The Big Heat


"The filmmakers of "The Big Heat" make it a point to have nearly every killing in this film brutal, explicit, and above all, just plain disgusting...and you know what? I dig it! "

- Mighty Peking Man

The Big Heat (1988)

Director: Johnnie To, Andrew Kam

Producer: Tsui Hark

Writer: Gordon Chan

Cast: Waise Lee, Joey Wong, Wong Hin Mung, Phillip Kwok, Lo Ging Wa, Paul Chu Kong , Stuart Ong, Aaron Kwok Fu Sing , Michael Chow Man Kin, Roy Cheung Yiu-Yeung , Mak Chui Han , Robin Shou Wan Bo , Ken Boyle , Lai Huen

Action Director: Joe Chu, Kwok Tsui, Wong Kwung

Running Time: 92 min.

Plot: Johnny To directs this gritty and ultra-violent police thriller. On the eve of his retirement, a seasoned cop Wong (Waise Lee) is forced to pick up his weapon once again when a good friend is brutally murdered. His time is running out, however, as the killer begins slaughtering those that are connected to the case one by one.


NUMSKULL'S REVIEW: The first half of The Big Heat is a big snore, and even when the story picks up, you'll still be yawning and picking those optic boogers out of the corners of your eyes. Waise Lee has the lead role (big mistake) in a cop movie which is remarkable only because of its occasional moments of in-your-face gore. There aren't many of them, but they do hit fairly hard (especially the body getting bounced from car to car).

Gay rights groups would just love the sub-plot about the tycoon taking great lengths to recover evidence of his homosexual activities. Apparently, fudge-packing is generally considered a more perverse activity in Hong Kong than it is in the US, and that lends a somewhat disturbing quality to seemingly innocuous lines like "You take one end, and I'll take the other."

Blood and guts aside, the film is painfully mediocre at best. Waise Lee and his fellow cops are totally uninvolving as protagonists, none of the villains really gets under your skin, the script plods, and nothing grabs you. Uninspired, unimpressive, unremarkable. I wish there was more to say about this film, but it's so damn bland that I can hardly think of anything relevant to say.

A caveat for gore hounds, though: don't make a big deal out of seeing this movie, expecting some blood-drenched masterpiece of carnage. The gory bits are few and far between.

You know that Far Side cartoon where there's a bunch of penguins standing around, and they all look alike, and one of them is singing "Oh, I gotta be me, I just gotta be me"? That's what this movie reminds me of. In a sea of Hong Kong cop thrillers with interchangeable story elements and characters, this one is standing up, making a pitiful attempt to be noticed, waving its arms around and grunting like a frustrated child trying to get the teacher to call on it because it knows the answer to the question that's baffling the bigger kids. Well, you know what happens to movies like this? That's right, they get beaten up and robbed of their lunch money during recess by movies with more muscle....and somehow, I doubt The Big Heat would have the balls to show up at school the next day with a submachine gun. Don't let the extra gore fool you into thinking this movie is special. It does not deserve your support.


MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: The filmmakers of "The Big Heat" make it a point to have nearly every killing in this film brutal, explicit, and above all, just plain disgusting...and you know what? I dig it! The film opens with a close-up of a power drill going through a man's hand with bloody pieces of flesh twirling out. Then there's an autopsy scene where a guy's crispy-burnt body is being examined while inner-juices and puss leak out. Should I mention the guy that gets ran over a few times before splattering onto a curb? Well, there is a lot more I won't give away! Like I said, I dig it!

Other than the extreme gory violence, this is a very average police-thriller starring Waise Lee who plays a good guy cop (surprised?) with a big problem: his gun-firing hand freezes up when needs it most. The whole "hand" thing is pretty much an excuse for the final shootout where Lee smartly uses his disadvantage to advantage - I won't give it away, cuz it's too damn cool. Overall, Lee does okay as the lead but suffers from a lack of facial expressions. Throughout the whole film he carries the same look, even during the most crucial moments that call for some serious facial acting.

The lovely Joey Wong has a minor role and was obviously thrown in just for the sake of having a hot chick in the film. Chu Kong, who you'll highly recognize from "The Killer", makes a very believable villain. The rest of the ensemble cast all play their parts respectably. All in all, the most enjoyable aspect of "The Big Heat" was it's gutsy intent to show the audience how good it is at playing around with body parts and blood. "Fangoria" eat your heart out.