Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Marked for Murder

Director: Lee Chiu, Tenky Tin Kai Man
Starring: David Lam Wai, Ben Lam Kwok Bun, Liang Chia Jen

This appears to be a peace offering from Hong Kong to the Mainland due to the up and coming change of ownership. Judging by the several unfamiliar faces and two directors, this may even be a Hong Kong/Mainland co-production. Whatever the case may be, it's a little seen pic that combines unfortunate and unnecessary comedic characters with some of the most blistering 80s style action to be had in the 90s.

A bank employee witnesses the murder of his boss at the hands of a powerful Yakuza gang and it's nearly invincible leader (Ben Lam). On the run, he is guarded by a male and female member of a Mainland Task Force who in turn, must cooperate with a bumbling Hong Kong detective (David Lam).

Assuming that this production is indeed Hong Kong's attempt to make nice with China, then it represents a fair amount of overkill in that department. The two Mainland operatives are portrayed as calm, smooth and highly efficient while their H.K. counterpart (the usually reliable David Lam who is miscast here) is in the words of his superior, kind of dumb. That he has also an annoying, shrewish wife certaintly doesn't help matters. In fact, when said wife is ultimately kidnapped by the Yakuza, I was hoping that would be the last we heard of the character (no such luck). The goofiness also extends to our hero's superior/ brother in-law (a thankless non-fighting role for "Beardy" Liang Chia Jen who perhaps tellingly, is clean shaven for the role). Is is a credit to both Lam and Liang that their characters still manage to retain their charm and likeability (if less so, their dignity) throughout. Always relaible Ben Lam is suitably menacing and imposing as the head Yakuza.

Despite the uneven treatment of it's characters, the film really comes alive when it counts in the spectacular and plentiful action scenes. After personally suffering several years worth of wire fu films, 1994 turned out to be quite a renaissance in the stay on the ground and fight department. So fantastic is the action here that I can forgive much (but not all) of what goes on in between. There are others who might be less forgiving.

Rating: 5/10


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