Issue #224           HOME          E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com        BACK ISSUES              August 9th, 2004

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Flash Future Kung Fu
(1983, Bang Bang Film Productions)

Cantonese: Da lui toi
Mandarin: Da lei tai
English: Fighting for the Top Spot
Alternate English Titles: Health Warning, Mister Digital

 

RATING: 6/10

REVIEW:

Imagine an '80s dance movie directed by Shinya Tsukamoto (TETSUO, TOKYO FIST) and you'll get some idea of the look and feel of FLASH FUTURE KUNG FU, an ambitious, low-budget sci-fi thriller quite unlike anything the HK film industry has ever produced. In the 21st Century, major technological breakthroughs have been made but, instead of improving things, the advancements only destroy the work ethic and spawn social unrest. As a result of a growing animosity among the working class, a group of Chinese neo-Nazis called "The X Gang" rises to prominence in HK. Clinging to the old ways, a kung fu school master (Eddy Ko Hung) tries to steer his students away from the drugs and mindless violence that now consume the era's young people. Fighters Gei (Ray Lui Leung-wai) and Killer (Johnny Wang Lung-wei) get mixed up with two of the female fascists and the latter nearly dies as a result. A gang of Nazi skinheads proceed to trash the martial arts school and their leader announces a plan to lobotomize the masses, as a way of ensuring total obedience to the party. Killer and the master invade the X Gang's headquarters and, along with one of the women (who has repented her ways, in light of the fact that her three year-old daughter will soon be surgically altered), try to put a stop to them.

Eddy Ko  Ray Lui  Johnny Wang (right)

While derivative of BLADE RUNNER and THE ROAD WARRIOR, the film's look is quite accomplished, considering the meager finances placed at the disposal of director Che-Kirk Wong Chi-keung (ROCK 'N ROLL COP, THE BIG HIT). Bleak and crumbling interiors, fanciful lighting, smoke, neon, fuzzy TV screens, and bizarre electronic music are combined with sadomasochistic elements and homoerotic imagery (a combination that predictably got the film banned in Singapore) to create a milieu that remains unique in HK cinema to this day. That, combined with the clever transmuting of the traditional kung fu movie plot (martial arts students get revenge on the evil government responsible for the destruction of their school) help to make amends for some dated components and an overabundance of dull boxing sequences (which account for this being included in Tai Seng’s Martial Arts Theater line). A very young and skinny Elvis Tsui Kam-kong plays one of the skinhead fighters.

Elvis Tsui  Johnny Wang (left), Eddy Ko  Eddy Ko


PRESENTATION:

The aggressively offbeat visuals here would be a challenge even for the best telecine operator and this aged Ocean Shores master just does not cut it. Even though FLASH FUTURE was shot in 1.85:1, it looks every bit as cropped as your average anamorphic picture. The image is much too bright and extremely hazy, with light blacks, mushy contrasts, heavy grain, and variable colors. Compression problems are also common during smoky sequences, which account for much of the running time. The English-dubbed voices are much sharper than the music and foley tracks, and there is a great deal of hiss. The print is fairly clean but there is vertical jitter whenever a shot changes and two screens of Chinese characters (which set up the storyline) have not been translated. Unfortunately, as of this writing, there are no other DVD editions available (the HK LD and VCD have no English subtitles or dubbing). Tai Seng’s Martial Arts Theater promo is the sole extra. An unauthorized version of the film has been released by Ground Zero Entertainment on tape under the title MISTER DIGITAL (was "Wu Tang Fewchah Kung Fu" already taken?).

Images in this review courtesy of Tai Seng. To read captions, hover mouse over image.


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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

DVD Specifications

  • U.S. Release
  • NTSC Region 0
  • Tai Seng Video Marketing #82934
  • Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Dubbed in English
  • 8 Chapters
  • Fullscreen (1.33:1; cropped from 1.85)
  • 78 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Quebec: 13+
  • Singapore: BANNED
  • Contains moderate violence, nudity, mild sexual content, and substance abuse

FILM REVIEW RATINGS KEY:

  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful