Born Wild (2001)

Directed by
I had hoped for something better
Reviewed by Simon on 2001-12-14

From Patrick Leung, who has set expectations very high after the wonderful Task Force. BORN WILD disappoints a little, although it is still quite a unique film. Daniel Wu goes to Hong Kong after receiving news of his brother's death there. He begins to explore the circumstances and find out more about his brother's life, and the connections to an underground boxing ring that presumably led to his death. The film plays out partly from Daniel's POV, and partly in flashback to brother Louis Koo's POV. We see how Louis was always the family oddball, a wild & carefree type who simply seems to have been "Born Wild". We see how his character affected the lives of those around him. It's quite an interestingly developed story, though at times the flashback/present tense structure is a bit awkward. Patrick Tam plays the rather crap triad guy who introduces Louis to the underground boxing world in a pretty good performance, though it's obvious he's been studying some of Francis Ng's performances and adopted a lot of his mannerisms and delivery styles. Daniel Wu is pretty good as the quiet serious brother, but I didn't really buy Louis as the carefree King Of Boxers. I wondered who could have played the role better though, and Zhao Wen-Zhao was the only answer I came up with. Jo Koo (Korean actress?) is pretty good as the 'kooky' girlfriend.

The main problem with the film is the ending, which doesn't really tread any interesting ground or make too much sense. There's quite a few interesting scenes throughout, but overall the story doesn't really suck you in. Perhaps it's the narrative structure, perhaps the casting, perhaps it's just not a very interesting story. Hard to say. Part of the problem might simply be that it doesn't really feel like a Hong Kong movie at all... the script & directorial style seem kind of western, more like something I'd expect from an American indie film, perhaps.

The fight scenes are quite nicely filmed... in a stylised way rather than a kung fu way (the fighting is not kung fu anyway, just street boxing). Quite visceral. DVD has very good subtitles for once, but a pretty disappointing picture given the recentness of the movie. The blacks are always tinted red or blue, and there's visible artefacting. Not offensive but not great.

Probably worth picking up at some point, esp. if you're a fan of the actors, but probably shouldn't be at the top of any want lists.