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Review Full Contact a.k.a. Xia dao Gao Fei (1992): A Ringo Lam classic!

genre: heroic bloodshed, action, crime, thriller

This is going to be a weird one for me to review. Since it's not one that I absolutely love. Neither is it one I hate with a passion. Actually a lot of elements are quite appealing to me. Then there are also a lot of elements I don't like.

Let me focus on the bad first. Well, as a huge fan of stylistic gun combat a la John Woo Full Contact is different. It's rougher, violent and yet still stylish somehow. However while Woo would not finish the dance until everyone is satisfied Lam cuts it off before you really can get into the groove. It's a style I have learned to accept over time although Ringo Lam has demonstrated to give into what the audience wants with for example Maximum Risk. Almost everyone except Jeff (Chow Yun-Fat) and his furry companion. His girlfriend is hot but she seems a little too practical and very quickly gets involved with Sam (Anthony Wong). To be fair they don't exactly state how much time has passed. But it couldn't have been that long. When the film starts the pacing is fast and to the point. It's quite the thrill ride and then in the middle the film almost halts. It takes a bit long for Jeff to carry out his revenge. It doesn't help that already slow scenes have been slowed down even more by certain dance sequences. Not going to lie, to hear the old school house tracks warms my heart every time I hear them. But the dance choreography itself is amateur hour. I don't think she is a dancer and you can tell it's not good nor sexy. 

While Full Contact has the appearance of being an intricate exploration into the minds of certain individuals you don't actually get to see these people from different sides. Most of them are pretty one dimensional and eventually boring. What really is astonishing to me that there actually is little to no story to speak of. Jeff gets betrayed and now he wants revenge. If it were up to me I would shorten certain sequences like the dance scenes and add more montages of what each and every character is doing while Jeff is nursed back to health and training to kick some ass again when he is back on his feet. And these montages would be backed up by the same old school house tracks (one of them is homeboy hippie & a funki dredd - total confusion). Then put everything in high gear to have Jeff's wrath rain upon them. 

After having said that you can say a lot about Full Contact but not that it's boring. In a way it is compelling. But more by the insanity that is displayed on the screen. One of the goons is the immensely sexy Virgin (played by Bonnie Fu). The running joke with her is the fact that she is immensely unsatisfied sexually speaking or perhaps a nymphomaniac. At one point she even masturbates during a job while sitting next to Jeff. She seems to have something of a relationship with the other goon Psycho who for whatever reason can't give her what she wants even when he does seem to really love her. In a way this is quite sad. But should we feel sorry for these people. No, I don't think so. They are evil people through and through especially since they support main villain and leader Judge (played by Simon Yam). Like in most films Simon Yam is very good in playing dirty scoundrels. And he certainly is at his best here. One of the highlights is the gun battle between him and Jeff where a bullet cam is used. The first time I saw it, it completely blew me away. You have to understand that I had never seen something like that before. Would take 7 years more before The Matrix would come out. So that is quite impressive!

Overall Full Contact is a title you have to see to believe but it's not one I actually would recommend for the action even if that is quite decent enough.

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