Review Hong Kong

Review of Hong Kong Movies and TV Shows

Sakra

Sakra [天龙八部之乔峰传], aka Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, is a Hong Kong wuxia/drama movie that was released on 19th January 2023.

About

A famous martial artist, Qiao Feng, is accused of crimes he didn’t commit. He is forced away from his group of bandits and then goes on the hunt to find out who is responsible of setting him up.

Cast

Donnie Yen [甄子丹] plays Qiao Feng
The actor doesn’t need any introduction. Yen also directed this movie. I notice in his bio he will star in IP Man 5, not sure when that will be released.

Chen Yu Qi [陈钰琪] plays A Ju
An award winning Chinese actress, specifically for her role in “Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Sabre (2019)”.

I recognized quite a few other known Hong Kong actors such as Grace Wong, Kara Wai and Eddie Cheung.

Review

This film had quite a few flaws maybe because it felt as though the production company rushed through it.

The best part of the film was the action, it was pretty well done apart from the CGI flaws. The story continuity wasn’t the best but if you are watching it for the Wuxia then you might be ok.

There were quite a few errors, as follows:

  • I noticed at one point in the film the outside broadcast lighting appeared to have fallen over and they couldn’t be bothered to re-shoot the segment.
  • If you look closely the CGI faces were very screwed up; some didn’t go by too fast and I could tell they were just blobs, like bad AI.
  • There was a kind of cliffhanger at the end but it wasn’t written very well, or acted well either.

So, I didn’t know much about the background of the film going into it, and that it was a Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils adaptation, so it was better than I anticipated from the reviews but it needed a lot of work to get it up to scratch.

I was good to see some recognizable actors and actresses in the movie.

We watched the Cantonese version, was it dubbed? I’m not sure, which is good I guess.

Summary

It wasn’t a bad movie at all, I would recommend it for light watching, I will give it a 4/5.

Where To Watch

We found this movie on TubiTV. For a 2023 film it appeared on there pretty quickly, you usually see older films on that free service.

2024-04-15T17:18:56+00:0015 April 2024|Review Hong Kong|

A Fistful of Stances

A Fistful of Stances [鐵馬尋橋] is a martial arts and action drama from Hong Kong that was broadcast between March and April 2010.

A Fistful of Stances cast

About

The show is about a martial arts training school following events of 20 years ago when the father of the family never returned home after confronting the evil Wing Dak who has been traumatizing the family for all this time.

Cast

The show is like a TVB family reunion.

Kevin Cheng [鄭嘉穎] as Ku Kin Shing and Ku Yu Cheung
Born in San Francisco, Cheng has become a huge star in Hong Kong playing in may dramas.

Natalie Tong [唐詩詠 ] as Ying Ngan Ming
Although it seems she had more of a minor role here she was most recently seen in The Invisibles.

Kenneth Ma [馬國明] as Ku Yue Tong
Another actor who appeared in The Invisibles who starred earlier in this drama.

Yuen Qui as Au-Yeung Wai-Lan
The last show I saw her in was The Righteous Fists. For some reason some websites have dropped her from the cast list of this show.

Alex Lam [林子善] Like Yuen Qui Alex is dropped from the cast list on some sites. However, as usual he is the most sweet and fun actor there, short but big in character.

Review

This series was a lot of fun and quite typical of the era in which is was made. Rosy Business and this drama had the same screenwriter, Cheung Wah Biu, who did a great job.

The story was decent although simple to follow; plenty of action and some romance.

The actors were the highlight of the show especially in their family group where they were loud but fun. Natalie Tong didn’t have a big speaking part in the show, more or left to the side lines. I thought Kenneth Ma had the biggest on air time.

There were some overly dramatic scenes by Kara Wai who played Wing Tak’s wife, so much so I just put my palm in front of my face as it was painful to watch. I thought Jacky Heung, who played Wing Tak’s son, was not in the right character for his style.

Summary

I really love these style of Hong Kong drama’s so I will give it a 4.5/5.

Where to Watch

We started to watch this series on Tubi but half way through they dropped it, taking the whole series off line. I was not impressed. However, I did find it on YouTube, with English Subtitles, the catch the remaining episodes even though small parts of the audio was cut off which Google probably did, I was so upset by that.

2024-03-30T23:21:26+00:0030 March 2024|Review Hong Kong|

Once Upon a Time in Shanghai

Once Upon a Time in Shanghai (上海滩马永贞) aka Fierce Battle is a action martial arts film from Hong Kong released on 23 May 2013.

One Upon A Time in Shanghai

About

Ma Yong Zhen travels to Shanghai from Shangdong to find work and become rich. However, he is caught between facing local gangs and the Japanese who are occupying the region.

Cast

Philip Ng (伍允龙) as Ma Yong Zhen
He is an American Hong Kong born actor, martial artist and action choreographer. He runs the Ng Family Chinese Martial Arts Association in Chicago. We’ve seen him in a number of productions including The Righteous Fists.

Andy On (安志傑 ) as Long Qi
He is an American Hong Kong actor and martial artist based in Rhode Island USA. He has also had a hand at singing. We’ve seen him in other productions such as Ever Night Season Two and Sword Snow Stride.

Sammo (洪金寶) as Master Tie
Well, Sammo needs no introduction and we’ve seen him in many productions.

Review

The story is pretty simple; bloke moves to Shanghai to become rich, faces gangs and the Japanese, makes friends, possible girlfriend. I believe the story is there to lead into the action which is the main bread and butter of the movie.

The look and feel of the movie is done in an artistic kind of way. The colour grading is almost black and white with colours toned down. The cinematography is slightly different in parts. This wasn’t the case throughout the entire movie, just in parts.

A day after I watched the movie I have forgotten what the music sounds like, so I am guessing it wasn’t very prominent.

I wasn’t expecting Sammo or Andy On to appear in the movie, I followed the trail to find out what Philip Ng had done before. So the cast was a pleasant surprise.

Philip and Andy were very cute together at points, it was good to see the on-screen relationship develop. I expect they are good friends in real life and the film was more like “having fun with mates”, at least that came across when I was watching it.

So, the martial arts was prominent in the movie and it was quite well done. However, I have to say that it did look a little bit slapstick, unintentionally, as some of those scenes which were sped up. I suspect when they filmed those sequences they did them slowly or at normal speed as some of them were quite intricate. There appeared to be some CGI embedded into the martial arts when objects were kicked out of the way.

There was one scene towards the end and we thought “Philip looks like he is emulating or honouring Bruce Lee”

Summary

This was a really cool movie, storyline was simple, but watch it if you enjoy martial arts. I will give it a 4.5/5.

Where To Watch

The movie is currently on Tubi, available in the US and Canada, and available on DVD.

2024-03-11T17:10:57+00:0011 March 2024|Review Hong Kong|

The Invisibles

The Invisibles (隱形戰隊) is an action, drama, crime TV show that was broadcast on TVB Jade and Youku between 6 March to 14 April 2023.

About

The stories behind two well trained sections of the Hong Kong Police; POTT (Phantom Operation and Tactic Team) and CTRU (Counter Terrorism Response Unit) fighting organized crime and terrorist type incidents as they tackle their own drama’s and romances.

Cast

Kenneth Ma (馬國明) as Ocean
The actor has won “Most Popular Male Television Character” four times. His family had moved to Canada where he studied Mechanical Engineering at UBC.
Instagram

Natalie Tong (唐詩詠) as Madam Q
The actress is a former professional model and has won numerous awards.
Instragram

Joel Chan (陳山蔥) as Sir Cool
He used to work in a vintage clothing store and some other jobs but made a breakthrough on the show “Legal Mavericks”.
Instagram

Alex Lam (林子善) aka Jazz Lam as Namy
He is best known for playing unconventional and comedic characters. He is also known for singing and bodybuilding/fitness.
Instagram

Review

I would put this at the top of the list of Hong Kong shows I have ever seen.

It had a great line up of TVB actors who appear, at least from the “making of” videos I’ve seen, gel well together.

The best character on the show was Namy played exceptionally well by Alex Lam. The character was disabled, shy, vulnerable, emotionally delicate and longing to be loved. If it wasn’t for this character I’m not sure the show would have been the same.

The other great character was played by Ruco Chan who we are used to seeing being the hero. I couldn’t begin to imagine him in an evil role but he did a brilliant job at being very creepy. It’s good to see actors try their hand at different roles.

The story was kind of typical; good vs the bad guys. The action was filmed particularly well, some scenes were “edge of your seat”. It had a good mix of action, romance and humour. The characters developed well, one might have started out disliking someone but that changed later on.

The extended families of the main characters were typical of Hong Kong dramas. They could have tried something different but I guess that is what works and the audience is happy with that scenario.

The last episode wrapped up most of the events during the series pretty well.

Summary

Very good series, I would rate it as 5/5.

Where to Watch

This is available on TVBAnywhere in North America. Not sure where else you can see it in the world.

2024-01-02T22:37:27+00:002 January 2024|Review Hong Kong|

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg (无双) is a Hong Kong action thriller movie that was released on 4th October 2018. The film was released under the name of “The Counterfeiter” in the UK.

Project Gutenberg

About

A cowardly and struggling artist-turned-criminal named Lee Man (Aaron Kwok) is extradited from a prison in Thailand to Hong Kong to help the police track down a mysterious and fearsome criminal genius known only as Painter (Chow Yun Fat).
(Via Viki)

Cast

Chow Yun Fat (周潤發)
Obviously this actor is one of the most well-known Hong Kong actors that there ever was.

Aaron Kwok (郭富城)
Another very popular actor, as I write this he has 7 film projects coming up. He is busy.

Review

At first this movie seemed quite boring but I think it was slow to get going. Maybe they could have reduced it from its 2 hours 10 minutes length.

However, the action started and the movie got better. There is a huge twist towards the end and its worth watching the film just for that. I will say that the twist wasn’t written very well and could have been explained better. The twist explained a scene that only lasted a few seconds at the beginning of the movie, maybe that was a hint as to what was coming.

The action scene in the village was very well done, probably the highlight of the movie.

I have to admit the scenes based in Canada were quite amusing and I notice some others have called the producers out on those snippets. However, those scenes were filmed here in Vancouver, BC.

The acting was alright, not sure if it was the right role for Chow Yun Fat since he looked a little out of place and I’ve not seen any recent good scripts for him.

Evidently, the film had a budget of USD38.3m and it made USD188m which is good news.

If you have 2+ hours to kill, it’s worth stopping by to watch it.

Summary

It was OK, I will give it a 3/5. It receives mainly average to good rating on other sites.

Where To Watch

I watched it on Viki but I understand it’s also on Tubi.

2023-12-30T05:49:57+00:0030 December 2023|Review Hong Kong|

My Beloved Bodyguard

My Beloved Bodyguard aka The Bodyguard (我的特工爷爷) is a Hong Kong/Chinese movie released on 1 April 2016.

About

Ding Hu is retired and has dementia. A young girl, Li Chung Hua, hangs out with him to hide from her father and his connections to crime. They live on the China/Russian border and her life is threatened by crime lords. Ding Hu as her bodyguard with his surprising skills protects her.

Cast

Sammo Hung (洪金寶) as Ding Hu
Of course Sammo needs no introduction whose contribution to Asian film industry is astonishing. He was the director and main actor in this movie. Sammo hadn’t directed a movie since 1997.

Andy Lau (劉德華) as Li Zheng Jiu
Another very famous Hong Kong actor with a list of films longer than several arms. He was the producer and main actor in The Bodyguard. He is, lets say, about the same age as me and looking very good.

I noticed a guest appearance by Hu Jun ( 胡军) who played a policeman.

I understand that Jackie Chan was due to appear in this movie but due to various reasons couldn’t so Andy Lau stepped in.

Review

On the face of it the story seemed sound however it wasn’t executed very well. Maybe Sammo and Andy Lau took on too much, not sure, it didn’t flow well. At first the story didn’t move very fast, I can see where some watchers would turn off at that point, but it did speed up as it went along. From a fairly sleepy harmless beginning to a more violent shocking second half, like going from a cuddly Disney movie to a brutal action adventure.

From an acting perspective I didn’t think Sammo performed well in this and much of the film was better executed by the other actors.

There was quite a bit of humour, especially from the three seniors on the bench which I enjoyed. There were other parts of the film that made me laugh but I don’t think the scenes were purposely set up for this.

The locations were interesting and I assume it was partly filmed in China and Russia, but those two countries get on well to have made this happen.

Summary

I felt bad as I really wanted to enjoy this movie but will only give it a 3/5.

Where To Watch

I understand it used to be on Netflix but we saw it on Tubi.

2023-11-15T18:13:14+00:0015 November 2023|Review Hong Kong|

Ninth Happiness

Ninth Happiness (Gau sing bou hei / 星报喜) is a Hong Kong movie that was released on 14 February 1998.

About

Chi Wan (Jackyln Wu) falls in love with a stranger in the woods, Ma Lun Cheung (Leslie Cheung), and mistakes him for a fairy. She is from Rainbow Village where, at the same time, two coarse and corrupt brothers arrive in town to destroy the peace.

The movie is a comedy musical.

Cast

Leslie Cheung (張國榮) as Ma Lun Cheung/Tok Choi
I chose this movie because the sadly deceased gay cantopop artist was in it. I am slowly starting to work my way through his movies.

Raymond Wong (黃百鳴) as Ma Lun Tai (as Bak-Ming Wong)
A talented screenwriter, director, producer and actor with a long history in the film industry.

Jacklyn Wu (吳倩蓮) as Chi Wan
A Taiwanese actress who won awards for her appearance in Eighteen Springs (1997). Although appeared in TV dramas she is best known for film.

Review

This film was totally bonkers.  It seemed like it was a musical Carry On movie, Carry On as the series of British comedy films, it was quite cheeky throughout.

This is one of those wild Hong Kong comedies but with a messed up story. It took a little bit to get into the movie especially its sense of humour and erratic script! I am told it was making fun of Cantonese Opera, which I guess could be the case.

They had familiar tunes, such as Jingle Bells, with their own humorous words over it. Tea for Two was very well done. Some of the songs were short in duration and could have padded it out longer, maybe they were limited to time.

There were some really over the top annoying characters especially the one that lusted over someone else, not sure the acting was good with his character.

It was so good to see Leslie Cheung. He was always game to try anything out and his role included singing, martial arts, romance, comedy and slapstick. For a lead role I don’t think he was in it for very long.

It’s worth trying to make it to the end of the movie just for the bloopers which just cracked me up.

Summary

Despite the movie being so wild and crazy it made me laugh a lot, so I think its worth seeing although I wouldn’t rate it very highly.

2023-11-06T23:34:21+00:006 November 2023|Review Hong Kong|

Flying Tiger Season Three

Flying Tiger Season 3 (飛虎之壯志英雄) is an action and crime orientated TV series from Hong Kong.

About

The show lasted 30 episodes, it started airing on 16th December 2021 and finished on 11th January 2022, it was broadcast every day Monday through Sunday, seven days a week.

A deadly biological weapon is being made in Hong Kong and threatens the world, it is linked to a number of kidnappings to ensure the virus gets into the hands of a previously unknown secret organisation.

Cast

The regular actors of this show are back. Same actors, different characters.

Michael Miu (苗僑偉) plays Xu Jun Fei
Very extensive portfolio of shows, he started his career in the 1980s and he is now in his mid-60s, although he looks much younger.

Bosco Wong (黃宗澤) plays Zhang Jia Xuan
Actor and singer, his career began in 2003. A popular actor with a long list of shows that he has been in. Often works alongside Ron Ng, as per this show.

Ron Ng (吳卓羲) as Gao Zi Le
An actor and singer who started his career in 1998. A long list of shows and movies to his name.  Currently working on a Movie and a TV show.

Oscar Leung (梁競徽) as Hui Sam
He seems more of a character actor to me. His career started in 2000. Always look forward his talent appearing in numerous TV shows.

Review

Flying Tigers season 1 was brilliant. Season 2 wasn’t very good at all, I almost gave up on it. Season 3 restored my faith in the show, it was a very decent send-off to what I envisage to be the last season.

Season 2 was slow and boring but Season 3 was more action orientated. Some episodes were quite slow as though they were fillers to ensure the story would reach 30 episodes.

Every one of these types of shows appears to have stock phrases, whether it be Flying Tiger or Line Walker, about how dedicated and disciplined they are to the criminal justice system.

The show was written and planned out well, it can be split into two. First, there are the altercations with a terrorist group, then a race to make the biological weapon and related kidnappings.

From the start, we had our suspicions about whether a leading character was good or bad and as each episode went by more details would be forthcoming about how bad he is. Yes, he turned out to be very bad indeed, yet cared about those who had known him for a long time. Halfway through the series they introduced another bad character who we had envisaged to be good as well and this was a good twist in the tale.

There is a mix of action, romance and heartbreak. The action scenes were very well done, above average for a show like this. They probably should have named the origin country of the terrorist group something simpler but I’m pleased they chose an imaginary country rather than be political. The last 3 episodes were pretty good, just when you think it’s all over….!

I would give it a 4/5. It was very enjoyable and I didn’t fall asleep once.

Resources

Where To Watch

Previous seasons were made available to the West pretty quickly but not sure why this took some time. However, I saw this on TubiTV, see the link above.

2023-09-18T23:37:01+00:0018 September 2023|Review Hong Kong|

Line Walker Movie One

Line Walker (the movie) (使徒行者) is a Hong Kong film that was released on 11th August 2016. We watched this shortly after the first TV series.

About

Several cops went undercover but due to some issues, their identities were erased from the police database. This is the first of two films.

Cast

Charmaine Sheh (佘詩曼) who appeared in the first TV series plays the main character, Ding Siu Ka.

Line Walker Movie Charmaine Sheh

Benz Hui (許紹雄) is back but plays Tam Fun Hei

Line Walker Movie Benz Hui

Louis Koo (古天樂) plays Siu Zi Long, the main lead.

Review

Line Walker Movie PosterThis was nowhere as good as the TV series although it was moderately watchable. In fact, the film was sadly a bit of a disappointment.

Charmaine Sheh and Benz Hui made the movie for me otherwise it wouldn’t have been the same. Charmaine has some very humorous scenes carrying on a similar style to the series, also a good action scene or two as well. There was kind of a switch in roles for Benz, he is such a great actor, very engaging on screen.

For the storyline and character development, I thought it could have done so much better. As the film progressed Ding Siu Ka seemed to lose the humour element of the story.

If they took out Louis Koo and put in a couple more actors from the TV series it would have been better. Michael Miu was so good in the TV series maybe my expectations were a character as he portrayed.

Reviewers on other sites said they really liked the movie but didn’t rate it as high as the series. So, I will give it a 2.5/5.

Where Can I Watch

This film is available on TubiTV. It is supposed to be on Netflix in some regions, but not in Canada which hasn’t acquired any of the series.

2023-06-13T17:35:30+00:0013 June 2023|Review Hong Kong|

Line Walker

Line Walker (使徒行者) is a TV series from Hong Kong made by TVB and broadcast in 2014. There are three TV series and 2 films.

Line Walker

About

A number of undercover cops are wiped from the system and it’s up to Cheuk Hoi to find out where they are. They get together to fight gangs plus corruption within the Hong Kong police force.

Cast

Michael Miu (苗僑偉) as Cheuk Hoi
A veteran of these types of police action series, we have also seen him in shows like Flying Tiger.

Charmaine Sheh (佘詩曼) as Ding Siu Ka
Has appeared in many shows since 1999 and was the first Hong Kong TV actress to be shortlisted for the semi-finals of the Best Actress category at the 35th International Emmy Awards in 2007.
Instagram

Raymond Lam (林峯) as Sit Ka Keung
We saw him in P Storm but don’t think we knew of him back then. He was born in China and his Great Grandmother is Spanish.

Benz Hui (許紹雄) as Foon Hei Gor
Another veteran actor whose on-screen presence just makes me chuckle. We’ve seen a couple of other productions he’s been in. His career goes way back to 1972.
Instagram

Oscar Leung (梁競徽) as Muk Sat
We’ve seen him in many shows such as K9 Cop, Flying Tiger and Tiger Cubs. His role in this show was mostly humorous and he did a great job with the character.
Instagram (Private Account)

Review

Line Walker is definitely an action-packed series with lots of tense drama, some romance and lots of comedy. Obviously, a popular series since they made two other seasons and two films out of it.

The story was good. There was one overall one with small but surprising story arcs. Just when you think it was reaching one conclusion about one arc it went off in another direction with a character’s story going in an unexpected track.  A lot was packed in. There were breaks in the action, for example, 2 or 3 episodes of action followed by one that would be comical or romantic.

The characters developed well within the series, and none of them stagnated at all. Some TV series are boring if they don’t change in any shape or form. Most of the characters had nicknames which I haven’t detailed here, one of them was slightly rude.

The actors were perfect for the roles they had. I thought some side actors who have been leading roles in other dramas should have had their characters on screen more. I was expecting a bit more.

I was quite surprised when they killed off some of my favourite characters, I would have liked them to finish their story in a more positive manner, I guess that is life.

The music was typical of TVB action dramas, like a racing car going full steam ahead.

Just like some other TVB dramas, some female characters could have been treated better than just “babes in swimsuits”.

Overall, I give it 4.5/5 and can’t wait to see the next series.

Where Can I Watch

Currently it’s available on TubiTV. I don’t know of its availability outside of North America.

2023-06-07T23:01:55+00:007 June 2023|Review Hong Kong|