The good stuff
The Last Hero in China
Last Hero in China needs a while to get going, but it's '93 and Jet Li is allowed to shine as a martial arts hero once again. Sure enough, Jing Wong is helming the film, but by then the Hong Kong machine was so oiled they could pretty much turn out these features without a director present.
The camera work is nice and it really complements the action choreography. The mix of dance and martial arts in particular is really impressive, then again I've always had a soft spot for these semi martial arts scenes. The lion fights are ace, but it's the chicken/centipede fight that made the biggest impression.
The story is of secondary importance and you have to to be able to appreciate the Hong Kong comedy, personally I think they only added to the charm. Not the biggest masterpiece ever directed, but it's super entertaining and the sprawling finale tipped it over into personal favorite territory. Good stuff.
Chasing the Dragon II: Wild Wild Bunch
A very solid sequel that shuffles things around (with an entirely new cast for one), but offers the same thrills as the first film. In other words, expect undercover police work and tight action scenes. Koo, Yam and Leung are on a roll here, the film looks slick and the pacing is perfect. Not a future classic, but extremely entertaining.
The Golden Monk
A modern take on oldskool Wong and Chung cinema. It's the kind of film you have to be in the right mood for, but if you feel like something big, loud and simplistic, then these guys have you covered. Because no matter how shabby it gets, they make sure entertainment comes first.
Technically it isn't all that and you shouldn't expect anything refined, but that doesn't stop Wong and Chung from diving head-first into a story that mixes martial arts, fantasy and Chinese folklore. The setup and story have been done to death already, but it's little more than an excuse for 90 minutes of fun.
The pop references are nonsensical but hilarious, the pacing is tight and every scene tries to be bigger and crazier than the one before. It's a hell of a ride and the kind of film I can definitely appreciate from time to time, but some familiarity with the work of both directors is welcomed, otherwise you might be in for a rather unpleasant surprise.
Chasing the Dragon
The story goes that Jing Wong went to Canada to convince Donnie Yen personally (and got what he wanted). Wong will never be the greatest director alive, but it's little anecdotes like these that show he has a heart for cinema. Together with Jason Kwan, Wong delivers a pretty fine crime flick.
This retro drug setup was made with a healthy budget and it shows. The cinematography is slick, the action scenes look pretty good and there's no lack of talent in front of the camera either. With actors like Andy Lau (he simply doesn't age) and Donnie Yen fronting this film, you can rest assured that there's no lack of charm.
It's also nice to see Kowloon again, even if it's just a CG version of the infamous "city". It's such an amazing place that wasn't used nearly enough in its time. The only thing this film lacks is real highlights, apart from that it's an entertaining and slick production that does justice to its genre roots.
From Vegas to Macau III
Crazy Jing Wong. The third entry in the series, though I doubt watching the earlier films makes any difference. It's all pretty weird, over-the-top and outlandish, then again that's exactly what makes these film so much fun. People who love the zanier side of Hong Kong comedy are sure to get something out of this one.
There are robots, 2 Gods of Gamblers, the weirdest Andy Lau ever, an Andy Lau robot and much, much more. And it all flashes by at breakneck speed. Don't feel bad if you have a hard time following anything of what's going on, that's pretty much by design. At least the good bits are hilarious and memorable.
Andy Lau, Chow Yun-Fat and Nick Cheung seem to be having the time of their lives, there's also a cool cameo of PSY for those who still remember him. Recommended if you appreciate the God of Gamblers niche, it makes no sense at all but I had a lovely time. One of Jing Wong's best films to date.
From Vegas to Macau
From Vegas to Macau feels like a recap of Jing Wong's career, a best-of that harks back to his gambling cinema roots and stuffs in everything Jing Wong has ever done since then, only better. While fun and entertaining, it will inevitably be more enjoyable if you're familiar with the work of Jing Wong and what he stands for in Hong Kong cinema.
Chow Yun-Fat is clearly enjoying his return to the God of Gamblers universe, though he's hardly the only star of the film. Wong also finds some room to launch fresh talent and a handful of nifty cameos. But it's Wong's sense of humor, the crazy pacing and zany comedy that are the real stars of the film.
If you don't like Wong and his antics, it's best to just stay clear of From Vegas to Macau. There's nothing original here, nothing you haven't seen before. But I'm sure you haven't seen so much of it in 90 minutes time. I stopped expecting anything new from Wong a while ago, but if he keeps recycling his own career like this, I'm all for it.
Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters
Saturation is a word that doesn't appear in Jing Wong's dictionary. The man simply doesn't seem able to stop making films. Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters is his latest feature, although I suspect Wong acted more as a mentor for Venus Keung Kwok-Man, who received co-direction credits. It wouldn't be the first time Wong launched someone's career like this.
The film is a throwback to the kung fu comedies of the early 90s. It's a mix of martial arts and outrageous comedy bits (not quite unlike Stephen Chow's Kung Fu), sporting typical Hong Kong (over)acting, simple but functional CG and some genuinely original gags. Add to that the more than competent action sequences (though they can't really compete with the best the martial arts genre has to offer) and you have a fun-filled yet rather basic film.
As always, Wong gathered a legion of familiar faces to fill out his cast. There are the older work horses, including Sammo Hung, Sandra Ng, Eric Tsang and Yuen Wah. Then there are some younger talents, like Jiang Lu-Xia, Dennis To and Philip Ng. On top of that, Wong is also apt at introducing new talent, as is the case with Kimmy Tong Fei, clearly one of Wong's rising stars.
Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters is entertainment in its purest form. It's a welcome update of the old classics, missing that little extra to turn it into a real gem (for that I'd recommend Tracing Shadows) but making up with sheer vigour, enthusiasm and pacing. Unless you're allergic to Hong Kong comedy or martial arts, it's a warm recommendation that's certain to put a smile on your face.
Mr. & Mrs. Gambler
Jing Wong returns to what he knows best: gambling and parodies. If you've seen a couple of Wong films before, there won't be too many surprises here, he basically reiterates the same things he's been doing for ages. Fiona Sit and Chapman To do their best to keep things interesting though, and they succeed.
Halfway through Wong decides to lighten the mood as he goes after Kar-Wai, but not without having a few stabs at his own work too. I'm quite partial to this type of playful banter, it shows a director who knows what he's doing, but also isn't too shabby to have a little fun at his own expense.
The final half hour is a bit cheesier, but it never gets too overbearing and the breezy tone remains intact. The soundtrack is pretty generic, but at least the cinematography is slick and colorful. This is pretty simple and light entertainment, but the execution is on point and it's perfect filler in between more serious films.
The Last Tycoon
Not a very typical Jing Wong film. It's not as hasty and rushed as most of his other work, Wong really takes his time to tell this rather epic crime story. It still shows that he's an entertainer first and foremost, as he struggles a little with the tone and weight of such a film, but overall the result is quite pleasing.
The Last Tycoon benefits from a great cast, with Chow Yun-Fat getting better with the years, also notable parts for Francis Ng (as the delightfully evil bad guy) and Sammo Hung. Visually there are a handful of standout scenes, namely the bombing of Shanghai and the 360 spin in the opera manage to leave quite an impression.
It can't quite compete with the best films in the genre, but Wong shows that he can handle himself when he gets a budget and good cast to work with. Throughout the years my respect for Jing Wong has grown. Even though he's made few masterpieces, he has a heart for cinema and it shows in almost all of his films.
I Corrupt All Cops
A pretty standard but adequate crime flick that breathed new life in Jing Wong's career. After slowing down his output as a director in the years before, 2009 saw him ramping up the pace again. And what better genre to return to than the Hong Kong crime flick, a type of movie that pretty much directs itself.
Jing Wong didn't make it very hard on himself either. With guys alike Anthony Wong and Tony Leung Ka Fai in front of the camera, quality performances are pretty much guaranteed. Jing Wong also make an appearance, but it's Eason Chan who left the biggest impression, his part was quite memorable indeed.
I Corrupt All Cops isn't standout genre material, but the solid mix of crime with a little comedy and the gracious references to better genre directors make for an entertaining film. Wong can handle all kinds of budgets and has no problem keeping A-listers in check, it rarely leads to great cinema, but more often than not it's very solid filler.
On His Majesty's Secret Service
A film that harks back to the early 90s comedies, highly reminiscent of the Stephen Chow films of that time (Royal Tramp comes to mind). Expect cross-gender dress-ups, a couple of goofy action scenes, chaos at the imperial court and an inventor with some weird machines (a direct James Bond reference).
The comedy is pretty lowbrow, but the brisk pacing and cheesy performances make sure you can't take it as anything but unadulterated fun. There's some cheap but functional CG to add to the fun, which Wong counters with some surprisingly decent shots. If you blink you probably miss them, but at least it shows effort on Wong's side.
Tracing Shadow already foreshadowed the return to the oldskool Hong Kong comedy, Jing Wong goes all the way. It can't quite compete with the best 90s comedies and like most of Jing Wong's films, it feels just a little too unfinished to be truly great, but it's a lot of fun and it flashes by in a heartbeat.
To Live and Die in Mongkok
After a short hiatus, Jing Wong returns to the big screen with partner in crime Siu-Hung Chung to deliver a pretty unique crime flick, at least for something directed by Wong. A schizophrenic Triad killer returns to his old neighborhood after 30 years in prison. Meanwhile, his old gang friends are eagerly awaiting his return, hoping he can restore their former glory.
Nick Cheung does a pretty good job in the lead, Wong himself also makes an appearance, though acting really isn't his strong suit. Luckily Wong and Cheung make sure that the film has plenty of stylistic flair. Lots of filters and a very mobile camera make this a pretty visceral experience.
It wouldn't be a Wong film without several film references. Johnny To gets a tip of the hat and shlock fans are sure to recognize the Story of Ricky poster, but the funniest reference is one for Wong's own On His Majesty's Secret Service, released that very same year. Not the best crime film you'll ever see, but it's slick, modern and it comes with a nice twist. Solid entertainment.
My Kung Fu Sweetheart
A zany martial arts comedy from prolific director Jing Wong. It doesn't really feel like a typical Jing Wong production, on the other hand you can recognize a lot of influences from his previous films. This feels like a cocktail of everything he's done in the past 25 years, it's no surprise then that the result is a little uneven.
It's like watching a different film every ten minutes. One moment you're looking at daft comedy that seems like it's aimed at kids under 12, the next scene Wong doesn't shy away from a pretty gruesome liquidation. Add some martial arts, a guy in a hawk suit, a bit of melodrama and you're still not halfway there.
But it's all just good fun and Wong is clearly having the time of his life. Some scenes are absolute terrible, others are a real delight. It goes back and forth like that the entire runtime, which is sure to get on some people's nerves, but I appreciate this type of excruciating Hong Kong comedy. Not great, something very doubty, but a lot of fun.
Colour of the Loyalty
A more serious crime drama from Wong. Not too surprising, Wong was always quite up to date on what was going to be the next hype, and with Johnnie To's crime cinema on the rise, he had to get in on the action. The result is slick, modern and entertaining, though like all of his films, it misses the touch of a true auteur.
At least he made some solid casting choices to elevate this film. Eric Tsang found his calling as Triad boss, Shawn Yue is a personal favorite and brings the madness as an up and coming gangster. There's a bunch of familiar faces in secondary parts (Lam Suet for one), but Tsang and Yue can carry the film just fine.
The story isn't all that original, but the presentation feels modern and polished, Wong keeps it pretty straight-faced and leaves the comedy out of it for a change and makes sure the pacing/runtime is perfect. Not a stand-out Hong Kong crime flick, but more than solid filler that shows Wong is more than just a one-trick pony.
The early 00s saw the Hong Kong film industry moving in an upward spiral, directors like Jing Wong made good use of that boost to give their own films a little extra flair. Moving Targets is a film that settled itself into the slipstream of the Internal Affairs films and reaped the benefits of it.
Wong attracted a few veteran actors (Simon Yam, Lam Suet) and some younger talents (Nicholas Tse, Edison Chen) to steer things in the right direction. The plot isn't very noteworthy and no doubt you've seen this all before, but the film has the necessary visual prowess, which makes for an easy watch.
The pacing is solid, the runtime nice 'n short and there was enough intrigue to keep me interested. The production is a little too slick and Wong lacks the finesse to compete with the big boys in the genre, but films like these are perfect filler for when you've seen all the bigger names in the genre.
Colour of the Truth
Jing Wong teams up with Marco Mak, hires every famous actor he could find (Anthony Wong, Jordan Chan, Francis Ng, Gillian Chung, Ching Wan Lau, they're all present) and throws them into a comfortable genre formula that is known to work well and can be produced without too much hassle.
Colour of the Truth is easy genre cinema, but backed by a movie making machine that is known for its incremental refinement and can deliver quality on routine alone. There's a plot about revenge and deceit that leads to some inevitable stand-offs, but if you've seen a couple of these films you should already be aware of that.
It's hard to find obvious flaws, the only negative here is that nothing really jumps out. It's a fine production, but safe and expected. Solid pacing, a good cast, some visual flair and enough genre pandering to please both action and crime fans. I had a lot of fun with this one, but it's for genre fans only.
A True Mob Story
A more serious attempt from Jing Wong, who drops the comedy and goes for a full-on crime drama. I guess it's fun to see this one back to back with The Conman, made in the same year, with the same lead actor and roughly threading the same paths, only very different in execution.
The plot is pretty basic but decent enough for this kind of film. It does take a few surprising turns near the end, especially for those expecting a run-of-the-mill genre film, but that at least keeps things a bit more interesting. Not that Wong is reinventing the crime genre here, but the film packs a couple of nice surprises.
Andy Lau is headlining the film, he can play parts like these with his eyes closed of course. Wong picks his moments to show off the cinematography and soundtrack, sadly it isn't that consistent and it can also turn quite cheesy. All in all a decent Jing Wong film where he showcases a slightly different side of himself.
Jing Wong sure loves gambling. Not so much with his films, as he once again plays it pretty safe, but gambling is a topic that features so often in his film that he almost single-handedly created his own niche. It's a genre mix that's probably best experienced as it's a really odd blend of comedy, crime and fantasy gambling, but it sure makes for some decent entertainment.
The first (and longest) part of the film is a pretty straight-forward and somewhat surprisingly serious crime film. Not that it's particularly dark or anything, but Wong's usual farcical elements are mostly absent and Andy Lau is allowed to put his flair to good use. Some rather stylish scenes and proper pacing make for a fine first 80 minutes.
Then Wong himself makes an appearance and it's full-on slapstick after that. It's a pretty sudden turn in tone, it also comes quite unexpected and Wong's comedy isn't for everyone, personally I didn't really mind. Then again, I quite like Wong's goofy side. Definitely not a masterpiece, no Wong films really are, but at least it's good and proper fun from start to finish.
The Saint of Gamblers
Another entry in Wong's peculiar gambling genre. An all-out comedy in true Jing Wong fashion, so you can expect lots of parodies, a handful of timely references, plenty of random jokes and some fancy wire action, as no Hong Kong comedy is allowed to exist without a bit of martial arts action.
The story of course revolves around the Saint of Gambler (a parody on Wong's own God of Gambler character). A tournament is launched to find a suitable candidate for the part, but when the players begin to murder each other it becomes quite uncertain if anyone is actually going to make it to the end.
With Man Tat Ng you can expect solid comedy, a young Donnie Yen is there to spruce up the action scenes. But in the end this is just another 200% Jing Wong film, where all that matters is whether you can stand his particular brand of comedy. A pretty wild and funny film, but not for everyone.
Legend of the Red Dragon
Wong teams up with legendary action director Corey Yuen and martial arts legend Jet Li. Some people may look down on Wong, but he never had any problems working with the greats of Hong Kong cinema. Legend of the Red Dragon is a trademark early 90s Hong Kong martial arts spectacle, a golden era for Hong Kong action cinema.
The Hong Kong movie industry was such a well-oiled machine back then that they could pump out films like this almost with their eyes closed. Very typical cinematography, razor sharp editing, impressive fight (and other) choreographies and a little comedy in between to take the edge off.
The center part drags a little and the film can't quite compete with the very best in the genre (films like Fong Sai-Yuk and Iron Monkey), but it's an all-out martial arts roller coaster that offers plenty entertainment and should appeal to everyone with a soft spot for Hong Kong martial arts cinema.
Hail the Judge
Kung Fu Master
Crazy martial arts fantasy. Even though 100 minutes isn't particularly short for this type of film, it feels like they only had time for about one third of the plot and just crammed in the rest without worrying too much about whether it would make sense or not. The film is a continuous roller coaster that blazes through fantasy-driven fights and complex intrigues.
Six clans and a handful of outsiders battle it out against each other. It's not easy to keep track of the alliances being formed, all the fights, their conclusions and the constantly shifting intrigue, but ultimately it didn't matter to me. The action is amazing, the spectacle is grand and the pacing is so crazy that I could only sit back and be impressed.
The only awkward thing is that the film ends mid-battle. Apparently the sequel was binned after this film performed badly at the box office, so you're left with an unfinished story. Not a film I'd recommend to martial arts novices, but if you love the high-speed, high-octane Hong Kong martial arts cinema, this is one of the craziest you'll find.
'93 was a magical year for Hong Kong action cinema. Holy Weapon is just one of the many, many great action films that were produced back then. This one is helmed by Jing Wong and features some female action talent, with Michelle Yeoh and Maggie Cheung taking up the lead roles.
There isn't much hand-to-hand combat though, it's more a mix of fantasy and martial arts (i.e. lots of people flying around on wires, flaunting their wild magical powers while blowing up all kinds of things with proper flair). It's a film that clearly found its inspiration in the Chinese Ghost Story series.
The story is pretty nonsensical, but the pacing is solid, the action is impressive and the comedy in between keeps the tone light and breezy. Add some arts & craft monsters and you have a perfect blend of entertainment that doesn't fully wow, but has more than enough on offer for a fun and amusing 90 minutes of film.
Legend of the Liquid Sword
A Jing Wong martial arts spectacle from the magical year '93. Don't get fooled by the posters though, Gordon Liu is hardly in it as his character explodes the first scene he's in. But that hardly matters, after a somewhat sluggish first half the film shifts into overdrive and becomes one the best 90s martial arts films I've seen so far.
It's a vintage Jing Wong film, that means you don't just get martial arts action, there's also goofy comedy and weird parodies. A sudden Jesus appearance is no doubt marked as one of Wong's all-time wackiest ideas ever, it's these moments that make a film like this so much fun to watch.
The cinematography is great, the action is spectacular and the choreographies are inventive. It's a shame it takes a while to get going, while the first half does have a handful scenes that are impressive, the pacing is simply a bit too unbalanced. Just stick with it though and you'll find 30 minutes of the wackiest, most energetic martial arts you've ever seen.
Royal Tramp II
Royal Tramp II is one of those films that looks like light entertainment, but is in fact way more demanding than you'd give it credit for. Not that this is a very cerebral or deeply emotional film, but you better keep your wits about you because there's a lot to digest in a rather short amount of time.
Jing Wong and Stephen Chow equals high-paced comedy. The plot is pretty complex, with lots of intrigue, revenge, scams, theft and shifting balances. Jokes are pretty random, there's a ton of dialogue to go through and the performances are extremely energetic. Everything is turned up to 11 from start to finish.
The comedy is an acquired taste and it's a bit hit-and-miss, but Chow has great presence and if you're familiar with Hong Kong comedy this is definitely one of the better ones. The cinematography is pretty cool too. Characteristic, but it gives the film that extra bit of flair. Don't watch this if you want a quiet evening, but if you're in the mood for some madcap Hong Kong humor, it's a solid choice.
A solid entry in Jing Wong's oeuvre. While there's still room for his signature comedy, Casino Tycoon keeps a stronger focus on the plot and crime elements, with Andy Lau playing the titular character on his way up to rule the casino business. And all that a good three years before Scorsese's casino epic.
Lau is a perfect fit for this type of character. He has the necessary flair and carries the film with ease. The pacing is remarkably subdued, with Wong taking his time to set up the story, not skipping or rushing through any of key moments. He really commits to Lau's character and his rise to the top.
That said, the plot and characters are still pretty generic, Wong can't really escape his genre roots. Luckily the cinematography is pretty decent, in combination with a couple of solid action scenes and strong performances it leaves a solid overall impression. An interesting and well-made casino epic.
I remember this being one of the first Hong Kong comedies I've seen. It took a little time adjusting to get used to their style of comedy, but with Jing Wong & Siu-Tung Ching in the director chair and Stephen Chow & Man Tat Ng in front of the camera, there's really no better way to get introduced into the genre.
Shot (almost) back to back with the second part (quite typical for Hong Kong films back then, why shoot one film is you could as well shoot the sequel in tag), it's a film that delivers what you'd expect from it. Some fun martial arts, crazy plot lines, exuberant performances and an overall level of goofiness that makes these films very pleasant to watch.
With 108 minutes on the clock it's a bit long, especially because these films are pretty hyperactive (and thus demanding), but with all the talent on board and with a well-oiled machine backing up the technical elements, that's hardly an issue. It can't match Chow's self-directed films, but if you're looking for madcap Hong Kong comedies, this is perfect filler.
Challenge of the Gamesters
Jing Wong's first feature film. An important milestone in the history of the Hong Kong movie industry, for the next 40 years Wong would be virtually everywhere. He didn't miss his entrance either, Challenge of the Gamesters is an action/gambling spectacle, a niche that would end up being Wong's biggest gift to the industry.
Besides the typical Wong elements, it's also a very typical Shaw Bros film. The characters, styling and sets all breathe that Shaw Bros atmosphere, there's even a hefty dose of martial arts to liven up the film. The biggest difference is the focus on the gambling scenes, which sets it apart from the other Shaw Bros films.
The story is nice enough, the build-up is deliberate and the pacing is perfect. The cinematography is also on point and the fight choreography is pretty creative. It's an easy watch, with just the right amount of intrigue and action to keep my engaged, a very nice start of Jing Wong's career.
Jing Wong simply can't stop making films. Even though it feels like he ran out of fresh material ages ago, he keeps on polishing and remixing his older concepts to supply the contemporary blockbuster market with new cash cows. The most surprising thing is that these films are actually quite fun, if very light and forgettable.
Andy Lau finds a younger version of himself in Xiaoming Huang, together they team up to take on some average bad guys out to steal an important scientific discovery. It's basically a Bond film, filtered through the brain of Jing Wong, which means it comes with a serious dash of daft yet fun comedy.
The film looks slick, the light tone works in its favor and Lau is perfect for his part. If you can ignore the flaky CG, the meager plot and Wong plundering his own catalog, then Mission Milano offers solid entertainment and time will fly by. Cherry on the cake is the reunion of Lau and Sammi Cheng at the end, a nice nod for the true Hong Kong fan.
From Vegas to Macau II
Since the first film did pretty well, it's no surprise Jing Wong went on to make a sequel (eventually turning this into a bona fide trilogy). Wong simply rehashes the first film and drums up Fat once again to take on the part of enigmatic gambler. While Fat is quite charming, I think he fits the films of Wen Jiang better, this material is simply a bit too crazy for him.
The film is also way too slick for what it is: a shamelessly pulpy comedy. That's one of the advantages of being Jing Wong, you have the clout and the money to make a silly film with a bunch of A-listers and nobody is able to stop you. While that doesn't make for great cinema necessarily, it's surely unique and it should be treasured.
There are a couple of hilarious moments (like the Mahjong game) and some worthwhile cameos. The action scenes are decent and the cast does a solid job, but this second part doesn't add much to the first film and because of that it feels like it could've been a bit shorter. Even so, there's plenty of fun to be had here.
A throwback to the Hong Kong films of the 90s. Take a desert inn, throw in a bunch of martial arts legends, have them chase each other and you probably have a pretty good idea what to expect from this one. A film that references films like New Dragon Gate Inn and the original Dragon Inn by King Hu, only through the eyes of Jing Wong.
That means that the comedy takes a more prominent position here, though there's still enough martial arts action to keep the action fans content. The choreographies are nice, there are some cool fight scenes and the comedy is daft but fun. Everything is in place for some pleasant escapism.
The effects are mediocre and actors like Nick Cheung and Charlene Choi struggle to keep things afloat. Treasure Inn is never a true competitor to its role models, but it's very light and entertaining and it's finished before you know it. Very solid Jing Wong filler, not great, but a lot of fun.
I'm not quite sure what Wong was gunning for here, but there's a bit of Terminator and Iron Man in Future X-Cops. Wring it through a Hong Kong filter, mix it with Wong's trademark sloppy comedy and you get a film that's too cheap to be a blockbuster, but silly enough to be entertaining.
Andy Lau warps back from the year 2085 by accident. Once here he needs to find a way back to his own time, in the meantime he helps out a female officer in her quest to beat an international crime syndicate. But don't worry too much about the plot, it's just an excuse for some silly fun.
And silly fun you're going to get, that is if you can see through some of the shadier parts of the film. The special effects for one are absolutely atrocious, at the same time they also have a kooky charm that goes well with Wong's overall approach. Not Wong's best film, but it made me laugh out loud more than once.
Wise Guys Never Die
Wong loves himself a conman and some gambling to build a film around. I think at least a quarter of his films deal with these themes, and that's a conservative estimation. Wise Guys Never Die is one of those many films, not really a stand-out within his oeuvre, but a fun flick if you like this kind of thing.
After a failed attempt to embezzle money, Nick is sent to jail. There he meets Teddy, a professional conman. The two concoct a plan to mess with Dragon, the manage of an illegal casino. Once they're out they set their plan in motion, but Nick starts to suspect there's more going on than he's aware of.
Nick Cheung's a decent lead, Jing Wong fares better in smaller part (or even cameos). He's just not talented enough an actor to play a true supporting role. The film starts better than it ends, but there are some fun gambling scenes here and the pacing is near perfect. Somewhat inconspicuous, but nice enough.
Everyday Is Valentine
The late 90s were a real struggle for the Hong Kong film industry, the local romcom is one of the genres that helped them recover. Of course Jing Wong had to have his piece of the cake, it's no surprise then that he made a couple of them just around the turn of the century. And as it turns out, he's quite apt at them.
Leon Lai plays a slick player, a guy who doesn't mind a lie here and there just to get a date with a woman. He falls like a brick for Cheung, a wealthy lady who has had it with dishonest men. She dumps Lai immediately when the truth surfaces, but Lai is smitten with her and is willing to change his life to win her back.
Don't expect to see anything original here. The plot is simple, the ending textbook. The first hour is light and fun though, with some vintage Wong comedy and surprisingly decent performances from Lai and Cheung and fun cameos by Man Tat Ng and Lam Suet. The finale gets a bit more serious, which is a bit of a bummer, but overall this was pretty enjoyable.
God of Gamblers 3: The Early Stage
Sixty Million Dollar Man
God of Gamblers' Return
Fight Back to School III
The Sting II
Boys Are Easy
Casino Tycoon II
The Ultimate Trickster
God of Gamblers III: Back to Shanghai
God of Gamblers II
God of Gamblers
Winner Takes All
It didn't take long before Jing Wong came into his own. His first film might've been relatively serious and well-constructed, a lot of that was thrown overboard in Winner Takes All, and replaced by the cheer silliness that would come to define Wong's brand. The result is a full-blown comedy with some martial arts thrown in for good measure.
The beginning is still somewhat straight-faced, but when Pak-Cheung Chan appears and enters a rather hilarious Mah-jong game to the death, there's no doubt that you shouldn't take this film too seriously. It's the kind of over-the-top stupidity that would help to launch Stephen Chow's career a decade later.
The acting isn't all that great and some of the effects are pretty cheap, but they're never gratuitous. The soundtrack is pretty cheesy too, but is used to good comedic effect. If you don't like Hong Kong comedy, it's probably best to avoid this film, but Jing Wong fans (or those who can tolerate his films) will have a blast with this one.
Worthy but flawed
Hong Kong Ghost Stories
A pretty inconsequential Jing Wong production. Treasure Hunt is a rather run-of-the-mill mix of comedy and action, executed in true Jing Wong fashion. That means it makes for an amusing, but rather hollow and forgettable experience, though in all fairness the film doesn't look like it aspires to be anything beyond that.
The plot, about a commercial director being sent to an uninhabited island to shoot an ad with a big-wig actor, only to end up in some far-fetched treasure hunting scenario, is pointless. It's merely an excuse for some comedy antics and a few action scenes. The lack of A-listers mean that neither are truly noteworthy.
But Jing Wong's silliness also keeps thing light and the frantic pacing makes sure that the film never gets boring. It's not bad filler as such, but hard to recommend when there are so many films that do a better job at it. Treasure Hunt is for the true Jing Wong collector, he who has seen at least 75 of his other films and still has the energy to persist.
Slim Till Dead
Kung Fu Mahjong
Kung Fu Mahjong 2
The Conmen in Vegas
The Tricky Master
Step into the Dark
Dances with the Dragon
The Big Score
A pretty basic but amusing Jing Wong vehicle. A combination of action, comedy and of course, a handful of gambling scenes. It's not a big surprise I only caught this film so late in my quest to finish his oeuvre, as it's unremarkable in just about every way possible, at the same time it did end up being pretty entertaining.
Jing Wong teams up with Danny Lee and joins him in front of the camera. Not the best acting duo every put on screen, but the two have enough chemistry to guide you through the film. Because there are quite a few genre switches and because Wong had plenty of prior experience with all of them, the pacing is solid and there isn't really a dull moment in sight.
Visually it doesn't look too bad, but if you've seen a couple of these early 90s Hong Kong action/comedy flicks you'll know what to expect. The soundtrack is incredibly cheesy though, cheap and distracting. Though a little hard to recommend, people who can stand Wong's film and have seen the bigger projects in his oeuvre are sure to have a bit of fun with this one.
Girl with the Diamond Slipper
Early Jing Wong comedy that isn't so much a film, as a demo reel/exercise in genre directing. The Hong Kong movie industry always put more value on work ethic and experience than creativity, and that meant you had were supposed to get better though practice. And practice is what Jing Wong did here.
The story is a pretty simple Cinderella rip-off. Maggie Cheung plays a young actress who loses her shoe at a dance. There's an added twist, as the shoe hides a diamond and her suitor isn't really interested in Cheung, but safe to say you won't be watching this film for its intriguing plot.
There's comedy, there's romance, there's gambling, some martial arts and even some slight thriller elements. Wong wants to have it all in one single film. That makes it quite messy, on the other hand it also means there's hardly time to get bored. Mediocre performances and plain cinematography keep the film from being truly fun, but the comedy is daft and the pacing is pleasant. For Wong fans only though.
Wits of the Brats
Mr. & Mrs. Player
Marry a Perfect Man
My Wife Is a Gambling Maestro
Love Is a Many Stupid Thing
The Spy Dad
My Schoolmate the Barbarian
Love Me, Love My Money
We Are No Bad Guys
Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star
Whatever You Want
To Live and Die in Tsimshatsui
Return to a Better Tomorrow
The Crazy Companies
How to Pick Girls Up
Vintage Jing Wong. It feels a lot like a film I've already seen, then again Wong made a bunch of similar films around that time. The quality of these films is rather low, but the pacing is nice, the atmosphere is extremely light-hearted and while far from great, they make for an amusing 90 minutes. Decent filler.
The Crazy Companies II
Born to Gamble
The Romancing Star
The Flying Mr. B
Mercenaries from Hong Kong
Hong Kong Playboys
Men Suddenly in Love
Beauty on Duty
Sex and the Beauties
Raped by an Angel 4: The Raper's Union
Hard Boiled 2 - The Last Blood
The Romancing Star III
Doubles Cause Troubles
Regardless of all the big names involved, Fascinating Affairs is a pretty rushed and flat hotchpotch of genres that never really finds its footing. Loud, poorly acted, lazily directed and often aimless, it's a film that seemed confident that star power would be enough to attract people. Poor filler, only for true completists.