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火爆大圈仔 (1992)
Big Circle Blues

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/18/2003
Summary: Weak action flick

A weak excuse for an action film that has the tired plot of the hotheaded Hong Kong cop (Japanese import Michiko Nishiwaki in this case) teaming up with the more straight-laced officer (Mark Cheng filling in for Danny Glover). They're after a gang of robbers who seem to be able to kill every big boss they come across, but can't figure out how to get on to a plane and get the hell out of Asia, so we're subjected to Michiko and Mark trying to rub two sticks together to figure out how to catch them.

Of course, there is also a lame romantic subplot going on between Michiko and Mark. Why do these kind of cheap movies always have to make this kind of stuff that obvious? I mean, it's not as if any guy would kick Michiko out of bed for eating crackers or anything -- hell, she could eat the damn bed and I'd still hang out with her. Anyway, Wu Ma sticks his head in as the mandatory frazzled chief and reflects the audience's depair at watching this drivel. Kids, if there's one thing I've learned by watching all these cheap action movies, it's that you should make good contracts early so you don't have to end your career by making crud like this.

Usually, the fights save low-budget chum such as this, but no such luck with Big Circle Blues. There are a couple of decent action bits, but they're way too short. Like a bad stripper, they build up, but never fully show the goods. Case in point -- there is a fight between Michiko and To Gai Fai which is ended by a simple cut to the leg. What the hell? They must have run out of Bactine on the set or something.

Anyway, the lousy fights are a shame, because Michiko Nishiwaki is quite talented in martial arts/action (even if her acting talent is stifled by a lousy script), and the supporting cast (especially To Gai Fa, one of the more under-rated femme fatales in Hong Kong cinema) also does a good job. But even the best action sequences couldn't overcome the total pile of crap that is present in the exposition with Big Circle Blues. It's like giving a guy with bad eyesight a high-powered scope -- it might help in the short term, but it doesn't make up for the overall lack of talent.

When the only thing you have to highlight a movie is "Mr. Vampire" Lam Ching-Ying raping women, you know you're in trouble. I know Lam was trying to step out from that type of role, but he could have done much better than this. Big Circle Blues is the kind of crap crime/action movie that gave Hong Kong movies such a bad taste with local audiences in the early 1990's, and it doesn't fare much better today. I rented this movie for a buck, and still felt ripped off. I would have rather have taken the money and put it into a slot machine, because at least there would be a chance of a payoff.

From the get-go, Big Circle Blues looks bad, sounds bad, and feels as bad as a bowel movement after eating a case of White Castles. It's really sad, because there is some good talent invloved here. It just seems as if director Chow Cheung is subscribing to the "drunken monkey" theory of film-making -- throw a bunch of people into a room and see if they can come up with a good movie. There are a few directors that can pull this off, like Wong Jing or Wong Kar-Wai, but Chow Cheung sure as hell isn't one of them. I haven't seen any films by him before, and -- if this movie is any indication -- I'll be sure to avoid any future viewings of his cinematic works.

Avoid this crap, if just for the sake of sifu Lam's good name. No wonder Michiko headed west to do menial work like being Lucy Liu's stunt double in Charlie's Angels. Given the alternative of appearing in more lame action movies like this, I think it was a wise decision to step behind the lens -- at least no one really knows you were there.

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 02/01/2000
Summary: Pointless & mostly dull

Not much to recommend here. Michiko's fans are likely to be disappointed with her brief fight scenes (though they're quite good). The outbursts of action are too infrequent, and the entire cast looks bored, and certainly don't seem to be enjoying themselves.
The climactic showdown between crims and the law is not bad, but hardly worth waiting 80 minutes for.
I cannot work out why the Cat III rating was applied. There's a very brief and non-explicit attempted rape, and the violence is nowhere near Cat III status. Though I confess I jumped past 20 minutes (through boredom), and this portion may have contained some nudity.
Don't bother !

Reviewer Score: 2