The Big Heat 城市特警 (1988) Review

This Tsui Hark-produced action thriller was better known for its troubled production history than the movie itself, with then-newcomer Andrew Kam (Yeung-Wa) originally helmed the picture before Johnnie To took over at some point (both of them shared the co-directing credit).

Even then, the problem did not stop there as The Big Heat <城市特警> underwent several script changes and Tsui Hark himself even involved in completing the movie alongside different (uncredited) directors (among them is Ching Siu-Tung). And yet, for all the notorious behind-the-scenes setbacks, the end result is nothing more than a standard-issue action thriller.

The story — written by Gordon Chan — involves a cop named John Wong Wai-Pong (Waise Lee), who suffered nerve damage in one of his hands. Upon planning to quit the police force, his superior uncovers the news about his former partner’s death in Malaysia. John decided to investigate the case with the help of his partners (among them are Phillip Kwok’s Kam and Matthew Wong Min-Mung’s Lun).

As mentioned earlier, the plot feels like it was lifted from an assembly line that contains all the obligatory formulas seen in the 80s Hong Kong action genre. Even the characters are mostly stereotypical than displaying fleshed-out roles, with the exceptions of Waise Lee’s engaging portrayal of a no-nonsense cop and Phillip Kwok’s energetic support as John’s partner, Kam. Paul Chu Kong, in the meantime, is perfectly typecast as the movie’s heartless antagonist Han Ching.

The action is another lifesaver here, where The Big Heat <城市特警> doesn’t skimp on graphic violence and even excessive gore (e.g. fingers get blown off) to the point it feels like watching a slasher film.


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