Black List (1972)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2008-01-20
Summary: Avoid
It’s an ill wind that blows no good and “Black List” is an ill wind indeed. It is overwrought and unconvincing with bad acting, a script that goes nowhere and a director unable even to get the entrances and exits right. Fights are mainly general melees with focus shifting from one individual battle to another but none of them are very compelling or even convincing. The penultimate battle between Chang Sing and Michael Chan Wai-Man was a footrace across some Hong Kong rooftops interrupted by punches and kicks.

The story is fraught with duplicity and betrayal. Older Brother, just out of prison after serving hard time because his fellow crooks turned on him wants to force his former accomplices to confess and clear his name--a powerful motive made more poignant by the death of his mother at their hands. He meets his younger brother on a deserted highway and they set off the make things right. It will be hard to convince the bad guys, though, since the brothers keep killing the ones they confront. In an incomprehensible turn toward surrealism (or just plain wackiness) each villain, while he is dying, remembers a beautiful woman and the joys that they had together.

There are some lessons a viewer can learn from “Black List”:

When calling the police to notify them that you have just witnessed two people kill a third, wait until the murderers can't overhear your phone call if you want to live until the next scene.

If your sworn enemy has you kidnapped and drugged, then tries to buy you off and also leaves a prostitute to make you feel better, don't trust the prostitute.

If the woman who was your fiancé when you were sent to jail helps your enemy to kill your mother and then marries him and has a child with him don't expect her to welcome your return.

The running time on the copy we saw was 1 hour, 24 minutes without end credits so there might have been some important stuff left out. Like an epic, "Black List" begins 'in media res'--or it may be that the first few minutes of the movie were chopped off to help fit a television time slot. However it happened, the result is a chaotic and confusing movie. The best editor in the world (a description that may not fit Lam Chiu who labored at the film splicing board) would have a hard time making an interesting or even coherent whole out of the footage presented on this disc and if what is missing was directed by Orson Welles with Christopher Doyle running the camera it wouldn’t rescue this movie.
Reviewer Score: 1