2001, China Star Entertainment Group/One Hundred Years of Film Co. Ltd./Icon Film Co. Ltd.
Louis Koo (Tan Ho)
Daniel Wu (Tide Ho)
Patrick Tam (Mann)
Jo Koo (Sandy)
Felix Lok (Chu)
Arthur Wong (Lao Wu)
Chang Kuo-Chu (Ho Chuen)
Phyllis Quek (Tan and Tide’s Mother)
Wrath White (Arion)
Park Ju-Chan (Korean boxer)
Ron Smoorenburg (6’5” boxer)
Louis Koo and Daniel Wu star in this underground boxing film that combines flashbacks with an investigation into a fighter’s death with his brother trying to find out who is responsible.
Tide Ho, a young man who enjoys windsurfing and lives a somewhat carefree life has gotten shocking news on his birthday. His fraternal twin brother Tan is dead. Having gone to the morgue, the body is identified as Tan. Having been beaten to death, Tan has left a key to his apartment with a few other personal belongings. This is where Tide’s quest begins.
At Tan’s apartment, he runs into Sandy, Tan’s girlfriend whom he met when she was a lounge. She was in a relationship with Mann, a hustler who would physically abuse her. When Tan confronted Mann after stealing Sandy from him, which resulted in another abusive incident, Mann is knocked out by him. Mann soon respects Tan and invites him to enter the world of underground boxing, run by Chu and Lao Wu. As Tan gets well known, an incident between Mann and a Korean boxer leads Tan to settle the score on the streets. Chu, in retaliation, unleashes his champion, an American boxer named Arion to take on Tan.
Directed by the co-director of La Brassiere, the film provides a concept that was influenced by The Godfather Part II in terms of juxtaposing flashbacks and present day. The flashbacks involve Louis Koo’s Tan entering the world of underground boxing and the events that lead to the investigation by Daniel Wu’s Tide, who meets the two people who help him understand the flashbacks as much as the viewer.
While Koo and Wu give out decent performances, Patrick Tam nearly steals the spotlight as Mann, Tan’s rival turned friend who feels a bit of guilt for what happened to Tan and is unsure to help Tide’s attempt to avenge his brother. Jo Kuk gives a somber performance as Sandy, Tan’s girlfriend who feels melancholic towards her loved one’s death yet while she is with him, she’s more happy and carefree. Felix Lok gives a snide performance as organizer Mr. Chu while cinematography legend Arthur Wong gives out one of his best acting roles as the scuzzy Lao Wu, Chu’s partner and occasional enforcer.
Richard Hung, better known as Yuen Tak, served as the film’s action choreographer. The fights consist of mainly boxing. However, there are shades of kickboxing in some of the fights. Koo takes on the likes of Ron Smoorenburg and Korean stuntman Park Ju-Chun. However, the main fighter of the film is played by former heavyweight kickboxer turned horror author Wrath White. White gives a very menacing performance as Arion, an American ex-pro boxer turned Chu’s underground boxer. As for Daniel Wu, the wushu artist engages in two fight scenes, where the first fight consists of him mainly deflecting a kickboxer’s move before his climactic bout.
Born Wild may not be a fight-heavy film. However, it does make use of the juxtaposition of flashbacks and present day as we delve into the rise and fall of an underground boxer and his brother’s quest for revenge, all driven by a near scene stealing performance by Patrick Tam. Worth a rental.
WFG RATING: B