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October 9th, 2000 Issue #17

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

Fist Power
(China Star Entertainment Group / Win's Entertainment / Jing's Production, 2000): 5/10

Cover art courtesy Mei Ah.
Sang sei kuen chuk

Sheng si quan su

Life and Death Fast Fists

Zhao Wenzhou and Gigi Lai Gi. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Inoffensively dumb would be the best description for this lively Wong Jing production, which rarely stops to take a breath once it gets rolling. However, director Aman Cheung Man (RAPED BY AN ANGEL 2 & 3) relies so much on hyper, Western-style editing, it is difficult to appreciate the performers' abilities or even clearly follow what is transpiring during the various fights. Zhao Wenzhou (Chiu Man-cheuk in Cantonese) stars as Brian Cheuk, the Mainland's foremost security expert, who demonstrates his qualifications by single-handedly defeating a squad of baton wielding guards hidden throughout a Shenzhen high rise.

Anthony Wong Chau-Sang. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

While travelling to Hong Kong, Brian experiences car trouble and hitches a ride with truck driver Charles (Anthony Wong Chau-sang), whose wife has recently taken their son. The woman's new boyfriend, gangster Chiu Chung-tin (Lung Fong), couldn't care less about the boy (who is really his biological offspring) but stands to gain a $US1 billion inheritance if he shows up in America with a son before his terminally ill father passes on. With the justice system unwilling to offer him any help, Charles (a former soldier left out in the cold when the 1997 unification took place) takes the law into his hands. Teaming up with some of his old army buddies (including Lam Suet), Charles takes control of the Ching Yee Primary School and holds the staff and students hostage, demanding that his boy be brought to him before 7PM.

Zhao Wenzhou and Sam Lee Chan-Sum. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Brian's nephew is one of the captives, prompting him to take a special interest in seeing that Charles' order is carried out. Teaming up with Super Entertainment Weekly reporter Hung (Gigi Lai Chi) and Charles' goofy nephew Horn (Sam Lee Chan-sum), Brian manages to get the boy but must battle his way through squads of Chiu's fighters (including Taiwanese actress Li Fai from THE CONMEN IN VEGAS and RAPED BY AN ANGEL 5: THE FINAL JUDGMENT, and actor/stuntman Jude Proyer) in order to get him back to the school before the deadline.

Li Fai. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

The viewer's ability to suspend disbelief gets a serious workout during the second half, as villains pop out from every nook and cranny, and even manage to somehow set up an entire fake police station in less than an hour! Fans of traditional martial arts combat will be alienated by all of the artifice here but will no doubt enjoy seeing genre veterans Cheng Pei-pei and Lau Kar-wing as Cheuk's parents and Shaw Brothers beauty Kara Hui Ying-hung as his sister. All of them participate in the climactic battle, knocking the stuffing out of Chiu's goons (led by Austin Wai Tin-chi, another old school stalwart). The comedy is just as sophomoric as you would expect from a Wong Jing enterprise and the storyline is preposterous from start to finish but FIST POWER remains a fairly likeable diversion for those evenings when your critical faculties have taken a powder.

Kara Hui Ying-Hung, Cheng Pei-Pei, and Zhao Wenzhou (left to right in foreground). Image courtesy Mei Ah.

DVD Specs:

Mei Ah #DVD-278
Dolby Digital (5.1 and 2.1 options)
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
Optional Subtitles in English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
9 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With Still Frames
Letterboxed (1.66:1)
Category IIB
90 minutes

DVD menu courtesy Mei Ah.

The picture quality is good, with the infamous "Mei Ah haze" thankfully absent. On the downside, the digital compression is substandard: fast movement by the camera or the performers usually induces smearing and/or displacement. Thankfully, it is rarely a major distraction. As usual with this company's DVDs, there are 5.1 and 2.1 audio options and the former is marred by annoying reverb. The latter is somewhat better but still sounds tinny and compressed. Extras consist of the trailer, a trailer for WINNER TAKES ALL, a cast/crew listing, and a synopsis that merely replicates the write-up on the keep case.


Copyright © John Charles 2000. All Rights Reserved.

Hong Kong Digital is presented in association with Hong Kong Entertainment News In Review