Full Contact (1992)
Ringo Lam directs Chow Yun-Fat in a homage to the 1980's and the Heroic Bloodshed genre.
Chow plays a club security guard working in Thailand, where his girlfriend Ann is an erotic... or sometimes just plain weird... dancer. He comes to the aid of his friend Sam when a loan shark is threatening his life, and in doing so earns a price on his own head. Sam comes up with a plan - his cousin Judge has a large arms robbery due to take place, and by getting in on the act Sam hopes that the friends can make enough money to flee Thailand in style. Unfortunately what Sam doesn't know is that the sponsor of the robbery is the very loan shark out to get them, and that Judge happily agrees to a condition of payment involving their deaths. Sam escapes the betrayal due to Judge's patronage, but they leave Jeff for dead in a burning building. Jeff survives, though injured, and takes a time out to heal and to retrain himself for a mission of vengeance.
Full Contact is defiantly extravagant - dark and gritty as Lam films tend to be, this one tends toward comic book territory, without the romance of John Woo's work in the genre. The characters are a nasty bunch, as a rule (except the lovely Ann Bridgewater of course), with Jeff's character only engendering the sympathy of the audience by having a touch of loyalty and honour to offset his penchant for crime and murder. Simon Yam's villain Judge manages to be charming despite being homicidally insane, and Anthony Wong's Sam just about manages to retain a shred of sympathy despite being pathetic and treacherous. They're not a noble bunch.
The films is intriguingly stylised, with the 1980's fashion being rather amusing and the soundtrack based around rather melancholic bluesy guitar solos adding a delightful atmosphere (if you don't believe me, check out the Columbia-Tristar R1 DVD where much of it has been removed to see how the atmosphere is reduced).
The action is excellent in the film, with a lot of brilliantly choreographed gunplay - the shootout in the nightclub which pioneered the 'bullet-cam' technique (unless I'm mistaken?) is an all-time classic, but there is plenty of other good, brutal carnage throughout the film as well.
Ringo Lam's films are always a bit different from those of his contemporaries, and Full Contact is no exception to this rule - the genre was familiar enough by this point, but Lam manages to make the film distinctively his own... and one of the classics of HK gunplay.