Full Contact (1992) Review

"Full Contact" International Theatrical Poster

"Full Contact" International Theatrical Poster

Director: Ringo Lam
Writer: Nam Yin
Producer: Nam Yin, Ringo Lam
Cast: Chow Yun-fat, Simon Yam, Anthony Wong, Ann Bridewater, Bonnie Fu, Chan Chi Leung
Running Time: 99 min.

By Joe909

Finally, after reading about it for years, I got to see Full Contact. To say the least, it’s a movie experience. A Hong Kong remake of John Boorman’s ’60s existential action flick Point Blank (also remade recently as the sub par Mel Gibson Payback), FC is a high-octane mix of guns, motorcycles, sluts, homicidal homosexuals, Road Warrior-rejects, and cock rock.

This movie doesn’t fuck around. In the first few minutes a female clerk is stabbed, and innocent people get shot to shit. The violence is very realistic, there aren’t any slow-mo, artsy John Woo shoot-outs at all. Most shocking is the half-second image of a severely-burned young girl.

The cast is good: Chow Yun-Fat is surprisingly believable as the toughguy ass-kicker, offering only more proof that he can play basically any role. His girlfriend is hot and registers the right emotion for each scene, Anthony Wong is as creepy as ever (I love the part where he unloads his .45 on some guy), Virgin is disgusting as hell, and her metalhead boyfriend is amusing. Simon Yam, however, outshines the rest of the cast, hamming it up throughout.

Full Contact does bog down in the middle half; there are too many extended dance/montage sequences, too many uncompelling scenes. Not until the final third does the movie pick back up, with Chow exacting his revenge on Simon Yam. Speaking of whom, Yam gets the “coolest scene in the movie award,” when he lights a cigarette with his thumb in the opening robbery scene.

Ringo Lam has always seemed like a Hollywood director to me: his films never look like anything else that come out of Hong Kong. Full Contact is no exception to this: other than the Chinese actors, you’d swear you were watching a low-budget, US-made action film. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Joe909’s Rating: 8/10

By Lady Tequila

Full Contact rocks.

Bullet-cam. Scantily-clad exotic dancers. Lots of big guns. Lots of big motorbikes. Lots of big car chases. Ultra-violence. Sex-starved nymphomaniacs. Chow Yun-Fat wearing leather and biceps. Females which exist only to prove that the male leads, even while wearing leather and biceps, are in fact of course not gay in any way. Screaming rock guitar. Damn it all, this movie sweats male machismo. And it rocks. It’s a big, adrenaline-pumping, gun-toting ride of a film, and if you switch your brain off and watch, it fucking rocks.

The action is top-notch. A far cry from John Woo’s balletic touch, Ringo Lam injects gritty fury into his fight scenes, and we see blood, graphic detail, and the ‘bullet cam’ shot which Lam pioneers here. This is a world where nothing is taboo and anything goes, and just in case we don’t realise this, Lam ensures that we see plenty of innocent people get killed in various nasty ways, including a young, pretty clerk who gets brutally stabbed in the first minute or so of film. This scene is interesting because, according to the law Hollywood has created, this should not happen in a film – innocent people don’t get killed onscreen – so when it does happen, we are left knowing that this is a film where anything can happen, and we fear for the central character more because we have no guarantee that he’ll come out of this film alive. In a world of “hang on we can’t kill him he’s played by Sylvester Stallone” action films, this is not only a thrill but also a relief.

Chow Yun-Fat can do no wrong as an actor, and it’s interesting to see him take a big step away from his usual smooth, suave, sophisticated roles and jump headlong into playing a rough, tough, sneering character, complete with leather and biceps and even a buzz-cut (which are OK because he’s got a girlfriend, and so he can’t be gay). Anthony Wong is kind of unnerving (but does get a little whiney at times). Simon Yam is bloody brilliant as the homosexual bad guy, although his character would (rightly) have seen him crucified by gay rights activists outside of Hong Kong. Anne Bridgewater is reasonable but gets little to do other than supply proof of Chow Yun-Fat’s heterosexuality. Bonnie Fu plays Virgin (wrongful labelling if ever I saw it), who I find distinctly annoying.

So, yeah. It rocks.

But – to be honest this movie has me torn in two. I love the movie because of the action, cast, and some of the more touching, emotional moments. But, if inspected more closely, there are things in this movie which really rub me up the wrong way. There’s the blatant homophobia, the portrayal of women as nothing more than slutty fluff. This film has no morally redeeming features – it’s basically just (hugely enjoyable) eye-candy, some dodgy values, and violence for violence’s sake. I kind of wish Lam had some of Woo’s morals, then maybe this would be a perfect film.

But fuck that, it still rocks.

Lady Tequila’s Rating: 9/10

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