Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fantasia 2015 Film Review - Wild City

Ringo Lam returns to the Director's chair of a feature film for the first time in 12 years with Wild City.  Following a detour directing Jean Claude Van Damme he's back in his element overseeing a Hong Kong action film with all of the required elements. T-Man (Louis Koo) a former cop turned bar owner tells  Yan (Tong Liya) that she has to leave as it's closing time. Yan overpays the bill then leaves to get into her blue Masarati but it's obvious that she is in no condition to drive. T-Man takes her home to his step mother's house to spend the night. There, his half brother Chung (Shawn Yue) meets Yan awkwardly in the family bathroom. Chung is a blue collar guy who had dreams of being a race car driver. He now drives a red cab or a tow truck and is less refined than his older brother.

The pair agree to help Yan recover her car the next day but lean that she's tied to her Lawyer boyfriend Chiang (Michael Tse) who has strong underworld connections and several criminal elements are looking to eliminate her for what she's taken and what she knows. After the brothers foil an attempt to snatch  Yan the police become involved but show their ex-colleague T-Man no favouritism in their investigation.

Lam is clearly in his comfort zone with this feature that he also wrote. The film checks all of the Hong Kong crime thriller boxes.  There's a memorable car chase with T-man as pursuer ending with a spectacular conclusion that splits a city bus into two. Lam throws in hand to hand combat, shoot outs, knife play and a boat propeller killing for good measure. The Triads are part of the piece but not the most dangerous criminal element in the production. That honour goes to a ruthless Taiwanese gang.

Louis Koo stands out as T-Man. He is prim, proper button downed and a student of the ills that the obsession with money causes. But if pushed he can flip and be ultra violent to reach his goals. Shawn Yue is Koo's foil playing his half brother Chung. He's hot headed keeping his emotions close to the surface, does not have much respect for the rule of law but is fiercely loyal to his family. He also provides some key comedic moments to counter his serious brother and the uptight law enforcement officers.

Wild City marks a welcomed return to the Hong Kong action film genre by Ringo Lam. Lam gets a lots of things right with this film setting the feel right off the hop with sweeping shots of the Hong Kong skyline at night. He's even cranked up the sound mix to enhance the ripping of steel as cars collide, bullets fly and knives slice through the air or flesh during the production. Here's hoping its not too long before he directs another full length feature again.

*** 1/2  Out of 4.

Wild City | Ringo Lam | Hong Kong | 2015 | 120 Minutes.

Tags; Hong Kong, Money, Ex- Cop, Taxi, Maserati, Triads, Taiwanese Gang, Kidnap, Chase, Metal Briefcase.

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