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Extreme Challenge
Year: 2001
Ken Cheung gets Extreme
Director: Stephen Tung Wai
Cast: Ken Cheung Chi-Hiu, Yeung Chuen-Ai, Patricia Lee, Jacqueline Li, Paul Rapouski, Stephen Tung Wai, Reuben Langdon
The Skinny: Western-style combat flick features some good fighting, but everything else is so bad your eyes and ears may bleed.
by Kozo:
     Any film with the word "extreme" in its title is bound to get knocked down a peg. Well, this movie is no different. Extreme Challenge marks a new low for Hong Kong films trying to emulate western ones. This knowing rip-off/homage to Bloodsport is embarrassingly put together. It's only positive is the action, though it's not a saving grace this time.
     Ken Cheung stars as Ken Cheung, a martial arts whiz who applies to be a contestant on the "World Open Power Net Show." It's an internet-broadcast martial arts competition that resembles Bloodsport by way of Mortal Kombat. Our heroes dress in ridiculous costumes and try to outdo one another in free-for-all and one-on-one competitions. Ken strives to become number one but must do away with a number of pesky rivals, each of which fits a particular arts competition type (the energetic young girl, the stoic hardass rival, the nice guy gweilo). There's also chicanery going on behind the stage with sponsors and studio execs jockeying for power positions.
     What does this all mean? Absolutely nothing. The production itself looks geared towards western consumption, but the only time stuff like this gets distributed in the US is when a US distributor makes it. Otherwise it gets relegated to a video-only pile, which is just what happened with this guy. It's a shame because Stephen Tung is one of Hong Kong's premier action directors (see Downtown Torpedoes or The Blade) and he does a fine job here, giving some semblance of fluidity to the fight sequences. However, the scenes are also marred by freeze frames and other nifty techniques which only distract. The actors all uniformly bite, which isn't surprising given the poor material they were given to work with. People, it's the script! Better star power wouldn't hurt either. Golden Harvest stud Ken Cheung is a likable enough guy, but he's better served in films like Sharp Guns where he isn't the lead. Hopefully Stephen Tung will find a better vehicle to rebound with. (Kozo 2002)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Laser
English and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Universe Laser & Video Co., Ltd. Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen