W (2000)
The Blood Rules

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 01/03/2008

The Blood Rules is a top quality first feature film for Marco Mak Chi-Sin who was a film editor for many of Hong Kong's best directors. Mak gets benefit from a top of the line screenplay from writer/director James Yuen Sai-Sang and then future/now star screenwriter Law Yiu-Fai. Scenario has a too true ring to it as produced by Lee Siu-Kei, a fine gentleman and a hardworking filmmaker. Michael Wong Man-Tak is used effectively while Suki Kwan Sau-Mei is quite stunning visually.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: SimonYam.com
Date: 10/16/2004
Summary: Absolutely dreadful

The performances range from OK to bad, the script is ridiculous.

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/18/2003

Michael Wong always has had a Keanu Reeves-type vibe going around him. If the movie's good, he looks good, and if it's bad, he looks horrible. The Blood Rules is a case of the former. It's nothing earth-shattering in terms of action or orginality, but it's got style to burn, along with a good script, which sets it above similiar fare.

The story has Wong, Suki Kwan, Lam Suet and Jackie Lui as a professional robbery/assassination group who decide to take one last job and rob a crime lord. Jackie has a bitchy, money-hungry girlfriend, and so he tries to complete the robbery himself. The plan backfires and sets off a chain of events that threaten to violate the "blood rules" and tear the crime "family" apart.

This is fairly standard crime movie stuff, but things are enlivened by a strong script that manages to give the characters some depth without hammering the viewer over the head with each and every little detail of their lives. Like many editors turned directors, first-timer Marco Mak tends to favor the visual element, giving the story a crisp pace. There are a few scenes which are very nicely done which manage to get a lot of emotion and exposition across without having to depend of long strands of cliched dialogue.

Things are not all rosy here, though. For the most part, the acting is very lackluster. It is done well (even Michael Wong does a good job), but there is not anything truly compelling here, and as such it's hard to really care about the characters. Combined with the fairly average action (at least for a HK movie), the movie gets a bit dull at times. I know this might sound a bit contradictory given the above paragraph, but with better acting and/or directing, The Blood Rules could have been a top-notch crime/action film. As such, it's still worth a viewing, but it's probably not going to be considered a "classic" by any means.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 04/16/2002
Summary: Good

One of the better films in 2000, but still lacks a lot. It's entertainig though, and well worth seeing.

Rating: 3/5

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 12/24/2001
Summary: Mak's debut shows promise, but he hadn't quite developed it fully

Well, I guess I set myself up for a fall. After enjoying COP ON A MISSION so much I went back home & put on Marco Mak's directorial debut, THE BLOOD RULES. Whilst the movie has some stylish moments and did keep me interested, overall I was disappointed. The movie is about a gang of super-cool thieves played by Michael Wong (bad start), Suki Kwan, Jackie Lui and Lam Suet. It opens with a very stylish robbery showing how smart and well organised they are, and also how ruthless. It then explores their characters, in particular the weaknesses they each have when it comes to relationships, and the problems that causes.

In many ways it is an interesting movie, but I guess I was hoping for something more. The fundamental problem for me was why these super-cool, intelligent and ruthless people would make such glaringly bad decisions in their private lifes. The movie explores the repercussions, but never why they would make them in the first place. It made the whole thing seem rather implausible to me... they simply should have known better!

The highlights of the movie were some very well filmed shoot-outs, Wong Tin Lam playing a similar overweight and understated Triad boss to the one he played in THE MISSION, and the very charismatic cop who is on the trail of our thieves. It's probably a well above average movie, but not up to the standards of Marco Mak's latest two. The DVD is passable, but features an absolutely terrible sound mix (mainly in the action sequences).

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 11/24/2001
Summary: Pretty good

The other reviewers have said enough bit this is a above average crime movie. The picture is more character driven than plot driven, and the movie does this well. There is a love triangle plot which is used to good extent. It shows that not everyone in this world is perfect, and in a world of crime NO ONE is to be trusted!!


Reviewed by: David Harris
Date: 04/18/2001

"The Blood Rules" is a film from the vastly experienced editor Marco Mak who has worked on everything from "Once Upon A Time In China" to "Raped By An Angel 5 : The Final Judgement". It stars Michael "Beast Cops" Wong and from "The Mission" Lam Suet, Jackie Lui and Wong Tin Lam who were respectively - if you're memory is a little fuzzy - the guy eating nuts all the time, the young new guy and the old guy from the bar /restaurant. If none of that means anything to you you need to drop this mag (or buy it if you're browsing) and go get yourself the best film of last year!

Now onto the new. In the opening sequence of "The Blood Rules" there is some nice intense action and it's a shame that is marred by some poorly executed effects but what makes the scene odd in the context of the rest of the film is that is that everything else is very well put together for what must obviously have been a fairly low budget film. Having worked so closely over the last fifteen years with some great directors has obviously had its benefits as Marco Mak shows some flashes of genuine skill here that would look at home in bigger and better productions.

The plot is pretty simple - robbers after a big score with the law closing in - but is done in such a way that it doesn't scream cliche at you at every turn. Michael Wong (Mike) is for once on the wrong side of the law and his performance shows once again what a solid professional he is, Lam Suet (Shoot) follows up his enigmatic nut eating turn in "The Mission" with a performance here that underlines his ability to give touches of subtlety that add depth to his character. Jackie Lui (Q) is a young emerging talent who responds very well to skilled directors ("The Mission" shows that clearly because he compared very well to the veterans in the film) and this production will in the future no doubt be seen as another step along the path to stardom.

It will be interesting to chart the progress of Marco Mak as a director because like I mentioned earlier there are moments in this film that truly impress and him having worked with directors of the calibre of Tsui Hark cannot be readily discounted. I look forward to seeing more of his work and hope very much that he develops into a fine director. Only time will tell if he ends up realising the potential that he shows here or if it remains only that - potential.

"The Blood Rules" isn't a blockbuster but a modestly budgeted Hong Kong crime thriller made by a young director and as such wasn't ever going to be that stunning but having said that it is not at the bottom of the barrel of the latest releases. Let it not be forgotten that it that much harder to make an action film on a low budget than a dialogue driven film. It can't seriously be ranked any higher than average and isn't one for the casual fan.

Reviewed by: miazaki
Date: 03/08/2001
Summary: a pleasant suprise!

I have seen a few HK dogs in my time and was pleasantly surprised by the Blood Rules. I bought it on a trip to Chinatown NYC, and to be honest I got it for 2 reasons. 1) The girl on the cover is really easy on the eyes, and 2) I like the Desert Eagle that "our hero" is brandishing on the cover as well. I started watching and once I saw the opening fight I knew I was in for at least a fun hour and a half.

While this isn't the most compelling plot, I'm a sucker for the Robin Hood/noble villians robbing villans thing so I was already into this. The editing is tight, and the pacing is good overall. I ended up actually caring about these characters, maybe not as much as say, Star Wars or whatever, but not like Independence Day where you end up hoping the aliens just eliminate the whole of earth so we can get on with out lives.

The final couple of fights are positively crazy, and enjoyable. I found myself playing the parking deck scene for folks at work. Despite the fact that there is a major spolier on the back cover of the BOX (!), it's still worth your time and money. On a scale of 1-5 I'll go 3.5

This review is for the VCD version ($9.99).

Reviewed by: Paul Fonoroff
Date: 12/30/2000

Whatever the faults of Hong Kong action cinema, editing certainly isn’t one of them, and one of the people responsible is editor extraordinaire Marco Mak Chi-sin. His directorial debut, The Blood Rules, has the pace and rhythm one would expect from a picture helmed by one of the best editors in the business. The weak link, as usual, is a less-than-credible plot, though the script penned by Richard Yuen Sai-sang and Andy Lo Yiu-fai deserves points for injecting more personality than is customary in crime capers of this sort.

The gang of four behind the crime spree is a disparate lot. One wonders how they came together and remained a cohesive whole, but perhaps that is another movie. Mike (Michael Wong Man-tak) is a handsome, middle class family man with a doting wife and child. Q (Jackie Lui Chung-yin) is an impetuous tough guy in love with an opportunistic floozy. The voluptuous Kwun (Suki Kwan Sau-mei) is deadly with a gun and carries a torch for Mike. Suet (Lam Suet) is the coarsest of the lot but displays a surprisingly tender side, his two passions being Kwun and tropical fish.

It is this last aspect that gives the movie a unique quality. From the aquarium-based opening credits to the final shoot-out among huge tanks, the fish motif adds visual flair and hints at some psychological depth to the implausible relationships and situations.

The most interesting characters are the subsidiary ones. Au Kam-tong leaves a strong impression as a quirky detective while Tin Yui-nei, the Delilah to Q’s Samson, is the very personification of femme fatale. Most impressive is veteran director/actor Wong Tin-lam as Uncle Lam, the corpulent mastermind who, not unlike a Chinese Sydney Greenstreet, pulls the strings while indulging his taste for “smelly bean curd”.

There are plenty of nifty action scenes, masterfully edited by Poon Hung (though one imagines the director had something to say in the matter). But the overall effect is blunted by the ridiculousness of some of the scenes. The biggest laugh, entirely unintentional, was generated when Mike offers to donate blood for Kwun’s makeshift transfusion. “I’m also type O, no problem,” he grimly states, his serious countenance fueling viewers’ guffaws.

The Blood Rules’ Chinese title, which means “guild rules”, is identical with a classic 1979 production (known in English as The System) which otherwise bears no relation to its Y2K counterpart. The theme of “rules” and the issue of honour among thieves are subtexts of The Blood Rules, giving the movie an extra dimension but never explored with the insight or profundity that might have made this a modern classic.

2 1/2 Stars

This review is copyright (c) 2000 by Paul Fonoroff. All rights reserved. No part of the review may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Reviewer Score: 5