Review Roundup - The Brotherhood

ELECTION 2 (2006)

There are a few old clich├ęs that might describe this sequel to Johnnie To's previous triad thriller. Perhaps desperate times call for desperate measures? Or maybe that old idea that it's not personal, it's just business. But the dark reality is that the results are much less about a series of expected tropes, and more about the brutal and cold world the characters inhabit. Some of it might go beyond even what fans of the first instalment might be expecting. Ideas about unity, tradition, and honour are still bandied about during the opening history lesson. But by this stage it's clearly all just a cynical veneer being laid over a lot of truly nasty ambitions. The kind of principles discussed last time around are not going to make a come back.

HCF Review - Bound by Blood


Blood curses, demonic possession, investigative journalism… yes it’s another example of bonkers cinema from The Cat and The Story of Ricky director Ngai Choi Lam. There’s going to be action, violence and sleaze in this wild ride into the world of Hong Kong Category-III cinema, but in the grand scheme of things it’s generally pretty mild. Which is to say there’s a lot more low budget monster and gore effects than there are nude scenes and things are never taken too far. It’s less Untold Story and more Temple of Doom if you get where I’m coming from. More adventure story than straight up horror, but still a heady mixture of crazy sequences and outrageous spectacle...


HCF Review - Repossessed


Horror and martial arts together? Why those are my two favourite things you might say glancing at this apparent mix of The Crow and Ong Bak. In some ways you’d be correct, as this is a story about ritual killings and demonic possession with some Thai boxing moves thrown in. I’m certainly on board for a wild combination of diabolical deals and bone crunching fight sequences. On the other hand it’s perhaps a story that mixes together too many elements and influences. Which is a problem when it’s busy referencing a whole series of religious figures and forgets to include enough fighting. Without a cohesive narrative to glue any of this together those interesting genre hooks are little more than marketing images designed to get the direct-to-video action hero fans interested...


Review Roundup - The Society


Bureaucracy isn't generally a compelling subject matter, unless it's subject to a certain type of scathing perspective. Elections? That hardly seems like an interesting topic either, even in a crime thriller. Surely the triads don't have such respect for tradition and democracy. But there's the root of all the concern in this instance; what it means to have loyalty in a world of keeping 'your friends close and enemies even closer'. As a result this is a story that exceeded my expectations as all the moving pieces, which were initially rather jumbled, started to move into place. The results are a dark and murky underworld tale in which many different figures struggle to maintain their positions in the hierarchy. Simply placing a ballot is only the beginning of their problems.

Martial Arts Mix - Above the Law


Time for a classic Yuen Biao vehicle. Like several other Hong Kong action stars I've looked at, his work has featured briefly in some older marathons. But now it's time to get down to the details. Why haven't I done this sooner? It's a question I ask myself all the time. Why isn't this part of a bigger franchise? That remains a mystery I'm afraid, since unlike some of his contemporaries there are no long running sequels following this outing. Of course the story doesn't lend itself to having a follow up, but when has that ever stopped the film-makers involved? Perhaps the darker storyline didn't go over too well back in the day. It's a movie with several endings after all. Personally I think a grittier analogue to the Police Story series would have been incredible. But as things are this stands alone, so let's get into it.