Fist Power

cast: Anthony Wong, and Chiu Cheuk

director: Aman Chang

92 minutes (15) 1999
widescreen 1.85:1
Hong Kong Classics DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Jeff Young

Anthony (Beast Cops) Wong plays an ex-Royal Marine stuck in Hong Kong after the handover. He’s desperate for the return of his adopted young son from the boy’s uncaring real parents, who’re only interested in the child for appearances sake (they stand to inherit a family fortune). To this end, he puts his military training to unlawful use by holding a class hostage in a siege at an infants’ school.
Into this volatile situation comes merciful hero, Chiu (The Black Sheep Affair) Cheuk, whose nephew is one of the hostages, but who – without explanation – sides with the distraught former soldier by snatching much wanted kid from the custody of his extremely wealthy but irredeemably corrupt father, and trying to reunite the boy with the man who had been bringing him up as his own. What follows is a succession of intricately arranged fights on a train and a ferry boat, in offices, on rooftops and various street locations, displaying Cheuk’s astounding kung fu skills. There are car chases, some elaborately staged gunplay, witty nick-of-time escapes and plenty of energetic, but rarely brutal, unarmed combat.

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One of the more disquieting aspects of this movie’s slender plot is that moral certainty takes immediate and overriding precedence over conventional wisdom and legality. Cheuk looks Wong in the eye just before the main action starts and recognises an essentially good man despite his outrageous lawbreaking, and dire threats to all those little kids. In most American films, Wong’s character would have had to die in a hail of police bullets for aiming a gun at Cheuk’s nephew’s head. In Fist Power, he’s a simple but righteous warrior protesting in the only manner left open to him against the callous egotism of the rich, and an unjust system. He’s like the dark side of ‘Rambo’ – caught up in a battle he cannot win. Still, as you’d expect, the philosophical subtext isn’t what makes Fist Power so stunning. This is an admirable combination of comedy, glamorous stunt work, and frequently impressive martial arts prowess that will satisfy even the most demanding Hong Kong fu fan.
DVD extras: choice of full-screen dubbed or widescreen subtitled versions, two trailers, Action Overload feature lets you jump to any of a dozen fight scenes, text biographies and filmographies of stars and producer Wong Jing (but not director Aman Chang – the maker of Body Weapon, 1998), stills gallery, Dolby 2.0 sound, animated video-clip menus.