The Austin Chronicle

Full Contact

Not rated, 96 min. Directed by Ringo Lam. Starring Chow Yun-Fat, Simon Yam, Anthony Wong, Ann Bridgewater, Bonnie Fu.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., May 7, 1993

While it may lack the self-assured, stylistic integrity of John Woo's films, this recent Hong Kong import more than makes up for it in its unabashedly frenzied pacing and its obvious love for a well-placed exit wound. China's answer to Steve McQueen, the suavely inscrutable Chow Yun-Fat, stars here as “Jeff,” a tough-as-nails nightclub bouncer who becomes mixed up with a gang of Thai killers when his pal Sam fails to pay back a vicious loan shark on time. Led by Judge (Hong Kong fashion model Yam), a preening dandy with a penchant for Day-Glo handkerchiefs and underage boy-toys, this odd triumvirate also includes a Mohican Neanderthal and the ironically named Virgin, a creepy moll so sex-mad that she makes Madonna look like a pale imitation of Mother Teresa. As in most other Hong Kong shoot-'em-ups, things go from bad to worse at roughly the speed of the subtitles: Sam has a contract put out on him, double-crosses Jeff and steals his streetwise, ravishing girlfriend. Jeff is almost killed, hides away in beautiful downtown Bangkok, then reappears, to Sam's dismay. Judge tries to seduce Jeff (and anyone else he fancies) and gets nowhere fast, etc. Although the story is more or less the same old thing, director Lam and star Chow Yun-Fat keep the action moving at somewhere close to lightspeed, with fireballs and muzzle-flash galore. This may be the first Hong Kong action film with a smooth and seductive gay villain, too, which injects a note of slightly-skewed reality into what otherwise might have ended up as just another cartoon bad guy. Despite the obvious comparisons to Woo's films, Full Contact survives on its own gritty merits. It's a down-and-dirty little actioneer that leaves you squirming, breathless in your seat.

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