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Issue #129 HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES October 14th, 2002

Extreme Crisis
(1998; Golden Harvest/Diagonal Pictures/Hawk International Co.)

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

Cantonese: B gai waak
Mandarin: B ji hua
English: Project B

Veteran action choreographer Bruce Law Lai-yin made his directorial debut with this HK/Japan co-production which, in spite of what is inferred by the Chinese titles, has nothing to do with Jackie Chan's PROJECT A films. When HK authorities are able to nab Yoshinaga, guru of the radical Shojenomichi cult, Japanese officials request that the prisoner be extradited, so that he may face the death penalty in their country. In the midst of negotiations, a Shojenomichi hit team ups the ante, threatening to release sarin gas in HK, unless their leader is freed. Thanks to various acts of incompetence on the part of the HK police, renegade cop Ken Cheung (Julian Cheung Chi-lam) and Japanese soldier Takami (Kenya Sawada) have to battle the cult members practically on their own. After some small scale skirmishes, the terrorists proceed with the main stage of their plan, taking over the UBC Network affiliate and holding the staff hostage. While they make their demands known to a worldwide audience, Cheung and Takami must fight their way to the station's main studio and defuse a chemical bomb that could blanket all of HK with sarin.

Deriving its central conflict from the Aum Supreme Truth doomsday cult's sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995 (the actor playing Yoshinaga is even a dead ringer for Aum leader Shoko Asahara), EXTREME CRISIS also borrows heavily from DIE HARD and DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, copying sequences from those films verbatim. In addition to the expected amount of Cantonese and Japanese, a significant percentage of the dialogue is in English and, while the actors all speak the language well enough to be easily understood, their line readings tend to have little or no inflection, defusing much of the tension from the various predicaments. Cheung and Sawada are effectively fearless and dynamic protagonists but the female leads don't fare nearly as well. Theresa Lee Yee-hung is wasted, in an entirely thankless role, as a medium-level cop whose lack of confidence results in a number of fatalities, and the ever-bubbly Hsu Chi (or Shu Qi as she is more commonly referred to now) is absurdly miscast as a TV anchorwoman. Law (who cameos as the SDU commander) handles the action sequences with enough skill and variety to keep the excitement level at a reasonably high pitch and the villains' murderous acts are carried out with a detached brutality that is effectively disturbing. While it is content to stay within well-mined territory, EXTREME CRISIS emerges as one of the better attempts by HK filmmakers to craft larger scale, international-style productions as a means of competing with the barrage of Hollywood imports dominating the local box office.

Cover art courtesy Universe.

Kenya Sawada (left) and Julian Cheung. Image courtesy Universe.

Theresa Lee. Image courtesy Universe.
Universe #5230 (HK Label)

Dolby Digital 5.1

Sync Sound International Version/Dubbed Mandarin Language Tracks

Optional Subtitles in English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)

8 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With (Tiny) Clips

Letterboxed (1.78:1)

Coded for ALL Regions

95 Minutes

Contains moderate violence and language

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

British Columbia: 18A (Frequent Violence)
Hong Kong: IIB
Ontario: AA (Not Recommended for Children, Violence)

The presentation is disappointingly soft and hazy, with subdued hues and light blacks; smearing is common during fast movement by actors or the camera. The stereo mix on the Cantonese and Mandarin channels boasts some effective separations but the various crashes and explosions sound overly subdued at times. The optional English subtitles (which also cover all of the English segments) offer a fairly smooth translation. There are a number of extras (with the same subtitle options as the feature), including the HK trailer, behind-the-scenes footage (10 minutes), outtakes (2 minutes), short interviews with Cheung, Hsu, Lee, and Law (which tend to rehash sound bytes already used in the short), as well as bios/filmographies for the aforementioned individuals and veteran Golden Harvest producer Leonard Ho Koon-cheung (whose last film this was). For some unknown reason, a still frame of the film's copyright notice is held for an entire minute at the conclusion of the feature.

is available at Poker Industries.

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