||The Plot: The Daka Lama, a famed religious leader is coming to visit Singapore but thanks to a cult-like crime orginization called The Red Army – his life may not be safe during his visit. Also visiting Singapore from Hong Kong is a smalltime triad thug named Bee (Andy Lau) who is flying along with his dingy girlfriend, who both have harsh words for the helplessly friendly Daka Lama who tries to warn them of their future while aboard the plane. At the airport however, the stuff hits the fan as the Red Army attack and end up shooting both Bee’s girlfriend as well as the Daka Lama. Now both the Lama and Bee’s girlfriend are in critical shape and desperately in need of a blood transfusion. The only thing is that BOTH have the same blood type, and it’s extremely rare. In Singapore only three people are known to have it and once the Red Army finds out their names, two are dead with only one man (Eric Tsang) still left breathing. Now it’s up to Bee and the two best police officers Singapore has to bring down the Red Army and gather the last blood donor!|
Retitled for British home video release as Hard Boiled 2: The Last Blood, this early Wong Jing effort is far from being anything remotely similar to John Woo’s massive epic of the action genre. This is no reason to dislike the movie however, really if you go out and pick this one up even without reading this review – just looking at any pictures of the film should let you know you’re dealing with a smaller budget and how could you ever top the original Hard Boiled with a limited budget? My use of the term “limited” is pretty big in this situation, as The Last Blood looks like it wasn’t exactly cheap in Hong Kong cinema terms – but certainly not up there with Hard Boiled which was released a year AFTER this film was, for the record. The subtitle for the release, which is what I am using here for the actual title and is probably the more commonly used, “The Last Blood” isn’t exactly the best of titles either. Really, what does that even mean? I know it has to do with the last blood donor, which relates far better to the plot than Hard Boiled 2 alone does – but still; the actual title “The Last Blood” doesn’t even make grammatical sense. From what IMDB tells me the exact translation of the original title is “12 Hours of Terror” which is FAR superior than everything mentioned so far; but who would search for the actual title of the film? I move on though, Last Blood has a lot of promise going for it – including an opening sequence that very well could have started the film off and heading towards a Hard Boiled-esque action film, but ultimately this isn’t an all out gritty action drama. What Jackie Chan did for Kung Fu, Wong Jing with Andy Lau and Eric Tsang (you know, the chubby gentleman from the Infernal Affairs series) attempt to do to the Heroic Bloodshed genre. Although Tiger on Beat kind of set the blueprint a couple of years before this film, I suppose Wong Jing and company didn’t get the memo, because unlike Jackie Chan’s reinvention of the Kung Fu genre with Yuen Woo Ping and their infusion of comedy into the action pieces – Wong Jing & co. simply set up a lot of great action and brutal violence; and have their characters take everything with a humorous disposition. After all is said and done, you’re left with a very disjointed film that fails as much as it tends to succeed. Not at all a bad film, but with so many moments of glory it’s a shame the film wasn’t able to capitalize on its better ideas and move from there.
I was so impressed with the first few minutes of The Last Blood, as previously stated, I started to buy into that false title. Maybe this will be some unhyped smalltime HK production that will rival the work of John Woo. There have been some pretty decent little bits of Heroic Bloodshed I have found for cheap on DVD such as Chow Yun Fat’s City War and Rich & Famous. Well, I remember one of those happened to be entertaining, though it’s been so long I can hardly remember. Anyway, imagine a house full of gangsters all gathered around the television. They await news from their boss in a most unconventional fashion, when they hear a knock at the door. A young guy wearing glasses, a bit nerdish appears holding a VHS tape. They let him in on word that he’s from the boss and they sit him down. They all gather around and the boss appears upon the TV by way of the tape. He warns that the police have attached a new inspector who is looking to track them down, and that he has his picture. Then a shot flashes on the screen of the detective; the geeky gentleman who brought them the tape and is sitting behind them with two guns drawn. We then are entertained with a spectacular bit of action with squibs galore and explosions, which is a testament to all of the action throughout the film. When it comes to blistering action; the film does deliver. Featuring far more massive explosions than I could have expected, and I couldn’t help but be surprised many times during the course of the film. Hey, even the comedy isn’t all that bad either. The terrible subtitles kind of shoot down much of the dialogue based humor but hey it’s Hong Kong comedy so you can expect a TON of broad humor. I assume most readers who are searching out this sort of film are generally aware of Asian cinema in general and you know what to expect; but Andy Lau does deliver here and is his usual charismatic self even if his character is a bit of a self absorbed jerk at times. Eric Tsang is over the top in his role as Fatty… yes, Fatty is his characters name. Remember, broad humor. The straight man for the entire picture is Alan Tam, the previously mentioned geeky glasses wearing hero cop, who honestly impressed me in the role. Although not a physically dominating man, he makes up for it as a crackshot detective who thinks absolutely everything through. He holds the film on his shoulders and does a very respectable job as leading man. Afterward I was surprised at how few films I have seen him in or in a starring role. Perhaps his lines weren’t delivered very well, you never can say when watching foreign cinema but I will say I did enjoy him here.
So you’ve got fantastic action and all you could expect from HK comedy, but it’s unfortunate that the two things didn’t exactly go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Especially when things like an entire family slaughtered at one point, bookended with jokey moments that simply have no choice but to fall flat due to the serious course of events that have surrounded them. As much as I would like to give the film a four out of five, which it very well could be rated by many who read this or have seen the film, but I simply can’t. As entertaining as it was, there’s a massive glaring flaw and contradiction running throughout the film that I can’t ignore. Although the comedy bits don’t completely overtake the film, you will grow weary of Andy Lau and Eric Tsang completely driving you nuts with their constant bickering or panicking. I give the film a three out of five and although I doubt you’ll be able to just go out and rent this one, definitely take these words into thought and read up more on the film before seaking out the DVD to see whether it’s something you’re going to really enjoy. Heroic Bloodshed completest, this is probably a necessary, everyone else: probably not.
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