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獵豹行動 (1998)
Leopard Hunting

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 02/25/2008

The Fang Group, a Hong Kong based criminal enterprise with legal front operations that allow it to launder money is caught up in the Asian financial crisis of 1997. They are faced with a corporate raider that is buying up its shares on the open market and must counter the interlopers. Needing $20 billion the head of the company brings in a certain type of banker, one who doesn't require collateral in the usual fashion but whose terms include getting his associates out of prison in Manila and Hong Kong and robbing a bank in Japan to recover a cache of money that is evidence against him in an unrelated case.

The Chairman feels it is time to retire from criminal activity and hand over its operations to his sons. He discusses some of the good qualities exhibited by Americans, Japanese, Jews and Italians and says that the Chinese have all of these and more. And if anyone is wondering what type of company he runs, the chairman tells his underlings that he has done the work, making money and doing the fighting and killing. He wants to finish this last piece of business and outbid whoever is buying the company’s shares so it will be clean and unencumbered when his sons take over.

The Chairman’s two sons are very different. One, played by Roy Cheung Yiu-Yeung, is deliberate and circumspect, thinking things through before taking action. He is the Apollonian side of the equation while his brother, played by Yu Rong-Guang, is a hothead, always willing to shoot before thinking and is the Dionysian element in the family. They are surrounded by a group of thugs, weapons specialists, bomb experts and car thieves.

On the other side of “Leopard Hunting” are representatives of the police forces of Manila, Hong Kong and the People’s Republic. Since most the action takes place on the Mainland they are under the tactical command of a PRC officer although Jade Leung is the heart and brains of the unit while Oshima Yukari supplies the muscle. Yukari arrives in the middle of the story, ruining a stakeout that had been planned for weeks and progressing for three days. She has a very personal reason to get involved—one of the gang members killed her brother, a decorated Japanese cop—and isn’t interested in the niceties of police procedure. She bursts on the scene with all the subtlety of a thunderstorm on the high plains, missing her target but killing the more impetuous of the Chairman’s sons. Once she explains her reason for ruining the operation she is fully accepted by the multinational police task force.

The conflict isn’t only between criminals and police but also men against women. All of the bad guys are guys and essentially all of the cops are women. There are a few male senior officers who show up occasionally to validate what the women are doing but otherwise it is lady’s night all the way. Jade looks terrific—Jade always looks terrific—and especially so in an outfit of jeans, tight white T-shirt and shoulder holster. No one has ever looked sexier while firing a gun. Yukari was so fast, fit and deadly looking that we were almost convinced that it made sense for her to disarm gangsters with kicks and punches instead of shooting them.

The fights she is involved in are quite good including one very original bit--the gang decides to kidnap her. They discover she has booked a flight back to Japan for 2:00 that afternoon--even though this must be a ruse, since she is now a member of the team going after the gang. In front of her hotel, across from the cab stand, is a municipal worker who is cleaning the street with a high powered water hose. Yukari hails a cab and is about to step in when a bus with sliding doors pulls up next to it, the guy with the hose turns it on her and she is knocked into the bus where the Fang gang is waiting. There follows a very brutal and realistic (realistic other than the amount of punishment that she absorbs) fight between Yukari and three thugs, an example of using tight space to highlight the ferocity of the battle.

The criminals are much more interesting than the police. The Fang gang has its share of eccentrics and a few maniacs. The bomb expert likes to play with explosives while hanging around with the rest of them waiting for the next move, a consigliore type who spends most of his time polishing his glasses and one guy who is planning to play Russian roulette with a semi-automatic pistol. This is not a group upon which to base the next twenty years of crime leadership in East Asia.

The final battle between all the cops and all the criminals has some decent moments—for example when Jade Leung hangs from her knees and while firing an automatic weapon or when she swings from a rope outside the windows of the gang’s hideout, firing away—but it goes on for too long and has a lot of pointless action. There is one touching and unnecessary death among the police, possibly to remind us that they aren’t bullet (or grenade) proof and a ceremony at the end that reaffirms the bonds of duty between the police forces of Hong Kong, the PRC, Japan and the Philippines.

Not a bad movie, especially for Jade Leung and Oshima Yukari fans (of which I am one) but impossible to recommend very highly

Reviewer Score: 5