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Iron Monkey 2 (1996)

Iron Monkey 2 (1996)

It seems they tried to take Iron Monkey into the modern age. With guns, with a UFO-like blade with attached camera, with blood and violence and an ending in flames... again. But now without the original Iron Monkey.

It doesn't work.

Donnie Yen might still be there, but he's not the same person he used to be. The charm's gone. The plot's messy. It feels like they bit off more than they could chew - maybe fetched some inspiration from Jackie Chan's Miracles - a movie that seemed akin to American Mafia culture of the thirties with the classy gangster setting, but they fell short.

There's religion too now. And music. All foreign items and influences that come across either half-assed or just not suitable the traditional setting. It's neither that nor what it used to be, and they even sped up fighting sequences more! The ferocious pace of martial art movie classics just feels misplaced in their new world.

This could've been a good spin-off at least - the fighting choreography really is good sometimes, but alas, overall it's a mess.

It feels rushed and inconsequential. Without the strength, the focus or the finality, of the former.

 rated 2.5/5: almost not bad

The Mismatched Couple (1985)

The Mismatched Couple (1985)

They don't make movies like this no more!!! Dance off scenes with Donnie Yen and Mandy Chan. A fight against a crazy top boxer (Dick Wei). A love story unfolding in his home, his sister and Mini... though wasn't that other girl his sister too? No?

It's such a feelgood movie, creative in a slice-of-life-like kind of way as only HK ones used to manage, with a refreshingly different theme with the dance scenes. May Mei-Mei Lo is in it, and Wan-Si Wong, and Woo-Ping Yuen, and Anna Kamiyama, and a bunch of other awesome people.

Donnie can dance. Donnie can fight. There's music. There's girls. There's misunderstanding. There's plight. There's hardship but it's alright! The Mismatched Couple cannot squish this hustle! Tonight.

Really had a blast with this one.

 rated 4.5/5: almost awesome

All's Well, Ends Well (2009)

All's Well, Ends Well (2009)

I got suckered into a love story again, but it's alright! It's a good one. Though if you're looking for Donnie Yen here you might be looking the wrong way. Just like with this one he's just a one second cameo at the end of it.

Well he was a bit more than that in the previous, but still. Wonder if they just add him in the cast lists for views or if it's something else, a running gag/buddy thing maybe...

Anyway this is a story of love, and of giving up on love.
It's the story of a younger brother and older sister where the sister doesn't want to get married and the brother puts every girl he goes out with in danger if he proposes to them before she proposes to someone.

So a lot of things happen, the classy love doctor Dick Cho gets involved and... well, it's a comedy.

It's a little messy sometimes, but fun. Good fun. Uplifting, hopeful and charming ditto. If you don't have anything special planned maybe this'd do.

All's well that ends well. It's true.

 rated 3.5/5: not bad at all

Love On The Rocks (2004)

Love On The Rocks (2004)

A little misleading title hmm? What about those rocks? There are no rocks.

It is about love though. Sort of. Ever tried Rooster testicles?

Being romantic is being unrealistic, not being serious. Being romantic is being adventurous; willing to take risks.

Two girls jump off a roof for our main character - a bank manager with insecurities and trouble with life, but more swag than you'd initially think.

There's an illegal candlelight dinner in a shop after closing too, and there's a quick Donnie Yen cameo towards the end.

I really thought this one would end differently though. Maybe a nineteen year old lady was a little too young? Unfortunately the ending didn't really vibe with me, but relations: complex stuff and all...

The best women and best men are indeed alike. Always taken.

Really feel sorry for the young girl though.

I realize this review is a little fragmented - as my impressions were, but it wasn't bad. It felt creative, both everyday and exotic, and a little lovely...

 rated 3.5/5: not bad at all

Crystal Hunt (1991)

Crystal Hunt (1991)

Two cops search for a mysterious crystal with healing powers to cure a sick old man. On the trail they come up against a team treasure hunter/smugglers with impressive combat skills and big guns.

This is the one with Michael Woods and the RC car! Confused this one with Holy Virgin VS Evil Dead. Both had a similar theme of mystery/adventure, though this one definitely had a more Indiana Jones-like vibe, and a better cast, but was unfortunately also a bit messy, simple, and unbalanced in progression/production, albeit with some really good locales and characters and moments along the way.

Superintendent Wu doesn't seem to have any power in her attacks. The Michael Woods fight was maybe one of his worse ones. I love the gang overall - the great gathering that they are, and it's an at times adventurous journey but... it feels messy too. So many people are sacrificed for naught, there are loose ends regarding what happened to the intended recipient of the crystal, there's lost potential with some of the characters, it had good things going but unfortunately didn't go all the way.

One thing I do really like though is that they added in the behind-the-scenes bit at the end. I seem to remember hearing that Jackie Chan pretty much started those, and maybe it was around this time that others were starting to follow along? As far as Donnie Yen movies go I think this is the first behind-the-scenes segment I see with him in it, and it makes me appreciate the bike stunt in particular a lot more. It was such a quick thing I didn't realize how impressive it actually was. Looks almost fake. It's not!

Makes you wonder about a lot of the stunts here. Maybe they could've done a better job highlighting the ones that mattered most. But the Donnie and John Salvitti fight by the woodworks: that was a solid one all the way.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Butterfly And Sword (1993)

Butterfly And Sword (1993)

Here's a tale of orphans and lovers. A sword and his 'butterfly' - his sister who doesn't want to be considered a woman, and another boy who has trouble conveying his love to her. Two of them are assassins, working to kill a rival to their lord as to become masters of the martial arts world.

The plot feels a little flimsy and fluttery, but from the moment Yeoh first appeared with the net of ribbons and a chariot carried above the trees, telling the unreciprocated love of her life that his 'mushroom' hadn't grown since he was a kid, I knew I was in for something special, and though it takes a stray step here and there it doesn't disappoint.

The introduction of the bra and underpants as this 'one new thing from the West that women are very interested in' was a fun and fascinating bit too.

The final showdown it all leads up to, followed by a recap of the flashiest or most violent bits of the movie accompanied by soft Chinese music, and the Donnie Yen scene when he was trying to have a drink with the girl as she kept downing glass after glass... it has it's moments! Little whirlwind and the prince and his magical ball don't disappoint either.

You'll remember scenes from this one for sure.

Feels like a potential predecessor to the Crouching Tiger movies that came later too. A bit more poetic. A bit more light-footed. A bit more mighty and violent compared to the martial art movie counterparts of the time (large projectiles sometimes leave gaping holes in people and so), though unfortunately it does have a few of the flaws movies of the time carried with them. Basically a lack of attention to all detail. Some shine; some don't.

There's one scene in particular where the thrown spears seem to lack weight and fail to feel dangerous at all. There are a few scenes where exploding items that are too cleanly divided/clearly split-up beforehand. Also a few moments where the action's a bit too sped-up.

Overall though they do manage. It's fluent and ferocious in a good kind of way, authentic or no, and I thoroughly enjoyed the show.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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