Movie Review 影評 – Hong Kong Action Movies 香港動作電影

Hard Boiled (1992), Golden Princess Film Production. Directed by John Woo. Tmdb.org.

In the West, Hong Kong action cinema is mostly known from modern films such as Ang Lee’s wire-fuelled fantastical melodrama ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ and a few highly notable directors and actors who have migrated to Hollywood either for a time or indefinitely. In this article I will explore the two Hong Kong films ‘Hardboiled’ and ‘Ip Man’ which respectively stars Chow Yun-Fat and Donnie Yen.

 

Hardboiled (1992)
Rating: ★★★★★★ 

Hard Boiled (1992), Golden Princess Film Production. Directed by John Woo.
WordPress.com

Early on, in fact in the very first action set piece of ‘Hardboiled’ Chow Yun-Fat’s character, Inspector Tequila, is hot on the heels of triad gun smugglers, who indiscriminately shoot their way down a stairwell through a panicked crowd. As he barely dodges the incoming fire, Tequila jumps on the stairwell’s railing and, as he slides down, proceeds to pump the baffled criminals full of lead with a loaded .45 in each hand.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the epitome of cool. It is the crème de la crème of what the action genre can possibly offer distilled to its purest form. Even if you’ve never even heard of the film’s director, John Woo, or the Hong Kong film industry in general, you know what this scene looks like. It will forever be engrained in our shared pool of pop culture knowledge. And yet, it’s not even the climax of that particular action scene. Instead, the film just keeps escalating from the aforementioned firefight in a crowded downtown restaurant, ending in a viscous massacre at a major hospital.

Hard Boiled (1992), Golden Princess Film Production. Directed by John Woo.
Tmdb.org.

This almost half-an-hour ending sequence is like a gruesome ballet with Death itself as both Chow and Tony Leung, who plays his put-upon partner, Alan, does their damndest to look as stoic and righteous as possible while saving infant babies, murdering dozens of triad henchmen and decimating the entire hospital all in the name of justice and honour. In an especially impressive display of visual trickery, Woo keeps the camera on the action for an entire five minutes without cutting once, as the two men murder bad guys, who swarm in and out of corridors.

Like the best of its kind, Hardboiled ultimately walks a ridiculously thin line between self parody and taking itself way too seriously. With its colourful cast of characters headed by the always charismatic Chow, its melodramatic, vaguely nonsensical plot which flies out the window as soon as the third act knocks on the door and a seemingly endless supply of limitless ammo cases, bad guys and exploding squibs, Hardboiled is a feast for both the eyes and the ears.

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Ip Man (2008)
Rating: ★★★★★☆ 

Ip Man (2008), Mandarin Films.
Directed by Wilson Yip. Mtime.cn

‘Ip Man’ is a kung-fu film, directed by Wilson Yip. As the name suggests, the film is about the martial-arts scholar, Ip Man, who famously challenged and defeated a Japanese general in a kung-fu tournament under their occupation of China from 1937-1945.

Playing the part of Ip Man is Donnie Yen, one of the 21st century’s more prominent martial-arts action stars. Outside of a few B-action movies where he has been the leading man, his roles in Hollywood have however mostly consisted of bit characters such as the blind Jedi, Chirrut, in ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.’

However, after watching ‘Ip Man’ it is all too clear that Donnie Yen is an actor who commands the screen from the second he enters the fray. His calm, sympathetic demeanor combined with a steely-eyed gaze constantly keeps the audience in anticipation of what this master of martial-arts is going to do next.

Unlike its contemporary cousins such as ‘Hero’ and ‘House of Flying Daggers,’ ‘Ip Man’ throws the genre’s traditionally melodramatic storytelling structure to the wind in favour of a more social realistic one. Ip Man isn’t fighting because of a dead wife or parent, but to avenge the suffering of the Chinese civilian population under the iron fist of its Japanese suppressors. This in turn means that the stakes are so much higher than other kung-fu films such as ‘Drunken Master’ or ‘The Streetfighter.’

Ip Man (2008), Mandarin Films.
Directed by Wilson Yip. Vcimg.com

This dramatic change in tone is actually highlighted by the movie itself. The first act, which takes place just before the Japanese invasion, has plenty of tomfoolery and insane wire-stunts, while the rest of the film is much more visceral and gut punchingly real.

In a particular highpoint of the film, Ip Man is surrounded by ten Japanese kung-fu fighters whom he precedes to destroy in flair of devastating punches and kicks. Accompanied with the sounds of bones crunched and lungs pierced, there is not a second’s doubt that these adversaries are going, not to the sickbed, but the morgue.

It goes without saying for both of the films I’ve highlighted in this article that the stunt work and directing of these action scenes are impeccable, but even with such stiff competition, like Ip Man himself; ‘Ip Man’ outranks even the best of what the genre has to offer.


如果在西方提及香港動作電影,首先被聯想到的肯定是導演李安充滿各種鋼線的電影《臥虎藏龍》和數位已經長期或短期移居至荷李活的演員和導演。在這文章中,我將探討由周潤發主演的《辣手神探》和甄子丹主演的《葉問》。

 

《辣手神探》(1992)
評分:★★★★★★ 

Hard Boiled (1992), Golden Princess Film Production
Directed by John Woo. Filmonpaper.com

在電影裡面讓周潤發的角色警探Tequila出現不久之後就立即緊隨著偷運槍支的黑社會為了逃生而在人群裡樓梯間胡亂開槍的動作場面。Tequila並沒有閃身躲避黑社會的火力之餘並跳上了樓梯扶手順勢滑下雙手各持一支滿彈的點四五手槍。

各位先生女士,這就叫做「型」了。這個場面無疑是讓動作電影錦上添花並提供了最純粹最高級的表現。即使您從來沒有聽過「吳宇森」這位導演的名字甚或至香港的電影工業,您總能夠想像這場面的景象 – 這場面已經深深的烙印在所有人對流行文化的共同回憶中。但這精彩的一幕亦不是電影的高潮,相對的這套電影在不斷地向上推進,由人滿為患的街邊餐廳前進之大醫院裡面的屠殺。

整場幾乎有半個小時長的完結就像是與死亡共舞的一場表演:周潤發和由梁朝偉飾演的拍檔Alan在醫院拼命忍痛拯救嬰兒和殺盡黑社會打手。特別艱難的一幕是吳導演將整個過程五分鐘毫無剪接拍下兩人在醫院走廊不斷進出之餘並打倒壞人。

《辣手神探》的極致精彩遊走於角色誇演和認真之間。在永遠迷人的周潤發的出演之下,電影充滿劇情又帶點不通理的安排在無盡的彈藥、壞人和爆破場面下均已消散 – 這套電影肯定是視覺和聽覺的奢華享受。


《葉問》(2008)
評分:★★★★★☆

Ip Man (2008), Mandarin Films. Directed by Wilson Yip. Wp.com

一如名字所言,由葉偉信導演的電影《葉問》關於功夫宗師葉問於日本侵華(1937至1945年)期間挑戰並擊敗日軍將軍的電影。

由二十一世紀最著名的其中一位武打巨星甄子丹飾演葉問,他的履歷上除了好幾套B級電影中擔綱演出之外,同時包括荷李活電影《星球大戰外傳:俠盜一號》盲眼的絕地武士之一Chirrut。

可惜這部電影由甄子丹出場開始就是一條故事線,所有情節都非常直接。 他的冷靜及同情加上堅定的眼神令觀眾就算不用看下去都知道劇情會怎樣發展。

跟它的近親電影《英雄》或者《十面埋伏》不一樣,《葉問》循著功夫電影固有的故事模式並帶有寫實的歷史背景。葉問的反擊並不是因為死去的妻子或家人,而是因為從日本霸權下拯救受苦受難的中國人 – 整個意義突然升華甚至超出其他諸如《醉拳》和《街頭霸王》等武打電影。

Ip Man (2008), Mandarin Films. Directed by Winson Yip. Netease.com

電影戲劇性的轉捩點亦由電影本身帶出:許多吊鋼線或者愚人的武打場面在日本侵華之前出現,直到日軍佔領,終於出現拳拳到肉的場場對壘。

最為人津津樂道的則是葉問的「我要打十個」場面,使出看家本領的拳打和交替並隨之而至的骨折和穿肺的聲音,並不訝異對手們最後不是去了療傷而是直接魂歸故土。

不消說,兩套精心挑選出的電影不論是導演或是動作均具極高水準。而《葉問》就如葉問一般:在同類型電影中都是出類拔萃的。

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