The good stuff
The Last Hero in China
Last Hero in China needs a while to get going, but it's '93 and Jet Li is allowed to shine as a martial arts hero once again. Sure enough, Jing Wong is helming the film, but by then the Hong Kong machine was so oiled they could pretty much turn out these features without a director present.
The camera work is nice and it really complements the action choreography. The mix of dance and martial arts in particular is really impressive, then again I've always had a soft spot for these semi martial arts scenes. The lion fights are ace, but it's the chicken/centipede fight that made the biggest impression.
The story is of secondary importance and you have to to be able to appreciate the Hong Kong comedy, personally I think they only added to the charm. Not the biggest masterpiece ever directed, but it's super entertaining and the sprawling finale tipped it over into personal favorite territory. Good stuff.
Chasing the Dragon II: Wild Wild Bunch
A very solid sequel that shuffles things around (with an entirely new cast for one), but offers the same thrills as the first film. In other words, expect undercover police work and tight action scenes. Koo, Yam and Leung are on a roll here, the film looks slick and the pacing is perfect. Not a future classic, but extremely entertaining.
Chasing the Dragon
The story goes that Jing Wong went to Canada to convince Donnie Yen personally (and got what he wanted). Wong will never be the greatest director alive, but it's little anecdotes like these that show he has a heart for cinema. Together with Jason Kwan, Wong delivers a pretty fine crime flick.
This retro drug setup was made with a healthy budget and it shows. The cinematography is slick, the action scenes look pretty good and there's no lack of talent in front of the camera either. With actors like Andy Lau (he simply doesn't age) and Donnie Yen fronting this film, you can rest assured that there's no lack of charm.
It's also nice to see Kowloon again, even if it's just a CG version of the infamous "city". It's such an amazing place that wasn't used nearly enough in its time. The only thing this film lacks is real highlights, apart from that it's an entertaining and slick production that does justice to its genre roots.
The Golden Monk
A modern take on oldskool Wong and Chung cinema. It's the kind of film you have to be in the right mood for, but if you feel like something big, loud and simplistic, then these guys have you covered. Because no matter how shabby it gets, they make sure entertainment comes first.
Technically it isn't all that and you shouldn't expect anything refined, but that doesn't stop Wong and Chung from diving head-first into a story that mixes martial arts, fantasy and Chinese folklore. The setup and story have been done to death already, but it's little more than an excuse for 90 minutes of fun.
The pop references are nonsensical but hilarious, the pacing is tight and every scene tries to be bigger and crazier than the one before. It's a hell of a ride and the kind of film I can definitely appreciate from time to time, but some familiarity with the work of both directors is welcomed, otherwise you might be in for a rather unpleasant surprise.
From Vegas to Macau III
Crazy Jing Wong. The third entry in the series, though I doubt watching the earlier films makes any difference. It's all pretty weird, over-the-top and outlandish, then again that's exactly what makes these film so much fun. People who love the zanier side of Hong Kong comedy are sure to get something out of this one.
There are robots, 2 Gods of Gamblers, the weirdest Andy Lau ever, an Andy Lau robot and much, much more. And it all flashes by at breakneck speed. Don't feel bad if you have a hard time following anything of what's going on, that's pretty much by design. At least the good bits are hilarious and memorable.
Andy Lau, Chow Yun-Fat and Nick Cheung seem to be having the time of their lives, there's also a cool cameo of PSY for those who still remember him. Recommended if you appreciate the God of Gamblers niche, it makes no sense at all but I had a lovely time. One of Jing Wong's best films to date.
From Vegas to Macau
From Vegas to Macau feels like a recap of Jing Wong's career, a best-of that harks back to his gambling cinema roots and stuffs in everything Jing Wong has ever done since then, only better. While fun and entertaining, it will inevitably be more enjoyable if you're familiar with the work of Jing Wong and what he stands for in Hong Kong cinema.
Chow Yun-Fat is clearly enjoying his return to the God of Gamblers universe, though he's hardly the only star of the film. Wong also finds some room to launch fresh talent and a handful of nifty cameos. But it's Wong's sense of humor, the crazy pacing and zany comedy that are the real stars of the film.
If you don't like Wong and his antics, it's best to just stay clear of From Vegas to Macau. There's nothing original here, nothing you haven't seen before. But I'm sure you haven't seen so much of it in 90 minutes time. I stopped expecting anything new from Wong a while ago, but if he keeps recycling his own career like this, I'm all for it.
Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters
Saturation is a word that doesn't appear in Jing Wong's dictionary. The man simply doesn't seem able to stop making films. Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters is his latest feature, although I suspect Wong acted more as a mentor for Venus Keung Kwok-Man, who received co-direction credits. It wouldn't be the first time Wong launched someone's career like this.
The film is a throwback to the kung fu comedies of the early 90s. It's a mix of martial arts and outrageous comedy bits (not quite unlike Stephen Chow's Kung Fu), sporting typical Hong Kong (over)acting, simple but functional CG and some genuinely original gags. Add to that the more than competent action sequences (though they can't really compete with the best the martial arts genre has to offer) and you have a fun-filled yet rather basic film.
As always, Wong gathered a legion of familiar faces to fill out his cast. There are the older work horses, including Sammo Hung, Sandra Ng, Eric Tsang and Yuen Wah. Then there are some younger talents, like Jiang Lu-Xia, Dennis To and Philip Ng. On top of that, Wong is also apt at introducing new talent, as is the case with Kimmy Tong Fei, clearly one of Wong's rising stars.
Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters is entertainment in its purest form. It's a welcome update of the old classics, missing that little extra to turn it into a real gem (for that I'd recommend Tracing Shadows) but making up with sheer vigour, enthusiasm and pacing. Unless you're allergic to Hong Kong comedy or martial arts, it's a warm recommendation that's certain to put a smile on your face.
Mr. & Mrs. Gambler
Jing Wong returns to what he knows best: gambling and parodies. If you've seen a couple of Wong films before, there won't be too many surprises here, he basically reiterates the same things he's been doing for ages. Fiona Sit and Chapman To do their best to keep things interesting though, and they succeed.
Halfway through Wong decides to lighten the mood as he goes after Kar-Wai, but not without having a few stabs at his own work too. I'm quite partial to this type of playful banter, it shows a director who knows what he's doing, but also isn't too shabby to have a little fun at his own expense.
The final half hour is a bit cheesier, but it never gets too overbearing and the breezy tone remains intact. The soundtrack is pretty generic, but at least the cinematography is slick and colorful. This is pretty simple and light entertainment, but the execution is on point and it's perfect filler in between more serious films.
The Last Tycoon
Not a very typical Jing Wong film. It's not as hasty and rushed as most of his other work, Wong really takes his time to tell this rather epic crime story. It still shows that he's an entertainer first and foremost, as he struggles a little with the tone and weight of such a film, but overall the result is quite pleasing.
The Last Tycoon benefits from a great cast, with Chow Yun-Fat getting better with the years, also notable parts for Francis Ng (as the delightfully evil bad guy) and Sammo Hung. Visually there are a handful of standout scenes, namely the bombing of Shanghai and the 360 spin in the opera manage to leave quite an impression.
It can't quite compete with the best films in the genre, but Wong shows that he can handle himself when he gets a budget and good cast to work with. Throughout the years my respect for Jing Wong has grown. Even though he's made few masterpieces, he has a heart for cinema and it shows in almost all of his films.
On His Majesty's Secret Service
A film that harks back to the early 90s comedies, highly reminiscent of the Stephen Chow films of that time (Royal Tramp comes to mind). Expect cross-gender dress-ups, a couple of goofy action scenes, chaos at the imperial court and an inventor with some weird machines (a direct James Bond reference).
The comedy is pretty lowbrow, but the brisk pacing and cheesy performances make sure you can't take it as anything but unadulterated fun. There's some cheap but functional CG to add to the fun, which Wong counters with some surprisingly decent shots. If you blink you probably miss them, but at least it shows effort on Wong's side.
Tracing Shadow already foreshadowed the return to the oldskool Hong Kong comedy, Jing Wong goes all the way. It can't quite compete with the best 90s comedies and like most of Jing Wong's films, it feels just a little too unfinished to be truly great, but it's a lot of fun and it flashes by in a heartbeat.
To Live and Die in Mongkok
After a short hiatus, Jing Wong returns to the big screen with partner in crime Siu-Hung Chung to deliver a pretty unique crime flick, at least for something directed by Wong. A schizophrenic Triad killer returns to his old neighborhood after 30 years in prison. Meanwhile, his old gang friends are eagerly awaiting his return, hoping he can restore their former glory.
Nick Cheung does a pretty good job in the lead, Wong himself also makes an appearance, though acting really isn't his strong suit. Luckily Wong and Cheung make sure that the film has plenty of stylistic flair. Lots of filters and a very mobile camera make this a pretty visceral experience.
It wouldn't be a Wong film without several film references. Johnny To gets a tip of the hat and shlock fans are sure to recognize the Story of Ricky poster, but the funniest reference is one for Wong's own On His Majesty's Secret Service, released that very same year. Not the best crime film you'll ever see, but it's slick, modern and it comes with a nice twist. Solid entertainment.
I Corrupt All Cops
A pretty standard but adequate crime flick that breathed new life in Jing Wong's career. After slowing down his output as a director in the years before, 2009 saw him ramping up the pace again. And what better genre to return to than the Hong Kong crime flick, a type of movie that pretty much directs itself.
Jing Wong didn't make it very hard on himself either. With guys alike Anthony Wong and Tony Leung Ka Fai in front of the camera, quality performances are pretty much guaranteed. Jing Wong also make an appearance, but it's Eason Chan who left the biggest impression, his part was quite memorable indeed.
I Corrupt All Cops isn't standout genre material, but the solid mix of crime with a little comedy and the gracious references to better genre directors make for an entertaining film. Wong can handle all kinds of budgets and has no problem keeping A-listers in check, it rarely leads to great cinema, but more often than not it's very solid filler.
My Kung Fu Sweetheart
A zany martial arts comedy from prolific director Jing Wong. It doesn't really feel like a typical Jing Wong production, on the other hand you can recognize a lot of influences from his previous films. This feels like a cocktail of everything he's done in the past 25 years, it's no surprise then that the result is a little uneven.
It's like watching a different film every ten minutes. One moment you're looking at daft comedy that seems like it's aimed at kids under 12, the next scene Wong doesn't shy away from a pretty gruesome liquidation. Add some martial arts, a guy in a hawk suit, a bit of melodrama and you're still not halfway there.
But it's all just good fun and Wong is clearly having the time of his life. Some scenes are absolute terrible, others are a real delight. It goes back and forth like that the entire runtime, which is sure to get on some people's nerves, but I appreciate this type of excruciating Hong Kong comedy. Not great, something very doubty, but a lot of fun.
Colour of the Loyalty
A more serious crime drama from Wong. Not too surprising, Wong was always quite up to date on what was going to be the next hype, and with Johnnie To's crime cinema on the rise, he had to get in on the action. The result is slick, modern and entertaining, though like all of his films, it misses the touch of a true auteur.
At least he made some solid casting choices to elevate this film. Eric Tsang found his calling as Triad boss, Shawn Yue is a personal favorite and brings the madness as an up and coming gangster. There's a bunch of familiar faces in secondary parts (Lam Suet for one), but Tsang and Yue can carry the film just fine.
The story isn't all that original, but the presentation feels modern and polished, Wong keeps it pretty straight-faced and leaves the comedy out of it for a change and makes sure the pacing/runtime is perfect. Not a stand-out Hong Kong crime flick, but more than solid filler that shows Wong is more than just a one-trick pony.
Colour of the Truth
A True Mob Story
The Saint of Gamblers
Legend of the Red Dragon
Hail the Judge
Legend of the Liquid Sword
Kung Fu Master
Royal Tramp II
Challenge of the Gamesters
From Vegas to Macau II
Wise Guys Never Die
Everyday Is Valentine
God of Gamblers 3: The Early Stage
Sixty Million Dollar Man
God of Gamblers' Return
The Sting II
Boys Are Easy
Fight Back to School III
Casino Tycoon II
The Ultimate Trickster
God of Gamblers III: Back to Shanghai
God of Gamblers II
God of Gamblers
Winner Takes All
It didn't take long before Jing Wong came into his own. His first film might've been relatively serious and well-constructed, a lot of that was thrown overboard in Winner Takes All, and replaced by the cheer silliness that would come to define Wong's brand. The result is a full-blown comedy with some martial arts thrown in for good measure.
The beginning is still somewhat straight-faced, but when Pak-Cheung Chan appears and enters a rather hilarious Mah-jong game to the death, there's no doubt that you shouldn't take this film too seriously. It's the kind of over-the-top stupidity that would help to launch Stephen Chow's career a decade later.
The acting isn't all that great and some of the effects are pretty cheap, but they're never gratuitous. The soundtrack is pretty cheesy too, but is used to good comedic effect. If you don't like Hong Kong comedy, it's probably best to avoid this film, but Jing Wong fans (or those who can tolerate his films) will have a blast with this one.
Worthy but flawed
A pretty inconsequential Jing Wong production. Treasure Hunt is a rather run-of-the-mill mix of comedy and action, executed in true Jing Wong fashion. That means it makes for an amusing, but rather hollow and forgettable experience, though in all fairness the film doesn't look like it aspires to be anything beyond that.
The plot, about a commercial director being sent to an uninhabited island to shoot an ad with a big-wig actor, only to end up in some far-fetched treasure hunting scenario, is pointless. It's merely an excuse for some comedy antics and a few action scenes. The lack of A-listers mean that neither are truly noteworthy.
But Jing Wong's silliness also keeps thing light and the frantic pacing makes sure that the film never gets boring. It's not bad filler as such, but hard to recommend when there are so many films that do a better job at it. Treasure Hunt is for the true Jing Wong collector, he who has seen at least 75 of his other films and still has the energy to persist.
Hong Kong Ghost Stories
Slim Till Dead
Kung Fu Mahjong
Kung Fu Mahjong 2
The Conmen in Vegas
The Tricky Master
Step into the Dark
Dances with the Dragon
The Big Score
A pretty basic but amusing Jing Wong vehicle. A combination of action, comedy and of course, a handful of gambling scenes. It's not a big surprise I only caught this film so late in my quest to finish his oeuvre, as it's unremarkable in just about every way possible, at the same time it did end up being pretty entertaining.
Jing Wong teams up with Danny Lee and joins him in front of the camera. Not the best acting duo every put on screen, but the two have enough chemistry to guide you through the film. Because there are quite a few genre switches and because Wong had plenty of prior experience with all of them, the pacing is solid and there isn't really a dull moment in sight.
Visually it doesn't look too bad, but if you've seen a couple of these early 90s Hong Kong action/comedy flicks you'll know what to expect. The soundtrack is incredibly cheesy though, cheap and distracting. Though a little hard to recommend, people who can stand Wong's film and have seen the bigger projects in his oeuvre are sure to have a bit of fun with this one.
Wits of the Brats
Mr. & Mrs. Player
Marry a Perfect Man
My Wife Is a Gambling Maestro
Love Is a Many Stupid Thing
The Spy Dad
My Schoolmate the Barbarian
Love Me, Love My Money
We Are No Bad Guys
Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star
Whatever You Want
To Live and Die in Tsimshatsui
Return to a Better Tomorrow
The Crazy Companies
How to Pick Girls Up
Vintage Jing Wong. It feels a lot like a film I've already seen, then again Wong made a bunch of similar films around that time. The quality of these films is rather low, but the pacing is nice, the atmosphere is extremely light-hearted and while far from great, they make for an amusing 90 minutes. Decent filler.
The Crazy Companies II
The Romancing Star
Born to Gamble
The Flying Mr. B
Mercenaries from Hong Kong
Hong Kong Playboys
Men Suddenly in Love
Beauty on Duty
Sex and the Beauties
Raped by an Angel 4: The Raper's Union
Hard Boiled 2 - The Last Blood
The Romancing Star III
Doubles Cause Troubles
Regardless of all the big names involved, Fascinating Affairs is a pretty rushed and flat hotchpotch of genres that never really finds its footing. Loud, poorly acted, lazily directed and often aimless, it's a film that seemed confident that star power would be enough to attract people. Poor filler, only for true completists.