Director: Wong Ching Po
Writer: Simon Lai, Pak-wing Yan
Producer: Willie Chan Chi Keung
Cast: Juno Mak Jun Lung, Jimmy Wang Yu, Pat Ha Man Jing, Stephy Tang Lai Yan, Gordon Lam Ka Tung, Chin Siu Ho, Ken Lo, Tony Ho Wah Chiu
Running Time: 96 min.
Mild pre-release buzz suggested that “Let’s Go!” was a Chinese martial arts romp inspired by 80’s Japanese superhero cartoons, and the trailer seemed to confirm this general notion. If I had realized this was the latest film from Ching-Po Wong, the director of the slick Triad drama “Jiang Hu” and a movie called “Revenge: A Love Story,” I probably would have altered my expectations. “Let’s Go!” is not a ‘romp’ in any sense of the word. Ching-Po Wong is a filmmaker with a strong sense of visual style, there’s no doubt about that – but he does not make brightly colored, optimistic, or generally humorous movies.
The majority of this film feels like a Johnnie To pastiche, with story bits and images culled from movies like “The Mission” and “Exiled.” Hong Kong singer Juno Mak stars in the lead role of a cartoon-loving kid who becomes an angsty young man after the death of his father. As luck would have it, he’s pretty damn good in a fight and it doesn’t take long before he’s hired by an ultra-exclusive bodyguard service that may or may not be in the pocket of a big time crime boss (the legendary Jimmy Wang Yu in a cameo role). An over the top, spaghetti Western-tinged score reminiscent of Ennio Morricone-esque adds to the Milkyway Image vibe.
Cross this gangster imagery with extended scenes of brutal violence – vicious dog attacks, people being filleted by steak knives – and a generally depressing story about how life loves to chew up and spit out ‘the little guy,’ and you can see why “Let’s Go!” is a bit of a mutt of a movie. If you’re expecting a rollicking Hong Kong fight flick that pays tribute to “Voltron” – like I was – you might end up feeling let down. “Let’s Go!” is kind of about that, sure, but it’s really about how those wide-eyed kids who idealized “Voltron” grow up to have the world crap on their dreams.
In the end, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this film. What action is here is good but there’s probably not enough of it to satisfy fight fans. The overall tone of the film is unrepentantly dark, which seems to be de facto for director Ching-Po Wong, but the material arguably called for something a bit more light and fun: a “Let’s Go!” that lived up to its excited title and provided proper homage to its Saturday morning inspirations. While this is not the film I thought it would be, I’d still say “Let’s Go!” is worth a watch for fans of violent Chinese action movies.
HKFanatic’s Rating: 7/10