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Full Contact
Year: 1992 "I don't need two guns to kick your ass!"
Chow Yun-Fat and friend
Director: Ringo Lam Ling-Tung
Writer: Nam Yin
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Simon Yam Tat-Wah, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Ann Bridgewater, Bonnie Fu Yuk-Jing, Lee Kin-Sang, Frankie Chin (Chan Chi-Leung)
The Skinny: Nihilistic even by Ringo Lam standards, this action adventure starring Chow Yun-Fat has great fan acclaim. However, the film itself is B-movie excess that's only special because it's a Chow Yun-Fat movie. Full Contact is also famous for employing the "bullet cam."
by Kozo:
     Warm-and-fuzzy Ringo Lam directed this nihilistic action-adventure starring Chow Yun-Fat and Simon Yam as biker baddies bent on beating the crap out of each other. Chow is a shady bouncer in a Thailand night club who joins forces with pal Anthony Wong and fey bad guy Simon Yam to take down a jewelry store. Sadly, Yam was never going to honor their thieves' agreement. He and his gang double-cross Chow in a shootout that takes down an innocent family.
     However, that's just the beginning of the film, so of course Chow survives the vicious backstabbing and vows revenge. He regains his confidence and physical fitness thanks to a Rocky-like training montage, and proceeds to hunt down his foes. This includes Anthony Wong, who sided with Yam during the double-cross. Complicating matters is Wong's current girlfriend Ann Bridgewater, who was Chow's previous flame. The two were due to spend their lives together, but his untimely death led her to his best friend (how's that for an original plotline?). Eventually, everyone figures out that Chow isn't dead and then there's more violence.
     Stylistic, ultra-violent, and not too life affirming, this film is a definite departure for Ringo Lam (though it's likely the first Ringo Lam film many people will see). Lam's best films employed a gritty dramatic style and more realistic characters, while Full Contact goes the other direction with stylistic excess and egregiously colorful characters. Chow Yun-Fat is actually a bad guy in this film, as the entire cast (save Ann Bridgewater) plays unrepentant dregs of society. It's a curious move for Chow, who channels his usual charisma but none of his righteous fury into his switchblade-wielding character.
     Everything in Full Contact is turned up a notch, turning this into one of those excessive Hong Kong Cinema experiences that either hooks or repels. The cheesy campiness of the whole affair makes the film look like a cut-rate B-movie, but the requisite star presence and the big name director lend an air of legitimacy to what otherwise could have been forgotten cinema. The story itself is nothing new, and features overdone melodrama in place of any real emotions. For thrill-seeking Hong Kong film fans, this movie may seem like the tops. However, as a Ringo Lam/Chow Yun-Fat collaboration, Full Contact comes out looking like a lot less. (Kozo 1993/1999)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Laser
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Mei Ah Laser Disc Co., Ltd. Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen