Pairs well with Mad Fate – another potentially insane lead character, this time Lau Ching-wan, playing another Mad Detective. He’s now an ex-detective, living on the street but still solving crimes, pissed at the employed cop (Raymond Lam of P Storm) botching the cases, drawing interest from pregnant cop Charlene Choi (The Goldfinger). Things get convoluted as a young group called The Sleuths – Lau’s daughter and the children of crime victims and the wrongly-accused – uses Lau’s research for a revenge campaign, killing off criminals. Some traitor sleuth cops are pulling the strings, getting cops and sleuths killed. After a covid-delayed open, this got nominated for every HK award, so hopefully we’ll get a sequel.

Prequel about the formation of the supercool badass who is MARK. Chow Yun-fat is an ordinary civilian until he meets Anita Mui in Saigon and she teaches him to shoot – but why’d they name her Kit when that’s Leslie Cheung’s character name in part one?

Mark tries to do straight business deals in a corrupt, turbulent country with his cousin Mun (Tony 2), keeps getting rescued by Anita. The plan is to close Mark’s uncle’s shop and move him to Hong Kong, but customs fucks up their shit so bad that the uncle (Sek Kin of Enter the Dragon) has a heart attack. Anita saves them yet again and they make it to HK halfway through the movie, but Mark and Mun both love the girl, so they return to Vietnam at the same time her long-lost mentor/bf Ho appears. A circle of vendettas ensues, everyone killing everyone else. You can sing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” to the theme song. The fun music montages are the bad-80s aspect of an otherwise cool movie, Tsui taking over the series while John Woo renamed his own Vietnam-set pseudo-prequel Bullet in the Head.

A bloodier, sleazier and more despairing predecessor to Made in Hong Kong, positing that the world is a violent shithole. I’d be completely in favor of this sleazy punk nightmare if someone would please censor the animal torture scenes for me… they’re sticking pins into mice right in the first scene… not sure if throwing the cat out the window Grand Budapest-style was faked. First movie watched in 2024, bad omens for the year to come.

Three boys are experimenting with antisocial behavior by setting off a homemade bomb in a movie theater. They’re followed by witness Wan-chu, malcontent younger sister of a detective (Five Fingers of Death star Lo Lieh), who blackmails them into committing ever-greater crimes. And she is not fucking around, starts by hijacking a bus full of passengers. She steals a lot of money orders from a foreigner, setting off a whole secondary gangster plot (the guy’s exposition buddy tells us they’re “in a deadly business”). Inevitably, Detective Brother gets involved in the gangster case until disciplined by his boss, the most dubbed white guy of all time. The girl dies in the same way as her cat, while all the boys get shot in a climactic cop-gangster shootout, only one surviving, wounded and poisoned and insane.

Mouseover to waste this foreigner:

Catching up… I shouldn’t have watched this within a couple weeks of Detective vs. Sleuths. Johnnie To may be retired but his particular way of lighting street scenes lives on – writer, editor, and DP are all from Drug War, Blind Detective, and Romancing in Thin Air.

Bo from Sparrow is a twitchy guy trying to help people change their fates. His latest client leaves and is immediately murdered, witnessed by a pervert delivery boy whose hobby is killing CG cats, always pursued by a mustache cop. According to fate, Bo will go insane and the delivery guy will do a murder, so they team up to change the future. Then a bad-luck prostitute moves into the apartment building, looking like an excellent victim to both the delivery boy and the real killer whose bag of knives keeps changing hands. My second HK movie lately with scenes in a morgue, as Bo tries some spirit-transfer business, but tragically he ends up becoming an MPD psycho and getting locked up, as the cop retires young and the delivery boy learns to be kind to CG animals.

Hey, about a month ago we hit our 4000th post, big congrats to us! That drum roll means we’ve got a winner. If you’re the fifth reader, or any reader at all, welcome to my top ten. I’d like to thank our sponsor, but we haven’t got a sponsor. Not if you were the last blog on earth.

Sammo Hung and his girl flee from her wicked brother into a spooky coffin house, where they’re menaced by a hopping vampire who just wants to smoke opium with them. You hire Ricky Lau after he’s made four consecutive Mr. Vampire movies, you get hopping vampires. This turns out to be Sammo’s dream, and in waking life the brother is friendly Little Hoi (Aspirin thief of Yes, Madam!). But all is not fine and dandy, since the girl’s rednosed dad is angry after Sammo fights an impertinent teahouse customer who uses mad monkey kung fu via his magician buddy. Sammo needs cash to make things right in order to marry Mimi Kung (Chow Yun-Fat’s wife in Office) but ends up getting tangled in ghost drama.

Master, Sammo, Little Hoi:

Not a continuation of the first Encounter from a decade earlier, but why did I write that it was my first Sammo Hung movie when I’d written about at least two others previously? Ghost Hung (Wong Man-Gwan of Prison on Fire) tries to help steal vases from Teahouse Sze (Andrew Lam of Sammo’s problematic Pantyhose Hero), but Sammo’s master Lam Ching-Ying (also the Mr. Vampire master) doesn’t like him hanging around ghosts and attacks her with his yin-yang yo-yo pokeball. This should all be leading up to a master magicians duel like in the first movie, but when it arrives they’re not even in the same space, a psychic battle across town, which is less immediately satisfying than the first movie’s courtyard tower firefight. Sammo spends some time with his soul in a pig. There’s a really unconvincing swordfight against menacing dogs. Kung-fu with explosive gas-filled mummies is more like it. Movie ends on a dick-sucking joke, perfect.

Sze, Evil Master, monkey:

Bad move to watch an awesome HK movie near the start of Shocktober, because now I’m off-mission listing HK movies I need to see, considering a TsuiHarkTober rebrand. Leslie Cheung, incompetent in his job as a tax collector, is told he can sleep for free in the spooky old temple infested by stop-motion skeletal zombies. Meanwhile White Snake herself, Joey Wong, is a hot ghost girl doomed by a giant tree called Old Evil to lure men into becoming new stop-motion skeletal zombies.

Joey with her evil stepmom:

“The bearded guy killed your sister. Let’s report him.” Wu Ma is in every kung fu movie but gets a rare big role here as the bearded guy. After Leslie meets the hot girl (Hsiao-tsing, aka Siu Sin, which sounds just like “Susan”) he gets the bearded guy invested in rescuing her soul and defeating the spirit so she can be reincarnated. They spend a long time fighting a gigantic tongue in the woods… cool movie.

Royals Maggie Cheung and Kenny Bee (Shanghai Blues) are in trouble, pursued through the bamboo forest by enemies sent by throne-stealer The 14th Prince, until whale(!) warrior Andy Lau helps them out. They visit the Lord of Lanling for advice and pick up his daughter Anita “Moony” Mui. But the wicked prince (Kelvin Wong of Supercop the same year) has a spy in Maggie Cheung, who attacks our heroes in a black disguise. Things settle down, Andy goes home and the 13th Prince is set to marry Moony, when baddies attack Andy’s village and murder babies, and Maggie double-crosses 14th and he kills her in front of the others. This is all too much violence to stand, so Andy’s orca Sea-Wayne whups 14th’s fuckin’ face, then the tomb of the ancestors smooshes his head in. Almost everyone dies, but Andy and his whale are okay, so there really should’ve been a sequel.

Imprisoned bad guy Mak Kwan (Francis Ng of The Mission) gets sprung by his gang, so the Mad Detective (Lau Ching-wan) follows the baddie’s girl (Amanda Lee of Human Pork Chop), correctly thinking they’ll connect, while the escapee plots a big heist of a racetrack vault.

The gang watching their bomb trap go boom:

Pretty good cops-n-robbers movie, in which almost everybody involved gets killed horribly. People love Ringo Lam, but I dunno. Sean Gilman’s letterboxd at least gives you something to think about, calling this movie The End of Hong Kong:

Sure the genre, and Hong Kong, goes on. But everything that follows, your Johnnie Tos and Andrew Laus and so on, is different. Less immediate, less solid. A level removed from what was. Films about films or ideas or ideas of films.

Mak Kwan’s great success, with a few minutes to live:

Romancing in Thin Air / Blind Detective star Sammi Cheng was married to a rich guy for only a week when he died suddenly. Now she’s living in his giant house, to the chagrin of his surviving family and his loyal ex. Sammi can also see ghosts, specifically Mad Detective Ken, who keeps hanging around. Sammi’s sister-in-law (Tina the Throw Down girl) tries hooking her up with Lok from Election, and Sammi’s dad Lam Suet tries buying the ghost a wife to make him go away. A bit of zaniness, also the most emotional movie I’ve seen this year.