The good stuff
Fans of Yau should expect a cleaner and less gritty adoption of his trademark style, other people should be aware that Woman Knight can be a bit more direct than other, more typical martial arts epics
A Home with a View
Yau's latest starts out as a pretty jolly farce, but turns pleasantly dark and grim towards the end. Familiarity with the Chinese sense of humour definitely helps, but the themes are universal enough to appeal to a more international crowd. A Home with a View is another striking Yau film that stops just short of being genius.
The White Storm 2: Drug Lords
Fronted by Herman Yau and Andy Lau, two Hong Kong legends seemingly unfazed by their industry's struggles. White Storm 2 is a classic Hong Kong police action/thriller, an ultimate stand-off between a criminal turned philanthropist and his former gang boss. Solid, but nothing too out of the ordinary, apart from the exceptional car chase at the end. Good fun.
The Sleep Curse
Always Be with You
An Inspector Calls
Ip Man: The Final Fight
Turning Point: Laughing Gor Returns
The Legend Is Born: Ip Man
The First 7th Night
A Mob Story
The New King of Comedy
Chow and Yau return with a Mainland remake of Chow's own King of Comedy. The original isn't my favorite Chow and this remake doesn't improve on it. There are a few chuckles and it's clear Chow grew as a director, but in the process the silliness that set his work apart seems to have gone lost. Not bad, not great either.
Herman Yau went to Malaysia for this one. An outbreak film with crime elements that lashes out at the medical sector in typical Yau fashion. The genre elements aren't that convincing though and the production feels a little too slick at times, but overall it's an enjoyable and fun film.
All's Well, Ends Well 2010
Gong Tau: An Oriental Black Magic
Whispers and Moans
On the Edge
Adventurous Treasure Island
Madcap Hong Kong comedy. It's hardly coherent and flashes by in record speed, but that's actually a selling point for this kind of film. The acting is pretty poor and the film feels rushed, but there's so much craziness here that it hardly matters. Recommended for seasoned HK comedy fans only, but a neat little discovery if you're part of that niche.
War of the Underworld
The Untold Story
Worthy but flawed
The Second Coming
True Women for Sale
Herman Yau, forever making genre films with a social conscience. While in many ways a typical Hong Kong police flick, Yau weaves in poor post-handover conditions and the severe effects on the underpaid police force. Sadly production values are subpar, but there are some interesting bits and pieces here.
A pretty basic Hong Kong crime flick. It's mostly a genre exercise for Herman Yau, a little filler to bridge the gap between bigger projects. It's not a terrible film and in places you see Yau's talent shining through, but you won't miss much if you skip this one, as there are a million films just like it.
Troublesome Night 6
Herman Yau's sixth and final entry in the franchise, though it would go on for many more episodes (there's 19 in total). It's a bit odd because this 6th part does feel like a small but meaningful departure from the ones that came before. Either Yau's new direction wasn't appreciated by the fans, or Yau was simply done with it.
Where the first few films felt more like anthologies connected by only a tiny sliver of plot, this sixth instalment plays more like a straightforward narrative, broken down in chapters that aren't as clearly separated. It's also a much more serious film compared to the earlier ones, which suffered from bad acting and a complete failure to be scary.
Louis Koo is still around and takes up the lead, though his character is pretty basic, and he doesn't have much to work with. The color palette is moody, the soundtrack quite effective and there are a few memorable horror moments. While a clear upgrade from episodes 3 to 5, part 6 still struggles to impress as a real horror flick. It's decent filler, but nothing more.
The Masked Prosecutor
The Untold Story III
The very beginning of the infamous Troublesome Night series. While a little better than expected, that particular blend of Hong Kong horror and comedy never really did it for me. The presentation is decent enough, it just never becomes scary nor funny. Not for me, but clearly local audiences thought differently.
Troublesome Night 2
Herman Yau took over as director and turned this into one of Hong Kong's swiftest horror franchises. This second film keeps to the same formula, three loosely linked short films that combine horror and comedy, with the same perks and caveats as the other (early) entries. Not great but passable fun.
No More Love No More Death
Very simplistic romantic comedy by Herman Yau. Jordan Chan isn't the lead that has the kind of flair needed to pull this off, Yau isn't exactly known for doing romcoms. There are some redeeming moments and the ending is decent, but overall it's a disappointment.
A mediocre comedy from Herman Yau. The early '00s weren't Yau's best period and it shows. Happy Family is a basic comedy that just hobbles along without ever making a worthwhile impression. It lacks Yau's typical edge and comes off as commercial filler in between more challenging projects.
The lead actors do a decent job, but the rest of the cast is well below par. Loudness and overacting are often confused for comedy, the soundtrack feels like a complete afterthought and the cinematography is plain and uninteresting. If you ever wondered what Hong Kong filler looks like, look no further.
The plot itself is slightly amusing though. It's not great, but at least it kept my attention until the end of the film. It's definitely not enough to actively recommend Happy Family, but I've sat through worse films. At least it's short and mildly amusing, at the same time it's also wildly plain and forgettable.
Nightmares in Precinct 7
Kung Fu Angels
Split Second Murders
PaPa Loves You
Give Them A Chance
Herman Yau does Step Up before Step Up existed. Film about a bunch of street kids that get their once of a lifetime chance as a dance group. The drama is poor and the final dance routine is boring. For from Yau's best work, though you have to applaud him for doing something different.