February 23, 2009


‘Protégé’ is a great movie, but it’s a hard one to summarize on a video sleeve. Yes, I have to admit, that is not Daniel Wu’s hand holding the gun on the sleeve, but we have made all five extra fingers available to him every second Sunday…
Otherwise, we at Dragon Dynasty played a pretty straight bat with the artwork and I hope this great movie finds the audience it deserves in the North American market. For those of you who haven’t seen the film yet, I don’t want to give away the film’s most shocking grand guignol moment (though the title of this piece offers a hint…)
In its honour, here’s my list of ten shocking movie moments from Hong Kong cinema:
(If you haven’t already seen these movies, (a) shame on you and (b)to avoid spoilers, try to skip over the relevant section.)
1) Infernal Affairs: Anthony Wong hits the ground. I still remember how the first audience for the film jumped out of their seats at the Hong Kong premiere. In The Departed, Martin Sheen collided with the pavement with the same force but nowhere near the same impact. (The film is out now on Dragon Dynasty.)

2) Dog Bite Dog: Lam Suet gets it in the neck. I actually first saw this on a VHS screener. (Go figure…) When it started, I thought the film was going to be about Lam’s character track down Edison Chen’s feral Cambodian killer, and it really knocked me sideways when he got turned into a human ketchup dispenser. (The film is out now on Dragon Dynasty.)

3) Election: Simon Yam rocks Tony Leung’s world (and his little wife too…)
It feels like a typical ‘dessert’ scene, an idyllic fishing trip for two reconciled rivals, then Tony chooses the wrong bait and Simon gives him an industrial strength scalp massage. And then gets to grips with poor Maggie Siu… Johnnie To proves he’s our Scorsese with a great scene in a great film.

4) Bride With White Hair: Francis Ng and Elaine Lui are revealed to be Siamese twins. For most of the film, director Ronnie Yu has DP Peter Pao frame them as two separate characters, until we finally realize they’re co joined. (And whatever happened to Elaine Lui, anyway…?)

5) Bunman: Actually, when you think about it, there too many shocking moments to mention, but… Anthony Wong’s customized mis-use of a handful of chopsticks must be near the top of the list. This is so not my kind of movie, but it was a serious cult item back when I lived in the UK. I don’t think I’ve ever made it all the way through. Hard to believe a gentle guy like my friend Herman Yau co-directed this splatterfest.

6) Flaming Brothers: Bad guys force Yi Lui to shoot his own son. I remember seeing this in a theatre in Birmingham, and thinking you would never see that scene in a Hollywood movie (and maybe that’s a good thing!) A young pre-auteur Wong Kar-wai wrote the film. Who’d have thunk it?

7) The Eye: After Lee Jin-sie gets eyesight back and sees the old guy in the corner of the elevator… I’ve never been stuck in an elevator with Jin-sie but I think I was once in one with that same fellow. (I wish it were the other way around… )

8) The Big Boss: When Bruce Lee finds the body parts of his relatives frozen in ice. I know this isn’t a horror movie, but that’s exactly why I wasn’t expecting it. Given the general standard of direction of this film’s non-action scenes, that reveal is very effective.

9) Bullet In The Head: Okay, even given the title, how many people in the audience really expected to see it happen in the film? John Woo recreates the horrific Eddie Adams photograph of a suspected Viet Cong receiving summary street justice. This shot was even more surprising to me when I finally saw it, as my first bootleg of BITH was a censored Malaysian version, with that scene censored.

10) Story of Riki AKA Riki Oh: In fact, pretty much the whole of this film would fit the bill. Its that extreme, it was single-handedly responsible for poor Fan Siu-wong not having a career for the next ten years. Stand-out moment is probably the big guy being fed through a meat grinder, which is shown with a red filter (thankfully!) on most prints.

‘Protégé’ has a couple of moments that will assure it a place in my next list. So, come to think of it, does Derek Yee’s new film, The Shinjuku Incident. He must have a thing about hands, and abusing Daniel Wu…

Given that everyone keeps telling me Hong Kong cinema is dead, perhaps the real shock is our continued production of films as good as ‘Protégé’, and Beast Stalker, Connected, Ip Man…


You bring meaning to my life, Bey Logan
- XXXOOO, Los Angeles | 2009-02-24 15:57:24
All great moments, indeed, Bey. But, I would like to make note of two scenes (all from the same film) that I found incredibly shocking. The film I am referencing is the Johnnie To/Andrew Kam film "Cheng shi te jing" (a.k.a., "The Big Heat"). That opening shot of the drill going through the hand was a painful eye-opener--and just within minutes of that shock comes another. We see a guy get shot, fall backwards and decapitate himself on the sharp edge of a tin roof!
- Chris Casey, Sierra Vista, Arizona, USA | 2009-02-25 09:41:52
Beast Stalker and Ip Man look great. Get those out on the label.
- Kev, MA | 2009-02-25 21:57:29
HK films do seem to be getitng a bit more gore happy with their films, altho they still cant compare to some of the stuff thats come out of japan. altho i havent seen it yet, the trailer for fatal move looks pretty nasty with a lot of swords, guns and possible dismemberment of limbs and blood sprays from being shot. cant wait for this to come out on dvd thru DD.
- nik, manchester, NH | 2009-03-12 17:14:48
I've unfortunately only seen 7 of these, but Infernal Affairs was a perfect choice. Donnie Yen's final moment in SPL really did it too.
- Jeremy, Naperville, IL | 2009-02-28 11:49:20
Election 2 and the meat grinder. Ugh.
- masterofoneinchpunch, Modesto, CA | 2009-03-02 16:11:26
How about the surprise Lucio Fulci inspired "shot" during the kidnapping of Rosamund Kwan in Jackie Chan's Armour Of God. I presume this was recorded when he was recovering from that horrific injury.
- Gav, UK | 2009-03-12 05:29:29
When will riki oh come to dvd
- Keith, Weeping Water, NE USA | 2009-03-12 23:07:04
Tht ones that keep saying hong kong cinema is dead must not be in the loop yet. Ip man rocked! As long as hong kong cinema keeps on bringing out movies like Ip man,I will continue to be a strong supporter of asian cinema. Keep it up Bey Logan and Dragon Dynasty!
- Jermain, South Carolina | 2009-03-20 16:33:13
I was shocked when Donnie Yen was thrown out of the window by Sammo Hung at the end of SPL/Killzone. I'm surprised that its not on the list.
- Andre Jamay, Beaufort, South Carolina | 2009-03-21 08:44:59
About the box art....nice layout, except under Andy Lau's name, it says 'Internal Affairs' instead of 'Infernal'. ;-) A remake of the Richard Gere/Andy Garcia film would be cool with Lau in it, though!
- Erick, Oregon | 2009-03-24 16:24:59
How about when Kenny Wong cut off his own hand to rescue his daughter in Casino Raiders 2...I just saw that movie and was in total shock...I kept saying "oh, no he didn't"!!
- Janet, Iselin, N.J. | 2009-04-13 11:31:35
Donnie Yen's final moment in SPL was indeed a sure shocker. It mad me mad, but made the movie more special.
- STD, Chesapeake,VA | 2009-04-14 20:58:00
I'd like to add the death of Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung's family in Killzone. I've never been so caught off guard before that moment.
- Blain, Texas City, TX | 2009-05-31 14:14:30
A lot of Hong Kong movies i've seen recently (which is an embarassingly short list, *pouts*) are starting to seem like they all want to shock you full of shock. SPL's ending was not what i expected, but fit very well. And everything about Fatal Contact changed in the hospital scene, even though it was pretty much right at the end, it felt like half the movie happened in those last few minutes. And even when you expect a movie to be shocking, or to have a not-so-happy ending, they still shock you. Like Painted Skin. It shocked me because it was one of the only Chinese language movies i'd seen recently that didn't have a tragic or overly depressing ending. My jaw was on the floor. I'm really not kidding. This is why I still love Hong Kong cinema. When the rest of the world decides there's nothing unique about it that everyone else isn't doing now, they still find a way to stand out. And when i thought the quality of action scenes were starting to drop off, movies like SPL, Fatal Contact, Flash Point, and Ip Man prove me so wrong i feel embarassed to have considered the possibility. HK cinema may not be the 'big thing' anymore, because a lot of their stars are working over here and other countries have finally figured out to do what they'd been doing for decades. But I think they've started to figure this out and have been raising the bar they set. Everyone just needs to start noticing.
- Nathaniel Kan, Panama City, FL | 2009-07-28 03:43:17


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