The Avenging Fist

cast: Sammo Hung, Lee Hom-wong, Stephen Fung, Yuen Biao, and Gigi Leung

director: Andrew Lau

92 minutes (15) 2001
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Hong Kong Legends DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Steven Hampton

This futuristic martial arts adventure was made recently in Hong Kong, with a decent-sized budget, and seems to have been inspired by a video game – so you can safely expect more action than plot. That said, it’s directed by Andrew Lau, who brought us superior Hong Kong fare such as A Man Called Hero and The Stormriders, so what it lacks in realistic drama, it more than makes up for with its set pieces of colourful superhero feats and spectacular visuals.
The psychokinetic potential of unused regions of the human brain, referred to here as “god’s no-access zone,” is channelled into practicality by military medical experiments involving a kung fu technique, which is subsequently enhanced by the cybernetic step-up transformer effect of an energised glove. Young hotshot martial arts progeny Kong is targeted by renegade militiaman Combat 21, who wants the inherited secret of the kid’s ‘Avenging Fist’ style, which, if combined with the bad guy’s advanced prototype ‘power glove’ will make evil invincible and allow him to fulfil his waking dream of Asian supremacist megalomania. Did I mention that he is the villain?
Nice guy cop Inspector Dark (Sammo Hung) is on the case, but the baddies are in a position to know all the heroes’ weaknesses – if not all their hidden strengths, and when agents of the Red Dragon Army kill Kong’s mum and kidnap his sister, Belle, the battle lines are drawn in spilt blood. Although there’s no mistaking the inevitable outcome, of course, who eventually survives and how they pull off the trick of defeating their evil foe present the few surprises this film has to offer.
Obvious visual and design influences are Blade Runner (1982), and some 21st century gimmicks from Back To The Future II (1989), but The Avenging Fist has the same hybridised, genre-breaking quality as Luc Besson’s spectacular The Fifth Element (1997). Some action sequences achieve an almost manga cartoon affect by having the camera and background in motion while the live actor stands still, and many of the backdrops were created using animation effects and digital imagery shot on blue screen. However, the non-stop f/x sequences are mitigated by quirky invention and occasional bursts of truly dazzling visual imagination. If you like the sound of brutal fantasy kung fu with superpower techno aids and the best movie gadgets since a certain trainee Jedi got his first light-sabre, this one’s for you.
The DVD is a restored and re-mastered anamorphic transfer with Dolby digital 5.1 soundtracks in Cantonese with English subtitles and optional English dubbed version. Extras on this disc include making-of featurette Dream Warriors, a look at the movie’s Fight Night premiere, an interview with Hong Kong singer turned actress Gigi Leung (beautiful leading lady of The Hitman) in Portrait Of An Angel, trailers and animated menus.