Ah Kam (1996)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2005-09-13
Summary: Great potential, poor follow-through
Ah Kam tells the story of a stuntwoman (Michelle Yeoh) and gives an inside look at the Hong Kong stunt industry, along with Kam's travails in life and love. A relative unknown, Ah Kam is selected to do a dangerous stunt while hanging out on a set and thus sets into motion her rise to the top of her profession. Along with Master Tung (Sammo Hung) and his group of talented coordinators (including Mang Hoi, Nick Cheung and Micheal Lam), Kam will do stunts no one else dares and earns the respect of her peers. Along the way, she meets Sam, a local karaoke bar owner, and they fall in love. When he opens a bar on mainland China and asks her to manage it for him, she reluctantly follows. After months of missing her friends and the industry, as well as a few run-ins with local triad members, Kam decides to return to Hong Kong and the business she loves. Later, when Master Tung goes missing and a pimp is implicated, things start to spiral downward after members of Tung's group decide to take revenge.

This could have been one of the best movies to come out of Hong Kong if it was finished correctly. Unfortunately, because of Michelle's accident, changes were made that ultimately doomed the movie. For the first half hour or so I couldn't believe it hadn't gotten more praise or attention as one of Michelle's best films. It was fascinating to get a glimpse of the goings-on behind the scenes in stunt work. Michelle looked fantastic and her acting was down to earth and real. Granted, she was basically playing herself in an autobiographical tale, but I still enjoyed her work. Sammo Hung was also great as Master Tung and his cohorts added good flavor with a variety of personalities. The story started to slip after Michelle falls in love with Sam (Jimmy Wong) and she moves to be the manager of his bar. Again, this could be seen as autobiographical with Michelle's marriage to Dickson Poon, their eventual divorce, and Michelle's return to films with 1992's Police Story III. In this film, Kam manages the bar but grows tired of the rude customers and Sam's lack of support. However, with Kam's return to stunt work, Ann Hui (the director) failed to have a feel-good final third by having Kam return to the top of her profession and retire happy. Instead, Tung's son Ah Long (Ken Lo Wing Han) is sought by police for what seems to be a minor infraction, but both decide to escape Hong Kong to avoid prosecution. Ah Long is an incredibly annoying character who hardly has one redeemable quality, making Kam's affection towards him seem out of place. The final 20 minutes of the movie are a mish-mash of situations that have no resolution and completely leave the viewer hanging. Unfortunately the film ends up as one that had huge potential, but for the most part is an overall disappointment.

Reviewer Score: 6