films seen
12
average score
2.75*
nationality
Hong Kong - 57 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

Joe Ma is best known for his light and breezy Hong Kong romcoms, which is a shame as his best film is a stylish remake of the gritty Female Prisoner series. Not a standout director, but if you're looking for decent filler Ma has you covered.

Solid pieces

Female Convict Scorpion

by Joe Ma
Also known as
Sasori
Specifics
Japan, Hong Kong [2008] - 101m
Genre
Action
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Female Convict Scorpion poster

The inoffensive

Hidden Heroes

by Joe Ma, Pou-Soi Cheang
Also known as
Zhui Ji Ba Yue Shi Wu
Specifics
Hong Kong [2004] - 108m
Genre
Comedy, Sci-fi
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Hidden Heroes poster

1:99 Shorts

by Fruit Chan, Teddy Chan, Stephen Chow, Wai-Keung Lau, Joe Ma, Alan Mak, Johnnie To, Brian Tse, Hark Tsui, Ka-Fai Wai, Mabel Cheung, Alex Law, Dante Lam, Adam Wong, Peter Ho-Sun Chan, Gordon Chan
Specifics
Hong Kong [2003] - 70m
Genre
Comedy, Drama, Animation
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
1:99 Shorts poster

Commissioned anthology that was made to lift the spirit of Hong Kong during the SARS epidemic. The who's who of Hong Kong cinema participated, but the result is a little uneven. Not too surprising considering the exterior motives behind this anthology, and there are a couple of worthwhile entries, but overall it's probably best to lower your expectations when watching this.

Love Undercover

by Joe Ma
Also known as
Sun Jaat Si Mui
Specifics
Hong Kong [2002] - 103m
Genre
Comedy, Romance
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Love Undercover poster

A very simple romcom with a crime-based background story. It's right up Joe Ma's alley, and he doesn't disappoint. More than that, this film was so successful that it spawned two more sequels. Not sure if this film really warranted such an honor, but it's certainly not bad for what it is.

Agent Keun is sent on an undercover mission. She has to befriend Hoi, son of a retired Triad boss. Hoi is suspected of being in the Triad business himself, but there's no concrete evidence, which Keun has to deliver. He turns out to be a total gentleman though and in no time romantic feelings are starting to develop between the two.

Don't expect anything original from Love Undercover, this is pure genre fluff. But there's chemistry between Miriam Yeung and Daniel Wu, the film's moderately funny and the pacing is decent. It's a perfect time waster and a fun filler once you've gone through all the better films in the genre.

Summer Breeze of Love

by Joe Ma
Also known as
Che Goh Ha Tin Yau Yee Sing
Specifics
Hong Kong [2002] - 107m
Genre
Comedy, Romance
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Summer Breeze of Love poster

A surprisingly decent film from Joe Ma. A romantic comedy written around "the twins" doesn't sound too appealing on paper. Truth be told, you don't have to expect miracles from this film either, but Summer Breeze of Love turns out to be quite effective, offering light and easily digestible entertainment that never feels misplaced.

The film bathes in a warm summer glow, which is definitely part of the appeal. Some slick and attractive camera work certainly doesn't hurt either. Even Choi and Chung seem to be feeling at ease here. Not that Joe Ma asks a lot of their characters, the romance and the resulting drama is quite stereotypical, but they deliver on what they're asked to do.

The comedy is pretty typical for a Hong Kong film, which may put people off if they're not familiar with it, but even then the romance and light drama is probably enough to redeem this film. Summer Breeze of Love delivers exactly what it promises, and just as long as you don't expect anything too deep or serious that should be enough.

Over the Rainbow, Under the Skirt

by Joe Ma
Also known as
Ji De... Xiang Jiao Cheng Shu Shi II: Chu Lian Qing Ren
Specifics
Hong Kong [1994] - 100m
Genre
Comedy, Drama
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Over the Rainbow, Under the Skirt poster

A surprisingly decent coming of age film. 90s Hong Kong isn't exactly known as a thriving scene for drama cinema, and Joe Ma doesn't really stand out as someone who excells in the genre. Still, Over the Rainbow, Under the Skirt (mind you, it's a sequel, though you can easily watch it as a stand-alone film) was pretty decent.

Bobby is at the point where he finally has a girlfriend and is ready to lose his virginity. That's easier said than done, with everyone getting in his way all the time. Things get even more complicated when his dad ends up in the hospital, which gets Bobby worrying if he will ever get to make the next step.

Performances are decent, the comedy is light yet amusing and the drama is poignant at times. It's very solid for HK standards, on the other hand this is a pretty standard and expected coming of age flick that goes through the motions without taking any risks. Just a decent film, which is better than I expected it to be.

Worthy but flawed

Love Undercover 3

by Joe Ma
Also known as
Sun Jaat Si Mui 3
Specifics
Hong Kong [2006] - 101m
Genre
Comedy
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Love Undercover 3 poster

The third and final entry in the Love Undercover series. The second film was somewhat of a letdown, luckily Joe Ma manages to shake things up a little. Not that this film is a true return to form (and to be clear, the first film wasn't that great to begin with), but at least is doesn't feel quite as uninspired.

Wao is a new recruit in Chung's team. She's young and inexperienced, but she's also eager to learn and has a way to get luck on her side. Wao is spoiled by her teammates and before long Chung's team gets a bad reputation. So much in fact that another police team introduces a mole in order to document their misbehavior.

It's not that Miriam Yeung was a miscast, but Fiona Sit brings some much-needed spark to the franchise. The comedy is still pretty mediocre and the story really isn't anything to write home about, but the atmosphere is light and the pacing is solid. Not a great film, but it's pretty decent filler.

Sound of Colors

by Joe Ma
Also known as
Dei Haa Tit
Specifics
Hong Kong [2003] - 97m
Genre
Drama, Romance
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Sound of Colors poster

Lawyer Lawyer

by Joe Ma
Also known as
Suen Sei Cho
Specifics
Hong Kong [1997] - 85m
Genre
Comedy
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Lawyer Lawyer poster

Till Death Do Us Laugh

by Man Kei Chin, Joe Ma, Wai Man Yip
Also known as
Guai Tan Xie Hui
Specifics
Hong Kong [1996] - 90m
Genre
Comedy, Horror
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Till Death Do Us Laugh poster

Fighting for Love

by Joe Ma
Also known as
Tung Gui Mat Yau
Specifics
Hong Kong [2001] - 102m
Genre
Romance
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Fighting for Love poster

A pretty typical Joe Ma/HK romcom. You take two popular leads, make sure their characters hate each other's guts, then you can watch them grow closer for the rest of the film (including some bumps along the road). It's really (really!) by the numbers, then again the HK film industry was scrambling to get back on their feet back then, so I'll forgive them the somewhat lazy setup.

Tung is a somewhat crude cook dating a famous actress, Deborah is a feisty woman who just got fired from her job. They meet each other when Deborah bumps her car into Tung's. Both are quite loud and headstrong, but after a couple of drinks they end up in bed. Romance ensues!

Tony Leung and Sammi Cheng work well as an onscreen couple, there are some funny bits and the pacing is decent, but after the halfway mark it gets a bit too predictable and once Tung starts doubting which girl to pick, the film does lose some steam. It's a pretty solid romcom though, just don't expect anything original.

Dubious filler

Love Undercover 2: Love Mission

by Joe Ma
Also known as
Sun Jaat Si Mui 2
Specifics
Hong Kong [2003] - 100m
Genre
Comedy
More info on
rating
2.0*/5.0*
Love Undercover 2: Love Mission poster

While the first Love Undercover film wasn't that bad, I don't think it really needed a sequel (let alone two). No doubt the popularity of the first one demanded it to be turned into a franchise, so here we are. Love Undercover 2 is a bog standard sequel that rehashes its own formula, but fails to add anything substantial.

Kuen is still enjoying her promotion when she's given a new assignment. She needs to protect a VIP and give her a tour of Hong Kong. The assignment goes horribly wrong that and Kuen nearly gets her kicked off the force. It's the beginning of another undercover mission in which Kuen's future husband gets a part too.

The main cast is there again, director Joe Ma also returns. Other than that this comes off like a simple cash-in. The story is plain, the direction feels rushed and the comedy is subpar. The tone is light and the pacing is decent so it's definitely an easy watch, there just isn't much quality to turn it into something more.