Run and Kill | Varied Celluloid

Run and Kill

Posted by Josh Samford On May - 18 - 2011

Run and Kill (1993)
Director: Billy Tang
Writers: Bryan Chang
Starring: Kent Cheng, Danny Lee and Simon Yam



The Plot: Kent Cheng plays Fatty Cheung, an overweight businessman who loves his only daughter but is constantly bossed around by his cruel wife. When he comes home early one day he discovers his wife has been having an affair with a local store owner, and he is sent into a spiral of self despair. While drinking during a night out on the town, he confides his angst with a female patron at the bar and she informs him that she has a friend who will lay a beating on his wife and her lover for only a small fee. Being drunk at the time, Fatty agrees and when he meets with the hired muscle a misunderstanding arises. While trying to tell the goon that he wants his wife “dead drunk”, the man takes it to mean that Fatty wants his wife and her lover murdered. The killer then takes all of Fatty’s money as a down-payment for the $100,000 it will take to commit the murders. The next morning, when Fatty finally makes it home he finds his wife and her lover making out yet again. As he starts to discuss the issue with his wife, a gang of killers burst through the door and proceed to murder Fatty’s wife and her lover after knocking Fatty himself unconscious. Now, with the police watching his every move as they suspect him as the killer, Fatty must also contend with the criminal organization who ordered the hit, because they want their money.

The Review
Although Category III may simply be a rating within Hong Kong, in the minds of Hong Kong film fans the term CAT III will always bring about visions of a very specific time and era. That time and era was Hong Kong during the early to mid 90’s, when the CAT III rating truly came into its own and helped produce a new wave of highly exploitative titles. Films such as The Untold Story and Naked Killer were trashy and violent, but there were also films that were light-hearted and sexy for the most part. The film we are going to be discussing today however leans more towards the trashy and violent category, but in reality it is best described as mean and harrowing. Directed by “Bloody” Billy Tang, Run and Kill is an upsetting piece of work that is sure to challenge and disturb viewers but it isn’t without merit of technical prowess. Similar to Dr. Lamb from Tang, this is a movie that doesn’t play games.

From what I have gathered from the strange phenomena that is CAT III cinema, when these movies aren’t vividly portraying topless women from all angles they are showcasing the most bizarrely violent and mean spirited ideas that the human mind can possibly conjure up. Although Billy Tang doesn’t have a massive library of shockers to choose from, the few movies that he contributed to the world of CAT III cinema has definitely made an impression on all who have watched his work. While Dr. Lamb was certainly a nasty bit of serial killer cinema, Run and Kill takes things to a whole other level of depravity. The third act is what features the majority of all violence, but after the movie is over chances are you won’t remember much else other than the final twenty minutes anyway.

Kent Cheng leads this all star cast of genre film favorites, and he does an exceptional job in a role that I never imagined seeing him in. Overweight actors in the Hong Kong film industry are relatively obscure, which is likely why you see Kent Cheng, Eric Tsang and Suet Lam popping up so much. These actors are relegated to a certain amount of onscreen punishment due to their weight and are often the butt of many “fat jokes” throughout every movie they are in. Run and Kill is no different in that regard, as we see Kent Cheng take a considerable amount of name-calling. However, Cheng manages to take all of this and craft a genuine character in the midst of all the cinematic chaos that this movie manages to throw around.

Featuring a blowout cast, Run and Kill steps up to the plate in terms of actors involved. CAT III staples and legends Simon Yam and Danny Lee both show up playing their usual psychopath and detective characters, respectively. However Kent Cheng is the real standout here as he manages to leave his regular “character actor” position behind for a little while and steps into the role of a leading man with relative ease. His performance is addictive from the start and we the audience can’t help but feel sympathy for this man as he has his heart ripped out of his chest and then stabbed with a dull butter-knife. Cheng has great onscreen chemistry with the majority of the cast, but the moments spent between he and his child are the real selling points. The two seem to get along great and we see how much this character loves his child right from the introduction. The torment and horrors that follow him become all the more aching due to this sentimental touch.

I will concede that the general plot isn’t something totally unique, that’s for sure. There are plenty of movies out there that deal with a “regular Joe” being absorbed into the world of crime, but there are few that take the parable to the extremes that Run and Kill does. That level of depravity and psychosis which seems to decorate our film today is what makes it such an interesting little film. Although it isn’t something that I am going to recommend for all audiences, due to the content, but I do have to say that there is more to the movie than simply the grit and the grime. Beautifully shot and well acted… this is a well made film, on top of being a straight up piece of disgusting trash!

I do not want to recommend this film to the gorehounds out there looking for dismemberments, as I think those audiences would be more than a little disappointed with a title such as this one. The CAT III genre isn’t one that I normally associate with extreme “gore” anyway, since most of the time the disturbing factor in these films are their ideas and not necessarily what they “show” you. Run and Kill features a bit of both, however. Never shying away from violence, but never going to the grotesque limits that many splatter movies would, Run and Kill is instead a very intense and sordid character piece that will leave you haunted and utterly destroyed by the time the credits role.


The Conclusion
I really can’t recommend this one enough. Although it’s a movie that is made for a decidedly niche audience, there are more film fans out there who would really get something out of this than you might at first think. A dark and gritty piece of work, check out Run and Kill if you’re looking for a really fantastic piece of transgressive filmmaking that will actually challenge you as a viewer.




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