Hong Kong Digital
is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- associate
editor / film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author
of The Hong Kong Filmography.
Hero Of City
Quentin Tarantino has often been criticized for modelling RESERVOIR DOGS on Ringo Lam Ling-tung's CITY ON FIRE, so director Alan Lo Shun-chuen evidently felt that this made him well within his rights to rip off Tarantino's movie. The result is jaw-droppingly inept and a front runner for worst HK movie of 2001. Blackie Ko Shou-liang (as a combination of the Lawrence Tierney and Chris Penn characters) assembles a gang of thieves (including Simon Lui Yu-yeung in the Michael Madsen role, Lam Suet in the Steve Buscemi part, Lok Ying-kwan as the Harvey Keitel character, and Michael Tong Man-lung as the Tim Roth undercover cop) to pull off a daytime jewellery store robbery. However, the police are lying in wait for them and some of the criminals are killed. The survivors gather in a warehouse to try and figure out who betrayed them and, on his own, Lui abuses a female cop, convinced that she knows who the mole is. Flashbacks show how Tong was talked into going undercover by Danny Lee Sau-yin (playing "Lee Sir" for what must be the 500th time) and how he gained Ko's trust, convincing the boss to include him on the caper.
Lame dogs. Image courtesy Mei Ah.
Produced on the cheap (none of the main stars looped their own lines)
and unbelievably padded (it is essentially over by the 65 minute mark
but manages to drag on for another reel), HERO OF CITY boasts some of
the worst action scenes in memory (cops and robbers run through the streets
shooting at each other, while pedestrians stand on the sidelines looking
utterly bored) and is not exactly overflowing with snappy repartee. The
sole original touch consists of having Lok play a film director who joined
the triads when the VCD piracy problem in 1997 left him out of work and
destitute! Law Koon-lan, James Ha Chim-see and Frankie Ng Chi-hung also