Sunday, April 17, 2011

Run And Kill : Cat III Part 6


Billy Tang's Run and kill is a notorious example of the category III genre, I remember it being spoken about in hushed tones by fans who had seen it back in the day. I had mistakenly thought it was a horror film due to hearsay, and having finally seen it, I would have to say its notoriety is deserved due to one scene, which I am not going to spoil but I will say it had me exclaiming "Holy shit" at my screen.

My second Billy Tang movie after Dr Lamb, Run and kill is completely different yet still recognisable as Tang's work. A brutal revenge action movie that starts deceptively, looking like a family comedy but turns in to hell on earth come the finale.


Everything seems to be rosy for Fatty (Kent Cheng), he has a wife and child and he runs his own business. When he returns home from work early, and finds his wife with another man he goes into a tailspin, leading to a night drowning his sorrows in a bar. Completely drunk Fatty makes the biggest mistake of his life, accidentally ordering a hit on his wife and setting a chain of events in motion that beggars belief.

Kent Cheng doing what he does best

Run and kill is as strong a deterrent to ever getting drunk again as you could ever see, what Kent Cheng's character and family go through as a result of a drunken misunderstanding should be enough to make even the most avid alcoholic stay sober! The nihilistic tone of Run and kill seems almost at odds with the blackly comic side of the film, where just when you think things couldn't get any worse for our portly hero, they do, massively.


Simon Yam has a ball as yet another of his psycho characters, handling the brutal violence with a level of glee bordering on the worrying side of enjoying it too much. He has proved over the years to be an incredibly versatile actor, who can play just about any role but he does seem to have a special affinity with the psycho roles he played in the early nineties category III craze.

While Kent Cheng isn't the best actor in the world, considering I'm more used to seeing him playing comic relief characters, he handles the mental disintegration of his character in Run and kill pretty well. Cheng's willingness to show himself as a drooling slob at the start of the movie is refreshing, particularly in an industry so obsessed with vanity, it really adds to his character. However even for a character who is obviously a soft touch, I'm not sure his reaction to finding his wife with another man is that convincing, but that is really the script more than Cheng's performance.



Billy Tang does another great job here, much like Dr Lamb the film is very impressive technically. Featuring some great claustrophobic photography, with tight close ups being particularly effective on Kent Cheng's sweating face as his situation turns from bad to worse. The action is excellent too, with the hit in Cheng's apartment a really good example, again its very tight inside the small flat and what the stuntmen and actors achieve here is great. Just one caveat, I won't spoil it, but the scene with Cheng's mother and a stuntman!

Slipcase

The dvd I watched is the German one, I was going to buy the HK dvd but that version is cut. After Kingwho? and I covered Intruder I wanted to find a dvd of that movie and Ken from sogoodreviews recommended the German dvd of Run and kill as it is uncut and features Intruder as well.

The dvd is anamorphic, has English subtitles and is pretty good, the compression could have been better as the two films are on the same disc but overall I'm very happy with it. It even has a reversible sleeve so you can make Intruder the main film. I may go back to Intruder and review the dvd as the previous post was based only on the vcd.

Another poor German cover

Run and kill is a very enjoyable, solid action movie with some strong category III overtones. It certainly isn't just a one scene film, although the notorious reputation of the movie does pretty much come from one scene, but that is doing the rest of the film a disservice. It boasts an excellent performance from Simon Yam and pretty good performances from the rest of the cast. Technically the movie is very good, and I would love to have seen what Billy Tang could have done with a decent budget.

14 comments:

YTSL said...

I haven't seen "Run and Kill" in years (and don't think I will again any time soon). But certain parts of the movie definitely have stayed with me all these years. It's a powerful film that's definitely deserving of its Category III rating. Some might call it an exploitation movie -- and I certainly can see why. But I honestly think it's more than that -- and am glad that you're impressed by it.

A hero never dies said...

I think it certainly is an exploitation movie, but that isn't automatically a negative tag to me, but I agree its more than that too!

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, the Hong Kong category III gorefest/exploitation flicks. There were so many such films back in the early 90's before disappearing by the mid 90's. Tang is infamous, but he can't hold a candle to the master himself, Herman Yau. Watching "Ebola Syndrome" once was more then enough for me.

A hero never dies said...

Yep, no arguments here about Ebola syndrome, once was more than enough!

I do think Yau has a fair bit of talent to go with his shock tactics.

Anonymous said...

It's funny, renowned Hong Kong actors like Simon Yam or Anthony Wong were once known for doing a series of Cat. III exploitation flicks back in the early 90's. Lawrence Ng, now a popular mainstream actor on TVB (The main Hong Kong network), was once known for doing the original "Sex and Zen" way back in 1991. Now all 3 are respected actors starring in major Hong Kong blockbusters! Of course, even the acclaimed Tony Leung also did a couple of 3rd triad flicks in-between a masterpiece. Interesting isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Oops, I meant even the acclaimed Tony Leung did a couple of 3rd RATE triad flicks in-between his masterpieces.

I have conflicted feelings about this whole cat. III business. On one hand, I can't say I really miss those "glory" days of exploitation mania of the early 90's. Those films were exactly oscar-worthy material after all. But on the other hand, it shows a certain chracter or flavour of Hong Kong Cinema. It gives HK cinema a unique identity. Of course, I suppose HK cinema is probably pretty happy not to be associated with those gorefest films now...

Anonymous said...

Darn, what is with me today? I said those films WEREN'T exactly oscar materials. Must have had a long day...

A hero never dies said...

Its human nature I suppose to copy successful things, everywhere does it but at that time in Hong Kong in particular when any film did well, so many films were being made at the time that knock offs were inevitable and it just so happened that category III movies were the thing then, the other thing is of course that they were cheap to make!

You are absolutely right, they do have a definite flavour of Hong Kong, and while they are certainly not my favourite kind of movies, I have enjoyed watching them and like it or not they are a pretty important part of Hong Kong film history, at least from a fans perspective as many people were introduced to HK film around this time.

M C Thomason said...

Nice work here on this! Run & Kill is definitely one of the more gruelling Cat III entries of its era, though I do personally feel that Billy Tang's Red to Kill was the apex of the whole "shock machine" cycle.

Funny too that, after all these years and countless other films in wide and varied genres, Herman Yau is still considered a Cat III auteur...even though his Cat III ventures can be counted on one hand, with a finger and opposable digit to spare (The Untold Story, Ebola Syndrome, Gong Tau & The First 7th Night). His work as a cinematographer gets even less notice in the West, even though he shot The Legend of Zu, Time & Tide, Seven Swords and Fatal Move.

What's the old saying? The more things change the more they stay the same... ;)

Daniel Thomas said...

'run and kill' is definitely a good watch. the tagline to my review was "you ever have one of those weeks..."

i'm now wondering what was cut from the hong kong disc, which seemed pretty full on in my memory. any how, the 'bar' is 'club 97' on lang kwai fong. at the time a very trendy location, under the equally trendy restaurant. i stayed in central for a few weeks during '94 and used to hang out there, as my brother was one of the managers...

A hero never dies said...

Mike, thanks and as you rightly point out Yau is has much more to offer than just his cat III stylings.

Daniel, I'm not sure what is cut in terms of violence but I gather some non violent scenes are missing from the HK disc

Anonymous said...

People tend to remember your most famous/infamous films, so Yau, fairly or not, is stuck with the Cat. III reputation. He does have other decent works to show for, but if you ask anyone about his films, his Cat. III flicks come immediately to mind.

Kingwho? said...

Right on , AHND. Run and Kill is my favorite CAT III pic and after Chungking Express, my 2nd favorite HK film. I revisit it often. We briefly covered the film and the wonderful Billy Tang Hin-sing on the Dr. Lamb episode of This Week In Sleaze. Underrated filmmaker that unfortunately fell by the way side as HK cinema faltered in the mid-late 90's. He might be mentioned on our next episode about Naked Killer, in respects to him directing the final Raped By An Angel film.

If you haven't seen it, I posted my 2 Run and Kill posters and an old review I wrote for cityonfire.com on my blog a year or so ago....

http://inthemoodforgwailo.blogspot.com/search/label/Run%20and%20Kill

I also got from a good source, Simon Yan himself (wow that sounded snobbish. Sorry hahaha), that Billy Tang is now directing televison in/on the mainland. Extremely talented filmmaker and filmminder.

Herman Yau is also another favorite and has proved staying power. He is a filmmaker I admire very much as the majority of his films are esoterically HK and made for HK audiences and without a Mainland agenda. A few of his recent films have been CAT III angled and have only recieved a IIB, namely Whispers and Moans and True Women For Sale. Both are excellent social dramas and though the content is CAT III geared, the display is not.

Agian, great review AHND. I absolutely love Run and Kill. =)

A hero never dies said...

Thanks Kingwho? For the kind words, I can see why you love it so much, it really delivers on the cat III sickness.

Cool posters on your link, they must be worth a mint now, not that I'd ever expect you would part with them!

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