Among the glut of cheaply produced, flimsily scripted films rushed to market in Hong Kong before the Communist takeover, it's rare to find one as tightly (albeit implausibly) plotted as the 1994 film MAN WANTED (released on home video in 1997).
Fleeing by car when a drug deal on the piers erupts into an explosive gun-battle with police, Lok Man Hwa (Simon Yam) pulls a gun on boss Lu Chan Feng (Yu Rong Guang) and discloses he is a cop. Reluctant to shoot Lu, policeman Hwa is thrown from the car moments before it is blown up at a roadblock
and sunk in the ocean.
When Hwa later happens upon Lu's girlfriend Yung (Christy Chung), they are clearly drawn to one another, but she holds him responsible for Lu's supposed death. Then Lu reappears and further plays upon these same feelings, drawing Hwa into one last scheme to retrieve owed money so Lu can disappear
for good. The scheme turns out to be a setup, which escalates into a kidnapping, then a shootout, leaving numerous people dead and Hwa standing alone holding a smoking gun when the police arrive.
Before long, Hwa's girlfriend June (Eileen Tung) is also dead, and a drugged Hwa is deposited on crowded Portland Street with his hand strapped to a gun. Yung rescues him from police searching for a crazed gunman, the pair profess their mutual love, and he sets off for revenge. Catching Lu at
another drug deal, Hwa enters firing, and exits with a suitcase of heroin.
In the Mongkok district of Hong Kong, Hwa rains the powdered heroin down on the streets, enraging Lu, who is overpowered in a fight and handed over to the police. Preferring death with Hwa to prison alone, Lu breaks loose, grabs a gun, and shoots Hwa before being gunned down by the assembled cops.
Later, Yung stops an ambulance, kissing and coaxing a seemingly dead Hwa back to life.
The divided loyalties of undercover cops continue to be grist for the HK action mill, with MAN WANTED--released overseas in 1994--joining the more notable likes of CITY ON FIRE (1987) and HARD-BOILED (1992). What sets the film apart is the confused duality that pervades the film; everything has a
twin or an opposite, sometimes both at once. Loyalty becomes betrayal; love becomes hate. Lu drowns the one who loves Hwa; Hwa Molotovs the one who loves Lu. It's telling that Hwa's girlfriend June, a nurse, tends to one of his wounds early on, then takes special notice of an unfamiliar dressing
later applied by Yung. Just another little betrayal.
Seemingly assembled on a metaphorical level with action sequences used as punctuation, the plot sidesteps gaping holes in logic and motivation. It's never adequately explained exactly why everybody is projecting false fronts and hiding their true feelings, and it would take a pretty forgiving
viewer to ignore Hwa's flat-out stupidity in getting caught up in Lu's revenge web. Still, the tale is well told, with a fine cast and a nice eye for detail from director Benny Chan. He cleverly begins to toy with the physical grounding of the tale toward the end, once the drugs kick in and Hwa is
left stumbling through the kaleidoscopic neon overdose of Kowloon to a soundtrack collage of random noise. Slow-motion scenes of Lu with his machine gun amidst a backlit cloud of heroin, mowing down the junkies who are clamoring to scoop up bags and boxes of the stuff, are welcome examples of that
special kind of cinematic impressionism for which Hong Kong is famous. (Graphic violence, substance abuse, profanity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: Among the glut of cheaply produced, flimsily scripted films rushed to market in Hong Kong before the Communist takeover, it's rare to find one as tightly (albeit implausibly) plotted as the 1994 film MAN WANTED (released on home video in 1997). Fleeing by… (more)