Monday, April 14, 2008

New Kids in Town (HK, 1990)


Here is another film in the series From Beneath the Living Room Table – Obscure and Forgotten HK Films. There does in fact seem to be a DVD available for New Kids in Town out there, but it is somewhat suspect. It was put out by Eastern Heroes and double billed with the odd sleazy choice of Escape from Brothel – so my guess is that it is not entirely legitimate.

New Kids in Town (a.k.a. New Killers in Town)
Director: Lau Ga-yung
Year: 1990
Hong Kong
Duration: 85 minutes

Due to the presence of Moon Lee and Sophia Crawford this film has usually been thrown into the Girls with Guns bucket, but it is in fact much more a generic action film with lots of punches and kicks thrown by both genders. It has a solid cast of B-action players who made their living with films like this – the aforementioned Moon and Sophia plus Chin Siu-ho, Karel Wong and Eddie Mahler – not to mention the presence of a legend – Lau Kar Leung who also takes on the action choreography chores. The action is up to the good standards of these types of films though often they felt somewhat abbreviated. On the plus side - one of the action scenes is rather impressive for its location (on the steps of the often pictured St. Paul’s in Macau) and the final fight between Lau and Maher displays some of Lau’s vaunted pole fighting ability and it is a pleasure to watch the master at work.

It has an underlying theme that spilled into many Hong Kong films in the run up to the Handover in 1997 – an implied suggestion that Hong Kong was vastly superior to Mainland China – but also in this case more dangerous. Two martial art brothers come to Hong Kong to live with their uncle (Lau Kar Leung) and their cousin Siu Fung (Moon Lee). Shing (Chin Siu-ho) is the quiet serious sort while his brother Ho (Lee Ga-sing) wants to party and says “tell Cherie Chung I am coming”. They both love Hong Kong till the trouble begins. It doesn’t take long and is over of all things a roller skating contest.

Yeung (Karel Wong) is the right hand man to the boss played by Eddie Maher with other underlings being Sophia Crawford and Cheung Kwok-leung. Maher who I believe was of mixed Asian/Caucasian parentage must have gotten tired of always being called a half breed or something worse in his roles, but that is again what he is referred to a few times in this film. Anyway, Yeung has a roller skating protégé under his eye and between his sheets and he wants to fix things so that she will win the next contest. Her only competition is Mimi, good friend to Siu Fung and by extension friends also to Shing and Ho. In a fracas in a disco Mimi’s hand is intentionally hurt and so Siu Fung has to stand in for her at the contest and we know from one of her earlier films (Nocturnal Demon) that Moon is a hell of a roller skater. This turns out to be closer to roller derby than roller skating as both girls with hockey stick in hand go after one another with Siu Fung's opponent ending up badly injured (or perhaps dead?).

This really pisses off Yeung who had earlier set an elderly man in a wheelchair on fire just because he could and he declares all out war on Siu Fung and her friends. Don’t villains have better things to do like extortion, drug dealing and pimping? I guess it was the slow season and the film happily descends into a series of fights – and an impressive jump off one of those very high bridges in Macau – the Taipa Bridge perhaps? For all of this, Lau Kar Leung is conveniently off in Singapore visiting relatives but he gets back to find out that his daughter is being held captive by Maher and his gang. This does not please him. This was an enjoyable B action film that needed just a bit more Moon in motion to have pushed it higher. The film also puts Crawford to poor use only giving her a brief scuffle with Moon.

My rating for this film: 6.5

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