Review: RIGHTING WRONGS 執法先鋒 (1986) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Review: RIGHTING WRONGS 執法先鋒 (1986)

Review: RIGHTING WRONGS 執法先鋒 (1986)

Yuen Biao plays Hsia Ling-Ching, a prosecutor who moonlights as a vigilante killer whenever he finds out that the law of justice unable to lock down a committed criminal. When his mentor is brutally killed in front of him, he sets out a personal vendetta to bring down the responsible criminals on his own. He ends up killing Four Eyes Bill (Paul Chang), who is one of the two drug dealers responsible for his mentor's death, but gradually finds himself landing into a trouble with a relentless female cop Cindy (Cynthia Rothrock) and his sloppy partner Bad Egg (Corey Yuen). Things get out of hand when Hsia attempts to kill Bill's partner, Chow Ting-Kwong (James Tien) but he is shocked to find out that Chow is already dead. Coincidentally, Cindy is later catches Hsia hovering over the dead body of Chow and accuses him of murder. Hsia has no choice but to fight his way out. Little does Cindy knows that Chow's death and all the previous crime was actually organised by her superior, Sergeant Wong (Melvin Wong), a silent partner in the drug organisation. That's not all, Chow's death is also witnessed by a youngster named Wen (Fan Siu-Wong), in which Wong will do anything to silence him forever.

REVIEW: Hailed by critics as one of Yuen Biao's best action movies he's ever made without his regular acting buddies Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, RIGHTING WRONGS is solid but heavily uneven action drama regularly crippled by Barry Wong and Roy Szeto's haphazard screenplay.

As an action movie, director Corey Yuen and his team of well-known choreographers (including Mang Hoi and Yuen Biao himself) have staged some of the most spectacular fight sequences ever seen in a Hong Kong cinema. Yuen Biao's amazing acrobatic skill is well utilised here, while showcasing his martial-art techniques that leans more towards brutality and gritty manner. Die-hard fans will be truly excited to watch classic scenes like Yuen Biao vs. Cynthia Rothrock at the house where Chow is found dead; a fight-to-the-death scene between Yuen Biao and the lightweight kickboxing champ Peter Cunningham; high-kicking action between Cynthia Rothrock and Karen Sheperd; and a memorable climactic fight at the airport hangar between Yuen Biao and Melvin Wong. Fight scenes aside, there are some death-defying stunts here as well including an exciting parking lot scene where Biao is struggling beneath the interlocked bumpers of two speeding cars (no kidding), and a nail-biting moment where Biao is seen hanging by a rope outside a flying plane.

It's a shame that the plot fails to make a lasting impact than all the furious action set-pieces has successfully accomplished here. Make no mistake, the story actually has a potential especially the way Corey Yuen favours it to be very dark and uncompromising (mind you, this movie is so pessimistic that you'll be surprised a lot of important characters are killed off during the course of its running time). Too bad all the bleak undertones that try hard to be a gritty crime drama mixed with a dash of comedies (courtesy of Corey Yuen's bumbling partner role himself) is a mixed bag.

As for acting wise, there's really nothing to shout about except for Melvin Wong who plays a sneakily despicable role to perfection. I'm surprised his performance isn't nominated for a Best Supporting award. Instead, the nomination had surprisingly gone to Wu Ma, who is frankly quite one-dimensional here as Bad Egg's police father. Perhaps he lands that coveted nomination because of the particular dramatic scene that leads him to a sad moment?

RIGHTING WRONGS actually had two versions. If you had seen the original one, all the principal characters end up dead (yup, you got that right). But in the alternate version retitled as ABOVE THE LAW, several minor scenes were chopped off and the movie is re-edited for an upbeat ending where Yuen Biao and Cynthia Rothrock were called back to shoot additional scenes so their characters end up alive instead.

RIGHTING WRONGS featured some of the most spectacular fight scenes ever staged in a Hong Kong cinema, but Corey Yuen falters his movie's pessimistic approach with a haphazard screenplay.

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