Full Contact (Ringo Lam, 1993, Hong Kong)
Hong Kong action meets Cannon Film sensibility in Ringo Lam’s Full Contact (aka Xia dao Gao Fei). The film opens with a robbery where audiences meet baddies Judge, Virgin, and Deano. A motley band of outlaws, Deano is a mohawked muscle man, Virgin is a drooling nymphomaniac, and Judge (Simon Yam) is a homosexual magical assassin in a snake-skin jacket. These three big city felons team with Judge’s cousin, Sam (Anthony Wong), and his two pals, Chung (Chris Lee) and Gou Fei (Chow Yun Fat) on an arms heist with hopes of scoring enough cash to pay off a loan shark.
It’s no surprise that things go awry, culminating in Sam betraying Gou Fei and leaving him for dead. Big mistake. Healed by some convenient Buddhist monks, Gou Fei teaches himself how to shoot with his left hand (his right now missing a few digits) and swears to avenge himself and the innocents that Judge and his gang killed or maimed. When Gou Fei resurfaces he finds that Sam has turned from nerd to hardened criminal, even helping himself to Mona (Ann Bridgewater), Gou Fei’s girl.
A classic tale of revenge, Full Contact is one of Ringo Lam’s few good films. Though sparing, the gunfights are well orchestrated, with the highlight being a super-stylized shootout in a dance club featuring point-of-view shots from bullets. Known for setting up potentially terrific action sequences only to deliver one anticlimax after another, Lam is a low rent John Woo wannabe. Best known for his contribution to Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (Lam’s City on Fire was plundered for Tarantino’s freshman film), Lam followed in Woo’s footsteps when he left Hong Kong to make an astounding number of movies with Jean-Claude Van Damme (Maximum Risk, Replicant, In Hell, Wake of Death). — Mike White
[tags]Full Contact, Ringo Lam, Chow Yun Fat, John Woo, Quentin Tarantino, Reservoir Dogs, Jean-Claude Van Damme[/tags]