Sammo Hung is back in this dramatic piece with a few action scenes, but more gives Sammo a chance to show he can act in fine form and succeeds here.
Ding was one of the most respected members of the Central Security Bureau, until a terrible incident causes him to retire and return home to the Chinese-Russian border town of Suizhen. Having witnessed a crime, Ding cannot remember who was responsible for the crime. It is discovered that Ding is suffering from dementia. He suffers from short term memory loss that begins to worsen. His landlady, Park Seon-Nun, has quite a crush on him. The only friend he tends to have at this point is a little girl named Cherry, who lives nearby.
Cherry’s father, Li Zheng-Jiu, is a compulsive gambler who has crossed the ire of gang boss Choi Dong-Nen. Choi, who plans to wage war with the Russian mafia, tells Li to go to Vladivostok and grab a leather bag from Sergei, the boss of the Russian mafia. When Li succeeds, he learns that Choi never had planned to have Li repay the debt. Having narrowly escaped from the mafia, Li takes the bag and disappears. Soon enough, Choi and his men go on a rampage and Cherry is now a target. When Ding is able to beat down two of Choi’s men while protecting Cherry, war is waged and when Li reappears, things are about to go from bad to worse.
Sammo Hung is truly a legend in the Hong Kong action industry. His welcome return to directing films comes with this exciting film that is not heavy on action, but gets to show Sammo’s skills as an actor more. And that’s a good thing considering his age and the health issues he had endured in 2010 during the making of Ip Man 2. Here, Hung stretches his acting muscles as Ding, a former agent whose dementia tends to put him in some embarrassing situations. This includes an attempt by his landlady, Miss Park, trying to woo him and even worse, causing a very uncomfortable situation at a relative’s wedding.
Hung has great chemistry with thirteen-year old Jacqueline Chan, who plays Cherry. The incident that nearly destroys Ding involves his granddaughter and doesn’t so much as see Cherry as a replacement, but in him having to protect her, he feels a sense of self-redemption when it comes to making sure Cherry is safe. They truly have a grandfather-granddaughter type relationship here while Andy Lau plays Cherry’s father, a compulsive gambler who constantly finds himself in trouble and tends to take his anger out by yelling at Cherry. It is because his gambling nearly costs him everything.
Jack Feng is truly a maniacal villain in Choi Dong-Hen, who thinks he is better than everyone else. He is the one who starts a beating on an unsuspecting victim in front of Ding’s house to open the film. Choi just draws more attention when he attempts to start the war with the Russian mafia and finds a scapegoat in Andy Lau’s Li in an attempt to make him scot-free, despite the warning from his own boss, Uncle Hua, played by Ng Ming-Tsai, a former kung fu actor and filmmaker who was actually a classmate of Sammo Hung’s from the Chinese Opera Academy.
Speaking of which, there are many cameos in the film thanks to Hung’s legendary status. Making some calls, he brought Dean Shek and Karl Maka out of retirement to appear in the film alongside a pioneer of Hong Kong’s New Wave, Tsui Hark, as three old men who say hi to Ding and strike their own little conversations. Sammo’s “godson” Eddie Peng, can be seen as a cop as well as Yuen Biao, who plays the police director. Yuen Wah is briefly seen as a mailman. Yuen Qiu plays the chairperson of the residents committee. Finally, Yuen Bo is seen as Uncle Hua’s bodyguard.
The film only has two action sequences and they are both quite stellar. The first pits Ding against two of Choi’s men. Influenced by the likes of The Street Fighter, the film shows an X-ray of bones being broken on one thug’s hand while he constantly knocks down both men, even getting injured in the process. However, it is the final action set piece that is just simply amazing to watch. It is a two-part action sequence with Ding first taking on Choi and his men and then members of the Russian mafia when they are after Choi for his actions against them. Hung may not resort to doing his acrobatics anymore, but still shows he has not lost a step, especially against the likes of Choi’s number one bodyguard as well as the Russian mafia boys.
The Bodyguard is a great drama that excels with two great action sequences and a lead performance in Sammo Hung that proves he is more than action. The supporting cast does quite well, notably Jacqueline Chan as the “granddaughter” figure for Sammo’s dementia-stricken character. Definitely worth a watch.
WFG RATING: B+
Irresistible Films and Edko Films presents a Focus Films Ltd./Good Friends Entertainment SDN BHD/Tencent Penguin Pictures (Shanghai)/BDI Films Ltd. production. Director: Sammo Hung. Producers: Bill Kong, Andy Lau, Chan Pui-Wah, Ivy Ho, and Liu Er-Dong. Writer: Jiang Jun. Cinematography: Ardy Lam. Editing: Kong Chi-Leung and Alan Lo.
Cast: Sammo Hung, Jacqueline Chan, Andy Lau, Li Qinqin, Zhu Yu-Chen, Jack Feng, Tsui Hark, Karl Maka, Dean Shek, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, Yuen Qiu, Ng Ming-Tsai, Yuen Bo, James Lee Guy,
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