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Issue #120 HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES August 12th, 2002

Hired Guns
(1981; Golden Harvest/Paragon Films)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Hung kit
Mandarin: Xiong xie
English: Killer Scorpion

If you watch old school kung fu movies with any regularity, you definitely know the face but probably not the name. He is Dai Sai Aan, a pseudonym which literally translates as "Big Little Eye." That bizarre moniker refers to a facial flaw that makes him hard to miss and a seemingly unlikely leading man. However, Dai Sai (as he is affectionately known) does indeed topline this episodic Golden Harvest actioner as Officer "Goony," who is introduced foiling an armed felon aboard a municipal bus. Risking his life in the line of duty is preferable to Goony than being stuck at home with his shrill, mahjong-obsessed wife, who is constantly carping about him being irresponsible when nothing could be further from the truth. Goony and partner Nan are ordered to meet up with an undercover policewoman but fail to do so when a triad brawl breaks out and they have to intervene. The main storyline concerns a gang of murderous thieves, led by the Ho Brothers (Phillip Ko Fei and Tsai Hung), who ice several people and also make it look like a police captain committed suicide. When Goony is almost successful at apprehending them, the men threaten to turn their guns on his family.

Too much of the running time is devoted to Goony's troubled marriage and unfunny comic relief from the actress playing his wife. There is also little in the way of story but, without a name star, director Chung Kwok-yan no doubt realized that action would be the project's selling point anyway. Chases and gunplay occur at regular intervals and, while none of the staging is exemplary, it is consistently efficient. The cinematography is less competent, however, with several shots clearly out-of-focus and a lighting-related flicker marring one sequence. Dai Sai is no threat to more conventionally handsome action stars but he has an everyman quality that keeps him likeable and one is definitely routing for him during the protracted finale. Wong San appears briefly as one of the Ho's victims.

Cover art courtesy WA.

Dai Sai Aan. Image courtesy WA.

Phillip Ko. Image courtesy WA.
WA #D-DVD 2367 (Mainland China label)

Dolby Digital 5.1

Dubbed Mandarin Language Track

Optional Subtitles In English and Simplified Chinese

8 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips

Letterboxed (2.40:1)

Coded for ALL Regions

88 Minutes (apparently at 25 frames-per-second)

Contains brutal violence

DVD menu courtesy WA.

Ontario: R (Brutal Violence)

As with WA's release of ABRACADABRA (see review HKD #80), the jacket features a list of supplements and a menu design that are nowhere to be found on the disc. Instead, we get the same no-frills/no extras approach that is the norm with this label, as well as that annoying echo chamber 5.1 (for your viewing comfort, try reducing the signal to mono and running it through your TV speakers). Other than that, this is a good presentation. The source materials only contain minor speckling, the image is crisp, and hues are solid. Be warned: the English synopsis on the back cover contains major spoilers.

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