Thursday, 2 August 2007

Mad Mission (1982)

Alternative English Title: Aces Go Places.
Chinese title: Best of Partners (最佳拍檔).

Mad Mission (1982)This is a milestone film because it's a truly very first HK action flick. What? You say. Of course, there were action flicks in HK cinema before this movie. After all, action has always been the most popular genre in HK cinema. But not like this.

Let's do a quick recap of HK cinema before this film. Up until Bruce Lee appeared in the HK movie scene in 1971, the 1st wave of action films were invariably of the wuxia or swordplay sub-genre. Bruce lee's The Big Boss (1971) launched the 2nd wave of action flicks that popularised the kungfu or kick-boxing sub-genre. And along came Sam Hui, who started the 3rd wave of HK cinema action flicks. It was modern action genre that appealed to the wider international audience as supposed to traditional martial arts genre that appealed to the smaller circle of international cult followers.

This is James Bond type of action flick that didn't have any sword or kungfu fighting, but much more similar to the action flicks in the West, which rely on lots of gadgets, explosion, shooting, and car chases. One scene involves car action and explosions with toy cars. In short, this is boys with toys action flick. This action flick has plenty of car chases, and high wire acts. When I say high wire acts, I don't mean wire-fu, I mean just that, Sam Hui walked on tightrope between buildings. Sometimes he did other aerial stunt like sliding under it.

Even by today's standard, the actions in this film aren't too shabby. If you consider that this is the first flick involving some James Bond type actions, it's quite impressive. Of course, while these actions are quite different from martial arts actions, some of the martial arts stunts could be quite easily transferred into this film. Many of the actions - like explosions, car chases, etc - wouldn't be able to find in swordplay or kungfu movies.

So this movie broke new ground in 3 ways. One, it introduced and popularised modern crime action drama into HK cinema. Two, it pioneered some action stunts that hadn't been done before. Three, it started the whole franchise idea in HK film industry. This film gave rise to 4 sequels. With these 3 elements, this film launched a new formula for action movies that blazed a trail for action star like Jackie Chan to follow, and had never looked back since.

After Bruce Lee, it was the Hui Bros who had changed the HK cinema's landscape. Much of HK cinema's vitality were injected by the Hui Bros in the mid 1970 to mid 1980 in the aftermath of Lee's death. They were the trendsetters during this period.

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