Fatal Contact (2006) Directed and Written by Dennis Law
Produced by Dennis Law and Herman Yau
Action Coordination by Nicky Li
Starring Jacky Wu Jing, Ronald Cheng, Miki Yeung, Theresa Fu, Cheung Siu-Fai, Lam Suet
Available Jan. 22, 2008
Naive mainlander Kong, who is currently in Hong Kong making some extra money as a Peking Opera actor, is offered a lucrative deal by the local triad to fight in an illegal martial arts competition. Although Kong resists at first, he takes the opportunity after being convinced by Tin, one of his fellow performers that he secretly has a crush on. His first fight is a one-kick success, and he soon becomes indoctrinated into the gang, in the process making friends with one of the younger underlings, Captain, whose goofy persona is more than meets the eye.
With each successful bout, Kong gains more recognition as he defeats the tougher combatants in Hong Kong, while his new boss falls under the scrutinizing watch of a rival gangster who also deals in gambling and underground fights. These two triad bosses start exponentially increasing their wages in the fights, with Kong caught in the middle and unaware of just how deep he has gotten himself. He soon learns just how far down he’s gone though, when he becomes one of six martial artists in a three-on-three “Street Fighter rules” competition that could very well end his life!
Jacky Wu Jing, who was first discovered by Yuen Wo-Ping and turned into a martial arts star in 1996 in Tai Chi 2, stars as Kong. With his sincere smile and a devastating mastery of martial arts, Wu Jing does an incredible job with bringing the duality of his character to the screen. Wu Jing has been studying martial arts since he was six, when he first enrolled at the Beijing Wushu Academy, and that comes across with every bone-crushing blow and lightening-fast defensive move. What is equally impressive about Wu Jing is that when he is not fighting he can give an emotional and convincing performance which carries the story, rather than just being filler in between action sequences.
With two romantic dramas under his director belt, as well as production involvement in the two Election and Warriors Of Virtue films, Dennis Law now takes a stab as a writer and director of a down and dirty martial arts movie. While his script is a rollercoaster ride of thumping action, comedic sidesteps, romantic interludes, and the occasional subtle commentary on the street life of Hong Kong, Law overcomes the odds and actually keeps everything interconnected, and even more so keeps the viewer involved with the ragtag characters that inhabit his underground world. While things get a little melodramatic at times, a well placed bit of slapstick or surprise attack brings everything back into focus.
Law does have a little help though with cinematographer and co-producer Herman Yau, a modern legend in Hong Kong who has tried just about every genre and has held every job in cinema. It’s his understanding of how to properly use a camera and stage a scene that makes the romance romantic, the comedy comedic, and the violence about as vicious as it can get. Knowing that Wu Jing, as well as co-martial artists Ken Lo, Andy On, and Timmy Hung, can pull off the grueling fight choreography, Yau pulls the camera back and lets them do what they do best.
Assisting with the martial arts sequences, which are arguably the most important part of the film and the main drawing point, is Nicky Li, a stunt coordinator who has worked with the Jackie Chan Stunt Team and has worked on the later sequels of the Young And Dangerous triad crime saga. This combination of experience in both complicated choreography and anarchic street brawling brings a potpourri of different action styles and techniques to Fatal Contact, with each of the ten fight sequences different and more exciting than the next. Li knows how to make a fight look visually interesting, and how to make the pain of each blow seemingly fly off the screen. And with Kong facing such diverse opponents from a muscle-bound wrestler to a psychotic kung fu expert with nails in his gloves and sneakers, there is a lot of pain.
Fatal Contact comes to the U.S. courtesy of the ever-expanding Dragon Dynasty, the genre arm of The Weinstein Company. As with the previous releases we’ve seen coming from the label, their latest release once again includes a crisp anamorphic widescreen transfer with a Cantonese soundtrack in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS, with accompanying English and Spanish subtitles. An English dub is also included for the Spike Television viewer lurking in all of us.
Hong Kong cinema expert and fanatic Bey Logan, along with director Dennis Law, provide an English-language audio commentary as the sole extra on the first disc of this two-disc set. Logan’s endless supply of knowledge and schoolboy love for all things martial arts assures yet another incredible listen that is both entertaining and educational for those who share his passion.
Disc two gets packed with interviews and behind the scenes footage, all with accompanying English subtitles. In Jacky Wu Jing’s interview, he discusses his training before the filming began in free combat, and talks about the evolution of his character and the fight sequences on set. Footage of Jing getting pummeled during the free combat training is also interspersed throughout. Director Dennis Law, as well as co-stars Theresa Fu and Miki Yeung are also each interviewed separately. The highlight of the disc is a half hour documentary following Wu Jing during his extensive training in Beijing. The original trailer and previews for other Dragon Dynasty releases rounds out the extras.
Dennis Law’s new film marks yet another accomplished blow in the recent fight to return Hong Kong to the number-one go-to spot for action and martial arts connoisseurs to get their fix of guaranteed brutality and heroic drama. The competition may be fierce, but Jacky Wu Jing has one helluva jumping spin kick.