Ah Kin (Anthony Wong) is a mild mannered, almost nerdy insurance salesman, everything is looking good for him, he's in line for a promotion at work and has a lovely wife who is pregnant with his child. When she suffers pregnancy complications, a sequence of events is set in motion that leads to the emergence of Ah Kin's dark side.
Where to start with Taxi hunter? Well I can only imagine how the real Hong Kong taxi drivers and their governing body would have reacted to the depiction of them in the film. Just about driver in the movie is a real low life at best, and most of them much worse! The films inspiration was from real life, with Hong Kong taxi drivers apparently pulling similar kind of tricks to ones portrayed in the movie, although not all of them I hope.
As stated before, Taxi hunter is relatively restrained for what is essentially an early nineties Hong Kong exploitation movie and is arguably a better movie for it. Sure it would have been fun for it to have the usual excesses of category III fare, but that would have taken away from the solid drama that features in the film.
Taxi hunter does have a couple of flaws, the biggest being the character and performance of Stephen Chow's regular sidekick Ng Man Tat. He does not belong in this film, he is there as comic relief but is completely unfunny, its certainly not that I have anything against the actor. In fact I find him very funny in his Chow movies, here its just like he has wandered onto the set of this movie from something else entirely. The other issue I have with the film is the lengths Yau goes to, to make it clear what a nice guy Ah Kin is and generate sympathy for him. A little less of forcing the character and a little more ambiguity could have made for an even more interesting movie than what we actually have.
The negatives of the film are easily outweighed by the positives though, and just for a change its Anthony Wong that makes the film what it is. Playing against type in the early stages of the film as the timid insurance salesman, Wong is completely convincing. He's also great during the scenes with his wife, showing real tenderness towards her. Obviously this is not the first time Wong has played a killer so when he snaps we know what he is capable of but this is different from his usual psycho due to the restraint shown by both the actor and director. It isn't all serious though as he looks like he is having great fun during a Taxi driver inspired moment of talking to camera. An excellent performance that holds the film together and does manage to elicit sympathy despite what his character does.
|The much more fun vcd cover|
The dvd from Diskotek is very impressive, not in features alas as only a few trailers are included but the anamorphic image is very nice looking much better than I anticipated, looking pleasingly film like. The only problem being some actual print damage, but I'd take this over botched attempts to clean it up anyday!
Its not perfect but I really enjoyed Taxi hunter, it takes elements from various western movies and blends them into something uniquely Hong Kong. Fans familiar with Yau and Wong's more infamous collaborations may consider it to not be strong enough, but for me in this instance it works in the films favour.