Kadeem Hardison is Malik. Mark Dacascos is Toby. James Shigeta is the bad boss - who you might recognize him from the original Die Hard!
The sidekick villains are prolific ones too - I recognize hedgehog at least...
Brittany Murphy was the girl - RIP 2019! Just 32 y/o. She's been on some diverse works, from 8 Mile to Sin City. I like her.
And this movie's just full of pleasant surprises! Like The Samu Hung reference. And the shoe fight. And the unexpectedly brutal chainsaw swing with the self-remedying hand. And the crazy but lovable young lady. And for a brief moment I'm also reminded of how unfortunately underrated Mark Dacascos really is, in both action AND acting. For a moment.
Okay never mind the acting. Not as much the acting. But definitely the action.
The choreography's both ferocious and witty, complete with traditional HK action stunts, fireworks, bullet marks, breaking glass and one fieeeery explosion - but also American bits, like the motel, and the car, and the ever so ominous quarry.
It feels like they tried to abridge Asian and Western a bit with both the choreography and theme. And with an Asian and Black duo instead of the typical black and white one. Before Jackie Chan came along for real - or around the same time? They have stunts that remind of both Jackie's old and concurrent movies, like the creative City Hunter, or earlier Police Story with the netted crate. Or zipline. Or glass. A lot of elements really. Same choreographer?
It's strange how this movie feels both ahead of it's time and behind it. Ahead in the US. Behind, as far as HK action goes. And thus it's become the forgotten gem it is, with a simplicity and style I look back on as... comforting somehow. And yet it's new! I definitely hadn't seen this one before, and though certain stunts and themes feel familiar it's not like they don't require skill to execute as well as they are. The actors and stuntmen make them stand out, and some of the co-ordination really is next level. Between Maiek and the other guy too. Just moments before Rush Hour. One year. They just changed the formula a little with that one, and voila, it's a hit.
Chow Yun Fat and Black Mask feels with the flying scenes too. With the mist. With the atmospheric blue light. With the bar. With the bridge. With the machines. And with the corporation and the perfect assassin... it's almost like RoboCop 3 meets Speed. Or older. Go back. To the days of Bullit and other classic automobile chase counterparts.
How many movies fetched inspiration from this? Or vice versa? There's so much. Just unfortunately also a level of comedy that sometimes just doesn't feel that suitable, and Mark is kinda distant as main man too. Maybe he's all the more used to being a villain; he does THAT so well.
JJ Perry on stunts here too?! Same guy who made Day Shift now. I recognize the crash test dummy work. Explains in part why the choreography was so good - but beyond the directing the actors definitely do their thing too!
Also: Too many loose ends. It ends too fast after the blast.
I'm somewhat comforted by the simplicity though... not that simplicity is synonymous with loose ends.
I wonder if the simplicity is more so in the style or the characters. The pace. How they interact.
There's something very human about it too. You'd think crazy stunts might take that away but no... very wholesome.
rated 4.5/5: almost awesome