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May 28th, 2001 Issue #58

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.

Never Compromise
(1999; M Productions Co.): 4/10

Cover art courtesy Universe.

Yik ngor je sei

Ni wo zhe si

Those Who Are Against Me Will Die

Francis Ng Chun-yu. Image courtesy Universe.

Those who enjoy watching Francis Ng Chun-yu go over the top will not want to miss this low-budget crime thriller, in which the star takes big bites out of the scenery, while blasting like-sized holes in half of the supporting cast. Hood Lau Bill (Ng) becomes unhinged during a meeting with an associate and ends up executing the man and his entire family, while sheepish partner, Chiu Kwai-shing (Simon Lui Yiu-yeung), looks on helplessly. After laying low for two months, the pair are dying of boredom and start to make mistakes, like going out on the town for karaoke and hookers.

Yu Rongguang (left) and Joseph Cheung Tung-cho (right). Image courtesy Universe.

Public Security officer Tung (Yu Rongguang) has been doggedly working on the case and is in a pitched battle with an Interpol rival in the hopes of impressing his superior / mentor (veteran director / actor Joseph Cheung Tung-cho) by apprehending the fugitives first. Flashbacks reveal that the killings were motivated by a drug deal that went bad when the crack Kwai-shing cooked up turned out to be dangerously impure, a side effect that didn't stop Bill from smoking it on a daily basis. Now more deranged than ever, the gangster is no condition to hear that Kwai-shing has fallen in love and plans on going straight.

Simon Lui Yu-yeung. Image courtesy Universe.

Aside from a couple of interesting visual touches, writer / director Bosco Lam Hing-lung (CHINESE TORTURE CHAMBER STORY) cannot do much to energize his slender screenplay and the opening third is so awkwardly structured, one can hardly tell the flashbacks from the contemporary bits. Francis Ng is one of HK's most dependable actors but this is far from his best work; by comparison, his turn as Ugly Kwan in YOUNG AND DANGEROUS seems like the height of austerity. Still, his odd, unmotivated mugging and borderline neanderthal body language is engagingly strange, as is the bizarre masochistic relationship his character has with Lui (with the latter literally imploring Bill to vent his anger by beating him up). Alas, NEVER COMPROMISE was conceived to be nothing more than disposable video and cable television filler and too much of the film plays out that way for it to be worthwhile. Sherming Yiu Lok-yee appears briefly.

Simon Lui. Image courtesy Universe.

DVD Specs:

Universe #5360
Dolby Digital 5.1
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles In English, Chinese (Traditional or Simplified), and Malaysian
8 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips
Letterboxed (1.79:1)
Category IIB (for mid-range violence, interrogation torture, and drug use)
83 Minutes

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

Aside from some mild smearing, the picture quality is quite nice and the source material looks brand new. The sync sound recording heard on the Cantonese version includes a fair amount of Mandarin, while the Mandarin version is entirely in that language. The sound is a bit weak on the low end but there are some decent separations. Star Files on Ng and Lui, a trailer, and trailers for GEN-X COPS, A GAME OF NO RULE, and RAPED BY AN ANGEL 5: THE FINAL JUDGEMENT are included.

Francis Ng. 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