Twins Effect II

"I just woke up from the strangest movie..." said Gillian Chung, as she grasped her neck.

Back when Forced Perspective was still in its teething phase, I gave Dante Lam’s 2003 film The Twins Effect a glowing recommendation – albeit, a recommendation as a guilty pleasure. In hindsight, I still feel Lam’s film is more of a “silly” film than a “bad” film for many of the same reasons I’d stated earlier: despite the subpar plot and acting, it’s technically well-crafted and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’d even forgotten to mention how entertaining Anthony Wong was.  The film was a financial success as well, so it is no surprise that less than a year later Emperor Motion Pictures sprung forth Twins Effect II, a sequel-in-name-only directed by Corey Yuen and Patrick Leung. Like the original, it combines a carefree silliness with a sense of technical skill. The big difference between the two films is that Twins Effect II genuinely sucks.

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Just One Look

Wong Yau Nam, a child, and Shawn Yue work the fishball stand in 1970's Cheng Chau.

Riley Yip’s Just One Look is a pleasant surprise of a film. Given the pop star pedigree of the cast, which includes young idols Shawn Yue, Wong Yau Nam, and both Twins (Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung), it’s not hard to come in expecting a lightweight commercialized youth romance. While romance is indeed involved, the film is also about of bitter grudges, martial arts, the transformation into adulthood, and of course, the love of cinema.

The films starts out with Fan, played by Li Ting-Fung as a child and Shawn Yue as an adult, witnessing an argument between his father (Sam Lee), a decorated policeman, and Crazy (Anthony Wong), a local triad who Fan’s father is in debt to. The two see a movie shortly afterward, and partway through, the father gets up to leave, taking one last look at his son before entering the bathroom, where gunshots are soon heard from. While the death is largely assumed to be a suicide, Fan swears for many years that Crazy was responsible. Read more of this post

The Guilty Pleasure Pile: My Wife is 18

Ekin Cheng in a rare non-preening face deals with the multi-faceted energy of Charlene Choi

Generally Speaking, we at Forced Perspective love great films and detest bad films. But what happens when one of us grows fond of a film that we know in our hearts is total crap? This is where we stash such films: The Guilty Pleasure Pile.

Several months ago in the inaugural post from The Guilty Pleasure Pile, I confessed my love for the masterpiece of marketing, Dante Lam’s The Twins Effect. Now, I turn my attention to another silly, fluffy film, the romantic comedy My Wife is 18, which actually just so happens to star both Ekin Cheng and Charlene Choi (the taller Twin) from my previous guilty pleasure. In fact, many of my guilty pleasures star either Ekin Cheng and/or one or both of the Twins, but I promise in the future I’ll try and cover something that people who don’t know every last detail about the Hong Kong film industry will actually care about.

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Miracles: Mr. Canton and Lady Rose

Buy a rose, save your life.

Directed by Jackie Chan

Hong Kong; 1989

Starring Jackie Chan and Anita Mui

122 Min.


In Short: Not as much action as you’d expect from a 1980’s Jackie Chan film, but Miracles makes up for it with its entertaining and well told plot. If it feels a bit Capra-esque, that’s because it’s meant to be. While it probably won’t be anyone’s favorite Jackie Chan movie, it might be the one to earn him respect from non-Martial Arts fans.

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The Guilty Pleasure Pile: The Twins Effect

Generally Speaking, we at Forced Perspective love great films and detest bad films. But what happens when one of us grows fond of a film that we know in our hearts is total crap? This is where we stash such films: The Guilty Pleasure Pile.

Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi slay vampires and keep up with the latest fashion.

For our inaugural film from the heap, I’ll be looking at Dante Lam’s 2003 film The Twins Effect. For the uninitiated, the Twins (Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi) became one of Hong Kong’s most ridiculously popular music acts in the early naughts. While in Hollywood it isn’t uncommon for a pop star to take a turn to the silver screen, in Hong Kong it’s practically expected. In fact, many of Hong Kong’s most popular and beloved actors also have music careers. Andy Lau, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Jackie Chan (who has an extended cameo in this film), and Leslie Cheung (possibly the best actor Hong Kong has ever seen) are all well known for their music as well as their film roles.

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Beyond Our Ken

"We have more in common than red streaks in our hair..."

Gillian Chung and Tao Hong share a moment in the bathroom.

Directed by Pang Ho-Cheung

Hong Kong SAR; 2004

Starring Gillian Chung, Tao Hong, and Daniel Wu

97 Min.

Highly Recommended (No Star Rating Provided)

In Short: Wong Kar-Wai’s influence looms large over this unorthodox revenge film, courtesy of talented young director Pang Ho-Cheung. By no means is Beyond Our Ken a masterpiece, and some might find the end disappointing, but it’s an entertaining ride that mixes arthouse and commercial sensibilities. The verisimilitude to actress Gillian Chung’s unfortunate involvement in the Edison Chen Photo Scandal four years later is remarkable.

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Legend of Zu

"Why am I in a film that makes no sense?"

Cecilia Cheung channels Brigitte Lin.

Directed by Tsui Hark

Hong Kong SAR; 2001

Starring Ekin Cheng, Cecilia Cheung, and Louis Koo

104 Min.

In Short: Tsui Hark’s ambitious sequel to his influential 1983 film marks a great leap forward in CG for Hong Kong cinema, but lacks the heart of the original. The immensely convoluted plot doesn’t help the ordeal, but at least the action is well done.

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