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The Blue and the Black (Part 1)

Lan Yu Hei (Shang)
1966 / 118m - Hong Kong
Drama, Romance
The Blue and the Black (Part 1) poster

The Shaw Bros are best known for their vast library of martial arts films. Delve deeper and you'll find some other genre films too, mostly crossing over in the horror genre. If you peel away another layer and go all the way back to the studio's roots though, you'll discover they started out serving a way broader array of genres.

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During the Japanese occupation of China, Tang Qi and Xing Ya fall in love with each other. Their families are opposed to them being together, but their affection runs deeps, and they vow to continue seeing other behind people's backs. It's certainly not the most original setup, but it's certainly good enough for a tragic romance.

The lush colors and polished cinematography are definitely a plus here, performances are not on the same level and the film can get quite melodramatic. Some musical bits and a random war scene at the end don't really add much to the film either. It's not all bad though, definitely interested to see where the second part will go from here.

The Blue and the Black (Part 2)

Lan Yu Hei (Xia)
1966 / 116m - Hong Kong
Drama, Romance
The Blue and the Black (Part 2) poster

Not quite as good as the first part. While that one left me intrigued to see more, going through a second two-hour film clearly proved to be a little much. There's just too much melodrama and pining characters, not enough genuine emotion and/or plot to keep this going for its extended runtime.

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The production was seriously hampered by the sudden death of Lin Dai, which left the director and writers to fill in some big plot gaps. Through the use of body doubles and some creative stitching Ching tried to maintain a sense of continuity, but he didn't really succeed. The continuation of the story is just one big mess.

The cinematography is also less noteworthy, which was probably the least of Ching's worries. It all adds up to a pretty big disappointment. Not that the first film was amazing, but at least it had potential, and it showed a different side of the Shaw Bros studios. It probably would've been better if they'd scrapped the project altogether.

Our Sister Hedy

Si Qian Jin
1957 / 113m - Hong Kong
Our Sister Hedy poster

Classic Hong Kong dramas, I'm really not all that surprised Hong Kong decided genre cinema was a smarter choice. The acting is extremely overdone, the drama is uneventful and the film is at least 30 minutes too long. Add a grating soundtrack and poor cinematography and there's really nothing here.