AKA: Mie Men, Mit Moon
Director: Dennis Law
Writer: Dennis Law
Producer: Dennis Law
Cast: Simon Yam, Andy On, Bernice Liu, Hung Yan Yan, Chris Lai Lok Yi, Pinky Cheung Man Chi, Jiang Lu Xia, Ken Lo, Chan Wai Man, Lam Suet, Eddie Cheung, Hau Woon Ling, Hon Chun, Amy Tan En Mei, Jack Wong, Wong Tin Lam, Victy Wong Yin Keung
Running Time: 95 min.
Can I recommend a movie based solely on the strength of its fight scenes? If that were the case, I’d tell just about anybody who enjoys Hong Kong action movies to find a way to watch “Bad Blood.” But no – this is not a good movie, at least not one I can recommend with a clear conscience. Despite some astounding fight choreography, “Bad Blood” fails in just about every other way.
I lay the blame on Dennis Law – he wrote, produced, and directed the thing. The story is decent enough: it focuses on the feud that arises among the remaining members of a Triad organization after their leader is killed. Everybody’s backstabbing everybody in order to get their hands on the Triad’s money. The cast includes Simon Yam, who could play this kind of role in his sleep (and he kinda does here).
To put it bluntly, Dennis Law’s direction is lazy and borderline-incompetent. The production values are great but camera-takes linger way longer than necessary, creating awkward silences between cast members. Law films his cast of talented and attractive people doing the most mundane of things like putting on make-up, changing their underwear, or starting their cars. There are a disconcerting number of scenes of Simon Yam sitting at a table, sucking on (yes, sucking on) peanuts. Despite several films to his credit, with “Bad Blood” Dennis Law seems to lack the most basic knowledge of what is compelling to watch onscreen. In a sense, the guy has got to go back to Filmmaking 101.
But the fight scenes are good enough that they nearly redeem the entire production. I suspect they were more or less ghost directed by choreographer Nicky Li, a former member of Jackie Chan’s Stunt Team. I’ve heard that in Hong Kong, the director will often leave the set during fight scenes and lets the action choreographer take over. That would probably explain why the fight sequences in “Bad Blood” are so visceral, kinetic, and well-shot compared to the rest of the movie. And, thankfully, they are numerous.
Andy On (“Black Mask 2,” “White Dragon”) is one of those guys who’s always seemed like a competent martial artist but has never had a movie that really showcased his talents. “Bad Blood” is his movie. His moves are just wicked in this flick; you believe his kicks could really send someone flying across the room, and he’s particularly lethal with a blade. Alongside him, Luxia Jiang of “Coweb” fame continues to cement her status as a female fighting force. Her acting range is limited here by the fact that her character is mute, but the action scenes are where she really shines. Her fight with Andy On is superb and, later on, she has a standout moment where she takes on about 20 thugs armed with aluminum bats.
The choreography is excellent, with a minimal use of wires; there’s only one moment in an actual fight where the wires are obvious, the rest are a few instances of parkour-style leaps. “Bad Blood” attempts to get back to that vintage, no-frills Hong Kong feel – at least when it comes to the action. The movie itself suffers from some really pedestrian filmmaking. Also distracting is the fact that everyone in the movie wears gaudy as hell 80’s fashion, even though it’s set in present times. The music, too, draws negative attention to itself since it’s 90% guitar rock noodling.
I should probably mention Bernice Liu (“The King of Fighters,” Miss Chinese International 2001), who plays the femme fatale character. Despite her numerous fight scenes, I never once bought her as a real martial artist. Her motions appear artificially sped in post production to make her look like The One or something. But, hey, she’s good at playing a bitch.
If great fight scenes are all it takes to make you enjoy a film, or at least not feel embarrassed that you watched it, then “Bad Blood” is not a poor way to spend an evening. Fans of Andy On and Luxia Jiang will definitely go home happy with the way their stars are represented here. More discerning critics may wonder how so many decent actors signed up for a movie with such a shoddy a script or how Hong Kong circa 2010 could produce a movie with worse directing than a student film.
HKFanatic’s Rating: 6.5/10