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VM (1989)
Close Escape

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 11/09/2007

“Close Escape” is an average shoot-em up with more stabbing, bludgeoning, poisoning and throttling than actual shooting. The cast is not very large and the most of them area dead by the time the final credits role. It was early in Oshima Yukari’s Hong Kong career so her hair was still in the unflattering page boy with blunt cut bangs which sometimes made Miko look like a more butch version of Prince Valiant of the Sunday color comics. She almost always wore a long wool coat—most of the cast wore this voluminous outwear but she was the only one who kept hers on while inside, even while slicing through skin and muscle on Leung’s thigh to remove a bullet. Dick Wei as Chiu was the quintessential bad guy—not delivering goods to the Thai gang, and then killing their representative, having a loyal subordinate executed because the police might be looking for him, always willing to kill anyone including innocent third parties in order to further his criminal diamond dealings. Additionally he was almost impossible to kill—Rasputin might have been easier to send to his final resting place and was like a flesh and blood Terminator in his ability to come back from multiple knife wounds and gunshots.

Pomson Shi came close to stealing the movie as Yok, Chiu’s deadly second in command. He had extensive martial arts training and success before his film career and was obviously very fit and lightning fast. He seemed as comfortable playing a truly evil thug who enjoyed hurting or killing people as he did in the action aspect of his role. Slender with a beak for a nose and closely cropped hair that emphasized his lean and hungry look, he was a magnet for the camera when onscreen. Max Mox as Leung was mainly a punching bag for both the jewel thieves and the police until the last few minutes of the movie. The only reason one can think of for him falling for Miko’s obvious strategy of hanging around him until she could find the diamonds was that he was concussed from all the beating he had absorbed. He had kidnapped her at gunpoint (after she bumped him with her car while he was fleeing from the police), forced her to drive to his brother’s bungalow and then held her at gunpoint while she dug a bullet out of his leg. So far so good, but when he awoke after passing out from the pain to find her returning from the store with disinfectant and pain killers, prepared to move in with him until he felt better, some alarm bells should have gone off.

There were a couple of well done fights. One between Pomson Shi and Oshima Yukari was beautifully choreographed and shot with each of them mirroring the other’s kicks and punches. Shot from several angles and edited together seamlessly there was even a bit of humor at the end when Yukari, using he same motion she did when punching, retrieved a Coke cup from her opponent, one that she had handed him at the start of the fight. The grand finale battle destroyed the interior of several rooms and featured some very brutal looking close quarters combat. Every stick of furniture in the place was smashed generally over someone’s head. There was only one knife which was used to kill three different men--actually only two men, since came to life after having the knife buried to its hilt in his chest and stomach about ten times. Guns were brandished and fired but in a nod to the realities of short range high stress shooting, only hit their target when the muzzle was pressed against the stomach of the person being shot. There were a lot of missed shots.

Which made sense because the real interest here was the hand to hand combat by the action leads.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: Souxie
Date: 02/24/2003
Summary: quite good

I found the VCD of this under a pile of old Jackie Chan oldies, and decided to give it a go.
The movies about a dying older brother who is actually a policeman but does dodgy deals to secure money for his younger brother, who plans to be a doctor. The last deal goes wrong, diamonds and triads later and the older brother is dead and the younger brother has to find out why and kill them in revenge (this IS an HK movie, remember).
Cue his policeman friend Aaron Kwok on the trail and the younger brother getting shot up and being nursed back to health by a suspiciously friendly hostage.
Everyone here is good, a good couple of fights and Aaron has a good haircut for once. :)
Although how a policeman can fail to get himself out of handcuffs I don't know.
Pretty good overall, I'd give it 7/10

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: hokazak
Date: 12/09/1999

Cops, diamond thieves, and gangsters. Bit appearanceby Yukari Oshima, as a hitwoman.