A Fighter’s Blues (2000)

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Andy Lau’s 100th film shows a once broken man who finds himself on the verge of redemption.

After serving a fifteen-year sentence in prison, former kickboxer Mong Fu has been released. He decides to look for his one-time love, Pim Nanthasiri, an aspiring documentarian. However, he has learned the sad news that Pim was killed during the making of a documentary in the Golden Triangle. Fu learns that he has a daughter, Ploy, who is staying at a local orphanage run by Sister Mioko. However, Fu can’t bear to shake the memory of the night he killed local champion Chart Chai.

Despite his demons, he and Ploy slowly begin to bond. He even begins to warm up to Sister Mioko. However, at a national match where Ploy is cheering on, Fu has been spotted by Chart Chai’s former trainer, who tells everyone about Ploy’s father killing Chart Chai. An embarrassed Ploy denounces her father, who remembers that fateful night again and decides he must settle it once and for all. He has learned that Chart Chai’s trainer has trained six-time champion Tawon and in an effort to settle things, Fu challenges Tawon to a match in the ring.

Black Mask director Daniel Lee took the reins on this film, which he co-wrote with Cheung Chi-Sing and Lee Hau-Shek. The film is actually a kickboxing version of films such as Raging Bull where a fighter at the top of his game falls hard and seeks redemption. However, in the case of Andy Lau’s Mong Fu, the film opens with his release from prison and his quest for redemption.

It is clear why Andy Lau is one of the best actors in Hong Kong. In this film, he plays a broken man who is looking for both forgiveness and redemption if not anything else. While he has lost someone close to him, in the form of Pim, played in flashbacks by Thai actress Indira Jaroenpura (who has a bit of a resemblance here to Karen Mok), he learns of his and Pim’s daughter Ploy. Newcomer Apichaya Thanatthanapong, in what looks to be her only film role, does quite well in the role of Ploy, who has her doubts but eventually warns up to her long lost father.

Japanese actress Takako Tokiwa brings some great support as Sister Mioko, who runs the orphanage where Ploy stays until Fu enters both of their lives. While Lau trained in Muay Thai for his role, the film does feature some real-life Muay Thai champions. Samart Payarakoon, a veteran who retired from the ring in the late 80’s, plays the ill-fated Chart Chai while Niruj Soasudhcart plays the current six-time champion Tawon, who Fu challenges as a means to find redemption and forgiveness within both the Muay Thai community and within himself as well. Ridley Tsui’s experience as action director comes well into play in the in-ring fights.

A Fighter’s Blues is a really good film where it’s not about the fights, but about the drama. Andy Lau shows why he is one of Hong Kong’s great talents. His role is impressive both in and out of the ring while trying to find himself in the process.

WFG RATING: B+

China Star Entertainment Group presents a Teamwork Motion Pictures Limited production. Director: Daniel Lee. Producers: Andy Lau, Derek Yee, and Catherine Hun. Writers: Daniel Lee, Cheung Chi-Sing, and Lee Hau-Shek. Cinematography: Venus Keung, Sunny Tsang, and Thomas Yeung. Editing: Azrael Chung.

Cast: Andy Lau, Takako Tokiwa, Apichaya Thanatthanapong, Indira Jaroenpura, Dickens Chan, Calvin Poon, Kowit Wattanakul, Samart Payakaroon, Niruj Soasudchart, Ekachai Waritchaaporn.

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