, Cheng was also behind the lens of many great Hong Kong titles such as Fight Back To School 2, Satan Returns, Ip Man 4, Zen Of Sword, and Black Cat 2 – of which he was also the executive director for. Cheng would also go on to direct Cynthia Khan's Forbidden Arsenal and Sea Wolves from the In The Line Of Duty Series, as well as White Lotus Cult in 1993 which was inspired by Once Upon A Time In China. It's clear the pair make a great team, with To Hung Mo working alongside Cheng on many Johnnie To titles having worked as a focus puller on the aforementioned White Lotus Cult, right after starting in the industry on Tsui Hark's Green Snake which was made the same year.

As per usual, To puts to use the skills of his cast members, many of whom have been working with him for some time now. Lau Ching Wan, who started working with To in the early-mid 1990s is just amazing as Detective Bun and I would say that this is probably one of his finest moments without a doubt, and Andy On hangs up his kicking boots for a more serious, dramatic role with very little fighting required. That said, he does a great job here and is a pivotal character in the storyline. Gordon Lam continues his streak of bad guys roles wonderfully as Officer Ko, the killer with 7 personalities – one is which is played by To regular Lam Suet, who is as great as always. All benefit from a great supporting cast which includes, Kelly Lin, Flora Chan, and Jay Lau, as well as many others. Assistant Director Jeff Cheung also appears as one of Lam's 7 personalities and has continued to work under To for a number years now. Music-maker Xavier Jamaux makes his feature film debut as a composer and creates a fantastic and strange score that definitely fits the tone of the movie. Since his work on Mad Detective, Xavier has gone on to cover many other To titles including Sparrow, Don't Go Breaking My Heart, and Drug War...

Mad Detective is yet another incredible piece from Hong Kong that benefits greatly from To's artistic direction and Wai's writing, which proves as a great return to form for it's leading star. While it may seem like such a dark and serious film, for the most part, the directors provide enough light-heartedness to help get you through it – although without ruining the general flow of things. It's different, it's odd, yet it works and isn't as confusing as many other reviewers would lead you to believe. The film is a stunning watch and entertains on many levels which gets two thumbs up from me and (once again) shames any similar types of crime mysteries that have come out of Hollywood in the last 20 years!

Overall: Well worth the watch, Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai return to form with an exciting and unusual piece that makes Mad Detective one of their best!

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MADE IN HEAVEN

(Hong Kong 1997)

Original Title: Gu Huo Tian Tang

Directed by Alex Cheung Kwok Ming Produced by Henry Fong Ping Action by Wong Wai Fai

Starring: Ada Choi, Michael Tong, Law Kar Ying, Diana Pang Dan, Kwai Chung, Benny Chan, Kam Hing Yin, Sze Mei Yee, Bobby Yip, Beat Leung, Garry Chan

Reviewing: YouTube Release

Genres: Action / Comedy / Drama

Rating - 2 / 5

Synopsis: Ada Choi is a reincarnated thief who was previously male - but in his new life he looks like Ada Choi. Ada has the ability to see bad things in the future, which is great because she becomes an insurance salesperson. Great for her clients, that is. Her 100% payout rate bankrupts the company, and from them on her new powers continue to bring her trouble. Michael Tong turns up as a triad boss/love interest, while Pang Dan shows up as the jealous moll. Sadly, Ada has been cursed by Heaven to be loveless, which means that she'll have major problems if she falls in love.

Views: Alex Cheung's final film as a director is a bit of an odd one indeed. It opens in heaven where thief, Mak Ah Chat, is next in line for reincarnation. Due to the good natured reasons behind his stealing while on earth, his heavenly barristers convince the judge to have him sent back with the chance to help people. The judge agrees, but on the condition that his return will have him cursed to be loveless – something which Mak brushes off without a second thought. But once back in the land of the living, Mak has been reincarnated as a young girl called Lily, now with the ability to see the unfortunate side of peoples futures. Although she warns her father of his death by cause of an 'apple', her family ignores her warning and punishes Lily for saying such things. Obviously spooked by the comment, her father avoids anything apple-related on his way to work, only to have a newspaper page blow into his face while crossing the road. As he peels it off and sees a picture of an apple before him, a truck mows the man down and kills him. As the years pass, the now-adult Lily works in a busy bar/restaurant where she is picked on by her co-workers and customers. After a run-in with some triads leaves her shaken, Lily quits her job, and in an odd turn of events, triad Alan returns to find her then easily convinces her that he loves her – in fact, tricking her into becoming a hooker for his gang. She is soon saved (by default) by triad boss Fung and sets out to find a new job as an insurance saleswoman, but once again, is drowned in bad luck that sees her abused and chased away from potential clients. After fainting on a doorstep, Lily finds help from Doctor Law who gives her the medicine she needs for free, in order to get her back on her feet again. He continues to show his goodwill by introducing Lily to his friends who all sign up for her insurance plan, which helps her greatly. Meanwhile, a triad war kicks off between Fung's gang and others that sees most of his men killed. Having remembered a warning from Lily, Fung Wen saves himself from a brutal death that sees his enemies plummet to their death when a construction elevator breaks. He soon seeks her out with the intention of starting a relationship, but as her curse (and heavenly prosecutor keeps reminding her), this second chance at life comes with a loss of love!

I really don't know what to make of Made In Heaven. It's an odd blend of comedy and triad action that feels like it belongs more in Wong Jing's filmography than Alex Cheung's, offerings shades of My Left Eye See's Ghosts and Mad Detective in some bizarre way. Having made his début with the fantastic Cops & Robbers in 1979, Cheung Kwok Ming spaced his following 5 films out over the next decade, while waiting a good 7 years before helming this. Although he appeared in a few roles as a bit-player, from Tsui Hark's Dangerous Encounters Of The 1st Kind through to Donnie Yen's Kung Fu Jungle, Cheung also wrote the majority of his 7 films, shot a few of them, and worked as the FX Director on the super fun, Legend Of Wisely starring Sam Hui and Ti Lung. But apart from a couple of small roles in later films, I'd say it was the box-office-bomb that is Made In Heaven that most likely ended his career, shortly after release. While not a dreadful movie in the grand scheme of things, Made In Heaven does contain a few entertaining moments between the humour and the action, with a decent enough cast of recognisable faces from that era of Hong Kong cinema. Ada Choi (wife of Hong Kong superstar Max Zhang), who appeared alongside Stephen Chow Sing Chi in Hail The Judge, and played the Princess Iron Fan in A Chinese Odyssey 1 & 2, does a great job as Lily Wong with both the comedy elements and the more dramatic side to it all. Still going strong today, Choi went on to star in titles such as The Suspect from Ringo Lam, Agent Mr. Chan, S Storm, and brought back her character of Princess Iron Fan for the wild action-comedy, Just Another Pandora's Box. Actor Michael Tong Man Lung, who starred in films such as Somebody Up There Likes Me, Sexy & Dangerous 1 & 2, Purple Storm, An Eye For An Eye, Man Of Tai Chi, and The Four, stars as Fung – the triad who takes a shine to Choi after he saves her life. The often hilarious Law Kar Ying, popular for his roles in a host of Stephen Chow Sing Chi comedies, stars as Doctor Law – Lily Wong's saving grace at one stage (who also falls for the poor girl), and Diana Pang Dan of Evil Instinct, The Imp, and Devil Snake Girl fame, stars as Fung's ass-kicking moll who gets a little jealous of Lily stealing her man. Popular big beast, Kwai Chung, stars as Fung's right-hand man and gets in on a bit of action throughout. Although he started with a small role in the late 70s, Kwai really jumped into the industry a good decade later going on to star in films like Triad Story, Robotrix, Angel Terminators, C'est La Vie Mon Cheri, and a host of Troublesome Night sequels.

While the action comes and goes, it really isn't anything to write home about, but it does entertain. This is down to some neat work from Wong Wai Fai, a Shaw Brothers actor (who has continued on front of the camera in many hit titles) who began assisting in choreography work a good decade before his debut as martial arts director on Made In Heaven. From titles like City War, Sleazy Dizzy, Guns of Dragon, First Option, Fatal Assignment, and more, Wong would go on to choreograph titles such as Sasori, Triple Tap, Cold War, Hit Team, Stool Pigeon, No Problem 2, Golden Job, and many more. Popular Hong Kong film mogul Henry Fong Ping, star of over 80 films including Saviour Of The Soul, Black Mask, A Taste Of Killing & Romance, and 2 Young, produces, with Wong Po Man providing the cinematography...

Overall: Although it isn't the worst thing out there, Made In Heaven just feels like it's missing something and isn't a film you really need to rush out to see!

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MAD MAD GHOST

(Hong Kong 1992)

Original Title: Huang Jin Dao Shi

Directed by Billy Chan Produced by Chan Wui Yuen Action by Mandy Chan Chi Man

Starring: Lam Ching Ying, Jacqueline Law, Chin Shih Erh, Lee Fai, Mandy Chan, Tse Wai Kit, Sze Mei Yee, Peter Chan, Ricky Ho, Mark Houghton, Eddie Maher, Billy Lau, Shum Wai

Reviewing: YouTube Release

Genres: Horror / Comedy / Action

Rating - 3.5 / 5

Synopsis: Vampire hunter Uncle Ying, has a run-in with ghosts and treasure hunting Mormons in this horror comedy from Billy Chan.

Views: The late, great Lam Ching Ying teams up once again with director Billy Chan for the brilliant Mad Mad Ghost, just 1 of 6 (if not more) films made in 1992 that would see Lam recreate his most famous role. The film opens with Uncle Ying teaching his 5 young students the art of vampire hunting, with Hui – the only female student – standing out as his best due to her great kung-fu knowledge. They all live in a house where a married couple of ghosts live in the attic, with the wife constantly abused and belittled by her abusive husband. After he tries to (hilariously) attack Uncle Ying as he sleeps, the Taoist priest decides to help the poor wife and expels the husband from his home to help her live peacefully. While on his day job as a security guard for the housing block, Uncle Ying soon meets 2 Western men who claim to be Mormons but are really in search of some buried treasure that was hidden in Uncle Ying's garden some time ago. It doesn't take long for trouble to follow and soon, Uncle Ying, his students, and ghost lady Kuen, find themselves up against the treasure hunters in a host of fun action sequences!

Lam Chin Ying most definitely wins as the most stereotyped actor of the century. After his infamous role as Mr. Vampire, he would forever be known as the Taoist priest that hunts down ghosts, demons, and vampires (all but for a few other exciting roles) up until his death in 1997. In Mad Mad Ghost, we are treated to a more fair priest as he takes pity on Ah Kuen, helping her get a second chance at life were she takes on the persona of pop-star, Madonna. She is played by the wonderful Jacqueline Law Wai Guen (who passed away in 2012) and gets to deliver some genuinely funny moments, as well as suffer some crazy abuse and even get in on the action towards the end. Her abusive ghost husband is played by Mandy Chan Chi Man, an actor and choreographer who made his debut playing Donnie Yen's adversary in the awesome Drunken Tai Chi before joining him in films like Mismatched Couples, Tiger Cage 2, Iron Monkey, High Voltage, and Satan Returns – most of which he also assisted on with the choreography. In Mad Mad Ghost, Chan provides a bevy of fun and wacky action sequences, from ghostly battles to hilarious fights between Ying's team and the wild Westerners, played in the most OTT fashion by fan favourites, Mark Houghton and Eddie Maher. The final third is absolutely bonkers with some fun action that reminded me of the crazy Vampire Settle On Police Camp from Chen Chi Hwa.

While Mad Mad Ghost comes across as more of a low-budget affair than the likes of Mr. Vampire, keeping the most of its scenes in and around the one location, it still manages to keep a hold of its audience with a decent enough cast including cameos from Billy Lau – one of the original Mr. Vampire stars – and Shum Wai, who appeared in Billy Chan's directorial debut, New Mr. Vampire. Ying's team of students consists of Chin Shih Erh, a recognisable actor who started out in 7 Commandments Of Kung Fu as well as starring in titles like A Life Of Ninja, Fury, Against All, A Rascal's Tale, Gang's '92, and Circus Kids of which he also helped choreograph. Martial arts starlet Lee Fai plays the only female of the team who, although having only starred in around 12 films over her 20 years in the business, has impressed wonderfully in titles like Royal Tramp 1 & 2, A Chinese Ghost Story 2, Angel Terminators 2, Iron Monkey, and Champions alongside Dicky Cheung. The cheeky faced Tse Wai Kit joins the team as does Ricky Ho Pui Tung, both of whom have starred together in a number of films over the years, who are lead by elder brother, Sze Mei Yee, a hilarious actor who has appeared in many great Hong Kong hits from The Blonde Fury to Kawashima Yoshiko, Fight Back To School 2, Black Mask, Master Q, and many more. The wonderful Peter Chan, who has shared the screen with Lam Ching Ying many times over the years, appears towards the end as an opposing priest who has been hired by the Mormons to counteract Uncle Ying's work and provides a few laughs along the way – and was no doubt doing a favour for his brother, director Billy Chan Wui Ngai.

Having started as a bit player in many Shaw Brothers, Golden Harvest, and independent kung-fu titles from the early 70s, Billy Chan (along with Peter) stuck close by the legendary Sammo Hung where he got to hone his skills on a host of classic titles such as The Iron Fisted Monk, Warriors Two, Knockabout, Odd Couple, and many more. While his work as a choreographer would continue (and on many Sammo titles), Chan got the chance to work as the assistant director on his big brother's wonderful Heart Of The Dragon before making his directorial debut with the aforementioned, New Mr. Vampire. From there, he has delivered a host of great titles such as Brotherhood (Code Of Honor), the underrated License To Steal, brilliant All Men Are Brothers: Blood Of The Leopard, White Storm, and Crazy Safari that saw him take Lam Ching Ying's Taoist priest into the African badlands combining Mr. Vampire with The Gods Must Be Crazy as Lam teams up with N!Xau to take on vampires, lions, rhino's, and more. Now if one film deserves a Blu-ray release, it has got to be that one!

Overall: While far from perfect, Mad Mad Ghost offers plenty of laughs and some great action which should keep most Lam Ching Ying fans happy!

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