Chinese Ghost Story

Partially a remake of a Shaw Bros. classic, partially an adaptation of an old Chinese folk tale, Chinese Ghost Story became one of the defining films of the Hong Kong New Wave and inspired countless imitations, including its own sequels and remakes. There is little in the short story “The Magic Sword,” part of the…

The Hell

Hell has always been popular cinematic fodder. Italian strongman Maciste has conquered it (twice, at least), Claude Rains has managed it, and Nollywood has done its best to make a basement look like it (see Die Danger Die Die Kill’s review of 666: Beware! The End is At Hand). Still, when it comes to off-the-wall…

Green Snake

Green Snake is set in a world between myth and reality. Zhao Wen-zhou stars as a young monk who spends his days hunting down demons and spirits who have crossed over from their own realm into the realm of mortals. Some of them come with malicious intent, but many of them seem only to want…

Interpol 009

Interpol 009 has everything you’d want in a 1960s spy movie–except for a memorable villain, a spectacular crime, and audacious action set pieces. On balance that leaves you with attractive stars, lots of nicely photographed scenes shot in glamorous locations, some nice cars, and a lot of fun gadgets. Fortunately, thanks to its amiable tone…

A Wicked Ghost

Back around the turn of the century, there were few directors as committed to the maligned Hong Kong horror genre as Tony Leung. Unfortunately, Tony Leung wasn’t a very good filmmaker. And double unfortunately, he wasn’t a bad enough filmmaker. Everything he made had an air of middling, uninteresting near-competency about it, the work it…

Bio Zombie

The world of Hong Kong horror films is a strange one, indeed. Even within the horror genre, which can be pretty damn weird much of the time, Hong Kong manages to make films that will cause even seasoned horror fans to scratch their head. Hong Kong films often take the cake for the greatest degree…

Last Tycoon

At first — and even second — glance, Last Tycoon is a movie that seems custom-made for me and based entirely on some of my favorite obsessions: Shanghai during the 20s and 30s, old-time fashion, Jazz Age decadence, shidaiqu (that unique Shanghai brand of jazz that combined American swing with traditional Chinese music), a title…

Ninja Killer

In the 1960s and 1970s — at the very least — there was no bigger star in Turkish cinema than Cuneyt Arkin. Whether he was a medieval dude with a steel claw defending Turkey from dastardly Crusaders, or a tough-as-nails cop in a plaid blazer defending Turkey from drugs and ninjas, no one could throw…

Dark Heroine Muk Lan-fa

In the mid sixties, Hong Kong’s Cantonese language film industry, faced with the emerging dominance of the considerably more well-funded and increasingly action-oriented Mandarin language Shaw Brothers Studio–as well as changing audience tastes in a rapidly modernizing society–found itself in need of retooling its output. Melodramas, romances and period martial arts films featuring heroic female…

Enchanting Shadow

After a stormy start, the two become closer, eventually even falling in love — which would be sweet if Hsiao-Chien didn’t turn out to be a ghost, her well-appointed villa an illusion covering a decrepit haunted house, and her mistress a demanding old ghoul with a taste for souls.

Vampire vs. Vampire

Lam Ching-Ying made a whole slew of vampire comedies. The most interesting aspect of Vampire vs. Vampire is the fact that it pits Lam’s character against a Western style vampire

Mr. Vampire

Old Hong Kong movies use the presence of a Taoist priest as a license to print crazy, despite the real world practice of Taoism’s emphasis on quiet contemplation and equilibrium with nature.