films seen
average score
Hong Kong - 65 years old
Alive and kicking
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An ultra specialized comedy director. Unless you're a dedicated Hong Kong comedy fan it's almost impossible to recommend Ko's oeuvre, but when scouring for entertaining, light and mindless filler, his films rarely disappoint.


All's Well, Ends Well Too

Faa Tin Hei Si
1993 / 85m - Hong Kong
All's Well, Ends Well Too poster

A frantic Lunar Year comedy that helped to kick off an endless stream of follow-ups. It's no surprise that Ko was going for a martial arts setting in this sequel, as '93 was one of the biggest years for the genre in Hong Kong. The result is a funny and entertaining comedy, but some familiarity with Hong Kong humor will definitely come in handy.

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The concept is pretty much set. A bunch of ladies and gentlemen are looking for partners, there's a lot of complaining, fighting and wrong pairings, but in the end the film remains true to its title. This is not something you watch for the great plot, instead Ko puts all his money on the comedy.

The cast is perfect, with comedy veterans like Sandra Kwan, Man-Tat Ng and Raymond Wong doing their usual thing, and actors like Leslie Cheung, Rosamund Kwan and Teresa Mo lending some extra star quality to the film. The result is a zany, corny and hilarious mix of comedy and action that is over before you know it.

All's Well, Ends Well

Ga Yau Hei Si
1992 / 100m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Romance
All's Well, Ends Well poster

Happy Ghost IV

Kai Xin Gui Jiu Kai Xin Gui
1990 / 88m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
Happy Ghost IV poster

Clifton Ko's fourth entry in the Happy Ghost series. This is just more of the same, so if you hated the previous films there's probably not much here for you. Not that I'm the biggest fan myself, but I do enjoy myself some Hong Kong comedy from time to time, and I actually thought this was the funniest one of the bunch so far.

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Raymond Wong is back in full effect. He landed a teaching job at a new school, and he's planning to get married to his girlfriend. The kids at the school are making his life harder than it needs to be though, to make matters worse his old self is still hanging around and the ghost of an evil warlord is chasing his girlfriend for past-life mistakes.

The film starts out pretty tame, the first half hour offers little more than simple Raymond Wong comedy sketches. The film does pick up steam during the second half. The comedy gets crazier, the pacing is excruciating, and the finale is pretty wild. You probably don't need to see the earlier films to enjoy part IV, but some prior experience with Hong Kong comedy is an absolute must.

The Banquet

Haomen Yeyan
1991 / 97m - Hong Kong
The Banquet poster

Spot the cameo comedy. Hong Kong loves a silly flick with an elaborate ensemble cast (especially when Lunar New Year is around the corner), for this one they even landed four different directors to do the honors. Is it a very structured, coherent, and sensible film? No. Is it a pretty amusing romp that is tirelessly energetic and dynamic? Well yes.

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The Prince of Kuwait is coming to Hong Kong, and a slick realtor sees his chance to make a deal of a lifetime. The Prince is planning to sell quite a bit of land, but to prove his worth the realtor will have to convince the Prince he has a strong bond with his father. The problem is he hasn't seen his dad in years. He pretends to have cancer in order to convince his dad to move in with him.

The cast is pretty phenomenal, everybody with any kind of presence at the time of shooting seems to have been included. Their roles don't always make sense, sometimes they even get a completely unrelated throwaway scene just to make an appearance, but at least the comedy remains the film's number one priority. Not great in any way, but this was pretty light and amusing Hong Kong comedy fare.

The Gambling Ghost

Hong Fu Qi Tian
1991 / 93m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Fantasy
The Gambling Ghost poster

Sammo Hung times three. Don't expect too much action though, this is a Clifton Ko flick and Hung was hired for his comedic abilities. Sadly they're not quite as good as his action skills. While not a terrible film, it's not one of Ko's highlights and will appeal to fans of Hong Kong comedy only.

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Hung plays a loser who turns to gambling to make it big. He's not very successful though and quickly squanders the little money he has. His grandfather, a deceased master gambler, takes pity on him and returns as a ghost to help his grandson. While things runs smoothly for a while, it doesn't take long before their little scheme is uncovered.

Hong Kong comedy is loud and zany and Ko's films are no exception. The soundtrack is pretty bad and the direction quite sloppy, but the story is goofy enough and there are some decent jokes scattered throughout. The ending is also a bit more action-packed, which suits Hung better. Not a great film, but okay filler.

Chicken and Duck Talk

Gai Tung Aap Gong
1988 / 95m - Hong Kong
Chicken and Duck Talk poster

Hong Kong comedy with lots of local appeal. There isn't any martial arts to draw in international audiences, this is Hong Kong comedy at its purest. There are some funny bits, but overall it's just a lot of mediocre and predictable jokes. Luckily the pacing is okay and the film doesn't last too long, but great it ain't.

Happy Ghost II

Kai Xin Gui: Fang Shu Jia
1985 / 100m - Hong Kong
Happy Ghost II poster

A surprisingly decent sequel. I'm not a big fan of the Happy Ghost series, and this second entries has its fair share of flaws. But where the first and third film were actively annoying, this one has a basic charm that easily carries it from start to finish. It's certainly not Ko's best work, but it's perfectly decent filler.

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The ghost is back, now reincarnated into the body of a high school teacher. When he is assigned a new class, he has his work cut out for him. The kids are unruly and their favorite pastime is messing with the teacher. Luckily, he has a couple of tricks up his sleeve that can help him outwit his students.

The film is little more than a constant battle between teacher and students, that said it's not all snide and pestering. Performances are decent, though for a comedy, most actors do lack comic timing. The solid pacing and light atmosphere carry this one through, not bad if you're looking for some HK comedy filler.

Ninth Happiness

Gau Sing Bou Hei
1998 / 86m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Romance, Musical
Ninth Happiness poster

Clifton Ko with a rather nondescript comedy. Ko is one of those directors who mostly speak to local audiences, it's no surprise then that many of his films are a little tougher to track down. Ninth Happiness is a mix of popular themes and comical styles that generally do well in Hong Kong, what it isn't is a very coherent or funny film.

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Ko focuses on a little town where everyone is living carefree lives. Whatever drama there is, is faced with a shrug and a smile. That changes when a new magistrate joins the town. He is appalled there is nobody to corrupt, so he starts a little plan to mess up the happy lives of the villagers and have them eating out of his hand.

The musical numbers are horrible, the comedy is pretty tame, overacting is the norm and the plot is a jumbled mess. All those things are also part of the charm I guess, still, the film isn't as fast-paced, daft, or silly as many of its peers. Fans of Hong Kong comedy or Clifton Ko should give it a go, I don't think it's a big priority for others.

The Mad Phoenix

Nan Hai Shi San Lang
1997 / 110m - Hong Kong
The Mad Phoenix poster

Clifton Ko is capable of delivering a decent comedy once in a while, but drama has never been his strong point. It's not really a big surprise then that The Mad Phoenix, a lengthy biography about a talented but deviant Chinese opera writer, doesn't come across as a very capable film.

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Kiang Yu-Kou's intellect is apparent even at a very young age, but his arrogance doesn't make him very popular. He spends his time watching Chinese opera and even tries his hand at writing one himself, but his blossoming career is cut short when the Japanese invade Shanghai and the war starts.

The film's a bit oldskool for a '97 Hong Kong project but fails to revive its glory of just half a decade ago. Performances are weak, the cinematography is a little disappointing and overall the project feels rather cheap. Might be better for people who are more acquainted with the subject, though they might be bothered by Ko's inability to fully suppress his comedy background. Not great.

Daddy, Father and Papa

Lao Dou Wu Pa Duo
1991 / 98m - Hong Kong
Daddy, Father and Papa poster

A pretty typical, messy Clifton Ko comedy. The plot is pretty nonsensical and there's a very real chance that if you blink, you may lose track of what exactly is going on. Since we're dealing with a core comedy though, that's hardly a problem. What is a problem is the broader lack of originality and surprise, needed to make a film like this work.

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When Benny doesn't come home from school one day, his mom is worried something might have happened to him. Benny' s dad isn't a big help, so his mom turns to two ex boyfriends to help her locate her son. She tells both the guys they are Benny's father, hoping this will convince them to join her quest.

Ko delivers a somewhat kooky comedy that is never quite a fun as its premise suggests. The performances are overstated but not really funny, the crime elements feel out of place, the functional look isn't charming at all and few jokes land. Like most Hong Kong comedies, pacing and runtime are redeeming factors, but Ko made better films than this one.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World

Fu Gui Bi Ren
1987 / 100m - Hong Kong
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World poster

A typical Clifton Ko comedy. I'm not a great fan of Ko 80s work, which isn't necessarily all that funny, just very loud and very chaotic. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World is a textbook example. Immense overacting, a nonsensical plot and sketchy comedy really test the nerves, luckily there are also a few laughs.

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Bill is a mediocre news reporter who does his very best to support his family. He loves to be the sole provider, but things change when his wife wins the lottery. All of a sudden, she holds all the power. When word gets out that the family is rich, others are looking for ways to capitalize on their luck.

Some of the more random, sketch-like scenes can be pretty fun and I do appreciate the rowdy and chaotic mess in short bursts, but 100 minutes of straight-up noise is just a bit too much. The performances are well over-the-top and there aren't too many explicit jokes, which makes this a pretty mediocre comedy.

Winner Takes All

Da Ying Jia
2000 / 91m - Hong Kong
Winner Takes All poster

Clifton Ko makes a swindler comedy. A popular niche in Hong Kong that yielded some entertaining films, but Ko's attempt is pretty bland. The usual mix of genres (comedy, crime and action) is mostly absent and Ko turns this into a full-blown comedy. The problem is that the film is hardly ever funny.

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Performances aren't up to par. There are some familiar faces here, but most of them fail to land their jokes. The soundtrack is absolutely dreadful and feels like an afterthought, while the film itself looks like something out of the 80s. It all feels very rushed and put together without putting too much thought into it.

It's a little odd because Ko is capable of making good comedies. Without the proper actors, a decent script and the necessary funding though, it seems he can't perform miracles. At least the pacing is decent and the film constantly propels itself forward, but unless you're absolutely starved for a Hong Kong comedy, I can't really recommend this.

Mr. Coconut

Hap Ga Foon
1989 / 100m - Hong Kong
Mr. Coconut poster

Clifton Ko is one of Hong Kong's comedy legends, but most of his films have little international appeal. Mr. Coconut is such a film. Though presented as a comedy, Michael Hui and Raymond Wong really aren't all that funny the without solid comedians doing the heavy lifting, Ko lacks the skills to make something of this film.

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For a comedy, way too much attention goes to the plot, which isn't all that interesting to begin with. The story about a country bumpkin who ends up in the big city isn't exactly new, and Mr. Coconut fails to add anything substantial to the many films that came before.

There's a lot of nervous banter, characters being loud and actors overacting, but it never amounts to anything funny. I'm really not surprised these films never made it big outside of Hong Kong. Ko is very hit-and-miss, if you want to make an educated guess before picking one of his films, it's probably best to just check whether you can stand the cast.

Happy Ghost

Kai Xin Gui
1984 / 96m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Romance, Fantasy
Happy Ghost poster

A typical but underperforming Clifton Ko comedy. The titular character may be an actual ghost, but don't expect any serious horror elements here. Happy Ghost (what's in a name) is a full-blown romantic comedy. It's not quite as crazy as I'd hoped, and when Ko doesn't go full in on the comedy his films tend to be a bit bland.

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A group of young girls run into a ghost on a camping trip. Lucky for them it's a friendly ghost, who decides to help them with their everyday trials and tribulations. That means school dances, exams, bullying and of course, boys. Not really the most inspired plot and Ko tackles it with a straight face, which wasn't the best of ideas.

Performances are poor, the structure is rather fragmented and the wayward drama feels unnecessary. The film is fun for a while (the first 30 minutes or so), after that it becomes dull and repetitive. A somewhat disappointing Ko that needed to be a lot crazier to be actually funny. Quite the dud.