"I would understand if this movie was a true story or something, but it's not.. so what the heck?"
Born Wild (2001)
Director: Patrick Leung
Writer: Hing-Ka Chan, Amy Chin
Cast: Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Patrick Tam, Jo Kuk, Ying Kwan Lok, Ying Pai, Kuo-Chu Chang, Phyllis Quek, Ron Smoorenburg, Arthur Wong, Wrath White
Running Time: 109 min.
Plot: See reviews below.
ALEXANDER'S REVIEW: "Your brother is dead. We need you to identify the corpse."
And thus begins "Born Wild", a meandering, hour-too-long tale of revenge, underground boxing and brotherly love starring Daniel Wu, Patrick Tam, and Louis Koo. While parts of this film are impressive, including some realistically brutal and well-shot fist fights the film is, unfortunately, way too long at 109 minutes. Had writers Hing-Ka Chan and Amy Chin trimmed away the fat, "Born Wild" would have been a pleasing diversion featuring some charismatic (and chiseled) performances by some of Hong Kong's top young stars. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on Tide's (Daniel Wu) vengeance and exciting illegal street brawls, we get unnecessarily drawn out sub-plots involving a seemingly uncaring father and a grieving girlfriend named Sandy (Jo Kuk). It doesn't help that director Patrick Leung's camera lingers on sunsets, barges, a half-naked Kuk and other trifling images. I was tempted to fast forward through a number of irrelevent scenes but ultimately resisted. I figured if I could sit through "Girls in the Hood", I could make it through this.
Keeping this film afloat (barely) are the performances of Tam and Wu. Tam alternates convincingly between greedy "promoter" and devoted friend to both Wu's and Koo's characters. He's as enjoyable to watch here as he was in "Beast Cops". Wu is equally impressive and made me forget completely his nerdy role in "2000AD" with his swollen physique and devastating uppercut. Koo is also decent, but the effectiveness of his role is seriously diminished by the fractured story line. Since we know exactly when, where, and how his character dies early in the film, every time Koo's Tan appears in the next 90+ minutes the film's story comes to a screeching halt. We're eager for him to disappear so Tide can exact his revenge and move the story along. Kuk is wasted and serves only as eye candy. Despite appearing in nearly every other scene she only has a handful of lines.
Worth mentioning are a few allusions to other HK and US films peppered throughout. "Fight Club" is liberally "borrowed" from (Koo, in tan leather pants, seems to be channeling Brad Pitt) and there are some not-so-subtle references to John Woo's "The Killer" and Stallone's "Rocky" series. Not quite as interesting as spotting all the references in "Fulltime Killer", but a mildly interesting diversion nonetheless.
Ultimately, however, the colorful villains and absurdly violent fights are too few and far between. Had this film been half an hour shorter I would definitely recommend it. Instead, go pick up a copy of Chuck Palahniuk's "Fight Club" and spend 109 minutes reading the book's first few chapters. You'll thank me later.
ALEXANDER'S RATING: 6/10
GWAILO'S REVIEW: Patrick Leung (Task Force, Beyond Hypothermia) directs an overlong (almost 2 hours), unsentimental film involving one, Daniel Wu, of a pair of fraternal twins seeking out the reasoning behind the untimely fate of the other, Louis Koo. Patrick Tam plays Ah Mann, a rascal with dollar signs for eyeballs, who befriends Koo, a roughneck punk, when he sees their connection could amount to much moolah in the underground boxing circuit. Love, death, and a trail of crumbs is left behind for Wu to find in the seedy underground nightscape where Koo had met his maker. Leung tries to find a balance between superhuman action scenes strait form a videogame and love story, but sentiment is bruised by the films broken nose action. Adding more injury is the story unfolding in flashback, a tired contrivance seen in most HK films. We already know the fate of Koo, so who cares about how it came about? Obviously the filmmakers thought this was interesting enough to go on and it's talented young cast would distract. On the plus side is the performance of Patrick Tam. He is an amazing talent and his performance should not be overlooked. A new magnetic presence for the Cantonese screen. It was also a nice change of pace to see breakneck boxing in place of martial arts. Beautifully packaged but ultimately worthless.
GWAILO'S RATING: 4/10
EKU®'S REVIEW: Story was very boring, acting was so-so, which made this movie not too successful. Some scenes really dragged on. Maybe I couldn't relate to any of the characters. It was a disappointment how Louis Koo took on this role. He is not too real as a underground street boxer who becomes an overnight star (he should stick to being a cop). However, the character Ah Man turned out to the the most successful in my opinion. He plays the best friend of Louis Koo, who he talks about with a series of flash backs. Ah Man was the only character who was believable. Overall, I didn't see any real connections between the scenes that contributes to the movie as a whole. I would understand if this movie was a true story or something, but it's not.. so what the heck?
EKU®'S RATING: 5/10