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January 22nd, 2000 Issue #45

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.

Romancing Bullet
(2000; Universe Films Distribution Company / Matrix Productions Co.): 2/10

Cover art courtesy Universe.

Long maan cheung sing

Lang man qiang sheng

Romantic Gun Sounds

Max Mok Siu-chung. Image courtesy Universe.

Assassin Fong Hung-yiu (Max Mok Siu-chung) terminates Chu Wai, boss of the Luen Lok triad society, while the latter is in South Korea for an event. Suspecting that the perpetrator has fled the country, Interpol agent Jim (Kang Jung Sik) travels to the SAR and begins working with his HK counterpart (Danny Lee Sau-yin, dubbed by someone else) to crack the case.

Kang Jung Sik (left) and Danny Lee Sau-yin (right). Image courtesy Universe.

Meanwhile, drug addled Kim Wing-kwong (played by the unbearable Hugo Ng Toi-yung, HK cinema's most consistently terrible actor) decides to take advantage of his boss' demise and assume leadership of Luen Lok by eliminating his rivals. Kim turns out to be Fong’s next assignment but he has a female competitor in Yu-ching (Joey Meng Yee-man), who is equally ruthless and in Kim's employ. The two begin a relationship via computer that may evolve into out-and-out romance but could just as likely find them pointing guns at each other.

Joey Meng Yee-man. Image courtesy Universe.

A washout on every level, ROMANCING BULLET plods along with no sense of urgency, offering virtually nothing of interest along the way. The characters are one-dimensional (Mok and Meng are not so much cool as catatonic), the proceedings constantly stop dead for listless exchanges that lead nowhere, the action choreography is pedestrian, and director Sam Ho Shu-pui (PROSTITUTE KILLERS, CONSPIRACY) has no conspicuous sense of panache. By the final third, whatever few original ideas the film possessed are long gone and we end up with a sequence copied verbatim from THE KILLER (Mok rushes an accidental victim of gunfire to the hospital for treatment, no doubt giving Danny Lee a major sense of deja vu in the process!). Hui Shiu-hung (also dubbed by another actor) also appears briefly in this bottom shelf effort, a prime example of HK formula product at its worst.

Danny Lee. Image courtesy Universe.

DVD Specs:

Universe #5515
Dolby Digital Stereo (5.1)
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles In English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
8 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips
Letterboxed (1.75:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
Category IIB (for mid-range violence and drug use)
86 Minutes

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

This dismal movie is not helped by Universe's presentation, which is well below the standard the company has maintained for the last year or so. The image is hazy from beginning to end, blacks are light, colors look drained, and the print is lightly speckled throughout. Contrasts tend to be weak and aliasing is rampant. More impressive is the stereo mix, which boasts plenty of power and some excellent separations. Unfortunately, the foley track occasionally strays quite noticeably out of sync on both the Cantonese and Mandarin channels. The subtitles are okay but no English or Simplified Chinese translations are provided for the numerous ICQ messages the characters read, muddling the plot. A trailer, trailers for KILLERS FROM BEIJING, DEATHNET.COM, and A WICKED GHOST II: THE FEAR, and Star Files on Max Mok, Joey Meng, and Danny Lee make up the extras.

Hugo Ng Toi-yung. Image courtesy Universe.

Copyright © John Charles 2000, 2001. All Rights Reserved.

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