Sunday, January 27, 2008
FATAL TERMINATION (Hong Kong; 1990)
The only reason you'll probably get this movie in the first place!
FATAL TERMINATION (1990)
D: Andrew Kam Yeung-wah
Dark, serpentine action thriller, sharply written by Lee Man-choi and Pang Chi-ming, from one of the colony’s most unsung filmmakers. Andrew Kam, co-director with Johnnie To of the Heroic Bloodshed classic THE BIG HEAT (yeah yeah, I know. . .) and, later, the excellent HEART OF KILLER, shows his singular knack for taming an abundance of lead characters and converging plotlines into a lean piece of work.
To hide his middleman dealings with Arab terrorists and a vicious gun dealer (Phillip Ko, who also co-produced) from hound-dog Political Division investigator Simon Yam, dirty customs chief Robin Shou frames, then kills fellow customs officer Michael Miu. The dead man’s sister (Moon Lee, in a career highlight performance) and her husband (Ray Lui), both Special Forces operatives, begin their own investigation, but soon find their lives virtually destroyed by the bad guys.
The movie plays like a nicely stripped down version of some of the great American police corruption flicks of the 70’s, although the Yanks rarely contrived finales in which all the principals go at each other with cars, copters, grenades, machine guns and rocket launchers on an open battlefield! Of interest: FATAL TERMINATION contains one of the most frightening stunts I’ve ever seen in a Hong Kong movie, as a bug-eyed gwailo goon holds Moon’s little girl by her hair outside the window of a visibly speeding car with Moon on the hood desperately trying to punch through the windshield. The story goes that the kid was never in harm’s way and that the “arm” was actually a strong steel contraption, but it still makes for one of those jaw-dropping, “holy shit!” moments that separate the cinema of Hong Kong from any other.