He Who Chases After the Wind (1988)
Reviewed by: mrblue on 2005-04-20
Long-time readers of this site are probably aware of my "Pabst Blue Ribbon" rule -- any movie that features this swill is almost guaranteed to be a stinker. I guess I should have been clued in by the inane title of this film and its' one-week theatrical run in Hong Kong, but since this was Stephen Chow's first movie and I had recently finished watching the excellent Kung Fu Hustle, I bit the bullet and popped in the VCD. By the time the dreaded PBR makes it appearance (chugged by Mr. Chow himself -- hopefully he's moved onto better liquor now), it clinched the fact that He Who Chases After the Wind is just simply a dull John Woo-style "heroic bloodshed" wannabe.

Even though He Who Chases After the Wind has been recently re-released on VCD and promoted as a Stephen Chow movie, he only has a small role in it. The film actually centers on a cop played by Alex Man, who falls in love with a suspect (Elizabeth Lee) in a robbery/murder. Carrie Ng (also in her first movie appearance) plays the stereotypical "jade vase" role as Man's girlfriend, and long-time Hong Kong film heavy Shing Fui-On sticks his "big silly head" up from time to time as a killer stalking Man and Lee when he's isn't sitting at home staring at a knife. As for Stephen Chow, he plays Man's comedic sidekick, but frankly, he isn't very funny -- just annoying. But given the lackluster nature of the script and poor direction (both done by Albert Lai), one can't blame Chow too much for any faults in his performance.

Actually, He Who Chases After the Wind starts out pretty well, with action director Lau Ga Yung crafting a solid gunfight. Sure, it's a total John Woo ripoff complete with dual handguns and slow-motion, but hey, bloodshed is bloodshed. However, once the romantic part of the movie comes up, it never leaves. The middle third of the movie grinds everything to a halt. Everything that can go wrong in a romantic plot does here in spades. By the time Man and Lee bond and kiss after shooting off a gun while a cheesy Cantonese version of Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" plays for the tenth time, I wanted them to use the firearm on each other.

Like most movies in the genre, things do pick up near the end with another solid gunfight. But by then, it's too little, too late. He Who Chases After the Wind is really for die-hard Stephen Chow fans who want to check out his debut. Everyone else (and even a lot of those die-hard fans) are going to be reaching for the fast-forward button long before the movie is over. He Who Chases After the Wind is a prime example what can go wrong when a sub-par director tries to tackle the multi-genre nature of Hong Kong films -- a lot of things get thrown at the viewer, but nothing sticks.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]