Full Contact | Varied Celluloid

Full Contact

Posted by Josh Samford On September - 24 - 2008
Plot Outline: After Sam (Anthony Wong) gets in trouble with some triads over a gambling debt, his best friend Jeff (Chow Yun-Fat) has to bail him out. Sam gets word that his cousin Judge (Simon Yam) wants him and his friends to help them pull a job robbing a truck. Once on the job Jeff finds out it was all a trick set up by the triads to kill him. In a turn of betrayal, Sam is forced by his cousin to shoot Jeff. They leave Jeff to die in a burning building, only Jeff makes it out alive. Now he looks for revenge.


  


The Review: Full Contact is easily the sleaziest, grittiest and downright most vulgar HK action film I’ve ever seen. Now that I’ve said that, it’s also just one outright cool film. Taking what could have been just an average tale of revenge, Ringo Lam injected the film with the style of the 80’s and a healthy dose of brutal violence. The film represents all that was great of the all but dead Heroic Bloodshed genre. It’s still around, but you don’t see too many films like Full Contact anymore.

Don’t misunderstand me, the violence in Full Contact, while plentiful, doesn’t quite top the likes of A Better Tomorrow II, but the film is just a whole lot seedier. The violence in John Woo’s films are usually comical to some point, but here the violence takes place somewhat in reality. The gunplay is actually fairly minimal really. There’s only a couple of gunfights, and excluding the first person bullet effects, they aren’t really all that spectacular. The violence in the film is just accentuated by the feel of the film. In one of the more brutal scenes in the film, Anthony Wong’s character shoots a man in the head about seven times, covering the guy in blood. It’s just an ugly image, and made uglier by the scenery and characters. It takes place in a dingy warehouse and watching his blood splatter all over his hands can almost make you feel uncomfortable.

When I first sat down to watch Full Contact I didn’t know much about it and wasn’t expecting much. I had read on a message board somewhere in the past that it was supposed to be a great non-Woo HK action film so I decided to give it a chance. Within the first five minutes of watching the film, it makes it’s case strongly, and lets you know exactly what kind of film it’s going to be. Simon Yam’s gang robs what appears to be a jewelry store, in the process he stabs a innocent woman through the chest then proceeds to have her open the vault. We’re introduced to the rest of his gang too. Mona, the slut and Deano the muscular freak (played by Frankie Chin, best known as the guy who tries to strangle Ricky in Ricky-Oh). The introduction is so simple, but it’s just so perfect. It’s hard to put my hand on it, it’s just the perfect way to start the film. A kick to the gut for the audience.

If one thing bothered me most about the film the first time I watched it, it was surprisingly enough Chow himself. Not that he gives a bad performance or anything like that, it’s just his clothing style is just terrible. He wears a short sleeve shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Add to that a crew cut and a leather vest over the shirt, and you’ve got one goofy looking chow. The second time I sat through it I just took it in as part of the cheesyness of the film. The roaring electric guitar solos, the clothes… it’s all so classic 80’s.

The style, the violence, and the characters are what makes the film. Simon Yam is repulsive in his role as a flamboyantly gay sociopath who let’s nothing stand in his way. Chow puts in a great effort, but it doesn’t really take much from Chow to please. He could be playing a coma patient and would still ooze ‘cool’ from his pours. When I first watched the film I wasn’t familiar with Anthony Wong, so I didn’t actually ever notice him, but now that I’ve seen Beast Cops I was surprised to find out that it was he who played Sam. He’s gained a whole lot of weight over the years, but I think he’s actually more suited with the weight on. In this film, when his character becomes a tough guy it’s kind of hard to take serious, but with some weight on him Wong comes off a bit more intimidating. As far as acting goes, those are the central characters. Everyone else puts in decent enough performances even though the girls just seem to be there for eye candy. Nice eye candy, but eye candy just the same.

To wrap things up, Full Contact stands out as one of the best Heroic Bloodshed films made not by John Woo. That actually sounds a little harsh, I don’t compare the film to Woo’s work, but it’s just unavoidable. Anyway, I’ve debated with myself whether to give it a four or a five for a while now, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s getting the Stubbing Award. Sure, it doesn’t add a whole lot more to the genre, but it delivers what is one of the funnest rides the genre has ever produced. Full Contact is a classic, not to be missed by HK film fans, or gritty gangster film fans for that matter.


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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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