High Risk | aka Meltdown (1995) Review

"High Risk" Chinese DVD Cover

"High Risk" Chinese DVD Cover

Director: Wong Jing
Writer: Wong Jing
Producer: Pooi Cheung Chuen, Wong Jing
Cast: Jet Li, Jacky Cheung, Chingmy Yau, Charlie Young, Kelvin Wong, Valerie Chow, Billy Chow, Ben Lam, Wu Ma, William Tuan, Lo Hung, Charlie Cho, Bobby Yip, Vincent Kok, Suki Kwan, Lee Lik Chi, Yuen Tak
Running Time: 101 min.

By Numskull

Wong Jing can’t direct worth sh*t. His frequent toy, oops I mean collaborator, Chingmy Yau, isn’t much of an actress. Jet “F*ck-Me-In-The-A$$-I-Wish-To-Hell-I-Hadn’t-Passed-On-Crouching-Tiger-Hidden-Dragon” Li has yet to impress me with any of his HK films. And Jacky Cheung, while doing a decent job in this movie, was probably only chosen for this role because of his name.

High Risk tries to be both a balls out action flick and a mean-spirited commentary on Jackie Chan. Despite a smattering of enjoyable moments, it fails on both counts.

A bunch of school kids get herded onto a bus by men with guns. The cops show up and find a time bomb that says 10 minutes. Jet takes a phone call from the bomber that lasts less than one minute. Then he goes back to the bus and it turns out that eight minutes or so have mysteriously vanished because the timer now reads less than 30 seconds. The cops botch the job and the bus and everyone inside it (Jet’s wife and son and a whole bunch of other kids) go boom. The world would be a better place if Hollywood filmmakers had the balls to show that.

Two years later, Jet is working as a bodyguard and stunt double for “Frankie”…an obvious caricature of Jackie Chan (they even included his longtime manager Willie…under a different name, of course). I guess Wong Jing had a rough time directing City Hunter and Jet Li was pissed off because Jackie’s movies are consistently better than his because this movie really rips “Frankie” a new asshole. Among the numerous jabs taken at him (and by “him” I mean Jackie Chan) are his tendency to work with good-looking women who can’t act, the lack of “straight” martial arts in most of his films, and the widespread rumor that he did not actually perform the rooftop jump in Rumble in the Bronx despite New Line Cinema’s “He does all his own stunts! He does all his own stunts!! He does all his own stunts!!!” marketing campaign.

Frankie goes to a VIP jewelry showcase event thingie after learning that there will be a lot of bimbos there. It’s being held on the 75th floor of a swanky hotel but apparently they don’t want anyone else on the other 74 floors because they put a sign out at ground level that says “CL0SED” (that’s a zero between the L and the S, not an O) to repel the little people. He shows up in jeans and a tuxedo jacket and wimps out when robbers show up and start shooting people. Naturally Jet has to save the day, and get some payback for his prematurely cremated wife and kid while he’s at it (the bomber is, of course, involved in the heist).

There’s also a pair of reporters (one man, one woman) trying to expose Frankie as a fraud, and they seem to think they can escape the notice of one of the thieves by sitting on the doorless crappers in a unisex bathroom with walls painted in a jungle motif. Too bad nobody told them their pink and black clothes wouldn’t blend in too well with all that green. The villain who went in there to take a leak pulls about a hundred snakes and a poisonous lizard out of a small warp in the space-time continuum and sets them loose in the bathroom. The female reporter gets bitten on the thigh (they had to have her show some leg to wake up the males in the audience) and Frankie gets bitten on the ass. Jet Li sucks poison out of the girl’s leg and then spits, although nothing actually comes out of his mouth. At some point Frankie loses his pants and says “don’t shoot below the waist” when someone points a camera at him even though Jackie Chan clearly has no qualms about showing his naked ass at the drop of a hat.

And, uh, so on.

Oh yeah, this is an action movie, right? Well, there is a shootout where Jet Li drives a car around in the hotel lobby, and two surprisingly good fight scenes liven things up nicely…Jet takes on snake man in the first, and in the second, Frankie explodes into action to save his dad from getting beaten to a pulp by Bond, a guy who wants to see if Frankie is as good a fighter as his movies would indicate. Frankie has to wear a Bruce Lee style (yellow with black stripe up the side) tracksuit (Hey Alvin George! Check it out! A tracksuit! Watch this movie with your eyes pressed right up against the screen!) and makes absurd Bruce Lee style noises.

Alas, Jet Li doesn’t get to beat seven shades of sh*t out of the guy who blew up the bus…he kills him, but in a rather unsatisfying way. He’s too busy disarming a bomb strapped onto that reporter (who says she’ll marry him if he succeeds…oh yay) to chase the guy. Where the hell are his priorities?

In conclusion, watch High Risk if you like movies with agonizingly long scenes of a helicopter crashing into a skyscraper (can’t have THAT these days, now can we?), thus consuming 90% of the budget, net-holding firemen placed so conveniently you’ll think you’ve accidentally switched to a cartoon show, and close ups of penises with urine streaming out of them (well, actually there’s only one, but that’s one too many…fifty bucks says it was removed from the dubbed US version, which I haven’t seen). Those two fights are good, but not enough to save the movie. Did I mention that Wong Jing can’t direct worth sh*t? He can’t. It shows. Skip it.

Numskull’s Rating: 4/10

By James H.

There is a scene about half of the way through “High Risk” where a burning car is driven out the window of a skyscraper. The burning car falls and crashes on top of a car parked on the street. The two cars explode on impact. Why does this happen? Because it can. This is the kind of movie that has something explode if it can.

“High Risk” opens with a hostage situation at a school. Jet Li is an army guy who arrives because his wife and a bunch of children are on a bus rigged with a bomb. The bus blows up, and Jet is very sad. Two years later, he no longer works for the army, but is a bodyguard for a movie star Frankie Lone (Jacky Cheung). Frankie, I guess is meant to parody Jackie Chan, but it fails on that account. One day, there is this big gala with lots of people in a hotel. The hotel is taken under siege by terrorists who, only seemed to have watched the fist half of “Die Hard”. Anyway, one thing leads to another and to another and Jet Li becomes involved with saving everyone.

Jet Li is the star of this film. Then why, I ask, is so much screen time given to everyone else? There are two particularly long stretches in the film where I asked, who’s the star again? For most of the movie, he takes a back seat to Jacky Cheung. On the plus side, Cheung demonstrates some decent martial arts abilities, but he’s no Jet Li.

Logic knows no bounds in this movie. Wait, let me re-phrase that. This movie knows no logic. There are so many things wrong here it is unbelievable. There’s a scene where Li’s character jumps out of the building with an explosion behind him. He is then arrested; the cops assume he is a terrorist. Why? Why would they assume that?

On a technical level, this film fails as well. Directors Jing Wong and Corey Yuen throw everything at us that we’ve seen before, adding nothing original to the mix. The editing is poor and sloppy. Fights are unfocused and poorly filmed. However, there are two fights that do salvage some entertainment value from this mess.

Everyone in the movie is dubbed into English, by what appears to be an American cast. Everyone except for one: Jet Li. The person who does his voice, is not Jet Li, but someone else, I assume someone who went to the same language school as Jean Claude Van Damme. The voice acting is terrible. It’s hard enough to put up with such inane broken English as “For once in two years I’ll be able to have a good night’s sleep”, but it’s another to have to endure some awful cartoon-like voices.

This movie is incompetent filmmaking at its best. The only risk involved with this movie is the risk of being bored to tears.

James H’s Rating: 2/10

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