Li’s Huang Fei Hong is sort of the Sergeant Murtaugh of the Hong Kong police. He is definitely getting too old for this sort
of thing, but unlike his Lethal Weapon counterpart,
he always punches out promptly at 5:00 and disappears for long stretches. That leaves most of the slapstick to his younger
colleagues. Seniority has its privileges. Still, whenever Huang returns for a throw
down, things perk up dramatically in Wong Tsz-ming’s Badges of Fury (trailer here), which releases today on DVD and BluRay
from Well Go USA.
is a crafty old salt who is more interested in his retirement portfolio than
office politics. Wang Bu-er thinks he’s
all that, but has an uncanny talent for self-sabotage. Their young, insecure team leader has paired
them together in the hopes some of Huang’s mature risk aversion will rub off on
Wang. So far, it is not taking. Wang just keeps blundering ahead, inadvertently
aiding the escape of the wanted criminal Huang nearly captures in the
spectacular opening action sequence.
Badges is not really about the
fugitive Chen Hu. Frankly, it keeps
changing its mind, but the preponderance of the narrative involves the
investigation of the so-called “Smile Murders.”
Each of the victims died with a strange smile plastered across their
faces. It turns out they were also all
once engaged to low budget starlet Liu Jinshui.
Quickly, Liu falls under suspicion, but her half-sister Dai Yiyi appears
far more dangerous, given her obvious va-va-voom.
Badges goes for laughs, it can be
painful. However, action director Corey
Yuen embraces the film’s cartooniness, unleashing his inner Itchy and Scratchy
for some absolutely off-the-wall fight scenes.
In the big opener and closer, Jet Li shows he still has his mojo. It is too bad there isn’t more of him as the
steely Huang. Unfortunately, his Ocean Heaven co-star Wen Zhang kind of
stinks up the joint with his shtick.
Rising star Michelle Chen (so memorable in Ripples of Desire) is also clearly out of her element as their exasperated
superior. At least, Ada Liu vamps it up
with gusto as the femme fatale sister.
if Badges were not inconsistent
enough, it also shoehorns in more cameos than the director’s cut of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Sometimes it works great, as when action star
Wu Jing shows up to rumble as an insurance investigator. Other times, it can be a rather
head-scratching distraction for viewers not up on their Hong Kong reality
television. Still, it is always pleasant
to see Lam Suet, Stephy Tang, Josie Ho, and Grace Huang on-screen.
it clicks, Badges is a martial arts
machine. When it doesn’t, it is usually dabbling
in romantic comedy. Still, Jet Li and Wu
Jing’s chops, Yuen’s gravity-defying fight choreography, and Liu’s sex appeal should
be enough to hold HK action junkies’ interest on DVD. Recommended for fans, but not as a Jet Li
entry point, Badges of Fury is now
available for home viewing from Well Go USA.
Labels: DVD, Hong Kong Cinema, Jet Li, Martial arts cinema