Category Archives: Wong Jing

From Vegas to Macau 賭城風雲 (2014) – Hong Kong / China

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 27th January 2013

Directed by: Wong Jing
Starring: Chow Yun-fat, Nicholas Tse, Chapman To, Jing Tian, Annie Wu, Kimmy Tong, Phillip Ng

Support our decade of film scholarship on Asian Cinema by buying Official DVD or Blu-ray release from our Store

fromvegastomacauposter

Let’s rejoice as we witness yet another good film from the infamous Wong Jing. In fact, director Wong Jing is on a winning streak of making quality Hong Kong cinema that he should be proud of. His latest action and gambling comedy reunion of sorts with the “God of Gamblers” – Chow Yun Fat is a good one and with one gag after another, easily making “From Vegas to Macau”, one of Wong Jing’s funniest film in years. With lavish production values and an A-list cast, long time Hong Kong cinema fans will likely embrace this one with both arms out. This is why when Wong Jing tries, he can still manage a few tricks and while some jokes are rehash of his former glory, you will probably give it to him for this one. In fact, the film is making waves around the world and online, even articles on sites like boomtownbingo.com/hamilton-park-racecourse/ are mentioning the rebirth of a style in this film. This is definitely not one to miss and potentially best enjoyed with a little gambling trip planned with your friends.

Chow Yun Fat headlines this film and returns to a genre that created a gambling craze around Hong Kong people in the early 90’s. Chow is an excellent dramatic actor, but he is equally wonderful as a comedian. His comic timing is always funny and goes a long way in providing the film with the light-hearted feeling from start to finish. Despite looking more like “Detective Conan” with his blue suit and hairdo, Chow have not lost his screen presence and simply steals the screen time as his costars Nicholse Tse and Chapman To roam along with him. I thought that there could be more character depth for Tse as his coolness and seriousness tended to feel of out place at times. Still, alongside comedic relief role of Chapman To, the two play off each other in quietly entertaining fashion and To showing that despite his recent leading fame, he has not lost any of his comic timing in a smaller role.

As usual a Wong Jing’s film cannot be completed without his usual hunger of flower vase roles. Kimmy Tong continues to appear and this time as Chow’s daughter and Tse’s love interest, and despite being sexy, she definitely needing more acting lessons. Jing Tian appears in yet another big Hong Kong and Chinese co-production (after sharing screen-time with Donnie Yen in “Special ID” and Jackie Chan in “Police Story 2013”). I am still yet to discover her attraction and while she manages to hold her own with iconic Hong Kong superstars, her lack of chemistry with Yen, Chan and now Chow leaves a lot to be desired. Rising action stars Phillip Ng does okay in a small undercover role, while Zhang Jun from his “Grandmasters” fame continue to be impress with his menacing look and kung fu chop. While the much missed Annie Wu (Donnie Yen’s “Ballistic Kiss”) makes an appearance.

What I really enjoyed about the latest Wong Jing’s adventure is the pure senseless fun of it, the expected jokes, the simplicity of how an otherwise serious or complicated situation gets resolved via a funny gag or “laugh out laugh” humor. While, Wong Jing inserted himself into the dialogue a few times too much, but he finally managed to realise that by not appearing on screen even for a short moment, actually made the film better. All in all, “From Vegas to Macau” is what senseless and mindless fun is about and while we are unlikely to feel nostalgic, long time Hong Kong cinema undoubtedly miss the gambling action comedy genre. Adding Chow Tun Fat to the mix, plus a half decent script and an actually trying Wong Jing, this is as good as it gets. Is this “God of Gamblers”? No, but this is good enough for now. (Neo 2014)

I rated it 8/10

)

Support our decade of film scholarship on Asian Cinema by buying Official DVD or Blu-ray release from our Store

fromvegastomacauposter

A Secret Between Us 第一次不是你 (2013) – Hong Kong

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 3rd September 2013

Directed by: Patrick Kong
Produced by: Wong Jing
Starring: Angel Chiang, Edward Ma, Elena Kong, Lo Hoi-Pang, Kiki Sheung, Jerry Gu, Sharon Chan, Jason Chung

Film Distributed by Mega-Vision Project Workshop Limited
In cinemas Hong Kong from 12 September 2013.

Support the site by buying DVD or Blu-ray from our HK Neo Distribution Ebay Store

If I recall correctly, in around 2005/06, I wrote about how director Patrick Kong should take a leaf out of Wong Jing book of cheap commercial film-making, where no scenes are prolonged or wasted, no matter how crap his films are. Kong seems to be repeating himself and becoming more and more self indulgence in his numerous interchangeable films. Therefore, it is almost surprising to say that his latest corroboration with Wong Jing is a successful one, both in terms of better film-making, sharper editing, less reliant on wanna be smart gimmicks and idiotic focus on obvious cheating and lying. So the good news is that, “A Secret Between Us” is easily Kong’s most matured work to date and most likely his best attempt at actual film-making. Wong Jing should be complimented here as well.

TVB’s Angel Chiang stars in her first leading role and passes the grade with flying colours. In her first real attempt at acting, rather than being a sex symbol. Although she flashes plenty of skin and showed off her assets, it is by no means crude and indeed fittingly part of the story line. Her naive-ness works to her advantage and the manner she goes about playing a young girl having to become a sex worker in order to pay for her mother hospital bills is by no means original, but Chiang manages to pull it off without being corny. Her chemistry with newcomer Edward Ma is always there which certainly adds to the success of the film. Edward Ma is natural without being forced and restrained enough to never overacts. In a way, it is stoic performance, that could have been improved, but as a first timer, it is better than most.

All in all, “A Secret Between Us” works because it is never pretentious or cloying like all of Kong’s previous works. It is surprising how much more less self indulgence Kong goes about delivering his usual message of doomed modern relationships, with Wong Jing looking across his shoulders. Kong have always been an adequate scriptwriter, and therefore it is refreshing to see him finally come of age in delivering a romantic drama worthy of our attention. Yes, there are still some glitches here and there, but at least, it is far and in between. Change is always good and after a decade of telling the same old story and the same old bag of tricks, Kong with the help of mentor Wong (I can’t believe I am saying this), produces a maturing effort and that’s enough for now. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 8/10

)

Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters 笑功震武林 (2013) – Hong Kong / China

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 13th March 2013
In cinemas Hong Kong and China from 7th March 2013

Directed by: Wong Jing, Venus Keung
Starring: Ronald Cheng, Sandra Ng, Wong Cho Nam, Eric Tsang, Sammo Hung, Kimmy Tong

Hong Kong Box Office Takings: HK$3,184,910

Support the site by buying DVD or Blu-ray from our HK Neo Distribution Ebay Store

I don’t exactly know what is a bigger surprise, the world didn’t end in 2012 or Wong Jing have managed to pull off two good movies in a row. After the above average “The Last Tycoon”, prolific Wong Jing goes back to his comedic roots in the ridiculously titled “Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters”. The good news is that this is Wong Jing’s funniest comedy in years and lest rejoice.

Packing a steady pack of veteran comedians in Ronald Cheng, Eric Tsang, Sandra Ng and Wong Cho Nam, the film already have the comic appeal and winning presence. What Wong Jing does well in this film is that he manages to put together some decent kung fu sequences (thanks to the sharp action choreography by Phillip Ng) and plenty of good kung fu prowess in Sammo Hung, Dennis To and Phillip Ng. The result is easily winning the audience attention through some truly funny gags and quality kung fu on display. It’s been long overdue, but Wong Jing finally deliver what he does and can do best, in making good commercial cinema.

This is really an ensemble cast performance. Ronald Cheng continues his good streak of form in yet another welcoming comic display. As usual, Sandra Ng is funny with a welcoming presence, Eric Tsang gets an extended role and is already wonderful to witness alongside longtime TVB partner in crime Wong Cho Nam. Sammo Hung flairs well with some good kung fu chops, as does up and coming martial artists Dennis To and Phillip Ng. As usual, what Wong Jing film can be completed without a flower glass and Kimmy Tong (who has been a regular in Wong Jing’s films for the past year) fits the bill without being demeaning.

All in all, I know I haven’t been the nicest of critics of Wong Jing in recent years, but as the old saying goes, you are only as good as your last film. Then Wong Jing career have seem to revive in both “The Last Tycoon” and now this film. Credit should always be given when due and this is no exception as “Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters” is easily Wong Jing’s funniest and best comedy in years and a fine return to form. I don’t know how long this streak will last, but for the sake of the weeping and dwelling Hong Kong cinema fans, let’s hope that this is the beginning of a new chapter in Wong Jing turbulent career. (Neo 2013)

I rates it 7.5/10

Young and Dangerous: Reloaded 古惑仔:江湖新秩序 (2013) – Hong Kong

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 17th January 2013
In cinemas across Asia

Starring: Him Law Chung-him, Oscar Leung Lit-wai, Paul Wong Koon-chung, Sammy Shum Chun-hin, Winnie Leung Man-yee
Director: Daniel Chan Yee-hang
Producer: Wong Jing and Manfred Wong
Writer: Manfred Wong

HK Box-Office Takings: HK$3,890,455

Support this site by buying DVDs from our HK Neo Distribution Ebay Store

Although, I must admit I ventured into this film with low expectations, especially still bearing the fresh scars from Daniel Chan’s dreadful “Triad” experience. However, there is something within me that want the reboot of 1996’s “Young and Dangerous” film to succeed, even if it is just revoking the glory bashing days of Ekin Cheng, Jordan Chan and crew. The good news is that “Young and Dangerous: Reloaded” is probably director Daniel Chan’s best effort, but the bad news is that the film contains all the hallmark of bad film making and at times it even feel like a cheap soft-core porn production. Still, the latest reboot is essentially entertaining crap, but like McDonald’s fast food, it is probably bad for you as well.

If “Young and Dangerous: Reloaded” proves one point it is that director Daniel Chan like his predecessor Wong Jing, knows the audience, the market and clearly what sells. From the cheap sets, uneven direction, an all over the place plot, piss poor acting displays, exaggerated blood, sex and violence, the latest reboot have all the hallmarks of what we have grown up to expect from a Wong Jing production. Therefore, when Category III starlet Winnie Leung (“Love Actually…Sucks!”) decides to bear it for all to see, it comes as no surprise, as sex sells. Therefore in depicting scenes of extreme violence, bloodthirsty slashing of human heads, hands and internal organs, Chan improves from his shortcomings of his last outing (“Triad”), by not shying away from these frontal and brutal situations. However, more blood, gore and sex, does not equates a better movie.

Hin Law headlines as Chan Ho Nam, (the role that launched Ekin Cheng into stardom) is suitably intense and stoic, but provides the character with zero heart. Law is clearly a limited actor, therefore he is smart by playing safe with his character by never allowing himself to emote or overact. Law sticks to what he does best, that is smile, act cool and look intense, while combining all these attribute with a model outlook. TVB actor Oscar Leung probably flairs the better of the two as Jordan Chan’s infamous “Mountain Chicken”. Leung can act and provides some much needed comic relief to the preceding. However, the biggest issue in this film is not the acting, but rather the lack of chemistry between the four brothers. Whereas in the original, the audience can easily relate to their brotherly love and the foursome have an unique air of flair that makes them a comrade of gangsters. In this film, Law and Leung lacks this comradeship and the other two are given far too limited screen time for effect.

Perhaps the biggest failure comes in the character Ugly Kwan (played by Sammy Shum). Although it is no surprise that Shum is no Francis Ng, his take on the character is more laughable than horrific. Shum constantly tries to apt Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning “Joker”, but ends up being a mockery of himself. While Ng overacts with menacing effect, Shum is just plain crazy, unmotivated and all over the place. Meanwhile, Paul Wong flairs better as Uncle Bee with quite subtleness, before meeting his stunning fate. Other actors appear here and there, but none more impressive than Alex Man and Jim Chim Sui-man’s extended cameos.

All in all, “Young and Dangerous: Reloaded” is not a total failure, as there are plenty of entertaining bits and is most probably Daniel Chan’s most entertaining film. At least, he delivers exactly what the audience expected and wanted in terms of blood, sex and violence, but in terms of film-making, it is definitely not something to be proud of. I don’t know what ambition Chan holds in terms of directing, but the route he is taking is very much alluding down the path of the infamous Wong Jing. I am not saying that Wong Jing is not a successful film maker, as he is Hong Kong most prolific director, but if one day Chan would like to join the ranks of Derek Yee, Johnnnie To and company, then this is not the direction to be taking. Still, “Young and Dangerous: Reloaded” is simply an entertaining crap and like fast food, we should probably just enjoy it while it last. Stay tune for “Young and Dangerous 2: Refreshed”, not that we have demanded it. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 5.5/10

A Chinese Torture Chamber Story 滿清十大酷刑 (1994) – Hong Kong

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 14th January 2013
On DVD across Asia

Director: Bosco Lam Hing-Lung
Producer: Wong Jing
Cast: Yvonne Yung, Lawrence Ng, Tommy Wong, Yuen King-Tan, Lee Wah-Yuet, Ching Mai, Tsui Kam-Kong, Oh Yin-Hei, Kenny Wong

Hong Kong Box office Takings: HKD $10,404,725.00

Support this site by buying DVDs from our HK Neo Distribution Ebay Store

“A Chinese Torture Chamber Story” is one of those films that is impossible to rate. It is sleazy, crude, brute, bloody and filled soft-core cheap sex that essentially typifies the usual Wong Jing’s 90s sexual exploitation. Perhaps it is a compliment to the the infamous film maker for going to such extreme to depict almost every deadly punishment imaginable in Chinese history. It is certainly not a film for everyone, but for those into 90s Hong Kong cinema exploitation movies, S&M and treat this genre of films as pure entertainment pleasure, then it is really hard to dislike.

Yvonne Yung (“Ancient Chinese Whorehouse”) is actually decent actress, but for whatever reasons, she is essentially the Queen of 90s Sexual Exploitation film. In fact, a slight glimpse of her filmography, one will find it difficult to witness her in any other roles that does not include sexual torture. There is something about her that makes the audience interested in witnessing her getting torture or other things alike. Her counterpart (also a fixture in this genre of films, before finding fame on TVB and ATV respectively) Lawrence Ng like Yung has a vulnerable presence about him. Once again, what 90s exploitation film can be without Tsui Kam-Kong (“Sex and Zen 2”) and even if it is only an extended cameo.

All in all, “A Chinese Torture Chamber Story” simply manages to entertain, because it is unafraid to show the extreme and torture of the human body. It inspired a lot of films that came after it and even to this day films like “Sex and Zen 3D” still tries to imitate with much lesser effect. I wouldn’t call this a good film, but in terms of entertainment value, “A Chinese Torture Chamber Story” serves its unique genre fans well. It is also a genre in Hong Kong cinema that is unlikely to ever see the same light. It is easy to see why this film has gone on to become a Western cult classic. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 6.5/10