Hong Kong was a city almost entirely without cell phones in 1996. That would
change in a hurry, but their aptitude for action films remains undiminished. In
1996, Benny Chan was also relatively new to the action genre, but his
reputation was quickly transformed with Golden Harvest’s release of Big Bullet (trailer here), which screens this weekend as part of Subway’s Cinema’s Old School Kung Fu 2016, with the support of Warner Archive, who have included the
HK policier in their series of Golden Harvest
classics on MOD (manufactured on demand) DVD (to order, fans must visit The
Warner Archive Collection: warnerarchive.com).
the wildly incompetent and possibly slightly bent Inspector Guan leads his
major crimes team on a nearly disastrous raid, soon-to-be Sgt. Bill Chu
subsequently explains his disappointment with his fists. Unfortunately, it will
be Chu who is busted down in rank and transferred to an emergency response
team. However, his reputation proceeds him. Most of his new team members are in
awe of the in/famous cop, but not the strictly-by-the-book Jeff Chiu.
their contrasting temperaments will lead to conflict when Chu starts pursing
Bird and the Professor, two hardcore gangsters who killed his best friend
during their freshly launched crime spree. Technically, they are Guan’s case,
but he refuses to heed any of Chu’s warnings. That forces Zhu and his team to
go rogue, which is fine with most of them.
Bullet is a perfect example of how super-slick, uber-stylish execution can
make a workaday narrative shine like a diamond. Although there is plenty of
fighting, it isn’t what you usually consider a Kung Fu movie, but whatever. The
important thing is the action sequences are big-picture in scope but clearly
and tightly staged. They all look great on-screen.
is pretty crazy to watch a relatively young Sean Lau Ching-wan kicking butt as
Chu. In a nod to reality, the soon-to-be-late Inspector Yang (played by ever
reliable Francis Ng) tells him he is getting a little “stocky” for a
cowboy-copper. Maybe so, but he is still all kinds of steely. It is also pretty
nuts taking in the now stately Anthony Wong as Bird, the psycho-sleaze, but he
is as intense as usual. However, it is Theresa Lee who steals a bunch of scenes
as Apple, the girl-next-door patrol officer with mad martial arts skills. She
adds the right amount of comic relief, whereas Spencer Lam slightly overdoes it
as their Dan, the old veteran of their emergency response van.
Chan really earned
his spurs with some massively-charged but totally street level and almost
realistic action sequences. He keeps raising the stakes and boosting the
adrenaline quite deftly. Of course he had the advantage of what now looks like
an incredible all-star cast, who will not disappoint their more recently
converted fans. Totally recommended for action connoisseurs, Big
Bullet screens this Friday (4/8) and Sunday (4/10) as part of Old School
Kung Fu at the Metrograph and is available for sale online at Warner Archive.
Labels: Anthony Wong, Benny Chan, Cop Movies, Francis Ng, Old School Kung Fu '16, Sean Lau, Theresa Lee, Warner Archive