This freewheeling, hyperkinetic family drama with guns marks legendary Vietnamese-born director/producer Tsui Hark's return to real Hong Kong action filmmaking, following an unsatisfactory Hollywood sojourn that produced a pair of cheesy Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicles, DOUBLE TEAM (1997) and KNOCK OFF (1996). The film opens with 21-year-old Tyler (Cantonese...read more
This freewheeling, hyperkinetic family drama with guns marks legendary Vietnamese-born director/producer Tsui Hark's return to real Hong Kong action filmmaking, following an unsatisfactory Hollywood sojourn that produced a pair of cheesy Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicles, DOUBLE TEAM (1997) and KNOCK OFF (1996). The film opens with 21-year-old Tyler (Cantonese pop star Nicholas Tse), a street-smart naif who dreams of escaping to some tropical South American paradise, musing in voiceover about life, the universe and everything over a deliriously sleazy montage of hookers, drunks, thieves and junkies. After an obliterating bar crawl, he winds up in bed with undercover cop Ah Jo (Cathy Chui), who awakes the following morning hung-over and furious: A lesbian with a steady girlfriend, Jo can't remember what she and Tyler did the preceding night, but hopes to hell they didn't have sex. Months later, Tyler runs into the hugely pregnant Jo at a supermarket and has a life-changing revelation: He's going to be a father, and wants to support his child (even if Jo wants nothing to do with him), so he takes a job at an unlicensed bodyguard agency. Meanwhile, retired mercenary Jack (Taiwanese rock star Wu Bai) has his own baby troubles. His adoring pregnant wife Hui (Candy Lo) is estranged from her father, Hong, but wants to effect a reconciliation before their baby is born. But at Hong's swanky birthday party, Jack gets the cold shoulder and Hui is reduced to tears. That's hardly the worst of it, though: Hong is a powerful triad leader, and a bunch of South American soldiers of fortune, including the volatile Miguel (Joventino Couto Remotigue, also a pop musician), ruin the party by trying to kill him. Tyler helps foil the attack, while Jack discovers that the would-be assassins are his old mercenary buddies from Brazil, who want him to murder his new father-in-law for them; the fates of the two men are intertwined for the rest of the film. Hong Kong-style action conventions are now part of mainstream American moviemaking, but this is the real thing, so crammed with plot twists that it's hard to follow, simultaneously ludicrous, sappy and casually dismissive of all the things Hollywood holds dear. But it's buzzing with the action set pieces that made Hark famous, and culminates in a shootout at a commuter rail station so viscerally preposterous you can only marvel.
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