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ΊΚΊ»­·¶³ (1987)
Prison on Fire

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 10/30/2010

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 10/26/2005

A mild-mannered man (Leung) is sent to prison, where he runs afoul of the Triad gangs and a sadistic guard (Chueng). A wise-cracking old-timer (Chow) decides to take the "new fish" under his wing even though he has problems of his own.

On the surface, Prison on Fire is a fairly standard prison drama, something which has been done dozens of times both in the US and in Hong Kong. But it is saved from mediocrity by Ringo Lam's tight direction and the performance of Chow Yun-Fat. Hamming it up during the first part of the film, he quickly turns serious at the situation warrants. It's a great job that wonderfully shows Chow's range as an actor. Roy Cheung also puts in some of his best work to date as the prison guard, and Tony Leung -- while doing nothing spectacular -- holds his own.

Though the film (most of which takes place in one large cell) does look unbelievably cheap at times, the stark and bleak look actually adds to the film in the long run. It helps to create a constant tension that even the large riot scenes or comic relief can't break up. The last thirty minutes of the film -- while going strictly by the book -- are great, as the various parties' fights with each other begin to come together with disastrous results.

Those that are turned off by violence may want to avoid Prison on Fire. Though there are no guns or large weapons in the movie, the violent fights (which feature such things as Chow Yun-Fat biting off someone's ear) may turn away more squeamish viewers. Otherwise, Prison on Fire is recommended. It's definitely a good movie to check out if you want to see Chow Yun-Fat doing something other than blasting away people with two guns.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 08/31/2005
Summary: Classic Hong Kong prison drama...

Tony Leung plays Lo Ka Yiu, a timid working class man who, after being convicted of a homicide while trying to protect his father from a gang, is thrust into the hard prison life and struggles to cope...until he meets Ching (Chow Yun-Fat). Ching is a happy go-lucky prisoner who has figured out how to deal with life within the prison and how to remain alive and neutral during the constant wars between rival gangs within the convict community. He takes Yiu under his wing and protects him from becoming just another victim. Yiu still has trouble foreseeing the consequences of his actions, and when he rats on one of the triad gang members, he gets himself in hot water with their leader, Mick (Nam Yim). Later, he gets himself in more trouble by not telling the head guard (Roy Cheung) about who was responsible for problems being raised within the prison. Yiu is in serious dire straits now, with only Ching to stand by him. As the war between the two triad factions become more intense, Yiu and Ching are caught in the middle and are used as unwilling pawns in the constant struggle for power.

Chow Yun-Fat is absolutely incredible in this movie, playing the practical jokester, hardened prisoner and understanding friend to perfection. Every scene he's in is riveting, and he plays such a likable character that you are rooting for him to succeed from the first moment he appears in the film. Tony Leung is also great, and though his character is maddeningly naive, you also pull for him to get through the movie unscathed. Although the story is a bit confusing, it is put together very well. The plots that are constantly hatched by one gang to bring down the other are very interesting and make for very tense and exciting confrontations. Chow Yun-Fat fans will love this movie, as will any who enjoy a good prison drama.


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: JUlibas
Date: 10/14/2003
Summary: Well filmed prison potboiler by Ringo Lam

Ringo Lam's Prison On Fire is a gritty, hard edged prison film starring Yun-Fat Chow and Tony K.F. Leung. Lam regulars
Roy Cheung , Tommy K.L. Wong and Joe Chu co-star as a Prison Yard Boss, aTriad Leader and triad memeber respectfully. Yun-Fat plays a prison regular who knows the ropes how how to survive in the Big House whilst Tony K.F. Leung plays a fresh fish inmate who doesn't quite know the prisoner's code of honor

Roy Cheung is superb as the creepy Yard Boss who doesn't like Chow or Leung very much and does everything in his power to make their lives miserable. Tony Leung is excellent as the naive prisoner and Yun-Fat Chow plays the vetern convict with charm and conviction.
Ringo Lam holds the movie together with his patented docu-drama style. You can feel the pain that these prisoners go through whenever they're in a scuffle or in a fight for their lives.

Fui-On Shing has a cameo apperence in the yard fight.

Highly recommended

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 07/23/2002
Summary: Very good

One of Ringo Lam’s classics for sure, I won’t add much more to the other reviews, because those reviewers know what they’re talking about when it comes to Prison on Fire. Anyone who has never seen it really should check it out. This was always a good film in my mind, considering it consisted of my two favourite actors (Chow Yun Fat and Tony Leung), my favourite director (Ringo Lam) and favourite producer (Karl Maka) all in the same film. An absolute classic gritty prison drama. The few flaws in the film are really only down to some over the top acting by a few members of the cast (including Chow Yun Fat).


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/08/2002
Summary: Strong characters, and convincing portrayal of prison life

The movie is what I would assume to be a pretty realistic account of prison life in 1987 Hong Kong. Leung Ka Fai plays the basically upright citizen who ends up in prison for manslaughter after accidentally killing a young thug who was attacking his father. Chow Yun Fat plays the 'old timer' who befriends him and helps him adjust to the way of life inside. The movie mainly focuses on the friendship between Chow and Leung Ka Fai, and how they deal with the situation. There's a good supporting cast of characters too, and the main driving force of the plot is the petty power games these men play to compensate for the loss of autonomy and control they now have over their own lives. The miniature social structure and social rules that develop inside the prison as a kind of microenvironment detached from the rest of the world are explored well. As with most Ringo Lam films, the movie stands out as being quite different from the crowd, with well realised characters and quite a 'gritty' feel. Good performances from all, though the movie really belongs to Leung Ka Fai. Roy Cheung also makes a memorable impression as the hard-ass prison guard too.

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/08/2001
Summary: Good!!

A strong drama and very entertaining one!! Roy Cheung pays his villian role well as does Tony Leung as a weakling!!


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: will ares
Date: 12/21/2000

A drama about a young man named Lo Ka Yiu(Leung Ka Fai) who is sent to prison for manslaughter charges. In the prison a lot of trouble for Yiu happens(eg inmates causing trouble) but soon he becomes best friends with one of them named Ching(Chow Yun Fat).
They also together get into trouble by fellow inmates and a huge bastard of a prison guard named Scarface Hung(Roy Cheung).

The film is one of my favourites because of the action fighting scenes, the very dramatic moments and the humorous scenes. 8.5/10

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: leh
Date: 12/09/1999

Filmed in the gritty and realistic style of Ringo Lam, thisis an intense movie, very good.

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999

Lo Ka Yia (Leung Ka Fai), imprisoned for an accidental homicide, becomes pals with tough but lovable Mad Dog (Chow Yun-Fat), a good guy who teaches him the ropes. Alliances and betrayals, however, are engineered by Boss Hung (the ever-one dimensional Roy Cheung, whose performance is a continual sneer), a prison guard who compromises justice in the name of order. The flick is a tense, understated melodrama until an endless series of fight scenes toward the end; Cheung drops it a notch, too.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 7