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Monday, 15 May 2017

Retro Review: High Risk (1995) #Hongkongcinema

High Risk aka Meltdown (Sue Daam Lung Wei)
Cast: Jet Li, Jacky Cheung, Chingmy Yau, Charlie Yeung, Billy Chow
Genre: Action Comedy
Hong Kong Box Office Gross: over $11.4 million 

Plot: After failing to save his wife from the evil 'Doctor', Kit Li takes a job working as a bodyguard for the world famous actor, Frankie Lane. But history repeats itself and Kit is forced to confront his past when the Doctor and his gang take over a luxury hotel, in an attempt to steal the crown jewels of Russia. Surrounded by ruthless gangsters and with only his bare hands, Kit must seek his own brand of justice. 

'Wholly Unfunny Comedy & Blatant Dig At Jackie Chan That Fails As A Film'

High Risk is an action comedy starring Jet Li and Jacky Cheung that was released in 1995 and the story surrounding the film's plot is actually based on a true story: director Jing Wong had a nasty falling out with Jackie Chan whilst they were making City Hunter that in this film, Wong retaliated by making High Risk. City Hunter was the ill-fated live-action movie, based on the Anime of the same name. Jackie was clearly unhappy with the direction Jing took with that film, which in itself underperformed at the Hong Kong box office. It is clear that here Jing did not let go of his personal feelings and got over them and to move on; but rather he retaliated, instead. High Risk takes the mick out of Jackie, blatantly and it does so to an extent that the film becomes less amusing and more to the point, shallow. 

The film starts off in dramatic fashion with a Die Hard/Speed clone with the blowing up of a school bus full of kids. But after the opening credits roll, it oddly switches to a comedy and descends into a clone of Die Hard with the terrorists taking people hostage and getting hold of the jewels.

There are digs made at Jackie Chan, such as he is a womaniser, he has a small penis and that he doesn't do all of his own stunts- the latter and the former of which I myself and many of Jackie's fans would refute.

There is far less action than I had anticipated in this action film and lots of and too much talking and conversations. Jet Li doesn't get to beat up lots of bad guys, and most of the time he just shoots them and the mood whiplash between the comedy, which most of it isn't that good, and the serious action is terribly unbalanced. It's far too serious for a so-called comedy, yet also action is limited to mainly gunshots being fired in all directions, moreso than with the kung fu/martial arts fighting. There are only 3 fight scenes: the main bad guy beating up a woman, when Jet Li beats up the main villain with a large pole, and Jacky against the guy with the long hair and sunglasses. 

Some of the scenes are also agonisingly long and the direction by Wong Jing is all over the place. And Jacky Cheung's character, given he is supposed to take the mick out of Jackie Chan, I found almost everything he said and did to be annoying and not so funny. Jacky was really good in Tiger Cage mainly as he was playing it straight in an action drama, but in High Risk, he was the annoying funny sidekick, who wasn't so amusing. I did, however, thought he did terrific during his fight in his Yellow Bruce Lee jumpsuit, with the main bad guy and I enjoyed the last 30 mins of the movie. If only it had been as good as that from the beginning. The characters overall, but for say Kit and the woman in the pink dress are not very redeemable and, are neither sympathetic or empathetic enough. Even by taking away Cheung, it would still be not as watchable, because of the plot and the story, as this made it boring as a film and almost, but not completely devoid of action.

I did like the scene where the plane crashes into the building and it ends up killing all the baddies. But other than that, there is so little for me to enjoy from it.

High Risk is so convoluted with very little return. But for the short, occasional bursts of action, the actual movie remains incredibly boring with a damp screenplay that is way too drawn out. It also tries to mimic Die Hard with the bombs and terrorists, yet it's nowhere as good and amounts to nothing.

It's worth noting also that whilst Wong Jing was intent on making his feelings about what he thought about Jackie Chan clear through the depiction of him as a buffoon (as played by Jacky) and that he has a stunt double on hand to do all his stunts for him, High Risk was sidelined as that same year Rumble In The Bronx came out, followed by First Strike, Mr Nice Guy and after that the mammoth worldwide hit in Rush Hour that Jackie's, as well as Jet Li's international popularity and status, soared to an all-time high. Whereas Jing could only reel in further obscurity, after that.

Final Verdict:

With very little originality, High Risk may be a Jet Li film, but it's not a good one per se. It has little charm, but also the film and its director can't shake off the sheer contempt he has towards Jackie Chan through Jacky Cheung playing him as a womaniser and buffoon. And that does ruin it slightly.

So few kung fu fights, too many unnecessary subplots with some characters who don't offer much to the plot, barely any character development whatsoever, & far too mean-spirited towards Jackie, High Risk had the potential to become an overly decent and high-end action comedy film.

Instead, it is a risk, whose execution alone, is not worth taking. 


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