During most martial arts movies, there’s at least one moment, one scene where I’m on the edge of my seat. It could be an adrenaline-pumping fight, a jawdropping stunt, some brilliant cinematography, or outrageous humor… something that just reminds me again of why I love this genre of film so much. And then along comes something like Fist Power, which just shoots that notion in the head. Not once do I recall leaving the prone position I had assumed on the couch when this movie started. Maybe I fell asleep and missed some crucial element that could explain everything else I saw, but methinks that’s giving this piece of crap a bit too much credit.
Now, I’m assuming Fist Power is supposed to be some sort of thriller, or at least that’s how it starts. Anthony Wong (Hard Boiled) plays Chau, a retired army officer whose stepson is being taken back by his opportunistic ex-wife and the child’s real father. They hope the child will boost their chances at getting a billion-dollar inheritance. In other words, they’re the bad guys. When official channels don’t do him any good, he does what any desperate parent would do… he takes over his son’s school and holds it hostage, demanding the return of his son or it’s curtains.
Determined to stop him is Cheuk (Zhao), whose nephew is a student at the school. Accompanied by a nosy tabloid reporter and Chau’s brother-in-law, Cheuk races to retrieve the tyke. Of course, the kid’s father is a bit of a nogoodnik, and puts all sorts of obstacles and traps in his path. Essentially, this translates to one inane, awkward fight sequence after another. Thankfully, Cheuk just so happens to be the top security advisor in the country; something made painfully obvious when he’s able to defeat a whole skyscraper teeming with security guards in 10 minutes.
Now, the reason I assume that Fist Power was supposed to be a thriller is that it certainly goes out of its way to be anything but. Somewhere along the way, I think they lost the script, and just decided to wing it. That’s the only thing that might explain what ended up on that DVD.
Humor is often a mixed bag in martial arts movies, but here is just downright dumb. If we don’t see Cheuk’s reactions to sitting down too hard on a bicycle seat, there are the cartoonish actions of Chau’s brother-in-law, and the various hijinks of Cheuk’s own family. For example, that nosy reporter mentioned earlier just so happens to be a girl that Cheuk’s family is trying to set him up with. Let the hilarity ensue! And if that’s not enough, it turns out his family is a bunch of martial arts masters… something that comes in surprisingly handy in the film’s final minutes (please note the sarcasm there).
And what’s with the cute little kids?! Personally, I’m this close to proposing a ban on all cute little kids in kung fu movies. They’re never cute, and all they ever seem to do is get into trouble, fall into disturbing situations (I don’t know what’s with the scene involving hiding the kid under the woman’s dress), or they cry. The only exception to this is Miu Tse, who played Jet Li’s son in New Legend of Shaolin and My Father Is a Hero, but even that’s pushing it.
And while I’m on a rampage, can I just go off on the inane moral lessons that seem dished out with every fight scene. I call them “inane” because the movie obviously doesn’t take them seriously. One minute, Zhao is lecturing security guards on the problems of violence, the next he’s electrocuting people. If the movie’s so “anti-violent,” than I don’t understand why gangsters bashing the brother-in-law’s head in with aluminum bats or the reporter cold-cocking someone is played for cheap laughs. And that’s not all… this movie’s got opinions on the news media, Hong Kong bureaucracies, and class warfare! Just don’t expect any of them to be worth taking seriously.
Finally, there are the performances. Only one is noteworthy, that of Anthony Wong. His understated performance feels woefully out of place (probably because it actually has depth and nuance) when compared to everyone else. As the other “star” of the movie, Zhao has nothing going for him, charisma-wise. He looks like that guy who always plays “Fight Extra #3” suddenly given a starring role. His wushu skills seem formidable, but I really couldn’t tell since crappy editing and choreography resulted in fight scenes that looked like nothing more than a bunch of jump cuts and flying props.
Fist Power. What a horrible name for this movie. That implies something hard-hitting with some “oomph” behind it. This movie, whatever it’s real title should be, falls flat in every single way. I could go on and on about how crappy this movie is, but I’d end up repeating myself. Stay far away from this one, even if you’re looking for something “so bad it’s good.” It won’t even meet those high standards.