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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.

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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

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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.