Zax (2005)
House of Fury


Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 10/28/2007

Convincing an audience to suspend their disbelief sufficiently to accept a pop music star as a fighter is much more complex than getting the stunt doubles, wire work, CGI and editing to mesh, although that is difficult enough in itself. The actors have to carry themselves with enough authority so that the contrast between their action scenes and the rest of their screen time isn’t too jarring. While “Twins Effect II” was a complete flop in accomplishing this, “House of Fury” was a qualified success.

This may have been due in part to concentrating on only one of the Twins. Gillian Chung did a more than adequate job of acting like a high school girl who is embarrassed by her father, annoyed to no end by her brother, in love with a boyfriend and, incidentally, has been trained in kung fu since she was old enough to walk. She also hits the appropriate poses and stances—at least those that have been made iconic by modern action heroines. Stephen Fung is less successful but since he directed the movie something would have to suffer. In this case it was the verisimilitude of his performance. Directing and taking a major part is very difficult. An example is John Sayles who is one of the most successful independent writer/directors working U. S. film. He always casts himself in his movies but in a part that doesn’t develop, one that he can learn and forget about. Since he also writes his movies he has an advantage in this. Clint Eastwood and Francois Truffaut have each directed and starred in major movies but only after decades of experience. Fung won’t have to decide between star billing and the director’s chair but should probably pick one or the other on a project by project basis.

The plot didn’t make much sense and, one imagines, wasn’t meant to. Anthony Wong can convince me he is capable of anything—the first scene of the movie in which he holds a number of teenagers spellbound with outrageous tales of his exploits is a good if unintended metaphor of his ability to create a character and sell it to an audience. That he never really seems to be in mortal danger is a function both of the script and also of Michael Wong who is simply unable to play a really threatening bad guy. Putting his character in a wheelchair with only limited movement of his fingers makes sense based on his story but it didn’t make Rocco any easier to play. With only his voice, face and movement of his head with which to create a role Wong was well out of his depth.

Daniel Wu had one of those impossible roles that might have looked good on paper but shouldn’t have made it to the screen like it did. Playing an undercover agent who is pretending to be Natalie’s slightly nerdy boyfriend but who is actually the agent sent to replace Natalie’s father is even clumsier than it sounds. Charlene Choi had just enough presence so that “House of Fury” could be billed as a Twins project.

There were too many lame references to older kung fu movies—when Anthony Wong’s chiropractic sign is knocked down so that the characters read “Fist of Fury” you just know he is going to do a Bruce Lee imitation. Once was OK but the second and third times should have been cut. A heavier hand on the editing console would have saved Stephen Fung from embarrassment years from now when this movie is screened. Among the scenes left in was on in which the camera tracked to follow Jason into Natalie’s room. As the camera moves on the dolly it shows the “missing” fourth wall as if Fung had just discovered he could move the camera and was so taken with this shot he decided to leave it in.

Self indulgence aside, Fung proved to be a competent director. Shots were framed properly although the camera did keep a too respectful distance from the actors and the action.

A decent effort and worth watching with one’s expectations kept in check

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 07/29/2007
Summary: A treat

Aw, lighten up, you guys ! Above all, this film is FUN.
Any movie that has Anthony Wong in a major role has my attention up front, and the DVD cover promises action, with more than a nod to The Incredibles. Bone-cracker Yu Siu Bo cuts short an appointment with a patient to answer an important phone call. He strolls into a concealed room, all white and shiny (a la Mission Impossible), pulls on a white robe, and strolls out to fight flying and dissolving red and white ninjas on a satellite dish.

Ah yes, this is the way to open a light action comedy from HK. Martial arts and wuxia. I'm in heaven already. I was a little disappointed to find that it was a story that Anthony's character was telling to a bunch of far-from-credulous schoolkids. So, with such a ripper opening, does it continue to hold interest ?

Well, not all the way. It doesn't achieve the relentless A-grade action of the following year's Dragon Tiger Gate, but it's a different type of movie. The gentle comedy of the family situation, while sometimes falling a little flat, provides a perfect counterpoint to the action, of which there is plenty and, contrary to the opinion of several other reviewers, highly enjoyable and pretty good.

The family stuff is beautifully done. The feuding between brother and sister, erupting into fu foot fights under the table, was simply hilarious. I can think of plenty of Hollywood films that would benefit from including this sort of stuff. Anthony's concerned chats with the photo of his dead wife. The boyfriend and girlfriend of the kids. And I do agree that Charlene Choi's part should have been expanded - I was staggered to see her character take the tiniest part in the fighting before dropping out.

And to you guys who hate Michael Wong whatever he does - relax ! I was quite tickled by his combination of Blofeld and Davros. And if you want to call his acting wooden, then it's like calling Schwarzenegger robotic. Arnie answered that one by playing a robot. If you have a wooden actor, what better to do than have him play a quadraplegic ?

Yuen Wo-Ping's fight choreography really makes the second half tick. Jam-packed with multi-fighter battles, it's a blast, and easily covers for any lack of fu skills of the participants. It worked for me. I was carried along with it, and it was a terrific ride.

A movie for repeated viewings, for sure. And now, Mr Fung, how about a sequel ? Pretty please ?

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: kiliansabre
Date: 09/12/2006
Summary: An Easy Watch

Caring father Terry (Anthony Wong) is a single father who is trying to understand why his teenage kids don't have the same respect for him as they did when they were younger. His stories of spy adventures have started to grow on the kids nerves and they doubt his credibility until a wheelchair bound man (Michael Wong) brings trouble to the family's chiropractic shop. When their dad disappears it's up to the kids (Stephen Fung and Gillian Chung) to band together to learn the truth about their father's past and fight to save him.

Aside from some plot holes which they lampoon themselves early in the movie, this is a decent enough comedy-martial arts in the spirit of a HK teen oriented spy kids, minus the CGI. With Yuen Woo Ping as the martial arts advisor, the fight scenes are solid and fairy frequent. Even legend Wu Ma gets his hands in the fight scenes, though the stand out here is American child Jacob Strickland who provides the most intense and fluid fight scenes, using a staff. The movie for the most part is blood and death free, which isn't a bad thing in this case. The whole production comes off very fun spirited, and if that's the sort of movie you are looking for, this will fit the bill perfectly.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 06/26/2006
Summary: Outstanding entertainment.

Outstanding entertainment fills every frame of House of Fury. Produced by JCE Movies Limited with a deep reverence for the history of martial arts cinema, the movie is respectful of traditional Chinese values pertaining to family, education, and health.

Anthony Wong Chau-Sang stars as a former special government agent who now runs an identity protection program for other former agents. Influenced by the Hollywood box office hit Spy Kids, the scenario of this film revolves around Wong and his two children who he has raised as a single parent and trained them in martial arts while keeping his background a secret. Starring, and directed by, Stephen Fung Tak-Lun as the son, the film also features Gillian Chung Yan-Tung, Daniel Wu Yin-Cho, Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin, and the legendary Wu Ma.

This young director greatly benefits from participation and guidance of Sylvia Chang Ai-Chia and Benny Chan Chi-Shun. Inventive martial arts sequences, supervised by Yuen Woo-Ping make everyone look competent. Michael Wong Man-Tak is quite good as the bad guy.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: JohnR
Date: 03/01/2006
Summary: Phone In Your Vote Now

I watched this in the middle of watching the current season of American Idol, so I asked myself what Paula, Randy, and Simon would say if "House of Fury" stood before them. (Apologies to those of you lucky enough not to have access to American TV.)

Paula: You are just a sweetheart; I like your fashion style tonight. I loved your performance - you're lighthearted, you're peppy, you have good pacing. The whole thing works for you. You move me; you move America. Celebrate the fun.

Randy: I don't know, Dawg. I liked your enthusiasm, and your techniques were good, but you were a little pitchy. To me, you picked a safe choice; I'd like to see you challenge yourself a little more. But, you know, not bad. I liked the humor; I liked some of the fight scenes - pow! pow!

Simon: I'm sorry, but you're like one of those ghastly movies I would expect to see on a flight from Des Moines to Disneyland. The performance was very safe. At this stage of the contest you need bring out your best but I think you were too cautious. I think you'll get a lot of votes, especially from the younger fans, but I don't see you going much farther in the competition. I just don't.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 02/18/2006
Summary: Average

Light weight comedy/action which starts of well with Anthony Wong seemingly playing a demented annoying parent of Charlene Choi and Stephen Fung.

All goes haywire when the children dont think he is that demented after all!!

A movie, i feel aimed at teenagers, only because of its youthful cast.
Michael Wong as a villian.........doesnt work. He doesnt look mean enough
Anthony Wong once again cruises through his role like he does withe very other movie, but thats a good thing as he is so talented
Wu ma hasnt been on the big screen for ages

WAtchable movie if you got nothing else to do

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: PAUL MARTINEZ
Date: 02/05/2006
Summary: Above avereage light-fare romp

House Of Fury isn't going to make many top 10 lists but I still found it enjoyable. Stephen Fung has a way to go, but I wouldn't write him off after seing this. Someone commented earlier he is no Johnny To or Wong Kar Fai. I don't think he's trying to be. Not every film maker wants to make thought provoking, controversial or socially conscience films. Some just want to make something people can watch and escape for about 90 minutes.
The martial arts was as good as you can expect considering who the participants were. Unfortunately there is a shortage of "real" martial arts actors right now. Mr. Wo Ping does what he can with the talent he's given.
Acting, which isn't this casts strong point either (with the obviously exception of Anthony Wong) was fair, nothing too horrible. Gillian Chung despite being very easy on the eyes has not shown much growth in her acting skills. This movie would've benefitted from having Charlene Choi play a larger role. I have come to enjoy her much more in that comedic role she tends to play. Michael Wong's role as the heavy was expectadly bad. He HAS to be the worst actor I've ever seen. It's gotten to the point where I seek out his films just to laugh at his performance.
The story was ok, no suprises but it all made sense. I find it hard to be over critical of a film that does take itself too seriously. House of Fury kind of reminds me of the other Twins movies. They're no gems but they do have some shine.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: evirei
Date: 07/25/2005

The poster of the movie really pulls me into the cinema. the fact that it stated Stephen Fung as director gave me a big shock. I never would have expected him to be a director.

Well.. to be precise, his acts in Gen X Cops, Gen Y Cops, Sunshine Cops and others weren't really cool... except for 2002.

But well... the movie turned out good. Superb as ever, anthony wong manage to brings out lots of laughter just in talking. He playing a role of an ex-agent is just right.

Gillian and Daniel's act was rather ermmm... stale or i should say wooden. Making their love story quite fake.

Charlene and stephen however has more of mutual chemistry there. Haha... I am shocked to see charlene has less role in this movie.

This movie just has the right dose of laughing gas and action pack.

Rating 8 out of 10

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 07/14/2005
Summary: Sloppy fight scenes, mediocre story

House of Fury is the kind of movie that deserves some props for having pop stars actually attempting to do kung fu on the screen, but it's so mediocre that I have no choice but to trash it. Off the top of my head, Yuen Wo Ping has only choreographed two movies with fight scenes so silly and unpolished, they made me cringe. The two movies are Black Mask II and now House of Fury. The major problems are obvious traces of body doubling and wire usage. Now, most of us know that stunt doubles and wire are commonly used in action flicks, but if they do a good job, in my opinion the traces of these "tricks" can be minimized and they don't have to stand out like a sore thumb. To me, it is a sin and disgrace to utilize people who don't excel in delivering solid action. To his credit, Stephen Fung delivers pretty solid action scenes, but not so for Anthony Wong and Gillian Chung. There is sh*tload of opportunity for improvement.

Not something I'd want to watch again.

[5/10]


Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 06/23/2005
Summary: Slightly disappointing but still good

I had really high hopes for this after Fung's excellent debut (Enter The Phoenix), which was one of my picks for best HK film 2004. Unfortunately I think House Of Fury is a bit of a backwards step, as the story was less well developed and the comedy less amusing (though Law Kar-Ying managed to steal the film again despite being in it for less than 2 seconds :p).

On the bright side, though, Yuen Wo Ping produces some great fight choreography, as his nature. After the success/fame and presumably wealth that his Hollywood work since The Matrix has brought in you'd think he might have gotten a little complacent, but he still seems to want to push himself and create innovative ways of choreographing and shooting martial arts.

So, although Stephen Fung's sophomore film (damn, I hate that expression!) is not as impressive as his surprisingly accomplished debut had made me hope, it's still a pretty entertaining film with good production values and some nice direction, and I'm still looking forward to his next one :)

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 06/06/2005

Stephen Fung surprised many viewers with the strength of his directorial debut, Enter the Phoenix. While it wasn't a classic movie, Phoenix was a strong start for Fung. His follow-up, House of Fury, builds upon the strengths of his debut, but on the other hand, it does show some flaws which are probably par for the course for any new director who has given a large budget to work with for the first time.

The film tells the story of two siblings (played by Fung and Gillian Chung) who are being raised by their father (Anthony Wong) by himself after the death of their mother. Dad has a bad habit of telling outlandish stories of being a secret agent, which embarasses the kids to no end. However, after a mysterious man in a wheelchair (Michael Wong) comes into their lives and kidnaps their father, it soon becomes clear that Dad hasn't been fibbing all these years, and the kids team up to try and save him.

Overall, House of Fury is just your basic "popcorn" movie -- it's something to shut your brain down for ninety minutes and enjoy. Nit-pickers and those wanting a deep or realistic story will probably want to look elsewhere. From the opening scene, where Anthony Wong takes down a group of ninjas (with the substantial aid of Yuen Woo-Ping's wire-fu trickery), you know that this is something to not be taken seriously in the least. And, as a fast and breezy action-comedy, House of Fury works. Both Stephen Fung and Gillian Chung make likeable leads, Anthony Wong actually seemed to care about his performance, and even Charlene Choi manages not to shriek or cry in her small role as Gillian's best friend. As you might expect from Yuen Woo-Ping, the action is quite over-the-top; there's even a little kid (Jacob Strickland) who can seemingly manage to beat the hell out of people three times his size. But for some reason, everything holds together enough so that the viewer is actually still engaged and interested in the fights.

However, like I said before, House of Fury is not without its' flaws. There are a few shots and sequences that seem out of place and put in there simply because Fung had the budget to put them in there (stuff like crane shots, multiple POVs, etc.). It's nice that Fung wants to expand his film vocabulary, but it comes at the expense of pacing. Also, it seems like Michael Wong is channeling William Shatner in his work here. Every... sentence... he... says... seems... to... drag... on. But getting a good performance out of Mr. "Mook Jung" ("dead wood") is nigh impossible for an accomplished director, and expecting Fung to pull something out of Mikey is probably expecting too much at this point in his career.

Overall, though, House of Fury is another good entry from Stephen Fung. Even though it seems like he's not going to be the next Wong Kar-Wai or Johnnie To, the fact that any young Hong Kong director has created two good films in a row is at least a glimmer of hope for an industry that many people consider to be on life-support.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]


Reviewed by: vikungfu
Date: 05/29/2005

Seeing some of Stephen Fung's other action movies(Gen-X cops, Gen-Y cops, The Avenging Fist, My Shoolmate the Barbarian), I wasn't expecting the greatest fighting preformance. I was pleasently suprised at seeing some of the moves he was pulling off, and by him I mean him, not a double. The same goes for Gillian Cheung though I noticed a lot more doubles for her. Anthony Wong was perfect as the secret ex-agent protector/ninja fighting/bone setting dad.

The story was nothing that special but the comedy and really cool fighting choreography kept the movie going nicely.

Movie: 8/10

DVD (Joy Sales SE 2-disc)

This came with a bunch of weird things like coasters, some kind of stand up cards, a keychain type thing, and a big cardboard still of Charlene Choi smoking a cigar from one of the scenes. Video and Audio is perfect and the whole 2nd disc is nothing but special features so..

DVD: 10/10

Reviewer Score: 8