Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Cops And Robbers Review 1979 Hong Kong 點指兵兵

Hong Kong new wave thriller 'Cops and Robbers' is brutal, exciting and very effective.

Sergeant Chan Lap Kei(Wong Chung) leads his team including fresh faced Pretty Boy(Cheung Kwok Keung) on a mission to bring down a gang of bank robbers. Unfortunately their maniacal leader Biu(Hui Bing Sam) manages to escape and goes on a murderous rampage of revenge against the cops and their unsuspecting families.

Directed by Alex Cheung in 1979, this was actually made before the heroic bloodshed era began and it probably helped inspire the likes of John Woo, Johnnie To and Ringo Lam. While having violent and bloody shootouts, Cops and Robbers also focuses on themes of brotherhood and loyalty.

Each character’s story and relationships are built up effectively so when the time come for them to confront the psychopath Biu, you actually care for them. And when characters start getting killed off, it is a genuine worry. The last half hour is incredibly nail biting as it gets more brutal and violent and literally no one is safe.

Director Cheung often let's the story take a back seat while the action unfolds. From violent in your face shoot outs to great chase scenes, there is plenty of action to enjoy. The heist scenes are extremely tense, gritty and realistic. Another real highlight of the film is an incredible foot chase of the cops hunting Biu through a shanty town which is brought to life wonderfully, an intriguing and exciting edge of the seat scene which shows how great a director Alex Cheung is.

All of the actors deliver a fine job, although their performances aren't what captures your interest. Hui Bing Sam does deserve special credit for his role as Biu. He is genuinely one of the most frightening villains in any Cop thriller. He gets more and more psychotic as the story unfolds to the point were he becomes a complete maniac.

Cops And Robbers may be very dated in some ways. Technically speaking, it doesn't look as polished or stylish as recent Hong Kong thrillers. There are also some scenes which would be omitted if this was made now such as the intro with the kids and the musical numbers. But the story, themes and characters are still very relevant to this day and the film still holds up wonderfully while its 90+ minute running time zooms by. Cops And Robbers is definitely due a remastered release before it is lost for good and we are all robbed of a classic.

A must see part of history for Hong Kong cinephiles.


Thursday, 16 June 2016

Red Light Revolution Review 2010 China

A genuinely funny comedy from China which is surprisingly about a sex shop!

Shunzi (Jun Zhao) is in a bad way. Not only has his girlfriend recently left him, but he has been sacked from his job as a taxi driver. Back living with his parents and with no income of his own, Shunzi's prospects seem bleak. When a successful former school friend (Xiduo Jiang) points him in the direction of Iggy (Masanobu Otsuka), a cut-price supplier of adult goods, Shunzi decides that anything is worth a try. He proceeds to open his own adult shop, with the help of his friend, Lili (Vivid Wang), but will the residents of the neighbourhood dare to visit the store?

The idea of China releasing a comedy film about a sex shop is rather surprising given the stories about their film censorship laws. But at the time of it's UK release, Red Light Revolution still didn't have a Chinese distributor, rather not surprising. The film is directed by Sam Voutas, an Australian living in China, and it explores his views on a capitalist and Communist China.

Red Light Revolution doesn't rely on shock tactics and isn't as racy as American comedies such as American Pie. The humour is more subtle and grounded and there are no boobs in sight. The comedy is used appropriately for the situations and doesn't go for cheap laughs.

Blow up doll was made in China

Jun Zhao delivers an excellent performance as Shunzi, who is as much of a loveable loser as you could hope for. A real character that you sympathise with, empathise with but also can't stop laughing at. The character is played with hilarious self-deprecation.

Vivid Wang is an excellent co-lead as Lili and plays a role which is a lot more than a standard love interest. The on screen chemistry of Lili and Shunzi is extremely fun and their comedy timing is great which really makes the film fly by it's 90 minute run time.

Filled with many laughs, some a little risky and some clever and witty. But it's the kindness and love between the characters that makes Red Light Revolution heartwarming and a really fun watch.

It's a new day, yes it is!

The film slightly loses it's footing towards the end. There should have been more scenes with the characters working in the sex shop and showing their daily lives and wacky customers which was one of the most intriguing and entertaining parts of the story.

One of the best comedies to come out of China and easily the most universally accessible. Every joke and character really translates well to the western audience and that isn't always the case with Asian comedies.


Red Light Revolution is released in the UK by Terracotta Distribution. It is an excellent release, with great video quality and packed full of extras.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Badge of Fury Review 2011 China 不二神探

Shallow, uneven, messy, barely funny comedy which doesn't star Jet Li.

When a spate of murders erupt across Hong Kong, two kick-ass cops are assigned to the case. Chaos soon escalates when they reach a dead end and the detectives must play a deadly game to lure the killer out.

Everything about the marketing of this film, including that synopsis(which I lifted from makes it looks like a Jet Li action/shoot ‘em up film. The trailer and the cover both paint a very different picture from the actual film.

Firstly, Jet Li isn't the main star. To their credit, he is used in a lot of fight scenes though. The main star is Wen Zhang who plays a cop called Wang Bu-Er and partners with Huang Fei-Hong(Li). Wang is used for more comic relief, although he gets involved in the action and chase scenes he usually ends up messing it up and constantly embarrassing himself. Huang is more of a straight laced cop but often saves the day with his Kung Fu skills. This doesn't actually sound too bad, but there are just far too many issues.

... Do you owe someone a favour as well Jet?

The comedy is really hit or miss, probably depending on the audience. Some of the comedy is just way too stupid and over the top that it draws no reaction. There are a few genuine chuckles in there, which would be fine, if it wasn't supposed to be a comedy!

Badge of Fury could have been like an 80s Hong Kong Film. The plot, the action and some of the comedy is similar. But it suffers from some aspects that many modern Chinese films do, including a reliant on bad CGI, too much wire work and complete over the top wackiness. Some of the scenes could have genuinely been lifted from a kids cartoon.

There are enough cameos from Chinese/Hong Kong actors to mostly keep you entertained. Along with the ridiculous movie spoofs from Men in Black to Star Wars to Police Story, there is always something going on, just most of it isn't very good.

If you like Asian comedies and go into this one expecting that and not expecting much of Jet Li, and definitely don't take any of it seriously, then you may find some fun to be had. But it more or less fails on nearly every level of film-making.