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Saturday, 1 July 2017

Retro Review: Devil Hunters (1989) #Hongkongcinema

Devil Hunters (Lip Mo Kwan Ying) aka Ultra Force 2 
Cast: Ray Lui, Moon Lee, Sibelle Hu, Alex Man Chi-Leung, Candy Wen, Francis Ng
Genre: Action 
Hong Kong Box Office Gross: over $5 million 

Plot: A veteran mobster finds that not only are the police after him but so are members of his own gang, led by a young gangster who wants to take over 

'Better The Devil You Know'

Directed by Tony Liu, Devil Hunters sees a gangster who stops at nothing to get hold of some diamonds. On his trail, however, are two cops, as well as the daughter of the boss trying to put an end to his plan. The plot, in all honesty, isn't that big of a deal and doesn't affect my overall enjoyment of this film, as the action is mind-blowing and non-stop. Devil Hunters is also a movie, especially an action movie, that creates so much action without much dialogue being uttered, which is rather unheard of. I was sat glued to the screen as every kick and punch were landed. 

This movie is renowned and remembered in Hong Kong movie history, at most, for the finale where almost, or be it everything went disastrously wrong in that scene; both Sibelle Hu and Moon Lee were rushed to hospital with third degree burns, after they and Alex Man Chi-Leung jump from a balcony during an explosion scene, and as such were almost killed on set. 

Another staple from the Hong Kong 'girls with guns' series, where female cop characters carry guns and beat seven shades out of the baddies, Devil Hunters is packed with gunplay, as well as kung fu fights aplenty. The action as ever with these '80s Hong Kong efforts is fast-paced, frantic and relentless and over the top, due to the editing and the fight scenes are great to watch. And the action itself is not heavily diluted or watered down, despite production costs kept to a minimum. The level of violence on display is extraordinary and far exceeds the general level as featured in other martial arts-based action films, especially those from Hong Kong.    

It's not Hard Boiled, Yes Madam or Police Story, but an entertaining action film that was made on a budget and where the characters are shot, beaten, killed, left, right and centre. Like Tiger Cage and so many other Far East Action movies, Devil Hunters takes elements from John Woo's movies and mixes it in with the fight sequences to create an East meets West, contemporary action flick.  

If there is an issue with Devil Hunters, it's that if you are also interested in the story element and not just inclined to sit through the high-octane action scenes, then you are not going to find it in this movie. Devil Hunters is more focused on drilling home the action and making it the focal point of it all, above everything else. The story is simplistic, and not deep at all and rather convoluted. The action is what draws audiences in and if you care more about the fight scenes, explosions, gun battles, then this is a movie worth tracking down. 

Final Verdict:

Devil Hunters is a solid and overly decent action film, yet very run-of-the-mill that doesn't offer much in the way of anything else but the action, which is at times, great & is also very brutish and extreme. Because the action is fast-paced and over-the-top, it manages to maintain the film's level of excitement, right towards the end. 

Fans of Asian action films and Hong Kong martial arts-based action movies should give it a watch. 


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