Reviewed by: wyeeso
Summary: Not suitable for HK audiences
Reviewer Score: 1
I believe most local HK audiences would call this HK-made film a kiss-the-Chinese-officials-ass movie (a.k.a. kiss-ass movie) as soon as they realize the whole story is all about Chinese patriotism and propaganda during the Communist-Chinese era.
One reason, out of many other reasons, why HK audiences dont (and cant) favor this kind of kiss-ass movie is most local Hong Kongers lack a sense of patriotism towards Communist China since the Mao era (NOTE: I would like to be clear that most Hong Kongers can be patriotic towards China, but normally not to the China ruled by the Chinese Communist Party. Furthermore, most Hong Kongers still love some of the patriotic films, especially those with actions, as long as they are free of Communist-related plot and/or of Communist-related production). As a matter of fact, theres absolutely no way a realistic Hong Konger can feel patriotic towards Communist China and its brainwashed people. Why? Well, its not just because most of them are still confused about their national identity (ie. British-Chinese/Chinese/Hong Kongers), it's also because the hatred towards Communist China and their illogical/demoralized culture continue to grow day after day since what happened during the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square Protest in 1989. So even after 1997, and nowadays, local Hong Kongers would make a distinction, whenever possible, by only admitting themselves to be Hong Kongers, not (Communist) Chinese, and that they are from Hong Kong, not China. They also further distinguish themselves through language/writing, culture, freedom of speech, and so on.
As for the propagandist element of this film, it has little or no impact on me even though I know what the Japanese troops did during WWII was unforgivable, but once I think of what the Chinese Community Party did to their people since the Mao era, I just can't agree with their propaganda anymore. Anyways, we all know that propaganda is usually used as a tool to drive patriotism, and ensures its audiences are fully brainwashed about the pros of their country and the cons of their enemy. And in this case, just like how all terrorists are from Middle East in those US movies, Japanese are frequently portrayed as the ultimate bad-asses in most HK/Chinese (patriotic) movies. So right off in the beginning of this film, the Japanese are already set off as the bad guys who bully the Chinese, deny their invasion of China during World War II, and attempt to destroy the relevant evidence through money, power and violence. On the other hand, Wang Kuo-Hsin the Chinese history scholar (played by Anthony Wong) and Li Ho the Chinese martial art student (played by Ray Lui) are identified as the Chinese heroes who fight to defend the evidence and their country by beating off the bad guys.
Now kids, here we know from the film that propaganda is not just about degrading and exalting people, its also about stressing the importance of ethnicity and Chinese identity. For example, throughout the whole film, the Chinese protagonists constantly (or pretty much like every 5 to 15 minutes) emphasize phrases like a Chinese should help another Chinese and Chinese aint easily intimidated (by the Japanese). Such propagandist intrigue was probably implemented to remind the audiences (especially to the Hong Kongers and Macanese who have recently gone through the turnover to China) of their true identity, or so to speak the Chinese identity. Just like how Ken the Macanese mobster (played by Karel Wong), who suddenly becomes patriotic towards China (even before the Macau turnover as told in the story) and commits suicide when he learns the true intension of Yamada Iro (played by Matsuda Masaru), is reminded of his Chinese identity and his civil duty near the end of the movie. But then, how can the HK audiences take this film seriously, and not be frighten at the same time, when they learn that even the most vicious mobster has to bow down before (Communist) China and meet his death in shame (or meet his death to regain his honor)?
Meanwhile, the romance between Li Ho and Liang Shen-Shen (played by Yvonne Lo) is the side dish for this film, but this melodramatic dish is so corny that its not for the modern HK audiences to gulp down.
Finally, to further evident that this film is truly a propagandist production, the film ends with some retro-Communist-Chinese scenes consisting of flying pigeons, sea wave, the sun, and most notably, the Chinese five-star flag. What a bright future Communist China is offering to its people!
In conclusion, for a kiss-ass movie like this one, it doesnt matter what the plot is, or how good and bad it is, what matter is how effective can this film influence its audiences with its patriotic and propagandist messages.
HK actors who had their voice dubbed is definitely another reason why HK audience cant enjoy this film since we have already familiarized ourselves with the original voice of Anthony Wong, Ray Lui, Karel Wong and Ricky Wong. And most of the time, their dubbed voice doesnt incorporate well with their facial emotion, making it unbearable for me to watch and judge their performance. All I can tell is Ray Lui didnt give his best performance in general, probably because his role wasnt that challenging, and you can so tell it was a stunt who did the actions for him.
Also want to mention that if anyone wants to enjoy Anthonys performance (even with his voice dubbed), youll be disappointed because he only got to appear for 10 to 15 minutes in the beginning of this film.
[The Production Crew:]
As of today, I dont know if we should still blame the director, script writer, and the producers for making such a kiss-ass movie. I mean who can blame them if they know they are likely to earn more from Mainland Chinese audiences than from HK audiences, even for a film with a crappy plot like this one? Nevertheless, we should definitely blame the production crew for producing a horrible plot, the poorly made conversation between characters, the use of terrible voice actors, the miscasting, the deplorable martial choreography, the random filmmaking technique, and so on.
Talking about filmmaking technique, I must say I really dislike the use of sequential (zoom) shots (I apologize I have no idea what the proper term for this technique is) in this film and in general! An example of this technique was used when Li Ho and Liang Shen-Shen hug each other at the train station before their separation.
Towards the end, I almost laughed out loud when the villains (including the ones played by Karel Wong and Ricky Wong) enter the scene and appear before Li-Ho and Liang Shen-Shen on a roller coaster with quite a few evil laughs. Where did that idea come from?
[Worth Watching A Second Time?]
Dont even bother watching it the first time if you really wanna support purely-made-in-HK film with a localized plot that targets the local HK audiences.
Reviewed by: mrblue
During the late 1990's and early 2000's, a popular mantra among internet forums and chat sites was "Hong Kong cinema is dead". The leaden and limp excuse for an action picture, Bloody Secret, is a prime example why. Shamelessly pandering to Mainland officials to try and get a release there by stuffing itself full of jingoistic imagery and thinly-beiled propaganda, director Alan Chui seemed to have forgotten to actually create something that people would actually would want to watch.
Reviewer Score: 3
Reviewed by: j.crawford
Chinese history scholar Wang Kuo-Hsin [Anthony Wong] and martial arts student Li-Ho [Ray Lui Leung-Wai] become roommates and good friends while living in Tokyo. Wang gets in trouble with some Japanese right-wing extremists and passes information to his pal that must be given to the "proper" authorities back in Hong Kong. This film is a prime example of "post-Handover" political, nationalist propaganda filmmaking at its worst
Reviewer Score: 3
Talk about a "low budget" movie: this one has bad costumes, bad make-up, and bad lighting. This production would have benefited by using Steadicam technology for its many action scenes. Action veteran Alan Chui Chung-San could have down better work than the headache-inducing chase sequences he designed.
The filmmakers must have used every dollar of their budget in casting Anthony Wong Chau-Sang and Ray Lui Leung-Wai. Usually Wong brings some energy to a role like this, but here he is just stealing money. Ray Lui Leung-Wai actually appears to be trying, even in his terribly choreographed martial arts scenes. Karel Wong Chi-Yeung continues to impress as Hong Kong's worst actor as he looks like he's sleepwalking thru his scenes. This film seems to have been made up as it went along.
One good thing about this movie is that since I already watched it, you don't have to.
Reviewed by: Mikestar*
Summary: Post-handover impact strikes commercial HK cinema
This film more than most, surely represents the impact that the 1997 handover has had on the HK film industry.
Whereas some directors have explored global expansion and interaction within their narratives (with features of multinational casts and locations) others have clearly pandered towards Beijing, keen to seek favour with authorities and expand their distribution within the mainland.
'Bloody Secret' is a clear example of the latter, deliberately collapsing local identities and HK norms in favour of a simplistic and romanticised Chinese ethnic-nationalism.
The glorified image of the Chinese police force in the film, methodically and rationaly determining the good/evil elements within the narrative signifies a distinct shift from pre-handover images of brusque and uncouth police figures (in particular I always think of Dodo Cheng in the 'Her Fatal Ways' series).
The focus on national politics and ethnic homogeny in the film is unmistakable, focussing on the protagonist (Li Ho) who must deliver a disk containing evidence of Japanese war crimes to Chinese authorities, whilst he himself is pursued by a group of right wing extremists. On multiple occasions within the narrative, Li emphasises the importance of his mission to validate 'The Chinese People' and their identity.
Whilst the narrative involves a prolonged subplot in Macao detailing Li's reunification with his childhood sweetheart (who works as a bar hostess) the story primarily functions to showcase Li (played by HK veteran Ray Lui) pummeling his pursuers and protecting the evidence (and by extension the nation) until it can be delivered into the 'safe' hands of the central government.
What is perhaps most interetsing in the text is the way that Chui has dissolved and subsumed norms and boundaries in favour of a cultural and ethnic identity that overcomes local difference. The bulk of the narrative action is focussed in Macao, Japan and Zhuhai culminating in Li overcoming his foes and delivering the documents to the government.
In a highly sentimental and somewhat cynical climax, Li and his group of allies (girlfriend, Macao police) turn with eyes uplifted towards the flag of the PRC. This concluison is highly reminiscent of Mainland films in the Maoist era, including a sequence of flying pigeons that takes on a more than suspicious relation to this style (I think it may well have been pinched from one of these films).
The production format itself is highly ambiguous, bearing few of markers of HK style. The action choreography is unfancy (at times mundane) and overall quality is low budget (somewhat closer to films of Taiwanese films of the 70s) compared to many of its contemporaries.
The acting is quite wooden (Ray Lui tries his best with a limited character)and the narrative is overwhelmed by its inadequacies.
In short 'Bloody Secret' represents some serious implications on the industry since the 1997 handover. Whilst Chui can be easily mocked for his hotch-potch effort to mix commercial viability with 'new' political agenda, his effort may be a forecast for the industry itself. As growth and opportunity within the etsbalished HK industry suffers under the impact of economic globalism and Hollywood expansion, many more HK films may become directed towards Mainland tastes and agendas in favour of a distinct and local identity.
Reviewed by: tmuething
Summary: Bloody Awful
Just how bad commercial cinema in HK can get is perfectly illustrated by
this low-rent actioner directed by one Tsui Chung Sun, starring Ray Lui,
Karel (!) Wong, Masaru Matsuda and, in a few scenes early on, Anthony
Wong in one of his 19 or so films of 2000.
The basic plot could have provided some suspense: Ho Li (Ray Lui), a
Chinese student (!) who has gone to Tokyo to study martial arts, is
given a floppy disk (by his college roommate, Anthony Wong!) containing
pictures that prove that the Japanese massacred numerous Chinese in
Nanjing in the Sino-Japanese war. A group of right-wing Japanese
gangsters sets out to hunt down Ho down to get the disc.
Unfortunately, the film is virtually littered with flashbacks, subplots
and confusing geographic switches, one more irrelevant than the other. A
dreary romantic subplot involves Ho' former girlfriend from Guangdong,
played by Yvonne Lo. The sentiments involved are so artificial, the
melodrama so excessive (Lo has been raped by a pimp/brothel owner she
now works for, which is totally irrelevant) it weighs down the one or
two halfway decent, albeit short, action scenes this movie has (in some
scenes Ray's martial arts is done by a stunt double, some kicks he does
himself). Throw in an upright Mainland Chinese police officer and his
cute assistant (the one positive aspect of Bloody Secret) for bad
measure, a couple of triad gangsters who work for the Japanese, and
patriotic fervor reminiscent of the bad old days of agit-prop cinema
(plus the proof that hatred of the Japanese is alive and well in China),
and you end up with this indigestible stew of a movie.
Ray Lui can be a decent actor when given the right material (To Be
Number One, Lord of East China Sea), but this potboiler is unfortunately
perfectly in tune with most of his recent work (I shudder when I recall
The Train Robbers and Lam's blotched Suspect). Anthony Wong is wasted,
as is the rest of the cast. Technical credits sub-par, everything else
worse. A reminder that when HK cinema is bad, it's the pits.
on Universe DVD-5519; Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, Lbx 1.85:1; contains the
original theatrical trailer; 89 minutes. Print: overly bright, lacks color and contrast, betraying the film's lower berth origin.