Friday, March 5, 2010

Run and Kill (1993)

Here are two different posters for my all time favorite CAT III movie, RUN AND KILL. Both really cool. Directed by Billy Tang Hin-sing, RUN AND KILL was/ is one of the roughest edged films to come out of HK during the CAT III heyday of the early 90's. Only rivaled by another Billy Tang Hin-sing effort, the nasty rape "drama" RED TO KILL. In RUN AND KILL, Tang pushes stars Simon Yam and Kent Cheng well over the edge in this jet black comedy that is sharp and dangerous. A killer of a flick. Below is an old review I wrote for cityonfire.com. I edited things down a bit to bring some views and my writing up to date. Enjoy.

Family man Kent Cheng arrives home one bird-chirping, sunny day to find his wife boning some dude. Distraught, the cuckold Cheng sets out into the now dank, rainy HK nightlife and proceeds in getting tanked. After inebriated miscommunication with a hitman he unwittingly hires, Cheng passes out in an alley. Upon waking the next day, Cheng stumbles home and again finds his wife receiving a dirty delivery from the same dude!? The nerve of this tramp!!! Not more than two minutes through the door, death comes knocking. Wife and new boy toy are dismissed from their existence and Cheng is left a blubbering mess and in hock for his deadly hitman dealing.
Fearing for his mortal being, Cheng packs up his young daughter, brings her to live with granny, and hightails it out of HK and to his hometown away from the city on fire. There he finds a neighbor and his gang squatting in his home. One of the gangsters, Simon Yam, is an angry, unflinching man of nasty spirits. He and his band of outsiders are involved in some dirty deeds and need Cheng's house to "hide up". Cheng in turn gets some protection from the bounty hunters/ debt collectors on his trail for the rest of his owed dough. Cue more trouble for Cheng as an encounter in a movie theater with the bounty hunters leaves Yam's brother mortally wounded. Cheng escapes the scene unscathed but more worse for the wear.
Yam blames Cheng for his brothers demise and, to say the very least, is pissed. When the chips are down, the chips are really down and Cheng now has to contend with two killers on the rampage. Poor ol' Cheng, and the audience, go through and endurance test of sanity from here on in. Tang is masterful in this as jaw dropping roughness mingles with an uneasy comic feeling. You don't know whether to laugh or cringe? Most of the time doing both.
As if it weren't enough his hoochie of a wife is dead and he's to blame, Cheng is now on the run from Yam as well, a wicked, out of touch, ex-North Vietnamese mercenary who's swearing revenge on Cheng and his family. Psycho Simon proceeds in torturing and dispatching Cheng's mom and daughter in ways so horrific, even for a CAT III release, i'm surprised the film received a certificate of approval? Oh, how I love Category III!!! Geeeezzz.....Cheng's poor little girl. This scene needs to be seen to be believed. In front of a tied up, tormented Cheng, Yam flame broils the little girl to a crisp, picks up the charred carcass and plants it in front of the now out of his gourd Cheng.
Yam then begins to mimic the little girl in a childlike voice,"Daddy, I'm so dark. Can you recognize me?" If that doesn't make your jaw drop and shake your head in disgust (with a little nervous giggle for sanity's sake), after Cheng frees himself from capture he grabs his charcoal kid and double times it to safety. With his little girl in tow he accidentally smacks her head against the wall, knocking her block off. This is probably the most evil/ funny image I have seen yet in a category III film. Even surpassing the warp mindedness of Tang's RED TO KILL.
An always reliable, and underrated, Kent Cheng gives one of his best performances and earns our sympathy in a grimy, mean spirited film that also boasts Simon Yam at his demented best. I can't fail to mention Danny Lee Sau-yin who is also in the film doing what he does best, playing a cop. The film also stars old schooler Johnny Wang Lung-wei and Melvin Wong Gam-san. What a cast! With the end of the CAT III salad days of the early 90's, Tang wasn't able to return to his fierce and shrewed form and match his angry themed output. With the exception of a few films after the CAT III demise, Tang appeared handcuffed in his film making. While some of the stories he filmed could have easily crossed over into CAT III territory, the restraints of the cinema at the time (handover???) and just maybe the local distaste for CAT III excess seemed to shut Tang down. Tang appears to have disappeared from the film world. Sad really. He was possibly one of, if not the best directors working in HK during the 'good ole' days. He was truly one of the most ambitious, angry, and wild filmmakers in HK. Does anyone know where he is or what he is doing? I remember reading an article a few years back that said he was directing television on the Mainland. Though i'm unsure if this is true?

I can't recommend a film like RUN AND KILL high enough. It's the inventiveness and over the top excess of this kind of HK film that put me in a headlock, punched me in the face, and refused to let me go. And i'm glad it didn't. Mixing kills and giggles, RUN AND KILL is insanely perfect
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