Blood and Despair: The Horror films of Billy Chung
Horror films have long been a staple of Hong Kong cinema, though many of the best efforts combine horror with kung fu, comedy, or both. Billy Chung, on the other hand, uses his films to plumb the depths of the human soul in the grisliest manner possible. Two words sum up his directorial output so far: Blood and despair.
» READ | Published May 12, 2004 in People


Spiral by Koji Suzuki
The sequel to Ring, the famous horror thriller that spawned a million movie versions, has been released in English Translation courtesy of Vertical, Inc.. Fans of the film, or of the earlier novel, would do well to seek it out. It is a sequel that is not only successful in its own right, but it also improves the first novel in retrospect.
» READ | Published May 01, 2004 in Books


Hong Kong Convention Center
To watch Hong Kong cinema is to see the city itself, projecting its aspirations, and failures, onto the screen. When a new building goes up, filmmakers come up with ways to utilize it in their story, when one gets torn down, they do the same. In the first of a series, Peter Nepstad explores a city landmark and its representation in Hong Kong cinema.
» READ | Published April 24, 2004 in Places




Johnny Cash sings, on his last album, "I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel; I focus on the pain, the only thing that's real." I can now relate, having subjected myself to HURT. An anthology film based on getting hurt in relationships, HURT is a low budget shot on video snore fest, starring Sophie Ngan and given a Category III rating.

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Source of Love, The Not Recommended
Directed by Stephen Shin
2003 | Hong Kong


Shoddy Christian evangelism at its most desperate. A young man who stutters and is looked down on by his father redeems his family and teaches them the love of Jesus Christ. Others in his family yell hilarious comments like, "Quit worshipping that foreign God," or "sometimes I think you love Jesus more than your own father!," setting us up for the powerful conversion, when the foolish, incense burning elders learn the error of their ways. Conversion in this movie is mainly a matter of clever manipulation of words, observation of which, far from converting me, prompted me to do some testing of my own.

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Golden Chicken Highly Recommended
Directed by Samson Chiu
2002 | Hong Kong


Sandra Ng is a not particularly good-looking prostitute who makes a living by working twice as hard as anyone else. Trapped in an ATM booth overnight with a would-be thief (Eric Tsang), she tells the story of her life in the sex trade in Hong Kong for the past few decades. Her career follows the economic and social ups and downs of the city itself, but she perseveres. When times are good, she works hard. When times are tough, she works even harder. She never gives up and never loses hope. A message everyone in Hong Kong these days could take to heart. Forget the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold stereotype, here is a hooker who develops marketing strategies and tries to make a comfortable living by providing a service. Sandra Ng delivers a career-topping performance, unashamed, unrestrained, and so enthusiastic she seems capable of bursting from the screen.

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Frugal Game Not Recommended
Directed by Chiu Shun Ki
2002 | Hong Kong


Two unemployed families, one consisting of Eric Tsang, Miriam Yeung, and Dodo Cheng, the other led by Wayne Lai, compete in a television game show, 'Frugal Game,' to spend the least amount of money possible in one week's time. Eason Chan is the unhappy director, who would rather be making period dramas starring Ti Lung. Certainly the theme of unemployment and thriftiness is timely for Hong Kong's recession bearing citizens, but the movie never takes off, and the fictional game show is more mild mannered and less shocking than, say, any given episode of FEAR FACTOR. Chan and Yeung fall for each other, but it comes off strained and the reunion is not as successful as their romance in last year's FEEL 100% II. When will Miriam Yeung's fifteen minutes of fame elapse? Not soon enough for this poor reviewer.

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Freaky Story Not Recommended
Directed by Chow Jan Wing
2002 | Hong Kong


Three airline hostesses have a several day layover in the Philippines. They stay at a nice hotel, and are eager to hit the town to pick up some guys. But the only ones they manage to attract is a guy who keeps rubbing himself and drooling, a guy who is suspected to have murdered someone in their hotel (Kenny Bee), and a gorgeous woman who just might be a lesbian. They all fall for the suspected murderer for some reason, but then one of the girls sees a ghost, and soon another murder occurs. Pretty freaky, huh? Shot on video. Not completely terrible, though probably best remembered for its overall quite anti-lesbian tone. "I just want you to be normal," says Kenny to one, in a flashback. If you naturally assume all lesbians are abnormal borderline psychotics, here's a movie just for you.

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Links

Hong Kong, Japanese, and Korean DVDs available at YesAsia.com