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December 10th, 2001 Issue #86

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.

Born Wild
(2001; China Star Entertainment Group / One Hundred Years of Film / Icon Pictures)

Cover art courtesy China Star.

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

Cantonese: Ye sau ji tung
Mandarin: Ye shou zhi tong
English: Eye of the Beast


Cheung Chau resident Tide (Daniel Wu Yan-zu) is visited by police with news that his brother, Tan (Louis Koo Tin-lok), has been found beaten to death in Hong Kong. Learning that his sibling had been participating in underground boxing matches, Tide decides to learn more about Tan's fate by visiting his apartment. There, he encounters Sandy (HIT TEAM's Jo Kuk Cho-lam), his brother's old girlfriend, who is slowly losing her eyesight. At this point, the film begins alternating between flashbacks detailing Tan's life and present-day sequences. Tan became friends with swaggering, small-potato triad Mann (Patrick Tam Yiu-man), who got him involved in the matches; now Tide asks that Mann do the same for him, so that he can fight the American responsible for his brother's death.

From left to right: Patrick Tam Yiu-man, Daniel Wu Yan-zu and Jo Kuk Cho-lam. Image courtesy China Star.

Patrick Leung Pak-kin's SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME (1996) was a stylish but empty-headed amalgam of boxing movie cliches that ended up being little more than a grotesque vanity piece for its star, Aaron Kwok Fu-shing. BORN WILD is Leung's second trip into the ring and it has all the style of his first go around but only a tiny bit more substance. Neither Koo nor Wu are very engaging and the same can be said of their characters (who are supposed to be fraternal twins with opposite personalities, a plot device that fails because the two actors' performances are completely interchangeable). However, Patrick Tam is exceptional, imbuing the film with almost all of its spirit and essence. Jo Kuk is also very convincing but her character melts into the background in the second half and ends up being far less pivotal than one initially suspects. Although the movie benefits enormously from their prescence, BORN WILD still ends up being undone by its tediously overstylized combat sequences (there is so much editing and artifice, anyone could seem like a halfway competent fighter here), hanging plot threads, and a truly ludicrous climax. A quasi-metaphyiscal post-script reveals Leung's grander intentions for the project but one wishes he would have been content with delivering a picture that attained a few more basic goals. Chang Guo-chu, veteran kung fu star Pai Ying / Pak Ying, and Lawrence Cheng Tan-sui are among the supporting cast.

DVD Specs:

China Star #HF 40331D
Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS options
Sync Sound Cantonese and Dubbed Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles In English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
12 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips
Enhanced for 16:9 displays
Letterboxed (1.80:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
109 Minutes
Contains brutal violence and mild sexual content

DVD menu courtesy China Star.

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Australia: MA 15+ (High Level Violence)
British Columbia: 14 ACCOMPANIMENT (Violence)
Hong Kong: IIB
Ontario: R (Violence)
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]


Although their initial DVDs left something to be desired, China Star's product has dramatically improved in recent months and they are currently the studio to beat when it comes to high quality DVD presentations. The film is presented with 16:9 enhancement (something China Star is STILL not mentioning on the packaging -- why the modesty?) and looks excellent. Colors and contrasts are slightly subdued in spots but this appears to be conceptual; with that in mind, the transfer is above reproach. The stereo mix (available in both DD and DTS for the Cantonese version and DD only for the Mandarin dub) is very crisp and dynamic and the English subtitles have few errors. The one area where the disc falls short is the layer change, which is poorly chosen and quite disruptive. Supplements consist of a 3 minute "Making Of..." (no subtitles), a trailer, and brief talent files on Leung, Koo, Tam, Wu, and Kuk.


BORN WILD 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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