Full Contact (1992)

Yun-Fat Chow, Simon Yam, Ann Bridgewater, Anthony Chau-Sang Wong,
Two disreputable friends get tied in with a group of criminals who turn out to be excessively violent and deceptive.
  • 7.1 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Yin Nam, Writer:
  • Ringo Lam, Director:
  • Producer:
8 / 10

Teeth marks are better than any marriage certificate.

Ringo Lam's characters in Full Contact come in three flavors: bad guys with values, bad guys without values and victims. The first category is led by antihero Godfrey (Jeff or Gou Fei in other translations), one of Chow Yun-fat's most adversarial characters (not counting his Emperor role in Curse of the Golden Flower), who is a thief with a conscience who can deftly ride a motorcycle and wield his balisong knife. He is set to marry Mona whose creative dancing career apparently does not make enough money. Look for a later dance scene resembling something out of Encino Man. Their friend Sam (Anthony Wong: Exiled) had to borrow money from a loan shark in Thailand named Hung to help pay for her Mother's burial (the translation states this but I think it meant internment costs). Since he cannot pay back he is in deep trouble until Godfrey helps him out. This causes Hung to put out a hit on him.

Sam has a job coming up that could make him and his friends a lot of money. It is with his cousin the overly-flamboyant homicidal homosexual Judge (Simon Yam: PTU) and his two lackeys the muscular Psycho (Frankie Chan) who has a penchant for big guns and loose women and his girlfriend the nymph Virgin (Bonnie Fu). This job involves busting an ammo truck worth millions of dollars. However, unbeknown-st to Sam at the time they will get paid by Hung to take care of Godfrey and they will ultimately kill other pal Chung. In the meantime Mona has to take her Mom's ashes to Hong Kong. While Godfrey promises to marry her when she gets back, we all know that any promise before a big job will not be a promise kept. Those who see this will wonder why Godfrey takes this job when their initial meeting does not go well.

The operation goes almost exactly as planned for Judge. However, it is not as easy as he would have liked. While he finds Godfrey attractive he still has to kill him. This leads to an explosive showdown that leaves Godfrey with a missing thumb and trigger finger on his right hand, an innocent family dead and its daughter severely burnt. Sam capitulates in allowing this because he is a sniveling coward (his 180 degree personality change in the film is too unrealistic even though Anthony Wong still did a good performance with this character) and even shoots his friend and leaves him for dead. Why Judge doesn't check on the "death" of Godfrey, I do not know, but it allows him to live, take a cute dog, time to heal and time to learn to shoot with his other hand so he can exact revenge. His monomania allows time for Sam to sneak in on his girlfriend while everyone else thinks he is pushing up daises.

Lam's directorial style is grittier than John Woo's operatic mode of direction, but the spirit of Woo is in this film. He refers to Woo in a few scenes from the briefcase ending analogous to The Killer to Chow Yun-fat spitting out his cigar before killing like Tequila spitting out his toothpick in Hard-Boiled. While the action is not as hyperbolic as Woo's his characters are more exaggerated. Godfrey becomes a vessel for brotherhood (yi) in his quest for vengeance with his own code of conduct. He is not only taking revenge for a lost friend, he is taking revenge for a family wrongly slaughtered and a disfigured daughter. This film feels like a mixture of John Woo and Chang Cheh – it fits well in the sub-genre of heroic bloodshed. With a plot that could have been taken out of an old-school martial arts film what better place for Godfrey to get over his injuries then in a monastery with the help of a monk.

The one-dimensional characters are one of the biggest weaknesses with this film. When Judge states one sentence late in the film on why he acts the way he does it comes a little late – though Simon Yam's performance is a high point in this film. Virgin and Psycho are completely over-the-top as well but they do not have the finesse that Judge has. But in their excess with Psycho's muscle-bound dumbbell and Virgin's oversexed vixen there is a camp factor that I found enhanced the emotions and nihilistic content of this film. The triangle relationship between Sam, Mona and Godfrey annoyed me a bit but it did keep in line with the protagonist's revenge motif.

Where this movie excels is the gun-play scenes, fight action scenes choreographed by longtime Shaw Brother's actor/action director Lau Kar-wing and the excellent direction of Ringo Lam. He has a solid aesthetics in putting together scenes and creates a brute force style of action. The scene most mentioned from this film is club shootout between Godfrey and Judge. It sublimely employs the use of the bullet POV. There are also a couple of pyrotechnic scenes that are also quite extraordinary in explosive carnage and were a good reason for the overinflated budget.

This movie was not viewed as a success in Hong Kong. It was not a flop though since it made almost 17m HK dollars; however, since it cost over 23 million HK dollars it was a loss for Golden Princess. It has a better reputation here in the United States and along with City on Fire is it his most popular. I highly recommend it to viewers who are interested in action cinema. If you take a character first approach to film then you can probably avoid it. But for those who have gone this far in the review I figure you either have seen this movie or are interested in seeing this anyways. With great lines like "wash your butt and wait for me" I know you will like it.

8 / 10

Typical story, great action

To help a friend who's heavily in debt to a loan shark, Jeff (Chow Yun Fat) joins up with the gay villain, Judge (Simon Yam), for a weapons heist where he'll be double-crossed by who he thought was a friend who joined the gang with him. This wouldn't be an action film if he were to simply let bygones be bygones of course, so he plans a mighty vengeance against all who betrayed him. This is pretty standard revenge movie stuff, it's saved, however, by the great action scenes as well as well as Yun Fat's performance (excellent as always, well at least before he made the jump to Hollywood who always seem to make amazingly great foreign movie star into lesser than what the can be)

My Grade: B Mei Ah

DVD Extras: Theatrical Trailer; and Trailers for "Swordsman 2" & "Treasure Hunt"

9 / 10

Masterpiece of ultraviolent heavy metal thunder from director Ringo Lam

Full Contact is a gritty action classic with acclaimed director Ringo Lam and an all star cast that has Chow Yun Fat, Anthony Wong and Simon Yam. Having any one of these actors in a film automatically makes the movie better , in Full Contact we get all three. Chow Yun Fat is in full antihero mode and is the most sympathetic character in this revenge flick. Anthony Wong is his buddy who gets CYF to rescue him from a loan shark which escalates to more trouble with Wong betraying him also. Simon Yam is Wong 's cousin and a ruthless and sleazy gangster . He also is gay and is attracted to CYF. CYF is betrayed and left for dead and an innocent family is killed and a young girl is badly burned and disfigured as well. Anthony Wong steals CYF 's woman and continues to work with his cousin 's gang. CYF then resurfaces to get even and bring street justice . Full Contact is a unique take on the heroic bloodshed genre brought to life with HK's A list cast and director . Classic.

7 / 10

stylish, hampered by a bad script

Another entry into the "cheer for the most likeable bad guy" series of Hong Kong action flicks. "Full Contact" tells the oft-told tale of betrayal and revenge, served up as a potent cocktail of Western convention mixed with the trademarked Hong Kong style. When Jeff's (Hong Kong superstar Chow Yun Fat in true hard-case form) friend Sam (Anthony Wong) steps on the feet of a local loan shark, Jeff comes to his rescue, creating a powerful enemy in the vengeful gangster. Seeking to skip town and make good, the two hatch a plan to hijack an arms shipment with the help of Sam's flamboyant and malicious cousin Judge (a delightfully sleazy Simon Yam) and his gang of dysfunctional thugs. What Jeff doesn't know is that he's being double-crossed by the wild group of brutal killers, who plan to bury him as they make their getaway. Judge forces Sam to off his loyal friend Jeff, but Sam botches the job, leaving Jeff to return for bitter revenge after dealing with an emotionally painful betrayal and a physically challenging rehabilitation. Lam foregoes the melodrama of Hong Kong counterpart John Woo and goes straight for the jugular with unremittingly stark and graphic violence. At the same time, the characters retain a certain amount of sympathy. Frequently outrageous and over the top, "Full Contact" is nonetheless a well made film suffering from a fairly weak script. Though comparisons to Woo are inevitable, especially because of Chow Yun-Fat in the lead role, Lam is a different kind of director and, accordingly, "Full Contact" is a different sort of beast. Although it opens with a robbery that rapidly turns into a shoot-'em-up, there's none of the balletic, elegant violence that characterizes Woo and his imitators. When the camera lingers over the carnage, it's not a lovingly choreographed sweep. Unlike in Chow's films for Woo, for which he is best known in the West, there's little that's noble about Chow's character in this one. He's heroic only by comparison to the psychotic gangsters he takes down one by one. Fortunately, Chow is up to the challenge of portraying a character of questionable morals in an honorable light, and Anthony Wong and Ann Bridgewater, respectively playing his best friend and wife, are equally top-notch. Lam's direction is excellent as well. His fine control of the action and pacing keeps the film from peaking too soon, and even a bullet's-eye view during a climactic shoot-out in a nightclub works in the movie's favor. The level of violence makes most of what Hollywood produces tame by comparison.

6 / 10

Conventional Story, Great Action Scenes

In order to help his friend Sam (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang) in a debt with a powerful mobster, Jeff (as Chow Yun Fat) accepts to work for another mobster, Judge (Simon Yam), in a robbery. However, he is betrayed by Judge and attacked by his men, and the coward Sam stays with Judge. Jeff survives the attack, and plots revenge against Judge and his men.

"Xia dao Gao Fei" is a conventional story of betrayal/revenge as many others we haven seen on the screen. The differential of this movie are the great action scenes. The choreography of the fights is amazing, and Ringo Lam uses the same style of camera of John Woo regarding the sequences of the bullets in a gun shot. This story is forgettable, but also a worthwhile entertainment, highly recommended for fans of action movies. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "à Flor da Pele" ("Near the Skin")