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October 15th, 2001 Issue #78a

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.

Taking Manhattan
(1992; Golden Harvest / Friend Cheers / Paragon Films)

Cover art courtesy WA.

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

Cantonese: Maai hei maan hak tun
Mandarin: Mai qi man ke dun
English: Buying Manhattan


After three of his fellow officers are blown up by a bomb concealed inside a pizza box, NYC cop Chung (Lui Chi-yin) finds himself out of work and on the streets of Manhattan selling hot dogs. Chung's young son and a schoolmate are kidnapped by some Italian gang members out to blackmail the other child's father, triad drug dealer Chen (Chan Kwan). Chung and Chen are able to affect a rescue and the gangster convinces Chung to join his gang. He agrees, in order to help the DEA take Chen down, and begins receiving orders from a female boss (Alana Adena) who dresses like a Park Avenue hooker. In the meantime, the power-hungry Chen kills his boss and ingratiates himself with Chung's wife (Carrie Ng Kar-lai, the only name performer here), dragging her into his criminal operation.

Carrie Ng Kar-lai. Image courtesy WA.

One of director Che-Kirk Wong Chi-keung's least known films, this New York-lensed thriller (shot in 1990 but not released until the end of 1992) suffers from the usual pitfalls plaguing similar HK productions: weak storyline, stereotypical depiction of NYC and its people, and terrible local actors. Some good action (particularly a bravura chase / battle in the subway) and flashy low-budget cinematography (by Walter Gregg, who also shot SHANGHAI 1920 and ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA AND AMERICA) keep it worthwhile.

DVD Specs:

WA #D-DVD 2363
Dolby Digital 5.1
Dubbed Mandarin Language Track Only
Optional Subtitles In English and Simplified Chinese
8 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips
Letterboxed (1.82:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
84 minutes (at 25 frames-per-second; 87 minutes at 24 frames-per-second)
Contains brutal violence, coarse language, and drug use

DVD menu courtesy WA.

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Australia: M (High Level Violence, Coarse Language, Medium Level Sex Scenes)
British Columbia: R (Frequent Violence, Occasional Nudity, Suggestive Scenes)
Hong Kong: II [IIB if rating were updated]
Ontario: R (Violence)
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]


TAKING MANHATTAN has yet to surface on HK DVD but is available from the Mainland label, WA (a division of Universe). As usual with this company, the disc only includes a Mandarin dubtrack. The transfer looks good, with solid blacks and deep hues, though some night sequences are overly dark; the source material has only minor wear. Unfortunately, the DVD sports an awful 5.1 re-mix that leaves the movie sounding like it is unfolding inside a huge, empty warehouse. When played on DVD-ROM, the disc also has a "Secondary Subtitle" function that allows English subs to be played at the top of the screen with Chinese ones on the bottom, and vice versa. The English translation is terrible but, as compensation of sorts, the Chinese insults spewed by the American actors are amusingly surreal (a black hooker calls Carrie Ng "a bag of bones, must need yang elements"). There are no extras and a brief bit of nudity has been cut by Mainland censors.

TAKING MANHATTAN 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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