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Sadly Forgotten: The life and career of Big Silly Head and the Blue Jean Monster (1991)

Darren Murray
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Sadly Forgotten: The life and career of Big Silly Head and the Blue Jean Monster (1991)

Only Hong Kong cinema could produce an actor like Shing Fui-On, affectionately known as Big Silly Head by his fans. Alternating between playing comedy characters to playing the worst villains cinema has to offer, Shing Fui-On built a successful acting career by co-starring in some of Hong Kong Cinema’s most popular films.

Not exactly possessing movie star looks and being around a head taller than most of his co-stars, this enabled him to be cast in certain roles throughout his career, with his size either being used to villainous or comedic effect, sometimes even in the same film.

Shing Fui-On was one of five children born to a Hakka family. Due to the family’s poor financial situation, Shing had no choice but to drop out of school early. After leaving school he got his first taste of film work, gaining employment at Shaw Brothers studios as an extra.

After his brief stint at Shaw Brothers he would move on to work with Golden Harvest Studio’s, pretty much carrying out the same work as an extra that he had done at Shaw Brothers. He can be spotted in some of Golden Harvest earlier films such as Lo Wei’s Back Alley Princess (1973) and John Woo’s directorial debut The Young Dragons (1975), which is also noteworthy as its also featured action choreography by Jackie Chan. Shing would go on to work with John Woo a number of times throughout his career.

After this Shing would take some time out and work at a local dance hall. He would return to films at the start of the 1980’s, initially in very small roles such as The Bomb-Shell (1981), All the Wrong Spies (1983) and Heaven Can Help (1984).

He would work consistently the next couple of years, still appearing in small roles. Most notably he would be cast in Danny Lee’s excellent Cop drama Law With Two Phases (1984). Admittedly a small role, but it would play a part in him being cast as one of the main villains in The Law Enforcer (1986). Like Law With Two Phases, the film was directed by its star Danny Lee, and painted a more realistic picture of the police.

1986 proved to be quite a busy year for Shing with him appearing in ten films during the year. Amongst them is the already mentioned The Law Enforcer, Ronny Yu’s Legacy of Rage (1986), which features a brief but brutal fight scene between himself and Brandon Lee. He would also go on to work again with John Woo, playing the main villain’s bodyguard in a Better Tomorrow (1986). This was the first time he had worked with Woo since his small role in the Young Dragons eleven years previous.

Come 1987, Shing was becoming more prolific, and was even busier than the year previous by appearing in thirteen films throughout the year. He would once again work with John Woo, returning to the Better Tomorrow franchise, although as a different character in A Better Tomorrow 2 (1987). He would also play a supporting role in Ringo Lam’s Prison on Fire (1987). Like the rest of the supporting cast in the film, his part is short but he still manages to make an impression. There would also be small roles in Taylor Wong’s Rich and Famous (1987) and its sequel Tragic Hero (1987), although like a lot of Shing’s, the parts were quite short.

In 1988 he would break his already impressive record for film appearances, with him appearing in over twenty films during the year. A good deal of these was brief roles such as The Inspector Wear’s Skirts (1988). He would also begin to appear in more comedic roles, starring in Wong Jing’s The Crazy Companies (1988) and its sequel. Staying in comedy mode, he would make a small but hilarious appearance in Tiger on the Beat (1988), acting alongside Chow Yun Fat as an especially stupid husband.

One of the better films he appeared in was the Category 3 exploitation film Her Vengeance (1988), acting alongside Pauline Wong and Lam Ching Ying. Although he plays a rapist, the film is blackly comic at times, especially when Shing is chewing up the scenery. He would also work with Danny Lee yet again on Final Justice (1988). Playing one of the films main villains, Final Justice is a decent thriller which also features an early serious role for future comedy superstar Chow Sing Chi. 

Other films of note in this period were a small role in Lau Kar Wings action packed The Dragon Family (1988) and the Clarence Fok comedy The Greatest Lover (1988), which had him once again sharing the screen with Chow Yun Fat. He would also work with Rich and Famous director Taylor Wong on the courtroom drama The Truth (1988), with his role being one of the films highlights.

Moving into 1989, he would once again break his film appearance record, with him showing up in twenty seven films throughout the year. During this time he would once again work with director John Woo, taking up main villain duties in Woo’s masterpiece The Killer (1989). This would prove to be one of Shing’s largest roles to date, with his character giving him a real chance to chew the scenery. It is also one of the roles that he is probably best known for in the West due to the popularity of The Killer. He would also make a brief appearance in Woo’s other film of the year, Just Heroes (1989).

During this time he would play a small but hilarious role in Wong Jing’s smash hit God of Gamblers (1989), playing a slightly simple gangster. There would also be the enjoyable Seven Warriors (1989), a Hong Kong take on Seven Samurai, with Shing getting to play one of the good guys for a change.

The Greatest Lover director Clarence Fok would also team up with Shing again on the enjoyable comedy action movie They Came to Rob Hong Kong (1989), also starring Dean Shek, Chin Siu-Ho, Eric Tsang and Chingamy Yau.

There would be more comedy to come for Shing, with him featuring in a co-starring role in My Hero (1990). One of Chow Sing Chi’s early comedic roles, My Hero is an enjoyable action comedy, with Shing getting to play a more comedic character, although the film does take some serious turns.

Throughout 1990 he would co-star with Chow Sing Chi multiple times with When Fortune Smiles (1990), Triad Story (1990), Love is Love (1990), Unmatchable Match (1990) and God of Gamblers 2 (1990) amongst them. My Hero is the largest part he would play in the films, although he is still good fun whenever he appears, no matter how limited the screen time. During this year he was slacking a bit, with only twenty five films appearances in the year.

1991 would be a noteworthy year for Shing, with him starring in The Blue Jean Monster (1991), which was his sole leading role throughout his acting career; although it could be argued that his supporting turn in Secret Lover (1995) is as much of a lead role as the film’s star Lily Lee. I will come back to The Blue Jean Monster later, as it is one of Shing’s more enjoyable efforts even if it is bat shit crazy.

In the same year he would co-star in a number of other noteworthy films, amongst them being Eric Tsang’s The Tigers (1991), an especially serious crime drama starring Andy lau and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai. He would also co-star with the two of them again on the comedy Don’t Fool Me (1991). Directed by Herman Yau and also featuring a supporting turn from Anthony Wong, Don’t Fool Me is one of director Yau’s lesser films, although Shing gives a great comedic performance.

As well as his other films throughout the year, he ended up working with Chow Sing Chi once again on both Legend of the Dragon (1991), directed by his Killer co-star Danny Lee and Fist of Fury 1991 (1991), from director Rico Chu Tak-On.

He would work through the next couple of years, co-starring as usual in films of various quality. Some standouts of the time are The Sting (1992), an entertaining comedy headlined by Andy Lau and the excellent/infamous Category 3 shocker The Untold Story (1993), once again appearing with past co-stars Danny Lee and Anthony Wong.

As the mid 1990’s came he would begin to appear in fewer films per year, although ten in a year is still quite impressive. In 1994 he would co-star in the early directorial effort from director Andrew Lau, the underrated To Live and Die in Tsimshatsui (1994). Featuring excellent performances from Jacky Cheung, Tony Leung Ka-Fai , Ng Sin Lin, Roy Cheung and with Shing being excellent in another good guy role, it is a wonder why the film isn’t more fondly remembered as Andrew Lau’s other films.

He would go on to appear in another Andrew Lau film, with a brief cameo in Young and Dangerous (1996), as well as having a role in the surprisingly decent female centred rip-off Sexy and Dangerous (1996), with his bleached hair being a sight to behold.

During this time, he would return to the God of Gamblers franchise, making a small appearance in Saint of Gamblers (1995), playing mostly the same role as he had previously. There would also be Ebola Syndrome (1996), which found him in Category 3 territory once again with director Herman Yau and Anthony Wong. The following year would bring another Herman Yau film, the supernatural action thriller comedy drama Walk In (1997), once again teaming him up with Danny Lee. Although Shing has a relatively small role in the film, Walk In deserves to be seen as it has something for everyone and is a total mix of genre’s.

Like many Hong Kong actors, Shing has starred in a fair share of stinkers, and with the sheer wealth of film roles he had accumulated throughout his career, he has quite a bit more than the typical actor. Of these films Shing always gave them his all and never phoned in a performance, even making some of his poorest films worth watching due to him showing up.

Some of Shing’s poorest are definitely The Troublesome Romance (2002), a terrible shot on video romantic drama, the crime thriller A Mysterious Murder (2002) and Prison on Fire – Preacher (2002), the third entry after Prison on Fire – Life Sentence (2001) and Prison on Fire – Plaintive Destiny (2001). All three films in this short series were poor attempts by B & S Limited at reviving the famous Ringo Lam series of films of the same name.

Due to Shing’s increasing poor health throughout the ensuing decade he would start to pull back on film roles. Of notice he would act alongside regular co-star Danny Lee in the poorly titled Unarm 72 hours (2003). Not exactly a great film due to its cheap look, with the film being shot on digital video, it is still worth watching for the ever reliable Danny Lee and a good supporting turn from Shing.

Unfortunately in 2004 Shing ended up being diagnosed with throat cancer, which by the time it had been diagnosed had already spread into his lungs. He had begun to receive treatment which kept his condition stable for a while, although it had affected his hearing resulting in him being almost deaf in one of his ears. His mouth had also lost the ability to produce saliva.

It is understandable that Shing would have cut back on film roles at this time, although he still managed to fit in the odd film, with him showing up in a small role in the derided Himalaya Singh (2005). Not as bad as critics have made out, although it could never really be classified as a good film, there is still fun to be had watching established stars like Lau Ching Wan, Cecilia Cheung, Ronald Cheng and Francis Ng make fools of themselves. Shing Fui-On is just a bonus.

Shing’s last Hong Kong film was Oxide Pang’s The Detective (2007). A better than expected mystery thriller with supernatural overtones, The Detective features a terrific lead performance by star Aaron Kwok with excellent support from Liu Kai-Chi. By this time Shing’s health problems were starting to become apparent, although he is good in his small role which adds to the overall enjoyment factor of the film.

His last credited appearance was in the British made Bodyguard: A New Beginning (2008), a poor attempt to bring Hong Kong style action to Britain by director Chee Keong Cheung. Looking incredibly cheap due to being shot on poor digital cameras and with some woeful acting from certain supporting players and poorly realised action scenes, Bodyguard: A New Beginning is one too be missed.

It is also a poor send off for Shing. Surprisingly the film was able to attract some major Hong Kong cinema talent, with the film being led by Vincent Sze, who Hong Kong cinema fans would recognise from SPL (2005), Dragon Tiger Gate (2006) and more recently Firestorm (2013) alongside Andy Lau. He is also supported by Hong Kong cinema legend Richard Ng of the Lucky Stars and Pom Pom series’, with his son Carl Ng also showing up to play one of the films villains. Throw in B movie legend Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa into the mix and it’s a real wonder how the director and producers managed to mess the film up so badly.

Although Shing had initially beaten his throat cancer, he had lost a tremendous amount of weight. Due to his condition worsening, he would end up contracting Hepatitis B which then resulted in him contracting liver cancer. Sadly Shing Fui-On passed away in August of 2009. Luckily for fans old and new he left a catalogue of great Hong Kong films to enjoy, such as his one sole leading role in The Blue Jean Monster.

Shing Fui-On plays Tsu, a not too bright cop who is constantly being harassed by his pregnant wife Chu played by Pauline Wong. They also have an extremely annoying room-mate called Power Steering, played by Tse Wai-Kit. Through Power Steering’s contacts they find out about a planned bank robbery which Tsu tries to stop.

The robbery is an excellent action packed sequence which ends up with Tsu being murdered by the gang of robbers in a junkyard. Not only is he shot but he is buried under scaffolding for his troubles. Luckily he is brought back to life by supposedly magic cat piss and a bolt of lightning. Only in Hong Kong cinema.

Tsu now has superhuman strength and invulnerable to bullets and other weapons, although he does have some drawbacks, with him unable to eat anything or walk around in sunlight. He also needs to be constantly charging himself with electricity to keep going. Tsu vows that he will bring the robbers to justice and see his child born before his life runs out.

Like a great deal of Hong Kong movies, a good deal of Blue Jean Monster is played for laughs even though it features extreme scenes of violence. There is a large section in the middle of the film devoted to comedic sequences of Tsu’s wife thinking he is either having an affair or gay. Some of the jokes in these parts can be cringe worthy but actually add to the overall enjoyment of the anything goes attitude of the film.

One memorable sequence has Tsu find out what happens when he tries to eat food, with the food coming through the whole in his belly where the scaffolding went through. This scene is equally played for laughs and horror.

Even though billed as a supernatural comedy, the action involved in the film is terrific and well directed. There are a number of shoot outs, a car chase and a terrific violent finale involving guns, cars, tools etc.

There are apparent tonal shifts throughout the whole running time, with the violent opening moving on to comedy scenes of Tsu trying to cover up his problem from his wife then on to tear jerking drama before we return to another violent confrontation. This is one of the reasons I love Hong Kong cinema as you are never sure of what type of film you are going to get. Unfortunately Blue Jean Monster was slapped with a Category 3 rating, which is uncalled for. Sure the film is violent, but John Woo films and the like have gotten away with worse and never been given such a restrictive rating.

Blue Jean Monster would prove to be the best film to come from director Ivan Lai, and when you look at the rest of his filmography, it would appear that even this was a fluke, with only Love, Guns & Glass (1995) being anywhere close to being a quality film, and even that has its boring points.

Lai has had his hand in various areas of film production throughout his career, initially working as an assistant director on Hong Kong classics such as The Club and Royal Warriors (1986). During this time he also composed the music for the films Coolie Killer (1982) and Sketch (1983).

Lai would also work as a planner on a the films Beloved Daddy (1984), Final Justice, where he would work with Blue Jean Monster star Shing Fui On for the first time and the Category 3 exploitation movie Jail House Eros (1990) which features a performance by Blue Jean Monster co-star Pauline Wong. During this time he also worked as an action director on the girls with guns movie Angel (1987), which could never be classed as a good film, although its action is worthwhile.

He would move on to directing at the end of the 1980’s, getting off to a good start with his first film Thank You, Sir (1989), another in the long line of Danny Lee cop movies, featuring another small role for Shing Fui-On. It would be another two years until The Blue Jean Monster; although after this he would have a film out every year for the remainder of the decade.

The Blue Jean Monster would be followed by the extremely poor Erotic Ghost Story 3 (1992), which doesn’t even have the fun of the original to fall back on. Staying in Category 3 mode, he would go to direct the even worse Daughter of Darkness (1993), which even the terrific Anthony Wong can’t save.

Things would only get worse from there, with his next directorial effort being Ancient Chinese Whorehouse (1994), which is only noteworthy as it features cameo appearances by both Shing Fui-On and Elvis Tsui.

For some reason Lai decided to make a sequel Daughter of Darkness, with Daughter of Darkness 2 (1994) actually being slightly better than its predecessor. Like a lot of Hong Kong films, especially ones from Ivan Lai, the film is tonally inconsistent, alternating from slapstick comedy to a sex scene then on to extreme violence.

From this he would make A Fake Pretty Woman (1995), which is only surprising for its lack of sex and violence, although does feature scenes of real surgery being performed. In the same year he would direct Love, Guns & Glass (1995), which as I mentioned earlier is decent but not totally successful. Lai was also a credited executive producer on the film, adding another string to his bow of job titles.

His next two films saw Lai going back to Category 3 movie making. Both The Imp (1996) and The Peeping Tom (1997) don’t have much to recommend other than the usual glimpses of violence and naked flesh.

God.com (1998) was to follow, a slightly better thriller from Lai featuring a surprisingly wooden performance from Louis Koo. A good supporting turn from Anthony Wong somewhat makes up for this.

It would appear that Lai may have been on a roll, with his follow up being another decent thriller, The King of Debt Collecting Agent (1999), featuring a good lead performance from Nick Cheung, foreshadowing the quality actor he would become. He is also supported by Francis Ng in one of his poorer roles, as well as decent turns from Anthony Wong and Sam Lee.

Lai then went on to make what was one of his poorest films to date, The Kingdom of Mob (1999). It is a wonder how he was able to tempt quality actors of Anthony Wong and Chan Wai Man’s calibre to star in what turned out to be one of the cheapest looking films to come from Hong Kong in this period. Perhaps Anthony Wong had enjoyed working with Lai so much on God.com and The King of Debt Collecting Agent that he didn’t even bother reading the script and jumped straight in.

 King of Debt Collecting Agent co-star Sam Lee would return for Lai’s next film, the romantic drama True Love (2000). Overall a poor film, it is still a major improvement on his previous films although overall the film is deeply depressing with an out of nowhere bleak ending that is seemingly just there to upset the viewer.

Moving into 2001 he would make four films in quick succession, with Troublesome Night 9 (2001), Hot Rod (2001), Prison on Fire – Plaintive Destiny (2001) and Feng Shui and Gambling (2001). None of the films have much to recommend, with his entry in the Troublesome Night series being one of the poorer films in the series. The only plus points for Hot Rod and Prison on Fire – Plaintive Destiny is that they give the terrific Tommy Wong leading roles, although the films are quite beneath him.

His last credited film as director would reteam him with The Blue Jean Monster co-star Pauline Wong. Boxer’s Story (2004) is headlined by Yuen Biao and also features supporting roles for Chin Ka-Lok, Lam Suet, Eric Tsang and the previously mentioned Pauline Wong. Unfortunately the overall product is only slightly above a television movie, with cheap production values and poorly shot fight scenes, letting down the solid choreography of co-star Chin Ka-Lok, who is doing double duties here as action director.   

Some people may view The Blue Jean Monster as silly, but it can’t be denied that it is well made if slightly schizophrenic. What is sad is to view the other films on Ivan Lai’s resume to see that he never would again reach even this level of quality, no matter how hard he tried.

Shing Fui-On is the stand out of the cast, with him being equally good at comedy, drama and even fares well in the films action scenes, with his imposing size used to great effect. Although The Blue Jean Monster isn’t high art, it is a shame that Shing never got the chance to lead another film, even of this type.

The supporting actors don’t fare as well, with Tse Wai Kit as Power Steering being increasingly annoying as the films goes on. Like Shing Fui-On, Tse has a certain look that would stop him from leading roles. Unlike Shing, he has none of his talent.

Tse started out at the tail end of the 1980’s, and can be spotted in film’s such Ringo Lam’s School on Fire (1988) and the highly regarded Gangs (1988) from director Lawrence Lau. He can also be spotted in a small role in Benny Chan’s Moment of Romance (1990).

Blue Jean Monster would be one of his largest roles of the time, although in the same year he would show up in Fight Back to School (1991) and Forbidden Arsenal (1991), although he isn’t exactly memorable in either.

He would work throughout the most of the 1990’s, appearing in mainly small roles, though Dick Cho’s Gangs 92 (1992) would give him a larger role than usual, although the main focus is on the film’s lead Aaron Kwok. He would work with Kwok again the following year on Benny Chan’s Moment of Romance 2 (1993).

He would appear on screen with Shing Fui-On again in Hong Kong Adam’s Family (1994), which would be better off forgotten.

His last featured role in the 1990’s was a blink and you will miss it part in 24hrs Ghost Story (1997), with him only returning for yet another small role in the Anthony Wong vehicle Mr  Cinema (2007), although you will have to look out for him.

Pauline Wong is the only other actor/actress in the film that puts in an affecting performance as Chu, Tsu’s wife. Chu can come across as a bit of a moan but when you consider what she has to put up with during the film it is totally understandable. It isn’t exactly one of her better roles, and is definitely beneath her award winning role in Love with the Perfect Stranger (1985).

Wong started her film career in the early 1980’s, appearing in such smash hits as Mr Vampire and already mentioned Love with the Perfect Stranger. She would go on to appear in a number of well known Hong Kong releases such as Rich and Famous and its sequel Tragic Hero , before going on to make the classic Her Vengeance, which I wrote off earlier. Her relationship with Shing Fui-On in this film is far removed from the devoted wife in Blue Jean Monster.

In the same year as Her Vengeance she would co-star with Danny Lee in No Compromise (1988), an enjoyable quickie that also features performances from Carol Cheng (Do Do Cheng), Ken Lo, Wu Ma and even a small role for Shing Fui-On as well.

Wong would work again with Her Vengeance director Lam Nai-Choi on the fantasy action movie The Peacock King (1989), acting alongside Yuen Biao and Gloria Yip. Peacock King is an enjoyable fantasy with terrible effects that add to the overall enjoyment. She would continue in the fantasy genre with The Spooky Family (1990), a Mr Vampire style comedy headlined by a great lead performance from Kent Cheng and Nina Li and Billy Lau is support. It also features another small role from Shing Fui-On.

After Blue Jean Monster, Wong’s film roles became less, although there were still a few noticeable roles in films like Spiritual Trinity (1991), another variant on the Mr Vampire formula starring stalwart Lam Ching-Ying and Kent Cheng, with Wong in a main supporting role.

She would turn in a good performance in the romantic drama Right Here Waiting...(1994), forming part of an ensemble cast that also featured Cecelia Yip and Carrie Ng. Her last credited role in the 1990’s was as the lead in the action thriller Country Side Hero (1995), acting alongside martial artist Dick Wei.

Wong also featured in the tabloids in 2007 after she had allegedly assaulted a stylist who had been hired to get her career back on trick. She had apparently head butted him, smashed a glass in his face before following it up with a punch to the face. At least that training she done in Her Vengeance didn’t go to waste.

Wong would make a brief return to feature films, starring in The Fortune Buddies (2011), alongside Eric Tsang, Fiona Sit and Maggie Cheung Hoh-Yee.

The only other lead role of note is Gloria Yip as Gucci, although like the character of Power Steering, she can be extremely annoying, although not enough to derail the film. Like Pauline Wong she would also appear in The Peacock King, and also feature in the sequel Saga of the Phoenix (1990).

She would follow this up with a solid supporting turn in drama Promising Miss Bowie (1990), acting alongside Carol Cheng. The film is more of a showcase of her talents than anything in The Blue Jean Monster.  In the same year she would have a small role in the Hong Kong horror Demoness from Thousand Years (1990), a sadly lacklustre movie that wastes the talents of its leads Joey Wong and Jacky Cheung.

Yip would stay in fantasy mode for the following years Saviour of the Soul (1991), a much better attempt at fantasy action than her previous Demoness from Thousand Years. Shot in a comic book style by directors David Lai, Jeff Lau and Yuen Kwai and featuring excellent action scenes choreographed by Kwai with assistance by Yuen Tak, it is no surprise that Saviour of the Soul has become a cult classic, and one of the better films to appear on Yip’s resume.

One of Yip’s more famous films is the infamous Category 3 movie Story of Ricky (1992), a film that has gained massive cult status in the West and is probably the most well know film Yip appeared in, although the film doesn’t really give her much to do.

Other notable films for Yip in this period were the enjoyable and incredibly silly Flying Dagger (1993) and Legend of the Liquid Sword (1993), an equally silly swords play comedy. After co-starring in the final part of the Gods Must Be Crazy series, the poor The Gods Must be Funny in China (1994), Yip took a break from feature film work for almost ten years.

She would return to films with the horror effort Death Melody (2003), which she headlined. It would be good to say that it was worth the wait, but like a lot of Hong Kong horror, it is relatively poor in comparison to their other genre work.

She would work with Blue Jean Monster director Ivan Lai again on the sub-par martial arts drama Boxer’s Story (2004). She would follow this up with the even poorer Osaka Wrestling Restaurant (2004), which is only noteworthy for featuring a leading role for Timmy Hung, son of the legendary Sammo Hung.

To date Yip’s last credited roles were in the youth dramas Magic Boy (2007) and The Way We Dance (2013), both from director Adam Wong.

The film also features a cameo role for another Yip, Hong Kong sex symbol Amy Yip of Sex and Zen (1991) fame. She is only in a brief scene, and is used as usual to titillate the audience, which can’t be denied she is good at. In 1991 alone, she had eleven film roles including her cameo in Blue Jean Monster. Most of them were the usual erotic fluff that she would star in, although there are a number of decent films amongst them such as The Magnificent Scoundrels (1991), acting alongside Chow Sing Chi and the terrific gangster saga To Be Number One (1991).

Also look out for an appearance from Japanese actor Jun Kunimura as the films main villain. Unfortunately he is a bit underused and just comes across as the typical villain that most Hong Kong action movies of the time have. Primarily working in Japanese cinema, Kunimura can be spotted in such films as Takashi Miike’s extreme Ichi the Killer (2001), Ryuhei Kitamua’s sci-fi action movie Alive (2002) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) also directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. He has recently returned to the Godzilla franchise with the most recent entry Shin Godzilla (2016).

Kunimara hasn’t been a stranger to Hong Kong films either, with him going on to appear in John Woo’s Hard Boiled (1992), facing off against Chow Yun Fat in the film’s opening shootout. He would co-star again with Chow Yan Fat in the crazy but fun Treasure Hunt (1994) from director Jeff Lau. He can also be seen in director Patrick Leung’s Somebody Up There Likes Me (1996), an excellent boxing drama produced by John Woo.

He has travelled further afield, with him putting in an especially creepy performance in the South Korean hit The Wailing (2016), from Na Hong-Jin, director of The Chaser (2008) and The Yellow Sea (2010).

The Blue Jean Monster was produced by Chow Jan-Tung, who it would appear, was somewhat of a connoisseur in sleaze, with all the film he produced being under the Category 3 banner. Blue Jean Monster was Chow’s third film as producer after Erotic Ghost Story (1987 – released 1990) and Jail House Eros. He would go on to work with Ivan Lai the year following Blue Jean Monster on the dismal Erotic Ghost Story 3 (1992). His last credited film as producer was on Story of Ricky.

Chow Jan-Tung did however continue to work in the Hong Kong film industry, mainly as a planner. He had actually carried out these duties before becoming a producer, with him working on a number of decent films. The best of these are Road Warriors (1987), another Danny Lee cop movie, this time focusing on the work of motorcycle police and the previously mentioned Her Vengeance.

After his last film as producer, he would go on to work as a planner on two of Jackie’s Chan’s less well received films, City Hunter (1993) and Thunderbolt (1995) as well as a number of other Hong Kong movies.

Blue Jean Monster was the last credited film from writer Ng Gam-Hung. In his writing career he only worked on three other Hong Kong films, the drama Old Soldiers Never Die (1978), which he co-wrote with Wong Jing, The Sensational Pair (1983), which he co-wrote with the film’s star Kent Cheng and City Hero (1985) which he co-wrote along with Ng Cheuk-Hei and Lam Goon-Kiu. Blue Jean Monster was the only film where he was the sole credited writer.

As mentioned earlier, the action sequences are one of Blue Jean Monster’s main attractions with there being a variety of shootouts, car chases, fight scenes and explosions throughout the film. It is not surprising that the action is well done when you see that Phillip Kwok is the main action director.

Kwok has not only been action director on over sixty films but has also acted in roughly the same amount. Although he started out acting in main roles such as The Five Venoms (1978) and Crippled Avengers (1978), from director Chang Cheh, a lot of his later parts have been small roles. He has still managed to make an impression in films like The Big Heat (1988) which he also worked on as action director, Seven Warriors (1989) and especially Hard Boiled (1992), where he played the memorable Mad Dog.

As an action director Kwok started at the tail end of the 1970’s, assisting with the action in the Shaw Brothers classics Ten Tigers of Kwantung (1979), The Daredevils (1979) and The Magnificent Ruffians (1979). Kwok also had a main role in each of these. 

He would work on a number of famous Shaw Brothers films throughout, such as Sword Stained with Royal Blood (1981), House of Traps (1982) and Holy Flame of the Martial World (1983). Later on he would work on well known Hong Kong films like A Chinese Ghost Story (1987), where he was one of a number of action directors, They Came to Rob Hong Kong (1989) for director Clarence Fok and Once a Thief (1991) for John Woo.

He would work again with Woo on Hard Boiled as both actor and action director. He would also work with Blue Jean Monster director Ivan Lai on Erotic Ghost Story 3 and Love, Guns and Glass.

After this he would have a brief stint in Hollywood with the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), choreographing the fight scenes featuring the films female star Michelle Yeoh. Kwok also has a very brief cameo in the film.

He would work with Yeoh again a number of years later on Peter Pau’s The Touch (2002), which was the first film from Yeoh’s production company Mythical Films. The Touch would prove to be an enjoyable adventure let down by some extremely poor special effects work.

Still working outside of Hong Kong, he would also carry out the fight choreography for Christophe Gans’ excellent genre hybrid Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001).

Kwok has slowed down of late, although he has most recently worked on the comedy Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters (2013) and Dante Lam’s overlooked gem That Demon Within (2014).

Phillip Kwok was assisted by fellow action director Paul Wong to create Blue Jean Monster’s action scenes. Although nowhere as prolific as Kwok, Wong has still created some excellent action scenes. He has worked on a good deal of Hong Kong classics from the 1980’s and 1990’s He assisted with the action choreography in the Jackie Chan classic Police Story (1985), as well as the not so classic The Protector (1985) as well as working with Phillip Kwok on The Big Heat. He would work with Kwok again on Forbidden Arsenal (1991), the sixth part of the In the Line of Duty series.

Some of his best sole credits were for the first two films in the God of Gamblers series, and Fight Back to School (1991). As well as working with Phillip Kwok, Wong has worked with three of the best action director in Hong Kong cinema, Yuen Kwai, Yuen Woo Ping and Ridley Tsui.

Wong has also worked in front of the camera, acting in over 50 films, mainly in small roles such as In the Line of Duty 4 (1989), The Big Score (1990) and Once Upon a Time in China 5 (1994).

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ActionBig Silly HeadHong KongIvan LaiJun KunimaraPauline WongPhillip KwokShing Fui On
  • Darren Murray

    Thanks for making this the editors pick, but it looks as if the content has been deleted.

  • Yojimbo

    I was wondering.
    Sadly the title of your piece has proved to be ironically prescient.
    I shall look forward to reading it when it gets put up.

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