Hong Kong filmmaker Dennis Law, best known in the West perhaps for his martial arts action film Fatal Contact, combines the Triad gangster film with more technical martial arts fighting courtesy of former Jackie Chan Stunt Team leader Nicky Li. The end result is more of a mixed bag, but like Fatal Contact, brings a similar presence in its subtext.
A business deal gone bad in Mainland China results in the arrest and execution of Andy Lok, the head of a Hong Kong-based Triad gang, Tuen Leung Shun. Witnessing the execution is sister Audrey, who is given the last will of testament from Andy. However, the will cannot be read until younger brother Jason returns from the United States. New chairman Funky is not too thrilled with the news and expects Audrey to pay back the gang a sum of three million dollars. When Jason returns, the last will reads that all assets are to be split between Audrey and Jason.
This truly does not bode well for Funky and fellow gang leaders Hung, Kong, and Zen as well as Funky’s wife Lucy. The quiet leader of the gang, Calf, doesn’t seem too interested and concentrates more on training his star student, mute girl Dumby, in martial arts. However, when Jason is killed by a car bomb, Funky is the lead suspect. However, as the gang bosses begin to die, dark secrets lead to an all-out internal war in the Tuen Leung Shun gang.
Former Milkyway Image chairman Dennis Law’s Fatal Contact received mixed reviews with its high impact action sequences with a storyline that seems to be more predictable yet it upholds two certain character types that drove the film: the femme fatale and the tragic hero, or anti-hero. This latest effort from Law brings the same elements. However, this time around, instead of underground fighting, the story is set in the gangster genre, in what can be described as a lower budgeted martial arts version of the Johnnie To film Election, with a struggle for leadership in the gang as its central theme.
One can’t help but enjoy seeing Simon Yam on the screen. Truly one of the most versatile actors in Hong Kong, Yam does fairly well as the hot-headed Funky, who only seems to care about money, with his interest growing when he takes over leadership of the gang. Canadian-born Bernice Liu goes a 180-degree turn as Audrey, who goes from being a quiet young woman whose concern is for her family to a vindictive femme fatale, giving the notion that looks can truly become deceiving.
In the action department, American-born Andy On truly continues to improve his film fighting skills and fares well as disfigured gangster Calf while Coweb’s Jiang Luxia lets her martial arts skills do the talking as mute member Dumby. One thing that may seem weird is her method of communication. She types into a mobile device and rather than see a close up of the mobile device’s text, the text superposes on the screen. Depending on one’s taste, this is perhaps a good thematic device or a ridiculous one. Rounding out the cast in terms of action are some true veterans of the genre. Ken Low, Xiong Xin-Xin, and Chan Wai-Man play fellow gang leaders who are involved in the insinuating war within the gang.
Law’s fight choreographer of choice, Nicky Li, returns to take on the action sequences. The former Jackie Chan Stunt Team leader dishes out some elaborate fight scenes that makes very good use of his cast. While some of the fights ultimately fall short, there are some of notable exception that look great. Two of the memorable fight scenes involve Andy On, who has worked under Li since 2001, when LI choreographed the fight scenes for Looking for Mr. Perfect. Compared to New Police Story and Fatal Contact, On looks great here, using some nice kickboxing skills and lethal knife work. In addition, Li makes the veterans Low, Xiong, and Chan look great in their action scenes. Another interesting fight scenes consists of Jiang Luxia taking on an entire gang to prove her skills to Calf. What helps to make the fights look good are the use of two shots, at times tracking shots, and overhead shots. While lots of fight scenes have extreme close ups and quick cuts galore, the fights here do not suffer from that problem, making them the best element of the film as a whole.
Despite some pretty good casting in most cases, Bad Blood suffers from an ultimately predictable storyline yet brings a bit of a redeeming factor in some high impact fight sequences courtesy of Nicky Li. This is more worthy of a rental rather than to buy it, but it all depends on one’s taste.
WFG RATING: B-
A Point of View Movie Production Co. Ltd. Production. Director: Dennis Law. Producer: Dennis Law. Writer: Dennis Law. Cinematography: Herman Yau. Editing: Azrael Chung.
Cast: Simon Yam, Bernice Liu, Andy On, Jiang Luxia, Eddie Cheung, Chan Wai-Man, Xiong Xin-Xin, Ken Low, Chris Lai, Pinky Cheung, Wong Tin-Lam, Lam Suet.