Andy Lau stars as Joe, a motorcycle street racer who takes
part in illegal racing all over Hong Kong. One night he meets
younger racer (David Wu of MTV Asia) and the two become friends.
But, Wu is a professional racer being sponsored by Lauís estranged
dad Paul Chun. Joe wants to prove heís the best, so he and
Wu go at it until something absolutely awful happens, causing
Joe to re-evaluate his life. New star Gigi Leung is the girlfriend
who tells Andy not to race again.
Yes, this film looks and sounds mighty
predictable, which it unfortunately is. Think Tom Cruise's Days of Thunder, sub Andy Lau for Cruise, motorcycles
for stock cars, and the streets of Hong Kong for Daytona and
you pretty much have it. With that in mind, many of the film's
great dramatic moments can be seen a mile away. The film does
provide a better outcome than the usual Hollywood ending,
but the steps it takes to get there could have been produced
by Paramount Pictures.
Thankfully, the film concentrates
on some Hong Kong-specific characters that Derek Yee seems
to have made his specialty. Like C'est La Vie, Mon Cheri,
the characters in this film are generally of the lower classes,
and their daily lives and personal struggles are of primary
concern of the storyline. In that, Full Throttle is
a rousing success, as Yee creates likable, human characters
that you grow to care about.
It helps that the actors do a fine
job, particularly Chin Kar-Lok as Joe's racing buddy and Tsui
Kam-Kong as an ex-racer. Andy Lau does a fine job which is
a definite step up for him, but he still doesn't have the
dramatic weight of a Chow Yun-Fat or Tony Leung Chiu-Wai.
If there's a weak link among any of the actors, it's newcomer
Gigi Leung, who's remarkably wooden. Most of the time it seems
as if she's just reading lines instead of actually acting.
Ultimately, winning the race is the
least important thing in Joe's life, which should tell you
a lot about the film's aspirations. The big action payoff
is not what Derek Yee cares about, and his characters follow
suit. Joes choices don't necessarily reflect the genre's usual
path, but the outcome isn't any less satisfying. Derek Yee's
solid work is technically superior and artistically ambitious,
and for that it should be lauded. (Kozo 1995/1997)