Posted: 09/09/2003

 

Big Bullet [Chungfung Tui Nofo Kaitau]

(1996)

by Del Harvey



This DVD is available for purchase at HKFlix.com.


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Bill (Lau Ching-wan, a.k.a. Sean Lau—Running Out of Time 1 and 2, Too Many Ways to Be No. 1) was a special crimes unit investigator in Hong Kong until he assaulted his superior. Because of his recklessness he was demoted to the EU (emergency unit), a glorified, multi-person street patrol. Now he’s got to overcome his loner tendency and be a leader to his new team.

The team is comprised of a gun expert, a computer expert, a by-the-book cop, and an wiser, older officer who’s always kept a low profile. They are typically a support unit, assigned to crowd or traffic control, and not to pursue violent criminals, which Bill is used to. While on patrol they happen upon a gang conducting a violent crime. During the ensuing shootout several of their fellow officers are injured. Bill, true to his nature, takes this personally and vows to track down the criminals. Using his old methods he gathers information from the investigation department, a bumbling group more concerned with getting recognition than stopping criminals, and discover the gang is led by a well-known criminal nicknamed “the Professor.” Bill and his action-hungry crew follow a trail of clues, in spite of orders from their superiors to the contrary, and finally work out the criminal’s plan and determine how to stop it.

Lau Ching-wan’s Bill is no different from many American characters portrayed by stellar action stars like Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, or Mel Gibson. Like those popular actors, Lau Ching-wan brings a certain style and grace to his characters, endearing you to their predicaments and earning your interest in their futures. He has a definite talent which seems to grow more with each successive film. Jordan Chan, as the straightlaced team member whose base instincts mirror Bill’s, is another rising star in Hong Kong cinema. His performances also seem to improve with every film he is in. Their internal conflict is a nice subtext to the rather mundane plot, and enlivened by the presence of actors with first-rate ability.

The main supporting cast includes Francis Ng (Bullets Over Summer, The Mission), cast here as Bill’s former partner in the special investigations unit who does his best to help Bill’s current investigation. When Ng and Lau are on screen together, they look like they’ve worked closely together on some difficult cases; their acting is that good. Perennial madman Anthony Wong (Hard-Boiled, Time and Tide, The Medallion) is cast here as one of the main bad guys who, along with partner and recurrent baddie Yu Rongguang, wipe out Interpol headquarters in a rather balletic style, thanks to director Benny Chan, who seamlessly fuses action and drama into one intensely energetic package. Consider this the sleeper of the genre for 1996.

Big Bullet is a cop film that focuses not on serial gunfights and actions or confusing plot twists, but on ensemble acting and characterization, and relies on its talents to make the mundane intriguing.

Del Harvey is a writer and the founder of FM, a devout Chicago Bears fan, loves Grant Park in any season, and recently taught screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago.



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