High Risk (1995)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2005-09-20
“High Risk” seems untypical of the general run of movies that were both written and directed by Wong Jing, at least in that it is characterized by fewer scenes involving the (to him) funny aspects of defecation, urination and vomit than are usually found in his work. While not completely absent, the more moderate use of these images indicates that Wong is interested in something other than cheap laughs. Which is not to say that “High Risk” is high quality cinema. Much of the action is ridiculous, haphazard and without motivation or real consequence—for example where did the bad guys get hundreds of snakes and a fearsome poisonous lizard and why did the first aid kits of a bank building have the antidote for the toxic reptile venom—but there is an obvious and discernable purpose to this movie. It was done to attack Jackie Chan and debunk the myth of the tough but affable movie star who did all of his own stunts, loved his fans and helped old ladies across busy streets and was successful on those terms.

Using Jet Li as the bodyguard/stand-in/stunt double for “Frankie Lone” was a stroke of genius—while several other Hong Kong action actors could have done the role quite well, Jet Li, while not yet known internationally, was a real Hong Kong movie star who actually did a lot (although not, of course, all) of his own stunts. Jacky Cheung was perfect as Frankie. He was vain, panicky when he should have been resolute, cowardly when bravery was called for and clumsy. Frankie Lone was a man without dignity and completely lacking in nobility.

The plot isn’t really derivative, which would imply that some of might be original. Entire scenes are copied in whole from other movies and simply strung together. Most of the cast are simply along for the ride. Cardboard cutouts labeled “bad guy”, “dumb cop” “sexy reporter” and “innocent bystander” would have been as effective, although Billy Chow playing an East Asian Van Damme was funny—for a couple of minutes.

The obvious use of dummies as the victims of land mines and other explosive devices could have been a conscious post-modern Wong Jing wink and nod to the partially fabricated reputation of his victim.

Whatever the disagreements on the set of “City Hunter” that were the apparent impetus for “High Risk”, Wong certainly won this round.
Reviewer Score: 5