films seen
8
average score
3.25*
nationality
Hong Kong - 46 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

The good stuff

The Moss

Ching Toi
2008 / 95m - Hong Kong
Crime
The Moss poster

The Moss is not a wildly original film, but executed so well that it impresses from the very first seconds right until the final credit fades from the screen.

Solid pieces

Schemes in Antiques

Gu Dong Ju Zhong Ju
2021 / 123m - China
Mystery, Adventure
3.5*/5.0*
Schemes in Antiques poster

A good old antiques adventure. Hong Kong has always loved these art-centered Sherlock Holmes-like mysteries, so it's no surprise China is following in their footsteps. The premise is simple, what follows is an endless loop of tricky puzzles, farfetched revelations and a good portion of backstabbing.

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Xu Yuan is the son of a defamed antique seller. When the head of an old Buddha statue is found, Yuan is summoned to examine it. After close examination he discovers the head is a fake, and so he is ordered to find the real one. It takes him on a hazardous adventure where he'll need all his wits and knowledge to complete it.

The Chinese blockbuster slickness keeps this film from ever becoming truly great, but the puzzles are pretty neat and the polished cinematography and skilled cast certainly don't hurt. This is a nice piece of entertainment, fun filler, but it lacks the flair and identity to be a true masterpiece.

Full Strike

Chuen Lik Kau Saat
2015 / 108m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Action, Sport
3.5*/5.0*
Full Strike poster

As the Light Goes Out

Gau Fo Ying Hung
2014 / 115m - Hong Kong
Drama, Action
3.5*/5.0*
As the Light Goes Out poster

Chi-kin Kwok strikes back after a horrendous collaboration with Stephen Chow. While Jiu Huo Ying Xiong (As the Light Goes Out) can't match Kowk's best (Ching Toi), it's definitely on par with Da Lui Toi (Gallants). His latest also erases all fears that he may have lost his touch in his attempts to please the masses.

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There aren't that many fire fighter flicks coming out of Hong Kong, which is probably why it's remarkable to see two high profile ones in just as many years. After seeing the release of the Pang brothers' Out of Inferno last year, Jiu Huo Ying Xiong takes things to the next level. While Kwok doesn't shun the typical genre clich├ęs, there's a lot more going on than a mere genre rehash.

With guys like Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue and Simon Yam filling in the lead and main secondary roles, you know you're settling for a film that is aimed to please the crowds. Still, Kwok doesn't just dish out some slick, hollow blockbuster. Sure enough there is some unnecessary drama to fill in the gaps, but for the larger part it's a dark, tense and well-executed affair.

The visuals are grim yet stunning. There are some amazing sequences that give the film that little extra artistic merit, making sure it never becomes too shallow. The soundtrack is fitting and never too bombastic. Stylistically, this is definitely one of the better commercially oriented Hong Kong films I've seen. The dramatic side can be a little overdone though, adding some unnecessary fat to the film. It's a typical genre thing I guess, but one this film could have done without.

Kwok's Jiu Huo Ying Xiong is a step up from the Pangs' attempt at a good fire fighter flick. It falls just a little short of being truly great, but if you're looking for a sleek and tense thriller you're at the right address. Hopefully Kwok will continue on this path with this next film.

Gallants

Da Lui Toi
2010 / 98m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Action
3.5*/5.0*
Gallants poster

The Pye-Dog

Ye. Leung Heun
2007 / 90m - Hong Kong
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
The Pye-Dog poster

The inoffensive

The Legend of Wu Kong

Wu Kong
2017 / 130m - China
Fantasy, Action
3.0*/5.0*
The Legend of Wu Kong poster

Plain forgettable

Journey to the West

Xi You Xiang Mo Pian
2013 / 110m - China
Comedy, Fantasy, Adventure
1.5*/5.0*
Journey to the West poster