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October 8th, 2001 Issue #77

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

Hero Of City
(2001; Hoi Fung Films Production Co.)

Cover art courtesy Mei Ah.

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

Cantonese: Ying hung yan mut
Mandarin: Ying xiong ren wu
English: Heroic Person

Quentin Tarantino has often been criticized for modelling RESERVOIR DOGS on Ringo Lam Ling-tung's CITY ON FIRE, so director Alan Lo Shun-chuen evidently felt that this made him well within his rights to rip off Tarantino's movie. The result is jaw-droppingly inept and a front runner for worst HK movie of 2001. Blackie Ko Shou-liang (as a combination of the Lawrence Tierney and Chris Penn characters) assembles a gang of thieves (including Simon Lui Yu-yeung in the Michael Madsen role, Lam Suet in the Steve Buscemi part, Lok Ying-kwan as the Harvey Keitel character, and Michael Tong Man-lung as the Tim Roth undercover cop) to pull off a daytime jewellery store robbery. However, the police are lying in wait for them and some of the criminals are killed. The survivors gather in a warehouse to try and figure out who betrayed them and, on his own, Lui abuses a female cop, convinced that she knows who the mole is. Flashbacks show how Tong was talked into going undercover by Danny Lee Sau-yin (playing "Lee Sir" for what must be the 500th time) and how he gained Ko's trust, convincing the boss to include him on the caper.

Lame dogs. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Produced on the cheap (none of the main stars looped their own lines) and unbelievably padded (it is essentially over by the 65 minute mark but manages to drag on for another reel), HERO OF CITY boasts some of the worst action scenes in memory (cops and robbers run through the streets shooting at each other, while pedestrians stand on the sidelines looking utterly bored) and is not exactly overflowing with snappy repartee. The sole original touch consists of having Lok play a film director who joined the triads when the VCD piracy problem in 1997 left him out of work and destitute! Law Koon-lan, James Ha Chim-see and Frankie Ng Chi-hung also appear.

DVD Specs:

Mei Ah #DVD-443
Dolby Digital 2.1
Post-synched Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles In English or Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
9 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Stills
Letterboxed (1.80:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
85 Minutes
Contains mid-range violence

DVD menu courtesy Mei Ah.

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Hong Kong: IIB
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]


The movie is terrible so, naturally, the DVD ends up being one of the best quality products Mei Ah has released in months! The print is pristine, the image is sharp, colors are attractive, blacks are deep, and contrasts are good. The mono sound is a bit distorted in spots and there are a couple brief instances of smearing. No time coding or extras.

HERO OF CITY is available at Poker Industries.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000, 2001. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

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