A misleadingly titled, but tough and gritty period crime story marrying the iconography and visual style of an Italian western to the physical action of a kung fu film. Call it a Spaghetti Eastern.
On special assignment to arrest a crimelord hiding in a remote village, young cadet Jen Ko Hsiang (Henry Yu Yung) rescues blind Hsiao Ming from rape, killing one of her two attackers. As it turns out, the rapists belong to a gang of seven hired to protect Jen's quarry, boss San Yeh. In the nearly
abandoned town controlled by Lung San Yeh, Jen battles his way through the gang and assorted cronies to discover that their boss was responsible for the false imprisonment and death of Jen's father years ago, and his mother's subsequent insanity. Disposing of the last gang members and rescuing the
captured Hsiao, Jen arrests San Yeh and takes him away to prison, promising to return for Hsiao and help get her blindness treated.
Not listed on any official filmography of John Woo, HONG KONG FACE OFF is being touted as one of his early directorial efforts, with a subtitled Woo interview prefacing the movie. Action choreography is being dubiously credited to Jackie Chan, although a better guess would be the Yuen family,
several of whom appear in bit roles. (Most of the same cast also appeared in producer Jimmy Pascal's circa-1972 FURY OF THE BLACK BELT, with similarities in period, setting, and plot, and action direction by the Yuens.) Chan does appear ever-so-briefly as an extra, playing one of San Yeh's
quicky-dispatched bodyguards, alongside frequent Chan foe Yuen Wah (a popular stuntman at the time who gets to die twice in the course of the film). Formerly titled FISTS OF THE DOUBLE K, it stars Henry Yu Yung of Woo's THE YOUNG DRAGONS (1973) in a somber and well-shot tale peppered with
convincing action (a few supernatural leaps notwithstanding), nice desolate locations, and genuinely mean looking bad guys. Yu Yung is suitably intense as the hero, using his razor boomerang sparingly against the gang of seven and San Yeh's seemingly inexhaustable minions. With music cues lifted
from THE GODFATHER (1972) and others, HONG KONG FACE OFF similarly offers a filmed-from-the-hip showdown sequence between Yu Yung and a gang member who uses his ponytail as a whip, ending with the bad guy hung by his own ponytail, swaying in the dusty breeze of the deserted town like a sign
saying, "Sergio Leone was here." (Violence, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1972
- Review: A misleadingly titled, but tough and gritty period crime story marrying the iconography and visual style of an Italian western to the physical action of a kung fu film. Call it a Spaghetti Eastern. On special assignment to arrest a crimelord hiding in a r… (more)