Director: Jacky Ko
Cast: E.SO (Chen Yu-Rong), Ella Chen, Alan Ko, Ding Ning, Kenzy, MUTA, Yuna Lin, Chih Wei Chiang, Xavier Lin, Andy Lau, Karena Lam, Eric Tsang, Hsin Mei Lan, Mei-Hsiu Lin
Runtime: 1 hr 40 mins
Rating: NC16 (Some Coarse Language)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 1 June 2023
Synopsis: A thrilling scene unfolds as an ambulance and a mysterious sports car, the "Hellcat," engage in a fierce race from the harbor to the mountain roads, onto the highway and the city. It feels like a showdown between two masters. Who will emerge as the new generation's racing champion? If only one can survive, who will get the last laugh? The ambulance is driven by "Le" (E.SO), a former racing expert. Le accidentally caused the death of his brother, Chieh (Alan Kuo), during a competition. Devastated by guilt, he spiraled into despair until he met Hui (Ella), a doctor. With her help, he decided to become an ambulance driver, vowing to "save lives with speed." Alas, the owner of a mysterious race car "Hellcat" suddenly appears, he holds the list, the challenged racer is bound to die in the end. Underground racing is like a modern martial arts arena, where budding racers relentlessly pursue speed risking their lives; even then, it’s not enough to stop fanatics in the fatal pursuit of speed. Under the investigation of Le's three buddies (played by MUTA, Yuna Lin, Xavier Lin), the truth of each accident will gradually emerge...
The year was 2005 and a certain Jay Chou made his acting debut in the live action adaptation of the Japanese Initial D manga series. The Hong Kongmovie directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak increased the fan base of street racing enthusiasts, and this genre of movies was a vehicle for actors to show off their coolness while they zip around in their fast and furious vehicles. The latest movie to hit the big screen is this Taiwanese production, and if Initial D or the ongoing Fast & Furious franchise comes to mind, you won’t be the only one.
What makes this movie different is how it’s marketed. It is the debut feature of Jacky Ko, the younger son of Blackie Ko, who is known for his death defying automotive stunt choreography. Older fans would remember that he drove a car over the Hukou Waterfall on the Yellow Riverin ShaanxiProvinceto celebrate the handover of Hong Kongin 1997. The celebrated filmmaker and stuntman died of blood poisoning in 2003. Twenty years later, a movie would be made by his younger son as a tribute.
You know it’s a movie to celebrate Blackie’s indomitable spirit just by looking at the A list celebrities who make cameo appearances and show up in supporting roles. The much publicised character is the movie’s antagonist played by Andy Lau, who has collaborated with Blackie in several movies. His wife Is played by Karena Lam, while Eric Tseng has some screen time as a bar owner. Elsewhere, familiar Taiwanese stars like Lan Hsin Mei is hilarious as a car repair shop owner, and Lin Mei Hsiu effortlessly plays a cleaning lady who receives assistance from the kind hearted protagonist.
The star of the show is rapper E.so in his film debut – the guy plays Le, a dude who lost his elder brother to a terrible accident caused by Lau’s grunting villain. The elder brother happens to be portrayed by Blackie’s elder son Alan Kuo, who was also responsible for co scripting the story. As you can tell, it is indeed a family affair. Dismayed and depressed, Le drinks and lives his life aimlessly.
One day, he helps to send a pregnant lady to the hospital and gets to know Hui, a doctor played by S.H.E.’s Ella Chen. He gets his life back together and takes on a job driving an ambulance, and manages to find time to fall in love with Hui. There are other supporting characters in his life played by fellow musicians Kenzy and MUTA, as well as award winning actress Ding Ning. But you know Lau’s shady character is up to no good as his looming presence is felt. And you also know that he has a sad back story to tell, because the superstar couldn’t possibly play a one dimensional bad guy.
The 100 minute movie works best when it showcases the adrenaline filled car (and ambulance) chase sequences. While it is not as (ridiculously) outrageous as the Fast & Furious flicks, the action scenes in this drama exhilarating enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen. With a substantial amount of review dedicated to the special appearances, the A list cameos are also a highlight – although some may argue that they are not essential to the plot. When the movie changes gear to showcase the romance between E.so and Chen’s characters, it can be unnecessarily mushy for viewers who just want to check out the fast paced action. The transition to the finale and how the movie eventually concludes also feel somewhat forced, but if you’re here to see a star studded ensemble and support Blackie’s legacy, it is an invigorating ride you can enjoy from the comfort of your cinema seat.
(An exhilirating movie about street racing that you can enjoy from the comfort of your cinema seat)
Review by John Li