Saturday, January 21, 2012

Deadly Target (1994)

HONG KONG CREDITS: 1994 - Deadly Target (Filmswell International Ltd)

[Also known as “Fatal Target”, original Cantonese title “Hong Tian Mi Ling”; also known as “The Penal Reconnaissance” (possible translation from Cantonese)]

Directors Godfrey Ho Jeung-Keung, Phillip Ko Fei Writer Hoh Chi-Mau [IMDB lists Joseph Chan] Producer Ricky Wong Ga-Kui Action Directors Phillip Ko Fei, Douglas Kung Cheung-Tak, Ken Yip Wing-Kin, Wang Zhi-Wen Cinematography Lau Yip Production Manager Lee Chun-Wa Sound Recordist 108 Records Ltd Co Sound Supervisor David Kitchens Editor Grand Yip [also listed as “William Yip”] Wai-Keung Planning Jeffrey Cheung Kai-Ping Lighting Jeng Man-Keung Presenter Ng Bo-Man Composer Chow Fook-Wing [IMDB credits “Nilson Ma”] Stunt Coordinator Phillip Ko Stunts Alex Austerd, Kevin Chin, “Steven Street”/Steve Griffin, Tommy Wong, Marcus Fox [also Car Stunts Co-ordinator]

Cast “Cynthia Luster”/Yukari Oshima (Inspector Cynthia Lee Lai-Nga/Lisa Li), Sharon Yeung Pan-Pan (Inspector Anna Yeung Na), John Cheung Ng-Long (Ben Ng), Edu Manzano (Eddie), Phillip Ko Fei (Wong Jun Lee), Lee Chun-Wa, Johnny Cheung Wa, Douglas Kung Cheung-Tak, Ken Yip Wing-Kin, Darren Shahlavi (Randy), Sarah Gomez, Simon Yeung Siu-Gwong, Wang Zhi-Wen, Daniel Fernandez

PHILIPPINES CREDITS: 1994 - Walang Kasukat Sa Tapang/"Courage Beyond Measure" (Solar Films International/Filmswell International Limited)

[Philippines release date 9th March 1994]

Directors Godfrey Ho, Poncho Bautista Story Joseph D. Velasquez Screenplay Humilde "Meek" Roxas Executive Producers Wilson Tieng, Alex L. Sembrano Supervising Producers Joseph D. Velasquez, Ma. Victoria Ramiel Cinematography Eduardo "Baby" Cabrales, Michael Lao Music Jaime Fabregas Editor Samuel Domondon Sound Supervisor Willie Islao Production Coordinator Ma. Victoria Ramiel Production Manager Antonio Ramos Post-Production Managers Poch Bautista, Samuel Domondon Art Director Rommel Papica Stunt Coordinator Philip "Kho"/Ko Stuntmen Gabriel Romulo, Al Nanca, Al Almanzanarez, Jhosep Ramos, Kid Alimureng Assistant Production Manager Florante Dionisio Location Scriptwriter Henry Nadong Scriptgirl/Continuity Adora Estrella Gaffer Man Keung Cheng Special Effects Erick Torrente Makeup Artist Mely Sioson Assistant Makeup Artist Ester Ocampo Wardrobe Assistant Salve Bazar Stills Nilo Dolaman Field Cashier Engelee Lim Schedule Master Manuel Sta. Maria Propsmen Brando Benitez, Edwin Baldonado Head Utility Simon Irinco Utility Cery Tapong, Edward Estudillo Assistant Cameraman Basilio Anad Electrician Eden Pobe Clapper/Loader Danny Cuenco Crew HMI Edwin Fajardo, William Anora, Rudy Pacursa, Fred Bilsera Crew Bong Macabale Caretakers Robin del Valle, Eric Purugunan Trailer Sound Effects Serafin Dineros Dubbing Supervisors Lucy Quinto, Fernando Villaroman Narrator Nick de Guzman Loopers Florencio Collado, Zaldy Collado Trailer Concept Joseph D. Velasquez, Samuel Domondon, Poch Bautista Service Drivers Rene Canlab, Romualdo Cervito, Maria Visto, Carlos Gascon, Carlos Lopez, Boy dela Cruz, Belto Coritana, Abe Robledo, Tito Grino, Rico Enriquez

Cast Edu Manzano (Edu), Cynthia Luster (Cynthia), Sharon Young (Pamela), Vivian Foz (Edu's Wife), Sarah Gomez (Vera), Dan Fernandez (Allan), Ramon Zamora (Police Officer), Charlie Davao (Boss Coffin), Joji Isla (Dodo), Ernie Ortega (Devil Lee), Philip "Kho"/Ko (Henry), Pinky Roces (Ida), Michelle Chuang (Angela), Edwin Reyes (Gani), Alma Lerma (Asyang), Nanding Fernandez (Colonel Suarez), Nick Nicholson (Giant Frank), Rando Almanzor, Rey Solo (Motorcycle Rider) [other sources also list Eddie Tuazon, Boy Sta. Maria] Robin John Cheung, Louie Katana, King Kong, Darren Shahlavi, Chan Wah Chan Brothers Shima, Hiroshi Goons Jordan Castillo, Vic Belaro, Don Pacrem, Bebeng Amora, Joe Baltazar, Jimmy Kho, Perry de Guzman Bodyguards Ronnie Francisco, Rene Santos, Jim Rosales

Review from TarsTarkas:

In Manila, two female Hong Kong cops visit one’s cousin, only to find out he is an evil weapons dealer that targets them for death. They team up with supercop Eddie and take down their cousin as well as a bunch of other goons in a prime example of mid-90′s Hong Kong action films. We get lots of shootouts, lots of jumping stunts, kung fu mixed in the middle of gun battles, and things exploding all over the place. These films are miles beyond the current CGI/PG-13 garbage being spewed out by Hollywood, but for a Hong Kong action film of the era, it doesn’t really stand out. However, it has chicks with guns blasting people all over the place, so it fits right into our pseudo-theme month. This is a low-budget movie filmed in the Philippines to save on costs, more info is with the cast.

Female action stars have a long and glorious career in Asian cinema. Go read a book about them or something. Okay, just kidding. There was a big “Girls with Guns” fad in the late 1980′s/early 1990′s which is the focus here, and this is one of many entries that were low-budget but filled with lots of stunts. Many of the films had several of about six to eight actresses who were in the bulk of them, and we have two here, Yukari Oshima and Sharon Yeung Pan Pan, who both have a long resume filled with similar films.

Lisa Li (Yukari Oshima) – A Hong Kong police woman who goes on vacation in the Philippines to visit her cousin Ben Hung, who turns out to be really evil! Her boss in the Hong Kong is named Tiger. Aren’t you glad I pointed that out? May also go by the name “Cynthia Lee,” as a sign in the movie says. Yukari Oshima was a big action star in the late 1980s/early 1990s Hong Kong, but by this point was working out of the Philippines because the Hong Kong studio didn’t know what to do with a half-Japanese female action star, especially one that was usually branded asexual because she wasn’t supermodel attractive. This is a shame, as Yukari is very skilled in the martial arts. See her here in Godfather’s Daughter and Tomb Raiders/Avenging Quartet

Anna Yeung (Sharon Yeung Pan Pan) – Partner of Lisa Li who accompanies her on vacation. Despite both of them being largely asexual, they certainly have a few lesbianic undertones thrown in during their workout sessions. No complaints. Sharon Yeung Pan Pan was a talented martial artist who starred in Hong Kong movies and television through the 80′s and 90′s, ending her run around the end of the girls with guns movie fad.

Cousin Ben Hung (John Cheung) – Cousin of Lisa Li who also happens to be an evil gun smuggler. Sort of how my cousin works for Coca-Cola. Except he’s not evil, nor smuggles guns. Ben Hung has a sister who isn’t named despite being a major character. Once Lisa Li and her friends get in the way, it is time to see that money is thicker than blood, and he tries to take her out.

Eddie (Edu Manzano) – The supercop of the Philippines, every gun runner and drug dealer knows his name. Edu Manzano is still acting today and appeared in such Filipino genre films as Captain Barbell and Darna: The Return.

Ben Hung’s Sister (Sarah Gomez) – Hi, I’m Ben Hung’s Sister. I’m evil, I’m a main villain, I sleep with men to convince them to buy guns from my brother, and I don’t have a name! What the Hell, movie?

Henry Wong (Phillip Ko) – Rumored he was married to Yukari Oshima at the time and may have been the actual director using Godfrey Ho’s name as a pseudonym! That would be a first (this is rumored for a few of these Phillip Ko/Yukari Oshima/Godfrey Ho Filipino action films) but may just be an artifact of Godfrey Ho’s constant use of fake names. Godfrey Ho, why do you continue to make researching these movies difficult?

Dik (????) – Undercover cop in Ben Hung’s gang. Gets his cover blown. Enjoys dressing in dresses. Sadly, he does not make it to the end of the film. I will always remember you, Dik. Maybe I’ll find out who played you.

In Manila, there is a shootout at a truck hijacking. People in danger are saved by a cop with a bad car named Eddie (and many baddies are shot.) The rest of the police force is upset at Eddie for stealing their glory (despite the fact they weren’t doing anything glorious!) Eddie jumps on the truck as it drives away, only to fall onto a passing car then land in the street. This is all real, no stunt men. Eddie instead fires his gun at the back of the truck, so of course it explodes in a gigantic fireball that can probably be seen from space.

We jump to two women at airport, Lisa Li and Anna Yeung, wearing fashion that no one wears today. They are greeted by a man with a sign saying “Cynthia Lee” but Lisa Li tells him she is Lisa Li (according to the subtitles) so this is the first of several instances where the subtitle names don’t match up with what the characters are saying. The man works for Lisa’s cousin Ben Hung, who is now rich.

At Ben Hung’s compound, two ponytailed guys do martial arts and remind us that we are in the 1990s with their fashion, ponytails, and kickboxing. The Asian guy is Ben Hung, and the white one with the kickboxing fetish is named Lando. He doesn’t have any Colt 45 or Millennium Falcons, though.

A random white guy is playing the Terminator video game (the one where you shoot the gun) and gets upset about Eddie. There will be several random people in this film, as the movie doesn’t bother to explain who anyone is until much later, so don’t expect many names. This random white guy had something to do with the truck hijacking, but besides that we don’t know him nor will we see him for another hour. Eddie is at home, gets a text message from his daughter, who is named Angela but called Angel in the subtitles in a second instance of dual names. Eddie can’t see his daughter because his mother-in-law blames him for the death of his wife. A delivery man drops off a special package – death by sword! Luckily Eddie has a suit of armor lying around that he uses as a shield to block the sword. The delivery man is killed when he falls through a glass table (sure, whatever) then Eddie has about three seconds to toss out a second package that has a bomb in it. Which would have killed the delivery man as well. So what was the point of standing around and fighting? Never send UPS to kill someone, always go FedEx.

Eddie chats with his contact, who is dressed as a woman. The contact is really an officer named Dik Hung who is undercover (why did the subtitles decide to give two non-related characters the last name? Before I knew the undercover guy was Dik Hung I spent part of the film trying to figure out why Ben Hung kept changing his name.) Also, “Dik Hung”. No one in the subtitles saw what that name could also mean? Whatever, movie! Ben Hung wants to be the number one arms dealer, but there are four other groups standing in the way. Fighting with arms dealers has to wait, because Lisa and Anna need to get into a fight with some people playing volleyball on the beach. Our heroines, random beach brawlers.

Back at their hotel, Lisa reveals to Anna that she hates men and has done so since her father left her mom. That and a few other things have a small lesbian subtext, but we all know Lisa ends up with Eddie so it’s is just a red herring. The two get a call from headquarters that Chan’s brothers are in town. Yes, Chan’s brothers. We all remember them. Hello, movie, try explaining who the frak these random people are! The girls follow Chan’s brothers, watch them meet some of Ben Hung’s arms dealers, get spotted, and then have a big fight. Eddie is also in the neighborhood, and he shoots Chan’s brothers and arrests the two girls, until he can see if they are really cops. Soon they are forced to work together thanks to the Manila police chief being friends with the Hong Kong police chief.

Ben Hung is informed of the girls being police officers, and his sister insists that they leave. They refuse, so six goons walk over to the girls to blow them away. Eddie is there and soon a big gun battle breaks out. Anna kills someone with a fork during this fight, because that’s how it works in Manila. No one says “Fork you!” or any other quip, which is too bad. Opportunity lost.

You think Chan’s brothers were dangerous? Now Henry Wong arrives! A. – Who the frak is Henry Wong? B. – Why the frak doesn’t Chan arrive to go after the guy who killed his brothers? Oh, wait, my bad, I forgot you aren’t supposed to think about the plot and just go with the flow, even if the plot is heading straight off a cliff. To answer some of the questions, Henry Wong is a big weapons buyer who will be making a large purchase for a Middle Eastern buyer, and will do so from his friend Lee, who has a beard and is therefore evil. Meanwhile, Eddie and the girls are driving in his car, when suddenly two cars filled with machine-gun toting thugs drive up. Guns are blazing, windshields are being riddled with holes, and the heroes are gonna die. Until Eddie pulls out his rocket launcher that he keeps under his car’s seat. Anna fires it at one of the pursuing cars, and said car goes flipping up into the air. The second car decides it will be a good idea to swerve directly into the first car, and as soon as it does both cars explode in massive explosions. Then the explosions explode in an even bigger bunch of explosions that are probably big enough nearby people suffocated when all the oxygen was burned up by the flames.

Ben Hung must convince Henry Wong to do business with him, so he sends in his sister to seduce Henry. This works, because all Henry Wong does is stare at her chest. His bodyguards also stare at her chest. Ben Hung’s sister could have a three-foot mustache and no one would notice because it is above the chest level. Her having boobs allows for easy persuasion, but to make sure Ben Hung goes to have a talk with fellow arms dealer Lee to ask him to work together. Lee laughs at Ben, but will now have a hard time laughing as Ben’s men gun everyone down. No one can giggle when they look like Swiss cheese.

Eddie is shot at while getting groceries, so he steals a car and does some wheelies. This somehow allow him to chase the person who was shooting at him, until Eddie is lured into cargo shipping container. Too bad the cargo container is already filled with Peter Patrelli. There is also a bomb in the cargo container, and a crane lifts it into the air. So the car smashes out of the cargo container and explodes (I laughed initially because I thought Eddie was in the car, but it turns out he jumps out of the container right afterwards on a conveniently left rope) and then the container explodes. Why wasn’t the bomb put in the car…oh, never mind. Eddie is gunning down about ten men while hanging from a flaming rope tied to a flaming wreck of a cargo container. Somewhere this film left reality and is now orbiting Jupiter. All of this makes Eddie late for his daughter’s birthday party.

Eddie arrives at his daughter’s birthday party dressed as a clown, with the two female cops also dressed as clowns. CLOWNS??? NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! This movie just became horrible! Get these clowns off the screen! Luckily, after Eddie hugs his daughter, he and the female cops are now back in plain clothes and raiding Hung’s warehouse. Hung’s sister and Henry Wong see them raiding and escape, but now Henry Wong wants to use a different buyer to get his weapons. So Ben Hung and his sister come up with a plan: She will kill Eddie while Ben Hung kills all of his rivals. This plan is so brilliant they’ve been trying it and failing at it for the past half an hour! But this time it’s different, see, because they stated it out loud before they do it! Affirmations, man, they really work. Like the time I kept telling myself that one day I will swim the English Channel, and then I finally did swim the English Channel. Sort of. I watched the History Channel when it had a special about England, but it is really the same thing.

Henry goes to his second buyer, Dai Tin. Dai Tin is the white guy who was playing the Terminator video game way back in the beginning of the film! Why does he have the most Asian name in the film? Is he suddenly the white villain from a Rush Hour movie? Ben Hung orders Dik Hung and Lando to kill everyone working for Dai Tin. So they do, thanks to the magic of motorcycles and machine guns. And the fact they are named Lando and Dik Hung, which are names that make you not want to mess with their owners. Ben Hung’s sister captures Eddie after she takes his daughter hostage, but Eddie is rescued by Dik Hung dressed in drag again thanks to his guards being complete and utter morons (so just like every prison guard ever in the movies.) One of the moron guards is played by Lee Chun-Wa who played goons in many Hong Kong movies from 1975-1995.

We now find out that the arms dealers named Frank and Kwok’s brothers (why all the possessive brothers? GRRRR!!!!) are going to stand against Ben Hung muscling in on their racket. A big shootout happens when Ben Hung’s men ambush them, and as it is dark with no lighting I don’t know what happens for five minutes, but it looks like Ben Hung wins because he kills the other three guys, making Wong his client again thanks to default. The two most beautiful words in the English language.

Ben Hung promises Iraq weapons to Henry Wong, the kind that fought the Americans. That’s supposed to be intimidating or something, but as the Iraqis just had a bunch of garbage in Desert Storm it isn’t really that impressive. Maybe if they were selling American weapons, it would seem more dangerous, because then America would be blamed for arming the insurgents of wherever the weapons are going. But that would require someone caring about the plot besides it being filler between scenes of people shooting each other. All the baddies are at a warehouse preparing the weapons to ship, and Dik Hung is caught as an undercover because he keeps leaving to make phone calls.

Before Dik Hung can be killed, Eddie, Lisa, and Anna come crashing in on motorcycles, which they swing off of thanks to ropes. The swinging cops gun down lots of goons while on the ropes. The bikes of the three main cops crash into buildings and explode like Ford Pintos at a bumper car convention. The three main cops are joined by actual backup for once, as uniformed Filipino police officers arrive with guns to also shoot lots of goons. The action sequences are pretty well choreographed, with lots of wire work that make some of the stunts ridiculous, but that adds to the fun. The main battles are Lisa Li vs. Henry Wong, Anna vs. Lando, and Eddie vs. Ben Hung and his sister. All three of these main fights involve lots of other random goons running in only to be killed by the heroes. The final sequence is at least 15 minutes long, and I lost count of the bodies that pile up. Eventually, Lisa arrests Wong, Anna kills Lando, and Eddie kills all of Ben Hung’s goons so it is just him and his sister left to fight Eddie. Ben pushes his sister out to use as a shield to shoot Eddie, which also makes his sister get shot as well. Ben then prepares to shoot Eddie dead, but Dik Hung leaps in the way and takes the bullet. Eddie shoots and wounds Ben Hung, and arrests him. He consoles the wounded Dik Hung, but Ben Hung manages to grab a gun and shoot at Eddie again, and Dik Hung takes the bullets again, and Eddie shoots Ben Hung again, except this time Ben Hung is killed, and Dik Hung also dies. It is not a good day to be Hung, that’s all I’m saying.

It is goodbye time at the Manila airport, as Lisa and Anna prepare to go back to Hong Kong. Eddie’s daughter keeps crying about Lisa, wanting her to stay due to all the bonding that they did despite not being in any scenes together. Finally, Lisa agrees, which I thank her for because I couldn’t take another second of that annoying daughter whining. Lisa will stay a little longer. Get close a little longer. Make it fresh a little longer. Make it big long lasting freshness with Big Red!

That’s all for this outing of Hong Kong 90′s Action Theater. Join us next time when some other female’s shoot up some bad guys because that’s what made money at the time so we must make 2,000 imitations movie on Hong Kong 90′s Action Theater! And remember to spay and neuter your Ben Hung or he might go all arms dealer on you.

Charles Tatum's review from E-Film Critic:

Trying to ride the Hong Kong action film bandwagon, this fun little picture holds its own in the action department, but fails in the editing and writing.

Travelling to the Philippines on vacation, Interpol agents Anna and Cynthia visit Cynthia's cousin Ken, who happens to be a major arms dealer. Renegade cop Eddie meets up with the pair, and they try to find Wong, a man trying to make a gun deal. His gun sellers keep getting killed, until he makes a deal with Ken. Eddie gets all of his information from a mysterious informant, a man dressed (badly) as a woman. The final showdown pits Anna, Cynthia, and Eddie against Ken, Wong, and their various henchman.

Plot and story are not really the main thrust of this film, the action is. I am unfamiliar with the actors, and the film does not mention who played who, but the stunts by Phillip Ko are incredible. The film makers stage a fight or gun battle at the drop of a hat. One scene even has Anna and Cynthia teaming to battle on the beach against a dozen guys WHO WANT THEIR VOLLEYBALL BACK. That is the only reason for the carnage! Most of the time, the camera lovingly strays on the cute duo as they stretch by putting their feet well above their heads. Eddie, the stereotypical renegade cop, gets in a giant explosive fight just so he can make it to his daughter's birthday party on time.

The action is fantastic, but the choppy editing really hurts. There is a subplot where Eddie's mother-in-law blames him for his wife's death, but that situation is never elaborated on. Some scenes end with a character talking in mid-sentence. The dubbing is atrocious, from giving most of the cast Americanized names, to lots of "hey"s and throat clearing dialogue just to have noise when the cast are moving their lips. The attempts at comedy are pretty disastrous, with one scene involving the transvestite, and some men who are attracted to him, that is down right unbearable.

This is nothing earth shattering in the Asian film genre, but this is worth the rental price alone for some very well done action.

Review from hkfilm:

Despite being an extremely talented martial artist, Hong Kong audiences never seemed to warm up to Yukari Oshima. Though part of this might be attributed to the fact that local audiences do not generally like "girls with guns" movies (even though Western fans eat them up) and the fact that Yukari is Japanese, most of it probably comes from the way Yukari refused (seemingly) to adopt a "feminine" role in any of her films.

For better of worse, every successful female action actress in Hong Kong has displayed some form of feminity in their career, whether expressing more "female" emotions such as love ala Michelle Yeoh in Wing Chun or just showing skin ala Chingmy Yau in Naked Killer. In fact, it probably says a lot that former models like Hsu Chi are finding work in action movies. At any rate, Yukari always seemed to play against gender stereotypes, especially in relation to the action genre. In fact, in some of her most notable roles (such as the transexual/eunuch in The Story of Ricky) she manages to drop gender roles almost completely. Even though Yukari's "tough" traits made her more popular with her cult Western following, there have been several attempts to "feminize" her roles, and Deadly Target is probably the most obvious of these -- something which hurts the movie as a whole.

The plot is standard Godfrey Ho B-movie stuff. Yukari and Sharon Yueng are two cops who take a vacation to visit Yuakri's cousin, who just happens to be the biggest arms dealer in Thailand. You should know the drill here -- eventually Yukari must take on her own cousin, aided by Sharon and another cop (John Cheung). However, Yuakri's character is much different here than in almost all of her other movies. She actually makes her first appearance in the movie wearing a short skirt. This might not seem like much, but for someone who made most of her screen appearances wearing workout clothes or other genrder-neutral outfits, it's a major change. Yukari seems to be uncomfortable in the clothes -- she even looks like she has problems walking around in heels -- and this hurts her on-screen presence. The differences also carry on to Yukari's character. Most of her movies have her as a very tough cookie, but Deadly Target almost seems to reduce her to comic relief, even going as far as to putting her in a clown suit for one scene. Yukari, again, does not seem comfortable with this, and it hurts her performance, and the film as a whole.

Despite the problems I had with Yukari's performance, she does pretty well in the action scenes. Even though there might be too much wirework for some, she does look suitably tough during these bits. There is also a decent amount of gunplay, which is staged well and manages to make the other actors look good. Overall, Deadly Target is a alright B-movie. It doesn't really do much besides deliver some good action, but that's a hell of a lot more than most other Godfrey Ho movies bring to the table (this being one of the few films he shot all-original footage for, instead of using stock stuff or parts from other movies), and if you're looking to kill ninety minutes while watching people beat up each other, it's not a bad choice on a rainy day when you don't have anything better to watch.

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