FATAL CONTACT (aka. Underground Fist) is the latest martial arts action film directed by Dennis Law. Jackie Chan is getting old, Jet Li is also getting old and may be retiring from the Wuxia foray (don't think so) and Donnie Yen is, well, always being Donnie "COOL" Yen. Wu Jing, after “SPL
” (aka. Killzone) looks to be the next promising new action star. Martial arts fans are clamoring for a new action hero, Wu Jing's charisma and actual fighting savvy make him a top competitor. (He is the national Wu Shu champ in real life) Aside from Tony Jaa from Thailand, who will make the cut? Director Law thinks Wu Jing can make the cut and he gives him the lead role after the terrific "SPL".
A young martial arts champion from Mainland China Kong, came to Hong Kong on a short contract with an opera group. Lured by the promise of wealth into the world of underground full-contact fighting world by a gambling boss and encouraged with his girlfriend Tin (Miki Yeung), Kong brilliant fighting style changes the game. Win after win, Kong becomes unbeatable in the arena. A rival boss seeks a fighter capable of defeating him but Kong still defeats all comers. Now, Kong realizes that there is more to this underground world than fighting and winning. Kong thought he was in control and he was only using his body and skills for financial gain, but eventually he may end up losing more than he had first bargained for. -From the back cover of the HK Dvd.
The main draw for Fatal Contact would be the extensive fight scenes and they are pretty bad ass. A bit of wires were used, but I have to admit that Wu Jing's martial arts prowess is the true highlight of the film. He moves as quick and graceful as a cat, truly this film was tailor-made with his skills in mind. Wu Jing exhibits power and poise in the action sequences. The fights are brutal and fast-paced, bloody and stylized. To the fight director's credit, the fights don't lose its realism and doesn't become repetitive. The fight scenes are very fun to watch. Kong's character is a showman, therefore, in the beginning it seemed like he lacked "killer instinct". The film successfully develops this aspect of Kong's character that you see him changing with each drag-out brawl. Kong's innocence and good nature slowly evolves into animal instinct As we see him slowly give in to his innate animal instinct. The fight choreography do have the usual wire fu to enhance the blows of the fights but it never was used to make the fights look prettier.
Miki Yeung plays Tin, Kong's love interest. Her eye-catching way of wearing "short" shorts with her leggy appearance and her cute smile can captivate Kong as well as the audience. Ronald Cheng plays "Captain", a dopey low-level triad who assigned to take care of Kong. Cheng actually steals the show with his slapstick comedy, his comedic one-liners save the screenplay as I thought that his attempts at humor were nicely timed although a little uneven because of the canned melodrama that plagued the film on occasion. A lot of the drama falters, and a lot of issues arise, one of them is the role of Theresa Fu who is little more than a plot device to emphasize the burdened conscience of Miki Yeung's character Tin and this really doesn‘t go anywhere.
There is a hint of tough existentialism in the film as the dialogue brings forth some philosophy about needs, wants and what we should aspire to. Still, the dialogue is too obligatory and the drama ends up hampering the film a little. The screenplay and the direction sometimes tries too hard to call attention to itself with its attempts to add "meat" to the simple plot; it ends up being pretentious. Characters do tend to banter overlong with their hopes and dreams, their moral values which end up boring because the characters don't demonstrate said characteristics.
That said, at least the film's good points will please the fans of Wu Jing and Ronald Cheng. Once the film takes off with the action and the occasional comedy, the bad points may be forgiven. It does tend to focus more on its bad points but when viewers get a glimpse of the good points, it is a fun watch.
“Fatal Contact” has the potential to be a very good action film, but it takes its desperate elements too seriously and executes them poorly. It fell to the usual canned melodrama in an attempt to add complicated issues to the simple plot. It's a bit disappointing that Wu Jing will not achieve superstardom from this film, a film can either "make" or "break" an action star. At least, "Fatal Contact" will not "break" Wu Jing. His other supporting roles in "TWINS MISSION" and "INVISIBLE TARGET
" will hopefully be a sign for better roles for him. Wu Jing does steal the show in those two features. “Fatal Contact“ isn‘t a terrible movie and is better than “Legendary Assassin
“; but here‘s hoping that the new movie with Donnie Yen will prove to be his big break.