Ty Burr
September 13, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Sex and Zen & a Bullet in the Head

Current Status
In Season
Mike Wilkins, Stefan Hammond
Pop Culture, Movies

We gave it an A-

This ”essential guide to Hong Kong’s mind-bending films” is long overdue: The deliriously kinetic, unapologetically bloody aesthetic of HK cinema has been creeping into Hollywood films over the last few years, and the movies themselves are finally popping up in Stateside video stores and midnight screenings. Despite their book’s awkward title (the titles of two classics of HK mayhem), the authors know their stuff: Sex and Zen & a Bullet in the Head starts off with a useful 10 Best chapter, then dives into the nitty-gritty of stars like Jackie Chan, directors like John Woo and Tsui Hark, and conventional characters like Chinese hopping vampires. There’s a guide to Hong Kong Web pages, a handy title translator to take along on video binges in Chinatown, and best of all, lists upon lists of favorite mangled subtitles (from Caged Beauties: ”Damn you, stink man!”) As Hammond and Wilkins write, ”There are two kinds of people in this world: those who like movies in which the witch takes her head off and throws it at you, and those who don’t.” A-

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