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Bound in Love (1980)
A seminal erotic film
This was a breakthrough video for a type of eroticism that hadn't been filmed before. While production values and cinematography are quite poor, its sense of style sticks in your mind.
The plot for this video is a bare minimum of one liners to get the actresses off screen for a costume change and onto the next scene.
What makes this film remarkable is its focus upon the actresses' clothes as erotic objects, which is exactly what its audience of fetishists demands. This really isn't an SM film. There's no flogging, whipping, beating or even vibrator use going on, just a display of strict erotic clothes and the delightful restriction that they place upon their wearer.
Between viewing the photos that came out of this session and this video, one must conclude that the director, Patrick Barnes, was a much better photographer than he was a cameraman.
The images from this film were the first images of fetish clothing for many Americans. They were used extensively by the Centurians catalog company in their marketing. "Silvia Bond"/"Sweet Chastity"'s strangely alluring face is quite memorable.
Humorous, irreverent, kicks major ass!
Produced on a shoestring budget at anonymous locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Contour is a powerhouse of amateur martial artists giving their all for the silver screen.
The writing is great because it doesn't take itself seriously. Our dysfunctional heroes are pitted against a cartoony plot centered around the laughable fictional country of Uruvia.
Cinematography. It's really easy to overlook how important this is to a film like this, but the camera-work is superb, framing the fights perfectly.
Editing. As in all martial arts film, sharp scene cuts with split second timing is crucial, and there's spades of it here.
Kick Ass Martial Arts. Oh yeah, these guys are good! There is a well staged stick fight and a brilliant chain fight at the end of the movie.
Kudos to the guys who almost killed themselves making this film.
Yau doh lung fu bong (2004)
A lot of memorable scenes will make you glad you saw this
Director/writer Johnnie To throws down lots of HK movie clichés: The Heist, The Young Challenger, The Fighting, The Master, The Rival, The Gangsters, The Gambling. But all of it's entertaining nonsense used to set up his usual innovative scenes and a little drama.
Give Director To credit for parodying these clichés to a fault.
This movie is challenging. This is not easy to digest chop sockey flash bang action.
So what is this movie about? A lot: Rediscovering relations from happier times, rediscovering oneself, and a director having fun and dropping references to Kurosawa's "Sugata Sanshiro" (1943).
Me wo tojite daite (1996)
A cheezily erotic, but surprisingly touching film
This is an award-winning B-film from Japan based on a manga of the same name.
The small cast of characters are well played, against stark, geometric backdrops in Tokyo. The only warm, organic shapes exist in the presence of Hanabusa, a directorial decision which makes the mood mesmerizingly abstract and stagey, setting the mood in each scene for the actors.
Each character's relationship with Hanabusa makes them realize that they need more than the ordinariness of their lives, but tragically, that they can't help the one that gave them their revelations.
The sex scenes are laughable, probably purposely so. Kumiko Takeda is a pleasure to the eye from any angle. The movie's facts about transexuals are more-or-less correct.
In the end, you've seen a romantic comedy with great cinematography.
Chung mo yim (2001)
Comedic trio of stars make this film a standout
The laughs swirl around strong performances by Anita Mui, Sammi Cheng, and Cecilia Cheung.
Anita Mui plays the Emperor Qi(yes, that's Emperor), a lecherous, weak, cowardly fool whose destiny is to marry the infallibly virtuous Chung Mu Yen, played by Sammi Cheng. Of course things aren't that easy because a mischievous, but innocent Fox Spirit (translated in the subtitles as Enchantress), played by Cecilia Cheung, has fallen in love with Mu Yen instead.
The Fox Spirit curses Mu Yen by placing a large mark on her face, hoping the shallow Emperor's rejection of her will drive Mu Yen to love him instead. When that doesn't work, he turns himself into a beautiful woman to seduce the all-too-willing Emperor and drive Mu Yen away.
There really isn't a good reason why Anita Mui, as opposed to a male lead, was cast as the male Emperor, but somehow it works. She also plays the Emperor's Great Great Great Great Great Ancestor, the royal family's incompetent guardian spirit.
Adding to the fun are the Emperor's four flustered advisors, who record his mishaps in grand prose (a la Robin's Minstrels from Monty Python and the Holy Grail), and this film's low budget production.
A few of the script's lightning fast puns eluded the subtitlers and will elude a non-Canto audience. but there's more than enough fun energy in this film to make it worth seeing.
Xiao ao jiang hu (1990)
Over-the-top martial arts done right but...
...the plot needs to be tightened up a bit.
The first in Tsui Hark's Swordsman trilogy of movies adapted from a book or series of books (I'm not sure which) suffers from a wandering plotlines that seem to go nowhere. Interesting characters appear briefly to show off, then suddenly drop out of the plotline. In other movie adaptations, this happens in an effort to stay true to the book, but I, being chinese illiterate, can't tell you whether that's true for this series.
Despite the scattered presentation, the thrust of the plot seems to have a strong overall direction, perhaps thanks to the novel(s). The bad guys are well established as both evil and deadly. A few stereotypes are thrown into the mix. Not many people in the American audience "got" the female voiceover for the eunuch. A theme of betrayal is used effectively.
The martial arts work is good! Characters magically fly through the air and attack each other with kinetic ferocity. They destroy various objects wit h invisible forces from their palms or flicks(!) with ease thanks to slick editing and some simple effects. The effects fly at you so fast that it all seems believable. Yet Swordsman I is only a preview of a more masterful use of this stable of effects in Swordsman II.
Main complaint is that Song. Anyone who sees the movie will know the Song I'm talking about! Maybe because of casting Sam Hui, a by-then-aging HK pop star, the Song, gets repeated as a musical number no less than 3 times, including once as a flashback! Perhaps that's why he was replaced in the role by Jet Li in the sequel.
I found the English subtitling to be of the usual poor accuracy.