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Thread: Vintage Hong Kong action movies on DVD thread

  1. #21
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    FINGERS ON TRIGGER (Shan Pa, 1984)



    I really enjoyed this one, known variously as "Finger on the Trigger", "Fingers on the Trigger", "Fingers on the Triggers", "Finger on Trigger", "Fingers on Triggers" and "Finger on Triggers" and any other variations you might think of. The confusing plethora of names probably hasn't helped its profile in English-speaking territories.

    The plot revolves around an ex-policeman, Fan Kun (Stanley Fung), who has a son who needs urgent medical care. Fan Kun works as a hairdresser(! I'm guessing perceptions of male hairdressers in Hong Kong are radically different from the camp stereotype that predominates in the UK) but moonlights as a hired killer. (Fan Kun's role as a hairdresser raises all sorts of questions: how does one go from being a tough cop to a hairdresser?) On his trail is tough cop K K Lee (Melvin Wong Gam-Sam), who just happens to be Fan Kun's former mentee. (We are shown sepia-tinted flashbacks depicting Fan Kun teaching K K Lee how to shoot on the police department's firing range.)

    There's the usual oddball comedy moments: in one sequence, one of the male hairdressers in the salon in which Fan Kun works gets overly excited whilst watching horse racing on television and shakes his client's head in excitement - it's a moment that seems to suggest some bizarre kind of sexual assault (frottage?) On K K Lee's team is the prerequisite comedy copper, in this film a chubby lad named 'Tiger' (with a denim jacket and a bum bag) who flirts with, and gets knocked back, by all the women he meets. (One of the women Tiger hits on inexplicably tells him, 'I'm an old man', which I'm assuming is a quirk of the subtitling.) K K Lee tells Tiger to shave his beard, and Tiger leads a lady journalist to believe that he is K K Lee, about whom the female journalist is writing an article. (This is a subplot that goes nowhere.)

    There's a very odd sequence in which Fan Kun's toddler son Ah Kay sees some breakdancers on the street and joins them, before teaching his father how to moonwalk (I'll rip the chapter on the DVD and upload it at some point, just for giggles). There's also an utterly gratuitous shower scene, and subsequent sex scene, during which Fan Kun seduces Ah Kay's babysitter/nanny.

    The moments in which Fan Kun and Ah Kay face off are reminiscent of the similar sequences (between Scott Plank and Alex McArthur) in Michael Mann's L.A. TAKEDOWN (and, of course, HEAT). There's also a copious use of Lalo Schifrin's score from DIRTY HARRY during several sequences.

    Of course, when Fan Kun is doublecrossed, he and K K Lee team up to take on the real badguys. The ending is, as is typical for these HK action/noir films, utterly downbeat. It's a good film, worth tracking down.

    SPOILER

    Interestingly, the image gallery on the DVD suggests a different finale to the film. In the film, Fan Kun is killed by the film's chief villain. A deeply upset Ah Kay points a shotgun at the villain before being persuaded by K K Lee not to kill the man (in a few lines of dialogue bizarrely not subtitled in English), then after a brief pause during which it seems that the villain will escape unscathed, the young boy acquires a handgun and shoots the villain with it. The squibs on the villain (six or seven, which go off simultaneously) suggest a shotgun blast rather than a shot from a handgun; and sure enough, the image gallery clearly shows Ah Kay shooting the villain with the shotgun that he originally held. It makes me wonder if the ending as present on the DVD (which softens the violence somewhat, as K K Lee clearly attempts to persuade Ah Kay not to use the shotgun, leading to the boy putting it down) is an alternate ending prepared for release in a different market. (The squib effect seems to suggest, quite clearly, that the villain dies from a shotgun blast.)
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

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  2. #22
    Senior Member The Silly Swede's Avatar
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    I feel I must see that film!
    "No presh from the Dresh!"

  3. #23
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Silly Swede View Post
    I feel I must see that film!
    As a fellow LAST BLOOD fan, I think you'd like it, Chris

    Recently, I revisited KILLER'S NOCTURNE (Nam Nai-Choi, 1987) via the Joy Sales DVD.



    I hadn't seen this film since the early 1990s, when I saw what must have been a heavily cut VHS version. The film in its uncut version is ridiculously violent in places (one character gets his neck slashed by a broken LP - there's a level of absurdity that Nam Nai-Choi would escalate in the later STORY OF RICKY).

    It's a period piece, set in Shanghai. Much of the action takes place in a nightclub that, in the subtitles is referred to as the Sleepless Night Club, but which is shown onscreen as being called the Endless Night. Yin (Alex Man), the owner, has returned to Shanghai having spent time in Japan; consequently, there's a suspicion towards his methods. He says he wants to bring the gambling bosses together, but in reality he wants to take over their businesses (quite violently - in an early, grisly, scene his men break the spine and strangle another man).

    Fung (Siu-Ho Chin), the son of another gambling boss in Shanghai, becomes obsessed with Rachel (Pat Ha), a singer in Yin's club. Yin has a habit of playing Mahjong with his rivals; the loser, he says, must jump out the window of his office in the Endless Night, which is on the third storey. Using this method, Yin, who always wins Mahjong, facilitates the deaths of his rivals and takes over their business interests. After Yin dispatches Fung's father using this method, Fung seeks revenge. Sought by Yin, Fung goes on the run and bizarrely ends up working as a bareknuckle boxer - leading to a boxing match between Fung and a kangaroo!



    Eventually returning to Shanghai, having learnt Mahjong, Fung seeks a match against Yin, with the same rules (the loser must jump out of the third storey window).

    The narrative is quite conventional until the bizarro sequence in which Fung goes underground as a bareknuckle fighter. It's punctuated by some extreme violence (chopped up bodies in trunks, hands being cut off, etc) and some very well-handled fight sequences that make effective use of Peckinpah-esque slomo (another trademark of the director). There's some great photography too: there's a very 'cool', detached aesthetic, and the compositions are largely symmetrical.
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

    http://www.paul-a-j-lewis.com (my photography website)
    'All explaining in movies can be thrown out, I think': Elmore Leonard

  4. #24
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    THE LAW WITH TWO PHASES (Danny Lee, 1984)





    Unless I'm utterly mistaken, this was the first time that Danny 'The Man Who Plays Cops' Lee played a cop. It's an uneven film to begin with, but by the end of the picture I was in love with it.

    Lee's cop from a distinctly proletarian background lives, with his ageing mother, amongst the low-life crooks he hunts. He shares a background with them. The conflict between the rival gangs, led by 'Blacky' and 'Apache', is interesting, though I felt that some subtle cultural inflections, in terms of the specific differences between these two gangs, were lost in translation - possibly due to the barely coherent subtitles.

    There are some elements here that recur in subsequent Lee films: his character's tight white shots for one, and also his low level of literacy. (This is a running gag in FINAL JUSTICE, as I recall; what other Lee films does it appear in?)

    There's a strong emphasis on humour as Lee's 'Chief B' shows the ropes to new cop on the block Kit (Eddie Chen), but the shit gets real when Lee's prime informer Druggy Shing (Tai Bo) is killed, and shortly after, during the pursuit of a gang member, Lee accidentally shoots (and, surprisingly, kills) a young boy of five or six. It's an utterly shocking moment that comes out of left-field. From then on, Lee must deal with the consequences of this mistake. The film takes a dark turn, leading to a downbeat conclusion - and there's no real comeuppance for the 'bad guys'.

    This is an excellent little film.
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

    http://www.paul-a-j-lewis.com (my photography website)
    'All explaining in movies can be thrown out, I think': Elmore Leonard

  5. #25
    Administrator Ian Jane's Avatar
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    Not familiar with this one - this was a DVD viewing, Paul?
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  6. #26
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jane View Post
    Not familiar with this one - this was a DVD viewing, Paul?
    Yep, Ian. It's available on DVD in the Joy Sales Legendary Collection: http://www.badpandashop.com/products...ary-collection

    It's an anamorphic presentation which, like all of the Legendary Collection DVDs, is from a dated master, but it looks fine. Subs (English and Chinese - traditional and simplified) are optional. The subs are riddled with grammatical errors, but no more or less than the subs for many HK films of this vintage.

    I think you'd like it. I've got Lee's THE LAW ENFORCER to watch too, when I have the time.
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

    http://www.paul-a-j-lewis.com (my photography website)
    'All explaining in movies can be thrown out, I think': Elmore Leonard

  7. #27
    Administrator Ian Jane's Avatar
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    Thanks Paul! Interesting to see what he's charging at that site for the OOP Fortune Star and SB stuff, haha. Most of that stuff I picked up for half that price when it was new, but a lot of it is definitely getting tougher to find now.
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  8. #28
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    It's been a few years since my last viewing, and I've got a strong desire to revisit THE LAST BLOOD. Blimey, I love that film
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

    http://www.paul-a-j-lewis.com (my photography website)
    'All explaining in movies can be thrown out, I think': Elmore Leonard

  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
    It's been a few years since my last viewing, and I've got a strong desire to revisit THE LAST BLOOD. Blimey, I love that film
    I might have to dig up my old dvd and check it out too. It sure brings back lots of memories both good and bad (looking at you, Eric Tsang!). I have the German dvd because it had an anamorphic picture plus a mono Cantonese mix. I seem to recall the Universe or was it Megastar only had a Mandarin mono soundtrack? Btw, Paul, do you know if the HK dvd is uncut? I know the PAL dvd was uncut.
    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  10. #30
    Senior Member The Silly Swede's Avatar
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    Actually watched the last Blood a month or so ago. That and The Big Heat are my rewatched hongkongers. The Big Heat might even be my all time fave HK-film!
    "No presh from the Dresh!"

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