Friday, November 10, 2017

Chasing the Dragon - Semi Biography of Crippled Ho, Hong Kong's King of Drug Dealers

This movie premiered in Indonesian theaters on Wednesday, but as I was already having plans with my wife on another location, we only saw this movie a day later. It was a very rare moment where a Hong Kong/Chinese movie had a wide release opening in Indonesia. But I guess the big name of Donnie Yen and Andy Lau were quite well known that the cinema chain decided to show this movie in quite a number of theaters as opposed to the usual previous limited releases. Since my wife had an event in Gandaria City, we decided to see this one there. So let us continue with the movie now.

Brief Story Line

The story was set in the 1960s where times were tough in Hong Kong and it was still under the British colonials government. A group of 5 immigrants with their "leader" named Ng Sek-ho (Donnie Yen - Ip Man trilogy, xXx: Return of Xander Cage etc) were doing lots of odd jobs in order to survive there. During a major gang fight where Ho and his 3 best friends were only there to earn some easy money, he was saved by a police detective Lee Rock (Andy Lau - Infernal Affairs, Running on Karma and many many more) who was accompanied by his trusted right hand man Piggy (Kent Cheng - Ip Man 2 and 3, Run Papa Run etc). Ho felt a real gratitude towards Lee since then. But Ho also made an enemy with a British chief inspector called Hunter (Bryan Larkin) who would be his nemesis in future.

From the moment he was helped by Lee Rock, Ho started to work under the gang led by Chubby (Philip Keung) and became one of the trusted member of Chubby's gang due to his fighting ability & courage. This looked to be the beginning of better lives for Ho and his friends (including his younger brother). But the good things did not last long especially since Ho suffered a major setback because of a very tragic incident he experienced, which continued with another huge problem he encountered related to Lee Rock.

After those incidents, Ho's life totally changed. He became a gang leader and started to gain fame due to his tough ways of handling matters. His businesses grown larger and larger and he became the biggest drug lord at that time. However, would this "wonderful life" be maintained forever? Could he continue be at the highest with so many challenges not to mention the animosity from Hunter and his competitions? Find them all in this nicely done biography movie of one of the most controversial character in Hong Kong's history.

End of Brief Story Line

Wow, this was indeed one of a good powerful biography action drama movie. The story was quite heavy and the performance of Donnie Yen here as Crippled Ho was good. He was given the chance to show audience that he was not just a great action actor but he was also able to play in more dramatic role (a little bit similar to his role as Ip Man in the 3rd installment). Meanwhile Andy Lau who was more a veteran in dramatic role was able to continue his great portrayal of Lee Rock (he did this in two Lee Rock movies back in 1991). This movie is also a remake of 1991 movie titled To Be Number One where Crippled Ho was played by Ray Lui, but with a bit different other characters.

I remember watching Lee Rock many years ago and saw the 2 movies again perhaps 1 or 2 years ago in TV so I still remember a bit about the story, but I honestly could not remember about the scenes involving Ho in there. Regardless, this movie was absolutely stunning in terms of the performance of these 2 big names. Meanwhile the action sequence was really intense and greatly done. The fighting scenes (especially the one in the middle) was truly awesome. But the fights here were not the usual Donnie Yen's elegant fighting styles of wing chun in Ip Man, or the super fast combination of various skills. It was more like genuine street fights, very rough, hard and brutal! And I absolutely enjoyed the sound effects, which for a Dolby 7.1 Surround System was really great to my opinion.

What audience need to take note is the movie is more like a biography so it had some elements of drama and the story was heavier than the usual Hong Kong Kung Fu movies. And therefore it is not a full fight and action kind of movie like the usual Donnie Yen's movies or the earlier Andy Lau movies. The movie was directed by Jason Kwan and Wong Jing (who was famous for directing mostly comedy movies but started to make more serious movies nowadays). Though some of the scenes were probably dramatized, it still made the movie worthwhile to see. Overall the movie was pretty enjoyable, filled with some dramatic moments (most dramatic was during the climax scene involving Andy Lau and Kent Cheng which affected my wife a lot), good story, having some major gangster fighting scenes and a great climax.

The movie also had a mid end-credit scene which definitely should not be missed as it gave a sense of closure for audience. Due to the brutal fighting scenes, I also think the movie is not suitable for children and better to be watched by more mature audience. One thing that I noted a bit disturbing was the Indonesian translation which was incorrect and inconsistent with the English translation. My wife and I enjoyed this movie a lot and she even did not get the chance to go to the restroom. I also enjoyed it a lot because it gave me a nostalgic feeling of seeing Hong Kong gangster movies which were famous in the 1980s &1990s, plus for reminiscing the past of seeing Andy Lau reprising his role as Lee Rock not to mention the appearance of some major 1980s actors such as Kent Tong and Felix Wong. In my opinion, this is a good movie which I would recommend to see, but be warned that it might not satisfy you if you are looking for a full action movie, not to mention due to its long duration of 128 minutes. The choice is yours, though.

Happy watching!

Mike's movie moments rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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