Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

When I first saw director Wilson Yip’s ‘Kill Zone’ or ‘SPL’ as it is known in its native land, that particular film left me with a warm fuzzy feeling that maybe the hard edged, hyper violent, somewhat over melodramatic Hong Kong films that I loved so much in the late eighties and early nineties had made a triumphant return. I don’t know if that’s the case but I have seen some pretty decent Hong Kong action flicks lately such as ‘Invisible Target’, or ‘Connected’ just to name a few. This leads us into director Dennis Law’s film ‘Fatal Move’ which has all the necessary ingredients for a killer Hong Kong style action movie, and then some, but ultimately falls somewhat short of the thrills provided by the previously mentioned ‘Kill Zone’.

Sammo Hung is Brother Lung, leader of the roughest, toughest gang of criminals in all of Hong Kong. Observing Brother Lung’s management style, it seems to mainly consist of him saying ‘Kill them All!’. Unfortunately all is not well with Brother Lung’s organization of cut throat killers. For starters his baby brother Tung (Simon Yam) has a gambling problem on top of some emotional problems which is bringing shame to the game. Also Brother Lung is being doggedly pursued by the cops and its chief Inspector Chung (Danny Lee), and in addition to this his criminal competition is inching into his territory showing him massive disrespect. But the most disconcerting of Brother Lung’s problems is that it looks like he might have a couple of rats within the trusted circle of his organization of cut throat killers.

The good thing going for Brother Lung is that while his baby brother has emotional problems, gambling problems, whore problems, a drinking problem and money problems, he is a fiercely loyal right-hand man. Also working for Brother Lung is his ultra-violent left hand man Brother Hung (Wu Jing) who does all of his negotiating at

the end of his samurai sword and kills roughly 3,000 people in this movie. Brother Lung also has a down-ass woman on his team in sister Soso (Kelly Chu) who I think is his wife… but I’m not sure. This is a woman who advised an underling, who was dealing with someone who owed them money, to either kill this cats mother or kill his own mother if he found that previous option distasteful. A no-brainer right there.

Eventually the pressures from all four corners of Brother Lung’s life converge on him all at once and he can deal with it the only way a real O.G. knows how. Fist fights and shootouts will follow baby.

After watching ‘Fatal Move’, an action movie generated title if ever there was one, it’s pretty easy to see where director Dennis Law might have had a misstep with this one. It certainly wasn’t with his cast as any movie featuring Simon Yam, Sammo Hung, Wu Jing with long time standby Luet Sam in addition to Danny Lee from ‘The Killer’ is a cast to be reckoned with, and the actors in this movie easily carried the movie and moved the story forward. We also found no quarrel with the director and his action sequences because this was a movie that had shootouts, sword fights, car chases, hostage situations, kidnappings, drug deals gone bad and every other sort of death and mayhem situation that you can imagine, including a closing sequence ripped straight from ‘The Godfather’, and for the most part these scenes are all very well done. Except perhaps the director’s love affair CGI blood splatter.

No sir, this movie ran into problems because it has a story arc that goes all over the map for the most part, or is terribly derivative in other parts. Take Suet Lam’s character of the super nice-guy cop for instance. When he tells us that he’s going transfer because it’s too dangerous in his current district, we know his fate is sealed. Then he informs us that he’s a widow with three daughters so if his fate wasn’t sealed before it sure is sealed now. Then we learn that one of his daughters has a heart problem and needs expensive surgery, worst still we get to meet his three impossibly cute young kids. I get it already, he’s going to die. But when elements aren't being telegraphed or broadcasted, it's leaping between the myriad of characters, the overflow of plot points and a dizzying array story elements that is almost impossible to follow at times. The good thing is that a lot of these are simply dropped or forgotten about so you don’t have to worry about them too much, but Law probably could’ve helped himself out in the editing room by compressing his film down a good twenty or so minutes and leaving some of these excessive plot points and melodrama on the cutting room floor.

That being said, a great a cast and good action still equals to two-thirds of a good movie which is one-third better than most movies, and in that regard ‘Fatal Move’ was time well spent.

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