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Feb 25, 2011

It's outside of the era, and it's PRE-war, but Sternberg's The Blue Angel fits the bill. Maybe as a precursor/prologue to this type of film.


Feb 25, 2011

The Wuxia films of King Hu strike a good balance of being steeped in Chinese history and myth(almost all his big movies are based off folk tales) while being accessible to wider audience(they are pop-art after all). Plus you have the benefit of already watching CTHD which cribbed every moment from King Hu films.

Dragon Inn(1967) is the best place to start and can be even seen as the rosetta stone of every cinematic wuxia made since. Runaway princess, an Inn filled with shady characters that nobody is sure of their allegiances, group of ragtag heroes from different backgrounds, shadowy groups of evil eunuchs, swordswomen dressed as men, lots of trampoline jumping.

A Touch of Zen is the big one, the first Chinese film ever to win the Cannes film festival, very long but quite honestly one the greatest films ever made, and while it's a crass comparison, A Touch of Zen is to Wuxia films what Seven Samurai is to Samurai films.

The Fate of Lee Khan has a similar setup to Dragon Inn, but the setting is a bit different, it's during the Mongol dynasty instead of Ming and the stakes feel far more cutthroat. Raining in the Mountain and Legend of the Mountain are also incredible, and the second one is a small miracle.

Feb 25, 2011

Heavy Metal posted:

My question: some fav 80s and 90s Hong Kong and Japanese live-action comedies? Just looking to fill in some particular niches. And I'm already covered on Chow Yun-Fat, Stephen Chow, and whatnot (Jackie Chan covered too).

For Japanese comedy movies from around then I've not seen many. I've seen Wild Zero, 2000s ones like Calamari Wrestler etc, but not a lot from the 80s and 90s. Aside from anime, I've got that covered oh yes.

Big post about Hong Kong comedies in general from the late 70's to now:

The Hui brothers comedies, the ones directed by Michael Hui to be specific. They were incredibly popular during the 70's and early 80's and their popularity managed to push HK cinema from primarily being made for Mandarin to Cantonese. Private Eyes, The Contract, Security Unlimited, are the ones to check out. They are very much sketch comedies held together by the barest plot, but almost all of Hong Kong's comedies(even the action ones) and lunar new year films can be traced to those films.

Another important comedy film in HK and Cantonese history is Chor Yuen's The House of 72 Tenants(1973), Stephen Chow would lift most of the poor tenement building comedy of Kung Fu Hustle from here. Chor Yuen also made Diary of a Big Man(1988) at the peak of Chow Yun-Fat star, and it has a musical moment that has to be seen to be believed.

Sam Hui(Sort of the Elvis of HK rock and roll) would eventually leave his big brother Michael shadow and go on his own, with the Aces go Places films with Karl Maka and Sylvia Chang. The first film is more or less the blueprint of the modern action-comedy film that Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung would follow and perfect through out the 80's and 90's.

Speaking of Sammo Hung. His brand of humor in his big series, Lucky Stars(there's like 6 of them, the main ones are Winners and Sinners, My Lucky Stars, and Twinkle Twinkle my Lucky Stars), is very hit and miss(hope you like comedy about horny dudes trying to perv on young women). You might see that Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao also star in these films, but they aren't the main stars, and are usually there for the big action set pieces only.

Other Sammo Hung films to check Wheels on Meals and Dragons Forever for the big Jackie Chan vehicles. Millionaires Express is a lot of fun, and has probably Yuen Biao's biggest stunt on screen, and Pedicab Driver has Sammo Hung having a 1v1 with Lau Kar-Leung, so for a brief 5 minutes you get to see the two greatest martial arts directors of all time duke it out.

Tsui Hark also made some great comedies, mainly Shanghai Blues which occasionally pops up on youtube. The lunar year film Chinese Feast with Leslie Cheung is also pretty sweet, and Working Class, which is more of a Sam Hui vehicle than a Tsui Hark film, is also worth checking out.

More recent, Johnnie To and Wai Kai Fai made plenty of comedies. The straight comedies you have Fat Choi Spirit, which has one of the best Wong Kar-Wai gags ever, the very demented hospital themed Help!!!, and the Eighth Happiness(1988) with Chow Yun-Fat is a big HK classic.(It does however feature Raymond Wong the most boring screen presence ever)

Then you have his romantic comedies. The four Andy Lau/Sammi Cheng movies are all great and Lau/Cheng are probably one of the greatest screen parings in cinema. Blind Detective is my favorite followed closely by Needing You. Love on a Diet is legit the rare funny fat suit comedy, and while Yesterday Once More is just ads for expensive cars and clothing, Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng are just that good.

Don't go Breaking my Heart 1 & 2, and My Left Eye Sees Ghosts are also wonderful. Finally there's the action-comedy The Heroic Trio featuring Maggie Cheung, Michelle Yeoh and Anita Mui being kung fu superheroes. Includes scenes where Maggie Cheung throws grenades at babies. Don't watch the sequel. It's bad, and it's clear nobody was enjoying being in that film.

Johnnie To also made two comedies with Stephen Chow, but I'm not a big fan of either.

More recent stuff, Pang Ho-cheung Love in a Puff trilogy is quite funny and endearing and probably some of the last HK films where Cantonese language is allowed to shine.

Some extra recommendations: Patrick Tam's Cherie(1984) is wonderful and one of the few Cherie Chung films where she got free reign to be more than just a pretty face. Eagle Shooting Heroes(1993) is one of the most talented film crews assembled to make the dumbest film possible, saved Wong Kar-Wai film career too. Chinese Odyssey 2002, unrelated to the Stephen Chow ones, make sure to watch the Cantonese version for Tony Leung and Faye Wong singing about being drunk.

On the subject of one Stephen Chow, the stuff he directed is, with the exception of CJ7, a must watch. Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle are the big ones. My other favorites are The God of Cookery, The King of Comedy, Love on Delivery and Love From Beijing, last one has an unbelievably dark gag involving a PLA firing squad.

For his non-directed stuff I like the two parter Chinese Odyssey movies a lot. Don't bother trying to keep up with the plot and story, just vibe with them. All for the Winner is the only God of Gambler movie worth watching. Allís Well, Ends Well is another big HK comedy classic, great Chow/Maggie Cheung paring, Leslie Cheung making gay stereotypes work somehow, unfortunately has too much Raymond Wong in it.

There's also the UFO(United Filmmakers Organisation) comedies from the 90's, but this post is already long enough.

Finally the funniest Hong Kong films of them all: Herman Yau's The Untold Story and Ebola Syndrome.

P.S: Stay away from anything that says Directed by Wong Jing.

For Japan there's 50 Tora-san movies that you can watch :v:

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