The Raid (1991)

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Based on a 1930’s comic book, this would mark the final film for a veteran of Hong Kong cinema, comedian Dean Shek, who also plays the lead role.

Manchuria, 1930’s. Emperor Pu Yi has been dethroned from China and decides to create the puppet state of Manchukuo. Even more so, he has allied himself with the Japanese, who are testing the effects of poisonous gas to unsuspecting Chinese victims. Lt. Mang Tai-Hoi of the Revolutionary Army has been assigned to stop the Japanese and Pu Yi from continuing this deadly experiment.

Looking for volunteers to help, Mang comes across the young Bobo Bear and Dr. Choy, who works as a cook for some of the rebels. Mang feels Dr. Choy may not have the killer instincts to help because of his age. However, Dr. Choy is determined to fight for his country with the help of his niece Nancy and her best friend Smartie. Along the way, double-crosses and traps are eminent. Will the Revolutionary Army succeed in stopping the Japanese?

From the duo that brought you the Chinese Ghost Story trilogy comes this action period piece that revolves around a longtime on-screen rivalry: China against Japan. Here, the Japanese are in cahoots with the upset dethroned Emperor of Manchuria, who are testing poisonous gas. The story is from the mind of comedian/actor/filmmaker Michael Hui, who based the story on a 1930’s comic book entitled Doctor Choy.

Comedian filmmaker Dean Shek makes his final film appearance in the lead role of Doctor Choy, a cook who wants to help but feels a sense of ageism. Shek has been known for his bumbling roles in Jackie Chan’s Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master. In 1986, he took a serious turn as retired gang boss Lung in A Better Tomorrow II. For his final film role, he combines a bit of the bumbling with a bit of the serious tone. It is tough to say joy geen to a veteran, but it is safe to say here, he ended his career with a fitting role.

Playing the villains of the film are veteran Tony Leung Ka-Fai and Joyce Godenzi, the wife of action legend Sammo Hung. They make the best of their roles, but seem to be more interested at times in their love story than their mission and that can pose to be annoying at times. Even when they try to hide their love from Pu Yi, Leung’s Masa resorts to acting in a way that has certain overtones. Jacky Cheung plays Bobo Bear as somewhat of a bumbling idiot who falls for Godenzi’s Miss Kim but soon realizes he may be in love with someone else. Corey Yuen makes the best of his limited supporting role as the “traitor” Big Nose, especially in his scenes with Shek.

The action set pieces are not too bad for this film. Lots of gunfire and minimal martial arts, perhaps because aside from Corey Yuen, the main cast have no real martial artists. Whoever doubled for Dean Shek should definitely get props because it makes him look good. However, teen performance Chiu Man-Yan looks pretty handy when she uses her spear against opponents. In one interesting set piece, planes are showing coming down attacking the heroes. While the special effects may look somewhat unorthodox, they are practical effects, something that can be appreciated here rather than the use of atrocious computer effects.

The Raid is not that bad of an action adventure. However, it may be ultimately forgettable despite the film being Dean Shek’s farewell film.

WFG RATING: B-

Cinema City Co. Ltd. presents a Film Workshop production. Directors: Tsui Hark and Tony Ching. Producer: Tsui Hark. Writers: Tsui Hark and Yuen Kai-Chi; story by Michael Hui. Cinematography: Tom Lau and Arthur Wong. Editing: Marco Mak.

Cast: Dean Shek, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Jacky Cheung, Joyce Godenzi, Paul Chu, Fennie Yuen, Lau Siu-Ming, Chui Man-Yan, Kei Kong-Hung, Shut Mei-Yee, Corey Yuen.

 

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