Thursday, May 26, 2016

Full Contact


   I told you guys! I talked about this! About how club scenes are a key ingredient in a healthy number of action movies. It's a freakin' staple of the genre. Nightclubs, techno-clubs, rave clubs, and strip clubs, (book clubs?) only exist so guys like Chow Yun Fat, Keanu Reeves, Wesley Snipes, and Arnold Schwarzenegger can walk through them in slow motion, and eventually whip out some guns and unleash pure chaos. Full Contact is no exception. It has it's club scene shootout, and it's glorious. One of the most stylish and creative shootouts I've seen in ages. If you're an HK action buff, Full Contact is one to seek out.

   Chow Yun Fat plays a bad-to-the-bone type here. A punked out thief who brandishes a butterfly knife and rides around on a big motorcycle. He's a bad guy, but he's the kind of bad guy who feels feelings when innocent people end up getting hurt as a result of any criminal shenanigans he might be involved in. Because, those are the bad guys that people can root for. Bad guys with a conscience. I'm poking fun at the movie, but Fat sells the role with gusto. He's a classic bad boy, and a lot of fun to watch. It's a far cry from the monk-like assassins or the rogue cop roles he usually plays. There's nothing serene or noble about his character here.

   If he had a motto, it'd probably be 'all is fair in love and war', but he's clearly taken it super duper seriously. The movie is one big revenge fueled vendetta, with a love triangle smack in the middle of it. See, Chow Yun Fat's character, Gou Fei and his friend, Sam Sei, along with another one of their buddies, Chung, scramble to organize a heist so they can pay off a notorious loan shark who's put a price on Sam Sei's head. Only the guys they approach to pull the job off with, Sam Sei's cousin and his two goons, double cross them- killing Chung, coercing Sam Sei to join them, and leaving Gou Fei for dead. That's probably a big no-no.

   While in a self-imposed exile, Gou Fei begins training himself to shoot again, working up strength to take his revenge on the crazy trio who betrayed him. But! While he's doing that, he's left his girlfriend thinking he's dead, to fall for the traitorous Sam Sei. With so much plot to sift through, Full Contact starts to drag for a while after the 40 minute mark. There's a montage showing that years (I guess?) have passed, but it doesn't spare much of the runtime. When Gou Fei returns, it becomes a low key psychological game for a while, along with more love triangle stuff. The contrast might not have been so sorely felt if the first half hour wasn't an insane roller coaster ride of knife fights, shootouts, explosions and a heist.

   Nevertheless, as things get rolling, you'll see Full Contact still has a few decent set pieces in it. Decent? Did I say "decent"? Who am I kidding? The action scenes it does have left aren't just decent, they're fucking amazing. Things come to a head in the club at one point and a shootout ensues. It's not a big John Woo shootout, because there's neither enough guns, nor enough bodies to fly through the air in slow motion. Instead, almost every time someone fires their gun, the camera follows the bullet to it's target. Zooooom. It's not bullettime, it's not exactly slow motion. It's fast, brutal and really damn cool looking. It's Full Contact's coolest action scene. I was blown away.

Quite literally...
   Beyond that, my thoughts are kind of scattered. The movie is exceptionally stylish and atmospheric. The sets and lighting are always colorful and moody. The main villain, played by Simon Yam, is a total treat; a flamboyant criminal boss who legitimately has a crush on Gou Fei, but would just as soon shoot him as he would sleep with him. The gun-play in the movie is excellent. Energetic, hard-hitting, and there's always a ton of blood. Squibs and gore galore. The movie was way bloodier than I expected it to be, and for that I am so happy. The love triangle is even pulled off rather well, even if it's just a bit perfunctory in the overall scheme of things.

   When all is said and done, Full Contact is a blast. It's probably my third favorite Chow Yun Fat actioner after Hard Boiled and The Killer- which is saying a lot. I don't have much of anything negative to say about the movie. I had a real fun time with it. Action lovers will be delighted by the chaos and the carnage. Come for Chow Yun Fat as a bad boy, stay for that awesome club shootout. You won't regret it.

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