First Shot

1993, NR Directed by David Lam. Starring Ti Lung, Maggie Cheung, Simon Yam, Lee Tse Hung, Lau Shek.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 14, 1994

Neat stuff. A historical crime drama that, interestingly, takes place in Hong Kong of the early 1970s. The Hong Kong police force is rife with corruption, working side by side with the Triads. Most of the populace is content to go along with things the way they are. Into this crime-infested potpourri steps tough cop Wong Yat Chen (Lung), an upper-echelon detective who has been betrayed by his own men. When he's assigned -- alongside a pair of untested rookies -- the mission of breaking the Triad's hold on the the rest of the police force, he finds himself up against not only the Triad bosses themselves, but also old friends and double-crossing lieutenants. Maggie Cheung is great as the Department of Revenue head who lets the group work undercover in her agency, and Simon Yam (Full Contact) is equally impressive as a Triad stoolie gone good. Lam's film forsakes the kung-fu melodramatics of most Hong Kong fare (excluding a humorous bit involving the recently departed Bruce Lee) in favor of a more intellectual take on the genre. Lung's beleaguered cop is up against it from all sides, including his wife who has divorced him and taken the kids away. Nobody ever said police work in Hong Kong was easy, but this takes all: he's shot in the head, beaten, betrayed, and then beaten some more before he even begins to fight. Realistic period sets and costumes round out the sense of honesty this film wears on its sleeve like a chintzy Seventies wristwatch. Recommended.

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First Shot, David Lam, Ti Lung, Maggie Cheung, Simon Yam, Lee Tse Hung, Lau Shek

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