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Archive for the ‘Kozo's Shopping Cart’ Category

Kozo’s Shopping Cart of Crap: This time, I actually talk about DVDs

After I flubbed my last blog entry and decided to omit the entire point of it - that is, what DVDs I actually bought while in San Francisco - I figured I should get to this one pretty damn soon. So, there won’t be the usual 7-12 day gap between blog posts. Don’t get used to it.

Also, Anthony Wong will be around to make sure I don’t write too much:

Blog Cop Anthony Wong
“Keep it short, kid!”

It’s actually been a pretty big buying time for me, since I just returned to HK and dropped a bunch of cash on a whole slew of stuff at, including The Detective, The Sun Also Rises, and Exodus. I also picked up Blood Brothers, which I pretty much panned back in October. Even though it’s a bad film, it features Chang Chen shooting people, so how could I not pick up a copy?

At the same time, I got a bunch of old school stuff including the Joy Sales DVD of When Taekwondo Strikes. A Joy Sales catalog DVD release is like a Bigfoot sighting; the event is so rare that you have to do a double take to make sure that it happened. I like to celebrate these rare opportunities by actually buying the DVD. I also dropped some cash on the Ekin Cheng-Jordan Chan Huo Yuan Jia drama, complete with English subtitles and a bald Ekin Cheng. Both of those events are also rare, so it has to be purchased.

Sadly, this cover of Ekin Cheng doing his Donnie Yen impression is not on the version I’m buying:

Ekin Cheng as Donnie Yen in Huo Yuan Jia

Rounding out my purchase are a couple of Shaw Brothers films, The 14 Amazons and The Legendary Weapons of China. I’m buying both because Shaw Brothers films are now issued in famously dinky print runs, meaning they could go out of press at any given minute. The other day I wanted to buy Masked Avengers, but I waited an hour and then it went out of stock.

Hold on.

Okay, a minute has passed. Another three titles just became unavailable. In another minute, that number will grow to six. Hurry! You’re missing out!

That DVD is mine!
These bears are fighting over the last copy of Sex for Sale.

Out of press Shaw Brothers is a big issue for me here in HK, because even though this is supposed to be some sort of DVD mecca, many key - and not so key - titles are now impossible to find. For a good two months I had a copy of The Sentimental Swordsman on order, but eventually, the proprietor of the Mongkok store had to return my 50 HK dollars and shrug his shoulders. Nowadays, if I’m interested in a  Shaw Brothers title even on the future off-chance that I’ll want to see it someday, I should probably pick it up. Time waits for no man, and in the case of Shaw Brothers DVDs, it’s got the pedal to the metal and drifting around corners to get away from us as quickly as possible.

The solution to this problem: visit San Francisco!

Yep, it’s Chinatown
This is exactly how it looked when I was there.

Despite inflated prices and an abundance of dust, San Francisco shops seem to be the place to find out of press titles. Case in point: The Sentimental Swordsman, which I found buried in a stack somewhere. Two months on back order in a Mongkok shop and the title turns up all dusty in San Francisco. A couple of other Shaw Brothers titles that turned up were the original Gong Tau, titled Black Magic in English, and The Chinatown Kid, which is a cut, incomplete version of the film but is out of press nonetheless.

NOTE: both those titles will probably be released stateside one day via either Image Entertainment or Dragon Dynasty, but I’m not sure which company has either. At the very least I now have backup copies in case either company has cold feet and gets out of the R1 DVD biz.

The above isn’t really crap though. Luckily, I found stuff in Chinatown that surely qualifies as crap, namely the Andy Lau-Rosamund Kwan stinker Thanks For Your Love, which was directed by the guy who also brought us All About Love. I’m not even sure why I bought it, except for the fact that I know I can’t find it anymore in Hong Kong. That, and I vaguely recall that it has the same plot as the Steve Martin-Goldie Hawn movie Housesitter.

The gem of the trip may have been the totally Out of Press (OOP) Blade of Fury, which is so far out of circulation that the company who made it (Thakral) doesn’t seem to be involved in HK DVD distribution anymore. Oddly, the product page claims it has no English subtitles, which is totally untrue.

I also picked up the completely OOP film Black Rose II, from director Jeff Lau and starring Sandra Ng and Eric Kot, and the similarly hard to find Ghost Lantern, an amusing modern variation on A Chinese Ghost Story starring Chingmy Yau and the other Tony Leung.

Ghost Lantern is also notable for yet another bad guy performance from Roy Cheung, who probably deserves his own blog entry one day talking about actors who become legends through egregious typecasting. It’s also a film that will likely never get reprinted in any form because it’s just run-of-the-mill junk that has zero cinema importance. One of the saddest things right now about being a Hong Kong Cinema fan is knowing that there are some films that will never, ever be available again, and may only be seen one day via late night Hong Kong cable. It’s almost enough to make a person buy a DVD recorder and scan TV listings around the clock. I would do that, but I have enough on my plate.

In lieu of that, a crappy non-anamorphic DVD of Ghost Lantern will have to do just fine. Future generations, however, may be deprived of movies like Ghost Lantern, Blade of Fury, or other good movies that will never be considered important enough for remasters or rereleases.

Sadly, this child may never be able to see Thanks For Your Love.

Baby Matthew lives
“Andy Lau scares me.”

By the way, I think the Verbosity Police are knocking on my door.

Kozo’s Shopping Cart of Crap

This is a special edition of Kozo’s Shopping Cart of Crap, because this one takes place in a foreign country. Sort of. Let’s explain.

In case you’ve never heard of the fabulous history of, here’s the short version. Once upon a time, I lived in the amazing United States of America, a place I opted to leave when 1) I was offered a job at in Hong Kong, and 2) George Bush was reelected President of the United States. That second reason had less to do with Dubya’s presidency - which Fox News tells me has been a kick-ass seven years - and more about getting perspective. Basically, I wanted to know what it felt like to look at the United States from the outside. Would I appreciate the country more? Would I appreciate it less? Would I tear up my NRA membership card and go green? And would I swear off McDonald’s, lose that fry fat, and become completely unrecognizable to my relatives?

Flash-forward to three years later and the answers to the above are either unknown or confidential, though I will gladly answer the last one. I now visit McDonald’s maybe twice a month, I did lose some of the fry fat, and I now look somewhat different. In fact, the flight attendant who accepted my boarding pass looked at me, then looked at my passport picture, then looked back at me and said, “Wow Mr. Chen, you’ve lost a lot of weight.”

The moral: moving to another country can help you lose weight. Please pay me HK$888 for the tip, and sorry I couldn’t hire Myolie Wu to push my slimming advice. Here’s a photo of her anyway:

I’m thin now
Losing weight will turn you into an Angel

But this has nothing to do with America or Hong Kong film, so I’ll fix that right now by segueing into the Kozo’s Shopping Cart of Crap feature. Normally I’d use this opportunity to hawk DVDs at because nobody else online does. Okay, that’s not true, but seldom pushes products, and actually telling people when DVDs get released can be useful. Also,’s marketing department has suggested that I do it, and to be honest, it’s not such a bad idea because it can help people navigate’s ten million products and sixty different product lines to identify what might interest them.

But that’s another problem, because I have no idea what interests the people who read this site. Besides, running this site according to the interests of others has never been my strong point. If that were the case, I would probably have made the common decision of watching only movies with Donnie Yen and Stephen Chow, or simply dropping Hong Kong and going with Korea because it’s more “in” with the kids. Basically, I watch what nobody cares about, and I do a damn good job of keeping up with it. Do I do a good job of writing about it? That’s all in the eye of the beholder, but some leet dudes have made it known that they don’t approve of me or my writing style. My response to these people is that I will gladly refund their membership fee.

But anyway, plugging hot products is not my thing, so I’ve decided to use Kozo’s Shopping Cart of Crap to talk about what I really, truly buy, thereby revealing to people that 1) I do spend money on entertainment products; 2) I don’t download like 60% of the people who drop by this site; 3) I will frequently buy what I review after seeing it in the theater, essentially double-dipping; and 4) I buy what I’ve panned before, or stuff that nobody really cares about. Yep, I admit that I buy crap - and, as anyone who’s taken a 12-step program knows, admitting that you have a problem is the first step towards recovery. If only I could do the same for my fixation with running this website.

So Kozo’s Shopping Cart of Crap is about what products I actually buy, and this Special Edition exists because unlike my usual Hong Kong (or based buying patterns, I did my shopping in Chinatown, San Francisco. Also, the United States is now a foreign country to me because I now live in Hong Kong, hence the incredible digression where I rambled on and on about the history of this site and how I ended up in Hong Kong. There, it all ties together now - not that this explanation necessarily improves the quality of the writing.

Phew…that’s a massive intro. So massive in fact that I’ll curtail this right now and actually talk about what I bought later. Besides, the Verbosity Police are not happy.

Blog Cop Anthony Wong
“Keep those blog entries short, kids!” Copyright © 2002-2024 Ross Chen