Friday, June 26, 2015

Silver-hook Gambling House (Lu Siao Feng) - Gu Long

Liok Siau-hong: "Some people looking for fame, power; some for treasure. Do you know what I look for?"
Sebun Jui-soat : "Trouble"
Liok Siau-hong: "Exactly. No matter where I go and where I look, all I found is trouble."

Forst published in 1977, this book started well. Liok Siau-hong went with one of his friends, Put Giok-hui, to the Silver-hook Gambling House - whose owner was Put Giok-hui's brother-in-law, known as Blue Beard. It was said that those who liked women and wine, should also like gambling.

In the gambling house, Liok Siau-hong met a mysterious beautiful woman who lured him out and encaged him for 3 days. After 3 days, Liok Siau-hong was free, but accused of killing the son of a powerful clan. Of course Liok Siau-hong was unable to prove his alibi. Blue Beard promised to clear Liok Siau-hong's name if Liok Siau-hong promised to get back a-thousand-year-old sacred jade stone, which had been stolen by Blue Beard's first wife. The jade stone had been pawned to the gambling house by the dead son of the powerful clan's leader and now the leader wanted it back.

So Liok Siau-hong went to the north, to a very cold city, the hometown of Blue Beard's first wife. All the way he was protected by three people from the clan who wouldn't let anything happen to him before he found the jade stone.

This story features a number of beautiful women, but all of them were cunning. The twists of the story were very good.

Be Careful Sweetheart (1984)

I cannot remember if I ever watched this movie in the 80's, because last night when I watched it, the images were familiar, especially the red wedding gowns in the beginning. I remember the Night Orchid very well, but only recently I found out that Lin Ching-hsia did another movie with Cheng Shao-chiu (and Erl Tung-shen) - beside the Zu Warriors. Or perhaps I only read the synopsis back then in Ria Film. [Ria Film was a weekly magazine in the 80's. It contained detailed synopsis of new movies and celebrity news.]

Wai Kai (Cheng Shao-chiu) and Ling Er (Lin Ching-hsia) are lovers, but unfortunately they are students in Ying Feng Villa - which belongs to Eunuch Sheng. One of the villa's rules is: love affair is strictly forbidden. Wai Kai and Ling Erl must die because they have violated this rule. When they are about to be executed (using guillotine. Usually in this kind of movie they use a sword [or sabre] to decapitate. In the execution the couple wearing red wedding gowns - but they are not the usual traditional wedding clothes, the designs are beautiful. This scene is completed with wedding music in the background.), they are helped by Feng Shi and Feng Chu, another couple which has been expelled from the villa.

The wedding/execution scene.
I bet the costumes were designed for fighting purpose.
Eunuch Sheng sends people to go after them. Later, the pursuers are led by Lu Cheng (Erl Tung-shen), who actually also loves Ling Er. Lu Cheng helps the couple to get rid of the pursuers. However, Wai Kai decides that he won't run anymore and makes a plan to expose Eunuch Sheng's secret agreement with the Tibetan princess to usurp the throne. Unfortunately he doesn't tell Ling Erl about his plan, so when he leaves her to seduce the princess, Ling Erl thinks he has betrayed her, so she seeks revenge by trying to kill him.

I'm happy to know this movie has English subtitles!
Compared to the Night Orchid, Be Careful Sweetheart has more comprehensible plots [the first 15 minutes of the Night Orchid is hard to understand unless you have read the book]. Ling Er's two lovers, Wai Kai and Lu Cheng have opposite character traits. Wai Kai is full of humour, headstrong, animated; while Lu Cheng is quiet, sincere and reserved.

I like very much Wai Kai's grey costume
The costumes were great. Cheng Shao-chiu in real life was skinny (he still is), but in ancient costumes he looked very dashing. He looked more handsome in ancient costumes than in modern suits. I wonder how many layers of clothes he wore if he was playing a swordsman.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Legend of Lu Siao Feng - Gu Long

I remember seeing the poster of  Luk Siu Fung TV series in early 80's (but I never had the opportunity to watch the series). Liu Sung Ren (Damian Lau) played Luk Siu Fung (or Lu Xiao Feng or Liok Siau-hong). The TV series was made in 1976 - the same year as the books (if the notes I found are right); it shows how popular Khu Lung was, if his books were straight made into films.

I just finished reading the first 3 books, and among the 3, I think The Bandit Who Did Needlework is the best. The detective work really stands out (at least compared to the other 2). The 3 books should be read together and in the right order. A very important key to enjoy these books is they have to be translated by a right person.

Liok Siau-hong (siau = little, hong=phoenix; Siau-hong means 'little phoenix'. Usually it's a woman's name.) was well-known for his 4 eyebrows: two above his eyes, two above his mouth or moustache. His great skill was his ability to catch a sword, no matter how fast it was, with his 2 fingers. Like Coh Liu-hiang, he was very smart, liked beautiful women and wine, poking in other people's business, and already became a legend while still alive. One of his good friends, Hoa Ban-lau, was blind. Liok Siau-hong taught Hoa Ban-lau how to clamp a sword using forefinger and middle finger.

[The differences - between Coh Liu-hiang and Liok Siau-hong - were: 1) Liok Siau-hong was lazier. There were times he wouldn't get up from bed, not even for a cup of wine. He lied down, put the cup on his chest and sucked the cup (without raising his head). The cup would move towards his lips, then he drank the wine without spilling a drop. 2) Coh Liu-hiang never killed. He didn't have the heart to hurt other people. In The Trush, when Li Giok-ham was attacking him, if Coh Liu-hiang using his inner force to block the blow, Li Giok-ham would be dead. He did not want to hurt Li Giok-ham, so he himself got kicked and tumbled down. 3)Coh Liu-hiang was more patient. In all five books, I think he only got angry 3 times: when Chiu Ling-siok told him about Lamkiong Ling's crime, when a Kaypang elder didn't believe him that Bu Hoa had been dead, and when Kionglam Yan slandered him as Sutouw King's killer.]

In the first book, the emperor from The Kingdom of Golden Bird, who had been living in exile, asked Liok Siau-hong's  help to find 3 men who had stolen the kingdom's treasure and return the treasure to him. The 3 men had been 3 high officials and after years they had became big names in the martial world. To confront them, Liok Siau-hong sought a famous swordsman's help. His name was Sebun Jui-soat. Sebun Jui-soat agreed to help if Liok Siau-hong shaved his famous moustache.
Like in any good detective stories, of course the matter was not as easy as it seemed.

The 2nd book: The Bandit Who Did Needlework. A mysterious bandit did big 60 robberies in a month, including the robbery of the Palace's Treasure Room which had been guarded very tight. No one could see the face of the robber and at first sight, he bowed down his face while he was doing a needlework; then after he mentioned his intention to rob, he did needlework to the guards' eyes, made them blind. Becoming blind was hard to endure, but thanks to Hoa Ban-lau, Liok Siau-hong's friend who was blind, the victims regained their spirit to live. The investigation of the bandit led Liok Siau-hong to a mysterious group which all of its members wore red shoes.

The 3rd book: Before and after the final duel. Liok Siau-hong had 2 friends who excelled in swordplay: Sebun Jui-soat and Yap Koh-seng. Both liked to wear white clothes. These two had made a promise to duel on the rooftop of the Forbidden City. People made bets on who would win, but then they heard that Yap Koh-seng had been critically wounded. On the other hand, Sebun Jui-soat had recently been married, and this had made him human. If he had become human, it would be impossible for him to defeated Yap Koh-seng. However, there was another reason why the duel was to be held in the Forbidden City. Like its name, the place was forbidden to enter. The palace's guard gave Liok Siau-hong six silk belts. Only those who wore the belts could enter the palace to watch the duel.

The silk belts part was used in Chu Liu-hsiang 1995 TV series. Chu Liu-hsiang was going to have a duel with a Japanese swordsman in the palace and only those who wore the special token could enter. I think they had replace the belts with brooches. The last part in the same book was also used in the Chu Liu-hsiang 1995 TV series: Chu Liu-hsiang and the emperor were having a private meeting and his friends outside were curious what they were talking about. They only heard that Chu laughed very hard ("In front of the emperor he dared to laugh like that?") and that the emperor would grant whatever he wanted. They all wondered what he asked.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Delon Romy Ils se sont tant aimes

One of the most beautiful books in my collection. The photographs are very well reproduced. As we can see from the title, this books is about the moving love story between two greatest actors: Alain Delon and Romy Schneider: from how they first met for the production of Christine (1958), became engaged, separated in 1963, and met again in 1968 for La Piscine. The tragic death of Romy's son in 1981, led the legendary actress to her own's. The book is easy to read (especially after reading Henri Rode's book about Delon).

144 pages. Published in 2009. Dimensions: 29,7 x 22,7 x 1,5 cm

From 'La fuite du bonheur' chapter. Page 118.

Le fascinant Monsieur Delon (Collection Tetes d'affiche)

The binding is poor -my copy of this book has already fallen apart- and many of the b/w pictures (scattered throughout the book) are not well reproduced, but compared to other books about Delon, this one has interesting contents because journalist Henry Rode really interviewed him. The highlight must be the chapter called 'Delon Express' where we can read the actor's thoughts on certain things. Not an easy reading book, though.

There is also a part about imaginary dialogues if Alain Delon met Pablo Picasso.

Publish in 1982. Dimensions: 20,4 x  14,8 x 2 cm.352 pages.

From chapter 13: Delon express

From chapter 6: Elles: Romy, Nathalie, Mireille

Alain Delon et Romy Schneider : Les fiancés de l'éternel

As you can guess from the title, this book is about the story of Alain Delon and Romy Schneider.

Compared to other books with the same subject, I found this one is quite disappointing because there are not many new infos. Furthermore, there are only 9 photographs, incl. the cover.  The photographs are grouped in the middle of the book.

At the end of every chapter, there is a sketch of Delon kissing Romy.

The letters are quite big, with big line spacing, so in all, the book could be squeezed into a thinner one, at a cheaper price.

Book dimensions: 22 x 14,1 x 2 cm. Published in 2010. 284 pages.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Night Orchid (1982)

After the death of Soh Yong-yong, one of his three girl-friends, Coh Liu-hiang left the martial world and went into hiding. To lure him out, the enemies killed his friends. The most outstanding killer was a mysterious person nicknamed The Night Orchid.

One of Coh Liu-hiang's friends had this jade horse, given by Coh himself. People shed blood trying to obtain it and when Coh Liu-hiang arrived and this friend told him how he had defended it with his life, Coh said carelessly that it was a fake.

So it was said that he went into hiding and people died for him, but after he appeared, his friend Oh Thi-hoa and the two girls Li Ang-siu and Song Thiam-ji soon joined him. I wonder if this meant they traveled in a group - and why it was so difficult to find him.

I thought the 3 girls who lived with Coh Liu-hiang were orphans. They went to live with him because they had no one else. However, here Soh Yong-yong had a father and a younger sister.

One of the two waterfall scenes
The main enemy, from his clothes, seemed from a foreign country. The Night Orchid was one of his pawns. He lured out Coh Liu-hiang in order to kill our hero because he wanted to rule the martial world and apparently it wouldn't work if Coh was still alive. You can tell that the script writer was a James Bond fan.

The scenes with Miss Lan (the woman who dared Coh to take an acid bath) were all weird and they looked outdated, especially with her 80's hair-style. [The "acid" bath was only in appearance. 'The poison is in her nails', explained Coh Liu-hiang.]

Coh wondered why he had orchids at his place
As bad as this movie was, I remember how I wanted to watch it when it was shown on theatre. I wanted so much to watch Cheng Shao-chiu and Lin Ching-hsia, yet I didn't even dare to ask money (for the ticket) from my mom. I knew she would not give me a permission because it was a movie for adult (17+). I had seen the trailer, it showed the waterfall scene and I loved the memorable theme song. Compared to Ti Lung versions from Shaw Brothers, the ones with Adam Cheng had more beautiful costumes.

Adam Cheng
There are two versions of this movie on YouTube. The first one is English dubbed, but in my opinion the dubbing is so bad, it is hard to understand the dialogues. This version also has lost the opening credits and, if I remember correctly, the theme song in one of the waterfall scenes. The second version with a better quality is the Mandarin version, with Chinese subtitles, which for me also doesn't work because I understand neither. However, there are English subtitles available somewhere. So what I did was: download the Mandarin version from YouTube and synchronized it with the English subs. It could do for the moment until a decent quality DVD (with English subs) is available.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Black Sabre - Gu Long

The Black Sabre (1976)
From the beginning, it is obvious that the main theme of this story is revenge. However, this book is in the same series as Little Li's Flying Dagger, where one could not overlook forgiveness, hence the twists of the story.

A limp, pale young man called Pho Ang-soat traveled around in black, carrying a black sabre. His mother had made him swear to kill Be Khong-cun, the chief of a powerful clan Ban-be-tong. There were many mysterious deaths in the clan since Pho Ang-soat arrived in a little town nearby, but who was the killer? - for Pho Ang-soat only wanted to kill one man: the chief.

Nineteen years ago, Pho Ang-soat's father and his (almost) entire family was massacred by a mysterious group, but clearly Pho's mother knew that one of them was Be Khong-cun, then Pho's father close friend. Although Pho Ang-soat was crippled, when he fought, he would forget he was a cripple. The black sabre in his hand became a deadly weapon.

There was also a mysterious young man named Yap Kay. He wanted to befriend and help Pho Ang-soat, but was always refused.It would turn out that Yap Kay was Siau Li (Li Sun-hoan)'s [only] student. He also had every right to meddle into Pho Ang-soat's affair.

Another interesting character was a young man named Lok Siau-ka. He liked peanuts. He ate them anytime, anywhere and could attack with one.

Pho Ang-soat, Yap Kay and Lok Siau-ka were of same age; yet the way they think was different, much influenced by their teachers. Pho Ang-soat's mind was cold and full of revenge because of his mother; Yap Kay was wise and forgiving, he examined the facts before making a conclusion; while Lok Siau-ka was a bit eccentric.

There were a couple of mistaken identities, babies switched at birth and switched lovers, which made the revelation was more amusing.

People say that this book is not the author's best, but in my opinion this is a good read, with a good ending. Those who are familiar with the author's works would know that he was often too drunk to write clear endings.

The Sound of the Sabre in a Border Town (1983)
This is the sequel and soon as I'd read a couple of pages, I started to have regrets. The story took place 10 years later and the dead people in the previous story lived again. Be Khong-cun held a party and invited Yap Kay and Pho Ang-soat. Be Khong-cun had a beautiful daughter and was looking for a son-in-law. This daughter grew up in a garden full of monkey belong to an old man named Ong. Curious, Yap Kay went to the garden to investigate a rumor he had heard, that there was a monkey with human head. There was also a mystery of a vampire who killed people.

Looking at when this book was written, I could understand why the plots were far fetched. The author must be having many troubles then. Most of the story was written by someone else.

The Eagle Flying in September (1974)
It turned out I read these books in wrong order, I should have read this first. However I was glad I had not, because I had not known Pho Ang-soat was Yap Kay's brother when I read the Black Sabre; which made the surprise more exciting.

The book started well. Yap Kay had several aliases and he was good in every one of them. Every body was afraid of him because he was Li Sun-hoan's student. A new interesting character was Siangkoan Kim-hong and Lim Sian-ji's beautiful daughter Siangkoan Siau-sian, who had declared herself as the chief of Kim-ci-pang. Her strongest opponent was the Mo-kau clan, so she asked Yap Kay's help to eliminate the top swordsmen from Mo-kau. The problem was they didn't know who they were because they were in disguise.

The relationship between Yap Kay and his girlfriend Ting Hun-pin was rather weird. As soon as she heard that Yap Kay was dead, she made a decision to marry someone else the next day. Even if she owned her life to him, at least she had to have some mourning time, right?

The ending was not very good, in my opinion. The enemies died easily.

Clans of Intrigue (1977)

This movie is based on the first 3 books from The Legend of Chu Liu-hsiang, but as its running time is only about 1 1/2 hours, some parts have been - of course- cut out.

Chu Liu-hsiang was a dandy man, still I was amused with the big chains on Ti Lung's costume. [Later in the Perils of the Sentimental Swordsman, he wore more accessories on his hair.]

See the chain accessories. The boat in the background looked expensive.
Three big chiefs from different clans had been murdered, poisoned by the magic water. If in the book the poison left no trace, here the bodies were bloated. The owner of Palace Magic Water accused our master thief Chu Liu-hsiang as the culprit and as our hero denied the accusation, they gave him one month to catch the real guilty person.

Chu Liu-hsiang found that the 3 dead leaders had been lured out by a letter from a beautiful woman, who had been married to the chief of the Beggars' Clan. The woman admitted that she had sent the letters, looking for help because her husband had been murdered.

Chu Liu-hsiang had a problem with his nose.
It's the first time I saw he used an inhaler, though.
The plots were a bit different from the book, mostly because one of the Japanese hero's children was a girl.

A very young Norman Tsui in a little role.
He played a student of one of the dead chiefs.